Popular shared stories on NewsBlur.
1297 stories
·
28366 followers

172. ISAAC ASIMOV: A lifetime of learning

1 Comment and 9 Shares

ASIMOV01

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) was a writer, known for his contribution to science fiction (including The Three Laws of Robotics, I, Robot and the Foundation series) and his staggering work in other genres and non-fiction.

Asimov had a formal education in chemistry, earning his PhD and working as a chemist for the Navy during WWII. He taught biochemistry and later became a professor at the Boston Univeristy of Medicine, all while writing stories for fantasy magazines in his spare time. He finally left the University in 1958 to focus on writing. Asimov’s output was truly mind-blowing, writing over 500 (!!!) books and 90,000 letters. He said: “Writing is my only interest. Even speaking is an interruption.”

Asimov’s non-fiction books were mostly on astronomy, but his other titles covered general science, history, mathematics, physics, Shakespeare, the Bible and mythology. He was completely self-taught in these areas and was successful for being able to take difficult scientific concepts and make them entertaining for the general public. He said he could “read a dozen dull books and make one interesting book out of them.” To get some idea of how vast Asimov’s knowledge was, his books appear in nine of the ten Dewey Decimal Classes.

The quotes used in this comic are taken from a fantastic interview Asimov did in 1988 (which you can watch on YouTube). In it, Asimov predicts how in the near-future, personal computers will help anyone learn anything ‘that strikes their fancy’ in the privacy of their own home and at their own leisure. Of course, that prediction came true with the internet, and even though the technology from The Matrix isn’t available yet, where we could upload information directly into our brain and shout “I know kung-fu!”, it has never been easier to learn whatever you want, no matter how niche. Thanks to reader Jenny for sending me the quote and the Brain Pickings article that featured the interview.

RELATED COMICS: Carl Sagan Pale Blue Dot. Richard Dawkins The Lucky Ones. Albert Einstein A Human Being is Part of the Whole. Jack London I Would Rather be Ashes Than Dust.

- I admit not having read any of Asimov’s books. Where should I start? The Foundation series? His story Nightfall was voted the best short science fiction story of all-time, so maybe that?
– Asimov said that one of only two men he knew who was smarter than himself was his good friend Carl Sagan.

Read the whole story
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
Courtney
6 hours ago
reply
Always with the white tourists in zen pencils
Boston, MA

February 25, 2015

4 Comments and 20 Shares

In case you missed it, thanks to our patreon subscribers, old comics are now getting voteys! If we raise a bit more, I'll increase the rate to 2 a day!
Read the whole story
bronzehedwick
1 day ago
reply
Haha this is awesome.
Brooklyn NY
Share this story
Delete
3 public comments
norb
1 day ago
reply
hahaha
clmbs.oh
nrjones
1 day ago
reply
Fantastic
??, NC
tante
1 day ago
reply
Apology cards sorted by scientific discipline
Oldenburg/Germany

A different cluetrain

4 Comments and 17 Shares

Right now, I'm chewing over the final edits on a rather political book. And I think, as it's a near future setting, I should jot down some axioms about politics ...

  1. We're living in an era of increasing automation. And it's trivially clear that the adoption of automation privileges capital over labour (because capital can be substituted for labour, and the profit from its deployment thereby accrues to capital rather than being shared evenly across society).

  2. A side-effect of the rise of capital is the financialization of everything—capital flows towards profit centres and if there aren't enough of them profits accrue to whoever can invent some more (even if the products or the items they're guaranteed against are essentially imaginary: futures, derivatives, CDOs, student loans).

  3. Since the collapse of the USSR and the rise of post-Tiananmen China it has become glaringly obvious that capitalism does not require democracy. Or even benefit from it. Capitalism as a system may well work best in the absence of democracy.

  4. The iron law of bureaucracy states that for all organizations, most of their activity will be devoted to the perpetuation of the organization, not to the pursuit of its ostensible objective. (This emerges organically from the needs of the organization's employees.)

  5. Governments are organizations.

  6. We observe the increasing militarization of police forces and the priviliging of intelligence agencies all around the world. And in the media, a permanent drumbeat of fear, doubt and paranoia directed at "terrorists" (a paper tiger threat that kills fewer than 0.1% of the number who die in road traffic accidents).

  7. Money can buy you cooperation from people in government, even when it's not supposed to.

  8. The internet disintermediates supply chains.

  9. Political legitimacy in a democracy is a finite resource, so supplies are constrained.

  10. The purpose of democracy is to provide a formal mechanism for transfer of power without violence, when the faction in power has lost legitimacy.

