Obscene

I just read on CNBC’s website that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, hits the $1 trillion-dollar market cap for today.

I think that few of us truly understand how obscene this amount of money is. Here are some interesting facts:

  • Spending $1 million an hour, non-stop for 24 hours a day, it would take 411 years to spend $1 trillion.
  • For the more frugal, it would take 1 million days (or just shy of 2,738 years) to go through $1 trillion by spending $1 million dollars per day.
  • If you spent one dollar every second around the clock, it would take you 312,688 years to spend $1 trillion dollars.
  • A case of copier paper will hold about $72,000 worth of one-dollar bills. It would take 1.4 billion boxes to hold $1 trillion dollars.
  • A tightly-stacked bundle of new $100 bills totaling $1 million would be about 4 feet high; a billion dollars would reach 4,000 ft. That means a stack of $100 bills totaling $1 trillion would reach 789 miles high.

Inconceivable!

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/16/alphabet-stock-hits-1-trillion-market-cap-for-first-time.html

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Cognitive Biases

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Lukas Nelson: You Were Always On My Mind

If you haven’t heard Lukas sing before, you’re in for a treat. He has his own unique voice and talent, but it’s hard not to hear a little echo of his father while he sings his dad’s beloved classic tune.

He is a singer and a musician, just like his dad.

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Vote the Common Good

As the distance for the 2020 US Presidental Election shortens, and the back-and-forth bickering suggests “civil war” more than “civil discourse”, here’s a USA -based Christian political group that makes sense to me as an outsider.

While the usual rhetoric from Christian Trump supporters seems to be about the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment and keeping “people that don’t look like them” out of their county, Vote the Common Good preaches the importance of the 2nd Commandment and Social Justice. I’ll be watching with interest. – Paul

Vote the Common Good: “Inspiring, energizing, and mobilizing people of faith to make the common good their voting criteria and to pursue faith, hope, & love for a change on election day 2020 and prevent the re-election of Donald Trump.”

Check out Vote the Common Good

Meanwhile, over at The Hill: “Evangelicals are no longer a sure bet for Trump”
https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/476710-evangelicals-are-no-longer-a-sure-a-bet-for-trump

https://www.axios.com/lincoln-project-donald-trump-evangelical-voters-f6cfd864-cc1f-4b6c-b881-690151c95dd7.html

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Evidence that huge 2-mile wide meteorite smashed into Earth only 800,000 years ago.

Might as well have been yesterday, in geological terms… – Paul

Published 30/12/19 in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America)

A field of black glassy blobs, strewn across about 20% of Earth’s Eastern Hemisphere, resulted from the impact of a large meteorite about 790,000 years ago. The large crater from which these tektites originated has eluded discovery for over a century, although evidence has long pointed to a location somewhere within Indochina, near the northern limit of the strewn field. We present stratigraphic, geochemical, geophysical, and geochronological evidence that the ∼15-km diameter crater lies buried beneath a large, young volcanic field in Southern Laos.

The Bolaven Plateau volcanic field likely buries the impact crater that produced the tektites of the Australasian strewn field. It is the only adequately large and thick postimpact deposit on the Khorat Plateau, the largest region of plausible target rocks. It is also the only thick, postimpact deposit within the inner Muong Nong strewn field, the region containing exclusively nonaerodynamically shaped Muong-Nong–type tektites (circumscribed by the blue ellipse). Tektite data find locations data from this study. Outline of the Khorat Plateau data finds of Australasian tektites and microtektites (white dots) define an asymmetric strewn field (blue).

https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/12/24/1904368116

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Noam Chomsky Interview at TruthOut: “The USA is a Rogue State“

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C. Paul Carter – Photography

My portfolio can be found here: https://pcarter5b14.myportfolio.com

I’ve been interested in photography since 1975 when I borrowed a friend’s Ricoh and a couple of lenses for a time. Black & White film was available from my High School, and I shot roll after roll of nothing and everything. I kept the negatives in film canisters for many years afterward (they were developed but un-cut), and I have no idea what happened to them. Some of the prints survive to this day!

