Monthly Archives: August 2016

Why it’s so irritating when people use periods in their texts

 Nicolas DiDomizio, writing for Mic

‘When using [a period] in a text message, it’s perceived as overly formal,’ Collister wrote. ‘So when you end your text with a period, it can come across as insincere or awkward, just like using formal spoken language in a casual setting like a bar..

“Text [messages] and many other online forms of communication are intended to be brief, and adding a period which signals ‘the end’ is for many users a conscious choice and can communicate a message like, ‘I’m really done talking about this,'” she said.


Nixon, booze and nuclear weapons

This is Tyler Cowen‘s excerpt of this NYT story:

…there were at least two instances in which top officials tried to slow, or undermine, the president’s nuclear authority.

The first came in October 1969, when the president ordered Melvin R. Laird, his secretary of defense, to put American nuclear forces on high alert to scare Moscow into thinking the United States might use nuclear arms against the North Vietnamese.

Scott D. Sagan, a nuclear expert at Stanford University and the author of ‘The Limits of Safety,’ a study of nuclear accidents, said Mr. Laird tried to ignore the order by giving excuses about exercises and readiness, hoping that the president who sometimes embraced the ‘madman theory’ — let the world think that you are willing to use a weapon — would forget about his order.

But Nixon persisted. Dr. Sagan reports that during the operation, code-named Giant Lance, one of the B-52 bombers carrying thermonuclear arms came dangerously close to having an accident.

Then, in 1974, in the last days of the Watergate scandal, Mr. Nixon was drinking heavily and his aides saw what they feared was a growing emotional instability. His new secretary of defense, James R. Schlesinger, himself a hawkish Cold Warrior, instructed the military to divert any emergency orders — especially one involving nuclear weapons — to him or the secretary of state, Henry A. Kissinger.

It was a completely extralegal order, perhaps mutinous. But no one questioned it.

So the President’s power when it comes to nuclear can be quite limited. 

Why swearing is good for you

Noah Berlatsky, reporting for Quartz

‘Bad words,’ Adams writes, ‘are unexpectedly useful in fostering human relations because they carry risk….We like to get away with things and sometimes we do so with like-minded people.’

Fuck yeah! 


Drones will begin delivering blood and medicine in the US

Amar Toor for The Verge

A startup that uses drones to deliver medicine and blood to remote areas of Rwanda is launching a similar program in the US. California-based Zipline will bring its drone delivery program to rural and remote communities in Maryland, Nevada, and Washington, including some Native American reservations. Zipline will announce its expansion at a White House workshop on unpiloted aerial vehicles (UAVs) Tuesday morning.

The super-recognisers of Scotland Yard

In Scotland Yard, London’s police headquarters, there is a unit comprised of people who can recognise faces very, very well. 

Xan Rice for the New Statesman — it’s a long read but it’s very interesting: 

That August, the London riots broke out. Met officers trawled through tens of thousands of hours of CCTV footage, identifying 609 suspects responsible for looting, arson and other criminal acts. One officer, PC Gary Collins, made 180 identifications, including that of one of the most high-profile suspects, who had thrown petrol bombs at police and set cars on fire. During the riots, the man covered his mouth and nose with a bandana and pulled a beanie low over his forehead. Collins recognised him as a criminal whom he had last seen several years earlier. The man was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.

On the importance of asking questions

 From Jason Fried, a cofounder of Basecamp, who met Clayton Christensen, of the Innovator’s Dilemma fame:

You’ve probably heard it said that someone can’t be taught until they’re ready to learn. I’ve heard it said that way too. It makes sense, and my experience tells me it’s mostly true. Why though? Why can’t someone be taught until they’re ready to learn?

Clay explained it in a way that I’ve never heard before and I’ll never forget again. Paraphrased slightly, he said:

Questions are places in your mind where answers fit. If you haven’t asked the question, the answer has nowhere to go. It hits your mind and bounces right off. You have to ask the question — you have to want to know — in order to open up the space for the answer to fit.’


Driverless taxis are coming to Singapore

Delphi Automotive Plc, the vehicle-electronics supplier that last year conducted the first coast-to-coast U.S. demonstration of a self-driving car, will begin testing autonomous autos in Singapore this year that may lead to robot taxis by the end of the decade.

So we do live in a world where driverless cars will drive us — mere mortals (i.e not Silicon Valley people) — around. Cool!

Read more over at Bloomberg.