  11. Our mechanisms for democratic power transfer date to the 18th century. They are inherently slower to respond to change than the internet and our contemporary news media.

  12. A side-effect of (7) is the financialization of government services (2).

  13. Security services are obeying the iron law of bureaucracy (4) when they metastasize, citing terrorism (6) as a justification for their expansion.

  14. The expansion of the security state is seen as desirable by the government not because of the terrorist threat (which is largely manufactured) but because of (11): the legitimacy of government (9) is becoming increasingly hard to assert in the context of (2), (12) is broadly unpopular with the electorate, but (3) means that the interests of the public (labour) are ignored by states increasingly dominated by capital (because of (1)) unless there's a threat of civil disorder. So states are tooling up for large-scale civil unrest.

  15. The term "failed state" carries a freight of implicit baggage: failed at what, exactly? The unspoken implication is, "failed to conform to the requirements of global capital" (not democracy—see (3)) by failing to adequately facilitate (2).

  16. I submit that a real failed state is one that does not serve the best interests of its citizens (insofar as those best interests do not lead to direct conflict with other states).

  17. In future, inter-state pressure may be brought to bear on states that fail to meet the criteria in (15) even when they are not failed states by the standard of point (16). See also: Greece.

  18. As human beings, our role in this picture is as units of Labour (unless we're eye-wateringly rich, and thereby rare).

  19. So, going by (17) and (18), we're on the receiving end of a war fought for control of our societies by opposing forces that are increasingly more powerful than we are.

Have a nice century!

Afternotes:

a) Student loans are loans against an imaginary product—something that may or may not exist inside someone's head and which may or may not enable them to accumulate more capital if they are able to use it in the expected manner and it remains useful for a 20-30 year period. I have a CS degree from 1990. It's about as much use as an aerospace engineering degree from 1927 ...

b) Some folks (especially Americans) seem to think that their AR-15s are a guarantor that they can resist tyranny. But guns are an 18th century response to 18th century threats to democracy. Capital doesn't need to point a gun at you to remove your democratic rights: it just needs more cameras, more cops, and a legal system that is fair and just and bankrupts you if you are ever charged with public disorder and don't plead guilty.

Read the whole story
beslayed
1 day ago
reply
axioms for the current century
Share this story
Delete
3 public comments
WorldMaker
6 minutes ago
reply
I… uh… urgh… um… Yes?
Louisville, Kentucky
zipcube
53 minutes ago
reply
THIS
Dallas, Texas
tante
20 hours ago
reply
A different cluetrain
Oldenburg/Germany

Avicii and Other DJs Produce Hits Using Pirated Software

3 Comments and 11 Shares

aviciiTim Bergling, aka Avicii, has become one of the world’s best known DJs, scoring hit after hit in recent years.

With a net worth estimated at $60 million the Swede has plenty of cash to splash. Enough to buy an expensive Hollywood Hills mansion.

Interestingly, however, some of the tracks he made his millions with were produced with the help of pirated software.

In an interview with Future Music Magazine Avicii proudly shows his setup and the associated video reveals that he’s using a cracked version of Lennar Digital’s popular Sylenth1 plugin, which normally costs €139.

The plugin, which appears 42 minutes into the video, is registered to “Team VTX 2011,” referencing the name of a well-known cracking group.

Avicii’s “Team VTX 2011″ plugin
avicii-teamvtx

The interview with Avicii was shot a while ago so there’s a chance that the DJ bought a legal copy in the meantime. However, the use of pirated Sylenth1 plugins among top DJs is not an isolated incident.

Just a few months ago DJ Deadmau5 called out Martin Garrix on Twitter for making the same mistake. Garrix, who’s also a multi-millionaire, was using a version cracked by “Team AIR.”

Garrix’ “Team Air” plugin
garrix-air

And then there’s Steve Aoki, good for an estimated $45 million, who was also previously accused of using a pirated copy of Sylenth1. Responding to the revelation, Aoki came up with proof showing that he did own a proper license, but that his road team forgot to use it.

“I had asked my road team to help me load in my production software and apparently they didn’t ask Jacob for the authorization code for Sylenth and installed a pirated version,” Aoki said.

The pirating DJ trend isn’t limited to Sylenth1 either. In yet another interview with Future Music Magazine, Norwegian DJ Aleksander Vinter, aka Savant, uses a pirated copy of Ohmicide.

On its website Ohmicide says it understands that “not everybody can afford to spend several hundred dollars for a piece of software while you have other bills to pay in times of crisis.” But while Savant’s income is nowhere near the millions of the others, he isn’t starving just yet.

