Machine learning wrote a punk album

Music was generated autoregressively with SampleRNN, a recurrent neural network [Soroush Mehri et al. 2017], trained on raw audio from the album Punk in Drublic. The machine listened to Punk in Drublic 26 times over several days. The machine generated 900 minutes of audio. A human listened to the machine audio, chose sections from varied evolution points, and taped them together into a 20 minute album.

I’d pay real money to see someone attempt to annotate this on Genius.

More madness at

Via The Outline


RIP Wes Johnson

There’s a moment – after the step back, after the look down… just the briefest of moments – when Harden relaxes his shoulders even more and spins the ball before bombing the three. That is cold blooded.

Ends and means

Jeremy Keith:

I remember feeling very heartened to see WikiPedia, Google and others take a stand on January 18th, 2012. But I also remember feeling uneasy. In this particular case, companies were lobbying for a cause I agreed with. But what if they were lobbying for a cause I didn’t agree with? Large corporations using their power to influence politics seems like a very bad idea. Isn’t it still a bad idea, even if I happen to agree with the cause?

There’s an uncomfortable tension here. When do the ends justify the means? Isn’t the whole point of having principles that they hold true even in the direst circumstances? Why even claim that corporations shouldn’t influence politics if you’re going to make an exception for net neutrality? Why even claim that free speech is sacrosanct if you make an exception for nazi scum?

Those two examples are pretty extreme and I can easily justify the exceptions to myself. Net neutrality is too important. Stopping fascism is too important. But where do I draw the line? At what point does something become “too important?”

There are more subtle examples of corporations wielding their power. Google are constantly using their monopoly position in search and browser marketshare to exert influence over website-builders. In theory, that’s bad. But in practice, I find myself agreeing with specific instances. Prioritising mobile-friendly sites? Sounds good to me. Penalising intrusive ads? Again, that seems okey-dokey to me. But surely that’s not the point. So what if I happen to agree with the ends being pursued? The fact that a company the size and power of Google is using their monopoly for any influence is worrying, regardless of whether I agree with the specific instances.

Google’s handling of HTTPS and AMP is fascinating to watch. It seems that really smart people are worried about how this will all end up. I find myself identifying strongly with the above. Read the whole piece.

Daily Links

A Data Scientist Was Sick of Seeing Spam on His Facebook so He Built a Fake News Detector

A Data Scientist Was Sick of Seeing Spam on His Facebook so He Built a Fake News Detector

“I see my friends post, sometimes, complete garbage or articles recommended to me that are complete garbage.”

4G found on Moon

4G found on Moon

Vodafone’s network will be used to set up the Moon’s first 4G network, connecting two Audi Lunar Quattro rovers to a base station in the Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module.


Daily Links

“The Newsroom Feels Embarrassed”: Inside The New York Times Op-Ed Crisis

“The Newsroom Feels Embarrassed”: Inside The New York Times Op-Ed Crisis

A yoga-pants refusenik, a climate-science skeptic, and a tech writer with a neo-Nazi pal have put James Bennet in the crosshairs.

KFC Responds to U.K. Chicken Shortage Scandal With a Timely ‘FCK, We’re Sorry’

Sucuri WebSite Firewall – Access Denied

KFC went through a highly publicized, somewhat bizarre crisis in the U.K. this week: The fast food joint known for its fried chicken ran out of chicken. Now, KFC is apologizing with a creative stunt: rearranging its name to spell “FCK.” pulls out of France due to ‘mass destruction’ of its dockless bike fleet pulls out of France due to ‘mass destruction’ of its dockless bike fleet

Thousands of its bikes have been stolen or damaged, says company that had 150,000 users across the country

Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria

James Somers writing for The Atlantic:

Google’s secret effort to scan every book in the world, codenamed “Project Ocean,” began in earnest in 2002 when Larry Page and Marissa Mayer sat down in the office together with a 300-page book and a metronome. Page wanted to know how long it would take to scan more than a hundred-million books, so he started with one that was lying around. Using the metronome to keep a steady pace, he and Mayer paged through the book cover-to-cover. It took them 40 minutes.

With that 40-minute number in mind, Page approached the University of Michigan, his alma mater and a world leader in book scanning, to find out what the state of the art in mass digitization looked like. Michigan told him that at the current pace, digitizing their entire collection—7 million volumes—was going to take about a thousand years. Page, who’d by now given the problem some thought, replied that he thought Google could do it in six.

An absolutely fascinating dive into the history of Project Ocean, covering how it started at Google, how Google scanned the books (camera arrays, clever algorithms and human page turners), and the years-long legal wrangle between Google, the Authors Guild and the DOJ.

