Tuesday August 20th, 2019

Disinfo of the Day

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Twitter Safety: Information operations directed at Hong Kong:

This disclosure consists of 936 accounts originating from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground. Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation. Specifically, we identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests.

As Twitter is blocked in PRC, many of these accounts accessed Twitter using VPNs. However, some accounts accessed Twitter from specific unblocked IP addresses originating in mainland China. The accounts we are sharing today represent the most active portions of this campaign; a larger, spammy network of approximately 200,000 accounts — many created following our initial suspensions — were proactively suspended before they were substantially active on the service.

And on another side, Falun Gong, aliens from undiscovered dimensions, a commune in upstate new york with arranged relationships, often for immigration purposes: Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times

Started almost two decades ago with a stated mission to “provide information to Chinese communities to help immigrants assimilate into American society,” The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet.

Via this Twitter thread. Bonus: White House reviews incident involving Epoch Times photographer handing a folder to Trump

Monday August 19th, 2019

Global Disinformation Index

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Department of "Duh": Websites that peddle disinformation make millions of dollars in ads, new study finds

At least $235 million in revenue is generated annually from ads running on extremist and disinformation websites, according to a new study from the Global Disinformation Index provided exclusively to CNN ahead of its September release. That means the people behind websites propagating hate or false information don't just have an ideological influence — they can also make big money from advertisers who often are unhappy or unaware that their brand name is being displayed alongside content they do not endorse.

Fact-checkers

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Influencers

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A decade or a decade and a half a go, I helped a pour the foundation for a laundry shed. If I knew then what I knew now, we'd have found a place to set a concrete pump, but instead rented an electric mixer and poured from bagged concrete.

Memory is hazy. It was tens of of bags. At least 35, something is telling me it may have been as many as 65 bags. At any rate it was a brutal tiring day.

What I'm saying is that I realize that I was doing a bunch of digging in summer Petaluma clay with the pick to dig the place for the footings, and I was mixing the bags by hand today, but the 11 bags I poured today just kicked my ass.

I gotta do more upper body stuff.

Sunday August 18th, 2019

Barn Dance with Evie Ladin out at Tara Firma Farms this evening. One of these in 2012 was what got me into square dancing.

So there's alcohol, and lots of people who are out there for the first night, but it's high energy, family environment. Lot of fun. Charlene wasn't dancing, later in the evening I was looking for a partner, a woman started squaring up with her young daughter, who got distracted by something and took off running somewhere, so I said "wanna dance?", and she did.

So we're doing the walkthrough, and there's an Allemande Left your Corner, Swing your Partner. We do the hooked right arm swing, but in the process I say something about a Ballroom Swing, and she says "what's that?", so I show her, and the fancy twirl into promenade position, and then the unwinding to end the promenade back at home...

And she says "Oh, apparently it's something adults know."

Jesus, when did I get old?

Friday August 16th, 2019

Sustainable Communities Alliance

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Because I'm gonna want this come initiatives on the ballot time, a Twitter thread on the "Livable California" / "Sustainable Communities Alliance" family of PACs, with amusing forays into the new name and re-branding to shed the image of being "white suburban NIMBYs."

Thursday August 15th, 2019

Tobacco warnings

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FDA announces tobacco warnings and labeling. NYT article on the new warnings.

Writes a friend:

In 2009, congress passed a law requiring FDA to adopt graphic warning labels, which they did in 2010. The tobacco industry successfully challenged those specific labels as being overblown and going beyond the science. Today, FDA announces a proposed rule to require graphic warning labels. The rule will be open for public comment for a year.

A comparison with Canada's warnings which, I'm told, are reasonably tame.

USCanada

Wednesday August 14th, 2019

Negative Yields

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Banks are paying people to borrow money. That’s alarming news for the global economy. (Mirror at MSN) (Via MeFi, with more examples of modern financial instruments that have negative yields)

“It’s an absurdly odd world and it signals two things,” said investment banker Daniel Alpert, managing partner at Westwood Capital. “There’s an obvious, persistent and continuous glut of underutilized capital and there’s no place in the advanced world for that capital to be invested without excess risk.”

Except for... Oh, I dunno... companies like WeWork and Uber?

I'm not sure if I understand economics, but I think money is a proxy for utility, or work accomplished that has value to other people. Money supply is an attempt to match the potential for utility, in the hopes that it will enable the exchanges necessary for the work that will accomplish that utility to be done.

