The strange, secretive world of North Korean science fiction
Stories often touch on topics like space travel, benevolent robots, disease-curing nanobots, and deep-sea exploration. They lack aliens and beings with superpowers. Instead, the real superheroes are the exceptional North Korean scientists and technologists who carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.
These stories are often rich in political tension, featuring “breathtaking confrontations between North Korea and the United States,” said Jang Hyuk, a young math graduate who defected from North Korea a few years ago. As in Change Course, North Koreans in sci-fi are typically portrayed as trying to save somebody, while the Americans are the villains who want “to monopolize and weaponize [technology] to dominate the world,” he added.
To a Western reader, such plots might seem ludicrous, perhaps designed to boost the confidence of a nation with little contact with the rest of the world. However, exploring them deeper might reveal a more nuanced layer of understanding.
Susie Dent has an ever growing Twitter following of 1,1 million unique word lovers to whom she shares her daily word of the day. Word search engine Unscramblerer.com went through Susie Dent’s whole Twitter history and analyzed what are the most liked, shared and commented words of the day she has posted.
ingordigiousness, recrudescence, sequaciousness, ...
See Inside a Ghost Town of Abandoned Mansions in China
The State Guest Mansions were envisioned as the palatial homes for the upper crust of society. Now, their only residents are hurdles of cattle and the occasional adventure explorers meandering like ghosts around the arched verandas and stone façades of hundreds of abandoned villas. Located around the hills of Shenyang (about 400 miles northeast of Beijing), the development was originally planned by Greenland Group, a Shanghai-based real estate developer, and broke ground in 2010. But as AFP reports, within two years the project had come to grinding halt, leaving the half-formed skeletons of imitative royalty in its wake. Today the crumbling estates are still abandoned, left in an eerie series of rows appearing like an architectural cornfield.
‘Random Acts of Medicine’ Review: Paging Dr. Chance
People who end up in the emergency room complaining of chest pains a few weeks before their 40th birthday are very similar to people who end up in the emergency room with chest pains a few weeks after their 40th birthday. But on a chart, the former are 39 years old and the latter are 40.
The point of these studies isn’t to titter or sigh at the peculiarities of human reasoning but to use these natural experiments to estimate the effect of medical procedures. If the only reason that near-18 and 18-year-olds are prescribed opioids differently is the semantics of “child” and “adult,” then we can use the discontinuity in prescriptions as a natural experiment—it’s as if prescribing around the age of 18 were randomly assigned. The authors find, for example, that compared to the just-under-18s, the just-over-18s were 12.6% more likely to later be diagnosed for an opioid-related adverse event such as an overdose. The greater rate of overdose is valuable information—but imagine the difficulty of trying to convince an Institutional Review Board that it would be ethical to randomly prescribe opioids to young people.
The English vegetable picked by candlelight
A notoriously fickle vegetable to harvest, Yorkshire forced rhubarb is anything but easy to grow. It thrives in the county’s cold winters, but if the soil is too wet, it can’t be planted. If the temperature is too hot, it won’t grow; and 10 or more frosts are needed before a farmer can even think about forcing it. Only then can horticulturalists remove the heavy roots from the field, then clean and replant them inside the forcing sheds where photosynthesis is limited, encouraging glucose stored in the roots to stimulate growth. It demands patience, expertise and good fortune, and, ultimately, it is engineered for maximum taste: once deprived of light, the vegetable is forced to use the energy stored in its roots, making it far sweeter than the normal variety.
Utopia to blight: Surviving in Henry Ford’s lost jungle town
Nearly a century ago, the Ford Motor Co. spent heavily in blood and coin to construct what became, practically overnight, one of the Amazon’s largest cities. Thousands of acres of forest were razed. Millions of dollars were spent. Hundreds of workers died.
But neither Ford nor the Brazilian government, which assumed control of the property when the company departed in 1945, has done much of anything to preserve this historic town whose brief heyday came at so high a cost. William Clay Ford Jr., Henry’s great-grandson and now the company’s executive chairman, reportedly supported in 1997 the opening of a rubber museum here, but nothing came of it. Meanwhile, the Brazilian government, according to federal attorneys, has for more than 30 years ignored pleas to endow the town with historical protections.
