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Wikipedia mining algorithm reveals the most influential people in history
In 1978, the American researcher Michael Hart published The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, a book that became an international best seller.
Since then, various others have published similar lists. But all suffer the same drawback: they are subjective and thus ultimately influenced by numerous cultural factors.
Now data scientists have come up with a way to extract an objective list of the 100 most influential people in history, using the network of links between biographical articles on Wikipedia and how they vary between 24 different language editions.
The researchers assume that people who are highly ranked in different language editions are influential across both language cultures and that the more appearances they make in different language editions, the more influential they are. But the actual ranking is done by PageRank-like algorithms that consider a biographical article important if it is pointed to by other important articles.
The resulting lists of the most influential men and women is a bit of a surprise: the top PageRanked individual is Carl Linnaeus, the 18th century Swedish botanist who developed the modern naming scheme for plants and animals.
Jesus takes second place.
The top PageRanked woman is Elizabeth II. Mary - mother of Jesus - takes second place.
For comparison, just under half of the top 100 most influential also appear in Hart’s 1978 book. But this is just the beginning. By counting the individuals from one culture that influence other cultures, the team is able to work out which cultures have dominated others. And by looking only at people born before certain dates, they can see how the influence of different cultures has waxed and waned throughout 35 centuries of recorded history.
Full story on Medium.

Wikipedia mining algorithm reveals the most influential people in history

In 1978, the American researcher Michael Hart published The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, a book that became an international best seller.

Since then, various others have published similar lists. But all suffer the same drawback: they are subjective and thus ultimately influenced by numerous cultural factors.

Now data scientists have come up with a way to extract an objective list of the 100 most influential people in history, using the network of links between biographical articles on Wikipedia and how they vary between 24 different language editions.

The researchers assume that people who are highly ranked in different language editions are influential across both language cultures and that the more appearances they make in different language editions, the more influential they are. But the actual ranking is done by PageRank-like algorithms that consider a biographical article important if it is pointed to by other important articles.

The resulting lists of the most influential men and women is a bit of a surprise: the top PageRanked individual is Carl Linnaeus, the 18th century Swedish botanist who developed the modern naming scheme for plants and animals.

Jesus takes second place.

The top PageRanked woman is Elizabeth II. Mary - mother of Jesus - takes second place.

For comparison, just under half of the top 100 most influential also appear in Hart’s 1978 book. But this is just the beginning. By counting the individuals from one culture that influence other cultures, the team is able to work out which cultures have dominated others. And by looking only at people born before certain dates, they can see how the influence of different cultures has waxed and waned throughout 35 centuries of recorded history.

Full story on Medium.

Notes

Google has received over 40,000 requests to “forget” personal information
In the three and bit weeks since a key ruling by the European Court of Justice about the right to be forgotten, Google has received over 40,000 requests to delete links to personal information from its search results (within 24 hours of putting the form online, Google had reportedly received 12,000+ deletion requests).
It should be noted that there is no absolute right to have information deleted, and Google will have to weigh a number of criteria in responding to the requests to delete links, including relevance of the information, and the time passed since the facts related.

Google has received over 40,000 requests to “forget” personal information

In the three and bit weeks since a key ruling by the European Court of Justice about the right to be forgotten, Google has received over 40,000 requests to delete links to personal information from its search results (within 24 hours of putting the form online, Google had reportedly received 12,000+ deletion requests).

It should be noted that there is no absolute right to have information deleted, and Google will have to weigh a number of criteria in responding to the requests to delete links, including relevance of the information, and the time passed since the facts related.

Notes

The future of space travel?

SpaceX has unveiled a seven-passenger space capsule designed for carrying astronauts to the International Station and other future destinations.

The Dragon V2 spacecraft looks like a sleek, modern-day version of the Apollo capsules that astronauts used in trips to the moon in the 1960s., but those capsules splashed down in the ocean and couldn’t be reused.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield says that for all its good points, the Dragon won’t eliminate the need for international cooperation in space -

"The United States cannot fly to the Space Station without Russia, and Russia can’t fly to the Space Station without the United States. It’s a wonderful thing to have. If you look at the whole life of the Space Station, think of all the tumult, with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the devaluation of the Ruble in 1998, and other countries backing out of it, the Columbia accident, which would have left us completely helpless if we hadn’t had the international commitment. It’s easy to have a one-month attention span, but that’s just not how you build spaceships, or how you explore the rest of the universe."

SpaceX builds its Dragon capsules and Falcon 9 rockets in a vast complex in Hawthorne, where fuselage sections for Boeing’s 747 jumbo jets once were built. The company is expanding its complex, near Los Angeles International Airport, and has more than 3,000 employees.

Notes

The future has arrived: solar panel roads
The future is now. An idea to replace our current roads and highways with high tech, energy sustainable solar panels has now raised over a million dollars on Indiegogo.
Imagine smart roadways that could fuel up to 3 x the amount of energy that’s currently being used in the United States? And roadways that could give warnings when an obstruction or animal is ahead, roadways that are resistant to snow and ice, and that even light up to create traffic patterns and configurations depending on flow.

