Baloo: [tugging on Bagheera’s tail] C’mon, Baggy, get with the beat!

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The Chinese made 50 times more mobile payments in 2016 than U.S. consumers did, tripling to $5.5 trillion in China while U.S. payments only grew 39 percent, to $112 billion. […]

David Rennie, Beijing bureau chief for The Economist, gets somewhat closer to the truth in his forecasting exercise, projected to 2024. Like Rolland, Rennie starts by imagining a dystopian negation of the West. China’s intelligence services, working with the country’s technology firms, have turned millions of cars in America, Europe, and Asia into remote spying devices, letting Beijing track vehicles in real time and identify passengers with facial-recognition technology. […]

The Chinese order will break with the Western model by moving decisively away from Enlightenment ideals of transparency and public knowledge. Even in its formative stage, the Belt and Road Initiative is an exercise in the opacity of power. There are explicit plans and an esoteric practice where deals are agreed upon, often with no written evidence, and rigid hierarchies of access and knowledge. Some of the participants know only the broadest strokes of the plan, sufficient to defend it and to communicate with lower levels; others know nothing; and only a few can see months or years in advance. Or, as you sometimes hear in Beijing, just as every individual has a right to privacy, the party also has a right to privacy. The Belt and Road Initiative is like Holy Writ—never revealed completely and all at once, but only bit by bit and over many decades. […]

When we describe a new Chinese world order, we have to keep in mind there will be other shareholders, other shapers, and other balancers. The West will diminish in reach and influence, but 30 years from now it will continue to offer a powerful alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative, even if it may also be expected to evolve in response to the Chinese challenge.

{ Foreign Policy | Continue reading }

chromogenic print, mounted on gatefold layout board { Hope Dworaczyk, First 3-D Playmate of the Month, June 2010 }

Said I wouldn’t mention Sisqo, fuck he’s a bum

After 4 hours of training, AlphaZero became the strongest chess entity of the planet with an estimated ELO of around 3,400.

{ AlphaZero vs Stockfish 8 | ELO ratings of chess players }

more { How AlphaZero quickly learns each game [chess, shogi, and Go] to become the strongest player in history for each }

related { The ability to distort reality has taken an exponential leap forward with “deep fake” technology. We survey a broad array of responses. | Previously: Researchers can now detect AI-generated fake videos with a 95% success rate }

‘Live fo’ her life and die fo’ her life.’ –R. Kelly

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BBC Music Magazine surveyed 151 conductors working across the world to come up with a top 20 great symphonies.

The Eroica, Beethoven’s Third Symphony, came in at No 1, followed by his Ninth, the “Choral”, in second place. Mozart’s last symphony, No 41, the “Jupiter”, was in third place while Mahler occupied the next two places with his Ninth and Second symphonies respectively. […]

The top 10 is completed by Brahms’s Fourth Symphony (6th); Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (7th); Brahms’s First Symphony (8th); Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony (9th ); and Mahler’s Third Symphony (10). […]

Mahler is represented three times.

{ The Guardian | Continue reading }

Symphony No. 10 by Gustav Mahler was written in the summer of 1910, and was his final composition. At the time of Mahler’s death the composition was substantially complete in the form of a continuous draft, but not fully elaborated or orchestrated, and thus not performable. Only the first movement [Andante–Adagio] is regarded as reasonably complete and performable as Mahler intended. Perhaps as a reflection of the inner turmoil he was undergoing at the time (Mahler knew he had a failing heart and his wife had been unfaithful), the 10th Symphony is arguably his most dissonant work. […]

The circumstances surrounding the composition of the Tenth were highly unusual. Mahler was at the height of his compositional powers, but his personal life was in complete disarray, most recently compounded by the revelation that his young wife, Alma, had had an affair with the architect Walter Gropius. Mahler sought counseling from Sigmund Freud. […]

The unsettled frame of Mahler’s mind found expression in the despairing comments (many addressed to Alma) on the manuscript of the Tenth, and must have influenced its composition: on the final page of the final movement, Mahler wrote, “für dich leben! für dich sterben!” (To live for you! To die for you!).

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

gelatin silver print { Robert Heinecken, Then People Forget You, 1965 | More Robert Heinecken | PDF }

Every day, the same, again

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Poo found on every McDonald’s touchscreen tested

London bans junk food advertising on public transportation

Major dark web drug dealers have started to voluntarily ban the synthetic opioid fentanyl

When cryptocurrency issuers want positive coverage for their virtual coins, they buy it

It claims to be, in short, a next-generation lie detector. Polygraph tests are a $2 billion industry in the US and, despite their inaccuracy, are widely used to screen candidates for government jobs. Released in 2014 by Converus, a Mark Cuban–funded startup, EyeDetect is pitched by its makers as a faster, cheaper, and more accurate alternative to the notoriously unreliable polygraph.