The Biggest Scandal In Speed Typing History
Barbara Blackburn is often cited as the fastest typist in history. She even appears in the Guinness Book of World Records! She must be legit right? Well, maybe not. I was supposed to make a video about the new typing speed world record, and instead got pulled into a Barbara Blackburn rabbit hole that I can’t seem to escape. TL;DR She’s not that fast.
Ultra-long YouTube highlight videos are ruining sports — and I’m fine with that
A few months ago, I discovered a new genre of YouTube video. It’s called the “extended highlight,” and it typically takes the form of a video somewhere between eight and 18 minutes long, with rapid-fire jump cuts between all the most important parts of a game.
CAN Injection: keyless car theft
This is a detective story about how a car was stolen - and how it uncovered an epidemic of high-tech car theft.
Now that people know how a relay attack works generally possible to defeat it: car owners keep their keys in a metal box (blocking the radio message from the car) and some car makers now supply keys that go to sleep if motionless for a few minutes (and so won’t receive the radio message from the car). Faced with this defeat but being unwilling to give up a lucrative activity, thieves moved to a new way around the security: by-passing the entire smart key system. They do this with a new attack: CAN Injection.
the door close button
Elevator control panels have long featured two buttons labeled “door open” and “door close.” One of these buttons does pretty much what it says on the label (although I understand that European elevators sometimes have a separate “door hold” button for the most common use of “door open“). The other usually doesn’t seem to, and that has lead to a minor internet phenomenon. Here’s the problem: the internet is wrong, and I am here to set it right.
The Meteorologist Monks of Mt. Washington
A journey to the Northeast’s highest peak, where researchers live and work for eight days at a time, proudly studying the worst weather in the world.
All the (open) world’s a stage: how the video game Fallout became a backdrop for live Shakespeare shows
The Wasteland Theatre Company is not your average band of thespians. Dotted all across the world, they meet behind their keyboards to perform inside Fallout 76, a video game set in a post-nuclear apocalyptic America.
There are no ticketed seats, and the company makes no money. The majority of audiences stumble across the performances accidentally in the wasteland, and sit to watch the show for free – or tune in on Twitch, where the company broadcasts every performance live. Characters stride across stages that are cantilevered together from in-game objects. Lighting cues provide atmosphere. Soliloquies are passionately delivered.
Vigilantes for views: The YouTube pranksters harassing suspected scam callers in India
Los Angeles-based Trilogy Media took “scambaiting” to a new level, but some claim they’re gaining viral fame at others’ expense.
Trilogy’s pursuit of vigilante justice has proved a hit with their many fans, whom they refer to as “the squad.” But for some, their antics lay bare an uncomfortable power dynamic in which YouTubers in Los Angeles gain viral fame at the expense of Indian call center workers, physically harassing people whose situation they may know little about.
The Men Of China Hill
By the time I got to Folsom Prison in 2007, there were no longer any fruit trees on China Hill, and it was covered with the knee-high grass typical of the Sierra Nevada foothills. The stories as to why inmate agriculture on China Hill was shut down vary and they depend upon the people telling the story.
Florida Woman Bites Camel
Some thoughts on the art of the newspaper lede.
It’s Time to Stop Talking About “Generations”
From boomers to zoomers, the concept gets social history all wrong.
The Art of the Bad Faith Argument
The person who types “lol” is never actually laughing; the person who types I’M SCREAMING is silently dabbing at a screen. In the same way, the person who is perpetually shocked and outraged and brimming with righteous fury is almost always lying to themselves. They’re as affectless as the rest of us: play-acting, downloading synthetic emotions, and then passing them on.
Man who tokenized himself on Ethereum becomes AI deepfake
Ethereum’s tokenized man just became a synthetic deepfake—and you can decide what he says for $99.
Cognitive scientists have identified a number of common ways in which people avoid being gullible. But con artists are especially skillful at what social scientists call framing, telling stories in ways that appeal to the biases, beliefs and prominent desires of their targets. They use strategies that take advantage of human weaknesses.
Good collection of cons.
Cross post: https://theconversation.com/why-do-people-believe-con-artists-130361
Dressing for the Surveillance Age
As cities become ever more packed with cameras that always see, public anonymity could disappear. Can stealth streetwear evade electronic eyes?
I liked this article because it at least acknowledged that these countermeasures are only a training data update away from becoming useless.