buffoons

And the dneepers of wet and the gangres of sin in it!

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Across four studies participants (N = 818) rated the profoundness of abstract art images accompanied with varying categories of titles, including: pseudo-profound bullshit titles (e.g., The Deaf Echo), mundane titles (e.g., Canvas 8), and no titles.

Randomly generated pseudo-profound bullshit titles increased the perceived profoundness of computer-generated abstract art, compared to when no titles were present (Study 1).

Mundane titles did not enhance the perception of profoundness, indicating that pseudo-profound bullshit titles specifically (as opposed to titles in general) enhance the perceived profoundness of abstract art (Study 2).

Furthermore, these effects generalize to artist-created abstract art (Study 3).

Finally, we report a large correlation between profoundness ratings for pseudo-profound bullshit and “International Art English” statements (Study 4), a mode and style of communication commonly employed by artists to discuss their work.

{ Judgment and Decision Making | Continue reading }

Are we someone else when we lie?

[Google CEO] Eric Schmidt continued: “Our business is highly measurable. We know that if you spend X dollars on ads, you’ll get Y dollars in revenues.” At Google, Schmidt maintained, you pay only for what works.

Karmazin was horrified. He was an old fashioned advertising man, and where he came from, a Super Bowl ad cost three million dollars. Why? Because that’s how much it cost. What does it yield? Who knows. […]

In 2018, more than $273bn dollars was spent on digital ads globally, according to research firm eMarketer. Most of those ads were purchased from two companies: Google ($116bn in 2018) and Facebook ($54.5bn in 2018). […]

Picture this. Luigi’s Pizzeria hires three teenagers to hand out coupons to passersby. After a few weeks of flyering, one of the three turns out to be a marketing genius. Customers keep showing up with coupons distributed by this particular kid. The other two can’t make any sense of it: how does he do it? When they ask him, he explains: “I stand in the waiting area of the pizzeria.” […] Economists refer to this as a “selection effect.” It is crucial for advertisers to distinguish such a selection effect (people see your ad, but were already going to click, buy, register, or download) from the advertising effect (people see your ad, and that’s why they start clicking, buying, registering, downloading). […]

The online marketing world has the same strategy as Luigi’s Pizzeria and the flyer-handling teens. The benchmarks that advertising companies use – intended to measure the number of clicks, sales and downloads that occur after an ad is viewed – are fundamentally misleading. None of these benchmarks distinguish between the selection effect (clicks, purchases and downloads that are happening anyway) and the advertising effect (clicks, purchases and downloads that would not have happened without ads).

It gets worse: the brightest minds of this generation are creating algorithms which only increase the effects of selection. Consider the following: if Amazon buys clicks from Facebook and Google, the advertising platforms’ algorithms will seek out Amazon clickers. And who is most likely to click on Amazon? Presumably Amazon’s regular customers. In that case the algorithms are generating clicks, but not necessarily extra clicks.

{ The Correspondent | Continue reading }

How do we make use of this life that we still have?

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Several weeks ago, I met up with a friend in New York who suggested we grab a bite at a Scottish bar in the West Village. He had booked the table through something called Seated, a restaurant app that pays users who make reservations on the platform. We ordered two cocktails each, along with some food. And in exchange for the hard labor of drinking whiskey, the app awarded us $30 in credits redeemable at a variety of retailers. […]

To throw cash at people every time they walk into a restaurant does not sound like a business. It sounds like a plot to lose money as fast as possible. […]

If you wake up on a Casper mattress, work out with a Peloton before breakfast, Uber to your desk at a WeWork, order DoorDash for lunch, take a Lyft home, and get dinner through Postmates, you’ve interacted with seven companies that will collectively lose nearly $14 billion this year. […]

The meal-kit company Blue Apron revealed before its public offering that the company was spending about $460 to recruit each new member, despite making less than $400 per customer. […] since Blue Apron went public, the firm’s valuation has crashed by more than 95 percent. […]

{ The Atlantic | Continue reading }

photo { Detroit Science Center, 1979 }

unrelated { Apple announces $2.5 billion plan to ease California housing crisis }

More Americans are saying they need a variety of animals — dogs, ducks, even insects — for their mental health. But critics say many are really just pets that do not merit special status.

