What I’m Reading: A ‘Quirky’ Edition of the Friday Link Roundup

Buddha, Confucious, and Laozi Taste Some Vinegar – Medium.com
A short article on a common motif in Chinese art: the founders of three important schools of philosophy in China taste, and react, to vinegar.

Lifefaker.com
OK, not reading this one per-se but it’s a hilarious and sobering website that aims to put social media and blog aesthetic lifestylers in perspective. Is your life lacking meaning, adventure, inspiration, or magazine-worthy relationships? With Lifehacker, making people think you have these things through obnoxious photography is just a click away!

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What I’m Reading: A Friday Link Roundup, “It’s Worse Than You Think” Edition

The Pension Crisis is Worse Than You Think – Seeking Alpha
The article’s author outlines why the current pension system in the US is completely and unarguably unsustainable – and why we probably have less than a decade before pension funds run out.

Why oil prices can’t rise very high, for very long – Our Finite World
This piece may sound good at first, but it’s not. Many of Gail’s posts about the price of oil concern themselves with trying to get it into her readers heads that low oil prices are bad – really bad – as counterintuitive as that seems. Here, it’s a simple case of supply and demand: the cost of production climbs every year, while spending power remains stagnant at best. This makes even a fixed price for oil unaffordable over the long-term for consumers, and unsustainable for producers who need to turn a profit in order to keep the drills drilling. In short, Gail often says, this means that there is no price that works anymore.

At the Fed, the Scene Is Being Set for Financial Disaster – The Nation
Nomi Prins speculates that we’re quietly headed for another crisis a la the 2008 market collapse. Trump is leveraging all the wrong people (for a healthy economy) in the Federal Reserve lineup as the GOP aims to loosen restrictions across the financial board. Meanwhile, the stock market is already beginning to show signs of stress this year. Best fasten your seatbelt, folks. (Here’s two more pieces pointing toward this from CNBC.)

U.K. Productivity Worst Since Industrial Revolutoin, BOE Says – Bloomberg
“Total factor productivity since 2007 was the worst since the late eighteenth century, around the time of the industrial revolution, according to a Bank of England blog post Wednesday.”

What I’m Reading: A ‘Dumb F**ks’ edition of the friday roundup

It’s bittersweet to have to say I told you so, and even in 2015 I was way late to the game. Can we all just quit the damn platform already? Your society will thank you.

How Facebook’s Naive Optimism Built A Toolbox for 21st Century TotalitarianismExponents
“Maybe when we learned that a 19-year old Mark Zuckerberg called 4,000 of his fellow Harvard students , “dumb f$cks”, for trusting him with their personal information, we should have believed him the first time.”

‘Dumb f***s’: The two words coming back to bite Mark Zuckerberg amid latest data scandal – NZ Herald
“…the latest scandal involving a shadowy company that pinched Facebook user data to help it design software to influence elections has given the company its biggest black eye yet.”

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have just confirmed it: online privacy is dead – Maclean’s
“Opinion: Welcome to the age of ‘surveillance capitalism’ where highly personalized information and psychological models are leveraged to change consumers’ behaviour and sway their opinions”

Both Facebook And Cambridge Analytica Threatened To Sue Journalists Over Stories On CA’s Use Of Facebook Data – Techdirt
“…it’s raising a bigger question, as well, and it’s one that caused Facebook to do something that I’ll definitively call as “incredibly stupid,” which is that it threatened to sue the Guardian over its story, mainly because the Guardian story refers to this whole mess as a “data breach” for Facebook’s data.”

Zuck and Sandberg go M.I.A. as Congress summons Facebook leadership by name – Tech Crunch
“Congress is mad. And it might be as mad about this poorly handled Cambridge Analytica  debacle as it is about getting stood up the last time around. Without any kind of public statement from one of the faces of the company, Facebook users are starting to feel stood up too.”

