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by cloudier

What Makes Online Content Viral?

Importantly, however, our findings also reveal that virality is driven by more than just valence. Sadness, anger, and anxiety are all negative emotions, but while sadder content is less viral, content that evokes more anxiety or anger is actually more viral. These findings are consistent with our hypothesis about how arousal shapes social transmission. Positive and negative emotions characterized by activation or arousal (i.e., awe, anxiety, and anger) are positively linked to virality, while emotions characterized by deactivation (i.e., sadness) are negatively linked to virality. More broadly, our results suggest that while external drivers of attention (e.g., being prominently featured) shape what becomes viral, content characteristics are of similar importance (see Figure 2). For example, a one-standard deviation increase in the amount of anger an article evokes increases the odds that it will make the most e-mailed list by 34% (Table 4, Model 4). This increase is equivalent to spending an additional 2.9 hours as the lead story on the New York Times website

Drowning doesn’t look like drowning

How did this captain know, from fifty feet away, what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew knows what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.

Wikileaks uncovers Trapwire surveillance

The ‘TrapWire Threat Meter’ means threats can be passed on through the network while vulnerabilities are not, though nevertheless remains a far more extensive breach of citizen privacy than first considered or understood.

The system appears to be ‘for hire’ in that it can be bought and used by private industry. For example, in a 2005 interview with former CIA employee (since removed from his corporate profile) and Abraxas founder and chief executive Richard Helms, he says:

…the nuclear industry has 104 civilian owned and operated nuclear power plants, and yet they don’t collect or share pre-attack information. TrapWire can help do that without infringing anyone’s civil liberties.

In a 2007 whitepaper, Abraxas [the company that used to own Trapwire] describes TrapWire’s ability to determine “suspicious activity in less than 60 seconds.”

In another email, claims were made by one British publication that the New York City system was under surveillance by TrapWire. This may have been an exaggeration.

In one leaked email, although the New York subway is mentioned, it suggests a surveillance officer could acquire human intelligence from the subway — not from technological means, as the system is not used, according to the NYPD — which can be transformed into structured data in TrapWire to assist in other subway systems, for example, where the system is implemented.

…a suspect conducting surveillance of the NYC subway can also be spotted by TrapWire conducting similar activity at the DC subway, connecting the infamous dots. An additional benefit of TrapWire is that the system can also be used to help “walk back the cat” after an attack to identify terrorist suspects and modus operandi.

However, The New York Times poured cold water on the suggestions. Speaking to Paul J. Browne, the NYPD chief’s spokesperson: “We don’t use TrapWire.”

Also in the report, the Times said:

TrapWire was tried out on 15 surveillance cameras in Washington and Seattle by the Homeland Security Department, but officials said it ended the trial last year because it did not seem promising.

The report suggests the leaked emails ‘boasted’ about capabilities and claims some of the links connected by the media are “false.”

The global intelligence files

LONDON—Today, Monday 27 February, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods, for example :

“[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control… This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase” – CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla on 6 December 2011, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of the President of Venezuala, Hugo Chavez.

The material contains privileged information about the US government’s attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks. There are more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The emails also expose the revolving door that operates in private intelligence companies in the United States. Government and diplomatic sources from around the world give Stratfor advance knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. The Global Intelligence Files exposes how Stratfor has recruited a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.

The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients. For example, Stratfor monitored and analysed the online activities of Bhopal activists, including the “Yes Men”, for the US chemical giant Dow Chemical. The activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. The disaster led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.

