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February 28, 2017

Tautochrone curve

When a rolling start gives no advantage, Tautochrone curve.

February 26, 2017

Bill Ristenpart: Design of Coffee ECM 1

Bill Ristenpart deals with a lot of spattered blood and aerosolized pathogenic mouse phlegm. But when it comes to teaching wary freshman the basics of mass transfer and thermodynamics, the UC Davis professor relies on a less messy (and more potable) liquid: coffee. Beans go through so many complex chemical changes that they can easily form the basis of a whole curriculum.

Ristenpart's three year-old course, the Design of Coffee, has become the most popular chemical engineering class in the country, enrolling a quarter of Davis' freshmen.

As home kitchens have become mini-coffee labs filled with small-batch specialty roasts and hyper-precision coffee scales, consumers are demanding more coffee science and data. So Ristenpart is overseeing the development of a 6,000-square-foot center--with a initial funding from Peet's Coffee--devoted to coffee research: sustainability, chemical makeup, and preparation protocols.

Last month, researchers affiliated with the center released the first public genome of the Coffea arabica plant, which researchers hope will lead to insights into production and taste. Ristenpart's next target? The industry's sacred brewing guidelines--calibrated, as Ristenpart tells it, to the tastes of 1950s housewives. "There are all these rules of thumb out there," he says, "but very rarely does anyone have hard data to back it up." Hear that, coffee snobs? Time to go back to school.

February 13, 2017

Fat bikes: the first ten years

Via Singletracks.com, watch 10 years of fat: the past present and future of fat bikes.

February 12, 2017

La traversée du lac Memphrémagog à vélo

La traversée du lac Memphrémagog à vélo
Magog, QC, Sat Feb 11, 2017

February 11, 2017


The term "alt-right" and the people claiming its mantle had already been gaining visibility in the media before Clinton's speech. They were primarily seen as an amorphous community with an inclination for vicious online trolling, with some roots in fringe-right ideologies. But when Clinton thrust the alt-right into the national spotlight, she did no favors for the media, which has struggled to cover the ragtag coalition that has claimed the term.

In March 2016, Breitbart's Milo Yiannopoulos and Allum Bokhari posted a 5,000-word explainer/defense of the alt-right, ascribing to it intellectual roots in the neo-reactionary, human biodiversity and ethno-nationalist movements. Several other outlets like Vice, Vox, and National Review posted their own explainers.

In alt-right speak, the term "spicy boi" is meant to lampoon political correctness. It refers to a Change.org petition to rename fire ants to "spicy boys" because, as the petition helpfully explains, "It's 2016, we have 36 genders...why aren't we calling fire ants spicey boys?" As for the spelling of boi, that's just internet for boy. The petition currently has more than 60,000 signatures.

if the primary purpose of the alt-right is to provoke, then attention is their life force, and media attention their fuel. Which means that simply by reporting on the alt-right, the media itself may not only legitimize them, but play right into their hands.

"Getting a journalist to repeat a racist meme is part of the game," says Whitney Phillips, the author a book about 4chan and troll subcultures called This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things. "It's part of the goal."

Creating mischief online may seem like a benign use of the alt-right's power, but if 60,000 people (or bots) signed a petition to rename fire ants, what happens when those same users are mobilized to question Hillary's Clinton's health or attack journalists unfavorable to Trump?

"There's a very small ideological core," says Shapiro, and its fundamental ideology is that "Western civilization is an ethnic and racial feature, not a philosophy that can be extended to all people."

Nevertheless, Shapiro says the vast majority of alt-righters are motivated less by ideology than by an itch to instigate. They like Trump because of his ability to get away with the kind of speech they revel in. There is a difference between 4channers out to trigger "Social Justice Warriors" and resist political correctness, and ideological ethno-nationalists and white supremacists, but once they've been corralled under the same label, each amplifies the influence of the other.

While it's not always easy to distinguish the meme warriors from the idealogues, it's important to aim to draw distinctions between them

Park-poor, low-income communities of color, forgotten in the shadows ?

