Monday, August 7th, 2017


Net Flux and Chill

It's been an especially warm summer the Pacific Northwest, and that will drive more residents to get air conditioning in their homes and offices. In doing so, they'll be joining in on the adoption of a technology that has reshaped America. "It enabled the sweeping postwar development of the South, where all new single-family homes today include central air. In automobiles, it made the commutes between air-conditioned homes and air-conditioned offices possible. In the Southwest, its arrival facilitated new methods of rapid construction, replacing traditional building designs that once naturally withstood the region's desert climate." But here's the rub. By using air conditioners all the time, we're contributing to the climate shifts that create the need for more air conditioners. From the NYT Upshot: How Air-Conditioning Conquered America.

+ Staff at the USDA have been told to avoid using the phrase climate change. (Exceptions will be made for staff members in places where the sea level rises above their knees.)

+ ReCode: Even with all our gadgets, Americans are using less electricity than 10 years ago.


Genericized Anxiety

"Consumers have grown accustomed to being told by insurers — and middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers -- that they must give up their brand-name drugs in favor of cheaper generics. But some are finding the opposite is true, as pharmaceutical companies squeeze the last profits from products that are facing cheaper generic competition." (I'm starting to wonder if big pharma always has our best interests in mind...) From ProPublica: Take the Generic Drug, Patients Are Told -- Unless Insurers Say No.


Testy Exchange

Over the weekend, the UN unanimously approved harsh new sanctions against North Korea. Sec of State Tillerson indicated that the US is still interested in direct negotiations if NK halts its missile tests.

+ North Korea blamed the US for the new sanctions and responded: "We affirm that we'll never place our nuclear and ballistic missiles programme on the negotiating table, and won't budge an inch on strengthening nuclear armament."


Gaza Stripped

"To be honest with you, we do nothing." "We are the generation that waits." "I stare into space." Those are just of few of the telling quotes in WaPo's piece: Gaza's wasted generation is going nowhere. "Unemployment for Gaza's young adults hovers around 60 percent."

+ "After Abbas, there will be no other truly weighty representative and legitimate Palestinian leadership, and no coherent national movement to sustain it for a long time to come." The New Yorker: The Decline of the Palestinian National Movement.


Chicago’s Lawlapalooza

"These new conditions -- which would give federal officials the power to enter city facilities and interrogate arrestees at will and would force the city to detain individuals longer than justified by probable cause, solely to permit federal officials to investigate their immigration status -- are unauthorized and unconstitutional." Chicago files a lawsuit against the Justice Department's sanctuary city policy.

+ Podcast segment from Reveal: No country for sanctuary seekers: "We look into places that offer sanctuary to those immigrants – and what the conflict between federal and local policies means for them."


Cable Guise

"China's relationship with Africa -- for decades defined by resource-for-infrastructure deals -- is evolving, as Africa becomes wealthier and China's foreign policy objectives grow more ambitious." So what's the next phase of China's march to become the world's leading super power? Free cable. From the LA Times: China has conquered Kenya: Inside Beijing's new strategy to win African hearts and minds.

+ Reuters: "Nervous Kenyans stockpiled food and water on Monday and police prepared emergency first aid kits as families headed to their ethnic heartlands on the eve of an election many fear could descend into violence."


Baiter’s Gonna Bait

"By confronting both the various breeds of white supremacists with fury and violence, we're giving them better media attention and recruitment tools than the worst of the worst could ever hope to muster for themselves." If an alt-right hate group had a rally and no one responded, would it still make a sound? It's time to test that strategy. As TNR's Bob Moser explains, try to out-protest hate groups gives them exactly what they want.


Can You Dig It?

The internal combustion engine led a lot of people to start drilling for oil. The electric car revolution will change a lot of things. For starters, we're digging for something else. From Bloomberg: "Electric Car Boom Drives Rush to Mining's $90 Billion Hub."

+ This feel somehow related: Competitive Gravedigging Is a Real Thing.


(Slot) Machine Learning

It's hard to find a feel-good hacking story. But if you've got to hack something, I suppose a slot machine is decent choice. From Wired: Meet Alex, the Russian casino hacker who makes millions targeting slot machines."They use phones to record video of a vulnerable machine in action, then transmit the footage to an office in St. Petersburg. There, Alex and his assistants analyze the video to determine when the games' odds will briefly tilt against the house. They then send timing data to a custom app on an agent's phone; this data causes the phones to vibrate a split second before the agent should press the 'Spin' button."


Bottom of the News

"Few modern artists have as much claim to the self-portrait as photographer Cindy Sherman." So why should she let you kids take all the viral selfies? From Quartz: Cindy Sherman, the art world's patron saint of selfies, is now on Instagram.

+ SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street.

+ Breaking: Guy with incredibly poor judgment makes remarkably obvious point.

+ This seems like a bad t-shirt marketing campaign: "The swastika is coming back, together with peace, together with love, together with respect, together with Freedom. Introducing the new swastika."