Monthly Archives: January 2019

Facebook has pissed Apple off

Apple says it’s banning Facebook’s research app that collects users’ personal information. This doesn’t just block Facebook’s one spyware app, it also restricts Facebook’s ability to distribute apps internally to its own employees without going through App Store approval. That’s what the Apple program, which Facebook used (or abused) is supposed to be used for, not distributing to external users, which is what Facebook did and what pisses Apple off.

Humans: The Domesticated Primates

The human race domesticated itself over hundreds of thousands of years, with huner-gatherer societies punishing overly aggressive males using capital punishment if all else fails.

A few years ago, I stayed in Kenya with the conservationists Karl and Kathy Ammann, who kept a rescued chimpanzee named Mzee in their home. Even as a young adult, Mzee was generally well-behaved and trustworthy. Yet he could be impulsive. At one point, over breakfast, Mzee and I reached for the jug of orange juice at the same time. He grabbed my hand as I held the jug, and he squeezed. Ouch. “You first!” I squeaked. I was still rubbing my fingers back to life once he had finished his drink.

The truth is that even when chimpanzees know the rules perfectly well, they don’t always restrain their aggression. In the wild, their lives are full of violence. A day spent with wild chimpanzees gives you a good chance of seeing chases and hitting; every month, you are likely to see bloody wounds. Compared with even an unusually violent group of humans, chimpanzees are aggressive several hundred to a thousand times more often over the course of a year.

The greater peaceability of human societies comes from our nature. We can look each other in the eye. We don’t lose our tempers easily. We normally control our aggressive urges. In primates, one of the most potent stimuli for aggression is the presence of a strange individual. By contrast, Jerome Kagan, a pioneer in developmental psychology, reports that in his hundreds of observations of two-year-olds meeting unfamiliar children, he has never seen one strike out at the other. That willingness to interact peacefully with others, even strangers, is inborn.

What accounts for this human difference? The answer lies in the evolutionary pressures that selected against aggression, particularly in men. The cultural anthropologist Christopher Boehm has found that, in hunter-gatherer societies, a man who threatens others by having too violent a temper is treated in a consistent way. If the bully can’t be contained by the cajoling effects of ridicule or ostracism, the other men reach a consensus, make a plan and execute him. Over the eons, the long-term practice of killing unrepentant aggressors must have favored genes for more peaceful behavior.

No other mammal has the brainpower to organize capital punishment.

Why ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’ Aren’t Banned in China

You can buy “1984” and “Animal Farm” in China, but you can’t mention them on social media. That’s because Chinese authorities presume elites are more likely to read books, and less likely to become subversives. Particularly if those elites have access to Western books and ideas, so long as that access is limited.

The last Glassholes: Google Glass is still around in 2019

I still maintain that Google Glass was ahead of its time. It’s the Newton of augmented reality. In ten years we’ll all be walking around wearing augmented reality glasses and technology historians will be saying, “You know, back in 2013 there was a thing called ‘Google Glass’ that did much of this.”

US closes the barn door after Huawei has bolted

Extremely damning report that claims the US’s Huawei ban is driven by desperation over Huawei completely hosing the US in telecoms technology, particularly 5G.

Huawei is spending $20 billion a year on R&D, about four times as much as either Ericsson or Nokia, its only important challengers in the telecoms market. “Huawei’s internal assessment holds that its technological lead in 5G mobile broadband is so wide that the competition has no effective chance of catching up…. ”

“Huawei, moreover, sells equipment much cheaper than either Ericsson or Nokia, and its networks by most accounts are far more reliable.”

And Huawei and China are bringing broadband to Mexico, where the US failed. We can’t even succeed with providing infrastructure, or enforcing a Huawei band, on our own doorstep.

America no longer manufacturers telecom equipment – Cisco got out of the business several years ago – and Huawei’s two Scandinavian competitors are too little, too late, and too expensive. There is little chance that Washington’s efforts to suppress Huawei will succeed. I read this as an after-the-fact response on the part of the US national security establishment to distract attention from their failure to act in time to make a difference.

That’s me

There needs to be a supercut from the You Must Remember This podcast of Karina Longworth saying “Karina Longworth (that’s me).”

“The Sopranos” turns 20

Twenty years ago a Mafia boss walked into a psychiatrist office. Fresh Air airs interviews with David Chase and Edie Falco.

No Escape for Roger Stone: Mueller’s Case Is a Slam Dunk and He’s Too Slimy to Get Flipped

The prosecutor who helped convict Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby for lying and obstruction says the case against Trump’s old pal is virtually perfect.

Peter Zeidenberg, the author of this article, clearly knows a million times more about criminal law than I do. However, I question his assertion that it would be valueless to “flip” Stone and have him testify against Trump. As I understand it, any flipped witness is assumed to be a liar — they bring leads that must be corroborated elsewhere through external evidence. So the fact that Stone is a compulsive liar shouldn’t matter, any more than it matters about Michael Cohen.