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Life, Death, and In-Between

Abortions practiced on papayas, public death sentences, Kremlin trolls, lethal viruses, and more.

Hi there! Happy holidays! Did you get a good haul? This Glitchet is late because of Christmas, but it's here, now. This year, I'm thankful for you. OK, have a song: Take/Five - Smoke and Mirrors, a delightfully chill and lovely track that's the ever so slightest hint of somber. OK, onward!


Why medical students are practicing abortions on papayas

Apparently, papayas make great approximations for a woman's cervix and womb. The workshop is conducted by Medical Students For Choice, a nonprofit that is trying to teach people how to perform abortions with tools that can be discreetly carried in case that abortions are outlawed. There's also a fair amount of simultaneously-amusing-and-vaguely-morbid description of how exactly to abort a papaya.


Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options

An interesting historical look at Russia's involvement in U.S. politics, our 2016 election, and the foolish choices that the U.S. intelligence state made that enabled Russia to utilize influence campaigns and cyberwarfare almost unnoticed for years. Once upon a time, people used to fight wars by lining up men and cavalry and deciding to charge at the countdown time--they were completely unprepared for guerilla warfare, too. Geez, U.S. deep state. I was hoping you'd be more paranoid. (Well, maybe not. Maybe a lack of paranoia is the only thing that let it take this long for us to become an information dystopia?) Anyway, the tale of followup attempts to reestablish U.S.'s role in the cyberwarworld is pretty interesting and worth a looksee if you're into counter-disinformation-style stuff.


Google Maps's Moat

This is an incredibly detailed look at Google Maps's implementation versus Apple Maps (and others), explaining comprehensively just how Google is gathering an unbelievable amount of location and geographical data and using that data to create new products, and then new new products from those new products. It's pretty mindblowing what they're able to do, and Apple Maps (or any other competitor) has no chance of catching up. NOTE: tons of images/gifs.


Thousands in China watch as 10 people sentenced to death in sport stadium

TIL that China "executes more people every year than the rest of the world combined" and that "Chinese courts have a 99.9% conviction rate" (holy shit). There's not a deep read in this article besides the chilling details: an open air sentencing witnessed by thousands of people, some students in uniforms. The executions didn't happen in front of people, but still: it's chilling and more than a little eerie.


Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear

Yeah, I'm just gonna say it: x-risk is stupid. We're far more likely to die from capitalism--in fact, people die from capitalism every day. (Or the way it's currently structured, or its current phase, or whatever qualifier you want... gotta make sure the state doesn't think I'm one of those durn socialists.) Anyhow, this article is about Silicon Valley's weird obsession with the end of the world via AI as opposed to the current end of the world, being corporate greed and systemic human and market exploitation.


A Federal Ban on Making Lethal Viruses Is Lifted

Dear Government: are you trying to kill us all? Sincerely, me, a concerned citizen. OK, granted, a scientific panel must decide that the benefits justify the risks, and that the work is scientifically sound and will be done in a high-security lab. Of course, this sounds like the restrictions around every genetically-engineered-killer-zombie-virus movie I've ever seen--we swear, this research had to be done until oh god what has science wrought and finally folly is man and only Tom Cruise can save us.