Dorval, QC in 1975

In the early ’90s, my father gave me his old Fujica ST SLR and a couple of decent M42 (screw mount) primes. I shot with this until the shutter died sometime soon after, and then picked up a nice Pentax Spotmatic and gear from an acquaintance getting out of photography. I did love this camera! Fully manual, and a simple spot meter. My favourite subject was the amazing landscapes of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. I soon added a Pentax ES-II (a somewhat automatic version of the same camera), and a few more Ashai Pentax Super Takumar primes. Some of my favourite images were captured with this gear. I still have the Spotmatic and most of the M42 lenses. Amazing glass.

Bell Island, Newfoundland – shot 1993

Around 1995, I jumped to Nikon and purchased a used F90x — their prosumer SLR at the time. At first, I found it difficult to capture similar images to those I have captured with the Spotmatic, but I was starting to get there within a couple of seasons.

The rest of the camera gear progression is even more boring.

I currently use the Nikon D300 and D700 DSLR cameras, and an array of Nikon and Nikon F-mount compatible glass, from old non-AF primes to new-ish AF-S glass. This camera technology is nearly 12 years old (ancient in tech-years), but the cameras do what I want, and I can imagine happily using them for years to come. Good glass is where a good image starts — the rest is skill and artistry, which I’m still learning after nearly 35 years!

Holyrood, Newfoundland – shot 2016

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Elizabeth Wurtzel, the author of ‘Prozac Nation,’ has died at 52

Wurtzel was best known for her deeply confessional memoirs

By EJ DICKSON @ Rolling Stone

Elizabeth Wurtzel — the author of the best-selling memoir Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America — died in a New York City hospital on Tuesday, according to the New York Times. She was 52 years old.

Wurtzel’s husband Jim Freed cited the cause of death as complications from leptomeningeal disease, a condition that results from cancer spreading to the cerebrospinal fluid. Wurtzel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.

Wurtzel first rose to prominence at the age of 26 with the memoir Prozac Nation, which documented her struggles with depression and substance abuse. The memoir garnered wide acclaim for Wurtzel’s explosive, deeply confessional style, and wry, self-deprecating voice. She is widely credited with ushering in the explosion of the first-person essay and memoir genre that marked the early years of the internet, and she was also an early advocate for mental illness destigmatization. 

(Original Caption) Controversial UK Author Elizabeth Wurtzel who wrote 'Prozac Nation' 'Bitch' and her latest novel 'The Bitch Rules'.Her novels are expected to be (Photo by Neville Elder/Corbis via Getty Images)
Elizabeth Wurtzel — the author of memoir ‘Prozac Nation’ — died in a New York City hospital on Tuesday, January 7.
Neville Elder/Corbis/Getty Images

Born on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 1967, Wurtzel was the only child of Jewish parents who divorced when she was young. As she detailed in a 2018 essay for the Cut, she later discovered that her biological father was the photographer Bob Adelman, who had had an affair with her mother during the 1960s; Adelman died in 2016.  

As documented in Prozac Nation, Wurtzel was a gifted but troubled child, entering therapy at the age of 11 after she was found self-harming in a school bathroom. She was admitted to Harvard University, where she struggled with depression and substance abuse as an undergraduate and stayed in various mental hospitals; she graduated in 1989.

In 1986, Wurtzel won the Rolling Stone college journalism award, which kickstarted her journalism career. She received an internship at the Dallas Morning News, though she was fired in 1988 following accusations of plagiarism. She later contributed pop criticism to New York Magazine and the New Yorker.

Following the 1994 publication of Prozac Nation, Wurtzel was widely hailed as a publishing wunderkind, and she later became known as one of the first authors to speak openly about their own struggles with mental illness. The book included explicit details about her sex life, history of self-mutilation, and drug use, prompting many of her critics to accuse her of narcissism and over-sharing. 

