Chris Dancy, who tracks and quantifies himself to the extreme, may not be exactly our future, but a significant amount of what is true in his life will become true in ours. Settling on common standards for the Internet of Things is an obstacle, but it only takes a single great product like the iPod or the iPhone to bring clarity. Apple and Google, meanwhile, are in a race to create the preeminent smarthome technology. We will be measured whether we want to be or not. The opening of Samantha Murphy Kelly’s Mashable article “The Most Connected Man Is You, Just a Few Years From Now“:

“DENVER, Colorado — Chris Dancy, the self-described ‘most connected guy in the world,’ reclines in a throne in the corner of his home office. The walls around him are a scrapbook of his life, pinned with foreign currency, concert tickets and pictures of his icons, like Michael Jackson and Andy Warhol.

In between stories of his travels, he mentions his newfound Internet fame. He has been thrown into the spotlight for using between 300 and 700 tracking and lifelogging systems at all times, from the fitness wristband Fitbit to the Beddit mattress cover.

But then the conversation shifts to his childhood, a time when Dancy (now 45) and his family struggled to make ends meet. While describing his mother’s role in helping them through a difficult time, he closes his eyes and cuts himself off. The lights in the room have started to flicker. It’s the only moment all day where you can hear a pin drop.

The blinking lights are a visual reminder for Dancy to slow down and focus on his breathing. The lights, like so many aspects of his unassuming, cozy home, are connected to the devices he wears; in this case, they sense his heart rate is up and signal it’s time for him to calm down. Similarly, classical music plays throughout the house if he loses his temper.

By looking at his data, he’s learned exactly what he needs to be his most productive self, such as setting the lights to a specific shade or programming the air levels in his bedroom so he can sleep soundly. He’s even monitored his heart rate while watching porn to become more aware of his sexual preferences: ‘I thought I was into certain types of people, but learned what I actually like most.’ He’s also lost more than 100 pounds along the way, just by tracking his daily habits and making small changes to be healthier.

Even his dogs are tracked; a product called Tagg logs their daily activities.

He’s been called everything from a cyborg to an alien for his extreme data collection routines, but Dancy is the future tech experts say is coming.

Dancy is the ultimate example of two revolutions underway in tech: the Internet of Things (smart thermostats, garage doors, toothbrushes, tennis racquets) and quantified self (what you learn about yourself from trackers). Apple and Google are the two biggest companies expanding their efforts in the ‘smart home’ market, which is projected to bring $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, according to Gartner Research.”

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Quality massage for gas

i’m willing to barter a one hour massage for half its value to fill my gas tank either on a weekly basis or biweekly, i own my own private practice and do great bodywork. If ur body can appreciate 5 star quality for half the price contact me via email. located on the north shore between commack and smithtown.

NCAA fighting college football players’ efforts to share in the huge revenue they produce would be maddening enough even if the sport didn’t leave a lot of these guys with a lifetime of serious health issues. The era when we thought of the game as a healthy way to build school spirit is over. It’s a destroyer. From Jimmy Golen at the Associated Press:

“BOSTON (AP) — Michael Keck played just two years of college football before he was knocked out during practice at Missouri State and gave the sport up for good.

He turned combative — punching holes in the wall. He began to struggle in school. Soon he was spending most of his time indoors, with blankets covering the windows to darken the room.

Keck died last year at age 25 of what doctors believe was an unrelated heart condition. His brain, at his request, was donated to the Boston University lab that has been researching a degenerative brain condition frequently found in contact-sport athletes.

The disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, had advanced to a stage never before seen in someone so young.

‘When you talk in terms of his age, being young, and you talk about his limited years of playing, it is one of the more severe cases,’ said Dr. Robert Cantu, a co-founder of the CTE Center at BU. ‘Had he lived to 70 or 80, we would have expected this to be a Grade 4 (the most severe form) case.’”

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It seems a cockamamie plan, one that has a reality TV show at its heart, but the Dutch space concern Mars One is promising to send four pioneers on a one-way trip to our neighboring planet within a decade. They will live there and die there, as settlers once did in the untamed Western United States, except you’ll be able to watch it all on your smartphone. I seriously doubt it ever happens. The opening of “Ultimate Reality TV: A Crazy Plan for a Mars Colony,” by Spiegel’s Manfred Dworschak:

“If his greatest wish is fulfilled, then Stephan Günther will one day die on Mars. He’s already thought long and hard about the eventuality. He would like his companions to pack his remains in an airtight coffin before depositing him outside the colony among the rocks.

