‘Académie française.— La dénigrer, mais tâcher d’en faire partie si on peut.’ –Flaubert

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Recognizing that most are not familiar with decentralized finance, or DeFi, details are in order. DeFi does not use an order book like regulated exchanges. Instead, it has over 72,000 liquidity pools. Anyone can be a liquidity provider to these pools or even start one and earn interest (more coins) for their effort. Traders use these liquidity pools to trade cryptos. The entire protocol is run by computer code called an automatic market maker. No humans are involved in the trading on these exchanges.

The largest decentralized exchange is Uniswap. To access it, one must use an electronic wallet away from a regulated exchange and connect it to uniswap.org. This exchange allows customers to trade several thousand different cryptos. Uniswap founder Hayden Adams tweeted that Uniswap executed $6.3 billion of trades on Wednesday, well above Coinbase’s first-quarter average of $3.7 billion. Uniswap experienced no downtime and no slow service. No customer lost money because the exchange let them down.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

oil on canvas on two joined panels { Ellsworth Kelly, Orange Red Relief, 1959 }

related { Around 4.5% of all bitcoin mining takes place in Iran }

related { Crypto-mining gangs are abusing the free tiers of cloud computing platforms — They have been operating by registering accounts on selected platforms, signing up for a free tier, and running a cryptocurrency mining app on the provider’s free tier infrastructure. }

Romans cleaned their clothes with urine

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Twelve years on, cryptocurrencies play almost no role in normal economic activity. Almost the only time we hear about them being used as a means of payment — as opposed to speculative trading — is in association with illegal activity, like money laundering or the Bitcoin ransom Colonial Pipeline paid to hackers who shut it down.

Twelve years is an eon in information technology time. Venmo, which I can use to share restaurant bills, buy fresh fruit at sidewalk kiosks, and much more, was also introduced in 2009. Apple unveiled its first-generation iPad in 2010. Zoom came into use in 2012. By the time a technology gets as old as cryptocurrency, we expect it either to have become part of the fabric of everyday life or to have been given up as a nonstarter. […]

Yet investors continue to pay huge sums for digital tokens. […] Their collective value has, however, at times exceeded $2 trillion, more than half the value of all the intellectual property owned by U.S. business.

Why are people willing to pay large sums for assets that don’t seem to do anything? The answer, obviously, is that the prices of these assets keep going up, so that early investors made a lot of money, and their success keeps drawing in new investors.

This may sound to you like a speculative bubble, or maybe a Ponzi scheme — and speculative bubbles are, in effect, natural Ponzi schemes. But could a Ponzi scheme really go on for this long? Actually, yes: Bernie Madoff ran his scam for almost two decades, and might have gone even longer if the financial crisis hadn’t intervened.

Now, a long-running Ponzi scheme requires a narrative — and the narrative is where crypto really excels. […]

are cryptocurrencies headed for a crash sometime soon? Not necessarily. One fact that gives even crypto skeptics like me pause is the durability of gold as a highly valued asset. Gold, after all, suffers from pretty much the same problems as Bitcoin. People may think of it as money, but it lacks any attributes of a useful currency: You can’t actually use it to make transactions — try buying a new car with gold ingots — and its purchasing power has been extremely unstable. […]

It’s conceivable that one or two cryptocurrencies will somehow achieve similar longevity.

Or maybe not. For one thing, governments are well aware that cryptocurrencies are being used by bad actors, and may well crack down in a way they never did on gold trading.

The good news is that none of this matters very much. Because Bitcoin and its relatives haven’t managed to achieve any meaningful economic role, what happens to their value is basically irrelevant to those of us not playing the crypto game.

