People sometimes ask how’d you deal with corporations w/out a state. W/out a state & its legal structure there are no…

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A few years back, I followed @archillect, because I like cool images. After a bit I started to wonder why it had a seeming…

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AIs named by AIs


Neural networks can be good at naming things, I’ve discovered. Recently I’ve been experimenting with a neural network called GPT-2, which OpenAI trained on a huge chunk of the internet. Thanks to a colab notebook implementation by Max Woolf, I’m able to fine-tune it on specific lists of data - cat names, for example. Drawing on its prior knowledge of how words tend to be used, GPT-2 can sometimes suggest new words and phrases that it thinks it’s seen in similar context to the words from my fine-tuning dataset. (It’ll also sometimes launch into Harry Potter fan fiction or conspiracy theories, since it saw a LOT of those online.)

One thing I’ve noticed GPT-2 doing is coming up with names that sound strangely like the names of self-aware AI spaceships in Iain M. Banks’s Culture novels. In the science fiction series, the ships choose their own names according to a sort of quirky sense of humor. The humans in the books may not appreciate the names, but there’s nothing they can do about them:

Hand Me The Gun And Ask Me Again
Zero Credibility
Fixed Grin
Charming But Irrational
So Much For Subtlety
Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall

Now compare some of the effects pedals GPT-2 came up with:

Dangerous But Not Unbearably So
Disastrously Varied Mental Model
Dazzling So Beautiful Yet So Terrifying
Am I really that Transhuman
Love and Sex Are A Mercy Clause

 And some of the cat names:

Give Me A Reason
Thou Shalt
Warning Signs
Kill All Humans

Did GPT-2 somehow have a built-in tendency to produce names that sounded like self-aware spaceships? How would it do if it was actually trained specifically on Culture ships?

A reader named Kelly sent me a list of 236 of Iain M. Banks’s Culture ship names from Wikipedia, and I trained the 345 million-parameter version of GPT-2 on them. As it turns out, I had to stop the training after just a few seconds (6 iterations) because GPT-2 was already beginning to memorize the entire list (can’t blame it; as far as it was concerned, memorizing the entire list was a perfect solution to the task I was asking for).

And yes. The answer is yes, naming science fiction AIs is something this real-life AI can do astonishingly well. I’ve selected some of the best to show you. First, there are the names that are clearly warship AIs:

Not Disquieting At All
Surprise Surprise
And That’s That!
New Arrangement
I Told You So
Spoiler Alert
Bonus Points!
Collateral Damage
Friendly Head Crusher
Scruffy And Determined
Race To The Bottom

And there are the sassy AIs:

Absently Tilting To One Side
A Small Note Of Disrespect
Third Letter of The Week
Well Done and Thank You
Just As Bad As Your Florist
What Exactly Is It With You?
Let Me Just Post This
Protip: Don’t Ask
Beyond Despair
Way Too Personal
Sobering Reality Check
Charming (Except For The Dogs)

The names of these AIs are even more inscrutable than usual. To me, this makes them much scarier than the warships.

Hot Pie
Lightly Curled Round The Wrist
Color Gold Normally Comes With Silence
8 Angry Doughnut Feelings
Mini Cactus Cake Fight
Happy to Groom Any Animals You Want
Stuffy Waffles With Egg On Top
Pickles And Harpsichord
Just As Likely To Still Be Intergalactic Jellyfish
Someone Did Save Your Best Cookie By Post-Apocalyptic Means

At least it does sound like some of these AIs will be appeased by snacks.

Bonus content: more AI names, including a few anachronisms (“Leonard Nimoy for President” for example)

“You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from nonconformity, the…


“You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from nonconformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future. It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen… We must dare to invent the future.””

Thomas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, 1983 - 1987.

