ISSUE 2.19

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Screen Blind

Deep fakes for representation in film, good luck being an open mind, losing our vision to screens, time travelers, and more.


What Are Screens Doing to Our Eyes—and Our Ability to See?

"Screen-borne eyesight problems". Shiver. As someone who basically stares at a computer almost every single waking hour of the day, I have noticed my eyesight getting worse. I'm 26! What's happening?! This article goes beyond just a clinical, medical look at vision loss, though--it's a contemplation on our lives in an endless arms race against the ability of technology (screen and lens) to brighten and enhance the thing that we're pretty sure is ruining our vision in the first place. Of course, blindness is an occupational hazard for many--academics, ship lookouts, welders, ice fisherman--but only recently is it an impact for pretty much fucking everyone.


The Key to Good Luck Is an Open Mind

It turns out that they studied luck, and came away with one primary conclusion: having an open mind and positive outlook is a big part of it. People who consider themselves lucky are lucky, but mostly because they actually pay attention to opportunities, talk to strangers, and look for money on the ground. Seriously, people who consider themselves unlucky were mostly completely blind to the money that researchers put in their path. Mindset does matter, a heck of a lot. (Do what I do--save your pessimism for specific situations where pessimism is well-applied, like programming, interactions with megacorporations, and expiration dates on food.)


Cloak and Data: The Real Story Behind Cambridge Analytica’s Rise and Fall

Turns out that Cambridge Analytica was a total shitshow built on fake marketing and classic we-swear-it's-almost-done-ism from the beginnings of its involvement with Ted Cruz's (failed) nomination campaign, the backing of Mr. rich Robert Mercer, and a con artist named Nix. If you were looking for the background, deep story behind the Cambridge Analytica mess, Mother Jones is here to give you the details.


The Rise in Self-Proclaimed Time Travelers

Have you heard the one about the time traveler who averted civil war by convincing the U.S. to let 9/11 happen? Yeah, that one's not a joke--it's a wild internet conspiracy theory. He returned to 2001 in order to pick up an old IBM to avoid the year 2038 problem (where UNIX timestamps overflow signed 32-bit integers, which very well may cause the end of the entire fucking world). In this article is stories of more time travelers--and why they're showing up all of a sudden. Reasons include warning us to change our ways and warning us that Trump will be elected to a second term, among others. They're all tremendously, obviously fake, but they appear to make money (which is what it comes down to in the end). Shit, if I could actually travel through time, I'd certainly try to make bank off of naive pasties. As in, past-ies. Not pasties, the things you put on your nipples.


#StarringJohnCho Level 2: Using DeepFakes for Representation [5:07]

Avi Bagla (@avibagla), general cool guy and previous RetailMeNot-er, where I worked, used deepfakes technology for social justice. Avi talks about his motivation and process up front, and videos of the main effects kick in around 2:45, where he has replaced Ryan Gosling in La La Land with John Cho. This is great, because it allows me to more easily fantasize that I'd have even the slightest chance of falling in love with and then eventually abandoning Emma Stone for my obsessively-pursued jazz club. Seriously though, Asian men (and women) have extremely poor representation in American film (besides as the butt of a joke or a fetish), and projects like these can help normalize and build empathy for different types of faces, and thus different types of people. BTW, did you know that the reason there are so many Thai restaurants in the U.S. is because they're encouraged by the Thai government as a form of gastrodiplomacy?


Rise of the DIY Death Machines

"In 1996, Philip Nitschke used a computer to facilitate the first legal euthanasia in history. Today, he is teaching elderly people how to buy Bitcoin, use encrypted messaging, and navigate the dark web to end their lives on their own terms." An interesting look into enabling us to choose our own deaths, and how it intertwines with the latest technology--including, of course, Bitcoin.