{ Paul Krugman/NY Times | Continue reading }

related { Whatever Bitcoin Is, It Isn’t Acting Like Money }

Every day, the same, again

33.jpgCara Delevingne is auctioning off an NFT about her vagina

40% of university students found to be addicted to their smartphone

survey of 4,989 randomly sampled undergraduate students at a large U.S. university — The most prevalent general sexual behaviors were solo masturbation (88.6%), oral sex (79.4% received, 78.4% performed), penile-vaginal intercourse (73.5%), and partnered masturbation (71.1%). Anal intercourse was the least prevalent of these behaviors (16.8% received, 25.3% performed). Among those with any partnered sexual experience, 43.0% had choked a partner, 47.3% had been choked, 59.1% had been lightly spanked and 12.1% had been slapped on the face during sex.

lyrics of popular songs have become increasingly simple over time … simpler songs entering the charts were more successful, reaching higher chart positions

By studying the genomes of people over the age of 105, an international team of researchers has identified several genetic factors that appear linked to human longevity — and they center on the body’s ability to repair its own DNA.

Last year, more people in San Francisco died of overdoses than of covid-19

Russia’s Defense Minister suggested he wants to clone a group of ancient warriors

virtually all ransomware strains have a built-in failsafe designed to cover the backsides of the malware purveyors: They simply will not install on a Microsoft Windows computer that already has one of many types of virtual keyboards installed — such as Russian or Ukrainian.

Ethereum’s energy consumption will drop by more than 99% as it transitions from mining to staking

How corporations buy—and sell—food made with prison labor

Dissolving the Fermi Paradox

Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields

Why 99% of ocean plastic pollution is “missing”

9 Fascinating Facts About Urine

Natura naturans

for every generation until now, climate change has always been “the next generation’s problem.”

{ Real Life | Continue reading }

Upcoming UFO report will be ‘difficult to explain,’ former national intelligence official says

For some Navy pilots, UFO sightings were an ordinary event: ‘Every day for at least a couple years’

‘Sightings all over the world’

‘I don’t want to be 20 cent’ –50 cent

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Between the 1970s and the early aughts, the incidence of myopia in the US nearly doubled, to 42 percent. Myopia’s rise has been the starkest in Asia; one survey in Korea found a rate as high as 96 percent among teenagers.

Clearly, something is going on. But scientists can’t agree on exactly what. Being constantly tethered to devices and books indoors might be part of it: Based on a handful of large epidemiological studies on myopia, spending time outdoors—especially in early childhood—reduces the onset of myopia. […]

Neuroscientists discovered the classic animal model for myopia by accident in the 1970s, when they were sewing one eye shut in newborn monkeys to study the development of the brain’s visual system. […] Around the same time as the eye-sewing experiments, neuroscientists figured out they could do the same in chickens and tree shrews—much easier to keep in the lab than monkeys. And instead of sewing the eyelid shut, they could just put what looks like half a ping pong ball over the eye. This “form deprivation” model of myopia has inspired some fascinating science. In 2010, for example, Morgan’s collaborators found that exposure to bright light could reverse this type of induced myopia in chickens. Further experiments pinned down the mechanism, too: Light activates the neurotransmitter dopamine, which prevents the eyes from growing longer.

{ Wired | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

21.jpgMammals can breathe through anus in emergencies

Frequency of pubic hair transfer during sexual intercourse

How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life? A new app is offering you the chance to do just that. Investors include Peter Thiel Investors include Peter Thiel. Unrelated: And Peter Thiel’s twin brother invests $10 million in two Senate candidates

Study finds alarming levels of ‘forever chemicals’ in US mothers’ breast milk — Toxic chemicals known as PFAS found in all 50 samples tested at levels nearly 2,000 times what is considered safe in drinking water. PFAS, or per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 compounds that are used to make products like food packaging, clothing and carpeting water and stain resistant. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down and have been found to accumulate in humans.

Tiny, Wireless, Injectable Chips Use Ultrasound to Monitor Body Processes

I recently completed a painstaking analysis of 30 years of research on human brain sex differences […] Except for the simple difference in size, there are no meaningful differences between men’s and women’s brain structure or activity

COVID virus particles found in the penis tissue of men who’d had COVID 6-8 months earlier (both severe & mild COVID) […] severe erectile dysfunction […] total sperm count was lower […] decrease in genital size.