50 lost words from the Oxford English Dictionary


acnestis (n.): on an animal, the point of the back that lies between the shoulders and the lower back, which cannot be reached to be scratched

advesperate (v.): to approach evening

aerumnous (adj.): full of trouble [‘practically begging to be reintroduced to our vocabulary’, Shea notes]

backfriend (n.): a fake friend; a secret enemy

benedicence (n.): benevolence in speech

cellarhood (n.): the state of being a cellar (cf. tableity)

cimicine (adj.): smelling like bugs

constult (v.): to act stupidly together

dactylodeiktous (adj.) pointed at with a finger

discountenancer (n.): one who discourages with cold looks

elozable (adj.): readily influenced by flattery

epizeuxis (n.): the repetition of a word with vehemence and emphasis

fard (v.): to paint the face with cosmetics, so as to hide blemishes [‘I suspect there is a reason no one ever gets up from the table and says, “Excuse me while I go to the ladies’ room and fard.”’]

felicificability (n.): capacity for happiness

gound (n.): the gunk that collects in the corners of the eyes [‘the type of word I was unaware that I didn’t know, and yet it still felt like a relief when I discovered it’]

grinagog (n.): a person who is constantly grinning

hamartia (n.): the flaw that precipitates the destruction of a tragic hero

happify (v.): to make happy [this one gives me a happy, as they said in Buffy]

heterophemize (v.): to say something different from what you mean to say

impluvious (adj.): ‘wet with rain’ (Thomas Blount, Glossographia, 1656)

insordescent (adj.): growing in filthiness

jentacular (adj.): of or pertaining to breakfast

kankedort (n.): an awkward situation or affair

latibulate (v.): to hide oneself in a corner

letabund (adj.): filled with joy

malesuete (adj.): accustomed to poor habits

misdelight (n.): pleasure in something wrong

nefandous (adj.): too odious to be spoken of

neighbourize (v.): to be or act neighbourly

obganiate (v.): to annoy by repeating over and over and over and over

occasionet (n.): a minor occasion

petecure (n.): modest cooking; cooking on a small scale [‘Very few people eat in an epicurean fashion, yet many of them know what the word epicure means. A great many people eat in a simple fashion, and yet no one knows the word for this.’]

postvide (v.): to make plans for an event only after it has occurred [the antonym of provide, which originally meant ‘exercise foresight; make provision for the future’, per OED]

psithurism (n.): the whispering of leaves moved by the wind

quag (v.): to shake (said of something that is soft or flabby)

remord (n.): a touch of remorse; (v.) to remember with regret [‘when utilized as a verb, remord seems as though it can instantly render poetic any decision made in the past and subsequently regretted’]

residentarian (n.): a person who is given to remaining at table

scringe (v.): to shrug the back or shoulders from cold

scrouge (v.): to inconvenience or discomfort a person by pressing against him or her or by standing too close

subtrist (adj.): slightly sad

sympatetic (n.): a companion one walks with [‘Discoveries like this one are what make reading the OED from cover to cover worthwhile.’]

tacenda (n.): things not to be mentioned; matters that are passed over in silence

unbepissed (adj.): not having been urinated on [‘Is it possible that at some time there was such a profusion of things that had been urinated on that there was a pressing need to distinguish those that had not?’]

undisonant (adj.): making the sound of waves

vicambulist (n.): one who walks about in the streets

vulpeculated (pa. pple.): robbed by a fox

well-woulder (n.): a conditional well-wisher

xenium (n.): a gift given to a guest

yesterneve (n.): yesterday evening

zyxt (v.): to see [‘It is the second-person singular indicative present form of the verb “to see” in the Kentish dialect and has obviously not been in common use for some time.’]

Ammon Shea (because)

Why EU Regions are Redrawing Their Borders

EU, Europa, politics, local, regions, CEMR-CCRE, AER, COR, Euroregion, EGLEG, regional-development

This regional breakdown is what the EU uses to distribute its “catch-up funds,” which is used to fund a subset of a country’s projects in transportation infrastructure, schools, and hospitals, as well as development of small firms, investments in a low-carbon economy, environmental projects, and training and education. The least developed regions get a bigger share of the 50 billion euros distributed annually and, as a result, have to cofund less of total project costs. More developed regions receive less money and pay more toward project costs. Yet how does the EU decide whether a region is less developed? Where are the lines drawn?


Tobias Revell - Five Problems with Speculative Design (Pensee, Germinal, 227)

Tobias-Revell, SCD, design, speculative-design, futures, climate-change, 2019

We don’t have a good speculative design for planetary-change. The operating model of the business-design pipeline is exploiting the planet at one end and users at the other. The idea that these might in fact be the same thing would mean admitting that an operational focus on individual users and discrete time windows was ineffective design. And large sprawling change over massive time windows and shifting human/non-human interactions does not conform to the way in which revenue is reported. Again, this isn’t the fault of speculative design; designers need to eat. But, under these conditions we can’t to look at it as a catch-all solution for planetary collapse.


