Amit's Planet

May 29, 2017

The Django community aggregator

Code, Code, Code

I'm often asked by new programmers how they can forge a path into using their skills professionally. Or how they can get better at writing software.

How to Improve Your Coding Skills

This was my path. It may not be your path.

  1. I coded. A lot. From silly little scripts to automating tasks to attempting full-blown projects. At work or for fun. I failed a lot, but learned along the way.
  2. I didn't jump from language to language. Instead I stayed in a few places for years and focused my learning on those tools. My 19+ year career can be summed up as FoxPro then Java then Python. In the middle of things I picked up JavaScript. Sure, I've dallied with a few things (Lisp, Haskell, Lua, Perl, ColdFusion, Go), but by staying focused on a small set of tools I'm better than mediocre.
  3. I coded lots. Yes, this is a repeat of #1.
  4. Once I got the basics of a language, I looked up best practices for each of them. Then I religiously adhered to them, even becoming dogmatic about it. In general this means my code is more easily read. More easily debugged. And most importantly, more easily shared.
  5. Did I mention that I coded a lot? You can never get good at anything unless you practice. Another repeat of #1.
  6. I got over my fear/pride of asking questions. Well, mostly, I still am afraid/prideful from time to time. Honestly, by asking questions you aren't showing what you don't know, you are showing you are willing to learn. Also, the simple act of figuring out how to ask a question can put you in the right mindset to determine the answer yourself.
  7. As soon as I asked a question, whether or not I got an answer, I coded some more. Code, code, code! Yet another repeat of #1
  8. Once I've gotten the hang of a language, I looked for cookbooks and/or pocket references on it. I prefer paper copies of tech books (everything else I read is electronic). The recipes in cookbooks become the foundation of my toolkit. The terse, easy-to-find reminders in the pocket reference mean less cognitive overload.
  9. I took those recipes and references and coded with them. Again and again I coded. In work hours or play time. Practice makes perfect! Why do I keep repeating #1?
  10. Over the years I've stayed with the easiest-to-learn stable IDEs/text editors. Yes, I know there are really powerful tools with arcane commands (Vim, EMACS, etc), but I don't want to have to stop what I'm doing to learn new tools. I want to code, not tinker with desktop tools or arcane text editors.
  11. And again, reference back to #1, I use the text editor to write code. Code, code, code! Until my fingers and hands hurt, until I've had to learn how to deal with carpal tunnel syndrome. Code, code, code! It's like learning martial arts, guitar, or anything, repetition of simple actions provides the confidence for you to either combine those actions into something greater or learn something more complex.

What I Wish I Had Done

  • Studied computer science. If I could do it all over again, that would have been the focus of my academic studies. It wouldn't replace anything on my list, the path I've defined remains the same. Code, code, code!
  • It goes without saying I should have taken more tutorials. Nothing gives a kickstart like having an instructor, online or in-person, who guides you down the right path. Then you can code, code, code!

Practice makes perfect, right?

Code, Code, Code

by pydanny's blog at May 29, 2017 05:00 AM

November 02, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

har ek nazar idhar udhar... ik nayaa taraanaa

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

har ek nazar idhar udhar hai beqaraar mere li_e
mahafil kaa dil dha.Dak rahaa hai baar-baar mere li_e

huu.N mai.n 
ik nayaa taraanaa ik nayaa fasaanaa ik na_ii kahaanii huu.N mai.n
ek ra.ng ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ek mast jawaanii huu.N mai.n

ruup kii raanii naam hai meraa dil ta.Dapaanaa kaam hai meraa
ko_ii kahe matavaalii koi kahe bholii bhaalii ko_ii kahe diiwaanii huu.N mai.n 
ek ra.ng ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ...

merii adaa_e.N mere bahaane ko_ii na samajhe ko_ii na jaane
ik pavan jhakolaa ek u.Dan khaTolaa ek yaad khaanii huu.N mai.n
ek ra.ng ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ...

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2016 01:35 PM

jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo a.Nkhiyaa.N do chaar kar lo
suno ye raat nahii.n hai ek tiin chaar kii
suno ye raat hai bas do dilo.n ke pyaar kii

dil hai diiwaanaa samaa suhaanaa 
uff ye jawaanii uff ye zamaanaa
jab tak hai.n jhuum sako jhuumate jaanaa haay re jhuumate jaanaa
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

ra.ngii.n fizaaye.n mast hawaaye.n
kal kaun jaane aaye na aaye
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

ulfat ke pyaale pii le pilaa le
kar de ye duniyaa dil ke hawaale
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 







Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2016 01:18 PM

ek raat kii ye priit

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

ek raat kii ye priit ek raat kaa hai giit
kahii.n to.D ke ye sapane ye raat na jaa_e biit

ai chaa.Nd na jaanaa so ai taaro na jaanaa kho
jo bhii ho so ho jag me.n ek bhor kabhii na ho

ye uu.Nchaa aasamaa.N ik baar jo kah de ho
to ye raat maa.Ng luu.N de ke dono.n jahaa.N



Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2016 01:06 PM

dil churaa luu.N

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

dil churaa luu.N churaa luu.N dil me.n chhupii baat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii rah jaa_e.N malate haath

subah kii a.Nga.Daa_ii huu.N mai.n raat kaa huu.N mai.n Kvaab
duniyaa kii mahafil me.n huu.N mai.n apanaa aap jawaab
mukh dekhe to, dekhe to chandaa khaa_e maat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

muskuraake jidhar dekhuu.N khilane lage phuul
aane jaane waale raahii rastaa jaa_e.N bhuul
mai.n chaahuu.N to, chaahuu.N to din ko karuu.N raat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

bhole-bhaale suurat waale matavaale diladaar
bachake rahanaa phir na kahanaa kiyaa na Khabaradaar
ba.Dii hai zaalim, hai zaalim in naino.n kii ghaat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2016 12:57 PM

October 29, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

raadhe tere aa.Nsuu pii ko rok na paae.Nge

Album: Sanskar

raadhe tere aa.Nsuu pii ko rok na paa_e.Nge
lagan ba.Dhaa le aur shyaam tere dau.De aa_e.Nge

itane hii dukh se man ko kar lenaa chuur nahii.n
tere gokul se mohan kii mathuraa duur nahii.n
suune aa.Ngan tere vRRindaavan ban jaa_e.Nge
lagan ba.Dhaa le aur ...

kabhii kabhii aa jaatii hai naino.n me.n tere namii
abhii pyaar me.n kamii hai tere tyaag me.n abhii kamii
kamii na ho to jaane vaale kaise jaa_e.Nge 
lagan ba.Dhaa le aur ...

Contributed by Anonymous

October 29, 2016 02:54 PM

October 23, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

koii samajhaave ye priit sakhii kyaa hai

Album: Lagan

koii samajhaave ye priit sakhii kyaa hai
koii samajhaave
dil muii kyaa hai, ye riit muii kyaa hai
koii samajhaave

naar navelii nahii.n ye pahelii
buujh na paave ki priit sakhii kyaa hai
koii samajhaave

bha.Nvaraa gaave kalii musakaave
koii batalaave ye riit sakhii kyaa hai
koii samajhaave

sab koii jaane mai.n nahii.n jaanuu.N 
ye man_har se le.n siikh sakhii kyaa hai
koii samajhaave

Contributed by Vijay Kumar K

October 23, 2016 03:32 PM

October 20, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

ek dil ka do jahaa.N se

Album: (Non-film)

ek dil kaa do jahaa.N se haath (?) uThaa sakataa huu.N mai.n
jiite jii lekin tumhe.n kyuu.N kar bhuulaa sakataa huu.N mai.n

chaa.Ndanii raato.n kii nii.nde.n zi.ndagaanii kaa sakuun
in Kazaano.n ko bhii tum bar (?) se luTaa sakataa huu.N mai.n

pyaar kii nazaro.n se mujhako tum agar dekhaa karo
chaa.Nd suuraj se bhii zyaadaa jagamagaa sakataa huu.N mai.n

Contributed by Prithviraj Dasgupta

October 20, 2016 11:14 PM

October 16, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

ek din aur gayaa

Album: Door Ka Raahi

ek din aur gayaa haay roke na rukaa
chhaayaa a.Ndhiyaaraa
aaj bhii naav na aayii, aayaa na khevan_haaraa
ek din aur gayaa ...

kaalii naagin-sii ghirii rainaa kajaraarii
sahamii-sahamii-sii hai ye nagarii hamaarii
de ke aavaaz thakaa, o~ de ke aavaaz thakaa
man dukhiyaaraa, aaj bhii naav na aayii ...

phir vahii raat kaThin, chhup gay taare
abhii se bujhane lage diip hamaare
duur ba.Dii duur saveraa, duur ba.Dii duur ujaalaa
duur hai aashaao.n kaa phuul kinaaraa
aaj bhii naav na aayii, aayaa na khevan_haaraa ...

Contributed by Vijay Kumar K

October 16, 2016 06:17 AM

October 06, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii

Album: Navrang

naa raajaa rahegaa naa raanii rahegii
ye duniyaa hai faanii aur faanii rahegii

na jab ek bhii zi.ndagaanii rahegii
to maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

dikhaayegii raaNaa ke raN kii nishaanii
kahegii shivaajii ke praN kii kahaanii
bataaegii muGhalo.n kii baate.n ajaanii
us Gaddaar jayacha.nd kii zi.ndagaanii
ye aapas kii sab badGumaanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

jo the desh dushman Ghulaamii ke raahii
lage pherane is vatan par siyaahii
videsho.n kii karane lage vaah-vaahii
gayaa desh haatho.n se aayii tabaahii
ye bhar-bhar ke aa.Nkho.n me.n paanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

fir swaata.ntra kaa aisaa sa.ngraam aayaa
ki har aadamii desh ke kaam aayaa
la.Dii viir jhaa.Nsii kii raanii bhavaanii
hazaaro.n ne laakho.n ne Jauhar jalaayaa
ye kurbaaniyaa.N Khud zubaanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

swaata.ntra kaa sa.ngraam nahii.n vo baGaavat thii,  yahii itihaas kahataa hai

(jalaa do)-2 ye itihaas jhooThe tumhaare
yahaa.n zarre-zarre pe sach hai likhaa re
zulam vo tumhaare sitam vo tumhaare
karo yaad uf kaaranaame vo kaare
ki patthar se aa.Nsuu kii dhaaraa bahegii

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2
ye maaTii hai tab se ki jab tum naa aaye
ye maaTii rahegii na jab tum rahoge
is maaTii ke niiche dabii hai.n kathaaye.n
jo Khud hii kahegii re tum kyaa kahoge
zamii.n aasamaa.N tharatharaa ke rahegii

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2
 

Contributed by Saket Jain

October 06, 2016 12:37 PM

August 17, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

mitawaa mitawaa bole miiThe bain

Album: Parichay

mitawaa mitawaa bole miiThe bain 
mitawaa mitawaa mitawaa bole miiThe bain 
saaware kajaraare nain mitawaa bole miiThe bain 

aaj soye tuu saa.Njh bulaaye 
jaage tuu bhor kare saa.Nse.n lete nain
mitawaa tere nain mitawaa bole miiThe bain 

pyaasaa hai aaj bhii tarase pyaasaa hai aaj bhii tarase 
o baraso saawan barase chhalake tere nain 
mitawaa mitawaa bole miiThe bain 
mitawaa mitawaa mitawaa bole miiThe bain 
saaware kajaraare nain saaware kajaraare nain
mitawaa bole miiThe bain


Contributed by Rajeeva Karandikar

August 17, 2016 06:51 PM

July 04, 2016

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Current Links

Most-Recent Must-Reads:

Most-Recent Links:

Most-Recent Storified:

MOAR Must-Reads:

MOAR Links:

MOAR Storified:

by J. Bradford DeLong at July 04, 2016 01:19 AM

June 29, 2016

Barry's news

Installers for Debian vs Ubuntu

Today I installed both Debian Jessie 8.5.0 and Xubuntu Xenial Xerus 16.04 on my laptop hard drive. Incredibly divergent experiences using the GUI installers.

Debian Jessie
I downloaded the "net install" ISO, 247MB, and dd'ed it to a USB stick.
At bootup, chose the Expert GUI installation.

In expert mode, this is a very nice installer. Very logical, with all required choices. In particular, I wanted the option not to install a boot-loader, as I already have one and wanted to do it manually -- the installer gave me that choice. Very good!

Xubuntu Xenial Xerus
I downloaded Xubuntu ISO file, about 1.2GB.

The GUI installer came as quite a surprise to me. I haven't used
Ubuntu installer for 4-5 years, and I was expecting it to be very polished. However, it is awful.

I wrote some notes, but I need to make a general observation. There is a sloppiness in the thinking of whoever has developed the installer. My notes don't cover everything that I found wrong, or confusing, or misleading. But here they are...

There is no real "expert mode". There is an option to manually choose partitions, which is what I selected.

First off, I was alarmed that my internal Sata hard drive showed up as /dev/sdb, and my external USB drive as /dev/sda.
My confidence in the installer wavered then. In all the years that I have owned this laptop, this is the very first time that any tool has identified my internal drive as anything other than /dev/sda.

When I selected a partition to be "/", after hitting the OK button, a message came up that had, amongst other things "Please note that the resize operation may take a long time".
I had not chosen to resize the partition, only reformat as ext4, so this message was disconcerting. That is, after I had chosen not to resize the partition, after clicking the OK button, the next window had that string. This is what I mean by "sloppiness", which I encountered at various places in the installer.

Unlike the Debian installer, this one insists on installing a boot-loader. To get around this, I plugged in a USB stick and chose to install the boot-loader to that. The installer came up with a message that installing grub to the USB stick had failed, and the window offered to continue installation without installing the boot-loader. I chose this option, clicked OK, and the system hung.
Had to push the power button to force a shutdown.

Despite hanging, it had fully installed, and I was able to edit my 'menu.lst' file for grub4dos and boot it.

However, when I booted my Quirky Linux, I found that the time was wrong. The Ubuntu installer had changed the hardware clock to UTC, without even asking me!
The Debian installer on the otherhand, had asked me whether I wanted the hardware clock set to UTC or local-time.
Annoyed, yes I was.

Furthermore, Xubuntu has no GUI tool to change it to local time. When a distro lacks such basic out-of-the-box functionality, I get even more annoyed. Of course there is the 'hwclock' CLI utility, but I expect a GUI tool.
I was able to fix the hardware clock in Quirky, which does have such a tool, in the 'Desktop' menu.

Out of curiosity, I reran the Debian installer, this time choosing to install the boot-loader to a USB stick, and it worked.

Grub4dos
This is how I manually configured grub4dos:

title Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus amd64

uuid 6cdaf68e-9214-4c21-9b77-8ba77b841f3e
kernel /vmlinuz root=UUID=6cdaf68e-9214-4c21-9b77-8ba77b841f3e rootwait rw
initrd /initrd.img

title Debian Jessie 8.5.0 amd64
uuid 152dd9f7-bc90-4215-ac30-92470174d7e9
kernel /vmlinuz root=UUID=152dd9f7-bc90-4215-ac30-92470174d7e9 rootwait rw
initrd /initrd.img
<

The uuid is obtained by running blkid, for example "blkid /dev/sdb2".

Conclusion
The Debian installer has been developed by people who are clear, logical thinkers.

June 29, 2016 06:43 AM

datameet Google Group

Re: [datameet] Re: [BLR] Workshop on basics of satellite imagery processing. June 24th, 4pm

Hey everyone, Sorry I forgot. Here's the outline and links to everything we covered at the workshop: https://github.com/mapbox/workshops/tree/gh-pages/satellite-workshop Cheers, Sajjad

by Sajjad Anwar at June 29, 2016 06:38 AM

Zero Hedge

16 Reasons To Celebrate Brexit's Win

Submitted by Doug Bandow via NationalInterest.org,

Watching the Brexit campaign generated mixed feelings: it was a little like the man who saw his mother-in-law drive his new Mercedes off a cliff. In the United Kingdom, some people who hated free trade, immigration and market innovation challenged the officious, wannabe superstate headquartered in Brussels. Who to cheer for?

We should cheer for the Brexiteers, who deserve at least a couple of hurrahs. The European Union created a common market throughout the continent, an undoubted good, but since then has focused on becoming a meddling Leviathan like Washington, DC. For Britain, the virtues of remaining appeared to pale in comparison to the likely costs of continued subservience to Brussels. In a variety of imperfect ways, Brexit promoted liberty, community, democracy and the rule of law. In short, the good guys won.

Here are sixteen reasons why the United Kingdom was better off Brexiting:

1. Average folks took on the commanding heights of politics, business, journalism and academia and triumphed. Obviously, the “little guy” isn’t always right, but the fact he can win demonstrates that a system whose pathways remain open to those the Bible refer to as “the least of these.” The wealthiest, best-organized and most publicized factions don’t always win.

 

2. Told to choose between economic bounty and self-governance, a majority of Britons chose the latter. It’s a false choice in this case, but people recognized that the sum of human existence is not material. The problem is not just the decisions previously taken away from those elected to govern the UK; it’s also the decisions that would have been taken away in the future had “Remain” won.

 

3. Those governed decided that they should make fundamental decisions about who would rule over them. The Eurocrats, a gaggle of politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, academics, lobbyists and businessmen were determined to achieve their ends no matter what the European people thought. A constitution rejected? Use a treaty. A treaty rejected? Vote again. A busted monetary union? Force a political union. And never, ever consult the public. No longer, said the British.

 

4. The rule of law will be respected—or at least not flagrantly flouted. Those signing up as EU members did not realize that the EU would be a transfer union. At least some countries likely would not have ratified the Lisbon Treaty, expanding Brussels’ writ, had they realized that explicit strictures against bailouts would be ostentatiously ignored. No doubt the usual suspects believed they were doing the Lord’s work by violating legal guarantees. But today no one living under the EU has any assurance that laws made, rules issued and promises offered would be kept.

 

5. Routine incantations of the need for “more Europe” and importance of “European solidarity” no longer will be confused with arguments. Those in charge always want more—more money to distribute, publicity to satisfy, rules to enforce and power to wield. Their vision of “more Europe” is Europe giving them more. “European solidarity” means others caring for them after they have wasted everything under their control.

 

6. Democracy will have triumphed over bureaucratic inertia. The EU is known for its “democratic deficit”, a Hydra-headed, unelected executive and a parliament chosen by people usually voting on domestic issues, using the polls for the European Parliament to punish errant governments at home. The Brussels bureaucracy has become the perfect means to impose policies that lack political support among member governments and peoples.

 

7. The pretensions of the EU as Weltmacht never looked so silly. There is a flag that no one salutes, and an anthem no one sings. There are multiple presidents: three, four or five? There is enervating duplication, including an EU foreign minister and diplomatic service along with those representing twenty-eight individual member states. Constant talk of creating a continental military while countries steadily shrink military outlays. Insistence that all which is good and decent comes from the EU as ever more people organize and vote against it.

 

8. The great satisfaction of watching smug smiles disappear from the faces of Eurocrats on both sides of the English Channel. The Brexit battle never was supposed to be a fair contest. It was intended to solve a Tory political problem, allowing the irreconcilables to make fools of themselves while the best and brightest led voters to the light. But it didn’t work out that way.

 

9. Demonstrating that other EU members can throw off the cloak of, if not tyranny, bureaucratic obsession. Most previous continental episodes of unplanned independent thinking were crushed—the French and Dutch votes against the constitution, the Irish vote against the Treaty of Lisbon, opposition to bailouts and European Central Bank abuses. The Eurocrats always seemed to win. Until now.

 

10. The recognition that most human decisions are not wrong but different, and need not be uniform across a continent, especially one made up of such diverse peoples. Common economic regulations, currencies, employment policies, weights and measures, farm programs and legal rights are convenient. However, convenience is not the highest good. People often value different approaches and standards and are entitled to live their lives as they wish, even if inconsistent with the continent’s most progressive thinking.

 

11. England, which pays most of the bills, ignored political blackmail from Scotland, which threatened to hold another independence referendum. It’s not clear why the Scots didn’t choose to leave in 2014. One suspects too many of them were hooked on subsidies from London, which raised the question why the English were so determined for the Scots to stay. Anyway, in the EU poll the English felt as free as the Scots to vote as they wished.

 

12. The Brits ignored silly scaremongering about how Europe and, indeed, Western civilization, would be threatened if the UK left the EU. Britain would still be a member of NATO—just as Turkey belongs to the military alliance but not the EU. The latter is irrelevant to security: Proposals for an EU military have gone nowhere, in part due to steadfast British opposition. At the margin a more hawkish London might push the EU in a slightly more hawkish direction in the few cases, like Russia, when the continent moved together. But if Vladimir Putin really were the next Hitler, slightly less anemic sanctions wouldn’t stop him. World peace does not depend on Britain in or out of the EU.

 

13. Schadenfreude is a terrible thing, but almost all of us glory in the misfortune of at least some others. The recriminations among the Remain camp in Britain are terrible to behold. Labour Party tribunes blame their leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose Euroskeptic past created suspicions inflamed by his criticisms of the EU while nominally praising it. His supporters blame the Scottish nationalists for not turning out their voters. Former Liberal-Democrat Party leader and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg trashed Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne for seeking political advantage by holding the referendum. The Scots are mad at the English. Irish “republicans” in Northern Ireland also are denouncing the English, while their longtime unionist rivals are trashing the republicans. The young are blaming the old for ruining their futures. Apparently, America isn’t the only home for myopic bickering.

 

14. Sometimes the advocate of a lost cause triumphs. Nigel Farage has been campaigning against the EU forever, it seems. Yet every advance appeared to trigger a retreat. His United Kingdom Independence Party picked up support, but then had to shed some of those whose views really were beyond the pale. UKIP was able to break into the European Parliament, which it hated, but won only one seat at Westminster, despite receiving 3.9 million votes, or 12.6 percent of the total, in last year’s election. One reason was that Cameron and the Tories stole his issue, promising a referendum on the EU—in which they then opposed separation. Election night he admitted that it looked like the UK would choose to remain. Except the British people ended up taking his advice.

 

15. A bracing reminder that people want to believe that their views matter, that what they do actually makes a difference and those claiming to represent them actually listen. Today’s political consensus, in which certain concerns are treated as inappropriate for polite company, drive otherwise normal decent folk to the fringes to find political champions willing to speak for them. Debating such ideas might threaten values and policies held by those steeped in modernity and liberalism, including people like me. But otherwise frustration will boil over in far more dangerous ways.

 

16. The pleasure of disrupting a choreographed ending amid much crying and gnashing of teeth. Election night began with the comfortable assumption among those at the top of the social pyramid that the forces of tolerance, diversity and rationality had carried the day. Then came the shock of watching Brexit improbably take the lead in early returns. Remain “victory” parties emptied and politicians who orchestrated the Remain campaign contemplated the ruin of their careers. Those at the top suddenly found themselves in the political queue well behind their rural and working class compatriots.

Could Brexit turn out to be a mistake? Yes. Unfortunately, we live in an uncertain world with imperfect knowledge. We can only guess at the future. Both the UK and EU must handle separation with maturity unusual for politicians, especially those in Brussels. Europeans should apply the important lessons learned in changing EU policy and operations. The Brits must unilaterally follow an outward economic and political policy. None of these will be easy and much could go wrong.

However, Britain has been capably governing itself for hundreds if not thousands of years. In that light, Brexit appears likely promote the right people and ends. At its best, Britain’s departure will revive the UK’s most basic principles of self-governance and spur EU members to rethink the “European Project’s” attempt to create a superstate by stealth. Those wouldn’t be bad results for a measure that was never supposed to have much chance of passing.

by Tyler Durden at June 29, 2016 06:00 AM

Ajay Shah's blog

Google banning advertisements of payday loans: Is this vigilante justice?

by Ajay Shah.

Foundations


The State must have a monopoly on violence. In democracies, the coercive power of the State is enveloped in the rule of law. There is separation of powers: Parliament writes criminal law, the Police enforces this law, and a judge awards the sentence. Laws are legitimate either when they are written by Parliament (where legislators have won elections), or when narrow authority for drafting subordinate legislation is given to officials along with a sound regulation-making process. The accused knows the law, is given a hearing, and must be proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. The order must be written through a quasi-judicial procedure. It cannot merely hand down punishment; it must be a reasoned order. The accused must have the ability to appeal the order.

Most States are flawed creatures, and many of these things do not work correctly at present. As an example, these foundations of liberal democracy are found in the Indian Financial Code but not in the existing financial law and financial agencies. But the previous paragraph gives us a compact sense of the machinery of sound liberal democracies. The problem faced in constructing this civilised behaviour is politicians and officials who desire unaccountable power [example].

Vigilante justice


There are other ways in which we can go astray. One of them is to slip into vigilante justice: where coercion is imposed by ordinary citizens. A mob who beats up a person who is accused of a crime is a throwback to the medieval ages. It is not rule of law.