Check it out.

The future has arrived: solar panel roads

The future is now. An idea to replace our current roads and highways with high tech, energy sustainable solar panels has now raised over a million dollars on Indiegogo.

Imagine smart roadways that could fuel up to 3 x the amount of energy that’s currently being used in the United States? And roadways that could give warnings when an obstruction or animal is ahead, roadways that are resistant to snow and ice, and that even light up to create traffic patterns and configurations depending on flow.

Check it out.

1 Notes

Scientists find method to reliably teleport data
Scientists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience say they’ve managed to reliably teleport quantum information stored in one bit of diamond to another sitting three meters away (abstract, pre-print).
Their goal is to extend the range over a distance of a kilometer.
Reliability of quantum teleportation has been elusive. For example, in 2009, University of Maryland physicists demonstrated the transfer of quantum information, but only one of every 100 million attempts succeeded, meaning that transferring a single bit of quantum information required roughly 10 minutes. In contrast, the scientists at Delft have achieved the ability “deterministically”, meaning they can now teleport the quantum state of two entangled electrons accurately 100 percent of the time.
They did so by producing qubits using electrons trapped in diamonds at extremely low temperatures. According to Dr. Hanson, the diamonds effectively create ‘miniprisons’ in which the electrons were held. The researchers were able to establish a spin, or value, for electrons, and then read the value reliably.
No, I don’t really understand either. Still, Star Trek!

Scientists find method to reliably teleport data

Scientists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience say they’ve managed to reliably teleport quantum information stored in one bit of diamond to another sitting three meters away (abstract, pre-print).

Their goal is to extend the range over a distance of a kilometer.

Reliability of quantum teleportation has been elusive. For example, in 2009, University of Maryland physicists demonstrated the transfer of quantum information, but only one of every 100 million attempts succeeded, meaning that transferring a single bit of quantum information required roughly 10 minutes. In contrast, the scientists at Delft have achieved the ability “deterministically”, meaning they can now teleport the quantum state of two entangled electrons accurately 100 percent of the time.

They did so by producing qubits using electrons trapped in diamonds at extremely low temperatures. According to Dr. Hanson, the diamonds effectively create ‘miniprisons’ in which the electrons were held. The researchers were able to establish a spin, or value, for electrons, and then read the value reliably.

No, I don’t really understand either. Still, Star Trek!

1 Notes

You are what you’re tricked into eating
Two prominent nutrition experts have put forth the theory that the current obesity epidemic is in large part the result of processed foods tricking our appetite control mechanisms.
They argue that evolution has given humans a delicately balanced system that balances appetite with metabolic needs, and that processed foods trick that system by making foods high in fats and carbohydrates that have the gustatory qualities of proteins.
As the researchers put it, “many people eat far too much fat and carbohydrate in their attempt to consume enough protein”.
Full article on Nature.

You are what you’re tricked into eating

Two prominent nutrition experts have put forth the theory that the current obesity epidemic is in large part the result of processed foods tricking our appetite control mechanisms.

They argue that evolution has given humans a delicately balanced system that balances appetite with metabolic needs, and that processed foods trick that system by making foods high in fats and carbohydrates that have the gustatory qualities of proteins.

As the researchers put it, “many people eat far too much fat and carbohydrate in their attempt to consume enough protein”.

Full article on Nature.

