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Trump's reign is sad for tech, too

29 April[ —]

The first 100 days of Trump's presidency were a shambolic festival of incompetence and looming catastrophe. But it's not all about beltway politics, you know! Because the intense (and reasonable) focus is upon on the media-friendly dimensions of his buffoonery, we sometimes miss how it affects specific aspects of American life. The Verge took a look at what's already happening to the technology business, from the threatened end of net neutrality to immigration lockouts. If you had hoped tech might have gotten through unscathed, somehow, perhaps you aren't paying attention to how much his corner of the establishment hates it.

Under Donald Trump, Silicon Valley’s ideal of a global community no longer seems like the foregone conclusion it might have a few years ago, and people are still figuring out how to deal with the barriers Trump is erecting. Mass protests and legal battles have stalled bans on visitors from several Muslim-majority countries, and the president’s love of Twitter isn’t doing him any favors in court. But there's still plenty more on the table that points to a future of isolation, not interconnection.

The change in course has shaken tech titans who are dedicated to getting the whole world online (and on their platforms). Mark Zuckerberg published a defense of "global community" that acknowledged its discontents, hoping to win the public’s affection before either running for president or making reality obsolete. Uber, meanwhile, stayed true to form and turned the protests into a way to make people hate it even more.

The larger tech world, which is ground zero for the high-tech immigration debate, has been slowly mobilizing to defend immigration. But one has to wonder whether their focus on the H-1B visa program — which lots of people agree actually is in need of reform — isn’t self-serving. In the meantime, the administration’s xenophobic rhetoric, coupled with actual violent incidents and aggressive deportations, is creating a culture of fear.

One can be ambivalent about the motives of Silicon Valley in all this, for sure. But their inane grinning platitudes belie something deeply useless about them when it comes to politics, especially opposition to Trump, that goes beyond the present crisis. Take the cringe humor of Zuckerberg's strange, alien replica of how a presidential aspirant should address the public, for example: it's so obviously, comically false it seems like a joke.

But then you remember: Donald Trump is president. Nothing is impossible.


Flying Fox enjoys grape

29 April[ —]

Megabattie posted a video of a female grey-headed flying fox who is "happy to stuff her face" with grapes.

Green grapes, red grapes - any grapes.

This bat is not a pet - she's a wild animal who was rescued, nursed back to health, and released, fatter and healthier, and still pregnant, about 6 weeks after she was rescued, almost dead.

Do not handle bats unless you're vaccinated and trained. Some bats (a very small percentage) may carry deadly viruses.

Call a wildlife group if you find a bat in trouble. If you get bitten or scratched, go to your local hospital and you will be vaccinated free of charge (in Australia).

Bats are nothing to be scared of if you leave them alone.


In 1961 an IBM 7094 was the first computer to sing

29 April[ —]

I had no idea!

Evidently HAL 9000 sang Daisy Bell as a tribute, it is the first song ever sung by a computer. In 1961 an IBM 7094 was the first to raise its voice in song.

The vocals were programmed by John Kelly and Carol Lockbaum and accompaniment was programmed by Max Mathews, but the song was written by Harry Dacre, almost a century earlier, in 1892.


Already regretting assigning J.G. Ballard to cover the Fyre Festival

29 April[ —]

(Note to proofreader: I just received this copy and figure it should just go up verbatim. Next time they do something like this remind me to send William Golding instead. — Rob)

Later, as he sat in his tent eating the doggo, Robin Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place at the Fyre Festival during the previous three hours.

Now that everything had returned to normal, with most of the rich kids cowering in the airport and the ostensible proprietors begging Twitter for forgiveness and mercy, he was surprised that there had been no obvious beginning, no point beyond which lunch had moved into a clearly more sinister dimension. In the middle of the field, a girl in an Afhan Whigs tee shirt screamed about gluten in the rye. (more…)


The 10 worst jobs in America right now

28 April[ —]

Not all careers are created equal. Take journalism, for example. High stress, low growth, very low pay. Why would anyone choose this field? (You're asking the wrong person.) According to CareerCast, who ranked the 200 most common jobs in America, journalism is a pretty crummy field to be in this year (as in, last place on the list).

