The dark side of going viral

Many initially thought the story was adorable, even if others found it creepy and intrusive. Then the incident took an even darker turn.

An online hunt began to find the identities of the couple, now identified by the hashtag #PlaneBae. The man, a former professional soccer player named Euan Holden, embraced the media circus, but the woman, uncomfortable with the newfound spotlight, hesitated. That didn’t stop the online mob from tracking her down. She began receiving crass, sexually explicit messages in the comments of her personal Instagram profile.

The article by Ellen Dawson is an engaging exploration of the definition of what is 'privacy' in an age where your profiles are increasingly public.

The Mind Meld of Bill Gates and Steven Pinker

Bill Gates does sound like a wise sage and along with Steven Pinker, make some important remarks to contextualize the current world, focus on the positivity and bigger picture.

p.s. fwiw, I've always been found of Bill Gates's writing. This is one of my all time favorite pieces by him writing how Microsoft really needs to get on the Internet bandwagon. Internet Tidal Wave

This was a particularly useful article to read to expand my horizons as my brain has been dabbling with increasing focus on my own work problems.

Some salient quotes:

On why equanimity matters -

PG The motto of the foundation is: “Every life has equal value.” And in your new book, Steven, there’s the idea that we can’t want something good for ourselves without wanting it for everyone. But in truth, I want better things for my husband and my kids than for you. Is that evil, or human?

BG That’s natural. It’s even predicted by evolutionary logic. What makes Papua New Guinea — where there’s no police and revenge after revenge — different from Western society is that when we give ourselves over to the law, we want it to be executed impartially. We gain stability. But if you could get your son off, of course you’ll try.

SP You left off a crucial piece in framing the proposition, Philip — which comes from Spinoza. He said those under the influence of reason desire nothing for themselves that they do not desire for all humankind. But reason is not a powerful part of human nature. Innately, we favor family over strangers, our tribe over other tribes. It’s only when we’re called upon to justify our beliefs — not consult our gut feelings, but convince others of the right way to act — that we conclude that all lives have equal value.

On contextualizing problems and explaining them

PG But can’t overstating problems energize us in terms of solving them?

BG There’s a paradox in letting yourself be very, very upset about what remains to be done. What indicator improves even faster than reduction in violence? Our distaste for violence. We’re more upset about it today. If I see someone spanking a kid — I’m stealing from Steven’s book — I might get up and say: “Hey, wait a minute!” Forty years ago, it might have been more like: “Do you want to borrow my belt?” There are parts of the world that are still like 40 years ago. But to read Steven’s book and think it says, “Don’t worry, be happy,” is to misread it. Because seeing the world through the eyes of that poor kid ideally wants to make you give some money, even though there are many fewer such kids than 50 years ago.

SP You can say the same fact two ways. Extreme global poverty has been reduced from 90 percent 200 years ago to 10 percent today. That’s great! Or you can say: More than 700 million people in the world live in extreme poverty today. They’re the same fact, and you have to be able to describe them to yourself both ways.

Highly recommend reading the whole article

The Follower Factory

Indepth, well analyzed, reported and incredibly well presented article by The New York Times on the stealthy markets of buying followers.

My key takeaway from the article was that of Jeetendr Sehdev.

Marketing consultants sometimes buy followers for themselves, too, in effect purchasing the evidence of their supposed expertise. In 2015, Jeetendr Sehdev, a former adjunct professor at the University of Southern California who calls himself “the world’s leading celebrity branding authority,” began buying hundreds of thousands of fake followers from Devumi.

He did not respond to requests for comment. But in his recent best-selling book, “The Kim Kardashian Principle: Why Shameless Sells,” he had a different explanation for his rising follower count. “My social media following exploded,” Mr. Sehdev claimed, because he had discovered the true secret to celebrity influence: “Authenticity is the key.”

I am not going to talk about what Mr. Sehdev's practices on buying followers. However, I do want to talk about his name.

To me, it epitomizes the whole influencer world to some degree.

It starts with the Indian name - Jitendar Sahdev. Mnemonically, it sounds as follows

Jee-taeh'n-dhar S-uh-a-dhaev

However, the name seems to have been Web 2.0-ified. i.e. remove some vowels and add some unnecessary ones to enhance the way it sounds.

