Friday, December 30, 2016

So long, 2016

With some frequency, I find that my down-time thoughts are filled with worry. Are my children OK? Am I doing enough for them? Am I saving enough for retirement? Am I taking care of my health? When will the next big earthquake hit the Bay Area? Will there ever be peace in the Middle East?

It's natural, this time of year, to worry about the Big Questions. And, let's be honest, 2016 was a Pretty Lousy Year.

But let's put that aside, and kiss the year good-bye with thoughts of a different sort.

Take that, Existential Dread!

  • 'Full House': Number of Harbor Seals at Alameda Point Reach Record High
    The folks at Alameda Point Harbor are pretty stoked: The “seal monitors” counted a record number of harbor seals floating on a concrete dock taken on Tuesday, beating last year's high set on Christmas Day.

    “That’s a record for the year and surpasses last year’s record of 38,” which was set on Dec. 25, 2016, the group wrote on its Facebook page. “It looks pretty much like a full house now.”

  • Game on! The best board games of 2016
    2016 was a tremendous year for tabletop gaming. The tireless members of the Ars Cardboard crew spent a lot of time playing, replaying, and dissecting the year's new titles, and we're ready to tell you what we enjoyed most.

    A caveat: because so many games appear each year, and because the board game release calendar is so heavily weighted toward the latter half of the year, we didn't (and simply couldn't) play absolutely everything. But we gave it a good shot!

    So here, in no particular order, are our 20 favorite tabletop games of 2016—along with a few runners-up and notable new editions.

  • Library-managed 'arXiv' spreads scientific advances rapidly and worldwide
    he created a service where physicists could post their preprints as "e-prints" accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. The idea caught on, submissions multiplied, and subject matter expanded to include mathematics, astrophysics, computer science and, most recently, biology and statistics.

    Eleven years ago Ginsparg joined the Cornell faculty, bringing what is now known as with him. (Pronounce it "archive." The X represents the Greek letter chi.) It is managed by Cornell University Library, allowing Ginsparg to devote more time to his research.

  • An Open Letter to the Female Hat-Wearing Dog From “Go Dog, Go”
    you don’t even know me, but I wanted to take a minute to tell you that what matters is that you like your own hat, hat-wearing female dog. Who is this guy anyway, some sort of dog hat expert?? Who cares what he thinks??? Wear a hat you love
  • Learn from your mistakes
    This new feature takes your hand and walks you through the mistakes you made in a game. It lets you figure out a better move for each of them. And finally, if you request it, lichess tells you what the best move was.

    Instead of telling you right away what you should have played, this feature gives you a chance to rethink the position by yourself. That's how we learn.

  • Rogue One: an ‘Engineering Ethics’ Story
    In a story where engineers are more central than Jedi or Sith, Rogue One breaks new ground for the franchise both in its characters but also in the ethical territory it covers. Not to diminish the character arcs of Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, but the core ethical arc of the film is one man’s decision to engineer the Death Star in such a way as to prevent its use for galactic domination. One could fairly retitle the movie to ‘Rogue One: an Engineering Ethics Story.’
  • The Inexhaustible Joy of Singin’ in the Rain’s “Good Morning” Shows Debbie Reynolds at Her Peak
    From the moment the three of them start tapping their feet until they collapse in a laughing heap on an overturned couch, there are only nine cuts in more than three minutes—nine unforgiving head-to-toe shots which left no room for error. I’ve seen Singin’ in the Rain many times, but I’ve watched “Good Morning” closer to a hundred—it was one of the things I used to teach my daughter how to watch movies when she was too young to watch anything longer—and it’s as close to perfection as movies get.
  • A few nice things happened this year
    I hope all of you had at least one moment as nice as these this year, and that next year will contain even more.


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