We have to be vigilant in detecting and blocking vigilantism. As an example, consider the RBI concept of `Wilful Defaulters'. Under this framework, private persons are supposed to identify `wilful defaulters', and once this is done, the coercive power of the State is used to force all private persons to punish the chosen one. However, private persons cannot run a rule of law process to identify wilful defaulters in a fair manner. This regulation puts the coercive power of the State in the hands of private persons; it is tantamount to State-sanctioned vigilantism. It is not rule of law.

Google and payday lenders


From this perspective, we should worry about Google blocking advertisements of payday lenders.

Google would say: But we are not the State; we're just your friendly local restaurant that decided to stop selling sugar water. It is the legitimate right of a firm to do business with those that it likes. E.g. an ordinary firm can decide that it does not like to do business with (say) Christians. The reason for concern is that things are different with a dominant player like Google. If Google decides to block cricket, a large swathe of the world will not see cricket.

Checks and balances of the State are missing. Because Google is so important in shaping the way people access Internet content, this action by Google is uncomfortably akin to State action which prohibits advertisements of payday lenders. Action by Google, who is a corporation and is not the State, is faulty in that Google does not work by the machinery described in the first paragraph:

  • Preventing a private person (a payday lender) from showing me advertisements is coercion. This should be the monopoly of the State.
  • Google chooses what industries are harmful for consumers. This `legislative' power is illegitimate as it is not grounded in Parliamentary law.
  • The persons who are adversely affected have no recourse. to the due process of law.

Are you sure? Some people believe that the end justifies the means; they are convinced payday lending is bad, and don't care how it is obstructed. But who can know these things for certain?  As an example, many people believe that micro-finance lending in India suffers from problems similar to those of payday lending in the US. However, careful research on this question has shown that this preconception is wrong. The realities of these complex questions generally go beyond media viewpoints. What if payday lending is actually good for the people who buy it? We are protected from mistakes by the deliberative and public legislative process, where diverse viewpoints are debated in public. Google is a private person and is not required to use such a legislative process. This makes their do-gooding dangerous.

A slippery slope. If Google starts doing this with payday lending, where will they go next? Guns? Sugar? Fat? Drugs? Alcohol? Mass media? Social media? Reasonable men would argue that all these are extremely harmful for the user. Humans use Google in all sorts of self-destructive ways. Humans use Google to inflict pain and harm upon other humans. Google does not kill people, people kill people.

A more appropriate stance. In other contexts, Google has been more careful. Examples include child porn and sex determination ads, where the decision to coerce is grounded in the State, and Google is just taking instructions. Their behaviour on payday lending is out of line when compared with their own restraint in these other situations. Google appears to now be doing a lot of censorship, which raises important questions such as this one. It would be wise for Google to either back off from such efforts, or articulate the full philosophy and try to persuade us.

If payday lending is bad for its customers, how should it be tackled?


If payday lending has problems, the solution to this lies in financial regulation. This is the business of the State, and not a do-gooding IT company. The machinery of consumer protection in the Indian Financial Code is the mechanism through which the State should exercise coercive power and diminish the damage that payday lending can potentially do. This must be a deliberate and careful process, with checks and balances.


I thank Naman Pugalia and Renuka Sane for useful discussions.

by Ajay Shah (noreply@blogger.com) at June 29, 2016 05:51 AM

"Subramanian Swamy" - Google News

Now, Subramanian Swamy tweets, indirectly, about PM Modi's 'publicity' comment - Economic Times


Economic Times

Now, Subramanian Swamy tweets, indirectly, about PM Modi's 'publicity' comment
Economic Times
NEW DELHI: There was no immediate riposte from BJP MP Subramanian Swamy after Prime Minister Narendra Modi admonished him - albeit without naming him - on Monday on national television for his "fondness for publicity". The irrepressible Rajya ...
Subramanian Swamy says publicity 'relentlessly seeks' himThe Indian Express
Subramanian Swamy's intriguing tweet a day after PM Modi's rebukeIndia Today
BJP all set for action against Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian SwamyDeccan Chronicle
Daily News & Analysis -The Hindu
all 314 news articles »

June 29, 2016 04:23 AM

Planet Android

Schools, Robots, and more in a Minecraft round-up

Whether it’s new versions for consoles, or a virtual reality edition, Minecraft never fails to run dry of news and the open world game is seemingly always on the tip of people’s tongues. Here’s a quick roundup of what’s happening in the world of Minecraft.

Today’s lesson: Minecraft

Think you’d be more eager to get to school if it involved a daily lesson of playing your favorite computer game? Microsoft certainly believes so. That’s why they are now giving schools across the US the chance to download and trial Minecraft: Education Edition. The full version will go on sale in September of this year. In the beta version of the educational Minecraft, the game has been praised by teachers for its enhancement in creativity and design skills.

One game to rule them all…

Peter Jackson spent close to a decade bringing The Lord of the Rings to life through film, and it looks like a computer version of Middle-earth could take just as long. Since 2012, work has taken place on recreating the lands, rivers, buildings, and characters of The Lord of the Rings into Minecraft’s familiar blocky style. And it’s starting to look pretty impressive; watch the video below.

Much like any architectural creation, there are builders and supervisors, with all of this LOTR mod taking place on a dedicated server, which is actually easier than many would think to arrange. This guide explains how to set up your own Minecraft server, so that you and friends could get to work building a fantasy world; but you’ll have to think long and hard about what to make, as Fallout’s wasteland, giant sharks and turtles that can be lived in (you’ll have to see to believe), and many other fantasy world projects are constantly being adapted into incredible Minecraft worlds.

On The Go

Minecraft: Pocket Edition just received its 0.15.0 update adding the ability for mobile users to use Minecraft Pocket Realms, although not compatible with the PC version of the same service just yet. On top of that, the update brought a number of new items and animals to the game, including Pistons, completing the Redstone content and bringing the mobile version closer to the PC one.

Of course Minecraft: Story Mode will be getting its next episode real soon as well.

A rival enters the fray

Minecraft has skyrocketed in popularity over the years, largely because there is simply nothing quite like it, but that could be about to change. If you haven’t heard the name 'Roblox,' then you may well soon. Similarly an open world, creative, immersive, and low-res game ala Minecraft, Roblox’s revenue was over $50 million last year and now employs 170 people.

Forbes recently spoke to David Baszucki, one of the game’s co-founders, who explained what the game was all about: "Roblox is less a game than a 3-D social platform where you and your friends can pretend to be in different places. You can pretend to be in a fashion show or that you’re trying to survive in a tornado or that you want to go work in a pizza restaurant, or that you’re a bird and survive by catching insects…people are playing in 3-D environments created by the community."

Baszucki was also highly confident that Roblox could overtake Minecraft (we’ll see about that): "Roblox was created before Minecraft and today it’s growing much more quickly than Minecraft. It’s very likely that in the next couple of years we will pass their number of active monthly users."

June 29, 2016 04:21 AM

TED | TEDBlog

Building blocks: Notes from Session 3 at TEDSummit

Michael Shellenberger suggests that the future of clean energy should involve nuclear energy. Photo: Bret Hartman

Michael Shellenberger suggests that the future of clean energy should involve nuclear energy — despite our deep-seated worries about the technology. Photo: Bret Hartman

What are the tools we’re using to build the future? Session 3 speakers go deep on what’s next in finance, energy, business and the structures we live in.

The next generation of trust on the Internet. For many online transactions, we rely on middlemen like banks and government to establish trust — but these systems face growing issues like hacking, exclusion and data privacy. Blockchain, “a vast distributed ledger run on millions of computers,” promises to upend all that, establishing trust not through big institutions but through “cryptography and clever code,” says technology communicator Don Tapscott. When blockchain technology matures, Tapscott believes, “For the first time in human history, people can trust each other and interact peer-to-peer,” and the power of that changing interaction could help us address the social inequality that’s at the heart of today’s anger, extremism and protectionism, not by redistributing wealth but by predistributing it.

Don Tapscott imagines a future of relationships powered by blockchain. Photo: Bret Hartman

Don Tapscott imagines a future of relationships powered by blockchain. Photo: Bret Hartman

The digital continuation of an old story. “There is a new technological institution that will fundamentally change how we exchange value, and it’s called the blockchain,” says researcher Bettina Warburg. But while blockchain technology is new, its intention is actually quite old, building on the ancient human search to lower uncertainty about each other so that we can exchange value. Blockchain helps us lower uncertainty in three important ways, by helping us: 1. know who we are transacting with, 2. have transparency in our transactions, and 3. have recourse when our transactions go wrong. There’s still a long road ahead of us before blockchain can become a reality, Warburg cautions, but “we need to start preparing ourselves, because we’re about to face a world where distributed, autonomous institutions are going to have quite a significant role.”

The new nuclear choice: Joseph Lassiter challenges us in the audience to view the energy crisis from a new point of view beyond the privileged choices available to the developed world. While developed nations like the US and many in Western Europe can afford cleaner energy sources, much of the developing world, China and India in particular, will use whatever energy sources are available that can improve the quality of life for as many of their citizens as possible, and do it quickly and cheaply. For these booming countries to adopt a renewable energy source, it’s going to have to pass what Vinod Khosla has called the “Chindia Test”:  it must be viable, scalable and effective without subsidy or mandate. Right now, wind and solar power do not pass that test, but Lassiter believes “new nuclear” power can, if people are willing to get past their historical apprehensions. We now have the ability to make and regulate nuclear power sources such that they are safer and cheaper than they have been in the past; now we have to make the choice to pursue it.

Going nuclear for clean energy. We’re in a clean energy revolution, some would think. Actually, it may be the opposite. According to Michael Shellenberger, a climate policy expert, the percentage of electricity from clean energy is declining, with nuclear taking the biggest hit  across the board. Nuclear is very low-carbon and can provide a lot of power, but three pervasive fears surround it that stand in the way of wide-scale generation: safety, waste and weapons. Turns out that nuclear is one of the safest renewable energies, doesn’t produce much waste — and the correlation between countries that invest in nuclear energy and in nuclear weapons isn’t strong. With many of the world’s richest nations taking down nuclear reactors instead of building them, we’re at risk of losing four times more clean energy than was lost over the past 10 years. In other words, “We’re not in a clean energy revolution, we’re in a clean energy crisis.”

The Beautiful Business Bureau? Any numbers of better-business bestsellers will tell you how to do things right. But writer Tim Leberecht does not tell you how to do things right — he wants to tell you how to do things wrong. The argument that he lays out in his 2015 book The Business Romantic is that businesspeople focus too much on our computerized rivals and their growing ability to complete tasks correctly. Instead, he argues that as human beings we have an ethical, philosophical and even fiduciary duty to not waste time trying to one-up our computers and, instead, do what we who are “only human” do best — be gloriously fallible. Not that he actually wants you to screw up. Leberecht would prefer that we focus on what he calls “creating beauty” — creating situations and environments that help balance out the obsession with bottom-line success, an obsession that can damage or even destroy a company’s culture. And of course, he has a list. (You knew he had a list.) 1. Do the unnecessary. Don’t just go the extra mile — do a 10K run, too. Companies need to cultivate the idea that they are more than a spreadsheet. (Key quote: “When you cut the unnecessary, you cut everything.”)  2. Create intimacy. Even in temporary settings, tear down barriers that keep workers apart. (Key quote: “Never underestimage the power of a ridiculous wig.”) 3. Stay incomplete. Single-minded focus on one goal has its plusses, but allows no room for deviation, flexibility, introspection and more. (Key quote:”Beautiful companies keep asking questions.”) 4. Embrace ugliness. As an old saying goes, good judgment comes from experience — and experience comes from bad judgment. By openly acknowledging our flaws, they have less power to harm us. (Key quote: “The first step towards beauty is a huge risk — the risk to be ugly.”)

How bad architecture added fuel to the fire in Syria. Marwa Al-Sabouni is a young architect in Homs, in Syria. Speaking to us over Skype, she talks about her ruined home city … and looks at how Syria’s once tolerant and multicultural society gradually was separated by colonialist powers into single-identity enclaves divided by class, race and religion. This separation, she believes, is one root cause of the terrible and destructive war in Syria. Read more about her talk.  

How women win wars: Twelve years ago Julia Bacha observed the valiant actions of young women in the village of Budrus, who stepped up to help save their community from become the site of an Israeli-Palestine separation barrier. This inspired her to investigate the role of women in nonviolent and violent conflicts worldwide. Bacha found that nonviolent campaigns were 100% more likely to succeed than their violent counterparts — and that the greatest indication of whether or not a group would chose to adopt a policy of nonviolence was their ideology toward women in public life. Organizations with women in leadership positions were much more likely to succeed. Our perception of the number of women involved in Middle Eastern conflicts is likely skewed, Bacha says, because the western media underrepresents their extent and importance. The first Palestinian Intifada, she reminds us, featured many women in prominent organizing positions. (The U.S. also erases the women of its own history, like Septima Poinsette Clark of the Civil Rights movement.) Bacha asks us to investigate how our own attitudes towards women will influence the conflicts of the future, their casualties and whether or not they are won.

Filmmaker Julia Bacha explores the hidden role of women in modern conflict. Photo: Bret Hartman

Filmmaker Julia Bacha explores the hidden role of women in modern conflict. Photo: Bret Hartman

Jazz turned upside down. An impassioned jazz performance to close out Session 3 starts with “Upside Down,” in which pianist Laila Biali plays an upbeat, walk-in-the-park-on-a-sunny-afternoon melody on the piano while singing, “You turn me upside down / when daylight comes / the dreams leave me spellbound.” As drum and a standing bass accompanied, Biali played a faster and faster tempo, exuding joy with each note, building to a time-shifting crescendo. She then transitioned to a slower, more reflective tune, “Joy,” muting the strings and then releasing the power of this rhythmic anthem.


by Cynthia Betubiza at June 29, 2016 04:05 AM

How Syria’s buildings laid the foundation for brutal war: Marwa Al-Sabouni at TEDSummit

Recorded over Skype, young architect Marwa Al-Sabouni talks about life right now in Homs, Syria -- and suggests that the built environment played a role in the country's deadly conflict. Photo: Ryan Lash

Recorded over Skype, young architect Marwa Al-Sabouni talks about life right now in Homs, Syria — and suggests that the built environment played a role in the country’s deadly conflict. Photo: Ryan Lash

“E pluribus unem” worked in Syria once too.

The merciless six-year civil war in Syria has destroyed cities, killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more. The Syria of a decade ago is but a memory. The causes have been detailed exhaustively — social, economic, religious, geopolitical. But one woman, an architect who was born, grew up and still lives today in the central Syrian town of Homs, believes that one culprit has so far gone unnamed and unblamed — architecture. “It has played a role in creating, directing and amplifying conflict between warring factions,” she says bluntly.

But does architecture have that much power? Can it exert such an influence? Marwa Al-Sabouni, who ran a small architecture studio with her husband in the old city center of Homs for several years until the war destroyed most of the historic area, believes that it does and it can — and her contention is the crux of her memoir about life during wartime, “The Battle For Home.” She has stayed in Homs for six years watching the war tear her city apart, and believes that architecture and a century of thoughtless urban planning played a crucial role in the slow unraveling of Syrian cities’ social fabric, preparing the way for once-friendly, now-fragmented groups to become enemies instead of neighbors.

“The harmony of the social environment got trampled over by elements of modernity,” says Al-Sabouni. “The brutal, unfinished concrete blocks and the divisive urbanism that zoned communities by class, creed or affluence.”

Being a virtual prisoner in her home for two years after the war started, she says, gave her only too much time to think about the incredible transformation of the city she grew up in. “This has been historically a tolerant city, accustomed to variety, accommodating a wide range of beliefs, origins and customs, where mosques and churches were built back to back. What has led to this senseless war? How did my country degenerate into civil war, violence, displacement and unprecedented sectarian hatred?” So she began writing, mapping out how 20th-century urban planning took a united society of different threads and slowly rewove them into a cityscape of difference and division.

“It started with French colonial city planners, blowing up streets and relocating monuments,” she says. Then, she says, modern buildings started going up with little or no thought, design or planning, fracturing delicate communities further: “Architecture became a way of differentiation.” By the end of the 20th century, all that remained in Homs was a city center and, around it, a ring of ghettoized communities, each housing its own ethnic or religious group, and each enemies of the others.

Al-Sabouni does have hope for the future, she says — partly because she has a wildly optimistic husband, and partly because she feels there is now both room and reason to learn from the past and rebuild it better. That means not building giant tower blocks which isolate and alienate people — it means lower, mixed use buildings that can accommodate all kinds of people, races, ages, beliefs and more. When a rope breaks, the strongest way to mend it is to weave all the ends together. That is what Al-Sabouni wants — and what Homs, Syria and the whole world need.


by David Colman at June 29, 2016 04:04 AM

Andrew Tobias

Gerrymandering: How They Did It

How did “blue” states come to be controlled by Republican legislatures and represented in Congress by Republicans?

This compelling New Yorker article, based on David Daley’s new book, Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy, explains.

. . . So skillfully were the lines drawn that in 2012—when President Obama carried Pennsylvania by three hundred thousand votes and the state’s Democratic congressional candidates collectively outpolled their G.O.P. rivals by nearly a hundred thousand votes—Republicans still won thirteen of Pennsylvania’s eighteen seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. . . .

But you can’t gerrymander Senate and Presidential “districts” — entire states — so, even as we work to draw more fair districts state by state, a strong Democratic turn-out will lead to success November 8.  The White House, the Senate, and a progressive Supreme Court.

 

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by A.T. at June 29, 2016 04:02 AM

Shantanu's Blog

elasticsearch index listing

There is no direct way to access the internal index in elasticsearch. But we can get an idea about how the words are listed using query. For e.g. In this case, the word "call" is indexed in 2 documents while all other tokens are indexed only once.

DELETE /test_index

POST /test_index/doc/_bulk
{"index":{"_id":1}}
{"msg":"call:4189, sales"}
{"index":{"_id":2}}
{"msg":"call:4210, marketing"}

POST /test_index/_search?search_type=count
{
   "aggs": {
      "msg_terms": {
         "terms": {
            "field": "msg"
         }
      }
   }
}

by shantanu (noreply@blogger.com) at June 29, 2016 03:34 AM

India Real Time

How Dreams, Double-Decker Buses and Coloring Books Made It Inside Mumbai’s Taxis

Crawling through traffic in one of Mumbai’s famous black-and-yellow taxis three years ago, designer Sanket Avlani had an idea to brighten up his ride. What if the dreary seat covers were turned into canvases for designers like him to become talking points on tedious journeys like this one, the 28-year-old designer thought.

by Aditi Malhotra at June 29, 2016 03:30 AM

SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green

ISC Stormcast For Wednesday, June 29th 2016 http://isc.sans.edu/podcastdetail.html?id=5061, (Wed, Jun 29th)

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. https://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

June 29, 2016 03:30 AM

Planet Android

Skydance and Plarium will be releasing a new Terminator themed MMO-strategy game in 2017

Today Plarium announced a partnership with Skydance Media for the rights to develop a new Terminator mobile game that will land sometime early next year. This new Terminator themed game will actually come in the form of an MMO-strategy game.

This will be a clan-based game where players will be forming big clans with each other. This Terminator game will pull themes, experiences, storylines, and characters from the latest installment in the Terminator franchise, that being Terminator Genisys. Players will be following the struggles of the Resistance soldiers, who are in a civil war-like state over their very limited supply of resources and weapons.

Everything takes place, time-wise that is, right around the time the machines begin to wake up. But, this time the machines don’t have a central command to control their actions. So they are pretty much free to roam around as mass killing squads. Interestingly enough, players will have the option to play as a Resistance Commander or a Skynet Command Node, as the war between man and machine rages on.


Terminator game poster

“Mobile games have incredible potential to expand the universe of characters and experiences we have created for a movie and provide audiences and fans with a brand new perspective on our content. Plarium has had great success in creating state-of- the-art MMO titles and we look forward to working with them to bring our Terminator franchise to mobile devices in highly engaging new ways.” - Jesse Sisgold, Chief Operating Officer at Skydance Media

Just in case you haven’t seen it Terminator Genisys was the fifth installment in the franchise. When Resistance Leader John Conner sends Sgt. Kyle Reese back to 1984 to defend Sarah Conner and the future, in an unexpected turn of events a fractured time line was formed. Sgt. Reese finds himself in a version of the past that was very different from the one he had previously known.

Unfortunately all we know for a release date is that this game will be arriving early in 2017. It will be a free-to-play title which means there will be optional IAPs as well. When we learn more, we will post an update.

June 29, 2016 03:29 AM

Zero Hedge

Bernie Sanders: The World Is Rejecting Globalization

Authored by Bernie Sanders, originally posted Op-Ed via The NY Times,

Surprise, surprise. Workers in Britain, many of whom have seen a decline in their standard of living while the very rich in their country have become much richer, have turned their backs on the European Union and a globalized economy that is failing them and their children.

And it’s not just the British who are suffering. That increasingly globalized economy, established and maintained by the world’s economic elite, is failing people everywhere. Incredibly, the wealthiest 62 people on this planet own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population — around 3.6 billion people. The top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the whole of the bottom 99 percent. The very, very rich enjoy unimaginable luxury while billions of people endure abject poverty, unemployment, and inadequate health care, education, housing and drinking water.

Could this rejection of the current form of the global economy happen in the United States? You bet it could.

During my campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, I’ve visited 46 states. What I saw and heard on too many occasions were painful realities that the political and media establishment fail even to recognize.

In the last 15 years, nearly 60,000 factories in this country have closed, and more than 4.8 million well-paid manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Much of this is related to disastrous trade agreements that encourage corporations to move to low-wage countries.

Despite major increases in productivity, the median male worker in America today is making $726 dollars less than he did in 1973, while the median female worker is making $1,154 less than she did in 2007, after adjusting for inflation.

Nearly 47 million Americans live in poverty. An estimated 28 million have no health insurance, while many others are underinsured. Millions of people are struggling with outrageous levels of student debt. For perhaps the first time in modern history, our younger generation will probably have a lower standard of living than their parents. Frighteningly, millions of poorly educated Americans will have a shorter life span than the previous generation as they succumb to despair, drugs and alcohol.

Meanwhile, in our country the top one-tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Fifty-eight percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. Wall Street and billionaires, through their “super PACs,” are able to buy elections.

On my campaign, I’ve talked to workers unable to make it on $8 or $9 an hour; retirees struggling to purchase the medicine they need on $9,000 a year of Social Security; young people unable to afford college. I also visited the American citizens of Puerto Rico, where some 58 percent of the children live in poverty and only a little more than 40 percent of the adult population has a job or is seeking one.

Let’s be clear. The global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world. This is an economic model developed by the economic elite to benefit the economic elite. We need real change.

But we do not need change based on the demagogy, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment that punctuated so much of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric — and is central to Donald J. Trump’s message.

We need a president who will vigorously support international cooperation that brings the people of the world closer together, reduces hypernationalism and decreases the possibility of war. We also need a president who respects the democratic rights of the people, and who will fight for an economy that protects the interests of working people, not just Wall Street, the drug companies and other powerful special interests.

We need to fundamentally reject our “free trade” policies and move to fair trade. Americans should not have to compete against workers in low-wage countries who earn pennies an hour. We must defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We must help poor countries develop sustainable economic models.

We need to end the international scandal in which large corporations and the wealthy avoid paying trillions of dollars in taxes to their national governments.

We need to create tens of millions of jobs worldwide by combating global climate change and by transforming the world’s energy system away from fossil fuels.

We need international efforts to cut military spending around the globe and address the causes of war: poverty, hatred, hopelessness and ignorance.

The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States. Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.

In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind. We must create national and global economies that work for all, not just a handful of billionaires.

* * *

In other words - unless Hillary can put her special interest crony-capitalist history behind her (and impossible task against Trump's 'take no prisoners' approach) she will have to distract (to standa chance) by putting Bernie on the ticket as VP... Or Trump's gonna win.

by Tyler Durden at June 29, 2016 03:20 AM

datameet Google Group

Re: [datameet] Re: Nice visualisation on Original of Food crops

Oh no - not me. This is the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture. Was impressed enough to shah are. On Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 2:29 PM, Anant Gupta wrote: > Hi Meera, > > Very nice > What technology did you use for creating the graphs and tabs? > > > On Monday, June

by Meera K at June 29, 2016 03:19 AM

Boy Genius Report

5,000-year-old ‘document’ shows workers were paid in beer

5,000-year-old Mesopotamia Document Beer
Being paid in beer might be a dream for some people, but it was a reality for many workers in ancient times. And there’s living proof that beer was an accepted pay for labor: A 5,000-year-old document that recorded these transactions.

