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14 Dec 14:30

The Lightning Network's First ERC-20 to Bitcoin Atomic Swap Has Taken Place

by Colin Harper
ERC-20 Bitcoin atomic swap

At the December 7, 2018, TenX Summit, a group of developers showcased an industry first: an atomic swap on the Lightning Network between a non-native asset, TenX’s PAY token, and a native asset, bitcoin.

By non-native, the team is referring to an asset/coin that is not the base currency for the network. For Ethereum, for example, the native asset is ether, while any token that is built on the protocol is considered a non-native asset.

CoBloX, a TenX research and development lab, is responsible for the achievement. Demonstrating their work to a tightly packed audience of summit goers, the team used the Lightning Network and their open-source software COMIT to swap 10 PAY for 71,240 satoshis. The team published a blog post on December 12, 2018, to confirm the news and satify what it calls “the gossip factory” of he-said-she-said following the summit.

In the post, the team delves into their process, explaining outright that this swap was not as simple as the first-ever ether and bitcoin atomic swap on the Lightning Network, which they tested nearly six months ago. Whereas this swap’s hashed time lock contract (HTLC) only required a single use smart contract, the PAY to bitcoin swap took an extra step.

Reason being, the PAY token itself is managed with an additional smart contract known as the transfer ownership function. Because of this, the HTLC had to be separated into two transactions: one to deploy the swap contract and another as a transfer call for the PAY tokens.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out how to combine these two steps. The ERC20 transfer function uses msg.sender for authentication. However, calling transfer from a contract deployment sets msg.sender to the address of the yet-to-be-deployed contract which obviously has no tokens,” the blog post reads.

Having used the Lightning Network Daemon (LND) implementation for the swap, the team continues to explain in the blog post that the swap is a one-way ticket. They could only execute the trade by starting with the ERC-20 token and going through Lightning — not the other way around.

“An atomic swap cannot always be expressed through this model of invoices and payments. In LND, which is what we used for our PoC, receiving a payment requires an invoice which requires knowledge of the secret. As a result, we were only able to do ERC20 to Lightning and not the other way around.”

The technical milestone is the latest in CoBloX’s technical successes. As mentioned previously, the team also completed the world’s first ether and bitcoin swap. The young lab’s GitHub also features a couple of Rust clients for a Bitcoin Core interface and a JsonRPC API plug-in, as well as a tool for testing blockchain applications.

COMIT, the software used in the ERC-20 swap, is also open-source. With a focus on blockchain interoperability, COMIT is meant to act as a bridge between networks to facilitate cross-chain asset swaps. In addition to the work that has been done with Ethereum and its ERC-20 tokens, the team plans to expand its use with additional features and currencies down the road.

An earlier version of this article misrepresented the swap as the first of its kind, failing to specify that it was the first on the Lightning Network. The Komodo platform performed the industry's first successful ether to bitcoin and ERC-20 to bitcoin atomic swaps earlier in 2018.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

13 Dec 04:46

Watch How Hermit Crabs All Line Up to Exchange Their Shells

by Jason Kottke
Remlaps

h/t PheliX

Hermit crabs use the scavenged shells of other animals as their homes. As the crabs grow, they periodically need to upgrade their housing to bigger shells. When a new shell appears on the beach, the cramped crabs will form a orderly queue nearby and then change shells all at once, with each crab moving into the next biggest shell just abandoned by its former occupant. This is possibly the most British thing I’ve ever seen an animal do…and the David Attenborough narration is the icing on top.

Tags: David Attenborough   video
12 Dec 20:33

Bitwala Is Offering German Citizens Joint Crypto and Fiat Banking Accounts

by Jimmy Aki
Bitwala Crypto Banking

German blockchain startup Bitwala has launched crypto banking in Germany.

After securing €4 million (roughly $4.5 million) from VC firms Earlybird and Coparion in September of 2018 to develop a crypto banking solution, the company has allegedly amassed a waiting list of 30,000 potential users.

Bitwala's new banking solution, which it claims was built to "close the gap between crypto and traditional banking,” was developed in partnership with local fintech startup SolarisBank, which has a banking license and is fully regulated by the German financial regulatory authority Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) and the European Central Bank (ECB).

With the launch of this new banking solution, users would be able to manage "both Bitcoin and Euro deposits in one place with the safety and convenience of a German bank account."

The accounts would also come with the usual perks that accompany bank accounts like a debit card, as well as a bitcoin wallet with added functionality to swap between bitcoin and the euro freely.

“We built the new account putting our customers first. No longer do you have to wire your liquidity to separate exchange accounts with frail fund protection measures outside of Germany. No longer do you have to accept excessive fees for trading. Trading with Bitwala is fast and reliable and our pricing highly competitive,” Bitwala’s chief technical officer and co-founder, Ben Jones, said in a statement.

The announcement didn't give details on the cost for running the bank account, but a 1 percent fee will be applied for every bitcoin trade. It also remains to be seen if other crypto assets will be included in the future, and the announcement didn’t specify where the service would source its pricing data for trading.

All fiat deposits of up to €100,000 are insured by the German Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS). But while the fiat is protected to a certain degree, there were no indications on the insurance of the bitcoin.

Bitwala has begun on-boarding proceedings for the thousands of users who had pre-registered to use the service and will be accepting new users over the coming days.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

12 Dec 19:25

I switched to a standing desk after a lifetime of sitting, and it’s been hard to argue with the results

by Matthew DeBord

DeBord Standing Desk

  • After a lifetime of sitting, I recently switched to a standing desk at my home office.
  • It wasn't an expensive change. All I needed was an unused cardboard box.
  • The results have been hard to argue with.


I think I got my first desk when I was about ten. For the following 41 years, despite knowing that there was a history of writing while standing that stretched back through Ernest Hemingway and other greats, I took a seat. First with pen and paper, later with a typewriter, and then with desktop and laptop computers.

In my experience, writers don't like to mess with what's working. My daily output for decades has been in the ballpark of 500-1,000 words, achieved while sitting, and I was disinclined to shake that up.

However, I heeded the modern assessment that sitting is death, while also studying my usually much younger colleagues pecking away at the high-tech standing-desk contraptions (when Business Insider moved our offices to Wall Street, everybody was offered a standing desk that can be moved up and down, in the event that a spell of sitting is desired).

I wasn't ready to shake up my office desk, which is sort of a shrine to spending four years at Business Insider writing about cars. My home setup was a different story. I use a laptop there (it's a desktop with a big monitor at the office), so while I was on a two-week staycation in August, I made the switch.

Read more: I've been making coffee with a French press for a decade — and I'm convinced it's the best way to enjoy a morning cup

I spent exactly zero dollars. Luckily, I had an old cardboard wine box that was precisely as high as it needed to be, and with precisely enough surface area when flipped upside down, to support a MacBook Air. I reasoned that such a lightweight, el-cheapo approach could both be easily switched back to the old arrangement — and, if I liked the new deal, replicated in wood for a more polished vibe.

My desk isn't terribly large, and the stuff I have on it is stuff I want to keep on it, so the overall standing-desk footprint had to be modest in any case.

The upshot is that I lucked into the perfect solution. It's been a few months and I haven't looked back.

DeBord Standing Desk

My standing desk coincided with wearing my Apple Watch 3 more consistently, so I now know that thanks to a humble wine box from Foxhorn Vineyards, I'm routinely beating my standing objectives. I also generally feel better — but not radically better. Anybody who thinks a standing desk will be life-altering probably expects too much. The benefits are more incremental than dramatic, is seems.

A bonus just for you: Click here to claim 30 days of access to Business Insider PRIME

There's also a physical-adaptation curve to deal with. In my case, my lower back was in moderate pain for about a week. But I played through it. Worth the struggle, as I can now put in almost an entire day without sitting down. Fortunately, after that initial week, I didn't notice any major changes to my writing process. I more or less picked up where I left off, just on my feet instead on my rump.

