How Big Pharma Finds Sick Users on Facebook -- Though Facebook does not offer advertisers categories that explicitly identify people’s health conditions, The Markup identified dozens of ads for prescription pharmaceuticals targeted at people with “interests” in topics like “bourbon,” “oxygen,” and “Diabetes mellitus awareness.”
when we encounter opposing views in the age and context of social media, it’s not like reading them in a newspaper while sitting alone. It’s like hearing them from the opposing team while sitting with our fellow fans in a football stadium. Online, we’re connected with our communities, and we seek approval from our like-minded peers. We bond with our team by yelling at the fans of the other one. In sociology terms, we strengthen our feeling of “in-group” belonging by increasing our distance from and tension with the “out-group”—us versus them. [...] Belonging is stronger than facts.
Psychoanalytic interpretations of the American television series The Office -- most of the time no work is done at all
The 3,000-year-old Luxor obelisk first arrived in Paris on 21 December 1833, and three years later, on 25 October 1836, was moved to the centre of Place de la Concorde by King Louis-Phillipe. It had been given to France by Muhammad Ali Pasha, ruler of Ottoman Egypt in exchange for a French mechanical clock. After the Obelisk was taken, the mechanical clock provided in exchange was discovered to be faulty, having probably been damaged during transport. The clock still exists in a clock-tower at Cairo Citadel and is still not working. [Wikipedia]
Gateses' mansion, called Xanadu 2.0 [...] A 20-car garage is built into the hillside [...] There's a trampoline room. [...] The house has just seven bedrooms but 24 bathrooms
Could this famous con man be lying about his story? [Frank W. Abagnale Jr. / Catch Me if You Can]A new book suggests he is
Mr. Zuckerberg told his lieutenants that Facebook “needed to inflict pain” upon Apple and Mr. Cook, said a person with knowledge of the discussions. [...] In 2017, Facebook had expanded its work with Definers Public Affairs, a Washington firm that specialized in opposition research against its clients’ political foes. Definers employees distributed research about Apple’s compromises in China to reporters, and a website affiliated with Definers published articles criticizing Mr. Cook, according to documents and former Definers employees. Definers also began an “astroturfing” campaign to draft Mr. Cook as a 2020 presidential candidate, presumably to put him in President Trump’s cross hairs, The New York Times reported in 2018. [...] (Definers’ work against Apple was also funded by Qualcomm, another Apple rival, according to a Definers employee. Facebook fired Definers after The Times reported on its activity.) [NY Times]
Flashback: ‘Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard. Just ask. I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS. People just submitted it. I don’t know why. They “trust me.” Dumb fucks.’ (Mark Zuckerberg)
Before coronavirus shuttered the world, a typical month for Connecticut native Zac Mathias was packed with appointments for microneedling (a collagen-stimulating process that involves repeated pin-pricks all over the face), regular resurfacing hydrafacials, rejuvenating laser treatments and the occasional red-light therapy session. The beauty influencer particularly misses his weekly infrared saunas, where light is used to heat the air instead of traditional steam. The technology has been praised for reversing the effects of photo-aging. Mathias is 18. […] “I’m 15 in 2 days and I’m already using retinol, vitamin C and gua sha with my sunscreen.” […] Brands have made the fear of looking older into a lucrative business, with the anti-aging market predicted to pull in over $88 billion in global sales by 2026. […] “There’s a new beauty persona called the Skinvestors, a next-gen, science-first beauty consumer who sees skin care as an investment. [CNN]
There are more real estate agents than actual houses for sale in the United States. Any given day, you're likely to see about half a million homes for sale, and there are 1.5 million members of the National Association of Realtors.
The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code -- Bill Benter did the impossible: He wrote an algorithm that couldn’t lose at the track. Close to a billion dollars later, he tells his story for the first time.
Citizens have made "huge sacrifices" over the last eight months to try and contain the coronavirus, he said in a statement. "In such circumstances it is easy and natural to feel apathetic and demotivated, to experience fatigue."