(more…)

by Chris Smith at June 29, 2016 03:00 AM

swissmiss

The Problem With The World

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
– Charles Bukowski

by swissmiss at June 29, 2016 02:57 AM

Zero Hedge

"We The Prisoners": The Demise Of The Fourth Amendment

Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“Our carceral state banishes American citizens to a gray wasteland far beyond the promises and protections the government grants its other citizens… When the doors finally close and one finds oneself facing banishment to the carceral state—the years, the walls, the rules, the guards, the inmates…the incarcerated begins to adjust to the fact that he or she is, indeed, a prisoner. New social ties are cultivated. New rules must be understood.”

- Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

In a carceral state - a.k.a. a prison state or a police state - there is no Fourth Amendment to protect you from the overreaches, abuses, searches and probing eyes of government overlords.

In a carceral state, there is no difference between the treatment meted out to a law-abiding citizen and a convicted felon: both are equally suspect and treated as criminals, without any of the special rights and privileges reserved for the governing elite.

In a carceral state, there are only two kinds of people: the prisoners and the prison guards.

With every new law enacted by federal and state legislatures, every new ruling handed down by government courts, and every new military weapon, invasive tactic and egregious protocol employed by government agents, “we the people”—the prisoners of the American police state—are being pushed that much further into a corner, our backs against the prison wall.

This concept of a carceral state in which we possess no rights except for that which the government grants on an as-needed basis is the only way I can begin to comprehend, let alone articulate, the irrational, surreal, topsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass state of affairs that is being imposed upon us in America today.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we who pretend we are free are no different from those who spend their lives behind bars.

Indeed, we are experiencing much the same phenomenon that journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates ascribes to those who are banished to a “gray wasteland far beyond the promises and protections the government grants its other citizens” : a sickening feeling, a desire to sleep, hopelessness, shame, rage, disbelief, clinginess to the past and that which is familiar, and then eventually resignation and acceptance of our new “normal.”

All that we are experiencing—the sense of dread at what is coming down the pike, the desperation, the apathy about government corruption, the deeply divided partisanship, the carnivalesque political spectacles, the public displays of violence, the nostalgia for the past—are part of the dying refrain of an America that is fading fast.

No longer must the government obey the law.

Likewise, “we the people” are no longer shielded by the rule of law.

While the First Amendment—which gives us a voice—is being muzzled, the Fourth Amendment—which protects us from being bullied, badgered, beaten, broken and spied on by government agents—is being disemboweled.

For instance, in a recent 5-3 ruling in Utah v. Strieff, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for police to stop, arrest and search citizens without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, effectively giving police a green light to embark on a fishing expedition of one’s person and property, rendering Americans completely vulnerable to the whims of any cop on the beat.

In a blistering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted the court: “This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong… So long as the target is one of the many millions of people in this country with an outstanding arrest warrant, anything the officer finds in a search is fair game for use in a criminal prosecution. The officer’s incentive to violate the Constitution thus increases...”

Just consider some of the many other ways in which the Fourth Amendment—which ensures that the government can’t harass you, let alone even investigate you, without probable cause—has been weakened and undermined by the courts, the legislatures and various government agencies and operatives.

Americans have no protection against mandatory breathalyzer tests at a police checkpoint, although mandatory blood draws violate the Fourth Amendment.

 

Ignorance of the law is defensible if you work for the government.

 

Police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits.

 

Police can perform a “no-knock” raid as long as they have a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing their presence would be dangerous or futile.

 

Police can carry out warrantless searches on homes, cars, persons and property based on a “reasonable” concern that a suspect (or occupant) might be attempting to flee or destroy evidence.

 

Police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime.

 

Police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the “offense.”

 

Police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes.”

 

Police can conduct sobriety and “information-seeking” checkpoints.

 

Police officers are free to board a bus, question passengers, and ask for consent to search without notifying them of their right to refuse.

 

Police can arrest you for minor criminal offenses, such as a misdemeanor seatbelt violation, punishable only by a fine.

 

Refusing to answer when a policeman asks “What’s your name?” can rightfully be considered a crime. No longer do Americans, even those not charged with any crime, have the right to remain altogether silent when stopped and questioned by a police officer.

 

Police may stop any vehicle as long as they have reasonable cause to believe that a traffic violation occurred. A vehicle can be stopped even if the driver has not committed a traffic offense.

 

Police officers can stop cars based only on “anonymous” tips. Police can also pull you over if you are driving too carefully, with a rigid posture, taking a scenic route, and have acne.

What many Americans fail to understand is the devastating amount of damage that can be done to one’s freedoms long before a case ever makes its way to court by government agents who are violating the Fourth Amendment at every turn. This is how freedoms, long undermined, can give way to tyranny through constant erosion and become part of the fabric of the police state through constant use.

Phone and email surveillance, databases for dissidents, threat assessments, terror watch lists, militarized police, SWAT team raids, security checkpoints, lockdowns, roadside strip searches: there was a time when any one of these encroachments on our Fourth Amendment rights would have roused the public to outrage. Today, such violations are shrugged off matter-of-factly by Americans who have been assiduously groomed to accept the intrusions of the police state into their private lives.

So when you hear about the FBI hacking into Americans’ computers without a warrant with the blessing of the courts, or states assembling and making public terror watch lists containing the names of those who are merely deemed suspicious, or the police knocking on the doors of activists in advance of political gatherings to ascertain their plans for future protests, or administrative government agencies (such as the FDA, Small Business Administration, Smithsonian, Social Security, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Mint, and Department of Education) spending millions on guns and ammunition, don’t just matter-of-factly file it away in that part of your brain reserved for things you may not like but over which you have no control.

It’s true that there may be little the average person can do to push back against the police state on a national level, but there remains some hope at the local level as long as we recognize that the only way the police state can truly acquire and retain power is if we relinquish it through our negligence, complacence and ignorance.

Unfortunately, we have been utterly brainwashed into believing the government’s propaganda and lies. Americans actually celebrate with perfect sincerity the anniversary of our independence from Great Britain without ever owning up to the fact that we are as oppressed now—more so, perhaps, thanks to advances in technology—than we ever were when Redcoats stormed through doorways and subjected colonists to the vagaries of a police state.

You see, by gradually whittling away at our freedoms—free speech, assembly, due process, privacy, etc.—the government has, in effect, liberated itself from its contractual agreement to respect our constitutional rights while resetting the calendar back to a time when we had no Bill of Rights to protect us from the long arm of the government.

Aided and abetted by the legislatures, the courts and Corporate America, the government has been busily rewriting the contract (a.k.a. the Constitution) that establishes the citizenry as the masters and agents of the government as the servants. We are now only as good as we are useful, and our usefulness is calculated on an economic scale by how much we are worth - in terms of profit and resale value - to our “owners.”

Under the new terms of this one-sided agreement, the government and its many operatives have all the privileges and rights and “we the prisoners” have none.

by Tyler Durden at June 29, 2016 02:50 AM

Farage Slams The EU Parliament: "You're Not Laughing Now Are You?"

In his first appearance in European Parliament since the Brexit vote, UKIP leader Nigel Farage was greeted with raucous jeers and boos (presumably for enabling The Brits to exercise their democratic right to self-determination). Once EU President Martin Schulz had demanded (ironically) that they listen, Farage began his 'victory' speech by reminding his so-called peers of their laughter when he first suggested UK should leave The EU - "you're not laughing now... are you!"

"..and the reason you're so upset, the reason you're so angry, the reason you're not laughing is simple - you as a political project are in denial"

 

Other MEPs were vocal...

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

"Europe isn't exclusively a cerebral affair. Obviously we have to think but equally when you're sad, it's acceptable to be sad and I am sad after this vote in the UK and I make no secret of it. The British vote has cut off one of our wings, as it were, but we're still flying."

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the EU Liberal group

"What makes it so hard for me...is the way it succeeded. The absolutely negative campaign. Mr Farage's posters showing refugees like in Nazi propaganda, which he copied at that moment. I never thought it was possible that somebody in this house should do a thing like that."

Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right French National Front

"The British have chosen a route which it was thought was closed for all time and you were some of those who believed it was closed. Those who said 'It's all irreversible, the European Union is irreversible', well, the British people have told you where to get off."

Martina Anderson, MEP for Irish republican party Sinn Fein

"If English votes drag us out of the EU that would be like Britannia waives the rules. There was a democratic vote. We voted to remain. I tell you that the last thing that the people of Ireland need is an EU border with 27 member states stuck right in the middle of it."

Alyn Smith, MEP for the Scottish Green Party

"We will need cool heads and warm hearts but please remember this - Scotland did not let you down. I beg you: do not let Scotland down now."

by Tyler Durden at June 29, 2016 02:45 AM

craigslist | computer gigs in san diego

Seeking Veterans to provide feedback on a PTSD smartphone app

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June 29, 2016 02:29 AM

Home Theater Tech (San Diego County)

Home Theater Tech You must be able to do the following: A) Home Video Audio - Must also be able to install home audio and theater products i.e. mount flat screen TV's conceal wires in-wall and install surround sound systems. Can you do all of this [...]

June 29, 2016 02:29 AM

HELP WANTED

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June 29, 2016 02:28 AM

Car audio and Security System Installer (San Diego)

Car audio and Security System Installer You must be able to do the following: Car Coaxial Speaker Installation, Car Component Speaker Installation, Car Powered Subwoofer Installation, Car Amplifier and Subwoofer Installation, Car Remote Door Lock I [...]

June 29, 2016 02:28 AM

datameet Google Group

Re: World shape file

Here you go - https://github.com/shijithpk/world_map_with_official_JK_border . Click the green download button on the right to get all the files. I used this when I was at IndiaSpend, so it's good enough for general purposes, but if you need this for academic or professional purposes, I'd

by Shijith Kunhitty at June 29, 2016 02:27 AM

Zero Hedge

Nigel Farage Batters Obama: "He Came To Britain And Behaved Disgracefully"

Back in April President Obama took a trip over to the UK in order to lecture another country on how to vote - Obama of course was staunchly in the Remain camp. Obama even penned an op-ed titled: "As your friend, let me say that the EU makes Britain even greater."

Of course, we all know the historic outcome of the Brexit vote, and we have even asked if it was Barack Obama who actually was the deciding factor:

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has never been shy of course, but lately has been making sure to remember all of those who tried to downplay or influence the vote. For example, in his first appearance in the European Parliament since the Brexit vote, Farage took the time to make sure the audience knew he hadn't forgotten that everyone laughed when Farage said that he was going to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the EU, saying "You're not laughing now are you."

Farage hadn't forgotten Obama's attempt to influence the vote either. In a recent interview with Fox News, Farage was asked what can be done about Putin if the UK isn't in the EU, to which Farage raged that Obama had behaved disgracefully when compared to Putin.

"Well ultimately let me say this, Vladimir Putin behaved in a more statesmanlike manner than President Obama did in this referendum campaign. Obama came to Britain and I think behaved disgracefully, telling us we'd be at the back of the queue. Treating us, America's strongest, oldest ally, in this extraordinary way. Vladimir Putin maintained his silence throughout the whole campaign."

* * *

Oh that does it, Obama won't be inviting Farage on any of the remaining 36-hold golf outings!

by Tyler Durden at June 29, 2016 02:20 AM

Boy Genius Report

Someone built an entirely new game in ‘Skyrim’

Skyrim Mod Enderal Release Date
There are few games that receive as much attention from the modding community as The Elder Scrolls series. Creative fans have designed new clothes, tweaked the combat system and even built entirely new landmasses inside of Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim over the past decade or so, but the most impressive mods of all are the ones that require the most work: total conversions.

(more…)

by Jacob Siegal at June 29, 2016 02:00 AM

Zero Hedge

Doug Casey Debunks The Common Excuses for "Staying" In One Country

Submitted by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com,

Tell a person that it's a big beautiful world, full of fresh opportunities and a sense of freedom that is just not available by staying put and you will inevitably be treated to a litany of reasons why expanding your life into more than one country just isn't practical.

Let's consider some of those commonly stated reasons, and why they might be unjustified. While largely directed at Americans, these are also applicable to pretty much anyone from any country (for example, Britain... or Germany).

"America is the best country in the world. I'd be a fool to leave."

That was absolutely true, not so very long ago. America certainly was the best – and it was unique. But it no longer exists, except as an ideal. The geography it occupied has been co-opted by the United States, which today is just another nation-state. And, most unfortunately, one that's become especially predatory toward its citizens.

"My parents and grandparents were born here; I have roots in this country."

An understandable emotion; everyone has an atavistic affinity for his place of birth, including your most distant relatives born long, long ago, and far, far away. I suppose if Lucy, apparently the first more-or-less human we know of, had been able to speak, she might have pled roots if you'd asked her to leave her valley in East Africa. If you buy this argument, then it's clear your forefathers, who came from Europe, Asia, or Africa, were made of sterner stuff than you are.

"I'm not going to be unpatriotic."

Patriotism is one of those things very few even question and even fewer examine closely. I'm a patriot, you're a nationalist, he's a jingoist. But let's put such a tendentious and emotion-laden subject aside. Today a true patriot – an effective patriot – would be accumulating capital elsewhere, to have assets he can repatriate and use for rebuilding when the time is right. And a real patriot understands that America is not a place; it's an idea. It deserves to be spread.

"I can't leave my aging mother behind."

Not to sound callous, but your aging parent will soon leave you behind. Why not offer her the chance to come along, though? She might enjoy a good live-in maid in your own house (which I challenge you to get in the U.S.) more than a sterile, dismal, and overpriced old people's home, where she's likely to wind up.

"I might not be able to earn a living."

Spoken like a person with little imagination and even less self-confidence. And likely little experience or knowledge of economics. Everyone, everywhere, has to produce at least as much as he consumes – that won't change whether you stay in your living room or go to Timbuktu. In point of fact, though, it tends to be easier to earn big money in a foreign country, because you will have knowledge, experience, skills, and connections the locals don't.

"I don't have enough capital to make a move."

Well, that was one thing that kept serfs down on the farm. Capital gives you freedom. On the other hand, a certain amount of poverty can underwrite your freedom, since possessions act as chains for many.

"I'm afraid I won't fit in."

The real danger that's headed your way is not fitting in at home. This objection is often proffered by people who've never traveled abroad. Here's a suggestion. If you don't have a valid passport, apply for one tomorrow morning. Then, at the next opportunity, book a trip to somewhere that seems interesting. Make an effort to meet people. Find out if you're really as abject a wallflower as you fear.

"I don't speak the language."

It's said that Sir Richard Burton, the 19th century explorer, spoke 10 languages fluently and 15 more "reasonably well." I've always liked that distinction although, personally, I'm not a good linguist. And it gets harder to learn a language as you get older – although it's also true that learning a new language actually keeps your brain limber. In point of fact, though, English is the world's language. Almost anyone who is anyone, and the typical school kid, has some grasp of it.

"I'm too old to make such a big change."

Yes, I guess it makes more sense to just take a seat and await the arrival of the Grim Reaper. Or perhaps, is your life already so exciting and wonderful that you can't handle a little change? Better, I think, that you might adopt the attitude of the 85-year-old woman who has just transplanted herself to Argentina from the frozen north. Even after many years of adventure, she simply feels ready for a change and was getting tired of the same old people with the same old stories and habits.

"I've got to wait until the kids are out of school. It would disrupt their lives."

This is actually one of the lamest excuses in the book. I'm sympathetic to the view that kids ought to live with wolves for a couple of years to get a proper grounding in life – although I'm not advocating anything that radical. It's one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids: to live in another culture, learn a new language, and associate with a better class of people (as an expat, you'll almost automatically move to the upper rungs – arguably a big plus). After a little whining, the kids will love it. When they're grown, if they discover you passed up the opportunity, they won't forgive you.

"I don't want to give up my U.S. citizenship."

There's no need to. Anyway, if you have a lot of deferred income and untaxed gains, it can be punitive to do so; the U.S. government wants to keep you as a milk cow. But then, you may cotton to the idea of living free of any taxing government while having the travel documents offered by several. And you may want to save your children from becoming cannon fodder or indentured servants should the U.S. re-institute the draft or start a program of "national service" – which is not unlikely.

But these arguments are unimportant. The real problem is one of psychology. In that regard, I like to point to my old friend Paul Terhorst, who 30 years ago was the youngest partner at a national accounting firm. He and his wife, Vicki, decided that "keeping up with the Joneses" for the rest of their lives just wasn't for them. They sold everything – cars, house, clothes, artwork, the works – and decided to live around the world. Paul then had the time to read books, play chess, and generally enjoy himself. He wrote about it in Cashing In on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35. As a bonus, the advantages of not being a tax resident anywhere and having time to scope out proper investments has put Paul way ahead in the money game. He typically spends about half his year in Argentina; we usually have lunch every week when in residence.

I could go on. But perhaps it's pointless to offer rational counters to irrational fears and preconceptions. As Gibbon noted with his signature brand of irony, "The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy, except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous."

Let me be clear: in my view, the time to internationally diversify your life is getting short. And the reasons for looking abroad are changing.

In the past, the best argument for expatriation was an automatic increase in one's standard of living. In the '50s and '60s, a book called Europe on $5 a Day accurately reflected all-in costs for a tourist. In those days a middle-class American could live like a king in Europe. But those days are long gone. Now it's the rare American who can afford to visit Europe except on a cheesy package tour. That situation may actually improve soon, if only because the standard of living in Europe is likely to fall even faster than in the U.S. But the improvement will be temporary. One thing you can plan your life around is that, for the average American, foreign travel is going to become much more expensive in the next few years as the dollar loses value at an accelerating rate.

Affordability is going to be a real problem for Americans, who've long been used to being the world's "rich guys." But an even bigger problem will be presented by foreign exchange controls of some nature, which the government will impose in its efforts to "do something." FX controls – perhaps in the form of taxes on money that goes abroad, perhaps restrictions on amounts and reasons, perhaps the requirement of official approval, perhaps all of these things – are a natural progression during the next stage of the crisis. After all, only rich people can afford to send money abroad, and only the unpatriotic would think of doing so.

How and Where

I would like to reemphasize that it’s pure foolishness to have your loyalties dictated by the lines on a map or the dictates of some ruler. The nation-state itself is on its way out. The world will increasingly be aligned with what we call phyles, groups of people who consider themselves countrymen based on their interests and values, not on which government's ID they share. I believe the sooner you start thinking that way, the freer, the richer, and the more secure you will become.

The most important first step is to get out of the danger zone. Let’s list the steps in order of importance.

  1. Establish a financial account in a second country and transfer assets to it immediately.

  2. Purchase a crib in a suitable third country, somewhere you might enjoy whether in good times or bad.

  3. Get moving toward an alternative citizenship in a fourth country; you don't want to be stuck geographically, and you don't want to live like a refugee.

  4. Keep your eyes open for business and investment opportunities in those four countries, plus the other 195; you'll greatly increase your perspective and your chances of success.

Where to go?

The personal conclusion I came to was Argentina (followed by Uruguay), where I spend a good part of my year and even more now that my house at La Estancia de Cafayate is completed.

In general, I would suggest you look most seriously at countries whose governments aren't overly cozy with the U.S. and whose people maintain an inbred suspicion of the police, the military, and the fiscal authorities. These criteria tilt the scales against past favorites like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK.

And one more piece of sage advice: stop thinking like your neighbors, which is to say stop thinking and acting like a serf. Most people – although they can be perfectly affable and even seem sensible – have the attitudes of medieval peasants that objected to going further than a day's round-trip from their hut, for fear the stories of dragons that live over the hill might be true. We covered the modern versions of that objection a bit earlier.

I'm not saying that you'll make your fortune and find happiness by venturing out. But you'll greatly increase your odds of doing so, greatly increase your security, and, I suspect, have a much more interesting time.

Let me end by reminding you what Rick Blaine, Bogart's character in Casablanca, had to say in only a slightly different context. Appropriately, Rick was an early but also an archetypical international man. Let's just imagine he's talking about what will happen if you don't effectively internationalize yourself now. He said: "You may not regret it now, but you'll regret it soon. And for the rest of your life."

by Tyler Durden at June 29, 2016 01:50 AM

Planet Python

Mike Driscoll: Python 101: An Intro to urllib

The urllib module in Python 3 is a collection of modules that you can use for working with URLs. If you are coming from a Python 2 background you will note that in Python 2 you had urllib and urllib2. These are now a part of the urllib package in Python 3. The current version of urllib is made up of the following modules:

  • urllib.request
  • urllib.error
  • urllib.parse
  • urllib.rebotparser

We will be covering each part individually except for urllib.error. The official documentation actually recommends that you might want to check out the 3rd party library, requests, for a higher-level HTTP client interface. However, I believe that it can be useful to know how to open URLs and interact with them without using a 3rd party and it may also help you appreciate why the requests package is so popular.


urllib.request

The urllib.request module is primarily used for opening and fetching URLs. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do with the urlopen function:

>>> import urllib.request
>>> url = urllib.request.urlopen('https://www.google.com/')
>>> url.geturl()
'https://www.google.com/'
>>> url.info()
<http.client.HTTPMessage object at 0x7fddc2de04e0>
>>> header = url.info()
>>> header.as_string()
('Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2016 18:21:19 GMT\n'
 'Expires: -1\n'
 'Cache-Control: private, max-age=0\n'
 'Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1\n'
 'P3P: CP="This is not a P3P policy! See '
 'https://www.google.com/support/accounts/answer/151657?hl=en for more info."\n'
 'Server: gws\n'
 'X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block\n'
 'X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN\n'
 'Set-Cookie: '
 'NID=80=tYjmy0JY6flsSVj7DPSSZNOuqdvqKfKHDcHsPIGu3xFv41LvH_Jg6LrUsDgkPrtM2hmZ3j9V76pS4K_cBg7pdwueMQfr0DFzw33SwpGex5qzLkXUvUVPfe9g699Qz4cx9ipcbU3HKwrRYA; '
 'expires=Sat, 24-Dec-2016 18:21:19 GMT; path=/; domain=.google.com; HttpOnly\n'
 'Alternate-Protocol: 443:quic\n'
 'Alt-Svc: quic=":443"; ma=2592000; v="34,33,32,31,30,29,28,27,26,25"\n'
 'Accept-Ranges: none\n'
 'Vary: Accept-Encoding\n'
 'Connection: close\n'
 '\n')
>>> url.getcode()
200

Here we import our module and ask it to open Google’s URL. Now we have an HTTPResponse object that we can interact with. The first thing we do is call the geturl method which will return the URL of the resource that was retrieved. This is useful for finding out if we followed a redirect.

Next we call info, which will return meta-data about the page, such as headers. Because of this, we assign that result to our headers variable and then call its as_string method. This prints out the header we received from Google. You can also get the HTTP response code by calling getcode, which in this case was 200, which means it worked successfully.

If you’d like to see the HTML of the page, you can call the read method on the url variable we created. I am not reproducing that here as the output will be quite long.

Please note that the request object defaults to a GET request unless you specify the data parameter. Should you pass in the data parameter, then the request object will issue a POST request instead.


Downloading a file

A typical use case for the urllib package is for downloading a file. Let’s find out a couple of ways we can accomplish this task:

>>> import urllib.request
>>> url = 'http://www.blog.pythonlibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/wxDbViewer.zip'
>>> response = urllib.request.urlopen(url)
>>> data = response.read()
>>> with open('/home/mike/Desktop/test.zip', 'wb') as fobj:
...     fobj.write(data)
...

Here we just open a URL that leads us to a zip file stored on my blog. Then we read the data and write it out to disk. An alternate way to accomplish this is to use urlretrieve:

>>> import urllib.request
>>> url = 'http://www.blog.pythonlibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/wxDbViewer.zip'
>>> tmp_file, header = urllib.request.urlretrieve(url)
>>> with open('/home/mike/Desktop/test.zip', 'wb') as fobj:
...     with open(tmp_file, 'rb') as tmp:
...         fobj.write(tmp.read())

The urlretrieve method will copy a network object to a local file. The file it copies to is randomly named and goes into the temp directory unless you use the second parameter to urlretrieve where you can actually specify where you want the file saved. This will save you a step and make your code much simpler:

>>> import urllib.request
>>> url = 'http://www.blog.pythonlibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/wxDbViewer.zip'
>>> urllib.request.urlretrieve(url, '/home/mike/Desktop/blog.zip')
('/home/mike/Desktop/blog.zip',
 <http.client.HTTPMessage object at 0x7fddc21c2470>)

As you can see, it returns the location of where it saved the file and the header information from the request.

