Jan 31 2015

Last day before February.


Jan 30 2015

Hey, Bill O’Reilly, You Were Mean To My Sister. Fight Me.

Bill O’Reilly said nasty things about my sister, a journalist. He took her words out of context. I want to take his nose out of context.

Click here for the full article

Posted from Facebook

Jan 30 2015

Five hundred new fairytales discovered in Germany

Anyone want to wager on how long it’ll be before Disney has all of them under perpetual copyright?

Collection of fairytales gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth had been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years

Click here for the full article

Posted from Facebook

Jan 27 2015

“What I Learned in 40 Years of Doing Intelligence Analysis for US Foreign Policymakers” (PDF)

So here’s an interesting thing, particularly for my friends in the journalism universe.

It’s an article from a former high-level CIA officer about how to produce high-quality intelligence analysis. It’s a really good read, though, for anyone who produces (or consumes) intelligence of any kind, including news.

One of the best things — the notion of “What are we not seeing, which we would expect to see, if our analysis is correct.”

From the piece:

“During one of the most challenging times in my analytical career, I worked for the finest analyst I ever knew. In the middle of the Tiananmen Crisis in 1989—when everyone’s hair was on fire—I found him late one afternoon going through a stack of musty old reports. I asked him what he was doing. He said, “I am looking for things that did not make sense then, but do now.” “

What a great insight.

Full article, PDF, “What I Learned in 40 Years of Doing Intelligence Analysis for US Foreign Policymakers”:

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol.-55-no.-1/pdfs/CleanedPetersen-What%20I%20Learned-20Apr2011.pdf

Jan 21 2015

Early Facebook Commercial (1995)

Just mail in your photos. They’ll post them for you.

Television commercial for The Facebook from the mid-90s.

Click here for the full article

Posted from Facebook

Jan 15 2015

Instant Closeness: software for generating interpersonal closeness between strangers

 In the January 9th New York Times Fashion & Style section, there was a charming article by Mandy Len Catron called “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This“.  In it, she talks about some research published back in 1997, in which professor of psychology Arthur Aron and his co-authors describe a method for inducing interpersonal closeness between strangers.

Catron writes:

I explained the study to my university acquaintance. A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married. They invited the entire lab to the ceremony.

“Let’s try it,” he said.

She and her partner googled up the questions and went through the procedure, which they apparently enjoyed a great deal:

You’re probably wondering if he and I fell in love. Well, we did. Although it’s hard to credit the study entirely (it may have happened anyway), the study did give us a way into a relationship that feels deliberate. We spent weeks in the intimate space we created that night, waiting to see what it could become.

Adorable, right?  Anyways, it struck me that other folks might want to try the experiment themselves, and it’d be helpful if the whole thing was all together in one place, accessible from a smartphone so that it would be easy to try with a date, for instance.

So I had a few extra hours over the last few evenings, and I threw together a little mobile-friendly, touch-friendly web app version of the experiment.

I took the 36 questions from the original study directly, along with a slightly modified version of the instructions, and I included a little timer that will count down four minutes for the eye contact exercise.  The whole thing is just HTML and Javascript, and weighs in at a little over 260 lines of code, all told.

You can try it yourself here:

http://www.ianmonroe.com/instantcloseness/

I’ve posted the code on Github, so feel free to fork it and make improvements if you feel so inclined.

Jan 14 2015

I got a really confusing care package at the office today.


Jan 13 2015

‘He Took His Skin Off For Me’, A Strange Short Film About a Man Who Takes Off His Skin to Please His Girlfriend

He Took His Skin Off For Me from Ben Aston on Vimeo.

More romantic than you’d expect.

Back in 2013 we posted about “He Took His Skin Off For Me,” a strange short film by Ben Aston about a man who removes his skin in an effort to please his girlfriend. At the time, the film was in pr…

Click here for the full article

Posted from Facebook

Jan 12 2015

My first chili cookoff …

The friendly Irish pub in my neighborhood hosted a little chili cook-off last night.  Naturally, I assumed it was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, but apparently it was really about some kind of sporting event.
I felt pretty good about my entry, but alas, it seems that my palate is not so finely tuned to the average tastes as I thought.  I used all the tricks in my book for maximum flavor; I used five different chilis to make the base, I maximized glutamates, I slow-cooked the heck out of it for optimal tenderness, I finished it with masa to thicken it up, I made sure it was pretty darn spicy, but not so spicy that it gave you hiccups ….
But for all that, I came in fifth place.  Out of seven.  Philistines.
Jan 10 2015

Pop up dinner

We celebrated my buddy Eric’s birthday with a fancy pop-up dinner here in Chicago.  Good fun with interesting people.