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SpaceX Successfully Launched Its Crew Dragon Mission To Orbit

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Loren Grush, The Verge:

After nearly two decades of effort, Elon Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, successfully launched its first two people into orbit, ushering in a new age of human spaceflight in the United States. The flight marked the first time astronauts have launched into orbit from American soil in nearly a decade, and SpaceX is now the first company to send passengers to orbit on a privately made vehicle.

The two astronauts — veteran NASA fliers Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley — rode into space inside SpaceX’s new automated spacecraft called the Crew Dragon, a capsule designed to take people to and from the International Space Station. Strapped inside the sleek, gumdrop-shaped capsule, the duo lifted off on top of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:22PM ET on Saturday. The rocket dropped the Crew Dragon off in orbit about 12 minutes later. Now, the pair will spend roughly the next day in orbit before attempting to dock with the International Space Station on Sunday morning.

Successful space launches are always fun, but it feels particularly good to see a triumph for science right now.

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mxm23
1 day ago
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I will admit: My opinion of Elon Musk went up a notch with this one. He must be doing something right if he can hire people to run a company that succeeds like this.

Also: Is it unfair to call them passengers and not crew? I thought I heard that Bob and Doug did some piloting of Crew Dragon while in orbit?
West Coast
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★ Translation From VC-Backed PR Jargon to English of Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz’s Statement That He’s ‘Stepping Down’

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From a company-wide memo sent by Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz Thursday:

As we’ve shared over the last several weeks, in order to set Magic Leap on a course for success, we have pivoted to focus on delivering a spatial computing platform for enterprise.

As nearly everyone has finally realized, our actual technology is nothing at all like what we promised, lied about for years, and sold gullible deep-pocketed investors on. Our con is falling apart at the seams, so we’ll milk the last few dollars out of the only investors left dumb enough to give us even more money by repeating the word “enterprise” and waving our fingers like Obi-Wan Kenobi.

We have closed significant new funding and have very positive momentum towards closing key strategic enterprise partnerships.

You’re not going to believe this but we somehow raised another $350 million. I know, right?

As the board and I planned the changes we made and what Magic Leap needs for this next focused phase, it became clear to us that a change in my role was a natural next step.

Everyone agrees I’ve fucked this up enough.

I discussed this with the board and we have agreed that now is the time to bring in a new CEO who can help us to commercialize our focused plan for spatial computing in enterprise. We have been actively recruiting candidates for this role and I look forward to sharing more soon.

Our Craigslist ad: “Florida company seeks Bernie Madoff type.”

I have been leading Magic Leap since 2011 (starting in my garage). We have created a new field. A new medium. And together we have defined the future of computing.

No one will remember us or anything we’ve done — unless Netflix makes one of those documentaries like the Fyre Festival one. I love that movie. Which makes me think maybe we should change our Craigslist ad to “Billy McFarland type”. Actually, when does he get out of prison?

I am amazed at everything we have built and look forward to everything Magic Leap will create in the decades to come.

I am amazed that we raised $2.4 billion and have managed to stretch this con out for 7 years and counting. We even convinced Google to invest. Google! Those guys are smart!

I will remain our CEO through the transition and am in discussions with the board with regards to how I will continue to provide strategy and vision from a board level. I remain super excited about Magic Leap’s future and believe deeply in our team and all of their incredible talent and capabilities.

I guess I should be ashamed of myself but I’m not.

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mxm23
4 days ago
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Gruber at his best. No fux to give. Can write satire with comfort.
West Coast
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Trump Administration Organizes Harassment of a Single Twitter Employee

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Nick Stratt, reporting for The Verge:

The White House has set its sights on a single Twitter employee after the company attached a fact-checking link to two of the president’s tweets containing lies and misinformation related to voter fraud. The charge was led on Fox News Wednesday morning, with Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway targeting Twitter’s head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, after digging up some tweets that were critical of Trump, Conway, and the administration.

Conway called the employee “horrible” and directed listeners to go after him. “Somebody in San Francisco go wake him up and tell him he’s about to get a lot more followers,” she said on air. Immediately, the call was picked up by right-wing personalities and Trump supporters, who began sharing screenshots of the employee’s tweets. Roth is already facing a torrent of abuse and harassment, including multiple death threats, reports Protocol.

Emily Birnbaum, from the aforelinked report at Protocol:

Roth has received more than 3,000 new followers over the past day, according to an analysis of his Twitter account. He hasn’t tweeted since Monday, but harassing messages are appearing every minute under his latest posts, and right-wing accounts with millions of followers, including the president’s son and the Trump campaign’s official account, have been tweeting out his name and personal information every hour since mid-Tuesday.

A Twitter spokesperson told Protocol the company is standing behind Roth and does not have any plans to fire or suspend him.

“No one person at Twitter is responsible for our policies or enforcement actions,” a Twitter spokesperson said, “and it’s unfortunate to see individual employees targeted for company decisions.”

A person familiar with the matter said Roth has faced an explosion of death threats.

They are simultaneously hamfisted, vindictive, and cruel. If there’s a method to this, they’re doing it to send a message. Push back on Trump’s blatant disregard for Twitter’s rules and the White House will single out Twitter employees for retribution.

