The Bank of England confirmed that its new £5 notes contain animal fat. “There is a trace of tallow in the polymer pellets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes,” it tweeted yesterday. There's a petition underway to replace them with vegan currency.
The new £5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the U.K.
We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use.
The petition has 26,260 supporters so far.
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@SteffiRox there is a trace of tallow in the polymer pellets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes— Bank of England (@bankofengland) November 28, 2016
After Automattic (makers of WordPress) announced its control of the .blog top-level domain, Chris Schidle paid more than $200 to pre-register chris.blog. He did so under the expectation that, as Automattic had promised, domains with multiple applicants would go to auction. Eventually he was told the domain was "reserved"—no auction necessary! He got a refund, but wants to know why Automattic took money for an auction that wasn't going to happen.
My interpretation is this: we yanked your domain and aren't going to let you have it or bid on it until we find a way to make more money from it. After all, we have to recoup the $19M we spent to buy the TLD. ...
A few weeks back, before I had inquired about the auctions, I thought to check get.blog to see if anything had changed. chris.blog was still $30/year, but christopher.blog was $2,000/year! I tried some other common first names and many had annual fees in the thousands, while a few were still pegged at $30/year. My guess is that the cheap ones already had applications, then Automattic panicked and raised the prices on the rest.
At Hacker News, at least two more people report similar stories of their .blog fees being refunded and the domains no longer being available. The implication seems to be that the auctions failed to attract the pre-bid interest Automattic expected, so it began proactively marketing short and trademarky domains to private parties on the sly.
All domains are auctionable, but some are more auctionable than others. Read the rest
Yesterday my wife paid cash for some groceries and, as both of us always do when we have pocket change, put the change in a bowl in our kitchen. Later she noticed that one of the quarters in the bowl showed Trump’s profile with a slogan “Take a Dump On Trump”. We’re not sure but she thinks she must have received it when she bought groceries at our neighborhood Whole Foods in Santa Monica. If you saw this coin in reality there’s no way you think it’s not real until you notice Trump’s head in place of George Washington.
And here's a news report about a woman in Amarillo, Texas who also was lucky enough to receive a Dump Trump Quarter!
Over at Democracy Journal, my Institute for the Future colleagues Marina Gorbis and Devin Fidler explore the "digital coordination economy" (aka the on-demand economy) and how "it may take deliberate design choices in platform architecture, business models, new civic services, and public policy to prevent this increasingly seamless “coordination economy” from becoming highly inequitable as well." From Democracy Journal:
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As software takes an increasing role on both sides of transactions—ordering and producing—it promises to bring vastly more efficient coordination to these kinds of basic economic functions. This emerging digital coordination economy, with its efficient matching and fulfillment of both human and nonhuman needs, has the potential to generate tremendous economic growth.
However, as software engineers essentially author a growing segment of our economic operating system, it may take deliberate design choices in platform architecture, business models, new civic services, and public policy to prevent this increasingly seamless “coordination economy” from becoming highly inequitable as well. Already the growth of on-demand work has allowed investors and owners in some industrialized regions to reap substantial financial returns while many of the people using platforms to generate income streams are struggling to maintain their standard of living. Uber drivers, for example, have seen a drop in earnings in the United States over the last couple of years, even as the company continues to grow at a dramatic pace.
It is clear that the fundamental technologies driving the coordination economy are neither “good” nor “bad,” but rather offer a heady combination of opportunities and challenges.
The right wing of American politics has long been a grifter's paradise, but Ian Hawes raked in $1m in a matter of weeks with Facebook ads promising dinner with Donald Trump. Politico reports that the supposed political action committee behind it is designed to resemble the official campaign site, has spent none of its takings promoting his candidacy, and that no-one has had dinner with Trump.
One is at donaldjtrump.com; the other is at dinnerwithtrump.org. The first belongs to Trump’s campaign. The second is a scheme run by Ian Hawes, a 25-year-old Maryland man who has no affiliation with Trump or his campaign and who has preyed on more than 20,000 unsuspecting donors, collecting more than $1 million in the process. ... “I feel ripped off and taken advantage of. This is horrible. That was not my intent,” said Mary Pat Kulina, who owns a paper-shredding company in Maryland and gave $265 to Hawes’s group. Kulina thought she had given to Trump’s campaign until told otherwise by POLITICO. “This is robbery,” she said. “I want my money back and I want them to add up what they stole from people and give it to Donald Trump.”
It's not the only lookalike site he's operating either. The fact that there is no real Trump campaign organization makes it easy for people to fill the gaps like this: there's simply no official competition for attention in the venues where actigrift takes place. Read the rest
In The impact of homelessness prevention programs on homelessness (Scihub mirror), a group of academic and government economists show that giving an average of $1,000 to people in danger of losing their homes due to unexpected bills (for example, emergency medical bills) is a successful strategy for preventing homelessness, which costs society a lot more than $1,000 -- more importantly, these kinds of cash grants do not create a culture of "dependency" that leads to recklessness, nor does it have a merely temporary effect. Read the rest
Pavlok is a wristband that one can use to deliver mild electric shocks to oneself, an experiment in Pavlovian self-conditioning. Intelligent Environments is a UK firm that has invented a "platform" to link it to your bank account, so it can shock you when you spend money.
No bank has yet announced that it will be offering the Interact IoT (Internet of Things) platform to customers but Intelligent Environments lists several British banks as clients for its existing online banking platforms.
Chief executive David Webber told the BBC the idea was about consumer choice.
"This is about reacting to changes in your financial well-being," he said.
A perfectly British combination of nannying, shame and unintended consequences. Read the rest
Iceland's elections are publicly funded, with funds awarded based on polls of the electorate; the Pirates have consistently polled higher than any other party, and the incumbent coalition (whose parties are polling in the single digits) has been scrambling to avoid a general election after the Panama Papers revealed that he had secret offshore accounts that benefited from his bailout of Iceland's planet-destroying banks. Read the rest
Alabama governor Robert Bentley left his wallet in Tuscaloosa when he headed off for his beach house. So his aides sent a state police helicopter to fetch it, at a public cost of about $4000.
"I requested they deliver my wallet, I didn't know how they were going to do it," the governor told AL.com. "I did not request that a helicopter was used. You have to have your wallet for security reasons. I'm the governor. And I had to have money. I had to buy something to eat. You have to have identification."
Bentley's about to be impeached, but over an unrelated a sex scandal. Read the rest
The Atlantic had the excellent idea of commissioning Sarah Jeong, one of the most astute technology commentators on the Internet (previously), to write a series of articles about the social implications of technological change: first up is an excellent, thoughtful, thorough story on the ways that the "cashless society" is being designed to force all transactions through a small number of bottlenecks that states can use to control behavior and censor unpopular political views. Read the rest
In 2011, the Norwegian design studio Skrekkøgl scuplted a massive 50-Euro-cent coin and shot it from above with a tilt-shift lens alongside numerous full-sized objects to make them seem to be cunning miniatures. Read the rest
The numbers in this study are very back-of-the-envelope and assume a worst case: widespread adoption of Bitcoin and not much improvement in Bitcoin mining activity, along with long replacement cycles for older, less efficient mining rigs. Even the best case scenario has Bitcoin consuming a shocking amount of electricity.