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cool stuff

Thursday,  02/13/20  10:19 PM

I've been traveling and reading and have some cool stuff to share...

This is a *real* picture of a red giant star "swallowing" another star.  How cool is that?

This professor's amazing trick makes quadratic equations easier.  Cool!  In addition to being easier, this method makes more sense, so that you can remember it or even re-derive it when necessary. 

Economist: Britain after Brexit.  After not having supported Brexit nor having understood why the majority of British people voted to leave the EU, the Economist editors double down by hoping Boris Johnson will follow Liberalism as his lodestar.  This is *not* the Onion, but you could be forgiven for thinking so. 

More Economist: Who will be Donald Trump's most forceful foe?  Before you click through, ask yourself who do you think is the answer to this?  And then read their answer: Joe Biden (!?).  Um ... no.  I believe the editors have lost the thread entirely. 

Apropos: In Dem primary field, the idea of a moderate is a myth.  Obama was the second most liberal person in the Senate (behind John Kerry), and literally all of the current Democrat candidates are to the left of him.  Including [former Republican] Michael Bloomberg. 

From the New Yorker: The Rock.  In which a huge new diamond is found, and disrupts the industry.  I always like reading about diamonds as the classic case of marketing to create demand ... did you know that diamonds are not rare?  (And are in fact more common than many gemstones which are less valuable?)  Anyway, cool. 

Good news: A new spacecraft will examine the sun close up.  "On February 10th a rocket blasted off from Florida carrying Solar Orbiter, a European space probe designed to solve some of them. This craft will spend the next two years performing fly-bys of Venus and Earth, using the gravity of both planets to kick itself into an unusual orbit that will take it well above the ecliptic, the plane in which all of the sun’s planets orbit."  Yay. 

Founders at work: Steve Wozniak.  Linked via Paul Graham who comments "lots to learn from in this".  No kidding.  A great overview of what makes great engineers, and great products.  I love the emphasis on elegance; I believe Woz would agree with W=UH :) 


Did you know?  It's the 50th anniversary of Black Sabbath's eponymous debut album.  "What is this that stands before me?" 

Finally this: The Lion Sleeps Tonight.  Bummed to hear of the passing of Joseph Shabalala, founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.  One of the best concerts I've seen from a band I didn't know at all when I saw them was LBM.  They were at the Greek Theater - it was filled - and just about everyone in the audience sang along.