(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘TED

“Don’t trust anyone over 30″*…

In 1984 Bruce Springsteen released his best-selling album, a twelve-track masterpiece in which seven songs were released as singles, including the mega-hits “Dancing in the Dark,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” “I’m on Fire,” and “Glory Days.” Rolling Stone called Springsteen the “voice of a decade,” and wrote, “It’s as if Springsteen were saying that life is made to endure and that we all make peace with private suffering and shared sorrow as best we can.”

Although the song “Born in the U.S.A.” had a cultural impact, the most lasting legacy of the album might be “Dancing in the Dark,” an upbeat pop song with oddly grim lyrics, and a classic video featuring a young Courteney Cox dancing onstage…

With Tetris, TED, and This is Spinal Tap, one of “30 Things Turning 30 in 2014.”

* variously attributed to Bob Dylan, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and The Beatles, all of whom said it; but it’s likely that they all got it from Jack Weinberger, a free speech activist, who was quoted with the phrase in 1964, in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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As we age gracefully, we might recall that it was also 30 years ago– on this date in 1984– that Michael Jackson’s Thriller became the best-selling album ever.  Released in 1982, Thriller spawned seven singles, all of which charted, and several seminal music videos (e.g., “Billie Jean,” Human Nature,” Thriller”); it won 8 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.  As of 2010, Thriller had sold a certified 42.4 million copies (and had an estimated total of 51-65 million).  The runner-up, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon (released a decade earlier), had sold 27.2 million.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 12, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry”*…

Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.
—Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature

Benoit Mandelbrot, Sterling Professor of Mathematics at Yale and the father of fractal geometry, died last Thursday at age 85.  As Heinz-Otto Peitgen, professor of mathematics and biomedical sciences at the University of Bremen, observed, “if we talk about impact inside mathematics, and applications in the sciences, he is one of the most important figures of the last 50 years.”

“I decided to go into fields where mathematicians would never go because the problems were badly stated,” Dr. Mandelbrot once said. “I have played a strange role…”  Indeed, one hopes that Mandelbrot had the consolation of his own fascination as he contemplated the diffusion pattern of the pancreatic cancer that killed him.

At TED2010, mathematics legend Benoit Mandelbrot develops a theme he first discussed at TED in 1984 — the extreme complexity of roughness, and the way that fractal math can find order within patterns that seem unknowably complicated.

* Richard Feynman

In other sad news, Barbara Billingsley, the avatar of American motherhood in her role as Mrs. Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver, passed away on Saturday.

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As we marvel at patterns nested within themselves, we might recall that it was on this date in in 1962 that In 1962, Dr. James D. Watson, Dr. Francis Crick, and Dr. Maurice Wilkins won the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for their work in determining the double-helix molecular structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).

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By the Numbers…

Photographer and artist Chris Jordan has created a set of photographs, “Running the Numbers,” illustrating the dimensions of our consumer culture.  Working with assemblages, Jordan constructs images that deconstruct into his points…

For example, “Barbie Dolls” uses 32,000 of those plastic puppets to commemorate the 32,000 breast augmentation surgeries done in the U.S. in 2006:

See many more of these remarkable compositions, here (where a nifty feature lets one click for a seamless zoom on the details underlying each photo)– and see Jordan’s TED talk, “Picturing Excess,” here.

(TotH to Brain Pickings)

As we rethink those impulse purchases, we might recall that it was on this date in 1889 that Fusajiro Yamauchi  founded Nintendo Koppai (later, Nintendo Company, Ltd) to produce and market the playing cards known as Hanafuda (“flower cards”).

An early Nintendo game

Just the facts, ma’am…

Source: GoComics

Looking for an antidote?  Well there is Fora.tv (with Long Now seminars, TED Talks, and other delectables)…  and now, nearly 1000 non-fiction films (and growing) in dozens of categories, available for one’s pleasure and edification at Documentary Heaven.

source: UC Library

(On the other hand, if one wants to find any sequence from any film, one might amble over to AnyClip— thousands of films indexed so far; thousands more to come. Tres cool….)

As we search for the verite in cinema, we might recall that it was on this date in 37 CE that Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus– aka Caligula– became the Roman  Emperor, following the death of his great-uncle Tiberius.  Caligula reigned until his assassination three-and-a-half years later by members of his own Praetorian Guard; the first two years of his tenure were marked by moderation– but accounts of his reign thereafter paint a portrait of cruel, extravagant, and perverse tyranny…  leading many historians to suspect that Caligula succumbed in his last months to neurosyphilis.

A marble bust of Caligula restored to its original colors (which were identified from particles trapped in the marble)

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