January 2, 2019 in 2,178 words

to set a mood • • •


All the Predictions for 2019 Are Utter Nonsense

Sure they’re fun to read but they’re mental junk food


I was thinking of topping off the year with a list of predictions for the coming year (as I’ve done a couple of times in the past) but instead decided to pull a “Penn and Teller” and reveal the secrets behind the prediction biz. Here are the unwritten rules:

1. The purpose of prediction is publicity.

Financial analysts, futurists, technologists and crystal gazers do not make predictions to warn the public of potential disasters or let the public make better financial decisions. They make predictions for one reason and one reason only: because it gives them visibility which translates into money.

2. Bold predictions get the most publicity.

The more outlandish a prediction, the more likely it will attract attention. For example, “AI will replace 47% of all American jobs” is publicity gold. A more timid but more realistic prediction like “self-driving cars will continue to require a human baby-sitter” is unlikely to get much traction.

3. A bold prediction is evergreen.

As long as you attach a long enough time-frame to a prediction, you can make it year after year after year and get the same amount of publicity. For example, futurist Ray Kurzweil has been predicting that the “singularity” (fully conscious artificial intelligence) will occur in 20 years away… for the past three decades.


2019 Is the Year to Go Beyond Awareness and Actually Take Charge of Our Relationship With Technology

What we’ve discovered is that technology might be great at delivering what we want in the moment, but it’s less great at giving us what we need over the long term.

The most significant development in technology in the past year wasn’t AI or machine learning or the cloud or blockchain. No, the biggest step forward in the world of technology in 2018 was the realisation that we have to set boundaries in our relationship with technology to protect our humanity. This was the year our relationship with technology went through a profound transformation. It was the year we realised that the consequences of allowing technology into every aspect of our lives aren’t all positive.

As we’ve rushed to embrace technology that promises us constant connection, endless efficiency, and hyper-productivity, we’ve discovered that the results aren’t always as promised.

In fact, very often, they are the opposite of what we are really seeking. What we have discovered is that technology might be great at delivering what we want in the moment, but it’s less great at giving us what we need over the long term.

Yes, we all love our devices and all the amazing things they allow us to do. But at the same time, our technology has accelerated our lives beyond our capacity to keep up. We all feel it, and it’s getting worse. It turns out, we’re being controlled by something we should be controlling. And it’s consuming our attention and crippling our ability to focus, think, be present, and, most important, to truly connect, both with others and with ourselves.

So now that we have had this great awakening in 2018, it is time to make 2019 the year of action and change. This is the year to go beyond awareness and actually take charge of our relationship with technology. As we’re now coming to realise, technology is simply a tool. It’s about how we use it and what it ultimately does for our lives. Technology can be used to augment our humanity or to consume it.


5 Totally Baffling Crimes That Only Raised More Questions

Figuring out the motive is a key element to solving any crime. But some crimes have no evident “why” … except the one the investigators howl at the sky in impotent confusion. These inexplicable crimes exist as raw, bewildering proof of an uncaring and chaotic universe. Look at how …

5. Someone Is Shaving Cats


In 2017, a bizarre crime wave struck the small town of Waynesboro, Virginia. Over the course of four months, at least seven cats were abducted, shaved, and returned to their owners. The cats were completely unharmed … physically. Rebekah Martin reported that her cat, Tigerlily, had become understandably suspicious of humans after the mystery shave. The culprit remains at large, despite the exasperated signs posted around the neighborhood.

We’re not gonna come right out and say “Kitten Molester,” but you’ve gotta assume.

Since the Feline Barber of Fleet Street only shaves the cats’ bellies and groin areas, police are checking to see if the cats have been spayed or neutered, but that seems like an awfully long way to go just to not mind your own business. If you ever find yourself so concerned with animal welfare that abducting and violating them starts to sound like a good idea, you’re the incredibly weird supervillain of this story. Besides, Tigerlily has been shaved against her will twice, and we’d like to think the Bob Barker Stalker would keep a diligent spreadsheet of those they’d already hit.

Residents have said that they can’t conclusively point any fingers, but they do “have theories.” This means there’s at least one person in the neighborhood being silently shunned as a suspected cat shaver.


Earth is missing a huge part of its crust. Now we may know why.

A fifth of Earth’s geologic history might have vanished because planet-wide glaciers buried the evidence.


Ice meets rock in the Antarctic Peninsula, in a picture taken by NASA’s Operation IceBridge in October 2017. Millions of years ago, the entire planet may have resembled this polar scene during a phase called Snowball Earth.

The Grand Canyon is a gigantic geological library, with rocky layers that tell much of the story of Earth’s history. Curiously though, a sizeable layer representing anywhere from 250 million years to 1.2 billion years is missing.

Known as the Great Unconformity, this massive temporal gap can be found not just in this famous crevasse, but in places all over the world. In one layer, you have the Cambrian period, which started roughly 540 million years ago and left behind sedimentary rocks packed with the fossils of complex, multicellular life. Directly below, you have fossil-free crystalline basement rock, which formed about a billion or more years ago.

So where did all the rock that belongs in between these time periods go? Using multiple lines of evidence, an international team of geoscientists reckons that the thief was Snowball Earth, a hypothesized time when much, if not all, of the planet was covered in ice.

Effectively, in many locations, Earth buried the evidence of about a fifth of its geological history, the team argues today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The notion is elegant but provocative, and the authors themselves predict that some geoscientists will express skepticism.

