Five short links


Portraits from the Congo at 50 – An astonishing collection of photos showing people living in the DR of Congo, together with short stories talking about their lives. Anyone who’s read In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz will understand what a hell-on-earth the Congo has been for the last hundred years, but the tenacity of people determined to keep living their lives is amazing.

Conspiratorial Thinking – The best explanation I’ve seen of why otherwise-smart people can go spectacularly wrong when they only have a superficial understanding of a domain. The other side of any argument rarely consists of idiots and crazy people, so when I find myself asking “how could they be so dumb?”, it’s usually a sign I’m missing something important.

Mountain Lion Kittens in the Santa Monica Mountains – Liz was lucky enough to see the back end of a lion disappearing down a trail when we lived in LA. I never saw one myself, but always felt amazed to be living in a place so wild it still had them roaming free.

Data sets for data mining – A good list of high-quality sources of large data sets

Goin’ down that road feeling bad – At the start of this song Woody Guthrie talks about its creator, how “he wrote this song… or got it started”. The dominant model of the 20th century was the ‘auteur theory’, trying to find a single person to focus on as the sole driving force behind any project, but I felt the way Woody phrased it there captures a lot more of the reality of the creative process. Everything worthwhile I’ve been involved in has taken both a crazy person to start things rolling and a lot of people to join in and actually build it. I feel a post about “folk coding” coming on, it feels like the open source world has a lot in common with the way traditional music was passed around and improved.

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