Profile

Cover photo
Eric Leventhal Arthen
Lives in Massachusetts, USA
255 followers|43,960 views
AboutPostsPhotosVideos

Stream

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
 
Welcome all to the inaugural Golden Balloon Awards 2014!

We are taking this opportunity to look at some of the greatest feats achieved by our Loon balloons as we wind our way to the end of 2014 and finish landing our fleet for analysis and upgrade. From frosty temperatures to country hoppers, speed demons to masters of endurance, we take a look at some of the records from the project to date. Here we go…

#1 The Marathoner - Launched from New Zealand in July 2014, the Marathoner just kept going and going, reaching 134 days aloft before being brought down to land in Chile. Constantly monitoring such a long-lasting balloon throughout its lifetime has provided us with lots of valuable data that can help us replicate this success in the future.

#2 Global Traveller - While much of our fleet spends its time sweeping around the globe, we decided that one balloon should take its time discovering the Southern Hemisphere. So we packed its bags, gave it some sage travelling advice in the form of our automated control algorithms and sent it on its own little trip around the world - and what a trip it had! Launching from Brazil as part of our LTE test in June 2014, we maneuvered it over 23 separate countries across South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania before finally landing it with a full passport and a balloon full of memories.

#3 Sprint Star - The quickest a Loon balloon has travelled is 324 km/h while rushing to the South Pacific ocean over Antarctica - a similar speed to the world’s fastest animal, a fellow traveller of the skies, the Peregrine Falcon. Like any good sprinter though, this balloon needed to rest up, reducing its speed to a relatively sluggish 67 km/h while travelling over the south of Argentina, and it is this difference in speed that is really important to us. To provide coverage where and when it’s needed will require balloons to whiz over certain areas and linger for longer at others so that there is always a balloon overhead where needed. 

#4 The Frosty Survivor - It can get very, very cold up in the stratosphere. The coldest temperature one of our balloons had to endure was -83°C (-117°F) while travelling over the Chilean/Argentine border. The cold is a real challenge for our balloon manufacturing team. At such low temperatures the balloon envelope can become brittle and fragile. Selecting the right material and stress-testing it at extremely low temperatures in our labs has helped ensure that Loon balloons are durable enough to handle these temperatures for long periods of time.

#5 High-Flier - All Loon balloons fly roughly 20 kilometers above the earth’s surface, twice as high as commercial jets. This high-flier, however, reached our record altitude of 25.8 kilometers while travelling over the South Pacific ocean; nearly three times the height of Mount Everest. Altitude control is fundamental for maneuvering balloons, as different altitudes have different wind speeds and directions which our planning algorithms can predict and use to get our balloons to where they need to be. So, to our high-flier, we salute you for reaching higher than any Loon balloon has ever reached before! 
1
Add a comment...

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
"BRCA Test and Re-Test" http://feedly.com/e/m29pA5Ai
As a naturopathic physician, I am interested in primary prevention, preventing illness, not just catching it early. Because of that, I was encouraged in 2007, based on my family history and European Jewish ancestry, to have the BRCA genetic test. I b...
1
Add a comment...

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
a solution for broken yahoo email and list serves / "DMARC filtering on lists that munge messages" http://feedly.com/e/mj0FQlSV
DMARC filtering on lists that munge messages. Since Yahoo! switched their DMARC policy in mid-April, we've seen an increase in undeliverable messages sent from our mail server for Yahoo! accounts subscribed to our lists. Roughly half of Apache's mailing lists do some form of message munging, ...
1
Webb Scales's profile photoBruce Perry's profile photo
3 comments
 
That's fascinating.  I'd no idea that Google search would pull in Google+ items from my circles on a priority basis.
Add a comment...

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
My local community has been keeping an elementary school open in our town. It has been locally funded by donations. This campaign is to help with this coming year until we can get the public school open again. I contributed, perhaps you would be willing to support it too.
4
Add a comment...

