Hiking

I have the hiking bug, bad. And that’s a tough thing to catch when you live in South Louisiana: especially if the hiking you have in mind looks like this:

Goat Flats in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State

Goat Flats in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State

Reading things like Siddharth Dedhia’s [“2 days. 36 miles.”][sd] only makes it worse. This is the kind of thing I want to do with my daughter. (And with my wife, if she’s willing to join us.)

[sd]: https://medium.com/@siddharthdedhia/2-days-36-miles-one-epic-adventure-in-the-wilderness-of-washington-8ab4c3a8cbcb

Cultural Hubs

One of the things that I think we face in era of big data and especially in the moment when data visualizations/projections are so popular is that the data you start with is not objective. Case in point is the Smithsonian.com animation that asks us to [“Watch How the Cultural Hubs of Civilization Have Shifted Over Centuries”][s]. Go ahead and click on the link and watch the visualization. It’s quite compelling.

Did you notice how densely populated Europe and North America are? How sparsely populated China is? Let along Africa and South America? We’re talking civilizations here. The great kingdoms of China. The empires of the Incas and the Aztecs must cutely be counted among the civilizations of our planet worth noting? Well, not quite:

> By tracking where 120,000 notable historical figures were born and died, researchers have charted the ever-shifting appeal of the next up-and-coming Big City. The video above shows the migration of notable figures—artists, explorers, philosophers, missionaries and others—from 600 B.C. to 2012 A.D., says _Nature_.
>
>> The animation reflects some of what was known already. Rome gave way to Paris as a cultural centre, which was eventually overtaken by Los Angeles and New York. But it also puts figures and dates on these shifts — and allows for precise comparisons. For example, the data suggest that Paris overtook Rome as a cultural hub in 1789.

Ah. It’s those 120,000 notable figures upon which the graph is based that is the problem: it’s not very inclusive, is it?

[s]: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/tracking-migration-notable-people-shows-shifting-cultural-hubs-civilization-180952317/

Winning at Monopoly with Math

I am a complete fool for articles like _Business Insider_’s [“How To Use Math To Crush Your Friends At Monopoly Like You’ve Never Done Before”][bi]. I like that the math involved can range from the simple — how the distribution of dice rolls affects where most people will land, given a particular starting point — to the complex. If the slide decks length puts you off — there’s sixty plus slides in there!, you can always scroll to the end and read the half dozen concluding slides that tell you what you should do. But, really, the fun is in the careful working through of the numbers.

[bi]: http://www.businessinsider.com/math-monopoly-statistics-2013-6

Telltale Signs

[Telltale Signs you work at a sinking ship company.](http://www.quora.com/What-are-telltale-signs-that-youre-working-at-a-sinking-ship-company?) The one that states “Executives are shuffled around the company to new roles, but outsiders don’t ever seem to be brought in to raise the bar” seemed especially resonant.

Dat

With any luck, one day in the not too distant future, something like [Dat][] will be interesting to humanists. What is Dat? Dat is “an open source project that provides a streaming interface between every file format and data storage backend.”

[Dat]: http://dat-data.com

40 Maps

Vox has a great series of *40 Maps That Explain X*. So far they have:

* [40 Maps That Explain the Roman Empire](http://www.vox.com/2014/8/19/5942585/40-maps-that-explain-the-roman-empire),
* [40 Maps That Explain World War I](http://www.vox.com/a/world-war-i-maps), and
* [40 Maps That Explain the Middle East](http://www.vox.com/a/maps-explain-the-middle-east).

Learn Astronomy

Like gazing at the stars? [Learn them](http://www.mysliderule.com/blog/astronomy-for-beginners-free-online-courses/). (I especially like the always-on, free course from the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona. It’s on [Udemy][]. [YAM? {Yet Another MOOC}])

Bonus points for embedment.

Jessica Hagy

[I hope Jessica Hagy is right.][jh] Someone out there is reading this. Someone gets me. And this will lead to a better something.

*Sooner, rather than later, would be nice.*

[jh]: https://medium.com/i-love-charts/ive-been-blogging-for-8-freaking-years-8ee71659d4c6

Amazon 3D Prints

[Amazon now offers 3D printing on demand.][a] It looks like you can only order from some pre-determined templates, but I wonder if there isn’t a way to upload designs — I know a number of on-line vendors offer this. Speaking of which, that reminds me that our local library now has a 3D printer. It’s time to swing by to see what they are up to and to get more involved with the local maker scene.

[a]: http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=8323871011

Reading Heidegger

The New York Times has published an opinion essay on why reading Heidegger remains important, despite his many carbuncles. (And he had some.)

Gratuitous Photo of Heidegger from the 1920s

Gratuitous Photo of Heidegger from the 1920s

iPython’s Abilities

Speaking of iPython, Fernando Perez gave a great talk at a Canadian PyCon in 2012 that outlines the relationship between science and computing. It’s a relationship that the humanities would do well to think about.

I’ve been embedding video regularly, and I thought I would give readers’ bandwidth a bit of a break with a link to [watch on Youtube](http://youtu.be/F4rFuIb1Ie4).

Mike Rowe Answers

I don’t like most celebrities, and I don’t like the celebrity-oriented moment through which we seem to be passing. I am especially dismayed by how well the celebrity machine works: get famous/known in one domain and the work that celebrity (*cum* brand) for all it’s worth. And I mean all. It’s insufferable really.

Except … except for Mike Rowe. Why is Mike Rowe my exception? First, because he seems all too aware that luck plays a role in any success — and to be fair to him, hard and unending work plays an equal role (but plenty of people work hard and never catch a break and Mike Rowe gets that, doesn’t seem ever to forget it). Second, because he has take his success and tried to do something honestly good with it. Third, he’s just funnily honest and honestly funny.

Take his response to a young man who was [looking for the perfect job][mr]: Rowe’s response is get a job and make the most of it, enjoy life and work wherever you are to the best of your abilities. Create opportunities, but don’t wait for them. And quit saying no to opportunities because they aren’t the one you have convinced yourself is *the* one.

*Note to self*: take the next job offer that comes your way.

[mr]: http://news.distractify.com/people/mike-rowe-crushes-a-mans-hopes-for-finding-a-dream-job-and-i-agree-with-him-100/?v=1

Computers and Writing 1990

How cool is it that [Computers and Writing has the conference up from the sixth annual meeting (1990)][cw]? There I am with my collaborator, and co-teacher, Henry Jankiewicz. It looks like we were saying some smart stuff. (And it also looks like I’ve been thinking about computers and education for a while now, I just didn’t know it.)

[cw]: http://computersandwriting.org/sites/default/files/cw1990/index.html

Life

A [Quora post][] about what it’s like to be falsely imprisoned also strangely captures what it’s like to be at a university that no longer cares about being a university and, it seems, actively undermines faculty:

> The first few months of prison life are about adaptation. It’s a different society, a subculture of power — physical, emotional, and spiritual. There are simple rules. Obey and internalize those rules and you’ll get by.
>
> As the years pile up, feigned apathy becomes your outward mask. But on the inside, anger and bitterness consume you. Revenge occupies your so-called free moments. At other odd times, you fantasize about living a normal life…or escaping to a tropical paradise…or dying in prison.

[Quora post]: http://www.quora.com/What-is-it-like-to-be-wrongly-convicted