Monday, March 11th, 2019


Trolling in the Deep

"The first trans-Atlantic cable was completed in 1858 to connect the United States and Britain. Queen Victoria commemorated the occasion with a message to President James Buchanan that took 16 hours to transmit." While I'm not sure we can say the same for the quality of discourse, transmission speeds have improved quite a bit since then. The route, however, is much the same. The NYT with an interesting look at the undersea cables that connect the world. How the Internet Travels Across Oceans. "People think that data is in the cloud, but it's not. It's in the ocean." (That explains the salty language.)


It’s How You Roll

The CDC is launching its first investigation into e-scooter injuries. A close reading of the findings thus far suggests that the primary problem isn't the machines, it's the humans. "Preliminary observations from the study found that the vast majority of injuries -- 98 percent of them -- happen to riders who aren't wearing helmets. Nearly half of all riders involved in accidents had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, while 52 percent tested positive for an illicit substance. Taylor noted that while many people believe accidents occur at night, they happen at all hours of the day. They also rarely involve another vehicle."


Is it the Plane?

"People from 35 countries died in the crash six minutes after the plane took off from Ethiopia's capital for Nairobi. Ethiopian Airlines said the senior pilot issued a distress call and was told to return but all contact was lost shortly afterward" A crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight killed 157 people, including at least 21 UN staffers. AP: 3 nations ground Boeing 737 Max 8s after Ethiopia crash.

+ "While the flight recorders have now been recovered and must be analyzed, the disaster bore similarities to the doomed Lion Air 737 Max that crashed in October." Bloomberg: Boeing in Crisis After Second 737 Max Crash in Months.


Urban Legend

"I am more involved in politics, and more outspoken about social and racial justice, economic development and feminism than I ever was in Portland. And incidentally, I have not had much time to garden, go fishing, or learn how to can food." Michele Anderson in the NYT: Go Home to Your ‘Dying' Hometown.

+ The deaths of many small towns may have been greatly exaggerated, but the death of their newsrooms has not. AP: Decline in readers, ads leads hundreds of newspapers to fold.


Resting Snitch Face

"The United States Department of Homeland Security is rushing to get those systems up and running at airports across the country. But it's doing so in the absence of proper vetting, regulatory safeguards, and what some privacy advocates argue is in defiance of the law." Buzzfeed: The US Government Will Be Scanning Your Face At 20 Top Airports.

+ "Emotion detection technology requires two techniques: computer vision, to precisely identify facial expressions, and machine learning algorithms to analyze and interpret the emotional content of those facial features." The Guardian: Machines can now allegedly identify anger, fear, disgust and sadness. (Which, ironically, were my first four reactions to this trend...)

+ Facial recognition can be used for security. It can also be used for marketing. How Taylor Swift showed us the scary future of facial recognition.


Anti Freeze

"When Somali refugees arrived in Minnesota starting in 1993, Jewish leaders saw echoes of their forebears who faced virulent anti-Semitism as newcomers to the state more than a century before. The communities developed strong ties, joining to fight hunger and illiteracy and raising money for one another in response to discrimination and threats of violence." WaPo: In Minnesota, Rep. Ilhan Omar's comments cause pain and confusion. (This story points to a noteworthy dichotomy between media-enhanced beltway divisions and actual communities where neighbors are getting along and working together.)


Laundry List

"You're a Russian criminal with millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains but one big problem: Transferring slugs of money or carrying suitcases of cash will raise eyebrows. You need to 'launder' the dough — make the dirty money appear to be the proceeds of legitimate enterprise." Bloomberg: Money to Launder? Here's How (Hint: Find a Bank). I guess the "find a candidate" part comes later...


Don’t Budge

"The president's budget calls for a 23 percent cut in State Department funding, a 15 percent cut in spending by the USDA, and a 31 percent cut in the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency. The budget for Homeland Security would increase by 7.4 percent." The proposed budget also provides a good news for those who were hoping for yet another debate about wall funding.


It’s Good to Be the King

"Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, according to the 2019 Forbes billionaires' list released this week. With an estimated fortune of $131 billion he is the wealthiest man in modern history. But he is by no means the richest man of all time." That title belongs to Mansa Musa. His wealth is described by historians as "incomprehensible."


Bottom of the News

A recent article in MIT Tech Review explained the hipster effect wherein "nonconformists usually act unconventionally in the same way — to end up being exactly the same." But the guy in the article's accompanying stock photo disagreed, got pissed, sent an angry letter, and demanded a retraction: "You used a heavily edited Getty image of me for your recent bit of click-bait about why hipsters all look the same. It's a poorly written and insulting article and somewhat ironically about five years too late to be as desperately relevant as it is attempting to be by using a tired cultural trope to try to spruce up an otherwise disturbing study." But here's the thing. The photo isn't actually of the guy who sent the letter. It just looks like him!

+ "Nothing can actually prepare you for the event when you end up inside the whale."

+ Couple has eaten at the same Wichita restaurant six nights a week for 15 years.