studies have shown that America has been getting more narcissistic since the Seventies […] one study found narcissistic traits to be rising as quickly as obesity, while yet another showed that almost one-third of high school students in America in 2005 said that they expected to eventually become famous. [Rolling Stone]
Google Has My Dead Grandpa’s Data And He Never Used The Internet (Why is it okay that the internet is designed to be a surveillance machine?)
Paul Hildreth peered at a display of dozens of images from security cameras surveying his Atlanta school district and settled on one showing a woman in a bright yellow shirt walking a hallway. A mouse click instructed the artificial-intelligence-equipped system to find other images of the woman, and it immediately stitched them into a video narrative of her immediate location, where she had been and where she was going. There was no threat, but Hildreth’s demonstration showed what’s possible with AI-powered cameras. If a gunman were in one of his schools, the cameras could quickly identify the shooter’s location and movements, allowing police to end the threat as soon as possible, said Hildreth, emergency operations coordinator for Fulton County Schools. AI is transforming surveillance cameras from passive sentries into active observers that can identify people, suspicious behavior and guns, amassing large amounts of data that help them learn over time to recognize mannerisms, gait and dress. If the cameras have a previously captured image of someone who is banned from a building, the system can immediately alert officials if the person returns. [LA Times]
Guizhou ended up with 40 of the world’s 100 tallest bridges. Read that again. I didn’t say China had 40% of the world’s tallest, I said a poor, small province in the interior with only 2.5% of China’s population has 40 of the world’s 100 tallest bridges.
A host of innocent-seeming items are contraband: savoury spreads like Marmite contain yeast and can be used in illicit brewing; chewing gum can be used to make an imprint of a key or lock; baby oil can make an inmate’s arms slippery, rendering them impossible to restrain. Cash is treated as top-level contraband. How the prison economy works
What Happens When You Don’t Pay a Hospital Bill The debt typically comes from out-of-network doctors who people thought were in-network, hospital stays, or ambulance rides.
More than a million customers signed up for Prime memberships in just the third week of December 2013. Sales hit a record high. But UPS couldn’t keep up. Analysts and companies in the logistics industry think Amazon eventually will become a formidable competitor to UPS and to FedEx. […] The next spring, Amazon was testing contract couriers in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. And in 2015, Amazon introduced Flex, an app that allows people to sign up for delivery shifts using their own vehicles. (Amazon considers Flex drivers independent contractors, too.) Amazon is only getting faster in delivering orders, and its competitors are racing to catch up. Last April, after reporting a record $3.6 billion quarterly profit, Amazon’s chief financial officer, Brian Olsavsky, told Wall Street analysts that the company was investing $800 million to make free overnight delivery the default for Prime members in the United States. The next day, Walmart teased on Twitter: “One-day free shipping … without a membership fee. Now THAT would be groundbreaking. Stay tuned.” Walmart began offering free overnight delivery of 220,000 popular items in a few American cities, with a goal of expanding to 40 major metropolitan areas. […] In its relentless push for e-commerce dominance, Amazon has built a huge logistics operation in recent years to get more goods to customers’ homes in less and less time. […] The retailer has created a network of contractors across the country that allows the company to expand and shrink the delivery force as needed, while avoiding the costs of taking on permanent employees. […] Amazon requires that 999 out of 1,000 deliveries arrive on time, according to work orders obtained from contractors with drivers in eight states. Amazon has repeatedly said in court that it is not responsible for the actions of its contractors, citing agreements that require them, as one puts it, to “defend, indemnify and hold harmless Amazon.” Just last week, an operations manager for Amazon testified in Chicago that it signs such agreements with all its “delivery service partners,” who assume the liability and the responsibility for legal costs. The agreements cover “all loss or damage to personal property or bodily harm including death.” […] “I think anyone who thinks about Amazon has very conflicted feelings,” said Tim Hauck, whose sister, Stacey Hayes Curry, was killed last year by a driver delivering Amazon packages in a San Diego office park. “It’s sure nice to get something in two days for free. You’re always impressed with that side of it. But this idea that they’ve walled themselves off from responsibility is disturbing.” [ProRepublica]
Artificial Intelligence, Human Capital, and Innovation [PDF]
How Apple’s Apps Topped Rivals in the App Store It Controls [NY Times]
Between 2010 and 2016 staff at the Shark Spotting Programme, established to warn swimmers when the three-ton predators approached beaches, reported an average of 205 sightings of the fish off the beaches of False Bay. In 2018 that fell to 50 and this year not one has been seen.
