I read more internets

“The analysts have now applied the same approach to picking stocks based on particular industries. Again, the sectors where workers gave the best reviews on Glassdoor between 2013 and 2019 easily outperformed those where employees gave a thumbs down.”
Research suggests happy employees are good for firms and investors, The Economist, October 31, 2019


“Baseball is an institution as American as the presidency itself. It also reflects politicians’ inability to keep away from a popular game. Even Theodore Roosevelt, who despised baseball, felt unable to say so publicly. And every subsequent president bar one has marked the start of the baseball season or its epic denouement, the World Series, by throwing a ceremonial ‘first pitch’—starting with William Howard Taft, a huge fan in every sense. (Though he did not, as many claim, invent the ‘seventh-inning stretch’ by unfurling his cramped limbs while watching the Washington Senators.) The sole exception is Donald Trump.”
“Yet Mr Trump’s divisiveness has turned this into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Charged with partisan grievance, many on the left want to scrap the electoral college, pack the courts—do whatever it takes to never again be tyrannised by an antediluvian minority. Conservatives may soon have more than the odd gay wedding cake to contend with.”
Donald Trump’s embarrassing reception at the World Series was a defining moment of his presidency, The Economist, October 31, 2019

I love the baseball. It’s the only team sport I understand.

“Halloween is now a billion-dollar industry in America. The National Retail Federation expected consumers to spend $8.8bn this year. Yet unlike candy corn or spider-web decorations, fangs have become a year-round phenomenon. Most of Mr Lore’s clients wear their fangs—which can cost as much as $1,200—regularly. Ninety percent of his customers are women between the ages of 20 and 40. They tend to be active in the vampire subculture of people who identify as or at least behave like vampires. Other customers want pointier teeth or simply think fangs will help them express their personalities better—’like jewellery’, Mr Lore says.”
Dentistry for the undead. Interest in vampires boosts the fang trade, The Economist, Oct 30, 2019

Interest in vampires boosts the fang trade, The Economist, Oct 30, 2019

For once they’re not talking about the Facebook Amazon Netflix Google.

“Still an interesting result, then. But not what had originally been claimed. Translating the retraction’s jargon, Dr Decety and his colleagues were confessing to the fact that the numerical codes they had assigned to the various countries involved in the study (1=usa, 2=Canada and so on) had been incorporated by accident into the calculation, and had thus thrown the result out of whack.”
A tale of mistake and retraction shows that science works—eventually, The Economist, Nov 2, 2019

I wonder if Excel was involved. Always double, triple check your formulas.

“That has left many in Washington confused. On one hand, the attorney whom Mr Barr has put in charge of the investigation—John Durham, the chief federal prosecutor in Connecticut—is respected across the political spectrum for his apolitical thoroughness as well as his probity. A criminal inquiry gives him the power to subpoena witnesses, empanel grand juries and bring indictments.”
In search of lost crime. The Justice Department opens a criminal investigation into itself, The Economist, Nov 2, 2019

Does our government ever do any, y’know, governing? I’m beginning to wonder.

In search of lost crime ha ha, very funny Economist, it is to laugh.

“Meaningless prose is not only the preserve of artificial intelligence. There is already a large quantity of writing that seems to make sense, but ultimately doesn’t, at least to a majority of readers. In 1996 Alan Sokal famously submitted a bogus article to a humanities journal, with ideas that were complete nonsense but with language that expertly simulated fashionable post-modernist academic prose. It was accepted. Three scholars repeated the ruse in 2017, getting four of 20 fake papers published. Humans already produce language that is devoid of meaning, intentionally and otherwise.”
Don’t fear the Writernator. Computer-generated writing will never replace the human kind, The Economist, Nov 2, 2019

Well, that’s a relief. Now I can stop worrying that my microwave oven is going to win the National Book award before I do.