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
A very interesting read, it explains some of the complexities of calculations in theoretical physics and a new way to conceive of them: "a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality." (I'm totally a lay observer in these fields.)
1
1
Webb Scales's profile photo
Add a comment...

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
This and the follow on post are very interesting pieces about the economics, behavior and social justice of tipping for restaurant service.
Observations From A Tipless Restaurant, Part 1: Overview. This is the first of a multi-part series detailing what I learned from operating our farm-to-table flagship restaurant, the Linkery, as a “no-tipping” restaurant that instead charged a fixed percentage for service, from 2006 to 2013.
3
3
Eric Leventhal Arthen's profile photoBrian Holt Hawthorne's profile photoEd Gould's profile photoMelissa Hall's profile photo
3 comments
Add a comment...

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
Did you enjoy Sid Meier's Civilization? I did for many, many hours. Here is the interesting story of the man behind it.
Before Sid Meier was Sid Meier—the iconic video game designer whose name is stamped on classic titles like Pirates! and Civilization—he was just another computer hacker.
2
1
Webb Scales's profile photoCatya Belfer's profile photo
2 comments
 
hey, thanks for posting that - i've been on a civ 5 jag the past while :)
Add a comment...
Have him in circles
255 people
W. Scott Meeks's profile photo
Alana Lynch's profile photo
Grant Goodman's profile photo
Ken Breeman's profile photo
coeur triste's profile photo
Joel Margolese's profile photo
Tom Ruggles's profile photo
Loren Shih's profile photo
Kimba Theurich's profile photo

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
K and I had an astounding conversation the other day. It concerned mean girls and birth control. Before this conversation, K had been nearly silent about school. Peter and I had been trying nightly to open her up, asking easy...
2
Michael C. Owens's profile photo
 
Thanks, Eric! 
Add a comment...

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
Resharing this good post I saw shared by +Yonatan Zunger. Despite all the comments there, it is worth my pondering how it compares to my experience in life and be grateful for where I live with less fear than many.
5
1
Lanna Lee's profile photo
Add a comment...

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is a moving personal story of MLK and the civil rights movement that I have not heard before. I was too young at the time and had too little experience of racism to understand what it all meant. I am still learning that.
by Andras Corban-Arthen Fifty years ago today, I – like so many others all around the country – was glued to my family’s used, grainy  black & white television set, watching the broadcast of th...
1
Add a comment...

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
Interesting - anyone else have experience with how 'flip steaks frequently' compares to "just flip once or twice'? (At least it makes me want to experiment with the grill some more.)
Everyone's got an opinion on the best way to cook a steak. In the great debate over whether to flip or not flip your steaks, though, science proves multi-flippers get better results.
1
Bruce Perry's profile photoBrian Holt Hawthorne's profile photoEric Leventhal Arthen's profile photo
5 comments
 
Yes, perhaps I can get him to demonstrate so I can observe his technique.
Add a comment...

Eric Leventhal Arthen

Shared publicly  - 
 
Very clear and well explained. Also good advise for writers.
 
Your random word of the day: Objectification

If you ever hear people talking about women’s role in movies, or video games, or the like, you may have come across the word “objectification.” I spent years being confused about what this meant, because nobody ever explained it very well, and thought it meant something crazy when actually it turns out to be something really interesting and important. A few years ago I finally got a better explanation, so today I’m going to share it. (And side note: if you’re going to comment here, read what I have to say carefully. If you comment and it’s obvious that you didn’t read what I said and are instead having a rant about your own thing, I’ll just delete the comment. K?)

So let me tell you what it isn’t, because you may have heard that, too. I had a teacher (way) back in high school who was very well-intentioned but absolutely terrible at explaining things, who somehow managed to communicate that “objectification” meant “treating people like things,” that any ad that “didn’t show the entire woman” -- e.g., had part of a woman’s body cropped -- was objectifying, and (via some lecture by Naomi Wolf) that such ads would therefore cause men to rape, murder, and dump women’s bodies in dumpsters. By the end of the week, the entire class thought she must be high as a kite, and that objectification was some kind of crazy nonsense.

