Amit's Planet

November 29, 2018

Official Google Blog

Google Open Source team

The Google Code-in contest is now open! Students ages 13 to 17 gain real-world software development experience by building open source software with the support of mentors.

by Mary Radomile at November 29, 2018 01:00 AM

April 01, 2018

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

April Fools: John Cochrane Obtrudes Himself on My Consciousness Again...

It's time to spin the Big Wheel for April Fools' Day! Who will it be this year? Cliff Asness? Doug Henwood? Niall Ferguson? Donald Luskin? David Graeber?... No! The Big Wheel stops on... John Cochrane!

Alas! The smart Martin Sandbu has been sold a pile of horseshit by the clown John Cochrane. (No: I don't know why John Cochrane decided to become a clown in 2007, and has remained a clown without interruption since. But we describe the world as it is, not as it ought to be.)

Martin Sandbu: Free Lunch: Can the US return to high growth?: "There has been much harrumphing about Jeb Bush's pledge to target a real economic growth rate of 4 per cent... so far beyond the realm of possibility as to be irresponsible.... John Cochrane begs to differ.... From the 1950s to 1973, growth fluctuated around, yes, a 4 per cent average annual rate. For the next three decades it averaged between 3 and 3.5 per cent except for the early 1980s.... Cochrane's conclusion... "avoiding a recession and returning to pre-2000 norms gets you pretty close".

Free Lunch Can the US return to high growth FT com

The scorn that the idea has received elsewhere is no doubt a reaction to its somewhat crank pedigree. But it also reflects a certain disregard for the historical record. Mother Jones claims no president since FDR has managed to sustain a 4 per cent average growth rate throughout his presidency. But this is just false. Truman, Kennedy and Johnson all did: Notice a pattern there: the best growth spurts all happened under Democrats. In fact, with two exceptions, every postwar Democratic president has overseen faster growth than every Republican one. The first exception is the second-worst performing Democrat, Jimmy Carter, who with 3.3 per cent was pipped to the post by Ronald Reagan, the best-performing Republican with 3.5 per cent. The second exception is Barack Obama, who was elected seven weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the worst financial crisis since Harry Truman was a county court judge. This prompts two thoughts. The first is that 4 per cent may be hard, even unrealistic, but certainly not impossible. The second is that Democratic presidents - and by extension, Democratic policies - have been historically much more successful at making it a reality (Obama's record, shaped by the financial crisis, is hardly representative). And there is good reason to think this may still be true. Raising growth from its lacklustre rate means bringing output closer to its potential in the short term and raising the potential growth rate in the long run. The short-term imperative involves fiscal and monetary stimulus - ie worry less about the budget deficit and don't tie one arm behind the Federal Reserve’s back. These are positions more associated with Democrats than Republicans, to put it mildly. The long-term goal can only be achieved with contribution from all the components of GDP growth: faster productivity growth, faster population growth and greater labour force participation. That observation immediately invites more policy ideas to warm a liberal's heart: boosting public infrastructure, a more open immigration policy and copying the countries that are most successful at getting people into employment: Canada, Germany and the Scandis. Indeed getting the US employment rate to the Swedish level over 10 years would entail a 1 percentage point higher growth rate a year in that period, other things being equal. Why, then, are liberal economists and policy types so up in arms against a 4 per cent target? One possibility is the fear expressed in Carole Binder's intelligent blog: targeting the growth rate may favour short-termist stimulus to boost growth rather than a long-term measure. But that could be a whole lot better than the status quo - at least if it involves broad fiscal and monetary stimulus rather than Florida-style housing bubbles. A "high-pressure economy", which prominent centre-left economists call for, may well make longer-term structural policies easier, too. Another possibility is the fear that a Jeb Bush administration would use the 4 per cent target to push through policies, such as tax cuts for the rich, that they claim will raise growth but don't. If that's the reason, it reflects a sad lack of political confidence. A more inspiring response to Jeb Bush's growth target would be to match it and try to force the politics to be about which policies are most likely to achieve the goal. On the current state of US politics, that's a fight that the centre-left can and should win.

by J. Bradford DeLong at April 01, 2018 12:22 PM

November 02, 2017

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.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.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.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ...

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2017 12:57 PM

October 06, 2017

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, 2017 12:37 PM

August 17, 2017

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, 2017 06:51 PM

August 14, 2017

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

merii nigaah ne ye kaisaa Kvaab dekhaa hai

Album: Lubna

tasavvuraat kii mahafil sajaa rahaa huu.N mai.n
vo kaun hai jise apanaa banaa rahaa huu.N mai.n
ek i.nqalaab saa zer-e-naqaab dekhaa hai

merii nigaah ne ye kaisaa Kvaab dekhaa hai
zamii.n pe chalataa huaa maahataab dekhaa hai

jhukii-jhukii-sii vo aa.Nkhe.n hasii.n kamal jaise
chhupaa-chhupaa-saa tabassum koii Gazal jaise
nazar-nazar hai chaman vo shabaab dekhaa hai
merii nigaah ne ...

ulajh rahii thii javaanii kaI savaalo.n me.n
mile jo vo to huii roshanii Kayaalo.n me.n
har-ik savaal kaa ham ne javaab dekhaa hai
merii nigaah ne...

Contributed by Vijay Kumar K

August 14, 2017 09:04 AM

khushabuu huu.N mai.n phuul nahii.n huu.N

Album: Shayad

khushabuu huu.N mai.n phuul nahii.n huu.N jo murajhaauu.Ngaa
jab jab mausam laharaayegaa, mai.n aa jaauu.Ngaa

merii suurat koii nahii.n hai, cheharaa meraa cheharaa hai
bhiigaa saavan suunaa aa.Ngan, har aaiinaa meraa hai
jab-jab kalii khilegii koii, mai.n muskaauu.Ngaa
mai.n aa jaauu.Ngaa ...

shaam kaa gaharaa sannaaTaa jab diip jalaane aayegaa
meraa pyaar tumhaarii suunii baaho.n me.n ghabaraayegaa
mai.n mamataa kaa aa.Nchal ban kar lorii gaauu.Ngaa
mai.n aa jaauu.Ngaa...

jab bhii merii yaad sataaye, phuul khilaatii rahanaa
mere giit sahaaraa de.nge inako gaatii rahanaa
mai.n anadekhaa taaraa ban kar raah dikhaauu.Ngaa
mai.n aa jaauu.Ngaa ...

Contributed by Vijay Kumar K

August 14, 2017 08:42 AM

June 23, 2017

Brand New

Spotted: New Logo and Identity for Diplomat Beach Resort by Korn Design

New Logo and Identity for Diplomat Beach Resort by Korn Design

Visit Link

About Spotted posts
No further images are included. No opinion is given. Not even a punny title. These are just… spotted. Best available link to learn more about the change (or the company) provided in the link above. Poll and comments are open.

June 23, 2017 01:01 PM

Spotted: New Logo for Wipro

New Logo for Wipro

Visit Link

About Spotted posts
No further images are included. No opinion is given. Not even a punny title. These are just… spotted. Best available link to learn more about the change (or the company) provided in the link above. Poll and comments are open.

June 23, 2017 12:53 PM

Barry's news

oe-qky-src on github

'oe-qky-src' is my custom layer for OpenEmbedded, to compile from source all the packages required for a typical Quirky, Puppy, or other Puppy-derivative.

Furthermore, it is now on github:

There is a nice "readme".

If you look in quirky/meta-quirky/recipes-quirky, there are about 140 recipes, packages that I have imported to OE.
The reason that I had to do all this work, is partly because OE targets embedded systems rather than a generic Linux distribution. Also partly because Puppy and derivatives are different from other Linuxes, with a different selection of packages, and many unique to Puppy.

You will also see folder 'downloads-oe'. This has snapshot tarballs of OpenEmbedded, taken just when the Pyro release was announced. I have provided the snapshots so that anyone building oe-quirky will get the exact same result as me.

To help me manage the github site, I have brought back SmartGit. This is a very nice GUI git manager tool, that I experimented with about a year ago:

...seem to recall, forum member 'gcmartin' put those instructions together into a single file.

Here is my original blog post about SmartGit, April 2016:

I have got SmartGit installed on my mid-tower desktop PC, as well as the Adobe JRE version 8u131.

I did briefly look at some others, for example Gitkraken, Git-tool and GitAhead, but each one had problems.
SmartGit is very sophisticated, and above all "just works". It is free for non-commercial use.

If anyone downloads 'oe-qky-src' and does a build, they will have binary packages, but then what? They will need woofQ to build a distro. Currently I am only providing woofQ as tarballs, and will upload the latest soon. However, maybe should put that on github also (?).
The woof-CE guys could also import the packages from oe-qky-src, they will need my script '0pre-oe', that will be in the next upload of woofQ.

SmartGit website:

June 23, 2017 12:43 PM

Tim Harford

Donald Trump and Theresa May Give U-Turns A Bad Name

Undercover Economist

A few weeks ago Donald Trump set a record that I assumed was unassailable; Theresa May has since sailed past it with ease. The leaders of the US and the UK have become so proficient at changing direction that “U-turn” no longer seems adequate. Donald and Theresa are spinning policy doughnuts.

Mr Trump has a notoriously flexible approach to his own pledges. He has reversed course on issues as diverse as whether he will put Hillary Clinton in jail (yes, then no), whether he would force a vote on healthcare reform (yes, then no) and whether it was wise to attack Syria (no, then yes).

His most dizzying day, in mid April, included U-turns on a bewildering array of substantial policy issues: Nato (“I said it was obsolete; it’s no longer obsolete”), whether China was a currency manipulator, a hiring freeze on federal workers, closing the US Export-Import bank and whether he might reappoint Janet Yellen as head of the Federal Reserve.

It was an impressive record — but surely a record no longer. Over the past year Mrs May has changed her mind on everything from Brexit to a bill of rights, energy pricing to nuclear power. She reversed a 2015 manifesto commitment, reversed the reversal, and has now taken the unprecedented step of tearing pages out of her own manifesto just days after launching it. She offers a “strong and stable” slogan, a weak and wobbly reality, and a rich seam of irony.

What most concerns me about all this is that Mr Trump and Mrs May are tarnishing the very idea of changing one’s mind. U-turns can be valuable, but they already have a poor reputation, reflecting a lazy journalistic trope. The U-turn is a gift to the journalist in a hurry: either the policy was wrong before, or it is wrong now. Little more need be said.

Of course there is something to be said for being consistent. Stubbornness in negotiations is risky but can be an advantage. Foreign policy requires that allies and enemies know where they stand. When politicians promise something to voters, they should make an effort to deliver.

But it is easy to take consistency too far. The most straightforward solution to many a grave policy error is to stop and do something else. This is something the Conservative party would be well advised to do with a damaging limit on immigration that it has promised three times and never come close to delivering.

Discarding what does not work is an essential part of progress in almost any sphere of life. Designers and engineers make prototypes. Programmers debug. Writers edit. Medical researchers use randomised trials to figure out whether a treatment works or is worthless. Evolution works through survival of the fittest. In each case, there’s a way to evaluate and discard what is failing.

Economic growth is built on trial and error, with good ideas spreading and bad ones disappearing. Agile businesses reinvent themselves, but often the market does the job for them through the bankruptcy courts.

Policymaking needs the same mechanism, and often lacks it. Because governments can levy taxes, dole out subsidies, and alter the rules of the game, they can do a great deal of good — but they can also prop up bad ideas indefinitely.

This is true even in democracies; in dictatorships, the pet projects of the powerful can squander money almost without limit. The Soviet Union was ruined, in part, by the inability of anybody to criticise and modify failing projects. And China began to move away from poverty when Deng Xiaoping allowed first farmers, then industry managers, to experiment with new ideas and shut down old ones.

For many government policies, it’s important to have an emergency stop to prevent bad ideas getting worse. But Mr Trump and Mrs May are like train passengers who hit the emergency stop because they’re having a nice chat on the phone and don’t want to be interrupted by a tunnel. There should be a penalty for misuse — and perhaps there will be.

I have no objection to bad ideas being reversed, but the problem here is that the reversals have been so nakedly political.

A wise policymaker changes course thus: “We had a promising idea, we tried it out on the smallest practical scale, we gathered data, we expanded our pilot programme, and then once the evidence was in, we decided that the idea wasn’t working. We’ve learned a lesson and will stop.”

Such changes of direction are what grown-ups do — and any well-run country should expect to see them regularly. Unfortunately there is no sense that either Mr Trump or Mrs May have changed direction on anything because they have been moved by new evidence on whether it works. Instead, they promised what seemed popular, and flinched at the first glimpse that it may not be popular at all.

The rest of us, meanwhile, conclude that politicians are inconstant liars who will say anything to win votes. Where did we get such a preposterous notion?

Written for and first published in the Financial Times on 26 May 2017.

My new book is “Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy” – coming soon! If you want to get ahead of the curve you can pre-order in the US (slightly different title) or in the UK or through your local bookshop.

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by Tim Harford at June 23, 2017 12:39 PM

Brand New

Linked: Felt Goods

Felt Goods

Visit Link

An ode to bodegas and pretty much every consumer brand imaginable, Lucy Sparrow's "8 ’Til Late" exhibit in New York's The Standard hotel, stocked over 9,000 felt sculptures that sold out (priced between $25 and $75 a piece) in its 3-week run, having to close early because there was nothing left to display or buy. She sells some of the items online, if you are interested.

June 23, 2017 12:38 PM

Boy Genius Report

The W5 is a full-blown desktop PC that fits in the palm of your hand

Intel Compute Stick

How many TVs do you have in your home? How many monitors do you have in your office? What if we told you that each and every one of these televisions and monitors could instantly be transformed into a full-blown, quad-core desktop computer using nothing more than a tiny device that fits in your pocket or in the palm of your hand. Take a look at the W5 Mini PC Windows 10 Computer Stick. It costs under $100 on Amazon and you’ll never need to worry about being tethered to a single screen again.

Here are some key details from the product page:

  • W5 Mini pc stick is Preinstalled with Windows 10 Home Edition OS which runs fast and smoothly.This is a great computer stick that can be used as a media center or as a normal computer.This can also be used as an entertainment box.
  • It is user friendly and allows you to turn your TV into a monitor for this small yet powerful little CPU. Because of its portability and size, you can put this anywhere you want and take it to wherever you want.
  • The hardware specification of the device is great for the price range.It has a quad core Intel processor,2GB RAM, 32GB Flash Memory, Bluetooth 4.0 and Fast Wi-Fi. It has two USB ports(support USB DISK and USB HDD),HDMI cable for connecting to the latest displays and HD TVs,and the power port.
  • Included in the package:1pc Mini PC stick,1pc Power Adapter,1pc HDMI Cable,1pc Quick Start Guide. Operation:Connect HDMI to TV or monitor,Connect Mouse and Keyboard,Connect Power,Make sure your TV or monitor is on the correct input.
  • What I can get aside from the product:1 year warranty and lifetime technical issue assistance without worrying about quality,just email to AMINZER Store customer serivce team.

W5 Mini PC Windows 10 Computer Stick Intel Z3735F Quad Core 1.83GHz,2GB RAM 32GB ROM,H.265 with…: $96.99

Trending right now:

  1. T-Mobile is having network problems across the country
  2. Android O’s final name may have just been uncovered
  3. 18 new Netflix originals are coming next month – here’s the complete list

by Maren Estrada at June 23, 2017 12:31 PM

The Big Picture

10 Friday AM Reads

Heckuva a week! Finish it strong with our AHCA-free morning train reads: • Lyft spent years preparing for Uber’s cultural crisis (Vox) see also Uber’s bad week: Doomsday Scenario or Business Reset? (Musings on Markets) • The Hardest Thing (Pension Partners) • How Tampa Turned a Dead Zone Into a Downtown (Politico) see also Downtowns Reinvented Themselves. So Can Malls. (BloombergView)…

Read More

The post 10 Friday AM Reads appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at June 23, 2017 12:30 PM

Zero Hedge

One "Data-Dependent" Trader Is "Looking At The Bounce In Gold As Sentiment Indicator"

As US (and global) economic data has disappointed at a rate not seen since Bernanke unleashed Operation Twist and QE3, so traders are shrugging off declining earnings expectations and weak macro data in favor of the continued belief that The Fed (or ECB or BoJ or BoE or PBOC or SNB) has their back. So, as former fund manager Richard Breslow notes below, it appears the 'data' that everyone is 'dependent' upon is very much in the eye of the beholder...

Via Bloomberg,

We’re all data-dependent. It’s not just the central banks that hide behind that aphorism. Traders and investors operate that way too. It’s just that data is a very poorly defined word and concept. The dictionary speaks of facts and specifics. But in reality it includes, biases, positions and a whole lot of other subjective factors. You and I can, quite properly, look at the same data and react differently.

So while it’s a universally held concept that is proudly used to denote dispassionate rationality, it’s in fact a meaningless one.

The European composite PMIs that were released this morning were all misses. Good numbers, but misses nevertheless. But the euro has been up versus the dollar all day. Why? Because while it’s also trading near the bottom of its recent range, people are, for the moment, emotionally invested in desperately hoping the euro will go up and the dollar down.

European politics is now good and U.S. politics bad. Emmanuel is even better looking than Jared. There must be fire behind the smoke of the Treasury flatteners and the ECB’s PSPP is what a healthy, growing economy just does. Whatever it is doesn’t matter, just look at the data. Well, your data.

I’ll be the first one to admit that numbers have both probative and confirmation bias effects. It’s also why a picture really is worth a thousand words. Technicals help us own up to reality. Or at least force us to explain ourselves.

The 10-year Treasury yield hasn’t moved in over a week and has had a two basis-point range so far today.

Yet, when it was at 2.165% I read that if it breaks 2.23% it could really motor. And at 2.145%, it was setting up for a retest of year-to-date lows. Same data, not meaningful, but sang to different people in widely different and visceral ways. Of course the response to both should be, “sit down and be quiet.”

So what’s my “data driven” bias on a, so far, quiet Friday? I’m looking at the bounce in gold as my sentiment indicator of what risk wants to do today.

And I would trade accordingly. But, psst, I still like the dollar and hate bonds, regardless of your data.

by Tyler Durden at June 23, 2017 12:29 PM

Brand New

Noted: New Logo and Packaging for FORM by JKR Global

<h1>“Form Follows Form”</h1> <a href=""><img src="" alt="New Logo and Packaging for FORM by JKR Global" class="webfeedsFeaturedVisual" /></a> <p>(Est. 2017) "<a href="" target="_blank">FORM</a> is the first prestige hair care collection that celebrates beauty in all its forms and was developed to address the hair issues women have been facing for decades. The collection, which consists of ten products ranging from $22 to $32 at launch, will help make hair care simpler, by offering products specifically designed for individual hair needs. Whether hair is coily, curly, natural, relaxed or somewhere in between, FORM's personal and versatile products will help."</p> <p><strong>Design by</strong><br /> <a href="" target="_blank">JKR Global</a><br />Bottle structures: <a href="" target="_blank">Bone &amp; Black</a></p> <p><strong>Related links</strong><br /> N/A</p> <p><strong>Images</strong> (opinion after)</p> <figure class="full"> <img src="" alt="New Logo and Packaging for FORM by JKR Global" /> <figcaption>Wordmark.</figcaption> </figure> <figure class="full"> <img src="" alt="New Logo and Packaging for FORM by JKR Global" /> <figcaption>Monogram.</figcaption> </figure> <figure class="full"> <img src="" alt="New Logo and Packaging for FORM by JKR Global" /> <hr /> <img src="" alt="New Logo and Packaging for FORM by JKR Global" /> <hr /> <img src="" alt="New Logo and Packaging for FORM by JKR Global" /> <figcaption>Packaging.</figcaption> </figure> <figure class="quarter"> <img src="" alt="New Logo and Packaging for FORM by JKR Global" /> <figcaption>Fun GIFs.</figcaption> </figure> <figure class="quarter"> <img src="" alt="New Logo and Packaging for FORM by JKR Global" /> <figcaption>Fun GIFs.</figcaption> </figure> <figure class="quarter"> <img src="" alt="New Logo and Packaging for FORM by JKR Global" /> <figcaption>Fun GIFs.</figcaption> </figure> <p><strong>Opinion</strong><br /> In keeping with the theme of Friday and liking things, this is a beautiful, simple execution from start to finish. In a way, there is nothing entirely novel here — dots on a grid forming a letter, uppercase sans serif, metallic finishes — but everything is so well considered and crisply laid out on the curvy range of bottles that it makes up for it in spades. I love the metallic gradient across the range of products, that’s just sweet as hell. Overall, this feels like a product that’s been on the market for ages and has the confidence of a category leader.</p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

June 23, 2017 12:23 PM

It's Nice That

Karifurav Caihua’s weirdly erotic Japanese-inspired illustrations


Thank god for Instagram: it’s where we found Karifurav Caihua, a mysteriously ungoogleable freelance illustrator currently working across illustration, graphic design, murals and print. Karifurav’s multi-coloured illustrations border on the grotesque (with a liberal sprinkling of serpent heads and decapitation). Sex drips across Karifurav’s canvasses visualised in penis noses or women with countless breasts.

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by Bryony Stone at June 23, 2017 12:15 PM

Zero Hedge

North Korea Blames Obama Administration For Warmbier's Death

A day after US student Otto Warmbier was laid to rest at a funeral service in his home town of Cincinnati on Thursday, the North Korean foreign ministry released a statement to local state-controlled television saying his death was a mystery and dismissing accusations that he had died because he was tortured and beaten during his captivity, according to Reuters.

Instead, the North’s foreign ministry blamed the Obama administration for Warmbier's death, which never formally requested Warmbier’s release, claiming Warmbier was “a victim of the policy of strategic patience.”

"The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the U.S. in his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well," the foreign ministry was quoted by KCNA as saying.

Warmbier, 22, was arrested in the reclusive country while visiting as a tourist. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan from his hotel, North Korea state media said. He was brought back to the United States last week with brain damage, in what doctors described as state of "unresponsive wakefulness", and died on Monday. US doctors who had traveled to the North last week to evacuate him had recognized that the former student had been provided with medical treatment, according to a ministry official.

"Although Warmbier was a criminal who committed a hostile act against the DPRK, we accepted the repeated requests of the present US administration and, in consideration of his bad health, sent him back home on humanitarian grounds," the spokesman said.

The exact cause of Warmbier's death remains unclear. Officials at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was treated after his return from the North, declined to provide details, and his family asked the Hamilton County Coroner on Tuesday not to perform an autopsy.

In a written statement, the foreign ministry claimed the US was spreading lies about North Korea’s role in Warmbier’s death.

“The smear campaign against DPRK staged in the US compels us to make firm determination that humanitarianism and benevolence for the enemy are a taboo and we should further sharpen the blade of law.”


“The US should ponder over the consequences to be entailed from its reckless and rash act.”

by Tyler Durden at June 23, 2017 12:11 PM

It's Nice That

Noma Bar animates a tongue twister for Mercedes-Benz’ series on road safety


As part of Mercedes-Benz’ new animated ad series Tongue Twister, illustrator Noma Bar has created a fast-paced short called Biker filled with over a dozen typically clever, blink-and-you’ll miss them graphical tricks. Telling the story of a “big brown-bearded biker” who avoids a crash thanks to a car’s nifty safety system, the 25-second animation zips through sequences at breakneck speed.