Specifying Your User Agent

When you visit a website with your browser, the browser tells the website who it is. This is called the user-agent string. Python’s urllib identifies itself as Python-urllib/x.y where the x and y are major and minor version numbers of Python. Some websites won’t recognize this user-agent string and will behave in strange ways or not work at all. Fortunately, it’s easy for you to set up your own custom user-agent string:

>>> import urllib.request
>>> user_agent = ' Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Ubuntu; Linux x86_64; rv:47.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/47.0'
>>> url = 'http://www.whatsmyua.com/'
>>> headers = {'User-Agent': user_agent}
>>> request = urllib.request.Request(url, headers=headers)
>>> with urllib.request.urlopen(request) as response:
...     with open('/home/mdriscoll/Desktop/user_agent.html', 'wb') as out:
...         out.write(response.read())

Here we set up our user agent to Mozilla FireFox and we set out URL to http://www.whatsmyua.com/ which will tell us what it thinks our user-agent string is. Then we create a Request instance using our url and headers and pass that to urlopen. Finally we save the result. If you open the result file, you will see that we successfully changed our user-agent string. Feel free to try out a few different strings with this code to see how it will change.


urllib.parse

The urllib.parse library is your standard interface for breaking up URL strings and combining them back together. You can use it to convert a relative URL to an absolute URL, for example. Let’s try using it to parse a URL that includes a query:

>>> from urllib.parse import urlparse
>>> result = urlparse('https://duckduckgo.com/?q=python+stubbing&t=canonical&ia=qa')
>>> result
ParseResult(scheme='https', netloc='duckduckgo.com', path='/', params='', query='q=python+stubbing&t=canonical&ia=qa', fragment='')
>>> result.netloc
'duckduckgo.com'
>>> result.geturl()
'https://duckduckgo.com/?q=python+stubbing&t=canonical&ia=qa'
>>> result.port
None

Here we import the urlparse function and pass it an URL that contains a search query to the duckduckgo website. My query was to look up articles on “python stubbing”. As you can see, it returned a ParseResult object that you can use to learn more about the URL. For example, you can get the port information (None in this case), the network location, path and much more.

Submitting a Web Form

This module also holds the urlencode method, which is great for passing data to a URL. A typical use case for the urllib.parse library is submitting a web form. Let’s find out how you might do that by having the duckduckgo search engine look for Python:

>>> import urllib.request
>>> import urllib.parse
>>> data = urllib.parse.urlencode({'q': 'Python'})
>>> data
'q=Python'
>>> url = 'http://duckduckgo.com/html/'
>>> full_url = url + '?' + data
>>> response = urllib.request.urlopen(full_url)
>>> with open('/home/mike/Desktop/results.html', 'wb') as f:
...     f.write(response.read())

This is pretty straightforward. Basically we want to submit a query to duckduckgo ourselves using Python instead of a browser. To do that, we need to construct our query string using urlencode. Then we put that together to create a fully qualified URL and use urllib.request to submit the form. We then grab the result and save it to disk.


urllib.robotparser

The robotparser module is made up of a single class, RobotFileParser. This class will answer questions about whether or not a specific user agent can fetch a URL that has a published robot.txt file. The robots.txt file will tell a web scraper or robot what parts of the server should not be accessed. Let’s take a look at a simple example using ArsTechnica’s website:

>>> import urllib.robotparser
>>> robot = urllib.robotparser.RobotFileParser()
>>> robot.set_url('http://arstechnica.com/robots.txt')
None
>>> robot.read()
None
>>> robot.can_fetch('*', 'http://arstechnica.com/')
True
>>> robot.can_fetch('*', 'http://arstechnica.com/cgi-bin/')
False

Here we import the robot parser class and create an instance of it. Then we pass it a URL that specifies where the website’s robots.txt file resides. Next we tell our parser to read the file. Now that that’s done, we give it a couple of different URLs to find out which ones we can crawl and which ones we can’t. We quickly see that we can access the main site, but not the cgi-bin.


Wrapping Up

You have reached the point that you should be able to use Python’s urllib package competently. We learned how to download a file, submit a web form, change our user agent and access a robots.txt file in this chapter. The urllib has a lot of additional functionality that is not covered here, such as website authentication. However, you might want to consider switching to the requests library before trying to do authentication with urllib as the requests implementation is a lot easier to understand and debug. I also want to note that Python has support for Cookies via its http.cookies module although that is also wrapped quite well in the requests package. You should probably consider trying both to see which one makes the most sense to you.

June 29, 2016 01:38 AM

Boy Genius Report

Tesla admits defeat, quietly settles Model X lawsuit over usability problems

Tesla Model X Quality
We can talk about how innovative Tesla is for days on end. Indeed, there's no disputing the fact that the company, in injecting a bit of Silicon Valley ingenuity into the tried and true auto design process, has completely turned the auto industry on its head. At the same time, Tesla helped kickstarted the EV revolution, even causing traditional automakers like Porsche and BMW to start taking electric cars more seriously. But in Tesla's zeal to move extraordinarily quickly, problems have inevitably begun to creep in. Specifically, quality control issues still seem to be plaguing the Model X.

(more…)

by Yoni Heisler at June 29, 2016 01:30 AM

TmoNews

T-Mobile customers can call or text Turkey for free following Istanbul attack

Following an attack at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, T-Mobile has announced that it’s making it free for its customers to contact Turkey. From June 28 through July 5, all T-Mobile Simple Choice prepaid and postpaid customers will be able to call and text from the U.S. to Turkey for free. The regular charges will appear on customers’ bills along with credits to cancel them out. In addition to T-Mo customers, the free calling and texting to ... [read full article]

The post T-Mobile customers can call or text Turkey for free following Istanbul attack appeared first on TmoNews.

by Alex Wagner at June 29, 2016 01:10 AM

Boy Genius Report

SanDisk’s giant 256GB microSD card is also the world’s fastest

256 micro sd card
MicroSD cards are about the size of your fingernail, but they're capable of storing way more stuff than, say, 3.5" floppy disks of yore. Every year it seems like cards get better, and 2016 is no exception. The SanDisk Extreme microSDXC UHS-1 card takes the crown as the new fastest microSD card on the planet. It's got transfer speeds of 100MB/s, and write speeds of 90MB/s. That should be enough to comfortably keep up with 4K hi-speed video recording from action cameras and drones, and way, way overkill for even the fanciest Android smartphone.

(more…)

by Chris Mills at June 29, 2016 01:00 AM

kottke.org

NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter

Launched from Earth in August 2011, the Juno probe is due to arrive at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Once there, it will circle Jupiter 37 times, observing its atmosphere and magnetic fields, before plunging into the giant planet so as not to contaminate Europa with microbes.

Juno's principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Underneath its dense cloud cover, Jupiter safeguards secrets to the fundamental processes and conditions that governed our solar system during its formation. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter can also provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.

With its suite of science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter's intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet's auroras.

Juno will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system.

Science is great. That video? Maybe not so much.

Tags: Juno   Jupiter   NASA   astronomy   science   space

by Jason Kottke at June 29, 2016 12:56 AM

SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green

What is your most unusual User-Agent?, (Wed, Jun 29th)

When looking at my web logs, I am always out to hunt for anomalies. Today, after seeing some odd and long user agents, I figured it would be fun to look for the longest once that I can find in my logs. First of all: how?

Fist, I am extracting the User Agent string from my web server access log:

cut -f 6 -d access_log  /tmp/useragents  (this may look different for you if you use a different log format)

Next, sorting the result by line length:

cat /tmp/useragents | awk { print length, $0 } | sort -n -s | cut -d  -f2- | uniq

So finally some of the winners rv:42.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/42.0 OWASMIME/4.0500 (...) s:254:\x22file_put_contents($_SERVER[\x22DOCUMENT_ROOT\x22].chr(47).\x22images\x22.chr(47).\x22main.php\x22,\x22|=|\x5Cx3C\x22.chr(63).\x22php \x5Cx24mujj=\x5Cx24_POST[@123if(\x5Cx24mujj!=){\x5Cx24xsser=base64_decode(\x5Cx24_POST[z0 MSOffice 15)

Again. Lots of duplicate content. Do you REALLY have to tell me what version of Outlook you are running? I know you are proud of your tablet...

Oddly enough, no shellshock today.

What is your longest User-Agent if you search your weblogs?

---
Johannes B. Ullrich, Ph.D.
STI|Twitter|LinkedIn

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. https://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

June 29, 2016 12:55 AM

TED | TEDBlog

10 years of TED Talks keeping pace with history

Snowden

At TED2014, Curator Chris Anderson spoke to whistleblower Edward Snowden through a telepresence robot. Photo: Ryan Lash

In 2006, TED started putting talks online for free, a milestone in democratizing ideas worth spreading. Since then, the world has seen monumental shifts in history, including the rise and fall of revolutions, the roar of a deadly epidemic, the largest-ever leak of government secrets, an astronomical discovery predicted by Einstein and the election of the first African-American president in the US, to name a few.

To celebrate TED’s 10th anniversary, we’ve collected this playlist of talks that have intersected with history, providing insight on the significant events of their time. Read below for highlights:

Inside the Arab Spring: In December 2010, a man in Tunisia had his cart seized by the police; in protest of the general economic upheaval around him, he set himself on fire. This defiant act ignited the Arab Spring, a series of democratic uprisings and government overthrows across the Arab world. In January 2011, an Egyptian man set himself on fire in protest outside a parliament building in Cairo. The following wave of demonstrations and protests resulted in President Mubarak’s resignation and much later, a draft for a new constitution.

At TED2011, Internet activist and computer engineer Wael Ghonim spoke about his pivotal role in Egypt’s revolution: creating a Facebook page that circumvented censorship and brought new life to a burgeoning movement.

The whistleblower — and the whistleblowee: Edward Snowden was a government contractor working in Hawaii for the NSA. But in December 2012, he copied documents from the NSA that detailed government surveillance programs — some on ordinary citizens. With a whistle blow heard around the world, Snowden catalyzed one of the biggest leaks of government secrets in history, and touched off on ongoing conversation about our digital right to privacy.

At TED2014, speaking from a telepresence robot, Edward Snowden gave the audience a nuanced perspective on Internet freedoms and data privacy.

After this surprise talk, Curator Chris Anderson said, “If the NSA wants to respond, please do,” signaling a video response two days later from NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett.

Where corruption hides its money: Offshore accounts where the powerful, rich and famous stash millions in cash may sound like antics of the wealthy. But it turns out that leaving such assets untaxed means governments worldwide have to cut corners on crucial public services, such as education and food relief.  Such activities remained well-known but closeted facts until April 3, 2016, when, in the largest data leak in history, documents naming international government leaders, corporations and private citizens alike were leaked from the Panamanian bank Mossack Fonseca.

In the midst of the scandal, Robert Palmer gave vital context on the Panama Papers straight from the Global Witness headquarters in a direct-to-camera TED Talk.

The terrorist organization ISIS split from Al Qaeda over stark ideological differences and has since concentrated its effort into establishing a worldwide caliphate. Using shock and violence, ISIS attacks range from guerilla-style to large-scale bombings in countries such as Syria, Iraq, France, Belgium, among others.

At TED2015, international policy analyst Benedetta Berti shared with the audience the surprising ways groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and ISIS maintain local clout in occupied territories: providing social goods, such as schools and hospitals, that are often neglected by governments.

The refugee crisis begins: In the midst of the Arab Spring, a group of Syrian pro-democracy demonstrators protested in March 2011. Security forces opened fire on them, killing several. What followed was a series of demonstrations calling for President Bashar al-Assad, who has been in power since 2000, to resign. This kickstarted a brutal five-year civil war that has, according to UNHCR, so far resulted in more than 4 million Syrian refugees.

At TEDGlobal>Geneva in 2015, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres sat down with Bruno Giussani, TED’s European Director, in a Q&A to discuss the complexities of today’s refugee crisis. Guterres suggested that with improved screening, shelter and distribution at entry points, Europe can learn to better welcome refugees, achieving both its humanitarian and practical goals.

And at TED2016, scholar Alexander Betts offered fresh insight on the refugee crisis by addressing how to help refugees contribute and feel a part of their new homes, benefiting both the refugees and their host countries.

Should this physics discovery worry us? On July 4, 2012, scientists at CERN discovered the Higgs boson particle. This marked a monumental achievement in physics. At TEDxCERN, theoretical physicist Gian Giudice posed a worrisome question: Could a Higgs field, in an ultra-dense state, collapse all atomic matter?

The fight against Ebola: Although the virus first appeared in 1976, a new Ebola outbreak became a large-scale epidemic in 2014, ravaging West Africa. With an average 50 percent fatality rate, communities were crippled by the virus and over 11,000 people died, causing devastation and panic of a possible pandemic.

At TEDxPlaceDesNations, epidemiologist Bruce Aylward outlined four strategies to win the fight against Ebola.

Finding a ripple on space-time: Back in 1916, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves — ripples in space-time caused by a catastrophic cosmic event — when he mapped out his theory of relativity. Problem was, he didn’t have any proof. No one did, actually. Such waves could be the result of a collision of two black holes, supernovae, or leftover gravitational radiation from the birth of the Universe, among other possibilities. In September 2015, LIGO caught up with Einstein and detected real gravitational waves caused by two colliding black holes, an event dating back to the beginning of the Universe. The announcement of the find, after months of careful checking, came in February 2016.

At TED2016, theoretical physicist Allan Adams of LIGO  shared exactly how this discovery happened and the decades of work that led to it:

Finally, a climate agreement: With fits and bursts of underwhelming success, there have been a handful of global agreements, like the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at tackling climate change. The problem was that these agreements weren’t nearly as global as was hoped, with major powers like the US refusing to ratify. As the effects of climate change became more present and alarming, a new approach was needed, one with comprehensive proposals and a larger coalition of signatories. In December 2015, climate advocate Christiana Figueres was tapped to lead the Paris climate conference by the UN. At TED2016, Figueres shared how she brought 195 world leaders together to agree on a way to slow climate change, resulting in a consensus on the most important climate agreement in history.

The legacy of Nelson Mandela: There is no need  to spell out Nelson Mandela’s remarkable legacy as a fearless fighter against apartheid (resulting in 27 years in jail) and later, South Africa’s first democratically elected black president. He won innumerable accolades, including the Nobel Peace Prize, and at TEDWomen 2013, South African environmental and literacy activist Boyd Varty shared what Mandela taught him about nature, “ubuntu”and interrelatedness. He gave this talk mere hours after Nelson Mandela passed away on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95.

How Americans voted for the first African American president: On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, making him the very first African-American president in US history. One month later, statistician Nate Silver challenged the TED2009 audience with surprising experiments and insights on how much a candidate’s skin color affects their chances.

Trying to learn from Haiti: On January 10, 2010, a devastating 7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti, leaving over 222,000 people dead and much of its infrastructure in complete ruin. Later, after time of detailed study, reflection and analysis, TED Fellow Peter Haas shared with the TEDGlobal 2010 audience how bad building practices and design exacerbated the fatality of this natural disaster.

Looking ahead in Afghanistan: In 2005, Afghanistan was a broken country, recovering from war and riddled with corruption, and Ashraf Ghani was an academic and finance minister who shared ideas for how the country might begin to rebuild. In 2014, Ghani became president of Afghanistan.

 

 

 

 


by Cynthia Betubiza at June 29, 2016 12:51 AM

10 years of changing views on climate change, in TED Talks

10 years after Al Gore gave his eye-opening TED Talk about global warming, the UN's Christiana Figueres described the first global effort to fight it. Photo: Bret Hartman

10 years after Al Gore gave his eye-opening TED Talk about global warming, the UN’s Christiana Figueres described the first global effort to fight it. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED

On July 27, 2006, the first six TED Talks were posted online. Among them was Al Gore’s talk at TED2006, “Averting the climate crisis,” given a few months before the release of his groundbreaking documentary An Inconvenient Truth. With the release of the film, climate change stormed into public awareness. Fast-forward to 2016 and things have changed a lot, for both the discussion around climate change and TED.com. Both have grown and evolved in ways that would have been impossible to predict back in 2006.

When Al Gore took the stage at TED2006, there was little public discussion or even awareness of climate change. In fact, An Inconvenient Truth was so instrumental in making people aware of climate change that scientists actually study its impact. But the conversation in 2006 was very different than the doomsday-scenario, polarized discussions we sometimes hear today. It was casual and calm, and the solutions at the heart of the talk weren’t big or grandiose. They didn’t involve terraforming a new planet or growing baby corals to rebuild reefs or locking seeds away deep in a Norwegian mountain. They were simple, the kind you might put on a pamphlet: Buy a hybrid, consume and invest consciously, calculate your carbon footprint, reduce-reuse-recycle. That’s not to say these are not important steps, they are, but listening to the conversation in 2006, there isn’t the same sense of urgency that comes later. And in fact, the primary message is not about a particular solution, it’s about raising awareness. “Become a catalyst of change. Teach others, learn about it, talk about it,” urged Gore. (Jill Sobule added her voice to the 2006 conversation with the lighthearted song “Manhattan in January.”) The public conversation was in its infancy, and before we could focus on making serious change, we needed to get the word out …

2007-2008: Quiet period

… which takes time. In 2007, there’s a TED salon called “Hot Science” to dig further into climate and energy science, but otherwise TED Talks goes relatively quiet on climate change. We posted 8 talks on climate change in 2007 (though some were filmed before 2007, before we had a website to put them on), and in 2008, we posted just 2 talks on climate change, including a follow-up talk from the newly minted Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore. The lull in coverage is reflective of the larger public and political conversation, or lack thereof. As Gore noted in his 2008 talk, “The top journalists for NBC asked 956 questions in 2007 of the presidential candidates. Two of them were about the climate crisis. ABC: 844 questions, two about the climate crisis. Fox: two. CNN: two. CBS: zero.”

Even harder than getting people to talk was getting them to care, he said. “There has been progress, but here is the key: when given a list of challenges to confront, global warming is still listed at near the bottom. What is missing is a sense of urgency. If you agree with the factual analysis, but you don’t feel the sense of urgency, where does that leave you?”

At this point, the real problem rested not with science–the evidence was strong–it rested with the public and policymakers.

2009: How can we help inspire the public to care?

In 2009, James Balog shared images from his Extreme Ice Survey, a photographic-scientific endeavour that showcased the role of art in getting people to care about climate: “In the Extreme Ice Survey, we’re dedicated to … merging art and science to the end of helping us understand nature and humanity’s relationship with nature better.” His goal: make climate change feel tangible to people. The problem is so abstract that it can be difficult to motivate people around something that feels so, well, distant. But being able to see it. Well, that changes everything.

“Ice is the canary in the global coal mine. It’s the place where we can see and touch and hear and feel climate change in action. Climate change is a really abstract thing in most of the world. Whether or not you believe in it is based on your sense of, Is it raining more or is it raining less? Is it getting hotter or is it getting colder? What do the computer models say about this, that and the other thing? All of that, strip it away. In the world of the arctic and alpine environments, where the ice is, it’s real and it’s present. The changes are happening. They’re very visible. They’re photographable. They’re measurable.”

(Other TED Talks have echoed this sentiment, the role of art in creating action and change on the part of the populace. For more talks like this, check out: Zaria Forman, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and Chris Jordan.)

In 2009, we posted 9 talks on climate change, a 350% increase. The talks are varied. James Balog and Yann Arthus-Bertrand touched on the role of art, Cary Fowler shared a radical idea on how to protect ourselves and our plants, and Jane Poynter and Lewis Pugh shared two extraordinary awareness-raising experiences. The conversation has grown from its roots. There is a growing awareness that this touches all of our lives, all of our fields, and the way we talk about it has greatly expanded and will continue to over the following years. Climate change is no longer just about science or energy. It’s about art and social justice and philosophy–everything under the sun. The urgency, the care — it’s starting.

2010-2012: A lull, and then some tough love

But the momentum slackens for a moment after 2009. In 2010, we posted only 4 talks and in 2011, zero talks specifically on climate (though climate change is mentioned in lots of talks both years). In 2012 the momentum returns — but more important even than the number of talks we posted is how the tone of the conversation changes. There’s no gentleness anymore. There’s tough love, shake-you-awake kind of talks. The talks emphasize the severity of the situation and underscore that we need to do something about this.

At TED2012, climate scientist James Hansen said, “This path, if continued, guarantees that we will pass tipping points leading to ice sheet disintegration that will accelerate out of control of future generations. A large fraction of species will be committed to extinction. And increasing intensity of droughts and floods will severely impact breadbaskets of the world, causing massive famines and economic decline. Imagine a giant asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth.”

There’s also a move away from the mentality that it will only take simple changes within our existing economic framework. Instead, we start to share a realization that this will take immense change and action on the part of everyone at every level. As Paul Gilding said in 2012, “the idea that we can smoothly transition to a highly efficient, solar-powered, knowledge-based economy transformed by science and technology so that nine billion people can live in 2050 a life of abundance and digital downloads is a delusion. It’s not that it’s not possible to feed, clothe and house us all and have us live decent lives. It certainly is. But the idea that we can gently grow there with a few minor hiccups is just wrong, and it’s dangerously wrong, because it means we’re not getting ready for what’s really going to happen.”

2012-now: Acceptance and urgency

Between 2012 and 2015, the conversation continues. There’s a growing sense of acceptance and understanding, and with that comes fear and urgency. There are a lot of calls to action — along with growing frustration and despair at our lack of action. We’re there, but we’re not quite there. It’s an interesting time because there’s a lot of thought being given to climate change and growing understanding, but a complete inability to get anything done about it. It’s like there’s this sense of urgency but we are unable to harness it, or it hasn’t yet reached a tipping point.

Throughout these years, talks ranged from the firm, hopeful and practical in 2012…

“It’s up to us to look at our homes and our communities, our vulnerabilities and our exposures to risk, and to find ways to not just survive, but to thrive, and it’s up to us to plan and to prepare and to call on our government leaders and require them to do the same, even while they address the underlying causes of climate change. There are no quick fixes. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. We’re all learning by doing.” (Vicki Arroyo)

…to the more ominous in 2014:

“the world as a whole is moving far too slowly. We’re not cutting emissions in the way we should. We’re not managing those structural transformations as we can. The depth of understanding of the immense risks of climate change are not there yet. The depth of understanding of the attractiveness of what we can do is not there yet. We need political pressure to build. We need leaders to step up. We can have better growth, better climate, a better world. We can make, by managing those two transformations well, the next 100 years the best of centuries. If we make a mess of it, we, you and me, if we make a mess of it, if we don’t manage those transformations properly, it will be, the next 100 years will be the worst of centuries.” (Lord Nicholas Stern)

Come 2015, a big shift occurs. Rather than talking about climate change happening in some distant, uncertain future, we see people talking about it as something that is happening now. As the president of the island nation of Kiribati, Anote Tong, said at Mission Blue II in 2015, ”What many people do not understand is they think climate change is something that is happening in the future. Well, we’re at the very bottom end of the spectrum. It’s already with us. We have communities who already have been dislocated. They have had to move, and every parliament session, I’m getting complaints from different communities asking for assistance to build seawalls, to see what we can do about the freshwater lens because it’s being destroyed. In my trips to the different islands, I’m seeing evidence of communities which are now having to cope with the loss of food crops, the contamination of the water lenses, and I see these communities perhaps leaving, having to relocate, within five to 10 years.”

Mentally, that’s a big shift. It dashes whatever delusions people held about averting climate change, and it makes the threat seem more imminent. Plus, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s much easier to care when the problem is going to affect us directly rather than the unnamed, unborn generations of the future. Alice Bows-Larkin put it well when she said, “So we have a choice. We can either choose to start to take climate change seriously, and significantly cut and mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions, and then we will have to adapt to less of the climate change impacts in future. Alternatively, we can continue to really ignore the climate change problem. But if we do that, we are also choosing to adapt to very much more powerful climate impacts in future. We’re making that choice on behalf of others as well. But the choice that we don’t have is a no-climate-change future.”

As we’ve seen, the buildup to 2016 was slow and painstaking, but TED Talks help illustrate how far we have come. In 2006, we posted 3 talks on climate change, but in 2016 so far we have posted 11. As a global community, we’ve gained urgency and momentum. We have gone through a dark period where it seemed unlikely we would ever act, but in 2016 we hear for the first time strains of optimism and concrete hope. That optimism is important.

For years, we have heard speakers reiterate their frustration: We know this is happening, but there’s no urgency to act. That urgency and momentum has been building. What was needed next was a way to harness that urgency, and Christiana Figueres found the key: optimism. That key would culminate in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Now

So, when Al Gore took the stage again in 2016, a decade after his first talk, we had come a long way. It is just the start, the tip of the iceberg to solving this problem — but what a step from where we have been. As he says,  “Paris really was a breakthrough; some of the provisions are binding and the regular reviews will matter a lot. But nations aren’t waiting, they’re going ahead. China has already announced that starting next year, they’re adopting a nationwide cap-and-trade system. They will likely link up with the European Union. The United States has already been changing. All of these coal plants were proposed in the next 10 years and canceled. All of these existing coal plants were retired. We are moving forward. Last year — if you look at all of the investment in new electricity generation in the United States, almost three-quarters was from renewable energy, mostly wind and solar. We are solving this crisis. The only question is: how long will it take to get there?”

As these talks show, the road from awareness to concerted action (and the faintest glimmer of a solution) has not been easy. It’s been frustrating and scary with a strong helping of denial and pessimism. But they all share one commonality: an iron-strong belief that in our darkest hour, we can shine. Here’s to hoping that our next ten years of talks on climate change will show that to be true.

