Hulk Hairgan

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Peter Thiel's lawyers are threatening Gawker with a lawsuit over its expose of Donald Trump's "hair," weeks after winning a lawsuit over Gawker's publishing of Hulk Hogan's "sex" tape. As we now have all the carnies in one tent—the billionaire, the millionaire and Donald Trump—it behooves us to imagine them sharing their props. Read the rest

HOAX: New China law bans women - but not men - from interracial marriage

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THIS IS A HOAX.

Because of the one-child-only law in China, combined with the practice of abandoning baby girls to make room for a boy, the country now has a gross gender imbalance of three boys for every girl under the age of 18. So to make sure at least one-third of the men still have a chance of marrying a Chinese woman, the Supreme People's Court of China just passed a law that will forbid Chinese women from marrying a non-Chinese man. But Chinese men will still be able to marry anyone they choose, regardless of race.

Business owners seem to be more concerned with how this new law will affect their businesses than the fairness of it. One owner of a matchmaking business says that allowing men more freedom with marriage is "common sense."

“I had feared that they might also ban men from interracial marriage,” commented the owner of a successful matchmaking business in China’s Fujian Province. “Thankfully common sense has prevailed, although by banning Chinese women from marrying foreigners, my business will have more competition.”

Those in charge of English-speaking schools, on the other hand, are worried the law will prevent them from getting good teachers.

“The majority of teachers are male, and most end up wedding local women,” said a spokesperson for a chain of English-teaching cram schools in Shanghai. “If our teachers are banned from marrying Chinese girls, they may not stay in the country as long, and we risk losing talented staff.”

The law will go into effect by early 2018.

Read the rest

How to make an edible virtual reality headset

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Caleb Kraft used the Google Cardboard design to make a working VR headset from graham crackers and icing. It's entirely edible, except for the lenses.

"Making an Edible Virtual Reality Viewer for Your Phone" (MAKE:)

Read the rest

Bees can sense a flower's electric field

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New research shows that bees can recognize flowers by the plants' tiny electric field that differs between species. The electric field bends the tiny hairs on a bee's body, firing neurons located at the base of the hair. From the journal Science:

Such fields—which form from the imbalance of charge between the ground and the atmosphere—are unique to each species, based on the plant’s distance from the ground and shape. Flowers use them as an additional way to advertise themselves to pollinators...

Electric fields can only be sensed from a distance of 10 cm or so, so they’re not very useful for large animals like ourselves. But for small insects, this distance represents several body lengths, a relatively long distance.

"How bees sense a flower’s electric field" (Science)

"Mechanosensory hairs in bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) detect weak electric fields" (PNAS)

Read the rest

Google's former "design ethicist" on "How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds"

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Tristan Harris was Google's "Design Ethicist" where he studied how design choices directly affect people's behavior in conscious and unconscious ways. He's also a practicing magician! As he says, "Magicians start by looking for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it." Over at Medium, Harris wrote a fascinating post about persuasive technology and how design can "exploit our minds’ weaknesses." From Medium:

Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make “free” choices, while we ignore how those choices are manipulated upstream by menus we didn’t question in the first place.

This is exactly what magicians do. They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose. I can’t emphasize enough how deep this insight is.

When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:

• “what’s not on the menu?”

• “why am I being given these options and not others?”

• “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”

• “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)

"How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist" (Medium)

Harris's piece supports the essay that my Institute for the Future colleagues Marina Gorbis and Devin Fidler recently posted about the incredibly high stakes of on-demand platform design: "Design It Like Our Livelihoods Depend on It" (WTF?) Read the rest

A Gift for You From Jacob Frey

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Watch this (please, the whole thing). Its title is "The Present," and it's a gift to you from Jacob Frey. Read the rest

UPDATED RIP Ray Tomlinson, email inventor and at-sign popularizer

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UPDATE This is a couple months old -- I read "Mar 5" as "May 5." My apologies.

Ray Tomlinson created the first networked email system in 1971 while working on his MIT doctorate and collaborating on the early ARPAnet at BBN; he used @ -- the at symbol -- to separate the username from the machinename because "it did not appear in user names and did not have any meaning in the TENEX paging program." Read the rest

Tiny, 8-bit console designed for hackability and homebrew game development

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Pocket CHIP is a tiny, $50, ARM-based pocket games console with a full keyboard and a Bluetooth interface. Read the rest

New study: Air rage triggered by walking through First Class

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A new scientific study reveals that air rage is much more likely on airplanes where inequality is obvious -- that is, airplanes where there's economy and first class sections. The University of Toronto researchers published their results in the journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. From CNN:

It found that passengers in economy seating were 3.84 times more likely to have an incident of air rage if they were on a plane that had a first-class section. They were 2.18 times more likely to have an outburst if they had to walk through first class to board the plane, as opposed to boarding in the middle of the plane, directly into the economy section....

