“It takes a certain kind of personal-injury lawyer to look at the facts of this glittering night and wrest from them a plausible plaintiff and defendant, unless it were possible for Travis Hughes to be sued by his own anus.”—The Dark Power of Fraternities
On a brisk evening in Oakland, CA I had just finished dinner and was heading to the kitchen for a glass of wine when my phone rang unexpectedly. On the other end was Chris Dixon, the man who had recruited me to Hunch and negotiated the sale of the company to eBay for $80 million. He had a special mission, if I chose to accept it, involving a secretive adventure to Australia with a hand-picked team to re-invent the ailing eBay brand and website. The concept was simple: give users the ability to follow sellers, buyers, and product categories the way you can follow people and brands on Facebook and Twitter.
The team of six was leaving for Australia in less than 24 hours. Was I in, or out?
What makes you think Woody did it? There’s so much hate flying around the internet and a lot of misinformation, and I’m finding it really hard trying to figure out who’s more clear.
Are you fucking kidding me? When a seven year old girl confesses in graphic detail to being sexually assaulted by her adoptive father, BELIEVE HER. When, as an adult, her story hasn’t changed despite two decades of unimaginable pressure, shame, and unwanted publicity, BELIEVE HER.
“The car companies can’t do full autonomy yet, so they do it piece by piece. Every decade or so, they introduce another bit of automation, another task gently lifted from the captain’s hands: power steering in the nineteen-fifties, cruise control as a standard feature in the seventies, antilock brakes in the eighties, electronic stability control in the nineties, the first self-parking cars in the two-thousands. The latest models can detect lane lines and steer themselves to stay within them. They can keep a steady distance from the car ahead, braking to a stop if necessary. They have night vision, blind-spot detection, and stereo cameras that can identify pedestrians. Yet the over-all approach hasn’t changed. As Levandowski [from Google] puts it, “They want to make cars that make drivers better. We want to make cars that are better than drivers.””—
I’m a few weeks behind, but the NYer had an amazing x10 article on Google’s Autonomous Car Project. This is one of the parts of the near-future that I am most excited about.
There are tons of reasons I’m excited about driverless cars but the one I think about the most now is due to CitiBike: if the upside to one-way bike trips is so big, imagine the freedom that a driverless car can bring.
Before the Bitcoin protocol was invented, most computer scientists thought a system like Bitcoin was impossible because of a famous problem in computer science called the Byzantine Generals Problem.
The problem, in a nutshell, is how to coordinate among distributed nodes to come up with a consensus that is resistant to attackers who are trying to undermine that consensus. A significant component of the solution is the proof-of-work algorithm, which is the main purpose of so-called Bitcoin miners.
The mainstream press has completely ignored the importance of this computer science breakthrough. When the NYTimes writes about mining, it either ridicules it:
Bitcoin is digitally “mined” by computers running an algorithm. (If you just rolled your eyes, you’re not alone.)
One thing I haven’t seen emphasized, however, is the extent to which the whole concept of having to “mine” Bitcoins by expending real resources amounts to a drastic retrogression — a retrogression that Adam Smith would have scorned.
How much does the existing banking/payment infrastructure cost? One reasonable measure are the fees charged. Standard online payment fees are 2.5%, not including the added costs fraud (chargebacks plus transactions blocked out of fear of fraud). Bitcoin payment fees are close to zero and fraud is impossible since Bitcoin is a bearer instrument.
The NYTimes has now written hundreds of articles about Bitcoin, but the phrase “Byzantine General’s problem” (or any discussion of Bitcoin’s scientific significance) has yet to occur in any of the articles.
LC just kept saying to me, “This is why people don’t report. This is why sexual assault is so under-reported.” And she’s right. I found her resilience during this ordeal remarkable because she had been mistreated by not just the assailant, but also almost every single person she has had contact with since including her friends, her date, the police, and the rape crisis agency- all people who are supposed to be on her side.
As I’m settling in Wudaokou, Beijing, and getting to know my roommates, I have come to really enjoy them and, more importantly, admire one of my them, in particular, for his uncanny creativity and imagination. He’s a 20-something Indonesian-Chinese music composer, studying here in Beijing, aspiring to become a famous Pianist.
This post won’t be about his inimitable hospitality or care for people, but about his ingenious awareness.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Roosevelt’s normative stance on making the best with what you have is a great way to describe his attitude. Since our residence is still under construction, it’s rather bare. However, I’m fond of its simplicity and minimalist atmosphere, since it allows for much flexibility and freedom.
Let me start off by saying that I love sitting on the floor, whether I’m working on my laptop, studying, or relaxin’ with friends. So, one day, my roommate walks in and notices my love for this sort of atmosphere and decides to improve it.
"Improve it? It’s the floor, and I’m sitting on it. What do you have in mind?" I ask.
“The Spurs won because of Tim Duncan, a guy I could never break. I could talk trash to Patrick Ewing, get in David Robinson’s face, get a rise out of Alonzo Mourning, but when I went at Tim he’d look at me like he was bored and then say, “Hey, Shaq, watch this shot right here off the glass.”—Shaquille O’Neal (on Tim Duncan)
“The FDA also has the relationship between testing and clinical validity ass-backward. The FDA wants to say no to testing until clinical validity is established but we are never going to discover clinical validity until we have mass testing. 23andMe is attempting to leverage individuals thirst for knowledge about themselves into a big data project that will discover entirely new connections between genotype and phenotype. But personalized medicine, just like personalized movie recommendations, only works with databases of millions. In the 20th century we took on many of our common diseases but it is now time to take on the uncommon diseases. There are some 7,000 known diseases and only about 500 have a treatment. Individual and disease heterogeneity is so large that even the diseases that we can treat are often not treated well. New approaches are necessary for progress. The collection of large amounts of DNA data is not the last step of personalized medicine but the first and by pushing back against the first steps the FDA is delaying the promise and progress of personalized medicine.”—Alex Tabarrok: Our DNA, Our Selves