In her review of Prozac Nation, the New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani echoed future critiques of Wurtzel’s work, excoriating the book’s “self-important whining” and accusing Wurtzel of being unaware of her privilege, while praising her “forthrightness, her humor and her ability to write sparkling, luminescent prose.” The memoir was later adapted into a 2001 feature-length film starring Christina Ricci.

Wurtzel’s follow-up effort, Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women (1998), a collection of essays reassessing the impact of complicated women throughout history, garnered controversy for its cover, which featured Wurtzel topless and flashing the middle finger to the camera. Yet its central premise, a defense of reviled 1990s pop cultural figures such as Amy Fisher and Nicole Brown Simpson, paved the way for pop culture’s ongoing rehabilitation of women like Monica Lewinsky and Tonya Harding. She followed up Bitch with another memoir about drug addiction, More, Now, Again (2002). 

Wurtzel entered Yale Law School in 2004. On Twitter, journalist Ronan Farrow, who attended law school with Wurtzel, wrote on Tuesday that she was “kind and generous and filled spaces that might have otherwise been lonely with her warmth and humor and idiosyncratic voice. She gave a lot to a lot of us. I miss her.”Advertisement

Although she never became licensed to practice law, she worked full-time at the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner in New York City from 2008 to 2012 as a case manager and projects director. Wurtzel considered controversial attorney David Boies a mentor of sorts, referring to him as “not just an incredible lawyer but the most amazing person ever”; Boies’ reputation later suffered after it was revealed in 2017 that he hired the intelligence firm Black Cube to conduct surveillance on the alleged victims of his client Harvey Weinstein.

Following her departure from Boies, Schiller, and Flexner, Wurtzel returned to her first love: “I have thought over and over that I ought to be writing more,” she told law blog Above the Law in 2012. Her explosive, deeply sardonic tone was often met with controversy, particularly among feminist bloggers, who excoriated a 2012 piece in Harper’s Bazaar that argued that “looking great is a matter of feminism. No liberated woman would misrepresent the cause by appearing less than hale and happy.” 

In 2013, Wurtzel went viral for a frank, lengthy essay in the Cut about her “one-night stand of a life,” in which she bemoaned her decision to stay single at 45. (She married Freed in 2015.) The essay was a deeply personal and sad meditation on womanhood and aging, yet it was widely excoriated on the internet for its rambling tone, which many perceived as incoherent or unhinged. “Earlier in her career, Wurtzel would use her words to create vivid, beautiful descriptions of the muted, horrible existence of clinical depression,” Jezebel’s Tracie Egan Morrissey wrote. “Unfortunately now, when she pours her heart out onto the page she just makes a fucking mess.” 

Wurtzel was frank about the fact that she had built a career out of the ashes of her own personal trauma. “I might have died very young or done very little. Instead, I made a career out of my emotions,” she wrote in that 2013 essay. Yet despite her obvious talents and her position as an early advocate for mental illness destigmatization, during the last few years of Wurtzel’s life, her name largely became synonymous with a specific subgenre of confessional, first-person writing made popular on websites like Thought Catalog. In various critical essays and thinkpieces, Wurtzel was often derogatorily cited as the progenitor of the first-person essay trend. “People spent so many years writing about Elizabeth Wurtzel as a Sad Example Of Something — female memoir-writers, women who got famous for being themselves, young women generally — and to see her gone so young is a harsh reminder of how cruel that was,” feminist writer Sady Doyle wrote on Twitter Tuesday after Wurtzel’s passing.Advertisement

Yet Wurtzel continued pouring her heart out and making a mess. In 2015, after her breast cancer diagnosis, she became an outspoken advocate for BRCA testing after she tested positive for the mutation. One of her last pieces was a characteristically sardonic, poignant essay for the Guardian, in which she wrote about confronting her own mortality while resisting being labeled as a victim. (True to form, the piece included a reference to her traveling through Scandinavia with cocaine stuffed in her diaphragm.)

“I hate it when people say that they are sorry about my cancer,” she wrote. “Really? Have they met me? I am not someone that you feel sorry for.” 

