📺 Food Waste: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Food Waste: Last Week Tonight by John Oliver from HBO
Producers, sellers, and consumers waste tons of food. John Oliver discusses the shocking amount of food we don’t eat.

This episode dispels a lot of common misconceptions about food and food donations in the United States.

Some of the potential legislation discussed here could be tremendously helpful not only to a lot of Americans, but to other countries as well. I find it difficult to believe that legislators work on a bunch of knucklehead things when “simple” things like this are left to fester away. Not only could it help out millions of people, but could create jobs, and drastically effect world efficiency as well as improve the economy.

If Jeremy Cherfas, hasn’t seen this, I highly recommend it. Perhaps a more in-dept episode of Eat This Podcast on the numbers, policy decisions and science?

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📺 Federal Budget: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Federal Budget: Last Week Tonight by John Oliver from HBO
Donald Trump's federal budget plan proposes large funding cuts with largely negative consequences. John Oliver examines the troubling priorities of the new administration.

It’s amazing how much civics lesson one can sneak into a comedy show.

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📺 Marijuana: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Marijuana: Last Week Tonight by John Oliver from HBO
Under federal law, even legal marijuana is illegal. John Oliver explains why conflicting drug laws pose serious problems.

Our government should spend a bit more time worrying less about flashy headlines and spend more time working on things that will help and improve the lives of the most people. Getting the hundreds of thousands of low-lying marijuana offenders out of the criminal justice system and helping them be productive members of society would certainly help. If we’re going to penalize marijuana users like this we should also do it with alcoholics too.

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📺 Paris Agreement: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Paris Agreement: Last Week Tonight by John Oliver from HBO
Donald Trump plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement on climate change. That's bad news for anyone who happens to live on this planet.
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👓 Steven Pinker Explains the Neuroscience of Swearing | Open Culture

Steven Pinker Explains the Neuroscience of Swearing by Matthias Rascher (Open Culture)
Pinker talking about his then new book, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, and doing what he does best: combining psychology and neuroscience with linguistics. The result is as entertaining as it is insightful.

Continue reading “👓 Steven Pinker Explains the Neuroscience of Swearing | Open Culture”

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📺 A Universal Theory of Life: Math, Art & Information by Sara Walker

A Universal Theory of Life: Math, Art & Information by Sara Walker from TEDxASU
Dr. Walker introduces the concept of information, then proposes that information may be a necessity for biological complexity in this thought-provoking talk on the origins of life. Sara is a theoretical physicist and astrobiologist, researching the origins and nature of life. She is particularly interested in addressing the question of whether or not “other laws of physics” might govern life, as first posed by Erwin Schrodinger in his famous book What is life?. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University. She is also Fellow of the ASU -Santa Fe Institute Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, Founder of the astrobiology-themed social website SAGANet.org, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Blue Marble Space. She is active in public engagement in science, with recent appearances on “Through the Wormhole” and NPR’s Science Friday.

Admittedly, she only had a few short minutes, but it would have been nice if she’d started out with a precise definition of information. I suspect the majority of her audience didn’t know the definition with which she’s working and it would have helped focus the talk.

Her description of Speigelman’s Monster was relatively interesting and not very often seen in much of the literature that covers these areas.

I wouldn’t rate this very highly as a TED Talk as it wasn’t as condensed and simplistic as most, nor was it as hyper-focused, but then again condensing this area into 11 minutes is far from simple task. I do love that she’s excited enough about the topic that she almost sounds a little out of breath towards the end.

There’s an excellent Eddington quote I’ve mentioned before that would have been apropos to have opened up her presentation that might have brought things into higher relief given her talk title:

Suppose that we were asked to arrange the following in two categories–

distance, mass, electric force, entropy, beauty, melody.

I think there are the strongest grounds for placing entropy alongside beauty and melody and not with the first three.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, OM, FRS (1882-1944), a British astronomer, physicist, and mathematician
in The Nature of the Physical World, 1927

 

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🔖 The Algorithmic Origins of Life – Sara Walker (SETI Talks)

The Algorithmic Origins of Life by Sara I. Walker (SETI Institute Talks)
The origin of life is arguably one of the greatest unanswered questions in science. A primary challenge is that without a proper definition for life -- a notoriously challenging problem in its own right -- the problem of how life began is not well posed. Here we propose that the transition from non-life to life may correspond to a fundamental shift in causal structure, where information gains direct, and context-dependent, causal efficacy over matter, a transition that may be mapped to a nontrivial distinction in how living systems process information. Dr. Walker will discuss potential measures of such a transition, which may be amenable to laboratory study, and how the proposed mechanism corresponds to the onset of the unique mode of (algorithmic) information processing characteristic of living systems.
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📺 Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: Russia Revelations, May 28, 2017

Meet the Press: Russia Revelations, May 28, 2017 by Chuck Todd from NBC
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly; Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.); New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; roundtable discussion with Joy Reid, Kimberley Strassel, Charlie Sykes and Amy Walter.

Corker didn’t do or say anything to make me think that he has a clue of what is going on, has any influence of any sort, or any desire to do or act on any of the topics which came up. He didn’t seem to have any useful opinions of any sort. I learned nothing other than that he seemed to be filling time. It was a waste of 5 minutes of interview.

I keep hearing the word “backchanneling”, but it seems like the two sides have wildly different versions of what it means.

Great little roundtable this week. This was certainly the most interesting portion of the show, but ultimately I don’t think it moves the needle in America much. Joy-Ann Reid was solid, poised and made some strong points–I’d like to see more of her on shows like this.

📺 PBS NewsHour full episode May 29, 2017

NewsHour full episode May 29, 2017 from PBS
Monday on the NewsHour, the White House downplays reports that senior advisor Jared Kushner wanted to create a secret backchannel to talk with the Russians. Also: The president's first foreign trip and more on Politics Monday, Norway spearheads an electric car revolution, questions about organ transplants in China and new books you won't want to put down.

📺 PBS NewsHour full episode May 26, 2017

NewsHour full episode May 26, 2017 from PBS
Friday on the NewsHour, gunmen in Egypt attack a Christian group, killing at least 28. Also: An exclusive interview with Aya Hijazi, what President Trump accomplished on a trip abroad, Shields and Brooks analyze the week's news, a humorous take on getting out of your bubble, being a veteran of a war that never ends and more.

I liked the W. Kamau Bell interview. They’re doing some great marketing for him, his show, and his new book. I’m putting his show (and back episodes from season 1) into my queue.

The snippet on Mr. Rogers at the end was very moving and useful. I kind of wish there were rerun episodes of his show still on television.

📺 PBS NewsHour full episode May 25, 2017

NewsHour full episode May 25, 2017 from PBS
Thursday on the NewsHour, President Trump reprimands fellow NATO leaders over defense spending, but keeps silent on NATO's joint defense pact. Also: Leaks from the Manchester investigation pause intelligence sharing, Sweden invests in its military over Russia fears, what an assault by a political candidate says about attitudes toward the media, how gender affects risks at work and more.