DeBord Standing Desk

I wasn't actually the worst sitter in the world, by the way. My system was to sort of perch on the edge of my chair to keep my back as straight as possible. But this is not an easy discipline to enforce. And although I worked fine in the pre-internet days, when I could write a sentence and then spend the next 15 minutes thinking about the next sentence, the pace of online publishing doesn't permit that. A digital journalist can find him or herself sitting for 12 straight hours.

So in the end, I'm glad I finally stood up. So glad, in fact, that I also switched to a standing desk at the office.

Of course, in both places, I kept my chair. 

SEE ALSO: Fender has discovered that guitars aren't just for rock stars anymore — and they could help your mind stay young as you age

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Scientists discovered an easy way to burn 3 times more calories at work

12 Dec 17:30

Empowering Venezuelan families with GiveCrypto

by Coinbase

Day 2 of 12 Days of Coinbase: Empowering Venezuelan families with GiveCrypto

At Coinbase, we’re dedicated to creating tomorrow’s open financial system, not only by allowing people to buy crypto, but also to use it. GiveCrypto.org (founded by CEO Brian Armstrong) takes some of the best parts of that system — cross-border accessibility, ease of small payments, and real-time transfers — to empower those who don’t have enough in our legacy economy. That’s why we’re using 12 Days of Coinbase as an opportunity to make a $10,000 donation in Zcash ($ZEC) to support their pioneering work.

Our donation will support GiveCrypto.org’s project in the Venezuelan border town of Santa Elena de Uairen. With our gift, the organization will put $1 USD worth of crypto directly into the crypto wallets of more than 100 families in Santa Elena every day for 3 months. Recipients can purchase food and basic supplies at a local store that accepts payments in crypto, subsidizing everyday expenses — this $1 USD equivalent per day can buy 1–2 kilos of protein or 2-kilos of starches and vegetables. Recipients will come from the networks of Venezuelan families already in GiveCrypto.org’s program with Bonnum.

Why give crypto rather than cash? Many families lack reliable access to bank accounts, and even if they do, the Bolivar (the fiat currency of Venezuela) is highly inflated and volatile. As a result, cash gifts can be of little value to many of those in need — but crypto and GiveCrypto.org’s network of vendors provides a direct, stable line of support.

We’re proud to support GiveCrypto.org’s approach, which is underpinned by a growing body of evidence showing that direct-cash transfers are an effective way to help those in need. But we also know that this gift is just a start. GiveCrypto.org and peer organizations will need more support from us and the community as they create inroads where crypto can help. In this holiday season, consider joining us in donating to organizations making open financial transactions possible for people everywhere:

This website may contain links to third-party websites or other content for information purposes only (“Third-Party Sites”). The Third-Party Sites are not under the control of Coinbase, Inc., and its affiliates (“Coinbase”), and Coinbase is not responsible for the content of any Third-Party Site, including without limitation any link contained in a Third-Party Site, or any changes or updates to a Third-Party Site. Coinbase is not responsible for webcasting or any other form of transmission received from any Third-Party Site. Coinbase is providing these links to you only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation by Coinbase of the site or any association with its operators.


Empowering Venezuelan families with GiveCrypto was originally published in The Coinbase Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

12 Dec 15:56

Cliff Mass: victim of academic political bullying

by curryja

by Judith Curry

There is a disturbing story coming out of the University of Washington surrounding Cliff Mass.

In preparing this article, I have received material from a member of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. I also ran into another member of the Department while at the AGU meeting this week, who corroborated these events. I conducted a 30 minute phone interview with Cliff Mass.

Who is Cliff Mass?

Cliff Mass  has been a faculty member in the University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Department since 1982.   His research focuses on numerical weather modeling and prediction, the role of topography in the evolution of weather systems, and on the weather of the Pacific Northwest. In addition to his research publications, Cliff Mass has published a popular book entitled ‘Weather of the Pacific Northwest.’

 Since 2008, Cliff Mass has maintained a popular blog Cliff Mass Weather and Climate. Mass posts regular articles on meteorology, Pacific Northwest weather history, and the impacts of climate change written for the general public.

He has 13,000 twitter followers. Mass also has a weekly radio show with 400,000 weekly listeners (!)

Cliff Mass – climate ‘denier’?

 Cliff Mass has been characterized as a ‘sort of’ climate denier. The first reference to this is a 2015 article Cliff Mass: Scientific lies and the new climate deniers. 

“He is also a dangerous new breed of climate skeptic. He has made a theme of downplaying the role of global warming in extreme weather events, and in exposing what he calls “overzealousness” in the scientific, media, and activist community.”

A 2017 article in Stranger entitled Why does Cliff Mass believe scientists and leftist journalists are exaggerating the dangers of climate change?

“Cliff Mass is not a climate denier, but he is their ally, which is as good as being a climate denier.”

 The accusation of ‘denier’ got more explicit when Sarah Myre testified before the State of Washington House of Representatives: Can you be a climate scientist and an advocate? 

“In February 2017, Sarah Myhre traveled to Washington’s capital, Olympia, to give testimony to the state House of Representatives Environment Committee. There, Representative Shelly Short, a Republican from northeastern Washington, asked her to comment on her colleague Mass’ unwillingness to link recent wildfires, droughts, and hurricanes to climate change. Myhre responded that she and many of her colleagues saw Mass’ recent views “as coming from a denialist or contrarian place.

The Cascadia Daily states:

“Seattle weather guy and climate change denier Cliff Mass”

 So, what does Cliff Mass have to say about climate change, in his own words? From an interview with the UW Alumni magazine and summary from the Wikipedia (based on my knowledge of Cliff’s opinions and writings, this is correct):

 “According to Mass, “Global warming is an extraordinarily serious issue, and scientists have a key role to play in communicating what is known and what is not about this critical issue.

Mass has stated publicly that he shares the scientific consensus that global warming is real and that human activity is the primary cause of warming trends in the 20th and 21st centuries. He has been critical of the Paris Climate accord for not going far enough to address the negative impacts of climate change. However, Mass is also frequently critical of what he has characterizes as exaggerations of the past and current impacts of climate change in the news media, including the attribution of individual extreme weather events to global warming.”

The most recent ‘denier’ claims are associated with Cliff’s statements about the causes of the recent California fires: Cliff Mass: Climate change is real but . . .

“But Mass takes issue every time someone points to local extreme weather and says “that’s caused by climate change.”

The extremes we’ve seen in Seattle, around the region and even across the U.S. — most of them anyway — are caused by anomalous weather patterns, not climate change, Mass said.

There are, of course, those who would argue that by nitpicking such details, Mass only feeds ammunition to climate change deniers. Mass doesn’t want to downplay global warming; he just doesn’t want to stretch the truth to try and out-extreme those who would deny it. “So global warming’s very serious,” Mass said. “But it’s coming up in the future, not right now, for us.”

Sarah Myhre is not happy with Mass’ recent statements about the California wildfires. From an article by James Delingpole: Brown Fiddled While California Burned:

“One Dr Sarah Myhre – who, gloriously, bills herself as a “public scholar scientist advocate communicator” [actually, you know, just “activist” would have done] – tweeted at him “This. Is. Pure. Propaganda.” And then told a Washington radio station that had given him airtime that giving Cliff a “platform” was a “form of violence.”

So in summary, Cliff Mass accepts the consensus science. However he breaks with the ‘activists’ in terms of thinking it is a bad idea to falsely claim that extreme weather events are caused by AGW.

Initiative-1631

Most unforgivably, Mass broke with the progressive activists in terms of not supporting the latest carbon fee initiative in Washington, I-1631. Mass has long advocated for some sort of carbon tax: How to make a carbon tax work in Washington 

Mass was a strong supporter of a previous carbon tax initiative (which was voted down). His concerns with I-1631 are described in three blog posts:

I don’t pretend to be an expert on I-1631 and I am not passing judgment here, but I will say that Mass’s position is well-supported and defensible.

