Interesting things I've bookmarked (old posts, page 15)

Rundown Japanese Dorms

At the southern edge of Kyoto University's Yoshida Campus in Kyoto lies a tree-shrouded, sprawling and ramshackle wooden building. It is decrepit and sometimes even interweaved with overgrowth. But this building is no ruin. It's the Yoshida-ryo dormitory -- a bewildering anachronism in a city based on the idea of living history. Nearly a century old, and looking every day of it, Yoshida-ryo is very likely the last remaining example of the once common Japanese wooden university dormitory. This building was built in 1913. Organized from the very beginning to be self-administering through a dormitory association, the students themselves have been responsible for selecting new applicants for residency. This autonomy, however, came under full-scale assault in 1971, when the Ministry of Education began a policy of regulating or closing dormitories, which were seen as "hotbeds for various kinds of conflict." University authorities first tried to close Yoshida-ryo completely in 1979, and after failing to overcome opposition over the next 10 years finally closed the Western Yoshida-ryo across the street. While the facilities are sub-par by modern standards, the unbelievably low rent of Y=2,500 per month (technically Y=400 rent, Y=1,600 utilities and Y=500 to fund the Yoshida-ryo Residents Association) and bohemian atmosphere make it an attractive living place for financially challenged students (including a large number of self-financed students from China).

Rundown Japanese Dorms

Rundown Japanese Dorms

Jobs Talks Flash

We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor's platforms.

The Apple Future

It's probably no exaggeration to say that Apple's draconian security policies are among the tightest of any company operating purely in the private sector, with a focus on secrecy that rivals that of military contractors. But even so, the control freak obsessiveness which Steve Jobs is bringing to bear on the iPad -- and the desperate flailing around evident among Apple's competitors -- bears some examination. What's going on?

Do not talk to aliens

THE aliens are out there and Earth had better watch out, at least according to Stephen Hawking. He has suggested that extraterrestrials are almost certain to exist -- but that instead of seeking them out, humanity should be doing all it that can to avoid any contact.The suggestions come in a new documentary series in which Hawking, one of the world's leading scientists, will set out his latest thinking on some of the universe's greatest mysteries.Alien life, he will suggest, is almost certain to exist in many other parts of the universe: not just in planets, but perhaps in the centre of stars or even floating in interplanetary space.

Ninja Assassin

Trained since childhood to be a lethal killer, Raizo has since turned his back on the Ozunu clan that raised him and now seeks revenge for their heartless murders. Teaming up with Europol investigator Mika, Raizo steadily butchers his enemies while inching ever closer to the long-awaited bloody reunion with his former master.

How the Soviet bioweapons program was revealed

When the Berlin Wall came down November 9, 1989, the decades-long division of Europe was over. But there was another event, just two weeks before, that also broke down barriers and changed the course of the Cold War. In the last week of October, the director of the Soviet All-Union Institute of Ultra-Pure Biological Preparations, Vladimir Pasechnik, was on a business trip to France. He used a phone booth in Paris to call the British Embassy and offered to defect. The British Secret Intelligence Service responded with alacrity, and Pasechnik was soon on his way to London. Over the course of several months, Pasechnik was debriefed at a safe house on the coast of England. The British were astounded at what he told them.Western intelligence agencies had long puzzled over whether the Soviets possessed a biological weapons program, but they lacked solid proof. Moreover, for many years, there had been debate among policy and intelligence analysts in the West about whether biological weapons made sense in the nuclear age. The thinking was that nuclear weapons were such an effective deterrent that germ warfare wasn't worth the investment. President Richard Nixon reflected this outlook when he decided in 1969 to abandon the U.S. offensive germ warfare program. "We'll never use the damn germs, so what good is biological warfare as a deterrent?" Nixon told his speechwriter William Safire. "If somebody uses germs on us, we'll nuke 'em." The assumption was that the Soviet Union had reached a similar conclusion.

Joseph Kittinger

Captain Kittinger was next assigned to the Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. For Project Excelsior (meaning "ever upward"), a name given to the project by Col. Stapp, as part of research into high altitude bailouts, he made a series of three extreme altitude parachute jumps from an open gondola carried aloft by large helium balloons. Kittinger's first high-altitude jump, from about 280,000 feet (80,300 meters) on November 16, 1959, was a near-disaster when an equipment malfunction caused him to lose consciousness.[1] His automatic parachute opener in his equipment saved his life. He went into a flat spin at a rotational velocity of about 120 rpm. The g-forces at his extremities have been calculated to be over 22 times the force of gravity, setting another record. On December 11, 1959, he jumped again from about 74,700 feet (22,760 meters). For that leap, Kittinger was awarded the "Leo Stevens Parachute Medal". On August 16, 1960, he made the final jump from the Excelsior III at 496,900 feet (151,500 m).[1] Towing a small drogue chute for initial stabilization, he fell for four minutes and 36 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 614 mph [2][3] (988 km/h or 274 m/s) before opening his parachute at 18,000 feet (5,500 m). Pressurization for his right glove malfunctioned during the ascent, and his right hand swelled up to twice its normal size.[4][5] He set historical numbers for highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, longest drogue-fall (four minutes), and fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere[6]. These are still current USAF records, but were not submitted for aerospace world records to the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI).

Joseph Kittinger

Sign the PublicACTA Wellington Declaration!

The "Wellington Declaration" says that the world copyright treaties shouldn't be conducted behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms, but rather in the full light of public participation at the United Nations, where copyright treaties are customarily made. The UN admits non-governmental organizations, journalists, and representatives from poor countries, while ACTA is only open to rich countries and lobbyists from powerful corporations.The Declaration says that copyright treaties should preserve the flexibility to make unauthorised use for purposes consistent with the public interest, from criticism to education; it says that privacy should be protected in copyright law, rejecting the principle that we should all be spied upon in case we are infringing on copyright; that web-hosts and search engines should be protected from liability rather than charged with policing their users; that DRM is not part of copyright and shouldn't be in a copyright treaty; that Internet access is a human right and that disconnection from the net for accusations of infringement is disproportionate and unjust; and that damages for infringement should be reasonable. It asks that criminal sanctions for copyright be reserved for genuinely criminal acts, non casual sharing.In short, the Wellington Declaration says a bunch of extremely sensible things that, if implemented, would give us a much better world.