City acts to improve Union Square infrastructure
City of Somerville responsible for the same kind of infrastructure work as 100 years ago
infrastructure  somerville 
12 hours ago
Phenology is a delightful and challenging way to fight climate change from home.
Hineline argues that as climate change proceeds, and the uncertain effects of warming unfold, scientists will find the phenological records kept by us civilians to be more and more useful. “Individual observations of phenophases, even if they are of a single species, when aggregated with the reports of other observers, provide the facts that drive theoretical understanding and make modeling and prediction possible,” Hineline writes. Keeping them, then, isn’t just for us—it could mean something bigger.

But it is also for us. This whole idea of phenology appeals to me tremendously. I tend to turn to record-keeping to help me feel better about any daunting and uncontrollable situation: budgeting expenses; feeding a newborn; treating insomnia caused by expenses and a newborn. Write stuff down? I can do that!
climate  phenology  nature 
2 days ago
Undercooked: An Expensive Push to Save Lives and Protect the Planet Falls Short — ProPublica
"An array of studies, including some financed by the Alliance itself, have shown that the millions of biomass cookstoves of the kind sold or distributed in the effort do not perform well enough in the field to reduce users’ risk of deadly illnesses like heart disease and pneumonia.

The stoves also have not delivered much in the way of climate benefits. It turns out emissions from cooking fires were less of a warming threat than feared, and that — outside of some de-forestation hot spots — the harvesting of wood for cooking fires only modestly reduces the sustainability of forests."
from instapaper
4 days ago
With the Grain -- Against the New Paleo Politics
"Yet important as fresh meat and vegetables are, they remain delicious luxuries that consume space and energy in quantities disproportionate to other foods.31 The demand that they form ever larger parts of our diet is underwritten by an old elite dream, a wistful longing for the supposedly healthy, leisured, egalitarian, and free (or at least carefree) life of the noble savage and the Arcadian shepherd — a dream that says more about dissatisfaction with modern society than about the realities of herding, hunting, and gathering, or any evolutionary need for large quantities of meat and vegetables."
from instapaper
5 days ago
Getting Started · ml5js
ml5.js aims to make machine learning approachable for a broad audience of artists, creative coders, and students. The library provides access to machine learning algorithms and models in the browser, building on top of TensorFlow.js with no other external dependencies.
machinelearning  javascript  tutorial 
6 days ago
OSMnx: Python for Street Networks - Geoff Boeing
OSMnx lets you download spatial geometries and construct, project, visualize, and analyze complex street networks. It allows you to automate the collection and computational analysis of street networks for powerful and consistent research, transportation engineering, and urban design. OSMnx is built on top of NetworkX, matplotlib, and geopandas for rich network analytic capabilities, beautiful and simple visualizations, and fast spatial queries with R-tree.
python  mapping 
6 days ago
The imperial roots of climate science
Universities, institutes, museums, herbaria, observational networks, publishing houses and government bureaus settled on climatology, meteorology and the metaphor of atmospheric circulation as the scientific proof of the ‘naturalness’ of the empire. This group developed a science designed to show the dynamic interdependence of regions with wildly diverse topography, hydrography and vegetation. Just as the wind from Austria brought rain to the Hungarian plain, and alpine snows fed the lands of the Danube, so each region was shown to provide some climatic essential that an adjoining one lacked.

Review of Climate in Motion: Science, Empire, and the Problem of Scale, by Deborah R.Coen
climate  histsci  europe 
6 days ago
Hot streaks in artistic, cultural, and scientific careers | Nature
The identification of the true origins of hot streaks is beyond the scope of this work. As such, the hot streaks uncovered here should be treated in a metaphorical sense, highlighting an intriguing period of outstanding performance during individual careers without implying any associated drivers. Crucially, though, the findings presented here hold the same, regardless of the underlying drivers.