Is oral sex more Covid-safe than kissing?

A sex-toy company in Asia is “borrowing” the likenesses of Instagram influencers—without their consent—to create best-selling dolls

Exxon uses Big Tobacco’s playbook to downplay the climate crisis, Harvard study finds

Howard Thurston thrilled people with his own brand of stage magic, a giant production requiring 40 tons of equipment. Today, he’s all but forgotten, eclipsed in history by his contemporary Harry Houdini, even though Houdini was more of an escape artist than a magician. But in his day, Thurston was the best.

10 Tales of Manuscript Burning (And Some That Survived)

‘Belonging is stronger than facts.’ —Zeynep Tufekci

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In February, after reading a Reddit thread about Dogecoin’s potential, Mr. Contessoto decided to go all in. He maxed out his credit cards, borrowed money using Robinhood’s margin trading feature and spent everything he had on the digital currency — investing about $250,000 in all. […] The value of his Dogecoin holdings today? Roughly $2 million. […]

He is also emblematic of a new kind of hyper-online investor who is winning by applying the skills of the digital attention economy — sharing memes, cultivating buzz, producing endless streams of content for social media — to the financial markets. These investors, mostly young men, don’t behave rationally in the old-fashioned, Homo economicus sense. They pick investments not based on their underlying fundamentals or the estimates of Wall Street analysts, but on looser criteria, such as how funny they are, how futuristic they seem or how many celebrities are tweeting about them. […]

These investors, mostly young men, don’t behave rationally in the old-fashioned, Homo economicus sense. They pick investments not based on their underlying fundamentals or the estimates of Wall Street analysts, but on looser criteria, such as how funny they are, how futuristic they seem or how many celebrities are tweeting about them. Their philosophy is that in today’s media-saturated world, attention is the most valuable commodity of all, and that anything that is attracting a great deal of it must be worth something.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

‘Try to be free: you will die of hunger.’ –Cioran

Apparently someone sat Elon Musk down and told him where Bitcoins come from […] The funny move here would be if Tesla Inc. had dumped all its Bitcoins at the highs. […] The source of value for Bitcoin is not its use as a currency or economic importance; the source of value for Bitcoin — for everything — is simple proximity to Elon Musk. […]

Mark Zuckerberg shared a picture of his pet goats on Monday, introducing them to the world as Bitcoin and Max.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

related { Tesla’s Musk halts use of bitcoin for car purchases }

Every day, the same, again

32.jpgSome Amazon managers say they ‘hire to fire’ people just to meet the internal turnover goal every year

1,000 feral cats released onto Chicago streets to tackle rat explosion

Implanted Wireless Device Triggers Mice To Form Instant Bond

Want To Know Whether A Movie Or Book Will Be A Hit? Look At How Emotional The Reviews Are

FBI warns of cybercriminals abusing search ads to promote phishing sites

Endless scrolling. That’s one of the telltale signs of a novel phenomenon our new research identifies as algorithmic fatigue. People who spend ages browsing streaming services, looking for something new to watch, are some of the many examples of the growing numbers of consumers who are now finding that AI systems fall short.

The Instagram ads Facebook won’t show you

Why the US has two different highway fonts

‘Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.’ –Cioran

For a few minutes during trading on Wednesday, for example, the price of Ethereum Classic jumped well above $100 on the Coinbase exchange. The digital token was trading at less than $80 at other venues, offering an obvious opportunity for investors to make money simply by buying in one place and selling in another.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

5.jpgThe first bottles of an “artisanal spirit” made using apples grown near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant have been seized by Ukrainian authorities.

I’ve had the same supper for 10 years. I have two pieces of fish, an onion, an egg, baked beans and biscuits. Being a farmer means every day is the same.