‘Perhaps there are unknown forms of life on Mars,’ 45-year-old Günther says. ‘We can’t just intervene.’
It is a sentiment which displays the enlightenment of today’s conquerors. They want to take ownership of a planet, but they are concerned that their own remains could contaminate bacterial cultures in its dusty, rocky ecosystem.

Mars, to be sure, remains a deserted wasteland today, its ecology intact. But it could be that Günther could might be bouncing his way through rough craters beaming pictures back to Earth. Currently a flight trainer in Magdeburg, Germany, Günther has applied to take part in a unique voyage to our neighboring planet. A return trip is not part of the deal.

Conceiving the journey as one-way makes it vastly more feasible and less expensive. A Dutch foundation, led by businessman Bas Lansdorp, is behind the idea. ‘We want to send the first four settlers to Mars in 2024,’ he says, adding that ‘additional teams will follow.’

Some 704 candidates say they are prepared to leave Earth forever. A competition will decide which of them will be sent to be humanity’s permanent representatives on Mars. Lansdorp’s foundation, Mars One, plans to train those chosen for eight years as preparation for a radically new life.”

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When you have time, you want money. When you have money, you want time.

Life extension–immortality, even–is pursued by deep-pocketed technologists who are bad at saying goodbye. They believe the answers are a lot closer than they likely are. Of course, the defeat of death would pose myriad philosophical and ethical questions. From “The Eternal Problem Silicon Valley Can’t Solve,” Elizabeth Segran’s Fast Company feature about Dave Asprey and others trying to engineer an endless summer: 

“Over the last 15 years, Asprey has been tinkering with technologies in the hopes of slowing the aging process in his own body. He describes this as bio-hacking, using the hacker mentality to turbocharge his own biochemistry. And to hear Asprey tell it, that’s working: With a couple of scientific hacks, he’s lost hundreds of pounds, increased his IQ, and improved the quality of his sleep. All these things, he says, are also prolonging his life-span. He’s now sharing these techniques with others through Bulletproof Executive, the company he founded that creates coffee and other products to spike bodily performance, and as the chairman of the board of the Silicon Valley Health Institute, a group that meets monthly to discuss the latest developments in the study of longevity.

Asprey’s office, located just down the street from Google’s campus, is a microcosm of a growing Silicon Valley trend. Asprey is trying to stop individual bodies from aging–starting with his own–and investment is pouring into a growing number of companies whose stated goal is to increase human longevity and, in some cases, even cure death. Asprey freely admits that these are grandiose, quixotic endeavors. But in a place where geeks have changed the world with previously unthinkable breakthroughs in science, nothing seems impossible. ‘When you’re young and you’ve just created something amazing that makes you a ton of a money, you do egotistical things,’ Asprey says. ‘And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing: I want to swing for the fences. What is all of this cool technology we’re creating compared to getting an extra hundred years of life?’”

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Before I accept the challenge, I challenge Idi Amin's ghost, Charles Manson and Glenn Beck.

Before I pour ice water on myself, I challenge Idi Amin’s ghost, Charles Manson and Glenn Beck.

Ann Coulter, I accept your piss-bucket challenge.

Ann Coulter, I accept your Piss Bucket Challenge.

No, I said "ice bucket."

No, I said “Ice.”

I will now drench myself in my own urine.

I will now drench myself in my own urine.

It's the most warm, beautiful feeling.

It’s the most warm, beautiful feeling.

I would also liked to be doused by Idi Amin's urine.

I would also like to be soaked in Glenn Beck’s whiz.

Hands off my pee, Idi Amin's ghost.

Hands off my pee jug, Idi Amin’s ghost. It’s all mine.

From the May 17, 1916 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Kansas City, Mo. — John Arnold is today recovering from an operation in the Kansas City Emergency Hospital and the cause of his trouble–a lively and well-developed frog–is hopping about in a large jar at his bedside. Some time ago, Arnold says, he drank from a spring. He cannot tell whether the frog took up its abode in his interior as a tadpole or a small frog. The physicians who operated, liberating the frog and relieving Arnold of the nagging pain amidship, say Arnold is doing well. The frog speaks for itself.”

