atlantis, ansel adams, and algorithms

Missed a week last week. Oops.

Reading

Myths of Sunken Lands That are Really True. Can’t remember how I stumbled onto this.. think it was from a story about rising sea levels and places that will be underwater in x years. I love stuff like this; tracing back the origins of myths and legends. There’s often a fine line between interesting and rambling when it comes to things like this, but I’m willing to suspend disbelief on the basis that it’s usually awesome.

A tale in the [4,000 year old] Mahabharata tells how Lord Krishna, following a battle victory, decided to leave the city of Dwaraka for his heavenly abode. The Arabian Sea then submerged it. Although long believed to be no more than a mythical kingdom, a 1963 archaeological investigation discovered Dwaraka intact, under the sea, on India’s Saurashtra coast.

On a similar note, it’s been a while (holy shit, like 17 years) since I read Fingerprints Of The Gods by Graham Hancock, but that’s still my favourite book about this topic. Might have to dig it out.

The Story Behind the Photograph That Made Ansel Adams Famous – Not sure this is lengthy enough to warrant being called ‘the story’; I feel there’s more that could be told. Nonetheless, a nice insight into and reminder of what he did to get that photo. I’ve never really been someone who thinks too much about the photos I take before I take them, so I’ve always found it interesting hearing about what goes through other photographers minds when they prep so meticulously. If it leads to shots like Adams’, I probably ought to try it one day.

This bit (from that article) is pretty amazing to me: “en route to the Diving Board, Adams made several exposures, and by the time the group reached Half Dome, he had just two plates left“. The photo he ended up with was the last opportunity he had (that day). Imagine that! Praise be for digital.

Not that digital isn’t always the saviour, of course. When I went to Yosemite back in 2007, it was at the end of a 3 week trip, during which I’d filled all the SD cards I had with me. I basically ended up with maybe a dozen photos of the park, all at a horribly low resolution. Sad times. Perfect excuse to go back though.

Telling Our Life Stories – on the importance of owning the way your think about your history, with this nugget:

.. depictions of one’s life events shape personality and experience. Eventually, the versions we tell ourselves become the truth — even if our memories are faulty or inaccurate, we believe these stories to be true and alter future decisions accordingly.

Listening to

99% Invisible: Coal Hogs Work Safe and The Age of the Algorithm. First was enlightening about an area of mining I had no idea about (not that are any areas of mining that I know about), but the second was the highlight. It’s about how all algorithms, on account of being created by people, contain an inherent subjectivity and bias that is impossible to avoid but often ignored. You tell someone that a decision has been made by a computer algorithm and they might blindly accept it, but that’s dangerous because all it’s doing is returning a result ultimately determined by the programmer (or person using the algorithm). On the podcast, Cathy O’Neil neatly calls them ‘weapons of math destruction’ which is clever because wordplay. It’s worth a listen.

Also White Haze on This American Life, about ‘The Proud Boys’ (some racists).

Taking photos of

Sunrise at the beach (of course)

Boscombe beach