7QT: The Odder Errors of Computers and Humans

--- 1 --- My family tends to share thoughts on the New Yorker caption contest every week, over email, when the magazine arrives (no wins yet!). But I didn't know that our entries might be being winnowed out by a computer.  BloombergBusiness has a nice feature on the Microsoft team working with the New Yorker cartoon editor to see if they can build a program that can tell the difference between funny captions and ones that fall flat. For the study, Shahaf fed cartoons and captions from the New Y … [Read more...]

7QT: Well Designed Studies, Metaphors, and Parties

--- 1 --- I've had some pretty good Sondheim birthdays, but this toddler's parents have thrown the best party. To celebrate her son’s first birthday, L’erin Dobra threw him a Mickey Mouse party.Planning out Grayson’s second birthday party, Ms. Dobra chose a different theme, one that reflected her little boy’s most passionate interest: New Orleans personal injury lawyer Morris Bart.Mr. Bart is a familiar face in Louisiana thanks to his ubiquitous TV ads and a firm motto that would make S … [Read more...]

7QT: Inventive takes on Electronics, Priesthood, and Stereoscopic Vision

--- 1 --- Thanks to anyone who contributed to my birthday fundraiser for GiveDirectly!  I set $300 as a goal, and, between you guys and my offline friends, folks have raised over $400 for this highly effective cash transfer program!Also, because my friends, like me, are huge dorks, a number of people donated psuedononymously under names like:MORALITY ITSELF PPJ Bobby Tables; SELECT * FROM USERS; :) (see here if confused)I love you guys.  The fundraiser is still open, if you'd l … [Read more...]

7QT: Time-travel, Esperanto, Dinosaurs, and Other Oddly Expressed Dreams

--- 1 --- First things first: the song of the week--- 2 --- Elsewhere in science news, I really enjoyed this article about lizards who find their way home by a still unknown mechanism (especially all the weird ways scientists have tried to rule out various answers) Then the researchers created caps with pieces of Ping-Pong ball, and attached them with surgical glue and cork as a cushion, to the heads of the anoles to interfere with polarized light that might reach an organ in the brain … [Read more...]

7QT: How Composing, Covers, and Costumes Work

--- 1 --- Hi folks!  Did you want to read a novella-length article on how software development works?  I thought you might!I enjoyed the heck out of Paul Ford's "What is Code?" for Bloomberg Businessweek (and it's one of only a couple articles I can think of that makes excellent use of being on the web--letting you play around with little snippets of example code, animations, etc).  I'd say check it out and see if you wind up enjoying it!(Because I have a little background on this, I'm n … [Read more...]

7QT: Not Breathing, Not Marrying, and Opening Beers With Your Teeth

--- 1 --- So, remember how I mentioned that the last question at my book talk in DC was about transhumanism?  Well, here's a particularly amusing body augmentation: If you're a rugby player, you're going to take a lot of hits — and you might even lose a tooth or two. Rather than replace those lost incisors with regular old implants, athletes might consider something more useful — a steel tooth that doubles as a bottle opener. --- 2 --- Speaking of impressive new bodily powers, I liked this Na … [Read more...]

7QT: Strange Shakespeare and Hallucinogenic Honey

--- 1 --- We already had roses and a cat in contention, but I think Pedro may win for best picture with my new book, Arriving At Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer so far.  He took this at a Brazilian Congressional hearing that he was speaking at.I'd love to see more action shots from readers -- if you don't have access to a Congress for photoshoots, why not conquer Luxembourg or something, to get a better backdrop.Or come to one of my upcoming book talks in DC, NYC, … [Read more...]