Consider Amazon. The company perfected the one-click checkout. But canceling a $119 Prime subscription is a labyrinthine process that requires multiple screens and clicks. Or Ticketmaster. Online customers are bombarded with options for ticket insurance, subscription services for razors and other items and, when users navigate through those, they can expect to receive a battery of text messages from the company with no clear option to stop them. These are examples of “dark patterns.” [NY Times]
I’m looking for a deconstructed bra that does not ride up, but is less constricting than a traditional underwire. Any suggestions? [NY Times]
Why AI is Harder Than We Think -- The year 2020 was supposed to herald the arrival of self-driving cars. Five years earlier, a headline in The Guardian predicted that “From 2020 you will become a permanent backseat driver.” In 2016 Business Insider assured us that “10 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020.” Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk promised in 2019 that “A year from now, we’ll have over a million cars with full self-driving, software...everything” [...] none of these predictions has come true. [...] like all AI systems of the past, deep-learning systems can exhibit brittleness— unpredictable errors when facing situations that differ from the training data. This is because such systems are susceptible to shortcut learning: learning statistical associations in the training data that allow the machine to produce correct answers but sometimes for the wrong reasons. In other words, these machines don’t learn the concepts we are trying to teach them, but rather they learn shortcuts to correct answers on the training set—and such shortcuts will not lead to good generalizations. Indeed, deep learning systems often cannot learn the abstract concepts that would enable them to transfer what they have learned to new situations or tasks. Moreover, such systems are vulnerable to attack from “adversarial perturbations”—specially engineered changes to the input that are either imperceptible or irrelevant to humans, but that induce the system to make errors. [arXiv]
if you want to build a global taxi service that people can hail from a smartphone app, one way to do it is to coordinate with the taxi commissions of hundreds of cities to get regulatory approvals and make sure that you comply with local requirements, and another way to do it is to completely ignore those regulations and just launch your app everywhere. The second approach might expose you to ruinous fines or shutdown orders or bad publicity or prison, but it also might work; you might end up so popular in so many places that the local regulators can’t ban you and will have to accept your proposed terms. [...] If you want to build self-driving cars, you will need to test them. [...] [a] way to test them is to just send out a bunch of cars to drive themselves everywhere, without asking for permission, and see what happens. [...] "Federal agencies say he’s breaking the rules and endangering people. Mr. Musk says they’re holding back progress. [...] When asked to comment on the specifics of this article, Mr. Musk replied with a 'poop' emoji." [Matt Levine/Bloomberg]
Driverify [cryptocurrency]: Developed by Tesla's self-driving-car division. Cars mine Driverify with spare computing power while idling, and spend it bidding against each other for right-of-way if they arrive at a four-way stop sign at the same time (users can preprogram how aggressively their cars bid in these auctions). [...] Banned [by the SEC] because: in the Phoenix suburb where the system was being tested, a pedestrian and Driverify-equipped car reached an intersection at the same time. The car dutifully wired a bid, but the pedestrian failed to respond. The car interpreted this as a bid of zero and ran into her. [Astral Codex Ten]
The horses in these online races are NFTs, or “nonfungible tokens,” meaning they exist only as digital assets. [...] But unlike the vast majority of NFTs each digital horse constitutes a “breathing NFT.” [...] "It can breed, has a bloodline, has a life of its own. It races, it has genes it passes on, and it lives on an algorithm so no two horses are the same.” [...] One player sold a stable full of digital racehorses for $252,000. Another got $125,000 for a single racehorse. So far, more than 11,000 digital horses have been sold on the platform. [NY Times]
Debuted as part of an ongoing project titled NFTheft, sleepminting serves as a crypto-counterfeiting exercise. Sleepminting enables [the artist] to mint NFTs for, and to, the crypto wallets of other artists, then transfer ownership back to himself without their consent or knowing participation.
One instructor at the CIA came up with an ingenious way to use the Starbucks gift card as a signaling tool instead of the traditional chalk marks and lowered window blinds. He gives one [gift card] to each of his assets and tells them, "If you need to see me, buy a coffee." Then he checks the card numbers on a cybercafé computer each day, and if the balance on one is depleted, he knows he's got a meeting. Saves him having to drive past a whole slew of different physical signal sites each day [to check for chalk marks and lowered window blinds]. And the card numbers aren't tied to identities, so the whole thing is pretty secure. [NPR]
An unarmed man was shot by a Virginia sheriff's deputy about an hour after the same deputy gave the man a ride home [...] the deputy mistook a phone for a gun
Much like humans, some rhesus monkeys enjoy alcohol and will drink a lot, while others show less interest and will limit themselves to small amounts. The researchers found that the animals that were chronically heavy drinkers had a weak response to the vaccine. [...] Moderate drinking is unlikely to impair the immune response to the Covid vaccine, but heavy drinking might.
California braces for another 'clown car' of recall candidates -- Running in the California recall may be the best bargain on the planet for fame and fortune seekers. For just $4,000, any registered voter can grab an instant platform in what’s sure to become the nation’s most watched election this year — and leverage that position on social media and airwaves with some of the most attention-getting stunts possible.
The first Op-Ed page in The New York Times greeted the world on Sept. 21, 1970. It was so named because it appeared opposite the editorial page and not (as many still believe) because it would offer views contrary to the paper’s. It’s time to change the name. The articles written by outside writers will be known as “Guest Essays.” [NY Times]
Hard Drive and SSD Shortages Could Be Imminent If New Cryptocurrency Blooms -- With the emergence of the Chia cryptocurrency, miners in China are reportedly frantically snatching up every hard drive and SSD they can find. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, you don't mine Chia with a processor, graphics card or ASIC miner. Instead, you farm Chia with storage space, which is where hard drives or SSDs come in.
bitcoin has characteristics of what he calls a Ponzi scheme that’s right out in the open -- “It’s a beautifully set up cryptographic system. It’s well made but there’s absolutely no reason it should be linked to anything economic”
Languishing might be the dominant emotion of 2021. [...] In psychology, we think about mental health on a spectrum from depression to flourishing. [...] Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. [NY Times]
Who Profits from Destroying Reputations Online? A big clue were the ads that appeared next to them, offering help removing reputation-tarnishing content.
Here are some of the foods that Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut who launched on a SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station on Friday, will enjoy during his six-month stay in orbit: lobster, beef bourguignon, cod with black rice, potato cakes with wild mushrooms and almond tarts with caramelized pears. [NY Times]
Amazon is opening a hair salon in London -- Customers will be able to test out different hair colours in an augmented-reality mirror
Clinginess was reported as a more common source of relationship strain by women, while bad sex was reported as a more common source of relationship strain by men.
Just How Many Surfaces Does Your Cat’s Butt Touch? A Sixth Grader’s Science Fair Project Has The Answer
Anti-venom is snake-specific, meaning if you're bitten by a king cobra, you need king cobra anti-venom. If there's 70 different venomous snakes in one place, I can't carry a refrigerator with 70 different anti-venoms. [...] On his way to work, he's thinking nasal spray for snakebites. On his way home from work - nasal spray for snakebites. He is obsessed. [NPR | Audio + Transcript]