1 Notes

The big bumper toolkit for HAPPY LIVING
'Modern Life is Rubbish'. Arguably Blur's best album, but not an entirely accurate sentiment – modern life is actually pretty spiffy. However, there are certain key elements of it that you need to get properly locked down in order for it all to function satisfactorily, and for this reason we've compiled for you the Big Bumper Toolkit for Happy Living. Y'know, just to help out.
Here’s what you need to do or acquire to ensure that everything is lovely -
1. Quality bedding
Never underestimate the importance of having a decent kip. Being asleep is pretty much the best thing you can do. So don’t balk at the cost of decent bedding, it’s worth every penny. Take £200 to John Lewis and buy an all-seasons duck-down duvet (unless you’re allergic to feathers, obviously – then it’d be a really stupid idea); while you’re there, another £50-odd on Egyptian cotton sheets will help. Yeah, it’s annoyingly expensive, but just trust me. Best money you’ll ever spend. Thank me tomorrow.
2. Chargers
Your life will be infinitely less annoying if you make sure you’ve got enough phone chargers.
Get one to live beside your bed, another for the living room or kitchen, one for the car, and one for your desk drawer at work. Then you won’t be that annoying person who’s always bitching about low battery and scrounging for leads, and you also won’t do that frustrating thing where you get into bed, realise your battery’s on 7% and your charger’s downstairs, and have to trek all the way down to get it.
And don’t believe that crap about your device being harmed by non-branded generic chargers, it’s just a bridge between your power socket and your battery. Buy Chinese 99p chargers from eBay. What can go wrong*?!
*Please don’t send me a bill if your phone catches fire
3. A good television
I don’t know about you, but I spend a fair bit of time watching telly. It pays to get a good one. Even if you do end up blowing more money than you can comfortably afford right now, the cost-per-view will shrink every time you switch it on; buying quality will mean it lasts for years, as well as giving better sound and picture. And it gives you an excuse to watch TV constantly, using that whole cost-per-view thing as justification.
Please, please don’t just go to Tesco and buy a Technika (or other shit brand you’ve never heard of) – yes, it’s very cheap, but you get what you pay for. It’ll be awful, and you’ll have to replace it next year.
4. Decent wi-fi
C’mon, it’s 2014. Fast internet access is readily available. If your provider can’t provide, swap to someone who can. Time spent waiting for pages to load is dead time you’ll never get back.
5. Tactile glassware
Some people end up with a cupboard full of random mismatched glasses that they’ve acquired over the years from a variety of sources. These people are doing it wrong.
If you’re having a beer, pour it into a pint glass (and don’t pour an ale into a lager glass, the agitator in the base will fizz it up and ruin it). Get some nice wine glasses. Buy a set of chunky tumblers with heavy bases for your spirits. It’ll feel right. Little luxuries, they make a big difference.
6. Buy new socks every now and then
It might just be me, but I reckon the whole rigmarole of getting dressed in the morning is massively improved by having socks that you like. I mean, getting dressed is very little effort, but the fact that you’ve had to get up at all makes the whole thing annoying. But nice socks make it OK. Yeah? Comfy socks, soft ones, with attractive stripes or interesting patterns. I spent years in the wilderness wearing cheap black socks, and I’m pretty sure my life is better now.
7. Make sure everyone fucks off and leaves you alone
Register with the Telephone Preference Service. This should, in theory, ensure that you never received unsolicited marketing calls on your landline (you still will, that’s just life, but now you have an amazing weapon in your arsenal that makes the bastards hang up immediately).
Stop mindlessly deleting all of those crap emails that keep popping into your inbox and actually bother to open them and click ‘unsubscribe’ - your new-found inbox cleanliness will make your heart smile.
Oh, and disconnect your doorbell. No-one of any interest will ever ring it out of the blue, and if it’s somebody you know then they’ll definitely call you and say “yo, I’m at the front door…”
8. Get spares
Set aside a drawer in your house. Fill it with the following -
AA batteries. Light bulbs of various wattages and fittings. AAA batteries. Plasters. Germolene. Bonjela. Sellotape. Menus for your favourite local takeaways. Two screwdrivers (one flathead, one Phillips). A torch. A biro. Some string. Paracetamol, ibuprofen, Immodium. A tape measure.
Call this your useful drawer. It’ll save all sorts of where-the-fuck-is-that-ism.
-
Unfortunately most of these suggestions involve buying something, and they’re not all cheap things either.
Sorry about that.
But then if you had your life in order, maybe you’d have sorted some of this shit out already. You can’t blame me for that.
JuicyPips, direct from the mind of @denialvibes, is published weekly.

The big bumper toolkit for HAPPY LIVING

'Modern Life is Rubbish'. Arguably Blur's best album, but not an entirely accurate sentiment – modern life is actually pretty spiffy. However, there are certain key elements of it that you need to get properly locked down in order for it all to function satisfactorily, and for this reason we've compiled for you the Big Bumper Toolkit for Happy Living. Y'know, just to help out.

Here’s what you need to do or acquire to ensure that everything is lovely -

1. Quality bedding

Never underestimate the importance of having a decent kip. Being asleep is pretty much the best thing you can do. So don’t balk at the cost of decent bedding, it’s worth every penny. Take £200 to John Lewis and buy an all-seasons duck-down duvet (unless you’re allergic to feathers, obviously – then it’d be a really stupid idea); while you’re there, another £50-odd on Egyptian cotton sheets will help. Yeah, it’s annoyingly expensive, but just trust me. Best money you’ll ever spend. Thank me tomorrow.

2. Chargers

Your life will be infinitely less annoying if you make sure you’ve got enough phone chargers.

Get one to live beside your bed, another for the living room or kitchen, one for the car, and one for your desk drawer at work. Then you won’t be that annoying person who’s always bitching about low battery and scrounging for leads, and you also won’t do that frustrating thing where you get into bed, realise your battery’s on 7% and your charger’s downstairs, and have to trek all the way down to get it.

And don’t believe that crap about your device being harmed by non-branded generic chargers, it’s just a bridge between your power socket and your battery. Buy Chinese 99p chargers from eBay. What can go wrong*?!

