Summary of “Facebook Conceded It Might Make You Feel Bad. Here’s How to Interpret That.”

Another is what Facebook might be doing to our psychology and social relationships – whether it has addicted us to “Short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops” that “Are destroying how society works,” to quote Chamath Palihapitiya, one of several former Facebook executives who have expressed some version of this concern over the last few months.
The company pointed to a study published this year in the American Journal of Epidemiology – by researchers who weren’t affiliated with Facebook – that showed that people who clicked on more “Likes” and links than the typical Facebook user reported worse physical and mental health.
Another study – this one conducted in partnership with Facebook by Robert E. Kraut, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has long studied how computers affect users’ psychology – had a more upbeat finding.
You can see the issue here: Facebook is saying that if you feel bad about Facebook, it’s because you’re holding it wrong, to quote Steve Jobs.
The cure for your malaise may be to just use Facebook more.
The post pointed out several recent and coming changes to Facebook that the company said encouraged active interactions on the service.
That’s the real message: Once you discover how much more you can get out of Facebook with this new stuff, you’ll feel super.
If you think Facebook is ruining the world, you should be a little glad that even Facebook agrees that we need a better Facebook – and that it is pledging to build one.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘The Basic Grossness of Humans'”

Roberts has been studying the labor of content moderation for most of a decade, ever since she saw a newspaper clipping about a small company in the Midwest that took on outsourced moderation work.
It paired two people who had been content moderators: Rasalyn Bowden, who became a content-review trainer and supervisor at Myspace, and Rochelle LaPlante, who works on Amazon Mechanical Turk and is the cofounder of an organizing platform for people who work on that platform, MTurkCrowd.com.
There are very few full-time employees working out of corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley doing this kind of stuff.
“The workers may be structurally removed from those firms via outsourcing companies who take on CCM contracts and then hire the workers under their auspices, in call-center environments,” Roberts has written.
“Such outsourcing firms may also recruit CCM workers using digital piecework sites such as Amazon Mechanical Turk or Upwork, in which the relationships between the social-media firms, the outsourcing company, and the CCM worker can be as ephemeral as one review.”
Most pressingly LaPlante drew attention to the economic conditions under which workers are laboring.
Yet the people doing it are lucky to make minimum wage, have no worker protections, and must work at breakneck speed to try to earn a living.
These thousands of people have been acting as the police for the boundaries of “Acceptable online discourse.” And as a rule, they have been unsupported, underpaid, and left to deal with the emotional trauma the work causes, while the companies they work for have become the most valuable in the world.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program”

Officials with the program have also studied videos of encounters between unknown objects and American military aircraft – including one released in August of a whitish oval object, about the size of a commercial plane, chased by two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Nimitz off the coast of San Diego in 2004.Mr. Reid, who retired from Congress this year, said he was proud of the program.
Mr. Reid said he met with agency officials shortly after his meeting with Mr. Bigelow and learned that they wanted to start a research program on U.F.O.s.
None of the three senators wanted a public debate on the Senate floor about the funding for the program, Mr. Reid said.
The funding went to Mr. Bigelow’s company, Bigelow Aerospace, which hired subcontractors and solicited research for the program.
Under Mr. Bigelow’s direction, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena.
“We’re sort of in the position of what would happen if you gave Leonardo da Vinci a garage-door opener,” said Harold E. Puthoff, an engineer who has conducted research on extrasensory perception for the C.I.A. and later worked as a contractor for the program.
The program collected video and audio recordings of reported U.F.O. incidents, including footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves.
Mr. Elizondo, in his resignation letter of Oct. 4, said there was a need for more serious attention to “The many accounts from the Navy and other services of unusual aerial systems interfering with military weapon platforms and displaying beyond-next-generation capabilities.” He expressed his frustration with the limitations placed on the program, telling Mr. Mattis that “There remains a vital need to ascertain capability and intent of these phenomena for the benefit of the armed forces and the nation.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Switzerland is Prepared for Civilizational Collapse”

