Fun Perspectives from Old News

I’m a link hoarder.

I’ve found a cool upside to this condition.

It’s called, Fun Perspectives from Old News.

Here’s one from June 2019 in The Atlantic:

Late in May, the Louvre closed. The museum’s workers walked out, arguing that overcrowding at the home of the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo had made the place dangerous and unmanageable. “The Louvre suffocates,” the workers’ union said in a statement written in French, citing the “total inadequacy” of the museum’s facilities to manage the high volume of visitors.

Half a world away, a conga line of mountaineers waited to approach the summit of Mount Everest, queued up on a knife’s-edge ridge, looking as if they had chosen to hit the DMV at lunchtime. A photograph of the pileup went viral; nearly a dozen climbers died, with guides and survivors arguing that overcrowding at the world’s highest peak was a primary cause, if not the only one.

Turns out 2020 had a solution planned to 2019’s ‘overtourism’ problem.

What’s that now?

Not enough people are travelling in 2020 to sustain airlines and tourist destinations?

Man, you humans are a fickle bunch.

Categories:

Travel

My iPhone 11 Pro running iOS 14

Yesterday iOS 14 dropped. Unlike some incremental iOS updates, this one can change how you use your iPhone or iPad, should you choose use the new Home Screen Widgets (you have the option to never see a widget if you don’t want to).

I’ve jumped in head-first.

In the short 24 hours or so that I’ve been using widgets, I’ve found myself organizing my home screens into activity themes.

Roughly put, I’ve created:

Home Screen 1: Most Used Apps & Work-Related Apps
Home Screen 2: Media Consumption Apps
Home Screen 3: System Utilities & Miscellaneous Apps

This arrangement will likely change as more third-party developers release their own widgets (Spotify, I’m looking at you).

Home Screen 1 - Most Used Apps and Work-Related Apps

Home Screen 2 - Media Consumption Apps

Home Screen 3 - System Utilities and Miscellaneous Apps

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You can’t hide.

Jerry Brown on a California Exodus: ‘Tell Me: Where Are You Going to Go?’:

“You might say, ‘We are getting out of here — we are going someplace else,’” Mr. Brown, 82, said. “No. There are going to be problems everywhere in the United States. This is the new normal. It’s been predicted and it’s happening. This is part of the new long-term experience.”

“Tell me: Where are you going to go?” Mr. Brown continued. “What’s your alternative? Maybe Canada. You’re going to go to places like Iowa, where you have intensifying tornadoes? The fact is, we have a global crisis that has been mounting and the scientists have been telling us about. For the most part, it’s been ignored. Now we have a graphic example.”

Pick your poison. Extreme heat? Fires? Hurricanes? Tornadoes? Floods?

We have every flavor.

Categories:

Environment

Deepfake Porn

Deepfake porn is now mainstream. And major sites are cashing in:

Deepfake videos hosted on three of the biggest porn websites, XVideos, Xnxx, and xHamster, have been viewed millions of times. The videos are surrounded by adverts, helping to make money for the sites. XVideos and Xnxx, which are both owned by the same Czech holding company, are the number one and three biggest porn websites in world and rank in the top ten biggest sites across the entire web. They each have, or exceed, as many visitors as Wikipedia, Amazon and Reddit.

One 30-second video, which appears on all three of the above sites and uses actress Emma Watson’s face, has been viewed more than 23 million times – being watched 13m times on Xnxx. Other deepfake videos, which have hundreds of thousands or millions of views, include celebrities such as Natalie Portman, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and Indian actress Anushka Shetty. Many of the celebrities have continuously been the targets of deepfakes since they first emerged in 2018.

Welcome to the future.

Things are going to continue to get a lot more messy thanks to technology.

Categories:

Ethics, Technology

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“Because greatness is rare.”

Jerry Seinfeld penned an op-ed in The New York Times today:

You ever wonder why Silicon Valley even exists? I have always wondered, why do these people all live and work in that location? They have all this insane technology; why don’t they all just spread out wherever they want to be and connect with their devices? Because it doesn’t work, that’s why.

Real, live, inspiring human energy exists when we coagulate together in crazy places like New York City. Feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t go to the theater for a while is not the essential element of character that made New York the brilliant diamond of activity it will one day be again.

You found a place in Florida? Fine. We know the sharp focus and restless, resilient creative spirit that Florida is all about. You think Rome is going away too? London? Tokyo? The East Village?

They’re not. They change. They mutate. They re-form. Because greatness is rare. And the true greatness that is New York City is beyond rare.

As a former New Yorker and someone who’s father was born in Brooklyn and raised Queens, I can tell you betting against New York is a bad idea.

Categories:

Community

25 hours, 39 minutes

Bob Sorokanich writing for Road & Track:

There’s a new record in Cannonball land: Drivers Arne Toman and Doug Tabbutt announced today that they completed the cross-country drive from New York City to Los Angeles in 25 hours, 39 minutes, narrowly beating a claimed “sub-26-hour” record publicized in May and besting their own record of 27 hours, 25 minutes that was announced in November 2019.

That’s fast.

This is my favorite detail:

Vehicle modifications include a 45-gallon trunk-mounted fuel cell and visual changes, like a reshaped front grille with a decoy badge to make the Audi resemble a Ford Taurus-based Police Interceptor when viewed from a distance.

In a VINwiki video on YouTube, one of the drivers admits breaking their previous record felt a little empty, that it was too easy.

Categories:

Vehicle

Don’t mess with Dana’s payday.

