Tag Archives: Kvick Tänkare

Kvick Tänkare

A little while ago I wrote about the power of fonts and that Baskerville was the most trustworthy font.  Well, Errol Morris has an excellent follow up to that piece about the originator of the guy who made the font.  My favorite quote:

Voltaire, when asked on his deathbed by a priest to renounce Satan, famously replied, “Now is not the time to be making new enemies.” And when a friend tried to convince Baskerville that the plague of flies inflicted on Egypt was proof of the existence of God, Baskerville argued that all that it proved was a shortage of spiders.

Anyone who thinks socialism failed in America has never spent time on a military base.  Rosa Brooks is off to a good start in her new FP blog.

Lunghu provides some indicators to let you know if you’re working in a dysfunction organization:

  • Management places special emphasis on their purported role as “leaders.”
  • The enterprise “strategic plan” merely describes what the organization is already doing, not how it intends to respond to unexpected challenges.
  • Every level of the organization uses the complexity of the operating environment as an excuse to avoid planning for likely contingencies.
  • Hackneyed business cliches are used as a replacement for substantive communication.

I tempted to give up the internet forever after reading this headline.  After all, I think it’s pretty clear we now have, literally, seen everything.

Gordon Ramsay’s dwarf porn double Percy Foster dies in badger den

Sounds to me like these should be the default cars in congested urban areas.

Sadly, these vehicles do not function by farting out a loud stream of gas that propels them forth.

The author makes it sound like this is a bad thing but I suspect the manufacturers realized that their target demographic shouldn’t be 12 year old boys.

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One of Scientific America’s bloggers recently moved to Sweden.  He’s in a very rural area and, as jobs are rather scarce he’s looking to become self-employed.  His initial impressions are interesting:

Starting a business in Sweden is not very difficult and there is much support from government and outside agencies. My concern, which I’m looking into currently, is how to pay for the social services taxes as an entrepreneur. Income tax for my bracket (i.e. poor person) is actually very similar to US. But since I am my own employer I will likely need to pay for social services that is usually fulfilled by a traditional employer. This is one of the differences between working in the US and in a socialist system where you buy into healthcare and the social safety net.

Even though it appears there’s a higher entry cost into the entrepreneurial world but if you meet that threshold you don’t necessarily have to worry that a bad case of the flu will bankrupt you.  I wonder if more or less people in the U.S. would take the plunge into self-employment if they didn’t have to worry about health/social costs.

I never heard of the term ‘Tweed Punk’ before but this trailer for an upcoming game looks quite fun. Taking place in an alternate Victorian/Edwardian world, it appears you have to dodge aristocratic robotic hunters and their dogs as they chase you about their estate and the moors. Pretty cool.

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At War tries to track down the pedigree of an unusual gun captured in Afghanistan.

The worst kept secret when it comes to imagination, critical thinking and problem solving is that often the best thing to do is think about something else. It seems there are stories to that effect a couple times a year. Maybe it’s news to some people but it really shouldn’t be. The shocking thing is that, at least in the workplace, and especially when we’re talking about intelligence analysis, there doesn’t’ seem to be much accounting for that fact. Nope…you’re job hours are 9-5. End of story. At least in my case, I find that while I accrue most of my problems during work hours I almost never solve them then. Instead, I solve them when I go running, in the middle of the night out of a sound sleep, or doing any number of mundane activities where my mind can wander and process the problem within my vast neural network 1. It’d be nice, in a field that is supposedly centered around knowledge workers to recognize that fact and build environments and schedules that enhance, rather than suppress, cognitive activity. Believe me, if I get a tasking at 9 am, it’d be better for everyone involved if I could go out for a long run at 11 am, be back at 1pm and have things well in hand before I go home for the day.

i09 has a roundup of the latest findings of the best way to engage that subconscious mental activity. For me, the most important item is that the activity must not require a lot of concentration. That’s why running is good (you just need to not fall down) or meditation or something like that. I’ve found that yoga is very unsatisfactory for that work since it really requires me to get into a state I think the Buddhists refer to as ‘living in the present’. Yoga requires so much of paying attention to the body that it crams out everything else (again, for me). When thoughts do creep in (again, I think this is what Buddhists call ‘monkey mind’ and it is a most excellent concept which I refer to over and over again) the body responds before the conscious mind is even aware of it.

And finally, a final sentimental note about a man and his dog. John Unger has a 19 year old dog suffering from arthritis. The dog apparently finds comfort in floating in the water so during the summer, John takes ‘Schoep’ to Lake Superior, and cradles him in the water, allowing the dog to fall asleep. That, ladies and gentlemen, is true compassion.