For a perspective from the supporters of I-1631, I refer to Sarah Myhre’s article in the Stranger entitled New carbon tax initiative drafted with more color and less white supremacy. Reducing CO2 emissions seems to be a relatively minor factor; climate policy has become a crusade to change the balance of power:

“When climate policy is written by white men in a closed room, that is white supremacy.”

Things got really ‘interesting’ as a result Mass’ blog post ‘If you worry about climate change . . .’ , which had this statement:

“The initiative hardwires money to certain special interest groups–the left-leaning supporters of the measure. A minimum of ten percent of the money goes to Indian tribes, who are exempted from paying any carbon fee by the initiative. Labor advocates got a fifty million dollar fund, replenished annually, for worker support programs. And to provide funding to the social action groups pushing the initiative, 35% of the money goes to “pollution and health action areas” of minority and “vulnerable populations.” There is more, but you get the message (see the picture below).” [The picture was pigs at a trough.]

Mass’ point was that special interest groups were hardwired for a good portion of the funds. He wanted an image that illustrated ‘political pork’ and special interest groups feeding at the public trough and so he used the pigs at a trough image.

While there were no complaints about the image in the blog comments, a few of the activists at the UW claimed it was racist. Imagery of pigs at a public trough has been used for over a century, and has never been used to refer to minorities as far as Mass could identify. ‘Pigs at a trough’ is about the well-connected and privileged. Mass decided to be sensitive to the ‘feelings’ of thee activists and pulled the image. Then Mass received a number of messages after he pulled it, accusing him of giving in to mob rule. There was nothing racist or anything else inappropriate in the text, and no one has suggested there was. Apparently the mention of the phrase ‘Indian tribes’ in the same paragraph that references an image of pigs at the trough is sufficient to trigger an accusation of racism.

Note: I-1631 was voted down in the November election.

Department of Atmospheric Sciences

Any scientist that is active in the public debate on climate change (no matter what their actual position in the debate) will invariably be subject to attacks on twitter, the blogosphere and even by journalists. That is part of the noise associated with the public debate on climate change. This noise shouldn’t matter, in the overall scheme of things.

However, it is a different kettle of fish when people from your own university, and even your own Department, go after you publicly, with the objective of stifling your freedom of speech. And then when University administrators get involved, a threatening situation can emerge.

A number of University of Washington graduate students have taken a vocal stance against Cliff Mass, particularly on twitter. These same activist students that were so upset about the pig picture participated in online character assassination, calling Mass every name in the book over the past six months because they are unhappy with his rejection of 1631 and his research/blog posts on wildfires and attribution of extreme events.  They have accused him of deception, being on the payroll of oil companies, purposely obfuscating with multiple twitter accounts, racism, misogyny, tokenism, Trumpism. They  are hypersensitive about any indirect criticism of their ‘side’ but are fine with name-calling and personal attacks on those they disagree with.

The attacks ramped up when a group of students complained to the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Rather than meet with Cliff Mass to discuss, the Assistant Dean sent a mass email to the faculty of the Atmospheric Sciences Department, with the following lede:

“a recent blog posting by a member of our community on a personal website included imagery and text that was racially insensitive and caused offense to a significant number of members in the departmental community.”

No attempt was made by this Assistant Dean to meet with Cliff Mass, or to understand that there was no racism evident or intended, and that the image in question was quickly removed from the blog post.

I will not ‘name and shame’ any of the graduate students here, who in any event are probably proud of their behavior. (JC note to students applying for jobs: search committees will check your social media presence). However, one graduate student in particular gets a ‘dishonorable’ mention here: Alex Lenferna, a Ph.D. candidate in the UW Philosophy Department with a Certificate in Atmospheric Science. He wrote a blog post that is basically a ‘hit-job’ on Cliff Mass, owing to his failure to support I-1631, including playing the ‘racism’ card. The blog post includes an image: Cliff Mass ‘hearts’ oil.

I won’t dignify Lenferna’s slime by reproducing any of it. This blog post is significant, however,  because the Atmospheric Sciences Department Chair (Dale Durran) sent a mass email to the Department faculty including the link to Lenferna’s post, and voicing concern about Mass’ behavior and ‘racism’, and including the image Mass ‘hearts’ oil.

The Chair then called a general Department-wide meeting about the blog post Mass wrote, with the event billed as ‘controversy.’ An ombudsperson was enlisted to run the meeting, but the Chair took over, serving as inquisitor and critic. The Chair prevented Mass from finishing his opening comments and hectored Mass throughout the meeting. The activist students were true to form, hurling all kinds of insulting, personal and inappropriate remarks.

So what is going on here? Is the Department of Atmospheric Sciences making a stand against political activism by its faculty members? Hardly. In fact, the Chair, Dale Durran, pressured each of the faculty members to sign a statement supporting I-1631. This statement was published by the Seattle Times :

“Some know they must stop smoking, but can’t, and it wrecks their health. As spelled out in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, humanity has been acting like a chain smoker. Initiative 1631 gives us the chance to change. The opposition to I-1631 is largely concerned with the politics of taxing and spending. These are important matters, but they should not be endlessly debated in lieu of taking action. I-1631 is the third major effort to discourage carbon emissions in Washington state.

Science shows carbon emissions remain in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years, warming and dramatically changing the climate. Because of the way carbon accumulates, the emission reductions required to hold future changes in climate below any given level become more drastic with each year we wait to begin serious cuts.

Unlike the carbon emitted while waiting for a perfect law, passing I-1631 does not represent an irrevocable hundreds-of-years commitment. After a short period, I-1631 could be amended to make it even better.

Now is the time to take a big step to kick our carbon habit.

Dale Durran, professor and chair, and 21 other professors in the Atmospheric Sciences Department at the University of Washington, Seattle (the views expressed here are those of the authors and not UW)”

While many of the faculty members appear to have signed this enthusiastically (based on their signatures on other lists related to I-1631), I’ve been told that several faculty members felt uncomfortable signing this. One of the faculty members I spoke with said they felt compelled to sign the letter since they didn’t want to stand up to Chair; this individual told me they voted against I-1631.

There are several people in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences that don’t like Cliff Mass (including, obviously, the Chair). They are concerned about his status as Washington’s ‘celebrity’ scientist – being either envious of this status or concerned that this status makes Mass relatively immune to ‘pressure’ from Departmental leadership. But most fundamentally, they seem to dislike that his blog is getting in the way of their own political advocacy. 

JC reflections

The climate change advocacy disease seems to have affected many of the UW faculty and graduate students.  Apart from the issue of activism potentially getting in the way of scientific objectivity,  the big issue here is that the Chair attempted to ‘institutionalize’ this activism with the I-1631 support letter. I have to say I find this very inappropriate behavior for a Chair, and I’m surprised that the higher administration didn’t reprimand him for this (in the old days I would have been reprimanded for this at Georgia Tech, but under the current administration, who knows). Faculty members were pressured into signing that letter,  since the Chair controls their reappointments and promotions, salary, teaching assignments, etc. The public ‘shaming’ meeting is beyond the pale, particularly the Chair’s behavior during this meeting. After this behavior, I cannot imagine how the UW faculty and administration can have any confidence in the leadership of their current Chair.

And finally, a closing comment about Cliff Mass. While this can’t be fun for him, I’m not too worried about Cliff Mass: Cliff has friends in high places and an enormous ‘bully pulpit’ in terms of his blog and radio show. Trying to take him down isn’t going to work.

I have much more to say on this situation and the broader implications, I will write more in a follow on post.

 

 

11 Dec 17:04

Harvard Study Confirms the Gender Wage Gap is Just a Myth

by Mary Chastain
That mythical gender "weekly earnings gap can be explained by the workplace choices that women and men make."
10 Dec 19:12

'YouTube Rewind 2018' is officially the most disliked video in YouTube history — here's why (GOOG, GOOGL)

by Dave Smith

Youtube rewind 2018

  • YouTube last week released its annual "Rewind" video, which features more than 130 YouTube stars and celebrities.
  • Appearances included Will Smith, Marques Brownlee, Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, John Oliver, and many more.
  • In the course of a week, YouTube Rewind 2018 has become the most disliked video in YouTube history. As of Thursday morning, it had over 120 million total views but over 10 million dislikes.
  • People are criticizing the video for not including many of YouTube's biggest and most influential stars, likely because many of them experienced some form of controversy in 2018.

