Infography Done Right?

Infographics are the new black. Usually, they simply represent an aesthetically compelling way to present data in order to convince you of the infographers point. Occasionally, this artistic presentation of data represents a thoughtful way to view data in order to address a particular question. Eric Fischer‘s Locals and Tourists images are just such an approach.

<i>Image: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/4671589629/">Locals and Tourists #1 (GTWA #2): London</a>, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from walkingsf's photostream</i>

Eric starts with a question:

Some people interpreted the Geotaggers’ World Atlas maps to be maps of tourism. This set is an attempt to figure out if that is really true.

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The Comments “They” Don’t Want You to Read


Science 2.0 is all about open debate involving both scientists and non-scientists. Science 2.0 is a good thing. What does Science 2.0 need to make it go? It needs two things.

1. Anyone is free to provide express their opinion on a topic.
2. The community is free to provide commentary on that opinion.

These sound simple, but in practice they require courage and a thick skin.

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Now I Just Need a Lego Feynman to Crack It

I love Lego creations that are not just sculpture, but are mechanical devices; and I’m not talking about those programmable Lego robot things. They are ok, I guess. I’m talking about mechanical objects based on simple Lego pieces to create gears, wedges, levers, and all those other fun Newtonian work devices. Like this Lego combination safe (created by Merijn van Wouden).


Now, I just need a Lego Feynman to crack the combination and access my nuclear lego secrets.

Do Guys Dream of Electric Playmates (Repost)

This is a repost of an article originally published on 24 February 2009 here in response to a Wired Magazine article that is, once again, making the rounds.

My apologies to Horselover Fat for the title, but what is a boy to do when confronted with Katharine Gammon’s “Infoporn: Today’s Playmates Are More Like Anime Figures Than Real Humans” in Wired Magazine:

Oh, Playboy, why do you want your “readers” to lust after androids? That’s the only explanation we can think of for the proportions of your lovely ladybots.

If Hef is secretly invested in Battlestar Galactica, then the argument that Playboy has been gradually programming American males to “lust after androids” for the past fifty years makes sense.
Battlestar Galactica publicity still
The argument that Playboy drives the public perception of the ideal female form, as opposed to responding to the preferences of their readers (you won’t get any judgemental scare quotes from me) may just be a reflection of Gammon’s socioeconomic philosophy or writing style. It also does not involve fun graphs. Dealing with the specific claim of the article, that Playmates represent progressively more extreme and less healthy body shapes, does.

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Ending the World for 60 Years: 1952

Wilson Tucker’s 1952 The Long Loud Silence is The Road of the 1950’s.

It’s a pure survival story, one about the complete deterioration of society into a vicious, gritty state of no-holds-barred struggle after a nuclear and biological holocaust. Unlike many other post-apocalyptic novelists, Tucker doesn’t envision much society left at all after total destruction: there is no reversion to a pseudo-Native American tribal state, to early rural 19th century agrarianism, to feudalism, to a theocratic dystopia. A total Hobbesian (or Darwinian…) state of nature prevails for decades after the catastrophe. Society does not rebuild.
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