Facebook paid Teen Vogue to run a fake article praising Facebook for "helping ensure the integrity of the 2020 election"

Everyone knows Facebook is doing the opposite of helping ensure the integrity of the 2020 election, so it makes sense it would pay Teen Vogue to run a fake article titled “How Facebook Is Helping Ensure the Integrity of the 2020 Election.”

When the article ran on Wednesday, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s machiavellian chief operating officer posted on her Facebook page, "Great Teen Vogue piece about five incredible women protecting elections on Facebook. Since 2016, we've worked to stop the spread of misinformation, fight foreign interference and voter suppression, improve transparency, and encourage people to vote." Lol.

Shortly after the byline-free "article" ran, a notice appeared at the top, which said, “Editor’s note: This is sponsored editorial content.” A little while later, the piece disappeared entirely.

The curious piece, and its sudden disappearance, became a topic of online conversation, prompting Teen Vogue to issue a statement that read, “We made a series of errors labeling this piece, and we apologize for any confusion this may have caused. We don’t take our audience’s trust for granted, and ultimately decided that the piece should be taken down entirely to avoid further confusion."

The New York Times looked into it and got the story:

Facebook pitched the idea for the article last year, when the social media network and the online magazine were in talks about the Teen Vogue Summit, a three-day event that took place in Los Angeles in November, with speakers including the YouTube star Liza Koshy and the film director Greta Gerwig.

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After random surveillance images started to show up on users' devices, Google blocked Xiaomi from running Assistant or Google Home

Last week, a redditor posted that "When I load the Xiaomi camera in my Google home hub I get stills from other people's homes!!" The post included video of the user's tablet showing stills of strangers in their homes, including some of strangers asleep in their bedrooms. Read the rest

Kentucky's former GOP governor pardoned a bunch of rapists and murderers on his way out of office, including a child rapist

Former Republican Governor of Kentucky Matt Bevin pardoned 28 prisoners on his way out of office, including Micah Schoettle, convicted of repeatedly raping a nine year old girl over a two year period, often while her sister was present. Bevin told a conservative talk-show host that he believed Schoettle had been falsely accused and convicted, citing his understanding that child rape survivor's hymen was intact (a peer-reviewed study of girls who survive rape found that only 2.1% of them had visible damage to their hymens; Bevin told an interviewer "This is perhaps more specific than people would want, but trust me, if you have been repeatedly sexually violated as a small child by an adult, there are going to be repercussions of that physically and medically"). Read the rest

See the winners of the best optical illusion of the year contest

Every year, the nonprofit Neural Correlate Society, an organization "that promotes scientific research into the neural correlates of perception and cognition," holds a competition for the Best Illusion of the Year. This year's winner is the above "Dual Axis Illusion" created by Frank Force (USA).

"This spinning shape appears to defy logic by rotating around both the horizontal and vertical axis at the same time!" reads the description. "To make things even more confusing, the direction of rotation is also ambiguous. Some visual cues in the video will help viewers change their perception."

Below, second prize winner "Change the Color" by Haruaki Fukuda (Japan) and third prize winner "The Rotating Circles Illusion" by Ryan E.B. Mruczek and Gideon Paul Caplovitz (USA).

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Trump impeached: U.S. House of Representatives votes

On a party-line vote, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Trump on two counts this evening. Trump is only the third U.S. head of state to be impeached, and now proceeds to the U.S. Senate for trial. There is no illusion about what will happen there, as leaders of his party have already signaled they will not convict him irrespective of the evidence presented. Read the rest

Leviathan: an eight foot tall, seven foot wide assemblage sculpture "ghost ship"

Last year, artist Jason Stieva completed work on "Leviathan – Ark of the Apocalypse," a spectacular, 7-foot-long, 8-foot-high sculpture of a ghostly pirate ship. Steiva is an assemblage sculptor and tattoo artist from Whitby, ON who spent 15 months on the ship, which is populated by a variety of readymade Warcraft miniatures and other findings. Read the rest

Will a cat walk on aluminum foil?

In this experiment, aluminum foil is spread out on the floor of a hallway. The only way for this cat to walk down the hallway is by walking on top of the foil, something cats are known to dislike. What will happen???

Image: YouTube

[via Neatorama] Read the rest

Why are pigeons in Las Vegas wearing cowboy hats?

In the Las Vegas Valley, some pigeons are wearing cowboy hats. While the chapeaus may seem cute on first glance, and pigeons are annoying anyway, it's unlikely they are purposely making a fashion statement. A "pigeon positive" animal rescue group called Lofty Hopes is now trying to catch the pigeons and safely remove their hats.

"Did they glue them? And what does that mean for them?” (Lofty Hopes head Mariah) Hillman told KVVU-TV. "Is it something that's going to impede their flight or attract predators?"

