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The Pipwick Papers

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It is a Sunday and I have just finished the most stressful game of Dota I’ve played in a long time. I might need a second weekend to properly recover. But while I munch coffee from the jar and attempt to refrain from napping, here are some links to interesting things from this week:

  • Thing 1: The Single Ladies dance syncing with Ducktales or “When Huey, Dewey and Lewie grew up, got dressed and learned to dance”
  • Thing 2: George Buckenham (who I know) has created this Cheap Bots Done Quick tool for making Twitterbots. I haven’t tried it out myself yet (because of the coffee/nap/Dota situation) but I really like some of the results I’ve seen – mazes and gardens and deserts and and and…
  • Here’s one from Unicode Garden:

    And one from the Abhorrent Erotica bot

    And Miniature Mazes

    But Infinite Deserts it my favourite:

  • Thing 3: Why The Oldest Person In The World Keeps Dying, by David Goldenberg of Fivethirtyeight
  • People are getting older on average, but the oldest are still dying around the same age as ever. Thus, when one of them does take over as the oldest, she doesn’t have much time left. The average age of the oldest-ever people has increased over the past 40 years from around 112 to around 114.

  • Thing 4: If you’ve seen that infographic about the death toll of migrant workers in Qatar making a point about the World Cup and comparing that figure with other sporting events, read The Washington Post’s updated “The Human Toll of FIFA’s Corruption” to know what exactly those figures are describing.
  • Thing 5: Speaking of football: when I wrote about FIFA 16 including a dozen women’s international teams a helpful commenter included a link to this fascinating BBC piece about women’s football in the early 20th century – specifically the effect of World War I on its growth and then a post-war climate which pushed it away again.
  • “She had a shot so hard she once broke the arm of a professional male goalkeeper. She also earned the distinction of being the first woman to be sent off in an official football match for fighting.

    “At 6ft tall (1.83m), Lily Parr was remarkable in many ways. She scored more than 1,000 goals during her 31-year-playing career, according to the National Football Museum. Of those, 34 were in her first season when she was aged just 14.”

  • Thing 6: “I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.” A valuable read by John Bohannon on the meaninglessness of some scientific studies. It’s basically about how you can game small sample sizes to give you particular results, or at least to stack the likelihood of getting a “meaningful” result in your favour. It also goes on to explain how you can then employ that result to maximise your chances of getting media coverage.
  • As a personal aside, “studies” and “surveys” crop up in my inbox all the time and I do try to pick into the results when I can. Some are obviously bullshit marketing nonsense, others are a little more covert – sometimes, if it looks promising, I’ll send them a reply asking about the methodology or numbers of participants or sampling if it’s not clear. Some are press releases for scientific journals but they’re not above scrutiny either. If it’s interesting enough I’ll email for access or simply buy it if it’s paywalled [UGH THAT STUFF IS NOT CHEAP] because I hate relying on the abstract. But then, I now work in an industry where I have a bit more wiggle room on that front. I don’t have to deal with the HEFTY page-view-carrot or the HEFTY missed-page-view-stick which comes with pre-packaged diet science or any listicles with a celebrity name attached. I also have more time as I’m not a slave to that 24 hour news cycle in the same way.

  • Thing 7: Ars Technica follows what happened to Ross Ulbricht from the moments before his arrest for charges related to running the Silk Road to his being sentenced to life in prison – it’s a detailed account of the case including both the defence and prosecution told by Joe Mullin who attended the whole trial.
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    Philippa Warr

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