MDMA Passes a Big Test For PTSD Treatment — most participants correctly guessed whether they received a placebo or MDMA [NY Times | Nature | PDF]

Distracted nurse gives woman 6 doses of COVID vaccine in a single shot

A batch of new studies show coronavirus vaccines work against new variants

The 1918 pandemic began in the spring with an intermittent first wave no deadlier than ordinary influenza, then seemed to disappear. A more contagious and more lethal variant caused the deadly second wave, and then it also seemed to disappear. In March 1919, another variant sparked a third wave much less deadly than the second wave but more lethal than seasonal influenza. First wave illness protected against the second wave, but neither first nor second wave infection protected against the third wave variant. Further mutations, combined with an improved ability of the immune system to respond, helped turn the virus into an ordinary seasonal influenza — until it was replaced by the 1957 pandemic influenza virus. Covid-19 was never going to disappear, but there is a reasonable chance that it will follow the 1918 precedent and become an endemic influenza-like illness that kills — serious enough, to be sure — and will require vaccine updates but will not require shutdowns. That would be the best case. [Washington Post]

Amazon Fake Reviews Scam Exposed in Data Breach

Verizon sells media businesses including Yahoo and AOL to private equity firm Apollo for $5 billion

The plan to kill Osama bin Laden—from the spycraft to the assault to its bizarre political backdrop—as told by the people in the room.

Cats are the only asocial animal we have successfully domesticated. We’re disappointed that we don’t bond with them as easily as dogs. But are we just missing the signs?

Keeping time accurately comes with a price. The maximum accuracy of a clock is directly related to how much disorder, or entropy, it creates every time it ticks.

Hyperreality, in semiotics and postmodernism, is an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced postmodern societies. Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins.

“It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real”

We asked journalists for the worst pitch they ever sent. Here’s what they said.

A true brownstone is actually built of brick; only the facade is made of brownstone.

Fonts in Popular Culture Identified Vol. 3

Every day, the same, again

31.jpgScientists Have Taught Bees to Smell COVID-19 Infections

Knives manufactured from frozen human feces do not work

While children felt about 3 years older than their chronological age, older adults (60+ years) felt between 10.74 and 21.07 years younger

10 residents live in isolation at Hawaii’s last leprosy community

Alien plants: The search for photosynthesis on other worlds

Dogecoin is a codebase fork of Luckycoin, which itself was a codebase fork of Junkcoin, which was a codebase fork of Litecoin, which in turn is a codebase fork of Bitcoin

The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?

A future without passwords

How Big Pharma Finds Sick Users on Facebook — Though Facebook does not offer advertisers categories that explicitly identify people’s health conditions, The Markup identified dozens of ads for prescription pharmaceuticals targeted at people with “interests” in topics like “bourbon,” “oxygen,” and “Diabetes mellitus awareness.”

when we encounter opposing views in the age and context of social media, it’s not like reading them in a newspaper while sitting alone. It’s like hearing them from the opposing team while sitting with our fellow fans in a football stadium. Online, we’re connected with our communities, and we seek approval from our like-minded peers. We bond with our team by yelling at the fans of the other one. In sociology terms, we strengthen our feeling of “in-group” belonging by increasing our distance from and tension with the “out-group”—us versus them. […] Belonging is stronger than facts.

Psychoanalytic interpretations of the American television series The Office — most of the time no work is done at all

The 3,000-year-old Luxor obelisk first arrived in Paris on 21 December 1833, and three years later, on 25 October 1836, was moved to the centre of Place de la Concorde by King Louis-Phillipe. It had been given to France by Muhammad Ali Pasha, ruler of Ottoman Egypt in exchange for a French mechanical clock. After the Obelisk was taken, the mechanical clock provided in exchange was discovered to be faulty, having probably been damaged during transport. The clock still exists in a clock-tower at Cairo Citadel and is still not working. [Wikipedia]

Gateses’ mansion, called Xanadu 2.0 […] A 20-car garage is built into the hillside […] There’s a trampoline room. […] The house has just seven bedrooms but 24 bathrooms

