his buildings needed to be the biggest, the grandest, the tallest (in the pursuit of which he skipped floors in the numbering to make them seem higher)

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studies have shown that America has been getting more narcissistic since the Seventies […] one study found narcissistic traits to be rising as quickly as obesity, while yet another showed that almost one-third of high school students in America in 2005 said that they expected to eventually become famous.

{ Rolling Stone | Continue reading }

In the end, Decalogue VI seems less interested in labeling its characters than in recognizing that sex — no matter how casual — still carries a psychological/spiritual weight

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The team say that sextortion emails demanding cryptocurrency payment first appeared in 2018. The scammers send their emails via botnets, such as Necurs or Cutwail. These are global networks of computers infected with malware that send out spam on demand.

This is offered as a service on the dark net. Various researchers have shown that spammers pay botnet owners between $100 and $500 to send a million spam emails. They can even rent botnets at a cost of $10,000 per month, which allows them to send 100 million spam messages. […]

Back in 2008, one group of cyber-crime experts infiltrated a botnet for 26 days and monitored spammers sending 350 million emails for a pharmaceutical product. The result was 28 sales. This generated a revenue of $2,732, which corresponds to a conversion rate of just 0.00001%. Nevertheless, the experts concluded that by using additional botnets, spammers could generate around $9,500 per day which adds up to $3.5 million per year.

Sextortion has the potential to be much more profitable, say Paquet-Clouston and co. The reason is that it does not require the spammers to host any kind of e-commerce website, or to procure, store, and ship products of any kind. And cryptocurrency payments are simpler than bank payments and do not require the involvement of a friendly bank.

{ Technology Review | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Caleb Brown, Sports Explosion, 2009 }

‘The weak and ill-constituted shall perish: first principle of our philanthropy. And one shall help them to do so.’ –Nietzsche

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Tesla is a car company whose stock trades like a tech company. Tesla might sell 400,000 cars this year. By contrast, Ford might sell 6 million, GM 8.5 million. Granted, the Tesla Model 3 looks and drives like a dream. But when you count salaries and overhead according to Tesla’s own quarterly statements, it costs more to make a Tesla than people are willing to pay for it. And that calculus includes the federal subsidies that will dry up on December 31 of this year. Ford is worth $35 billion and makes money on its cars. Tesla is worth $40 billion and doesn’t. How is this math possible?

Tesla’s stock trades at such a large multiple of its revenue because Musk has convinced shareholders that it’s not a car company, but an artificial-intelligence company that happens to use a fleet of 500,000 cars to collect and label data. It’s a clever sleight-of-hand, but it’s not fooling those who matter. As a fund manager on Wall Street once told me, “You’re not a hedge-fund manager until you’ve shorted Tesla at least once.” […]

We estimate that ninety percent of the startups in the autonomous-vehicle space today will not exist in five years. […] The big crunch is coming because, over the next year, all the major auto and trucking companies will decide on who will be the suppliers for their main production lines in 2022. This won’t be for full self-driving, but for something a little more modest if still vitally important: a car so safe it is incapable of crashing.

{ National Review | Continue reading }

‘Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.’ –George Bernard Shaw

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Faces in general and attractive faces, in particular, are frequently used in marketing, advertising, and packaging design. However, few studies have examined the effects of attractive faces on people’s choice behavior.

The present research examines whether attractive (vs. unattractive) faces increase individuals’ inclination to choose either healthy or unhealthy foods. […]

exposure to attractive (vs. unattractive) opposite‐sex faces increased choice likelihood of unhealthy foods.

{ Psychology & Marketing | Continue reading }

offset lithograph / vinyl cover { Damien Hirst, Kate Moss — Use Money Cheat Death, 2009 | The record is a one-sided, white vinyl disc with a mainly monotonous beeping interrupted by what is purported to be Kate Moss’ voice in telephone call mode for about 30 seconds, then more beeping and finally Damien Hirst himself telling us that it’s okay for artists to earn money. }

Every day, the same, again

1.jpgNasa said to be investigating first allegation of a crime committed in space (an astronaut accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse from the International Space Station)

Why is there a Braille message on my e-scooter? It’s not “how-to-ride” instructions. Blind people need to know whom to contact if they trip over them. [Washington Post]

Chinese murder suspect ‘caught by AI software that spotted dead person’s face’

YouTube removes videos of robots fighting for “animal cruelty”

Scientists Have Created a Vaccine for Cat Allergies, but You Can’t Have It Yet

The neurologist who hacked his brain — and almost lost his mind [Thanks Tim]

When the forum post author used an enthusiastic language style, he was perceived as more manipulative, less knowledgeable, and his information was perceived as less credible.

Are there systematic trends around the world in levels of creativity, aggressiveness, life satisfaction, individualism, trust, and suicidality?

We show that, according to numerous measures, those with tattoos, especially visible ones, are more short-sighted and impulsive than the non-tattooed

Life on alien worlds could be more diverse than on Earth

‘Plastic recycling is a myth’: what really happens to your rubbish?

