Pictured above: Earth’s Wonders Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before. Click images to embiggen.
Once a matter of debate, we know today the Earth is not flat. But the satellite imagery we’re most familiar with — taken straight down––flattens and obscures the visual cues we get from perspective, making the imagery appear like maps, not photos.
Take for example this nadir view of Monte Fitz Roy. You might not appreciate that these are mountains unless you spot the clue in the jagged shadows coming off the mountain’s serrated summits.
When you take an image of Monte Fitz Roy from an angle, the view becomes altogether different: the mountains rise to their commanding height, valleys regain their depth, and background features recede into the distance. It’s like getting a view out the window of an airplane 450 kilometers high.
Planet’s constellation of 13 SkySats offers greater flexibility in showcasing the planet from all its glorious angles. Here’s a series of experimental, off-angle images that capture some of the world’s most stunning vertical features. …
The whistleblower at the centre of the Cambridge Analytica storm asks if Britain will now address the hard issues which it has raised
Christopher Wylie: ‘Facebook might be slow, but it’s still managed to be ahead of many in Britain.’
In January, I told the British authorities that the app that was used to harvest data for Cambridge Analytica was likely to have pulled the profiles of British Facebook users. Last week Facebook confirmed it: it told the world that as many as 87 million profiles were collected. This included more than one million British records.
A couple of days later, early on Saturday, Facebook took another dramatic action: it suspended AggregateIQ. This is important because AIQ was the Canadian data firm on which Vote Leave spent 40% of its budget during the EU referendum. But as I told parliament, I helped set up AIQ to support Cambridge Analytica. I also handed over documents showing AIQ’s ties to Cambridge Analytica.
At every step of this story, Facebook – from which I’m still banned – has lagged behind the truth. It was only when I came forward with documents – signed contracts and invoices – that proved Cambridge Analytica had funded the harvesting of Facebook profiles that it was finally forced to own up.
But then, there are certain facts that are hard to hear. And in the case of AIQ, Facebook might be slow, but it’s still managed to be ahead of many in Britain. Ten days ago I spent four hours testifying to the Fake News inquiry at parliament – and several more hours in private sessions.
Facebook has suspended AIQ while it investigates AIQ’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica and whether it had access to Facebook data. In Britain, on the other hand, Dominic Cummings, the former head of Vote Leave, called me a “fantasist charlatan”. Andrew Neil inferred that my testimony was “hearsay”. And while the national broadcaster in my home country, Canada, has covered the subject assiduously, on the day I appeared on BBC’s Today programme, it devoted more airtime to alleged ball tampering in Australian cricket than tampering with British democracy. …
Mark Zuckerberg will be hauled before Congress this week. He’ll apologise – but his company doesn’t know how to change its brand of ‘surveillance capitalism’
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage in San Francisco in 2016.
Ponder this … and weep. The United States, theoretically a mature democracy of 327 million souls, is ruled by a 71-year-old unstable narcissist with a serious social media habit. And the lawmakers of this republic have hauled up before them a 34-year-old white male, one Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, the sole and impregnable ruler of a virtual country of about 2.2 billion people who stands accused of unwittingly facilitating the election of said narcissist by allowing Russian agents and other bad actors to exploit the surveillance apparatus of his – Zuckerberg’s – virtual state.
How did we get into this preposterous mess? Answering this question requires an understanding of (among other things) the peculiar nature of digital technology, the ideology of Silicon Valley, the astonishing political naivety of Zuckerberg, the ethical tunnel vision of software engineers and – most important – the business model that has come to be known as “surveillance capitalism”.
A key factor was the astonishing capacity of network effects to facilitate monopolistic outcomes. Facebook is a closed private platform that was constructed on a public platform – the world wide web – which in turn was built on the open internet, a public facility created by taxpayers’ money.
It was created by Zuckerberg as a software application that enabled people to hook up with one another and share personal information. Because the underlying architecture – the web – already existed, and because the service it provided was free, it spread like wildfire. …
“I wish I could tell you we’re going to be able to stop all interference.”