It’s there. The books are there. People have been trying to build a library like this for ages—to do so, they’ve said, would be to erect one of the great humanitarian artifacts of all time—and here we’ve done the work to make it real and we were about to give it to the world and now, instead, it’s 50 or 60 petabytes on disk, and the only people who can see it are half a dozen engineers on the project who happen to have access because they’re the ones responsible for locking it up.

Interestingly Page later opined during a Q&A that maybe it would be a good idea to “set aside a part of the world” to try out some “exciting things you could do that are illegal or not allowed by regulation.” He was roundly criticised for being an annoying, out-of-touch billionaire at the time, but perhaps he was just being wistful.

Daily Links

The fake social media profiles helping American rappers blow up in Russia

The fake social media profiles helping American rappers blow up in Russia

To the casual American rap fan, Night Lovell’s Russian popularity seems beyond random. But Russia’s young rap fans have constructed their own shadow rap ecosystem, skirting many of the power brokers that guide taste and collect income for artists in the states.

Nokia’s banana phone from The Matrix is back

Nokia’s banana phone from The Matrix is back

Now HMD, makers of Nokia-branded phones, is bringing the Nokia 8110 back to life as a retro classic.

Raptors’ DeRozan hopes honest talk on depression helps others

Raptors’ DeRozan hopes honest talk on depression helps others | Toronto Star

All-star DeMar DeRozan copes with troubled times — hinted at in all-star weekend tweet that sparked a wave of support — by throwing his life into his family and his basketball: “Sometimes . . . it gets the best of you.”

Trump vs. “disease X”

Trump vs. “disease X”

But further down on the WHO list was a threat ominously described as “disease X.” The X stands for an unknown: a pathogen lurking out there, currently being harbored in animals, with the potential to make the dangerous leap into humans and spread suffering and death around the globe.

What happened to US diplomats in Cuba?

play_circle_outline Science Weekly [Podcast; 27 mins]

Ian Sample delves into a preliminary study of US embassy staff said to have been targeted by an energy source in Cuba. With no unifying explanation, what do scientists think happened?


In a story seemingly straight out of the X-Files, US embassy staff based in Cuba started to get sick at the same time and nobody knew what was causing it.

In August 2017 reports of the incident started hitting the web, with 16 embassy staff described as suffering from a variety of symptoms including loss of hearing, headaches and nausea.

Almost immediately the possibility that is was a “sonic attack” was bandied about, with the AP even posting the alleged sound from a tape they received.

In October, The Times spoke to some experts in acoustics who suggested the sonic weapon theory was “more appropriate to a James Bond movie”.

Stranger still, in December, doctors who were treating the US Embassy staff discovered abnormalities in the white matter of the victim’s brains. From The Associated Press:

Loud, mysterious sounds followed by hearing loss and ear-ringing had led investigators to suspect “sonic attacks.” But officials are now carefully avoiding that term. The sounds may have been the byproduct of something else that caused damage, said three US officials briefed on the investigation. They weren’t authorized to discuss it publicly and demanded anonymity.

Physicians, FBI investigators and US intelligence agencies have spent months trying to piece together the puzzle in Havana, where the US says 24 US government officials and spouses fell ill starting last year in homes and later in some hotels.

Doctors still don’t know how victims ended up with the white matter changes, nor how exactly those changes might relate to their symptoms. US officials wouldn’t say whether the changes were found in all 24 patients.

But acoustic waves have never been shown to alter the brain’s white matter tracts, said Elisa Konofagou, a biomedical engineering professor at Columbia University who is not involved in the government’s investigation.

The Pod Pod is a selection of recommended single podcast episodes.

A Researcher Just Found A 9,000-Video Network Of YouTube Conspiracy Videos


Albright said the results suggest that the conspiracy genre is embedded so deeply into YouTube’s video culture that it could be nearly impossible to eradicate.

“It’s already tipped in favor of the conspiracists, I think,” Albright told BuzzFeed News. “There are a handful of debunking videos in the data. They can’t make up for the thousands of videos with false claims and rumors.”

Albright also suggested that the proliferation of these videos makes it more attractive for others to create this content.

To anyone who dabbles in occasional conspiracy-theory deep dives on YouTube, this rings true. There is an absolute avalanche of dipshit conspiracies on YouTube, and most people lack the mental dexterity to tell that a video is playing loose with the facts – especially if it meshes nicely with their existing worldview.

Less common is the conspiracy parody. The Outline absolutely nailed it with this gem:

I’ve often thought a conspiracy channel would be an easy way to make some quick beer money, but it seems I’m much too late to the game.

Or am I?

Yes, I am.

