Saturday, 4 June 2016
Entertainment stuff from the week 23-29/5/16
Sorry about the late article, for this week. The blame goes on a relapse of the thing i had earlier in the year, and um... trying to watch as much of the French Open as i can. Sorry :-P
Oh, and now that the first episode of Top gear: Return Of The Petrolheadi has been on TV, i can comment on that too. Clarkson fanboyz slated it, of course, but this is my review:
Boyish overenthusiasm, scripted melodrama, cheesy jokes. In short, everything that was loved about Top gear when it left :-P
It's basically the same standard, with new presenters, minus James May. But then, who could ever replace Captain Slow? :-D
'How Alibaba won and lost a friend in Washington'
- 17 years ago, Alibaba was founded by a chancer
- This year, it's declared a value of $15.7 billion
- Last month it was condemned for corrupting the world's most prominent anti-counterfeiting agency
- And last week it was kicked out of that organisation for the same reason
Like California-based eBay, Alibaba is a marketplace, that takes little (or at least, rudimentary) care in regulating the quality of products sold through it. Four years ago, we heard about eBay banning the sale of magic spells, hexes and potions, for example. We don't hear so much about the money-laundering, black markets, and counterfeiting though.
Alibaba is heralded by Free-Market Capitalists as China's greatest success. Hence why they refer to it as 'Communist China's greatest success'. They're the kind who don't understand that Communism is capitalist. "You know all that capital you think you own? You don't - it belongs to us" That is a form of capitalism.
But because Alibaba has been allowed to be the kind of reckless, risk-embracing, consumer-ignoring company that it should be expected to be, given the reckless, risk-embracing, consumer-ignoring nature of its founder, Alibaba is also heraldable as a shining beacon of how not to do business. Whether in China, or anywhere else.
Whether it's Alibaba, eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, a 'free harbour' policy is always difficult to justify, because it means intransigence in the face of criminal abuse of your facilities - your website, your 'baby'.
In the same way that the inventor of the book holds no responsibility for Newspapers and crusty-centerfolded 'adult' magazines, the inventors of the internet hold no responsibility for '(WikiHow) Make A Bomb To Blow The Infidel Away, In 5 Easy Steps'. But private companies, profiting from activity on their websites, are inviting activity on their private property. In this context, freedom and entitlement are entirely a matter of arbitrary precedent, laid at the whim of the owners.
Nothing about Alibaba is peculiar to China. Whether you think websites like theirs should be required to prohibit identifiably dodgy transactions or not, depends on your opinions of market intervention, intended to protect consumers from the portion of morally-compromised vendors that try to get money out of people through deception and/or pre-existing superstition.
The diesel car industry, for example.
'Google-backed Magic Leap alleges workers stole its secrets'
On the subject of IP (Intellectual Property) too, your opinions will be influenced by your prioritisation of importance - are people more important, or are organisations more important?
Magic Leap is a Virtual Reality-developing company funded by various backers, including Google and Alibaba, currently to the tune of $1.4 billion. And it claims that two of its (now ex-) employees have stolen Intellectual Property, resulting in their being sacked.
But for whom, and for what purpose, does IP exist? Back in the mists of history, it was invented to empower people - individuals - to cover the costs of developing new things, thereby encouraging development.
In my opinion, the flaw that has been permitted to ruin IP fundamentally, is that it was not corrected, to deny companies from owning Intellectual Property.
I would not be surprised if the two men in question were involved in the development of the argued-over IP, and Magic Leap were denying the genuine creators the benefits of their own work.
Allowing organisations - the abstract properties of people/entities working together - to own IP, means denying credit to the people who actually did the work. When they leave the company, it's as if they'd never worked on it at all.
So what would you do? Side with Alibaba both times and say "you're only people, you're not the priority", side against Alibaba both times, or adopt some mixed position?
Discuss, showing reasoning [30 marks]
'Australia's volcanic history is a lot more recent than you think'
The 27th May (as well as being Tapejara Day) was the WHO's 'World No Tobacco Day' which this year, of course, was used to encourage plain packaging of tobacco product packets. Sucking smoke is one of the world's biggest single (and avoidable) killers, and is increasingly affecting women, who're sold nicotine addiction as a feminist rebellion
In other news:
Facebook has resolved to impose a political bias on its 'trending topics' in order to avoid political bias on its 'trending topics'. If that sentence didn't seem to make sense to you, read last week's article, LOL. Conservatism-factionalist conspiracy theorists were invited by Zuckerberg to whine about 'liberal bias' in their 'trending topics' section, even though the algorithm doesn't, and can't, distinguish 'liberal' and 'conservative' news topics. As if that notion even made sense! Superstition is not respectful of reason.
Google's offices in Paris were raided by the PNF (national financial prosecution service) last week, as part of a "preliminary investigation opened in June 16, 2015, into aggravated tax fraud and conspiracy to conceal (it), following a complaint by the French tax administration". Google Paris was raided in 2011, over the same matter - using Google Ireland to avoid paying tax, in Europe. With the complicity of tax-collecting officials, Google (like other multinational companies) has shortpaid its tax bills in the UK and other countries.
