May 6, 2018 in 2,847 words

Another week of lies and still Trump, the huckster, keeps his tawdry show going

Even as scandal succeeds scandal, this ‘ignorant, undignified and uncouth’ president escapes the consequences of legitimate criticism.

Pictured above: Donald Trump plays to the press at Dallas Love Field airport on Friday. America’s Shithole, characteristically open.

Earlier this year, a Saturday Night Live skit featured a gameshow called What Even Matters Anymore?, “the show where I tell you something our president did or said, and you have to tell me: does it even matter any more?”. In the final round, contestants have to write down what they think “would actually lead to any kind of consequences” for Donald Trump. One idea is “sex tape with Don, Jr”.

But would that even matter? Trump has weathered endless scandals by creating a new one to distract from the last. He’s a carnival huckster running a three-ring circus; there are constant reports that he thrives on chaos, which is nice for him, and devastating for democratic norms and the rule of law. Trump has made it abundantly clear to anyone paying attention that he is amoral. He has no motive other than self-aggrandisement; his only principle is power. When I suggested on Question Time, two days after his election, that Trump had no interest in serving, David Dimbleby scoffed at me, demanding why else he would have run. My recollection is that I goggled and then said: “Power?” Or maybe I said “money”. They both ran through my head, as I tried to absorb the news that an intelligent, experienced BBC journalist was being blinded by norms.

There is a clear bias among the media towards normality. We see this every time a journalist announces that Trump became “presidential” when he read a few words written by someone else. Trump is not “presidential”. He is ignorant, impulsive, undisciplined, undignified, uncouth. This makes him popular with some of his electorate but it does not make him presidential. We see the bias towards normality every time a journalist asks about a given aspect of his “policy”. Trump doesn’t have policies. He is an opportunistic chancer who changes his story with the wind and listens to whoever last spoke to him. We see it when newspapers refuse to say the president lied, hiding behind euphemisms such as “misrepresented”, “reversed his position”, “told an untruth”.

We saw it when the White House Correspondents’ Association turned on the comedian they had hired to roast the administration. After Michelle Wolf called out White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for her routine falsehoods and distortions, Wolf was attacked for criticising Sanders’s appearance. But what she said was: “I think she’s very resourceful. She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies.” That is not deriding Sanders’s looks, it is deriding her mendacity and that of the administration she serves. But it merely prompted retaliatory falsehoods and distortions.


The people building the internet trust that Facebook and “Mark” will do the right thing

TRUE BELIEVERS


A Facebook celebration.

The developers helping make Facebook among the most dominant forces on the internet don’t want to dwell on the Cambridge Analytica scandal. What’s done is done—they want to focus on the future. They trust CEO Mark Zuckerberg to fix the damage done, for which they don’t really blame Facebook anyway. Rather it was just some “bad apples” in their community.

Earlier this week, thousands of developers who build on Facebook’s platforms and use its tools gathered for the F8 conference, the company’s biggest event of the year, at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. They heard from Facebook executives and engineers about the company’s plans.

Observers expected Facebook to be apologetic, and the developers to be anxious. To be sure, the company’s executives included somber mea culpas in their keynote remarks. For the most part, however, they repeated what they already told journalists and politicians, and quickly moved on. This was a celebration, not a congressional grilling. What was important at F8 was a credo Zuckerberg put forward in his exuberant opening speech: “We will keep building!” The “we” was imperative—us, Facebook, and you, developers working on the next Messenger bot, the next Tinder. (Well, maybe not Tinder.)

The developers cheered, applauded, and whistled when they heard the company’s advancements in augmented-reality technology, and when Zuckerberg announced that everyone at the conference would get the Oculus Go, Facebook’s latest VR headset. And, in one-on-one conversations, while offering nuanced views of Facebook’s responsibility for the recent scandals, they agreed that “Mark,” as they all referred to the CEO, would do the right thing.


The 1 Reason Why You Should Worry About Google Most of All (It Involves a Word That Might Be New to You)

If Companies’ visions come from the top, Google’s seems to be a particular nightmare.


Google’s Larry Page says you should stop being speciesist.

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

Artificial intelligence has but one problem: the part where it becomes reality.

As it progressively enters human life, weak, dribbling humans are enthralled by the idea that they can speak to a machine, while that machine pretends to be a human speaking back.

But it’s still a machine, right?

We know that we can ultimately switch it off, don’t we?

Or do we? Or can we? Or will we?

You can tell I’m worried, can’t you?

That’s not merely because Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks AI can solve his site’s problems.

It’s because Google co-founder Larry Page apparently thinks that digital beings should be treated exactly like human beings.


5 Bizarre (But Rare) Side Effects Of Common Foods

I can’t recall the first time I heard the term “food coma,” but I can say that I didn’t like it. Like people saying “Do NOT talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” or “My relationship status is Merlot! LOL!” it makes me want to fill your mailbox with aggressively non-solid turds. Little did I realize that a food coma is almost a real thing, because you can fully overdose on some kinds of food and suffer wicked awful consequences. Who saw that coming?