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mxm23
6 days ago
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Bullies and thugs.
West Coast
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Carnegie Mellon Researchers: Half of Twitter Accounts Discussing COVID-19 Are Disinformation Bots

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Karen Hao, writing for MIT Technology Review:

Kathleen M. Carley and her team at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Informed Democracy & Social Cybersecurity have been tracking bots and influence campaigns for a long time. Across US and foreign elections, natural disasters, and other politicized events, the level of bot involvement is normally between 10 and 20%, she says.

But in a new study, the researchers have found that bots may account for between 45 and 60% of Twitter accounts discussing covid-19. […] Through the analysis, they identified more than 100 types of inaccurate covid-19 stories and found that not only were bots gaining traction and accumulating followers, but they accounted for 82% of the top 50 and 62% of the top 1,000 influential retweeters. […]

Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions to this problem. Banning or removing accounts won’t work, as more can be spun up for every one that is deleted. Banning accounts that spread inaccurate facts also won’t solve anything.

I don’t understand this conclusion at all. If a team at Carnegie Mellon can do this research, so too could a team at Twitter itself. Or Twitter could just use outside teams like the one at Carnegie Mellon.

What we know is that bots are harmful — they spread misinformation with disastrous real-world effect. And we know that both bot accounts and disinformation in the content of posts can be identified at scale, algorithmically. On a social network, anti-disinformation software wouldn’t have to eradicate all disinformation to be radically effective — it only needs to start with the posts that are reaching the most people and work down the popularity graph from there.

The argument that Twitter and Facebook can’t beat disinformation by banning it is like arguing that email providers can’t beat spam. Spam hasn’t been eradicated but it has been effectively diminished. There’s absolutely no reason Twitter and Facebook can’t defeat social media disinformation to the same degree we’ve defeated spam email. They haven’t done so because they don’t want to, presumably because they consider the “engagement” generated by these bots worth the social destruction they cause.

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mxm23
7 days ago
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Yes. Twitter and Facebook (and others) could do this. They choose not to. Maybe to their ultimate detriment? Maybe not?
West Coast
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Yahoo News/YouGov Poll Shows Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Spreading on the Right May Hamper Vaccine Efforts

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Andrew Romano, reporting for Yahoo News:

According to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll, 44 percent of Republicans believe that Bill Gates is plotting to use a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign as a pretext to implant microchips in billions of people and monitor their movements — a widely debunked conspiracy theory with no basis in fact.

The survey, which was conducted May 20 and 21, found that only 26 percent of Republicans correctly identify the story as false. In contrast, just 19 percent of Democrats believe the same spurious narrative about the Microsoft founder and public-health philanthropist. A majority of Democrats recognize that it’s not true.

It’s slightly worse among Fox News viewers:

Take the Gates example. Half of all Americans (50 percent) who name Fox News as their primary television news source believe the disproven conspiracy theory, and 44 percent of voters who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 do as well — even though neither Fox nor Trump has promoted it. At the same time, just 15 percent of MSNBC viewers and 12 percent of Clinton voters say the story is true.

Depressing, to say the least. Social networks need to treat anti-vaccination disinformation the way they treat hate speech. Keep in mind too that the folks who refuse to be vaccinated aren’t just hurting themselves. They hurt their children, who don’t have a choice, and they suppress the herd immunity that protects those with immune disorders for whom vaccines are dangerous.

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mxm23
10 days ago
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I still find I’m surprised by the ... what? ... stupidity? Ignorance? Willful ignorance? Of these folks. Truly, who in their right mind, who with a modicum of common sense would actually believe that Bill Gates wants to implant microchips in the population? To what end?
I know, I know... stop being rational. Stop trying to make sense of nonsense. But really, where is this coming from? Why are half of some groups of people in America choosing to believe conspiracy theories? I’m honestly asking. I’m curious. I just don’t understand it.
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Wired just canceled Bruce Sterling's long-running blog

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For the last 18 years Bruce Sterling has been writing an unpaid blog called "Beyond the Beyond" for Wired. But now, writes Cory Doctorow, "Beyond the Beyond is done. Wired publisher Conde Nast is in such deep financial trouble that they're realizing minuscule savings like those to be gleaned from shutting down an unpaid blog."

Bruce just posted his farewell column at Wired.com:

I’m even proud and happy that I managed to spare the readers so much of my own mental compost in this blog. The chosen, curated material that made it on to this blog was maybe one percent of the vast heaps of rubbish I was overturning. I could have stuffed this blog with two hundred times as much “content,” and if I’d lived for two hundred years, I would never have lost interest in my sky-blackening sandstorm of off-the-wall topics. Every day was a gift, and full of grist for the mill.

In conclusion, people may wonder “what next” — well, I’m still active, or even hyperactive, on Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Pinterest, Medium and Ello. But those platforms are not my “weblogs” — they’re social media, or image-sharing sites. I find them cozy mostly because I’m indolent, and they’re not as much work as a weblog. It’s easier to quip about the same-old same-old than it is to explore the frontiers.

If I was a young person, and starting over today, I would not experiment with a weblog supported by a West Coast US technology magazine. Instead, I would try something more youthful in spirit, less conventional, more beyond-the-beyond. This blog was an experiment when I started it, but in modern conditions, it’s technically archaic; I’ve got a blog here that’s old enough to vote.

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mxm23
13 days ago
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WTF? How can they save money from cancelling an unpaid blog?
West Coast
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