Very skeptical of validity, but raises interesting questions!
career  datascience  statistics  sociology 
6 days ago
Estimate suggests many infant deaths in sub-Saharan Africa attributable to air pollution
Big data can help to address many pervasive problems in the field of public health. For instance, large-scale data analyses are helping researchers to understand global patterns of disease, the range of factors that contribute to global health and the policies that provide the greatest potential for improvement1,2. In a paper in Nature, Heft-Neal et al.3 propose, implement and (importantly) scrutinize such an approach, exploring the impact of air quality on infant mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.
datascience  airquality  health  africa 
6 days ago
3 Transform!
A syntax transformer is not one of the トランスフォーマ transformers.

Instead, it is simply a function. The function takes syntax and returns syntax. It transforms syntax.
racket  programming  reference 
6 days ago
A poor guide to Pollen
The official Pollen documentation is a rich and hearty repast. That may be why it took me longer than expected to get where I wanted to go.

So, here’s a poor and meagre introduction that may help others get started as quickly as possible.
pollen  tutorial  racket 
6 days ago
More Recycling Won't Solve Plastic Pollution - Scientific American Blog Network
Effectively, we have accepted individual responsibility for a problem we have little control over. We can swim against this plastic stream with all our might and fail to make much headway. At some point we need to address the source.
plastic  environment  recycling  pollution 
6 days ago
Smell-designing Sheffield
"Designing at the sensory level means designing space, rather than just its enclosures — it involves the conscious consideration of invisible, relational, and dynamic information to augment or reshape the urban experience. Perhaps most excitingly, Victoria’s research on urban smellscapes is firmly tied to practical application — she is harnessing the transdisciplinary expertise of micro-climate experts, materials scientists, urban planners, and perfumers in order to develop standard sensory notation and profiles, as well as an inventory of design tools, that will help cities address the possibilities and challenges of an intentional olfactory architecture."
from instapaper
6 days ago
The Struggle For The Occupy Wall Street Archives [via Longreads]
Bold said he had this sense early on in his involvement in OWS. And inspired by a presentation he’d seen at NYU about the collection of artifacts after the September 11th attacks, he decided to get serious about collecting immediately. He told people he knew in the movement to save their writings and signs. He began carrying stuff home himself.<br /><br />

But—and this he says he took from Derrida too, who wrote a book called Archive Fever—he thought it was essential, if the movement wanted to have some degree of control over how it was recorded and interpreted by historians, to collect their own documents. “So I was like, we have to have our own house, and if we’re going to talk about creating our own history, doing all this stuff ourselves, we have to have our own archives. So I was like, all right, let’s do it.”
from instapaper
7 days ago
Patent Diagrams for Artificial Trees – BLDGBLOG
At least, after we’ve cut down every last tree and forest, once we’ve rid the world of natural species, we’ll know how to build their replacements.

Love how these are just half-a-step removed from botanical drawings.
patent  diagram  plants  artificialtrees  trees 
7 days ago
RCAHMW | Cropmarks 2018
The unprecedented spell of hot, dry weather across Wales has provided perfect conditions for archaeological aerial photography. As the drought has persisted across Wales, scores of long-buried archaeological sites have been revealed once again as ‘cropmarks’, or patterns of growth in ripening crops and parched grasslands. The Royal Commission’s aerial investigator Dr Toby Driver has been busy in the skies across mid and south Wales over the last week documenting known sites in the dry conditions, but also discovering hitherto lost monuments. With the drought expected to last at least another two weeks Toby will be surveying right across north and south Wales in a light aircraft to permanently record these discoveries for the National Monuments Record of Wales, before thunderstorms and rain wash away the markings until the next dry summer.
archaeology  climate  wales  scales 
8 days ago
One of the things that had confused him during the past few weeks was the shock he sometimes saw reflected back at him in strangers’ faces — the volunteers who toured the trailer park in utter disbelief, or the TV anchors who broke down in the middle of their live broadcasts from the U.S. border. They said separating a parent from a child was cruel and un-American. They said the United States was in the midst of a singular humanitarian crisis. They said these were the actions of a country they no longer recognized. But, to Alex, the act of family separation seemed quintessentially American. It was the cornerstone of his American experience.
8 days ago
With the Grain -- Against the New Paleo Politics
"Over the course of human history, the very real costs of grain-based, city-centered, agrarian societies have been offset by the fact that, unlike the foraging, herding, and gardening alternatives, grain-based societies were able, over time, to reduce labor and inequality while increasing access to good food and political participation. This was progress: not the grand narrative of a march forward sure from the first step across the whole of human life, but a specific narrative that acknowledges backward steps and unintended consequences while insisting on overall improvements in the food system and in social and political organization."
from instapaper
12 days ago
Stacking the Bricks: How the Blog Broke the Web
Movable Type didn’t just kill off blog customization.

