Friday Link List: Really Short Edition

1. What’s a Penny Worth? {npr’s planet money}

The Planet Money team never ceases to amaze my with its ability to take topics that seem among the most mundane imaginable, and turn them into really interesting pieces of journalism.

Enter Episode 539:

We have three stories on the penny. First, we go on an expedition through the streets of Manhattan to find something, anything, we can buy for one cent. Next, we talk to a guy who’s betting on the government killing the penny. And finally, we visit a place where people dream of how pennies could change everything: the internet.


2. How Businesses Are Rating YOU {new tech city}

Host Manoush Zomorodi investigates how she got slapped with a bad Uber rating she wasn’t even supposed to know about. But that’s just the beginning. Just as the Fair Credit Report Act regulated the use of personal information in private businesses in 1970, privacy advocates and now the White House are calling for laws that regulate opaque consumer scoring that’s extracted from petabytes of data.

One of my favorite parts was from Bob Gellman, author of The Scoring of America {link to the whole book for free, I think?):

Everybody’s scoring everybody all the time, according to all kinds of characteristics. Do we all have to live according to a certain model in order to be treated properly in this economy?

(This episode is the second part of the episode I covered previously.)

Google Unveils Self-Driving Car

Maybe I’m getting old. But the more technology gets added to stuff that doesn’t need it, the stronger my resolve to never use said technology becomes.

Intel’s going to make a wearable t-shirt.

Google has an ugly self-driving car. I’m a fan of autonomous cars in principle, since they may make personal car ownership obsolete. But the prospect of getting in a car manufactured by an advertising company—and granting that company access to my driving habits, in-car entertainment preferences, not to mention home and work addresses—gives me pause to say the least.

I’m no luddite. The car I currently drive is one of the most advanced mass-market automobiles ever produced. I’m all for technological progress. I’m just wary of the companies arranging the 1s and 0s and all the implicit limitations and biases they introduce.

Happy almost-June.

Friday Link List: Making Connections Edition

1. Missed Connections for A-Holes {new yorker}

We made small talk in the checkout line at Trader Joe’s. You said that you literally could not live without the salsa you were buying. I wish we could talk again. You used “literally” incorrectly. It really pissed me off. I wish you could literally not live without that salsa, because then I’d take it from you.


2. Spurious Correlations 

Tyler Vigen has created a site that draws attention to the ways in which statistical terms like correlation can be manipulated to fit a narrative:

Spurious Correlation

See also: Andrew Sullivan’s take and On the Media’s TLDR.

3. The EU Sticks up for the Right to Be Forgotten {npr}.

This seems cool but gosh will be a nightmare for the tech companies to manage.

Audie Cornish: So, give us a quick kind of sketch about the case that brought about the ruling. I understand it involved a man from Spain. He wanted to delete an auction notice of his home from a Spanish newspaper.

Meg Ambrose: That’s right. Usually, the content that we talk about with the right to be forgotten is much more salacious. This guy wanted an old debt to be removed from his Google search results. He took his complaint to the Spanish Data Protection Agency, who determined that he did have a case for the right to be forgotten. And the agency ordered Google to remove links to that content. It moved through the courts as Google appealed it and the case that came down was shocking, I think, for most people.

See also: Andrew Sullivan’s take.

4. A Spoon That Shakes To Counteract Hand Tremors {npr}

This is really cool:

“There’s a little motion sensor right near the spoon,” Pathak explains. “If I had tremor, it’s going to move opposite to what the shaking is doing. So, if I move to the left, it’ll physically move the spoon to the right.”

And that cancels out the tremor as the spoon moves from plate to mouth. In a clinical trial, the Liftware spoon canceled out more than 70 percent of a user’s tremor.

Chad VanGaalen {new music}

Chad VanGaalen

Can’t get this song from the new Chad VanGaalen record out of my head today. And yes I know that may seem morbid.

Chad VanGaalen— “Hangman’s Son” {mp3}

Listen to more from his latest album, the Chad VanGaalen “country” album: Shrink Dust {spotify}.

Photo via Tim Ferguson {flickr}. Used under Creative Commons.