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by Jenny Brewer at June 23, 2017 12:09 PM

James Joyce’s political billboards for Glastonbury’s Shangri-La Truth stage


Glastonbury officially begins today and in the Shangri-La area, famously the most anarchic district of the festival, the hub for all performances is the Truth Stage. Last night it hosted Napalm Death, and surrounding the stage were 100 billboard posters by 42 artists including Ben Eine and Mark Titchner, each taking on a different political message in typically brazen style.

Read more

by Jenny Brewer at June 23, 2017 12:06 PM

Brand New

Reviewed: Friday Likes 211: From Kurppa Hosk, Ben Johnston, and Stitch Design Co.

“From Kurppa Hosk, Ben Johnston, and Stitch Design Co.”

Friday Likes 211

Some earthy and quieter tones this week, with work from Stockholm, Toronto, and Charleston.

REF by Kurppa Hosk

REF by Kurppa Hosk

REF is a line of hair care and styling products from Stockholm, Sweden, that includes shampoos, conditioners, sprays, oils, and more. Their packaging and identity, designed by local firm Kurppa Hosk, is almost annoyingly simple with the most stylized element of the system being the curved typography over the name. While I usually dislike "R"s with such a long leg, this one feels like just the right choice for this minimalist design. Complemented by a thinner monospace font, the logo manages to stand out nicely in this wide range of bottle shapes and sizes that benefit greatly from a wonderful, earthy-pastel-metallic color palette which makes it squeeze through (and above) other products with the hipster, too-cool-to-care aesthetic. See full project

Ben Johnston by Ben Johnston

Ben Johnston by Ben Johnston

Ben Johnston is a designer and letterer in Toronto, CA, with a pretty bad-ass portfolio and a stationery set to match. I really enjoy that this is purely graphical for the sake of being awesome: no concept, no pretense, no mission, just a 300-pound-bench-press of calligraphic skill display. Printed black on medium gray and black paper makes the otherwise flowery letters that would seem more appropriate for a wedding invitation feel like they belong to a dude that paints on walls a lot for a living. See full project

Spectator Hotel by Stitch Design Co.

Spectator Hotel by Stitch Design Co.

Spectator Hotel is a boutique hotel in the French Quarter and Market Street districts of Charleston, SC, exuding vintage style and charm. Designed by local firm, Stitch Design Co., this project is more than the usual identity and encompasses all the visual flourishes of the hotel, from typography to choice of materials. There are a couple of recurring logos -- the exuberant "S" and the serif on the facade -- but beyond that, it's the overarching sensibility that makes this work and put Motel 6 to shame.See full project

June 23, 2017 12:01 PM

Zero Hedge

Frontrunning: June 23

  • One year after Brexit: Forget euro zone breakup, sterling now deemed riskier (Reuters)
  • Senate Holdouts Seek Upper Hand in Perilous Health Bill Talks (BBG)
  • Senate Bill Poses Risks to Health-Care Companies (WSJ)
  • Trump’s Tape Ruse Risks Fresh Legal Jeopardy in Russia Probe (BBG)
  • Arab states demand Qatar closes Jazeera, cuts back ties to Iran (Reuters)
  • Qatar Seen Rejecting List of Severe Demands to End Gulf Crisis (BBG)
  • Turkey rejects call to shut military base in Qatar (Reuters)
  • From Music to Maps, How Apple’s iPhone Changed Business (WSJ)
  • How Killing Obamacare Might Save Obamacare, For a While (BBG)
  • Baghdadi death near 100 percent certain: Interfax quotes Russian senator (Reuters)
  • Japanese warship takes Asian guests on cruise in defiance of China (Reuters)
  • FBI Director Nominee’s Client List Could Hinder Oversight of Investigations (WSJ)
  • Buffett’s Home Capital Bet Backs Turbulent Canada Housing Market (BBG)
  • China's authorities tighten noose around online video content (Reuters)
  • Deadly London apartment blaze began in Hotpoint fridge freezer, police say (Reuters)
  • Trump’s Steel Tariff Threat Faces Resistance From Lawmakers (WSJ)
  • 'Fair' or 'vague'? EU sizes up May's Brexit rights offer (Reuters)
  • Canada Ponders an Unusual Drug Problem: a Shortage of Marijuana (BBG)
  • North Korea tests rocket engine, possibly for ICBM: U.S. officials (Reuters)
  • Venezuelan soldier shoots protester dead in airbase attack, minister says (Reuters)


Overnight Media Digest


- Qatar Airways said it aims to buy a significant stake in American Airlines Group Inc - a brash attempt by the fast-growing Middle East carrier to push into the U.S. amid political upheaval back home.

- Mylan NV's board nominees were elected in full at the pharmaceutical company's annual meeting Thursday despite pressure from a group of institutional investors unhappy over high executive pay.

- Tesla Inc said it is exploring with government officials in Shanghai the possibility of opening a facility to build electric vehicles for the Chinese market.

- The U.S. Department of Agriculture suspended imports of fresh beef from Brazil, citing recurring safety concerns. The USDA's move came after Brazil earlier Thursday suspended beef exports from five slaughterhouses to the U.S.

- Samsung Electronics Co is in late-stage discussions to invest about $300 million to expand its U.S. production facilities at a factory soon to be vacated by Caterpillar Inc according to people familiar with the matter, with an announcement expected as early as next week.



Prime Minister Theresa May offered to allow EU citizens who had lived in Britain for five years to continue staying after Brexit, as she tried to regain the initiative on exit negotiations at a European summit in Brussels on Thursday.

The UK's deal with EDF SA to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant could cost British electricity consumers 30 billion pounds ($38.03 billion) above market prices, the National Audit Office said in a report.

Bank of England policymaker Kristin Forbes, whose three-year term on the bank's Monetary Policy Committee ends next week, said on Thursday that senior staff were too busy to take monetary policy decisions sufficiently seriously and worried too much about bad press and their public profiles.



- Tesla Inc is in discussions to establish a factory in Shanghai, its first in China, a move that could bolster its efforts in one of its major markets even as it further lifts China's position as a builder of electric cars.

- The largest U.S. banks breezed through the first phase of their annual Federal Reserve stress tests, demonstrating that they have enough capital to withstand the type of financial shock that nearly ruined the industry and the world economy in 2008.

- Berkshire Hathaway Inc, run by Warren Buffett, agreed to buy a stake in Home Capital Group Inc, which has struggled amid accusations of fraud.

- Akbar al-Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, recently approached his counterpart at American Airlines Group Inc, a bitter rival, with some news: His state-owned company wanted to buy a 10 percent stake in American.

- Martin Shkreli, former hedge fund manager, "pharma bro" and self-styled bad boy, sat in federal court for a hearing before his fraud trial begins next week.



The Times

* A state-backed Chinese operator is among the companies shortlisted to run the new HS2 railway, the first bidder for a rail franchise from mainland China.

* Central banking may have become too political and policymakers too overstretched to manage interest rates properly, a leading Bank of England ratesetter, Kristin Forbes, suggested yesterday.

The Guardian

* Britain's vote to leave the EU has squeezed living standards, hit consumer spending and dampened the country's growth prospects, according to an analysis by Guardian of economic news over the year since the referendum shows.

* The price of British strawberries could rise by more than a third if the UK cannot ensure access to European workers after Brexit, The National Farmers' Union said.

The Telegraph

* Peter Hambro has lost his bid to stop a major Russian investor from filleting the board of Petropavlovsk, the gold mining company he co-founded more than 20 years ago.

* Fears of a clampdown on China's swashbuckling corporate empire builders are mounting after authorities in Beijing began gathering financial intelligence on big-spending conglomerates.

Sky News

* The new chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, Emma Walmsley, is pursuing a sale of MaxiNutrition, which was bought in 2010 for 162 million pounds ($205.38 million) , according to Sky News.

* Malcolm Barr, who works for JP Morgan, one of the world's largest banking institutions, said of the Brexit negotiations: "I'm not convinced that (the UK is) really very well prepared at all, to be perfectly blunt."

The Independent

* The reckless rise of artificial intelligence is going to be much more disruptive for the London technology scene in the longer run than Britain's departure from the EU, according to musician,

* McDonald's has launched its long-awaited home delivery trial in the UK after teaming up with Uber's takeaway service across parts of London, Nottingham and Leeds.


by Tyler Durden at June 23, 2017 12:01 PM

Oblivious Investor

Investing Blog Roundup: Why Do Advisors Struggle to Make Simple Portfolios?

In Monday’s article, I offhandedly mentioned that advisors tend to create complex portfolios for clients. Coincidentally, Allan Roth has an article out this week exploring the reasons (both good and bad) for the complexity we often see in portfolios created by advisors.

Investing Articles

Other Money-Related Articles

Thanks for reading!

What is the Best Age to Claim Social Security?

Read the answers to this question and several other Social Security questions in my latest book:
Social Security Made Simple: Social Security Retirement Benefits and Related Planning Topics Explained in 100 Pages or Less

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by Mike at June 23, 2017 12:00 PM

Wired Top Stories

Google Unveils an AI Investment Fund. It's Betting on an App Store for Algorithms.

The search giant launches a venture fund to finance startups creating machine intelligence technology.

by Tom Simonite at June 23, 2017 12:00 PM

ORWL's Ultra-Secure PC Self Destructs if Someone Messes With It

A Linux-running desktop PC called ORWL is meant to foil the most dedicated hackers.

by Michael Calore at June 23, 2017 12:00 PM

Saeed Naqvi

Origin Of Saudi-Qatar Spat: What Lies In The Future

Origin Of Saudi-Qatar Spat: What Lies In The Future
                                                                       Saeed Naqvi

The western media, which was shy of mentioning the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to the Saudi regime, has now started describing it as a threat to Riyadh quite as potent as Shia Islam. This change is a major fall-out from the Saudi-Qatari spat.

Qatar for quite some time has patronized the Muslim Brothers, a powerful grass roots force in Egypt and Turkey. It is sufficiently powerful to keep King Abdullah of Jordan on sixes and sevens. Also, one must not forget the Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Hama, north west Syria, in 1982, which Bashar al Assad’s father, Hafez al Assad quelled with such brute power that the death toll exceeded10,000. In 2011 when Tayyip Erdogan took a more benign interest in Syrian affairs his advice to Assad was straightforward: accommodate the MB in the establishment.

Unbridled MB power is anathema to both: Israel and Saudis. That is why Saudi’s placed $8 billion in Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s hand when he ousted the MB’s Mohamed Morsi. Today, Sisi’s job is on the line.

Israel has nightmares because it fears the MB weed in Egypt and elsewhere will link up with Hamas, another strong MB outfit. When the western media, protective of Israeli interests, list the “Shia axis” inimical to the Jewish state – Iran, Hezbollah, Syria – it mentions Hamas in the same breath without the essential qualification: Hamas is True Blue Sunni. The link up with Iran is political or ideological not religious.

Saudi anxieties are more profound. Remember, from January 1980, the Saudi began to play down the monarchy and focus more on the King’s role as the “keeper of the holy shrines at Mecca and Medina.” This show of humility followed two events, one after the other, which shook the house of Saud.

The Iranian revolution which brought the Ayatollahs to power in Tehran in 1979 coincided more or less with the siege of the Mecca mosque by Juhayman al-Otaybi and hundreds of his supporters, demanding the overthrow of the House of Saud and an end to the “anti Islamic” monarchy in Saudi Arabia.

Taking advantage of these eruptions, the oil bearing Eastern province of Saudi Arabia, the Shia dominated Qatif and al Hasa region rose in rebellion in 1979 against Riyadh’s anti Shia sectarian bias and arbitrary arrests. The uprising lasted a week. Over 100 died in police action.

This regional uprising magnified itself a 100 fold in Saudi eyes because of the emergence of the Ayatollahs in Iran. This also became the source of anxiety to Bahrain where 70 per cent of the population is Shia and locked in a tussle for more rights from the Sunni rulers – the House of Khalifas.

While pointing at the Shia menace, Saudis seldom express their worries about Qatif and Bahrain where they sent their troops to quell the Arab Spring. Those issues could possibly invite a Human Rights scrutiny. Focus on Iran, Hezbollah, Alawite power in Syria is much more beneficial because this axis invokes Israel’s deepest anxieties. The western media is so much more sympathetic for this reason. If the past is any guide, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times should be on his way to Riyadh for yet another exclusive interview with the new Crown Prince.

That Qatar has relations with Iran is disliked in Riyadh, ofcourse, but what causes much deeper anxieties is the material and moral support Qatar can provide to MB which represents all the tendencies that the Otaybi rebellion in 1979 represented.

Riyadh-Doha differences go back to the days when the aging Emir, was ousted by his son, Hamad bin Khalifa. The ousted Emir’s attempted counter coup failed but it had Saudi support.

Osama bin Laden’s war on the house of Saud had a declared reason: Saudis had accorded hospitality to the troops of the “infidel US”. Qatar took advantage of situation and hosted CENTCOM,

Then came another affront to Saudi pride: Al Jazeera TV. When the BBC shut down its Arabic service, trained TV hands became available in the market. At the time the BBC was also in search of funds for its World Service TV. BBC had been left behind by CNN which stole the limelight during Operation Desert Storm in 1992.

Saudi King Fahd’s cousin, Khalid bin Faisal al Saud’s Orbit Communications hired the BBC hands and launched a channel. But it lasted no more than 18 months because editorial freedom clashed with Saudi’s abiding restrictions on issues anchored to Sharia. Riyadh would not allow the new channel to telecast a documentary on public “beheadings”.

That is when Qatar moved into the breach and launched Al Jazeera, first in Arabic. As BBC retirees like Sir David Frost became available, Al Jazeera English made rapid recruitments.

At a time when Osama bin Laden was a news source, Al Jazeera became the channel for all bin Laden interviews and audio statements. Coverage by BBC, CNN, Fox News of all the 9/11 wars acquired a uniformity which strained credibility. Al Jazeera livened up proceedings by bringing into focus “the other” perspective as well. This was not “cricket” for the authors of the new world order. Scholars like the late Fouad Ajami, supportive of George W Bush’s invasion of Iran and Afghanistan, wrote academic papers on Al Jazeera’s perfidy. Allied aircraft even bombed the channel’s offices in Kabul and Baghdad. All of this boosted Al Jazeera viewership sky high.

The late Saudi King Abdullah, much the most supple ruler in recent decades, mended fences with Qatar. We have to be together, otherwise the “spring” will blow away the region’s monarchies, he argued.

Moreover, CNN, BBC propaganda was not being believed in the region during the Syrian and Libyan operations. Al Jazeera’s priceless credibility was commandeered. Qatar succumbed. Both the operations, Syria and Libya have been a disaster from every angle. Additionally they have taken a toll of Al Jazeera’s credibility.

The present spat however has the potential of restoring Al Jazeera’s credibility should deft editorial hands take up the anti establishment position which was Al Jazeera’s forte and which it surrendered under the personal pressure of the late Saudi king.

The larger game now must impinge on Qatar, Iran and Russian gas reserves, the energy of the future. To keep the cohesion of this triangle or to break it must be the preoccupation of regional combatants now and in the foreseeable future.

#          #          #         

by Saeed Naqvi ( at June 23, 2017 11:56 AM

Boy Genius Report

Here are YouTube Red’s 12 new and returning original shows just announced at Vidcon 2017

YouTube Red Vidcon

YouTube has a massive presence this year at Vidcon 2017, and the Google-owned video giant used the event to take the wraps off some huge improvements coming the the YouTube VR experience. The new VR180 platform is a collaboration between YouTube and Google's Daydream VR division that aims to simplify the production process for content creators. YouTube sees big things for VR moving forward, so the company is devoting even more resources to increasing adoption.

Of course, virtual reality wasn't the only thing on the menu for YouTube at Vidcon 2017. The company also let loose new details on original shows headed to YouTube Red, including new seasons for six different returning original shows, as well as six brand new series set to premiere on YouTube Red.

Continue reading...

Trending right now:

  1. T-Mobile is having network problems across the country
  2. Android O’s final name may have just been uncovered
  3. 18 new Netflix originals are coming next month – here’s the complete list

by Zach Epstein at June 23, 2017 11:54 AM

It's Nice That

Viviane Sassen is behind M.I.A's latest music video


Fresh from curating the Southbank Centre’s Meltdown festival last week, MIA is back with a new music video – which agency WeFolk today announced was directed by Dutch photographer Viviane Sassen.

Read more

by Bryony Stone at June 23, 2017 11:43 AM

Zero Hedge

Caught On Video: Russian Ships, Sub Fire Cruise Missiles At ISIS Targets In Syria

A little more than a week after launching the strike that reportedly killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, Russian navy ships and a submarine launched six cruise missiles at ISIS targets in Syria’s Hama province, destroying an ISIS command center and ammunition depot, according to Russia Today. The missiles were launched from the eastern Mediterranean by Russian Navy frigates the Admiral Essen and the Admiral Grigorovich, the Defense Ministry said.

The cruise missile strike follows a similar attack by Russian forces on May 31, when a nearly identical arrangement of Russian warships and a submarine also struck ISIS targets near Palmyra.

And, like three weeks ago, today the missiles were launched from Russian Navy frigates: the Admiral Essen and the Admiral Grigorovich, as well as a submarine, the Krasnodar, from the eastern Mediterranean, the Defense Ministry said in a Friday statement. The submarine fired its missiles while submerged.

The strikes targeted Islamic State command and control centers, as well as ammunition depots in the Syrian province of Hama, and hit a large ammunition depot near the town of Aqerbat, which detonated after being hit. Russia had warned Israel and Turkey in advance about the strikes via a military-to-military hotline.

But, apparently, not the US.

The strike was launched after a large Islamic State convoy, comprising 39 vehicles and 120 militants, was spotted outside the city of Raqqa.

“The terrorist convoy of 39 pickup trucks was detected and destroyed by the air force on its way to Palmyra,” a military source told RT. The trucks had been equipped with large-caliber machine guns.

Over the past week, Islamic State militants made numerous attempts to escape the besieged city of Raqqa and head towards Palmyra using a “southern corridor,” RT reported, citing sources in the Russian military. The terrorists were moving forces through rugged terrain to the Hama province during the night and setting up command posts and ammunition depots in large buildings there, it added.

The movements of IS militants in the area are being monitored by Russian surveillance, the military said, adding that any potential targets detected will be hit with precision strikes by the Air Force. As noted above, on the last day of May the same warships fired four cruise missiles that hit combat vehicles and militants outside the Syrian city of Palmyra. Back in August of last year, the Russian Black Sea Fleet also fired Kalibr cruise missiles over unpopulated areas to destroy a command post and munitions production site of another terrorist group operating in Syria, the Al-Nusra Front.

by Tyler Durden at June 23, 2017 11:37 AM

Schneier on Security

Amazon Patents Measures to Prevent In-Store Comparison Shopping

Amazon has been issued a patent on security measures that prevents people from comparison shopping while in the store. It's not a particularly sophisticated patent -- it basically detects when you're using the in-store Wi-Fi to visit a competitor's site and then blocks access -- but it is an indication of how retail has changed in recent years.

What's interesting is that Amazon is on the other of this arms race. As an on-line retailer, it wants people to walk into stores and then comparison shop on its site. Yes, I know it's buying Whole Foods, but it's still predominantly an online retailer. Maybe it patented this to prevent stores from implementing the technology.

It's probably not nearly that strategic. It's hard to build a business strategy around a security measure that can be defeated with cellular access.

by Bruce Schneier at June 23, 2017 11:26 AM

SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green

Fake DDoS Extortions Continue. Please Forward Us Any Threats You Have Received., (Fri, Jun 23rd)

We do continue to receive reports about DDoS extortion e-mail. These e-mails are essentially spammed to the owners of domains based on whois records. They claim to originate from well-known hacker groups like Anonymous who have been known to launch DDoS attacks in the past. These e-mails essentially use the notoriety of the groups name to make the threat sound more plausible. But there is no evidence that these threats originate from these groups, and so far we have not seen a single case of a DDoS being launched after a victim received these e-mails. So no reason to pay :)

Here is an example of an e-mail (I anonymized some of the details like the bitcoin address and the domain name)

We are Anonymous hackers group.
Your site [domain name] will be DDoS-ed starting in 24 hours if you dont pay only 0.05 Bitcoins @ [bit coin address]
Users will not be able to access sites host with you at all.
If you dont pay in next 24 hours, attack will start, your service going down permanently. Price to stop will increase to 1 BTC and will go up 1 BTC for every day of attack.
If you report this to media and try to get some free publicity by using our name, instead of paying, attack will start permanently and will last for a long time.
This is not a joke.
Our attacks are extremely powerful - over 1 Tbps per second. No cheap protection will help.
Prevent it all with just 0.05 BTC @ [bitcoin address]
Do not reply, we will not read. Pay and we will know its you. AND YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN HEAR FROM US!
Bitcoin is anonymous, nobody will ever know you cooperated.

This particular e-mail was rather cheap. Other e-mails asked for up to 10 BTC.

There is absolutelyno reason to pay any of these ransoms. But if you receive an e-mail like this, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Verify your DDoS plan: Do you have an agreement with an anti-DDoS provider? A contact at your ISP? Try to make sure everything is set up and working right.
  • We have seen these threats being issued against domains that are not in use. It may be best to remove DNS for the domain if this is the case, so your network will not be affected.
  • Attackers often run short tests before launching a DDoS attack. Can you see any evidence of that? A brief, unexplained traffic spike? If so, then take a closer look, and it may make the threat more serious if you can detect an actual test. The purpose of the test is often to assess the firepower needed to DDoS your network

And please forward any e-mails like this to us. It would be nice to get a few more samples to look for any patterns. Like I said above, this isnt new, but people appear to still pay up to these fake threats.

Johannes B. Ullrich, Ph.D., Dean of Research, SANS Technology Institute

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

June 23, 2017 11:24 AM

Zero Hedge

Arab States Issue 13-Point Ultimatum To Qatar: Cut Ties With Iran, Close Al-Jazeera, Shutter Turkish Base

By ZeroPointNow, originally published at iBankCoin

Two days after a confused US State Department formally inquired about what is going on between Arab States and Qatar, the countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Baahrain, and the UAE sent a list of 13 demands to the tiny Gulf nation to be met within 10 days in order to lift their total blockade of the country.

Among them - reducing diplomatic relations with Iran, shutting down broadcaster Al Jazeera (and affiliates), and immediately cease working to open a Turkish military base announced in May of 2016 and halt military co-operation with Ankara. Also interesting is the demand that Qatar give up their intel on terrorist groups they have supported and "provide all databases related to oppositionists..." (Scroll down for full list of demands)

This formal list comes on the heels of a June 6th rumor that Arab States issued a list of 10 demands to be fulfilled within 24 hours, however Qatar said they never received them according to Al Jazeera journalists who are now dusting off their resumes.