"Psychology (research) tells us that when people feel a sense of deprivation and inequality, they are more likely to act out," said Katherine A. DeCelles, associate professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto....

There was also a nearly 12-fold increase in the rate of air rage among first-class passengers on flights where all passengers boarded through the first-class section, compared with flights that had separate entrances for first class and economy.

"When people from higher social class backgrounds are more aware of their higher status, they are more likely to be antisocial, to have entitled attitudes and to be less compassionate," DeCelles said.

"Air rage triggered by walking past first-class seating, study says" (CNN) Read the rest

Watch these bulldozers battle over turf, for real

In China's Hebei Province, bulldozers from competing construction companies battled it reportedly over a business opportunity. According to ABC News, police finally put a stop to the insanity and two drivers were injured. Perhaps the operators have been watching too many Survival Research Labs performance videos.

Read the rest

Japanese teen girl metal band Babymetal performs on Colbert

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Babymetal made their US TV debut when they performed their song "Gimme Chocolate!!" on Colbert's Late Show last night. Read the rest

Nixon's war on drugs was a war against blacks and the antiwar left

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In Dan Baum's excellent article in Harper's about the devastating consequences of the US government's war on drugs, there's a revealing quote from John Ehrlichman, Nixon's Watergate co-conspirator:

I’d tracked Ehrlichman, who had been Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser, to an engineering firm in Atlanta, where he was working on minority recruitment. I barely recognized him. He was much heavier than he’d been at the time of the Watergate scandal two decades earlier, and he wore a mountain-man beard that extended to the middle of his chest.

At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

I must have looked shocked.

Read the rest

The Republican Munsters

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Chuck Ungar did a terrific job pasting the heads of Cruz, Rubio, and Trump onto Grandpa, Eddie, and Herman. Great lettering, too.

Here's the original for comparison:

[via] Read the rest

Mein Drumpf

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Welcome to what may well be our future, America.

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Hackers demand $3.6m bitcoin ransom to unlock Los Angeles hospital medical records

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A cyberattack on Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center's computer system has locked up access vital patient data, and the hackers responsible are demanding payment of over 9000 bitcoins ($3.6 million) to unlock the data.

From IBT:

An unnamed doctor has admitted that the hospital's computer system was hacked and is currently being held for ransom, adding that departments are now communicating through fax machines because they have no access to email. Furthermore, a number of patients have been transferred to other hospitals.

Meanwhile, a separate report by Fox (Los Angeles) reaffirmed that the cyberattack has directly affected the 'day-to-day' operations of the hospital.

Image: Shutterstock Read the rest

Space tourism posters from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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What a delight: NASA itself published a series of retrofuturistic tourism posters for other worlds. Better yet, the images are less unfree, though they also sell prints. I'm off to the exoplanets, see ya!

Read the rest

FBI arrests nearly all of the top officials of Crystal City, Tex.

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The FBI have arrested five of the six top officials of the town of Crystal City, Texas, accusing them of taking bribes and allowing an illegal gambling operation to run in the town of 7,500 people.

According to the indictment, those in the town leadership who were charged “used their official positions to enrich themselves by soliciting and accepting payments and other things of value” from [alleged gambling operator, Ngoc Tri Nguyen] and others. The document accuses the officials of voting to award contracts in exchange for bribes, extorting payments from contractors, turning a blind eye to Nguyen’s illegal gaming business while taking action to shut down would-be competitors, and agreeing to reduce Nguyen’s taxes in exchange for him waiving debts, among other dealings. Mayor Ricardo Lopez, the indictment alleges, instructed city inspectors to “make it easy” while looking at Nguyen’s property. Authorities said he also made extra effort to shut down other operators of “8-liner” gaming rooms, which are nominally illegal in Texas but flourish informally in the southern part of the state. In exchange, he allegedly accepted $6,000 from Nguyen to buy a car.

(Image: Photo of beautiful, bustling Crystal City Billy Hathorn/Wikipedia) Read the rest

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