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The more EV makers in the race with Tesla to create the first widely affordable long-range electric car, the better. Right now Elon Musk’s main competitor in GM; the former cannot lose and the latter can ill afford to. From Steve LeVine at Quartz:

“One of the hottest clashes in technology pits two pathmakers in the new era of electric cars—Tesla and General Motors. Both are developing pure electrics that cost roughly $35,000, travel 200 miles on a single charge, and appeal to the mass luxury market.

The stakes are enormous. Most electrics have less than 100 miles of range. Experts regard 200 miles as a tipping point, enough to cure many potential electric-car buyers of ‘range anxiety,’ the fear of being stranded when their battery expires. If GM and Tesla crack this, sales of individual electrics could jump from 2,000 or 3,000 vehicles a month to 15 to 20 times that rate, shaking up industries from cars to oil, which were until now certain that large-scale acceptance of electrics was perhaps decades away. 

It is a substantial gamble for both companies. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has more or less bet his company on the contest. GM’s existence is not in jeopardy if it loses, but the outcome could still determine its place in the next generation of automaking.

The potential prize is not only profit, but outright technology leadership—the intangible aura that made Apple under Steve Jobs an outsized triumph. In this respect, the parvenu Tesla—just a decade old—holds the advantage. Musk’s first two models, with their grace, attitude and electronic showmanship, have dazzled critics, buyers and especially Wall Street. GM has impressed critics, too, with its Chevy Volt, which led the advent of plug-in hybrids, but there are doubts that it can best Musk in direct competition. However, if it can show it is generally Tesla’s equal, it would achieve unexpected street cred, while Musk would appear much more mortal.”

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Artificial Intelligence doesn’t have to do things the way you and I do them to do them better. We only believe that to flatter ourselves. The opening of Christopher Mims new Wall Street Journal article about AI, which demonstrates how it has quietly wormed its way into our lives:

“The age of intelligent machines has arrived—only they don’t look at all like we expected. Forget what you’ve seen in movies; this is no HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it’s certainly not Scarlett Johansson’s disembodied voice in Her. It’s more akin to what happens when insects, or even fungi, do when they ‘think.’ (What, you didn’t know that slime molds can solve mazes?)

Artificial intelligence has lately been transformed from an academic curiosity to something that has measurable impact on our lives. Google Inc. used it to increase the accuracy of voice recognition in Android by 25%. The Associated Press is printing business stories written by it. Facebook Inc. is toying with it as a way to improve the relevance of the posts it shows you.

What is especially interesting about this point in the history of AI is that it’s no longer just for technology companies. Startups are beginning to adapt it to problems where, at least to me, its applicability is genuinely surprising.”

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I think there are some people so awful that they deserve to die for the things they’ve done, but it’s still impossible to support the death penalty and its arbitrariness. In America, someone with wealth will never face execution, while the poor are prone. African-Americans are much more likely to suffer the ultimate consequences for a crime than white people who’ve committed the same. Males are much more likely to die than females. And because of prejudice and incompetence, the wrong people are sometimes put to death, which is the most sickening abomination.

And those who have to carry out the killing of the condemned are no doubt scarred by the process. In “The Witness,” Pamela Colloff’s Texas Monthly feature, she profiles former Texas Department of Criminal Justice Public Information Director Michelle Lyons, whose job it was to record the final moments of executed prisoners, an occupation that unsurprisingly came with hazards. An excerpt:

“Michelle already had a sense of what to expect. Fifteen months earlier, while covering for an absent colleague, she had entered the Death House for the first time to witness the execution of a convicted murderer named Javier Cruz. Years later, she would remember very little about it—only that she had dressed more formally than usual and that she had been unsure, at the outset, how she would feel when it was all over. The facts of Cruz’s case did not engender much sympathy: he had murdered two San Antonio men, one of whom he had gagged and bound, beaten with a hammer, and then strangled with the belt of a bathrobe. Michelle had found that watching Cruz slip into unconsciousness did not evoke any powerful emotions; she had scribbled in her yellow legal pad, typed up her story, and gone home. Covering executions was certainly no worse, she decided, than being a war correspondent or any other journalist who sees suffering up close; in fact, the cold efficiency of lethal injection made hers the easier job. When her father called her into his office the next day to check on her, she told him she was fine. As she saw it, her duty as a journalist was to be dispassionate. 