It (and its competitors) actively killed other forms of web production.

Non-diarists — those folks with the old school librarian-style homepages — wanted those super-cool sidebar calendars just like the bloggers did. They were lured by the siren of easy use. So despite the fact that they weren’t writing daily diaries, they invested time and effort into migrating to this new platform.

They soon learned the chronostream was a decent servant, but a terrible master.

The potato gun girl and gerbil genetics guy found they didn’t want to write updates. It didn’t make sense. Their sites should have remained a table of contents, a reference tool, an odd and slightly musty personal library… the new “posts” format simply didn’t work for what they wanted to do. It felt demanding, and oppressive.

via tcarmody on kottke
internet  history  blogging 
13 days ago
Page not found – The Los Angeles Review of Books
"When you write of “a place where people are not absolutely free, but partially constrained, in particular when it comes to what they can demand from the finite resources of the material world,” I’m reminded of the situation of the poem, even though language’s resources are not depletable. I suppose in this sense — in your sense — I’m a late Romantic"
from instapaper
13 days ago
Nanolaser changes color when stretched
Inspired by a chameleon’s prowess, researchers have made a tiny elastic laser that changes color as it is stretched and released (Nano Lett. 2018, DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b01774). The tunable nanolaser system could be used in flexible displays, wearable sensors, and lab-on-a-chip devices.

Chameleon skin has a layer of cells containing guanine nanocrystals. When the lizard tenses or relaxes its skin, the space between the crystals changes, altering the color of reflected light. In the quest to make compact light sources with tunable colors, some researchers have tried to emulate this mechanism.
laser  nanoscience  bionics 
14 days ago
The Subscription Problem – Hot Pod News
Calm and Headspace are, in purpose and presentation, meditation apps. But strip it down to its technical components, and you’ll see that they’re effectively on-demand audio platforms built on strong subscription-first business models. Indeed, I’d argue they’re the most successful on-demand audio apps in the marketplace right now.
podcast  audio  economics 
15 days ago
Below the Surface - Archeologische vondsten Noord/Zuidlijn Amsterdam
The tunnels were to be drilled at a depth of 20 to 30 metres below NAP (Amsterdam Ordnance Datum defining the city’s normal water level), deep below the wooden foundation piles of the buildings, which went down to an average of 12 metres below NAP.

A city-defined normal water level!
infrastructure  archaeology  city  transit  water 
16 days ago
Take a Photo Here - The New York Times
A site ought in theory to make possible a large number of vantage points. In reality, only a few points of view account for the majority of photographs made. The visitor to a place like the Roman Forum does not only take a photograph of the Forum; he also takes a photograph for the Forum. His photograph partly serves the narrative chosen by the Forum’s custodians. The visitor is inadvertently mesmerized not only by the site but also by the municipal or museological organization of the experience of the site.

Why have so many people looked straight down a stairwell at the New Museum and taken a photograph there? Each person who does it feels a frisson of originality but unknowingly reveals something that was latent in the stairwell all along.