*Please don’t send me a bill if your phone catches fire

3. A good television

I don’t know about you, but I spend a fair bit of time watching telly. It pays to get a good one. Even if you do end up blowing more money than you can comfortably afford right now, the cost-per-view will shrink every time you switch it on; buying quality will mean it lasts for years, as well as giving better sound and picture. And it gives you an excuse to watch TV constantly, using that whole cost-per-view thing as justification.

Please, please don’t just go to Tesco and buy a Technika (or other shit brand you’ve never heard of) – yes, it’s very cheap, but you get what you pay for. It’ll be awful, and you’ll have to replace it next year.

4. Decent wi-fi

C’mon, it’s 2014. Fast internet access is readily available. If your provider can’t provide, swap to someone who can. Time spent waiting for pages to load is dead time you’ll never get back.

5. Tactile glassware

Some people end up with a cupboard full of random mismatched glasses that they’ve acquired over the years from a variety of sources. These people are doing it wrong.

If you’re having a beer, pour it into a pint glass (and don’t pour an ale into a lager glass, the agitator in the base will fizz it up and ruin it). Get some nice wine glasses. Buy a set of chunky tumblers with heavy bases for your spirits. It’ll feel right. Little luxuries, they make a big difference.

6. Buy new socks every now and then

It might just be me, but I reckon the whole rigmarole of getting dressed in the morning is massively improved by having socks that you like. I mean, getting dressed is very little effort, but the fact that you’ve had to get up at all makes the whole thing annoying. But nice socks make it OK. Yeah? Comfy socks, soft ones, with attractive stripes or interesting patterns. I spent years in the wilderness wearing cheap black socks, and I’m pretty sure my life is better now.

7. Make sure everyone fucks off and leaves you alone

Register with the Telephone Preference Service. This should, in theory, ensure that you never received unsolicited marketing calls on your landline (you still will, that’s just life, but now you have an amazing weapon in your arsenal that makes the bastards hang up immediately).

Stop mindlessly deleting all of those crap emails that keep popping into your inbox and actually bother to open them and click ‘unsubscribe’ - your new-found inbox cleanliness will make your heart smile.

Oh, and disconnect your doorbell. No-one of any interest will ever ring it out of the blue, and if it’s somebody you know then they’ll definitely call you and say “yo, I’m at the front door…”

8. Get spares

Set aside a drawer in your house. Fill it with the following -

AA batteries. Light bulbs of various wattages and fittings. AAA batteries. Plasters. Germolene. Bonjela. Sellotape. Menus for your favourite local takeaways. Two screwdrivers (one flathead, one Phillips). A torch. A biro. Some string. Paracetamol, ibuprofen, Immodium. A tape measure.

Call this your useful drawer. It’ll save all sorts of where-the-fuck-is-that-ism.

-

Unfortunately most of these suggestions involve buying something, and they’re not all cheap things either.

Sorry about that.

But then if you had your life in order, maybe you’d have sorted some of this shit out already. You can’t blame me for that.

JuicyPips, direct from the mind of @denialvibes, is published weekly.

Notes

Elevate good times

Modern society strives to be more efficient each day. We want to be better connected, uninterrupted, lighter and faster in every single aspect of our lives. It’s not surprising then that a development in the elevator industry recently made headlines when Hitachi announced that this stunning new skyscraper in Guangzhou, China would house the world’s fastest elevator, boasting ascending speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.

By 2016, Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre will be rocketing it’s residents and guests up to the 95th floor in 43 seconds, 15 miles per hour above the speed allowed on New York City streets.

The developers insist that the experience won’t be unpleasant or dangerous thanks to serious advances made in air pressure technology and a device called ‘Governor’ that prevents excessive speeds and lateral vibrations.

The first ever commercial Elevator was introduced in 1857 and rose at a measly 40-feet per minute or around 0.45mph, making Hitachi’s latest contraption 100 times the speed. Can we expect to be ascending at 4500mph by 2171? Lets hope not.

@Mingard is a regular contributor to Found Things.

1 Notes

This rolling, transforming droid is the stuff of nightmares

So, this is how it starts. You hear a crunch, crunch, crunch—the sound of an imperfectly-round plastic ball rolling over concrete, chasing you down an alley. You look back and you see this… thing. It was a sphere a few seconds ago, but now is an ambling, walking machine of death. The top opens like a flower, or like a nuclear launch silo, whatever simile you prefer. In any case, the MorpHex is a robot that looks like it’s straight out of your (my?) nightmares…

Via Motherboard.