Last Thursday, YouTube released its annual "Rewind" video, which featured more than 100 YouTube stars and celebrities.

But in the course of just one week, "YouTube Rewind 2018" has become the most disliked video in YouTube history.

It's the fastest video to climb the list of "most dislikes on YouTube." And in the last 24 hours, it passed the previous record-holder of most YouTube dislikes: Justin Bieber's "Baby," a video that had eight years to accrue dislikes.

So, why are people so upset about Rewind 2018?

It all boils down to the video's intended audience.

People expect YouTube's Rewind videos to be an homage to creators, but given the absence of so many YouTube stars that had "controversial" moments this year, the video appears to be focused on keeping advertisers happy.

That's the only possible explanation for the absence of YouTube's most popular creators, like Felix "Pewdiepie" Kjellberg, Shane Dawson, David Dobrik, and so many others.

When you search for "YouTube Rewind 2018," two of the top three results are negative responses to YouTube's actual video, made by popular YouTube creators.

youtube rewind 2018

The Paul brothers, in particular, were notable absentees from "Rewind 2018."

Logan Paul is one of YouTube's most popular faces, but he got himself in hot water for filming a suicide victim in Japan earlier this year. Logan's little brother Jake is even more popular, but the live boxing match between Jake Paul and his YouTube rival KSI wasn't exactly a shining moment for the site's reputation — even if it brought in nearly 1 million live viewers to YouTube at the time.

As The Verge's Julia Alexander put so well, "[YouTube Rewind 2018] feels disingenuous, like YouTube is hiding its uglier side under a carpet while showing guests around."

"YouTube Rewind 2018" shows there is a clear schism between the expectations and reality of YouTube. Viewers and the community at large expected to see all of the people who made their names on YouTube this year, for better or worse. But YouTube only wants to share the people and parts of the site it feels comfortable sharing. That's why Will Smith kicks off the video, even though The Fresh Prince has a fraction of the subscribers that Pewdiepie has.

All that said, not everyone hates YouTube Rewind 2018. The video still has over 2 million likes, and features hundreds of YouTube stars and celebrities from around the world who were filmed in four different locales: Los Angeles, London, Seoul, and Rio De Janeiro. If you're interested in seeing all of the people who did make the video, we spotted every single person so you don't have to.

SEE ALSO: These were the top YouTube videos of 2018, according to Google

1. Will Smith — actor and rapper



2. Marques Brownlee — tech reviewer



3. ItsFunneh — gaming videos



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
10 Dec 15:19

Facebook Seeks Blockchain Talent for Five New Company Roles

by Cointelegraph By Marie Huillet

Facebook has listed five new blockchain-related jobs on its careers page within the past three weeks, as the social media giant continues to explore the technology’s applications

09 Dec 19:50

Instapundit: “Twitter… is primarily a tool for getting people angry and letting them focus their anger on a particular target”

by Mike LaChance
Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit talks about why he left Twitter.
09 Dec 19:48

Nazi Imagery in Production of ‘The Sound of Music’ at Performing Arts School Causes Furor

by Mike LaChance
"The hills are alive … with the sound of political correctness."
09 Dec 19:46

Federal Judge: Hillary’s Private Email Server ‘one of the gravest modern offenses’ To Transparency

by Fuzzy Slippers
"At best, State's efforts to pass off its deficient search as legally adequate during settlement negotiations was negligence born out of incompetence"
09 Dec 16:58

Emails Show Facebook Is Well Aware That Tracking Contacts Is Creepy

by John Gruber
Remlaps

h/t Falacer

Kashmir Hill, in an excellent piece for Gizmodo:

Then a man named Yul Kwon came to the rescue saying that the growth team had come up with a solution! Thanks to poor Android permission design at the time, there was a way to update the Facebook app to get “Read Call Log” permission without actually asking for it. “Based on their initial testing, it seems that this would allow us to upgrade users without subjecting them to an Android permissions dialog at all,” Kwon is quoted. “It would still be a breaking change, so users would have to click to upgrade, but no permissions dialog screen. They’re trying to finish testing by tomorrow to see if the behavior holds true across different versions of Android.”

Oh yay! Facebook could suck more data from users without scaring them by telling them it was doing it! This is a little surprising coming from Yul Kwon because he is Facebook’s chief ‘privacy sherpa,’ who is supposed to make sure that new products coming out of Facebook are privacy-compliant. I know because I profiled him, in a piece that happened to come out the same day as this email was sent. A member of his team told me their job was to make sure that the things they’re working on “not show up on the front page of the New York Times” because of a privacy blow-up. And I guess that was technically true, though it would be more reassuring if they tried to make sure Facebook didn’t do the creepy things that led to privacy blow-ups rather than keeping users from knowing about the creepy things.

The Facebook executives who approved this ought to be going to jail. Facebook is to privacy what Enron was to accounting.

09 Dec 02:41

7 Christmas Pieces YOU should Listen to this Week

by cmp2020
Hello everyone! I have been negligent towards my posting responsibilities in the last week. I will say that I was quite busy. Anyway, let's get into this week's weekly7, 7 Christmas Pieces YOU should Listen to this Week: ### 7. Angels We Have Heard On High This is one of my favorite Christmas carols. I am especially fond of this arrangement by Andrea Bocelli. Either way, this carol moves in an exciting way and brings back memories from some of my earlier Christmases as a child (I don't know why, but it does). This is also one of the recordings I listened to frequently over this summer when I was trying to design my own Christmas carol (I will post that soon). Anyway, here is Andrea Bocelli's performance of Angels We Have Heard on High: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlhdKTYwdsY ### 6. Holly Jolly Christmas This is another one I remember from my childhood. It's funny, listening to this now (as an almost adult), I finally get the mistletoe line (I have noticed little things like that in many different movies and songs which I didn't notice as a kid). . . Anyway, here is Holly Jolly Christmas performed by Burl Ives (for the movie Rudolph): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LXLh-v0ieE ### 5. Oh Come All Ye Faithful This is another one of my favorites. I happen to know that it was written by John Francis Wade (from the article I wrote several years ago). This performance is from Christmas Eve at Westminster Abbey. Every year, my church choir performs this at their Christmas concerts, and every year, it sends a shiver to my spine. Here is Oh Come All Ye Faithful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1wHyMR_SCA ### 4. White Christmas This is probably one of the more famous Christmas carols/movies amongst older people. It is another piece which I remember fondly from my childhood. Bing Crosby has a very nice voice, especially for this song. Sometimes I wonder why the fifty's style has vanished so much, you rarely hear music like this now a days. Anyway, here Bing Crosby's performance of White Christmas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9QLn7gM-hY ### 3. The First Noel This Christmas carol is quite popular as well, though it does not hold as much sentimental value to me. However, the music is quite powerful as I have often noticed with many different Christmas carols. There is just something about Christmas music. Anyway, here is The First Noel performed by Kings College in Cambridge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mItWsC8RtM ### 2. It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas This is another pretty popular Christmas song. It's funny, but the line "and mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again" didn't mean anything to me as a kid. Something else that's interesting is that the only reason why I know a lot of these artists is because of their Christmas music. Anyway, here is It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, performed by Perry Como: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex7A4R-_3-g ### 1. For Unto Us A Child is Born Handel's Messiah is something that I have blindly avoided all these years. I recently decided to give (some of) it a listen, and boy is it impressive. I think I might start a little Christmas series of analyses of the Messiah. Anyway, this piece is called For Unto A Child is Born, and it is remarkable. 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I hope you enjoyed this list! Please remember that feedback is always appreciated (though it takes me a while to respond sometimes). Let the Christmas related articles begin! Hopefully I will see you next time! https://s1.postimg.org/2bf9vv0mhr/CMP2020_verified.png (Note) In order to encourage meaningful feedback on the platform, I will check comment trails of users who leave superficial comments (ie "Awesome post," or "Upvoted.") and will mute any users who exhibit a pattern of leaving "spammy" comments.
09 Dec 01:57

Here's why IBM just sold a $1.8 billion chunk of its software business to Indian IT company HCL (IBM, HCLTECH.NS)

by Becky Peterson

GinniRometty2016

  • As part of its efforts to focus on "high-value" products, IBM will sell seven software products to the Indian company HCL for $1.8 billion, the company announced Thursday.
  • While HCL shares fell 5% following the news, Wall Street is feeling good (or at least, better) about IBM's decision to sell.
  • The products were part of a declining division, Cognitive Solutions, which IBM wants to return to profitability. 