Mark Zuckerberg would likely see little resemblance between Facebook and Royal Dutch Shell. But in one key respect, the social network and the oil giant are similar—and that similarity may be a source of Facebook’s current woes.
Like Shell, Facebook is full of engineers, mainly introverted men who tend to make decisions based on emotionless analysis. Zuckerberg himself is pegged as an introvert, specifically an INTJ personality type on the Myers-Briggs scale, a personality assessment test still used by many organizations to evaluate how management teams interact with one another. (Facebook says it does not know if its CEO meets the the INTJ test, but certainly the internet believes he does.)
INTJ types—introverted, intuitive, thinking, judgment—are said to account for 2% of the US population. They typically make decisions based on intuition and logic, can come off as reserved or aloof, and tend to see small talk and social interaction as a waste of time. That’s an ironic contradiction for someone who created a social network used by 2.2 billion people.
Such personalities generally do well in technical or engineering businesses, as well as law, and some find business careers reasonably challenging. Chatty activities like sales, which require extroversion, are probably not a good idea, which may explain why Zuckerberg prefers to send emissaries to do things like testify in front of Congress, which he will be doing on April 11. …
POINT OF REFLECTION: The sub-head above, INTJ, meant nothing to me when I first saw it. Reading through the article left me wanting more. The player with words that I am, I looked it up…
INTJ (introversion, intuition, thinking, judgment) is an abbreviation used in the publications of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to refer to one of the 16 psychological types.
According to Myers-Briggs the INTJ represents “The Architect”. INTJs are one of the rarest of the 16 psychological types and account for approximately 2% of the population. Women of this personality type are especially rare, forming just 0.8% of the population.
The MBTI assessment was developed from the work of prominent psychiatrist Carl G. Jung in his book Psychological Types. Jung proposed a psychological typology based on the theories of cognitive functions that he developed through his clinical observations.
From Jung’s work, others developed psychological typologies. Jungian personality assessments include the MBTI instrument, developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs, and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, developed by David Keirsey. Keirsey referred to INTJs as Masterminds, one of the four types belonging to the temperament he called the Rationals.
American presidents believed to have been INTJs include John F. Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Calvin Coolidge, and James K. Polk.
The digital manipulation of video may make the current era of “fake news” seem quaint.
In a dank corner of the internet, it is possible to find actresses from Game of Thrones or Harry Potter engaged in all manner of sex acts. Or at least to the world the carnal figures look like those actresses, and the faces in the videos are indeed their own. Everything south of the neck, however, belongs to different women. An artificial intelligence has almost seamlessly stitched the familiar visages into pornographic scenes, one face swapped for another. The genre is one of the cruelest, most invasive forms of identity theft invented in the internet era. At the core of the cruelty is the acuity of the technology: A casual observer can’t easily detect the hoax.
This development, which has been the subject of much hand-wringing in the tech press, is the work of a programmer who goes by the nom de hack “deepfakes.” And it is merely a beta version of a much more ambitious project. One of deepfakes’s compatriots told Vice’s Motherboard site in January that he intends to democratize this work. He wants to refine the process, further automating it, which would allow anyone to transpose the disembodied head of a crush or an ex or a co-worker into an extant pornographic clip with just a few simple steps. No technical knowledge would be required. And because academic and commercial labs are developing even more-sophisticated tools for non-pornographic purposes—algorithms that map facial expressions and mimic voices with precision—the sordid fakes will soon acquire even greater verisimilitude.
The internet has always contained the seeds of postmodern hell. Mass manipulation, from clickbait to Russian bots to the addictive trickery that governs Facebook’s News Feed, is the currency of the medium. It has always been a place where identity is terrifyingly slippery, where anonymity breeds coarseness and confusion, where crooks can filch the very contours of selfhood. In this respect, the rise of deepfakes is the culmination of the internet’s history to date—and probably only a low-grade version of what’s to come.
Vladimir Nabokov once wrote that reality is one of the few words that means nothing without quotation marks. He was sardonically making a basic point about relative perceptions: When you and I look at the same object, how do you really know that we see the same thing? Still, institutions (media, government, academia) have helped people coalesce around a consensus—rooted in a faith in reason and empiricism—about how to describe the world, albeit a fragile consensus that has been unraveling in recent years. Social media have helped bring on a new era, enabling individuated encounters with the news that confirm biases and sieve out contravening facts. The current president has further hastened the arrival of a world beyond truth, providing the imprimatur of the highest office to falsehood and conspiracy.
