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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: March 8, 2020
Posted: March 8, 2020 at 2:46 pm
Passionate ideologues may find it compelling, but most filmgoers will find this low-budget adaptation of the Ayn Rand bestseller decidedly lacking.
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Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling) runs Taggart Transcontinental, the largest remaining railroad company in America, with intelligence, courage and integrity, despite the systematic disappearance of her best and most competent workers. She is drawn to industrialist Henry Rearden (Grant Bowler), one of the few men whose genius and commitment to his own ideas match her own. Rearden's super-strength metal alloy, Rearden Metal, holds the promise that innovation can overcome the slide into anarchy. Using the untested Rearden Metal, they rebuild the critical Taggart rail line in Colorado and pave the way for oil titan Ellis Wyatt (Graham Beckel) to feed the flame of a new American Renaissance. Hope rises again, when Dagny and Rearden discover the design of a revolutionary motor based on static electricity - in an abandoned engine factory - more proof to the sinister theory that the "men of the mind" (thinkers, industrialists, scientists, artists, and other innovators) are "on strike" and vanishing from society. -- (C) Official Site
Jun 29, 2014
Finally, someone actually made the adaptation of Atlas Shrugged come true. The first part of Atlas Shrugged consists of the 10 chapters from part 1 of the book, we are introduced to Dagny Taggart the savvy headstrong businesswoman who struggles to overcome the regulations from the government (and her own brother) to maintain the family business in railroad company, she saw the opportunity to revive the company through the use of a new type of steel invented by Henry "Hank" Rearden to lay the tracks. Despite the public tried to do everything to stop her, she held on to her belief and it was a success. She then discovered a revolutionary motor which could convert static electricity to kinetic energy along with Hank, but the motor was incomplete and abandoned by the inventor. As she tried to track down the inventor, government moves closer and closer to destroy her. I was thrilled to see this film as I've read the book and regarding it as one of the highest achievements in human history, but the film simply did not live up to the standard I expected nor as the standard of the book. The script did not come even close to what the book has written, yeh I was excited to hear the dialogues that followed the lines from the book but they were slightly altered for the sake of the less intelligent; the film was really rushed that it missed out a lot of the important details from the book. I mean, how can you transform 300 pages of words into a movie that only last 102 minutes? Even Dead Until Dark was adapted to 12 hours of True Blood and it was only 292 pages long. The film only covered the surface of the novel without going into the theories of Objectivism, Ayn Rand would be so mad if she was alive today and saw the film (as she did with The Fountainhead) The best part of the film was the casting, each character was exactly as what I would imagine for them to look like (except Hank would is blond in the book) Taylor Schilling was simply divine, I wouldn't find anyone else to play Dagny than her, she did a marvelous job. Grant Bowler was perfect too! (Kiwi pride) but the best casting award has to go to Rebecca Wisocky, she was perfect to play Hank's devious moocher wife. The main theme was great, it gave me the chills. The set design was simply yet great, extremely dystopian yet balanced out the limitation of having such a low budget. Overall, ambitious yet felt short.
Jun 25, 2013
Interesting. Slightly confusing. Apparently, a continuing saga...
Dec 29, 2012
"Atlas Shrugged: Part 1" starts on September 2, 2016 with the derailment of a train on a critical stretch of track in Colorado that is going to delay gas shipments to the east coast for at least a couple of weeks. Making matters worse is that the steel shipment that Taggart Transcontinental so badly needs to effect repairs has already been back ordered for two months. So, Dagny Taggart(Taylor Schilling) overrides her brother James(Matthew Marsden) by going with an untested process that Henry Rearden(Grant Bowler) has developed. His being flush with business does not mean his wife(Rebecca Wisocky) has to like the bracelet he made for her, however.Admittedly, I am a sucker for dystopias, especially those where the main form of transportation is via train. And "Atlas Shrugged: Part 1" does use that plot device to neatly update from the past to the current near future. Weirdly enough, this political movie is set at the time of a Presidential election(my money is on Cuomo vs. Christie, by the way) without mentioning one at all, taking the easy route to try to implicate Obama in all of the world's sins. For the record, regulation is meant to save business from its worst impulses, like insuring that tracks are replaced more often than once a hundred years, even as I think regulating the size of soft drinks is more than a little silly. If only shaky politics were the worst of this movie's sins, it would not be so bad, but alas it is, seeped in talky amateurism and animatronic acting that includes even the veteran character actors in the cast.
May 06, 2012
I've never read the book but I had some concept of what this was about. It left me a little bit confused and hanging at the end.