One month after IBM announced its $34 billion strategic acquisition of Red Hat, the software giant revealed a sale of its own.

IBM announced late Thursday that it will sell a suite of software products to the Indian IT company HCL for $1.8 billion.

In the deal, IBM will sell seven unique software applications in the collaboration, on-premise marketing, and commerce space, which altogether have a total addressable market of $50 billion, the company said. IBM and HLC already had intellectual property partnerships on five of those products.

While HCL's stock price took a 5% dip on Friday following the news, Wall Street was slightly more supportive of IBM's choice to abandon the assets in favor of more cash and a higher-margin software portfolio. Still, IBM shares fell more than 3% in trading on Friday, though it was still trading above its low for November.

"We like that IBM continues to sell its non-core software product lines," wrote UBS analyst John Roy.

The software suite was part of IBM's Cognitive Solutions, a segment that includes the IBM Watson Health and other AI businesses — and which has seen declining revenues. The company said it expects to see this segment improve its revenue growth after the sale.

Cognitive Solutions brought in $4.15 billion in the third quarter of 2018 , down 6% from the same period in 2017. Its margins declined by 2.7% in the same period, according to the company filing

IBM has done similar deals every year over the past 14 years

In a blog post on Friday, IBM explained the sale to investors as being part of a push towards a "high-value model," which essentially means the company prefers to invest in higher yield emerging areas like AI, cloud and blockchain than figure out a way to help its declining businesses grow.

Read more: IBM was losing the cloud wars — here's why Wall Street thinks its $34 billion Red Hat acquisition will change that

"Delivering a high-value model also requires ongoing investment prioritization, considering factors such as market attractiveness, differentiation, and importance to IBM’s integrated model," the company said in the post.

But this strategy isn't new for IBM. UBS analyst Roy wrote that IBM has similarly sold off some of its software portfolio over each of the last 14 years. All of those deals, he said, were valued between $740 million and $1.6 billion.

Bottom line: It's not about Red Hat

IBM's $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat in October has created some redundancies in the company's portfolio, but that's not why this sale is happening, wrote Roy.

A "potential issue" for IBM is that once the acquisition closes, there will be some overlap between middleware products, such as IBM's WebSphere and Red Hat's JBoss product lines, he said — but that risk doesn't involve any of the products that it sold off to HCL.

Instead, UBS views this as a straightforward sale of underperforming software products, as it refocuses on the good stuff.

"Mixing away from under-performers is just good business," Roy wrote.

SEE ALSO: Workday surged 19% after earnings — but Wall Street thinks its future success could hinge on a newly public competitor

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Drinking too much water could be surprisingly hazardous to your health

09 Dec 01:56

Not even in office yet and she’s already threatening critics with subpoenas

by DrJohn

 

The ever-ditzy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has outdone herself. Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a meme making fun of her

View this post on Instagram

It’s funny cuz it’s true!!! 🤣🇺🇸🤣🇺🇸🤣

A post shared by Donald Trump Jr. (@donaldjtrumpjr) on

It’s actually pretty darned funny, but AOC didn’t think so and went playground on Trump Jr. She threatened to use her “chamber” to subpoena someone who made fun of her.

As Sean Davis points out, this is a violation of House ethics

This is a threat to the First Amendment. It’s also called fascism, which generally goes hand in hand with the socialism of which Ocasio-Cortez is so fond.

It does, however remind me of another liberal threat involving the IRS:

He made good on that one repeatedly.

09 Dec 01:34

Change! U.S. transforms into net oil exporter for first time in 75 years

by Leslie Eastman
Welcome to the new normal
07 Dec 19:20

Peak Oil Postponed Again: “USGS Identifies Largest Continuous Oil and Gas Resource Potential Ever”… And it’s in the Permian Basin

by David Middleton
Guest congratulating by David Middleton USGS Announces Largest Continuous Oil Assessment in Texas and New Mexico Release Date: NOVEMBER 28, 2018 Estimates Include 46.3 Billion Barrels of Oil, 281 Trillion Cubic feet of Natural Gas, and 20 Billion Barrels of Natural Gas Liquids in Texas and New Mexico’s Wolfcamp Shale and Bone Spring Formation. WASHINGTON…
07 Dec 15:26

Top Five Lies About Nullification

by Mike Maharrey

We hear them over, and over, and over again — the same, tired, worn out misconceptions or downright lies about nullification.

Historians, legal scholars and journalists all parrot these fallacies every time anybody proposes nullification. They use these misconceptions as a way to derail efforts to stop federal overreach and limit the power of the general government. Some of them sound plausible — especially if you were a product of government schools. But all of them are wrong.

Following are the top five lies about nullification and a brief overview of why they’re wrong.

1. The Supremacy Clause Prohibits Nullification

This probably ranks as the most common nullification objection. According to the naysayers, the Constitution’s supremacy clause makes every federal edict “the supreme law of the land.” As such, a state has no authority to challenge it in any way. This erroneous assertion ignores the most important words in the clause. Only the Constitution and laws “made in pursuance thereof” qualify as supreme. Any federal act not in pursuance of the Constitution is, as Alexander Hamilton put it, “void.”

One does not obey or enforce a “voided” act. In fact, James Madison asserted that a state is “duty bound” to “interpose” when the federal government attempts to operate outside of its constitutional bounds. The supremacy clause does not undermine nullification. It actually enforces it. To learn more, click HERE and HERE,

2. John C. Calhoun Invented Nullification

Virtually every mainstream article about nullification invokes the name “John C. Calhoun.” Most of them will assert that he came up with the idea for state nullification. This, of course, is meant to tie the principles of nullification to slavery, as the South Carolina senator was an unapologetic supporter of the institution.

It’s true that Calhoun was a central figure in the so-called “nullification crisis” in the early 1820s and 1830s. But this had nothing to do with slavery, and he did not come up with the idea of nullification.

In fact, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison first formalized the principles in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions two decades earlier in response to the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts. These laws enacted by Pres. John Adams in 1798 were clear violations of the due process clause, the First Amendment and the Tenth Amendment. Jefferson and Madison both insisted a state had both a right and duty to step in and stop the overreach. It was Jefferson who insisted nullification is “the rightful remedy.”

“Where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non fœderis) to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits.”

Jefferson and Madison were working on a strategy to implement nullification after the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures passed their respective resolutions, but Jefferson’s ascendancy to the presidency and the subsequent end of the Alien and Sedition Acts rendered the issue moot.

Obviously, this has nothing to do with Calhoun. The principles were well-established long before Calhoun invoked them. But unsurprisingly, articles about nullification almost never mention Jefferson or Madison. To learn more, click HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

3. James Madison Opposed Nullification

Despite the fact that James Madison penned the Virginia Resolutions and was one of the first people to formalize the principle of nullification, pundits invoke a second common misconception claiming Madison actually opposed the idea. They rely on arguments he made during the aforementioned nullification crisis in the late 1820s and early 1830s, but they take his comments out of context.

In fact, Madison opposed a specific nullification scheme developed by Sen. John C. Calhoun. He never renounced the general principles.