Dick Fosbury

Fosbury, who was born in Portland, Oregon, first started experimenting with a new high jumping technique at age 16, while attending high school in Medford, Oregon.[2] Fosbury had difficulty competing using the dominant high jumping techniques of the period. In his sophomore year, he failed to complete jumps of 5 feet, the qualifying height for many high school track meets.[3] This dominant technique, the straddle method, was a complex motion where an athlete went over the high jump bar facing down, and lifted his legs individually over the bar. Fosbury found it difficult to coordinate all the motions involved in the straddle method, and began to experiment with other ways of doing the high jump. At first, he tried to use an outdated technique known as the upright scissors method. In this method, a jumper runs upright towards the bar, facing forward, and during his jump lifts his straight legs one at a time over the bar.[3] High jump rules stipulate only that competitors may only jump off one foot at takeoff: there is no rule governing how a competitor crosses the bar, so long as he or she goes over it.[4] As he began to experiment with this technique, he gradually adapted it to make himself more comfortable and to get more height out of it. Nonetheless, it was nowhere near as coordinated as a well-performed straddle method jump, and one historian has referred to Fosbury’s early attempts as an ‘airborne seizure‘, but during the latter part of his sophomore year and the beginning of his junior year, it began to produce results, and he gradually was able to clear higher jumps.[3]
Gradually, Fosbury shifted his positioning during the jump, such that by his senior year he had begun to go over the bar backwards, head-first, curving his body over the bar and kicking his legs up in the air at the end of the jump. This required him to land on his back, but prior to his junior year, his high school had replaced its wood chip landing pit with a softer material, so he was able to land safely.[3] Luckily for Fosbury, replacement of landing surfaces with foam rubber was becoming common across the United States in the early 1960s. Sawdust, sand, or wood chip surfaces had been usable previously because jumpers using the scissors technique were able to clear the bar while upright and then land on their feet, while those using the Western Roll or Straddle made a three-point landing on their hands and lead leg. In the late 1950s, American colleges began to use bundles of soft foam rubber, usually held together by a mesh net. These bundles were not only much softer, but were also elevated about 3 ft (0.91 m) off the ground. By the early 1960s, American high schools were following the lead of the colleges in acquiring foam rubber landing pits. With the new, softer, elevated landing surface, Fosbury was able to land safely on his back without snapping his neck.[citation needed]

Fosbury’s coaches at first encouraged him to continue practicing the straddle method, but abandoned that when his marks continued to improve. In his junior year, he broke his high school record with a 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) jump, and the next year took second place in the state with a 6 ft 5.5 in (1.969 m) jump. Other high school jumpers in the United States and Canada had experimented with similar techniques, but Fosbury was the first to gain widespread media attention. A 1964 photograph of him performing his technique was widely distributed, and was reprinted in newspapers around the world. Many of them made fun of the new technique, with one newspaper captioning the photograph, “World’s Laziest High Jumper.” The technique gained the name the “Fosbury Flop” after a reporter for a Medford newspaper wrote that he looked like a, “fish flopping in a boat.”[3]

I ______  a dollar?

As part of the PoorQuality: Inequality exhibition that is currently on display at the CAH, we are showing a piece of art by Jody Servon entitled “I ______  a dollar.” This piece started out as one hundred $1 bills stuck flat against the wall. The bills hung there in a simple, uniform shape, Washington after Washington. The money was there for the taking, but only if you needed it. Jody asked viewers to think about the value of a single dollar, to contemplate their “needs” in relation to their “wants.”


Deadly Beijing floods prompt infrastructure questions

Chinese media and internet users have raised questions after the heaviest rainfall to hit Beijing in 60 years left 37 people dead.

Newspapers and netizens asked why drains in the capital could not cope and why more warnings were not given.

War only an invention

The Eskimos are not a mild and meek people; many of them are turbulent and troublesome. Fights, theft of wives, murder, cannibalism, occur among them—all outbursts of passionate men goaded by desire or intolerable circumstance. Here are men faced with hunger, men faced with loss of their wives, men faced with the threat of extermination by other men, and here are orphan children, growing up miserably with no one to care for them, mocked and neglected by those about them. The personality necessary for war, the circumstances necessary to goad men to desperation are present, but there is no war. When a travelling Eskimo entered a settlement, he might have to fight the strongest man in the settlement to establish his position among them, but this was a test of strength and bravery, not war. The idea of warfare, of one group organising against another group to maim and wound and kill them was absent. And, without that idea, passions might rage but there was no war.

The Origin of Death

[Sexual] reproduction is the last act of life, and that the preparation to reproduce is simultaneously the preparation to die.

Why do name-brand glasses and sunglasses cost so much?

As someone in the industry, Luxottica licensing all the brands is not the issue. the issue is that they also own the retail outlets that I directly compete with like Lenscrafters, Sunglass Hut, and the Oakley flagship stores.  So the reason we don’t carry a lot of these brands is that when we buy the brands, we are basically giving money to our competition to advertise more, dominate the marketplace, etc.  We focus on smaller independent brands that don’t own any retail outlets that compete with us directly.

Also, in regards to the price, often what you are paying for is the “brand” name that they spend all the advertising money on to create.

Interview with a malicious hacker making over $10,000 per week

So finally, the last question I had was how they manage to get actual, physical goods using that stolen credit, without having to divulge their address. The way I was explained is that all he has to do is post ads on eBay for popular items that he doesn’t actually have. Then, when someone buys it, he turns around and buys that same item from some online store with the bought CC numbers, and puts the eBay buyer’s address as the shipping location. He makes those stores send the products directly to his buyers, and gets clean cash for them, which he can spend any way he wants. It’s a type of online money laundering. And apparently, the reason why these stolen numbers are sold so cheaply is because a vast majority of them are either already canceled, or maxed out.

