Sufjan Stevens and the Curious Case of how Pitchfork remains relevant today

The article is supposed to be about the 50 states PR move around the, then new, artist Sufjan Stevens. It is about that, but this is the piece that kills me:

The tipping point came in late July. Pitchfork, the increasingly influential arbiter of indie (full disclosure: I am a contributor there), had given the album a lukewarm review—“a 7.5,” Gill claims, “and it wasn’t Best New Music.” Except the site’s top editor, Ryan Schreiber, had not actually heard it. “We were bugging him to actually listen to it. And then he listened to it and he freaked out and he was like, ‘I can’t believe we gave this album a 7.5,’” Gill says.

Pitchfork is such a waste of space. They were/are so influential, yet clearly are fine with making up scores and standing behind articles written about albums that hadn’t listened to.

Source: Sufjan Stevens and the Curious Case of the Missing 48 States

The North Face Cheated Google Search Results by Mass Editing Wikipedia Articles

I find this disgusting. Yes, the brand violated Wikipedia’s Terms of Use, but more importantly, they promoted a company by violating the integrity of one of the few remaining ideals of the Internet.

The brand and agency took pictures of athletes wearing the brand while trekking to famous locations around the world, including Brazil’s Guarita State Park and Farol do Mampimptuba, Cuillin in Scotland and Peru’s Huayna Picchu. They then updated the Wikipedia images in the articles for those locations so that now, the brand would appear in the top of Google image search results when consumers researched any of those locations

Source: The North Face used Wikipedia to climb to the top of Google search results | AdAge

Scene report from the Chernobyl Zone

Amazing account of hiking through Chernobyl. Some of the details they recount are incredible, for instance, the levels of radiation at the same building being drastically different based on assumed conditions at the time of the explosion.

Exhausted, we picked an apartment building at random and went in. Our initial thought was to camp on the roof, but the radiation on the roof’s surface was over 50 μSv/hr, so we moved to apartment #23 instead. The radiation there was only 0.08 μSv/hr (actually lower than our apartment in California). The former occupants must have had their windows closed when the explosion occurred. We collapsed and slept for most of the day.

Source: Moxie Marlinspike >> Stories >> Scene report from the Chernobyl Zone

One-Ring Scams

The FCC details a common phone scam strategy, the one-ring scam.

One-ring calls may appear to be from phone numbers somewhere in the United States, including three initial digits that resemble U.S. area codes. But savvy scammers often use international numbers from regions that also begin with three-digit codes – for example, “649” goes to the Turks and Caicos and “809” goes to the Dominican Republic.

If you call any such number, you risk being connected to a phone number outside the U.S. As a result, you may wind up being charged a fee for connecting, along with significant per-minute fees for as long as they can keep you on the phone. These charges may show up on your bill as premium services.

The current administration is fine with this being the best you hear about one-ring scams. In fact, I’m surprised the FCC (which still has many people who do good work, and want to help people, but have been hampered from doing so) has released this much information on the scam and how to avoid it.

Long story short – in this age of VOIP services and cell phones, if you don’t recognize a number, don’t answer it. If they don’t leave a voicemail, don’t call them back. If you do, you may want to disable international calling on your service.

As long as phone service providers make money, they have little incentive stop these scams without government intervention and regulation.

Hilma af Klint Show  is the Guggenheim’s Most-Visited Exhibition Ever


Af Klint’s lush, cryptic paintings have been almost universally praised by critics as a breath of fresh air. And, at a time when personal narrative is more important than ever in terms of how audiences engage with art, she also has a compelling biography (though the timeline of her life is, in truth, still filled with enigmas). Born in 1862, af Klint turned to spiritualism after the loss of her sister. Working with a group of women called the Five, she committed herself in near-secret to an epic cycle of mediumistically inspired abstract paintings—only to be nearly forgotten and then discovered by a new generation.