More than any other country, Switzerland’s ethos is centered around preparing for civilizational collapse.
Zurich is famous for its 1200 fountains, some of them quite beautiful and ornate, but it’s the multiple small, simple fountains in every Swiss village that really tell the story.
If the central government fails, the Swiss might not even notice.
Swiss males are required to serve in the military creating a robust reservoir of trained citizens ready to serve in an emergency.
As a further example of how ridiculously well prepared the Swiss are for any and all threats, there are things like hidden hydroelectric dams built inside of unmarked mountains so that in the event of mass bombings, they’ll still have electricity from these secret facilities.
To thousands of military bunkers permeating the Swiss mountains there are several hundred thousand private and public fallout shelters the largest of which can hold some 20,000 people.
As the Swiss continue to improve their already fantastic railway system it’s standard practice to convert old railway tunnels to security shelters.
It’s no surprise that Nassim Taleb likes Switzerland because this is a country that has made itself anti-fragile in order to survive the black swans of civilizational collapse.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How the U.S. government planned to feed nuclear war survivors”

What if it turns out that they’re the smart ones? If, in the coming months or years, the standoff with North Korea turns hot and we confront a nuclear holocaust, and millions of people flee toward long-forgotten fallout shelters, one of the first questions we’ll face is the simplest: What do you eat when the world ends? It’s actually a question that the government has spent a lot of time – and millions of dollars – struggling with.
All told, during the peak of the fallout shelter craze, from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s, the government tallied that some “7,000 volunteers had participated in over 22,000 man-days of shelter living in occupancy tests ranging from family size to over 1,000 people.”
These experiments ultimately produced enduring national standards for underground shelters, such as a minimum of 10 square feet of space per person – which, while only half the space allotted inmates in crowded jail cells, was more than three times the amount of space given to prisoners at the Nazis’ Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and six times as much space per person as inside the notorious Black Hole of Calcutta, the government explained helpfully in one report on shelter life.
People couldn’t be expected to bring their own supplies and food; everything they would need had to be ready and waiting inside a shelter when nuclear war arrived.
A new problem emerged, though: There wasn’t enough capacity to turn the necessary three million bushels of bulgur wheat into the 150 million pounds of crackers that the government originally believed it needed; at the time, nearly all of the government’s surplus bulgur went through a single plant at the Fisher Flour Mill in Seattle, and it couldn’t possibly handle the volume the nation now required to secure itself against nuclear war.
The tins were rushed across the nation to fallout shelters, caves, and mountain bunkers where Americans might ride out nuclear war.
The government expected that survivors would be able to emerge from shelters to search for food and water after only a couple of weeks.
In February 1962, when the navy set out to test how people would survive on fallout shelter rations, it hid 100 sailors for two weeks in a fallout shelter on the grounds of the Bethesda Naval Hospital outside Washington, D.C. and refused to offer the sailors only survival crackers for sustenance, supplementing the meals with different types of soup, peanut butter, jellies, and coffee.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to understand modern China”

On a completely different note, if I want to understand modern China what books, articles, etc.
Here is a wonderful syllabus on Chinese economic history, by Dr. Melanie Meng Xue.
I don’t find most books on China to be very useful.
Set up a separate Twitter account to follow people who cover China, they are more interesting than those who write on U.S. domestic politics.
Find an “Entry point” into China of independent intrinsic interest to you, be it basketball, artificial intelligence, Chinese opera, whatever.
Alternate your interest between stories that make China seem quite normal and stories that imply China is pretty weird.
The Chinese don’t want us to call it tofu any more.
Chinese man repaints road markings to make his commute quicker.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Last Jedi Doesn’t Care What You Think About Star Wars”