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The New Deal was partly motivated by a desire to kill the fake news epidemic of the Gilded Age

by  CORY DOCTOROW at Boing Boing / 6:15 AM TUE JAN 7, 2020

Joseph Keppler, The Bosses of the Senate.

100 years ago, wealthy people bought up newspapers as fast as they could, then used them to smear progressive reformers, inventing lies (“Congressmen don’t pay taxes!”) to discredit the entire project of dismantling American oligarchy.

The reformers railed against “absentee owners” — distant media tycoons who didn’t care if the fake news their papers printed ruined the lives of the people in the towns they served. The New Deal joined forces with newspaper unions to create the will for trustbusting and anti-monopoly regulation that later weakened the control of phone companies and broadcasters.

The idea of “objective” news comes from this regulated, competitive era in which the ethics of news-reporters were able to trump the profit motives of media owners, and also allowed alternative news-sources like minority-owned papers, union papers, and so on.

This held until the deregulation and union-busting of the 1980s and 1990s, the rise of Reaganism (carried on by Bill Clinton), which allowed for large-scale media consolidation and the regulatory changes that made Rush Limbaugh and Fox News possible.

Meanwhile Big Tech was rising and rising, taking advantage of the same deregulation bonanza to do all kinds of crooked, monopolistic stuff — vertical integration (Google/Doubleclick); buying nascent competitors (Facebook/Instagram); merging with major rivals (Yahoo/everyone).

Matt Stoller’s (previouslyTwitter thread on this history wraps it all up by noting that Big Tech’s recommendation systems have become the ultimate “absentee owner” — and, like the absentee owners of the past century, they are vectors for fake news, which are like “barnacles” clinging to the Algorithm — and the authoritarian response to fake news and algorithmic chaos is to turn the Big Tech giants into all-powerful arbiters of our discourse.

What we need to restore democracy is a wholesale anti-monopoly approach to our media ecosystem, starting but not ending w/ the platforms. Communities must have the ability to organize their own public commons for debate and speech, unmediated by private monopolies.

Follow the article here at Boing Boing

See also:

https://prospect.org/economy/challenging-new-curse-bigness/

https://www.thenation.com/article/the-long-gilded-age/

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A GoPro spinning at 1800rpm looks like it’s entering a wormhole into another universe

Photography – January 6, 2020 by John Aldred 

It’s difficult to come up with original GoPro footage these days. Everything’s just been done. But this is something I haven’t seen before. YouTuber Mr. Michal secured what looks like a GoPro Hero 7 Silver one into his lathe and spun it at various speeds up to 1800 revolutions per minute.

At slower speeds, it looks pretty cool, like a handheld motorised gimbal in “vertigo” mode. As the speed increases, though, so does the nausea factor. But at certain rpms, you see the rotational speed sync up with the frame rate and the shutter speed and it gets pretty interesting. At 1800rpm it gets very cool.

The video starts off fairly tame, spinning at a modest 14rpm. Then it goes up to 22,rpm then 35rpm and by 56rpm it’s already starting to feel a little dizzying. At 90rpm you’ll definitely want to be sitting down and by 112rpm it’s already starting to look a bit of a mess. But on he goes through 140rpm, 180, 224, 280, 355, 450, 560, and 710 until we start to see things sync up around 900rpm. After brief stints at 1140rpm and 1200rpm, we finally reach 1800rpm.

It’s certainly not your standard way of moving a camera, and it bothers me somewhat that it wasn’t positioned in the lathe jaws centred around the axis of the lens, but rather central to the whole camera. Of course, if the lens had been centred, it probably would’ve thrown the balance of the whole thing off and wouldn’t be able to get up to that speed and stay stable.

It would be interesting to see footage with the shutter speed and framerate manually adjusted at different RPMs to see how it affects the weird warping effects and the different patterns it would produce as everything syncs up. Shooting at a high 240fps frame rate (he’d have to switch to a Hero 8 Black, of course) with moving subjects in front and slowing it down to 24fps on playback could also make for some very interesting footage.

It’s maybe worth mentioning that you probably shouldn’t try this at home.

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