Saturday, January 02, 2016

The Art of Forecasting: 15 striking findings from 2015

“For last year's words belong to last year's language And next year's words await another voice.”
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets 

One Little Tweet From Bernie Sanders Sums Up Everything Wrong with Big Banks and Government Alternet 

Air India plane bound for London forced to return to Mumbai after rat sighting Independent  on how technology and its wires are vulnerable when the rats are hungry ...

Little Richard has always been attuned to signs. At the height of his fame, on tour in Australia in October 1957 (circa of time MD was conceived) , he saw a big ball of fire in the sky above the stadium. This was his second vision of fire. On the flight over, the glow of the engines appeared to him as flames and he pictured yellow-haired angels holding the plane aloft.

The message, to Little Richard, was clear. He had to leave show business, quit singing the devil’s music, and get right with God. Prayers for Richard Oxford American

2016, Sweet 16,  will be another year of colourful and mysterious reading between the lines blog activity...

Seven Big Summits to Watch in 2016 CFR

Our Parasites And Vermin Reveal Secrets Of Human History NPR

We rarely venture away from our own kitchen and herb garden as Malchkin, that sacred alchemist chef, tends to turn herbs and spices into heavenly experience ;-)

January provides space for challenging and rewarding reflections on time, love, loss, courage, creativity, and other memories of Pilhov...
"When I was a kid my father would say,
if you get lost, don’t look for me.
Stay there. Stay there an I will find you.
He’s gone now..." 

Jacques-Henri Lartigue. Paris, Avenue des Acacias, 1911 Father was born in 1911 and Mum in 1916 during the period of Austro-Hungarian  Empire ...

Chimen Abramsky made room in his London home for 20,000 volumes, including first editions by Spinoza and Marx. Meet one of the 20th century’s great bibliophiles... First Edition of Cold War River 

With an increasing demand among baby boomers for customized funerals that reflect the individuality of the deceased, funeral directors are expanding into the business of event production. Today’s funeral director might stage a memorial service featuring the release of butterflies at the grave site, or with the deceased’s Harley parked ceremonially at the entrance to the chapel. In such instances, the skills of a funeral director can seem to fall somewhere between those of a nurse and a wedding planner. Mortuary Management, a trade magazine, offers articles about such innovations as the tribute blanket—an instant heirloom that incorporates photographs of the deceased into a custom-made tapestry—and urges funeral directors to be open-minded when faced with families who want pop songs played at a service. It’s a profitable strategy to, as a feeble witticism of the industry has it, “put the fun back into funerals.”  Putin Funeral Note the  Perfume ...  The Baby Perfumers  and Funerals Our bodies ourselves

Low light levels make night photography a challenging yet rewarding subject. The best results require specialized equipment, like SLR cameras, tripods, cable releases and flashguns. After sunset, the everyday world is magically transformed, and city buildings, fireworks, thunderstorms and the northern lights all become popular subjects.
Beautiful Night Photo
Rockefeller Institute of Government – SUNY – 2015 Was a Good Year for State Revenue Forecasters, But the Road Ahead Is Uncertain, Donald Boyd and Lucy Dadayan, December 2015.
“States must forecast revenue accurately to avoid disruption to their budgets. It is a difficult job — uncertainty about the economy, financial markets, and taxpayer behavior mean that estimates will never be completely on target. As we have documented in work supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts, forecasting errors were particularly large in and after the last two recessions as a result of increased volatility in taxes. However, recent years have been much better, and new data suggest that 2015 was a good year for state revenue forecasters.”
“The point of a party is to make us forget we are solitary, wretched and betrothed to death; in other words, to transform us into animals.” Michel Houellebecq offers some handy tips, over at The Believer. Pair with this Millions review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory

Yes this is the answer – National Geographic January 2016 – This Is Your Brain on Nature – When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor.

“When we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too. [David] Strayer  [cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah] has demonstrated as much with a group of Outward Bound participants, who performed 50 percent better on creative problem-solving tasks after three days of wilderness backpacking. The three-day effect, he says, is a kind of cleaning of the mental windshield that occurs when we’ve been immersed in nature long enough. On this trip he’s hoping to catch it in action, by hooking his students—and me—to a portable EEG, a device that records brain waves.”

“Every year, we look back at our research to select the most memorable facts that illustrate important trends shaping our world. At Pew Research Center, the topics we analyze range from the specific subjects of video gaming and family caregivers to broader areas like political attitudes, global climate change and religious affiliation.”

This morning, Josh Jones highlighted for you the new HD versions of Beatles videos on Youtube, and, along the way mentioned that, starting today, the Beatles’ music catalog — 13 albums and 4 compilations — would become available on various music streaming services, including Spotify. The switch has been flipped on all of that, and below, you can find a Spotify playlist of the Beatles’ albums. 14 hours of Beatles bliss.

Why Political Data Is a Complete Mess Advertising Age. Like all data.

“The dead have at any rate endured a test to which the living have not yet been subjected. If a man, fifty or a hundred years after his death, is still remembered and accounted a great man, there is a presumption in his favour which no living man can claim; and experience has taught me that it is no mere presumption. It is the dead and not the living who have most advanced our learning and science; and though their knowledge may have been superseded, there is no supersession of reason and intelligence.”  Due veneration towards dead

Justin Trudeau and the cannabis factory The Economist

How bad are things?  Arguably this post needs a broader sense of what makes a life valuable, still one of the more interesting blog posts of the last year.