She asked the doctor to locate a sperm donor. Scores of children born through artificial insemination have learned from DNA tests that their biological fathers were the doctors who performed the procedure.

US Escape Room Industry Report More: For around $30, you and a handful of friends/colleagues/strangers are “trapped” in some kind of space together and must collaboratively puzzle through a series of challenges to win your freedom.

A rash of marijuana thefts has Seattle growers wondering: Is the government leading the thieves right to them?

Companies are increasingly insisting their ads do not appear near articles or videos that contain any of a long list of words. Top 15 Forbidden Words: Dead, Shooting, Murder, Gun, Rape, Bomb, Died, Attack, Killed, Suicide, Trump, Crash, Crime, Explosion, Accident.

JPEG XL includes several features that help transition from the legacy JPEG format

I left my body in a Pizza Hut bathroom [Thanks Tim]

And the cloud that took the form (when the rest of Heaven was blue) of a demon in my view

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Cooping was an alleged form of electoral fraud in the United States cited in relation to the death of Edgar Allan Poe in October 1849, by which unwilling participants were forced to vote, often several times over, for a particular candidate in an election. According to several of Poe’s biographers, these innocent bystanders would be grabbed off the street by so-called ‘cooping gangs’ or ‘election gangs’ working on the payroll of a political candidate, and they would be kept in a room, called the “coop”, and given alcoholic beverages in order for them to comply. If they refused to cooperate, they would be beaten or even killed. Often their clothing would be changed to allow them to vote multiple times. Sometimes the victims would be forced to wear disguises such as wigs, fake beards or mustaches to prevent them from being recognized by voting officials at polling stations.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

On October 3, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, “in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance”, according to Joseph W. Walker who found him. He was taken to the Washington Medical College where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849 at 5:00 in the morning. He was not coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own.

He is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring.

All medical records and documents, including Poe’s death certificate, have been lost, if they ever existed.

Newspapers at the time reported Poe’s death as “congestion of the brain” or “cerebral inflammation”, common euphemisms for death from disreputable causes such as alcoholism.

The actual cause of death remains a mystery. […] One theory dating from 1872 suggests that cooping was the cause of Poe’s death, a form of electoral fraud in which citizens were forced to vote for a particular candidate, sometimes leading to violence and even murder. […] Cooping had become the standard explanation for Poe’s death in most of his biographies for several decades, though his status in Baltimore may have made him too recognizable for this scam to have worked. […]

Immediately after Poe’s death, his literary rival Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote a slanted high-profile obituary under a pseudonym, filled with falsehoods that cast him as a lunatic and a madman, and which described him as a person who “walked the streets, in madness or melancholy, with lips moving in indistinct curses, or with eyes upturned in passionate prayers, (never for himself, for he felt, or professed to feel, that he was already damned)”.

The long obituary appeared in the New York Tribune signed “Ludwig” on the day that Poe was buried. It was soon further published throughout the country. The piece began, “Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it.” “Ludwig” was soon identified as Griswold, an editor, critic, and anthologist who had borne a grudge against Poe since 1842. Griswold somehow became Poe’s literary executor and attempted to destroy his enemy’s reputation after his death.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

42.jpg Man Hospitalized for 10+ Day Erection

Florida man reports handgun stolen during orgy at his home

Computers start to take over leadership functions once performed by human leaders, e.g., assigning tasks to human workers.

should we eat our research subjects? – it seems that Animal Studies scholars are divided on that issue; some do, some don’t

study found a strong correlation between adultery and workplace misconduct by corporate executives and financial advisers

91.4% of worries did not come true for those with generalized anxiety disorder

Jeff Bezos has done something that even the nonprofits receiving his millions remark is highly unusual: He has given them life-changing money with virtually no restrictions, formal vetting, or oversight

Self-Checkout Thievery“Anyone who pays for more than half of their stuff in self checkout is a total moron.”

Do We Create Shoplifters?

Scientists develop ‘artificial tongue’ to detect fake whiskies. The technology can also be used to identify poisons as well as to monitor rivers.

A research team is working on training mice to understand irregularities within speech, a task the animals can do with remarkable accuracy

When you go to a website and load a page, in the milliseconds that it takes for that page to load, there are real-time auctions running in the background that determine which ads to load on your page. Almost all online ads are delivered in this way. How Digital Advertising Markets Really Work

Hackers working for the Russian government have been using printers, video decoders, and other so-called Internet-of-things devices as a beachhead to penetrate targeted computer networks

Human life is fragile but tardigrades and other extremophiles show that life itself is in little danger of disappearing

Dark matter may be older than the Big Bang

When our cherished ideas are contradicted by the facts, we must avoid the human tendency to double down on those ideas

Dynamic Information Design with Diminishing Sensitivity Over News

Having mastered Space Invaders, chess, and Go, AI tackles video soccer

Most American books published before 1964 never extended their copyright, meaning they’re in the public domain today. Where to download these free Public domain eBooks

A team of scientists have unveiled a vodka which has been produced using grains and water from the Chernobyl exclusion zone, which they claim is completely safe to drin

Michel Foucault’s LSD Trip in the Valley of Death

Fart-proof underwear

What happens to $47 billion of lease obligations if there’s a recession?

