Sunday Reading

A nuclear power plant near the epicenter of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami survived because an engineer insisted the seawall be built five times as high as was recommended. (Oregon Live)

The average American family makes less, in real terms, than it did in 1989. (Washington Post)

Kurt Vonnegut, life advice to some students who wrote him. (Letters of Note)

Hunter S. Thompson gives life advice to a friend at 20 years old. Just read the actual letter and skip the commentary. (Brain Pickings)

The real reason Van Halen had the no brown M&M's clause in their rider; it was a tip-off for quality. (Tim Ferriss)

I'm more convinced than ever that the internet has fundamentally altered our perception of what does and does not qualify for compensation. Anyways, a New York Times write explains the changes in his industry. (NYT)

Autonomous cars - safer, smoother, more fuel efficient. (MIT Tech Review)

40% of adults 24-35 years old will spend at least a year making 1.5 times the poverty line or less. By age 35 25% of them will have lived for at least a year below the poverty line. (The Atlantic)

It's official. Internet service in America is terrible and overpriced. (Dailydot)

Gaming in general has been on the rise, but I was unaware the PC gaming is huge and growing.

Sunday Reading

How the iPad made tablets mainstream. (Wired)

How Chris McCandless (of Into the Wild fame) actually died. (The New Yorker)

The total diet replacement Soylent continues its interesting climb to prominence. (Wired)

A National Geographic photographer's experience with leopard seals. (Imgur)

A large percentage of young people in Japan aren't interested in sex. (The Guardian) An interesting take on why this is happening. (reddit/r/bestof)

Sleep flushes away proteins that cause Alzheimer's. (Washington Post)

Target stops asking potential hires if they're ever been convicted of a felony. (New York Times)

New home sizes in square feet from around the world. There are certainly confounding variables such as percentage of the population that lives in apartments, number of people inhabiting home, etc., but it's none the less interesting to see the great variance in something that we typically see as a norm. (Source)

Werner Herzog on the Colbert Report:
I want the audience with me in wild fantasies. In something that illuminates them. You see, if I were only fact based, you see the book of books in literature then would be the Manhattan phone directory. 4 million entries, everything correct, but it dusts out of my ears and I do not know; do they dream at night? Does Mr. Jonathan Smith cry in his pillow at night? We do not know anything when we check all the correct entries in the phone directory. I am not this kind of a film maker.
To which Colbert says "Sir, if I may? I want to party with you, cowboy."

Sunday Morning Reading

Photos of San Francisco's new eastern span of the Bay Bridge. (Wired)

Photovoltaics continue their march to prominence. (NYT)

First mechanical gear found inside living creature. It also happens to be a new variety of gear. (Popular Mechanics)

A beautiful video of Tesla's factory and talk with one of its directors. (Wired) Bonus, their Model S achieved the highest safety rating of a car ever. (Tesla Motors)

Police wearing cameras all the time seems to improve outcomes for everyone. Less force is used and less complaints are filed against the police. (NYT)

Remarkable photos of Hong Kong's high rises. (Wired)

US food desert map that's well visualized. (Wired)

A few tips/tests to improve your graphic design layouts. I particularly like the upside down test. When shooting medium format film cameras the image is reversed and in large format also upside down. It forces you to study the composition before releasing the shutter - same concept. (Tree House Blog)

NASA is running out of Plutonium-238 (the stuff they use to power all unmanned missions) and it seems to be largely due to a lack of political will. Damnit government - start loving science, and not just the kind that kills people. (Wired)

59% of jobs added in the last year were part time. (John Lott)

The typical American family makes less money (in real terms) than it did in 1989. (Washington Post)

The new pope continues to be level headed and overall seem like a fairly swell guy. Help the poor and love one another. As an outsider, it seems like a positive shift in mission framing. (NYT)

A well done and non-facile explanation of why US healthcare is expensive and not all that great. It's worth your eight minutes.

Werner Herzog narrates Where's Waldo? Hilarious.

His  last answer is brilliant.