 


by Rebekah Barnett at June 29, 2016 12:51 AM

10 years of evolving biotech

JenniferKahn_2016-embed

At TED2016, Jennifer Kahn talked about a bold new step in biotech: gene drives, the act of systematically removing a pesky gene from an entire species. Photo: Ryan Lash

To celebrate 10 years of TED Talks, we went back through the archives to show you how fast biotechnology has changed over the past ten years, and some interesting moments along the way.

We start with some history in a talk by James Watson, who co-discovered the first models of DNA’s structure with his partner Francis Crick, as a 23-year-old student at Cambridge in the early 1950s. Onstage in 2005, Watson talked about the breakthrough day when it all become clear. As he describes it, “Crick and I started building models, and I’d learned a little chemistry, but not enough. Well, we got the answer on the 28th February ’53, because of a rule which, to me, is a very good rule: Never be the brightest person in a room. And we weren’t. We weren’t the best chemists in the room.” Instead, their colleague, chemist Jerry Donohue, made an important correction to one of their earlier models for DNA’s structure that guided them to “the [DNA] base pairing — and Francis immediately said the chains run in absolute directions. And we knew we were right. It all happened in about two hours, from nothing to thing: If you just put A next to T and G next to C, you have a copying mechanism. So we saw how genetic information is carried.”

Following on this discovery, Watson and Crick asked further questions, like “what does this genetic information actually do?” In 1960, they came to understand more of the fundamental mechanisms that allowed DNA to transfer information, and discovered the three forms of RNA. These first discoveries paved the way for other scientists to explore life’s code.

The race to code the entire human genome started in the 1990s. The first human genome was sequenced (and published in Nature) by J. Craig Venter at Celera in 2001. The US-government-funded Human Genome Project completed its first human genome sequence two years later. The possibilities seemed endless, as Juan Enriquez told TED in 2003, imagining what impact we could expect this new tool to have across the economy, science and culture.

 

First, Enriquez mused, we might expect to see extinct species return to the planet. He gives this hypothetical example: “They take some cells out of an adult gaur‘s mouth, insert the code from that into a fertilized cow’s egg, reprogram the cow’s egg with a different gene code. When you do that, the cow gives birth to a gaur. We are now experimenting with bongos, pandas, elands, Sumatran tigers …”

Next, he predicted, the technology to sequence our gene codes would get faster and much cheaper, very rapidly: “It takes about $5 billion to sequence a human being the first time. Takes about $3 million the second time. We will have a $1,000 genome within the next five to eight years. That means each of you will contain on a CD your entire gene code.” This will introduce a new factor into our healthcare: our genetic data.

And finally, we’ll see the beginning of gene editing, and the birth of new industries for manufacturing vaccines and materials. “This changes all rules. This is life, but we’re reprogramming it.”

In 2005, J. Craig Venter talked about his sea-going expedition to map samples of the oceans’ DNA, mainly in microbes. “Less than 5,000 microbial species have been characterized as of two years ago, and so we decided to do something about it,” he said. On this trip, he discovered as many as 50,000 new species, adding entire chapters to the “book of life” on this planet.

“Microbes make up about a half of the Earth’s biomass, whereas all animals only make up about one one-thousandth of all the biomass,” he said. “If you ever swallow a mouthful of seawater, keep in mind that each milliliter has about a million bacteria and on the order of 10 million viruses.”

Next, Venter and his team started decoding the functions of different genes, recognizing which ones were necessary to survive in different environments — for instance, how microorganisms living at different depths adapted to more or less light.

As we learned more about how elegantly DNA stored our information, we started looking for bigger lessons on design and information storage. In 2008, Paul Rothemund told TED about how our long strands of DNA were able to fit into a compact space: by folding themselves into complex origami.

At this point, in 2008, it’s been seven years since the human genome was first sequenced, and Rothemund takes a minute to marvel at how the field known as biotechnology has grown and diversified, as we begin to grasp the magnitude of what we could learn from genetic code: “My friends, molecular programmers, and I … are interested in using DNA, RNA and protein, and building new languages for building things from the bottom up, using biomolecules, potentially having nothing to do with biology.”

In his own work, he took lessons from DNA’s shape that inform design for very small computers: “They took a DNA origami, organized some carbon nanotubes, made a little switch, wired it up, tested it and showed that it is indeed a switch. Now, this is just a single switch and you need half a billion for a computer, so we have a long way to go. But the origami can organize parts just one-tenth the size of those in a normal computer. So it’s very promising for making small computers.”

Meanwhile: “The 3.2 billion base pairs inside each of your cells is really a history of where you’ve been for the past billion years,” as Enriquez put it in his early talk. So at TEDGlobal in 2011, Svante Pååbo introduced us to some newly discovered clues in our DNA that linked us back to our Neanderthal ancestors.

As Pååbo says: “The two human DNA sequences go back to a common ancestor quite recently. Farther back, there is one shared with chimpanzees. And because these mutations happen approximately as a function of time, you can transform these differences to estimates of time, where the two humans, typically, will share a common ancestor about half a million years ago.”

By 2009, technology to sequence human genomes was so cheap and accessible that Ellen Jorgenson set up a DIY biohacking lab in Brooklyn, called Genspace.

“The idea,” she said, “is that if you open up the science and you allow diverse groups to participate, it could really stimulate innovation. Putting technology in the hands of the end user is usually a good idea because they’ve got the best idea of what their needs are. And here’s this really sophisticated technology coming down the road, all these associated social, moral, ethical questions, and we scientists are just lousy at explaining to the public just exactly what it is we’re doing in those labs. So wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place in your local neighborhood where you could go and learn about this stuff, do it hands-on? I thought so.”

Bonus: Jorgenson gave TED an update on how much it cost to process human genomes: “Reading and writing DNA code is getting easier and cheaper. By the end of this year, we’ll be able to sequence the three million bits of information in your genome in less than a day and for less than 1,000 euros.” Enriquez’s 2003 prediction on how rapidly this technology would develop had come true!

But as she suggests, as the technology became more complicated, it brought up hard ethical questions about human life and evolution. Should we edit ourselves? Our children? Other species?

Stewart Brand told TED in 2013 about some of the opportunities available to conservationists who were mourning extinct species.

“What if you could find out that, using the DNA in museum specimens, fossils maybe up to 200,000 years old could be used to bring species back, what would you do? Where would you start?”

“Well, you’d start by finding out if the biotech is really there. I started with my wife, Ryan Phelan, who ran a biotech business called DNA Direct, and through her, one of her colleagues, George Church, one of the leading genetic engineers, who turned out to be also obsessed with passenger pigeons and a lot of confidence that methodologies he was working on might actually do the deed.”

George Church was experimenting with a method of rebuilding ancient damaged genomes to bring back extinct species, Brand told us: “He has a machine called the Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering machine. It’s kind of like an evolution machine. You try combinations of genes that you write at the cell level and then in organs on a chip, and the ones that win, that you can then put into a living organism. It’ll work.”

After this talk, Chris Anderson said to Brand, “I suspect there are some people out there asking tormented questions: ‘Wait a minute, there’s something wrong with mankind interfering in nature in this way. There’s going to be unintended consequences. You’re going to uncork some sort of Pandora’s box of who-knows-what.’ Do they have a point?”

Brand responded, “Well, we interfered in a big way by making these animals go extinct.”

Over the next few years, we saw new tools built from our ability to read and process gene codes — and new ethical questions that were starting to keep us up at night.

In a challenging court case that became a TEDx Talk, Tania Simoncelli asked our audience if we should be able to patent a gene?

Simoncelli discussed a case she worked on that involved the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which can be markers for breast cancer — and on which a biotech company had secured a patent in the 1990s.

What does that mean? It meant that you couldn’t give your gene to your doctors and ask them to look at it, without permission of the patent holder. It also meant that the patent holder had the right to stop anyone else from using that gene in research or clinical testing.

Luckily, there’s a long history of legal cases in the United States that ruled similar patents illegal. “Turns out that the Supreme Court has made clear that … you can’t patent products of nature — the air, the water, minerals, elements of the periodic table. And you can’t patent laws of nature — the law of gravity, E = mc2. These things are just too fundamental and must remain free to all and reserved exclusively to none.“

Present at court the day of the trial, she says, was “the co-discoverer of DNA himself, James Watson, who had submitted a brief to the court, where he referred to gene patenting as ‘lunacy.’” They won their case, protecting the public’s access to their own genetic code.

That same year, Jorge Soto demoed his tool for early cancer detection, leveraging a few new things we had learned about RNA and the recently discovered microRNAs, RNAs that influence gene expression.

“Unlike DNA, which is mainly fixed, microRNAs can vary depending on internal and environmental conditions, telling us which genes are actively expressed at that particular moment. And that is what makes microRNAs such a promising biomarker for cancer, because as you know, cancer is a disease of altered gene expression. It is the uncontrolled regulation of genes.”

“No two cancers are the same, but at the microRNA level, there are patterns. Several scientific studies have shown that abnormal microRNA expression levels creates a unique, specific pattern for each type of cancer, even at the early stages, reflecting the progression of the disease, and whether it’s responding to medication or in remission, making microRNAs a perfect, highly sensitive biomarker.”

With these tags, Soto’s team has been able to detect pancreatic, breast, lung and hepatic cancer with image detection in the cloud via a smartphone.

Meanwhile, a revolution in gene editing was brewing, with the advent of CRISPR, a basic, simple and reliable tool to edit genes quite precisely. In 2015 CRISPR’s co-inventor, Jennifer Doudna, walked us through the process — and laid out a vision for using it responsibly.

In 2015, Enriquez came back to TED with a bold talk on the ethical questions we’ll have when we start modifying the next human species. Which we definitely will. His talk lays out five basic principles for the bioethics around gene editing, things like: Take responsibility, and Accept diversity. And he closed by saying:

“This is the single most exciting adventure human beings have been on. It would be a crime for you not to participate in this stuff because you’re scared of it, because you’re hiding from it. You can participate in the ethics. You can participate in the politics. You can participate in the business. You can participate in just thinking about where we’re going to take the world. It would be a crime for all of us not to be aware.”

2016 brought new ethical questions. Jennifer Kahn challenged our audience to learn more about gene drives, global efforts to eradicate a disease through genetic engineering, empowered by CRISPR, which she calls “basically a word processor for genes. You can take an entire gene out, put one in, or even edit just a single letter within a gene. And you can do it in nearly any species.”

There are two sides to the genes drives story, she points out:

“The good news is that this opens the door to some remarkable things. If you put an anti-malarial gene drive in just 1 percent of Anopheles mosquitoes, the species that transmits malaria, researchers estimate that it would spread to the entire population in a year. So in a year, you could virtually eliminate malaria.”

“This is the bad news. Gene drives are so effective that even an accidental release could change an entire species, and often very quickly.”

It’s clear the first TED Talks online audience, back in 2006, was already getting hints of the world of today, 2016, a time in which we can zap genes one by one, create patient-specific medicines, and build computers that steal ideas from DNA folding. Our speakers have unpacked this quickly developing field for our audience with clarity, humor and insight. Now: what’s next?


by Diana Enriquez at June 29, 2016 12:51 AM

From 1984 to 2016: TED Talks about interfaces to our technology

Over the past 10 years, TED Talks videos have tracked our ever-tighter relationship with technology — including the tools we use to access it, our interfaces … from keyboards and mice to magic wands and sensory vests. For our guide to this evolving field, we start with MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte’s talk from the very first TED, in 1984, in which he makes five predictions about how our relationship to technology will change. Let’s roll through all five:

  1. In his talk, Negroponte asks the question that TED speakers have been trying to answer ever since: “Can it be a little bit more pleasurable to deal with a computer?”

To set the scene, remember that in 1984 you looked at computers via a TV screen, and as Negroponte reminds us: “TV was designed to be looked at from eight times the distance of the diagonal. So you get a 13-inch, 19-inch, whatever, TV, and you should multiply that by eight, and that’s the distance you should sit away from the TV set.” Over the next decades, we saw engineers and designers steadily remove that distance between the individual and interface.

In 2009, Pranav Mistry described his quest to make interfaces from our screens more tangible in our physical environments.

He describes a device that would replace television, bringing images much closer to our bodies. “I actually thought of putting a big-size projector on my head. I think that’s why this is called a head-mounted projector, isn’t it? I took it very literally, and took my bike helmet, put a little cut over there so that the projector actually fits nicely. So now, what I can do — I can augment the world around me with this digital information.” Is he predicting the virtual reality headsets that we would see in 2015? No — he’s working on a way to augment our senses: “I realized that I actually wanted to interact with those digital pixels, also. So I put a small camera over there that acts as a digital eye. Later, we moved to a much better, consumer-oriented pendant version of that, the SixthSense device.”

The functions of SixthSense sound a lot like some of the goals of now-ubiquitous devices like iPhones and activity trackers: “You can carry your digital world with you wherever you go. You can start using any surface, any wall around you, as an interface. The camera is actually tracking all your gestures. Whatever you’re doing with your hands, it’s understanding that gesture.” We’re slowly removing that barrier between human and machine that Negroponte described earlier with TVs.

In 2015, Nonny de la Peña described the power of virtual reality as an opportunity for storytellers and readers alike: “What if I could present you a story that you would remember with your entire body and not just with your mind? My whole life as a journalist, I’ve been compelled to try to make stories that can make a difference and maybe inspire people to care. I’ve worked in print. I’ve worked in documentary. I’ve worked in broadcast. But it really wasn’t until I got involved with virtual reality that I started seeing these really intense, authentic reactions from people that really blew my mind.”

Without the separation between human and machine interface, “you get this whole-body sensation, like you’re actually there,” she says. Her stories introduced readers to a man falling into a diabetic coma while waiting in line for food at a food bank in Los Angeles, life in Syria during the civil war — and the night of the Trayvon Martin shooting. Her stories took on an emotional experience because they involved all of our senses.

  1. Back in 1984, Negroponte described all the steps it took for a user to interact with information on a computer screen using a computer mouse, and our speakers offered some alternatives.

“When you think for a second of the mouse on Macintosh — and I will not criticize the mouse too much — when you’re typing, first of all, you’ve got to find the mouse. You have to probably stop, you find the mouse, and you’re going to have to wiggle it a little bit to see where the cursor is on the screen. And then when you finally see where it is, then you’ve got to move it to get the cursor over there, and then — ‘bang’ — you’ve got to hit a button or do whatever. That’s four separate steps, versus typing and just doing it all in one motion, or one-and-a-half, depending on how you want to count.” Negroponte was critical of how little we used our whole hands during this process.

Fast forward to 2015 and we’ve removed the mouse altogether; at TEDxCERN, Sean Follmer shows us a new touch-based interface that molds our input devices to our needs.

When we use the standard keyboard and mouse for everything from word processing to shopping to gaming, “it doesn’t allow us to interact, to capture the rich dexterity that we have in our bodies. We need new interfaces that can capture these rich abilities that we have and that can physically adapt to us and allow us to interact in new ways.”

A knockout moment in his demo: an interface that allows two people on a Skype call to reach out from the screen. A tool called inFORM “represents people’s hands, allowing them to actually touch and manipulate objects at a distance.”

  1. What’s an exciting alternative to the computer mouse, Negroponte asks in 1984? Maybe, an early generation of touch screens.

“You could build a pressure-sensitive display. And when you touch it with your finger, you can actually, then, introduce all the forces on the face of that screen, and that actually has a certain amount of value. Let me see if I can load another disc and show you, quickly, an example …”

Ten years ago, Jeff Han demoed his breakthrough multi-touch screen at TED to gasps and two standing ovations.

As he describes the device, “It’s about 36 inches wide and it’s equipped with a multi-touch sensor. Normal touch sensors that you see, like on a kiosk or interactive whiteboards, can only register one point of contact at a time. This thing allows you to have multiple points at the same time. They can use both my hands; I can use chording actions; I can just go right up and use all 10 fingers if I wanted to.”

Stepping forward one decade, at TED2016, augmented-reality demos from Meta and Hololens presented new ways that users could interact with data.

Meta’s headset projected holograms, creating an augmented reality that displayed not only what was physically present in the environment, but layers of additional images and information. Meta’s Meron Gribetz presents their design strategy with the goal “To isolate the single most intuitive interface, we use neuroscience to drive our design guidelines, instead of letting a bunch of designers fight it out in the boardroom. And the principle we all revolve around is what’s called the ‘Neural Path of Least Resistance.'”

The second design principle he calls “touch to see,” allowing users to use gestures to move images and information projected before their eyes.

Alex Kipman described Microsoft HoloLens as “the first fully untethered holographic computer. Devices like this will bring 3D holographic content right into our world, enhancing the way we experience life beyond our ordinary range of perceptions.

  1. Negroponte was excited about computers moving into classrooms. The next stage of education could be code, he predicted. This presented a whole new spectrum of how we could “measure intelligence.”

“You give a kid — a 3-year-old kid — a computer and they type a little command and — Poof! — something happens. And all of a sudden … You may not call that reading and writing, but a certain bit of typing and reading stuff on the screen has a huge payoff, and it’s a lot of fun.

In 2016, Reshma Saujani pushed us to think about the ways that coding in education also meant empowering our girls. The Girls Who Code founder showed how coding taught students to celebrate and learn from their mistakes in ways that traditional educational programs did not.

“I started a company to teach girls to code, and what I found is that by teaching them to code I had socialized them to be brave. Coding, it’s an endless process of trial and error, of trying to get the right command in the right place, with sometimes just a semicolon making the difference between success and failure. Code breaks and then it falls apart, and it often takes many, many tries until that magical moment when what you’re trying to build comes to life. It requires perseverance. It requires imperfection.”

Coding, as Negroponte predicted, created a new space in education for a different type of learning and creating. This turned out to be a game changer in education strategy.

  1. In his closing point, Negroponte proposes technology that replaces interfaces altogether with different objects — to sometimes surreal effect.

“We were asked to do a teleconferencing system where you had the following situation: you had five people at five different sites — they were known people — and you had to have these people in teleconference, such that each one was utterly convinced that the other four were physically present. Now, that is sufficiently zany that we would, obviously, jump to the bait, and we did. And we actually went so far as to build CRTs in the shapes of the people’s faces. So if I wanted to call my friend Peter Sprague on the phone, my secretary would get his head out and bring it and set it on the desk.”

In 2014, James Patten introduced new ways for museum visitors to learn about science in interactive exhibits. “I built an interactive chemistry exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and this exhibit lets people use physical objects to grab chemical elements off the periodic table and bring them together to cause chemical reactions to happen.”

“And the museum noticed that people were spending a lot of time with this exhibit, and a researcher from a science education center in Australia decided to study this exhibit and try to figure out what was going on. And she found that the physical objects that people were using were helping people understand how to use the exhibit, and were helping people learn in a social way.” There were opportunities for both more introverted and more extroverted learners to interact with machines to improve their experiences!

At TEDxSydney in 2015, Tom Uglow envisioned a world where users could interact with the internet all around them without using screens.

“Your phone is not very natural. And you probably think you’re addicted to your phone, but you’re really not. We’re not addicted to devices, we’re addicted to the information that flows through them. Reality is richer than screens.”

Imagine a forest where “children might have an opportunity to visit an enchanted forest guided by a magic wand, where they could talk to digital fairies and ask them questions, and be asked questions in return… I’m very excited by the possibility of getting kids back outside without screens, but with all the powerful magic of the Internet at their fingertips.”

Another version of this information without screens came from David Eagleman’s talk in 2015, where he unveiled a vest that added another dimension to human senses.

Our brains were not created to understand the scope of the entire universe, he says. “Now, what this means is that our experience of reality is constrained by our biology, and that goes against the commonsense notion that our eyes and our ears and our fingertips are just picking up the objective reality that’s out there. Instead, our brains are sampling just a little bit of the world.”

In a dramatic moment, he unveils the vest that processes data from the internet into patterns for our bodies to interpret, adding a new sense that could help “an astronaut being able to feel the overall health of the International Space Station, or, for that matter, having you feel the invisible states of your own health, like your blood sugar and the state of your microbiome, or having 360-degree vision or seeing in infrared or ultraviolet.” Maybe the next sense, the next interface would be further augmentations to our bodies, creating a true symbiosis between person and machine.

The machines we’ve encountered over the last few years help us connect between, feel more deeply, and interact more seamlessly with technology. It’s exciting to see how many of Nicholas Negroponte’s predictions came to fruition in ways he couldn’t imagine.


by Diana Enriquez at June 29, 2016 12:51 AM

Zero Hedge

In Gold We Trust, 2016 Edition

Submitted by Pater Tenebrarum via Acting-Man.com,

The 10th Anniversary Edition of the “In Gold We Trust” Report

As every year at the end of June, our good friends Ronald Stoeferle and Mark Valek, the managers of the Incrementum funds, have released the In Gold We Trust report, one of the most comprehensive and most widely read gold reports in the world. The report can be downloaded further below.

 

Gold, daily

Gold, daily, over the past year – click to enlarge.

The report celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. As always, a wide variety of gold-related topics is discussed, providing readers with a wealth of valuable and intellectually stimulating information. This year’s report inter alia includes a detailed discussion of gold’s properties in terms of Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s “fragility/ robustness/ anti-fragility” matrix, as well as close look at the last resort of mad-cap central planners that goes by the moniker “helicopter money”.

Since falling to a new multi-year low amid growing despondency and a crescendo of bearishness late last year,  gold has celebrated a rather noteworthy comeback. As our regular readers know, we pointed to many subtle signs that indicated to us that a trend change might soon be afoot as the low approached (particularly in gold stocks, see e.g. “Gold and Gold Stocks, it Gets Even More Interesting” or “The Canary in the Gold Mine” for some color on this).

Ronald and Mark are inter alia looking into the question whether gold’s recent comeback marks the resumption of the secular bull market, and which factors are likely to drive precious metals in coming years. As they correctly argue, the increasing desperation of central bankers and their willingness to boost inflation at all cost is going to lead to a plethora of unintended consequences, all of which are likely to boost the gold price.

They also shed light on one issue that  – apart from a handful of exceptions –  is clearly not on anyone’s radar screen at the moment: namely the possibility that central banks might finally “succeed”. In other words, the possibility that gold’s recent rise is actually the harbinger of another event widely regarded as “impossible” – the return of price inflation.

In this context, we want to reproduce a chart from the report, which shows the proprietary Incrementum inflation signal vs. the gold price and a number of other inflation-sensitive assets. As can be seen, the signal has flipped rather forcefully toward inflation, after having been stuck for several years in “disinflation/ deflation” territory.

Incrementum signal

The Incrementum Inflation Signal vs. inflation-sensitive assets – click to enlarge.

 

This incidentally jibes with the ECRI Future Inflation Gauge, which has recently reached a new multi-year high as well. As can probably be imagined, if the message of these signals is actually borne out, central banks will be facing quite a quandary. It also has potentially far-reaching implications for investors of all stripes, which the report discusses extensively as well.

 

Conclusion and Download Link

We are certain that our readers will find this year’s In Gold We Trust report just as interesting and entertaining as its predecessors. In fact, we believe the anniversary report is an especially well done issue. Enjoy!

Full PDF can be downloaded here, or read below...

In Gold We Trust 2016-Extended Version

by Tyler Durden at June 29, 2016 12:50 AM

Joomla - Release News

Joomla! 3.6 Release Candidate Released

Joomla 3.6 features

The Joomla! Project is pleased to announce the availability of Joomla! CMS 3.6 Release Candidate. Community members are asked to download and install the package in order to provide quality assurance for the forthcoming 3.6 release.

Joomla! 3 is the latest major release of the Joomla! CMS, with 3.6 the seventh standard-term support release in this series. Please note that going from 3.5 to 3.6 is a one-click upgrade and is NOT a migration. The same is true is for any subsequent versions in the 3 series of the CMS. That being said, please do not upgrade any of your production sites to the release candidate version as release candidate is ONLY intended for testing and there is no upgrade path from a Release Candidate.

by George Wilson (george.wilson@community.joomla.org) at June 29, 2016 12:45 AM

Across the Curve

Fed Governor Powell Muses on the Economy

Via Bloomberg:

Declan Harty
DeclanHarty
Jeanna Smialek
jeannasmialek
June 28, 2016 — 7:00 PM EDT

Powell says it is far too early to judge effects of U.K. vote
Important to assess appropriate U.S. policy stance post-Brexit

 

Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell said global risks have shifted further to the downside after Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, introducing new uncertainties that may merit reassessing monetary policy.

 

“The Brexit vote has the potential to create new headwinds for economies around the world, including our own,” Powell said Tuesday in remarks prepared for delivery to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “As the global outlook evolves, it will be important to assess the implications for the U.S. economy, and for the stance of policy appropriate to foster continued progress toward our objectives of maximum employment and price stability.”

