best endtimes ever

The Alnwick Poison Garden is pretty much what you’d think it is: a garden full of plants that can kill you (among many other things). Some of the plants are so dangerous that they have to be kept behind bars. [x]

Let's build a social network! »

fluffy-critter:

Lately I’ve been on a huge RSS-evangelism kick. I don’t want to see it die out. It’s an open standard that was built to enable the free sharing of ideas on the web in a transparent, simple, free manner, without any advertisers dictating what you could or should see.

Unfortunately, advertisers are what fund the systems that make it easy to get and share online, and as a result, the various getting-online services have a vested interest in keeping people captive within those networks; the last thing they want is to make it easy for people to import or export feeds that can be used on other systems.

So, here’s my guide to getting your own social presence going without too much work. I’ll try to keep things simple, but feel free to make suggestions to keep things simpler!

RM: One thing that bothers me is large numbers presented without context. We’re always seeing things like, “This canal project will require 1.15 million tons of concrete.” It’s presented as if it should mean something to us, as if numbers are inherently informative. So we feel like if we don’t understand it, it’s our fault.

But I have only a vague idea of what one ton of concrete looks like. I have no idea what to think of a million tons. Is that a lot? It’s clearly supposed to sound like a lot, because it has the word “million” in it. But on the other hand, “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” made $7 million at the box office, and it was one of the biggest flops in movie history.

It can be more useful to look for context. Is concrete a surprisingly large share of the project’s budget? Is the project going to consume more concrete than the rest of the state combined? Will this project use up a large share of the world’s concrete? Or is this just easy, space-filling trivia?

Randall Munroe Of xkcd Answers Our (Not So Absurd) Questions

timoni:

I gave a talk a while back on how important comparative data is. My take was more grandiose—I think it’s really the ethical obligation of the Internet-makers to design it in to every web property— but Munroe succinctly nails why it’s so important. Without context, facts just ain’t useful. With comparative data, we not only can build up a narrative around the news we hear and the goings-on of the world, but we close the loop: things are easier to grasp, make more sense; alien countries and religions seem more understandable, recognizable, familiar.

These ‘non-places’ have radically changed the concept of home, not only for most of us in the first world but for a growing number of those in the developing world. Perhaps nothing has left so strong a mark on our identities as the periods spent in the sky and in the airports that gather together assorted strangers before sorting them on to different planes. An airport ‘hub’ is a stopping point between places. The ‘hub’ is an apt metaphor for how many of us among the privileged are living out the meaning of home in everyday practice. Those who are frequent flyers and spend much of the year moving between places might find that the place we call home has come to seem like the route to elsewhere. Home is where you do your laundry, run to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned, and frantically rest your weary bones before embarking on the next odyssey. In turn, airport hubs are trying to become our homes, offering outlets to recharge our numerous devices so we can continue to communicate from afar, as well as shopping, restaurants, prayer rooms, and massage.
Ruth Behar, Searching for home: My connection to place is fluid and complex. In a nomadic world, do we still need a home?