Notes

An experiment in finance: investing in chance
I’ve been reading a lot about the propensity of the human mind to mistake random events for controlled experience of late. I’ve also dabbled in the stock market on and off over the years, directly managing my own portfolio alongside investing in various managed funds. What has struck me the most about this experience is the complete lack of predicable consistency or patten when it comes to the stock market.
It was Taleb Nassim who first brought the random nature of the markets to my attention back in 2008. His book, Fooled by Randomness, succinctly explains the central role of chance in life: more precisely, how we perceive luck in our personal and professional experiences.
It is only because we fail to understand probability that we continue to believe events are non-random, finding reasons where none exist.
Given that my own portfolio and those funds that I have invested in rarely top a return of 6% or so, I figured why not test out Nassim’s thesis?
So I put together a very basic stock picker. Literally just three lines of PHP designed to pick a single listed company at random from the LSE.
Here it is -

<?php
$f_contents = file(“lse.txt”); 
$line = $f_contents[rand(0, count($f_contents) - 1)];
echo $line;

You can download the file as a .zip, including lse.txt here.
For the purposes of this experiment I’ve invested £250 in ten randomly picked companies, £2,500 in total. I intend to maintain each of these holdings for a single month, at which point I will sell the five worst performing stocks and will then buy five more randomly selected stocks. I’ll repeat this for at least three months, possibly longer, and will be reporting the findings here.
Round #1
JPMORGAN GBL EMERG MKTS INC TST PLC (JEMI)
FALKLAND OIL & GAS (FOGL)
JOHNSTON PRESS (JPR)
TRINITY EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION (TRIN)
IFG GROUP (IFP)
BEOWULF MINING (BEM)
WOLF MINERALS listed (WLFE)
FITBUG HLDGS PLC (FITB)
CANACCORD GENUITY GROUP INC (CF.)
DALATA HOTEL GROUP PLC (DAL)

Wish me luck!

An experiment in finance: investing in chance

I’ve been reading a lot about the propensity of the human mind to mistake random events for controlled experience of late. I’ve also dabbled in the stock market on and off over the years, directly managing my own portfolio alongside investing in various managed funds. What has struck me the most about this experience is the complete lack of predicable consistency or patten when it comes to the stock market.

It was Taleb Nassim who first brought the random nature of the markets to my attention back in 2008. His book, Fooled by Randomness, succinctly explains the central role of chance in life: more precisely, how we perceive luck in our personal and professional experiences.

It is only because we fail to understand probability that we continue to believe events are non-random, finding reasons where none exist.

Given that my own portfolio and those funds that I have invested in rarely top a return of 6% or so, I figured why not test out Nassim’s thesis?

So I put together a very basic stock picker. Literally just three lines of PHP designed to pick a single listed company at random from the LSE.

Here it is -

<?php

$f_contents = file(“lse.txt”); 

$line = $f_contents[rand(0, count($f_contents) - 1)];

echo $line;

You can download the file as a .zip, including lse.txt here.

For the purposes of this experiment I’ve invested £250 in ten randomly picked companies, £2,500 in total. I intend to maintain each of these holdings for a single month, at which point I will sell the five worst performing stocks and will then buy five more randomly selected stocks. I’ll repeat this for at least three months, possibly longer, and will be reporting the findings here.

Round #1

  • JPMORGAN GBL EMERG MKTS INC TST PLC (JEMI)
  • FALKLAND OIL & GAS (FOGL)
  • JOHNSTON PRESS (JPR)
  • TRINITY EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION (TRIN)
  • IFG GROUP (IFP)
  • BEOWULF MINING (BEM)
  • WOLF MINERALS listed (WLFE)
  • FITBUG HLDGS PLC (FITB)
  • CANACCORD GENUITY GROUP INC (CF.)
  • DALATA HOTEL GROUP PLC (DAL)

Wish me luck!

2 Notes

Joss Whedon releases his latest film on demand
Joss Whedon has taken the film world by surprise by releasing his latest film for download on the same day that it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
'In Your Eyes' comes from Whedon&#8217;s own &#8220;micro studio&#8221;, Bellwether Pictures, and is featured on Vimeo as a $5 rental, (free trailer).

"It&#8217;s exciting for us because we get to explore yet another new form of distribution — and we get $5."
- Joss Whedon

Whedon has a history of pushing the delivery envelope, as with Dr. Horrible&#8217;s Sing-Along Blog, in 2008 (which if you&#8217;ve not seen, you should).

Joss Whedon releases his latest film on demand

Joss Whedon has taken the film world by surprise by releasing his latest film for download on the same day that it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

'In Your Eyes' comes from Whedon’s own “micro studio”, Bellwether Pictures, and is featured on Vimeo as a $5 rental, (free trailer).

"It’s exciting for us because we get to explore yet another new form of distribution — and we get $5."

- Joss Whedon

Whedon has a history of pushing the delivery envelope, as with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, in 2008 (which if you’ve not seen, you should).

5 Notes

Easter bunnies from hell

If you thought the rabbit from Donnie Darko was creepy, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Happy Easter!