  1. Trust us, it ain’t that vast. eds

Kvick Tänkare

Really interesting views of ‘animal overpasses‘ or “structures that have been built over roads to allow wildlife to cross safely to the other side of the road.”

Interesting description of a medical research labs final days in the chimp testing business.  There’s a lot here to motivate you if you’re an animal rights activist and demonstrates the effectiveness of joint action by activists across the spectrum of legality.

I’m not an obituary reader but this one deserves a read, it’s brilliant (h/t to BoingBoing)

I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June, 1971. I could have left that unsaid, but I wanted to get it off my chest. Also, I really am NOT a PhD. What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the U of U, the girl working there put my receipt into the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a PhD diploma came in the mail. I didn’t even graduate, I only had about 3 years of college credit….Now to that really mean Park Ranger; after all, it was me that rolled those rocks into your geyser and ruined it. I did notice a few years later that you did get Old Faithful working again. To Disneyland – you can now throw away that “Banned for Life” file you have on me, I’m not a problem anymore – and SeaWorld San Diego, too, if you read this.

Well, Shiloh is no longer with us but this picture would surely have driven him to apoplexy. This dog is about to have his membership in the canine race revoked. A deer AND a cat mere feet away and he’s laying about? That dog should be in full chase mode. Outrageous.

My poor Parwan…Well, it’s not really ‘mine’ of course but it was where I was stationed and I find it hard to reconcile this with the (relatively) peaceful province of 2003. The Taliban in Parwan…how much ground we’ve lost…

Kvick Tänkare

Your weather forecast (h/t Geeks are Sexy).  ‘How about this to finish out the workweek?’

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Homeland Security Watch has a nice compare/contrast piece between the reactions of the CDC and the EPA to ridiculous rumors.

Really enjoy celery and lettuce but hate having to buy it? Well, here’s how you can have a never ending supply.  My understanding is that you can do the same with lettuce and other stuff.

Worried about deforestation?  Well, some scientists think that the African savannas are about to become huge tracts of forested land because of all the CO2 in the atmosphere.  I’m a bit dubious as I imagine any trees growing will be cut for firewood or timber before forests really get to take hold.  If it does happen that might not be bad for sequestering carbon dioxide but probably won’t be good for the flora and fauna that has adapted to life on the savanna.

Huh…pretty effective slideshow breaking down our current economic problems.

I hope I live long enough to see them build a time machine.  Then, I’m going back in time to punch a puritan (and his snooty work-ethic)  in the nose.  It’s time for a slacker revolution.  But, tomorrow…I’ve got some gaming to do right now.

Paul Greenberg is guest blogging on Mark Bittman’s NYTimes food blog about his fishing trip to Alaska.  Here’s his great description of Grizzly’s:

Here in the Alaska bush, as we see more and more signs of grizzly bears, all that quaintness vanishes and what you come to realize is that a grizzly bear is not omnivorous per se, but rather absolutely, desperately ravenous all the time. It’s as if a grizzly is a drunk or stoned guest barging into nature’s cupboard, ripping open the cabinetry and refrigerators and roaring, “ISN’T THERE ANYTHING TO EAT IN THIS PLACE?”

Ok, someone involved with minor league baseball is obviously taking some heavy duty drugs.  How else to explain the racing eyeballs and other kooky mascot races?

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The Exorcist was a pretty scary movie when I first saw at a far too young 12 (it’s still pretty creepy).  If you don’t like scary movies but want to get the highpoints of the film check out this claymation synopsis.

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Star Wars as Spanish soap opera. I’d probably watch this more than I have the original.

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What do you get when you combine a lot of free time, the internet and a banana?  This.

The LSE had a surprisingly good lecture on immortality and how the concept has effected human civilization.  It’s about an hour and a half but worth it.

Everything left to float in the North Sea ends up drifting to the small island of Texel.  Here’s a 15 minute documentary about some old guys on that island who take their beach-combing seriously.

How can you not read this article when it has a paragraph like this?

For a brief moment in the early ‘80s, it looked as if the brave new world of Alien studies was going to splinter irreconcilably on the issue of Officer Ripley’s panties—the anti-panty camp accusing the pro-panty wing of uncritical phallocentrism, the pro-panty caucus accusing the anti-panty wing of repressive and self-defeating assumptions about what constitutes sexism.

The DNA of dogs is so jumbled that it isn’t any help in figuring out when or where they were first domesticated.