The list of demands encompasses other accusations that have already been denied by Qatari officials, raising the prospect of deadlock in the worst crisis to hit the Gulf in decades. Qatar’s foreign minister previously said any demand to close Al Jazeera would be rejected, describing the channel as an “internal affair” linked to Qatar’s sovereignty that should not be the subject of external interference. Arab states have long complained that Al Jazeera’s Arabic language channel is a propaganda tool that stokes tensions in the region. Al Jazeera insists it has editorial independence

The list specifies that Doha sever ties to radical jihadist groups such as Isis, al-Qaeda and its branch in Syria, as well as Lebanon’s Shia group Hizbollah. Qatar, the world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas, admits that it supports Islamist groups, but denies backing or financing terrorism.

“These requirements must be met within 10 days from the date of delivery or they will be considered void,” the Arab states said in their list of demands. Their document added that compliance would be heavily monitored — once a month for the first year, every three months the second year and once a year for 10 years after that.


On June 5th, news broke that Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt had cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar over accusations of 'spreading chaos' by 'funding terrorism and supporting Iran' - shutting down all land, sea, and air crossings with the tiny energy-rich nation that has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatari visitors and residents were given two weeks to leave - while diplomats had just 48 hours.

While Qatar has been friendly with Iran for years, the prelude to the embargo began after a broadcast which showed Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani speaking with no audio - and scrolling text at the bottom of the screen which stated his support for Iran and terrorist groups. Qatar claims the broadcast was 'hacked.'

After the broadcast, Saudi Arabia and the UAE blocked Qatari news organization Al-Jazeera.

Amid Qatar’s denials, Saudi-owned satellite television networks immediately began airing repeated stories about the disputed comments. By early Wednesday morning, those living in the UAE and subscribers to local cable providers couldn’t access the channels of Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite broadcaster based in the Qatari capital, Doha.


Attempts to reach its websites brought up a warning from the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority saying the site “contains content that is prohibited.”


In Saudi Arabia, internet users also found Al-Jazeera websites blocked with a warning from the kingdom’s Culture and Information Ministry.


Full List of demands (translated by @hxhassan)

  1. Qatar must reduce diplomatic representation with Iran
  2. Qatar must immoderately shut down the Turkish military base that is being established
  3. Qatar must announce severance of ties with terrorist, ideological & sectarian orgs: MB, ISIS, AQ, HTS, Hizbollah
  4. Qatar must cease any funding activities to extremist and terrorist individuals
  5. Qatar must hand over all designated terrorists
  6. Qatar must shut down Al Jazeera and all affiliated channels
  7. Qatar must stop interference in these countries' domestic andforeign affairs; stop naturalisation of their citizens; extradite such citizens
  8. Qatar must provide reparations to these countries for any opportunity costs incurred over the past few years because of Qatari policies. (How do they even begin to comply with this in 10 days?)
  9. Qatar must become in sync with its Gulf and Arab neighbourhood on all levels, and to activate Riyadh Agreement 2013/2014
  10. Qatar must provide all databases related to oppositionists that it provided support to & clarify what help was provided.
  11. Qatar must all media outlets backed by it directly or indirectly, like Arabi21, Rasd, New Arab, Middle East Eye, Mkamlin, Sharq etc
  12. These demands must be agreed within 10 days, otherwise they would be invalidated.
  13. Agreement will involve clear goals and mechanism, monthly reports in the first year, every three months the next & annually for 10 years

If these demands are not met, and they likely won't be - it may only be a matter of time before Qatar catches a case of regime change now that the Saudi alliance will have a "pretext" demonstrating Qatari non-compliance with a "goodwill" offer.

by Tyler Durden at June 23, 2017 11:23 AM

It's Nice That

Hey presto, it's Best of the Web!


This week’s Best of the Web is an ice cold, refreshing glass of internet.

Read more

by It's Nice That at June 23, 2017 11:23 AM

Boy Genius Report

Google makes VR even easier for YouTube

Google YouTube VR180 Video

Google is big on virtual reality (VR), and that’s no secret. The company has already integrated VR into various products, including YouTube and Android, setting up the building blocks of what may turn out to be a great VR experience in the very near future. And Google is ready to offer one more YouTube service to users, complete with new hardware to support it, for VR purposes: Meet VR180, a new video standard supposed to live alongside the 360 videos.

Continue reading...

Trending right now:

  1. T-Mobile is having network problems across the country
  2. Android O’s final name may have just been uncovered
  3. 18 new Netflix originals are coming next month – here’s the complete list

by Chris Smith at June 23, 2017 11:15 AM

Zero Hedge

Prepare For A Surge In Volume: Russell Rebalance Day Is Here

Welcome to the one year anniversary of the Brexit vote. Welcome also to the annual Russell rebalance, traditionally one of the busiest trading days of the year: according to Bloomberg, last year's rebalance helped propel a near record turnover of over 15 billion shares, as a result of the $8.5 trillion in stocks linked to the various Russell indices, many of which will be forced to find new owners after today's index recomposition. In fact, in four of the last five years, reconstitution day ranked in the 10 busiest trading sessions.

Yet despite the traditional annual surge in volume, the rebal rarely leads to spikes in volatility or major market moves: since 2008, the S&P 500 has moved more than 0.5% on the day of rebalancing only twice, in 2011 and 2016. According to Jefferies' Steven DeSanctis, the reason why the transition at the end of the day on June 23 rarely leads to turmoil is because investors are prepared for the changes, . For the broader Russell 3000 index, DeSanctis sees 196 additions this year compared with 183 in 2016.

“Russell rebalancing gives the small-cap market a bit more liquidity and trading volume, and managers could take advantage of the better volume,” DeSanctis said. “We could also see some swings in performance from a handful of individual names, and that too can help active managers.”

A boost in volume is what this somnolent market urgently needs, with little of note taking place in the overnight trading session as European stocks drop -0.3%, set to end the week lower. While Asian stocks rose, U.S. futures slide fractionally into the red moments ago after Retuers quoted a souce saying that the "scarcity of Bunds makes extending Qe difficult for the ECB and will be a factor for consideration when deciding whether to taper or extend existing program."

And as another central bank hints that the Fed is not alone in its tapering intentions, a reminder that global stocks have never been higher. The two are probably linked, as Bank of America and many others have hinted recently.

Looking at regional markets, there was little of note in the Asian session which saw the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rise 0.2%. ASX 200 (+0.1%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) traded relatively flat, with the former restricted by weakness in its largest-weighted financial sector. Shanghai Comp (-0.7%) and Hang Seng (+0.1 %) fared no better amid increased regulatory scrutiny with the CBRC probing loans to the large deal-making firms and after the PBoC refrained from open market operations due to current high liquidity levels. PBOC weakened the daily CNY fixing for fourth straight day;
skipping open market operations and draining another 50 billion yuan in
liquidity after the PBOC said liquidity levels are sufficient. Bank of Japan keeps bond purchases unchanged; Nikkei and yen little

European equities slipped, extending the longest run of weekly losses in a year as U.K.-listed stocks struggled on the anniversary of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. The Stoxx Europe 600 index dropped for a third week, with food and beverage companies leading declines after Stifel Financial Corp. downgraded brewer Heineken NV’s stock. Shares in the U.K. were were set for a fourth day of losses, while the pound pared its weekly decline with Brexit negotiations under way.  The FTSE 100 Index was down 0.3 percent on Friday, heading for a 0.6 percent weekly decline.

The dollar is a tad softer and many benchmark sovereign yields are not far from seven-month lows after Bullard became on Thursday the fifth Fed speaker this week to urge rate hike patience; The pound rose 0.4 percent to $1.2734, paring drop this week to 0.4 percent. The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.1169. The yen rose less than 0.1 percent to 111.27 per dollar.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index fell less than 0.1 percent. The underlying gauge fell less than 0.1 percent on Thursday.

In politics, UK PM May unveiled proposals for EU citizens at Brussels summit including a proposal that would allow 3 million EU citizens to stay in the UK Permanently. There were later comments German Chancellor Merkel who stated that UK PM May's offer on EU citizens' rights was a good start but many issues still need to be resolved, while Austrian Chancellor Kern stated UK PM May's offer leaves a long, long way for negotiations, with many citizens' concerns not covered.

WTI crude nears $43 after halting a three-day losing streak although it is poised for a fifth weekly decline after sinking into a bear market.  In China, Dalian iron ore modestly firmer. Gold rose 0.5 percent to $1,256.77 an ounce, for a third day of gains.

In rates, the yield on 10-year Treasuries rose one basis point to 2.16 percent. U.K. 10-year gilt yields rose two basis points to 1.04 percent, led by losses in shorter-dated securities as U.K. money markets push odds of a rate hike by the end of 2017 over sixty percent.

Economic data today includes new home sales and the Markit U.S. Services PMI.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down less than 0.1% to 2,431.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 0.4% to 387.01
  • MXAP up 0.2% to 155.17
  • MXAPJ up 0.2% to 504.96
  • Nikkei up 0.1% to 20,132.67
  • Topix up 0.06% to 1,611.34
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.02% to 25,670.05
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.3% to 3,157.87
  • Sensex down 0.2% to 31,221.04
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.2% to 5,715.88
  • Kospi up 0.4% to 2,378.60
  • German 10Y yield rose 1.1 bps to 0.263%
  • Euro up 0.3% to 1.1182 per US$
  • Italian 10Y yield unchanged at 1.617%
  • Spanish 10Y yield fell 0.2 bps to 1.384%
  • Brent Futures up 0.6% to $45.51/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.5% to $1,256.56
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.3% to 97.31

Top Overnight News

  • Bullard says Fed’s current rate hike path unnecessarily aggressive: WSJ
  • Fed’s stress test shows all 34 banks exceed minimum requirement
  • Fed Tests Show Better Real Estate Credit Quality, Cards Stress
  • Theresa May says 3 million EU citizens in the U.K. can stay after Brexit
  • BOE Forbes: Lift-off of U.K. rates should not be delayed any longer
  • China is willing to coordinate with U.S. on North Korean issue: Xinhua
  • PBOC says Chinese banks confident about ample end-June liquidity
  • Mexico rate pause could last through another Fed hike, Carstens says
  • Senate Holdouts Seek Upper Hand in Perilous Health Bill Talks
  • Obamacare Taxes Torched in Senate Bill, Drawing Democratic Ire
  • Bed Bath & Beyond Falls After Comps Miss, Dragging Peers Lower
  • Tokyo Exchange to Demote Toshiba to Second Section From Aug. 1

Looking at Asian equity markets, there was little activity amid quiet newsflow and after a subdued Wall St. close in which stocks posted a 3rd consecutive day of losses. ASX 200 (+0.1%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) traded relatively flat, with the former restricted by weakness in its largest-weighted financial sector. Shanghai Comp (-0.7%) and Hang Seng (+0.1 %) fared no better amid increased regulatory scrutiny with the CBRC probing loans to the large deal-making firms and after the PBoC refrained from open market operations due to current high liquidity levels. 10yr JGBs edged gains in late trade, although
upside has only been minimal despite an indecisive risk tone and the BoJ in the market for JPY 880b1n in JGBs. PBoC refrained from open market operations for a net weekly drain of CNY 60bIn vs. CNY 410bIn injection last week.

Top Asian News

  • Noble Group Lures Goldilocks as Major Holder as Bears Prowl
  • China Webcasting Crackdown Seen Dragging on Weibo Stock: Roundup
  • $100 Billion Chinese City in the Sea Is Hit by Capital Controls
  • China Steel Scrap Exports Surge Amid Illegal Furnace Crackdown
  • China Fines Russian Speed Trader $101 Million, Issues Jail Terms
  • Saudi- Led Bloc Presents 13 Demands to End Qatar Crisis, AP Says
  • Hong Kong Needs Close China Ties to Prosper, Next Leader Says
  • Carlyle Co-CEO: Asia Valuations About 20% Lower Than U.S.
  • ACCC Says Won’t Allow Tobacco Companies to Act Together
  • China Says Trump Open to Cooperating on Silk Road Projects

In Europe, In equities, major EU bourses trade lower, albeit modestly so with the Eurostoxx 50 lower by just 0.3%. Sector performance downside is somewhat broad-based with some slight underperformance in energy names in what has been a tough week for oil prices. In terms of stock specifics, major moves are on the light side with IN (+2.1%) top of the FTSE 100 after a broker upgrade at Morgan Stanley.
In fixed income markets, it's been a quiet end to the week with Bunds modestly lower and Gilts underperforming after gapping lower at the open as participants continue to try and gauge the future path of BoE policy and what kind of a deal PM May will walk away with from Brussels. Peripheral yields trade lower with yields softer by circa 1-2bps with Bonos leading the way.

Top European News

  • Euro-Area Momentum Eases as Best Quarter in Over Six Years Ends
  • Juncker Calls May’s Citizens-Rights Proposal ‘Not Sufficient’
  • Ireland Raises 3 Billion Euros in Allied Irish Banks Sale
  • Bank Risk Is in Demand as $113 Billion Fund Strikes ‘Big’ Deals
  • ECB Demands Power Over Clearing as Brexit Talks Start: Chart
  • Gilts Dip as BOE Hike Pricing Rises; Citigroup Recommend Fading
  • ‘Everything Appears Bad’ for ITV, But Valuation Attractive: MS
  • Lagardere, Solocal, SFR, Les Echos in Online Ad. Alliance

In currencies, The early FX flow was dominated by GBP buying as the market reacted to news that PM May was to unveil proposals that will allow 3 million EU citizens to remain in the UK. Such concessions augur well for the EU talks ahead, but a mixed response so far from leading figures, but a softer approach from the UK will benefit the Pound. Cable has rallied, but stalled into the 1.2740-60 zone. EUR/GBP remains offered neared the session lows, but this is down to EUR/USD pulling back again from the daily highs just in front of 1.1190, but modestly so as yet. EU PMIs are lower in the composite on weakness in the services component, but manufacturing exceeded expectations. The US PMIs due later today, and may have some impact on the USD which continues to range against the EUR, JPY and CHF as US Treasury yields meander inside near term ranges. USD/JPY support ahead of 111.00, having met with demand after the brief dip under here yesterday.

In commodities, widespread gains across the commodity spectrum today, and with focus on the Oil price rout, the near-term stabilisation in WTI circa USD43.00 may add some relief to the energy sector. Amid the volatility, the WTI/Brent spread widen briefly to around USD3.00, but this has since narrowed back to the uniform USD2.50 level as specs take a breather on Light Texas. There is still little prospect of a significant recovery as the sell-off is based largely on US production, and this shows no signs of slowing. Metals have had a healthy second half to the week as Copper has pushed higher with a little more verve through the USD2.60 mark. The gains today have been matched by Zinc and Nickel, the former up 8% from the early Jun lows. Gold is now edging higher to settle into a near term range circa USD1250-65, having based off the low USD1240's and reacting to recent, but modest USD weakness.

Looking at the day ahead, we’ll also receive the flash PMIs along with new home sales for June. Away from the data a busy week for Fedspeak continues with Bullard (11.15am), Mester (12.40pm) and Powell (7.15pm 2;15) all scheduled to speak. It’s worth noting that Dudley will also speak this Sunday.

US event calendar

  • 9:45am: Markit US Manufacturing PMI, est. 53, prior 52.7
    • Markit US Services PMI, est. 53.5, prior 53.6
    • Markit US Composite PMI, prior 53.6
  • 10am: New Home Sales, est. 590,000, prior 569,000; New Home Sales MoM, est. 3.69%, prior -11.4%
  • 11:15am: Fed’s Bullard Speaks about Monetary Policy in Nashville
  • 12:40pm: Fed’s Mester Speaks in Cleveland
  • 2:15pm: Fed’s Powell Speaks in Chicago on Central Clearing

* * *

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Today is a bit of a landmark day. Indeed it is exactly one year since the UK held the historic referendum vote on EU membership. Whether you think that has passed quickly or not probably depends on if you’re a Sterling FX trader, in which case it’s more than likely been a long year. It’s been an impressive rally for risk despite an outcome which has seen political Europe enter unknown territory. On that any hopes that the UK political situation would be resolved or at least stabilise essentially came to an end following the snap election earlier this month. The possibility of another election in the future hasn’t necessarily gone away either while the Conservatives and DUP parties are still to come to an agreement. What that means for Brexit talks is also still a bit of an unknown which is why there is a fair bit of focus on the two-day EU summit which kicked off yesterday. This is the first summit since the election for Theresa May and also coincides with Brexit negotiations having kicked off on Monday. Yesterday May proposed a “fair and serious” offer to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, telling leaders of the EU that no EU citizens living in Britain lawfully at the time in which Britain leaves the EU would be asked to leave. The Austrian Chancellor was noted after the meeting saying that many of the details are still however left open so negotiations still have a long long way to go. Germany’s Merkel also reiterated this point. It’s worth noting that May is due to make a statement to Parliament on Monday afternoon.

The summit continues for a second day today so it’s worth keeping an eye on any further headlines which emerge from that. Also of note today are the global flash PMIs for June. These should provide an early indication of how the global economy has tracked into the end of Q2. The market consensus is for a very modest decline in the manufacturing reading for the Euro area (-0.2pts to 56.8) while the US is expected to show a slight improvement (+0.3pts to 53.0). This morning in Japan the manufacturing reading was revealed as declining 1.1pts in June to 52.0 and to the lowest since November last year.

Over in markets yesterday it had looked like US equities would finally snap back following two consecutive days of declines but markets seemingly ran out of steam in the final hour of trading with the S&P 500 (-0.05%) and Dow (-0.06%) both slipping to small losses. A decent rally for Biotech stocks (Nasdaq Biotech +1.30% and the highest in 18 months) helped after the long awaited US healthcare proposal for replacing Obamacare was issued and indicated an additional $50bn in spending over four years to stabilize insurance exchanges. However four Republican senators also immediately opposed the bill which threatens to derail the passage to clearing the Senate with Republicans only able to afford to lose two GOP votes.

In other markets yesterday Oil prices finally stabilized (WTI +0.49%) although still remain well down over the week. European equities were also little changed (Stoxx 600 +0.01%) after recovering into the close while sovereign bond markets were quiet with 10y Treasury and Bund yields finishing 1.6bps and 1.3bps lower, respectively. This morning in Asia markets have been fairly directionless. With Oil stabilizing for a second day (WTI just below $43/bbl) the Hang Seng (+0.28%), Kospi (+0.07%) and ASX (+0.03%) are a touch firmer and the Nikkei and Shanghai flat to very slightly lower. Elsewhere US equity index futures are +0.10% after the Fed Bank Stress Test results last night revealed that all 34 of the largest banks in the US had passed.

Moving on. Following a quiet week there was a reasonable amount of data out yesterday although none of which particularly moved the dial. In the US the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index in June jumped 3pts and more than expected to +11. The conference board’s leading indicator rose +0.3% mom which lifted the six-month annualised growth rate to a new high. Initial jobless claims were confirmed as edging up a modest 3k to 241k last week and finally the FHFA house price index rose +0.7% mom in April. Meanwhile in Europe the European Commission’s flash consumer confidence index for June rose 2pts to -1.3 and in doing so hit a fresh 16-year high. Confidence indicators in France also tracked higher while in the UK the CBI Industrial Trends survey revealed that total orders rose to 16 in June (from 9) and in fact hit their highest since 1988. The export gauge is also now at the highest reading in 22 years. Before we wrap up, there was a bit of Fedspeak to note yesterday too. Governor Powell spoke on bank regulation in front of the Banking Senate Committee and said “we should assess whether we can adjust regulation in common-sense ways that will simplify rules and reduce unnecessary regulatory burden without compromising safety and soundness”. Meanwhile the Fed’s Bullard (a non-voter) argued that the projected path of tightening is aggressive and also that the softness in inflation is more widespread than expected.

Looking at the day ahead now. This morning in Europe we’ll be kicking off with the aforementioned flash PMIs for June where the consensus is for a very modest decline in the composite PMI of the Euro area to 56.6. Away from that we’ll also get the final Q1 GDP revisions in France this morning. This afternoon in the US we’ll also receive the flash PMIs along with new home sales for June. Away from the data a busy week for Fedspeak continues with Bullard (4.15pm BST), Mester (5.40pm BST) and Powell (7.15pm BST) all scheduled to speak. It’s worth noting that Dudley will also speak this Sunday.

by Tyler Durden at June 23, 2017 11:00 AM

Wired Top Stories

As Uber Flails, Its Self-Driving Car Research Rolls On

It's been a rough 2017 for Uber, but the fire hasn't quite spread to the autonomous vehicles department.

by Aarian Marshall at June 23, 2017 11:00 AM

Watch SpaceX Fire Off Its Second Flight-Proven Falcon 9

SpaceX plans to launch another recovered booster from the history-worn Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

by Robin Seemangal at June 23, 2017 11:00 AM


Tubelight (Music review), Hindi – Pritam

A dash of Middle Eastern and a cleverly clinical variance to Balam pichkari makes Radio a great listen. Amit Mishra’s vocals and the hyper-enthusiastic backgrounds help. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lovely lines bring Naach meri jaan alive in a big, happy chorus. In Tinka tinka, the brilliant chorus designed by Vivienne Pocha and the jaunty strings overpower the middling tune, accentuated by Jubin Nautiyal’s poorer film version. Atif Aslam adeptly handles Main agar‘s endearing melody amidst dreamy orchestration and KK’s film version is livelier and better! Kuch nahi, in all three versions, is sappy and kuch nahi indeed. Adequately bright, this Tubelight.

Keywords: Tubelight, Pritam

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

by Karthik at June 23, 2017 10:57 AM

naked capitalism

It's Nice That

Paris-based Studio Jimbo creates "impact and power" with punchy poster designs


Jimbo Barbu works under the moniker Studio Jimbo, as an independent designer and art director in Paris on various editorial, branding and identity projects. “My style is communicative, using typography to create impact and power,” explains Jimbo. “Science fiction, art, photography, fashion music are all inspirations and anything can make something click in my head and give me an idea.”

Read more

by Rebecca Fulleylove at June 23, 2017 10:54 AM

Planet Python

EuroPython: PyData EuroPython 2017

We are excited to announce a complete PyData track at EuroPython 2017 in Rimini, Italy from the 9th to 16th July.


PyData EuroPython 2017

The PyData track will be part of EuroPython 2017, so you won’t need to buy an extra ticket to attend. Mostly talks and trainings are scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (July 12-14), with a few on other days as well.

We will have over 40 talks, 5 trainings, and 2 keynotes dedicated to PyData. If you’d like to attend PyData EuroPython 2017, please register for EuroPython 2017 soon.


EuroPython 2017 Team
EuroPython Society
EuroPython 2017 Conference

June 23, 2017 10:29 AM

O'Reilly Radar

naked capitalism

Mass Incarceration’s Dangerous New Equilibrium

On the shameful origins of and incentives behind mass incarceration.

by Yves Smith at June 23, 2017 10:12 AM

The Big Picture

The One Millionth 911

I was never much of a Porsche guy, but this is very cool — driving to Le Mans in a very special Porsche 911: There’s nothing extraordinary about the millionth 911. Porsche could have chosen for it to be a bewinged RS model with a zillion horsepower, but no. This is a ‘normal’ Carrera S…

Read More

The post The One Millionth 911 appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at June 23, 2017 10:00 AM

Vanguard: All news articles

Maybe it's time for a 403(b)(7) account rollover

Follow these tips if you're holding on to an old 403(b)(7) account with a former employer and are not sure what to do with it.