The U.K.’s June 23 decision to leave the EU touched off market turmoil and spurred central banks including the Fed to assure investors that they were prepared to provide liquidity to the system, a promise Powell reiterated on Tuesday. The Fed governor also discussed his outlook for the U.S. economy, and said that monetary policy needs to stay easy.

“Weakness in economic activity around the world and related bouts of financial volatility have weighed on the performance of our economy,” Powell said. “Monetary policy will need to remain supportive of growth, as we work through the challenging global environment.”

Though financial conditions have tightened in the wake of the Brexit vote, Powell said markets have continued to function in an orderly manner.

Powell said that labor market strength has been a “key feature of the recovery” that has allowed the Fed to look through output growth fluctuations, making weak April and May jobs data “worrisome.” He said the Fed has “more work to do to assure that inflation moves back up to our 2 percent goal,” and that it’s essential to make sure inflation expectations remain anchored.

Because the interest rate that would keep the economy operating at an even keel with full employment and stable prices has fallen, “policy is actually only moderately stimulative” today, Powell said in his remarks. He added that he expects the so-called “neutral rate” to move up over time.

Powell also warned that many economies, including the U.S., risk falling into a post-financial crisis state where both potential output and the growth rate are permanently reduced.

“We need policies that support labor force participation and the development of skills, business hiring and investment, and productivity growth,” Powell said. “For the most part, these policies are outside the remit of the Federal Reserve, but monetary policy can contribute by supporting a strong and durable expansion, in a context of price stability.”

by John Jansen at June 29, 2016 12:36 AM

Calculated Risk

Wednesday: Personal Income and Outlays, Pending Home Sales

NOTE: Fed Chair Yellen was scheduled to participate in a "Policy Panel" at the ECB Forum on Central Banking in Portugal on Wednesday. She has cancelled.  Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and Chairman of the G20's Financial Stability Board, has also cancelled.

Wednesday:
• At 7:00 AM ET, The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

• At 8:30 AM, Personal Income and Outlays for May. The consensus is for a 0.3% increase in personal income, and for a 0.4% increase in personal spending. And for the Core PCE price index to increase 0.2%.

• At 10:00 AM, Pending Home Sales Index for May. The consensus is for a 1.0% decrease in the index.

From Matthew Graham at Mortgage News Daily: Mortgage Rates Lower Despite Bond Market Weakness
Mortgage rates fell modestly today despite some weakness in underlying bond markets. Typically, when bond yields (which move inversely with bond prices) are rising, mortgage rates tend to be higher as well. That wasn't the case today for a few reasons. The most obvious reason is that bond markets didn't move that much. [30 year fixed mortgage rates are between 3 3/8% and 3 1/2% on best scenarios]
emphasis added
Here is a table from Mortgage News Daily:


by Bill McBride (noreply@blogger.com) at June 29, 2016 12:21 AM

Zero Hedge

WTF Chart Of The Day: When Central Planning Fails

Things have not been going according to plan for Kuroda-san and his policy-making 'Peter-Pan's in Japan. Since The Bank of Japan unleashed NIRP on its 'saving' community - which, according to the textbooks would force money to reach for riskier investments, pumping stocks up, or flush cash into inflationary consumption - stock prices have collapsed and bond prices have exploded... In fact, in six months, bonds are outperforming stocks by a central-bank-credibility-crushing 70%!!!

Rate cuts...not working

h/t @jsblokland

And it's not just The BoJ that is struggling - since The Fed hiked rates, The S&P is down 3.5% and Treasuries are up 16%!!

 

2016 - The year when the central-planners were finally exposed!!

by Tyler Durden at June 29, 2016 12:20 AM

Juncker Refuses To Speak English In Address To EU Parliament

While both Angela Merkel and David Cameron, and perhaps Boris Johnson, have been doing all they can to restore some of the badly burned bridges between the UK and Europe over the past week, the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, perhaps once again under the influence, is seemingly engaged in a one-man crusade to accelerate and crush any last hope of an amicable UK departure with lingering ties to Europe.

As we reported earlier, Juncker pulled a fast one on the EU parliament when he first said that "we must respect British democracy and the way it has expressed its view," a statement that was greeted by rare applause from the UKIP members present. However, Juncker promptly turned the tables when he said "that's the last time you are applauding here... and to some extent I'm really surprised you are here. You are fighting for the exit. The British people voted in favor of the exit. Why are you here?" Juncker continued, breaking from his speech text.

Then, according to a Telegraph correspondent, Juncker added that he has imposed a Presidential Ban on all contact between EU officials and UK officials until Art 50.

But the coup de grace, to use the proper language, came when as AP reported, Juncker decided to refuse speaking in English altogether. In contrast to recent speeches on Britain's future in the European Union, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker didn't speak English Tuesday as he lamented the U.K.'s departure from the bloc.

Juncker's official speech to EU lawmakers was made only in French and German. He did, however, respond to hecklers among the British EU lawmakers in English.

Previously, Juncker has often used the EU's most widely spoken and written language as well, particularly when addressing issues close to British hearts.

It's unclear whether the move was a political message from one of Europe's longest serving leaders, or an act of caution due to criticism he has received for making mistakes in English in the past.

Whatever the motivation, it almost appears that Juncker is doing everything in his power to sabotage any lingering hope of some last minute mending of relations between the EU and the UK.

* * *

Meanwhile, the fate of the UK aside, the blowback inside Europe is growing and now the prime ministers of four central European countries say the European Union needs to be reformed to renew the trust of citizens in its institutions. The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia also said the forthcoming exit negotiations between the EU and Britain must not leave EU members and their businesses in a worse position than Britain and its companies.

They said the EU should focus on economic growth, an increase of prosperity and the development of a common security policy. The four countries form an informal bloc known as the Visegrad Group and released a joint statement ahead of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels Tuesday.

What was left unsaid is that the balance of power has now shifted dramatically, and what was once Merkel's sole domain now sees the periphery as gradually dominating all negotiations thanks to the impromtpy threat of a referendum that any one nation may invoke at a moment's notice. In the aftermath of Brexit, this is a threat that Merkel and Brussels have no choice but to do everything in their power to remedy, even if it means succumbing to every single demand.

by Tyler Durden at June 29, 2016 12:19 AM

Why Barclays Thinks The V-Shaped Recovery Is Dead: "Massive Redemptions Are Coming"

While one can speculate about the causes of today's global risk-on rally (as we did earlier today on two occasions), a more important question is whether after the recent historic rout (which as shown yesterday surpassed the volatility of the 2008 great financial crisis for various, mostly FX-linked assets), stock markets will simply brush it off, forget about all that's happened and as has been the case all too often in the past several years, surge in yet another V-shaped recovery.

According to Barclays, the answer is no.

As the firm's equity strategist, Keith Parker, writes today, active investors considerably increased risk exposures in the week leading up to the UK referendum. That trade did not play out as expected, and as a result this is where active money managers (MFs and HFs) find themselves now:

"By our measures, aggregate equity positioning by active managers is again near post-crisis highs as the market braces itself for a potential acceleration in redemptions after the equity collapse. With cash levels at equity MFs fairly low and net cyclical sector positioning near the highs, we believe managers are unprepared for outflows and lengthy risk aversion. Although there is cash on the sidelines, the current environment of heightened uncertainty gives rise to a “buyer’s strike” as investors wait for a sufficient value cushion to open up before deploying precious dry powder. Finally, short interest has considerable room to rise across cash equities, ETFs and futures."

Barclays goes on to add that it sees scope for "positioning to turn much more defensive at active managers and for equity outflows to pick up."

And the biggest wildcard, and the reason why we suggested recently BofA's "smart money" clients have pulled money in 21 of the past 22 weeks, not just existing redemption requests, but the threat of a surge in "massive redemptions" over the next few months. Here is Barclays: "Weak active manager performance YTD increases the risk of even larger redemptions in H2."

 

The bank's conclusion: "The positioning overhang coupled with the ‘prove it mindset’ of investors now, points to further equity downside risk as well as a prolonged market bottoming process like we saw in 2011-12, rather than the v-shaped rebounds that have characterized equity markets of late (like January)."

* * *

Finally, since this is a touchy topic for countless 17-year-old hedge fund managers whose only trading strategy during this "business cycle" has been to BTFD, here is Barclays' summary of the key points:

  • Composite equity positioning is 2std above average, at the post crisis highs. Funds increased risk exposure considerably in the week leading up to the referendum. US MFs and balanced funds are the most exposed currently, while Europe funds went from underweight to neutral.

 

  • Rebalance bid for equities at the end of month/quarter is unlikely to be material. Our implied US equity vs. bond allocation proxy is still well above recent lows as US equities are down just 3% in Q2. Additionally, the relative spike in equity vol vs. bond vol does not point to net equity buying by multi-asset funds. The rebalance bid may be more pronounced outside the US where the selloff was more acute.

 

  • Elevated equity fund betas combined with redemptions fuelled prior selloffs. US equity MF beta is 2.5std above average despite equity MF redemptions running $30-40bn a month. The selloffs in 2011 and 2012 were preceded by elevated MF beta, underperformance, and redemptions – which then helped fuel the corrections.

 

  • Short interest has considerable room to rise. S&P 500 short interest in single stocks is at 2.15% compared to about 2.4% at the recent highs; this implies nearly $50bn in potential selling pressure. ETF short interest is also at all-time lows and a rise to September levels would also imply about $50bn of selling pressure. Finally, S&P futures positioning is net long, compared to being net short in February.

 

  • Sector positioning turned much more cyclical heading into the referendum. Net cyclical minus defensive positioning by our measures has risen toward the highs, and is reversing. US equity MFs are the most cyclically positioned while global MFs and long-short equity HFs are closer to neutral.

by Tyler Durden at June 29, 2016 12:12 AM

Boy Genius Report

A look at all the technologies and websites banned in China

China Software Ban
Looking at China from a tech perspective is always a fascinating endeavor. The country is more populous than any other place on the planet, and yet, the country's citizens are often blocked from partaking in the latest tech advancements, all in the name of state wanting to control the dissemination of information. All the while, the powers that be in China talk a big game about being more open but as a recent CNN look into the country reveals, there's still a big lockdown on which pieces of software and websites individuals in the country are allowed to use. And further illustrating the degree to which the Chinese Government looks to control access to any and all types of content, Lady Gaga media content in any form was recently banned after the singer took a meeting with the Dalai Lama in the United States.

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by Yoni Heisler at June 29, 2016 12:00 AM

xkcd.com

GOOD

Pat Summitt Was So Beloved Even The Internet Was Nice To Her

“Legendary coach Pat Summitt” is how a lot of articles are starting today as people rush to praise the legacy and mourn the passing of famed University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach, Pat Summitt, who succumbed to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 64.

The superlatives are endless, and justified. Summit has more wins than any other coach in the history of Division I athletics, with 1,039 victories. The NCAA didn’t recognize women’s basketball as an official sport until eight years after she got her coaching job, but once that changed she turned Tennessee into the premiere women’s program in the country.

Summitt brought home eight national titles with the Lady Vols, with at least two championships in three consecutive decades. The first came in 1987 and the last in 2008. Every student who played under Summit over the course of her 38-year tenure as head coach graduated, and nearly half of them have gone on to become coaches themselves. She once dislocated her shoulder and tried for several hours to reset it herself before finally calling a doctor. She did not accept the word “can’t.”

Summit won a silver medal as a member of Team USA’s women’s basketball team, which she eventually went on to coach, and during the speech for her enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, Summitt remarked that there had never been an Olympic women’s roster without a Lady Vol in the lineup. Sixteen years and four Olympic Games later, that is still true today.

So much has been said about Summitt over the years, and she spoke for herself across three books written in conjunction with her biographer, Sally Jenkins. So in pouring over old interviews on YouTube, trying to dig up something distinct, it was hard to find un-trodden ground. But there was one thing: Across more than a dozen videos, most with thousands of views and some with tens of thousands of views, there were almost no down-votes or negative comments on videos featuring the coach.

This is a lady. On the internet. A feminist lady who elevated women’s college basketball to heights previously untouched, and she still managed to be universally beloved in the human bog of eternal stench that is a comments section. She was once approached by Tennessee higher ups about the possibility of advancing to coach the men’s team, and Summitt’s reply to the offer has since become legend: “Why is that considered a step up?”

The coach with the most wins in history at the highest level of college sports spent her life supporting and shaping and training the women in her charge to win, to want it more, and to work harder than anyone else. This of course can be applied on the court, but it was also meant to be extended to life—especially for women, who often have to work harder than their male counterparts for the same amount of recognition. Summit once said, also famously, “You can’t always be the strongest or most talented or most gifted person in the room, but you can be the most competitive.”

For a woman who fell in love with a sport that belonged to men, her determination was all she had at times to overcome the obstacles in front of her. And through that determination and sheer will—and surely a helpful dose of talent—Summitt transcended gender identifiers to simply become Coach. And then she became one of the greatest coaches of all time.

Here’s how some of our most influential figures are processing Summitt’s passing around the web.








by Jordan Crucchiola at June 29, 2016 12:00 AM

June 28, 2016

Boy Genius Report

Bring order to your keys with the KeySmart Rugged Organizer

9414960a9cd44ca5512cc5a6910d5b75cefae1ce_main_hero_image
In our modern age of self-driving cars, Mars rovers, and even blankets with sleeves stitched into them, it’s mystifying that we’re using the same metallic rings to hold our keys. The KeySmart Rugged Organizer has finally arrived, and for only $29.99 you can lay your clunky old keychains to rest.

(more…)

by BGR Store at June 28, 2016 11:50 PM

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Live from the Right-Wing's Self-Made Gehenna: WTF!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Martin Feldstein**: How EU Overreach Pushed Britain Out: "Although many officials and experts predict that Brexit will have dire economic consequences...

...this certainly is not inevitable. Much now depends on the terms of the future relationship between the EU and Britain. The UK is also now in a better position to negotiate a more favorable trade and investment treaty with the US.... The US would be negotiating with one country, not 28--many of which do not share Britain’s pro-market policies. The question of Britain’s EU membership has been decided. Now its economic future depends on what it does with its new independence.

by J. Bradford DeLong at June 28, 2016 11:42 PM

Study Hacks

Aziz Ansari Ignores His Email

aziz-620px

Deep Thoughts with Aziz Ansari

Last summer, comedian and actor Aziz Ansari was a guest on Stephen Dubner’s Freakonomics Radio show.

The stated purpose was to discuss Ansari’s book, Modern Romance, but the conversation wandered toward a wide-ranging exploration of Ansari’s complicated relationship with the Internet. I thought I would excerpt some choice quotes below.

Here’s Ansari on email versus depth:

“I would just get so many emails. And then when I started filming my TV show I just set up a thing that said, this email is dead. I’m not checking email…And I had an assistant on my show and I was like, you can call her…And you know what you realize is, all that shit people email you about all the time, all day, none of it is important. None of it is pressing…I found that I’m much more focused when I don’t have those little questions. And then at the end of the day I just have someone fill me in on everything or I call someone on the phone.”

And here he is on his social media habits:

“I deleted Twitter and Instagram off my phone. I mean I use them to like post stuff but I don’t have them on my phone. I don’t have, like, a feed. I don’t follow anyone. And I used to read that stuff a lot. And now I don’t read it. I don’t see those pictures. And I don’t miss it.”

And on why people spend so much time online:

“What you’re reading it for, and this is just my personal theories about this stuff, what you’re reading it for is a hit of this drug called the Internet.”

And his novel idea for putting the value of most Internet content into perspective:

“Like, here’s a test, OK. Take, like, your nightly or morning browse of the Internet, right? Your Facebook feed, Instagram feed, Twitter, whatever. OK if someone every morning was like, I’m gonna print this and give you a bound copy of all this stuff you read so you don’t have to use the Internet. You can just get a bound copy of it. Would you read that book? No! You’d be like, this book sucks. There’s a link to some article about a horse that found its owner somehow. It’s not that interesting.”

These insights, of course, all lead me toward an insistent question: How can I get this man a copy of Deep Work?

by Study Hacks at June 28, 2016 11:40 PM

Boy Genius Report

How Apple could fix the iPhone 7 headphone jack issue it’s creating

iPhone 7 Headphone Jack Replacement
The iPhone 7 will lack a 3.5mm audio jack that would be compatible with existing wired headphones, most rumors claim. Consequently, many people are already angry at Apple for looking to kill the port, even if most of them already know this is precisely the kind of move Apple is known for. But if Apple is killing the headphone jack, what will replace it?

(more…)

by Chris Smith at June 28, 2016 11:30 PM

NYT > Economy

The 2016 Race: Donald Trump’s Economic Nostalgia

Opposing trade deals is disconnected from the decades-long direction of the United States economy.

by NEIL IRWIN at June 28, 2016 11:27 PM

Economic Trends: ‘Brexit’ Is Locking In the Forces That Already Haunt the Global Economy

Those forces have self-reinforcing, vicious-cycle dimensions that make it a perilous time for the world’s economies.

by NEIL IRWIN at June 28, 2016 11:14 PM

GOOD

Women Who Wear Low-Cut Tops In Job Applications 19 Times More Likely To Be Interviewed

Challenges with equality in the workplace starts well before a woman is even hired for a job. A new French study found that women who include a photo in a “low-cut” top were substantially more likely to be invited to an in-person job interview by a potential employer, according to the Independent.

"Regardless of the job, whether customer-facing saleswoman or office-based accountant the candidate with the low cut clothing received more positive answers,” said Dr. Sevag Kertechian, who helped conduct the study. “The results were quite shocking and negative but not necessarily surprising – they show we need to conduct more research.”

In a sampling of 200 job applications over three years, the same women applied for sales jobs wearing more modest clothing and then again in more revealing outfits. And those applications featuring clothing with more bare skin exposes were called in for 62 more interviews than when the same women applied for jobs more covered up.

However, the more shocking part is that the rate of favoritism toward women in more revealing clothing was even higher for accounting jobs – those that have zero interaction with the public at large where it could at least be conceivably argued that appearance played an essential role.

The results are being presented at the Appearance Matters Conference, which is bringing across 200 experts for what’s billed as the largest event addressing body image and disfigurement. 

by Eric Pfeiffer at June 28, 2016 11:05 PM

FFFFOUND! / EVERYONE

The Big Picture

John Oliver: Brexit Aftermath (Now What!)

John Oliver discusses the aftermath of Britain voting to leave the EU

LastWeekTonight with John Oliver – Brexit Aftermath (Now What!)

The post John Oliver: Brexit Aftermath (Now What!) appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at June 28, 2016 11:00 PM

Boy Genius Report

Rolls Royce is developing futuristic ships that will one day sail across oceans autonomously

Rolls Royce Ships
With so much talk about a future filled with self-driving cars, it's easy to forget that general advances in autonomous software technologies can also be applied to boats. That being the case, Rolls Royce recently announced that it's been working on technology that might someday make it possible for gargantuan cargo ships to sail themselves across oceans. In a white paper published a few days ago, Rolls Royce explained how their vision of "remote and autonomous shipping" may become a reality as early as 2020. The initiative is part of Rolls Royce's Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (AAWA) program.

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by Yoni Heisler at June 28, 2016 11:00 PM

Wired Top Stories

Humanity Is Killing Off Thousands of Species. But It’s Creating Them, Too

Humanity Is Killing Off Thousands of Species. But It’s Creating Them, Too
A new world will emerge out of the Anthropocene, shaped by the species humans create and foster as well as the ones they kill off. The post Humanity Is Killing Off Thousands of Species. But It's Creating Them, Too appeared first on WIRED.

by Lizzie Wade at June 28, 2016 11:00 PM

Sr Bachchan

DAY 3011(iv)

Jalsa, Mumbai               June 28/29,  2016               Tue/Wed  3:27 am



Birthday Ef -EF Rakhi Malik .. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

and a bright birthday wish for our Ef from Texas , Rakhi .. love to you and have a lovely fulfilling day .. your Ef


Much has been written for the day and there is apprehension whether it was all understood in the right spirit. Explanations in communications are most useful and their need for deciphering may be good in times of distress, emergencies or War .. I hope that we never get into such conditions, but life is unpredictable.

The late arrival on this platform is normally due to the UEFA EURO 2016 Championships being played in France. And since the timings are late it is natural that they finish by 2 am our time. Not coming back in communication with all despite the time, draws many uncertain and anxious voices on other mediums to me. Those that do so know what I talk about. So it is a fact that I endeavour to avoid - coming late that is. I function from my Laptop not my mobile on these facilities and even though most of you get your intimation of my presence immediately on your phones, I must wait till past midnight to read and discover the Ef on the 3 mediums. This is the main reason of complaint envy anger among many - accusing me of showing favouritism to some and not to all and the others. You will realize that when the computer opens it does not show all that came on as I enter the code for each T FB and Blog. Whichever and whatever presents itself within the first few pages gets a response or I get to see their messages paintings drawings and many more such endearing art work. There cannot be a biased look at the exercise, from me. It would not have lasted this long if there was. But there is, great effort even in the oddest of situations and hours, to justify, to give attention to and to show extreme fairness, whenever there is reasonable time at my disposal. Yes there are times when repetition is passed by because there are many that actually believe that if they write the same message a million times it shall get my notice. No. I get the notice even if I get to see it once, and that is all that is needed to be done. In my eyes all the Ef are equal and loved equally. There cannot be discrimination on any ground.




Statistics give readings, and technical scientific assessments, give numbers and dimensions and timings on life and connected behaviour of the human. 3-5, 5-15, 2.5-3, where applicable, where induced, where essential, on every or some counts. And once it is read it remains in some quarter of the mind. So a 3-5 for 5-15 with a 2.5-3 as a Constitutional Act or regulation runs constantly in the mind during the execution of the exercise. Certain laws and rules have presented themselves from the time of those that ruled and conducted affairs. Some have been documented from sages and people of research. We believe them, somewhat, and they remain in our minds as a constant reminder. But nothing is pure and admissible. There can be shortfalls and there can be none at all. There could be situations that exceed the required statistic or dictat. I wonder then what is right and correct and lawful. Unfortunately, one individual may not have the answer. The one that you work with could and should. They are at work with you on any such project and their cooperation and support is integral to any analysis. And since the working relationship other, is not here to justify results all the time, one takes the liberty of giving one’s own assessment, not caring or considering whether the results were in order or not.

Caring and considerate individuals do. Most do not. And that leaves not just a bad taste but a bad experience too. The point then is to be in alliance at the time of work. Ask then if things are working out as per schedule and time and duration. Questions then, could and should be worked out for inadequate conditionings, sufficient support requirements and other such necessities. There shall always be a groan of appreciation when it works well, else there is silence and silence leaves many unanswered questions  …




This entire missive sounds so unconnected and morose and too complicated or without meaning. I tend to get closer, as commented earlier, by the day, to triple A .. the AAA of my film. The obscure rattle from an egg on Easter in a film that ran for 25 weeks in one city in 25 theatres !! Translating many such economics would bring an awe and immense wonder among the economics that we see and hear in today’s times !! Or 4 films released in one month on every Friday and each running for 25 to 50 weeks !! A very senior and sound Distributor of film in the city had during my stay recovering from my accident during ‘Coolie’ had written to me in the ICU where I struggled, just to bring some encouragement and smile during my pain, the sincere and correct economics of my films till then and the results that were scientifically tabulated, narrated a tale which was simply astonishing. Nothing since has ever come remotely close to those figures. Nothing to gloat about. But to see relative business when compared with today’s rather massive figures, pales the results of today as with the results of yester days. In time of course, the figures of today shall pale the figures in the years to come ahead. Time, circumstances, advancements and many factors combined speak when we hear this, but there is the reality that exists. And may this continue for the entire life of cinema in the country ..!!




It is now 4:15 am of the 29th June, as I look up at the multiple time pieces spread all over the living of my room, and I am in no slumber induced condition at all. I think last nights’ sit up parade, made up for a lot of my present condition. No I shall not sit up all night. No I shall not deny opportunity to replenish what I lost last night - I shall salvage it, soon. Be in calm and rest.


I share all that is sent to me with love .. not just to please the sender, but to appreciate and demonstrate to the rest of the 50 odd million that now collectively contribute to us together, the degree of the excellent and distinguished artwork of my family ..

Finally then its good night for an early morning ..


Amitabh Bachchan

June 28, 2016 10:52 PM

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Must-Read: If you have not been reading Dietrich Vollrath's weblog on economic growth, you should. He has been teaching the world a masterclass in understanding the patterns and determinants of economies' long-run growth trajectories:

The Persistence of Technology Dietrich Vollrath

Dietrich Vollrath: The Persistence of "Technology": "Diego Comin, Bill Easterly, and Erick Gong... 'Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000BC?...

...there is a surprising amount of explanatory power in technology measures from 1500AD....

