My dad and I watched a program on KLRU this evening called Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail. It featured a segment about Chernobyl, a city abandoned after the most disastrous single nuclear event in history.

Pripyat Amusement Park was completed just prior to the Chernobyl disaster and never opened to the public. I love these haunting images of the abandoned carnival.





My Favorite Person

I spent the day with my very favorite person. We stopped by Amy's for ice cream and then went hiking and swimming along Bull Creek.




Artificially Intelligent Killer Robots

Autonomous weapons select and engage targets without human intervention. They might include, for example, armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is — practically if not legally — feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.

– Autonomous Weapons: an Open Letter from AI & Robotics Researchers


Earthquakes & Tsunamis

I mentioned The Really Big One after reading about the Cascadia subduction zone a few weeks ago. Kathryn Schultz put together a fascinating report for The New Yorker on the seismic history and future of the Pacific Northwest. 

The next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will spell the worst natural disaster in the history of the continent.

Not surprisingly, this caused some alarm among readers in the region. This week she published a follow-up, How to Stay Safe When the Big One Comes


The Psychology of Human Misjudgment

The audio below contains the often referred to speech by Charlie Munger on the psychology of human misjudgment given to an audience at Harvard University back in 1995. In his speech, Charlie talks about some of the different kinds of human misjudgments that he has encountered through his life.

The following is a summary of Charlie’s 25 standard causes of human misjudgments, revised in 2005 and included in Poor Charlie’s Almanack – The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger:

  1. Reward and Punishment Superresponse Tendency
  2. Liking/Loving Tendency
  3. Disliking/Hating Tendency
  4. Doubt-Avoidance Tendency
  5. Inconsistency-Avoidance Tendency
  6. Curiosity Tendency
  7. Kantian Fairness Tendency
  8. Envy/Jealousy Tendency
  9. Reciprocation Tendency
  10. Influence-from-Mere Association Tendency
  11. Simple, Pain-Avoiding Psychological Denial
  12. Excessive Self-Regard Tendency
  13. Overoptimism Tendency
  14. Deprival Superreaction Tendency
  15. Social-Proof Tendency
  16. Contrast-Misreaction Tendency
  17. Stress-Influence Tendency
  18. Availability-Misweighing Tendency
  19. Use-It-or-Lose-It Tendency
  20. Drug-Misinfluence Tendency
  21. Senescence-Misinfluence Tendency
  22. Authority-Misinfluence Tendency
  23. Twaddle Tendency
  24. Reason-Respecting Tendency
  25. Lollapalooza Tendency – The Tendency to Get Extreme Confluences of Psychological Tendencies Acting in Favor of a Particular Outcome



Take the Trees

Walking through a forest is the best way I know to improve my mood. Several studies to understand how and why have recently been published.

These results “strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments” could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers.

How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain, New York Times.

Something deep within us responds to the three-dimensional geometry of nature.

How Trees Calm Us Down, The New Yorker.



Stanford Prison Experiment

I had the good fortune of attending a screening of The Stanford Prison Experiment, followed by a Q&A with Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez and Stanford University Professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo.

In 1971, Dr. Philip Zimbardo cast 24 student volunteers as prisoners and guards in a simulated jail to examine the source of abusive behavior in the prison system. The results astonished the world, as participants went from middle-class undergrads to drunk-with-power sadists and submissive victims in just a few days.

The acting was superb and the director did a great job eliciting the emotional tone of the experiment. Zimbardo is a highly controversial figure, so it was not a surprise when the first question came from an audience member asking how he could live with himself and stating he should have been fired. As she stormed out in disgust, a woman who identified herself as a black panther gave a monologue of praise for his study. The emotionally-charged controversy of The Stanford Prison Experiment continues, even after more than 40 years.

Was the study about our individual fallibility, or about broken institutions? Were its findings about prisons, specifically, or about life in general?

The Real Lesson of The Stanford Prison Experiment is an interesting look at this controversial study from The New Yorker.

Here is a clip with some of the original footage:





Phoenix Lake Loop Hike

One of my favorite hikes in Marin County is this quick and easy loop around Ross creek and Phoenix lake. This relatively flat 3-mile loop is a great choice for any level, and particularly wonderful for trail running. The light yesterday was incredible so I spent most of the hike trying to capture the magic of the route. I love trees!!


Steve McQueen with Kanye West: All Day / I Feel Like That

Steve McQueen and Kanye West collaborated to create a short film for West’s songs “All Day / I Feel Like That.” The film is 9 minutes, shot in one take at a historic dockyard outside of London. It will premiere as a pop-up installation at LACMA from Saturday, July 25–Tuesday, July 28, 2015.

If you're in Los Angeles on Saturday, definitely stop by LACMA for this and the 24-hour screening of Christian Marclay's The Clock.

MCQUEEN: How do you approach the visuals?
WEST: Well, I'm a trained fine artist. I went to art school from the time I was 5 years old. I was, like, a prodigy out of Chicago. I'd been in national competitions from the age of 14. I got three scholarships to art schools—to St. Xavier, to the American Academy of Art, and to the Art Institute of Chicago—and I went to the American Academy of Art. So the joke that I've actually played on everyone is that the entire time, I've actually just been a fine artist. I just make sonic paintings, and these sonic paintings have led me to become whatever people think of when you say “Kanye West.”

Read the full interview between Steve McQueen and Kanye West

The biggest slavery that we have is our opinion of ourselves.





Spider Silk Clothing

A fascinating look at Bolt Threads, a company that has engineered synthetic spider silk for industrial production. Chic.

Spider silk, like all silk, is a type of protein. The material is highly valued not only for its famed strength but also because natural spider silk comes in a variety of forms. Each spider spins about seven different types of silk. They produce an incredibly soft variety for egg wrapping; another type, called flagelliform silk, is incredibly stretchy like spandex. These varieties have evolved for spiders’ specific ecological needs, and also happen to be qualities we’d like in our clothing, too.