The aim of the current study was to evaluate sleep quality, daytime dozing, anxiety proneness, chronotype and preferred start time in a sample of university students

Most women would be stunned to discover that the law does not consider a piece of their body to be their property, and they legally have almost no voice regarding the use of their own placentas [Placentophagy: A Women ’s Right to Her Placenta | PDF]

Harvard scientists found a potential key ingredient to the start of life on Earth [more]

Chemical industry giant 3M is waging an aggressive campaign to stave off new regulations and potentially billions of dollars in damages stemming from a contamination crisis that has fouled tens of millions of Americans’ drinking water. Inside a corporate giant’s fight to thwart a massive pollution tab

The placement of a period and no spaces between “G-20” and “in” resulted in an inadvertent hyperlink

Scientific communication in a post-truth society

After nine years, Uber isn’t within hailing distance of making money and continues to bleed more red ink than any start-up in history. By contrast, Facebook and Amazon were solidly cash-flow positive by their fifth year. Uber has never presented a case as to why it will ever be profitable, let alone earn an adequate return on capital.

There are about 4,256 human-made satellites orbiting the Earth, of which about 1,149 are still working. If Earth’s orbit is so crowded, why don’t we see space junk in photos of the Earth?

How Restaurants Got So Loud

The first ever human vs. computer no-limit Texas hold ‘em competition took place from April 24-May 8, 2015 at River’s Casino in Pittsburgh, PA. In this article I present my thoughts on the competition design, agent architecture, and lessons learned. [PDF]

How did Choc, a quirky calligraphic typeface drawn by a French graphic designer in the 1950s, end up on storefronts everywhere? [NY Times]

The dolly zoom, illustrated

Behind the scene: Charlie Chaplin roller-skating in a department store in Modern Time (1936)

Robert Mueller Devotional Candle

When trying to trademark Vagina Guitars,  the federal trademark office called this honorable man and said,  “This is not possible. You can not trademark the word guitar.

Vagina Weightlifting Can Empower Women

I’m gonna get a fly girl, gonna get some spank, drive off in a def OJ

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I was a camgirl for five years. My highest earning month was $50,000. […] The ceiling on cam income is very high — top-range models make around $200/hr, and the super-high end ones can make $1000+/hr. The average income is roughly $40/hr, based on around 200 girls I surveyed a few years ago. […]

Nearly every camgirl I’ve seen has used logitech webcams.

{ Knowingless | Continue reading }

Chaturbate takes forty to fifty percent depending on the amount of tokens purchased by users (see below), and pays the rest to the broadcaster, leaving the broadcaster with exactly $5 per one hundred tokens.

{ Cam Model Plaza | Continue reading }

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{ Kink Closet | Continue reading }

previously { How camgirls are making thousands of dollars on Snapchat }

still { Ingmar Bergman, Summer with Monika, 1953 }

‘The love of stinking.’ –Nietzsche

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{ aversion | panic | Thanks Tim }

related { Dick Stain Donald Trump got zero comments for the Stock Market Drop }

‘Falsity consists in the privation of knowledge, which inadequate, fragmentary, or confused ideas involve.’ –Spinoza

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Beliefs in witches and sorcerers are disturbing and calamitous. Sterility, illness, death, rainstorms, burnt-down houses, bald spots, attacks from wild animals, lost foot races, lost reindeer races, the puzzling behavior of a friend or spouse – the enigmatic, the impactful, the bothersome – all can spark suspicions of neighbors using magic and dark powers; all can precipitate violence. The suspects are sometimes normal humans, learned in dark magic, but other times, rumored to be odious and other. They devour babies, fornicate with their menstruating mothers, and use human skulls for sports. They become bats and black panthers, house pythons in their stomachs, and direct menageries of attendant nightbirds. They plot the destruction of families and then dance in orgiastic night-fests. […]

In nearly every documented society, people believe that some misfortunes are attributable to malicious group mates employing magic or supernatural powers. Here I report cross-cultural patterns in these beliefs and propose a theory to explain them.

Using the newly-created Survey of Mystical Harm, I show that several conceptions of evil, mystical practitioners recur around the world, including sorcerers (who use learned spells), possessors of the evil eye (who transmit injury through their stares and words), and witches (who possess superpowers, pose existential threats, and engage in morally abhorrent acts).

I argue that these beliefs develop from three cultural selective processes — a selection for effective-seeming magic, a selection for plausible explanations of impactful misfortune, and a selection for demonizing myths that justify mistreatment. Separately, these selective schemes produce traditions as diverse as shamanism, conspiracy theories, and campaigns against heretics — but around the world, they jointly give rise to the odious and feared witch. […]

Societally-corrosive beliefs can persist when they are intuitively appealing or serve some believers’ agendas. […]

People are more likely to attribute injury to mystical harm when they lack alternative explanations. […]

The greater the impact of the misfortune, the more likely people are to attribute it to mystical harm.

