1,000-Year Exposure

Jonathon Keats has designed a pinhole camera that will take a 1,000-year exposure of Lake Tahoe:

"We are changing the planet on timescales of a 1,000, 10,000 or even 100,000 years and we're completely incapable of psychologically appreciating the power that we have," Keats told me on the phone. "They're a means to have a sort of cognitive prosthesis, a mechanism for us to be able to see ourselves from that far-future perspective."

Keats' placed his Millennium Cameras at four locations around Lake Tahoe. Each camera is made of copper and is only 2.75 inches long and 2.25 inches in diameter. Inside the camera is a sheet of 24-karat gold pierced by a small hole. As light passes through this small hole, it causes a reaction with the rose-colored pigment inside the camera, which causes the color to fade where the light is the brightest. This will slowly imprint an image on the pigment over the next 1,000 years. [...]

"The changes that happen may wipe out the camera or wipe out the institution that's in charge of it," Keats told me. "I just signed a contract with Sierra Nevada College that is for an exhibition of these four photographs in the year 3018. We're certainly taking chances with this, but that's also part of the picture in a way."

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Webshit Weekly

Who Are My Investors?

The Saudis are being assholes in public again, so some people are starting to wonder if they're willing to be picky about where their money comes from. Hackernews isn't, for the most part, but they seem attracted to the idea that it's probably okay to take money from assholes if you think nobody will notice. Failing that, try to get some other people between you and the assholes. A few Hackernews just declare that there's no such thing as an asshole. I rarely* recommend reading "Hacker" "News" comments, but if you want to see the inner strugglings of people who just aren't sure if they should, through their labor, enrich murderers, this is the place to do it.

* never.

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In much the same manner that the ultimate solution to homelessness is homes, the means of preventing urine and feces on the street is toilets:

Put simply, the money spent providing for hundreds of thousands of bathroom uses per year -- millions since the program's inception -- is money you don't spend power-washing urine and feces off the street. It's money you don't spend gathering needles out of gutters and planters and sand boxes.

It's money you don't spend cleaning up dogshit, either.

Not only is providing a place for people to sanitarily relieve themselves or safely dispose of needles a decent thing to do, it's also bottom-line beneficial: As is the case with every other element of administering to the homeless population, things cost so much more when you react, rather than act.

The Pit Stop program's annual budget is now $3.1 million. Out of context, that's a fair amount of money; a single Pit Stop can cost between $170,000 and $205,000 a year to operate, with labor making up most of the costs. But, as a point of comparison, the city spends upwards of $1.19 million per year on toilet paper.

San Francisco, meanwhile, puts a jaw-dropping $65 million toward cleaning its streets; Mayor Mark Farrell dolloped an additional $12.8 million into street-cleaning in the latest budget cycle alone.

It is, frankly, difficult to say this glut of street-cleaning funds is money well-spent. Without providing people with a place to relieve themselves, putting ever more money into street-cleaning is a bit like buying a bigger bucket instead of patching the hole in the boat.

As we noted last week, cleaning the streets is reactive. Even Mayor London Breed's headline-grabbing "poop patrols" are merely proactively reactive. Power-washing filth off the streets will always be a necessity in this and every city. But, even viewed merely as a spreadsheet item and giving no consideration to human dignity, Pit Stops aren't just an expense -- they're an investment. In June of 2014, there were 742 requests for steam-cleaning in the Tenderloin. Three years and multiple Pit Stops later, in June of last year, there were 298.

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An Alternative History Of Silicon Valley Disruption

They promised the open web, we got walled gardens. They promised individual liberty, then broke democracy -- and now they've appointed themselves the right men to fix it.

It is only now, a decade after the financial crisis, that the American public seems to appreciate that what we thought was disruption worked more like extraction -- of our data, our attention, our time, our creativity, our content, our DNA, our homes, our cities, our relationships. The tech visionaries' predictions did not usher us into the future, but rather a future where they are kings. [...]

Economist Mariana Mazzucato chips away at another myth of Silicon Valley exceptionalism: the idea that big tech and its investors deserve massive profits because they are risk-taking innovators who create value, rather than extract it. "In the case of venture capitalists," Mazzucato writes, "their real genius appears to lie in their timing: their ability to enter a sector late, after the highest development risks had already been taken, but at an optimum moment to make a killing."

Much of the hard work of innovation, she argues, has been funded by the government, which sees little direct return. Contrary to tech industry sneering, public funds are responsible for a lot of the technology we attribute to Silicon Valley. Mazzucato points out that GPS was funded by the US Navy, touchscreen display was backed by the CIA, both the internet and SIRI were funded by the Pentagon's DARPA, and Google's search algorithm was funded by a National Science Foundation grant.

Yet the government reaps few of the rewards. For instance, the same year the government loaned $535 million to solar-power company Solyndra, it also loaned Tesla $465 million. "Taxpayers footed the bill for Solyndra's losses -- yet got hardly any of Tesla's" gains, she says. Solyndra has become "a byword for the government's sorry track record when it came to picking winners," a story that has helped keep regulators at bay, she says.

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You Are Jeff Bezos

A Choose Your Own Adventure Game

When you wake up this morning from unsettling dreams, you find yourself changed in your bed into a monstrous vermin.

  • You are Jeff Bezos.

