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An engaging article about "The Knowledge", the impressively perfect name given to the test for becoming a cab driver in London.

An almost Borgesian (in content if not in diction) quote:

Which is where the Knowledge comes in. It is a weird city’s weird solution to the riddle of itself, a municipal training program whose graduates are both transit workers and Gnostics: chauffeurs taught by the government to know the unknowable.

I want to write fic about this, but at the same time it's just so beautiful a concept on its own that I don't know if that wouldn't be overkill.


What could possibly go wrong?

Close to 200 prisoners will cycle around France next month, watched by scores of guards on bicycles, in the first penal version of the Tour de France, authorities said Monday.


Links! Get here your links!

Ecocomics: A blog about economics and comics books (that is, the economics inside comic book universes, not the economics of the comic books industry; therefore, expect bizarre instead of depressing posts).

Mostly for not_sally, on accounts of the movie: Russian roulette in the medical literature.

I want to procrastinate and I need new icons. Coincidence? I think not.


Also known as 'the competition'

From io9: Meet Real-Life Supervillain Society ROACH. They have a recruitment video and everything. I particularly like this graphic:

What a bunch of lovable amateurs, going public like that. I shall enjoy crushing them from the shadows, and only in his last, painful minute of life will their 'supreme leader' realize that the fate he had thought had doomed him was in fact the dark reach of my will.


It's not even subtle anymore

Link in Spanish (couldn't find an English version, sorry). Short story shorter: Scientists just found a sort of cemetery in Antarctica with a large concentration of fossils of giant cephalopods.

This would be a good moment to reread Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. Again: Cemetery of giant cephalopod fossils in Antarctica.

You know that thing in Borges and Philip K. Dick stories (and In the Mouth of Madness) where a lot of people becoming really engrossed with a fictional story makes it slowly bleed into reality? Everybody stop doing that now, please.


I'm easy amused

Irish police has issued over the years more than 50 traffic tickets to a Polish driver named Prawo Jazdy.

Prawo Jazdy is Polish for Driving License.

To be fair, they distributed a memo about this on June 2007, it's just that the papers found about that this week.


Scarily non-surprising factoid of the day

According to a study in Canada, psychopaths are more than twice as likely as other prisoners to get out of jail early. They are just better at playing the system.

I want to same something about psychopathologies, ecological niches, adaptation, and social optima, but I still have to figure out what.


The long version: Cat control lead to eco disaster on World Heritage island

The short version:
People: Nice island!
Mice and rats: *chomp boats' grain stores*
Sailors: Damn mice. They'll see. *bring cats to the island*
Cats: *chomp mice*
People: Nice island. I'd like to eat some meat, though. *bring rabbits to the island*
People: *chomp some rabbits*
Rabbits: *reproduce* *chomp plants*
People: Our plants! *brilliantly introduce myxomatosis*
Rabbits: *die*
Cats: No can haz rabits? *eat birds*
People: Our birds! *kill cats*
Rabbits: You know, without cats around, myxomatosis ain't that bad when you get used to it. *reproduce* *chomp plants*
People: Our plants!

Don't get me wrong, I'm convinced that the global ecosystem is already way too out of whack for any non-interventionist strategy to work. We are going to have to get good at ecological engineering, and we are going to have to get good at it real quick. But this was amusing as hell...


Holographic principle for dummies

[...] The maximal amount of energy that can be jammed into a sphere of the size R coincides with the mass of a black hole with radius R:

. (1)

As a result, there is a maximum amount of information that can be crammed inside a sphere of the radius R, and this amount is proportional to

, (2)

where Area is the surface area of a sphere with radius R and is a very tiny area called the Planck area.


This observation allows many people to think that maybe relevant degrees of freedom in physical problems involving gravitation actually live on a surface rather than in a volume - and that is where the term “holographic principle” comes from. Relevant degrees of freedom live on a surface, interact with each other there, and the 3d world we see is in a sense fiction - reflection of this dynamics on a surface.


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