Just. Wow.

You have to do justice by visiting the site and reading it completely. The Follower Factory

X-Rays Made with Scotch Tape - MIT Technology Review

When you bite down on wintergreen-flavored LifeSavers candies in the dark, they glow. The production of light by some materials when under friction or pressure, a phenomenon called triboluminescence, has been known for centuries, mostly as a novelty. Now researchers have shown that rapidly unwinding a roll of Scotch tape inside a vacuum generates not only visible light but also enough x-rays to image a human finger. Led by physicist Seth Putterman at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the researchers are now developing what they hope will be a cheap, simple source of x-rays for clinical imaging.


:O This is really neat and quite the novel way of decreasing price for body imaging techniques. I wonder how the big three react to this - Siemens, GE and Philips.

REAL ID and immigration chaos...

Washington state already offers, but does not mandate, enhanced driver’s licenses and IDs that require proof of U.S. citizenship and are valid under the federal law. Starting in July 2018, the state’s standard licenses — which aren’t in line with the federal requirements — will be marked to indicate they are not REAL ID compliant and thus not acceptable for certain purposes by federal authorities.

Washington state granted REAL ID extension through mid-July

So, wait a minute, as a non US citizen, you cannot use a driver's license to travel domestic anymore? This means that any non US Citizen must carry their passport on them at all times.

Isn't this the equivalent of the federally prohibited Arizona law of carrying one's papers with them at all times? This is a terrible, terrible idea. And will likely cause further discrimination from (m)any of the law enforcement officials in the future as well.



How to Build Communities with Jeff Atwood, Discourse

Lessons learned from the podcast

  • A plan never lasts with real customers - be ready for change
  • How quickly you iterate (and figure out if something is working or not), will determine your success
  • You will always be remembered for how quickly you react, even if you created your own problems
  • Start, ship, get feedback, repeat

Some great lessons from this episode!

You say what happened to the old days where people came into this country, they worked and they worked and they worked and they had families and they paid taxes and they did all sorts of things, and their families got stronger and they were closely knit. We don't see that. Failure to enforce our immigration laws had predictable results. Drugs, gangs, and violence.


Coming from Donnie who revels at his ability to pay zero taxes to the Government, this is irony at its best.

Republicans Matter Most, And They Don’t Seem To Care Much About Trump Jr.

This doesn’t mean Republicans will back Trump forever, particularly if the special counsel or the congressional committees unearth more unflattering evidence. And if Democrats win control of the House or the Senate in 2018, that will change the tenor of Congress’s Russia debate.


Let's be clear. The GOP doesn't care because they want the Trump base to support them come 2018. They do not care about appeasing others as they will not vote GOP anyway. The key question is this - what can Americans do to convince at least some of the Trump base to listen to reason? How can you cut above the clutter of Fox news and Beitbart and truly reach out to the people who are voting?

And what happens if GOP continues to win 2018 primary?

What America is capable of doing, but isn't!

The whole BCA (nee AHCA) discussion and coverage sickens me. The most powerful, richest country on Earth right now is making decisions that go against the very basic tenets of humanity.


And the current media coverage about how CBO is once again turning the healthcare coverage into a drama that's playing into the GOP hands. Apparently the CBO stated the exact same thing as it did for the House bill because it's not changed a bit.

And GOP Senators are only now beginning to reconsider if they will be voting for the bill. Not a single one of them has said they will vote against the bill. Worse, all of this is just posturing for bargaining. The larger theme of reducing spending on the sick and the needy (not to mention ripping apart education for the needy) to fund tax cuts for the 1% and the military force of USA continues under the GOP.

It's frustrating!

Source // edits obviously mine!

Chat with Rammy Narula on Platform 10

I discovered Rammy Narula because I've been researching photographers of Indian origin across the world and stumbled on his flickr profile.

His seminal work is a project called Platform 10. It's a series of pictures shot in the Hua Lamphong - Bangkok's Central Railway Station of one particular train that visits daily for 20 minutes. It's mesmerizing.

Takei's interview sheds some light into Rammy's work and it's only made it even more fascinating - the passion, the effort and the result are truly unique and mesmerizing.