According to Renewables front group IRENA, the renewable energy industry now employs 8.1 million people. That's a 5% increase in employees over the year, and an 8.3% increase in power output, to 1985 GW. That's enough for 1.3 million-person cities in somewhere like the USA, up to 40 million-person cities in the sub-Sahara. Unsurprisingly, growth continues to be slowest in Europe and North America, where established fossil fuel companies are hampering development.
How quickly are accents diluting, around the world? It seems quite intuitive to think that, as populations migrate into each other, and are influenced by each other's vocal patterns, a trend to ward homogeneity will be seen. But part of the trend of losing accents will be disguised by the greater geographical mobility of 21st century people; specifically in the UK, where this study was conducted. By comparing pronunciations of certain words, with the pronunciations of regional farm workers in the 1950s, changes in popularity of 'scone' (rhyming with 'from') instead of 'scone' (rhyming with 'loan') have been tracked. Some of the changes are unexpected. But the fact that people move about more than they did in the 50s, and the fact that the 50s samples were deliberately selected for their regional accents, exaggerates the changes that might have taken place. If there is genuinely an overall trend toward homogeneity, at least it'll make it easier for actors to adopt 'regional' parts :-D
The Japanese government has become the first to regulate the currency Bitcoin. Japan is the only place in the world, so far, to have experienced monetary cybercrime using Bitcoin, with a 2011 embezzlement case wherein 850,000 coins - worth around $480 million at the time - were stolen from MtGox's accounts, causing the Tokyo-based exchange to collapse.
The Cameroonian government has announced that the H5N1 strain of avian flu is known to have reccurred in the country, in a farm in the country's capital - Yaounde. One person has been hospitalised, and 15000 birds have died in 3 days since the 22nd of May. 20000 more are expected to be culled. Unsurprisingly, this is all centred around a poultry farm, where rock-bottom biodiversity is a perfect environment for the evolution and transmission of virulent diseases.
Spaying dogs before they turn 1 year old could be hurting their health, according to research looking for joint disorders, urinary tract conditions, and cancers, in Alsatians, funded by the Canine Health Foundation, which is in turn funded by the Kennel Club and a couple of petfood companies. Because spaying involves the removal of the gonads, the endocrine function of the testes/ovaries is affected. This mitigates the development of sexual dimorphism, and generally makes dogs much less aggressive and... frisky. But the endrocrine function of the testes/ovaries aren't just involved in sexual dimorphism and libido - they're also involved in growth and non-sexual development. The findings of this research, therefore, seem intuitive, when it says that dogs spayed early are substantially more likely to develop joint and urinary disorders, but less likely to develop breast cancer. The less the breasts develop, the less potential there is for cancers to develop.
The Peruvian government has declared a state of environmental emergency in 11 regions of Amazonian rainforest in the country, due to mercury pollution that has been blamed on "illegal and unregulated" gold mining. There have been observations of mass poisonings, of fish and people, and the Environment Minister has stated that the consequences will be felt for at least 80 years. He also said the state of emergency involves sending medical aid and non-contaminated food supplies into the region.
The New Mexican government has also been making moves against the gold mining industry, by sueing the USA's federal government, and the owners of two mines, for the release of 3 million gallons of 'toxic wastewater' from a closed Colorado gold mine. They're seeking tens of millions of dollars in reparation for environmental and economic damage caused by the spill. The picture attached to this article shows a heavily polluted, gold-coloured Animas River, but the pollutants making it that colour are actually arsenic, lead and other metallic suspensions.
Solar Impulse 2 has completed its next leg flying from Ohio to Pennsylvania.
------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff
'SFN #164: Star Birth Mystery Solved?; #JWST ISIM Installed!; Strange Hypernova Observed'
[GIF] 'Image: NASA's SDO peers into huge coronal hole'
'NASA image: CubeSats deployed from the international space station'
[image] 'Inside a Daya Bay Antineutrino Detector'
'Image: Rub' al Khali desert on the southern Arabian Peninsula'
'Image: Sentinel-2A looks at Chile's salt flat'
'Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World'
'Nitrogen Triiodide and Multi Dimensions – Monthly Mailbag #1'
'Catching Kendama - Numberphile'
'How to Sell Nothing! (HD reshoot)'
'AMAZING FEMINIST FAILS! (Huffington Post Sexism)'
'How to Get Rid of Old People...'
------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks
Word Of The Week: counterfeit -- describing an imitation or facsimile, intended to be sold fraudulently, through lying about its progeny; also as a verb, meaning the production of same; or as a noun, meaning the product; comes from C13 Old French 'contrefait' meaning 'imitated'
Quote Of The Week: "[When i first started speaking as Australia's cultural attaché] ...there was a superstition that Australia didn't have any culture at all. But my theme was 'we have culture coming out of our arseholes!'" - Sir Les Patterson (Barry Humphries)
------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff
'Células (cromatóforos) de calamar' (The Optics Of The Octopus)
'I Can't Tell The Bottom From The Top'
'The Frost Report - Do Not Walk On The Grass'
'The Frost Report on Authority'