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December 31, 2013

1. Learn empathy, 2. Ask people at Palo Alto coffee shops to get a sense for what they might need, 3. Profit !!!

In his final quarter at the D.school, Mr. Kothari enrolled in Launchpad, a class that asks students to sign a pledge agreeing to introduce a product or service in 10 weeks.

Mr. Akshay Kothari Kothari and his partner, Ankit Gupta, spoke with people at Palo Alto coffee shops to get a sense for what they might need. One common frustration people had was the constant fire hose of news they were getting from a wide variety of sources. So they decided they could make the most impact with Pulse, a news-reader application that allows users to customize their news feeds.

They released the app early, five weeks into the course. That timing -- just before Apple's 2010 Worldwide Developer's Conference -- could not have been more fortunate.

December 27, 2013

Row Temple's rowers are a perfect example of what college athletes are supposed to be: unbreakable, unspoiled and unfazed by adverse conditions.

Temple's rowers are a perfect example of what college athletes are supposed to be: unbreakable, unspoiled and unfazed by adverse conditions. While the indoor practice facility for Temple's football team was renovated just last year for $10 million, the crews operated out of a canvas tent that doesn't have heat or running water. The rowers use public portable toilets. Theobald told me that the university cut men's and women's crew because the facilities were so poor and the student-athletes deserved better.

December 26, 2013

Again faster. A literate appreciation of crossfit from a new father

Kettebells attract, squat inspires.

-- Thomas Beller

December 25, 2013

Exercise and health: research results last and next year

The well.blogs.nytimes offers conclusions and speculations for next year in fitness intensity matters.

December 22, 2013

Rap to English before English to Rap translations for lyrics

RapGenius is genius, but not first.

December 18, 2013

Coruscating contempt for extremely anodyne people

Coruscating contempt for extremely anodyne people

-- Thank you David Brooks for using coruscating in a sentence.

December 15, 2013

Politics as a business

John Boehner had reached his limit. In a meeting with his House colleagues to discuss Wednesday's budget agreement, the House speaker finally let loose on the conservative groups that have been roiling Republican politics.

Organizations like the Club for Growth and Heritage Action had opposed the plan without even knowing its details, said Boehner, because their true goal was to raise money and expand their organizations, not fight for any particular principle or policy. "No one controls your voting card but you," Boehner said. This wasn't just a message for closed-doors. The speaker took on the groups in public:

"They're using our members, and they're using the American people for their own goals," Boehner said in a press conference Wednesday. "This is ridiculous."

Boehner was not simply voicing an alternative policy position about the merits of the plan's spending reductions. He was making a claim about the low motives and trickery of the organizations that claim to represent the interests of grassroots conservatives.

What GOP leaders are fighting against is the outsize expectations of the faithful who want policy victories that are impossible in a system of divided government. At times like this, pragmatic party leaders often tell their stalwarts not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but Boehner is saying more than that. He is calling out the arbiters of purity in his party, saying that while they use the language of policy and principle, they are merely doing so to advance their own narrow aims. They can never be satisfied because satisfaction doesn't bring in donations.

Boehner is essentially calling them grassroots con men. He isn't alone either. A lot of Republican senators had the same complaint during the shutdown battle, accusing Sen. Ted Cruz of joining in the deception. "They've got the grassroots all confused," complained one Republican senator at the time. By speaking out now, Boehner is rendering a verdict about the shutdown. It was such a political disaster, and the stupidity of the blind-ally politics promoted by these conservative groups is so self-evident, that he takes only a minimal political risk by speaking this plainly in public.

December 14, 2013

Skew as a normative descriptor

Among the significant problems that aren't getting resolved is the site's skewed coverage: its entries on Pokemon and female porn stars are comprehensive, but its pages on female novelists or places in sub-Saharan Africa are sketchy. Authoritative entries remain elusive.

Of the 1,000 articles that the project's own volunteers have tagged as forming the core of a good encyclopedia, most don't earn even Wikipedia's own middle-­ranking quality scores.

December 10, 2013

Wikipedia's creed

Wikipedia's creed: "The encyclopedia that anyone can edit."

Aaron Halfaker's suggested revision:

"The encyclopedia that anyone who understands the norms, socializes him or herself, dodges the impersonal wall of semi-automated rejection and still wants to voluntarily contribute his or her time and energy can edit."

December 8, 2013

discomfort, actionable

A white student may feel discomfort when it's pointed out to him how he has benefited from structural racism, but to compare that discomfort to discrimination is a false equivalency. Hurt feelings hurt, but it is not oppression.

via Shannon Gibney is a professor of English and African diaspora studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC).

December 1, 2013

Ghosts of Honda past

"Racing improves the breed."

" We will not be content with this victory alone [first win in F1]. We will study why we won and aggressively apply those winning technologies to new cars."

"The value of life can be measured by how many times your soul has been deeply stirred."

"If Honda does not race there is no Honda."

The man who said all these things created the great company that still bears his name. That company made its name selling economy cars, but every product with an H on it was imbued with a little bit of Mr Honda's spirit. He understood that racing didn't just make better components and better cars, it made better engineers as well. Engineers who understood what made a great car, not just a car that sold well.

When Soichiro Honda died, he took the guiding force of Honda Motor Company with him, and slowly, all the people who helped him make the company retired or left, and have been replaced with bean-counters who couldn't care less about making a car that excites you, every time you start it. The performance spirit took a few years to disappear completely, but if you look at today's Honda/Acura lineup, it is clear that it's gone.

If Mr Honda came back today, and saw some of the products that now bear his name, he'd be throwing piston heads at some of his employees, as he used to in the early days of the company