Calhoun built on the ideas outlined in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and claimed that if a single state nullified a federal act, it was annulled within that state and it legally bound other states to honor its action until three-quarters of them overruled the nullification.

Madison’s anti-nullification comments specifically addressed this scheme. But Madison did not condemn the more general principles of state nullification. In fact, Madison reaffirmed the idea even while opposing Calhoun’s version, writing, “Thus the right of nullification meant by Mr. Jefferson is the natural right, which all admit to be a remedy against insupportable oppression.” To learn more, click HERE.

4. The Supreme Court Decides Constitutionality

Even if they admit that federal actions violating the Constitution have no legal force, modern pundits will always claim that it’s the Supreme Court’s job to determine the constitutionality of an act — not a state. They will usually refer to John Marshall’s famous opinion in Marbury v. Madison to bolster their case.

In effect, these people argue that the federal government determines the power of the federal government. Thomas Jefferson pointed out the absurdity of this notion in the Kentucky Resolutions.

“The government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.”

In the Report of 1800 (a defense of the Virginia Resolutions) Madison also insisted that the Supreme Court only had the final say in a dispute between the three branches of the government, but not in a dispute over federal power in relation to the states.

“The States then being the parties to the constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity, that there can be no tribunal above their authority, to decide in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated; and consequently that as the parties to it, they must themselves decide in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition.”

As far as Marshall’s opinion in Marbury goes, most people take what he said out of context. And regardless, it’s ludicrous to argue that the Supreme Court decided it has the final say, therefore it does. To learn more click HEREHERE, HERE, and HERE.

5. Nullification Supported Slavery

The final common misconception trumpeted over and over again is that nullification was all about slavery. Again, this is meant to tar the idea as “racist.” Actually, it nullification was about slavery, but not in the way the mainstream wants you to believe.

In fact, nullification was never used to support slavery. Slavery was the law of the land according to the federal government. There was nothing for slavers to nullify.

But abolitionists did use the principles of nullification and state powers to fight the fugitive slave acts.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was enacted to aid southern slavers in their efforts to reclaim their “property.” It allowed a slave owner, or his representative, to haul a black person back South into slavery merely on his world. It denied an accused runaway any semblance of due process. It also compelled citizens to assist in fugitive slave rendition if ordered to do so and made assisting suspected runaways a federal crime with stiff penalties.

But at the state level, northerners rebelled. They asserted state sovereignty and passed aggressive personal liberty laws to thwart execution of the act. In support of their stand, apologists appealed to the notion of “states’ rights,” sometimes directly quoting arguments advanced by John C. Calhoun during the “Nullification Crisis” decades earlier. These abolitionist efforts were so successful, South Carolina and several other seceding states listed northern state nullification of the fugtiive slave laws as justification for leaving the union — and they used the word nullification.

So, nullification was “about slavery,” but it never supported slavery. To Learn more, click HERE.

07 Dec 14:00

The Democrats Were Once the Party of Free Trade

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

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Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Whether or not former congressman Jim Bacchus is correct in advising his fellow Democrats that “Free Trade Is Your Destiny” (Dec. 4), this much is certain: until just a few decades ago free trade was the Democrats’ legacy.

Among history’s most eloquent Democratic politicians is the now-forgotten, but once celebrated, Rep. William Bourke Cockran (D-NY) – a man who inspired Winston Churchill not only to become a better orator but also a stronger champion of free trade. In a July 1903 speech delivered to the Liberal Club in London, Cockran observed that “[p]rotection can have no other object than the plunder of the vast body of consumers for the benefit of a few producers…. Any scheme of benevolence by Government, whether it be called protection to domestic labor, subsidies to home industries, fair trade, or retaliation against a foreign enemy for alleged maltreatment of domestic producers, always masks a scheme of plunder.”*

We can only hope that the House’s incoming Democratic majority would take Cockran’s observation to heart.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

* Excerpts from this speech can be found here.

07 Dec 13:49

Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

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… is from page 197 of my former teacher Randy Holcombe’s 2018 book, Political Capitalism: How Economic and Political Power is Made and Maintained:

The democratic ideal suggests that in a democracy, government is controlled by the people – by the masses. But government is never controlled by the masses; it is always controlled by the elite. Millions of people can never work together to create public policy. Even if they had an interest in doing so, negotiations would be too cumbersome to get anything done. The transaction costs are too high. That is why democratic government is representative government, and representative government is always controlled by an elite. A small subset of the population is designated as having the right to use the force of government to impose their policies over the masses.

DBx: Some people might reject Randy’s argument by insisting that the democratically elected representatives of the people need not come from ‘the elite.’ But this assertion misses the point. The elite in any society are the ones who are disproportionately able to influence the actions of others. In free-market societies, the elite – the rich – influence the actions of others only by improving the welfare of others (as these others see it). But insofar as society is ruled by the state, the elite – those with state power – influence the actions of others simply by threatening to cage or to shoot them.

Despite his billions of dollars, Jeff Bezos as a private citizen cannot force you to do anything. If he wants you to act in a way that furthers his interest he must offer to you a deal that you will voluntarily accept only if you judge that this deal will also further your interest. In contrast, even the financially poorest member of Congress, by successfully organizing a majority coalition with other members of Congress to support a piece of legislation, can force you to do pretty much anything that coalition demands. That coalition does not have to offer to you a deal that you find acceptable beyond your agreeing to follow their orders as the price you pay to persuade them not to lock you up in a cage.

Those holding government power, especially in a nation with few substantive constitutional or cultural restrictions on the exercise of that power, are made elite by the very fact that they possess a unique and highly scarce ‘resource’ – namely, the ability to use force to impose their will on large numbers of people.

In reality, no one has anything to fear from market elites who act in markets. But every one of us should fear political elites, even when these political elites are elected by the populist masses.
…..
By the way, Randy gave a very nice presentation on his book yesterday at GMU, followed by superb comments by Josh Hall and my colleague Chris Coyne (and, in absentia, Matt Mitchell).

06 Dec 21:59

Buy and Sell ZEC on Coinbase

by Coinbase

Starting today, Coinbase supports Zcash (ZEC) at Coinbase.com and in the Coinbase Android and iOS apps. Coinbase customers can now buy, sell, send, receive, or store ZEC.

ZEC will be available for customers in most jurisdictions, but will not initially be available for residents of the United Kingdom or the state of New York. Additional jurisdictions may be added at a later date.

Zcash is a cryptocurrency that uses recent advances in cryptography to allow users to protect the privacy of transactions at their discretion. The distinction between Zcash’s “transparent” and “shielded” transactions is analogous to the distinction between unencrypted HTTP and encrypted HTTPS. In both cases, the unencrypted/transparent version of the protocol allows third parties to see metadata associated with the communication or transaction, while the encrypted/shielded version protects this information. Initially, customers can send ZEC to Coinbase from both transparent and shielded addresses, but only send off Coinbase to transparent addresses. In the future, we’ll explore support for sending ZEC to shielded addresses in locations where it complies with local laws. For more information on privacy considerations specific to ZEC, visit the official Zcash support page.

One of the most common requests we hear from customers is to be able to buy and sell more assets on Coinbase. Earlier this year we announced a new process for listing assets, designed in part to accelerate asset addition. We are also investing in new tools to help people understand and explore cryptocurrencies. We launched informational asset pages (see ZEC here), as well as a new section of the Coinbase website to answer common questions about crypto.

You can sign up for a Coinbase account here to buy and sell ZEC today.


Buy and Sell ZEC on Coinbase was originally published in The Coinbase Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

06 Dec 21:08

Your Personal Data is Already Stolen

by Bruce Schneier

In an excellent blog post, Brian Krebs makes clear something I have been saying for a while:

Likewise for individuals, it pays to accept two unfortunate and harsh realities:

Reality #1: Bad guys already have access to personal data points that you may believe should be secret but which nevertheless aren't, including your credit card information, Social Security number, mother's maiden name, date of birth, address, previous addresses, phone number, and yes ­ even your credit file.

