7 Quick Takes (5/11/12)

— 1 —

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.

— 2 —

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
CLIENTS LESS!

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.

— 3 —

So, as you can tell, I’m pretty cool, but this guy who makes fractal pancakes is way cooler.

— 4 —

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.

— 5 —

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.

— 6 —

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).

YouTube Preview Image

 

The Wired story that reports on the non-fictional mission is awesome.

— 7 —

Sterilizing an operation with carbolic acid

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.)

 

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as an Editorial Assistant at The American Conservative by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

  • deiseach

    “some of it related to bank reform”

    Please tell me that one at least of the survey questions for higher-ups in banks is “Do you know the difference between ‘this is my money’ and ‘this is not my money’?” Because over here, at least, we had members of the board of directors who seemed to consider the banks as their own personal piggy banks and are now in court weeping tears about the mean, cruel treatment they received from the receivers.

    If you are rigorous, I congratulate you; if there are complaints of your rigour, I give to you the same advice that the courtiers gave Rehoboam to answer the complaints of the people: “My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”

    :-)

  • http://northierthanthou.com nothierthanthou

    Fractal pancakes?

    Want!

  • Joe

    And I thought my mom was cool for making Mickey Mouse pancakes!!!

  • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

    Crossposting arguments for God as you ask would be fun if the comments weren’t closed.

  • http://thelostcoin.org Marc

    Hi Leah.
    A little bit off topic. You use to have some links to both atheist and religious blogs in the side bar. The latter seems no longer to exist and I was wondering why.

    In any case, thanks for your blog, I’ve been following it for more than a year now and keep enjoying it and finding good food for though.

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

      My money’s on the Patheos redesign. Rather frustrating, I think, that it only shows off random posts from her atheist brethren. Not quite as ecumenical.

    • leahlibresco

      Yup, Patheos redesign. Apparently the widget I was using, which pulled most-recent-post-titles through RSS was really badly written and was slowing page loads. It got pulled while they look for a better alternative. (I don’t like static blogrolls as much, since a title isn’t much to go on).

  • TR

    Must. Make. Fractal Pancakes!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxVn-b6ADqE

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com Sabio Lantz

    Do you have comments turned off on your next post entitled “Which Apologetics Need Answers?”??

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

      So you noticed that too?

    • leahlibresco

      Don’t know what’s wrong with that, and I don’t see how to reverse it. I’ve pinged Patheos staff.

      • leahlibresco

        And now the comments are open again!


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