As I read it, the money keeps flowing out from Central Banks which believe there is potential for utility, but to people who are tying it up in unproductive uses: high end real estate, art, yachts, etc. Indications are that there's this huge potentially productive potential out there, but somehow those ending up with the money aren't using it in that way; they're frittering it away in hopes of keeping it, rather than circulating it.

Seems like this imbalance will be solved by those who have the unrealized potential to be productive appropriating that money. Since it isn't happening voluntarily, that's gonna be ugly.

Later addition: How Monopolies Broke The Federal Reserve

Well, maybe not any Republican population

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Busted by his own departmnet

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Richland County South Carolina deputy caught in child sex sting by his own department

The State reports Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced the arrest of Deputy Derek Vandenham on Tuesday. Twelve other law enforcement agencies assisted in “Operation Relentless Guardian,” during which deputies pretended to be 13- to 15-year-old girls and chatted with men online.

Biometrics in the news

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As summer camps turn on facial recognition, parents demand: More smiles, please. Summer camps are using facial recognition to automatically send parents pictures of their kids involved in various activities.

Unrelated: Major breach found in biometrics system used by banks, UK police and defence firms — Fingerprints, facial recognition and other personal information from Biostar 2 discovered on publicly accessible database:

The researchers said the sheer scale of the breach was alarming because the service is in 1.5m locations across the world and because, unlike passwords being leaked, when fingerprints are leaked, you can’t change your fingerprint.

Mexico medical tourism

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New York Times: A Mexican Hospital, an American Surgeon, and a $5,000 Check (Yes, a Check). American surgeons and American patients flying to Mexico, and the insurer paying some of the net back to the patient.

Given that the staff for this operation was all US, this implies that the problem is hospital overhead. I wonder if the US's insane healthcare costs and awful outcomes relative to the developed world are due to the lack of social safety net that pushes a lot of that bottom tier on to hospitals.

Or whether we've just got hospital administrators who are milking every spare bit of value out of the system...

Tuesday August 13th, 2019

So another way to view this whole

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So another way to view this whole Tumblr thing is that it was worth a billion dollars to Verizon to remove that porn from the Internet. Something to ponder as we serve our corporate masters.

Are they really false positives?

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Amazon's Facial Recognition Misidentified 1 in 5 California Lawmakers as Criminals

The ACLU tested Rekognition, Amazon's facial recognition technology, on photographs of California lawmakers. It matched 26 of them to mugshots.

Ethics Class

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RT the hypo @TheHyyyype:

law professor: you're currently failing your ethics class

me: *slides a $20 across the desk* how about now

Reply by Gary Anderson @DamagedWriter

law professor: A twenty? Now you're failing economics as well.

32 short stories about death in prison

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In case you can handle some horror. Prison, as instituted in the United States, is a horrible barbaric institution: Thirty-Two Short Stories About Death in Prison — These stories don’t mention Jeffrey Epstein, but they are about him.

Monday August 12th, 2019

Subsidized Rides

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'I'm Back to Riding My Own Bike.' Higher Prices Threaten Silicon Valley’s Mobility Revolution

JUMP’s price increases were part of a larger trend across the sharing economy. On-demand services of all kinds have been significantly subsidized by investors as a means of attracting users with low prices. But as companies like Uber and Lyft go public and face shareholder pressure to make money, those subsidizes are ending. That means customers are now being asked to pay what it actually costs companies to provide them with shareable bikes, scooters, and rides. “The amount that venture capitalists are subsidizing people’s lives right now is much higher than people realized,” says Sam Korus, an analyst with investment firm ARK Invest.

Invisible Crimes

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Heather Heyer's not on this FBI list. How hate crimes become invisible.

Relying on individual police agencies to have enough resources and good will to report leaves huge holes in the data. And experts say that makes it difficult if not impossible to understand the full scope of hate in America with the ultimate goal of tackling it and even saving lives.

Sunday August 11th, 2019

Cut off wheels

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Cut off wheels. The "that wasn't a request" of stuck set screws in coupling collars.

Friday August 9th, 2019

Ribbon Lift

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I often scoff at the ads Facebook shows me, but sometimes... I mean, it's not like I have a particular use for something that'll lift a human being (or 400lb load) on a 30" platform to 16' in the air from a 4'x4' box, but dayumn this is cool!

Maybe my square dance calling needs a little more aerial theatrics or something... All Access Staging Productions Ribbon Lift

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARlw8zim3R8