Notes

A guide to pets, written from the helpful perspective of somebody who, er, hasn’t had that many
Human beings are – and I&#8217;m happy to be corrected if you know any different – the only animals that keep other animals for amusement and companionship. Whether they&#8217;re fluffy, scaly, feathery or slimy, pet ownership is something that almost everybody either does now or has done in the past.
But if you&#8217;re new to the game, how do you choose which kind of animal would be right for you? Well, count yourselves lucky, for here is a handy guide to pets, written from the helpful perspective of somebody who, er, hasn&#8217;t had that many and doesn&#8217;t know much about them.
Cats

In general, you&#8217;re either a cat person or a dog person. Some people are both, a few are neither. Me, I&#8217;m firmly in the cat camp. Fluffy little scamps, they can be incredibly affectionate when the mood takes them. Nuzzly, cute little fluffy-wuffies.
They&#8217;re little bastards too, obviously. Aloof, judgmental creatures – you never really own a cat, you just give it somewhere to eat and sleep before it wanders off into the neighbourhood to get up to things you&#8217;ll never find out about. They treat you with utter disdain until they want something. Every now and then they might curl up on your lap and purr in a heartwarming way, but they&#8217;re probably just building up to giving you a good old poking with their claws when you realise they&#8217;ve given you two dead legs and you try to get up (or maybe that was just my grandma&#8217;s cat).
It&#8217;s no wonder they own the internet. They cannot be argued with.
Dogs

I&#8217;m not so sure about dogs. It&#8217;d be enormously controversial to be so bold as to say I don&#8217;t like dogs, because dog owners can be quite militant about that kind of thing.
They&#8217;ll take it as a personal slight, like you&#8217;ve just insulted one of their children. Mind you, some dog owners seem to think their dogs are their children. Is there anything more gross than seeing somebody kiss their dog on the lips, or let it lick their face?
Don&#8217;t get me wrong, there are dogs I&#8217;ve got on with in the past. My uncle&#8217;s Labrador is quite sweet (is it a Labrador? Christ, I&#8217;ve no idea). Another uncle has a little yappy dog that&#8217;s friendly enough. They&#8217;re not all bad. Once you get to know them, they can be rather likeable.
But still. If I knew more about dogs I&#8217;d be able to be more specific, but there are some kinds of dog that really let everyone know they live with a person, even when they&#8217;re nowhere nearby. Some people just smell like dog, don&#8217;t they?
Also, dogs are bloody needy. A cat will look after itself. A dog always wants your approval. &#8220;Look, look at this random object I&#8217;ve brought you!&#8221; Oh, sod off. Slobbery airheads.
Hamsters

I used to have a hamster when I was about five or six. The only memories I have of it are the time we had to move the cage because it was too close to the curtains and it chewed a big hole, and the time it escaped its cage, got under the floorboards and ate through all the wiring. So my analysis would be: they eat stuff. Stuff they shouldn&#8217;t.
I don&#8217;t know a whole lot about domestic rodents, to be honest. If you put a hamster, a gerbil and a guinea pig in front of me I reckon I could have a game stab at guessing which was which, but I wouldn&#8217;t be totally confident.
There are two main reasons to buy such a creature: firstly, they look hilarious running around in their wheels. Secondly, they&#8217;re a good way to teach a young child about the concept of death and grief. Because they don&#8217;t live very long.
Fish

Ah yes, I can get on board with fish. Great pets. But they take a bit of looking after.
When we were kids, my dad acquired a great big fish tank along with a heater and various other bits of aquatic bric-a-brac, and filled it with tropical fish. I loved it – neon tetras shoal, guppies are born folded in half, Siamese fighting fish chew each other’s tails, golden gouramis think they own the place, kuhli loaches keep the plants clean&#8230; fascinating creatures. Don&#8217;t buy any angel fish though, they&#8217;re evil little fuckers. They just eat all the other fish.
I got a bit carried away, and insisted on having a goldfish bowl in my bedroom. I wasn&#8217;t as good at looking after fish as my dad was. I learnt some valuable lessons: if you overfill the bowl, you’ll come home from school to find it devoid of fish – they&#8217;ll be on the floor, dead. If you leave the bowl on the windowsill in summer, they&#8217;ll boil to death. If you don&#8217;t clean the bowl regularly, your room will smell like bad drains. The key to proper fish maintenance is this: just don’t be a dick. Clean &#8216;em out occasionally, yeah? And don’t overfeed them either, they&#8217;ll eat themselves to death like that fat dude in Se7en.
Birds

Birds are cool. My first pet – I think – was a canary called Custard. This really helps me out when people say &#8220;hey, what&#8217;s your porn name? It&#8217;s the name of your first pet, then the first street you lived on&#8221;. Which gives me Custard Devil. Well, Devil&#8217;s Lane was the first street I actually remember living on; otherwise I&#8217;d be Custard Rainbow, having lived on Rainbow Avenue as a baby. Either way, it&#8217;s a movie worth watching.
I digress. My sister had a grey budgie called Levi as a teenager, and he was a brilliant little chap. They&#8217;re friendly, very pretty, and flap about the place like lunatics. 
They do tend to shit everywhere though. Watch out for that.
Rabbits