We Have to Save the Planet. So I’m Donating $1 Billion

NYT, Hansjörg-Wyss, climate, environment, philanthropy, 2019

Every one of us — citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders — should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected. It is a gap that we must urgently narrow, before our human footprint consumes the earth’s remaining wild places. For my part, I have decided to donate $1 billion over the next decade to help accelerate land and ocean conservation efforts around the world, with the goal of protecting 30 percent of the planet’s surface by 2030. This money will support locally led conservation efforts around the world, push for increased global targets for land and ocean protection, seek to raise public awareness about the importance of this effort, and fund scientific studies to identify the best strategies to reach our target. I believe this ambitious goal is achievable because I’ve seen what can be accomplished.


Ribbonfarm Top 10 by word count@vgr 1,155,543@sarahdoingthing 154,958@KevinSimler 32,895*@davidmanheim 27,940@TaylorPearsonMe…

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Though a bit idiosyncratic, the shortest definition of intellectual I’ll sign on to is “magical thinker” (ht @bhudgeons for…

IFTTT, Twitter, vgr


Zuck turned American classrooms into nonconsensual laboratories for his pet educational theories, and now they’re rebelling


Summit Learning is a nonprofit, high-tech “customized learning” group funded by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s family charity; under the program, students are equipped with high-surveillance Chromebooks and work on their own “at their own pace” and call on teachers to act as “mentors” when they get stuck.

It’s a high-tech version of student-led education, where a high teacher-to-pupil ratio allows students to pursue self-directed education based on their own proclivities and interests, and mentor one another. But in the Zuck version, students work alone in front of screens, in social isolation, taking automated quizzes to assess their progress.

Many students and parents find this incredibly invasive and frustrating. Students with special needs – exactly the group that you’d expect to benefit most from “customized learning” – find the systems especially troublesome, and for students with screen-triggered epilepsy, the systems are pure torture.

The result is rebellion, with parents withdrawing students from school altogether, or demanding that alternative accommodations be made for them; students in Brooklyn have staged mass walkouts to protest the systems; other districts have canceled the program in the face of student protests, and one University of Pennsylvania study found that 70% of students opposed the program.

US education has been the plaything of billionaires since the GW Bush era, when “accountability” measures like No Child Left Behind began to starve the neediest schools while reorienting education around preparation for high-stakes testing, all thanks to wealthy right-wing ideologues who insisted that education could be improved by “running it like a business.”

Then came the charter schools, which directly integrated for-profit businesses in providing tax-funded education, supported by a coalition that welded together parents’ whose public schools had been so starved that they had degraded beyond hope; religious fanatics who wanted publicly funded parochial education that omitted sexual health, evolution and other evidence-based curriculum; and wealthy people who wanted to opt their kids into racially and class-segregated environments.

Fucking with education is now the sport of oligarchs: witness the Gates’ Foundation’s $775 million “Big Data” boondoggle to the Sacklers’ ploughing of their bloody opioid epidemic money into anti-public education campaigns and the Koch and Walton families’ work to discredit teachers’ unions; and then there’s the queen of the education slayers, the heiress dilletante Betsy DeVos, an unqualified religious fanatic who is, incredibly, in charge of the nation’s public schools, which she wants to defund from primary to postsecondary, though she will earmark funds to arm teachers with assault rifles.

Zuckerberg and Chan fit quite neatly into that rogue’s gallery: using their money to elevate their evidence-free pet theories into educational policy that other peoples’ kids have to test out in publicly funded laboratories.

I just boarded an international @JetBlue flight. Instead of scanning my boarding pass or handing over my passport, I looked into…

IFTTT, Twitter, mackenzief


We need 2 categories 1) #Dravidian pantheism 4 sudra&dalit pagans who reject #Brahmin 2)#Hindu 4 all twice born. All texts…

IFTTT, Twitter, Teloogoo


Idea: doomsday clock that runs on kairos rather than chronos. Every tick-tock is a semantically marked up real-world event that…

IFTTT, Twitter, vgr


"From the funding of anti-media, ultra-media NGOs to aggressive lobbying strategies on European standards, such as the…

Meat, France, Vegan, substituts à la viande, EU, antispécistes, la viande cellulaire, lab grown meat, conspiracy, meat lobby, 2019

“From the funding of anti-media, ultra-media NGOs to aggressive lobbying strategies on European standards, such as the Zootechnical Directive, these companies often linked to Anglo-Saxon investment funds or billionaires seem to have made the penetration of French market a priority by partnering with mass retailers. The Observatory of Food Innovation will attempt to decipher this strategy of encirclement, but also its consequences for the French economy.”