CEG document... that technology levels are incredibly persistent.... CEG... pull out binary measures of technological use for different ethnic/cultural groups. Did your group use wheeled wagons in 1500? Yes? You get a 1. Did you use paper? No? You get a zero. Did you produce steel? No? You get a zero. Average these 0/1 measures across the different measures of technology, and you get an overall score.... Their Figure 2 gives you essentially the whole thrust of the paper. They use the ethnic group technology measures, assign each country a technology level based on the highest scoring ethnic group in their country, and then adjust the country level scores based on the fact that country populations are different in 2002 from in 1500.... They regress 2002 current income per capita on technology levels in past years, they find significant effects. This holds for technology in 1000BC, 0AD, and 1500AD.... Take the 1500AD result in column (3).... If the technology index goes from 0[.5] ([half] technologies) to [0.6] ([three fifths of] the original technologies), log income per capita goes up by [0.3261] log points, or by [38.6%].... Also notice the R-squared, which is 50% for the 1500AD results....

CEG... establish that old technology levels have predictive power for current income per capita. They are not looking for explanatory power.... Ultimately, you might want to argue that we want strict causal explanations for why some countries are rich in 2002. But an explanatory paper like this is valuable.... Knowing that anything in 1500AD has strong predictive power for incomes today is informative. It tells us that we have to look back to 1500AD for at least some of those causal forces.... It isn't the technology in 1500AD per se that matters.... This is an indicator of some kind of variation in culture or institutions (or something else?) that matters... [and] is telling us to something about how powerful those cultural/institutional factors are.

http://growthecon.com/blog/Persistence-Technology/

by J. Bradford DeLong at June 28, 2016 10:48 PM

Boy Genius Report

Inside ‘The Garage’, a collaborative workshop for every Google employee

Google Garage Workshop Tour
Working at Google might not be all fun and games, as several former employees explained in a Quora thread earlier this year, but there's no question that the perks offered by the company are virtually unrivaled in the industry. One of the coolest perks for creative Googlers who want to express themselves has to be The Garage — a collaborative workshop through which Business Insider was lucky enough to take a tour earlier this month.

(more…)

by Jacob Siegal at June 28, 2016 10:30 PM

TED | TEDBlog

Things we think we know: Notes from Session 2 of TEDSummit

In Session 2, our speakers debunked received wisdom, looked critically at common knowledge — and restarted conversations we thought were closed. Here, our report: 

Antique lamps, new sound. Brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay opened Session 2 completely unseen. In near pitch-black darkness, broken antique lamps lit up one by one — each perfectly matched with an electronic musical pitch. As the melody and tempo changed, so did the rhythm of the light, changing color from white, to red, to purple. With the addition of synthesized claps, the ethereal sound took a slight hip hop beat. After the performance, TED’s Content Director Kelly Stoetzel asked them what their inspiration was, “Initially the idea was to create a small set up to play with color and light in addition to just sound. We fell in love with taking these objects and imbuing them with life, giving them a new functionality.”

African growth is a trend, not a fluke. When economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spoke at the first TED in Africa, back in 2008, she drew our attention to Africa’s surprising growth. Now she returns to the stage to acknowledge that the continent’s rocketship growth of the late 2000s has slowed … and to make the case that growth can get back on track if African nations lean into what Africa as a continent has been doing well — and address eight challenges that might hold back a better future.  

Photo by Bret Hartman/TED.

Josh Tetrick wants to reimagine the food system — breaking our addiction to corn, soy and wheat, and looking to exotic grains and plants for the proteins and micronutrients we need. Photo by Bret Hartman/TED.

Starting over in food. After a brush with death, Josh Tetrick woke up and rethought his life. What would you do if you had only 5 years to live? He decided to devote his life to working on issues of starvation, malnutrition and “crappy food” plaguing families and children across the world, to the design of a food system that believes to be “actually aligned with our values.” Tetrick and his colleagues have been working on a platform that allows consumers to search a database of edible plants and find a numerical assessment of their molecular qualities. These qualities then show what plants are well suited for certain tastes and consistencies, and what plants may be able to achieve these tastes and consistencies under the most sustainable and nutritious conditions. For example, the grain to make “a good cookie that uses less carbon, less sodium and less cholesterol” or a substitute for “scrambled eggs that use less water and less arable land.” Through his program, Tetrick hopes to revolutionize the industrial food system to creates food that is both better for our children and the environment.

Photo by Marla Aufmuth/TED.

Anthropologist Helen Fisher, at right, studies whether romantic love is changing in the age of the Internet. Her conclusion: Not really. Relationship therapist Esther Perel, center, makes the case that tech does allow a new range of bad behavior, in an onstage Q&A hosted by Kelly Stoetzel (left). Photo by Marla Aufmuth/TED.

Our primordial drive to love. “We are built to love,” says anthropologist and romantic love expert Helen Fisher. The part of our brain that loves has evolved over thousands of years, and while technology may change how we court one another, it is not going to change who or how we love, ”the only real algorithm is your own human brain.” But there may be one change driven by technology: people are taking their time to love, extending the pre-commitment stage before marriage not because they’re scared of commitment but because they’re afraid of divorce. “We are right now in a marriage revolution,” suggests Fisher, driven not by technology but women piling into the job market, and that revolution is pushing us towards more egalitarian relationships between the sexes. At the end of a heart-warming affirmation of our drive to love, relationship therapist Esther Perel joined Fisher onstage to counter that while our need for love is universal, the way we love (and the way we keep our distance from love) is changing fundamentally.

Don’t buy the flashy CRISPR marketing. CRISPR — so easy to use and cheap to buy, you can edit your own genome in your kitchen sink!! Right? Not so fast, says Ellen Jorgensen. As a biologist and community science advocate, she knows that CRISPR’s hijack of nature’s surprisingly simple DNA repair system makes it easier for scientists to edit particular spots in the genome. But that doesn’t mean anyone can simply edit DNA beyond a cellular level, she warns. To impact an entire body, for example,  you’d have to use a virus, which requires more scientific expertise and a professional lab — at the very least. In other words, “It ain’t plug and play, not by a long shot.” The bigger picture is that the flashy do-it-yourself idea of CRISPR shouldn’t overshadow the remarkable strides scientists are making in their experiments with it. Paying close attention to the latter, she suggests, can ensure more positive outcomes for the environment and for ourselves.

Photo by Marla Aufmuth/TED.

TED Prize winner Sarah Parcak is just back from Peru, where, more than 100 years ago, Machu Picchu was rediscovered. Now, Parcak’s new crowd-sourcing platform can enable even more discovery of Peru’s fascinating history.  Photo by Marla Aufmuth/TED.

Crowd-sourcing the hunt for our history. If someone gave you a million dollars, how would you give it back to the world? Noted archaeologist Sarah Parcak announced tonight that she has used the money from winning the 2016 TED Prize to finance the building of Global Xplorer, an internet-based citizen-scientist platform that will allow anyone with a computer to join Parcak in her groundbreaking (literally) work that involves carefully poring over satellite imagery to spot previously undiscovered ancient sites. Parcak also announced that the first place she would partner up with her online Global Xplorer cohort to search would be Peru. Over the past few millennia, Peru was home to dozens of pre-Columbian cultures — the Incas are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition, the overgrown remoteness of much of the Peruvian landscape means much of it is still unexplored. However, the timing is crucial, as looting has become a serious problem at Peru’s ancient cultural sites. With the new initiative, Parcak hopes to help locate and preserve Peruvian cultural heritage for generations to come. Read more about what we hope to find.

Are we stealing nature from our kids? The short answer is — well, yes … but not in the way you’ve learned to expect. Environmental writer Emma Marris urges us to reconsider what we define as nature, when we talk about edens like Yellowstone and the Great Barrier Reef, to the wild, untended patches of grass and weeds growing in abandoned lots and around deserted buildings. (It may surprise you that that patch is most likely more biologically diverse than an entire national park.) What we define as “nature,” something generally understood as a place pure and devoid of human influence, is (by most definitions) not; even in some of the most isolated areas in the world, such as the Amazon, where people have lived for millennia. These new natures that spring up — such as that unkempt patch — must be not dismissed, and rather celebrated and cared for, in order to be protected by allowing our future generations into these truly wondrous places. How? Take kids to builds forts outside, to experience the natural world not just with their eyes, but their hands and entire beings. “We have to let children touch nature,” says Marris. “Because that which is untouched is unloved.”


by Cynthia Betubiza at June 28, 2016 10:26 PM

GOOD

Chelsea Handler Admits Something Most Women Are Afraid To

Over the weekend, famed female talk show host Chelsea Handler shared a piece of her private history with the world. In an essay published on Playboy’s website, the comedian best known for her brash, take-no-prisoners tone, shared that at the age of 16, she underwent not one but two abortions:

“I was going through a very bad stage in my life. I hated my parents and I was having unprotected sex with my boyfriend, who was not someone I should’ve been having sex with in the first place, nevermind unprotected sex. I wasn’t really playing with a full deck of cards.”  

This essay does not mark the first time Handler has opened up about abortion. In a 2012 interview with Rosie O’Donnell, Handler said, “You should do whatever you want with your body and you shouldn't let anyone tell you what to do.” But the Playboy essay reveals some startling new information—Handler admitted to a second pregnancy by the same young man, along with a subsequent abortion.

“Getting unintentionally pregnant more than once is irresponsible, but it’s still necessary to make a thoughtful decision. We all make mistakes all the time. I happened to fuck up twice at the age of 16. I’m grateful that I came to my senses and was able to get an abortion legally without risking my health or bankrupting myself or my family. I’m 41 now. I don’t ever look back and think, God, I wish I’d had that baby.”

Handler’s confession is already inciting ire across the web:



Clearly, Handler has struck a nerve. Yet people seem to be missing what might actually be the heart of Handler’s essay. Near the end of the piece, she makes some pretty bold observations about our political discourse surrounding women and the legislation of their bodies:

“I don’t buy that Roe v. Wade is in danger. We’re too far ahead of the game. Once you go forward in history, you don’t go backward. That would be like the government saying, ‘Okay, we’re taking away your right to vote too.’ You can’t introduce a black person and be like, ‘Oh, I just got a slave!’ That era is over. It’s similar to what’s happening in Mississippi and some other states with gay-marriage discrimination—marriage equality is going to take. You can’t stop that. We’ve already made the decision, and now we’re moving on to transgender rights. And it’s a wrap on men deciding what women can do with their bodies.”

The thing is, though, it isn’t a wrap. As Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, wrote in a 2014 Washington Post opinion piece, “Since 2011, more than half the states in the nation have significantly restricted access to abortions. That’s more restrictions in the past three years than were enacted in the previous decade.”

Northup added that the “hollowing” of Roe v. Wade by these restrictive laws was a “new tactic [seeking] legitimate cover for the illegitimate goal of denying significant numbers of American women access to safe, legal, essential reproductive health care.”

However, perhaps in small part due to women like Handler opening up about their own reproductive needs and rights, the tides may be changing. While Handler’s view may be a wildly optimistic take on America, politicians, and the constituents they represent, for now, politicians appear to be on women’s side. Just this week, the Supreme Court had to step in to strike down a Texas abortion access law that would have likely shut down most, if not all, of the clinics in the state.

The biggest takeaway here might be that the more women open up about their experiences with abortion, the easier it will be for everyone to accept it as our new normal. Luckily, more women will be sharing their abortion stories starting August 12, when HBO releases its latest documentary, Abortion: Stories Women Tell in select theaters across the country. As the film’s release material describes, Abortion will focus “not on the debate, but rather on the women themselves: those struggling with unplanned pregnancies, and the providers who show up at clinics to give medical care, as well as the activists on both sides of the issue, hoping to sway decisions and lives.”

Perhaps by continuing to tell their truthful stories women will win the right to no longer have to discuss their own bodies with the world. 

by Stacey Leasca at June 28, 2016 10:25 PM

DreamHost Blog

Follow the .Guru and Open a New .Store

The Internet domain name expansion frenzy began almost three years ago. On October 23, 2013, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that the first batch of New gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains) were delegated into the Internet’s root zone. After passing the mandatory Sunrise period that allowed trademark holders (AKA “the big guys”) to register their domains for their marks, the first most popular New gTLD, .guru, was made available to the public on February 5, 2014.

After the successful launch of .guru, several New gTLDs, such as .club and .link, received a warm welcome from domain buyers. But no one could have predicted that .xyz would have more than 6 million domains after two years of existence since it became available to the general public on June 2, 2014.

DreamHost_gTLDs_DomainsThe early boom of .xyz was credited to its partnership with Network Solutions, which gave away a free .xyz to their customers, tied into one of its .com’s.  While the .xyz registrar utilized many marketing campaigns, one outstanding accomplishment was Alphabet’s (the parent company to Google) use of .xyz for its corporate website (and abc.xyz is certainly a catchy domain name). Another big jump on .xyz registrations occurred in early June 2016 when .xyz celebrated its two-year anniversary by selling .xyz domains for $0.01 (yes, a penny!) over two days.  Although competitors were rather skeptical with this “penny pricing,” over 3 million .xyz domains were registered during this short period.

By the end of June 2016, over 22.5 million New gTLD domains will have been registered, compared to just 5.8 million one year ago – a growth rate of almost 300% over a 12-month span. .xyz now owns 28% of the market share of all New gTLDs.

While .com is still the popular web address extension for DreamHost customers to establish brand and online presence, we are seeing a greater multitude of customers using alternative domains, including the New gTLDs and location-based Country Code TLDs (for example .io, .co, .ca, .uk, .de). This is partly due to the fact that a majority of .com domains are already taken (have you tried looking for a good .com domain lately?  It’s hard!) and pricing for desired .com domains from third-party domain broker companies have heightened in competitiveness (prepare the popcorn, perhaps a bidding war is in order). It is also worth noting that even without the .com, several startups with New gTLDs for their business name, such as coffee.club and public.chat, still receive copious amounts of funding from investors.

DreamHost recognizes these important trends for our customers as they get on board the brand-new, shiny choo-choo train of the New gTLDs. To help you get on the New gTLd Express, we now support over 350 TLDs with more coming in the future.

DreamHost_Survey_New_gTLDs_domain_name_2016In addition, we recently added the .xyz extension as a free domain (free for the first year) bundled for clients who signed up for a new shared hosting account. We also conducted a short customer survey and asked customers how likely they are to spend money on the New gTLDs  in 2016. With 670 responses,  58% stated they will spend money to purchase these new-edition gTLDs, with signs that this majority will grow as the New gTLDs are more accepted in the public sphere, while 42% will spend nothing on the New gTLDs. Of those that will spend money on the New gTLDs, 47% said they would spend less than $100.

We went on to ask those customers who do plan on purchasing the New gTLDs which extensions they will register in 2016. The top five New gTLDs that our customers will register in 2016 are .xyz, .ninja, .cloud, .online,  and .site (in order from highest response).

.store_logoOne domain that is on the rise, but not included as a possible choice in our recent survey, was .store. With only two weeks on the general public market since June 14, 2016, the .store extension registration train is picking up steam as 25,000 .store registrations were made within the first 24 hours of general availability. Now is the perfect time to find the desired domains for opening a new store and selling specific products or items, while great .store domains are still available.

The .com TLD is still the heavyweight champion of domain extensions. With its 20-year-plus head start on all of the New gTLDs, people will still want a .com, but with all the New gTLDs being released, it is worth investing in them to protect your brand and expand your online presence.

Now, the question is — will you jump on the .cloud and put your New gTLDs .online?

by Stefanus Hadi, Ph.D. at June 28, 2016 10:24 PM

Core77

The Winner of Our 1-Hour Design Challenge....

Advice on how to successfully run a freelance operation is everywhere as the working population shifts more and more toward a self-employed workforce, but how many people are actually thinking about objects or systems that can help these independent workers?

For our latest 1-Hour Design Challenge, we asked this very question: if you could design a piece or furniture or object that would help freelancers work more efficiently and happily, what would you make?  We were happy to see that many of you were excited to explore this question, and after looking over many of your sketches we've determined a winner!

Here is the list of winners and runner ups in our 1-Hour Design Challenge: Furniture for Freelancers Edition: 

GRAND PRIZE

The Wind Up Power Cord by Graham Wilson

Wilson's design for an adjustable computer charger really struck a "cord" with all of our judges...equipped with wind-up functionality as well as an interface indicating the charge status of your computer, this design is simple yet highly useful. Our judges at Grovemade complimented the project saying it was a "simple concept with a lot of usefulness" while judge Carly Ayres summed it all up in one simple sentiment: "Preach." 

RUNNER UPS

Work Cocoon by knoll321

Runner ups in the 1-Hour Design Challenge all turned out to be rather future gazing, one being the Work Cocoon by knoll321. Judge Brad Augustine of Humanscale dubbed it as one of his favorites—"[The project] addresses a major issue of privacy...though concerns over breathability and claustrophobia need to be addressed."  

Air Stool by Aaron Yong

Our other runner-up imagined a progressive new system for getting work done, simply utilizing a VR workstation and a nifty levitating swivel stool. Grovemade designers applauded Yong for his forward-thinking ideas: "Very conceptual but the designer goes into detail about the tech and the integration it will have into our future...Overall the product is well considered and detailed for just a concept. The concept might not be the most attainable at the moment but shows the type of thoughtfulness that helps move technology and design forward."

Thanks again everyone for your submissions! Congratulations to the grand prize winner, who will be taking home an amazing desk set from Grovemade, designed by our 1-HDC judges, while runner ups will be taking home $25 gift certificates to Hand Eye Supply! 

Also: stay tuned in the future for more 1-Hour Design Challenges by joining our Facebook group or following our 1-HDC discussion board page!

June 28, 2016 10:07 PM

Boy Genius Report

1,600 watt Samsung system sounds as mean as it looks

Samsung Sound System

Samsung makes the best HDTVs and UHD TVs in the world, hands down. They feature killer picture quality that other companies inch closer to matching with each passing year, but no company out there has managed to match Samsung just yet. But Samsung is about much more than just TVs and smartphones — if you're in the market for a new sound system, Amazon's sale on the Samsung MX-JS5000/ZA 4 Channel 1,600 Watt Wired Audio Giga Sound System should definitely be on your radar.

(more…)

by Maren Estrada at June 28, 2016 10:05 PM

jwz

Bike theft fail

Hey look, someone tried to steal my ancient, worthless bike! I just noticed, but I guess it happened at Pride. They cut about halfway through the lock before giving up.

So what do you think, do I buy a new lock, or just put some duct tape on that and hope nobody notices?

by jwz at June 28, 2016 09:54 PM

swissmiss

Jad Abumrad on the Function of Music

My office neighbor and über-talented friend Mac Premo sat down with Jad Abumrad, of Radiolab fame and talked about sound, music and the function of music. Then he turned that conversation into a film. I am glad he did.

by swissmiss at June 28, 2016 09:52 PM

Daring Fireball

The Mill Blackbird

This is absolutely amazing:

Until now, automotive content has often been dictated or hampered by car availability, model revisions, limited access to locations and footage that can quickly become irrelevant. In collaboration with JemFX, Performance Filmworks and Keslow Camera, The Mill has created The Mill Blackbird which sets out to transform the way automotive advertising is made — it’s a car rig that can be shot at any time, in any location, without the need to rely on a physical car.

The Mill Blackbird is able to quickly transform its chassis to match the exact length and width of almost any car. Powered by an electric motor, it can be programmed to imitate acceleration curves and gearing shifts and the adjustable suspension alters ride height, rigidity and dampening to replicate typical driving characteristics.

by John Gruber at June 28, 2016 09:40 PM

I, Cringely

What’s the deal with online journalism?

seinfeldNot very long ago I started answering questions on Quora, the question-and-answer site. My answers are mainly about aviation because that’s my great hobby and one of the few things besides high tech that I really know a lot about. But there was a question last week about Internet news coverage that I felt deserved better answers than it was getting. So I contributed an answer that has been read, so far, only 388 times. I don’t like making a real effort that is so sparsely read. So here, with a little mild editing, is my answer to “What are the flaws in online journalism and media today?” And “How can they be addressed?”

I generally agree with Dan Tynan, who is my hero, but think this subject needs more context which I will attempt to provide.

It’s easy to say Internet journalism is crap, but there has always been crap journalism, which we called hack journalism. The only difference between old hack and new crap is that new crap has analytics on its side.

First let’s dispense with the idea of journalistic impartiality. Those who think there is a tradition of impartiality in the press, or that the press has some obligation to be impartial, don’t know their history. What passes for impartial journalism is a commercial expedient that grew out of the wire service business model. Blame Reuters, Associated Press, United Press, etc. for this one. Newspapers were never unbiased. The newspaper owner always took a position and pushed his (inevitably his) candidates. It wasn’t just William Randolph Hearst — they all did it. Hearst just owned more newspapers and so had a louder voice.

Wire services invented impartial journalism so they could sell the same stories to Republican and Democrat. conservative and liberal newspapers. Appearing to be impartial doubled their revenue, simple as that. For the same reason they also invented the relentless flow of bad news that is most of the news business today, because bad news affects — and is of interest to — all types of people. Think of the ubiquitous “bus plunge” story. A bus in Mexico. Albania, West Virginia — it doesn’t matter where — plunges down a cliff killing a bunch of people who never mattered to us until they died.

Now let’s consider the First Amendment, which says nothing about press impartiality because it didn’t exist in the late 18th century. The First Amendment is all about government tolerance of dissent. It’s about the exact opposite of impartiality.

So there’s little press impartiality, no real obligation for the press to be impartial, and if you hate Fox News that’s probably because Roger Ailes understands this and you don’t. Ailes sells a particular product. The New York Times sells a very different product. Mother Jones sells a third type of product and the National Enquirer sells a fourth type of product. And they are all — believe it or not — news.

Now we come to the Internet. A lot of us first sensed something was changing when we ran into the word “content.” First there was “news” and then there was “content.” Content was something you could get by the pound. And that, too, isn’t such a new concept since the wire service “inverted pyramid” news writing style was design to be cut to size from the bottom up. A copy editor could theoretically make a story fit the available space without even reading it by simply trimming from the bottom up. Sounds like content to me, but we still called it “news.”

Those who are opposed to Internet journalism and who are professional journalists are generally annoyed that they don’t make as much money as they used to. The Golden Age of journalism wasn’t before the Internet, it was in the 1950s and 1960s. Back then a young writer could live on his or her own in Manhattan, write four national magazine stories per year, drink at Sardi’s, and still put a little money in the bank. Magazine freelance rates have not gone up in 30+ years. And I’m not talking about corrected for inflation. Top magazines were paying $2.50 per word in 1975 and they were still paying me $2.50 per word last week. And I’m lucky to get that. Writers reading this will ask “Who is paying Cringely that kind of money?”

Absent the Internet, then, professional journalism was already going down the tubes in the 1970s. There was a lot more of it (magazine titles, as an example, peaked at 50,000(!) in the 1980s). But you can’t have more channels and the same quality, so quality (and pay) went down.

The Internet just accelerated this trend. The number of channels multiplied yet again, the barriers to entry got lower and lower, new forms of media appeared to stratify the market and create new stars. Advertising changed, newspapers faltered, and that brings us right to the start of Dan Tynan’s answer to this question.

So read Dan’s answer if you haven’t already then come back here because I have more to say.

For all the economic forces that are guiding journalism and that have always guided journalism, despite the rise of Search Engine Optimization and despite my own aged cynicism, there’s a lot that is right with journalism today and a lot that could be better.

How do you measure story impact? Well nobody does measure it. And since nobody measures it, in a world where everything of value is measured that implies impact isn’t valued. And yet it is valued: we just don’t know how to measure it. I have had online editors, for example, telling me for the last 19 years that my blog posts are too long. Editors like something around 600 words but can never explain why. Maybe it just gives them something to do. Yet my average blog post is double that length and the longest I can recall off the top of my head was 4400 words.

Now here’s the thing about that 4400 word blog post, which you can read right here if you like: at least once a week some reader contacts me about that post. They either love it or hate it and they want me to know why. Sixteen years after the post was first published, people are still talking about it. That’s impact. And if that’s unmeasurable it’s a problem with SEO, not the Internet.

But the fact is that this kind of writing is out there and will remain there probably forever. This long tail is the saving grace of Internet journalism and maybe of all journalism.

Yet for all the bloggers and conspiracy theorists and journalism disintermediaries out there I remain amazed at how hard it is to reach a large audience. The idea when I was teaching was that there were gatekeepers at big newspapers, magazines, and news networks who decided what was news and what was not. Well the Internet was supposed to change all that. But it really didn’t. I still have stories I can’t get told. Books I’d like to write, Frontline episodes I’d like to produce, but it’s really no easier — maybe even harder — than before.

Maybe what we need every day is a tiny section in TMZ called interesting news we wouldn’t normally publish.

 








Digital Branding
Web Design Marketing

by Robert X. Cringely at June 28, 2016 09:26 PM

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Make the Twitter You Want to See!

