Our weekly round-up of Things You Should Know About, with a convenient binary evaluation system. See last week’s.
ZERO: MIT Researchers invent a jacket that “hugs” you every time you get a Facebook ‘Like’
“It is vast and dark and makes us wonder if we are alone; so maybe the reason we make all of these things is to remind ourselves that we are not,” Facebook grandiosely eulogized in it’s epicly awkward “brand” video this week, but purely cyber validation might still be too existential for some, so now we have this jacket. Careful of those false positives.
ONE: Some awesome people won genius grants
Recipients of the 2012 MacArthur Foundation “genius grants” were announced this week with winners including filmmaker Laura Poitras (see below), Washington Post reporter David Finkel, Dominican-born novelist Junot Díaz (see Abe’s interview with him here), and composer and mandolinist Chris Thile, who at 31 was this year’s youngest genius. For their “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction,” they’ll get a cool half-million bucks, no strings attached, with the understanding that they will continue being truly awesome. See the full list.
ZERO: Facebook’s fake ‘Likes’
In the same week that Sheryl Sandberg told Charlie Rose at an Advertising Week event in New York City that “trust is the cornerstone of our business,” the BBC is reporting that Facebook was committing ‘Like fraud.’ Of four rules documenting how the ‘Like’ counter works, only one involves clicking on the button. Sharing a link will add a +1, which seems reasonable, but the tally also takes into account comments to a link, and even the sharing of links in private chats and messages. Thinking their one billion users must be quite daft, Facebook is calling it a “bug.” “People will only use Facebook if they trust us,” Sandberg had said. We can only hope she’s right. At least those jackets, above, should make Likes feel a bit more real.
ONE: The printer solo makes it worth it
ZERO: One year ago the Tevatron died
ZERO: Richard Branson declares war on the war on drugs
“The fundamental difference in America, is that it is a war against black people in America. It’s black people … 85 percent of people who go to prison for drug use in America are black people. They don’t take more drugs, but it’s a racist law against black people in America,” he said. Or per Steve James in Andrew Jarecki’s new film, the 40 year-old, $1 trillion battle with mind-altering chemicals is a “holocaust in slow-motion.”
ONE: The reform of Wall Street’s biggest ever scam
Last week, the Financial Services Authority outlined a 10-point plan to reform the London Interbank Offered Rate or LIBOR after it had been revealed that one of the most fundamental financial benchmarks in the world had been manipulated by a cartel of banks that included JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup who are now being investigated by US regulators. Now the EU parliament is even promising jail-time.
Such are the far reaching implications of the sweeping scandal, even religious groups are jumping on the LIBOR-outrage bandwagon. A multi-faith coalition today will deliver a 5000-strong petition against ABC and NBC for their alleged “blackout” of coverage discussing “scandal that affects everyday Americans and the most vulnerable in our world.”
ONE: Curiosity Rover is the ‘mayor’ of Mars
Our beloved Mars rover checked-in from space on Wednesday in what was perhaps the only time Foursquare has ever felt meaningful. “Mars is cold, dry and rocky. Extra moisturizer and sturdy shoes would be a good idea, plus oxygen for those of you who breathe,” it added.
ZERO: Cybercrime in outer space
Curiosity isn’t the only one beaming bits from afar, hackers could be getting in on it too, reports the Independent. Although they probably can’t hijack the rover, satellites are fair game. “It is a real issue and a real vulnerability,” explained Mark Roberts, a former space and cyber expert at the Ministry of Defence who has recently moved to the private sector. “What we are doing is making ourselves more vulnerable to attack than we had been formerly. My personal view is that a day without space is not going – as some people say – to send us back to the dark ages. It’s more likely to put us back into the 1960s.”
ONE: David Blaine channels Tesla
Not to be confused with that electric car company Romney slandered, Nikola Tesla’s continued cultural comeback — he’s getting his own Internet-sponsored museum — just got a boost from David Blaine, who’s cribbing one of his most famous plays, by subjecting himself to millions of volts of electricity this weekend for 72 hours (it’s part of a publicity campaign for Intel and orchestrated by Vice, our parent company). Blaine of course will be complementing it with his own signature move: being really hungry and tired. At least he isn’t killing elephants.
Watch the Blainelectrocution live, starting tonight, at YouTube. And take a half-time with Jay Z, who is using the World Wide Web to stream his final show at the Barclays Center, at 9.30 on Saturday night.
ZERO: Americans fear for their privacy in one nation under drones. And Facebook
The latest AP-National Constitution Center poll shows that the greatest perceived threats of privacy are social networking websites (37 percent) and unmanned drones (35 percent), while electronic banking, smartphone tracking and roadside cameras weren’t far behind. Meanwhile, we’re sharing more than ever, says Mark Zuckerberg: “There is this Facebook equivalent of Moore’s Law. Each year the amount of stuff that each individual shares is growing at this exponential rate. And that lets us project into the future and say, ‘OK, two years from now people are going to be sharing twice as much, [in] three years, four times [as much], four years, eight times as much.’”