Day: November 9, 2016

Senate investigates Wells Fargo retaliations against whistleblowers

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One after another, ex-Wells Fargo employees have come forward to reveal that when they blew the whistle of millions of frauds committed against the bank’s customers, the bank’s management fired them and blackballed them from the banking industry for life, by falsifying claims of wrongdoing on a semi-secret list of corrupt bankers that is consulted by the industry before they make new hires.
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Kitten Academy livestream

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Welcome to Kitten Academy, hosts of a livestream featuring “kittens learning to cat”.

“If there is nothing going on, you can rewind the stream up to 4 hours to see action,” the description promises. But the kittens are out in full force this morning.

Brief FAQ:

– We are kitten fosters, trying to help rescued cats get adopted by loving homes.

– We’re in Illinois, USA.

– Yes, it’s really live 24/7… forever.

– We turn off the lights at night, but we have good night-vision set up. For the cats, it seems dark.

– We don’t get paid for this — we pay for this.

– This stream began on April 20th, 2016. YouTube’s time is incorrect.

– ADOPTION: Kittens may be adopted through Animal Outreach Society of McHenry

There is a “cheat sheet” to help ID specific kittens. GIFs and other kittenalia are collected at @kitten_academy. Here’s a nice video of the kittens sleeping:

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Asshole stick: DIY USB destroyer the size of a thumbdrive

asshole box

This gadget does exactly as promised: it looks like a thumbdrive (sort of) and fries the circuitry of any computer it’s plugged into. It’s made from camera flash parts, is charged with a standard AA battery, and delivers a 300V zap of DC destruction to the port for all your USB-murdering needs.

Note that this is not useful for any interesting purpose (unlike, say, the USB Kill stick): it won’t scramble or delete data or accomplish any forensic or utilitarian outcome. It’s just an asshole stick.

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Canada's immigration website mysteriously crashes

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The BBC reports that Canada’s immigration info website has been intermittently unavailable through the night and early morning. Experts are trying to discern what on Earth might have caused a great many people to visit the website all at once, straining its resources.

I get the above appropriately blurry, tantalizing view of gros morne national park, but nothing to click on and nowhere to go.

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What does it mean to be human in an age of machines?

The Neurobotics Lab's prosthetic hand is a close replica of an actual human hand. Researchers are working to integrate it with the human nervous system. Credit: M. Levin, University of Washington

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In his 1854 book, Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Men have become the tools of their tools.” Thoreau’s assertion is as valid today as it was when he made it over one hundred and sixty years ago. Whenever we shape technology, it shapes us, both as individuals and as a society. We created cars, and cars turned us into motorists, auto mechanics, and commuters.

Over the centuries we’ve populated our world with machines that help us do things we can’t or don’t want to do ourselves. Our world has become so saturated with machines that they’ve faded into the background. We hardly notice them. We are reaching a new threshold. Our machines are getting networked, and enabling new forms of human machine symbiosis. We’re entering a new era where fifty billion machines are in constant communication, automating and orchestrating the movement and interactions among individuals, organizations, and cities.

Institute for the Future (IFTF) is a non-profit think tank in Silicon Valley, that helps organizations and the public think about long term future plans to make better decisions in the present. Mark Frauenfelder, a research director at IFTF interviewed Rod Falcon, IFTF’s Director of the Technology Horizons Program, which combines a deep understanding of technology and societal forces, to identify and evaluate these discontinuities and innovations in the near future. Rod discussed Tech Horizon’s recent research into how machine automation is becoming an integrated, embedded, and ultimately invisible part of virtually every aspect of our lives.

What was IFTF’s motivation for exploring what automation might look like in the future?

When people hear the word automation, they often think about the future of jobs. And certainly,
automation will impact what it means to have work as well as how meaningful that work might be. But our research motivation was to go beyond the debate over whether or not humans are in a zero-sum race against machines. Instead, we are interested in the future of human-machine symbiosis and moving the conversation to a place where humans and machines will coevolve. We’re raising the questions, “What does it mean to be human in an age of machines, and can we coevolve?”

As we design new things, new services, and new experiences with technology, how can we design those with principles that optimize for symbiosis? Right now, a lot of our machines and technology experiences are encoded with notions of productivity, efficiency, and optimization, but different possibilities open up when we think about encoding those systems with values and principles that ensure equity and inclusivity.

The Automated World Project looked at the way machines can change our behavior in ways that we didn’t anticipate. Could you talk about that?

We often underestimate how we accommodate technology in our lives and how it changes the way we go about our lives. Technology often disappears into the background. For example, we don’t think of clocks as a technology. If we take …read more

Arizona voters ditch longtime Sheriff Joe Arpaio

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Joe Arpaio, the infamously nasty sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, is losing his badge. After seven terms in office, he was finally ditched by voters in favor of a challenger, Paul Penzone. NPR reports that the incoming sheriff has a lot to do cleaning up Arpaio’s scandal-ridden department.

The defeat ends a run in office that began the same year Bill Clinton first won the presidency. It comes two weeks after Arpaio, 84, was charged with criminal contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order in a racial profiling case.