The percentage of Approved Tomatometer Critics who have given this movie a positive review
The percentage of users who rated this 3.5 stars or higher.
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Posted: at 2:45 pm
Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, was once chief of staff for U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.
Needham analysts lowered their estimates for Facebook's revenue for the first part of the year due to the spread of coronavirus, its effects on consumer demand and the fallout for advertising.
In a research note Friday, analystsLaura Martin and Dan Medina wrote that channel checks show lower spending in travel, retail, consumer packaged goods and entertainment, which together represent 30% to 45% of Facebook's total revenue. They also wrote that six of the largest 10 advertising countries are "currently COVID-19 hotspots."
The analysts lowered their March quarter and June quarter revenue and earnings per share estimates, but said they were not making revisions to estimates for the second half of 2020 or for 2021 since they expect the coronavirus crisis to calm down by mid-June.
Facebook shares were down about 3% Friday morning amid a broad market selloff.
The note comes as the advertising industry is grappling with the anticipated fallout of the coronavirus outbreak. The New York Times Company said earlier this week it's seeing a slowdown in advertising bookings due to "uncertainty and anxiety" caused by the coronavirus, and expects to see total advertising revenues to decline "in the mid-teens" in the current quarter. British TV network ITV said this week its ad revenue will drop 10% in April as the coronavirus outbreak hits travel companies' marketing spend. Meanwhile, analysts and researchers have lowered ad spending estimates and said the ecosystem will be negatively impacted by a continued outbreak.
"At $70B, [Facebook] was 50% of global display ad revenue in 2019, so cutting FB ads is the fastest way to cut costs for its clients," Needham analysts wrote. "FB had 7mm active advertisers in 4Q19, suggesting that many are small and may have to eliminate ad spending to survive." The company reported in January that it now has more than 8 million active advertisers, a spokesman told CNBC.
Advertisers leaving Facebook's ad auction would drive downward pressure to Facebook's pricing power, they wrote, "exacerbating the revenue downdraft from falling demand for ad units." And while TV ad commitments are contractually fixed in the near term, digital ad spending is more fluid for ad clients, meaning it's easier to change.
But though they're assuming coronavirus impact is lessened in the half of the year, there could be more of an impact if the outbreak continues to magnify.
"Our FY20 estimates may prove too optimistic if this assumption is wrong," the analysts wrote.
--CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this report.
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Posted: at 2:45 pm
In late September 2017, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Seattle arrested a large-scale heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, and methamphetamine dealer named Francisco Ruelas-Payan. He later pled guilty to charges of drug trafficking and money laundering, and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.
While phone records and GPS location devices were useful in helping investigators keep tabs on Ruelas-Payans location and near-term plans, it was his public Facebook activity that not only confirmed many of these leads but also offered additional clues authorities used to build their case.
Ruelas-Payan posted lengthy videos to the social media platform of himself driving to suspected drug deals, according to a DEA search warrant application unsealed late last month. The trips were further corroborated by GPS data from electronic tracking devices investigators placed on Ruelas-Payans cars and phone.
During one of the videos, Ruelas-Payan points out a red pick-up truck and shouts out his window in Spanish good-bye pig! said DEA agent Geoffrey Provenzale in a sworn affidavit. Based on my training and experience I know the term pig is a derogatory term for a police officer.
One of Provenzales colleagues drove a red pickup truck during their investigation, the affidavit explains. And while the red truck Ruelas-Payan saw was not the one the DEA was using to follow him, the video revealed that Ruelas-Payan knew law enforcement had been watching him.
Social media has been used in police investigations for some time. In a 2012 survey, 4 out of 5 law enforcement officials said they used social media to solve crimes, and nearly 7 out of 10 said social media helps to close cases faster.
Facebook received nearly 130,000 data requests from governments around the world during the first six months of 2019, according to the most recent figures available. Between January and June of last year, the US government requested data from Facebook related to more than 82,000 accounts. About 88% of those requests were granted. The second-most requests came from the government of India, which asked for data on 33,000 accounts. Facebook agreed to provide about half of them.
Yet people often leave a trail of clues on their public social media profiles that investigators can see without ever needing a subpoena.
Some, for example, take to Facebook Live to discuss an impending $10 million extortion attempt:
Others post selfies in the same clothes they wore while robbing a bank:
Other times its a friends list that firms up an investigators hunch:
If I was still running a squad, we could make a living just off of this foolishness, Joseph Giacalone, a former New York City detective sergeant who now teaches police procedure at John Jay College, told Quartz. Social media has made fools out of a lot of people. The look at me generation cant help themselves.