{ SocArXiv | Continue reading }

‘And above all, away with the body, this wretched idée fixe of the senses.’ –Nietzsche

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We present a new tool that provides a means to measure the psychological and cultural distance between two societies and create a distance scale with any population as the point of comparison. Since psychological data is dominated by samples drawn from the United States or other WEIRD nations, this tool provides a “WEIRD scale.” […]

Decades of psychological research designed to uncover truths about human psychology may have instead uncovered truths about a thin slice of our species – those who live in Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic (WEIRD) nations. […]

Just how psychologically different are the nations of the world compared to each other and to the over-scrutinized United States? Many hard drives have been filled with the ways in which China and Japan differ from the United States and Canada, but just how psychologically distant is the culture of China from Japan, the United States from Canada, or Azerbaijan from Zambia? Here we introduce a robust method for quantifying this distance. […]

[We compared] the cultural differences between regions of the four largest populations—China, India, United States and European Union. These analyses reveal that the cultural differences between regions of the overscrutinized United States are considerably smaller than the European Union, China, or India. […]

The Far East has always held a certain exoticism, which may have driven a generation of cultural psychologists to document the many ways in which East Asian societies differ from the West. However, the most extensively researched East Asian nations aren’t anywhere near the extreme on the WEIRD scale and some are barely halfway. Moreover, there is considerable diversity within China, let alone between China, Japan, and Hong Kong. This diversity has been exploited by other researchers, for example, showing the role of agriculture on individualism and collectivism, but nowhere the levels performed within the United States, where we know state by state differences in psychological differences such as tightness-looseness. […]

Relatively little attention has been paid to the Middle East and Africa both by the World Values Survey and the psychological sciences. However, given the relative cultural distance to the United States and Africa’s large genetic, linguistic, and likely cultural variation, we have every reason to suspect the WEIRD scale will continue to stretch as we map out these psychological terra incognita. These regions, as well as other underrepresented regions, such as the South Pacific, may in fact hold a treasure trove of findings for the next wave of cultural psychologists.

{ SSRN | PDF }

The Knight Antonius Block: I want knowledge!…

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Study provides insight into the neurobiology of dying. Investigators performed continuous patient monitoring following Do Not Resuscitate - Comfort Care orders in patients with devastating brain injury to investigate the mechanisms and timing of events in the brain and the circulation during the dying process.

{ ScienceDaily | Continue reading }

Oxygen deprivation results in brain injury. For years, researchers have been studying the underlying processes in animals: within 20 to 40 seconds, the brain enters an ‘energy-saving mode’ - it becomes electrically inactive, and all interneuronal communication ceases. Within a few minutes, the brain’s fuel reserves have become depleted that maintain the uneven distribution of ions between the inside and outside of nerve cells, and the ion gradients start to break down. This breakdown takes the form of a massive wave of electrochemical energy release in the form of heat, which is known as ’spreading depolarization’. More vividly described as a ‘brain tsunami’, this energy loss spreads through the cortex and other areas of the brain, triggering pathophysiological cascades which gradually poison the nerve cells. Importantly, this wave remains reversible up to a certain point in time: nerve cells will recover fully if circulation is restored before this point is reached. However, if circulation remains disrupted, the cells will die. Until now, recordings of electrical brain activity obtained from human subjects have been of limited applicability, and experts have been divided as to the transferability of results from animal-based research. […]

“We were able to show that terminal spreading depolarization is similar in humans and animals. Unfortunately, the research community has been ignoring this essential process of central nervous system injury for decades, all because of the mistaken assumption that it does not occur in humans,” explains Prof. Dreier.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

paint on plaster { Eduardo Paolozzi, Targets, 1948 }

You got a question, you ask the 8 ball

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One of the curious features of language is that it varies from one place to another.

Even among speakers of the same language, regional variations are common, and the divide between these regions can be surprisingly sharp. […]

For example, the term “you guys” is used most often in the northern parts of the US, while “y’all” is used more in the south.

{ Technology Review | Continue reading }

How can you face your problem if your problem is your face

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From 1936-1972, approximately 50,000 lobotomies were performed in the US. The majority of these occurred during the “lobotomy boom” which occurred in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Curiously, the lobotomy’s popularity coincided with a consensus within the medical community that it was ineffective. […]

Physician Walter Freeman performed approximately 10% of all US lobotomies during his medical career (El-Hai 2005). Although the procedure was widely used, it swiftly fell out of favor when the FDA approved the first antipsychotic drug in 1954. […]

In this paper, we propose the lobotomy’s popularity and longevity in the US was the result of the incentives generated by the institutional structure of mental health provision. Primarily, we note that funding for public mental hospitals and asylums were provided by state and federal governments on a very low per capita basis. This served to constrained revenues. Lobotomized patients were easier to manage (their brain damage often made them docile), and the procedure was comparatively cheaper than other treatment methods. These factors, in conjunction with little incentive to effectively treat patients provided by bureaucratic oversight, motivated physicians to perform cost and conflict minimizing treatment.