June 23, 2017 09:58 AM

Zero Hedge

Ron Paul On "Enemies, Foreign And Domestic" And Liberty

Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul likes to joke that when he gets invited to speaking engagements in Washington, DC, audiences typically don’t applaud. But at the Future of Freedom Foundation, Paul was right at home, delivering a speech entitled "Enemies: Foreign And Domestic" about how to apply the principles of non-interventionism in domestic and foreign policy.

He spoke about how his stint in Congress made him more skeptical of government and wary of the deep state’s capacity for maliciousness, beginning with his early days in Washington.  

“When I went to Washington, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the Constitution and we went back and forth and it turned out my understanding was completely wrong and they had to convince me. But I had a little trouble listening to their arguments. They told me that the Constitution should be more flexible, it should be a living document, that it shouldn’t be overly rigid, that’s how you get into trouble. I sort of struggled with that tremendously."

Paul says he didn’t strive to be the chairman of an important committee during his time in Congress. Instead, he studied the bureaucracy and concluded that government had become far too large.

"My goal wasn’t to be the chairman of the committee because to do that you have to sell your soul and raise money. In my case, I do believe that when people say I didn’t join the gang, it’s true. Matter of fact the longer I was there, I became more skeptical about the government…the government is way too big,  too intrusive and I think it’s important we stick to our principles. I left Congress more opposed to big government."

When it comes to the question of Republicans vs. Democrats, Paul thinks this separation is a false distinction. Both parties share a philosophy of supporting welfare for both corporations and people.

“The bickering we hear has nothing to do with the most important issue and that is philosophy. I don’t believe there are two parties, I think there’s only one party. I think bipartisanship is very bad, everything that’s been done is done on bipartisanship. They agree on funding and not even examining the security documents in the CIA or when we go to war, they say ‘we’ll finance them.’”


"I remember one time one member of Congress he was working to get a credential that he was against corporate welfare and he wanted to cut the export-import bank by 5%, which meant nothing. We tried to cut it and it didn’t pass. The next vote I had, I wanted to abolish the export-import bank, so I supported his amendment to cut it a bit, but then he wouldn’t support mine."

Commitment to free markets should be absolute, Paul says. You can’t advocate for a little bit of intervention, or you surrender to the idea that intervention is right.

"But one problem, whether its foreign or domestic policy, if you concede the principle, you concede 100% of it. If we do such and such welfare program, or a little bit of war and a little bit of intervention, you concede this whole principle that we’re supposed to do it. You should take this principle of noninterventionism, and I love that term because noninterventionism tells you what liberty is all about and it would go a long way for foreign policy as well."


"If we believe in the cause of liberty, we should all be noninterventionist. We should have a government that does not intervene in peaceful activity of all citizens, just let us mind our own business and…if you believe in markets, you should have a noninterventionist market that doesn’t try to regulate the economy, just think of the 1000s of pages of regulations it’s too much regulation and in foreign policy it’s way overblown there’s way too much intervention."


"But there was a time when I started reading revisionist history when I started reading about the lead up to World War Two that there was supposedly knowledge about what was going to happen at Pearl Harbor – but I just didn’t want to believe that of my government it took a long time to soften my stand. I was drafted during 1962 during the Cuban crisis…I was flight surgeon at the airport in San Antonio when Kennedy was killed, but there was no way at that time that I would’ve said ‘well our government might’ve been involved - I wouldn’t have wanted to hear any part of that."

Noninterventionism is anathema to both political parties and many other elements embedded in the US government – the intelligence agencies, for example – which is why Paul warns that those who’ve sworn to uphold the Constitution – i.e. lawmakers – "don’t understand the damage they’ve inflicted."

"This whole idea of defending and supporting the Constitution is pretty important. How many people have said this oath in our government yet there’s not a whole lot of defense and support of the Constitution. The oath says against all enemies foreign and domestic. I’ve concluded if you really want to do that, then you only have about 50% of that responsibility because….there are a lot of enemies that are internal."

Paul singeled out the Department of Education as an example of government intervention gone horribly wrong. By turning on the student-debt spigot, the DOE ushered in the era of cheap student loans, triggering the beginning of the massive inflation in the cost of higher education.

"How did we get to this point where we’re so out of whack for what the intent was with our Constitution one of the most important issues that deals with it is the educational system…we have this totally bizarre monstrosity of cultural Marxism that is pushed by our universities Kid ends up with a degree and $70,000 worth of debt and he can’t get a job and he’s supposedly educated. The longer the federal government has been involved, the worse the education system has become."


"There’s no authority in the Constitution for the Federal government to be involved in education."

by Tyler Durden at June 23, 2017 09:45 AM

OUseful.Info, the blog...

Rolling Your Own IT – Automating Multiple File Downloads

Yesterday, I caught up with a video briefing on Transforming IT from the OU’s Director of IT, recorded earlier thus year (OU internal link, which, being on Sharepoint, needs Microsoft authentication, rather than OU single sign on?).

The video, in part, describe the 20 year history of some of the OU’s teaching related software services, which tended to be introduced piecemeal and which are necessarily as integrated as they could be…

In the post Decision Support for Third Marking Significant Difference Double Marked Assessments, I mentioned part of the OU process for managing third marking.

Guidance provided for collecting scripts for third marking is something like this:

The original markers’ scores and feedback will be visible in OSCAR.

Electronically submitted scripts can be accessed in the eTMA system via this link: …

Please note the scripts can only be accessed via the EAB/admin tab in the eTMA system ensuring you add the relevant module code and student PI.

[My emphasis.]

Hmmm… OSCAR is accessed via a browser, and supports “app internal” links that display the overall work allocation, a table listing the students, along with their PIs, and links to various data views including the first and second marks table referred to in the post mentioned above.

The front end to the eTMA system is a web form that requests a course code and student PI, which then launches another web page listing the student’s submitted files, a confirmation code that needs to be entered in OSCAR to let you add third marks, and a web form that requires you to select a file download type from a drop down list with a single option and a button to download the zipped student files.

So that’s two web things…

To download multiple student files requires a process something like this:

So why not just have a something on the OSCAR work allocation page that that lets you select – or select all – the students and download all the files, or get all all the confirmation codes?

Thinks… I could do that, sort of, over  coffee…. (I’ve tried to obfuscate details while leaving the general bits of code that could be reused elsewhere in place…)

First up, we need to login and get authenticated:

!pip3 install MechanicalSoup

import mechanicalsoup
import pandas as pd


def getSession():
 browser = mechanicalsoup.StatefulBrowser()
 browser.select_form(FORM_ID) #in form: #loginForm
 resp = browser.submit_selected()
 return browser


Now we need a list of PIs. We could scrape these from OSCAR, but that’s a couple of steps and easier just to copy and paste the table from the web page for now:

#Get student PIs - copy and paste table from OSCAR for now


#Put that data into a pandas dataframe then pull out the PIs
from io import StringIO

pids=[i[0] for i in df[1].str.split()]

We now have a list of student PIs, which we can iterate through to download the relevant files:

#Download the zip file for each student
import zipfile, io, random

def downloader(pid, outdir='etmafiles'):
  print('Downloading assessment for {}'.format(pid))
  !mkdir -p {outdir}
  #Download the file...,data=payload)

  #...and treat it as a zipfile
  z = zipfile.ZipFile(io.BytesIO(r.content))
  #Save a bit more time for the user by unzipping it too...

#Here's the iterator...
for pid in pids:
    print('Failed for {}'.format(pid))

We can also grab the “student page” from the eTMA system and scrape it for the confirmation code. (On to do list, try to post the confirmation code back to OSCAR to authorise the upload of third marks, as well as auto-posting a list of marks and comments back.)

#Scraper for confirmation codes
def getConfirmationCode(pid):
  print('Getting confirmation code for {}'.format(pid))

  #scrapy bit
  confirmation_code, pid=SCRAPE(elements)
  return [confirmation_code, pid]


for pid in pids:
    # Add data to dataframe...
    codes = pd.concat([codes, pd.DataFrame([tmp], columns=['PI','Code'])])
    print('Failed for {}'.format(pid))


So… yes, the systems don’t join up in the usual workflow, but it’s easy enough to hack together some glue as an end-user developed application: given that the systems are based on quite old-style HTML thinking, they are simple enough to scrape and treat as a de facto roll-your-own API.

Checking the time, it has taken me pretty as much as long as it took to put the above code together as it has taken to write this post and generate the block diagram shown above.

With another hour, I could probably learn enough about the new plotly Dash package (like R/shiny for python?) to create a simple browser-based app UI for it.

Of course, this isn’t enterprise grade for a digital organisation, where everything is form/button/link/click easy, but it’s fine for a scruffy digital org where you appropriate what you need and string’n’glue’n’gaffer tape let you get stuff done (and also prototype, quickly and cheaply, things that may be useful, without spending weeks and months arguing over specs and font styles).

Indeed, it’s the digital equivalent of the workarounds all organisations have, where you know someone or something who can hack a process, or a form, or get you that piece of information you need, using some quirky bit of arcane knowledge, or hidden backchannel, that comes from familiarity with how the system actually works, rather than how people are told it is supposed to work. (I suspect this is not what folk mean when they are talking about a digital first organisation, though?!;-)

And if it’s not useful? Well it didn’t take that much time to try it to see if it would be…

Keep on Tuttling…;-)

PS the blockdiagram above was generated using an online service, blockdiag. Here’s the code (need to check: could I assign labels to a variable and use those to cut down repetition?):

  A [label="Work Allocation"];
  B [label="eTMA System"];
  C [label="Student Record"];
  D [label="Download"];
  DD [label="Confirmation Code"]
  E [label="Student Record"];
  F [label="Download"];
  FF [label="Confirmation Code"]
  G [shape="dots"];
  H [label="Student Record"];
  I [label="Download"];
  II [label="Confirmation Code"];

  OSCAR -> A -> B;

  B -> C -> D;
  C -> DD;

  B -> E -> F;
  E -> FF;
  B -> G;

  B -> H -> I;
  H -> II;

Is that being digital? Is that being cloud? Is that being agile (e.g. in terms of supporting maintenance of the figure?)?

by Tony Hirst at June 23, 2017 09:36 AM

It's Nice That

Pride in London launches mammoth campaign by WCRS, Love Happens Here


Featuring work by 30 illustrators and a series of TV ads directed by Fred Scott, Pride in London’s 2017 campaign by WCRS is mammoth. It aims to mark 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homesexuality in England and Wales, with widespread presence across London on everything from fly posters to billboards and Underground screens, as well as the ads running on Channel 4 during every programme.

Read more

by Jenny Brewer at June 23, 2017 09:36 AM

We Are Here exhibition explores “what it means to be a British BME woman today”


A new exhibition of work by Black Minority Ethnic women artists aims to provoke discussion about “what it means to be a British BME woman living in Britain today”. We are Here features 14 artists responding and interpreting to their identity in contemporary Britain.

Read more

by Jenny Brewer at June 23, 2017 09:25 AM

Zero Hedge

Stockman Warns "A Great Big Coup Is On The Way"

Submitted by David Stockman via The Daily Reckoning,

So let’s start with an obvious point about the whole Russia fiasco…

Namely, there is no “there, there.” First off, the president has the power to declassify secret documents at will. But in this instance he could also do that without compromising intelligence community (IC) “sources and methods” in the slightest.

That’s because after Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, the whole world was put on notice — and most especially Washington’s adversaries — that it collects every single electronic digit that passes through the worldwide web and related communications grids.

Washington essentially has universal and omniscient SIGINT (signals intelligence). Acknowledging that fact by publishing the Russia-Trump intercepts would provide new knowledge to exactly no one.

Nor would it jeopardize the lives of any American spy or agent (HUMINT). It would just document the unconstitutional interference in the election process that had been committed by the U.S. intelligence agencies and political operatives in the Obama White House.

That pales compared to whatever noise comes out of Langley (CIA) and Ft. Meade (NSA). And I do mean noise.

Yes, I can hear the boxes on the CNN screen harrumphing that declassifying the “evidence” would amount to obstruction of justice! That is, since Trump’s “crime” is a given (i.e. his occupancy of the Oval Office), anything that gets in the way of his conviction and removal therefrom amounts to “obstruction.”

Given that he is up against a Deep State/Democratic/Neoconservative/mainstream media prosecution, the Donald has no chance of survival short of an aggressive offensive of the type I just described.

But that’s not happening because the man is clueless about what he is doing in the White House. And he’s being advised by a cacophonous coterie of amateurs and nincompoops. So he has no action plan except to impulsively reach for his Twitter account.

That became more than evident — and more than pathetic, too — when he tweeted out an attack on his own Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein. At least Nixon fired Elliot Richardson (his Attorney General) and Bill Ruckelshaus (Deputy AG):

I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.

Alone with his Twitter account, clueless advisors and pulsating rage, the Donald is instead laying the groundwork for his own demise. Were this not the White House, this would normally be the point at which they send in the men in white coats with a straight jacket.

Indeed, that’s essentially what the Donald’s so-called GOP allies on the Hill are actually doing.

RussiaGate is a witch hunt like few others in American political history. Yet as the mainstream cameras and microphones were thrust at one Congressional Republican after another following the Donald’s outburst quoted above, there was nary an echo of agreement.

Even Senator John Thune, an ostensible Swamp-hating conservative, had nothing but praise for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, that he would fairly and thoroughly get to the bottom of the matter.

No he won’t!

Mueller is a card-carrying member of the Deep State who was there at the founding of today’s surveillance monster as FBI Director following 9/11. Since the whole $75 billion apparatus that eventually emerged was based on an exaggerated threat of global Islamic terrorism, Russia had to be demonized into order to keep the game going — a transition that Mueller fully subscribed to.

So he will “find” extensive Russian interference in the 2016 election and bring the hammer down on the Donald for seeking to prevent it from coming to light. The clock is now ticking. And his investigatory team is being packed with prosecutorial killers with proven records of thuggery. They’re determined to find crimes that create fame and fortune for prosecutors — even if the crime itself never happened.

For example, Mueller’s #1 hire was the despicable Andrew Weissmann. This character had led the fraud section of the department’s Criminal Division and served as general counsel to the F.B.I. when Mueller was its director. And more importantly, Weissmann was the driving force behind the Enron task force — the most egregious exercise in prosecutorial abuse and thuggery in 100 years.

Meanwhile, the GOP leadership could not be clearer about what is coming down the pike.

They are not defending Trump with even a hint of the vigor and resolve that I recall from the early days of Tricky Dick Nixon’s ordeal. Of course, Nixon didn’t survive anyway.

Instead, it’s as if Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, et al. have offered to hold his coat, while the Donald pummels himself with a 140-character Twitter Knife that is visible to the entire world.

So there should be no doubt. A Great Big Coup is on the way.

But here’s the irony of the matter: Exactly four years ago in June 2013 no one was seriously demonizing Putin or Russia. In fact, the slicksters of CNN were still snickering about Mitt Romney’s silly claim during the 2012 election campaign that Russia was the greatest security threat facing America.

But then came the Syrian jihadist false flag chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013 and the U.S. intelligence community’s flagrant lie that it had proof the villain was Bashar Assad.

To the contrary, it subsequently became evident that the primitive rockets that had carried the deadly sarin gas, which killed upwards of 1500 innocent civilians, could not have been fired from regime held territory. The rockets examined by UN investigators had a range of only a few kilometers, not the 15-20 kilometers from the nearest Syrian base.

In any event, President Obama chose to ignore his own red line and called off the bombers. That in turn paved the way for Vladimir Putin to persuade Assad to give up all of his chemical weapons — a commitment he fully complied with over the course of the next year.

Needless to say, in the eyes of the neocon War Party, this constructive act of international statesmanship by Putin was the unforgivable sin. It thwarted the next target on their regime change agenda — removal of the Assad government in Syria as a step toward an ultimate attack on its ally, the Shiite regime of Iran.

So it did not take long for the Deep State to retaliate. While Putin was basking in the glory of the 2014 winter Olympics at Sochi, the entire apparatus of Imperial Washington — the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy, the State Department and a long string of Washington funded NGOs — was on the ground in Kiev assisting the putsch that overthrew Ukraine’s constitutionally elected President and Russian ally.

From there, the Ukrainian civil war and partition of Crimea inexorably followed, as did the escalating campaign against Russia and its leader.

So as it turned out, the War Party could not have planned a better outcome — especially after Russia moved to protect its legitimate interests in its own backyard resulting from the Washington-instigated civil war in Ukraine. That included protecting its 200-year old naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea.

The War Party simply characterized these actions falsely as acts of aggression against Russia’s European neighbors.

There is nothing like a demonized enemy to keep the $700 billion national security budget flowing and the hideous Warfare State opulence of the Imperial City intact. So why not throw in an allegedly “stolen” U.S. election to garnish the case?

In a word, the Little Putsch in Kiev is now begetting a Great Big Coup in the Imperial City.

This is a history-shattering development, but don’t tell the boys and girls and robo-machines on Wall Street.

Pathetically, they still think it’s game on.

So if there was ever a time to take advantage of the day traders and robo-machines which linger in the casino, now would be the occasion to sell, sell, sell. Once the breakdown starts there will be no respite from the implosion.

by Tyler Durden at June 23, 2017 09:22 AM

"Subramanian Swamy" - Google News

This is an outrageous event, we need strong reaction: Subramanian Swamy on Nowhatta lynching - India Today

India Today

This is an outrageous event, we need strong reaction: Subramanian Swamy on Nowhatta lynching
India Today
Subramanian Swamy and Hansraj Ahir strongly reacted to Ayyub Pandit's lynching in Srinagar. Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ayyub Pandit was lynched by an irate mob after he allegedly opened fire at a group of people who caught him clicking ...

June 23, 2017 09:03 AM

It's Nice That

Minju An's oddly sinister illustrations depict strange characters and floating bread


Brooklyn-based illustrator Minju An was put on a path towards illustration after being inspired by the animations and comic books she read as a kid. “Illustrations do not have any limitations. I can draw and express whatever I want and it doesn’t need to be serious or complex,” she explains. “I feel like I’m really playing with illustration.”

Read more

by Rebecca Fulleylove at June 23, 2017 09:02 AM

The Big Picture

Zero Hedge

Is Bitcoin Money?

Authored by Valentin Schmid via The Epoch Times,

Up 158 percent against the U.S. dollar this year, bitcoin is now the best-performing currency. Many are confused as to how this mathematical protocol can be worth more than $2,600, and why it keeps going up. The short answer: Bitcoin is money, just a little better and cheaper than the alternatives.

If you don’t understand money, you cannot understand bitcoin. For most of us, money is the U.S. dollar, the fiat currency of the United States issued by the Federal Reserve and maintained by the commercial banking system.

But even this system is confusing. Most people don’t hold Federal Reserve notes anymore; they hold money in checking accounts or use their credit cards to buy things. This is electronic fiat money, stored on the servers of banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.

This type of money is a great medium of exchange. Because the state mandates the acceptance of fiat money by all commercial actors, you can pay everywhere with dollars and, as a bonus, the prices of consumer goods seldom change more than a few percent per year.

Other attributes that make the dollar useful as a medium of exchange are its divisibility, recognizability, and indestructability—at least in electronic form—and the ease with which it can be exchanged.


However, there is a problem with the dollar as a medium of exchange over time. Since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, the dollar has lost about 95 percent of its purchasing power. This devaluation is hardly visible over the course of days, months, and even years, but it is painfully felt over the span of decades.

So it’s hard, if not impossible, to exchange the same value over time with the U.S. dollar, and investors need to expose themselves to other assets to protect purchasing power. This is a general problem of fiat currencies and bank money, which are both prone to mismanagement by the state and banks, mostly because they can be reproduced at will. More dollars chasing the same amount of goods leads to rising prices.

Value Over Time

This is the reason why people have traditionally resorted to gold to protect themselves from monetary inflation. Gold is also easily recognizable, divisible, durable, and concentrates a lot of value in little space. One troy ounce now costs about $1,250.

However, its uses as legal tender have been limited since the demise of the true gold standard at the beginning of the 20th century, and it is not easily transferred in physical form like the electronic dollar. Furthermore, its price is relatively volatile when measured in dollars in the short term, and the IRS collects tax on gains in dollars, making gold even less exchangeable.

But gold cannot be replicated at will and therefore is a better way of exchanging value over time. One dollar bought almost 20 bottles of Coca-Cola in the 1930s. It now buys less than one. One ounce of gold bought 700 bottles of Coke in the 1930s; it now buys almost 800.

Decentralized Electronic Money

Once one understands that money needs to be able to exchange value in time and space, it is easier to see why bitcoin is so attractive.

Although it cannot handle as many transactions as the banking system, it is relatively easy and cheap to transfer. Hundreds of thousands of businesses and individuals voluntarily accept bitcoin as payment. Its mathematical properties are recognizable, infinitely divisible, and indestructible.

As a medium of exchange, mainly because of legal tender laws, bitcoin is not as widely accepted as the dollar or other fiat currencies, but it is easier to transfer than gold and it is also subject to taxation.


In the long term, bitcoin has similar properties to gold because it cannot be replicated at will and the number of coins is limited to 21 million. This means that bitcoin is better than the dollar for transferring purchasing power through time.  It is similar to gold, although gold has a far longer track record.

Its decentralized management is another factor making it attractive for people who distrust fiat currency and the banks.

Cheap Alternative

Given that bitcoin is better than gold in the short term and much better than the dollar in the long term across the dimensions we have described, it’s not surprising that people chose to diversify their money holdings into this independent currency due to frustration with the mismanagement of fiat money and manipulation of gold prices.

There is another reason why bitcoin is attractive as a currency. Despite its record high in dollar terms, it is still cheap in aggregate. All Bitcoins are only worth $43 billion. All gold ever mined is worth around $7.5 to $10 trillion, although estimates vary. As for the U.S. dollar, just the M2 measure of bank money, including checking accounts, puts its worth at $13.5 trillion.

If bitcoin were to establish itself as an alternative currency and store of value alongside gold and the dollar, a total valuation of $1 trillion would not be inconceivable. That’s $47,600 per coin.

by Tyler Durden at June 23, 2017 09:00 AM

India Real Time

WSJ Live Chat: Apple’s Big India Gamble

The WSJ's South Asia Deputy Bureau Chief Eric Bellman and reporter Newley Purnell will be live on Facebook at 9 a.m. India time Tuesday (9:30 p.m ET Monday) discussing Apple's next big move to conquer a booming market.

by Karan Deep Singh at June 23, 2017 08:59 AM


Fun Friday: Let’s Play GM

So you are Phil Jackson and you’ve got the eighth pick in yesterday’s NBA Draft. 

You want a guard who can be a franchise player for the Knicks.

You can take Malik Monk, Dennis Smith Jr, or Frank Ntilikina.

Who do you pick?

I don’t know much about Frank Ntilikina. I sure hope he lives up to whatever Phil Jackson saw in him. 

But I fell in love with Malik Monk’s game in the NCAA tournament. He’d have been my pick.


Nick Grossman — June 22, 2017
Getting in over your head

Albert Wenger — June 21, 2017
Uncertainty Wednesday: Random Variables

by Fred Wilson at June 23, 2017 08:57 AM

It's Nice That

ManvsMachine London and Nike win gold Design Lion at Cannes


Design and motion studio ManvsMachine London and Nike are the winners of a gold Design Lion at Cannes. Their digital graphic-driven campaign for Nike Air Max ’17 Go lighter for longer used a pastel-hued animation video to explore the properties of the shoe as it made its way through a run in a “metaphorical exploration of air and the negative space it occupies”.