Aw, I&#8217;d love a rabbit one day. We like to take our daughter to the pet shop – or &#8220;the cheap zoo&#8221;, as we call it – and the rabbits are always the highlight, she loves them. Their motorised noses are hilarious. Everything they do looks cute, little flolloping guys cuddling up and chewing on carrots.
A friend of mine had a house rabbit when we were younger, and it was the softest thing in the world. You could stroke it for hours. Although it did have an unfortunate habit of shitting out maggots, and then it died. Bit nasty. But hey, it probably wasn&#8217;t doing it on purpose.
Tigers

Fucking hell, don&#8217;t get a tiger. They&#8217;re too big.
Degus

Another small rodent in the hamster confusion, but I know what a degu is because they have them in the cheap zoo. The principle reason for buying one of these would be that they&#8217;re hilariously dirty little bastards. Last time we were in there, one of them was fellating itself.
This&#8217;d be the ideal pet for someone who smokes a lot of weed.
Chickens

My parents have chickens, and so does my sister. If you&#8217;ve got a big enough garden, they&#8217;re a pretty good idea – they&#8217;ll eat all your kitchen waste, and give you limitless eggs in return!
&#8230;although I don&#8217;t particularly like eggs. And I live in London, so am gardenless. You can&#8217;t really keep chickens in a flat, I don&#8217;t think, so I’m out.
Monkeys

This is probably illegal. Remember Marcel, the monkey from Friends? That taught us all two valuable lessons: 1) that monkeys can be taught to be slaves/butlers, to a degree, and 2) they&#8217;ll ultimately get taken away by the authorities and you might get arrested.
Funny how Marcel never flung his shit about the place, isn’t it? I bet that’s a hazard of simian curation.
-
&#8230;and that&#8217;s all the pets (I don&#8217;t want to get into reptiles, they look like old men trapped in little scaly bodies. Creepy). Key take-out from all this, I reckon, is that you should get some fish, but you might also like to get a rabbit, and get a cat to look after it.
Or whatever, I dunno.
JuicyPips, direct from the mind of @denialvibes, is published weekly.

A guide to pets, written from the helpful perspective of somebody who, er, hasn’t had that many

Human beings are – and I’m happy to be corrected if you know any different – the only animals that keep other animals for amusement and companionship. Whether they’re fluffy, scaly, feathery or slimy, pet ownership is something that almost everybody either does now or has done in the past.

But if you’re new to the game, how do you choose which kind of animal would be right for you? Well, count yourselves lucky, for here is a handy guide to pets, written from the helpful perspective of somebody who, er, hasn’t had that many and doesn’t know much about them.

Cats

In general, you’re either a cat person or a dog person. Some people are both, a few are neither. Me, I’m firmly in the cat camp. Fluffy little scamps, they can be incredibly affectionate when the mood takes them. Nuzzly, cute little fluffy-wuffies.

They’re little bastards too, obviously. Aloof, judgmental creatures – you never really own a cat, you just give it somewhere to eat and sleep before it wanders off into the neighbourhood to get up to things you’ll never find out about. They treat you with utter disdain until they want something. Every now and then they might curl up on your lap and purr in a heartwarming way, but they’re probably just building up to giving you a good old poking with their claws when you realise they’ve given you two dead legs and you try to get up (or maybe that was just my grandma’s cat).

It’s no wonder they own the internet. They cannot be argued with.

Dogs

I’m not so sure about dogs. It’d be enormously controversial to be so bold as to say I don’t like dogs, because dog owners can be quite militant about that kind of thing.

They’ll take it as a personal slight, like you’ve just insulted one of their children. Mind you, some dog owners seem to think their dogs are their children. Is there anything more gross than seeing somebody kiss their dog on the lips, or let it lick their face?

Don’t get me wrong, there are dogs I’ve got on with in the past. My uncle’s Labrador is quite sweet (is it a Labrador? Christ, I’ve no idea). Another uncle has a little yappy dog that’s friendly enough. They’re not all bad. Once you get to know them, they can be rather likeable.

But still. If I knew more about dogs I’d be able to be more specific, but there are some kinds of dog that really let everyone know they live with a person, even when they’re nowhere nearby. Some people just smell like dog, don’t they?

Also, dogs are bloody needy. A cat will look after itself. A dog always wants your approval. “Look, look at this random object I’ve brought you!” Oh, sod off. Slobbery airheads.

Hamsters

I used to have a hamster when I was about five or six. The only memories I have of it are the time we had to move the cage because it was too close to the curtains and it chewed a big hole, and the time it escaped its cage, got under the floorboards and ate through all the wiring. So my analysis would be: they eat stuff. Stuff they shouldn’t.

I don’t know a whole lot about domestic rodents, to be honest. If you put a hamster, a gerbil and a guinea pig in front of me I reckon I could have a game stab at guessing which was which, but I wouldn’t be totally confident.

There are two main reasons to buy such a creature: firstly, they look hilarious running around in their wheels. Secondly, they’re a good way to teach a young child about the concept of death and grief. Because they don’t live very long.