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{ What makes WeWork worth more, the company seems to be saying, is that it’s a tech company + Everything about the company is over-the-top: its growth, losses, potential conflicts of interest and financial gymnastics + The company’s IPO prospectus is an exercise in ducking reality }

‘No, everything stays, doesn’t it? Everything.’ –Flaubert

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Before you hand over your number, ask yourself: Is it worth the risk? […]

Your phone number may have now become an even stronger identifier than your full name. I recently found this out firsthand when I asked Fyde, a mobile security firm in Palo Alto, Calif., to use my digits to demonstrate the potential risks of sharing a phone number.

He quickly plugged my cellphone number into a public records directory. Soon, he had a full dossier on me — including my name and birth date, my address, the property taxes I pay and the names of members of my family.

From there, it could have easily gotten worse. Mr. Tezisci could have used that information to try to answer security questions to break into my online accounts. Or he could have targeted my family and me with sophisticated phishing attacks.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

image { Bell telephone magazine, March/April 1971 }

‘The formula of our happiness: a Yea, a Nay, a straight line, a goal.’ –Nietzsche

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When faced with a personal problem people typically give better advice to others than to themselves. This has been termed ‘Solomon’s Paradox’, named after the biblical King Solomon who was wise for others, but not so when it came to making decisions that would have an impact on his own standing.

Suppose that instead of imagining a problem from the perspective of another you were actually able to have a conversation with yourself about it, but from the embodied perspective of another.

A previous study showed how it is possible to enact internal dialogue in virtual reality (VR) through participants alternately occupying two different virtual bodies – one representing themselves and the other Sigmund Freud. They could maintain a self-conversation by explaining their problem to the virtual Freud and then from the embodied perspective of Freud see and hear the explanation by their virtual doppelganger, and then give some advice. Alternating between the two bodies they could maintain a self-dialogue, as if between two different people.

Here we show that the process of alternating between their own and the Freud body is important for successful psychological outcomes. An experiment was carried out with 58 people, 29 in the body swapping Self-Conversation condition and 29 in a condition where they only spoke to a Scripted Freud character. The results showed that the Self-Conversation method results in a greater perception of change and help compared to the Scripted. We compare this method with the distancing paradigm where participants imagine resolving a problem from a first or third person perspective.

We consider the method as a possible strategy for self-counselling.

{ Nature | Continue reading }

synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas { Andy Warhol, Are You “Different?” (Positive), 1985 }

Just a whisk brisk sly spry spink spank sprint of a thing theresomere, saultering

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An artificial intelligence system should be recognised as the inventor of two ideas in patents filed on its behalf, a team of academics says.

The AI has designed interlocking food containers that are easy for robots to grasp and a warning light that flashes in a rhythm that is hard to ignore.

Patents offices insist innovations are attributed to humans - to avoid legal complications that would arise if corporate inventorship were recognised.

The academics say this is “outdated”.

{ BBC | Continue reading }

enamel on linen { Christopher Wool, Untitled, 2007 }

Every day, the same, again

43.jpgScientists are making human-monkey hybrids in China

Scientists create contact lenses that zoom when you blink twice

Facebook gets closer to letting you type with your mind

Apple has said that it will temporarily suspend its practice of using human contractors to grade snippets of Siri voice recordings for accuracy. Contractors “regularly hear confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex” as part of their job.

women’s voices are becoming deeper in some countries

Employee happiness and business success are linked, study

Living Near Trees, Not Just Green Space, Improves Wellbeing

More than 1 in 4 delivery drivers are eating orders and Delivery drivers involved in Amazon theft ring

A two-track algorithm to detect deepfake images — can spot image manipulation at the level of single-pixels

How You Move Your Phone Can Reveal Insights Into Your Personality

Computers can’t tell if you’re happy when you smile. Emotion recognition is a $20 billion industry, but a new study says the most popular method is deeply flawed.

Emotional Expressions Reconsidered: Challenges to Inferring Emotion From Human Facial Movements

Joseph D’Alesandro, 20, made nearly $2,000 a month from phone farming back in 2017. Other phone farmers said they’ve made hundreds of dollars a month from passively running apps on their phones.

The project, which launched in July 2016, now hosts 82 tools that can be used to decrypt 109 different types of ransomware.

How Over 25 People Got Scammed Into Working At A Nonexistent Game Company

evidence suggests it is possible for the vast majority of Americans to eat healthily and affordably

Bernie Madoff asks Trump to reduce his prison sentence

the method for taking a shit as an Apollo astronaut was horrifyingly simple

BrandoMOtv [Thanks Tim]