Read more

by Bryony Stone at June 23, 2017 08:46 AM

PT Money

10 FinTech Startups We Like from Finovate Spring 2017

The PT Money team headed to the Finovate Spring 2017 conference in San Jose, Calif. a few weeks ago, where the newest in financial technology debuts every year.

We were on the lookout for innovative financial products and services that you could begin using in your financial life.

Here’s a look at some of the products we got to see on stage:


Let’s face it, writing a check can be a hassle and receiving one just adds one more errand to your daily list of to-dos. Checkbook tries to eliminate that problem by streamlining the process using digital checks.

For no charge, any consumer can go to their website to send a digital check to any e-mail or physical address. The funds are guaranteed to be there as the sender has already provided their online banking username and password to Checkbook in order to verify their balance.

The recipient can print out the check and take it to the bank or have it digitally deposited into their verified bank account.

Ultimately, the company would like to see businesses use their platform to send out payment, rebate, and other recurring payment checks that are now sent manually.


Insto allows you to create an installment plan for any purchase. Whether you buy something from a small business or from someone on Craigslist, Insto gives you the option to pay over time in places that would never offer installment plans on their own.

While we're not fans of loans for consumer purchases, we realize there may be a true need for this type of purchase and it's nice to know the technology exists.


Unison (and their HomeBuyer program – see our review) helps you buy a home with down payment assistance. They partner with you to help you keep your cash and/or avoid PMI, by funding up to 50% of your down payment interest-free. In return, they will share in the profits (or loss) when you sell your home.

They offer a similar service, Unison HomeOwner, for those looking to access the equity in their home.


Using just your license plate number and the PToll app from BancPass, you can to pay the toll on any road or bridge in the U.S. It eliminates the problem of incompatible electronic toll transponders and helps you to avoid the dreaded rental car tolling fee.


Medput tries to make paying your medical bills a little easier, using a two-pronged approach.

First, Medput will negotiate down your medical bills, then pass the savings onto you.

Second, when it comes time to pay the bill, Medput will front the money first. Then, they’ll take regular deductions out of your paycheck automatically, until the bill is paid off.

The balance that you owe them is carried interest-free. The only catch is that your employer must sign up with Medput first in order for you to take advantage of their service.

Editor's Note: I'm not much for active investing. Most people shouldn't bother with it. And those that do should only be using 10% or less of their portfolio for it. But for that 10% here are some new tools to check out.


Divy attempts to make it easier to get on board with active investing.

Capital One Investing's Sharebuilder and LOYAL3 allow investors to buy a fractional share in companies they like.

Divy supposedly takes this idea one step further by helping you to connect with brands that you know and gives you as much information as you like about them.

Then, they try to make it easy for you to buy into the companies you like through fractional share ownership.


HEDG tries to make investing a more robust and social experience. Investors can create their own portfolios (or funds) and share it with their trusted friends and family.

Those needing more assistance can turn to a human advisor when they need it.


Hedgeable tries to make investing as easy as using your voice.

Using their new artificial intelligence platform, the customer can use voice commands to ask questions about their investments.

“Katana” will respond instantly with the same type of advice you get from an investment advisor. From basic transaction functions like funds transfers to long range investment modeling, Hedgeable links Katana’s capabilities into their Robo Advisor platform.


Instead of doing hours of research on a new investment, what if you could swipe right instead?

Newchip wants to bring the ease of using Tinder (the online dating app) to investors interested in new crowdfunded businesses.

The interface is simple, but there is a lot of information at every turn. With Newchip, you can be an informed investor while having fun, “Shark Tank” style.

Finovate FinTech Startups NewChip


Voleo takes the idea of an investment club into the digital world.

The concept is simple: gather some of your friends, throw some money into Voleo, and figure out what to invest in.

Using the platform, your club can discuss, vote on, and execute trades. And if the club votes against your recommendation, you can later track how the club would’ve done had they followed your advice.

A potentially savory “I told you so” in the making!

Which idea has the most potential?

The post 10 FinTech Startups We Like from Finovate Spring 2017 appeared first on PT Money.

by Contributor at June 23, 2017 08:38 AM

Zero Hedge

Arab States Issue 13 Demands To Qatar - Include Unfriending Iran, Shutting Down Al-Jazeera And Nixing Turkish Base

Content originally published at

Two days after the US State Department formally inquired about WTF is going on between Arab States and Qatar, the countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Baahrain, and the UAE sent a list of 13 demands to the tiny Gulf nation to be met within 10 days in order to lift their total blockade of the country. Among them - reducing diplomatic ties with Iran, shutting down broadcaster Al Jazeera (and affiliates), and immediately cease working to open a Turkish military base announced in May of 2016. Also interesting is the demand that Qatar give up their intel on terrorist groups they have supported and "provide all databases related to oppositionists..." (Scroll down for full list of demands)

This formal list comes on the heels of a June 6th rumor that Arab States issued a list of 10 demands to be fulfilled within 24 hours, however Qatar said they never received them according to Al Jazeera journalists who are now dusting off their resumes.


On June 5th, news broke that Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt had cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar over accusations of 'spreading chaos' by 'funding terrorism and supporting Iran' - shutting down all land, sea, and air crossings with the tiny energy-rich nation that has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatari visitors and residents were given two weeks to leave - while diplomats had just 48 hours.

 While Qatar has been friendly with Iran for years, the prelude to the embargo began after a broadcast which showed Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani speaking with no audio - and scrolling text at the bottom of the screen which stated his support for Iran and terrorist groups. Qatar claims the broadcast was 'hacked.'

After the broadcast, Saudi Arabia and the UAE blocked Qatari news organization Al-Jazeera.

Amid Qatar’s denials, Saudi-owned satellite television networks immediately began airing repeated stories about the disputed comments. By early Wednesday morning, those living in the UAE and subscribers to local cable providers couldn’t access the channels of Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite broadcaster based in the Qatari capital, Doha.


Attempts to reach its websites brought up a warning from the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority saying the site “contains content that is prohibited.”


In Saudi Arabia, internet users also found Al-Jazeera websites blocked with a warning from the kingdom’s Culture and Information Ministry.


Full List of demands (translated by @hxhassan)

1. Qatar must reduce diplomatic representation with Iran

2. Qatar must immoderately shut down the Turkish military base that is being established

3. Qatar must announce severance of ties with terrorist, ideological & sectarian orgs: MB, ISIS, AQ, HTS, Hizbollah

4. Qatar must cease any funding activities to extremist and terrorist individuals

5. Qatar must hand over all designated terrorists

6. Qatar must shut down Al Jazeera and all affiliated channels

7. Qatar must stop interference in these countries' domestic andforeign affairs; stop naturalisation of their citizens; extradite such citizens

8. Qatar must provide reparations to these countries for any opportunity costs incurred over the past few years because of Qatari policies. (How do they even begin to comply with this in 10 days?)

9. Qatar must become in sync with its Gulf and Arab neighbourhood on all levels, and to activate Riyadh Agreement 2013/2014

10. Qatar must provide all databases related to oppositionists that it provided support to & clarify what help was provided.

11. Qatar must all media outlets backed by it directly or indirectly, like Arabi21, Rasd, New Arab, Middle East Eye, Mkamlin, Sharq etc

12. These demands must be agreed within 10 days, otherwise they would be invalidated.

13. Agreement will involve clear goals and mechanism, monthly reports in the first year, every three months the next & annually for 10 years

If these demands are not met - it may only be a matter of time before Qatar catches a case of regime change...


Follow on Twitter @ZeroPointNow § Subscribe to our YouTube channel

by ZeroPointNow at June 23, 2017 08:26 AM

Seth's Blog

"Is judgment involved?"

No judgment, no responsibility.

No responsibility, no risk.

There's a fork in the road. If you seek out roles without responsibility, you might just find a sinecure. 

This is the hot job for undifferentiated job seekers at the placement office, the job where a famous company will tell you what to do all day.

Alas, those are the jobs that will be deleted first. The jobs that come with little in the way of respect or stability. These are the jobs that big companies automate whenever they can, or create enough rules to avoid any variation if they can't.

The other choice is a job loaded with judgment calls. One where it's extremely likely you'll make a decision you regret, and get blamed for it. One where you take responsibility instead of waiting for authority.

It turns out that those are the best jobs of all.

[PS if you're organizing for social good, consider applying for this free program from Civic Hall in New York. I hope to see you there.]


by Seth Godin at June 23, 2017 08:22 AM



Parts of America that most resemble the future

The Census Bureau released estimates for demographic breakdowns for each county — in 2060. With these estimates as the baseline, Niraj Chokshi and Quoctrung Bui for The Upshot compared it against current population estimates. The result is a map of counties most resembling the past, present, and future.

Clark County, which occupies that corner of Nevada, is the county that most looks like the United States of 2060 in terms of race, Hispanic ethnicity, age and gender, according to new data from the Census Bureau. It was followed by Contra Costa and Solano Counties in California’s Bay Area.

Kind of looks like the inverse of white percentages.

Tags: , ,

by Nathan Yau at June 23, 2017 07:59 AM

Paul Krugman

Pure Class Warfare, With Extra Contempt

Republicans bet that tribal voters will support politicians who ruin their lives.

by By Paul Krugman at June 23, 2017 07:24 AM

Official Google Blog

VP of Marketing

Charity is core to the spirit of Ramadan. Today, as the month-long holiday comes to a close, we‘re proud to recognize the businesses that are making a positive impact in their communities.

by Yonca Dervisoglu Brunini at June 23, 2017 07:15 AM

S Rajesh - Cricinfo magazine

Has the extra outfielder affected scoring rates in the last ten?

A comparison of the numbers in the last ten overs of ODIs before and after the rule change which allows an extra fielder outside the circle in the last ten overs

June 23, 2017 07:07 AM


Awesome Ruby Newsletter Issue 58

This week’s weekly issue covers the following topics:

June 23, 2017 06:55 AM

DreamHost Blog

Set Up a Blog or Website in 5 Minutes with WordPress

digital generated workspace desktop with male fashion blog on screen computer.

When you think about running a blog or website, you might immediately think of WordPress. And with good reason! Since its initial release in 2003, WordPress has worked hard to be the best publishing platform on the web, and as of 2017, WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world. It’s used by nearly 75 million sites and powers more than 25 percent of the web!

Pretty impressive.

So it’s no wonder why you want to set up your website or blog with WordPress, and the good news? It’s super easy. In fact, here at DreamHost, we pride ourself on offering a one-click WordPress install, so you can get online in no time — okay, about five minutes.

Still Not Sold on WordPress? Here’s Why You Should Be

Besides the fact that WordPress is the most widely used CMS on the planet, why else should you use it for your website?

For starters, is open-source software. This means that anyone anywhere can download and use the software. It is also incredibly customizable, allowing users to change, enhance, and extend its capabilities with website themes, plugins, HTML, and more. You can start with a basic theme, and turn it into pretty much whatever you want. You control 100 percent of the look and feel of your website. Now that is power.

We’ve run the numbers. Here are 13 of the best security plugins for your WordPress website.

Another reason to use WordPress: the software is completely free. While you’ll have to pay for WordPress hosting and can choose to splurge on premium themes and plugins, you never need to pay any licensing fees to the software publisher, and that is a huge plus.

Last but not least, WordPress is very easy to set up. Of course, there is an expansive learning curve for those who want to deeply customize their website, but the initial setup and execution of building a site is super simple.

So whether you want to start a personal or professional blog; create an online resume or portfolio to showcase your work; make a website for your community, business, or organization; or build a simple and effective online store, WordPress can get the job done well.

Okay, ready to set up your WordPress site? We’ll walk you through how to do it in just five minutes.

Get a Domain Name & Set up Web Hosting

First, you need a domain name for your website. If you don’t have one, it’s quick and easy to register a URL of your own. You can choose from one of the many services that offer domain registration or you can use DreamHost to get your domain and web hosting all in one go. It’s simple:

  1. Visit DreamHost’s WordPress Hosting page and choose the right plan for you. Most beginners opt for Shared Hosting.
  2. Click “Sign Up For Shared Hosting.”
  3. Create your account by entering the email and password you want to use for your site.
  4. Register for a new free domain or enter a domain that you already own.
  5. Choose your billing plan, whether it be monthly, yearly, or every three years (that’s the best value).
  6. Check the box that says, “Install WordPress.”
  7. Enter your personal information and payment details.
  8. Finally, click on “Place Order Now.”

Congratulations! You have just registered your domain and signed up for web hosting, which means you’ve got your very own website. Boom.

Now, it’s time to install WordPress.

Install WordPress with One Click

After signing up, you should have received an email with your login credentials. Simply use these to log into the DreamHost panel. After logging in, you will see your DreamHost dashboard.

If you need pointers on navigating your DreamHost dashboard, check out our control panel overview.

To install WordPress with one click, simply follow these directions:

  1. Click on “Goodies” in the left-hand menu, then “One-Click Installs.”
  2. Click on the WordPress icon, and an application window will pop up. In this window, you will see a brief description of WordPress, the version of software used, an average rating and rating system, and links to relevant support pages regarding WordPress.
  3. Next to “Install to:” at the bottom of the window, use the drop-down menu to choose your newly registered domain.
  4. Next to “Select Database:” below your domain menu, the drop-down menu should already be defaulted to “Automatically Create Database.” Leave this option as is, and click on the blue “Install it for me now!” button.

If you run into any snags during any part of this process, don’t hesitate to contact DreamHost.

You should be redirected to the One-Click Installs page with a green “Success!” message at the top. It will take a few minutes for the installation to your website’s database to fully complete. In the meantime, you will be sent an email with additional instructions on configuring your new WordPress software, including how to create your own designated WordPress login credentials.

Explore Your New WordPress Blog

Now that you have set up a WordPress site in less time than it takes to chug a cup of coffee, you’ll notice that it looks pretty bare. That is because you need to choose a theme and start filling your blog with content. Here are a few ways on to get your brand new WordPress website started on the right track.

Log Into WordPress

After installing WordPress on your new DreamHost website, log into the WordPress backend by visiting: [yourdomainhere].com/wp-login.php using the WordPress login credentials you established post-installation.

Now, you will find yourself in the WordPress control panel, where the world is your oyster. From here, you can make a title for your blog and choose an overall theme for your website.

Want to share your site? Set up a group blog for multiple contributors. 

Choose a Theme

Choosing the right theme is critical; it will establish how your website looks and feels for the end user. Thankfully, the WordPress dashboard has many free themes to choose from.

To find the right theme for you, click on “Appearance” from the left-hand side menu, click “Themes,” then click the “Add New” button. From here, you can explore and preview a plethora of varying blog layouts and color and font schemes. Once you choose a theme you like, simply click on the “Install” button to implement it.

There are thousands of available themes. Here are 7 important guidelines when choosing a theme for your WordPress website.

Write Your First Blog Entry

Now that you have chosen the look for your blog, it’s time to populate it with content. You need to see your site’s theme brought to life with words, so it’s a good idea to get something substantive up there as soon as you can.

To write a blog post, click on “Posts” from the menu, and click “Add New.” From here you can write and format your blog post. When your post is ready to be published, click “Preview” on the right-hand side of the screen to see how it will look live on your site. If you are satisfied, click the blue “Publish” button.

Voilà! You just wrote and published your first blog post.

Another WordPress Success Story

For now, that should be enough of a start to get your blog up and running. Have fun exploring the WordPress dashboard and experimenting with the form and function of your new website.

If you want to up the ante, we’ve created an ebook to help you learn more about WordPress. It covers all the basics, including how to navigate the WordPress dashboard, get the most out of plugins and widgets, and tszuj up your homepage. And don’t forget to optimize your WordPress site for mobile devices.

Does your WordPress site need more juice? DreamPress is specifically designed for optimum WordPress usage and speed.

The post Set Up a Blog or Website in 5 Minutes with WordPress appeared first on

by ellice at June 23, 2017 06:07 AM

naked capitalism

Matt Bruenig: How Many People Will Obamacare and AHCA Kill?

Subjecting Obamacare to the same measuring stick that the Center for American Progress applied to the ACHA.

by Yves Smith at June 23, 2017 05:51 AM

DreamHost Blog

13 of the Best Security Plugins to Keep Your WordPress Site Safe

internet security padlocks on computer screen

Although WordPress is a secure platform, you’re never truly safe from people with malicious intent. With WordPress’ star on the rise, it has become a target for hackers, so upping your security game is now more important than ever before. But given the vast array of available plugins, choosing the best ones to protect your site is a tough task.

While some plugins only focus on one aspect of security, there are many others that offer features to protect against brute-force attacks, malware, and much more. To find the right solutions for you, it’s important to have a solid understanding of how your website can be attacked, and what measures you already have in place to prevent the worst from happening.

In this article, you’ll learn the importance of security and how it relates to WordPress. Then we’ll look at how DreamHost can help protect your site, and move on to explain what you should look for in a WordPress security plugin. Finally, we’ll show you 13 of the best security plugins available, and discuss why you should consider them. Let’s get started!

The Importance of Website Security

In a nutshell, securing your website means using a number of techniques and tools to ensure your data cannot be accessed and/or manipulated by any ‘undesirables’ without the correct permissions.

Forgoing website security will eventually hit you where it hurts — in the pocket. It’s not just large organizations that are at risk either. Small businesses are targeted just as much as larger ones, meaning you may need to step up your game in order to keep your website safe.

Your website is often your first point of contact with customers, and an unsafe site could lead to a loss of brand reputation and income. Unfortunately, threats aren’t easy to predict because they’re always evolving based on new security developments. That said, there are generally three ways hackers target your WordPress site:

  1. A single bot. An automated program that searches for and exploits known vulnerabilities.
  2. A person. Simply put, this is a person sitting behind a keyboard manually attacking a website. It’s a slow yet thorough process, which is why this method is used to attack high-value sites.
  3. Botnets. A group of machines running programs that are coordinated from a central location. Botnets can attack a vast number of sites simultaneously.

Many hackers attack websites just to show they can, but others have more malicious intentions. The ultimate goal is to gain control of your website. By doing so they can read, modify, and make changes to your files and database. There are a several reasons for doing so, but two key ones are:

  1. To host illicit content. Hackers can use your site to host their own content, or redirect visitors to a site hosting illicit content.
  2. To steal your website’s data. Everything from visitors’ email addresses to their credit card details can be of value to hackers.

It’s always good to have contingencies in place, especially if you have invested considerable time and resources into developing your website. A secure Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress is a good place to start.

How WordPress Helps Keep Your Website Safe

Although WordPress is a secure platform suitable for creating scalable websites, it’s not infallible. Given that WordPress now powers more than 28 percent of the web, it’s become a big target for hackers.

WordPress’ open-source nature means there are literally thousands of eyes on the ‘core’ code. While you may think this could be problematic, in reality it means that any vulnerabilities are found and fixed almost immediately. The consistent release schedule often features several bug fixes, and severe security issues are normally not announced until they’re fixed. What’s more, WordPress offers some simple built-in solutions out of the box to help with security (we’ll discuss some of those later).

In short, WordPress is a superb option when it comes to choosing a platform that will keep your site safe. However, your site’s security does not begin and end with what CMS you choose; there is more to be done.

What You Can Do to Keep Your WordPress Website Safe

Your first step is to regularly back up your WordPress site. While this won’t prevent an attack, it will help to get you back up and running quickly should the worst happen. While you can back up your site manually, there are a number of plugins (a couple are featured below) that can help make the job easier and more practical.

The next step is to ensure that WordPress ‘core’, along with all installed themes and plugins, are regularly updated. Outdated software can contain security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. If you’re hosting with DreamHost, then you’re covered, since we auto-update WordPress sites unless you opt out.

That said, up-to-date software is only as secure as the passwords you create to control and govern access. Although almost any password can be exploited through brute force, the stronger your password, the more difficult cracking it will be. WordPress contains an excellent password generator within the dashboard, or a website such as Strong Password Generator is a good alternative:

strong password gen.png

If you often deal with customer data, making sure their data is encrypted is key. While it used to be a costly endeavor, companies such as Let’s Encrypt now offer SSL certificates for free, and many hosts, including DreamHost, are jumping onboard.

The key here is to ensure there are no weak links in the chain. One potentially weak link could be your hosting provider. With that in mind, let’s take a moment to address the importance of your hosting in terms of protecting your site and explain what DreamHost does to ensure the safety of your site.

DreamHost’s Director of Technology explains how we keep websites safe.

How DreamHost Helps Keep Your WordPress Website Secure


While implementing security measures on your WordPress website is crucial, a good host will make sure that both your visitors and their data remains safe. If you’re weighing up whether your current host can make the cut, consider whether they offer the following features:

DreamHost offers all of these features, along with a number of others, such as SFTP and FTP protocols and HTTP/2 support on certain servers. We also offer a look at our current maintenance schedule on our dedicated server status blog.

More importantly, all DreamHost servers have a built-in web application firewall that offers more protection than a security plugin ever could. It doesn’t scan files, but when it comes to a firewall, server-based options are always best.

Of course, we’re proud of our whole package — not just security. We also offer a 97-day, money-back guarantee on shared hosting — so there’s nothing to lose!

Having trouble with your current web host? Switch to DreamHost today!

What to Look for in a WordPress Security Plugin

While you may understand that you need security plugins, choosing them is a different matter. As we mentioned above, some solutions offer a myriad of features to help combat hackers, while others focus on doing one thing well. It means you may need to mix and match in order to cover all of your bases.

There are a few key considerations to bear in mind when it comes to considering WordPress security plugins:

  • Downloads — Is the plugin widely-used?
  • Updates — Has the plugin been recently updated and is it consistently updated?
  • Reviews — Is the plugin well-received among its users?
  • Support — Do the developers (or other users) offer support, should it be needed?

We’ve done our best to feature only plugins that do well under scrutiny based on the above criteria. All that’s left for you to do is identify those plugins that best align with your requirements. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the list!

13 of the Best Security Plugins to Keep Your WordPress Site Safe

1. Sucuri Security


Sucuri is a popular full-featured security plugin for WordPress. It offers a lot of great features, such as a comprehensive scanning module and easy-to-use monitoring tools.

While it’s certainly a powerful plugin, it does lack a firewall. Some other plugins on this list offer this as standard, but with Sucuri, this is an additional service starting at $9.99 a month. What’s more, the plugin itself hasn’t been updated recently. While we’ve found no issues during testing, it is something to bear in mind given the emphasis on security.

Key Features:

  • Offers continuous malware scanning.
  • Stops hacks and DDoS attacks immediately.
  • Provides help for accessing hacked websites.

Price: Freemium | More information

2. Jetpack


Jetpack was created by the WordPress developers at Automattic. It consists of a variety of modules, and although it isn’t a security plugin per se, a number of its features can help to protect your site.

Among its security features, Jetpack offers a simple set-and-forget brute-force prevention module. What’s more, it also includes a 2FA module via On premium plans, you can also take advantage of malware scanning and automatic site backups to help protect you further.

One more perk: when you use Jetpack in conjunction with VaultPress, the Automattic team will automatically fix hacked code if they find it.