But soon this may seem an age of innocence. We’ll shortly live in a world where our eyes routinely deceive us. Put differently, we’re not so far from the collapse of reality. …
Most people who commit acts of terrorist violence are young men. We overlook their gender to our peril.
‘Young men often come into extremist movements because they experience downsizing in specifically gendered ways.’
According to an ever-growing number of young men in Europe, the United States and across the Muslim world, we are at the beginning of a war. And no one knows how it will end.
To me, what is interesting in the paragraph you just read is not the indeterminacy of the outcome. All crises are like that. No, it is the fact that “ever-growing number of young men” probably does not seem notable to most readers.
The fact is that virtually all of those mobilizing on all sides of this growing clash are young men – whether right-wing extremists, anti-immigrant zealots, anti-Muslim skinheads and neo-Nazis or young Muslims readying for jihad.
It’s so obvious, it barely needs noting.
And so it isn’t noted.
If we imagine for a moment that all those amassing on all the different sides of this looming cataclysm, all those drifting to the edges of the political spectrum and toward violent extremism, were female, would there be any other story? Wouldn’t magazines be filled with individual profiles, TV news shows highlighting the relationship between femininity and violence, bookshelves sagging from the weight of the “gender” analysis?
Yet the fact that virtually every single violent extremist is male creates hardly a ripple.
It can be easy to think: “But wait, what about those female suicide bombers? What about those skinhead girls? Those women of the Klan?”
This proves my point. We notice the minuscule percentage of female activists. We over-notice them precisely because they are so counterintuitive. …
Let’s say your enraged boss drags you into his office and says, “This is the last straw, Bozinski! [Your name is Bozinski] “Your punishment is that you will continue to draw your current salary and benefits, but you will be sent to a room and given no work to do, indefinitely!”
That’s a real thing that happens to actual workers around the world, and whether you would regard that as a vacation or a living hell probably says a lot about your personality. It happens to school teachers, for instance. In some places (like New York), if they’re accused of some kind of misconduct, they’re stuck in an empty room until the process is completed … which usually takes years. Day after day, week after week, they show up and sit at an empty desk, in silence.
We talked to Kelly, a teacher sentenced to one of these rooms for over a year, and found out the whole thing was even crazier in practice.
4. Yes, You Can Get Paid To Do Nothing (Or Just Sleep)
To be clear, there’s never an actual good reason to do this. In the case of the New York teachers, they could have been given some other task, or simply sent home. But this experience was designed to be torture. Phones were banned. Teachers were allowed laptops, but the room didn’t offer any internet — and once teachers started to steal WiFi from the coffee shop next door, the room put in a rule banning social media. The aim, reasons The New Yorker, was to make things so unbearable that they would get fed up and quit.
Maybe some do quit, giving up their salaries and saving the city a bundle. But if the bureaucrats behind this idea spent as much time in classrooms as teachers themselves do, they’d know what bored people stuck at desks are more likely to try:
Sleeping right at the desk was standard operating procedure, and some teachers in Kelly’s room got extra creative. They brought in four or five sweaters, chained them into a blanket using the buttons, and then pushed five padded chairs together to make a cot. “It was pretty amazing,” says Kelly, “until the administrators checking in put a stop to it.” In time, sleeping turned into a game, wherein teachers challenged each other to nap in weird and wonderful positions. First under the table, then leaning. Then on your side behind the file cabinet. Then sitting above an open pudding cup, so when you fall forward, your face goes splat.
If this sounds like people gradually losing their minds, well, that’s pretty much what happened. …
Dr. Navya Mysore was frustrated while working for a large New York health system, so she moved to One Medical, a venture-backed practice, where she gets to spend more time with her patients.
Is the doctor in?
In this new medical age of urgent care centers and retail clinics, that’s not a simple question. Nor does it have a simple answer, as primary care doctors become increasingly scarce.