While Facebook helped to trip up Ruelas-Payan, his cousin and business partner, Jesus Octavio Rodriguez-Payan, proved to be much more cautious. He managed to slip back to Mexico after his cousins arrest.
[Rodriguez-Payan] appear[ed] to be much more careful about posting any activity on his Facebook page, the warrant application says, adding that while multiple photos [were] displayed for public viewing, there was no criminal or asset information to be found.
I believe, after DEA arrested multiple associates of Rodriguez-Payan during September 2017, Rodriguez-Payan became more cautious and stopped posting any photos on his Facebook account so as to not let law enforcement learn any possible clues about his location or activities, Provenzale explains in his affidavit. Rodriguez-Payan, his mom, and the mother of his children, all changed their Facebook profile names, making it harder for investigators to track them.
Investigators, however, knew Rodriguez-Payan was still active on the platform because he liked at least one posting by another of his Facebook friends.
It took me multiple months to fully identify Rodriguez-Payan even once I was aware of his nickname and the target Facebook account, Provenzales affidavit says. He was eventually identified through documents he was forced to put his real name on, such as airline tickets and Department of State information.
Eventually a federal judge signed off on a warrant that directed Facebook to turn over details of Rodriguez-Payans activity on the site, including private messages and location information, to the DEA. This, combined with cellphone records, wiretaps, and GPS tracking data, created a digital dragnet too large to evade.
Rodriguez-Payan, now 22, was arrested last year trying to enter the United States from Mexico. Earlier this week, federal prosecutors asked for an 11-year prison term. He will be sentenced March 9.
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Posted: at 2:44 pm
Facebook has pulled out of the upcoming SXSW conference in Austin, TX, according to a company statement given to Business Insider. Due to concerns related to coronavirus, our company and employees will not be participating in SXSW this year, said the statement, which Facebook also shared with The Verge. Twitter announced earlier today that it had pulled out of SXSW as well. This evening, SXSW said the event was still proceeding as planned.
Over the past few weeks, Facebook has taken a number of actions in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Today, the company said it would be restricting social visits to physical offices and conducting job interviews primarily over video conferencing tools. Last week, it canceled the in-person portion of its F8 developer conference, which would have taken place on May 5th and May 6th. It also canceled a global marketing conference planned for this month on February 14th.
Many other tech industry events have also been canceled out of caution for coronavirus. Google and Microsoft today canceled two small conferences, though their major developer conferences that take place in May are still scheduled, at least for the moment. The Game Developers Conference, originally planned for later this month, has been postponed to sometime this summer. And Mobile World Congress, which was scheduled to take place in Barcelona at the end of February, was canceled twelve days before the show was supposed to start.
More than 3,000 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel strain of coronavirus, including six people in Washington state over the past few days.
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Facebook is giving free ads to the World Health Organization to fight COVID-19 misinformation – The Verge
Posted: at 2:44 pm
Facebook is providing the World Health Organization (WHO) with free ad space in response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. In a post on Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social network is providing WHO with as many free ads as they need for outreach related to the outbreak. Its also providing ad credits to other organizations and is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and national ministries of health.
The wheels are already in motion. If you search for coronavirus or COVID-19 on Facebook right now, the first result is a pop-up directing to a local health organizations website. (In New York City, its the CDC.)
Per Zuckerberg, Facebook is also focused on stopping the spread of misinformation and hoaxes about the virus. The platform plans to remove false conspiracy theories and will block ads that falsely promise a cure or make other false claims.
Theres no doubt that a successful campaign of this nature would be a welcome relief to users with outbreaks in their communities (or anyone worried about COVID-19s spread). Still, as we know, Facebook promising to stop misinformation and Facebook actually stopping misinformation are very different things and purging false ads has proven difficult for the platform in the past.
Facebook is one of multiple tech companies extending free services in response to the virus. Google announced on Wednesday that it will give all G Suite customers free access to advanced Hangouts features through July 1st, while Microsoft is offering a free six-month trial for its premium tier of Microsoft Teams.
To date, there have been over 92,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and more than 3,000 deaths. While the vast majority of cases are still in China, there are also outbreaks in South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan. There are over 100 confirmed cases in the US.
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Hillary Clinton: Fox News and Right Wing Echo Chamber Have Mastered Facebook, Aided and Abetted by Facebook – Mediaite
Posted: at 2:44 pm
Hillary Clinton went after Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year, calling Zuckerberg authoritarian and even Trumpian when it comes to responding to disinformation online.