According to the team, at intervals within those billion or so years, up to a third of Earth’s crust was sawn off by Snowball Earth’s roaming glaciers and their erosive capabilities. The resulting sediment was dumped into the slush-covered oceans, where it was then sucked into the mantle by subducting tectonic plates.

MORE READING: Here’s what will happen when Earth’s tectonic plates grind to a halt


THE BENEFITS OF DRY JANUARY ARE MOSTLY IN YOUR MIND

SOBERING


Booze or no booze?

Each year, thousands of people worldwide use Jan. 1 as a reason to go sober through Dry January, or Drynuary, after the revelry of the holiday season passes.

The idea of taking a break from drinking in January started to take off a few years ago. In 2012, the campaign was made official by the British charity Alcohol Change UK, although others, including John Ore from Business Insider, had been doing it for years. Now, a quick search of the hashtag #dryjanuary on Instagram shows almost 118,000 posts. There are already hundreds of #dryjanuary2019 pictures already up.

Although there’s certainly no harm from taking a break from drinking alcohol—a known carcinogen—the broader health benefits of dry January may be more in your head than in your body.

There are obvious short-term benefits that come from forgoing alcohol. Going sober can help improve sleep, and it saves both empty calories and money. There’s also preliminary evidence that a break from drinking can make small changes to the body: In 2013, a small group of 14 dedicated journalists at the British publication New Scientist conducted their own experiment, in which 10 of them quit drinking for five weeks. Some their subsequent bloodwork analyzed by a physician. Those who took a break saw their liver fat, a precursor to damage, decrease, as did their blood sugar, a measure of diabetes risk—although notably, none had been considered unhealthy before.


6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person

2019, motherfuckers. Yeah! LET’S DO THIS.

“Do what?” you ask. I DON’T KNOW. LET’S FIGURE THAT OUT TOGETHER, MOTHERFUCKERS.

Feel free to stop reading this if your career is going great, you’re thrilled with your life, and you’re happy with your relationships. Enjoy the rest of your day, friend, this article is not for you. You’re doing a great job, we’re all proud of you. So you don’t feel like you wasted your click, here’s a picture of Lenny Kravitz wearing a gigantic scarf.

For the rest of you, I want you to try something: Name five impressive things about yourself. Write them down or just shout them out loud to the room. But here’s the catch — you’re not allowed to list anything you are (i.e., I’m a nice guy, I’m honest), but instead can only list things that you do (i.e., I just won a national chess tournament, I make the best chili in Massachusetts). If you found that difficult, well, this is for you, and you are going to fucking hate hearing it. My only defense is that this is what I wish somebody had said to me around 1995 or so.

Note: I originally posted this in December of 2012, and to date it has drawn more than 25 million page views. So, uh, it struck a nerve. I regularly update it as times change.

READ ON: The World Only Cares About What It Can Get from You and more.


Australian man screaming at spider ‘why don’t you die?’ triggers full police response

Multiple officers arrive at home to find Perth man with ‘serious fear’ of arachnids ‘trying to kill a spider’


A Perth man apologised when a team of police officers showed up at his house. A passerby called police when they heard a toddler screaming and a man repeatedly shouting ‘Why don’t you die?’ The man was apparently just trying to kill a spider.

Police in Western Australia have confirmed they sent multiple officers to an emergency call that turned out to be a screaming man with a “serious fear” of spiders.

A concerned passerby was walking outside a house in suburban Perth when they heard a toddler screaming and a man repeatedly shouting “Why don’t you die?”

After they called triple zero, officers arrived to find a man “trying to kill a spider”, who apologised for having an extreme fear of the arachnid.

The Wanneroo police Twitter account posted a screenshot of the police log of the incident on Wednesday morning.

“Caller walked past the AA and heard a male screaming out ‘Why don’t you die’ – repeatedly,” the log read. “The toddler inside was screaming … caller doesn’t know them, but has seen them a few times when walking”.

Twenty minutes later, officers on the scene provided an update.


Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

It’s easy to blame ourselves for not feeling 100% in our minds, but some of the causes of mental unwellness have to do with large systemic problems in our societies, among these, an emphasis on individualism, a manic faith in Romantic love and a cult of meritocracy.


Hasan decided to take advantage of some free time to respond to a few comments on our YouTube channel.

THANKS to Netflix and Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj for making this program available on YouTube.


CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

Here’s me commentary on that boxing match that happened a few nights ago between Floyd Mayweather and Tenshin Nasukawa. Intended as Fair Dealing – parody, satire, review, commentary. Happy New Year ya legends!


明けましておめでとうございます!Happy New Year!


FINALLY . . .

TSA to deploy more floppy-ear dogs because they’re less scary than pointy-ear dogs


In its effort to make the airport security screening process faster, the Transportation Security Administration is employing new high-tech baggage scanners, facial-recognition cameras and “automated lanes” to eliminate passenger gridlock.

But TSA Administrator David Pekoske said the agency is also making at least one new change to reduce traveler stress: deploying more floppy-ear dogs, rather than pointy-ear dogs, to sniff out explosives in public areas.

During a recent tour of Washington Dulles International Airport, Pekoske told the Washington Examiner that his agency believes floppy-ear dogs are less intimidating to travelers than dogs with pointy ears.

“We find the passenger acceptance of floppy-ear dogs is just better,” he said. “It presents just a little bit less of a concern. Doesn’t scare children.”


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