2018/10/25: A report released earlier this year by HSBC predicted that Texas is on track to outpace the oil production of both Iran and Iraq by 2019. Texas is home to two rather massive oil fields, and behind Russia and Saudi Arabia, it’s the number three oil producer in the world. The shale oil boom has contributed greatly to that, making the Permian Basin a hotbed of production.
The shale oil development and growth in Texas has been defined as reshaping the world’s energy landscape. The result is the pumping of more oil out of the U.S., making the country less reliant on imports from the Middle East. According to reports, the combined output of the Permian and Eagle Ford (the south Texas oil field) is expected to be 5.6 million barrels per day in 2019. That will see the Lone Star State producing over half of America’s entire oil production. In comparison, Iraq is producing 4.8 million barrels per day while Iran is on track for 3 million a day.
If Europe’s average temperatures had remained a few degrees cooler after the last glacial period 10,000 years ago, the existence of Doggerland would have been a reality in human history. What impact would it have had on events as we know them?
2018/11/30: An Amazon patent application sheds light on a way to monitor neighborhoods with a doorbell camera that could alert homeowners and police of suspicious activities and people.
The patent application, which was made public on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website Thursday, describes how a network of cameras could work together with facial recognition technology to identify people, and respond accordingly.
Amazon's application says the process leads to safer, more connected neighborhoods, as well as better informed homeowners and law enforcement.
The application describes creating a database of suspicious persons.
2018/12/02: Pennsylvania’s unique electoral history makes it clear that the state should be far closer to equal than the 13 out of 18 Republican held seats after the 2016 election. The state did break for Donald Trump in 2016, but voted for Obama in both 2008 and 2012. The Senate delegation is split.
2018/12/04: At a UN climate change summit in Poland Monday, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin underlined the Holy See’s view that climate change is a moral issue and has an effect on human dignity.
“The scientific data at our disposal clearly show the urgent need for swift action, within a context of ethics, equity and social justice,” Parolin told the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Dec. 3.
“The transition to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” he stated, “is a problem not only within the domain of technology, but also a question of consumption patterns, education, and lifestyles. We are gradually becoming aware that climate change is an issue increasingly more moral than technical.”
Speaking on the first day of the COP-24 in Katowice, Parolin stressed the Holy See’s desire for the work program of the Paris Agreement be built on a “clear ethical foundation,” and on a commitment to “advancing the dignity of the human person, alleviating poverty and promoting integral human development.”
He also said implementation of the climate change agreement should be based on “easing the impact of climate change through responsible mitigation and adaptation measures” and on meeting the needs of both the present and the future.
Informally dubbed the COP-24, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is taking place Dec. 3-14. The main task of the summit is developing a program for implementation of the Paris Agreement at the national level.
The Paris Agreement, which will take effect in 2020, was made within the UNFCCC to create a global response to combatting the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. A long-term goal of the agreement is to help control the increase in the global average temperature by having countries pledge individual contributions towards the mitigation of global warming.
2018/11/30: Photoshopped images and false claims about politicians have been circulating on the Facebook-owned messaging service in Nigeria, which holds election in February next year, according to a report from The Poynter Institute on Friday. Many of the false claims are in local languages and exploit ethnic friction. One set of false claims focuses on how politicians will address clashes between a group of semi-nomadic herdsmen and farmers, Poynter said. Another rumor claimed a presidential candidate couldn't enter the US because of a corruption charge, Poynter reported.
2018/11/29: If two-parent families could support themselves with only one parent working outside the home in the past, then something is wrong with “growth” that imposes a de facto need for two incomes.
There needs to be a return to the notion of the oikos, or household, or marriage, as unit, rather than atomized Jane (or as Obama and Orwell both put it, Julia). Matrimony was always intended to be a shared division of labor that would protect the mothers long term interests while raising family. And that marriage needs a rebuttressing by the church in the face of today's pressures.
2018/06/04: are our smartphones actually listening?
According to Dr. Peter Hannay—The senior security consultant for cybersecurity firm Asterisk, and former lecturer and researcher at Edith Cowan University—the short answer is yes, but perhaps in a way that's not as diabolical as it sounds.
For your smartphone to actually pay attention and record you, there needs to be a trigger, like Hey Siri or Okay Google for example . Without these triggers, there's no recording, with just some general metrics being sent to your service provider. This might not seem a cause for an alarm, but when it comes to apps like Facebook, no one knows what the triggers are. In fact, there could be thousands.
“It’s just an extension from what advertising used to be on television,” says Peter. Only instead of prime time audiences, they’re now tracking web-browsing habits. It’s not ideal, but I don’t think it poses an immediate threat to most people.”
Italian bioengineer Giuseppe Scionti from Spanish startup Novameat has invented the "world's first" 3D-printed meat-free steak made from vegetable proteins, which mimics the texture of beef. From a report:
Vegan ingredients such as rice, peas and seaweed, which provide the amino acids needed for a healthy diet, are turned into a food paste that is 3D-printed to form a raw, steak-like substance. Despite an abundance of meat-free products already on the market that taste similar to animal meats, Scionti found that these are limited to imitation burgers, chicken nuggets or meatballs. None of the offerings reproduce a piece of "fibrous flesh" such as steak or chicken breast. In an effort to reduce the impact of animal agriculture and to improve people's nutrition, the Milanese researcher set out to create a plant-based alternative to "fleshy" meat products.