Could this famous con man be lying about his story? [Frank W. Abagnale Jr. / Catch Me if You Can] A new book suggests he is

DeLillo originally wanted to call the book Panasonic, but the Panasonic Corporation objected

the higher the price of this NFT goes, the more lives will be saved

Emails show Steve Jobs referred to Facebook as ‘Fecebook’

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Before coronavirus shuttered the world, a typical month for Connecticut native Zac Mathias was packed with appointments for microneedling (a collagen-stimulating process that involves repeated pin-pricks all over the face), regular resurfacing hydrafacials, rejuvenating laser treatments and the occasional red-light therapy session.

The beauty influencer particularly misses his weekly infrared saunas, where light is used to heat the air instead of traditional steam. The technology has been praised for reversing the effects of photo-aging. Mathias is 18. […]

“Skin care was always a self-care time; that’s how I decompress at night.” […]

“Premature aging at 16. What are my options?” […]

“I’m 15 in 2 days and I’m already using retinol, vitamin C and gua sha with my sunscreen.” […]

Brands have made the fear of looking older into a lucrative business, with the anti-aging market predicted to pull in over $88 billion in global sales by 2026. […]

“There’s a new beauty persona called the Skinvestors, a next-gen, science-first beauty consumer who sees skin care as an investment.

{ CNN | Continue reading }

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There are more real estate agents than actual houses for sale in the United States.

Any given day, you’re likely to see about half a million homes for sale, and there are 1.5 million members of the National Association of Realtors.

{ NPR | Continue reading }

images { Jerry Lewis, The Ladies Man, 1961 | Georges Perec, La vie mode d’emploi, 1978 }

Every day, the same, again

4.jpgBrazilian Amazon released more carbon than it absorbed over past 10 years

The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code — Bill Benter did the impossible: He wrote an algorithm that couldn’t lose at the track. Close to a billion dollars later, he tells his story for the first time.

how we applied for a job with a ransomware gang

A deadly California wildfire was set to cover up a woman’s murder

Elderly couple uses military Morse Code training to escape Tennessee assisted living facility

Western diet tied to adult acne

Grumpy face during adult sleep

5 years old, the age at which children first become concerned with other people’s evaluations of them

It appears that having a son decreases support for feminist and egalitarian gender attitudes in both men and women

Citizens have made “huge sacrifices” over the last eight months to try and contain the coronavirus, he said in a statement. “In such circumstances it is easy and natural to feel apathetic and demotivated, to experience fatigue.”

NYPD Returns Its Police ‘Robodog’ After a Public Outcry

Consider Amazon. The company perfected the one-click checkout. But canceling a $119 Prime subscription is a labyrinthine process that requires multiple screens and clicks. Or Ticketmaster. Online customers are bombarded with options for ticket insurance, subscription services for razors and other items and, when users navigate through those, they can expect to receive a battery of text messages from the company with no clear option to stop them. These are examples of “dark patterns.” [NY Times]

California appeals court finds Amazon responsible for third party sellers’ products

From steel and copper to corn and lumber, commodities started 2021 with a bang, surging to levels not seen for years.

The Bahamas is one of three countries to launch a digital currency, along with China and Cambodia.

The Secret Mission To Unearth Part Of A 142-Year-Old Experiment

While captive in a Navy program, a beluga whale named Noc began to mimic human speech

Is it ‘Zoom face’ or is the pandemic aging you?