The resultant images are rarely individually “great.” What they offer, as a sequence or as a grid, is a fleeting form of poetry: the poignant commonality of our eyes. The world individually mesmerizes us toward reiteration. Our coincident gazes overlay the same sites over and over and over again, as though we were caught up in a slow-motion religious fervor. Through the affordances of terrain, we are alleviated of the burden of originality without always being aware that we are being unoriginal. Take a photo here, the site whispers. It’s yours, but not yours alone.
photography  tejucole  instagram 
17 days ago
My Saga, Part 2
"how he begins to live in the music, as he keeps tossing out one tune after the other, song after song, some of it fantastic, some of it junk, some of it interesting, some of it nonsense, and it doesn’t matter in the slightest, for the whole point is the lightness; that all demands for perfection and completion, for flawlessness, have been suspended; and the motion."
from instapaper
17 days ago
A Director Looks for Beauty in Her Home’s Opioid Struggle - The New York Times
While the demand is greater, I’m not seeing foundations and networks finding people like myself who are embedded in communities. I’m seeing [organizations] give money to folks that are distant from those communities. I’m excited that there’s more attention drawn to the issues and the stories of this place, but I worry that it’s just more of the same. More of this outside view looking in.

I always get really defensive when people call places like where I’m from “Trump Country,” even calling this place “coal country.” It’s an “othering” that really bothers me, and it’s not wholly true.
appalachia  documentary  film  opioids 
18 days ago
Automating the Evaluation of MBTA Service Coverage
This post will walk you through the MBTA’s 2017 base coverage analysis. Base coverage is the percent of the total population within the MBTA cities and towns living .5 miles walking distance away from any MBTA operated or subsidized transit stop or station, regardless of the frequency or span of service provided.
datascience  mbta  transit 
18 days ago
Rush After 'A Rape On Campus': A UVA Alum Goes Back to Rugby Road
"It is hard for young privileged Americans to reconcile their good intentions with the violence that has facilitated their lifestyle."
from instapaper
18 days ago
Jonathan Franzen Is Fine With All of It
"He had more to say about seabirds. He had more to say about every topic we discussed. But here’s the thing: When he speaks, he enunciates down to the soul of every single letter. He takes this lingual habit and out of his mouth he erects complete cities — rigorously formed ones, with firehouses and railroad stations and schools and coffee joints and community centers. He makes no points that are complete at the usual magazine-article quotable size. He makes no points that can be distilled to a few words and still be understood in their breadth. The breadth is the point."
from instapaper
20 days ago
Can Art Be Both Pure and Political? A Pulitzer Prize–Winning Composer Discusses His Process.
"Several years ago it finally occurred to me that it might be time to compose music intended from the start to be heard outdoors. Making music outdoors invites a different mode of awareness. You might call it “ecological listening.” In the concert hall, we seal ourselves off from the world and concentrate our listening on a handful of carefully produced sounds. Outdoors, rather than focusing our attention inward, we are challenged to expand our awareness to encompass a multiplicity of sounds, to listen outward. We’re invited to receive messages not only from the composer and the performers, but also from the larger world around us."
from instapaper
20 days ago
High-speed microjets issue from bursting oil gland reservoirs of citrus fruit | PNAS
The rupture of oil gland reservoirs housed near the outer surface of the citrus exocarp is a common experience to the discerning citrus consumer and bartenders the world over. These reservoirs often rupture outwardly in response to bending the peel, which compresses the soft material surrounding the reservoirs, the albedo, increasing fluid pressure in the reservoir. Ultimately, fluid pressure exceeds the failure strength of the outermost membrane, the flavedo. The ensuing high-velocity discharge of oil and exhaustive emptying of oil gland reservoirs creates a method for jetting small quantities of the aromatic oil. We compare this jetting behavior across five citrus hybrids through high-speed videography. The jetting oil undergoes an extreme acceleration to reach velocities in excess of 10 m/s. Through material characterization and finite element simulations, we rationalize the combination of tuned material properties and geometries enabling the internal reservoir pressures that produce explosive dispersal, finding the composite structure of the citrus peel is critical for microjet production.

I love this.
fruit  physics  scales  droplet 
21 days ago
Every Good Boy Does Fine - The New Yorker
"One thing no one teaches you is how much teaching resembles therapy. You can be working with a student you’ve recently met, and you begin to tinker with one thing, even the movement of an arm. It becomes clear that some important muscle has been blocked for a decade or more. It’s an intimate thing, being shown these years of lost possibilities, and before long you’re giving advice about boyfriends, and explaining why parents are such a drag. There are diabolically opposed incentives, too: while the teacher is trying to express the truth about the student and discover what isn’t working, the student is in some way trying to elude discovery, disguising weaknesses in order to seem better than she is. In this complicated situation, a teacher must walk a thin line, destroying complacency without destroying confidence.