“You call the doctor’s office to book an appointment,” said Matt Feit, a 45-year-old screenwriter in Los Angeles who visited an urgent care center eight times last year. “They’re only open Monday through Friday from these hours to those hours, and, generally, they’re not the hours I’m free or I have to take time off from my job.
“I can go just about anytime to urgent care,” he continued, “and my co-pay is exactly the same as if I went to my primary doctor.”
That’s one reason big players like CVS Health, the drugstore chain, and most recently Walmart, the giant retailer, are eyeing deals with Aetna and Humana, respectively, to use their stores to deliver medical care.
People are flocking to retail clinics and urgent care centers in strip malls or shopping centers, where simple health needs can usually be tended to by health professionals like nurse practitioners or physician assistants much more cheaply than in a doctor’s office. Some 12,000 are already scattered across the country, according to Merchant Medicine, a consulting firm. …
WORDS OF WISDOM
Jeff Bezos gets his house in order with rhetorical tricks you’ll remember.
When I was in high school, I dreamed of going to college and being the BMOC—you know, the “Big Man On Campus.” (I fell way short). As a young analyst working in the finance industry, I was warned against committing a CLM—the “Career Limiting Move”—at the annual holiday party. And later in my career I’d pump myself up with an ABC pep talk—a reminder to “Always Be Closing.”
While I viewed these catchy acronyms as fun little motivational hacks, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was quietly using the same approach to turn his online bookseller into a global e-commerce powerhouse, making himself the world’s richest person in the process.
Expanding a company’s revenue is hard. Scaling its culture and vision is even harder. It’s been well documented that things start getting weird as companies grow beyond 150 employees. Communication breaks down, process creeps in, and teams become more siloed. As Amazon plowed towards $1 billion of revenue, Bezos used rhetorical tricks to ensure that its growing staff was vigilant in maintaining its focus and priorities.
According to Eugene Wei, who worked at Amazon from 1997 to 2004 as a strategic planning analyst, Bezos sensed the “impossibility of scaling one’s own time to all corners of the organization, but (…) was laser focused on the more serious problem that presented, that of maintaining consistent strategy in all important decisions, many of which were made outside his purview each day.” …
Without her plastic in hand, one woman was forced to face the cold, heard reality of her spending habits.
Without the comfort of a credit card in your pocket it’s much more important to plan for the unexpected.
The way some people can’t resist trying the latest workout craze, trendy fashions or exotic superfoods, I can’t find enough ways to challenge myself to be better at budgeting and trying new methods to save more money for the future.
I tried a spending ban last fall, and, like any crash dieter, quickly fell back into my old spending habits. When I came into 2018 with a fresh outlook on my finances and a credit card bill that put me in denial, it was time to take another, hopefully more permanent, stab at overhauling my spending. I tried to change things directly at the source of the problem and took up a “cash diet” — meaning no credit cards, electronic payments, Uber, Venmo, Starbucks apps, you name it — for a month.
Sounded easy enough at first, right? Just stop using my credit cards? After a conversation with NBC News financial editor Jean Chatzky, I wasn’t so sure.
“You get the psychology behind credit cards, and the reason they’re so easy […] the money goes so fast because it seems less real,” Chatzky says of electronic payments. …
Glass has changed the world like no other substance, but people usually overlook it. An Object Lesson.
To reach you, these words were encoded into signals of light moving about 125,000 miles per second through fiber-optic cables. These lines, splayed out across mountains and oceans, are made of hair-thin glass 30 times more transparent than the purest water. The technology was made possible in part by a team from Corning Incorporated. In 1970 they patented a type of cable that could transmit large amounts of information long distances, building on decades of work by other researchers.
Assuming you’re reading this on a smartphone, you also owe a debt to Steve Jobs, who in 2006 asked Corning to make a very thin, strong screen for his new product, the iPhone. The result, Gorilla Glass, now dominates the market for mobile devices: Phones made with the fifth generation of this product can be dropped onto a rough surface from a height of five feet (selfie height) and survive 80 percent of the time.