Fish

Ah yes, I can get on board with fish. Great pets. But they take a bit of looking after.

When we were kids, my dad acquired a great big fish tank along with a heater and various other bits of aquatic bric-a-brac, and filled it with tropical fish. I loved it – neon tetras shoal, guppies are born folded in half, Siamese fighting fish chew each other’s tails, golden gouramis think they own the place, kuhli loaches keep the plants clean… fascinating creatures. Don’t buy any angel fish though, they’re evil little fuckers. They just eat all the other fish.

I got a bit carried away, and insisted on having a goldfish bowl in my bedroom. I wasn’t as good at looking after fish as my dad was. I learnt some valuable lessons: if you overfill the bowl, you’ll come home from school to find it devoid of fish – they’ll be on the floor, dead. If you leave the bowl on the windowsill in summer, they’ll boil to death. If you don’t clean the bowl regularly, your room will smell like bad drains. The key to proper fish maintenance is this: just don’t be a dick. Clean ‘em out occasionally, yeah? And don’t overfeed them either, they’ll eat themselves to death like that fat dude in Se7en.

Birds

Birds are cool. My first pet – I think – was a canary called Custard. This really helps me out when people say “hey, what’s your porn name? It’s the name of your first pet, then the first street you lived on”. Which gives me Custard Devil. Well, Devil’s Lane was the first street I actually remember living on; otherwise I’d be Custard Rainbow, having lived on Rainbow Avenue as a baby. Either way, it’s a movie worth watching.

I digress. My sister had a grey budgie called Levi as a teenager, and he was a brilliant little chap. They’re friendly, very pretty, and flap about the place like lunatics. 

They do tend to shit everywhere though. Watch out for that.

Rabbits

Aw, I’d love a rabbit one day. We like to take our daughter to the pet shop – or “the cheap zoo”, as we call it – and the rabbits are always the highlight, she loves them. Their motorised noses are hilarious. Everything they do looks cute, little flolloping guys cuddling up and chewing on carrots.

A friend of mine had a house rabbit when we were younger, and it was the softest thing in the world. You could stroke it for hours. Although it did have an unfortunate habit of shitting out maggots, and then it died. Bit nasty. But hey, it probably wasn’t doing it on purpose.

Tigers

Fucking hell, don’t get a tiger. They’re too big.

Degus

Another small rodent in the hamster confusion, but I know what a degu is because they have them in the cheap zoo. The principle reason for buying one of these would be that they’re hilariously dirty little bastards. Last time we were in there, one of them was fellating itself.

This’d be the ideal pet for someone who smokes a lot of weed.

Chickens

My parents have chickens, and so does my sister. If you’ve got a big enough garden, they’re a pretty good idea – they’ll eat all your kitchen waste, and give you limitless eggs in return!

…although I don’t particularly like eggs. And I live in London, so am gardenless. You can’t really keep chickens in a flat, I don’t think, so I’m out.

Monkeys

This is probably illegal. Remember Marcel, the monkey from Friends? That taught us all two valuable lessons: 1) that monkeys can be taught to be slaves/butlers, to a degree, and 2) they’ll ultimately get taken away by the authorities and you might get arrested.

Funny how Marcel never flung his shit about the place, isn’t it? I bet that’s a hazard of simian curation.

-

…and that’s all the pets (I don’t want to get into reptiles, they look like old men trapped in little scaly bodies. Creepy). Key take-out from all this, I reckon, is that you should get some fish, but you might also like to get a rabbit, and get a cat to look after it.

Or whatever, I dunno.

JuicyPips, direct from the mind of @denialvibes, is published weekly.

Notes

Oculas

The recent acquisition of Oculus by Facebook sparked many debates on the future of both companies and the intentions of the Social Media network, who only a month ago was announcing the $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp messenger.

Outraged gamers and developers voiced concerns about the future of the Oculus and it’s innovative virtual reality headgear, questioning what Zuckerberg’s enterprise could bring to the platform and why the market leader didn’t carry on riding the wave of growth without external intervention.

Although the technology behind the flagship Oculus Rift has proven exciting for the future of virtual reality devices, the history of the concept has a history of failure, stretching decades, perhaps this is the reason the California-based tech visionaries (excuse the pun) took the decision to look up the food chain for a helping hand.

Check out this wonderful, not exactly timeless 1985 feature on the development of the VR headset. When three decades later the market remains small, is a money-splashing tech giant going to be the push that VR needs to finally make this ageing dream a reality?

@Mingard is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Notes

Silicon Valley’s youth problem
In start-up land, the young barely talk to the old (and vice versa). That makes for a lot of cool apps. But great technology? Not so much.
Full article on the New York Times.

Silicon Valley’s youth problem

In start-up land, the young barely talk to the old (and vice versa). That makes for a lot of cool apps. But great technology? Not so much.

Full article on the New York Times.