Teaching makes you understand what your own teachers must have endured—frustrations as great as any performer’s. Ninety per cent of a teacher’s job is directing students to read what’s plainly on the page. The other ten per cent is attempting to incite their imagination about what’s behind and between the notes, what could never be written down in any score—and sometimes this seems unteachable, like the creation of life itself."
from instapaper
21 days ago
Every Good Boy Does Fine - The New Yorker
"The aim of that first lesson, I later realized, was to ennoble the art of practicing. You were not practicing “phrasing”; you were drawing like Michelangelo, or seducing like Don Juan. Sebők said many times that you don’t teach piano playing at lessons; you teach how to practice—the daily rite of discovery that is how learning really happens."
from instapaper
21 days ago
Every Good Boy Does Fine - The New Yorker
"As you deal with thumb-crossings, or fingerings for the F-sharp-minor scale, or chromatic scales in double thirds, it is hard to accept that these will eventually allow you to probe eternity in the final movement of Beethoven’s last sonata. Imagine that you are scrubbing the grout in your bathroom and are told that removing every last particle of mildew will somehow enable you to deliver the Gettysburg Address."
from instapaper
21 days ago
Instagram and Art Theory - artnet News
"Isn’t it striking that the most-typical and most-maligned genres of Instagram imagery happen to correspond to the primary genres of Western secular art?"
from instapaper
24 days ago
Maria Mitchell at 200: a pioneering astronomer who fought for women in science
Richard Holmes:
This is a legacy to reckon with. Her archives are treasured at Vassar, and a museum and an association in her name flourish in Nantucket. Her beautiful Henry Fitz telescope has gleaming pride of place in the National Museum of American History, Washington DC. Above all, she should be remembered for her inspirational science teaching, the passionate ex-Quaker and bold proto-feminist so vividly combined. One of her students recalled: “A chance meeting with Miss Mitchell ... gave one always an electric shock. At the slightest contact, a spark flashed.” We can catch it still.
science  womenscientists  history  astronomy 
27 days ago
Frictionless gas flow observed in perfectly flat-walled nanochannels
The authors found that the permeability of deuterium (D2) in graphite nanochannels is much lower than that of hydrogen (H2), its lighter isotopic counterpart, even though Knudsen theory predicts the opposite. This is because deuterium molecules have a smaller de Broglie wavelength than do hydrogen molecules, and therefore ‘see’ the channel walls as being rougher, even though the two types of molecule have the same diameter and interact in the same way with the channel walls.

Quantum weirdness!
quantum  physics  nanoscience  science 
27 days ago
What’s Really Happening When Asylum-Seeking Families Are Separated?
"So now you’re creating two populations. One is your traditional unaccompanied kids who are just coming because their life is at risk right now in El Salvador and Honduras and parts of Guatemala, and they come with incredible trauma, complex stories, and need a lot of resources, and so they navigate this immigration system. And now we have this new population, which is totally different: the young kids who don’t hold their stories and aren’t here to self-navigate the system and are crying out for their parents. There are attorneys that get money to go in and give rights presentations to let the teenagers know what they can ask for in court, what’s happening with their cases, and now the attorneys are having a hard time doing that because right next to them, in the other room, they’ve got kids crying and wailing, asking for their mom and dad. The attorneys can’t give these kids information. They’re just trying to learn grounding exercises."
from instapaper
27 days ago
MPR Raccoon: Exploring the Urban Architecture Behind an Antisocial Climber - 99% Invisible
The architects had no idea that the building’s exterior surface would one day serve to provide pawholds. They also couldn’t have anticipated that the non-operable windows (historically typical of tall towers) might be a focal point for people concerned about a stranded raccoon (in retrospect: their inability to open may have been a plus, since rescue attempts might have spooked her). Nor would they have guessed that terminating exterior columns toward the top would be an issue.
architecture  raccoon  minnesota  design 
28 days ago
America's First Female Mapmaker
Willard is well-known to historians of the early republic as a pioneering educator, the founder of what is now called the Emma Willard School, in Troy, New York. But she was also a versatile writer, publisher and, yes, mapmaker. She used every tool available to teach young readers (and especially young women) how to see history in creative new ways. If the available textbooks were tedious (and they were), she would write better ones. If they lacked illustrations, she would provide them. If maps would help, so be it: she would fill in that gap as well. She worked with engravers and printers to get it done. She was finding her way forward in a male-dominated world, with no map to guide her. So she made one herself.

