Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Brief History of Rhyme


In this talk, rap artist Baba Brinkman demonstrates that rap music isn’t just music, it’s also an innovative poetry form rich in linguistic playfulness. In the same way Shakespeare was a lyrical entertainer of the past, Brinkman believes that “rappers are the main lyrical entertainers of the present.” Rap is simply a modern, innovative, and playful form of poetry—a contemporary style of a timeless art form.

In this entertaining talk, with examples spanning Eminem and Jay-Z to Chaucer and Lord Byron, you will learn how the techniques used rappers for crafting memorable rhymes have ancient antecedents


Moby on the Benefits of Failure and talk here

A discovery engine for meaningful knowledge, fueled by cross-disciplinary curiosity.

The freedom that I have to make terrible stuff … also increases the chances that, sometimes, I’ll end up making something good.

There is an emancipation that comes along with being so content with what you’re doing that external circumstances don’t really matter. And I think the only thorough gift I have is a profound, comprehensive love for what I’m doing, where it’s nice if I have an audience, but that’s not the goal; it’s not if something generates viable and lucrative revenue streams but, again, that’s not the goal — these are external byproducts of this process that I love more than anything…


And, not to be all New-Agey or weird, but I do think that’s everyone’s birthright — allowing yourself to find the things that you love and dedicate your life to doing them, because we’re only around for a short period of time.


What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Stephen King


Stephen King, that master of horror, is as terrifying as he is prolific and successful. His books have sold more than 350 million copies -- not to mention numerous film and television adaptations.

Like his gruesome style or not, the man sure knows what he’s doing. His 2000 guide, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, is part memoir, part writerly guidance, funny, sad and a little disgusting. I’ve read this book multiple times and revisit it for reminders on the craft and for great one-liners like “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

Lately I see startups benefiting from King's advice. It seems that writing a book and creating a successful startup aren't so different. Here are four pieces of writing advice that startups can take to the bank:

1. Get ready for self-doubt. Then shut it out.

2. Don’t fear change.

3. Keep going. No matter what, keep going.

4. Communicate clearly.


6 Seductive Ways Consumption Is Killing Your Creativity

Big Creative Yes

In these days of information saturation, we’re relentlessly bombarded by invitations to consume new goods. The underlying message is always the same – “Buy me, buy me NOW, or your life will be miserable and endlessly unfulfilling and your family and friends will all disown you!”

But can consumption habits affect our creativity too? Well, yes, aside from having a negative effect on our bank balance, unhealthy and unnecessary consumption can have a seriously detrimental impact on how (and how often) we create.  Here are six of the most harmful reasons why -

1. Your focus is on acquisition, not creation.

2. You’re always seeking perfection.

3. You don’t appreciate the beauty around you.

4. You’re robbing yourself of valuable energy.

5. You’re scattered, diluted and ineffective.

6. You’re chasing after a false freedom.


The Psychology of Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome the “OK Plateau” of Performance & Personal Growth

Brain Pickings

“When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend.”

Any sequence of mental action which has been frequently repeated tends to perpetuate itself,” William James wrote in his influential meditation on habit, ”so that we find ourselves automatically prompted to think, feel, or do what we have been before accustomed to think, feel, or do, under like circumstances.” As we’ve seen, one of the most insidious forms of such habitual autopilot — which evolved to help lighten our cognitive load yet is a double-edged sword that can also hurt us — is our mercilessly selective everyday attention, but the phenomenon is particularly perilous when it comes to learning new skills. In a chapter of Maximize Your Potential (public library) — that fantastic guide to making your own luck, the sequel to 99U’s blueprint to mastering the pace of productivity and honing your creative routine — science writer Joshua Foer explores the mechanisms that keep us from improving and the strategies we can use to disarm them. He sketches out the problem:


Teach Kids to Daydream

The Atlantic

Today’s children are exhausted, and not just because one in three kids is not getting sufficient sleep. Sleep deprivation in kids (who require at least nine hours a night, depending on age) has been found to significantly decrease academic achievement, lower standardized achievement and intelligence test scores, stunt physical growth, encourage drug and alcohol use, heighten moodiness and irritability, exacerbate symptoms of ADD, and dramatically increase the likelihood of car accidents among teens. While the argument for protecting our children’s sleep time is compelling, there is another kind of rest that is equally underestimated and equally beneficial to our children’s academic, emotional, and creative lives: daydreaming.


