Monday, June 4, 2018

June 4th Links

  • We live in a time where a full 35 percent of names can be expected to end with “n” and where small measures of difference are asserted through additional letters that ultimately don’t change the sound of the name. The fast-risers list is dominated by names ending in the “ee” sound, signified by spelling variations such as “-eigh,” "-ee,” or “y”: Everlee, Oaklee, Kynlee, and Emmie have all risen more than 200 spots in the past year. The ever-present “n” adjourns newly popular names like Jaxxon, Gatlin, and Kannon (I’m sensing a firearms theme), joined by another favored name of Wesson. [Slate]
  • Americans are increasingly adventurous when it comes to naming their babies. In 1991, it took fewer than 100 girl’s names to make up more than 80% of all common names given to girls. Today, it takes over 250. For boys, that number has jumped from less than 50 to over 140 during the same period. [link]
  • Benjamin Netanyahu first met Donald Trump in 1986, when they were introduced by Ronald Lauder, the heir of the Estée Lauder cosmetics fortune and a Republican donor. They became friendly, but Netanyahu, who was Israel’s ambassador to the UN at the time, doubted that the real-estate entrepreneur would be very useful to his future political aspirations. He added Trump to his handwritten list of millionaires to whom he might turn for favours, but 'he was in the lowest category,; Anshel Pfeffer writes in his new biography of Netanyahu, 'indicating that he was good for an occasional favour, but not much more.' [LRB]
  • At openings, Lauder typically stands at the door for the duration, greeting guests like a father of the bride in a receiving line. But this opening fell on the same day as a birthday party for his six-year-old grandson, and so at five-thirty he went to the limousine that was waiting for him outside. (It returned him to the museum an hour later.) Before getting in, Lauder opened the trunk: inside were an enormous toy lion, a giant Teddy bear, and a velvety puppy the size of a small cow, all still in F. A. O. Schwarz shopping bags, squeezed up against each other like victims of a plush-toy Mafia hit. In the realm of stuffed animals, Lauder's vaunted eye had failed him. "Which one do you think a boy would like best?" he said. [New Yorker]
  • Since the source is Carlos Slim’s Blog and High End Real Estate Flyer, one must assume that the purpose of this piece is not to analyze the Democrats’ descent into insanity on race and a half dozen other things, but to message to their leaders to pull back on the reigns going into 2018. (Generally speaking everything written in the Times is from the worldview of advising Democrats how to be more politically effective and warning Republicans of the consequences of trying to be politically effective). [Sailer]
  • Williams had friends at Sears and Mobil Oil, and those friends secretly allowed his team to observe their credit operations. Out of this latter research, incidentally, came a number of the standard features of credit cards, features that have remained remarkably unchanged to this day. The idea of a 25-day grace period, a time during which customers could pay off their balances without facing interest charges, emerged from that research, as did the idea of charging 18 percent a year on credit card loans -- a figure that would be seemingly set in stone for the next 30 years, even as every other manner of interest rate fluctuated wildly. There was no black magic involved: The bank just assumed that if a 25-day grace period and a monthly interest charge of 1 1/2 percent (which amounts to 18 percent a year) were good enough for Sears, with its 50 years of credit experience, then they were good enough for Bank of America. [WaPo]
  • Ford revealed for the first time that a relatively small number of products, including the hugely popular F-150 pickup truck series, accounted for 150 percent of its earnings before interest and taxes, with profit margins in the midteens. Another group was barely profitable. By contrast, Ford said its "low performing" products lost money, with negative margins of more than 10 percent. [NY Times]
  • Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: "Is this the condition that I feared?" It is precisely in times of immunity from care that the soul should toughen itself beforehand for occasions of greater stress, and it is while Fortune is kind that it should fortify itself against her violence. [link]
  • If you put the rats in the cage and you give them the lever with opium or opiates and food, they'll keep pressing the lever for the opiates until they die. If you then change it out and have LSD on the lever — you get LSD if you press the lever — the animals will try it once and never again. [Longreads]
  • The source explained that they worked in artificial intelligence and, after noticing a "bunch of weird tweets" directed at Sixers writers, used an open-source data analysis tool to link five accounts through commonalities including similarities in who the accounts followed and linguistic quirks. [link]
  • If braking could be "improved" by software, that means they had "software limited braking" in place. That itself is a cautionary tale. A complicated one. Was this limit for anti-lock, anti-slip, anti-skid? Is the change in settings for a dry, clean, test track suitable for general release? Optimal for general release? [MR]
  • There only about 2,000 houses in our town, so the best-case scenario (construction is completed on time and within budget) is that this will be $50,000 per house plus interest. [Phil G]
  • The volume of legitimate parcel post from China to the U.S. means that there's no way to scan every package, or even a high enough fraction to make the traffic uneconomic. As more and more potent molecules appear, I'd expect another shift, from parcel post to regular international mail, moving the drugs in quantities of a gram or less, either just putting a tiny Baggie with the powder inside in the envelope, or perhaps dissolving the drug, soaking a sheet of ordinary paper in the solution, typing a letter on the paper, mailing it, and then extracting the drug at the other end of the process. [link]
  • Fun fact, this combination gives me almost the exact focal length to get the moon to fill the tiny 128×112px frame. Shooting the moon handheld with a ~3000mm equivalent lens on an unlit gameboy screen that updates at about 1fps in low light situations is not an easy task but I got a couple of shots in! [link]

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