Savant’s “Team Air” plugin
savant

Based on the above it’s clear that using pirated software is pretty common among DJs. Not just aspiring teens with no money to spend, but also those who are making millions of dollars per year.

Avicii in particular should know better. After all, he was “discovered” by Universal Music’s Per Sundin, who was one of the main witnesses against the Pirate Bay four during the 2009 trial.

Whether Lennar Digital will follow this piracy lead up has yet to be seen – the company has yet to respond to our request for comment.

Update: Savant’s manager informed us that Aleksander bought a legal copy as soon as he could afford it.

“We would like the opportunity to respond because we know that there are hundreds of aspiring musicians who look forward to the day they can pay software developers for the software they use as soon as they have the means and we feel its important to make sure your readers know this.”

alex

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

Read the whole story
dreadhead
3 days ago
reply
Nice.
Vancouver Island, Canada
Share this story
Delete
2 public comments
heronlen
1 day ago
reply
Wow!
Dromore(Down), N.Ireland
kleer001
2 days ago
reply
Like movies pirated software is often quite easier to install than the paid version.
acdha
1 day ago
My first question was whether any of these apps used dongles — it'd be really easy to imagine losing one on tour.
miah
1 day ago
The worst offender of the "the pirated version just works better" is Adobe. Hundreds of hours of my life have been wasted on this exact problem. I'm happy to pay, quit wasting my time Adobe!

Male Legislator Asks If Swallowed Camera Could Be Used for Gynecology

7 Comments and 13 Shares

This has stunned me into a near-silence so I'm going to rely mostly on the Associated Press (thanks, Adam): Press:

BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho lawmaker received a brief lesson on female anatomy after asking if a woman can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam.

The question Monday from Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri came as the House State Affairs Committee heard nearly three hours of testimony on a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine.

Dr. Julie Madsen was testifying in opposition to the bill when Barbieri asked the question. Madsen replied that would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina.

I will try to find a video of the hearing because I very much want to see the expression on Dr. Madsen's face during the time between question and answer.

Maybe he thought it was sonar technology? Trying to come up with something here.


Update: Not sure the video is posted yet, but this 53-second audio clip is almost as good (thanks, @anneymarie). Note the stunned silence following the question, and the hoot of female laughter following Dr. Madsen's answer.

ead more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2015/02/23/3660599_lawmaker-asks-if-swallowed-camera.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read the whole story
bronzehedwick
2 days ago
reply
Every stereotype about ignorant white males making abortion law is true!
Brooklyn NY
pfctdayelise
2 days ago
reply
And this is while debating a bill relating to abortion!
Melbourne, Australia
Share this story
Delete
5 public comments
Courtney
2 days ago
reply
"...Fascinating"
Boston, MA
tedder
3 days ago
reply
Omg omg omg
Uranus
dreadhead
3 days ago
Good thing these people are in charge.
JayM
3 days ago
reply
Wow. Just wow.
Boston Metro Area
Technicalleigh
3 days ago
reply
Bwaaah?
SF Bay area, CA (formerly ATL)
skittone
3 days ago
reply
That guy seems super-qualified to decide when and how people are allowed to have abortions.
greyfade
2 days ago
This is Idaho we're talking about. If ever you want to meet a more backwards people, you will not find them outside Idaho.

katykelley: actionjacksonlovesbbq:bookoisseur:apsies:allisonunsu...

7 Comments and 26 Shares
















katykelley:

actionjacksonlovesbbq:

bookoisseur:

apsies:

allisonunsupervised:

gladtoseayou:

Jeff Jackson, a young Democratic NC State senator is the only senator in the general assembly today due to the snow.

He’s got my vote.

Jeff Jackson for President.

a++++++

Hilarous 

Read the whole story
Share this story
Delete
7 public comments
superiphi
3 days ago
reply
very cute
Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
sebpennec
4 days ago
reply
Quand un sénateur US se retrouve seul au pouvoir 😊 #JustOneLegislator
Switzerland
evaryont
4 days ago
reply
Best part is that lobbyists were so scared of all the pretend-legislation that they actually started calling him. If only this actually could've happened, I would've moved to NC immediately.
Phoenix, AZ
shamgar_bn
4 days ago
reply
Too funny!
Wake Forest, North Carolina
reconbot
5 days ago
reply
If only NY State worked this well
New York City
steingart
5 days ago
reply
The inverse 5 minute rule
Princeton, NJ
gradualepiphany
5 days ago
reply
Lol. Pretty great.
Los Angeles, California, USA
Next Page of Stories