In contrast, physicians operating in private mental hospitals and asylums were funded by the patients, their caregivers, or through philanthropic donations. […] [L]obotomy was less used in private mental hospitals.

{ North Dakota State University Public Choice & Private Enterprise Research Paper Series | Continue reading }

acrylic, oil, oilstick and paper collage on three hinged wooden panels { Jean-Michel Basquiat, Self-Portrait, 1981 }

We are condemned to an observer role in our own nightly dreams, which excludes any possibility of looking forward or backward in time

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Let us consider a counterfactual history in which Szilard invents nuclear fission and realizes that a nuclear bomb could be made with a piece of glass, a metal object, and a battery arranged in a particular configuration. What happens next? Szilard becomes gravely concerned. He sees that his discovery must be kept secret at all costs. But how? His insight is bound to occur to others. He could talk to a few of his physicist friends, the ones most likely to stumble upon the idea, and try to persuade them not to publish anything on nuclear chain reactions or on any of the reasoning steps leading up to the dangerous discovery. (That is what Szilard did in actual history.)

Here Szilard faces a dilemma: either he doesn’t explain the dangerous discovery, but then he will not be effective in persuading many of his colleagues to stop publishing; or he tells them the reason for his concern, but then he spreads the dangerous knowledge further. Either way he is fighting a losing battle. The general advance of scientific knowledge will eventually make the dangerous insight more accessible. Soon, figuring out how to initiate a nuclear chain reaction with pieces of metal, glass, and electricity will no longer take genius but will be within reach of any STEM student with an inventive mindset.

The situation looks hopeless, but Szilard does not give up. He decides to take a friend into his confidence, a friend who is also the world’s most famous scientist—Albert Einstein. He successfully persuades Einstein of the danger (again following actual history). Now Szilard has the support of a man who can get him a hearing with any government. The two write a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After some committee wranglings and report-writing, the top levels of the U.S. government are eventually sufficiently convinced to be ready to take serious action.

What the U.S. government did, after having digested the information provided by Einstein and Szilard, […] was to launch the Manhattan Project in order to weaponize nuclear fission as quickly as possible. […]

But how would things have played out if there had been an easy way to make nukes? Maybe Szilard and Einstein could persuade the U.S. government to ban all research in nuclear physics (outside high-security government facilities)? […] Let us suppose that President Roosevelt could somehow mobilize enough political support to drive through a ban, and that the U.S. Supreme Court could somehow find a way of regarding it as constitutionally valid. We then confront an array of formidable practical difficulties. All university physics departments would have to be closed, and security checks initiated. A large number of faculty and students would be forced out. Intense speculations would swirl concerning the reason for all these heavy-handed measures. Groups of physics PhD students and faculty banned from their research field would sit around and speculate about what the secret danger might be. Some of them would figure it out. And among those who figured it out, some would feel compelled to use the knowledge to impress their colleagues; and those colleagues would want to tell yet others, to show they were in the know. Alternatively, somebody who opposed the ban would unilaterally decide to publish the secret, maybe in order to support their view that the ban is ineffective or that the benefits of publication outweigh the risks. […] Even if, by some miracle, the secret never leaked in the United States, scientists in other countries would independently discover it, thereby multiplying the sources from which it could spread. […]

An alternative approach would be to eliminate all glass, metal, or sources of electrical current. Given the ubiquity of these materials, such an undertaking would be extremely daunting. […] Metal use is almost synonymous with civilization, and would not be a realistic target for elimination. Glass production could be banned, and existing glass panes confiscated; but pieces of glass would remain scattered across the landscape for a long time. Batteries and magnets could be seized, though some people would have stashed away these materials before they could be collected by the authorities. […]

We now know that one cannot trigger a nuclear explosion with just a sheet of glass, some metal, and a battery. Making an atomic bomb requires several kilograms of fissile material, which is difficult to produce. We pulled out a grey ball that time. Yet with each act of invention, we reach into the urn anew.

Let us introduce the hypothesis that the urn of creativity contains at least one black ball. We can refer to this as the vulnerable world hypothesis . Intuitively, the hypothesis is that there is some level of technology at which civilization almost certainly gets destroyed unless quite extraordinary and historically unprecedented degrees of preventive policing and/or global governance are implemented.

{ Nick Bostrom | PDF }

related { Nick Bostrom on the Great Filter | PDF }