Jeff Bezos' employees are now your employees. His money is now your money. Nothing you say or do will convince anyone you are not Jeff Bezos, even his closest friends and family.

What do you do?

  • I go to the bathroom.
  • I scream and sob with terror over this unnatural event.
  • I spend all his fucking money.

You go to the bathroom. It takes you about nine minutes to do all your business. You flush the toilet, because any game with a bathroom that does not allow you to flush the toilet is not a real game.

In that nine minutes, you, Jeff Bezos, make $540,000. That's more than nine times an American's average annual salary and 20 times the median salary of an Amazon employee.

  • Jesus christ.
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Data brokers always have your back. Door. Backdoor.

Experian Flaw Just Revealed PINs Protecting Credit Data

Credit freezes are the best way to prevent new account fraud, where criminals open bogus accounts in your name. But one credit bureau's site made it distressingly easy to circumvent the security that's supposed to keep your credit reports safe. [...]

To get the numbers, people filled out the form on Experian's PIN retrieval page with a person's name, address, Social Security number and date of birth -- exactly the kind of information that was compromised in last year's Equifax breach, and that's readily available for sale on the dark web. The form required an email address, which didn't necessarily have to be the one associated with the person's Experian account. Answering "none of the above" to the security questions -- even if some of the proffered answers were correct -- gave access to that person's PIN.

With the PIN, anyone can thaw that person's credit freeze and apply for credit in their name.

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"An act of God under the legal definition"

A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history

Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor Energy sank in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Many of the wells have not been capped, and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century. With no fix in sight, the Taylor offshore spill is threatening to overtake BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever. [...]

Hurricane Ivan unleashed 145 mph winds and waves that topped 70 feet as it roared into the Gulf. Deep underwater, the Category 4 storm shook loose tons of mud and buckled the platform. The avalanche sank the colossal structure and knocked it "170 meters down slope of its original location," researcher Sarah Josephine Harrison wrote in a postmortem of the incident. More than 620 barrels of crude oil stacked on its deck came tumbling down with it. The sleeves that conducted oil from its wells were mangled and ripped away. A mixture of steel and leaking oil was buried in 150 feet of mud. [...]

In 2010, six years after the oil leak started, scientists studying the BP spill realized something was amiss with the oil slicks they were seeing. "We were flying to monitor the BP disaster and we kept seeing these slicks, but they were nowhere near the BP spill," said Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of the Gulf Restoration Network, which monitors the water from boats and planes. [...]

Meanwhile, Taylor Energy was down to a single employee -- its president, William Pecue.

At a 2016 public forum in Baton Rouge, Pecue made the case for allowing the company to walk away from its obligation to clean up the mess. Taylor Energy had been sold to a joint venture of South Korean companies in 2008, the same year it started the $666 million trust. A third of the money had been spent on cleanup, and only a third of the leaking wells had been fixed. But Pecue wanted to recover $450 million, arguing the spill could not be contained.

"I can affirmatively say that we do believe this was an act of God under the legal definition," Pecue said. In other words, Taylor Energy had no control over the hurricane.

But Ivan was no freak storm.

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Online Robots in Mini-Pripyat

Isotopium lets players enter Chernobyl exclusion zone:

We created a gaming platform that allows a player to control real robots over the Internet in real time. Video streaming comes without delays from robot cameras. [...]

Our arena covers 210 square meters (2260 sq. ft.). Our professional set designer and our team tried to reproduce city buildings, amenities and roads with great accuracy. Every building, including nuclear power plant, has three to four stories and lets players move around inside. We did everything we could to create a feeling of real Chernobyl. [...]

Players' main objective is to collect rare "isotopes" from all over arena. Players will solve puzzles, explore the hazardous ghost city of Pripyat, take part in contests and quests, and fight for survival.

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NYPD recalls almost 3,000 body cameras after one explodes

Accidental SCORPION STARE activation, is my guess.

The 121st Precinct cop "noticed there was smoke exiting from the bottom portal and immediately removed it," a department spokesperson said. "After it was safely removed, the device exploded."

The officer was not injured, but now all Vievu LE-5 body cameras are being recalled, the NYPD said. [...]

"The product is generally crap in all models," a high-ranking NYPD official said. "It's not good in the field. They break easily."

The source added that the power switch on many cameras is too sensitive, which makes it difficult to record important incidents.

"The city's vending process generally always goes for the cheapest vendor despite superior products elsewhere," the source said. "I guess you get what you pay for." [...]

Especially when your vendor is The Joker?

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our officers, and equipping the NYPD with the best equipment is a paramount priority," a spokesperson said.

I mean, there are actually a lot of things more important than that, things like protecting the innocent from the police, upholding the Constitution, that sort of thing. But hey.

"It happens sometimes. Cops just explode. Natural causes."

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Colon Stolon

The inflatable colon was swiped from a parked pickup truck. It's valued at $4,000.

An inflatable colon used to teach about the dangers of colon cancer has been stolen, according to the University of Kansas Cancer Center. [...]

The Cancer Coalition ships the inflatable colon across the country for walkers and runners to see and learn about the progression of colon cancer in a unique way. The inflatable colon was on its way to the annual Sisters Living Beyond Breast Cancer 5K Relay Walk on Saturday in Kansas City.

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