Where the ‘Crisis Actor’ Conspiracy Theory Comes From

Jason Koebler, Motherboard:

The term ‘crisis actor’ has been in the news a lot lately, because conspiracy theorists have accused survivors of the Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, of being actors—people paid to pretend they witnessed a horrible tragedy that actually never happened and was instead staged by the government in order to garner the political will necessary to ban guns.

To be clear, there is no evidence this is actually the case. Conspiracy theorists have questioned the legitimacy of people who lived through a horrific shooting—watched their friends and classmates slaughtered—in an attempt to harass and silence their political activism.

It wasn’t until relatively recently that conspiracy theorists were audacious enough to suggest that terrorist attacks and mass shootings actually didn’t happen at all.

A good backgrounder on the origins of the horseshit “Crisis Actor” conspiracies.

Semi-regular reminder that false-flaggers are scum.

Twitter: You can actually ban the Nazis

Paris Martineau writing for The Outline:


Years of outbursts from hate group after hate group have forced these companies to realize that the laissez-faire attitude they’ve leaned on for so long doesn’t actually work, but rather, makes the entire thing rot from the inside. But the fact that platforms won’t fully commit to managing the content that people spew on these platforms leaves a vacuum of confusion and hypotheticals, which generally (like all things nowadays) lead to conspiracies and misinformation.

In all this time, no company has actually tried totally depriving bad ideas of oxygen. Trust me, this is a sentence I never thought I’d say, but in times like these, Twitter (and the tech world as a whole, really) could learn a thing or two from Medium.

One of the multitude of problems Twitter is currently facing is that they just can’t make up their mind about what they want their platform to be.

I recently copped a 7-day account suspension for calling Dinesh D’Souza a cunt and a piece of shit (more on that episode later). Plenty of people replied telling him to go fuck himself, Ron Perlman quoted him calling him a piece of shit multiple times and suggesting it would be best if D’Souza disappeared himself, CPAC (seriously) called D’Souza’s comments “indefensible”, and D’Souza eventually deleted his tweet and apologised.

For some reason though, I’m still in the time-out corner.

The truth is, Twitter has no real expected standard of behaviour. They’re happy to put me in time out for using the word “cunt” while simultaneously leaving this disgusting tweet up on their platform…

… in spite of the fact Coulter’s tweet blatantly violates Twitter’s Hateful conduct policy, and calling someone a “cunt” definitively doesn’t.

Twitter, you are pretty broken for a lot of reasons, but one thing you might want to focus on is the quality of the content of some of the biggest voices on your platform. And if Speech (capital “S”) really is your North Star, maybe don’t haphazardly hand out suspensions to passionate, long-time users for using “bad words”. You silly cunts.

Daily Links

In Edo Japan, Artists Captured Whales Like Never Before

In Edo Japan, Artists Captured Whales Like Never Before

The whaling industry was an important economic force in both the United States and Japan, but each society captured the subject matter very differently in art.

Erasing history

Erasing history

When an online news outlet goes out of business, its archives can disappear as well. The new battle over journalism’s digital legacy.

Is It Possible to Game the Apple Podcast Charts?

Is It Possible to Game the Apple Podcast Charts? | Discover the Best Podcasts | Discover Pods

Is it possible to manipulate or hack the Apple Podcast charts to make a given podcast appear in the top 10? We look into the evidence where this may have happened.

‘I’m More Afraid of Climate Change Than I Am of Prison’

‘I’m Just More Afraid of Climate Change Than I Am of Prison’

How a group of five activists called the Valve Turners decided to fight global warming by doing whatever it takes.

“An Ass-Backward Tech Company”: How Twitter Lost the Internet War

“Just an Ass-Backward Tech Company”: How Twitter Lost the Internet War

Twitter faces more challenges than most technology companies: ISIS terrorists, trolls, bots, and Donald Trump. But its last line of defense, the company’s head of trust and safety, Del Harvey, isn’t making things easier.

ALL 50-Point Dunks In NBA Slam Dunk Contest History

Some thoughts:

  • Lavine vs Gordon is the gold standard in 1v1 dunk contests
  • Gordon’s two mascot dunks are both top ten all time dunk contest dunks
  • Jordan had an innate understanding of how his dunks would photograph (always watch his off-hand)
  • What is it about Dominique’s off the backboard one-hander that is so good?
  • Ceballos’ blindfold dunk is whack af
  • Des Mason is a underrated dunker
  • Josh Smith too
  • Nate had some hops boy
  • Lol at Spud Web getting any 50s at all
  • I forgot about the McGee double dunk
  • Also forgot about Oladipo’s 360 reverse goddamn
  • Controversial opinion: Jason Richardson might have better one-hand windmills than ‘Nique