I’m looking for a deconstructed bra that does not ride up, but is less constricting than a traditional underwire. Any suggestions? [NY Times]

Andre Agassi’s method of reading Boris Becker’s serve

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Lake

‘There are many people today who see that modern society is heading toward disaster in one form or another, and who moreover recognize technology as the common thread linking the principal dangers that hang over us.’ –Theodore Kaczynski

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if you want to build a global taxi service that people can hail from a smartphone app, one way to do it is to coordinate with the taxi commissions of hundreds of cities to get regulatory approvals and make sure that you comply with local requirements, and another way to do it is to completely ignore those regulations and just launch your app everywhere. The second approach might expose you to ruinous fines or shutdown orders or bad publicity or prison, but it also might work; you might end up so popular in so many places that the local regulators can’t ban you and will have to accept your proposed terms. […]

If you want to build self-driving cars, you will need to test them. […] [a] way to test them is to just send out a bunch of cars to drive themselves everywhere, without asking for permission, and see what happens. […]

Federal agencies say he’s breaking the rules and endangering people. Mr. Musk says they’re holding back progress. […] When asked to comment on the specifics of this article, Mr. Musk replied with a “poop” emoji.

{ Matt Levine/Bloomberg | Continue reading }

previously:

Driverify [cryptocurrency]: Developed by Tesla’s self-driving-car division. Cars mine Driverify with spare computing power while idling, and spend it bidding against each other for right-of-way if they arrive at a four-way stop sign at the same time (users can preprogram how aggressively their cars bid in these auctions). […]

Banned [by the SEC] because: in the Phoenix suburb where the system was being tested, a pedestrian and Driverify-equipped car reached an intersection at the same time. The car dutifully wired a bid, but the pedestrian failed to respond. The car interpreted this as a bid of zero and ran into her.

{ Astral Codex Ten | Continue reading }

related { NASA suspends SpaceX’s $2.9 billion moon lander contract after rivals protest }

‘The difference between investment banking now and 20 years ago is that now, the customers have bigger yachts.’ –GSElevator

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The horses in these online races are NFTs, or “nonfungible tokens,” meaning they exist only as digital assets. […] But unlike the vast majority of NFTs each digital horse constitutes a “breathing NFT.” […] “It can breed, has a bloodline, has a life of its own. It races, it has genes it passes on, and it lives on an algorithm so no two horses are the same.” […]

One player sold a stable full of digital racehorses for $252,000. Another got $125,000 for a single racehorse. So far, more than 11,000 digital horses have been sold on the platform.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

image { “Disaster girl” makes $500,000 in NFT sale of her viral meme }

Shaken, not stirred

One instructor at the CIA came up with an ingenious way to use the Starbucks gift card as a signaling tool instead of the traditional chalk marks and lowered window blinds.

He gives one [gift card] to each of his assets and tells them, “If you need to see me, buy a coffee.” Then he checks the card numbers on a cybercafé computer each day, and if the balance on one is depleted, he knows he’s got a meeting. Saves him having to drive past a whole slew of different physical signal sites each day [to check for chalk marks and lowered window blinds]. And the card numbers aren’t tied to identities, so the whole thing is pretty secure.

{ NPR | Continue reading }

This sentence is false

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Why AI is Harder Than We Think

The year 2020 was supposed to herald the arrival of self-driving cars. Five years earlier, a headline in The Guardian predicted that “From 2020 you will become a permanent backseat driver.” In 2016 Business Insider assured us that “10 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020.” Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk promised in 2019 that “A year from now, we’ll have over a million cars with full self-driving, software…everything” […]

none of these predictions has come true. […]

like all AI systems of the past, deep-learning systems can exhibit brittleness— unpredictable errors when facing situations that differ from the training data. This is because such systems are susceptible to shortcut learning: learning statistical associations in the training data that allow the machine to produce correct answers but sometimes for the wrong reasons. In other words, these machines don’t learn the concepts we are trying to teach them, but rather they learn shortcuts to correct answers on the training set—and such shortcuts will not lead to good generalizations. Indeed, deep learning systems often cannot learn the abstract concepts that would enable them to transfer what they have learned to new situations or tasks. Moreover, such systems are vulnerable to attack from “adversarial perturbations”—specially engineered changes to the input that are either imperceptible or irrelevant to humans, but that induce the system to make errors.

{ arXiv | Continue reading }