a bunch of stuff I would have emailed you about

Claim chowder from 2013: computational photography

Way back in 2013 I wrote:

I’m sure somebody will eventually develop software to automatically blur the backgrounds of our smartphone photos, but until then, this is basic physics.

The new camera system in the iPhone XS seems to have moved computational photography from the world of parlor tricks to the mainstream.


This blog post from the developer of Halide, a premium camera app for iOS, goes into a lot more detail about all the computation going on in the new cameras.

The real Goldfinger: the London banker who broke the world

Goldfinger, the 1964 Bond film, is based on a premise that is incredibly foreign to today’s audiences: moving gold between countries was illegal. Oliver Bullough in The Guardian asks us all to think about that a bit more:

The US government tried to defend the dollar/gold price, but every restriction it put on dollar movements just made it more profitable to keep your dollars in London, leading more money to leak offshore, and thus more pressure to build on the dollar/gold price. And where the dollars went, the bankers followed. The City had looser regulations and more accommodating politicians than Wall Street, and the banks loved it. In 1964, 11 US banks had branches in the City of London. In 1975, 58 did.

If regulations stop at a country’s borders, but the money can flow wherever it wishes, its owners can outwit any regulators they choose.

git foo

A few git commands I find myself having to look up:

Resolve Git merge conflicts in favor of their changes during a pull:

git pull -Xtheirs
git checkout --theirs the/conflicted.file


Viewing Unpushed Git Commits

git log origin/master..HEAD

You can also view the diff using the same syntax:

git diff origin/master..HEAD

Or, “for a little extra awesomeness”

git log --stat origin/master..HEAD 

Updated since it was first posted:

Starting with Git 2.5+ (Q2 2015), the actual answer would be git log @{push}… See that new shortcut @{push}


Outgoing changes: git log @{u}.. Incoming changes: git log ..@{u}

@{u} or @{upstream} means the upstream branch of the current branch (see git rev-parse --help or git help revisions for details).

Things that make us dumber: air pollution, full bladders

Air pollution is making us dumber, study shows:

The team found that both verbal and math scores “decreased with increasing cumulative air pollution exposure,” with the decline in verbal scores being particularly pronounced among older, less educated men.

Study links urge to pee with impairment:

Snyder and his team ran the study on eight individuals, who each drank 250 milliliters of water every 15 minutes until they reached their “breaking point,” where they could no longer hold their urine. As subjects’ self-reported pain levels increased, so too did their levels of cognitive impairment as measured by simple tasks on the computer that tested attention and working memory.

Maintenance and renewal

Abby Sewell, with photographs by Jeff Heimsath, in The National Geographic:

Every spring, communities gather to take part in a ceremony of renewal. Working together from each side of the river, the villagers run a massive cord of rope, more than a hundred feet long and thick as a person’s thigh, across the old bridge. Soon, the worn structure will be cut loose and tumble into the gorge below. Over three days of work, prayer, and celebration, a new bridge will be woven in its place.

The Q’eswachaka bridge has been built and rebuilt continuously for five centuries.

The bridge is 120 feet long, over a gorge of considerable, but unstated, depth.

It’s said to be at -14.3811214,-71.484012.

Why this painting of dogs playing poker has endured for over 100 years

Jackson Arn in Artsy:

The “Dogs Playing Poker” paintings, by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, belong to that pantheon of artworks—Michelangelo’s David, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Hopper’s Nighthawks— that are immediately recognizable to people of all ages and backgrounds, including those who don’t readily admit to enjoying art.

So how, pray tell, did a pack of dogs playing poker outlast so many other “serious” paintings?