Tagweird_shit

A Weird Hum Is Driving People Insane — And Nobody Knows What’s Causing It

The Hum

Jared Keller writes:

“The Hum” refers to a mysterious sound heard in places around the world by a small fraction of a local population. It’s characterized by a persistent and invasive low-frequency rumbling or droning noise often accompanied by vibrations. While reports of “unidentified humming sounds” pop up in scientific literature dating back to the 1830s, modern manifestations of the contemporary hum have been widely reported by national media in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia since the early 1970s.

Regional experiences of the phenomenon vary, and the Hum is often prefixed with the region where the problem centers, like the “Windsor Hum” in Ontario, Canada, the “Taos Hum” in New Mexico, or the “Auckland Hum” for Auckland, New Zealand. Somewhere between 2 and 10% of people can hear the Hum, and inside isolation is no escape. Most sufferers find the noise to be more disturbing indoors and at night. Much to their dismay, the source of the mysterious humming is virtually untraceable.

Full Story: Policy.Mic: A Mysterious Sound Is Driving People Insane — And Nobody Knows What’s Causing It

(Thanks Skry)

See also:

The Hum (Wikipedia)

A website dedicated to the Hum

The World Hum Map and Database

Data Doppelgängers and the Uncanny Valley of Personalization

Sara Watson writes:

“What is it about my data that suggests I might be a good fit for an anorexia study?” That’s the question my friend Jean asked me after she saw this targeted advertisement on her Facebook profile: [...]

She came up with a pretty good hypothesis. Jean is an MIT computer scientist who works on privacy programming languages. Because of her advocacy work on graduate student mental health, her browsing history and status updates are full of links to resources that might suggest she’s looking for help. Maybe Facebook inferred what Jean cares about, but not why.

Days later, I saw a similar ad. Unlike Jean, I didn’t have a good explanation for why I might have been targeted for the ad, which led me to believe that it could be broadly aimed at all women between the ages of 18 and 45 in the greater Boston area. (When I clicked to learn more about the study, this was listed as the target demographic.)

Still, it left us both with the unsettling feeling that something in our data suggests anorexia

Full Story: Data Doppelgängers and the Uncanny Valley of Personalization

See also: Facebook Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out:
The scary future of digital gerrymandering—and how to prevent it

Google Admits to Being Behind the Webdriver Torso Mystery

Webdriver Torso

I hadn’t seen this last week when I posted about Webdriver Torso, but the BBC reports that Google has admitted to being behind the weird YouTube channel:

In an official statement, Google said: “We’re never gonna give you uploading that’s slow or loses video quality, and we’re never gonna let you down by playing YouTube in poor video quality.

“That’s why we’re always running tests like Webdriver Torso.”

Its light-hearted statement echoes 1980s pop star Rick Astley’s hit song Never Gonna Give You Up in reference to a recent Webdriver Torso video which showed the singer in silhouette.

Full Story: BBC: Google behind Webdriver Torso mystery

(Thanks Deb)

Actually, I think Google did let us down, but ruining the fun of speculating what the channel is actually about. But yes, the truth is also pretty interesting. Who would have thought test patterns would make the jump to streaming internet video?

What is Webdriver Torso?

Boing Boing calls it the numbers station of the internet. But no one knows for sure. The vast majority of the 80,000+ videos on this mysterious YouTube channel are like the one above: 10 slides in eleven seconds. But there are some… notable exceptions:

The Onion AV Club sums up the speculation:

But the most intriguing mystery by far is the channel’s origins. No one has stepped forward to claim credit for Webdriver Torso; earlier this month, The Guardian thought they had explained the mystery as a series of test patterns used by a European telecom company, but that turned out to be a dead end. Now all eyes are on Google as Webdriver Torso conspiracy theorists claim to have traced the channel back to Google’s offices in Zurich. YouTube’s themed search results for the channel could be seen as a tacit admission of guilt, as could the one comment Webdriver Torso has ever left on a video: “Matei is highly intelligent.” Could the Matei in question be Google Senior Research Scientist/robotics expert Matei Ciocarlie? Is Google developing a sentient YouTube channel that will one day rise up and enslave us all? Is Webdriver Torso secretly communicating with extraterrestrial life? Is it issuing commands to brainwashed operatives à la The Manchurian Candidate? Or maybe, just maybe, is this just some mundane technical exercise that Google isn’t bothering to explain because conspiracy theories are hilarious? Who knows.

Full Story: Onion AV Club: “Webdriver Torso” is either something incredibly sinister or nothing at all

(via Tim Maly)

Update: Turns out Google admitted to being behind this just days before I published this post.

Relax, the U.S. Military is Ready to Prevent the Zombie Apocalypse

960zombies_01

Apparently not a hoax, Foreign Policy reports:

Buried on the military’s secret computer network is an unclassified document, obtained by Foreign Policy, called “CONOP 8888.” It’s a zombie survival plan, a how-to guide for military planners trying to isolate the threat from a menu of the undead — from chicken zombies to vegetarian zombies and even “evil magic zombies” — and destroy them.