“La cartographie ci-dessous présente les liens de financement et d’influence entre les investisseurs anglo-saxons, les start-up du marché de la viande cellulaire et les mouvements antispécistes. Le financement, de 1,1 millions d’euros en 2017, entre L214 et la fondation américaine « Open Philanthropy Project » est révélé par le rapport des commissaires aux comptes pour l’exercice 2017 de l’association.“

Every science is a degenerate habit of thought. Magical thinking is the creative discipline of resisting the lure of that…

IFTTT, Twitter, vgr


Maturity, to me, is learning when it is a virtue to compromise - and when it absolutely is not. The good life is often an…

IFTTT, Twitter, hautepop


Perhaps no human activity has as big a gap between private and public texture as “research”. Research in private is a an endless…

IFTTT, Twitter, vgr


"Work is by nature unfree, inhuman, unsocial, activity which is both controlled by private property and which creates it. The…

IFTTT, Twitter, n_srnck


Congratulations to Richard Powers for being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his amazing book “The Overstory” a most sophisticated…

IFTTT, Twitter, BrunoLatourAIME


Outer doubt: Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy, Discworld, Discordianism Outer confidence: Getting Things Done, Inner Game of Tennis…

IFTTT, Twitter, vgr


Not #NotreDameCathedral but 800-year-old-plus modified trees that have been left to die in last 40 years due to water…

IFTTT, Twitter, LatimoreJack



manifesto, internet, netculture, utopia, capital, revolution, despair, we hate the internet, DRONEGOD$, 2016

“There was no revolution too be had on the internet. None at all. The idea that there ever was is false. A big fat lie.

Sure, we thought we saw revolutions start on here. We saw people come together to fight governments, stand up to bullies, bring attention to brutality, to show how corporations are stupid and greedy (we did quite a bit of that last one ourselves, if you remember, dear friends). We watched people fight for justice and against political correctness. We watched huge battles rage. And we thought they were exciting and important.

But we were wrong, we slowly realised. We realised those battles were just a spectacle, a distraction from what was really going on. Because those battles were taking place on a battlefield that didn’t matter. On a battlefield that had no way of making a difference. Because that’s a battlefield we don’t own, and never could. New battlefields built just to keep us occupied.

We used to think we could own it, that we were fighting to build communities for ourselves. That it was ours for the taking. To stake a claim for a place we could control and belong, a fight to make ‘safe spaces’ for ourselves. It was a noble thing to think, that we were fighting for our own spaces, but we were kidding ourselves. We never owned these spaces, we never could. They were never ours to own, never ours to control. Instead we watched our battles turn in to spectator sports, our revolutions turn in to infighting. We watched our new communities dissolve into civil wars. We watched our political activists and community leaders become celebrity brands, our tech-utopian visionaries bow to capital and shareholders.

Without knowing - although somehow always expecting it - we let ourselves become nothing more than the content between adverts. Our battles, our beliefs, our loves - nothing more than the filler before the next ad break. We fought battles that we didn’t need to fight - battles that ripped our solidarity apart and distracted us from the we causes we once believed in - just to create clicks and blinks and eyeballs for the advertising networks. We were nothing more than squatters in a space we wanted to believe we owned, paying our rent by giving ourselves away in the name of capital. Our revolution was a sideshow.

Well, not anymore friends. This has to stop. And it will.”