What I finally figured out a few years ago was that the word “objectification” doesn’t come from the word “object” as-opposed-to-person: it comes from the word “object” as-opposed-to-subject. 

Here’s what it means: Say I’m telling a story. It can be a book, a movie, a video game, even the implicit “story” in a billboard, doesn’t matter. A character has a “subject perspective” if we see the story through their eyes: we get a sense of what they’re thinking, what the problems in the story mean to them, what choices they feel that they have and how they pick between them. A character has “object perspective” if they’re simply the thing that’s acted upon: we only really see them as they affect our main, subject, characters. 

Every story is going to have plenty of characters in object perspective: if you tried to tell a story where the reader ended up knowing the detailed thoughts of every single person, down to the guy who sells the protagonist a bottle of water and whose only line is “One fifty, please,” or the mook whose job it is to get gunned down on the way to the enemy base and whose only line is “urk!,” the story would be a total mess. Object perspective just means that the character isn’t ultimately important except as an obstacle: it’s not a bad thing.

Objectification is what happens when you have not only a single story, but a whole swath of stories -- something as wide as “the category of all spy movies” -- and you suddenly notice that there’s a pattern, for example “every single woman has an object perspective.” (It doesn’t have to be every woman for this to be the case, but if it’s happening a good 98% of the time then this is what we’re talking about)

And here’s the problem when this happens: if you’re reading a lot of these stories, and you don’t notice that it’s a pattern, it starts to just have this regular drumbeat that gets into your head without you noticing, where women (or whoever’s being steadily treated as objects -- this isn’t just about women, that’s just the common example) are “the thing you deal with to get to your real goal.” 

Just to understand this, remember the subtle way that stories can mess with your head. Have you ever watched a really good spy movie and then for the next day looked at every building around you as something you might want to infiltrate? Or played GTA5 for a couple of hours too many, and the next time you passed a police car had to remind yourself that no, the correct course of action is probably not to ram it? You’re not crazy: the whole point of fiction is to get you into other people’s heads, to show you what it’s like to think about the world from that perspective. And the way your head works is that you see the stuff, and for a little while your head mirrors it, until you’ve had time to really process through the story and it becomes part of your repertoire of ways to look at the world. 

That’s why objectification isn’t an issue so much about any one book or movie or whatever: after you process one thing, it goes away and you’re not in its headspace anymore. But if you start seeing the same pattern in a bunch of the things you’re reading and watching and playing, if every couple of days you find yourself in a headspace that sees the world like X, then X -- whatever it is -- becomes more and more a part of the way you look at the world. 

So why is this a problem?

So if you have a bunch of stories where women only show up in an object perspective, the pattern you’re getting in your head is that women’s thoughts ultimately don’t matter that much -- what’s really important in the story is the men’s thoughts. And you can imagine how that would mess with your head: if you’re male, the pattern is “yeah, whatever, the women will sort themselves out -- we should just do what’s important”, and if you’re female, the pattern is “what goes on with me isn’t really important, what’s really important is what happens to the guy.” That’s a subtle sort of thing, but it can really mess you up either way, especially if you don’t notice it’s happening.

So how can objectification mess you up in life? There are all sorts of ways, but they all have to do with turning your life (and other people’s lives) into a kind of script where you’re the star and they’re supporting characters, whether they like it or not -- or, even screwier, where they’re the star and you’re never anything but a supporting character.

Just as an example, consider what this can mean in a relationship. On the one end, you end up trying to script the lines, and pushing the other person into acting out the roles that you need them to act out. Maybe into being the one who takes care of you, or the one who nags you and so you get angry at them, or the perfect one who can do no wrong. (And therefore can never be allowed to screw up) Or on the other end, you can end up objectifying yourself, and not even thinking too hard anymore about what’s important to you -- you’re too busy fitting yourself into some role for the other person. And either way, you both end up play-acting scripts instead of paying attention to what would actually make you happy. Needless to say, this will not end well.