Zoos are having to make increasingly difficult decisions about which animals to try to save and which to let go extinct.

…the burden feels less like Noah building an ark and more like Schindler making a list.

It’s not good news that World War Z is going through extensive reshoots and script edits.  I suspect this is due to the efforts or the producers to transform the book, which is a collection of anecdotes loosely held together by the concept of a zombie apocalypse, into a cohesive narrative that follows a small number of main characters.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  If you’re going to make this book into some sort of visual media, do it with a TV series where you can change the setting and characters every week.  Make it the Love Boat or Fantasy Island of the 2010s.

Kvick Tänkare

I’ve often recommended Don MacDonald‘s online comic/biography of Machiavelli.  Well, he just announced that he’s going to a speaker at TEDx in Boston on June 22nd.

My presentation will be about how I’ve tried to address misconceptions about Machiavelli through my graphic novel. And how popular culture gets him wrong. So a TED talk about Machiavelli, graphic novels, and webcomics.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccolò Machiavelli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He’s promised to provide a link when the talk gets posted.  Stay tuned.

Ethics in the workplace, particularly in the government, is an interesting subject to me since so much of bureaucracy is about taking away individual responsibility, agency and initiative.  So, it’s both heartening and disappointing to hear about Cate Jenkins (no relation to Leroy, I assume) who is a chemist at the EPA and has been fighting with them over her reporting that the agency falsified data about the environmental dangers to those around ‘Ground Zero’ in New York. She’s reported this to anyone who will listen (the EPA Inspector General, FBI and Congress) and, in return the EPA tried to fire her (they failed) and are still exploring ways to get rid of her.  This interview with her is a great lesson about how doing the right thing isn’t necessarily going to be the easy thing.

The New York Times has a great blog called ‘Borderlines’ about quirky places on the map.  Check out this post about the two enclaves that exist in Switzerland.  These little bits of land are owned by Italy and Germany and are totally contained within Swiss borders.

The great part is this story about the Italian enclave…In 1917, the Italian government tapped into their strategic reserves of awesomness and built a casino in this little strip of land…

…with the explicit intention of being a “listening post” — to extract sensitive military information from foreign diplomats in a relaxed atmosphere.

As you read that, admit it, you’re thinking of this, right?

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You know how I’ve been talking about how much I dig various crowdfunding schemes?  Well, here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor of helping me to relocate TwShiloh HQ to more appropriate digs.  If you all will just reach into your pockets for a very modest 17.5 million dollars I can begin blogging from my very own secret mountain lair.  But this wouldn’t be just for me, dear readers.  Your generous donation would entitle you to free lodging in TwShiloh World HQ and a position in my organization bent on world domination.  Pretty good deal, no?

Kvick Tänkare

Romania has unveiled a statue to commemorate the founding of the Romanian nation.  It’s a statue of the Emporer Trajan holding a wolf.  Or, as one passerby describes it:

“I have never seen anything so grotesque, a wolf with a pitbull’s head, a lizard’s tail and a tumour on its neck, carried by a guy who is visibly embarrassed by his nudity,”…

h/t Rogue Classicalism

What could possibly be better than blimps?  How about blimps armed with missiles?

Upstart Virginia aerospace firm Mav6 is offering to install guided missiles on the massive, robotic spy blimp it’s building for the Air Force…Mav6 and its CEO, a respected retired Air Force general, are also promoting the giant airship for homeland security missions over U.S. soil.

Just remove all that commie propaganda and replace it with the stars and bars and we'll be ready to spread some serious democracy!

And speaking of blimps (ok, dirigibles…whatever) here’s an account of one of the Hindenburg’s survivors.

Eric Valli has a maddeningly fascinating photo essay about Americans who are living off the grid.  Fascinating in that the photos are amazing and leave you salivating for the long form article that explains it all.  Maddening in that there is no long form article that explains it all.  There’s nothing but the pictures.

I’m not much of a techno/dance guy but there are some days where this would be most excellent.

…in Sweden we have a whole other vibe going. Here, more and more workers are foregoing both leisurely lunches and “al-desko” dining in favor of daytime raves.

Lunch Beat events can be arranged by any individual, group or company anywhere in the world as long as the organizers respect the founders’ Manifesto, a list of 10 rules specifying, for instance, that Lunch Beat discos must be nonprofit events, take place at lunch time, have 60-minute long DJ sets, and include a takeaway meal.