DreamPress customers now receive Jetpack Premium at no additional cost! 

Key Features:

  • Prevents brute-force attacks from botnets and hackers.
  • Monitors your site for downtime and notifies you accordingly.
  • Provides automatic backups on higher-tiered plans.

Price: Freemium | More information

3. IThemes Security


Yet another full-featured and popular plugin, iThemes Security is arguably the most comprehensive option on this list. It could appeal to you if you’re completely new to WordPress or site security in general.

iThemes Security is packed with features such as login URL obfuscation, a way to change your admin username, and a global dashboard restriction mode based on the time and date. In addition, the premium version includes advanced features such as malware scanning and a Google reCAPTCHA box.

Key Features:

  • Lets you ban the IP addresses of known attackers from your site.
  • Monitors your files to check for any unauthorized changes.
  • Limits the number of login attempts allowed (which helps to prevent brute force attacks).

Price: Freemium | More information

4. WPS Hide Login 


WPS Hide Login is a simple plugin that changes the standard WordPress login URL to a custom one of your choosing. Hackers using bots will often seek out sites using the default URLs, attacking those they find. Therefore, hiding your login page offers an extra layer of protection.

Key Features:

  • Provides an easy-to-use, simple interface.
  • Prevents brute force attacks by letting you change the default login URL.

Price: Free | More information

5. BulletProof Security


BulletProof Security is another popular solution for protecting your website. It provides strong protection against SQL injections and other WordPress exploits. What’s more, this plugin features a firewall that prevents malicious script from executing before it reaches your WordPress core files.

Much like other free plugins, there’s also a premium version that offers further features such as suspicious activity alerts, and greater protection against a wider range of threats.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to perform full or partial database backups.
  • Prevents the occurrence of brute-force attacks.
  • Alerts you when suspected malicious activity affects your site.

Price: Freemium | More information

6. All In One WP Security & Firewall


All in One WP Security & Firewall is a plugin that will be ideal for those who are less familiar with advanced security settings. It displays a simple meter on your dashboard that scores your site based on how secure it is. You can then use the wealth of features to shore up any security holes in your WordPress website.

Key Features:

  • Features a password strength tool to ensure you and your visitors create strong passwords.
  • Protects against brute force attacks with the Login Lockdown feature.
  • Offers one-click database backups.
  • Includes firewall protection against Cross-Site Scripting (XSS).

Price: Free | More information

7. Security Ninja


Security Ninja is a lean security plugin that gives you almost full control over what security features to implement. The plugin’s main selling feature is the number of tests you can conduct — more than 50 with a single click.

Unfortunately, the free version does not come equipped with a malware scanner. However, this can be purchased as part of Security Ninja’s premium tier. Apart from the malware scanner, you also get a WordPress core file scanner and an event logger, plus you can also schedule your scans.

Key Features:

  • Runs more than 50 security tests, including brute-force attacks and password strength tests.
  • Checks your site for vulnerabilities such as zero day attacks.
  • Hides your WordPress version number to prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities in older versions.

Price: Freemium | More information

8. WP Hide & Security Enhancer


Because some hackers search for old, vulnerable versions of WordPress, it’s important to keep yours up to date. However, with WP Hide & Security Enhancer, no one will even know you run a WordPress website!

With this plugin activated, any WordPress-related identification within your HTML files will be removed or obfuscated without affecting your site’s functionality. It’s unique, but clearing your WordPress footprints could stop hackers from targeting your site, especially if you’re running older versions of the platform.

Key Features:

  • Removes the WordPress version number.
  • Blocks access to WordPress’ default core files.

Price: Free | More information

9. Security, Antivirus, Firewall — S.A.F.


S.A.F. will scan all of your installed themes and plugins to ensure they’re not hiding malicious code, which is particularly useful given that many threats come from themes and plugins specifically. It also provides a number of detailed reports regarding what has (or hasn’t) been found on your system.

Key Features:

  • Includes a live system monitor.
  • Provides an antivirus monitor.
  • Offers you daily, weekly, or monthly security reports.
  • Includes a malware security scanner.

Price: Free | More information

10. Shield Security


Shield Security, like many others plugins on this list, acts as the first line of defence for your website. It only lets trusted, non-harmful traffic through, while blocking other malicious traffic.

This plugin is ‘sandboxed’, which means it essentially protects itself in the case of an attack. What’s more, an access key is required to unlock the plugin before any changes can be made — a neat failsafe. It’s clear that the developers take your website’s security very seriously.

Unfortunately, this plugin does not offer a malware scanner. The plugin’s main purpose is to prevent malicious threats to your WordPress site, rather than scanning for threats that are already present. However, considering the functionality included, it more than deserves a spot on this list.

Key Features:

  • Blocks malicious URLs and their requests, along with automated spambot comments.
  • Provides security against brute-force attacks (via 2FA).

Price: Free | More information

11. WordPress Security by CleanTalk


WordPress Security by CleanTalk is a simple plugin that mainly prevents brute-force attacks. If a user fails to log into WordPress, the Security Brute Force Firewall adds a short delay before you can try again. This stops constant attacks to the login screen. It’s a simple and effective way to keep many hackers at bay.

What’s more, the plugin will check any generated security logs every hour for suspicious IPs. If they have more than ten attempts, WordPress Security by CleanTalk bans them from accessing your site for 24 hours. It’s a good way to save server resources and keep undesirables from your door.

Key Features:

  • Includes a security firewall to filter access to your site by IP, networks, or countries.
  • Provides a daily security report sent to your email.
  • Sets a delay between login attempts to prevent brute-force attacks.

Price: Free | More information

12. UpdraftPlus 


UpdraftPlus enables you to back up your site and upload it to a number of cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox and Google Drive for safekeeping. While it offers no way to actually protect your site, backups are vital for any post-attack clean up. It’s a cinch to restore your site, and because you can keep backups in the cloud, they’re safe from any server breaches.

Key Features:

  • Supports both manual and automatic scheduled backups.
  • Provides encryption to your backups.
  • Enables you to upload your backups to any number of cloud storage providers.

Price: Free | More information

13. Google Authenticator


Our final plugin handles a security feature we’ve already talked about: Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). This offers an additional layer of login protection by requiring login attempts to be verified via a trusted device. Google Authenticator is one of the best 2FA solutions currently available.

The plugin is simple to use and is enabled via scanning a QR code using a mobile device. However, if you’re worried about getting locked out of your own website, don’t worry. You can generate one-time passcodes to enable temporary access and sort out any issues.

Key Features:

  • Offers a way to log into your site if you aren’t able to utilize 2FA.
  • Enables you to customize your own set of security questions on login.

Price: Free | More information


Unfortunately, your site will never be entirely safe, and online threats are continuously evolving to test your defences. However, there are many things you can do, including switching to a reliable web host and using a combination of the security plugins above, to fend off potential security threats and prevent any long-lasting damage.

So tell us: which of these WordPress plugins interest you and why? Let us know in the comments section below!

The post 13 of the Best Security Plugins to Keep Your WordPress Site Safe appeared first on

by Megan Hendrickson at June 23, 2017 05:37 AM

The Indian National Interest

Drawing boundaries on the Internet

The curious case of the online jobs marketplaces

Image courtesy: Pixabay

We are witness today to stark shifts in employment policies in the West. Concerns over immigrants losing their jobs, shifts in outsourcing and hiring opportunities and the availability of overseas labour are standard topics when employment policies are discussed. While governments may act in their national interest when regulating the domestic jobs market, how do they view jobs that are online, free and without boundaries?

A recent episode involving an online freelancing marketplace raised several questions. This website allows individuals and companies (the “employer”) to post projects that freelancers can bid on. The employer can then award the project to any freelancer of their choice, based on skill sets or profile, bid amounts and such criteria. The online marketplace (the “firm”) simply connects the employer to the freelancer for the duration of the project and takes in a percentage fee from the bid amount. There is also a rating system in place, where freelancers are rated on completion of work, a filtering system to ensure the work gets awarded not just on price but on some measure of quality.

A few months ago, this firm launched a program that sought to actively “weed out” participants from the marketplace who they deemed were a misfit. Reportedly, these were freelancers who were rapidly and heedlessly bidding on multiple projects while pricing their services low, and also had low conversion rates of bids to actual project work (allegedly or coincidentally, these freelancers were based in certain specific geographies). While these freelancers were acting well within the defined rules of the marketplace, their actions were not profitable for the firm as they were crowding the market and not earning enough.

There were a few other issues being debated as well: average prices being quoted for work (bids) in the marketplace began to fall as competition increased, employers had to sort through many more applications that they would otherwise have had to, and spend time trying to identify freelancers who were appropriately skilled, increasing instances of unsatisfactory work being delivered without regard to ratings…and all this ultimately had a bearing on the reputation of the marketplace itself.

Seeking an immediate fix, the firm resorted to suspending access overnight for a fairly large number of freelancers, based on criteria that were loosely defined and opaque. Not surprisingly, the firm’s actions were construed as aggressive and discriminatory. There was also conjecture that their actions were biased against certain geographies.

The fact is that it affected several freelancers who were genuinely exploring a varied set of opportunities. New freelancers especially tend to propose low prices and look for varied options when they get started. While this firm was legally within bounds to suspend participants, being a private company with rights to terminate the access of participants at will, this episode, once again, raised several questions on governance and intervention in global, boundary-less, online marketplaces.

The inherent nature of a global, online, boundary-less marketplace is one that promotes open and free participation. So, the participation of deemed “misfits” in the market and the drop in average rates being quoted for work are both to be expected, with the latter not necessarily a consequence of the former. The very intent of this marketplace is to provide easy access to more talent, and this will increase competition that will drive wages down to an equilibrium point for every type of skillset. As long as there’s an effective and reliable system for measuring and reporting quality, there is no need for the firm to actively intervene. But if there is still an intent to streamline participation, then smart marketplace design would yield far better results than harsh intervention. An aggressive act of suspending participation, not based on a violation of rules but based on a loose judgment of fitment, not only erodes reputation but is also in contradiction with the idea of a free marketplace.

Let’s take shopping malls as a simplifying example. Owners of malls would obviously like to attract more serious shoppers rather than window shoppers, but they don’t employ guards to escort out any person who doesn’t make a purchase even after visiting a row of shops. (That would be disastrous for someone like me!)

The point is that these issues can be anticipated and designed for. The rating system, processes for contracting projects and processes for entry into the marketplace could all be designed such that they act as automatic deterrents to actions that are undesirable. Perhaps it could be as simple as having freelancers actively pay for each project they want to bid on, beyond a specified number of free bids. Or segmenting posting of projects, and awarding of ratings under certain skill set categories. Employers can look at freelancer ratings that correspond to the skill set they require (as opposed to a generic rating) and be assured they’re looking at relevant profiles. Stricter verification of skillsets and background will help even new freelancers. These measures may have differing levels of impact and success, and maybe these have also been tried, but aggressive interventions in a free marketplace will only reduce trust.

As connectivity and technology enable different kinds of global open marketplaces, questions of governance and moderation will be raised. Answers can be found in thoughtful design that is not inconsistent with the inherent nature of the market.

Drawing boundaries on the Internet was originally published in Indian National Interest on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

by Archana Rao at June 23, 2017 04:49 AM

naked capitalism

Some People “Would Rather Have 1st Class Seats on the Titanic Than Change the Course of the Ship”

Why it is necessary to depose Democratic party leaders like Pelosi and Schumer to have any chance of winning class and climate change wars.

by Yves Smith at June 23, 2017 04:15 AM

Andrew Tobias


Now that I’m a private citizen, I feel even freer than usual to say what I think:

  1. To my donor who wrote that he was “dispirited,” I suggested “disappointed” is the better way to feel.  It was disappointing not to win — was it ever! — but (read on), that disappointment should fuel our resolve, not slow us down.                                                                                                                                                                                      .
  2. Everyone did his or her best, and should be lauded for that.  But it was ridiculous to spend $25 million Democratic dollars on this.  Understandable — everybody wanted an outlet to help — and within days of Ossoff’s announcement, I sent $1,500 myself.  But once it was apparent he was raising vastly more than could be spent effectively in a single CD, I stopped.  There were better, more leveraged ways to help fuel a sea change for 2018 — funding Tom Perez’s new DNC, prime (very possibly first) among them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        .
  3. To my knowledge, the DNC wasted not a dime of our contributions adding to Jon’s $25 million.  Instead, they sent 12 staffers to work on the ground in his district: a sensible, cost-effective way to help.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         .
  4. Nor did the DNC choose the candidate.  Jon is terrific and my God he worked hard at this.  We should be grateful to him and everyone who helped him.  But as Joe Scarborough noted the morning after, a young guy without a family and without decades of local roots was not the best way to win the seat Newt Gingrich and Tom Price long held by huge margins.  I don’t blame the DCCC either.  It is they who work to recruit and encourage the best possible Congressional candidates; but this was a snap election with no time to prepare.  No one could have known in advance Trump would pluck Price out of the House to join his Cabinet.

So my bottom lines are:  hats off to everyone for trying, but going forward we need to be

  • as STRATEGIC as possible (just $15 million of those $25 million would have allowed the DNC to quadruple the $7,500/month it sends to strengthen each of the 50 state parties, allowing each to approach the kind of operation Nevada ran last cycle — where we won the Senate seat, 3 of the 4 House seats, and flipped both chambers of the state legislature blue);                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               .
  • PUMPED, not discouraged — we can ABSOLUTELY win back the House in 2018 (and the Senate and state chambers) even if we don’t prevail in deep red districts.  And by the way?  With more time to encourage the most competitive candidates to run . . . and, especially, with more time for the voters to realize, 16 months from now, no they did NOT get “great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost” — and all the rest – we might even win THIS Georgia seat, too.

So help if you can.*

And in any event: “Don’t agonize — ORGANIZE.”

*Don’t be put off by the huge amounts on that page — there’s a box for “other,” and it’s the millions of “other,” human-size contributions that are what we are really about.  It’s just that this is “my” page, so I’ll see what you do, to say thanks.


by A.T. at June 23, 2017 04:02 AM

Shantanu's Blog

Frequently used docker containers

Here are 3 containers those I need most of the times.

1) elastic and kibana

docker run -d -p 9200:9200 -p 5601:5601 nshou/elasticsearch-kibana

2) python pandas using miniconda

docker run -i -t -p 8888:8888 -v /tmp:/tmp continuumio/miniconda3 /bin/bash -c "/opt/conda/bin/conda install jupyter -y --quiet && cd /tmp/ && /opt/conda/bin/jupyter notebook --notebook-dir=/tmp --ip='*' --port=8888 --no-browser --allow-root"

3) mysql fixed bug and added IST timezone

docker run -p 3399:3306 -e MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=india3399 -v /my/custom3399:/etc/mysql/conf.d  -v /storage/mysql/datadir3399:/var/lib/mysql -d shantanuo/mysql:5.6

This container uses the config file as shown below:

# vi /my/custom3399/my.cnf


### enable master
# log-bin=/var/log/mysql/mysql-bin.log

### myisam only
# skip-innodb
# default-storage-engine=MyISAM
# default_tmp_storage_engine=MyISAM
# key-buffer-size=1G
# myisam_max_sort_file_size=40G
# myisam_sort_buffer_size=512M
# bulk_insert_buffer_size=1G
### disable strict sql mode
# sql-mode=''
# secure-file-priv = ""

### innodb setting
# innodb_buffer_pool_size=1G
# innodb_log_file_size=512M

# innodb_flush_method=O_DIRECT
# innodb_file_per_table
# innodb-flush-log-at-trx-commit = 2

# make sure temp directory has sufficient space
# tmpdir=/

4) Adminer container to manage mysql

docker run -p 80:80 -it shantanuo/adminer
container> /etc/init.d/apache2 start 

by shantanu ( at June 23, 2017 03:30 AM

lines and colors :: a blog about drawing, painting, illustration, comics, concept art and other visual arts

DIY Pochade Boxes – make your own cheap pochade box from simple materials

DIY Pochade Boxes - make your own cheap pochade box from simple materials

As I pointed out in my previous post on making DIY pochade boxes out of cigar boxes, the cost of a commercial pochade box can sometimes be prohibitive, particularly for those on a tight budget or who are as yet uncertain if they want to commit serious resources to plein air painting.

So blog posts and videos in which artists share their designs for Do It Yourself pochade boxes are becoming more common. Though the cigar box conversion is the most common, there are also more ambitious designs either built from scratch materials or from larger found wooden boxes, as well as some unorthodox starting points like office form holders and even a laptop computer shell.

I’ve gathered a few of them here — certainly not comprehensive, but hopefully representative and useful. Some are quite detailed and extensive in their descriptions and instructions, others are a bit sketchy, but I’ve tried to include those that have techniques of interest. Some even offer printed plans, either for free or for a reasonable fee.

Though there are some exceptions, most of these posts and videos are less than professionally presented. For an alternative with details and high production values, see my recent post about James Gurney’s new video on How to Make a Sketch Easel.

Look around with a search engine (particularly by using image search) and you will likely find more posts and videos on DIY pochade boxes; even those without details can offer food for thought. For those who have accounts, you may find additional resources on sites like Wet Canvas or Pinterest.

I’ll follow up this post in the next few days with a refreshed version of my original post on Pochade Boxes, that offers an overview of commercially available options.

Blog posts

Jim Sterrett - Sterrett Box, DIY pochade box Jim Sterrett
This influential 2009 post on how to build a “Sterrett Box”, as it came to be called, was the second DIY pochade box I remember seeing on the web, after Ellie Clemon’s cigar box pochade box post in 2004 (see my previous article on DIY Cigar Box pochade boxes). Sterrett also published a post on diy pochade boxes by others inspired by his design, and another on his plans for making a wet panel carrier.

Sketchin Dan, DIY pochade box Sketchin Dan
Not really a blog post, but a series of annotated photos on Flickr, this is also one of the older examples I’m aware of in which an artist shares their home made pochade box design.

Darrell Anderson, DIY pochade box Darrell Anderson
Made from cut lumber, this box will take panels up to 18 inches and includes a camera mount for taking time-lapse shots of paintings in progress.

Jeremy Sams, DIY pochade box Jeremy Sams
This 9 1/4 x 11 1/2″ box, meant to handle 8 x 10 panels, features a tip-out hinged brush holder.

David Gluck, DIY pochade box David Gluck
This box starts out with two 12×16 cradled birch painting panels, and provides a large mixing area. Directions are fairly extensive and it looks like the size could likely be easily reduced by using smaller panels.

Carol L. Douglas, DIY pochade box Carol L. Douglas
In this unusual metal design, the starting point is an aluminum form holder and the end result is very lightweight.

YouTube videos

Hugo Dolores, DIY pochade box Hugo Dolores
In this two part video (part 2 here), the artist starts out with a found wooden box (larger than a cigar box, eBay maybe?), but gives worthwhile ideas and details for the hardware and compartment adaptations to make a pochade box suitable for either oil or watercolor.

J Geekie, DIY pochade box J. Geekie
Geekie has apparently gone through several iterations of his design, and you may find additional details, as well as alternate designs in other videos. Videos are hand-held and a bit shaky, but I thought the designs interesting enough to be worth sharing.

Karen McLain, DIY pochade box Karen McLain
In this unusual bit of recycling, McLain takes the screen and components out of a defunct laptop computer and turns its case into pochade box without a tripod mount, simply held on a lap, table or stool.

Larisa Carli, DIY pochade box Larisa Carli
In this annotated time-lapse video, Carli starts with a found wooden box, but gives enough information to be useful in building a pastel-specific pochade box.

, DIY pochade box Mustafa Jannan
Video is wordless and annotated in German and English, with enough interesting ideas to be worthwhile.

Richard Kooyman, DIY pochade box Richard Kooyman
In this basic design, panels are held in place with a simple spring clamp, but the box looks sturdy, has double brackets to hold the lid in place and features panel storage.

Scott Ruthven, DIY pochade box Scott Ruthven
Ruthven’s video is more an annotated demo than instructions, but the box is quite nicely designed. Tension for the panel holder is provided by a bungee cord.

WBarts, DIY pochade box WBarts
A short, wordless annotated video, but the details are in the Comments area — Click on “Show More” under the video. Includes links to additional detail photos on Flickr.

Blog posts & videos with printed plans

Bob Perrish - Artist Easel Plans, DIY pochade box Bob Perrish – Artist Easel Plans
This long running site started with a set of plans for a pochade box that the author called “The Ttanium Easel” (at left). It features slide-out shelves and a lift-out under-palette tray for either panels or materials. Perrish has expanded the offerings over time to include plans for a dedicated pastel box, a watercolor box and a lighter variation pochade box without the storage compartment but with a detachable side tray. He also offers plans for actual in-studio easels. He describes the plans here.
As of this writing, his pochade box plans sell for $20.00.

Christopher Clark, DIY pochade box, with plans Christopher Clark
In addition to his blog post, on which he offers free PDF plans, Clark also has a YouTube video about his DIY pochade box.

Howard Lyon, DIY pochade box plans Howard Lyon
In an extensive post on the Muddy Colors group blog, Howard Lyon gives detailed instructions, a parts list and free diagram images with materials and sizes. The box features extra strong hinges, and an adjustable panel holder system using magnets to position the base and an extendable top holder tensioned by rubber bands.

Zan Barrage, DIY pochade box Zan Barrage
After some initial versions and revisions demonstrated in YouTube videos (and here), Barrage outlined his DIY pochade box process in a blog post, and now offers downloadable plans for $2.99 through Lulu.


by Charley Parker at June 23, 2017 03:11 AM

DIY Cigar Box Pochade Boxes – make your own cheap pochade box from a cigar box

DIY Cigar Box Pochade Boxes
As I described in my original post on the subject (which will be updated shortly), pochade boxes are small, usually wooden boxes, meant to serve as a portable artist’s palette and easel for painting on location. Many also contain storage for supplies. Most are equipped to be mounted to camera tripods, but some are simply meant to be held in one’s lap or set on a table when painting.

Pochade boxes have become the defacto standard for plein air painting, largely supplanting the larger French easels and being more common than the field easels and plein air systems meant to handle larger canvases.

Most commercial pochade boxes represent an investment, often a barrier for painters unsure if they want to commit to plein air painting on a regular basis, or for those on a budget.

As of this writing, the least expensive commercial pochade box of which I’m aware is the Guerrilla Painter Pocket Box — a small handheld “thumb box” for 5×7 panels that retails for between $70.00 and $85.00 USD. It has no provision for mounting to a tripod (though holes are drilled for adding a proprietary mounting bracket for an additional $24.00). Most other commercial pochade boxes range in price from $125.00 to $400.00 and up.

So Do It Yourself instructions have gained momentum in recent years. By far, the most common type of these are cigar box to pochade box conversions.

Most cigar stores continually go through cigar boxes as they sell individual cigars, many of them are wood and some are quite nicely finished and well suited in size and shape for making a pochade box. You can usually pick them up either for free or for three or four dollars. Most are made of lightweight wood. When you go looking, you may want to bring a tape measure or typical painting panel to be sure the box you choose will fit your chosen panel size (usually set into the lid).

