Sunday, May 03, 2009

Feeding the Curious Mind…

Been busy around here for the past couple of weeks.

Trying to dig out from the crush of work as well as staying inspired mentally. Been a bit challenging.

Here are some links—past and present—that I’ve been grooving on to keep things fresh in my brain.

The Forgotten Underground

I had seen a CNN video on some dudes who had (re)discovered a hidden train tunnel under the streets of New York.

The video piece was completely uninspiring, but I figured more information was to be found online.

It was.

A Diamond Below - Curious Expeditions blog

New York Observed - In Brooklyn, an Explorer Wants to Dig Again ... – The New York Times

BHRA: Atlantic Avenue Tunnel – The Brooklyn Historic Railway Association

It’s an amazing story inspired by tales of pages of John Wilkes Booth’s journal in a forgotten tunnel, and is layered with the rich and powerful, metro rail systems, a scam, and rediscovered plans buried in a non-descript locked box in a borough president’s office.  And then there still remains an additional length of tunnel that may contain the abandoned train!

Reminded me of Clive Cussler’s novel Night Probe!

For more fun and adventures, check out the Curious Expeditions for more interesting places and things.

Coincidentally, BLDBLOG posted this article The Rentable Basement Maze which eerily seemed to tie into the above story.

Then there was the Sexy Archaeology Blog I dug up this weekend.  It’s a tongue in cheek look at archaeological stories both mainstream and not.

Fresh Scientific Perspectives

With all the news saturation on the guinea-pig flew it’s been hard to hold a meaningful conversation on the topic.  Even the watered-down news reports taste like cool-aid without the sugar.  Bleah!

While over at Kent Newsome's Blog I read his post on the subject with interest as well as his link to a great centralized source of scientific story blogs.  It’s been hard finding good science blogs that strike a balance between readability, reliability, and application.’s Eric Berger has his SciGuy blog and that is one of the few sources of daily science story material I take the time to RSS feed.

Anyway, Kent linked to the ScienceBlogs site which immediately was added to my RSS feed reader.

Despite an apparent and public distain for the Huffington Post, coverage and writing is spot-on and offers looks into Life Science, Physical Science, Environment, Humanities and Social Sciences, Education and Careers, Politics, Medicine and Health, Brain and Behavior, and finally, Technology.  Select the whole mess or any particular topic to RSS feed.

Anyway, per Kent’s recommendation, I’m now feeding Tara C. Smith’s Aetiology posts for the latest fair-and-balanced epidemiological news on the guinea-pig flew outbreak and response.

Good stuff.  [and yes, I’m referring to H1N1 as ‘guinea-pig flew’ for a reason…I don’t want to add GSD blog to the growing pile of material via search-engines by referring to to the other common and panic-inducing name it bears.]

Crime and Punishment

CYB3RCRIM3 – Law Professor Susan Brenner brings entertaining and informative analysis on intersections between technology and law.  While I will watch Law & Order on cable with Lavie, generally discussions on case-law tend to make my eyes glaze over (despite recognition on how important it is to our society).

Susan posts frequently and provides thoughtful reviews on real-world technology and how law is having to actively change to keep up with it.

WIRED is another source of technology news.  However, I usually spend most of my time on the Wired blogs. In particular I follow Danger Room, GeekDadMonkey Bites, and Threat Level.

Threat Level in particular is quite good as it also documents the sometimes uncomfortable dance between society, law, and technology.

One ultra-fun read this week was Ryan Single’s post How Anonymous Hackers Triumphed Over Time.  The post itself is a great read but Ryan goes one better and includes lots of embedded linkage for folks who want to dive deeper into the story and find our just how the hack was technically pulled off.  That is the real richness that I find with on-line media sources of news.  Unlike a static newspaper where you are trapped in the content provided, with (good) on-line media, if the reader wants to get more details or has unanswered questions, you can dive as deep as time and your web-searching skills will allow.

So what began for me as a light and entraining story of “punking” a Time poll became a deeper study of the cat-n-mouse game between “hackers” gaming a poll and the web-masters trying to prevent it.  Great inside look on both accounts.

Sociology Fun in Contexts

As a few folks know, my BS degree is in Sociology and though my career has taken me far from those subjects, I still find the field deeply interesting.

While looking for techno-related graphic images for a wallpaper at work I stumbled upon this awesome website:

Graphic Sociology » Seeing Social Data

When I’m on the road and working out of a hotel room, one of the small pleasures I take is getting up early enough to hit the continental breakfast bar in quiet and snag a print-copy of USA Today newspaper.

While I don’t read the on-line version at all, nor do I (usually) pick up a print-copy at home, nothing delights me more than the bright colors, quickly digested news stories, and, best of all, the awesome charts and graphics USA Today is famous for.

So finding a blogger who appears to live for finding and picking apart charts and graphs from technical, design, and sociological perspectives was a major find for me.

Graphic Sociology » Internet Traffic post was the one that led me to the really, really cool Internet data charts provided by Akamai: Visualizing Global Web Performance with Akamai.  If you are into interactive maps with (almost) real-time data on the Web-Tubes this is a lot of fun.

Other great sociological-subject related blogs from’s stable are:

Sociological Images » Seeing is Believing – Great and frequently updated posts on how images in media reflect underlying issues and thoughts in society.

Public Criminology » Sociological Criminology – Exploring the nexus between criminology and society

Contech » Social Media in Social Contexts – Hasn’t been updated quite as recently with new material but there is enough there to keep me busy for a while.  Focus is on technology and society.

Severs were down while I was composing this post, so if they don’t load now, please don’t be discourage.  Make a note to check back later as they are all (particularly the Graphic Sociology blog) are worth checking out.


--Claus V.

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