5. Certain Seafood Can Give You Vivid Hallucinations


I’m not a big seafood guy because I fear angering Poseidon by eating one of his drinking buddies by accident, so I can’t say I’m 100 percent familiar with sea bream. But I do hear it’s exceptionally popular in Europe, where they eat literally thousands of tons of it — particularly in the Mediterranean, where they eat all kinds of insane shit. That’s where olives come from, for God’s sake, and those are just tree turds that someone puts in brine. But sea bream isn’t just Eurotrash Filet-o-Fish; it’s a whole mindfuck with fins if you catch the wrong one. For reasons not wholly known, every so often, you’ll get a salema porgy that has hallucinogenic properties.

If I ended the entry there, you’d probably be pretty stoked to try some. People like hallucinogenic mushrooms, why not a whacked-out fish? Well, these hallucinations are less “psychedelic dreamscape” and more “Why is that giant spider screaming at me??”

In one case, a fellow enjoyed some salema porgy baked on the French Riviera before it baked him right back. The physical symptoms were vomiting, blurred vision, and muscle weakness for an entire day, and then shit got super unreal. Since he was still on vacation, he wanted to keep going, so he hopped in his car … only to cut his trip short because he was surrounded by screaming animals. He went to the doctor, and it took 36 hours for him to come down.


WHITE PEOPLE’S UNSEASONED FOOD ISN’T JUST AN INTERNET MEME. IT’S A CENTURIES-LONG OBSESSION

BLANDITUDE


Comforting to some.

Humans love flavor. Archeologists have found evidence that hunter-gatherers in Stone Age Europe used garlic mustard seeds (a broccoli relative with a mustardy, peppery kick) to season stews 6,000 years ago. For almost as long as we’ve been cooking, we’ve been adding ingredients to our pots that contributed flavor, not just calories. Salt, herbs, and strongly scented seeds all have nutritious properties, but if you consider the time it would take to gather the seeds from garlic mustard plants, when you could be digging tubers or fishing, then it’s clear that the drive for deliciousness is ingrained and powerful.

So why does bland food exist? Why, indeed, is there a whole group of people known for their love of underseasoned potato salad, passion for plain chicken breasts, and adoration of mayonnaise?

I’m talking about white people. More specifically, white Americans, though Europeans are also complicit in the rise of blanditude.

If you are white, as I am, you may be rebelling against this idea in your head, and thinking about all the spicy, richly complex dishes you enjoy all the time. That’s fine—I am too. I don’t want to be associated with mac and cheese from a box or Taylor Swift’s cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”(paywall) any more than you do. This is not about creating a taxonomy of who eats what and how. It’s about unpacking why anyone, ever, would make the culinary choice to embrace less, not more, deliciousness.


A Berkeley professor explains why society needs more troublemakers

REBEL WITH A CAUSE


Please feel free to disagree.

It’s sweet to be agreeable—but what a vibrant, healthy society really needs is principled troublemakers.

Those who dare to say “no” when it appears that everyone else is in agreement are rare and brave—and they make the world a better place, according to University of California, Berkeley psychology professor Charlan Nemeth. Her new book, In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business, shows how everyone benefits when someone presents a thoughtful contrarian view.

Nemeth’s research in social psychology and cognition has shown that disagreement improves group thinking. “It’s a benefit regardless of whether or not [dissenters] hold the truth,” she argues. “Most people are afraid and they don’t speak up. Companies have that problem all the time. And the research really shows us that that even if it’s wrong, the fact that the majority or the consensus is challenged actually stimulates thinking.”

The professor has spent decades studying disagreement, looking at the behavior of juries, companies, airplane crews, and groups in general. Her work shows that a challenge to the general consensus generates necessary consideration and debate. This, in turn, improves decision-making, leads to more creative solutions, and even saves lives, for example in a criminal case where a defendant’s life or liberty may be at stake.


NO ONE KNOWS WHY WE SWEAT WHEN WE’RE NERVOUS, BUT SCIENTISTS HAVE A GROSS IDEA

THANKS, EVOLUTION


Whether it’s nerves or heat, we all leak liquid.

Of all the animals on Earth, humans are the best at sweating. We’ve got not one, but two sets of sweat glands: one to cool us off, and one that kicks in when we’re anxious.

Our bodies need to stick right around 98.6°F (37°C), so when warm weather or exercise makes us overheat, eccrine glands just under the surface of our skin secrete water and some salts, sometimes more than a liter per day. As this water evaporates, it cools us down. That’s the sweating you’re probably most familiar with.