Reality #2: Any data point you share with a company will in all likelihood eventually be hacked, lost, leaked, stolen or sold ­ usually through no fault of your own. And if you're an American, it means (at least for the time being) your recourse to do anything about that when it does happen is limited or nil.

[...]

Once you've owned both of these realities, you realize that expecting another company to safeguard your security is a fool's errand, and that it makes far more sense to focus instead on doing everything you can to proactively prevent identity thieves, malicious hackers or other ne'er-do-wells from abusing access to said data.

His advice is good.

05 Dec 21:13

November 2018 temperature data, and the UAH trend

by admin

The November lower troposphere global temperature anomaly from the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) team is just out, is little different from recent months, and remains close to the 2007 average that is the base-year of The Climate Bet.

The UAH series now covers nearly 40 years of monthly observations. Over that time, the change in the global average temperature from month to month has been quite small: the absolute change has averaged a little less than 0.1°C, with half warmer than the previous month, and half cooler.

Despite the obvious up-and-down nature of the series, some commentators continue to look for evidence of a trend hiding in the noise of monthly and annual volatility. For example the IPCC’s, business as usual 3°C-per-Century should be evident in 40 years of data if it amounted to a real trend.

Followers of the IPCC would presumably be pleasantly surprised, then, to learn that the trend to date amounts to little more than 0.001°C-per-month; less than 1.3°C-per-Century. In other words, from month-to-month the typical up or down change is in the order of a 100 times larger than the “trend.”

If the well-hidden trend happened to continue for a further 60 years, we should be reassured that it is much closer to the no-change forecast than to the dangerous warming scenario. There continues to be neither reason to worry, nor reason for governments to implement expensive programmes and regulations.

For the updated “Whole-Earth Thermometer” reading, click on the small chart to the top right of the page for a more detailed image.

05 Dec 19:34

The 7 biggest revelations from the huge trove of Facebook emails that just leaked (FB)

by Rob Price, Shona Ghosh and Isobel Asher Hamilton

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg

  • The UK Parliament published a trove of top-secret Facebook executive emails on Wednesday.
  • The hundreds of pages of documents provide an unprecedented window into Facebook leadership's approach to competition and growth.
  • Read the key takeaways from the documents below.

Britain's Parliament has just given the world an unprecedented look at the ruthless tactics of Facebook's executive team.

On Wednesday, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee published leaked emails from the Silicon Valley tech giant's leadership team that had been obtained by Six4Three, an app developer that's locked in a legal battle with Facebook after it blocked its bikini photo app. 

There are hundreds of pages of documents and emails, mostly dating from between 2012 and 2015, that detail the way Facebook allowed third-party apps to access friend data through its platform.

They provide a unique window into how Facebook's senior leaders privately discussed strategy and competition at a period of intense growth for the company, which has since been bogged down by numerous scandals and flatlining user numbers in key markets.


Do you work at Facebook? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at rprice@businessinsider.com, Telegram or WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.


From Facebook's attempts to kneecap "strategic competitors" to CEO Mark Zuckerberg writing that his company's interests don't always match up with what's best for the world, here are some of the key takeaways from the documents.

1. Facebook had a list of "strategic competitors" that it restricted access to.

Zuckerberg personally oversaw a list of "strategic" competitors to the social network, and decided whether to restrict them from accessing valuable user data.

One undated memo stated that companies considered to be "strategic competitors" to Facebook were even more restricted in what they could access. It added that Mark Zuckerberg personally reviewed the list of competitors, and either he or another senior executive had to personally sign off any further access to data these companies might want.

On the eve of the publication of the documents, Facebook announced it was relaxing restrictions on competitors' apps in an apparent attempt to get ahead of the news.

In an unattributed statement published on its website, Facebook said:

"We built our developer platform years ago to pave the way for innovation in social apps and services. At that time we made the decision to restrict apps built on top of our platform that replicated our core functionality. These kind of restrictions are common across the tech industry with different platforms having their own variant including YouTube, Twitter, Snap and Apple."



2. Zuckerberg personally approved Facebook's decision to cut off social network Vine's data.

One of the Facebook competitors Mark Zuckerberg played a personal role in stamping on was video social network Vine.

In an email dated January 24, 2013 (the day Vine launched on iOS) VP Justin Osofsky proposed shutting down the new app's access: "Twitter launched Vine today which lets you shoot multiple short video segments to make one single, 6-second video. As part of their NUX, you can find friends via FB. Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today. We've prepared reactive PR, and I will let Jana know our decision."

Zuckerberg responded: "Yup, go for it."



3. Facebook tried to figure out how to grab users' call data without asking permission.

Ever-hungry for user data, Facebook in 2015 explored trying to access Android users' call logs and SMS history to use to feed into features like "People You May Know," while acknowledging the risk of user anger. "This is a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective nut it appears that the growth eam will charge ahead and do it," Michael LeBeau wrote.

Yul Kwon also said Facebook was looking into ways to grab call log data without even asking users for permission: "Based on [the Growth team's] initial testing, it seems this would allow us to upgrade users without subjecting them to an Android permissions dialog at all," they wrote. 

Facebook's statement said: "This specific feature allows people to opt in to giving Facebook access to their call and text messaging logs in Facebook Lite and Messenger on Android devices. We use this information to do things like make better suggestions for people to call in Messenger and rank contact lists in Messenger and Facebook Lite."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
05 Dec 15:42

It’s time to truly test the constitutionality of Obamacare

by Rob Natelson

Court challenges to the facetiously named “Affordable Care Act” — “Obamacare” — are more important than ever.

Asked about the constitutional basis for Obamacare, Democratic Michigan Rep. John Conyers — a leading supporter — was unable to name any. Conyers’ fumbling response was caught on video. It became symbolic of the contempt Obamacare’s promoters showed for the Constitution.

But more than eight years after the measure passed, opponents still have not sought judicial review of most of its constitutional defects.

Two factors argue for more challenges to the law’s constitutionality. First, although Congress has repealed the mandate that individuals purchase government-approved health insurance, it is now clear that Congress will not free us from the rest of the law.

Second, with the Supreme Court fortified by the addition of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, it may be willing to protect the Constitution against the failed and unpopular scheme.

The media sometimes claim the Supreme Court “upheld” Obamacare. In fact the court has addressed the constitutionality of only two of its parts: the Medicaid mandate on the states, which the court struck down; and the penalty on individuals for not purchasing health insurance, which Congress has since repealed. In another case, six justices rescued the measure from its own sloppy drafting, although not on constitutional grounds.

Even the Supreme Court’s decision sustaining the penalty was a very close call. The justices first ruled that the penalty exceeded congressional power under both the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause. They then held it to be a constitutionally-permissible “indirect tax,” but only by a 5-4 margin.

There have been reams of speculation as to why the majority voted to uphold the penalty. I believe the most charitable answer is also the most persuasive one: The court simply did not have the information it needed to decide the issue correctly.

There is clear historical evidence as to what the Constitution means by the terms “tax,” “direct tax,” and “indirect tax.” But those involved in the case presented little of this evidence to the court. The court, therefore, proceeded on what little it had, and erroneously classified the penalty as an indirect tax. (Ideally, though, the justices should have ordered a more thorough briefing on the tax issue.)

The penalty is gone, but the remainder of Obamacare still plagues us. There are several legal theories available for attacking the remainder. One is that in passing Obamacare, Congress violated the Constitution’s Origination Clause. (There already have been some Origination Clause challenges, but they were unsuccessful because the litigants misunderstood what the clause permits and prohibits.)

The Origination Clause states that “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” With important modifications, the Origination Clause applied to Congress a legislative rule borrowed from the British Parliament and from several state legislatures.

