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How America uses its land

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Dave Merrill and Lauren Leatherby for Bloomberg visualized land use for the conterminous United States using a pixel-like grid map:

The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure.

Using surveys, satellite images and categorizations from various government agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the U.S. into six major types of land. The data can’t be pinpointed to a city block—each square on the map represents 250,000 acres of land. But piecing the data together state-by-state can give a general sense of how U.S. land is used.

The above map is the full aggregate, but be sure to click through to see the comparisons across categories. Using a scrollytelling format, the graphics are a hybrid of grid maps and square pie charts. States serve as a point of reference. They’re the banana for scale. I like it.

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lizamu
8 days ago
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Wow!
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Space Between Space: A NASA-Inspired Collection by Azmy Anything

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Space Between Space: A NASA-Inspired Collection by Azmy Anything

Driven by his fascination with space travel innovation, London-based Adam Azmy ,of design studio Azmy Anything, designed a five-piece collection inspired by NASA and space exploration. The Space Between Space collection includes two pieces of storage furniture that go beyond function with beautifully clever methods of opening and closing them. The remaining three are a trio of globes – Moon, Mini Moon, and Jupiter – that are perfectly sculpted wooden spheres.

The Drinks Cabinet front door pays homage to the Lunar Rover’s innovative tires which had a similar chevron tread pattern. All it takes is a simple touch and the door easily slides down while the cabinet rises for access.

The Record Cabinet stores vinyl behind its solar array inspired door, which has four different ways of opening.

The Moon globe is made from solid Sycamore with a steam bent walnut frame that’s outfitted with LED lights. The carved craters are based on NASA photo maps of the moon’s surface.

Also in solid Sycamore, the Mini Moon rests atop a solid walnut base that features inlaid LED lights.

The Jupiter globe comprises four different, locally-sourced British woods – oak, ash, elm, and sycamore – suspended with a brass spindle on a steam bent walnut frame.

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lizamu
39 days ago
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Oh man, I want that moon globe...
New York, New York
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1 public comment
chrisrosa
43 days ago
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yes to all of this. #Azmy
San Francisco, CA

History of the word ‘data’

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Sandra Rendgen describes the history of “data” the word and where it stands in present day.

All through the evolution of statistics through the 19th century, data was generated by humans, and the scientific methodology of measuring and recording data had been a constant topic of debate. This is not trivial, as the question of how data is generated also answers the question of whether and how it is capable of delivering a “true” (or at least “approximated”) representation of reality. The notion that data begins to exist when it is recorded by the machine completely obscures the role that human decisions play in its creation. Who decided which data to record, who programmed the cookie, who built the sensor? And more broadly – what is the specific relationship of any digital data set to reality?

Oh, so there’s more to it than just singular versus plural. Imagine that.

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lizamu
57 days ago
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New York, New York
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Visual introduction to bias in machine learning

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A few years ago, Stephanie Yee and Tony Chu explained the introductory facets of machine learning. The piece stood out because it was such a good use of the scrollytelling format. Yee and Chu just published a follow-up that goes into more detail about bias, intentional or not. It’s equally worth your time.

(Seems to work best in Chrome.)

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lizamu
59 days ago
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Fascinating
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The Guy Who Created Oculus Has Now Made Surveillance Tech That Acts As A Virtual Border Wall

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Right now, on the border between the United States and Mexico, a startup called Anduril is testing out its advanced new virtual border wall technology. Comprised of sensor towers carrying cameras and sensor lasers powered by an artificial intelligence algorithm, the virtual wall can spot any person or animal moving around near the border within a two-mile radius.

Anduril (nerd alert: it’s named after Aragorn’s sword) was founded by Palmer Luckey, the same guy who created and sold virtual reality company Oculus to Facebook and donated money to right-wing group Nimble America. He’s hoping the Department of Homeland Security will purchase the technology, called Lattice, to create a virtual border wall, which would be far cheaper for the government than building the physical barricade President Trump has promised.

During its tests, Lattice has led to the arrests of 55 people crossing the border into Texas, and another 10 in San Diego, according to WIRED. Sixteen of those people were transporting marijuana. The rest were likely crossing the border to improve their lot in life.

In this latest example of “can we?” over “should we?” logic, Anduril has created a surveillance system that would give the federal government the ability to monitor everyone who is on or around the border, whether or not they’re doing anything illegal. And while we shouldn’t be surprised that the Trump administration, with its efforts to stop immigration, would want to find a way to tighten border security.