But we also sometimes sweat when we’re not overheated. That happens when heightened anxiety and nerves trigger the flight-or-fight response response of our sympathetic nervous system. That speeds up our breathing and heart rates, as the body tries to direct more blood away from the extremities and toward its vital organs (which is why you may get literal cold feet). It also turns on our second set of sweat glands, called apocrine glands, which are in our hairiest regions, including the armpits, groin, chest, back, and head. (We have eccrine sweat glands there, too.)

This anxiety sweat is physically different than heat sweat.”It’s a thick, milky liquid,” says Ivan Ong, the head of research and development at Microban, an anti-microbial company based in North Carolina. “It’s not just water—it’s fatty acids, steroids, proteins, and that comes from the glands that are associated with hair follicles.” Heat sweat, on the other hand, is basically just water with a little salt.


5 Ways Being Rich Was Flat-Out Crazy Hundreds Of Years Ago

Sure, being rich has its benefits, but it’s gotta be boring, right? If life’s great meaning is derived from struggle and solidarity against overwhelming odds, then being rich is playing on easy mode (with the invincibility and infinite ammo cheats on). Where’s the fun? Well, we aren’t the first ones to ask that question. The historical record shows that the old-timey rich, in their struggle to stave off ennui and entropy, devised some remarkably absurd ways of passing the time. Like how …

5. You Could Boost Your Sex Drive By Inserting Radioactive Material Up Your Butt


Sexual impotence isn’t a modern phenomenon. Your great-grandparents probably had “performance issues,” just like you (and if you didn’t, you do now that we put that mental image in your head). So how did they conquer the long drop? We can’t speak for the poors and how they dealt with losing their vigor (wishing really hard, probably), but the rich had a little technique called “jamming in a radium suppository.”

Note the completely unrelated detail that it’s “also splendid for piles and rectal sores.”

At the turn of the 20th century, an entire industry revolving around solving sexual inadequacy sprung up, so to speak. One of these products was Vita Radium Suppositories, anal torpedoes “carried in a cocoa butter base” (for better … flavor?) which promised to turn “weakened organs” into Godzilla by irradiating the bloodstream, and by proxy the balls. What about safety? Well, the manufacturers had certainly heard about that concept. According to their marketing pamphlets, the radium would leave the patient’s system in three days, which is approximately two days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds longer than we’d like.

The 1930s saw the release of a product with the enticing name of “Scrotal Radiendocrinator,” which promised users they could kick-start their shattered scrotums by leaving a radium-filled jockstrap on their junk and going to bed. We can’t totally vouch for the scienceness of this product, but it’s worth noting that its inventor died from bladder cancer — a total coincidence, and definitely not a warning that maybe Geiger counters shouldn’t need to be sold in adult boutiques alongside battery-operated sex toys and blow-up effigies of Clark Gable.

Why does the phrase “plutonium rod” seem apt?

There was, surprisingly, a solid rationalevbehind the madness.


Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Robert Reich takes a take an in-depth look at antitrust laws in the United States and explains how corporate giants have come to dominate the American economy and politics.


The Assault on Intelligence” author Michael Hayden argues that President Trump’s penchant for lying has wreaked havoc on the U.S. intelligence community.


David Blaine chats about his childhood days as a budding magician and his show “David Blaine Live,” then treats Trevor to a demonstration of his infamous ice pick trick.

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for making this program available on YouTube.


Max gets to talk to the neighbors and is very excited.


FINALLY . . .

How to biohack your intelligence — with everything from sex to modafinil to MDMA


I had some free time over the holidays and wrote this article to showcase, on the basis of a personal story, many highly actionable, science-based, approaches and tools that can be used to significantly enhance intelligence.

In my case these include legal/illegal drugs; using sex as a biohacking tool; drinking ketone esters; using beta blockers or testosterone to gain advantage in negotiations; eating only once a day; and a lot more.

Editor’s Note: This story contains some R-rated approaches to bio-hacking. We published it because we want readers to be informed of what’s actually happening in the technology industry. Proceed at your own risk.

Background

I’m a cliche Silicon Valley techie —Russian, Stanford, YCombinator, started a couple large/successful companies, working in artificial intelligence now (Mirror Emoji Keyboard, basically using the popularity of emoji as a backdoor into building the most powerful face-perception AI in the world).

My previous article detailed how, as a 32-year old with no medical problems, I spent ~$200k on enhancing my health. Thousands of tests, medical teams, dozens of prescription drugs.

I openly posted all my data. It shows many health benefits — 3–4x reduction in body fat, very high athletic performance (VO2Max ~70), negligible inflammatory processes, >80% increase in testosterone, and improvements to many biomarkers of aging.

Biohacking works.

The article became extremely popular and reached millions of readers. Many of you loved it. Many of you felt anger and fear. Aggressive bioenhancement of human abilities has long been a sci-fi dream/nightmare.

And (if you read the previous article) here is concrete evidence and a lot of data that show it is already working.


Ed. More tomorrow? Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Not?