Sunday morning Clinton sat down with CNNs Fareed Zakaria, who brought up a Vox article from Super Tuesday that said, According to data compiled by CrowdTangle, the most total interactions on Facebook came on a Fox News article about a federal judge granting a request from a right-wing group named Judicial Watch to make Clinton sit for a sworn deposition about her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.
Clinton reacted by saying, Fox and the sort of right-wing echo chamber has mastered Facebook, aided and abetted, might I say, from Facebook.
She said that echo chamber is successfully pushing a bogus finished nonsense attack on me because theyre able to drive those stories and deliver those stories through the algorithms into the feeds of millions and millions of people.
I begrudgingly give them a lot of credit because they are shaping a narrative that is part of the messaging around Trumps reelection, around people who challenge Trump, changing the subject all of the time, Clinton continued. I live rent-free in all their heads, so whats one of the ways to get them diverted from the mistakes Trump has made in handling the coronavirus? Well, lets bring up Hillarys emails again.
You can watch above, via CNN.
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Posted: at 2:44 pm
The Twitter buy would have had an impact on Facebooks News Feed also. In real life, after the rejected offer, Facebook tried to copy a number of Twitters features, including a real-time urgency and an increased viral pulse. That would not have been necessary if Facebook owned Twitter. Maybe the News Feed would not have courted so much of the toxicity it became known for later on.
The big impact for Facebook, though, would have been a massive data merger of the databases of both companies. As it would later do with WhatsApp, Facebook undoubtedly would have integrated the profile information between the two apps, much to the consternation of privacy advocates. In addition to all the likes, shared interests, and other data from its Blue app, ones dossier would have included Twitter behaviorwhom you follow, what you shared, what tweets you clicked on. This would have reaped bigger profits, making ads on Facebook a little better, but really supercharging the ads on Twitter, as the combined information would have allowed for precision targeting of sponsored tweets.
Facebook would also have used its growth acumen to drive up Twitters membership, as it has done with Instagram and WhatsApp. The 330 million or so users on Twitter now are chicken feed for Facebook. In our alternate universe, at least a billion users all over the world might have ended up on Twitter.
If Facebook had owned Twitter in addition to Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, it would have ended up even more powerfuland profitablethan it is now. On the other hand, it probably would have added to Facebooks woes in the aftermath of the election, as the social conglomerate would have become a one-stop shop for disinformation. (One thing Facebook and Twitter share: Both allow Donald Trump to say anything he cares to, even if it violates content policy. He could cross-post!)
As time went on, Dorsey would have eventually joined his fellow founders in the Facebook sphere in feeling disempowered and betrayed. Eventually, he would have resigned, just as the others did. Meanwhile, regulators, legislators, and attorneys general would be calling to break off Twitter from Facebookas they are demanding with WhatsApp and Instagram.
If that happened, Twitter might be independent once more. Dorsey, fresh from a meditation retreat in Botswana, would reassume leadership and return Twitter to what it once wasquirky, underperforming, and less of a worry than Facebook is.
With one exception. In my counterhistory, Twitter would have adopted a feature beloved by anyone who has ever posted on Facebooks News Feed. Yes, if Facebook had bought Twitter, wed be able to edit our tweets.
Or so goes my dream.
In real life, Dorseys exile from Twitter ended in March 2011, when then-CEO Dick Costolo brought him back both for his design savvy and, as he puts it, a sincere appreciation for the vision of the founder. Thats when Dorseys double-trackingreviled by outside investor Singerbegan. He addressed this in interviews I conducted with him for a 2012 profile in WIRED:
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Posted: at 2:44 pm
Forget Facebook or Twitter which arrived on the scene a few years back. Scientists from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford have discovered fossilised threads -- some as long as four metres -- connecting organisms known as rangeomorphs which dominated Earth's oceans half a billion years ago.
The network of thread-like filaments is the earliest evidence yet found of life being connected in this way.
The team found these filament networks - which may have been used for nutrition, communication or reproduction -in seven species across nearly 40 different fossil sites in Newfoundland, Canada.
"These organisms seem to have been able to quickly colonise the sea floor, and we often see one dominant species on these fossil beds," said Dr Alex Liu from Cambridge's department of earth sciences and the paper's first author.
"We've always looked at these organisms as individuals, but we've now found that several individual members of the same species can be linked by these filaments, like a real-life social network," Liu added.
Towards the end of the Ediacaran period, between 571 and 541 million years ago, the first diverse communities of large and complex organisms began to appear; prior to this, almost all life on Earth had been microscopic in size, according to the study reported in the journal Current Biology.
