I like words with complex or interesting meanings that have no counterparts in English. A few years ago I stumbled across the word Nervio and loved the definition so much that I try to use it whenever I can. Roberto Greco describes it this way:

Shortly after meeting my wife, she introduced me to the nuanced meaning that the Spanish word nervio had acquired in the lexicon of her family. As used in their Chilean home, the word could be defined as a feeling of such intense affection that one trembles or grits his teeth with restraint so as not to harm the object of his affection. I have heard others allude to the sensation in seemingly bizarre phrases such as, “It’s so cute [that] I want to squeeze it to death.”

Nervio was a sensation I have felt so many times in my life I was shocked that I had not, up until that point, seen a word that describes it. Nervio brings to mind phrases like, “I’m gonna squeeze you right in two” and, “Oh, I could just eat you with a spoon.” Nervio is why I am constantly threatening to nibble on my children’s toes. It’s a physical and emotional sensation that sits in the gut and wells up through you. The Robert Capa portrait, below, of Pablo Picasso with his son Claude does a good job of depicting the sensation with an image.


There has been some psychological research experiments to determine where nervio comes from but there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

Pluto’s Spinning Moons

Pluto's Spinning Moons

Most inner moons in the solar system keep one face pointed toward their central planet, much like our own moon. This is called gravitational locking, or tidal locking. The gif above shows that certainly isn’t the case with the small moons of Pluto, which behave like spinning tops. Pluto is shown at center with, in order, from smaller to wider orbit: Charon (which you can see is actually tidally locked), Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra (which all spin).

Picasso’s Guernica In 3D

This haunting video is an exploration of Pablo Picasso’s massive 1937 painting “Guernica” The movie’s creator, Lena Gieseke, isolates each of the major subjects in the painting, renders them in 3D and uses the camera to explore the scene.

It provides the unusual opportunity to view the painting from a unique perspective, revealing aspects that would normally stay hidden from the casual viewer. When we discern the original painting in this three-dimensional reproduction, we recognize which features most significantly constitute the painting. Consequently this three-dimensional exploration of Picasso’s Guernica is an innovative technique for comprehending and appreciating the original masterpiece.

Does A Deep Neural Network Like Your #Selfie?

Best Selfies
Andrej Karpathy trained a Convolutional Neural Network with a dataset of 2 million photographs to determine what makes the perfect selfie. The image above contains the top 100 best selfies (here are the 1,000 best selfies) Andrej concludes that the best selfies have these qualities:

  1. Be female. Women are consistently ranked higher than men. In particular, notice that there is not a single guy in the top 100.
  2. Face should occupy about 1/3 of the image. Notice that the position and pose of the face is quite consistent among the top images. The face always occupies about 1/3 of the image, is slightly tilted, and is positioned in the center and at the top. Which also brings me to:
  3. Cut off your forehead. What’s up with that? It looks like a popular strategy, at least for women.
  4. Show your long hair. Notice the frequent prominence of long strands of hair running down the shoulders.
  5. Oversaturate the face. Notice the frequent occurrence of over-saturated lighting, which often makes the face look much more uniform and faded out. Related to that,
  6. Put a filter on it. Black and White photos seem to do quite well, and most of the top images seem to contain some kind of a filter that fades out the image and decreases the contrast.
  7. Add a border. You will notice a frequent appearance of horizontal/vertical white borders.

Andrej also created a TwitterBot that will judge your selfie. Simply attach your selfie (or a include a link) to a tweet that mentions @deepselfie anywhere in it. The bot will analyze your selfie and give you its opinion (e.g. score 90% means that the Selfie Bot is 90% sure yours would be in top half of selfies. Selfie Bot was not impressed with my selfie.

More here.

Doo Ba Dih Bee Dwee Doo Daah

The Lick

Referred to simply as The Lick this melodic element can be found in nearly all genres of music and played by all kinds of instruments. It has somehow managed to seed itself everywhere. It can be found as early as Stravinsky’s “Firebird” (1910). Player’s “Baby Come Back” and Santana’s “Oye Como Va” are based on variations of The Lick. Although the origins of The Lick are unknown, it has propagated throughout the entire musical kingdom as you can see from the two videos below.

I have come down hard on artists who use clichés too much. But I think The Lick proves itself as something greater than a musical cliché, something more like a musical meme. The best art copies, reconstructs, personalizes, mutates and owns up to other great artworks that came before it. Viva La Lick!

This Used To Be My Jam

This Is My Jam

It happened. This Is My Jam is no longer with us. But it died in the most beautiful way. Although This Is My Jam no longer accepts new submissions the site has been completely archived and remains for your listening pleasure. What a refreshing change from the usual “We’re deleting everything in a week because we got acquired/ran out of money.” thing we’ve heard so much of lately. No Jams were lost.

One really cool feature of the archive (here is my archive page) is the automatic generation of a Spotify playlist from your submitted jams. Though Spotify on had only 25 of my 37 jams you can listen to them all on the archived Wall O’ Jams. I’m sad to see This Is My Jam go but I’m glad they left with such dignity.

Top 10 Most Banned Books: 2014

For the past many years, during Banned Books Weak, I have put together a list of the top ten most banned books of the previous year. Out of 311 challenges (a slight increase from the 307 challenges reported in 2013) as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, here are the top ten:


  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
  2. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi
    Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
  3. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”
  5. It’s Perfectly Normal (The Family Library), by Robie H. Harris
    Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”
  6. Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan
    Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  7. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
  9. A Stolen Life: A Memoir, by Jaycee Dugard
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
  10. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: sexually explicit

Click these links if you are looking for the top 10 lists for previous years with easy links to Amazon: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001.

Additionally, in 2010, I put together a list of the 100 Most Banned & Challenged Books Of The Decade by aggregating several lists from the American Library Association.