So it’s not that any one movie or book or whatever is making things bad. It’s that seeing a bunch of them, so many that it starts to seem normal, where all the people of one category are in object perspective gets you used to thinking of them that way, and then you start doing that the rest of the time without noticing it. And that screws up your life and generally makes you and everyone else miserable.

Some things that objectification isn’t

Something that objectification isn’t: It doesn’t have to do with whether the women are strong or weak characters. It’s just as true if all the women in the stories are super-powered killers that our hero has to fight through as it is if they’re all slaves of the evil Wombat Lord that the hero is rescuing. Of course, if you’ve got a bunch of stories where all the women are weak and powerless, you’ve got another pattern going which is going to be a problem in a similar way. 

And another thing it isn’t: It’s not really about any single book. Lots of conversations go totally off the rails when people start saying “but that book is different!” or “but that character is different!,” because that’s actually not the point -- a single story gets out of your head after a few days. Objectification is a phenomenon that matters when you’re talking about an entire corpus: you can talk about objectification in, say, action movies as a whole, or first-person shooters, or romance novels, and how a single story contributes to that.

And it’s not just about women, even though that’s the example you see most often. There are whole swaths of literature (e.g., what the marketers call “chick lit”) in which the men, for example, are all objects who exist solely to be problems or goals for the women. It’s not as big a problem because someone who’s reading those stories is also probably being exposed to a lot of other stories (via TV, movies, ads, etc) where the men are all subjects, so the pattern gets broken. That’s why people don’t spend as much time worrying about the objectification of men -- even though it certainly happens.

Fortunately, you can do something about it (not just for writers)

What’s great about objectification as a problem is that it’s actually relatively easy to solve when you’re telling stories. You don’t have to make all your protagonists and antagonists women, you don’t have to make all the female characters “strong” for some definition of “strong.” Even one little thing can make a big difference: look across the swath of characters that you’re writing about, and make sure that the reader is seeing the story from more than one perspective. The woman that James Bond seduces in Act I scene II? Don’t just tell me that she falls in love with his incredible manliness and they have great sex. Give me, the reader, a sense of how she’s weighing him in her mind -- the choices she’s thinking about, maybe what it is in her past and her life that makes this guy seem so damned interesting. When he vanishes the next day, let me see that from her side: is she glad? Upset? Does she feel betrayed? Relieved? Looking forward to telling her friends? To subtly hinting about it to her boyfriend? 

You don’t need to do this to every female character, any more than you need to do it to that water seller -- just let me know, as a reader, that all of the characters that I’m reading about have rich internal worlds and that there’s something interesting going on there. That their thoughts and feelings have value, even if that value isn’t the main point of the story.

If you tell a story like that -- and not just if you’re writing a book, but even when you’re telling me the story of what you did last week, or when you’re telling yourself the story of what happened on your trip -- you’re going to tell a much better story. And your readers, or listeners, or watchers, or you yourself, will come out of it feeling like they’ve seen more of the world.


Side note: If you’re interested in the telling of stories, +Mary Anne Mohanraj once wrote a great article a  few years ago (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2009/03/13/mary-anne-mohanraj-gets-you-up-to-speed-part-ii/) that talked about very similar things in the context of writing about characters of color. All the same sorts of ideas apply, and ever since I read this essay I’ve looked at stories differently: you realize how crappy writing feels when a character is “just vaguely a white guy, instead of being a Polish-American second-generation teenage boy whose restaurant-owning father died in the Nazi camps and who now works as a line cook in a grimy diner on the north side of Chicago. It is the specificity, the detail of our lives that makes our characters live and breathe, creating the illusion that the people we write about are real.”
1
Add a comment...
People
Have him in circles
255 people
W. Scott Meeks's profile photo
Alana Lynch's profile photo
Grant Goodman's profile photo
Ken Breeman's profile photo
coeur triste's profile photo
Joel Margolese's profile photo
Tom Ruggles's profile photo
Loren Shih's profile photo
Kimba Theurich's profile photo
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Massachusetts, USA
Previously
New York, NY
Links
Contributor to
Work
Occupation
software development
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Other names
Leventhal