With Star Wars: The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson wants to burn Star Wars to the ground.
The Last Jedi is not concerned about what you, the moviegoer and fan, thinks about Star Wars.
The Force-sensitive Rey arrives on the planet Ahch-To, tracks down the elusive Jedi master Luke Skywalker, and offers him his long-lost lightsaber.
When we return to that scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke Skwalker accepts the lightsaber from Rey, examines it for a hot second, and casually tosses it over his shoulder.
Mark Hamill famously disagreed with Johnson on the direction of Luke Skywalker when he first read the screenplay for The Last Jedi, and it’s clear why.
While The Force Awakens featured a Han Solo falling back into his old scoundrel ways, The Last Jedi features a Luke Skywalker that is unlike anything we’ve seen before – a broken shell of a man who believes that everything he fought for and achieved was for naught.
The Last Jedi chooses to make this literal, as Luke Skywalker, wild and enraged, moves to burn down the ancient tree housing the ancient Jedi texts.
Quite frankly, The Last Jedi doesn’t care about Snoke and it reacts accordingly – your Snoke theory never mattered because Snoke never mattered.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Red Dawn in Lapland”

Finland’s Santa- and northern-lights-centric tourism takes place elsewhere in Lapland, leaving Sodankyl√§ with not much more than a collection of gas stations, two kebab joints, an iffy Thai massage parlor, and the Hotel Bear Inn.
Why Finland? Readying for what he assumed would be eventual war against Germany, Stalin, like Hitler, was busy editing the map of Europe to his strategic advantage.
Finland mattered because of its perch above the Baltic Sea and because its southeastern border with the Soviet Union was less than 20 miles from Leningrad. If the Germans took Finland, they would be dangerously close to this Red Army stronghold.
A textbook summary of the Winter War might say that Finland ultimately lost.
While an American and a Finnish soldier next to us discussed the different complications that arise when you get sand versus snow in a weapon, Tim and I got to talking about Finland’s place in the world, a soldier’s place in modern-day Finland, and the role of wars past.
Twentysomething, with wide eyes and eyebrows leaning into each other, Tim began detailing a family history that, like almost everyone’s in Finland, reached status critical during the Winter War.
Mike had kept me laughing much of the week with lighthearted jabs at the Finnish officers, who insisted that we wear only the clothes they prescribed, and with his antipathy toward the very conditions in which we found ourselves in Finland.
Juusti wouldn’t elaborate on specific military capabilities except to say that commandos on skis in Lapland are very much part of modern Finland’s defense strategy: “We are more ready now than we used to be.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Global Economy Is Partying Like It’s 2008”

The Federal Reserve has already started to raise interest rates – on Wednesday it hiked the benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point – and has announced a schedule for reducing the mammoth amount of government securities it holds.
At the same time, with the European and Japanese economic recoveries picking up pace, both the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan are hinting that they are likely to soon follow the Fed’s lead in tightening monetary policy by raising rates.
Italy has both a serious public debt problem and a shaky banking system.
China has a housing and credit-market bubble that dwarfs the one in the United States at the start of this century.
Economic policymakers seem to have lulled themselves into a false sense of security by trusting the stricter bank regulations put in place after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
They seem to be turning a blind eye to the dominant role that so-called shadow banks play in the American financial system now.
Unlike the banks that were covered by the Dodd-Frank regulations, these institutions are lightly regulated – but, as we painfully learned in 1998 when the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management had to be bailed out, are subject to deposit runs just like banks.
The Trump administration’s budget-busting tax cuts risk overheating markets even further and limiting the government’s ability to respond when the bubbles pop.

The orginal article.

Summary of “My Year of No Shopping”

My plan had been to give up what Elissa gave up – things to wear – but a week into my no-shopping year, I bought a portable speaker.
My first few months of no shopping were full of gleeful discoveries.
The trick of no shopping isn’t just that you don’t buy things.
The things we buy and buy and buy are like a thick coat of Vaseline smeared on glass: We can see some shapes out there, light and dark, but in our constant craving for what we may still want, we miss life’s details.
It’s not as if I kept a ledger and took the money I didn’t spend on perfume and gave that money to the poor, but I came to a better understanding of money as something we earn and spend and save for the things we want and need.
I know there is a vast difference between not buying things and not being able to buy things.
Not shopping for a year hardly makes me one with the poor, but it has put me on the path of figuring out what I can do to help.
“There were people to help, things to do. Not shopping frees up a lot of space in your brain.”

The orginal article.