“We drove up and down here yesterday for a good two hours just handing out business cards to any location where I saw pigeons and people," Hillman said. "If you see these birds, just feed them until I get here. I'm only 3 miles away and I'll come trap them." Read the rest

William Gibson profiled in The New Yorker

In the December 9, 2019 issue of The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman profiles one of the most influential authors in recent decades, William Gibson.

Gibson doesn’t have a name for his method; he knows only that it isn’t about prediction. It proceeds, instead, from a deep engagement with the present. When Gibson was starting to write, in the late nineteen-seventies, he watched kids playing games in video arcades and noticed how they ducked and twisted, as though they were on the other side of the screen. The Sony Walkman had just been introduced, so he bought one; he lived in Vancouver, and when he explored the city at night, listening to Joy Division, he felt as though the music were being transmitted directly into his brain, where it could merge with his perceptions of skyscrapers and slums. His wife, Deborah, was a graduate student in linguistics who taught E.S.L. He listened to her young Japanese students talk about Vancouver as though it were a backwater; Tokyo must really be something, he thought. He remembered a weeping ambulance driver in a bar, saying, “She flatlined.” On a legal pad, Gibson tried inventing words to describe the space behind the screen; he crossed out “infospace” and “dataspace” before coming up with “cyberspace.” He didn’t know what it might be, but it sounded cool, like something a person might explore even though it was dangerous.

(Image: William Gibson by Frédéric Poirot , CC-BY) Read the rest

Welsh password generator

Princen Alice created a "password generator" that glues random Welsh-sounding words into a craggy landscape of letters. It's probably not very good, since it's three or four dictionary words and a number plus the fallacious ethnocentric belief that unpronouceability to English speakers reflects randomness, but what a delightful mess! Read the rest

Lawsuit: Burger King cooking vegan burgers on same grill plate as meat

Does cooking a Impossible Burger on the same surface used to cook normal burgers "contaminate" them with meat by-products? Is Burger King doing this? A vegan diner makes these claims in a lawsuit filed Monday against the fast-food chain. Reuters:

The lawsuit filed in Miami federal court seeks damages for all U.S. purchasers of the Impossible Whopper, and an injunction requiring Burger King to “plainly disclose” that Impossible Whoppers and regular burgers are cooked on the same grills. [Burger King] describes the Impossible Burger as “100% Whopper, 0% Beef,” and adds that “for guests looking for a meat-free option, a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request.”

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Sand thieves and unreliable GPS near the Port of Shanghai

Mariners rely on GPS to avoid collisions, but increasingly they're finding GPS cannot be relied on near the Port of Shanghai:

In fact, something far more dangerous was happening, and the Manukai’s captain was unaware of it. Although the American ship’s GPS signals initially seemed to have just been jammed, both it and its neighbor had also been spoofed—their true position and speed replaced by false coordinates broadcast from the ground.

...

Analysts noticed that the attacks had actually started the previous summer, increasing as the months rolled on. The most intense interference was recorded on the very day in July that the Manukai’s captain reported difficulties, when a total of nearly 300 vessels had their locations spoofed.

The spoofing could be China testing a new electronic weapon.  Or it could be sand pirates trying to sneak through the area:

Chinese builders call it “soft gold.” Sand dredged from Yangtze River, which has the ideal consistency and composition for cement, helped fuel Shanghai’s construction boom in the 1980s and 1990s. By the turn of the millennium, reckless sand extraction had undermined bridges, trashed ecosystems, and caused long stretches of the riverbank to collapse. In 2000, Chinese authorities banned sand mining on the Yangtze completely.

The trade continued illicitly, however, expanding to include the illegal dredging of sand and gravel from the Yangtze estuary and the open seas near Shanghai. By day, such ships look innocuous. By night, they lower pipes to the riverbed to suck up thousands of tons of sand in a single session.

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"Softbody Tetris": what if tetronimoes were made of jello?

C4D4U's SOFTBODY TETRIS V16 is (as the name implies), the latest in a series of "softbody" simulations of Tetris, in which the tetronimoes are rubbery, jelly-like solids that glisten as they wobble into place. It's an incredibly soothing thing to watch (C4D4U calls them "ASMR for my eyes") and part of a wider genre of softbody sims. JWZ argues that this "becomes intolerable" upon the "realization that completed rows don't liquify" but if that's your thing, you need SOFTBODY TETRIS V9. Read the rest

Man helps beaver carry branch

This kind man assisted a beaver with a heavy burden. Read the rest

Supreme Court blocks House Democrats' subpoena for Trump's tax returns, for now

The Supreme Court today issued an administrative stay that blocks a subpoena from House Democrats for Donald Trump's tax returns. Read the rest

Kentucky atheist can get ‘IM GOD’ license plate, US court rules

A federal court ruled today that an atheist gentleman from Kentucky should be permitted to get a personalized license plate from the state with the phrase “IM GOD” on it. The man is committed to his cause -- this only took three years of legal fighting. Read the rest

Narwhal the 'Unicorn Puppy' has 'tail' on head he can't wag

10-week-old puppy Narwhal has tail-like appendage growing from forehead

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