In the first year that Michelle served as the Item’s prison reporter, Texas executed forty inmates—the most people put to death in a single year, by one state, in American history. Governor Bush also happened to be making a run for the White House. This confluence of events caused hundreds of journalists to descend on Huntsville in the months leading up to the 2000 presidential election, mostly to issue withering assessments. On the night that Billy George Hughes, a man who had fatally shot a state trooper, was put to death, a TV show hosted by filmmaker-provocateur Michael Moore arranged for a pom-pom-waving cheerleading squad to stand outside the Walls and chant, ‘Texas, Texas, you’re so great, you kill more than any state!’ beside an illuminated execution scoreboard that read ‘George 117, Jeb 2.’ Rolling Stone published a blistering takedown of Huntsville in a piece called ‘Five Executions and a Barbecue.’ The media glare was relentless, transforming one execution that June—of an obscure Houston street criminal named Gary Graham, whose murder conviction had turned on the word of a single eyewitness—into an international cause célèbre. Riot police armed with tear gas stood outside the Walls on the night of his death while hooded Klansmen and rifle-toting members of the New Black Panther Party played to the cameras. At Graham’s invitation, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Bianca Jagger served as witnesses.

During this time, Michelle kept a journal in which she recorded her own personal observations of the executions she witnessed, which had no place in the straightforward accounts she wrote for the Item. Rarely did she mention the media spectacle outside. Instead she cataloged the disquieting details that she noticed as she watched a succession of inmates be put to death. There was Betty Lou Beets, the second woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War, who had shot not one but two of her husbands and buried them in her yard. (‘I couldn’t help but notice her tiny little feet,’ Michelle wrote. ‘She looked like somebody’s grandma—she was somebody’s grandma.’) There was Ponchai Wilkerson, who had once nearly managed to break out of death row, who stunned onlookers when he spit out a handcuff key as he lay on the gurney. (‘I felt sick,’ Michelle wrote the next day. ‘For a few seconds I had the crazy thought, ‘He’s going to get off that table and kill us.’ ’) And there was Robert Earl Carter, who had murdered six people, including his four-year-old son, and falsely implicated his friend Anthony Graves in the crime. (‘His last words were, ‘It was me and me alone. Anthony Graves had nothing to do with it,’ ’ Michelle wrote.) Carter’s admission on the gurney would later help exonerate his co-defendant, who was, at the time, awaiting his own execution date. 

Throughout her journal, she made mention of the anguish felt by both the inmates’ and victims’ families, who stood in witness rooms adjacent to each other, looking into the death chamber.”

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In vitro foods are happening now and will become a staple of our diets in the future, as a growing global population and environmental concerns demand it. Meat, of course, is the hardest to approximate, but that will also happen. Considering the processed crap we eat now, the so-called Frankenfoods may be significantly healthier. From Katie Murphy at the New York Times:

“Whether for moral reasons or because of a Jobsian belief in the superiority of their vision, high-tech food entrepreneurs are focusing primarily on providing alternatives to animal protein. The demand is certainly there. Worldwide consumption of pork, beef, poultry and other livestock products is expected to double by 2020. Animal protein is also the most vulnerable and resource-intensive part of the food supply. In addition to livestock production’s immense use of land and water, runoff pollution and antibiotic abuse, it is responsible for 14.5 percent of greenhouse gases, according to the United Nations.

Venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Closed Loop Capital, Khosla Ventures and Collaborative Fund have poured money into Food 2.0 projects. Backing has also come from a hit parade of tech-world notables including Sergey Brin of Google, Biz Stone of Twitter, Peter Thiel of PayPal and Bill Gates of Microsoft, as well as Li Ka-shing, Asia’s wealthiest man, who bought early stakes in Facebook and Spotify.

