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Brooks Moses
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Brooks Moses

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Breaking news: Borderlands may stay open!  Yay!
As a result of the ideas suggested at the meeting we hosted last Thursday, and the emails that have been pouring in, the staff and I have come up with a plan to keep Borderlands open. Below you'll find the details of it and following that, you'll find my reasoning behind it and some Q&A.
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Brooks Moses

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Today's OED randomness: Usage of the word "ask" as a noun for "a thing asked for" dates back a thousand years or more.

Also, the use of the word ask as a noun meaning "newt" dates back nearly that long, and was reportedly a common usage in Scotland and north England at least until not that long ago.  This meaning of the word may enliven your next meeting.
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"She turned me into an ask!"
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This, this, a thousand times this.  Even if it does hit closely enough to home to hurt a bit.
In the landline-days of old, a plan had to be a solid commitment. Now, it more closely resembles a series of nebulous inklings. For some context, we made this video: If you do decide to embark on making plans in 2014, I have also prepared this... | Alex Cornell | Founder at Moonbase. Previously UberConference
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Don't have flaky friends.
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Here, have a pleasant daily dose of surrealism.  (The whole journal is worth reading, but I particularly liked this one.)
She’d been living in the woods for weeks. It took a while, but she was able to adapt her skills from the streets to her new environs. Stealing a gentleman’s wristcomp wasn’t all that different from snaring a grouse. Street rats and squirrels both gathered caches of food that…
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This graph makes me very sad.  Well, not the graph really, the actuality behind it.

I mean, I have seen graphs of the inequality trends before, many times, but this presentation really does show quite starkly that gender equality in computer science were going along making notably good progress, and then in 1984 Something Went Horribly Wrong.  And then 20 years later something else went Even More Horribly Wrong, though the article doesn't discuss that one.

And one of the sad things about it: What happened in 1984?  What happened in 1984 was this: 1984 Apple's Macintosh Commercial (HD).  Personal computers happened with all sorts of great promise for creativity, and should have revolutionized the world of computer science for a whole generation of kids who would now grow up with computers around.  But, somehow, this only revolutionized it for boys; girls got left behind.

It's all contemporary with the slide away from commercial toy marketing looking (sometimes, anyway) like http://www.whatitisisbeautiful.com/1981-lego-ad/, which probably also tells us something.
For decades, the share of women majoring in computer science was rising. Then, in the 1980s, something changed.
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I was just thinking that I didn't know any girls with a computer in the 80s/90s, but then I realised I just didn't know any girls. Well, not so well as to know what they had at home anyway.

The point is the same though: computer ownership may have been unbalanced back then, but surely isn't now, so on that logic, why isn't there an uptick?
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It's remarkable how much a lot of these photos of Dubai look like CGI renderings.
After two week-long adventures over the countries of Europe,and upon returning back to Russia, it was decided to go elsewhere, and preferably somewhere warm. Being accompanied by Marat and Vadim, a decision was made to fly to The United Arab Emirates and its biggest city of Dubai.
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It's not a coincidence that it looks like a strange alien civilization from a distopian science fiction movie.
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Brooks Moses

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Sadness and woe, indeed.  Borderlands is closing.
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But....
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I'm too sleepy at the moment to really think usefully about this essay on the importance of the distinction between anger and abuse in communities (particularly but not only online), and the importance of not tolerating the latter even when tolerating the former is critical.  But it seems like something that's at least pointing at really important things.
On tolerating personal abuse. While I don't consider myself part of the science fiction community directly (my con-going days are probably over), I do follow it across a wide variety of blogs. There are a lot of hard conversations and considerable soul-searching going on right now concerning an ...
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Sad news.  I have many fond memories of listening to Car Talk on Saturday mornings with +Shane Moses and working on cars together.

Remember folks, don't drive like my brother!
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Yes, I saw that and felt sad, too.  I've wondered why I always felt nostalgic listening to those guys since I'm not terribly interested in car repair. ;)  Now I realize it's because you and Shane listened to them when you were working on those old Mustangs.  I'd forgotten that little detail. Love you both! 
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Here's a Kickstarter for a story anthology that I'd really like to see funded. They've got a week or so left to meet their goal.
A genre-defying diverse collection of fantasy and sci-fi stories of cultures, their problems, and seeing life from a new point of view
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This is a pretty amazing story.  A couple of decades ago, we reintroduced wolves into Yellowstone ... and the cascade of effects from that is visible in the shapes of the rivers.

If I were to describe the tenets of my personal faith in how the world works, "emergent effects from complex systems" would be a central tenet.  Perhaps the central tenet.  This is a beautiful and clear example of exactly why.
 
And now I want to share with you one of the most interesting short videos I've seen in a while. It's about the idea of trophic cascades: how a small change to an ecosystem can lead to tremendous consequences. In this case, the change was the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone in the 1990's, after a 70-year absence.

The direct effects of the wolves were small: the wolves eat a few deer, but apart from that mostly keep to themselves. But the indirect effects were huge.

It started because the deer, who had been running roughshod over the entire park, quickly figured out that places like valleys were not good places to be a deer when there are wolves about. This led to trees being able to grow in those areas for the first time in decades.

The effects of that are complex and profound, and I encourage you to watch the video, because I can't possibly summarize it better than it does. Everything from the animals to the plants to the very physical geography of the rivers was changed. 

The key lesson of this is that ecosystems are connected. You can't make a single change to one and expect it not to have consequences, including very far-reaching ones of a sort you couldn't ever have predicted. This is a general property of all large, strongly-interacting systems, including societies, and it's worth keeping in mind whenever things change.
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Truly stunning what profound effect a small change in a complex system can have. Thanks for sharing +Brooks Moses.
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For those curious: A pile of money the volume of the Empire State building, with an angle of repose of 5% (taking the worst-case value from the source cited in a footnote), would be a little over thirty feet high and a little under a quarter-mile in diameter.  At 10%, it would be about 45 feet high and 900 feet in diameter.

But coins roll, so you probably want to assume that as the pile collapses, some of it will keep going for a bit past the stable point.  You're probably safe at 700-800 feet away from the center, assuming it's on a flat open place.

(This safe distance is much closer than with the molasses flood.  This shows the importance of doing these things on a flat field, rather than in a hilly city where things are confined to streets and so don't have an r^2 area to spread out in, and can keep going downhill.  In a sloping valley, the coins could avalanche for quite some distance!)
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