2018/12/01: researchers tested samples for abrasion, seam strength, and colorfastness over the course of eight weeks. The results? Fast fashion is pretty damn durable, and pricey tees might be a waste of money.
Some of the garments performed very well across a wide range of tests - more often than not, the best products were ‘fast fashion’ products,.
A number of fast fashion products demonstrate significantly better value for money that other brands - especially when compared to ‘designer’ brands.
Jeans from one fashion brand lasted twice as long as a designer label jeans, but cost one tenth of the price of the designer jeans.
2018/11/29: If you're looking for an easy way to format Markdown text, these editors may fit your needs.
2018-11-29: The storied Knights of Malta shaped the Maltese capital of Valletta into a ‘city for gentlemen’, but how much longer can chivalry survive in the modern age?
2017/08/31: Le stime odierne parlano di un numero di torri, più o meno alte, che doveva aggirarsi tra 90 e 100, costruite dalle più nobili famiglie della città, per scopi che fino ad oggi non sono ancora stati chiariti. Forse erano un simbolo di ricchezza e potere, ma anche uno strumento di offesa e difesa, in un’epoca nella quale era forte il conflitto tra Papato e Sacro Romano Impero, e tra coloro che si schieravano da una parte o dall’altra.
2018/02/06: By imbuing the UBI debate with a more systems-oriented and commons perspective, I have argued that an important shift is made from income and work as such to deeper interrelated questions of 1.) rights, capabilities and effective access; 2.) forms of deliberation, governance, entrepreneurship, collective care and accounting; 3.) forms and scales of pooling resources and work, and; 4.) forms and scales of equitable distribution and sustainable and resilient provisioning of universal basic commons entitlements. The perspective illuminates the contingent relationship between the contextual and subjective ‘political viability‘ of the UBI, and the scopes and salience of articulated (critical, open-source, open-ended) alternative institutional possibilities; and the prospects of a polity that exploits a dialectical relationship between interim or hybrid institutional models on the one hand, and radical experimentation with other socio-economic configurations, emergent city-making/place-making cultures and political possibilities in the here-and-now on the other.
2018/11/28: In 2012 people generated 2.8 trillion GB of data worldwide, or enough to write 10 million Blu-Ray discs. By 2030, that figure is expected to multiply nearly forty times. The rapid expansion of the so-called Internet of Things, or IoT, is the spark behind this explosion of user data.
In 2010 there were 12.5 billion internet-connected devices in the world. By 2020 there will be 50 billion, incorporating any and all devices that can connect to the internet – such as smart home appliances, smart phones and in the not too distant future, smart cars. But of all the data generated by the 12.5 billion internet-connected devices in 2010, only 0.5% of it was processed.
2018/11/29: The behavior of cloud infrastructure providers poses an existential threat to open source. Cloud infrastructure providers are not evil. Current open-source licenses allow them to take open-source software verbatim and offer it as a commercial service without giving back to the open-source projects or their commercial shepherds. The problem is that developers do not have open-source licensing alternatives that prevent cloud infrastructure providers from doing so. Open-source standards groups should help, rather than get in the way. We must ensure that authors of open-source software can not only survive, but thrive. And if that means taking a stronger stance against cloud infrastructure providers, then authors should have licenses available to allow for that. The open-source community should make this an urgent priority.
2018/11/30: 3D printing still may not be cheap enough to put up a huge fight against traditional mass production, but when it comes to wedding costs, it actually starts to look like a good deal.
2018/11/30: Though Blockchain has been touted as the answer to everything, a study of 43 solutions advanced in the international development sector has found exactly no evidence of success.
Three practitioners including erstwhile blockchain enthusiast John Burg, a Fellow at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), looked at instances of the distributed crypto ledger being used in a wide range of situations by NGOs, contractors and agencies. But they drew a complete blank.
"We found a proliferation of press releases, white papers, and persuasively written articles," Burg et al wrote on Thursday. "However, we found no documentation or evidence of the results blockchain was purported to have achieved in these claims. We also did not find lessons learned or practical insights, as are available for other technologies in development."
Blockchain vendors were keen to puff the merits of the technology, but when the three asked for proof of success in the field, it all went very quiet.
2018/11/28: A number of dodgy lenders have realised that young shoppers are desperate for loans, and are demanding that customers hand over naked selfies as collateral. If the repayments aren’t made on time, the money lenders threaten to leak those selfies to the individual’s family and friends. Many also charge interest on the original loan, thus burying their victims further in debt and forcing them to send more pictures and videos. These kinds of transactions are known in China as “naked loan services.”
In 2016 a total of 10 gigabits of nudes from 161 young women—all of who were holding their photo IDs—were leaked online by microlenders. Most of the victims were aged between 19 and 23, and typically borrowed sums of money between $1,000 and $2,000, according to state media outlet China Youth Daily. Others were reportedly given the option to do sex work in order to pay off their loan.
So rampant is the problem of naked loan services in China that last year the country’s financial regulators vowed to crack down on unlicensed microlender
2018/11/29: we mapped a digital campaigning industry whose breadth and depth far surpassed our expectations. This overview is the start of the a series in which we unpack our findings.
There are two features of these organisations that are important to their impact on democratic processes. Firstly, most of them are for-profit companies, with the primary aim of generating, maintaining and growing revenue, a business model that inevitably guides their decisions rather than traditional political metrics such as voter participation. Secondly, the organisations are, for the most part, hired for their expertise in data technologies rather than their knowledge or engagement in politics. Political campaigning is now often largely mediated by data-driven technology organisations.