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Justin Dombrowski
economics, history, digital humanities, social media, politics, technology
economics, history, digital humanities, social media, politics, technology


I can't get pictures to tweet w/ Falcon Pro. Does anybody else have this problem? Or a solution?

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This is a fantastic image of an Etrustcan terracotta funerary urn. 
Today;s Weekend Fun Pic: Today's Fun Pic: Etruscan painted terracotta cinerary urn (urn for the ashes of the deceased) with a figure of a reclining man on the lid and a molded panel of a combat scene on the chest. From Chiusi, Italy. About 150 to 100 BC. Note the man’s gold finger ring and libation cup. The name of a woman, Thana Ancaruri Thelesa, is painted on the chest. Whatever her relation to the deceased man, she may have paid to have this made. Now in The British Museum, London. Photo Credit: Clio Ancient Art and Antiquities

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Is Bitcoin a monetary inevitability?

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+Nicholas Felton has once again produced an annual report analyzing all his electronic social interactions for the last year--email, SMS, you name it--and produced scores of gorgeous graphs and charts displaying the data leading to said analysis. Felton's goal was to uncover any interesting patterns in his data. +The Verge discusses some of the major outcomes here:; Felton displays some pages here: Links on the latter lead to where you can buy a copy, if you're interested. 

My favorite element of Felton's project is his exquisite use of data visualization tools to display his data and make various trends come to life and instantly meaningful. Of the graphs themselves, I think I like the "reciprocity" and "channel" graphs, which show disparity message senders and sendees, as well as which contact methods are more prominent for whom. Is it particularly useful for anything? I'm not sure exactly, but it certainly is illuminating. 
#bigdata   #bigdataanalytics   #dataviz   #datavisualization  

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This is super important. Every American feels that money matters more than votes to politicians and the #citizensunited  case only solidified that feeling, opening the door to unprecedented contributions from corporations to candidates. But in a way, that's only the beginning. More recently there was  #mccutcheon  v. FEC whose SCOTUS decision now permits candidates to directly solicit up to $3.6 million (!) in funds. Then there was the more recent FEC 6-0 decision that now permits  #bitcoin   donations up to $100, in a misguided effort to get up to date--and despite the fact that #bitcoin is untraceable and unregulated #digitalcurrency  unaccepted almost anywhere in the US except for black markets. $100 is, therefore, not much, but left unregulated makes it possible to donate unlimited funds that fly in the face of McCain/Feingold which, albeit, is nigh on life support. 

The bottom line is that recent decisions have literally made elections plutocratic in a way they've never been here before. The game has always been pay-to-play, but now one needs a multimillion dollar contract to do so. And to the extent one's vote matters, it's to choose from those who've already been pre-selected for us--or rather bought for a price by someone else whose interests will always matter more than yours and mine. 
The Week in Review: 

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday called for millions of Americans to mobilize support for a constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United. That 2010 ruling already has opened the floodgates for millionaires and billionaires to spend unlimited, unregulated sums to sway elections. The Senate on Thursday approved and sent to President Barack Obama a bill by Sanders to improve access to health care for veterans and reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. And in testimony on Wednesday at the EPA and at a Capitol Hill news conference, Sanders strongly endorsed an Obama administration proposal to reduce carbon emissions at the nation’s power plants.

Continue reading here:

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For anyone concerned about the humanities' future in the US (or anywhere, really), definitely listen to the strategy Stephen Kidd (Executive Director of the National Humanities Alliance Foundation) offers in this presentation. He offers a succinct explanation of the political climate surrounding the humanities' funding--something all of us should be aware of--but makes some strategic proposal for garnering congressional support at the local level. This is really important. Too frequently politicians have wanted to defund the NEH and similar institutions, claiming they breed class conflict or cannot be justified in light of the national budget deficit (both of which comically misrepresent the humanities, their supporters, and the budget).

As important, though, is his question to professional humanists to think more seriously/deeply about how we can select research questions of greater interest/relevance/impact to the world at large. I would add, of course, that university departments and administrations need to make much more room for such topics in the tenure process and should push faculty toward public engagement more strongly than we currently do. I know too many academics who want to do this, but feel hamstrung by the "process." That's not good for anybody; it builds resentment and stagnation on all sides. But the bottom line is that there remains justifiable concern that the humanities don't do enough to justify our existence beyond simply giving the world nominal humanistic background. The response to this, however, isn't "How much humanities is enough?" Rather, it's "The more we can offer, the better off we'll be." Understanding whence the latter and not the former is vital. 

#nationalendowmentforthearts   #digitalhumanities  

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This is pretty incredible-- +MIT Media Lab invents a display that autocorrects according to its assessment of your vision deficiencies. Here's a quote from the patent linked below: 

"The virtual vision correction technique described herein pertains to a technique for determining a user's vision characteristics and/or adjusting a display to a user's vision characteristics. The virtual vision correction technique described herein provides vision correction for people with vision problems by making the video displayed adapt to the person's vision correction needs. In one embodiment of the technique, the user can state their vision prescription needs and the video displayed is processed to appear “20/20” to that person. Alternatively, the video display, for example, video display glasses, can 'auto-tune' a representative image (such as an eye chart) to determine the appropriate video processing for that person."
#medicaldevice   #wearabletech   #medtech  
Vision Correcting Displays

Researchers at the +MIT Media Lab and UC Berkeley have developed a new display technology that automatically corrects for vision defects with a personalized transparency that clips on your existing device. 

The transparency, an array of pinholes that modifies what the display shows the observer, combined with algorithms that defocus the original display image, allows the system to project slightly different images to different parts of the viewer’s pupil.

To learn more, read the MIT News article at, and watch the video below.

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I'm so jealous. Since yesterday I feel like everyone in the world has one of these but me.

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For those of us who like +Google Drive and Docs but have sort of avoided them because of dependence on +Microsoft word and excel, be sure to have a look at the recent updates from I/O. The interoperability and collaboration problems we've all worried about are largely dealt with now. Great stuff going on.
Yesterday, we launched a bunch of big updates to Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drive. To make sure you didn’t miss anything, here’s a quick summary of everything you need to know. 

First, there’s an all-new Slides mobile app and updated Docs and Sheets apps, all of which work with and without a data connection, and now let you edit Microsoft Office files without converting them. You can also now edit Office files in your Chrome browser with the new Chrome extension ( New home screens for each of the editors are coming soon at,, and, where you can quickly get to your most recently edited documents, spreadsheets, and presentations from your browser. Plus, we’re introducing a whole new way to collaborate with Suggested Edits in Docs.

In Drive, we not only updated the mobile apps and started rolling out the next generation of Drive on the web, we also launched Google Drive for Work. This new service provides the security and administrative controls businesses need, coupled with a simple $10/month/user pricing plan that includes access to the entire Google Apps suite and comes with unlimited storage in Google Drive. 

Read up on all the details here:

Docs, Sheets, and Slides - 
Drive App Updates - 
Google Drive for Work - 

I have 2 problems: 1) I can't tweet photos. Falcon Pro seems to upload/send the top 10% of the photo, but that's it. 2) My DMs show up as mentions and never end up in the DM section of the app. And in order to send a DM, I have to visit my recipient's user profile first and DM from there. I've tried reinstalling several times, but nothing changes

FYI, I use a Galaxy S4 Play Edition, in case that's relevant. 

I love the app, in theory--that is, apart from these problems. 
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