Category Archives: Art, Music, and Culture

Mr. Ginger

Here’s a shout-out to Mike Akel (director) and Felipe Adams (producer) for their web comedy series called “Mr. Ginger“.   To date, Season 1 consists of four episodes, and more episodes are in the works.  (Shameless self-plug alert – I appear briefly toward the end of episode 4 as someone whose job it is to help a student face his worst fear! :-))…

For the entire series to date, go to http://bit.ly/mrginger; this link provides a menu where you can select which of the four episodes that you would like to watch; you can also watch by simply clicking on the play button below.  I recommend watching all four episodes!

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Art meets chemistry meets physics meets finance

This Wired Magazine article provides a layman’s explanation of reaction-diffusion processes, which are characterized by reactive molecules that can diffuse between cells. A special case of a reaction-diffusion process is a “pure” diffusion process, where substances aren’t transformed into each other but nevertheless randomly spread out over a surface. While the reaction-diffusion process makes for much more aesthetically pleasing art, other so-called diffusion processes (e.g., diffusion of thermal energy as characterized by heat equations or movements of speculative asset prices as characterized by Itō diffusions) similarly generate (what appear to the naked eye to be) “patterns” from randomness…

Hypnotic Art

Hypnotic Art Shows How Patterns Emerge From Randomness in Nature

www.wired.com

These digital canvases represent British mathematician Alan Turing’s theory of morphogenesis.

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US Birth Rate Hits New Low – A Nation of Singles – Forecasts & Trends

US Birth Rate Hits New Low – A Nation of Singles – Forecasts & Trends

According to this article, “the fertility rate needed to maintain the current US population is 2.1 children born to women of child-bearing age… the US fertility rate among women is now only 1.9 children and falling.”

Apparently the US is in much better shape in this regard than Europe; e.g., according to a recent Forbes article entitled “What’s Really Behind Europe’s Decline? It’s The Birth Rates, Stupid“, the fertility rate among women in Spain presently stands at 1.4 children and falling.  This and similar “birth dearths” in other Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Italy and Portugal are contributing significantly to the economic malaise in Europe.  The above referenced Forbes article notes,

“Essentially, Spain and other Mediterranean countries bought into northern Europe’s liberal values, and low birthrates, but did so without the economic wherewithal to pay for it. You can afford a Nordic welfare state, albeit increasingly precariously, if your companies and labor force are highly skilled or productive. But Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal lack that kind of productive industry; much of the growth stemmed from real estate and tourism. Infrastructure development was underwritten by the EU, and the country has become increasingly dependent on foreign investors.

Unlike Sweden or Germany, Spain cannot count now on immigrants to stem their demographic decline and generate new economic energy. Although 450,000 people, largely from Muslim countries, still arrive annually, over 580,000 Spaniards are heading elsewhere — many of them to northern Europe and some to traditional places of immigration such as Latin America. Germany, which needs 200,000 immigrants a year to keep its factories humming, has emerged as a preferred destination.”

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Christmas approaches – The Big Picture – Boston.com

Christmas approaches – The Big Picture – Boston.com.

A wonderful photo-essay on Christmas from our friends at the Boston Globe.  Quoting from this article,

The appearance of multiple simultaneous Santa Clauses is a sure sign that mankind’s most widely recognized and commercialized religious holiday is near. It’s also a sign that the holiday is celebrated by many more people than just faithful Christians, for better or worse. From the traditional Christmas markets in Germany to elfin divers feeding dolphins in Japan to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where it all began, Christmas is observed worldwide for commercial, irreverent, and religious reasons. Gathered here are images of people as they herald the advance of an entire season built, loosely or faithfully, around the birth of Jesus Christ.”

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The Story of the Recent Election

The Story of the Recent Election, as told by David Warsh, a retired journalist who had a long and storied career covering economics and business for publications such as The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Newsweek.  Mr. Warsh’s essay tells the story of the recent election within the  context of the ebb and flow of American presidential politics dating all the way back to the 26th POTUS (Teddy Roosevelt, who held office from 1901-1909).

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Intrade Predicted 11 out 12 Oscars in 2010-11

Hat tip to Mark Perry, who points out that in 11 of 12 cases, the Intrade contracts correctly predicted this year’s Oscar winners.  Apparently the only “miss” within this group was the Best Director prize, which went to “The King’s Speech’s” Tom Hooper instead of “The Social Network’s” David Fincher.

CARPE DIEM: Intrade Predicted 11 out 12 Oscars in 2010-11.

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