Do it.  After all, you’ve got all day to be a corporate drone…live a little.  Or, if you’re an autocratic robber-baron, what better way to distract your corporate drones than by allowing them to think they have some control over their lives and can be ‘edgy’ during the day?

And to get you in the mood (kinda)

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Kvick Tänkare

Good news/bad news:

The Bad:  Don MacDonald has finished his great web comic about Machiavelli.

The Good:  Soon he should be announcing publishing details about it.  He’s done really beautiful work on a great subject.

I think a corollary of Rule 34 of the internet should be ‘If it happened, there are reenactors for it.’  Who knew people reenacted the Finnish Civil War?  Check out the photo spread here.

The original 'Heavy' from Team Fortress 2

The War Department at Kings College is turning 50 and they’re celebrating by releasing a number of podcasts on the impact of war studies on various aspects of conflict.

In 1632, the Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus was killed at the Battle of Lutzen.  A number of researchers are trying to find out more about the men who fought there by examining the remains of a mass grave from that battle.

The Kindle Fire may not be an iPad but it’s low price has meant it’s gotten a lot of users which, in turn, means its app store is getting better.  Two recommendations are the relaxing yet compelling game Quell and the other is the environmental sound player Ambiance.  Do yourself a favor and check these out.

Finally, this is intended to be a post about bad bosses within the IT field but, unfortunately, I don’t think the lessons are confined to that field.

Kvick Tänkare

I’m not sure if this is incredibly cool or sad.  Mammoths apparently roamed the earth (well, at least a little part of it) up until 1650BCE.

It’s truly remarkable just how recent 1650 BCE really is. By then, the Egyptian pharaohs were about halfway through their 3000-year reign, and the Great Pyramids of Giza were already 1000 years old. Sumer, the first great civilization of Mesopotamia, had been conquered some 500 years before. The Indus Valley Civilization was similarly five centuries past its peak, and Stonehenge was anywhere from 400 to 1500 years old.

Want a reason to be mad at Norwegians?  How about this…looks like when they were roaming around Western Europe burning and pillaging they didn’t just keep Europe firmly ensconced in the Dark Ages…they also brought us mice.

There is no credible evidence that learning styles exist.”  Whoa…I’ve had all sorts of preconceived notions blown to smithereens lately.

I like to think I’m fairly savvy with new technology.  For some reason, however, I’ve resisted all attempts to get me to buy a smartphone.  No amount of mocking from friends and co-workers has gotten me to budge.  I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one.

Check out this very cool (and a bit trippy) wind map of the US.  They update the data hourly so it’s pretty close to real time.  (h/t phronesisaical)

The NYTimes has a great view of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, seven years after Katrina.  It’s a battle of mankind versus nature as flora and fauna attempt (pretty successfully) to take over properties that were abandoned.  There’s also a nice overview about the (lack of) discussion about what a post-Katrina New Orleans should look like.  It was a decision based on politics and emotions rather than any sort of rational process.

Ok…this is the coolest idea.  A two day cruise between Sweden and Finland with a half dozen heavy metal bands.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Sweden Rock Cruise!  I’d really like to mash this up with a training or conference on intelligence analysis.  I guess I can wait until I get into heaven for that…

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Photographer Jon Tonks has a project in which he travels to the few remaining British overseas territories and (as you’ve probably guessed) takes pictures.

A history of body snatchers.

For nearly a week in early December, black smoke billowed from the French Embassy in Iran. Years of diplomatic archives were being burned in the swimming pool of the embassy, initiated by French officials. The measure was intended as preventive, two days after the raiding of British diplomatic sites in Tehran.

I’ve always thought that my experience in the military (particularly the early years when I just got out of high school) were invaluable in making me a mature, responsible adult (*ahem*. eds). Some researchers wanted to see what, if any, effect military service has on young men and maturity and so compared German conscripts and those who didn’t serve.  Their findings are a bit disappointing.

The groups differed in one way only: the effect of increasing agreeableness was one third larger for the civilian than the military group.* This suggests that military training attenuates the upward trajectory of agreeableness seen in early adulthood.

Now, I’m not sure how applicable this study is across the board.  Conscripts are different from an all volunteer force.  Different armies treat their soldiers differently both in terms of care but also in terms of responsibility and development.  I still think my military service did more to make me a well rounded individual than if I only went to university.

The definition of a bad day.  A dinosaur catches a fish and then a fish catches the dinosaur.  The latter fish chokes on the dinosaur and everyone dies.  It’s like a Jurassic Shakespearean tragedy.

For Mrs. TwShiloh:

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