‘We’re looking for wholesale reinvention of this crazy, perverse food system that makes people do the wrong thing,’ said Josh Tetrick, the vegan chief executive of San Francisco-based Hampton Creek. His company has created an egg substitute using protein extracted from the Canadian yellow pea, incorporating it into Just Scramble, Just Mayo and Just Cookie Dough, which are starting to find their way onto grocery store shelves nationwide.”

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Remember when Al-Qaeda were the evildoers? Ah, the good old days. The opening of Samiha Shafy’s Spiegel interview with Brookings Institution fellow Charles Lister about the seemingly sudden rise of the Islamic State:

Spiegel:

How do you explain the history of the Islamic State (IS) to people who are stunned by its seemingly sudden rise to power?

Charles Lister:

In 1999, the IS father figure Abu Musab al-Zarqawi established a training base for his group in Afghanistan. After the United States invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, the group fled through Iran and ended up in northern Iraq. By 2003, it had effectively become Iraq’s main jihadist resistance movement. During the US occupation of Iraq, Zarqawi made a name for himself and his group. It implemented sharia law to such an extreme level that the various tribal forces rose up and drove them out in a movement called the ‘Awakening.’ The group suffered significant losses at the time. When the US began initiating its withdrawal, it marked the beginning of an opportunity for a revival of Zarqawi’s group. From about mid-2009 onwards, it began establishing a sort of shadow influence. It launched an escalating level of attacks against security forces, a campaign of intimidation against local officials — within the military, police and local governments — and one of extreme violence. The extent of the campaign created significant leverage for the Islamic State. It also helps to explain why the IS was able to take Mosul so quickly.

Spiegel:

You’ve said that the Islamic State has succeeded in doing essentially everything al-Qaeda had previously done, only better, with the exception of carrying out a foreign attack. How do the two groups compare?

Charles Lister:

Both seek to establish an Islamic state governed by sharia law, but they have very different strategies. Al-Qaeda has adopted a much more patient and long-term approach to implementing social control and governance, focused on creating the socio-political conditions for such a reality. The IS is much less patient in terms of this objective. Both in the mid-2000s and now, IS has always immediately sought to implement sharia law and govern the population just as soon as it takes control of a territory. Syria offers the best comparison in terms of strategy. Al-Nusra, the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, has extensive influence across the country at a social level, but they did not choose to implement sharia directly until quite recently because they felt the social conditions weren’t ready and that they would be rejected if imposed too soon. They have instead considered the long view.

Spiegel:

Would you say al-Qaeda is somehow less extreme than IS?

Charles Lister:

Absolutely.”

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When editors at the old Brooklyn Daily Eagle thought about the world’s technological future, they mostly imagined how robots would help them get drunk. That explains so much about that newspaper in those days.

In the October 30, 1927 edition, E.K. Titus wrote an article about Roy J. Wensley’s Televox robot, which received instructions via its built-in telephone. The Westinghouse inventor promised the mechanical man would be able to deliver to you bottles of scotch through pneumatic tubes, drive your car from your garage to your front door, spy on your children, vacuum your floors and warn you of plummeting stock prices. A couple of excerpts follow.

_____________________________

“‘Peep, buzz, buzz, toot, peep!’ you say into the telephone transmitter, with your tuning forks, which translated, means:

‘It’s devilishly cold over here and I want a bottle of Scotch.’

These simple sounds which you have emitted put the mechanical man to work. It is over in the woods of your country estate somewhere, where you keep your stock for the sake of privacy. The mechanical man hears and acts. He moves a mechanical arm to the exact box where your Scotch is segregated from the rest of your drinks, lifts it into an air-pressure tube, closes the tube and in a moment your phonograph is turned on to say:

‘Here I am!’

You then open your end of the tube and there is your Scotch.

Dr. Edward E. Free, president of the New York Electrical Society, offers to install such a system for any Brooklynites provided they pay him enough money.

It Can Be Done

‘It can certainly be done,’ Dr. Free declared. ‘The mechanical man can be made fully as versatile as that. I will fix up such a system so that they can get their drinks from as far as a mile away without moving out of their apartments.

‘For $40,000 or so it would be possible to rig up an apparatus through the mechanical man that would make it possible for a person to call up his garage half a mile distant, give instructions to the mechanical man and have the car at his front doorstep in a few minutes. 