The maps for sale show North America in twelve different snapshots. I say “snapshots” because Willard was such an inventive visual thinker. On the eve of photography, she was thinking hard about how to capture a big story inside a single striking image.
america  maps  history  womenshistory  design 
29 days ago
Ed-Tech's Inequalities
"Research suggests that students in affluent schools are more likely to use computers for creative and experimental projects; students in low income schools are more likely to use computers for drill-and-kill exercises. The latter, again in Papert’s words, is “the computer programming the child.”"
from instapaper
4 weeks ago
Critical APIs - lauren mccarthy
An API allows a connection between two different applications. It can pass data and information, or provide access to modify or control the application itself. Though APIs are often thought of in terms of their functionality, they are never neutral. Expectations about why and how it might be used and who should be able to use it are embedded in the infrastructure of the system. This course will look critically at the structures of power and control inherent in APIs, and explore possibilities to subvert ideologies imposed by the technology.
api  technology  crit  syllabus 
4 weeks ago
Trailblazing Piano Professor Frances Walker-Slocum ’45 dies at 94 | Oberlin College and Conservatory
Outspoken throughout her life, Walker-Slocum showcased the music of black composers such as Scott Joplin, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and former Oberlin student William Grant Still; battled for gender equity in salary; and strode confidently into an interracial marriage amid a torrent of condemnation. Through the years, she was also beloved by her students, many of whom went on to standout careers of their own.

Born in Washington, D.C., Walker-Slocum was raised alongside her brother, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Walker ’41, hon. DM ’83. She sustained severe burns in a fire at age 5 and suffered a long and painful recovery that included a yearlong stint in the hospital and numerous surgeries, especially to her right arm. Walker-Slocum followed her brother to Oberlin, primarily because it was the only college at the time willing to confer undergraduate degrees to blacks. (“Every black musician I knew in Washington studied in Oberlin,” she once said. “Oberlin was a vanguard in those days as far as blacks were concerned.”)
oberlin  piano  african-american  history  obit 
4 weeks ago
How Long Can Our Content Last? • Robin Rendle
But the biggest flaw with all this digital preservation stuff isn’t HTML or CSS in my opinion. It’s the concept of a domain that we rent. Today we borrow spaces on the web and put up our flimsy little flags on top. And then the links get lost in a shuffle between apartments or jobs, between marriages or administrations. Or when someone accidentally unplugs something. Or, tragically, if someone dies.
web  archives  preservation 
4 weeks ago
Adeline Harris Sears | Quilt, Tumbling Blocks with Signatures pattern | American | The Met
In 1856, seventeen-year-old Adeline Harris, the daughter of a well-to-do Rhode Island mill owner, conceived of a unique quiltmaking project. She sent small diamond-shaped pieces of white silk worldwide to people she esteemed as the most important figures of her day, asking each to sign the silk and return it to her. By the time the signatures were all returned and ready to be stitched into a "tumbling-blocks" patterned quilt, Adeline had amassed an astonishing collection of autographs. Her quilt features the signatures of eight American presidents; luminaries from the worlds of science, religion, and education; heroes of the Civil War; such authors as Charles Dickens and Ralph Waldo Emerson; and an array of prominent artists. Today, the autographs displayed in this beautiful and immaculately constructed quilt provide an intriguing glimpse into the way an educated young woman of the mid-nineteenth century viewed her world.
scales  art  us  history  signatures  handicraft 
5 weeks ago
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