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{ Trump’s ties }

Max Headroom was portrayed as “The World’s first computer-generated TV host,” although the computer-generated appearance was achieved with prosthetic make-up and hand-drawn backgrounds

In Siege, Wolff quotes Bannon saying investigations into Trump’s finances will cut adrift even his most ardent supporters: “This is where it isn’t a witch hunt – even for the hard core, this is where he turns into just a crooked business guy, and one worth $50m instead of $10bn. Not the billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag.”

{ The Guardian | Continue reading }

update 6/3 { Italy is revoking a lease granted to Steve Bannon after reports of fraud in the competitive tender process. A letter used to guarantee the lease was forged. }

In Norway, you can look up your neighbor’s income on the Internet

During a guided tour of Mount Vernon last April, Trump learned that Washington was one of the major real-estate speculators of his era. So, he couldn’t understand why America’s first president didn’t name his historic Virginia compound or any of the other property he acquired after himself.

“If he was smart, he would’ve put his name on it,” Trump said, according to three sources briefed on the exchange. “You’ve got to put your name on stuff or no one remembers you.”

The VIPs’ tour guide for the evening, Mount Vernon president and CEO Doug Bradburn, told the president that Washington did, after all, succeed in getting the nation’s capital named after him.

{ Politico | Continue reading }

related { Donald Trump trademarked “Central Park” }

why isn’t everything made of gold?

A lawyer for the Trump administration, pressed by a Boston judge on whether the “115 mile long” border wall contract the president tweeted about exists:

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related { What is Fake News? }

‘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 }

‘Just basic memory functions and also just the level of norepinephrine and the epinephrine in the brain that as you know encodes that neurotransmitter that codes memories into the hippocampus and so the trauma-related experience is locked there, whereas other details kind of drift.’ –Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

30 years ago, Spy magazine sent “refund” checks for $1.11 to 58 rich people.

The 26 who cashed those got another check, for $.64.

The 13 who cashed those each got a check for $.13.

Two people cashed the $.13 checks—Donald Trump and Jamal Khashoggi’s arms-dealer uncle Annan.

{ Kurt Andersen | Spy, July, 1990 p. 84 + full issue }

‘Nous sommes dans l’inconcevable, mais avec des repères éblouissants.’ —René Char

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Someone Completely Demolished Trump’s Hollywood Star with a Pickax

What’s in the wind, I wonder

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In 1985, Tony Schwartz, a writer for New York magazine, was sitting in Donald Trump’s office in Trump Tower interviewing him for a story. Trump told him he had agreed to write a book for Random House. “Well, if you’re going to write a book,” Schwartz said, recalling this interaction in a speech he gave last fall at the University of Michigan, “you ought to call it The Art of the Deal.”

“I like that,” Trump said. “Do you want to write it?”

These sorts of arrangements typically are not that generous for the writer. “Most writers for hire receive a flat fee, or a relatively modest percentage of any money the book earns,” Schwartz said in the speech. Schwartz, by contrast, got from Trump an almost unheard-of half of the $500,000 advance from Random House and also half of the royalties. And it didn’t even take a lot of haggling.

“He basically just agreed,” Schwartz told me in an email, meaning Schwartz ever since has brought in millions of dollars more of royalties and Trump has brought in millions of dollars less.

It’s a telling example, Harvard Business School negotiating professor Deepak Malhotra said in a recent interview. “What should have been a great deal on a book about negotiation actually is one of the most interesting pieces of evidence that he’s not a good negotiator.” Malhotra pointed out Schwartz even got his name on the cover, and in same-sized text. “I don’t think there’s a better ghostwriting deal out there.”

[…]

Trump made $50,000 an episode in the first season. In the second season? “He wanted a million dollars an episode,” Jeff Zucker, the current boss of CNN and former head of NBC, told the New Yorker’s David Remnick last year. And what did Zucker give him? “Sixty thousand dollars,” Zucker said.

“We ended up paying him what we wanted to pay him.”

{ Politico | Continue reading }

brush and india ink on paper { Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Duck, 1958 }