Fern-like rangeomorphs were some of the most successful life forms during this period, growing up to two metres in height and colonising large areas of the sea floor.
Rangeomorphs may have been some of the first animals to exist, although their strange anatomies have puzzled palaeontologists for years.
These organisms do not appear to have had mouths, organs or means of moving. One suggestion is that they absorbed nutrients from the water around them.
Since rangeomorphs could not move and are preserved where they lived, it is possible to analyse whole populations from the fossil record.
Most of the filaments were between two and 40 centimetres in length, although some were as long as four metres.
Since they are so thin however, the filaments are only visible in places where the fossil preservation is exceptionally good, which is one of the reasons they were not identified sooner.
It's possible that the filaments were used as a form of clonal reproduction, like modern strawberries, but since the organisms in the network were the same size, the filaments may have had other functions.
For example, the filaments may have provided stability against strong ocean currents.
Another possibility is that they enabled organisms to share nutrients, a prehistoric version of the 'wood wide web' observed in modern-day trees.
"The most unexpected thing for me is the realisation that these things are connected. I've been looking at them for over a decade, and this has been a real surprise," said Liu.
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Posted: at 2:44 pm
Egghead and quiz master legend Dave Rainford's last Facebook has emerged.
Pals of the 49-year-old said it showed the genial nature of the tea time quizzer as well as shedding light on Dave's health issues at the time of his death.
It isn't clear when Dave died but his last post on the social networking site was March 2.
Jeremy Vine and Chaser Anne Hegerty led the tributes to the quizzer.
Dave's last Facebook read: "What a disgrace that the lift wasnt working at the Palace Theatre last night. It was impossible for me to get access to my seat. The b*****ds upgraded it to a free box and gave us free drink all night.
Pal Tim Shires said the post was typical of Dave's sense of optimis.
Dave Rainford was one of lifes genuine nice guys," he wrote.
"Still cant get over todays news he has passed away. Just a few days ago he posted this on Facebook. He never let any obstacles get in his way and kept a sense of humour throughout," he added.
It was unclear how Dave died but the post shows he was finding it difficult to walk.
Dave was a regular on the BBC tea time quiz show but was forced to leave last year following an unconfirmed illness.
When viewers began to notice the absence of the fan favourite, Dave took to Twitter to clear up the rumours.
In August he tweeted: "Brand new Eggheads starting on Monday. I was still recuperating when these programmes were recorded, but I can promise you that there are some great shows coming up with excellent challengers that will keep you on the edge of your seats. Keep watching."
Dave landed a part on the quiz show following an appearance on Who Wants to be a Millionaire in 2015, where he came away with 250,000.
He was then asked to replace former Egghead star CJ de Mooi.
Dave's last tweet came in December 29 when he congratulated his Eggheads colleague Pat Gibson on winning a competition.
"Congratulations to my Eggheads colleague Pat Gibson, who fought off the stiffest opposition to become television's Quizmaster. You need stupendous knowledge to be a quiz champion like him. Well done Pat," wrote Dave.
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Posted: at 2:43 pm
A Florida man who used a fitness app to track his bike rides found himself a suspect in a burglary when police used a geofence warrant to collect data from nearby devices, an NBC News investigation finds. Zachary McCoy had never been in the home where the burglary occurred, but by leaving his location settings on for the RunKeeper app, he unwittingly provided information about his whereabouts to Google, which placed him at the scene of the crime.
Since McCoy had biked past the house where the burglary took place three times on the day of the alleged crime part of his usual route through the neighborhood he was deemed a suspect. NBC News says Googles legal investigations team contacted McCoy in January, notifying him that Gainesville police were demanding information from his Google account.
He was eventually cleared as a suspect, but not before hiring a lawyer to help him figure out exactly what data police were seeking. The geofence warrant a type of search warrant required Google to provide data from any devices it recorded near the scene of the burglary, including location. This data is usually drawn from Android location services; collection can be turned off from the accounts menu in settings.
Law enforcement requests for geofence warrants have risen sharply in the past several years NBC News notes, rising 1500 percent from 2017 to 2018 and another 500 percent between 2018 and 2019. Last year, the New York Times highlighted the 2018 case of Jorge Molina, accused in an Arizona homicide after police used a geofence warrant that suggested he was near the scene of the crime. The case against Molina eventually fell apart as new evidence came to light.
Last month, Google announced it was putting new restrictions on which Android apps can track location in the background, with all new Google Play apps that seek background access subject to a review process, beginning in August.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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