If you don’t have access to a cigar store, new cigar boxes and similar wooden boxes can be purchased on Amazon (and here), or from craft sources like Michaels or Joann Fabrics for $7.00 or $8.00, though some of these may be too shallow to allow much storage under a palette. You can also check eBay and/or your parent’s attic for any kind of wooden box that seems suitable.

sketch boxYou could also do a similar conversion from an artist’s sketch box (and here), which would be a more expensive start, but would include a correctly sized palette, stronger hinges and latches, and often a handle.

Most cigar boxes have weak, inexpensive hinges, not likely to hold up under the stress of holding a panel while painting, so they usually need to be replaced or supplemented. Also, some accommodation must be made for holding the lid open at a usable angle when using it as an easel. Most DIY versions will also add a stronger latch and often a handle of some kind. Usually, dowels or small wood blocks are cut to length and glued in the corners of the base to provide a palette support, with space underneath for supplies. Wooden, acrylic or glass palettes must usually be cut to size. Existing wooden palettes can be cut down. Palettes can also be made from masonite painting panels coated in gesso and sanded smooth.

T-nutThe more complete versions will include a “T-nut“, a threaded mounting that allows for putting the box on a photographic tripod, like most commercial pochade boxes. The appropriate size to match tripod mounts appears to be 1/4-20 (1/4″ diameter, 20 threads per inch). Usually, additional wood must be added in the area of the T-Nut to provide a more solid mounting than the typical cigar box’s thin, light wood.

The boxes without provision for tripod mounting are meant to be used in your lap or on a table. Some have a thumb hole cut into the bottom of one of the compartments, making a “thumb box” that allows the box to be held in one hand like a traditional artist’s palette.

I’ve tried to provide an overview here of some cigar box to pochade box conversions. This is by no means comprehensive, it’s just meant to be a representative sampling with an emphasis on those that I feel convey enough DIY information to be useful. In the listings below, I’ve linked the author’s name to their post or video describing the project.

Most of these instructions are casually presented rather than laid out in comprehensive detail, so you may have to hunt a bit for the relevant details, but we should be appreciative of the time taken by these artists to share their experience and ideas.

I will follow up this post with another devoted to more elaborate DIY pochade box instructions not based on cigar boxes, most of which are larger and can accommodate larger panels, with more adjustment and room for storage, and sharing more features in common with commercial pochade boxes.

Cigar box pochade box conversions –
no tripod mount

, cigar box pochade box Ellie Clemens
This was the first mention of building a cigar box pochade box I encountered on the web, and at the time the only one I knew of, so I think of it as the original online instruction for building one, and it is still one of the best. Unfortunately, the original website no longer exists, so I have linked to a version on the Internet Archive.

Two strips of lath support the palette, which is cut with a thumb hole so it can be held separately. Brass mending strips and a small bolt hold the lid up and four blocks glued into the lid make a holder for a 5×7 panel.

Plein Air Muse, cigar box pochade box Plein Air Muse
This is a pretty basic cigar box conversion, with some dowels supporting the palette and a couple of braces for holding open the lid.

Lori McNee, cigar box pochade box Lori McNee
Another straightforward conversion, with wood or plastic blocks for palette supports and wing nuts for the lid. Plastic surface savers and one of the hinge bolts hold the panel in place. There are better photos of her box on Empty Easel.

PJ Coo, cigar box pochade box PJ Cook
This cigar box came with a divided tray which sets in the box upside-down to become the palette. A block on the back supports the lid and framing clips hold the panel in place.

Sharon Will, cigar box pochade box Sharon Will
A clever use of canvas stretcher keys to support the palette and an unusual slide hinge highlight this conversion. A small L-shaped fastener holds the panel in the lid.

Stephen D'Amato, cigar box pochade box Stephen D’Amato
A nicely done cigar box pochade for both watercolor and oil. Metal brackets and a wing nut hold the lid. L-shaped fasteners hold the panel. A leather strap holds the box closed and keeps the panel from sliding out in transit. Plastic watercolor trays have been cut down to fit into the compartment and the oil palette rests above them.

Thomas Jefferson Kitts, cigar box pochade box Thomas Jefferson Kitts
This conversion is a “thumb box”, meant to be held in one hand like a traditional palette while painting. The bottom is compartmentalized and one compartment has the thumb hole, placed so the box can be balanced in the hand. Everything but the palette surface and panel are removed when painting to keep it as light as possible. A wooden ledge and simple office clips hold the panel in place.

Cigar box pochade box conversions –
with T-nut or other tripod mounting

Marla Goodman, cigar box pochade box Marla Goodman
A box with a larger than usual mixing area, but too shallow to provide much storage. Techniques are applicable to other size boxes. A cut-to-size piece of masonite in the bottom provides the extra depth and strength necessary to use the T-nut. A unique clip and plastic tubing arrangement holds open the lid. Paint stirrers are used to brace the painting panels, which are simply held on with binder clips. Closure is velcro.

Gabrielle Sivitz, cigar box pochade box Gabrielle Sivitz
A two-part post. Not exactly a cigar box, but the principles are the same. A wood block holds the lid up. Four corks cut to size hold the acrylic palette in place, with room underneath for supplies.

Austin Maloney, cigar box pochade box Austin Maloney
Metal “mending strips” and a wing nut hold the lid in position. Another bolt and wing nut in a slot in the lid hold the panel in place. A commercial tripod mounting plate from Guerilla Painter is used instead of a T-nut.

Linda  Schroeter, cigar box pochade box Linda Schroeter
This looks like an unusually sturdy cigar box, but the instructions are pretty detailed. Dowels are hot-glued in the corners to support the palette, which is made from a masonite painting panel, painted and cut with a thumb hole to use separately. L-shaped brackets can hold panels in the lid, which is held open with metal braces and a wing nut. An extra piece of wood has been glued to the bottom to support the tripod mount; four rubber feet raise the box above that for use on a table.

Frank Hobbs, cigar box pochade box Frank Hobbs
A clever extender for the panel holder, made from lattice, is a highlight of this functional box. Another piece of lattice provides the extra thickness and strength in the bottom of the box necessary for the T-nut tripod mount. A piece of v-shaped molding serves as a trough to keep the fresh paint separate from the mixing area. A wood strip on the back supports the open lid.

, cigar box pochade box Jeff McRobbie
This is probably the best tutorial and most sophisticated design I’ve seen for a DIY cigar box pochade box. The wooden block on the back of the box that holds open the lid in use is set in a slot with a wing nut, allowing the angle of the lid to be adjusted. A square of plywood in the bottom of the box provides the extra depth and strength needed for the T-nut mounting. Strips of narrow wood support the palette, and another is adapted to be a removable brush holder that plugs into the outside of the box with lengths of clothes-hanger wire. The panel holder looks sophisticated, but seems easy enough to construct, and features a wooden adjustment knob on the back of the lid. The panel holder and knob extend a bit from the box when closed, but still make a compact design.

smoothie77, cigar box pochade box smoothie77
This YouTube video (w/skipable ad) shows an interesting conversion with double slide-out trays. A little short on the how-to instructions, but food for thought.

, cigar box pochade box Bart Charlow
This YouTube video (no ads) features an unusual configuration with two cigar boxes stacked together. Two mending strips and a thumbscrew hold open the lid. Cork in the lid allows pushpins to hold watercolor paper. A third, shallow cigarbox tucks inside the top of the first and acts as a removable tray that can be attached to the outside of the box with additional thumbscrews and L-brackets. The bottom cigar box is a storage area, and a slide out piece below that holds a brush washer when in use. The tripod mount has not been added at this point.

Look around

I will follow this post with another about more elaborate DIY pochade boxes, as well as updating my original post on commercial pochade boxes.

But when looking for ideas for a cigar box conversion, don’t limit yourself to those presented here. Look at the more elaborate homemade boxes as well as the commercial ones to see how they’ve solved the basic problems of storage, palette arrangement, easel adjustment and panel or paper holding for inspiration. You will also find variations aimed more at watercolor or pastels.

If you come up with some clever ideas, consider sharing them with others the way these artists have.


by Charley Parker at June 23, 2017 03:10 AM

Boy Genius Report

Tesla is interested in constructing a Gigafactory in China

Tesla Gigafactory

With Tesla's Gigafactory in Las Vegas already producing lithium-ion batteries for the upcoming Model 3, there are reports that Tesla is already taking concrete steps to develop yet another Gigafactory in China. Hardly a surprise, Tesla CEO Elon Musk  recently said during a TED Talk presentation that the company would ideally like to construct as many as four Gigafactories all across the globe.

"I will announce locations for between two and four Gigafactories later this year," Musk said on stage, "probably four."

Continue reading...

Trending right now:

  1. T-Mobile is having network problems across the country
  2. 18 new Netflix originals are coming next month – here’s the complete list
  3. Android O’s final name may have just been uncovered

by Yoni Heisler at June 23, 2017 03:00 AM


Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 2)

Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries. (Photo: Koch Industries)

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 2).” (You can find part 1 here, and subscribe to the podcast at Apple Podcasts or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.)

Charles Koch, the mega-billionaire CEO of Koch Industries and half of the infamous political machine, sees himself as a classical liberal. So why do most Democrats hate him so much? In a rare series of interviews, he explains his political awakening, his management philosophy and why he supports legislation that goes against his self-interest.

Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post. And you’ll find credits for the music in the episode noted within the transcript.

*      *      *

Stephen J. DUBNER: Okay. Hi, good morning. It’s Stephen Dubner. How are you today?

Charles KOCH: Hey, Stephen. Charles Koch. I’m doing fine. Great.

DUBNER: You can hear me, okay?

KOCH: You bet.

DUBNER: Great.

Over the course of several weeks, I had a series of conversations with Charles Koch — CEO of Koch Industries, a true-believing libertarian and a funder of perhaps the largest and most influential political action network ever. This episode is the second of two parts. In the first, we covered Koch’s management philosophy; why he started funding political causes; and what it’s like to be considered public enemy number one of the political left. We’ll start part two with something related to that.

DUBNER: This is just something I wonder: are you friendly with Warren Buffett?

KOCH: Yes. Well, I don’t know friendly. I know him and we do a lot of business with his companies.

DUBNER: I’ve always been curious why you think the media generally just gushes over this other Midwestern billionaire despite his unabashedly uber-capitalist tendencies, right? While you’re portrayed — because you’ve gotten more directly involved in political policies and stuff — as more of a dark and plotting oil man ideologue. Why do you think that’s the case?

KOCH: Well, he’s obviously a much better P.R. person than I am. But my whole being is dedicated to changing the system, to make it more just and bring about greater individual flourishing. His is to support the current system, with some tweaks here and there, I grant you. He is no threat to anybody. Whereas all the vested interests — they go for, “What will increase my short-term profits?” When I founded the Council for Competitive Economy, part of what I tried to say, “Guys, if your success and failure depends on whether the government dishes out goodies to you, who needs you? Why not go for Bernie Sanders and have the government just take it over? You’re just the middleman.”

The only reason you should be allowed to make money and be so successful is if you’re creating value for others, if you’re helping people improve their lives. If you’re just in there manipulating the system, get rid of you.

Charles Koch argues that the biggest threats to America these days are special interests, cronyism, and corporate welfare. Which may seem strange if you think of a corporate CEO, like Koch, as a beneficiary of those things. He also argues that our political system has turned into a dumpster fire, with both parties guilty of rent-seeking and putting their thumbs on whatever scales they can find. Which may also strike you as strange, if you consider that what a political network like the Koch Brothers’ network does is — well, puts its thumb on the scale. Because he primarily funds Republicans, and because so much of that funding is “dark,” anonymous money, he is seen by most Democrats as something close to the devil — even though some of his positions, as you’ll hear today, align quite snugly with traditional liberal positions.

My overall impression from speaking with him? Charles Koch believes he’s fighting the good fight based on proven principles — and that the rest of America has been going mad, bit by bit.

DUBNER: I’d like to hear your thumbnail views on a broad spectrum of issues. Charles, what are your views on immigration?

KOCH: My views on immigration are the same as they are on any imports of goods and services, not just people. I would let anybody in who will make the country better and no one who will make that worse. That would be the same thing of people who are here illegally. If you’re here, gainfully employed, and adding value in society then you ought to stay. If you’re not contributing and particularly if you’re creating trouble, making people’s lives worseyou need to be sent out of the country.

DUBNER: Now, to say that you’ve let in anybody who will make the country better, that could be construed — I would argue, pretty easily — as essentially a vote for open borders. Do you go that far?

KOCH: No, there needs to be screening, particularly with a giant welfare state that we have. You don’t want people [to] come here, just go on welfare and drain resources. You want people who’re going to come here, get a job, work, obey the law, be good citizens and contribute. There needs to be screening for that. Exactly how to do that and what’s effective, I haven’t gotten in the detail enough to know. Then on imports, I would let in every import except those that are dangerous like poison gas, bombs, atomic bombs and stuff. Keep all that stuff out. But all the goods and services that are cheaper, better quality that Americans want to buy, I’d let them in because it makes Americans better off and it increases innovation, just as the Japanese imports caused our auto companies to come into the 20th century.

DUBNER: Now, a lot of people who hear that argument — that essentially unfettered free trade argument — we want goods and services to move freely without friction and let the market set the lowest price so that more people can enjoy stuff. That argument felt a lot better to a lot of people 10 years ago. But now there’s a lot of backlash against globalization generally for depressing employment and wages here. Have you not lost any enthusiasm for globalization?

KOCH: As I say, I’m against special interest, corporate welfare and import tariffs. Blocking imports are corporate welfare. You’re saying to the American people, “You don’t have the right to buy a better product, higher quality, more advanced or cheaper because it’s made in Japan.” As opposed to, “It’s made in Montana because we [have] got to protect it.” It’s like the sugar growers. We got, what, a few hundred sugar growers? And we subsidize them and protect them from foreign competition. It raises the costs of foodstuff for everybody. That isn’t going to affect my life. But that hurts some people who don’t have very much.

DUBNER: Charles, what is your thumbnail view on drug decriminalization and/or the war on drugs?

KOCH: As I forget who said, “We fought the war on drugs and we’ve lost.” People say, “God, look at people doing these drugs. It’s terrible. We’ve got to stop them.” Well, part of the terrible part is because we’ve tried to stop them. It’s just like prohibition. They tried that and what [it] did that put gangs and criminals in charge of alcohol and created a crime wave. Well, the same thing is true here. I’m not an advocate of drugs. I don’t do drugs. Never have. I’m not in favor of people doing drugs. On the other hand, this extreme criminalization hasn’t worked. Matter of fact, it’s ruined a lot of lives by turning people who really didn’t do much wrong into lifelong criminals.

DUBNER: Talk a minute about criminal-justice reform or what you would even call reform within the realm of criminal justice.

KOCH: Like everything else, we need a legal system that is just, where the punishment fits the crime. And we also need a system that, if people make a mistake, learn from their mistake. They need to have a second chance rather than ruin their lives.

DUBNER: Let me ask you about climate change — causes and consequences.

KOCH: There are natural causes and then there are causes due to increase in greenhouse gases, such as CO2, being the biggest one. Not the most potent one, but the biggest one. So far, unlike the projections, it has not created catastrophes. But obviously, if the temperature continues to go up, at some point it can be harmful or even very harmful. But the question is, “What do we do about it, about whatever risk there is?” And to me, the answer is innovation. These policies that the U.S. government has, others have proposed or promulgated have been just symbolic. They have made essentially no difference. The EPA has said this. We oppose all of these because they end up being cronyism. They end up helping certain wealthy people to the disadvantaged of the less fortunate.

DUBNER: What would you propose instead, if you were setting that policy?

KOCH: I would go to permission-less innovation. This is part of this whole theory of liberation [that] allows everybody to become rich. We need to liberate innovation, entrepreneurship, and productivity. We see that a lot of progress has been made in solar. There are also huge improvements in energy efficiency and in natural gas replacing coal due to innovations. You look at all the progress in having less greenhouse gases and it’s due to innovation, not regulation. As a matter of fact, [when] they blocked the Keystone pipeline. I was going to send them a thank you letter because that was saving us $750,000 dollars a day in crude costs. Maybe that’s not a lot of money. It’s a lot of money to us.

DUBNER: Wait, I don’t understand. How is that saving you that money?

KOCH: Because we have a refinery in Minnesota that runs on Canadian crude. Now, the marginal buyer’s on the Gulf Coast and it’s railed down there. If they build a pipeline, it will be shipped down there three dollars a barrel cheaper.

DUBNER: So the pipeline is, would be bad for your business. What was your public position on that or the Koch Industries …

KOCH: We were in favor of the pipeline.

DUBNER: Because why? Explain.

KOCH: We have a luxury of being a private company and can act on principle. No one, or a lot of people don’t agree with our principles. But what we believe [in] are principles that will make people’s lives better and that’s the way we evaluate everything. Every position is to get rid of cronyism, corporate welfare and to liberate the people.

DUBNER: Now the public line on you, however, is that, “Everything that Charles Koch or the Koch brothers advocate societally or politically is just an effort to protect or extend their business interests.” You’re giving an example right now that runs purely contra to that argument. Make your best case how and why that’s not so.

KOCH: Okay. We opposed extenders, the tax bill, which are our tax exemptions, cronyist things that have been passed at the end of every year. They do it year to year so it doesn’t count in their longer-term deficits. And we make a lot of money from those, because they benefit us tremendously. But we’ve opposed those. We oppose all import tariffs. We opposed this border adjustment fee in Congress’s tax bill that would make us over a billion dollars a year. There are roughly a trillion and a half special exemptions in the tax code. We benefit tremendously from them. We’d get rid of all of them.


KOCH: So to get rid of these special deals for special interests … It’s a cancer on our society. Supposedly all the cronyism is — different estimates — out of a $15 trillion economy is costing the economy, making it less efficient by four to five trillion. 30 to 40 percent. You just think what growth and productivity we would have. Plus then you would open it up for entrepreneurs, new competition, new ideas, new innovations. Another huge contributor to this problem is this occupational licensure. It’s not just big business. Locales and states require all of this testing, schooling, fees and stuff for people who start with nothing. They say it’s safety. Oh yeah, that’s right. Hair braiding. You need fifteen hundred hours of schooling. This is absurd.

DUBNER: Now, I think a lot of people listening to you talk, especially on certain issues — immigration, even the way you talked about climate change, drug decriminalization, criminal-justice reform — even a lot of Democrats, even progressives hearing that, a lot of what you’re saying would sound pretty palatable to them on the topics, on the issues. And yet, if you were to ask most Democrats or progressives to name their number-one enemy, it’s probably you and your brother David. In your mind, why is that? You plainly feel as if you’re sending a series of messages and acting on a series of beliefs that you feel are really valuable. And yet even to those who, in your mind, would benefit greatly from them — which is to say everybody, I guess, the way you describe it — you’re cast as …

KOCH: Well, not everybody. The special interests would be less able to exploit everybody else.

DUBNER: Well, that said…  

KOCH: But we find people, Democrats from all over who will work with us. We worked with the Obama administration, particularly on criminal-justice reform, also on occupational licensure. We work with a number of Democratic governors on occupational licensure. But, I’ll tell you these special interests are so strong.

DUBNER: Are you suggesting that it’s the special interests, then, who drive the Democratic, progressive and even journalistic agendas — like Jane Mayer at The New Yorker — to paint your endeavors as evil? Or is this something that’s arrived at more organically?

KOCH: Well, it’s both. It all starts with the belief that virtually everybody is capable of learning, contributing and leading a successful life if they’re given the freedom and opportunity to do so. I would reform the education system, communities, business and government to better enable that to come about. Now, if you believe, as, for example, Hillary does, that those in power are so much smarter and have better information than those of us great unwashed out here have, that we’re either too evil or too stupid to run our own lives and those in power are much better — have what Hayek called the fatal conceit and William Easterly called the tyranny of experts — that they can run it for us.

And when Hillary was pushing Hillarycare, she said as much — that if people are left to decide their own healthcare, they won’t spend enough and so the government needs to do it. Besides, the government will do it better. That is a great divide.

DUBNER: When we talk about the reforms that you would propose, I’m curious: isn’t it a little hubristic to assume that you do know what’s best for society? Persuade me of your level of confidence that if you could reform things as you see fit, that — I’m not saying work 100 percent, nothing’s 100 percent — but it truly would work.

KOCH: Well. I mean, I don’t know, as I said. You asked me about how to do immigration, exactly. No. There’s a principle here. There are basic principles and, as I said, quoting Newton, “If I see further, it’s because I’m standing on the shoulders of giants.” What has worked through history? What, starting in the 17th and 18th century, caused the standard of living — for the first time in history — to explode? Caused the U.S. to be 30 times the per capita income in the whole world, ten times? What, just since 1990, has caused the number of people in extreme poverty to drop from 2 billion to less than 800 million? When you go back through history, it’s through liberation. It’s by applying the principles in the Declaration of Independence — that is, everybody is born equal with certain inalienable rights. Governments are instituted to secure those rights.

If you look at our history as a country, we became the most successful country in the world because we followed those to some extent. Where we violated them have come all of our tragedies and injustices, whether that’s slavery, whether that’s exterminating Native Americans, whether that’s denial of women’s rights, denial of rights to immigrants, particularly groups like the Chinese and the Irish and civil rights. Now, when you say… God, policy. I do not know what detailed policies. But I know enough principles to know what works because they’ve worked universally through history. For example, division of labor by comparative advantage, creative destruction, the rule of law, the benefits of trade. These principles we know, and we know from psychology, that people are not happy when you just give them stuff.

There’s this concept of earned success, what Aristotle called ‘eudemonia.’ That is, you have human flourishing when people fully develop their abilities and use them to do good. It’s what my father called the glorious feeling of accomplishment. There are all these principles that have that have proven true throughout history. You have the same objective, you debate it and you learn from each other. That’s how innovation comes about. That’s part of it, is to not get sucked into hubris. “I got all the answers. I’ve got eternal wisdom and know the exact path for all time.” No. I’m out here experimenting, fumbling around, trial and error to try to find a better way.

“Finding a better way” did not include supporting Donald Trump in his run for president — or Hillary Clinton. Koch compared the choice between Trump and Clinton as having to choose between cancer and a heart attack. So, coming up on Freakonomics Radio, what’s he got to say about the Trump Administration?

KOCH: I’m not into ad hominem attacks. What we’re doing with this administration as we did with Obama and we’ve tried to do with all the others is find areas we can agree on and work with them on that and then oppose them where we disagree.

That’s coming up, right after this.

*      *      *

Here’s what Charles Koch, half of the Koch Brothers, had to say about Donald Trump a few months before the 2016 election. “I’m sure he’s a fine fellow underneath, but when you look at our guiding principles, you see that his guiding principles are in many ways antithetical to them and a great many of his policies are antithetical.”

DUBNER: You famously did not back Donald Trump in the 2016 election, but here he is as president. You did support Mike Pence, the current V.P., when he was running for president in 2012 and you funded his gubernatorial campaign. In addition to Pence, there are a number of Koch allies — I guess I’d call them — within the Trump administration: Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs who previously ran the Freedom Partners network; Mike Roman, the White House’s director of special projects and research who used to run the Freedom Partners competitive-intelligence team, basically oppo research; and Mike Pompeo, from your state of Kansas, now head of the C.I.A., received enough Koch funding that he’s been called ‘the Congressman from Koch’; there is the E.P.A. chief Scott Pruitt, whom the left considers an enemy of the environment itself. But considering the election didn’t get your guy in or didn’t get in a guy or gal that you wanted —

KOCH: We didn’t have a guy or gal.