This past Monday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi penned an op-ed piece in The New York Times, saying gig workers deserve better in response to California’s new law, Assembly Bill 5, requiring companies like Lyft and Uber to classify their drivers as full-time employees:

Why not just treat drivers as employees? Some of our critics argue that doing so would make drivers’ problems vanish overnight. It may seem like a reasonable assumption, but it’s one that I think ignores a stark reality: Uber would only have full-time jobs for a small fraction of our current drivers and only be able to operate in many fewer cities than today. Rides would be more expensive, which would significantly reduce the number of rides people could take and, in turn, the number of drivers needed to provide those trips. Uber would not be as widely available to riders, and drivers would lose the flexibility they have today if they became employees.

So Uber’s business model can’t support drivers-as-employees. Boohoo.

Let’s be clear though: Uber was not established to provide a flexible lifestyle for drivers.

So what is Khosrowshahi proposing?

I’m proposing that gig economy companies be required to establish benefits funds which give workers cash that they can use for the benefits they want, like health insurance or paid time off. Independent workers in any state that passes this law could take money out for every hour of work they put in. All gig companies would be required to participate, so that workers can build up benefits even if they switch between apps.

Let’s not forget the terms under which Khosrowshahi was hired after Travis Kalanick was forced to resign as Uber’s CEO in 2017:

Dara Khosrowshahi could get a huge payday — totaling more than $100 million according to a source — if Uber’s IPO valuation hits $120 billion and stays at that level for 90 consecutive days.

The Uber CEO will also get the payout for selling the company for $120 billion, according to a disclosure the company’s its S-1 documents.

Having a bunch of fairly paid employee drivers at Uber could take a serious bite out of that $100 million carrot.

Categories:

Business, Career

Galaxy Watch? More like Local Community Ignored. I got nothing.

Last week Samsung announced their new Galaxy Watch 3. I’m looking at these photos over at The Verge and it has to be the most uninspired smartwatch ever made. It looks like a throwback watch from the 90s you’d find in the Macy’s “On Sale” display next to the $5 sunglasses.

Over at Engadget, Cherlynn Low reminds us Samsung is still very much dedicated to copying Apple’s features and slapping a different name on them:

With the Galaxy Watch 3, Samsung is also playing a bit of catch-up. ECG is a feature Apple already unveiled in the Watch Series 4, and it’s not the only existing tool the Galaxy Watch 3 is adding. Samsung is calling one of these “trip detection,” which is basically a different way of saying “fall detection” — something that debuted on the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018. Samsung says its version will only recognize falls when “engaged in dynamic motion not when still,” though.

Trip detection. Sure.

This all gets back to very plausible theory by John Gruber he posited this past June that Google just doesn’t care about Android anymore:

Do you get the sense that Google, company-wide, is all that interested in Android? I don’t. Both as the steward of the software platform and as the maker of Pixel hardware, it seems like Google is losing interest in Android. Flagship Android hardware makers sure are interested in Android, but they can’t move the Android developer ecosystem — only Google can.

This theory was given further substance when Google announced last week Wear OS would lose access to Google Play Music months before the YouTube Music App would be available:

Remember my theory that Google has grown bored with Android and doesn’t really care about it? That’s me talking about phones, which, in general, Google does care about insofar as they know that billions of people spend hours per day every day using them. With wearables Google never even cared in the first place, except for making goofy demo concepts like Google Glass. The customers who bought Wear OS devices care about them; the company that designed them clearly does not. If they cared, how could it be that you can’t listen to Google’s music platform on Google’s wearable platform?

I think a lot what’s happening in the tech world today gets back to what I and a lot of other people feel is big tech companies working in areas outside their core competencies.

Remember when Apple made great iPhones that featured great maps, email, and search software built by Google? Remember when Apple didn’t try to make it’s own Maps application (that I still find not as reliable as Google’s)? Remember when Microsoft wasn’t making mobile devices covered in Alcantara? Remember when Amazon wasn’t making smart glasses?

Categories:

Product

“She then twerks, merrily, on the side of the road with her loot.”

Teens Are Disguising As Mask-Wearing Grandmas to Buy Beer:

In a TikTok trend first reported by the New York Post, it seems that some teenagers have been running an elaborate booze-buying scheme that involves using face makeup and costumes to impersonate senior citizens. One (now private) video shows a young woman in sunglasses, a face mask, and a headscarf — with her dark hair and brows lightly powdered in gray — walking into a wine shop and out again with a few bottles of wine. She then twerks, merrily, on the side of the road with her loot. Another video, which has been viewed over 400,000 times, shows a young woman apply full prosthetic wrinkles and a few baggy sweaters, enter a 7-Eleven, and leave with a bag of hard ciders. In a third, the teen forgoes makeup altogether, making off with a bottle of Smirnoff with just a face mask, headscarf, and pair of thick spectacles — though she did make a commendable effort of hunching over and walking slowly, leaning on a friend who was posing as her granddaughter for support.

Keep fighting the good fight, kids.

Categories:

Crime

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Rambling Shit Hurricane

The White House Called a News Conference. Trump Turned It Into a Meandering Monologue:

WASHINGTON — In theory, President Trump summoned television cameras to the heat-baked Rose Garden early Tuesday evening to announce new measures against China to punish it for its oppression of Hong Kong. But that did not last long.

What followed instead was an hour of presidential stream of consciousness as Mr. Trump drifted seemingly at random from one topic to another, often in the same run-on sentence. Even for a president who rarely sticks to the script and wanders from thought to thought, it was one of the most rambling performances of his presidency.

He weighed in on China and the coronavirus and the Paris climate change accord and crumbling highways. And then China again and military spending and then China again and then the coronavirus again. And the economy and energy taxes and trade with Europe and illegal immigration and his friendship with Mexico’s president. And the coronavirus again and then immigration again and crime in Chicago and the death penalty and back to climate change and education and historical statues. And more.

“We could go on for days,” he said at one point, and it sounded plausible.

I rarely watch Trump speeches but I made myself sit through this one. It was really, really bad.

Categories:

Politics, Tromp