The mechanical man is an electrical fellow who can hear, take orders and do hundreds of things if he is only trained in advance. He is a radio turned inside out. Instead of receiving electrical energy and transforming it into sound, as the ordinary radio receiving apparatus does, he receives sound and transforms it into electrical energy.

Roy J. Wensley, 29-year-old engineer of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, is the inventor.

Has ‘Brain Box’

Wensley’s child does not look like a man, but he has a sort of head or small box in which is located a ‘brain,’ or directing apparatus, capable of performing 20 separate acts when he is ordered to do so. And what is better, he takes orders over the telephone!”

_____________________________

“Delivering a motorcar from one’s garage to one’s home would be a more expensive performance.

Mr. Johnson would lift his telephone receiver and give Televox the signal for a car.

Steer Car by Radio

Televox would then electrically start an apparatus which would open the doors of the garage, start the motor and steer the car over the garage driveway to the house.

‘You have heard of cars being steered by radio, haven’t you?’ asked Dr. Free. ‘Well, once Televox was on the job the actual work of steering could be handled by radio.’

Televox, indeed, sounds like one of the ‘Fairy Tales of Science‘ that the poet, Tennyson, talks about.

When it is remembered the Televox only responds to noise in the same way that previous apparatus has responded to the pressing of buttons setting up electrical impulses, his work does not appear so much like a fairy tale.”

 

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"Bottom half is a pregnant woman giving birth to a kitchen knife."

“Bottom half is a pregnant woman giving birth to a kitchen knife.”

Feminist Painting – $300 (NYC)

Feminist Painting/Mixed Media. 4 feet x 5 feet. $300 price negotiable. Titled “The Birth Of A Nation.” A surrealist painting of a woman whose torso is a tree and bottom half is a pregnant woman giving birth to a kitchen knife. It is a statement on the forced role upon women. The middle carries broken mirror pieces so the viewer sees themselves while looking at the painting- to reflect on how this idea affects themselves and society.

Everything is reality now, and everything is fake, too. It’s all exists in a purgatory state, hurting less but meaning less. We feel it all, briefly, and then it’s quickly replaced by more. From Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, Book 2

“Death makes life meaningless because everything we have ever striven for ceases when life does, and it makes life meaningful, too, because its presence makes the little we have of it indispensable, every moment precious. But in my lifetime death has been removed from our lives, it no longer existed, except as a constant item in all the newspapers, on the TV news, and in films, where it didn’t mark the end of a process, discontinuity, but, on account of daily repetition, represented, on the contrary, an extension of the process, continuity, and in this way, oddly enough, had become a source of our security and our anchor. A plane crash was a ritual, it happened every so often, the same chain of events, and we were never part of it ourselves. A sense of security, but also excitement and intensity, for imagine how terrible the last seconds were for the passengers.”

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The Browser pointed me to “Saving Horatio Alger,” Richard Reeves’ excellent Brookings essay about American mobility, which is our national religion even though we currently trail Europe in this area by most measures. We boomed in our early days because of Manifest Destiny, busted once there was nowhere left to push our borders and had another rising-tide moment at the end of World War II. Great stuff like a tidy little explanation of how Alger would have made a poor character in his own books, since he was never ragged nor rich. An excerpt about the downward slope that set in starting in the 1970s:

“America’s decisive role in World War II and its subsequent emergence as a superpower gave rise to the Great Prosperity: a new surge of economic energy alongside sizeable government investments in infrastructure, the military, science, and Social Security, and a recommitment to education, not least through the G.I. Bill. Between 1950 and the mid-1970s, as the U.S. economy grew by an average of 4 percent a year, the economic expansion drove wages and employment up, and income and wealth gaps narrowed. High taxes—high by historical standards, anyway—were levied on those with the biggest incomes and greatest wealth, and the government provided more services and cash assistance to the poor as part of Lyndon Johnson’s vision for the ‘Great Society.’ Upward mobility may not have improved; but since standards of living were rising at about the same rate across the income distribution, most people were much better off than their parents had been, even if they remained on the same rung of the income ladder.

From the mid-1970s on, however, the mass prosperity machine began to grind to a halt; productivity stagnated and growth slowed as global competition intensified. Inequality trends returned to their pre-war trajectory, with those on the top rungs climbing ever further upward, helped along by Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, while those at the bottom and in the middle lagged behind. George H.W. Bush broke his ‘no new taxes’ pledge, but did nothing to alter the growing fissure between the rich and the rest.