I’ve been reading about daydreaming extensively lately, and it has caused me regret every time I roused one of my students out of their reverie so they would start working on something “more productive.” Daydreaming has been found to be anything but counter-productive. It may just be the hidden wellspring of creativity and learning in the guise of idleness.


Fundamental Chemistry Findings Could Help Extend Moore’s Law

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers are trying to extend Moore's Law by developing a new type of resist that combines the material properties of two pre-existing kinds of resist, achieving the characteristics needed to make smaller features for microprocessors, including better light sensitivity and mechanical stability. "We discovered that mixing chemical groups, including cross linkers and a particular type of ester, could improve the resist's performance," says Berkeley Lab researcher Paul Ashby. The resist protects the material that makes up transistors and wires from being etched away and can enable the material to be selectively deposited. "The semiconductor industry wants to go to smaller and smaller features," Ashby notes. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light technology holds promise, but "you also need the resist materials that can pattern to the resolution that extreme ultraviolet can promise," Ashby says. The first kind of resist the researchers investigated is called crosslinking, which consists of molecules that form bonds when exposed to EUV light. The second type of resist is highly sensitive, but still lacks mechanical stability. The next step for the researchers is to further optimize the resist's chemical formula for the very small components required for future microprocessors.


UNSW Gets Robots Ready for Robo Soccer World Cup

ComputerWorld Austrailia

The Brazilian city of Joao Pessoa will host a soccer tournament for robots in late July, and among those participating in the RoboCup Championships is a team from Australia's University of New South Wales (UNSW). The UNSW team, rUNSWift, will compete in the Standard Platform League, in which each team uses the same robots, according to UNSW's Maurice Pagnucco. He says all of the teams look to introduce some sort of innovation and rUNSWift has developed a sidestep for walking around opposing robots. "These robots have a hip joint and we have exploited the way this robot is constructed so that it can move as quickly as possible and introduce a few novel elements such as this sidestep," Pagnucco says. "[The robots'] walking is one of the most important things because the quicker they can walk to the ball, the better off we are." The robots are incapable of running, and Pagnucco says the machines' design dictates they have at least one foot on the ground. He also notes each autonomous robot has 125,000 lines of code that need to be maintained. The UNSW team also will employ a robot coach this year.


Vivian R. Pickard:  Now Is the Time to Equip the Next Generation of STEM Leaders and Innovators

Huffington Post

As graduating students begin to enter a post-recession job market, many still struggle to find employment in their desired field. However, there is one group of graduates that has a higher success rate than most.

Students pursuing degrees in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are entering a job market in which the demand for educated workers far outpaces the supply. STEM occupations are projected to grow faster than all other fields, and the average starting salary for STEM graduates is more than 30 percent higher than for those earning other degrees.

While STEM employers search eagerly for qualified candidates, the pool of applicants continues to shrink. Just 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career, and only half of those who do pursue a college major in the STEM fields choose to work in a related career.

As the United States lags behind internationally in STEM education, it is imperative to the success of our country that we support the next generation of leaders and innovators. Programs that fund secondary education to prepare students studying STEM for the jobs of the future have never been more critical to reversing this trend.


Sony Drops 8 Million Flower Petals to Promote New TV Line


Eight million flower petals cover an entire Costa Rican village to promote the quality, definition and representation of their new line of televisions

Ever wonder what 8 million flower petals looks like? Sony wanted to explore this as it made a huge splash dropping 3.5 tons of vibrant colored flower petals, creating an epic shoot to promote their new line of TVs, which promises 4x the detail of HD.