WF Mechanization Is Plodding Along As Predicted

Sure, the OTS implementation happened before the Amazon buyout, but Amazon is unlikely to be interested in fixing this problem, let alone know how, because Bezos has zero interest in facilitating healthy, functioning human relationships in his line of work. Whether that’s between employer and employee, or customer service representative and customer, Bezos and those of his ilk have made their billions via spreadsheet fiat – reducing everything and everyone to numbers and graphs… and brick-and-mortar stores to dolled-up warehouses.

This is something I predicted a while ago. Check out some of these recent headlines:

Whole Foods Is Datafying Its Employees To Death – Gizmodo

‘Entire aisles are empty’: Whole Foods employees reveal why stores are facing a crisis of food shortages – Business Insider

Internal documents reveal that Whole Foods is leaving some shelves empty on purpose – Business Insider

My recommendation? Taking your business elsewhere.

What I’m Reading: A Friday Link Roundup: Smartphones Edition

Modern Media is a DoS Attack on Your Free Will – Nautilus Magazine
An interview with James Williams, ex-Google marketing guru, who believes that modern technology platforms are subverting our ability to think, to be alone, and most importantly, to pay attention.

A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel – Harvard Business Review
The study was specifically done for Facebook, but being that most other forms of social media function very similarly (clicking links, liking other people’s posts, and posting your own updates, to use the study-makers’ measurements), a lot of this data can likely be applied, at least in part, to all other social media that makes use of profiles and update feeds.

Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation? – The Atlantic
The author, a researcher on generational trends, tries coming up with one good thing about Gen Z’s trends throughout this piece – “they’re safer” she says, but can you really say that with a straight face when rates of suicidal ideations and attempts are skyrocketing among young people?

What I’m Reading: A Friday Link Roundup

Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody’s Counting – Bloomberg
Despite the obvious rise in smartphone-related road fatalities, the actual numbers are far lower than what they should be due to how police departments document crashes.

How Is This a Thing? – Lies, Damn Lies, and Startup PR
Using the Juicero as an example, the author talks about how it, and startups like it, get funded by venture capitalists. Entertaining and enlightening read.

The great thaw of America’s north is coming – BBC News
Things don’t look good for Alaska’s permafrost, the communities that live on it, and the ancient carbon stored inside of it.

‘This is very alarming!’ Flying insects vanish from nature preserves – The Washington Post
Fewer bugs going splat on your windshield than they used to? Well, you’re not imagining things. Flying insects are on the decline – down by 76% in some places.

The War To Sell You A Mattress Is An Internet Nightmare – Fast Company
A look at the dark, disturbing world of e-commerce, affiliate marketing, and review sites. Researching a large purchase any time soon? Better plan on upping your due diligence game.

Turn by Turn Directions… By Text

I recently discovered this project created by the two-man team behind Oui Develop, and I was so thrilled that I wrote them to say thank you.

There’s not much to it, and it doesn’t have a fancy name: Text Message Directions. The link to the GitHub project page is here, even though all you need to know is the phone number where you sent your queries to.

The official blurb goes like this:

If you don’t have a smart phone, or if you do and you are low on data, feel free to get directions by doing the following:

Send a text message to 1 (312) 313-1234 in the form of “origin to destination”. For example, you can text “UC berkeley to Oakland airport”.

And that’s all there is to it.

I’ve run a couple test texts, and so far found that it can handle intersections (like ‘colorado and fair oaks pasadena’), destinations by name (like ‘sears pasadena’), addresses, and just city names by themselves. It responds in a matter of seconds, and gives complete turn-by-turn directions with distance amounts after each turn so you know when to look out for your next way point.

The drawbacks, obviously, are many. It’s no Google Maps, that’s for sure, but if you require Google Maps, then you probably still have your smartphone anyway. For instance, I don’t believe it will change directions based on traffic, and it seems to get a little confused about your starting position for some reason. My tests resulted in the ‘app’ assuming I was starting out on the south end of whatever street when in fact I was starting on the north side.

I would still be more than happy to have this around for emergency situations, though I’ll probably never use it otherwise, and I’m very, VERY happy that someone has decided to put something like this together at all.

If you do use it, please consider donating to them to keep the infrastructure alive. Every query, apparently, costs them money to process.