Overall, the whole process for these people takes just minutes every day, and again, most of the time is spent covering their tracks by creating new accounts, switching to new VPNs, and going to anonymous cash sending and receiving stores, while the actual time spent doing any type of coding or interacting with other hackers is minimal. It’s very easy to use, very tempting, and unfortunately, it still seems very low risk for them.

Indie Grown-ups

This is not, of course, the seventies. Our tasteful professionals aren’t saps shoved down our throats by giant record labels; our sophisticated rock bands aren’t pompous millionaires with silly ideas. (They’re bashful millionaires with sensible ideas, like finding global warming worrisome.)

What’s cooking?

Humans became human, as it were, with the emergence 1.8m years ago of a species called Homo erectus. This had a skeleton much like modern man’s—a big, brain-filled skull and a narrow pelvis and rib cage, which imply a small abdomen and thus a small gut. Hitherto, the explanation for this shift from the smaller skulls and wider pelvises of man’s apelike ancestors has been a shift from a vegetable-based diet to a meat-based one. Meat has more calories than plant matter, the theory went. A smaller gut could therefore support a larger brain.

Dr Wrangham disagrees. When you do the sums, he argues, raw meat is still insufficient to bridge the gap. He points out that even modern “raw foodists”, members of a town-dwelling, back-to-nature social movement, struggle to maintain their weight—and they have access to animals and plants that have been bred for the table. Pre-agricultural man confined to raw food would have starved.

Our Billionaire Philanthropists

The Broad Foundation—together with its partner the Gates Foundation—has been trying to shove charter schools and high-stakes standardized testing down the throats of American parents for more than a decade. In stark contrast to the parents of America’s public schoolchildren, the Broad and Gates brass won’t be at risk for the failures of their efforts, since they will continue to send their own kids to expensive prep schools—a practice David Sirota characterized in Salon as “governing from behind palace walls.”

This apparent discrepancy is widely mischaracterized. Howard Davies, former director of the London School of Economics, noted dryly in the Guardian that “with the French it is clear that richesse n’oblige pas du tout.” Mais bien sûr, it should also be noted that the top tax rate in France is 50 percent, not counting an extra moneybags-surtax for high-net-worth individuals, the impôt de solidarité sur la fortune, plus a Value Added Tax of more than 19 percent. These revenues are used to fund, among other things, a first-rate single-payer health system for every French citizen. The French trust in their government, rather than their billionaires, to look after disadvantaged people, and they accept high tax rates as a fair price for those services.

Human nature and the human condition

In the human world people create new inventions – like religion or war or slavery  – that do something for them. Those inventions succeed and spread in so far as they are amenable to our human nature and our other inventions, and by their success they condition us to accept the world they create until it seems like it could not have been otherwise.

Recognising the fact that the human condition is human-made offers us the possibility to scrutinise it, to reflect, and perhaps even to adopt better inventions. Slavery was once so dominant in our human world that even Aristotle felt obliged to give an account of its naturalness (some people are just naturally slavish). But we discovered a better invention – market economies – that has made inefficient slavery obsolete and now almost extinct (which is not to say that this invention is perfect either). The human condition concerns humans as we are, but not as we have to be.

A further argument is needed to move from such facts as that women can give birth, or that 5 year old girls tend to have a strong gender identity (dress up as princesses and play with dolls, etc.), to conclusions about women’s ‘natural’ inability to do mathematics or run companies or hold political office. And that argument is nearly always absent or spurious.

A more contemporary reprise of this point can be found in Cordelia Fine’s scathing and systematic critique* of  the neuro-scientific evidence for the naturalness of gender, which she argues is so methodologically flawed as to constitute neurosexism rather than science. Fine points out, for example, that surveys reveal what people think they should feel and so do not constitute a test of whether women are actually, or naturally, more caring. And she points out that mapping sexual differences in brain physiology is a trivial exercise (mere phrenology) without some demonstration that these differences directly produce significantly different functioning.

Evidence of natural difference is not evidence of relevant difference. As Plato noted a very long time ago (in Book 5 of The Republic) the fact that men and women are naturally – physiologically – different in certain ways is not necessarily any more relevant to their abilities than being long-haired or bald is relevant to being a good cobbler.