CareerCast used metrics such as "growth outlook, income, environmental conditions and stress" as their basis in creating this list. Here is the methodology they used.

And now (...drumroll...), here are the 10 worst jobs of 2017:

1. Newspaper reporter (Median Salary: $37,820)

2. Broadcaster (Median Salary: $38,870)

3. Logger (Median Salary: $37,590)

4. Enlisted military personnel (Median Salary: $27,936)

5. Pest control worker (Median Salary: $33,040)

6. Disc jockey (Median Salary: $30,830)

7. Advertising salesperson (Median Salary: $50,380)

8. Firefighter (Median Salary: $48,030)

9. Retail salesperson (Median Salary: $22,900)

10. Taxi driver (Median Salary: $24,300)

And in case you're wondering, the very best job these days is that of statistician (Median Salary: $80,110). To see CareerCast's full list of 200 ranked jobs, click here.

Image: Israel Government Press Office


100g digital scale with 0.01g divisions for $10

28 April[ —]

scale-1

I've had this AWS 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale ($10) digital scale for a couple of years, and I used it twice a day when I'm home to weigh supplement powders (and sometimes loose leaf tea and coffee beans). It's about the size of an iPhone. It measures up to a limit of 100 grams in 0.01 gram increments. (more…)


Extreme wealth inequality will always devour the societies that produce it

28 April[ —]

My new novel Walkaway (US tour/UK tour) is set in a world that is being torn apart by out-of-control wealth inequality, but not everyone thinks that inequality is what destabilizes the world -- there's a kind of free-market belief that says the problem is really poverty, not inequality, and that the same forces that make the rich richer also lift poor people out of misery, delivering the sanitation, mass food production, communications tools and other innovations that rescues poor people from privation. (more…)


NYPD boasts about small-time weed bust, NY says "apologize and give it back"

28 April[ —]

A pair of New York's finest posed with 100 tiny bags of pot, tweeting, "One less marijuana dealer on our streets thanks to Officers Sardone and Winter." The twittersphere was not impressed.

[via]


Musical instruments cunningly disguised as household potteryware

28 April[ —]

At a pottery fair in Pittsburgh, I ran into Kimberlyn Bloise, who makes handsome musical instruments that are also mugs, vases and pendants. They sound and look wonderful, and have the strange quality of something both charming and haunting, like remnants of a vanished culture. You can order them from her online shop.

I put a lot of testing into my instruments, but none of them plays a full scale, and none are traditionally tuned. The clay changes so much from when I begin to working with it to when I have the finished product. It shrinks and expands, and the pitches change along with it. What I have been able to do is figure out where to place the holes in relation to the size of the resonating chamber (the hollow handle) so that the notes all sound good together on each individual piece. The flute mugs all play parts of a blues scale! Could I figure out traditional tuning on all of them? Probably. But it would take so much planning and effort, and my prices would have to reflect that. I'm sure you've noticed that "real" instruments are quite expensive, and I don't want to make mine that pricey! Plus, I don't intend for anyone to play the flute handle in any professional capacity, so I don't sweat it too much.

Here's a flute hidden in a mug handle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuLztv5XlXA

The large horn vase:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6uS-6HFytk

Here is the "complaining husky" horn vase:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrKp30pD-Kk

And the bouncy udu:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6hRxAXdOGQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnpAlO3WWTg


This surgeon says snoring is a voluntary habit and can be cured by singing God Save the Queen with your tongue poked out

28 April[ —]

People snore because they've lost throat muscle tone, says Dr. Mike Dilkes, an ear, nose and throat surgeon in London. In an interview with CBC, he offers an exercise to rebuild your throat muscles:

MD: There's a quick [exercise] you can do: Opening your mouth as wide as you can. Poking your tongue out as far as it'll go, so it hurts. You got to really strain your tongue out. Then you touch tip of your nose with your tongue. Then go south and touch your chin with your tongue. Then go side to side as far as you can. Then, as you're doing this, in a loud voice, sing something familiar like your national anthem.

CO: So if someone does this workout, four or five minutes a day, they'll stop snoring?

MD: If there's no other mechanical obstruction i.e. it's just an age-related problem, then yes — this is a good treatment.


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