“Marshall suggests that the endurance of director Ridley Scott’s vision of LA is linked not to its clairvoyance, but to its use of architectural treasures from the city’s ‘real past’ that appear in the movie, including the Bradbury Building, Union Station, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House. (In a way, Marshall says, the use of the Bradbury anticipated the adaptive-reuse ordinance that totally transformed Downtown by allowing for the reuse of old buildings for new purposes.)”
How did ‘Blade Runner’ stick as the vision of LA’s future?, Curbed, Nov 1, 2019

You know, whenever I’d get homesick for LA in Prague, I’d go see “Blade Runner.” It was always playing in at least one cinema in town; I’ve no idea why.

“Employee-owned companies are still relatively uncommon. California is home to 780 companies offering Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), covering more than half a million workers, according to data from the National Center for Employee Ownership.”
California Business Owners Spread The Wealth By Selling Their Companies To Their Workers, LAist.com, Nov 1, 2019

Okay, everybody settle down, it’s still capitalism in a capitalist society. Just relax.

“And so today, as my last vote, I voted on impeachment proceedings, not just because of corruption, obstruction of justice, or gross misconduct, but because of the deepest abuse of power – including the abuse of power over women.

“Today, as my final act, I voted to move forward with the impeachment of Donald Trump on behalf of the women of the United States of America.

“We will not stand down.

“We will not be broken.

“We will not be silenced.

“We will rise, and we will make tomorrow better than today.

“Thank you, and I yield the balance of my time for now, but not forever.”
Katie Hill’s Full Final Speech To Congress: ‘I Am Leaving Now Because Of A Double Standard’ LAist.com, Oct 31, 2019

I hope we haven’t seen the last of Katie Hill. I wish she’d stayed and fought, but I understand better why she didn’t.

“A similar flurry of activity is under way in China, which wants to lead the world in ai by 2030 (by what measure is unclear), and in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin famously predicted that ‘whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world’. But the paradox is that AI might at once penetrate and thicken the fog of war, allowing it to be waged with a speed and complexity that renders it essentially opaque to humans.
“Algorithms, of course, are omnivorous and can be fed any sort of data, not just images. ‘Bulk data combined with modern analytics make the modern world transparent,’ noted Sir Alex Younger, the head of mi6, Britain’s spy agency, in December. In 2012 leaked documents from the nsa, America’s signals-intelligence agency, described a programme (reassuringly called Skynet), which applied machine learning to Pakistani mobile-phone data in order to pick out individuals who might be couriers for terrorist groups. …”
Artificial intelligence is changing every aspect of war, The Economist, Sept 7, 2019

I really think humans should try to keep up with their tech. However, I’m reading the Gaia guy, James Lovelock’s new book “Novacene. The coming age of hyperinteligence.” He thinks AI-origin sentient cyborgs/androids will inherit the earth one day, and treat any residual humans as exotic houseplants. So there is something to look forward to.

And, “Skynet”, fanboys? Thanks for that, you ninnys.

“Remember when Uber was hacked but paid the hackers $100,000 in hush money to delete the data and zip their lips about it?

“The two guys who did the hack, they’re going down.

“Brandon Charles Glover, 26, of Florida, and Vasile Mereacre, 23, of Toronto, each pleaded guilty on Wednesday in a San Jose court house in California to one charge of conspiracy to commit extortion involving computers. Specifically, they pleaded guilty to stealing companies’ personal information that was stored on Amazon Web Services from October 2016 to January 2017 and then demanding money to destroy their copies of the data.”
Hackers plead guilty to breach that Uber covered up, Sophos blog, Nov 1, 2019

Personally, I’m more worried about Amazon Web Services than Skynet. Mainly because AWS is real (and apparently hackable).

“For years, people have handed thousands of dollars to copyright trolls in order to avoid the embarrassment of getting dragged through court over charges of downloading pirated videos from BitTorrent sites.

“The trolls have pounced on downloaders, filing copyright lawsuits over illegal downloads against ‘John Doe’ defendants, whom they only know by IP address.

“But last week, a court in the US state of New Jersey refused to play ball, instead coming down on the side of the privacy rights of the ISP account holders who are targeted.”
Judge lambasts porn company for spewing copyright lawsuits, Sophos blog, Oct 31, 2019

Not that I approve of extortion as a cottage industry, however, I’m not sure whom this is good news for.

“What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit.”
John Updike



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