But these tools could easily extend beyond border security. As TechCrunch reported, Anduril wants to get into the military technology game and help assert American military dominance. The company, which has several government connections, is currently developing other tools for the military, such as virtual and augmented reality battlefield applications that would help soldiers and those who aren’t on the front lines better monitor a conflict.

Luckey told WIRED that, right now, Anduril is focused on intelligence and surveillance, but isn’t ruling out developing weapons for the military down the road, even though Anduril doesn’t know what those weapons might look like. The team behind the company envisions futuristic combat scenarios that might be totally alien to our current idea of warfare. Either way, it seems that the company is committed to developing new ways to keep an eye on us all.

The post The Guy Who Created Oculus Has Now Made Surveillance Tech That Acts As A Virtual Border Wall appeared first on Futurism.

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lizamu
66 days ago
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New York, New York
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Recommendation: Caliphate, the NY Times podcast about ISIS

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For the past several weeks, I have been listening to the NY Times’ fantastic and unsettling podcast series Caliphate. The series follows Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi as she attempts to figure out the inner workings of ISIS. Callimachi and her producer & fellow reporter Andy Mills talk to an Islamic State member from Canada about how he was recruited, investigate the group’s organization, and dig through documents left behind by ISIS as they were driven out of Mosul in July 2017. The podcast is quite upsetting and tough to listen to at times, but I highly recommend doing so.

Here are a few things I kept thinking about while listening:

1. The recruitment process is fascinating. As Callimachi and the recruit talk about how he was persuaded to join up, you can see how young people are enticed by the promise of an Islamic state, of living an ideologically pure life according to one’s religion. What the ISIS recruiters tell them makes sense, it’s logical. (It’s all the things they don’t tell them…therein lies the rub.)

2. The eerie parallels between ISIS and an American business. They’ve got the onboarding process and the rapid expansion plan of a startup like Uber (down to the “ask forgiveness, not permission” tactics). They use tools like YouTube, Tumblr, and Twitter to market themselves with professionally produced videos and marketing materials. When they seized power in an area, ISIS kept much of the existing bureaucracy in place and set about winning hearts and minds by improving services for the people living there.

The world knows the Islamic State for its brutality, but the militants did not rule by the sword alone. They wielded power through two complementary tools: brutality and bureaucracy.

ISIS built a state of administrative efficiency that collected taxes and picked up the garbage. It ran a marriage office that oversaw medical examinations to ensure that couples could have children. It issued birth certificates — printed on Islamic State stationery — to babies born under the caliphate’s black flag. It even ran its own D.M.V.

The documents and interviews with dozens of people who lived under their rule show that the group at times offered better services and proved itself more capable than the government it had replaced.

In the podcast, they talked to residents living in ISIS-controlled areas who say that garbage collection and availability of electricity improved after ISIS took over.

As the group grew, they diversified their income:

One of the keys to their success was their diversified revenue stream. The group drew its income from so many strands of the economy that airstrikes alone were not enough to cripple it.

Ledgers, receipt books and monthly budgets describe how the militants monetized every inch of territory they conquered, taxing every bushel of wheat, every liter of sheep’s milk and every watermelon sold at markets they controlled. From agriculture alone, they reaped hundreds of millions of dollars. Contrary to popular perception, the group was self-financed, not dependent on external donors.

More surprisingly, the documents provide further evidence that the tax revenue the Islamic State earned far outstripped income from oil sales. It was daily commerce and agriculture — not petroleum — that powered the economy of the caliphate.

ISIS was in some ways a model business: adept at PR and marketing, focused on the financial bottom line, sweated the details, and they wanted to keep their “customers” happy.

3. The stated goal of ISIS in establishing a caliphate — to turn back the cultural clock to the time of Muhammad — reminded me slightly of similar efforts here in the US: MAGA, etc.

The podcast is available at Apple or on Spotify. If you are a NY Times subscriber, you get early access to episodes.

See also a 5-minute history of the war in Syria and the rise of ISIS and my past recommendation of the Slow Burn podcast.

Tags: Andy Mills   business   ISIS   Islam   podcasts   religion   Rukmini Callimachi   war
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lizamu
66 days ago
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Agree - it’s fascinating. Keep listening thru the 2nd episode if you get distracted, it’s worth it.
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