Lucas Nkomo

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The Swedish Academy and the Illusions of the Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature is broken. On Friday, the Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, announced that it will not name a laureate this year, a decision that results from a scandal within its ranks—a “sex abuse” scandal, as the <i>Times</i> push alert, which broke the news to me early in the …

Literature

The key to Leonardo da Vinci's genius is a practice that anyone can learn

In late 2017, <i>Salvator Mundi</i>, one of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings, sold for $450.3 million.<p>For a child born out of wedlock in the 15th century, that's quite an accomplishment. And yet, many would argue that this isn't even close to being his greatest contribution to humanity.<p>When the word</i> …

How to build a deep learning model in 15 minutes – tech-at

<i>An open source framework for configuring, building, deploying and maintaining deep learning models in Python.</i><p>As Instacart has grown, we’ve learned a …

Blob: An Irreverent and Insightful Modern Fable About Beauty, Ugliness, the Paths to Acceptance, and How Admiration Hijacks Our Sense of Self

A playful and profound tale about the struggle for belonging.<p><i>“Worshipped today, scorned or even crucified tomorrow,”</i> Albert Einstein wrote in contemplating the fickleness of fame, <i>“that is the fate of people whom — God knows why — the bored public has taken possession of.”</i> And indeed the public …

Literature

The Best of Brain Pickings 2017

The courage to be yourself, a Stoic’s antidote to anxiety, how friendship transforms us, in praise of solitude, and more.<p>We read for the same reasons we write — to think, to feel, to locate ourselves within ourselves and in relation to the world. Of the 258 pieces I wrote this year, these are the …

The 100 best nonfiction books of all time: the full list

<b>1. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014)</b> <br>An engrossing account of the looming catastrophe caused by ecology’s “neighbours from hell” – mankind.<p><b>2. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)</b><br>This steely and devastating examination of the author’s grief following the sudden death of …

Literature

What IBM looks for in a data scientist

Job seekers sometimes ask how IBM defines “data scientist.” It’s an important question since more and more would-be data scientists are fighting for attention in an increasingly lucrative labor market.<p>The first step is to distinguish between what we see as true data scientists and other …

Data Science

Who Pulled Off the Biggest Bitcoin Heist in History?

Inside the mystery of how Mark Karpelès and his Mt. Gox company lost almost $500 million in cybercurrency.<p><i>“Even in the midst of hell, it all depends</i> …

How JavaScript works: memory management + how to handle 4 common memory leaks

A few weeks ago we started a series aimed at digging deeper into JavaScript and how it actually works: we thought that by knowing the building blocks …

Bloodstained ice axe used to kill Trotsky emerges after decades in the shadows

Weapon used in 1940 assassination to go on display next year – but why did Ramón Mercader, armed with a gun and a dagger, resort to the ice pick?<p>On the evening of 20 August 1940, a man known as Frank Jacson called at a large house in the suburbs of Mexico City, and asked to see the ‘Old Man’ – as …

History

How the Voyager Golden Record Was Made

Forty years ago, we sent a message to extraterrestrials—a collection of sights and sounds of life on Earth.<p>We inhabit a small planet orbiting a medium-sized star about two-thirds of the way out from the center of the Milky Way galaxy—around where Track 2 on an LP record might begin. In cosmic …

The History of White Supremacy in America

The angry men marching in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend seemed alien to many Americans. They shouted "Blood and Soil," imitating the …

Get started with machine learning using Python

Have you wondered what it takes to get started with machine learning? In this article, I will walk through steps for getting started with machine …

Machine Learning

Program an SMS Bot Using Python and Twilio

This winter I went to Utah with some friends, and explored some of the most remote and beautiful places in the world. I hiked through Star Wars looking terrains, and was in awe at the bright red canyons. However, there was one problem: we were in such remote places, the cellular connection was …

Here are 200 Excel shortcuts that'll make your life a lot easier

Each workbook acts as its own separate window on your PC or Mac, while each worksheet acts as a tab within a workbook with separate cells.<p>This section of the Excel Guide offers all shortcuts you need to open, navigate between, and control all of these options.<p><i>Courtesy of GoSkills.</i>

Analytics

What Are Analytical Skills and How to Improve Them

Everybody makes bad decisions. Some people, however, are more capable of making better decisions that inch them closer to success. These individuals …

Why People With The Title "Thought Leader" Rarely Are

The term “thought leader” has spread through the business world like some un-killable virus wrecking the careers of the innocent and guilty alike. It’s time to put an end to this scourge.<p>If you have considered adding the term to your CV/resume, or your LinkedIn profile, just don’t. Really, don’t. …

Leadership

A physicist answers the grandest question of all: Why are we here?

Physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf, a contributor to the "The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge," explains how the small differences in theories about space and time might explain why life just happened to happen.<p>Below is a transcript of the video:<p><i>Perhaps the most fundamental philosophical question that you</i> …

The Best Ways to Learn to Code for Free

New skills at no cost.<p>The web and our phones are playing an increasingly vital part in our lives, and that isn't going to stop any time soon. That means we're more and more at the mercy of the people who design and code on these platforms.<p>If you want to be a creator rather than a consumer of apps …

Cosmic Inflation Theory Faces Challenges

On March 21, 2013, the European Space Agency held an international press conference to announce new results from a satellite called Planck. The …

Immigration will remain a toxic issue until Britain faces up to its colonial past

Both Ukip and Theresa May trumpeted their anti-immigrant credentials yesterday, with fresh and not-so-fresh policies for the election. Hostility to foreigners is now an established theme in the UK’s political discourse, partly because it has deep cultural roots. But there may be something we can …

Emmanuel Macron

Lack of Oxford Comma Could Cost Maine Company Millions in Overtime Dispute

A class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for truck drivers hinged entirely on a debate that has bitterly divided friends, families and foes: The dreaded — or totally necessary — Oxford comma, perhaps the most polarizing of punctuation marks.<p>What ensued in the United States Court of Appeals for the …

Linguistics

Chief Justice Roberts Considers the Case of Tom Sawyer

WASHINGTON — Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain’s fictional rapscallion, turned up on Wednesday night in the ballroom of a fancy Washington hotel. No stranger to adventures and indignities, he was there to endure something new and distinctively American: a lawsuit.<p>A lighthearted Chief Justice John G. Roberts …

Mark Twain

2016

Looking back over 2016, here is just a small sampling of the highlights and memorable moments from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, …

Modern Light Fixtures Turn Into Animals When Illuminated

Tel Aviv-based designer Chen Bikovski couples a contemporary aesthetic with a nostalgic nod to the past to create whimsical works of modern art. Inspired by fond memories of her childhood and interested in experimenting with ambiance, the award-winning designer invented Popup Lighting, a series of …

Lawyers Are Too Damn Expensive, and These Legal Hackers Want to Fix That

Everyone has the right to justice, but not everyone can afford it.<p>Christien Levien believes the easiest way to improve access to justice—which is a pressing issue in Canada and other countries, where plenty of people can't afford to hire a lawyer when they need one—is putting a "lawyer in your …

How A Tiny Staging Company Built A $100 Million Business

ASH doesn’t want to leave its stamp around the world–just on projects where it can leave a lasting impression.<p>A few years ago, you might have caught Ari Heckman and Jonathan Minkoff–cofounders of the New York–based design company ASH–loading up a station wagon with flea market finds to “stage” …

Science Says You Can Evolve a Bigger Penis By Simply Fucking More

The beetles have done it, so why not us?<p>If, like me, you're a man who has an inordinate amount of sex, to the point where it becomes a mechanical endeavour, the climax serving only as a momentary distraction from the robotic horror of coitus, then you're in luck. Us heavy-intercourse men are …

Science Says the Secret to a Happy Relationship is Giving Up

Okay, okay, they call it "settling."<p>What was it your mother always told you? About how you're special, and how you should never settle for anything less than you deserve?<p>Yeah, well scientists have gone and shit all over that one, because a new study has decided that the secret to a happy, …

Universal Pictures

Ursula K. Le Guin on Power, Oppression, Freedom, and How Imaginative Storytelling Expands Our Scope of the Possible

“We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable.”<p><i>“We must always take sides,”</i> Elie Wiesel urged in his …

Nobel Prize