Morning Links

20-somethings are unemployed and losing hope. The whole situation reminds me of a chapter from Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart that says "the problems of the elderly are often serious and seldom interesting", which to some extent explains why my parents generation cannot comprehend what's happening to anyone under 30 who's just trying to start a life. (policymic)

A hole in the wall noodle shop in Hong Kong that serves $1.50 dishes got a Michelin Star. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Whole Foods is opening a store in Englewood (one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago). (Chicago Sun Times)

Video games can help older people regain cognitive function. (NYT) has been publicizing trade association books and building codes, which are law, on it's site for the last few years. Those of us in the design world often have to continually buy $100+ books of these codes. Well ASTM, ASHRAE, et. al. finally decided to sue the website, so the outcome of this court decision will decide if parts of the law can only be viewed after being bought from a book. (Washington Post)

Classical music competitions apparently place more importance on visual cues than auditory. Anecdotally, when I played paintball my team and I could tell how good someone was just by watching their body language; even very briefly. What's interesting to me is the shock from professional classical musicians saying that their auditory expertise, at least in this case, is comprimised. (Harvard Gazette)

Weekend Reading

Prostitution, porneia in Greek, was both much more rampant, accepted, and common in pre-christian Western societies. This whole post and any comment by /u/BBlasdel is worth reading. (Reddit AskHistorians)

Germany has the largest number of solar panels of any country and it's destabilizing their power companies. Watch and learn America. (Slate)

A Google engineer gets an award from the NSA, accepts it, then says they should be abolished. Then he shows up on Reddit and promptly does a fantastic AMA (ask me anything). (

The Greeks had MMA but it was even more brutal and was known as Pankration. It was the only sport not reinstated at the 1896 Olympics. (Wikipedia)

Scientists supposedly found out what's killing the bees in North America. Fungicides make them more susceptible to nosema. (Quartz)

Why homes are less advanced than cars. (GreenBuildingAdvisor)

Psychopaths, I think they mean those afflicted with antisocial personality disorder, can in fact engage in empathy. They just have to be asked to do so. (BBC Science)

The relationship between McDonald's prices and calories. Discussion. (Reddit DataisBeautiful)

There used to be a plant know as silphium that acted as birth control that grew around the Mediterranean. As with so many human endeavors, it went extinct as it proved too useful. (Wikipedia)

Who knew so many people were on food stamps? Roughly one in seven Americans is on food stamps. The average benefit is about $4/day. I found it pretty hard to eat for $5/day. (Washington Post)

For architects here's some longer reads: Energy Efficient Building Enclosures and Sound Transmission Through Gypsum Board Walls.

Sunday Reading

Long reads this week:

Wired's Q & A with Mark Zukerburg reveals a more thoughtful person than expected.

Philosophical Landmines on

There's a legal drug called modafinil that many productive people seem to be exploiting.

The Bitcoin bubble.

I've been looking for this for a long time now - Loevinger's stages of ego development. Backed by good research, but I'd caution understanding this in hard science terms.

This Atlantic article places much of the economic blame on Baby Boomers.

Psilocybin, the active chemical in psychadelic mushrooms, may improve personality in the long term. What's interesting about this is the credible source.

And a random quote from Noam Chomsky:
Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt they can’t afford the time to think. Tuition fee increases are a “disciplinary technique,” and, by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the “disciplinarian culture.” This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy.

Sunday Reading

My friend Alex showed me a site called data visualization blog called Flowing Data.

Natural gas prices are artificially low in the US because we're not allowed to export it. (I knew energy was getting too cheap, seriously)

Woodworking / design studio from Oregon called Phloem (relevant). Just great work.

Apple and Google difference in culture apparent from HQ design. Reminds me of this NYT article.

A very analytical person figures out how to make soylent (a drink that satisfies all your dietary needs).

Academic study comparing the actual economic views of Republicans and Democrats. Surprise, we're basically the same.

A visual guide to how the Federal Reserve works. Heavily bordering on wonkish.

Food is so expensive! American's spend less on food than any other nation on earth.

Animals are really smart, have feelings, etc. Continuing the trend of, we're just not that different from the other living organisms of this planet.

Sunday Reading

On having ideas, being creative, productive, and following through. New York Times

Real talk on investment advice. Reddit

An explanation of why Afghanistan is always at war. Reddit

The chief economist at the IMF, the guy who wrote my undergrad. econ. text book, admits that austerity in Europe has been more harsh than he expected. Washington Post

A succinct and useful explanation of what Obamacare does, when it happens, and all with sources. Reddit

The images that were placed on the Voyager spacecraft that was launched in 1977 that are currently at the edge of our solar system and the furthest objects ever sent from earth. Imgur

Analog bird call music box. Colossal