Bill Clinton’s electoral success presaged a period of strong economic growth and some restoration of the fortunes of the middle class. But U.S. politics soon veered to the right. With the election of George W. Bush as president and the emergence of a new strand of populism culminating in the muscular Tea Party movement, the rightward drift continued, and the carefully tied knots of financial regulation were quietly loosened, one by one. Mobility rates remained flat.

The election of Barack Obama fleetingly signaled a new, more optimistic mood, the promise of a more generous, post-partisan politics, and a renewed commitment to the upward mobility Americans believe in so fervently. Here was a president whose election seemed a testament to America’s progress, and whose personal story proved, so it seemed, that the Horatio Alger story could be rewritten for a multi-racial nation. The uplift was short-lived. Today, the nation is limping away from the economic car-crash of 2008. Politics remains deeply partisan. And yes, mobility rates are still flat.”

 

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From “2050 and the Future of Infrastructure,” Thomas Frey’s ImpactLab piece, the section on tube-transportation networks, something that’s been dreamed of since the Victorian Age:

“When Tesla Motors CEO, Elon Musk, mysteriously leaked that he was working on his Hyperloop Project, the combination of secrecy, cryptic details, and his own flair for the dramatic all contributed to the media frenzy that followed.

Leading up to this announcement was his growing anxiety over California’s effort to build a very expensive high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco with outdated technology.

While the Musk media train was picking up steam, several reporters pointed out a similar effort by Daryl Oster and his Longmont, Colorado-based company, ET3, to build a comparable tube transportation system that was much further along.

Indeed both are working on what will likely be the next generation of transportation where specially designed cars are placed into sealed tubes and shot, much like rockets, to their destination. While high-speed trains are breaking the 300 mph speed barrier, tube transportation has the potential to make speeds of 4,000 mph a common everyday occurrence.

As Daryl Oster likes to call it, ‘space travel on earth.’

Even though tube travel like this will beat every other form of transportation in terms of speed, power consumption, pollution, and safety, the big missing element is its infrastructure, a tube network envisioned to combine well over 100,000 miles of connected links.

While many look at this and see the lack of infrastructure as a huge obstacle, at this point in time it is just the opposite, the biggest opportunity ever.

Constructing the tube network will be the biggest infrastructure project the earth has ever seen, with a projected 50-year build-out employing in excess of 100 million people along the way.”

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From the November 18, 1909 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

“Mrs. James Edmonds of Washington County, Pa., deserted her home recently, taking with her the household effects and five head of cattle, but leaving behind an old mule. Edmonds preferred charges of desertion against his wife and larceny against a Pittsburg man. Early yesterday the mule, Edmonds’s only possession, kicked him, causing his death a short time later in a hospital.”

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At Vox, Matthew Yglesias has a post about labor automation, “Robots Won’t Destroy Jobs, But They Will Destroy The Middle Class,” which focuses on a recent paper by economist David Autor that encourages education as a means of combating further income inequality. Yglesias suggests that wage growth for McJobs will likely lead them to be automated, but that’s happening regardless. That’s why the title of the post seems unlikely to turn out to be true. From Yglesias:

“Will automation take your job away? No, argues economist David Autor in a new paper presented at the Federal Reserve conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday. Instead, it’ll just push you into a menial low-wage job.

That, at least, has been the recent past of technology’s impact on the labor market, Autor suggests. We’ve seen what he calls ‘job polarization’ where automation has increased the demand for highly skilled managers and creative types, plus the demand for low-paid food prep workers and such. …

Autor says this more or less shows the importance of improving education. Someone who might once have been qualified for a pretty good secretarial job is nowadays only going to be qualified for a job at Chipotle, since modern technology reduces the need for secretaries. To save her from the dismal future of a burrito stomping on a human face forever, she needs to be trained up to the level where she can get a job as an app developer or devising burrito marketing campaigns.

The other view, which Autor doesn’t really mention, is that perhaps a strong labor movement could turn burrito-rolling into a highly paid job. The most likely answer, I think, is that to the extent you try to transform low-wage work into middle-wage work you simply encourage those newly middle class jobs to be automated.”