As American downtowns repopulate and densify, green space is at more and more of a premium. Very few open lots that could be turned into parks remain around urban cores; often, land that becomes available holds remnants of the industrial past. That's why so many of these "adaptive reuse" projects--with sleek aesthetics that often highlight, rather than hide, the old highway/flood channel/railway--are getting built.

Meanwhile, city governments rarely have room in their budgets, or even imaginations, to redevelop those tracts on their own. It's largely up to private funders to bankroll these projects--and it's mostly private individuals who dream them up. From an investor standpoint, the High Line's stunning successes make these projects no-brainers to back: Green space draws new businesses and dwellings. There's big redevelopment money to be made. So they partner with city governments, hungry for a heftier tax base, to do it.

But these obsolete bits of infrastructure generally have people living near them, and often, they are park-poor, low-income communities of color, forgotten in the shadows of that very strip of concrete or steel. This is true for many of the 17 projects involved in the High Line Network. Planners and designers--who are usually white--may try to engage residents in dialogue; often, they fail.

February 10, 2017

MTBR fat bikes forum

MTBR fat bikes forum.

February 9, 2017

Lauf Carbonara (Fatbike Fork)

Leaf spring front fork from Iceland: Lauf Carbonara


February 7, 2017

You are very free to say Milo Yiannopoulos if you like. Arianna Stassinopoulus, Act II

The real joke being that Yiannopoulos isn't even a genuine creature of the Right... he's no more ideologically committed to the Right Wing than any of the vast majority of (successful) American politicians are ideologically committed to Israel... they just do what they "gotta" do.

That is to say, Yiannopoulos is a run of the mill, power-hungry, self-interested airhead-Capitalist at heart and if this were twenty years ago, he'd be Ariana Huffington (née Arianna Stassinopoulus), realizing that there was more influence/money to be had in wrapping a conservative core with a smiley facade and fleecing softer soccer mom sheep (aka The Clinton Maneuver).

All these years later, though, the "Liberals" are no longer sexy (have you seen what's happening to the Clinton Foundation? Yipes!)... so Yiannopoulos is milking the "Alt Right" for what it's worth. But what is he milking? (npi)

He makes comments and speeches we disagree with.... and? What kind of shelf-life do you think a Gay British Pretty Boy Nazi-Lite Shock-Jock Nitwit will actually have as a meme in America? Simply printing his name won't give him any extra "power", but treating him like 10x the threat he actually is is precisely what grants him visibility.

February 5, 2017

New York City bike lanes, circa 2002

New York City bike lanes rated Rate a C for experienced cyclists, but a F for new people on bicycles -- Clarence Eckerson of BikeTV

February 3, 2017

Wasteful and profuse luxury

The wasteful and profuse luxury depicted in the photographs above reflect the insatiable need for constant growth -- the boundless, directionless quality of the drive to accumulate, possess, and consume. The current system encourages and facilitates this disposition in an increasingly narrow section of society.

These decadent lifestyles stand in stark contrast to the principles of austerity being forced on the vast majority in the West's recession-plagued economies. Amid deepening inequality, images like these can justifiably provoke anger: Lord Aleem, a nineteen-year-old, self-styled Rich Kid of Instagram from Birmingham, regularly posted photographs of his collection of luxury cars outside his home until four of his £500,000 fleet were torched by arsonists last year.

But alongside anger, these images of decadence can also offer the opportunity to imagine a very different world, where wealth is not simply defined by money and possessions but by good health, valuable experiences, and the strength of social relationships, a world where the competitive display of wealth is no longer practiced because luxury is held in common.

February 1, 2017

Flatiron Institute

Computers have been a fixture for decades in astrophysics and many other fields of science. But typically, the computer programs are written by graduate students, often abandoned after they finish their programs. "Those people aren't great coders, for the most part," Mr. Simons said.

At the Flatiron Institute, a good fraction of the staff will be professional computer programmers, producing software not only for the in-house scientists but also available for anyone else who needs it.

"These are really interesting questions, and we can think longer than the three-year grant cycle. They can tackle tough questions and put the time in that's necessary."

-- Marilyn Simons.