The meaning of the Origination Clause as the founders understood it is as follows:

  • Only a representative, not a senator, may introduce a tax bill.
  • The bill must pass the House before going to the Senate.
  • However, the Senate (unlike the British House of Lords) is not bound to simply accept or reject whatever the House passes. The Senate may “amend” tax bills before passing them.
  • The House must approve any amendments.
  • The Senate’s power to “amend” permits it to change the bill as to any subject matter it already covers. But adding new subject matter, such as adding regulations or appropriations to a pure revenue bill, is outside the scope of the Senate’s power to amend.

The Senate created Obamacare by seizing a minor revenue bill that had passed the House, stripping out its contents, inserting new taxes (which it had the power to do), and adding some permanent appropriations and a Goldbergian regulatory scheme — which it had no power to do.

A purported “law” passed in violation of the Origination Clause is void. However, for a court to invalidate such a measure, litigation must be brought by the proper plaintiffs and on the correct legal theory. Previous Origination Clause plaintiffs lost because they attacked Obamacare’s taxes instead of its regulations. Plaintiffs suing for relief from regulations that harm them may have more success.

This article first appeared in the Daily Caller.

05 Dec 05:11

Dance of the Siren (Original Composition)

by cmp2020
Hello everyone! Several months ago, I posted the first draft of this original composition which I was writing for a competition. I submitted to the contest on Sunday, and have decided to post the piece today as a result. Some notable changes are that I made changes to the a section and manually wrote out the repeat. I also made some harmonic changes in several places in cleaning up the voice leading (and avoiding parallel motion). The piece is in minuet and trio form, meaning that it contains a minuet (which is dancelike) and trio, which is different in character than the minuet. I called the trio the song of the siren, and the overall piece "Dance of the Siren" because I think it sounds like a sea shanty, and I enjoy Greek mythology. Here is the piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yT0kGe0qowk Thanks for reading/listening to this! Please remember that feedback is always appreciated! Hopefully I will see you tomorrow! https://s1.postimg.org/2bf9vv0mhr/CMP2020_verified.png (Note) In order to encourage meaningful feedback on the platform, I will check comment trails of users who leave superficial comments (ie "Awesome post," or "Upvoted.") and will mute any users who exhibit a pattern of leaving "spammy" comments.
04 Dec 20:55

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg explains the company's massive reorganization

by Abby Jackson

Ericsson Chief Executive Officer Hans Vestberg speaks at a news conference in Stockholm January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Jessica Gow/TT News Agency

  • Speaking at Business Insider's IGNITION Conference, Hans Vestberg explained the impetus behind the massive business reorganization the company announced in November.
  • The company is now comprised of Verizon Consumer Group, Verizon Business Group, and Verizon Media Group.
  • The reorg will help the company leverage its best assets, which Vestberg described as the network, distribution, and brand.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg has been running the company for just four months, but he's already brought seismic changes to the company.

In November, Vestberg reorganized the business that was split between wireless and wireline businesses and created three main business segments: Verizon Consumer Group, led by Ronan Dunne; Verizon Business Group, led by Tami Erwin; and Verizon Media Group, led by Guru Gowrappan.

Speaking at Business Insider's IGNITION Conference in New York on Tuesday, Vestberg explained the impetus behind the change.

He called it a "logical and natural step in order to leverage all of the best assets we have in Verizon, which is the network, the distribution, and our brand." 

A change for a company of Verizon's size, with roughly 160,000 employees and 150 million customers, required conversations with "tremendous" amounts of internal executives and shareholders, Vestberg said.

And much of the change leads back to Verizon's network and the company's plans for 5G. Vestberg started at Verizon in April 2017 as chief technology officer. The business reorganization was the natural next step after the work that the company has put into place to transform its network, he said. Verizon's 5G network will spur innovation around the world, according to Vestberg.

"There are three and a half billion people having a smart phone today," he said. "It's the biggest mass market of electronic devices that you’ve ever seen in mankind."

You can watch the whole interview here >>

SEE ALSO: The CEO of Charter is on the lookout for cable deals, and he just took a swing at Verizon's plan to disrupt his business

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 6 airline industry secrets that will help you fly like a pro this holiday season

04 Dec 16:44

Stossel: Google and Facebook Cross "The Creepy Line"

by ReasonTV

Tech companies are compiling incredibly detailed dossiers about you.

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Companies like Google and Facebook collect information about us and sell it to advertisers.

The information they collect and the way they collect it cross the "creepy line" according to a new documentary called "The Creepy Line."

John Stossel asks the writer of the documentary, Peter Schweizer: "What's the big deal? They're giving me information."

Schweizer responds "to the extent that somebody can do something for you, they can do something to you." He goes on to make a powerful case that Google and Facebook abuse their power.

The documentary says that Google tracks you even when you are not online. As soon as you connect to the internet, Android uploads to Google a complete history of where you've been that day.

Schweizer wants Google and Facebook to be regulated like media companies.

Stossel is skeptical "You want regulation? That's going to make it better?" he asks.

Schweizer answers: "one of the ways you deal with Google's market concentration, and its massive control of search is, put it under the same shackles [as] other media companies."

Stossel doesn't presume to know what, if anything, ought to be done about Google and Facebook. But he says that the documentary makes a compelling case that these giant companies do creepy things.

The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.
04 Dec 16:04

Bitcoin’s Network Just Experienced Its Second Largest Downward Adjustment

by Colin Harper
Remlaps

One thing no one seems to be asking is how much of that hash power went to the ABC/SV "hash war". I wouldn't be surprised if it jumps back up again in 2 weeks.

bitcoin difficulty adjustment

As the market continues to tumble (and mining profits have dwindled), Bitcoin’s mining difficulty dropped by its largest percentile in seven years — the second largest downward correction in the cryptocurrency’s lifetime.

The last time bitcoin experienced an adjustment on par with this recent one was on October 16, 2011, when it dropped 13.1 percent. Just over two weeks later, the network would experience its most significant difficulty decrease, falling by 18 percent on November 1, 2011.

Now, on December 3, 2018, the network’s mining difficulty has fallen by 15.1 percent as mining profitability has waned in response to struggling prices.


Since bitcoin plummeted from its months-long support at $6,000, community buzz has centered on anxieties of bitcoin’s mining profitability. If the price drops too low, the worry goes, then miners will stop mining, the network will struggle and things will only get worse.

Designated for every 2,016 blocks, Bitcoin’s difficulty adjustment is the network’s self-correcting mechanism to ensure that miners can continue to find hashes below a specific target (i.e., that they can continue to produce hashes and find blocks fast enough without expending too much energy). If too many miners shut off their hardware, then the network will lower mining difficulty to compensate for the loss in hash power and decrease competition (in the inverse, if more miners join the network, then the difficulty will rise).

The downward correction in bitcoin’s mining difficulty is the expected byproduct of a worsening bear market that has forced miners to put their hardware into hibernation. As prices drop, mining bitcoin becomes less profitable as block rewards and fees don’t make up for electricity costs.

Still, if mining is unprofitable after a difficulty adjustment, the network would almost certainly not grind to a halt. For example, transaction fees might be enough to tide them over in between adjustments, especially if fees rise in response to the network having fewer miners and slower block times. Even if that doesn’t provide sufficient incentive, users could employ an emergency hard fork to re-target the difficulty, though the conditions that would merit taking this extreme measure are highly unlikely.

Before today’s difficulty adjustment, the recent market downturn called mining profitability (and by proxy, bitcoin’s future) in to question. Mainstream outlets have even heralded bitcoin’s untimely demise in the past week or so. Market Watch, for instance, published an op-ed saying that “Bitcoin is close to dead” and that no difficulty adjustment can save it.

But the difficulty adjustment was designed specifically with times of network and market hardship in mind (or, on the flip side, when the network is bloated with too much competition). The feature hedges against the market factors that are forcing miners to shutter their rigs, hence why the difficulty has adjusted so far downward in light of bitcoin’s worst performing November in history.

The size of the adjustment is by no means surprising, but it is a salient reminder that the network is dynamic and Satoshi built it to withstand extreme downturns.

So, with this adjustment complete, perhaps the taps and casket for bitcoin’s lowering can wait.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.