Until 100 years ago, sturgeon were plentiful in the rivers and lakes throughout Europe and America, and caviar was an ordinary food for those who lived near these sturgeon-filled waterways — in some areas it was so common it was served as a free bar snack
The team say that sextortion emails demanding cryptocurrency payment first appeared in 2018. The scammers send their emails via botnets, such as Necurs or Cutwail. These are global networks of computers infected with malware that send out spam on demand. This is offered as a service on the dark net. Various researchers have shown that spammers pay botnet owners between $100 and $500 to send a million spam emails. They can even rent botnets at a cost of $10,000 per month, which allows them to send 100 million spam messages. […] Back in 2008, one group of cyber-crime experts infiltrated a botnet for 26 days and monitored spammers sending 350 million emails for a pharmaceutical product. The result was 28 sales. This generated a revenue of $2,732, which corresponds to a conversion rate of just 0.00001%. Nevertheless, the experts concluded that by using additional botnets, spammers could generate around $9,500 per day which adds up to $3.5 million per year. Sextortion has the potential to be much more profitable, say Paquet-Clouston and co. The reason is that it does not require the spammers to host any kind of e-commerce website, or to procure, store, and ship products of any kind. And cryptocurrency payments are simpler than bank payments and do not require the involvement of a friendly bank. [Technology Review]
Fat Relocation Research [PDF]
Cooping was an alleged form of electoral fraud in the United States cited in relation to the death of Edgar Allan Poe in October 1849, by which unwilling participants were forced to vote, often several times over, for a particular candidate in an election. According to several of Poe’s biographers, these innocent bystanders would be grabbed off the street by so-called ‘cooping gangs’ or ‘election gangs’ working on the payroll of a political candidate, and they would be kept in a room, called the “coop”, and given alcoholic beverages in order for them to comply. If they refused to cooperate, they would be beaten or even killed. Often their clothing would be changed to allow them to vote multiple times. Sometimes the victims would be forced to wear disguises such as wigs, fake beards or mustaches to prevent them from being recognized by voting officials at polling stations. [Wikipedia]
On October 3, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, “in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance”, according to Joseph W. Walker who found him. He was taken to the Washington Medical College where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849 at 5:00 in the morning. He was not coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. He is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring. All medical records and documents, including Poe’s death certificate, have been lost, if they ever existed. Newspapers at the time reported Poe’s death as “congestion of the brain” or “cerebral inflammation”, common euphemisms for death from disreputable causes such as alcoholism. The actual cause of death remains a mystery. […] One theory dating from 1872 suggests that cooping was the cause of Poe’s death, a form of electoral fraud in which citizens were forced to vote for a particular candidate, sometimes leading to violence and even murder. […] Cooping had become the standard explanation for Poe’s death in most of his biographies for several decades, though his status in Baltimore may have made him too recognizable for this scam to have worked. […] Immediately after Poe’s death, his literary rival Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote a slanted high-profile obituary under a pseudonym, filled with falsehoods that cast him as a lunatic and a madman, and which described him as a person who “walked the streets, in madness or melancholy, with lips moving in indistinct curses, or with eyes upturned in passionate prayers, (never for himself, for he felt, or professed to feel, that he was already damned)”. The long obituary appeared in the New York Tribune signed “Ludwig” on the day that Poe was buried. It was soon further published throughout the country. The piece began, “Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it.” “Ludwig” was soon identified as Griswold, an editor, critic, and anthologist who had borne a grudge against Poe since 1842. Griswold somehow became Poe’s literary executor and attempted to destroy his enemy’s reputation after his death. [Wikipedia]
Two Mathematicians Just Solved a Decades-Old Math Riddle (how do you solve x^3 + y^3 + z^3 = k, where k equals any whole number from 1 to 100?)
Nasa said to be investigating first allegation of a crime committed in space (an astronaut accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse from the International Space Station)
Why is there a Braille message on my e-scooter? It’s not “how-to-ride” instructions. Blind people need to know whom to contact if they trip over them. [Washington Post]
Faces in general and attractive faces, in particular, are frequently used in marketing, advertising, and packaging design. However, few studies have examined the effects of attractive faces on people’s choice behavior. The present research examines whether attractive (vs. unattractive) faces increase individuals’ inclination to choose either healthy or unhealthy foods. […] exposure to attractive (vs. unattractive) opposite‐sex faces increased choice likelihood of unhealthy foods. [Psychology & Marketing]
She asked the doctor to locate a sperm donor. Scores of children born through artificial insemination have learned from DNA tests that their biological fathers were the doctors who performed the procedure.
US Escape Room Industry Report More: For around $30, you and a handful of friends/colleagues/strangers are “trapped” in some kind of space together and must collaboratively puzzle through a series of challenges to win your freedom.
Companies are increasingly insisting their ads do not appear near articles or videos that contain any of a long list of words. Top 15 Forbidden Words: Dead, Shooting, Murder, Gun, Rape, Bomb, Died, Attack, Killed, Suicide, Trump, Crash, Crime, Explosion, Accident.
We are connecting everything to everything. […] In the network economy the winner-take-all behavior of Hollywood hit movies will become the norm for most products—even bulky manufactured items. Oil wells are financed this way now; a few big gushers pay for the many dry wells. You try a whole bunch of ideas with no foreknowledge of which ones will work. Your only certainty is that each idea will either soar or flop, with little in between. A few high-scoring hits have to pay for all the many flops. This lotterylike economic model is an anathema to industrialists, but that’s how network economies work. There is much to learn from long-term survivors in existing hits-oriented business (such as music and books). They know you need to keep trying lots of things and that you don’t try to predict the hits, because you can’t. Two economists proved that hits—at least in show biz—were unpredictable. They plotted sales of first-run movies between May 1985 and January 1986 and discovered that “the only reliable predictor of a film’s box office was its performance the previous week. Nothing else seemed to matter—not the genre of the film, not its cast, not its budget.” The higher it was last week, the more likely it will be high this week— an increasing returns loop fed by word of mouth recommendations. The economists, Art De Vany and David Walls, claim these results mirror a heavy duty physics equation known as the Bose-Einstein distribution. The fact that the only variable that influenced the result was the result from the week before, means, they say, that “the film industry is a complex adaptive system poised between order and chaos.” In other words, it follows the logic of the net: increasing returns and persistent disequilibrium. […] Because prices move inexorably toward the free, the best move in the network economy is to anticipate this cheapness. [Kevin Kelly, New Rules for the New Economy, 1998 | PDF | More: Wired]