That’s just the start. Without glass, the world would be unrecognizable. It’s in the eyeglasses on your face, the lightbulbs in your room, and the windows that let you see outside. But despite its ubiquity, there’s still some debate within the research community about how to define “glass.” Some tend to emphasize its solid qualities, others its liquidity. Unanswered questions abound, like what makes one type of glass stronger than another, or why certain mixtures produce their unique optical or structural properties. Add to this the nearly infinite varieties of glass—one database lists over 350,000 types of currently known glass, though in principle the number of mixtures is limitless—and you get a surprisingly large and active field of research that regularly produces astounding new products. Glass has shaped the world more than any other substance, and in many sneaky ways, it’s the defining material of the human era. …
There are a lot of words — and a lot of euphemisms — to describe the cargo sitting in a Parrish, Ala., rail yard.
“They call it sludge,” AL.com reporter Dennis Pillion told NPR’s Here & Now. “They call it biosolids.”
Or, in other words, poop.
It has been there since February. At one point, as many as 250 containers of it — some 10 million pounds — were sitting, parked off the tracks, in Parrish, pop. 982.
“It’s so frustrating,” Mayor Heather Hall told CNN. “You can’t sit out on your porch. Kids can’t go outside and play, and God help us if it gets hot and this material is still out here.”
Even more frustrating for the town: The waste isn’t theirs. It’s all from New York and New Jersey, which, according to Pillion, regularly ship human waste as far as Alabama and Colorado. …
NOT A TOTAL BUST
The face of a dream.
Emanuel Santos had a dream, and it’s painful, actually, to contemplate just how much of it came true.
Think of it: Santos, a 41-year-old, self-taught sculptor, talks his way into the commission of a lifetime, creating a bust of his hometown’s favorite son. His statue will greet people arriving at an airport soon to be renamed for this famous former resident, the same airport where the sculptor works a day job collecting abandoned luggage trolleys.
After shifts at the airport, and after putting his young son to bed, the sculptor labors in his workshop, working from photographs of his subject’s well-known face. The statue is a tribute: to this town, to the local hero, to the sculptor’s supportive wife (who checks in on him in the studio and shoos their child away from the breakable stuff), to his own belief in his ability to create a new life for himself as an artist.
And then the sculpture is unveiled. The subject grins and signs a ball for the sculptor’s son. The cameras flash. He did it. He’s an artist now.
The dream, however, quickly turns into the stuff of nightmares. Friends and family start calling the sculptor to ask if he’s seen the things strangers are writing on the internet about his work. The criticism comes from all corners of the globe, in languages Santos can’t even read. Some of it is unspeakably crass. Some of it is unspeakably cruel. A year later, asked to recall the days following the proudest moment of his life, Santos hides his face in his hand.
Santos is a lifelong resident of Madeira, a Portuguese island 300 miles off the coast of Morocco. Madeira is also the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, a forward for the Real Madrid football team and the only man on earth with more Instagram followers than the Rock. …
MARK WAHLBERG WAS A DRUG DEALER AND WAS CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER BEFORE FORMING MARKY MARK AND THE FUNKY BUNCH
Today I found out Mark Wahlberg was a drug dealer and was tried for attempted murder before forming Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.
Wahlberg, born the youngest of nine children all living in a three bedroom apartment, dropped out of school around the age of fourteen and joined a gang. During this time, he was reportedly in trouble with the law around 20-25 times, for dealing drugs and various other offenses. He also claims he became addicted to cocaine during this period. Things came to a head when he was 16 years old and he attacked two Vietnamese men without provocation. He attacked the first with a stick and he punched the second, permanently blinding him in the process. The official record of the event as recorded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Superior Court is as follows:
At approximately 9:00 p.m. on April 8, 1988, Thanh Lam, a Vietnamese adult male who resides in Dorchester, traveled by car to 998 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, Massachusetts. At 998 Dorchester Avenue, Thanh Lam left his car carrying two cases of beer. As he crossed the sidewalk, Mark Wahlberg attacked Thanh Lam. Wahlberg was carrying a large wooden stick, approximately five feet long and two to three inches in diameter. Wahlberg approached Thanh Lam calling him a “Vietnam fucking shit”, then hit him over the head with the stick. Thanh Lam was knocked to the ground unconscious. The stick broke in two and was later recovered from the scene. Thanh Lam was treated overnight at Boston City Hospital.
