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Big data. Xkcd on how many Twitters are possible. The Postmodernity of Big Data. Why the World Can't Have a Nate Silver - By Jay Ulfelder. After a presidential election that Nate Silver and a smattering of other statistical modelers forecast with remarkable accuracy, quantitative enthusiasts -- quants -- are talking some hard-earned smack.

Why the World Can't Have a Nate Silver - By Jay Ulfelder

"This is about the triumph of machines and software over gut instinct," Dan Lyons extolled at the tech blog ReadWrite. "The age of voodoo is over. How He Got It Right by Andrew Hacker. If You’re Surprised By The Election Results, You’re The Reason You Lost, Or: A Plea For Useful Republicans. Dear Republicans: I know the despair you feel this morning, and sympathize, because I’ve been there.

If You’re Surprised By The Election Results, You’re The Reason You Lost, Or: A Plea For Useful Republicans

In 2004 my stiff, robotic millionaire lost to a President he should have soundly thumped, and I was so hurt I took a week off from the Internet afterwards. I am completely sympathetic with that slow terror that the country is now in the hands of an incompetent, and the voters don’t even know it. But I noticed a weird difference between the way Republicans and Democrats reacted to a losing candidate. In 2004, when the polls turned against Kerry and it was obvious he was going to lose, the Democrats asked “How can we fix that?”

In Silicon Valley, Technology Talent Gap Threatens G.O.P. Campaigns. SAN FRANCISCO – I live in Brooklyn, where President Obama won 81 percent of the vote this month.

In Silicon Valley, Technology Talent Gap Threatens G.O.P. Campaigns

It’s hard to find anywhere in the country that is more Democratic-leaning. But San Francisco qualifies. Here, Mr. The Meme Hustler. Tim O’Reilly’s crazy talk Evgeny Morozov [from The Baffler No. 22, 2013] While the brightest minds of Silicon Valley are “disrupting” whatever industry is too crippled to fend off their advances, something odd is happening to our language.

The Meme Hustler

Old, trusted words no longer mean what they used to mean; often, they don’t mean anything at all. Our language, much like everything these days, has been hacked. How a dead dog came back to bite Richard Nixon's Watergate conspirators. Copa de Oro, just off Sunset Boulevard, in LA, is a lovely evening's drive in a Kappa Alpha Theta's ragtop Buick convertible just around a leafy curve from the luxurious Bel Air hotel. It's a mile or so up from the swanky East Gate, a few minutes from UCLA, where I was a GI Bill student at the start of the cold war. This rebel sorority girl would park us behind tall dense hedges that hid the homes of America's best paid executive, MGM's Louis B Mayer, and lots of movie stars. And under the dark ficus trees, I'd bring out a copy of Lenin's What is to be Done? Or Marx's Communist Manifesto – why else date a sorority princess if not to enlighten her?

And Connie, Tracy or Carolyn would scoff and push my hand away, and we'd both reach for the safety pin of the Scotch plaid skirt she and many of her sorority sisters wore that year's fashion. A New Approach to the Holocaust by Timothy Snyder. Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews by Peter Longerich Oxford University Press, 645 pp., $34.95 Heinrich Himmler: Biographie.

A New Approach to the Holocaust by Timothy Snyder

Dawson’s Christendom and the Catholic Intellectual Life. BRADLEY J.

Dawson’s Christendom and the Catholic Intellectual Life

BIRZER As it turned out, the Christendom trilogy served as the last great work of English-Welsh historian and man of letters Christopher Dawson (1889-1970). Sort of. The trilogy derived, originally, from lectures Dawson had delivered while teaching at Harvard University between 1958 and 1962. Horse owners are the one percent: How social inequality was born. Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Horse owners are the one percent: How social inequality was born

Mitt Romney's Oldenburg mare, Rafalca, is off to London for Olympic dressage. Stephen Colbert has declared "competitive horse prancing" his Sport of the Summer, pointedly mocking the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for looking like a 1 percent aristocrat. After all, though Rafalca’s price is undisclosed, when the Romneys bought the horse in 2006, dressage prospects of her caliber cost as much as, if not more than, an average American home. Her annual overhead of more than $77,000 is double that of the average American family’s.

No wonder the elite equestriennes gracing this month's Town & Country are all billionaire princesses. President Obama Would Choose to Fight the Horse-Sized Duck - Conor Friedersdorf. The fact that he'd be less physically intimidated by 100 whinnying, duck-sized horses hardly matters.

President Obama Would Choose to Fight the Horse-Sized Duck - Conor Friedersdorf

President Obama's handlers failed to alert their boss to the most clever question he was asked on Reddit in August: "Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck? " Staffers with more Reddit savvy could've prepped an answer. Last autumn, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof had a quick response. Physicist uses math to avoid traffic penalty. A physicist faced with a fine for running a stop sign has proved his innocence by publishing a mathematical paper, and has even won a prize for his efforts.

Physicist uses math to avoid traffic penalty

Dmitri Krioukov is a physicist based at the University of California in San Diego. When faced with a court hearing over allegedly driving through a stop sign, he put together a paper called The Proof of Innocence, which he has since published. How Brainless Slime Molds Redefine Intelligence [Video] Gardeners sometimes encounter them in their backyards—spongy yellow masses squatting in the dirt or slowly swallowing wood chips.

How Brainless Slime Molds Redefine Intelligence [Video]

Hikers often spot them clinging to the sides of rotting logs like spilled bowls of extra cheesy macaroni. In Mexico some people reportedly scrape their tender bodies from trees and rocks and scramble them like eggs. They are slime molds: gelatinous amoebae that have little to do with the kinds of fungal mold that ruin sourdough and pumpernickel. Biologists currently classify slime molds as protists, a taxonomic group reserved for "everything we don't really understand," says Chris Reid of the University of Sydney. Something scientists have come to understand is that slime molds are much smarter than they look.