Shot by photographer Nick Meek and filmmaker Jaron Albertin, and organized by McCann, the idea was to cover the area near the Irazú Volcano – located in central Costa Rica – with a flower petal for every pixel in Sony’s 4K Ultra HD TV.

A Speech Synthesizer Direct to the Brain

MIT Technology Review

Although his findings are preliminary, University of California, San Francisco neurosurgeon Edward Chang says he is working toward building a wireless brain-machine interface that could translate brain signals directly into audible speech using a voice synthesizer. Chang has been conducting speech experiments in connection with brain surgeries he performs on patients with epilepsy. A sheet of electrodes placed under the patients' skulls records electrical activity from the surface of the brain. Patients wear a device called an electrocorticography array for several days to enable doctors to locate the exact source of seizures. In a paper published in the journal Nature last year, Chang and his colleagues described how they used the electrode array to map patterns of electrical activity in an area of the brain called the ventral sensory motor cortex as subjects pronounced sounds like "bah," "dee," and "goo." The aim of the technology is to record the electrical activity in the motor cortex that causes speech-related movements of the lips, tongue, and vocal cords. By mathematically analyzing these patterns, Chang says his team showed that "many key phonetic features" can be detected.

Colleges Work to Engage Women, Minorities in STEM Fields

US News & World Report

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) recently announced that 20 schools have been selected to participate in Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM (TIDES), a new initiative designed to help faculty learn how to better engage women and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as create curricula that are more inclusive for these students. The program focuses on fostering change for students interested in computer science. "We had an interest in computer science because the data was saying that the numbers of women in computer science were declining," says AAC&U vice president for undergraduate STEM education Kelly Mack. As part of the program, 14 schools will receive up to $300,000 for work completed over the next three years. Women and underrepresented minorities also should find out what resources colleges offer students who are interested in STEM degrees. For example, the Center for Women in Technology at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County provides mentoring services, seminars that discuss topics such as networking and time management, and several other resources, according to Center for Women in Technology director Penny Rheingans. At the University of California, Berkeley, the Association of Women in EECS provides women in computer science with a sense of community.

Better Visualizing of Fitness-App Data Helps Discover Trends, Reach Goals

UW News

An increasing number of consumers are using smartphones to track various aspects of their lives, and University of Washington (UW) researchers have developed visual tools to help self-trackers better understand their daily activity patterns over a longer period and in more detail. For UW's study, 14 people ages 23 to 66 used the "Moves" app on their smartphones for one month last summer to record types of activities and locations visited. The researchers used the data generated by each person to highlight subsets of data to identify trends, which were visualized using graphs, tables, and maps. All of the participants found the information to be more helpful in achieving fitness and activity goals than if they solely used the smartphone app. "Discovery about your patterns and habits happens when you see something you weren't expecting to see," notes UW student Daniel Epstein "Some participants already had an intuition about patterns in their lives, but it hit home for them when we started showing the supporting data to them in a visual way." The researchers plan to develop tools that target specific aspects of a person's life. The research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and UW's Intel Science and Technology Center for Pervasive Computing.


just sit down and think

the guardian

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone," wrote the French philosopher Blaise Pascal. It's a line repeated so frequently, in the era of smartphones and social media, that it's easy to forget how striking it is that he wrote it in the 1600s. Back then, a sentence such as "Yo is a messaging app that enables iPhone and Android users to say 'Yo' to their friends" might have got you burned as a witch.

Yet even in 17th-century France, apparently, people hated being alone with their thoughts so intensely, they'd do almost anything else: play boules, start the Franco-Spanish war, and so on. Still, I'd wager even Pascal would have been disturbed by a study published recently in Science, showing that people detest being made to spend six to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think even to the extent of being willing to give themselves mild electric shocks instead. It's natural to conclude that there's something wrong with such people. Which means, all else being equal, that something's probably wrong with you, too.