The Ideological Turing Test for Religion is gearing up for another go round. It’s a contest where Atheists and Christians test how well they understand each other. Contestants try to write from the perspective of the other side, and the readers see if they can tell true from false. We’re finalizing the list of questions this weekend, so please do weigh in on what kinds of prompts would elicit very different responses from atheists and Christians.
I don’t blog about work here, but luckily all the context you need for the next take is that I do a lot of statistical analysis, some of it related to bank reform, and I’m pretty tough. You see, when I mentioned to a friend I was listening to Sweeney Todd at work, a collaborative relyricization was born.
LEAH LEANS ON THE OFFICE WALL,
LEAH WAITS ON THE WASHINGTON MALL.
NO ONE CAN HELP, NOTHING CAN HIDE YOU -
ISN’T THAT LEAH THERE BESIDE YOU?
LIFT YOUR DATA HIGH, LEAH,
SHOW IT TO THE PRESS!
DEATH TO CARDS AND BANKS THAT SHOULD CHARGE
SHE’D SENT OUT SURVEYS NEAR AND FAR
AND RUN THE NUMBERS TWICE IN R
AND IF YOU ARGUED WITH DATA SHE MINED
IT WAS HIGHLY PROBABLE YOU WOULD FIND
YOU’D EXPERIENCE RIGOR OF A DIFFERENT KIND
YOUR EPITAPH SIGNED:
THE DEMON STATISTICIAN OF DC
Look, it’s not for nothing that the picture at the top of this take was my favorite birthday present last year.
So, as you can tell, I’m pretty cool, but this guy who makes fractal pancakes is way cooler.
The internet has made it easy to put hire humans for weird tasks, and I love the way Matt Richardson has put this to use. He’s created what he calls a “descriptive camera.” Instead of recording an image, it outputs a text description of the scene you just shot. He’s using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk program to farm out the work. Humans receive the image and type up a description, which the camera then prints out. Here’s one ‘descriptive image’ generated so far:
Looks like a cupboard which is ugly and old having name plates on it with a study lamp attached to it.
The last take linked to descriptions of pictures and this project collects pictures that all match one description: What would you take out of a fire? My favorite is above.
I wonder if, as more data moves to the cloud, computers will drop out of these shots. I wouldn’t like to lose something expensive, but I’d really run back in for my external hard drive at least because I don’t want to lose something irreplaceable.
Via io9, the cool-looking trailer for Argo, Ben Afflect’s new too-weird-to be-fictional movie about the U.S. faking a science fiction movie as cover to smuggle out six American hostages in Iran (they got out and hid themselves before all the other embassy workers were rounded up).
The Wired story that reports on the non-fictional mission is awesome.
I would hate for a Friday link roundup to go by without a history of medicine story, and, luckily, Atul Gawande, one of my favorite science writers, has a piece in the New England Journal of Medicine. Here’s my favorite quote:
It would take a little while for surgeons to discover that the use of anesthesia allowed them time to be meticulous. Despite the advantages of anesthesia, Liston, like many other surgeons, proceeded in his usual lightning-quick and bloody way. Spectators in the operating-theater gallery would still get out their pocket watches to time him. The butler’s operation, for instance, took an astonishing 25 seconds from incision to wound closure. (Liston operated so fast that he once accidentally amputated an assistant’s fingers along with a patient’s leg, according to Hollingham. The patient and the assistant both died of sepsis, and a spectator reportedly died of shock, resulting in the only known procedure with a 300% mortality.)
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