After police arrested Wahlberg later on the night of April 8, 1988, Wahlberg was informed of his rights and returned to the scene of 988 Dorchester Avenue. In the presence of two police officers, he stated: “You don’t have to let him identify me, I’ll tell you now that’s the mother-fucker whose head I split open”, or words to that effect.
As a police officer arrived at the scene of 988 Dorchester Avenue, Wahlberg and two other youths who were with him fled up Dorchester Avenue toward Pearl Street.
Shortly after 9:00pm on April 8, 1988, Hoa Trinh, an adult Vietnamese male who resides in Dorchester, was standing several blocks away from 998 Dorchester Avenue, near the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Pearl Street. Hoa Trinh was not aware of the altercation outside of 998 Dorchester Avenue.
Wahlberg ran up to Hoa Trinh, put his arm around Hoa Trinh’s shoulder and said: “Police coming, police coming, let me hide.” After a police cruiser passed, Wahlberg punched Trinh in the eye, causing him to fall to the ground.
Police arrived and Hoa Trinh identified Wahlberg as the person who punched him. Wahlberg was placed under arrest and read his rights. Thereafter, he made numerous unsolicited racial statements about “gooks” and “slant-eyed gooks”. After being returned to 998 Dorchester Avenue, Wahlberg identified Thanh Lam as the person he hit over the head with a stick.
For these attacks, Wahlberg was arrested and initially charged with attempted murder, but it was later reduced to criminal contempt, which carried a maximum sentence of ten years. After pleading guilty, he was given a two year sentence at the Deer Island House of Correction in Boston. In the end, he only had to serve 45 days in the correctional facility. …
Robert Reich provides five points to counter NRA propaganda.
Filmmaker Alex Gibney talks about exposing Volkswagen’s horrifying animal testing, HSBC’s money laundering and other corporate crimes in his docuseries “Dirty Money.”
THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for making this program available on YouTube.
On the president’s Make America Great-A-Thon, he tests his counselor Kellyanne Conway (played by Kathy Griffin) to see just how far she’ll go to defend mankind’s worst.
THANKS to Comedy Central and The President Show for making this program available on YouTube.
For the famed snow monkeys, a troop of Japanese macaques that live near Nagano, soaking in hot springs eases the stress of cold winters. But how did they come to adopt this habit?
This is Max’s way of playing the game.
FINALLY . . .
Cannabis isn’t as environmentally friendly as you’d like to think.
If there’s an Achilles’ heel in an indoor marijuana grower’s game plan, it’s energy consumption. The cannabis plant thrives when the kilowatts pile up — the result of round-the-clock man-made microclimates that maximize the production of both the herb’s quality and quantity. To give a comparison, the average marijuana grower in Boulder County has a monthly power consumption equivalent to that of 66 local households. So, from a business angle, finding ways to lower energy costs is high on many growers’ to-do lists. If only that were the sole issue.
There’s also the question of the environmental impact of growing cannabis. With coal still a major energy source, increased energy consumption translates into increased greenhouse gas emissions, namely carbon dioxide. In 2016, Boulder County growers increased their electrical consumption by 71 percent from the previous year, the equivalent of adding 1,300 households in the county.
While these numbers don’t establish a direct connection between CO2 emission and marijuana production, other data does. Evan Mills, a scientist at U.C. Berkeley, measures the cannabis carbon footprint in a number of ways, including at the consumer level. Mills calculates producing one joint worth of cannabis emits the same amount of CO2 as driving a 44-mpg car 22 miles. In a roundabout way, a joint equals half a gallon of gas, or three pounds of CO2 emissions; something to ponder the next time you light up and order take out.
And, should cannabis cultivation continue on its current upward growth curve, emission impacts could challenge local community commitments to greenhouse gas reduction. (The City of Boulder is committed to an 80 percent or better greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050 from 2005 levels). In short, energy use in the world of marijuana production is the elephant in the grow house. …
Ed. More tomorrow? Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Not?