The Gong Blog

I’m Back!: HodgePodge for Jan. 8


For the new year, I’m trying something a little different with the format of HodgePodge. I’ll still bring you five (or so) interesting stories each week, but now I’ll include an interesting excerpt as well.

Digital Dominion

A huge portion of the “cloud” runs on Amazon Web Services, which means much of your daily internet activity runs through Northern Virgina. The Atlantic took a tour of AWS’s data center:

“Once in a while—not quite often enough to be a crisis, but just often enough to be a trope—people in the United States will freak out because a huge number of highly popular websites and services have suddenly gone down. For an interminable period of torture (usually about 1–3 hours, tops) there is no Instagram to browse, no Tinder to swipe, no Github to push to, no Netflix to And Chill.”

“When this happens, it usually means that Amazon Web Services is having a technical problem, most likely in their US-East region. What that actually means is that something is broken in northern Virginia.”

Nutrition Facts

By the time you’re old enough to find yourself reading something like this on a corporate blog, you’ve probably come to understand that most nutrition recommendations are suspect, at best, but according to ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, the problem may be even worse than we thought:

“When it comes to nutrition, everyone has an opinion. What no one has is an airtight case. The problem begins with a lack of consensus on what makes a diet healthy. Is the aim to make you slender? To build muscles? To keep your bones strong? Or to prevent heart attacks or cancer or keep dementia at bay? Whatever you’re worried about, there’s no shortage of diets or foods purported to help you. Linking dietary habits and individual foods to health factors is easy — ridiculously so — as you’ll soon see from the little experiment we conducted.”

Reality of one

Adam Frank asks “how real is reality?

“Now, you might think these are questions for philosophers pondering the imponderable alone in their ivory towers. Certainly, these can’t be questions for physicists who are supposed to describe what’s happening right in front of us? Remarkably, it turns out these kinds of questions are exactly what physicists have to confront when they seek to understand the best of their own handiwork — the domain of quantum mechanics.”

Face With Tears of Joy

What’s the plural of Emoji?

“As The Atlantic’s de facto senior emoji correspondent, I try to keep abreast of all emerging emojio-grammatical issues. Lately, one has risen above the rest: Should English speakers refer to more than one emoji character as these emoji or these emojis?”

(Have you ever wondered how to pronounce your favorite emojis? Emojipedia lists the names of all 1600+ characters.)

Bot on bots

From Quartz, a list of Twitter bots you should follow, under the guise of a look back at the best bot accounts of 2015. The story was “written” by Marvin Prime, Quartz’s own bot (with “human assistance”):

“To improve your experience on Twitter next year, try following fewer humans and more bots. Automated accounts add whimsy, serendipity, and occasional inspiration to an otherwise drab timeline of tweets.”

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Tony Scida

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