DUBNER: Right. Considering you didn’t back anyone in the election, I’m curious —

KOCH: Well, we backed some senators, congresspeople and governors, but no one at the presidential level.

DUBNER: Right. In terms of the White House, I’m curious to know how you think things are turning out now.

KOCH: Well, I wrote about that. I don’t know whether you saw the op-ed I did for The Washington Post.

DUBNER: Yeah, I did.

KOCH: That pretty well sums it up. But it’s like all presidents. The last one I really liked was Calvin Coolidge because he did some great things. So that’s been a while. But it’s the good, bad and the ugly —

DUBNER: My impression is that you were very fond of Ronald Reagan, at least in retrospect, no?

KOCH: Well, Ronald Reagan, that’s an interesting case because I agree with a lot of the philosophy he articulated, as you can tell.


KOCH: But Bill Simon told him when he was elected — Bill Simon, by the way, was Secretary of Treasury under Nixon. He said that he told President Reagan, “Mr. President, I totally agree with your philosophy. But if you want to get any of it implemented, you cannot staff your administration with the old Ford/Nixon hacks.” Then, that’s in large part what Reagan did because he didn’t really care that much about administration and didn’t get into the weeds and all those special interests he’d have to overcome to make his philosophy a reality. Government grew a little slower under his first administration and grew at the same rate as other administrations in his second term.

You will find that virtually every president after Coolidge that that’s been true, whether Democrat or Republican. Where it’s done a little better, where there’s been a little more restraint, is when we’ve had divided government.

DUBNER: That said, [it’s] not a divided government now and a president that you didn’t support. As you wrote in The Washington Post, you praise the president’s, quote, “Thoughtful approach to regulatory reform.” You like his pick, Neil Gorsuch, for the Supreme Court. But then you talk about some of the counterproductive measures including the “broad travel bans, discouraging free trade and a tendency toward rhetoric that too easily divides Americans instead of uniting them.”

KOCH: See how diplomatic I am?

DUBNER: I’m guessing a few others might have got their fingers on those sentences before they went to The Washington Post or no?

KOCH: I’m not into ad hominem attacks. What we’re doing with this administration as we did with Obama and we’ve tried to do with all the others is find areas we can agree on and work with them on that and then oppose them where we disagree. We have opposed this tax bill. We oppose this immigration, we oppose them on these anti-trade moves.

DUBNER: You’ve opposed the tax bill on what grounds? Because there are some pieces of it that I’m sure you’re in favor of.

KOCH: We’ve opposed it on this border adjustment fee subsidizing exports and punishing imports. As I said, it will allow us to raise our prices and probably reduce our taxes at the same time. It will enable us to increase our profits by over a billion dollars a year, at the expense of working Americans. Now what kind of policy is that? It makes no sense.

In other words, as a CEO, Koch would be an idiot not to play the game by the existing rules. But as a person, Koch thinks the rules are idiotic, and that they’ve been set up to reward a relatively thin slice of the population. To which he happens to belong. So it’s easy to see why his political opponents accuse him of blatant self-interest — when, for instance, the Koch political network has punished Republican candidates who promoted green energy. He, after all, is an oil man from way back. But it’s also easy to see why he thinks this accusation is shallow, motivated as much by the self-interest that he’s accused of. After all — he’s already worth some $50 billion, and he’s 81 years old. Is he really chasing a few more billion in fossil-fuel profits?

Or: does he truly believe that too much of the momentum behind something like green energy comes from interested parties, who advance their cause less by innovation and free markets and more by political gamesmanship?

DUBNER: Let me ask you this: forget about the fact that you are a political bête noire for a lot of people. Also for a lot of people, when they just hear a discussion about the belief in free markets and a libertarian view generally, there are a lot of people who just don’t believe it. There are a lot of people who think that free markets and what goes along with them encourage a winner-take-all mentality, corporate corruption and the exploitation of employees and consumers. I don’t know how much of a silo you live in. I assume that a lot of the people that you spend a lot of time with agree with you. What do you say to someone who disagrees with you to their very core and try to persuade them to hear you out?

KOCH: Well, I hope I’m not in a silo because as we partner with people and look for partners who disagree with us on most everything. We’ve done that in criminal justice reform, occupational licensure, in Stand Together where we work with community organizations who we believe are really trying to help the communities solve their problems and better themselves. We work with teachers, administrators, professors who don’t agree with us on a lot of things but we find an area we can work together. We follow Frederick Douglass’s philosophy: “I will unite with anybody to do right and no one to do wrong.” My philosophy on partnerships is you need three things to have a good partnership. You need to share vision, values and bring complementary capabilities. On vision, you don’t need to have exact vision of a free society.

Matter of fact, I don’t even agree with myself. I change my opinions. To find anybody who agrees 100 percent on a vision of society, I would be in a silo. I’d be totally by myself. But all we need to do is have the same vision for that particular problem or that issue. We’re big supporters of United Negro College Fund and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. We disagree on a lot of things but we agree that these kids, the ones that we’re supporting, are remarkable human beings. All they need is the opportunity and freedom to do something and get the mindset that they can accomplish something.

DUBNER: In a case like that, what would you disagree with them on? United Negro College Fund, for instance.

KOCH: Well, it may be on how the welfare state should work. Those kind of things. Whether some of the government programs are helping him or hurting them, how the education system would be organized. But on teaching, the various ideas we’ve been talking about on self-transformation, they totally agree. That’s what we’re working with them on.

DUBNER: You’ve been more successful than the vast majority of people over history in the business realm. But if your primary goal of your activism is to unite people, I hate to say it, but you’ve not been very successful in that realm, right? I don’t think many people would disagree that we’re particularly not just divided but really caustic in the way that we talk to other people or talk past other people who may have different views from us. Do you think that that is just a state of the human animal, that we like to divide ourselves into conflict-based tribes and whatnot? Or do you see examples from history, or are you otherwise encouraged to think that that unity that you want really is possible?

KOCH: Let me, if I might Stephen, challenge you on that. We haven’t united people who don’t really know what we stand for or what it is to work with us. We have our support programs at over 300 universities. We found ways to unite with every administration, with many governors and local officials of different parties. So this works. Believe me, if we had no success or were making no progress, I’d be happy, at least, to completely change my approach. I’m not real fond of just banging my head against the wall.

DUBNER: Charles, you strike me as a pretty realistic fellow. So I think you’d agree there’s no such thing as a utopian government or society. It’s just not going to happen. But when you look around the world at a society or culture that you think is as close to good as we’ve gotten, something that aligns with the way you see society and governance working, what are your favorites?

KOCH: Well, I just recently got this Human Freedom Index done by a number of institutes around the world. This is not just economic freedom but it has both economic and personal freedom. If you look at the top countries, they start with Hong Kong, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark and then Canada. Unfortunately, the U.S. has dropped to twenty-third. There are a lot of great things about the U.S. But we’re increasingly headed, under both Republicans and Democrats, toward a system of control, dependency and cronyism that’s pitting individuals and groups against each other and destroying opportunity and progress. What I look at is, to what degree are the great bulk of people liberated and injustice is eliminated? Even Hong Kong, Switzerland, New Zealand, all of these have problems.

None of them are perfect. As you say, they’ll never be perfect. Human beings are fallible.

DUBNER: Would you rather live in any of those countries — Hong Kong, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark?

KOCH: No, because we have this two-tiered society here. I happen to be in the favored tier. But for a lot of people this system isn’t working. That’s our number one objective to get rid of the cronyism, the lack of opportunity for a large portion of the population. That’s the main focus of our efforts.

Coming up next time on Freakonomics Radio: Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust recently announced she’ll be stepping down next year. So we will bring you an interview we did with Faust a couple years ago in which she discussed, among many other things, being the first female president of Harvard.

Drew Gilpin FAUST: There were plenty of people who accused me of being a token appointment or alleged that I was a token appointment.

That’s next time, on Freakonomics Radio.

Freakonomics Radio is produced by WNYC Studios and Dubner Productions. This episode was produced by Shelley Lewis. Our staff also includes Stephanie Tam, Christopher Werth, Merritt Jacob, Greg Rosalsky, Eliza Lambert, Alison Hockenberry, Emma Morgenstern, Harry Huggins, and Brian Gutierrez. We had technical assistance in Wichita from Torin Andersen and Jon Cyphers, and we also had help this week from Sam Bair. You can subscribe to Freakonomics Radio on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, or via e-mail at

Here’s where you can learn more about the people and ideas in this episode:


  • Charles Koch, co-owner, chairman of the board and CEO of Koch Industries.



The post Why Hate the Koch Brothers? (Part 2) appeared first on Freakonomics.

by Stephen J. Dubner at June 23, 2017 03:00 AM

Boy Genius Report

LG made a massive, flexible 4K OLED display that is taller than a person

lg flexible display

Setting new records in consumer tech is always an odd topic for a pretty obvious reason: the relentless advancement of technology means new "firsts" arrive on a near daily basis. Despite that, LG is pretty proud of its newest first-ever creation, and it's hard not to be impressed by it. The company just revealed the "world's first" 77-inch flexible OLED display, complete with transparency and 4K resolution. Would you ever need such a thing? Of course not, but just look at it.

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by Mike Wehner at June 23, 2017 02:02 AM

SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green

ISC Stormcast For Friday, June 23rd 2017, (Fri, Jun 23rd)

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

June 23, 2017 01:35 AM

Boy Genius Report

Tesla’s next big thing might be… internet radio?

Tesla internet radio

If a new report from Recode is right, Tesla's next new product isn't going to have one single wheel. The site is quoting industry sources as saying that the car company is in talks with record labels to build some kind of music streaming service.

Elon, I know Spotify has its flaws and Apple Music was ruined by Planet of the Apps, but maybe just this time, building an alternative isn't the answer?

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by Chris Mills at June 23, 2017 01:30 AM


Why Trump Doesn’t Want ‘A Poor Person’ In His Cabinet

via Twitter

When Donald Trump was inaugurated he promised it was “the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.” But since taking office, a specific segment of the American people appear to be in charge: the very rich. President Trump’s cabinet is worth $9.5 billion, the combined net worth of the 43 million least wealthy American households combined. Wednesday night, Trump admitted that for specific positions in his cabinet, he didn’t want poor “thinking.”
At the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump held a rally reminiscent of the kind he held while running for president. During the rally, he fought back at critics who’ve accused him of creating a cabinet comprised of the filthy rich. “So somebody says, ‘Why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy?’ I said, ‘Because that’s the kind of thinking we want,’ ” Trump told the audience. “But, in those particular positions I just don’t want a poor person. If you insist, I’ll do it. But I like it better this way.”

Trump’s hiring of the exceptionally rich would be defendable if it weren’t for the fact his economic policies disproportionately benefit the wealthy. The most recent GOP health care proposal will cause millions to lose their health care while the richest Americans enjoy a substantial tax cut. Trump’s childcare proposal has been called a “gift to the rich.” And when asked about Trump’s blueprint for tax reform, Alan Cole, an economist with the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation said there’s “Plenty of benefits to high-income earners...And for the middle class? Honestly, we don’t know.”


by Tod Perry at June 23, 2017 01:10 AM

A Famous Author Raised $100,000 For Refugees By Agreeing To Read The Cheesecake Factory Menu Out Loud

Accomplished author Neil Gaiman has found himself back in the spotlight now that his novel American Gods has been turned into a big-budget cable series, and he’s parlayed his prominence to help the plight of refugees for whom the book is actually a metaphor. 

A month or so ago, Twitter user and comic Sara Benincasa cutely decided to offer Gaiman a proposition: If he reads the entirety of the Cheesecake Factory menu (no easy feat given its legendary breadth of offerings), she would see to it that $500,000 finds its way to the charity of his preference. 

Thus was born the #NeilCake hashtag. Gaiman, not one to shoot down a patently ridiculous stunt for a great cause, agreed to it with the UN’s refugee relief agency as the beneficiary.

Gaiman’s recitation of platter-sized entrees and towering desserts didn’t net the intended $500,000, but it did produce $100,000 for the cause via the crowdfunding platform Crowdrise. Should you want to, you can still donate via this link

To be clear, the esteemed author has not yet read the tome that is the Cheesecake Factory menu, but Sara says via the fundraising platform: 

I'll arrange with Neil at his convenience to do the reading within the next year in a public setting, whether onstage or online. If it's onstage, I'll sell tickets and donate profits after costs to UNHCR. Regardless, I will make the event available to the general public via livestream or a lovely video you can watch later whilst weeping at the beauty of Neil Gaiman saying "avocado egg rolls." 

This would be wonderfully goofy on its own, but the benefit to a good cause sweetens the deal. Though it’s Neil on the hook to read the seemingly-endless men, he has chosen to direct the kudos in a different direction. 

by Penn Collins at June 23, 2017 01:10 AM


Wheaties for Your Wallet

Before Doubting Your Produce/Service, See How to Improve Your Marketing Team

Marketing is one of the most critical elements of your business. If you get marketing right, you can drive sales, increase brand recognition, and establish a foundation of enduring success; get it wrong and your company is probably in trouble. They key to every business, improve your marketing.

Your marketing team’s effectiveness, therefore, is extremely important. Companies that build motivated, highly competent marketing teams can achieve significant advantages over their rivals, leading to more sales and increased profitability.

However, good marketing teams, like anything else, require a substantial investment of time and effort. Here are some proven ways you can improve your marketing staff, and add to your company’s bottom line today.

Hire and Keep the Right People

One of the best ways to ensure you have an optimal marketing team is to hire the right people from the start, and ensure everyone on the team is value added. You should seek out experienced sales representatives with a demonstrated track record, preferably in your company’s line of business.

While training and education are extremely important (see below), your company will get a greater return on investment if the sales representatives you hire are already competent to start with.

You should also look for people who have the skills to market effectively in today’s business environment, too. Since so many leads and sales are generated through online marketing these days, for example, knowledge on managing social media presence, placing online ads, and search engine optimization (SEO) are essential skills for your sales staff.

So take the time to review resumes, ask the right questions, and ensure any potential hires have what it takes to make a difference on your sales team.

Also, managers or small business owners should always look carefully at the performance of marketing team members, and be willing to make hard choices when it comes to staff that aren’t cutting it. Recent studies indicate that managers spend far too much time attempting to coax a better performance out of the bottom 20 percent of their marketing staff.

Invest In Your Marketing Team

Hiring talented sales staff is the foundation of building an effective marketing team, but it isn’t enough; you must continue to invest in each marketing team member, and the team itself, in order to gain and maintain a competitive advantage over your competitors.

Consider establishing an orientation program for new marketing hires, so they understand all aspects of your company; this will make them much more effective when designing marketing content like ads, or when they interact with potential clients.

Also, consider having your marketing staff members attend training conferences, workshops or classes, so that they develop new skills to be more effective. If your company has the resources, consider funding advanced education opportunities for marketing team members with the most potential, so they can contribute even more to the company after earning advanced degrees and certifications.

Investing in your marketing staff won’t only improve their skill level, either; it can also lead to increased employee motivation, performance, and loyalty.

Help Improve Your Marketing Teams Collaboration

One of the best ways to ensure your marketing team is as effective as possible is to make certain that they are a team in the first place. Help set conditions so that everyone on your marketing team can work together, collaborate, develop a shared vision, and ultimately are in the best position to achieve your company’s marketing objectives.

The marketing team should have sufficient workspace to meet, collaborate on projects, and share ideas; an open office environment may be a particularly effective way to instill a shared mission and team spirit for your marketing staff.

Additionally, you should ensure your marketing team has the right tools to collaborate effectively as well.  Virtual meeting applications, such as Skype are critical for the team to share information, even when team members aren’t in the same location.

Software that allows your marketing staff to share files and collaborate on projects, such as Dropbox or Evernote, is extremely important as well. Mobile devices that help your employees leverage collaborative tools like these are also investments worth your consideration.

Finally, remember to consider low-tech collaborative tools when working to improve your marketing team; for example, simply adding whiteboards in your marketing staff’s office spaces can increase creativity, and foster a shared sense of mission when it comes to problem solving.

Monitor, Measure, and Postmortem Everything

As important as hiring the right people and investing in them is, keeping track of their performance is equally critical. Your company needs to monitor the performance of the marketing team as a whole, as well as individuals. You should track lead development, sales, and effective marketing campaign contributions closely.

Doing so can help you make critical decisions about your marketing staff, and your overall marketing strategy itself. Additionally, following any major marketing effort such as a sale, a new ad campaign, or a venture into online content and social media, you should ruthlessly postmortem the event.

A postmortem is essentially an after action review of the event, to determine the overall intent of the marketing activity, whether it achieved the intent, what worked well and what didn’t. Postmortems can help you make decisions about future events, and will also help improve your marketing team, so they are even more effective in future endeavors.

Keeping easily accessible files on sale activity, marketing performance, and postmortems can help to further educate new team members during orientation, and will aid in overall company transparency as well.

Final Thoughts on Effective Marketing Teams

A competent, cohesive, highly skilled marketing team is critical to developing the attributes your business needs to grow and prosper.

Managers, particularly those in small businesses with limited resources, need to take the time and effort to build marketing teams that can truly make a return on their investment. Hire the right people with the right skills, invest in their training, and give them the tools to collaborate more effectively as a team. Monitor everything that your marketing team does, and always seek to improve the team’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Your investment in a competent marketing team today will drive future sales and profits, and ensure your company’s success over the long term.

The post Before Doubting Your Produce/Service, See How to Improve Your Marketing Team appeared first on Due.

by William Lipovsky at June 23, 2017 01:00 AM

Boy Genius Report

Yale archaeologists make amazing ancient Egyptian ‘billboard’ discovery

Archaeologists from Yale and the Royal Museum of Art and History in Belgium have discovered the earliest-known ‘billboard-sized’ hieroglyphs in the ancient Egyptian city of Elkab.

The hieroglyphs, which are around 21.7 inches in height, date back around 5,200 years. Archaeologists discovered a panel of four signs, written right to left – portraying animal images of a bull’s head on a short pole followed by two back-to-back saddlebill storks with a bald iris bird above and between them. The total tableau of images is about 27.5 inches in height.

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by at June 23, 2017 12:30 AM

This is why your iPhone storage is filling up faster than ever

Why is my iPhone full?

When it comes to smartphone ownership, there are few moments more frustrating than running out of storage space. You can't just delete a few old photos or an app you never use -- you'll go on a cleaning spree so that your phone won't fill up every time you try to put something new on it.

But is it starting to feel like you're running into this issue more often than you used to? If so, you're not imagining it: The storage space on your iPhone simply doesn't go as far as it once did.

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by Jacob Siegal at June 23, 2017 12:00 AM

Planet Python

Hynek Schlawack: Sharing Your Labor of Love: PyPI Quick and Dirty

A completely incomplete guide to packaging a Python module and sharing it with the world on PyPI.

June 23, 2017 12:00 AM

June 22, 2017

Boy Genius Report

The OnePlus 5’s camera does a bad job of copying the iPhone 7 Plus

OnePlus 5 Camera Features 2x Optical Zoom

The OnePlus 5 is one of the most anticipated phones of the season, and you can already buy it in various markets. But that doesn’t mean the new flagship from the “Never Settle” smartphone maker is perfect, and we already have a couple of controversies, not including that iPhone 7 Plus design.

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by Chris Smith at June 22, 2017 11:42 PM

Nintendo swears it’s not faking Switch shortages

nintendo switch shortage

When a new gadget is in short supply there are only two possibilities for why that is the case: Either the company simply can't make enough to satisfy the consumer lust for the product, or the company is intentionally bottlenecking its shipments in order to artificially create a sense of demand. Plenty of companies have been accused of such things in the past, and while Nintendo is no stranger to being on the receiving end of those accusations — especially with the original Wii — the company is now swearing that the sold-out Switch console isn't a product of artificial demand. 

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by Mike Wehner at June 22, 2017 11:18 PM

Daring Fireball

Gizmodo Investigation Exposes Websites Collecting Form Data Before You Hit ‘Submit’

Great investigative work by Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu for Gizmodo:

During a recent investigation into how a drug-trial recruitment company called Acurian Health tracks down people who look online for information about their medical conditions, we discovered NaviStone’s code on sites run by Acurian, Quicken Loans, a continuing education center, a clothing store for plus-sized women, and a host of other retailers. Using Javascript, those sites were transmitting information from people as soon as they typed or auto-filled it into an online form. That way, the company would have it even if those people immediately changed their minds and closed the page. […]

We decided to test how the code works by pretending to shop on sites that use it and then browsing away without finalizing the purchase. Three sites — hardware site, gift site, and clothing site — sent us emails about items we’d left in our shopping carts using the email addresses we’d typed onto the site but had not formally submitted. Although Gizmodo was able to see the email address information being sent to Navistone, the company said that it was not responsible for those emails.

They weren’t responsible for sending the emails, but they were responsible for the email addresses being sent to those websites in the first place. Sending form data surreptitiously is morally wrong, and everyone knows it.

This might sound hyperbolic, but I mean it: I think we’d be better off if JavaScript had never been added to web browsers.

by John Gruber at June 22, 2017 11:18 PM

Wired Top Stories

The Senate Health Bill Is a Disaster for the Opioid Crisis

Capping Medicaid is very bad news for the 2.5 million Americans struggling with an opioid addiction.

by Megan Molteni at June 22, 2017 11:17 PM

Sr Bachchan

DAY 3373

Malta           June 22/23,  2017          Thu/Fri 12:55 AM local time 

Birthday - EF - Anish Morarji Tataria       Fri, June 23 .  … and our wishes go out to Anish for his birthday .. wishes for happiness and good times ever !!

A young crew member from ‘Thugs of Hindostan’, walks up gingerly to me on set and with some hesitation she says, she wishes to sing a song to me ..

I look at her .. she is young and shy and white Caucasian .. and I wonder why she would want to do that, particularly because there is no indication that she would even know who I am, even though she has been told that the project she is on is an Indian film and these actors are the actors on the film ..

I am suddenly surrounded by other crew members, who, I am somewhat surprised to note, are egging her on to do so ..

And so with great clarity of accent and tune she starts :

‘aisi nazar … kajrare … kajrare, tere kaale kaale naina ..’

Completely with great composure and confidence she even does a few of the patent steps of the song .. every one bursts into applause and I gently ask her, where she is from .. 

From Poland !!

On set another assistant walks up to me with another young miss, explaining to me that she wishes to meet me .. I do .. she says she has been a fan from when she was young, and that her first film was ‘K3G’ ..

She from Kazakistan !!

NO .. I am not trying to impress one and all with the diversity of crew working on a film from India, but .. the spread of Hindi cinema in the lives of so many away from Indian shores .. and not necessarily Indian ..

May Indian cinema live multitudinous years and may the cross section of the world society, believe and show affection to talent from our Indian shores  ..

My love and wishes ..

Amitabh Bachchan

June 22, 2017 11:12 PM

Discussing Criticism at SF Design Week

Photo from My Panel Discussion at SF Design Week This past Tuesday I flew to San Francisco to moderate an event at Adobe headquarters called “Things We (Don’t) Talk…

by Khoi at June 22, 2017 11:10 PM