January 15, 2017 in Daily Bulletin
Amy Hawkins wrote about experimental restaurant technology in Beijing:
- KFC has setup a system where it predicts a customer’s order based on their face and mood.
- Some of the recommendations seem uncomfortably gendered. A young male customer is expected to be recommended a fried chicken hamburger with coke. An older female will be recommended porridge.
- If you don’t like your recommendation, the machine will show you other things you might want.
- Once you identify your meal, you merely let the machine know, pay for it, and the food preparers will have it for you in a few minutes.
- Ultimately it is hoped that the machine will remember your face and your preference – and learn so that the next time it sees you it does a better job of making recommendations.
Read more on The Guardian.
January 13, 2017 in Daily Bulletin
The Force Awakens revealed that its main villain was Leia and Han’s son, Vader’s grandson, and Luke’s nephew. The latest Robin is Bruce Wayne’s long-lost son. Batman chose not to kill Superman because their mother shared the same name. Modern media is all about the family and Nicholas Barber wondered why:
- Adding family drama to something like Star Wars makes it more accessible. We know what it feels like to resent our father. Less so what it feels like to blow up a planet destroying superweapon.
- Culture has become more narcissistic. We think the world revolves around us – and expect the same of the protagonists in our stories.
- Globalization means that it’s difficult to find compelling narratives that don’t offend someone. It’s easy to just make the villain a member of the family.
- And then there’s just lazy screenwriting. It’s easy to raise the stakes and add a touch of drama by throwing in some shared genes into the mix.
Read more on 1843.
January 12, 2017 in Daily Bulletin
Last week was CES, a technology event where businesses introduce us to their vision of the future. Lauren Goode wrote about a pair of high heels:
- Zhor Tech has a pair of heels with adjustable heights. Through a smartphone, the height of the heel can be lowered from about 7.9 centimeters (3.1 inches) to 4.3 centimeters (1.7 inches).
- The soles of the shoe are heated, with temperature controllable via smartphone.
- They also serve as fitness tracking devices, monitoring your activity.
- The footware is advertised as lasting four days on a single charge.
- You can expect to shell out $300 for a pair.
Read more including Goode’s impression of the aesthetics of the shoe on The Verge.
January 10, 2017 in Daily Bulletin
James Tarmy wrote about the Oscars of currency:
- Since 2005 the International Bank Note Society has awarded a “Bank Note of the Year” to a single bill in general circulation.
- The key criteria evaluated are beauty and security.
- The Comoros, a small island nation in the Mozambique Channel, once won the award after featuring a poem on its banknote.
- Kazakhstan managed a hat trick of wins between 2011 and 2013.
- Widespread use is not enough for victory – which perhaps explains why the American greenback has never won.
- The award is prestigious enough that countries will reach out to the organization in advance of the award, hoping to boost the chances of their country’s notes.
- In recent times currency with vibrant colours and depictions of nature rather than people, have had the edge.
Read more about the award, and see past winners on Bloomberg.
January 9, 2017 in Daily Bulletin
Park West is a firm that holds art auctions on cruises, earning as much as $400 million a year. Vernon Silver somehow convinced his editors to pay for a ticket on a ship so he could observe the auction:
- Wi-fi onboard ships can be unreliable making it difficult to validate the price quotes that auctioneers offer on a boat.
- The organizers also make sure they supply bidders with plenty of alcohol as they hold up their cards.
- Attendants will identify high-spenders and sit with them, offering off the record “tips” about smart buys.
- Bidders don’t take the art off the boat themselves. Instead Park West will mail to them the pieces that they bid on.
- What customers may not be aware is that Park West pieces are mass-produced, and the art they see on the ship is illustrative – what they end up getting might not be a perfect replica of what they bid on.
- This leads to some shady tactics. In one bidding cycle the auctioneer asked which participants would be willing to pay $5 for a piece of work – with everybody putting their paddles up. The auctioneer progressed to $70, where eight paddles remained aloft, and then abruptly ended bidding.
- Park West had just earned $560 selling multiple replicas of the same art. Bidders later confessed that they thought only one person would win – giving them more of an opportunity to think about putting down their paddles.
- Park West, for its part, defends itself by claiming that it has a 40-day refund policy and a 40-month exchange policy.
Silver’s firsthand account of the auction is fascinating and worth a read. Find it on Bloomberg.
January 8, 2017 in Daily Bulletin
Ryan F. Mandelbaum reported on a study of television chef food safety practices:
- A survey of 24 television chefs found that the majority do not demonstrate good food safety techniques.
- Errors include failing to wash hands before handling raw meat, and sampling food served to others with bare hands.
- They also neglected to discuss the correct temperature of meat – something novice cooks might fail to understand, putting them at risk of disease.
- Television food preparation techniques make for good entertainment, but aren’t necessarily the best way to actually make food.
Read more on Gizmodo.
January 6, 2017 in Daily Bulletin
Julian Ryall wrote about foreign policy in the age of President Trump:
- South Korea is appointing a military officer whose responsible for reading Trump’s twitter feed.
- The officer will look for hints about the American President’s policy on issues relevant to South Korea.
- While Trump has never explicitly made his policy on North Korea clear, his tweets indicate that he doesn’t intend to allow North Korea to build a bomb capable of targeting the US, and that he will use China to pressure the hermit kingdom into concessions.
Read more about what foreign leaders might be able to glean from Trump’s twitter account on The Telegraph.
January 4, 2017 in Daily Bulletin
Molly Hennessy-Fiske wrote about the battle for Mosul in the age of social media:
- Soldiers battling to take control of Mosul, in Iraq, from ISIS, have been documenting their victories with selfies showing military hardware or trampled ISIS flags in the background.
- The soldiers point out that it’s an easy way to reassure family back home.
- But it’s not just family watching. Humans Right Watch has combed through the photos and found evidence of extrajudicial killings among other abuses.
- And ISIS may analyze the photos to glean any military intelligence.
- ISIS could also end up using it for anti-government propaganda.
Read the full article on the Los Angeles Times.
January 3, 2017 in Daily Bulletin
Cracked looked at some little-known contingency plans:
- America’s annual state of the union includes every top government official from the President down. But what happens if a bomb were to go off? Each year a single politician is taken to a secure location. They are to assume the Presidency in case everybody else dies at the event.
- If more than 5 players in an NBA team die then an emergency draft is held. Unaffected teams can select five players they don’t want to lose. Everyone else is fair game.
- The US military has secret supply ships across the world which can rapidly deploy to support a major military operation involving tens of thousands of troops for 30 days.
Read about other contingency plans on Cracked.
January 2, 2017 in Daily Bulletin
Paul Walker didn’t let his own death prevent him from filming scenes for “Furious 7”. In “Rogue One” Peter Cushing decided to reprise the role of Grand Moff Tarkin despite having retired to the grave two decades ago. Through the use of technology it’s possible to bring dead actors back to life. Lisa Richwine and Jill Serjeant looked at how the industry is responding:
- Actors are beginning to write clauses in their contracts stipulating how their likeness can be used after their deaths.
- Some actors ask that if they’re brought back from the grave, they not be depicted doing drugs or having sex.
- Others ban all depictions period. Robin Williams embargoed any use of his image for commercial purposes until 2039.
- The technology is still new, and is expensive enough that it might cost more to digitally re-create a character than to hire a brand-new Hollywood A-Lister.
- Filmmakers may also hesitate because audiences might focus on how realistic the digital character looks, rather than on the wider story, themes, or characters.
Read more on MSN.