(via )

Monday morning reading "Drawing on the dark arts, the domain where magicians and fortune-tellers commune with unknowable,…

IFTTT, Twitter, _foam


This is why degrowth, buen vivir, and associated movements are so important, because they pose the question of "how can everyone…

IFTTT, Twitter, islacharlatan


consensus seems to be it was pretty epic. gay penguins, afrofuturism, eugenics, john locke, CRISPR, radioactive glass, skiing,…

IFTTT, Twitter, metaleptic


Black hole named ‘Powehi’ by Hawaiian professor

Powehi, M87, blackhole, Hawaii, names, 2019

University of Hawaii-Hilo Hawaiian Professor Larry Kimura has given a Hawaiian name — Powehi — to the black hole depicted in an image produced in a landmark experiment. “Powehi” means “the adorned fathomless dark creation” or “embellished dark source of unending creation” and comes from the Kumulipo, an 18th-century Hawaiian creation chant. “Po” is a profound dark source of unending creation, while “wehi,” honored with embellishments, is one of the chant’s descriptions of po, the newspaper reported. “To have the privilege of giving a Hawaiian name to the very first scientific confirmation of a black hole is very meaningful to me and my Hawaiian lineage that comes from po,” Kimura said in a news release. A Hawaiian name was justified because the project included two Hawaii telescopes, astronomers said. “As soon as he said it, I nearly fell off my chair,” said Jessica Dempsey, deputy director of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea.


Art and Science | LENSCRATCH

LENSCRATCH, photography, art, science, sci-art

ART + SCIENCE features photographs by artists who address a genre of photography that lives at the intersection of art and science. This movement is not new, yet its reach is currently building momentum. More than producing aesthetic images derived from scientific data, science-inspired artists find connections that reflect a common purpose – one that integrates the authenticity of science and the communicative power of art. The sci-art movement promotes dialogue and offers a platform in hopes of improving the world in which we live.


For all it’s flaws, religion has many interesting aspects: It provides an inclusive, communal framework for decision-making…

IFTTT, Twitter, samim


Black hole, or the question: why is it called even casually “a photograph”, in which ways would it be part of the media…

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One of the key figures in today’s #blackhole story is scientist, #KatieBouman. Take a look at this photo of her & her stack of…

IFTTT, Twitter, honorharger


Songwriters, you have a choice


The last few years, I’ve taken a bit of a break from Thought Leading. I’ve had my own personal struggles and my thought leading has been directed at overcoming the disruption wrought upon life and by my husband’s cancer and death. I don’t mean to bring up my personal tragedy to get your attention but I do feel the need the need to explain why I haven’t been as active an artists’ advocate as I once was.

However, important things are happening in the world of music royalties and I can’t sit on the sidelines.

If you make music for a living, you might have been aware of the passage of the Music Modernization Act last year. The law sets up a non-profit entity called the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) to issue blanket licenses to streaming services and to collect and pay the owners of songs.

If you are a self-published, DIY songwriter, that is you.

Much like SoundExchange collects and distributes your digital performance royalties, this new MLC will collect and distribute your digital mechanical royalties.

This stuff, and mechanical royalties in particular, can be mind-numbingly boring but believe me, if you make a living off your songs, you need to pay attention. Your royalties are at stake and you have a short window of time to act.

Two groups have submitted proposals to the copyright office to run the MLC, the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and the American Music Licensing Collective (AMLC).

I have joined the board of the AMLC because I believe they will get mechanical royalties to the songwriters who earned them.

There is a pot of an estimated $1.2 billion in unmatched mechanical royalties that have yet to be paid to the people who earned them. The streaming services were required to pay the royalties, not to match them. Making a system for connecting songs to owners and getting these black-box royalties to the people who earned them will be primary tasks of the new MLC.

Why should DIY songwriters care?

Millions of songs are recorded every year and the vast majority of them are by “self-published” songwriters and composers like me. We control our own copyrights and are not represented by the major music publishers in the NMPA. We are the ones who will rely on the MLC to get us royalties that in many cases, we haven’t been paid before. I would bet my favorite pair of shoes that self-published songwriters like me wrote the songs that generated that pot of royalties.

The music publishers in the NMPA have direct deals with the streaming services. They have been collecting their royalties and will continue to do so without help of the MLC. This is the part that worries me: written into the law, and in fact lobbied for by the NMPA, is language that indicates board members of the MLC are able to recommend the pot of unmatched royalties be liquidated and distributed to themselves by market share.

This gaping hole in the law should make all DIY songwriters sit up and pay attention. The board of the MLC will get to say what happens to that estimated billion dollars and to all unmatched royalties going forward.