Source: Here’s How the Hilma af Klint Show Played Perfectly Into the Current Zeitgeist to Become the Guggenheim’s Most-Visited Exhibition Ever | artnet News

Loved by museumgoers and critics alike, the popular exhibition has drawn 600,000 to the Guggenheim since it opened on October 12. More than 30,000 catalogues for the exhibition were sold, surpassing the last record set by a Kandinsky catalogue in 2009

Source: Hilma af Klint Breaks Records at the Guggenheim Museum

Those were the words of profession art writers and critics, here are my own:

The reason this exhibit is so well visited is simple: It is phenomenal work, so far ahead of its time unseen and unknown by most until this year. I had the pleasure of visiting the museum earlier this year, and if you are in New York and have the means to do so, I highly encourage you to brave the crowds and see these works.

All of the images are my own.

How the SNL Portrait Became Its Own Art Form

The show’s official photographer runs us through 11 of her favorite shots.

Source: How the SNL Portrait Became Its Own Art Form

Kindness != Jackpot

The person even allowed a fellow customer to get in front of the line at the store to make a Mega Millions lottery ticket purchase, according to a commission statement. “A simple act of kindness led to an amazing outcome.”

by David K. Li

That’s not how this works. If the person didn’t get in front of them, it isn’t like the person behind them would have received their number. pseudorandom number generators don’t work like that. In fact, even if all of this took place, but the attendant hit the button to generate a new ticket a second later it probably wouldn’t come up with the same number.

The article is associating kindness with winning a lottery. That isn’t how kindness works, and it certainly isn’t how lotteries work.

Apple blocks Facebook from running its internal iOS apps

The shutdown comes in response to news that Facebook has been using Apple’s program for internal app distribution to track teenage customers with a “research” app

Source: Apple blocks Facebook from running its internal iOS apps – The Verge

This doesn’t surprise me. Facebook as a company is trying every tactic to learn about everybody, even those it isn’t allowed to track, even if it is completely unethical. They haven’t learned, but proven that apologizing afterwards and doing nothing to change their actions is acceptable in our society.

Expert level off-season speculation in /r/baseball today

Mike Trout was worth 9.8 fWAR for the Angels in 2018. He’s the standout star of a team that only won 80 games last year. In theory, if Mike Trout didn’t play for the Angels and was replaced with a replacement level outfielder worth 0 fWar, they’d only win 70 games.But what if Mike Trout could influence his teams’ performance in other ways?What if Mike Trout quit baseball to become the greatest meteorologist of all time?A meteorologist so talented that his weather predictions are always true… no matter when he makes them or how outlandish they may seem.In fact, had Mike Trout become this type of supernatural meteorologist, he would’ve been worth exactly as much to his team as he was when he finished the season with a 1.088 OPS and 39 home runs.

Is any of this necessary? No. Is this a complete and utter waste of your time? Possibly.

Source: Reddit /r/baseball

Microsoft is making big changes from its past: Cortana and Windows Phone

Microsoft is limiting Cortana instead of competing with Google and Alexa, it will work with them

“Cortana needs to be that skill for anybody who’s a Microsoft 365 subscriber,” explains Nadella, referencing Microsoft’s new consumer subscription push. “You should be able to use it on Google Assistant, you should be able to use it on Alexa, just like how you use our apps on Android and iOS so that’s at least how we want to think about where it’ll go.”

Source: Microsoft no longer sees Cortana as an Alexa or Google Assistant competitor – The Verge


Microsoft is also recommending customers move to iOS or Android from Windows Phone

With support for the now-discontinued Windows 10 Mobile devices set to end on December 10, 2019, Microsoft is recommending that its current Windowa 10 Mobile customers move to an Android or iOS device instead.

Microsoft made the recommendation in a Windows 10 Mobile support document (via Thurrott) explaining its plans to stop offering security updates and patches for Windows 10 Mobile.

Source: Microsoft Suggests Windows 10 Mobile Users Switch to iOS or Android as Support Winds Down – Macrumors


I honestly didn’t know Windows Phone was still supported, so I’m sure this isn’t going to come as a surprise to anybody.