Delong blogging Google Search

Live from the Twitterverse: Henceforth, at least two-thirds of my @-tweets will be "thx..." or "touché..." or ":-)"

That is all...

by J. Bradford DeLong at June 28, 2016 09:24 PM

Wired Top Stories

Here’s How to Cash in on VW’s Dirty Diesel Settlement

Here’s How to Cash in on VW’s Dirty Diesel Settlement
If you own, lease, or have owned or leased a definitely not clean diesels, here's how to get your restitution. The post Here's How to Cash in on VW's Dirty Diesel Settlement appeared first on WIRED.

by Alex Davies at June 28, 2016 09:16 PM

GOOD

The Condom, Reinvented—For Your Pleasure

Photo courtesy of Lelo

More than 5 billion condoms are sold around the world each year, and most of them are, well,  boring. Beyond weird artificial flavors (bacon?), novelty condoms that measure your manhood or give props to the Pope, not to mention warming sensations or good old ribbed texture, the vast majority of condoms at your local drugstore are variations on the same old, same old. In fact,  since the introduction of latex in 1920, the condom has seen relatively few updates— given its enormous volume of users.
 
Get ready for HEX, a game-changing new condom from LELO, a Swedish company focused on “intimate lifestyle goods.” While it’s still made from latex, the HEX differs vastly from traditional options in its hexagon pattern—350 to be exact—throughout each condom. Why does this matter to you? Not only are the hexagons designed to be more pleasurable to the wearer (as opposed to ribbing, which is marketed as mostly for your partner’s benefit), they are also virtually unbreakable.

According to its maker—which has been dubbed the “Apple of condoms”—the hexagon is “nature’s go-to shape for anything needing to be at once lightweight, and incredibly strong.” Billed as the world’s first re-engineered condom, HEX just surpassed a crowdfunding goal of 10,000 backers on its website this week; condoms are slated to ship in August.
 
Engineers worked for seven years on the HEX, not so long in the overall history of condoms. Its maker says condom innovation has failed to keep up with the growth of new sexually transmitted diseases over the last 70 years. Because this condom is less likely to slip or break, LELO hopes HEX can encourage more people to practice safe sex with better-designed protection. Considering there is a direct correlation between condoms being unwieldy and people not using them, it’s an admirable—and necessary—goal.
 
According to a 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in the U.S. alone have all increased for the first time since 2006. And rates of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis, the most infectious stages of the disease, have increased by a staggering 15.1 percent since 2013.
 
But LELO’s choice in tapping actor Charlie Sheen as spokesperson for HEX is already causing controversy. The company presumably picked Sheen, in part, because of his announcement last November that he is HIV-positive. In a video on LELO’s Indiegogo page, Sheen says that many people, including himself, never think HIV will affect their own lives. And “they can avoid that by using this,” he claims.
 
Feminist bloggers and activists were quick to blast LELO’s pick because of Sheen’s past history with domestic abuse. Among other allegations, Sheen pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor third-degree assault charge in 2010 after his then-wife, Brooke Mueller, accused him of threatening to kill her on Christmas Day 2009. LELO defended its choice, writing “there is arguably no other person who can so personally and actively drive conversations on sexual health” on its Indiegogo page.
 
Whether Sheen is the right spokesperson for HEX is up for debate. What’s less arguable is the popularity of the condom itself—LELO has already reached 1979% of its crowdfunding goal with 16 days left.

by Feifei Sun at June 28, 2016 09:15 PM

Drunk Guy Leaves An Inspiring Message On A Lost Phone

via Twitter

Everyone hates that scary moment when they reach into their pockets or rummage through their purse and can’t find their smart phone. Your pictures, personal information, and ability to text are all held hostage until you can find the device that you just realized controls your entire life. At that point, all you can hope is to get your beloved phone back. But, recently when Megan lost her phone, not only was it returned to her safely but it had an inspiring video from a dude who was really drunk and stoned.

Today, a Redditor posted that her friend Megan lost her phone at a party, but when she got it back, some guy named Rob had left a slurry, life-affirming message on it. “I don’t know whose phone this is,” he stammered. “I just found it, but you’re beautiful and you will always accomplish whatever your mind thinks it can do.” Megan shared the message on her Twitter account with the caption: “Hey Rob thanks for the inspirational words.” Now, although it’s tough to tell who this magical Rob character is, we can all hope that he’s the guy that finds our phone the next time inevitable happens.

His message:

Hello, I don’t know whose phone this is, I just found it. But, you’re beautiful and you will always accomplish whatever your mind thinks it can do. So if you have a dream, go fulfill it. Go do it.  Because you will have it, you will accomplish it, you will succeed. Everything in this world is not promised. But, if you make it promise, it will be promised. God bless America, God bless you. God bless me. God bless every body here. You the man and you know.”

 

 

 

by Tod Perry at June 28, 2016 09:05 PM

Deposit Accounts

Best Bank Account Interest Rates - Summary for June 28, 2016

Market turmoil will put downward pressure on deposit rates in two ways. First, it's more likely for the Fed to hold off on rate hikes.

June 28, 2016 09:04 PM

craigslist | computer gigs in san diego

Needing a website for small business,affordable (San diego)

Needing help building a Wordpress website for small business and fixing metas in other one.looking some local developer that speak Spanish Preffered,but not necessarily. Text me at 619/4 four six 8454 Web developer,website,,web design,

June 28, 2016 09:00 PM

RubyFlow

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Live from Westminster Palace: Storify: "Legitimacy" and the Labour Party Leadership: A Rnat: Marshall Steinbaum and Friends...:

<noscript>[<a href="http://storify.com/delong/legitimacy-and-the-labour-party-leadership" target="_blank">View the story ""Legitimacy" and the Labour Party Leadership: A Rnat" on Storify</a>]</noscript>

by J. Bradford DeLong at June 28, 2016 08:54 PM

Core77

Freelancing Tips from Core77's Own Carly Ayres

Carly Ayres is a member of the Core77 family and a freelancer near and dear to our hearts—a self-described "specialized generalist" who's created work for clients like Google Creative Lab and Wallpaper* as well as being a regular contributor to Core77 with the beloved In the Details column. Given the 1-Hour Design Challenge prompt to design objects for freelancers, we thought Carly would be a great judge and could bring some significant insight into products that independent workers might actually be interested in owning and using. 

We recently sat down with Carly to learn a little more about her start as a freelancer, the routines and productivity tips she swears by, and what sort of freelance power tool she might design for herself. 

Core77: How long have you been freelancing? Why did you decide to take the leap?

Carly: I made the jump to full-time freelance around November of 2014, but have always been freelancing in some capacity. I think my very first freelance client might have actually been Core77, when I was covering student projects and events on campus as a student at RISD.

After college, I joined CreativeMornings, where I took founder Tina Roth Eisenberg's vision for what she wanted the lecture series to be and translated that into a voice and tone that resonated with attendees across the globe. 

After a few years there, I found myself with the familiar itch to work on something new. I realized that the work that truly scared me and was pushing me past my comfort zone were projects I was doing after hours and on weekends. If I was to continue growing, that was the work I needed to be doing.

What's your experience of working as a freelancer in the city—have you worked at home and in co-working spaces? What have been your best and worst freelance work setups and why? 

My experience as a freelancer in New York City has really run the gamut. I spent some time working in-house for clients like Google's Creative Lab and Deeplocal, as well as bouncing around a few different co-working spaces like Small City Studios and Friends

I'm a huge extrovert, so really crave the ability to talk to other folks and bounce ideas off others—occasionally to my own detriment. I've found that the perfect balance for me is working from my apartment, but making sure I carve out that time to be around other people, whether it's coffee one morning or co-working one afternoon a week. Separating that time makes a huge difference in the work I'm able to get done.

What sorts of items or tools do you need around you in order to maintain productivity and success?

At the risk of sounding mildly dorky, having a bottle of water next to me while working has made the biggest difference in productivity. If you asked me a year ago, my resounding answer would have been coffee, but a year later, I've realized that any grogginess or headaches are likely just symptoms of dehydration, alleviated by simply drinking water.

Beyond that, all I really need is a laptop and a power cord. Lately, I've also been listening to a lot of classical music, particularly nonverbal, which lets me focus when doing any type of writing. 

What have you learned about freelancing and yourself over the years working independently? 

Freelancing has forced me to think more critically about my time and how I spend it. Whether its the inputs I'm taking in or the work I'm pushing out, being in control of my own time has led me to be more focused in those pursuits, as well as in the people I surround myself with each day.

One of the projects Ayres' is working on: an experimental social network called "Temporary Highs" 

As a freelancer, you're accountable to yourself for the work you do (or don't) and what you put out into the world. It's made me answer a lot of questions around what type of work I want to being doing and what impact I want that work to have.
The end result might be a flip book of a logo's evolution, a newsletter on doing things again and again, or an amplified social network—but I'm always trying to rethink how to engage with an audience and encourage them to think about things a bit differently. 

If you could design something to improve your freelancing life, what would it be? 

So many things! Recently, I started a small Slack community of creative folks— many freelancers—called 100s Under 100, which I've found to be a great way to share work, elicit feedback, and post other jobs and resources. I think the only other thing that might drastically improve my freelance life would be a Chrome plugin that shuts off my internet at 10:00p every night to force me to go to bed (though as I type this it's 12:00 AM...).

What are your top 3 quick tips for other freelancers or aspiring freelancers? 

1. Find a community.

2. Do the work you want to get more of.

3. Drink lots of water.

Only one hour until we announce the winner of our 1-Hour Design Challenge! Check out all the entries on our dedicated discussion board or Facebook group + stay tuned to see who wins the big enchilada... 

June 28, 2016 08:33 PM

craigslist | computer gigs in san diego

Now Hiring! Cox Communications Kiosk (San Marcos, CA)

Marketsource is looking for reliable and motivated individuals who are dedicated to helping others meet their cable needs!! In this position, you will be working within the electronics department inside of Wal-Mart, selling cable, home phone, and int [...]

June 28, 2016 08:31 PM

Dark Reading: Dark Reading Column

Cisco Boosts Cloud Security Capabilities With CloudLock Buy

Network giant will purchase the Massachusetts-based provider of cloud access security broker technology for $293 million.

by Jai Vijayan at June 28, 2016 08:30 PM

Core77

The Magnificent Architecture and Design of the Citadel Library on Last Night's "Game of Thrones"

Last night's GoT season finale had something for everyone: Schemers, revenge-seekers, fans of political intrigue…and book nerds. Nearly halfway through last night's extra-long episode, we're treated to a few fleeting, magnificent shots of what is meant to be the greatest library within that fantasy universe, and it does not disappoint.

For the GoT-non-initiated, a character named Samwell is sent to study at The Citadel in Oldtown order to become a "maester." (It's akin to being shipped off to an elite university in order to earn PhD's in everything from history to medicine to political science.) Once Sam arrives at the city limits, he catches a glimpse of The Citadel:

It is a massive and imposing structure, perhaps even more impressive than The Red Keep at King's Landing because there are no other tall structures around it.

Architecturally, the style is vague. One of the brilliant achievements of GoT's set-design team, led by production designer Deborah Riley, is that they successfully apply a mishmash of real-world ancient architectural styles—Roman, Egyptian, Mayan, Moorish, Greek, Germanic, Indian, etc.—without tipping their hand; at least with the computer-generated environments, you'll see no telltale, entirely Gothic or Romanesque arches, for instance. By carefully avoiding real-world, historical analogs, the designers convince you that this is indeed an alternate universe.

That lack of analog is evident once Sam enters the Citadel library, which is stunning. I was particularly fascinated to see that the designers really did take time to think the space out, from a functional standpoint, while simultaneously incorporating fantastical architectural elements. First off, the first problem with such a massive space, in an electricity-free world, is how to provide light. All of the interior illumination in Game of Thrones' other massive structures is provided by torch and candle. But in what is essentially that world's largest tinderbox, filled as it is with paper, open flame is inadvisable. While we do see a few candles in the reception area…

…once Sam enters a book-lined passageway to reach the library proper, he's given no torch or lantern, and we see there's not a single sconce along the way:

Entering the main hall, we see that natural light is of course provided via clerestory windows.

Nitpickers among you will note that the chamber is octagonal, with at least one pair of clerestory windows clearly installed within adjoining facets of an octagon, and that this does not jive with the exterior shot of the building.

If you noticed that, you suffer from what I call the Designer's Curse. I've said to friends that being trained in ID unlocked my imagination while grounding me in the practicalities of how things are physically made; this means that, while watching Game of Thrones, I can suspend disbelief for the dragons but cannot get over Samwell's clearly machine-quilted jacket.

 

In any case, back to the lighting. In order to distribute light around the space, the designers have created something that's part-Alexander-Calder, part-Edwin-Hubble: A massive mobile consisting of enormous lenses, designed to magnify and reflect incoming sunlight around the chamber.

One of these beams fortuitously illuminates Sam.

Something else that tickled me was when we catch a glimpse of the furniture and its attendant details. Even in a fantasy world, they cannot get 24-inch wide boards. Here you can see the reading surface of the carrels consists of two boards joined edge-grain-to-edge-grain.

The support structure of the bench appears to be joined with a cross-lap.

And we see that the space is cavernous, absolutely loaded with stories (pun intended.)

All of those levels require some means of ascending—or multiple means. I love the sheer architectural chaos of the space: It looks like several generations of architects and contractors were hired and fired at various stages of the construction. One firm was clearly a fan of spiral staircases, where the next opted for conventional stairs. One contractor clearly had ties to a stone distributor, while another insisted on working with natural wood.

All in all the space is meant to awe, and for me at least it was completely successful. To those of us who grew up loving books, if walking into a space such as this, how could we not have this expression on our faces?


June 28, 2016 08:29 PM

Calculated Risk

Fannie Mae: Mortgage Serious Delinquency rate declined in May

Fannie Mae reported today that the Single-Family Serious Delinquency rate declined in May to 1.38%, down from 1.40% in April. The serious delinquency rate is down from 1.70% in May 2015.

These are mortgage loans that are "three monthly payments or more past due or in foreclosure". 

This is the lowest rate since June 2008.

The Fannie Mae serious delinquency rate peaked in February 2010 at 5.59%.

Fannie Freddie Seriously Delinquent RateClick on graph for larger image

Although the rate is generally declining, the "normal" serious delinquency rate is under 1%. 

The Fannie Mae serious delinquency rate has fallen 0.32 percentage points over the last year, and at that rate of improvement, the serious delinquency rate will not be below 1% until the second half of 2017.

.

by Bill McBride (noreply@blogger.com) at June 28, 2016 08:23 PM

Planet Android

Freedom 251, The $4 Smartphone is on Course to Reach Consumers

Remember the Freedom 251? No, this isn’t related to politics or revolution, not in any confirmed way at least. Freedom 251 is the name of the $4 Android smartphone, that was being launched by Indian company Ringing Bells Pvt. Ltd.

Poor choice of brand name aside, the Freedom 251 made the news back in February when the smartphone was announced, being promised to the masses for a measly $4. For INR 251 ($3.7 at current exchange rates), you get a 4″ qHD display with a resolution of 960 x 540, with the phone being powered by a MediaTek MT 6582 quad-core processor. There’s also 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage with expandability, a 3.2MP rear camera, a VGA front camera, dual-SIM 3G support, a 1,450 mAh battery and Android 5.1 Lollipop on board. Despite the mediocrity of its specs, the phone packs in unbelievable value for a price that most of us reading would not hesitate to plop down for a burner phone.

We wrote extensively on why the $4 Android smartphone should not exist. And to seemingly prove us wrong, the $4 is actually being made a reality, as it is being promised to make its way to consumers. The initial date for delivery of the smartphone is promised to be 30th June, and the first look of the actual smartphone has been revealed, thanks to a (slightly cringey) hands-on by BBC:

Freedom 251 Freedom 251_2

In the hand, it feels somewhat like Apple’s iPhone 5. As I handle the handset, it seems to work like a basic smartphone. But it is hard to really test its capabilities, as it has very few applications, covering only basic tasks, such as calculator, music player, web browser and email. At the demo, the company told me the final model would be made available for scrutiny only after 30 June. Later, on Tuesday afternoon, it said that date had been delayed until 7 July.

BBC
(Yes, this BBC reporter claims this $3.70 phone feels like an iPhone 5, somehow)

So what has changed with the Freedom 251 since our last coverage?

For starters, question marks still exist on the legitimacy of the company. Ringing Bells continues to be a mysterious entity, but now with a few government inquiries to its name. The company has come under the scanner of Income Tax authorities and the Department of Electronics and IT, as people are still scratching their heads on how the phone is possible at the price it is being promised.

To add some more twist to the already-complicated story, Ringing Bells actually went ahead and returned the payments received from 30,000 customers, citing the negative speculations around its claims.

There was a lot of negativity around us so we have decided to take money from customers only after delivering phones to them. We are refunding money to those who have paid for booking the phones and giving them an option of cash on delivery

Mohit Goel, Director, Ringing Bells

The phone received 70 Million registrations in the three days it was on sale, with the payment gateway crashing towards the end of it. To put the number into perspective, sales of the Samsung Galaxy S6 were estimated to reach 45 Million in all of 2015. Even by the initial numbers and taking into account that these were just registrations, it was clear that Ringing Bells was in no position to actually completely sate the (apparent) heavy demand for its product.

Now with D-Day coming close, Ringing Bells has claimed that it has nearly 200,000 units of the Freedom 251 produced and ready to be delivered (a few million short of the 70,000,000 registrations). This batch is the first phase of deliveries, and registrations will open again once this phase is completed. Obviously, only a small part of the registrations will be honored, so the company has decided to use a lottery system, allocating 10,000 units to every state of India (for our global readers, India has 29 states and 7 union territories).

We have got over 2.8 crore registrations from UP [state] and close to 2 crore from Bihar [state]. We will give away 10,000 units in every state. We decided to hold a lucky draw because many people had registered for multiple phones. We want to bring it down to one phone per person. The lucky draw winners will most likely be announced within two days.

Mohit Goel

What happens if we assume Ringing Bells successfully sells all 200,000 of its smartphones? Ringing Bells claims that the phone costs INR 1,180 ($17.5) to manufacture, thus bringing in a gross loss of INR 929 ($13.7) per smartphone. That is a total of $2.74 Million in losses from the sale of the first batch alone (not accounting for the delivery charges paid by the customers, as well as other operating costs). How can a no-name company take such a massive loss, and better, how does it even make these phones when it does not have factories to build said phone?

BBC provides some insight on this end:

Mr Goel says his company is importing “knocked-down parts” from Taiwan and assembling them in Haridwar in northern India. But once it makes enough money, he adds, the company wants to manufacture all the parts in India. The phone costs about 1,180 rupees to make, and Ringing Bells claims to subsidise it via tie-ups with some of the apps that will be pre-installed. Mr Goel says the business will still lose about 150 rupees ($2.2) on each phone and hopes the government will step in with subsidies.

To recap, the phone that was launched in February and shown off to the media was actually a different phone altogether. The phone was an Adcom Ikon 4, which was then ingeniously “rebranded” with the help of some white paint and stickers. The company mentioned it was a prototype, and that the final product was different. Adcom threatened to sue Ringing Bells, and also mentioned that the devices sold to them were sold at INR 3,600 ($53.1) per unit. It is likely that Ringing Bells has understated the manufacturing costs of the actual phone in its recent statement, which would make the loss per phone and the total loss all the more befuddling and significant.

First "Prototype". Notice the whiteout on the top Behind the whiteout Current Freedom 251

But then, there’s this:

 Mr Goel says the business will still lose about 150 rupees ($2.2) on each phone and hopes the government will step in with subsidies.

Hah! We discussed some political connections in our prior coverage, but then ruled it out based on the statement of the company’s President Ashok Chadha who said that there is no government subsidy involved with their claims. To an extent, that is true, since Mr. Goel hopes the government will step in with $440,000 to help the company break even on a self-undertaken business venture. We are not sure how that works out for a self-undertaken business venture wanting to claim itself that in the first place, but okay…


The Freedom 251 and all of its ensuing drama does not look like it is going to end with the proper phone deliveries. There are still so many questions unanswered, like how much could the phone hardware be leveraged for software deals (after all, pre-installed apps will have their own memory and performance footprints, and the device is not even a mid level smartphone). Is the user data safe and not being leveraged instead? How exactly does Ringing Bells plan to soak in the massive future debt, and still continue forwards? Is there no political hand behind the initiative, seeing how well it ties into several of the governments ongoing plans (Digital India, Make in India)? What is the real catch behind the $4 smartphone? For now, all we can do is wait for the story to unfold.

What are your thoughts on the Freedom 251? Did you manage to order the device? Would you purchase a $4 smartphone, even if it came with strings attached? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

by Aamir Siddiqui at June 28, 2016 08:16 PM

GOOD

Grandmother Defeats Carjacker By Spraying Him With Perfume

There’s nothing more sickening than when criminals prey on the most vulnerable among us. Although elderly people are less likely to be the targets of violent criminals, their physical, mental, and financial suffering is often much worse than that experienced by younger victims. But when a thief in Ohio recently tried to steal the car of 61-year-old grandmother, Joyce Kenney, he had no idea what was coming. She was able to subdue the man by burning his eyes with her perfume. 

Kenney was ambushed by a masked thief as she walked out of her home. The carjacker grabbed her and demanded that she get into her black four-door Toyota sedan and start driving. So Kenney hit the gas, taking her little sedan up to 80 miles per hour in hopes she would be pulled over by a police officer. But when no police came to her aid, she began to fear the worst. “I was just thinking, this guy’s gonna kill me,” she told Inside Edition

So that’s when Kenney decided to take things into her own hands. She grabbed a nine-inch-tall pink bottle of perfume she had stashed in her driver-side door and sprayed the carjacker in the eyes. “Of course, he grabbed his eyes because it burns,” she said. Then she kicked him out of the car and drove to a local gas station and called the police. Kenney’s grace under pressure is an empowering lesson not just for older people, but anyone in an unsafe position. “Don’t think that you can’t do something when you’re scared because you can,” she said. “I found that out.” 

 

by Tod Perry at June 28, 2016 08:10 PM

Core77

Reader Submitted: A Self-Standing House Broom

SelfieBroom, the Self Standing Broom With a Whimsical Twist, is Live on Kickstarter. SelfieBroom allows users to stand your broom upright without propping or leaning it against a wall or countertops and no need to bend over to pick-up your misplaced broom. Giving the user the ability to truly be more efficient while completing your chores.

View the full project here

June 28, 2016 08:08 PM

The Big Picture

Brexit: The Risk of Marginalization of London

Bloomberg View columnist Barry Ritholtz examines the potential political, economic, and business fallout of Brexit. He speaks on “Bloomberg Markets.”

Brexit: The Risk of Marginalization for U.K., London

Source: Bloomberg, June 28, 2016

The post Brexit: The Risk of Marginalization of London appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at June 28, 2016 08:00 PM

Wheaties for Your Wallet

3 Reasons Why Every Portfolio Should Have Bitcoin

Bitcoin is known for its aggressive bull trends. There are many risks associated with owning bitcoin such as volatility and keeping your coins secure from hacks. That said, there are also many positive benefits for including bitcoin in your portfolio.

#1: Store of Value

Although bitcoin has its bear cycles like any other market, the long term trend of bitcoin over the past 7 years has been exponential price growth. Most traditional currencies have a value erosion over time because of inflation. Bitcoin is hard capped at 21 million coins which makes them scarce.

The value of bitcoin is based purely on free market consensus between buyers and sellers. Since the supply of bitcoin is fixed, the value will increase based on the demand of new participants. Right now the user base is still fairly low which means means bitcoin hasn’t reached a point of market saturation yet.

#2: Hedging

In times of economic uncertainty people look to hedge their money into assets that are insulated from the regular markets. Almost every investment lost money during the economic meltdown of 2009 except for gold. Bullion sales went through the roof which led to a 3 year bull run and new price highs.

Bitcoin operates independent of the legacy markets and lets you store value without needing a broker. World governments have been implementing bail-in regimes that can remove the money in your account to prop up faltering banks. With bitcoin, if you keep your private keys secure then nobody can access your money stored on the public ledger.

#3: Profit

Bitcoin is currently the most popular and secure blockchain in the world. As long as Bitcoin remains the top open blockchain it will likely continue experiencing a network effect. Bitcoin is more than just currency, it is an internet of value that can store other financial instruments. 

It’s possible that Bitcoin will continue to grow as a global network. If it ever hits the steep climb on the s-curve of user adoption then the price could make rapid gains. To put things in perspective, $100 investment of bitcoin in 2010 was worth $1.8M at the end of 2013. If Bitcoin ever gets the same level of user adoption as social media then owning a full bitcoin will be extremely rare. Each unit of BTC is divisible by 100 million.

 

Disclaimer: This article is my personal opinion and not meant as financial advice.

The post 3 Reasons Why Every Portfolio Should Have Bitcoin appeared first on Due Payments Blog.

by Rocky Darius at June 28, 2016 07:59 PM