He talks tough, but his immigrant-hunting games and mistreatment of inmates have cost the county vast sums in settlements, writes Rebekah L. Sanders. The racial profiling case alone cost local taxpayers $15m or so in legal fees and payouts.

The case began in 2007 when Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres, a Mexican tourist legally in the United States, was stopped outside a Cave Creek church where day laborers were known to gather. Melendres, a passenger in a car driven by a white driver, claimed that deputies detained him for nine hours and that the detention was unlawful.

Eventually, the case grew to include the complaints of two Hispanic siblings from Chicago who felt they were profiled by sheriff’s deputies, and an assistant to former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, whose Hispanic husband claimed he was detained and cited while white motorists nearby were treated differently.

This is just what they finally nailed him on; among the many “controversies” that Arpaio enjoyed, prison deaths and arrests of critics were among the many preludes. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

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New portrait of Queen unveiled

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Irishman Colin Davidson painted the new official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

“With anybody I paint, it’s a human being in their own right, but with this particular painting I was aware of the gravity and sheer importance and weight which comes with the person I was painting.”

Davidson sees it as symbolic of a closer relationship between Britain and Ireland, reports Robbie Meredith. Elizabeth became the world’s longest-reigning head of state in October after the death of Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej.

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New portrait of Queen unveiled

queen-eliz

Irishman Colin Davidson painted the new official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

“With anybody I paint, it’s a human being in their own right, but with this particular painting I was aware of the gravity and sheer importance and weight which comes with the person I was painting.”

Davidson sees it as symbolic of a closer relationship between Britain and Ireland, reports Robbie Meredith. Elizabeth became the world’s longest-reigning head of state in October after the death of Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej.

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Crash test: Nissan sold in Mexico vs. Nissan sold in USA

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85OysZ_4lp0&feature=youtu.be

Safety standards matter. The cheapest Nissan sold in Mexico, the Tsuru, and the cheapest Nissan sold in the USA, the Versa, were driven into one another at 40 miles per hour. You don’t want to be in either car, but you definitely don’t want to be in the Tsuru.

A car-to-car test between a 2015 Nissan Tsuru, the least expensive sedan sold by Nissan in Mexico, and a 2016 Nissan Versa, the least expensive sedan sold by Nissan in the United States. With a 50% overlap and each vehicle travelling at 40 mph (64 km/h) the test highlights the significant differences in safety standards between these two baseline models sold by the same manufacturer in different markets.

Wired reports that the Tsuru (basically a 1990s Sentra) is being put to pasture soon, and that Mexico is toughening its car safety laws.

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If ever there was a time to watch Chaplain's speech from "The Great Dictator..."

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I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
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If ever there was a time to watch Chaplain’s speech from “The Great Dictator…”

animation-1

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
(more…)

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Theranos, failed blood-testing startup, sued by Walgreens for $140m

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Theranos, led by charismatic founder Elizabeth Holmes, became a billion-dollar startup on the promise of a pinprick blood test that doesn’t work. Walgreens, a retailer suckered into partnering the scam, is suing what’s left of it for $140m.

Walgreens has filed suit against Theranos in Delaware district court, asking for $140 million and alleging a breach of contract.

Walgreens successfully moved to seal the complaint, citing the non-disclosure agreement, so the details of the alleged contractual breach are still unknown. A Walgreens spokesperson confirmed that the company had filed the lawsuit, but declined to add further comment.

Walgreens operated the “Theranos wellness centers,” but apparently never bothered to validate the technology. (Previously)

Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC BY 2.0)

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On Star Trek and the radical feminism of believing women

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In this great essay, lawyer and writer Mirah Curzer examines the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Remember Me” from a feminist lens. The episode centers on Dr. Beverly Crusher, who begins to notice that people are disappearing and she’s the only one who can remember that they ever existed. Curzer writes:

What surprised me the most about the episode was how long it took for anyone to question Beverly’s reliability.

She says someone is missing, but no one remembers him coming onto the ship, and they can’t find any record of him ever being born. And yet they mobilize all resources to find him and the other missing people only Beverly remembers. They sideline their mission and change course more than once based on her unconfirmed claim that something is wrong. It is only 20 minutes into the episode that Picard gently and hesitantly suggests that maybe the problem could be her memory.

And even after Picard has asked Beverly to see the counselor because he thinks she may be having memory issues, he still trusts her. She asks him to turn the ship around even though she has no evidence to present but her own memory—which is contradicted by everyone else’s memory as well as all the physical evidence. And still, he responds:

“Your word has always been good enough for me.”

You can read the full essay over on Medium.

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Market Crashes As Traders Suddenly Worried Trump Can Win

Source: www.zerohedge.com – Tuesday, November 08, 2016
After some early shenanigans, the markets are turmoiling as Trump takes an unexpected lead in several battleground states including Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina The Peso plunged above 19/$, Dow Futures crashed below 18,000 and Gold is testing towards $1300… This massive puke has erased all the post-Comey gains (or losses in Gold) – Dow down 450 points, Peso crashed 9%!

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