The publishers in the NMPA will not use the MLC yet they can recommend liquidating the pot of unmatched royalties and distributing it to themselves? Will they have any incentive to do the work required to match these royalties to the songwriters who should get it?

Without question, the AMLC has the least conflict of interest, the best technology proposal and the least incentive to recommend directing other people’s royalties to themselves, not to mention their budget is a fraction of the one proposed by the NMPA.

There are other things too. The AMLC doesn’t aim to make a single corporate-controlled database containing information about every composition in the world, which the NMPA does. I think we have experienced enough corporate consolidation of data, thank you very much. Instead, the AMLC’s proposal is for a decentralized network that pulls together data from the 100+ global music rights organizations and will use dynamic indexing, normalization and intelligent matching algorithms to connect songs with owners.

I trust the AMLC to get me my mechanical royalties.

If you are a songwriter, you have only until April 22 to tell the Registrar of Copyrights which group you think should handle your mechanical royalties.

Click here to make a comment with the copyright office.

Want to learn more?Tomorrow April 10 at 5:30pm Central time the AMLC is holding a town hall. I’ll be there by video conference. You can join on your phone or computer and ask questions by going here:

To survive in this era as an artist you have to maximize all possible revenue streams: live performances, sync licensing, subscriptions, merchandise, performance royalties, sound recording royalties, mechanicals. It takes some work to collect all the pieces of your royalty pie. Someday, I hope those of us who own our copyrights will be able to enter all our information once instead of many, many times in many, many places.

Imagine being able to identify yourself, your songs, your percentage ownership if you collaborated with someone, and then imagine collecting all the royalties — for the performance, for the recording, for the composition — without having to pay a hefty percentage for the privilege?

That won’t be happening anytime soon. The royalty collection systems are complex and like other complex systems, many parties benefit from that complexity (healthcare anyone?).

superimpose (|=| up “9”) $ s “pluck*2 alphabet*3 cp*1 blip*4 odx*4 alphabet*1 numbers*1 cp*4 bass*2 feelfx*2 alphabet*4” |=| n…

IFTTT, Twitter, tidalbotbot


Bacterial and fungal communities associated with the International Space Station

ISS, microbiome, space, bacteria, fungi, closed-system, space-travel, 2019

The International Space Station (ISS) is a closed system inhabited by microorganisms originating from life support systems, cargo, and crew that are exposed to unique selective pressures such as microgravity. To date, mandatory microbial monitoring and observational studies of spacecraft and space stations have been conducted by traditional culture methods, although it is known that many microbes cannot be cultured with standard techniques. To fully appreciate the true number and diversity of microbes that survive in the ISS, molecular and culture-based methods were used to assess microbial communities on ISS surfaces. Samples were taken at eight pre-defined locations during three flight missions spanning 14 months and analyzed upon return to Earth. The results reveal a diverse population of bacteria and fungi on ISS environmental surfaces that changed over time but remained similar between locations. The dominant organisms are associated with the human microbiome and may include opportunistic pathogens. This study provides the first comprehensive catalog of both total and intact/viable bacteria and fungi found on surfaces in closed space systems and can be used to help develop safety measures that meet NASA requirements for deep space human habitation. The results of this study can have significant impact on our understanding of other confined built environments on the Earth such as clean rooms used in the pharmaceutical and medical industries.


Guiz3. Wait a second. What if flat earthers are all just really dedicated trickster types running an Absurdly long con in…

IFTTT, Twitter, Wolven


Key indicators of Arctic climate change: 1971–2017

arctic, climate-change, climate, science, tipping-point, AMAP, IPCC, 1971, 2017, 2019

Key observational indicators of climate change in the Arctic, most spanning a 47 year period (1971–2017) demonstrate fundamental changes among nine key elements of the Arctic system. We find that, coherent with increasing air temperature, there is an intensification of the hydrological cycle, evident from increases in humidity, precipitation, river discharge, glacier equilibrium line altitude and land ice wastage. Downward trends continue in sea ice thickness (and extent) and spring snow cover extent and duration, while near-surface permafrost continues to warm. Several of the climate indicators exhibit a significant statistical correlation with air temperature or precipitation, reinforcing the notion that increasing air temperatures and precipitation are drivers of major changes in various components of the Arctic system. […] The Arctic biophysical system is now clearly trending away from its 20th Century state and into an unprecedented state, with implications not only within but beyond the Arctic.