This video was produced through a collaboration between NOVA and Scientific American. To test this idea, Reid and his colleagues placed slime molds in a petri dish behind a U-shaped barrier that blocked a direct route to a piece of food. Why the Brazil nuts are on top Phys. Rev. Lett. 58, 1038 (1987) The Shadow Scholar - The Chronicle Review. The Shocking Savagery of America’s Early History. The Undertaker's Racket - Jessica Mitford. Jessica Mitford's curiosity about undertakers was "whetted by the funeral trade magazines which opened up for me the bizarre world of the 'average' American funeral, far more curious than the death customs of ancient days or remote tribes. Further investigation convinced me that the fall implications of the funeral industry are undreamt of by the average American, even in his nightmares. " Her book, The American Way of Death, will be published this summer by Simon & Schuster.

In 1960, Americans spent, according to the only available government estimate, $1.6 billion on funerals, setting thereby a new national and world record. The $1.6 billion is, as we shall see, only a portion of what was actually spent on what the death industry calls "the care and memorialization of the dead. " The $1.6 billion figure that is given for our national burial bill is furnished by the U.S. The Invention of Political Consulting. “I, Governor of California, and How I Ended Poverty,” by Upton Sinclair, is probably the most thrilling piece of campaign literature ever written.

Instead of the usual flummery, Sinclair, the author of forty-seven books, including, most famously, “The Jungle,” wrote a work of fiction. “I, Governor of California,” published in 1933, announced Sinclair’s gubernatorial bid in the form of a history of the future, in which Sinclair is elected governor in 1934, and by 1938 has eradicated poverty. “So far as I know,” the author remarked, “this is the first time an historian has set out to make his history true.” It was only sixty-four pages, but it sold a hundred and fifty thousand copies in four months. Chapter 1: “On an evening in August, 1933, there took place a conference attended by five members of the County Central Committee of the Democratic party, Sixtieth Assembly District of the State of California.”

Clay Wins Title in Seventh-Round Upset As Liston Is Halted by Shoulder Injury. Adam Green: The Spectacular Thefts of Apollo Robbins, Pickpocket. A few years ago, at a Las Vegas convention for magicians, Penn Jillette, of the act Penn and Teller, was introduced to a soft-spoken young man named Apollo Robbins, who has a reputation as a pickpocket of almost supernatural ability. The CIA Burglar Who Went Rogue. Whodunnit? How to Make Almost Anything. Penn Jillette Reveals the Secrets of Fire-Eating.

What is the Monkeysphere? "There's that word again... " The Phantom Phone Booth LA Review of Books. Read, I, Pencil. I, Pencil My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write. Martin Luther King Christmas Sermon on Peace. Martin Luther King Dr. The Marginal World by Rachel Carson. Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek - Multimedia Feature.

Joy by Zadie Smith. Space smells like seared steak, hot metal, astronauts report (+video) Astronauts who have gone on spacewalks consistently speak of space's extraordinarily peculiar odor. Skip to next paragraph Subscribe Today to the Monitor Click Here for your FREE 30 DAYS ofThe Christian Science MonitorWeekly Digital Edition Astronaut Greg Chamitoff, aboard the International Space Station 220 miles above Earth, is taking your questions.

Here's your chance to hear direct from space. Science & Environment - Drake equation: How many alien civilizations exist? Are we alone? Paul Graham Essays. Secrets of the Colosseum. Cannibalism in Jamestown: Colonists Ate a 14-Year-Old Girl's Brain - James Hamblin. Archaeologists announced today the "first solid evidence" that some 17th-century American colonists consumed one another. Numerous small knife cuts along the jawbone of "Jane of Jamestown," seen during a news conference at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History today (AP / Carolyn Kaster) Part I. Paul Erdos, the Kevin Bacon of Mathematics » TimeBlimp. Los Angeles Review of Books - A Man Apart. Are Savages Noble? The Bomb Didn't Beat Japan... Stalin Did - By Ward Wilson.

The U.S. use of nuclear weapons against Japan during World War II has long been a subject of emotional debate. Initially, few questioned President Truman's decision to drop two atomic bombs, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But, in 1965, historian Gar Alperovitz argued that, although the bombs did force an immediate end to the war, Japan's leaders had wanted to surrender anyway and likely would have done so before the American invasion planned for November 1. Was America’s Economic Prosperity Just a Historical Accident? There Never Was Such a Thing as a Red Phone in the White House. 1491 - Charles C. Mann. What Can Bees Teach Us About Gang Warfare? Applied Ethics in Agriculture Socy/Econ course syllabus and readings.

Medieval animal trials: Why they’re not quite as crazy as they sound. Historical & Contemporary Prosecution and Punishment of Animals. » Talmud and the Turing Test The Occasional Pamphlet. Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology. A Year After the Non-Apocalypse: Where Are They Now? Insane Clown Posse: And God created controversy. Jay-Z's 99 problems close reading w 4th amendment for cops and perps. Why Rituals Work. The History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary. Freakonomics: What Went Wrong? Remembering the mistakes of Challenger. Short Guys Finish Last by Jonathan Rauch. With Ryan's Ascent, A Few Thoughts On 'Entitlement' Are Entitlements Corrupting Us? No. Learning to Love Volatility: Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Antifragile. Re-examining Significant Research: The Problem of False-Positives. Some Statistical Habits to Add, or Subtract, in the New Year. Episode 471: The Eddie Murphy Rule : Planet Money.

The Surprising Complexity of Lobster Prices.