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If you ever wonder what baseball players like Yasiel Puig or Jose Abreu or the just-signed Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo go through to slide out of Cuba and into MLB unis, let’s just say that no one is helping them through the goodness of their hearts. It’s nothing personal, strictly business, less a freedom flotilla than a pirate ship. And these athletes, though they’re shaken down for big dough, are the lucky ones. If you can’t stroke a double to deep center, you’re little more than a hostage. From Curt Anderson of the Associated Press:

“MIAMI (AP) – A man accused of masterminding a human trafficking ring pleaded guilty Friday to U.S. extortion charges involving the smuggling of more than 1,000 Cubans, including baseball players such as Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin.

Eliezer Lazo, 41, entered the plea Friday in Miami federal court. Lazo is already serving a five-year prison sentence for money laundering in a Medicare fraud case and now faces up to 20 additional years behind bars. Lazo agreed to cooperate with investigators, which could reduce his prison time when he is sentenced later this year.

Prosecutors say Lazo led an organization that smuggled Cubans by boat into Mexico, where they were held until ransom payments were made. The cost was typically about $10,000 for each person, although it could be much higher in the case of Cuban baseball stars such as Martin.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Davidson said the migrants who were not sports stars were often crowded together in rooms of 20 or more under armed guard, in prison-like conditions. If the smugglers weren’t immediately paid, Davidson said, ‘the Cuban migrants in Mexico were restrained and beaten while relatives could hear the screams on the phone.’

Court documents show that the valuable Cuban baseball stars were treated far better than others involved with the smuggling ring, even though they were watched over by armed guards.”

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  • What It Really Feels Like To Be A Childfree Woman
  • Let’s Clear Up Some Lies You’ve Been Told About Vaginas
  • Morgue Attendant Admits To Sex With 100 Dead Women
  • Man In Penguin Suit Stole Beer: Police
  • ‘That Makes Me Want To Vomit In My Mouth’
  • This Is What A Female Orgasm Really Looks Like (NSFW)
  • Florida Woman Rips Off Grandmother’s Bra, Robs Her: Police
  • ‘Dating Naked’ Star Sues Because She Was Too Naked
  • These Are The Everyday People Who Practice BDSM (NSFW)
  • Man Fakes Death To Avoid Wedding

 

10 recent keyphrase searches bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. comedian jerry lewis appearing with pornographer al goldstein
  2. recent interview with werner erhard of est
  3. is there an underwater hotel in dubai?
  4. can jogging extend my life?
  5. innovative civil war surgeon general william hammond
  6. dr. wilbur thain who treated howard hughes
  7. did chief red fox lie about his age?
  8. how safe is it to fly on american commercial airplanes?
  9. jane fonda and roger vadim interviewed
  10. did people in the 1970s know newspapers would become electronic?

This week it became clear that America has a secret weapon it can send to Iraq to destroy ISIS.

I'll give you all a free mustache ride.

I’m giving all you guys free mustache rides.

  • Jarhead 2 has arrived nine years after the original film. Why?
  • Pandemics usually begin in crowded, unsanitary spaces.
  • 3D printed organs will be a reality, but when?
  • Father Yod began one of L.A.’s first health-food restaurants–and a cult.
  • John du Pont, focus of Foxcatcher, drowned others in his madness.
  • Google claims to have no specific business plan for driverless cars.
  • In his AMA, MIT physics professor Max Tegmark discusses advanced AI.
  • You may not want to be in the system, but you are. We all are.
  • Fat might not be the biggest threat in your diet.
  • A brief note from 1895 about dog food.

Two more Robin Williams interviews, the first one with Dick Cavett in 1979, the second with David Frost in 1991. At the beginning of the Frost piece, the comic flawlessly recreates an early Shakespeare stand-up bit, “Two Dudes From Santa Monica.”

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"Danielle Smith."

“Danielle Smith.”

Same name?!

This may sound like an odd request, but I’m participating in a scavenger hunt and need to find someone with the same name as me. Sooooooo, if your name is Danielle Smith and you don’t live in Illinois, would you be willing to send me a picture of your ID? You can block out all the personal information, I won’t be creepy or anything.

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