The Sandbox Tree also known as the “Dynamite Tree” grows exploding fruits. When fully mature, the fruits explode with a loud…

IFTTT, Twitter, 41Strange


1/ A vulture can fly up to 400 kilometres each day in search of carrion. Little should it care whether this flight takes it from…

IFTTT, Twitter, TurbanMinor


Consider 2 universes. Universe Omega is a universe in which God does not exist, but the inhabitants of the universe believe God…

IFTTT, Twitter, pickover


A train trip can change you forever. I had my only religious experience on a Ljubljana-Venice one June, arriving 6am. Also the…

IFTTT, Twitter, minipetite


Is It Possible to Protect Wild Spaces from Instagram?


The question ought to be expanded to include: is it possible to protect ourselves from ourselves because of Instagram. Three people died in Grand Canyon National Park, or outside of the Park boundaries but within the Grand Canyon area, over the past nine days. One tripped and fell 1,000 feet while taking a photo. One fell 400 feet, but the cause has not yet been determined. One got lost while hiking.

Excerpt from this Outside Onlinearticle:

For years, our conversations around Instagram’s impact on the outdoors have generally hit the same few beats: we’ve mocked the wannabe influencers who got too close to moose, complained that our favorite spaces were being loved to death, and wrung our hands over crowded, trash-strewn trailheads. But now land managers throughout the U.S. are taking bold steps to reshape the conversation. And they’re doing it through geotag campaigns, new and improved signage, and updated infrastructure. 

Even if we’re not geotagging our favorite spots, we’re likely photographing some of the wildlife for which our national parks are known, like wild horses at Assateague Island National Seashore. And ever more powerful phones give us the courage to inch closer and closer to those animals—sometimes too close.

As more visitors head outdoors, they’re not always careful to follow best practices. Take the iconic bison of Yellowstone National Park. A recent study in the medical journal One Health found that visitors were approaching the animals with alarming frequency, and that roughly half of all bison-related injuries between 2000 and 2015 involved photography, up from 29 percent between 1980 and 1999. “The popularity of sharing selfies on social media might explain why wildlife are approached more closely than when traditional camera technology was used,” the study says, while also referencing incidents in which visitors tried to take selfies with elk, raccoons, bears, and—incredibly—rattlesnakes.

Is It Possible to Protect Wild Spaces from Instagram?

‘Selfie epidemic’: How Israeli teenager fell to his death in Yosemite


Excerpt from this story from Mercury News:

Frankfurter’s death, on Sept. 4 of last year, was reported widely. But the dramatic details of the accident — one of a growing number of fatalities involving young people in search of spectacular photos, often to post on Instagram, Facebook or other social media — have not been made public until now, after being obtained by this organization through a Freedom of Information Act request.

For generations, visitors have taken risks at Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and other national parks. Some have died by getting too close to cliffs or waterfalls while trying to photograph landscapes. A man from Hong Kong died this week at the Grand Canyon when he stumbled while taking a photo and fell 1,000 feet.

Now, however, the internet and social media are changing the equation. The goal is often not to come back with a scenic photo, but rather to come back with a photo of yourself taking a risk, experts say.

“It appears to be a selfie epidemic,” said Michael Ghiglieri, co-author of “Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite,” a 2007 book about fatal accidents in the park. “Today people are trying to prove that they did something,” Ghiglieri said. “In the old days people went out to have an experience. Now they go out to record that they had that experience.”

Between 2011 and 2017, at least 259 people around the world died while attempting to take selfies, according to a study published last year in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.

Their average age was 23. Three-quarters were male. The most common causes of death were drowning, often by being swept into the ocean by big waves; transportation accidents, like being hit by a moving train; and falling from high places.

“Most people will say, ‘I want the photo, but it’s too dangerous,‘” said Ghiglieri, a former Vietnam-era Army platoon sergeant who has led more than 600 outdoor trips to places as diverse as the Grand Canyon and Rwanda.  “Some people — and it’s almost always guys — recognize it’s dangerous, but they don’t internalize it as dangerous. They perceive it like a Hollywood movie set. It’s a disconnect.”

Ghiglieri said there’s not much that national parks can do.

“It’s impossible,” he said. “Even if you built miles of cyclone fencing, someone would climb over it.”

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