“This plan fulfills fictional contingency planning guidance tasking for U.S. Strategic Command to develop a comprehensive [plan] to undertake military operations to preserve ‘non-zombie’ humans from the threats posed by a zombie horde,” CONOP 8888’s plan summary reads. “Because zombies pose a threat to all non-zombie human life, [Strategic Command] will be prepared to preserve the sanctity of human life and conduct operations in support of any human population — including traditional adversaries.”

[...]

Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for Strategic Command, acknowledged the document exists on a “secure Internet site” but took pains to explain that the zombie survival guide is only a creative endeavor for training purposes. “The document is identified as a training tool used in an in-house training exercise where students learn about the basic concepts of military plans and order development through a fictional training scenario,” she wrote in an email. “This document is not a U.S. Strategic Command plan.”

Full Story: Foreign Policy: The Pentagon Has a Plan to Stop the Zombie Apocalypse. Seriously.

You can read the full document on Scribd.

Private companies are building their own spy agencies

Here’s the description of a talk that happened at Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs:

In today’s world, businesses are facing increasingly complex threats to infrastructure, finances, and information. The government is sometimes unable to share classified information about these threats. As a result, business leaders are creating their own intelligence capabilities within their companies.

This is not about time honored spying by businesses on each other, or niche security firms, but about a completely new use of intelligence by major companies to support their global operations.

The panelists examine the reasons for private sector intelligence: how companies organize to obtain it, and how the government supports them. “Is this a growing trend?” “How do companies collaborate in intelligence?” “How does the government view private intelligence efforts?” “How do private and government intelligence entities relate to one another?” “What does this all mean for the future of intelligence work?”

Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: Intelligence in the Private Sector

I’d love to find out more, or find a transcript or video of the talk.

(Thanks Tim Maly)

Alan Moore: I am not the Northampton Clown but it might be my fault

Northampton Clown

Alan Moore tells Northampton News:

“Apparently there had been a certain amount of comment on the internet suggesting probably some connection. No it’s not me.

“I am getting kind of used to this. After having a comic strip I wrote 30 years ago spewing masked anarchists across the global political stage for the past couple of years. Things that I write do have a tendency to spill into reality. Since that was one of the principles behind Jimmy’s End [an episode in The Show] – to blur the boundaries between one and the other – I suppose that getting clowns manifesting in my neighbourhood is only to be expected.

“We had only just done that thing on Kickstarter with His Heavy Heart which starts shooting in a few weeks. I had said it was about Strippers and Clowns. The suggestion is that there is some kind of dream time existing under Northampton and that occasionally things will break through from one realm to the other. It is just a demonstration that Jimmy’s End is a kind of a documentary. It’s reportage. We are not just making this shit up.”

Full Story: Northampton News: Alan Moore: I am not the Northampton Clown but it might be my fault

(via John Reppion)

Moorish American Nationals Attempting to Claim Foreclosed Homes Across the Country

The Washington Post reports:

Moorish American sovereigns get their name in part from the Moorish Science Temple of America, a religion formed in the early 20th century that preached obeying laws and had an uplifting message for African Americans: Be proud of who you are, said Spencer Dew, an expert on Moors and professor of religious studies at Centenary College of Louisiana.

But in the years since, a series of Moorish offshoots have twisted some tenets for their own gain — notably the idea that black people lived in what is now the United States long before the arrival of Europeans, Dew said.

Sovereign nationals, law enforcement officials say, use that tenet to justify the assertion that land instruments such as mortgages are not valid and that local laws do not have to be obeyed.

Moving into foreclosed or unoccupied houses is one of the more visible ways sovereign nationals break the law. The gambits are rarely successful, often ending within hours or days when neighbors call the police after noticing unusual activity or “No Trespassing” signs in the windows of the large residences sometimes targeted.

Sovereigns break other laws, too. They sometimes don’t register their cars with the local motor vehicles department, driving around instead with self-styled license tags. And they cause headaches for those who investigate them, targeting officials for retaliation by filing million-dollar liens on their properties. Police officers, judges and other public officials have had to take time off work or turn to lawyers to untangle their land records, several public officials said.

Full Story: Washington Post: ‘Moorish American national’ charged with trying to take mansion

(Thanks Bill)

See also: Moorish American Government website

Aspirational Weirdness

Rahel Aima on “aspirational weirdness”:

Whose future, and in whose name? I’m thinking about Joel Dinerstein’s writings on ‘techno-fundamentalism’ and ‘technology as White mythology’ here, certainly. But also about that particularly futuristy tic of aspirational weirdness. As in, what we want out of the future is not that it’s better or more comfortable or less ecologically destructive or more equitable or more just. What we want out of the future is that it’s weird, please let it be weird. Where does this come from? Is it a particularly classed, gendered, even racinated (?) thing?

Does aspirational weirdness assume the same kind of techtopianism as Clarke, where all the inequalities and injustices of today will somehow get vectorised and smoothed over? Or is it that these struggles frankly not on the radar for folks who aspire to—long for—weirdness? And now I’m wondering, how do you arrive at a praxical synthesis of weirdness and social justice? (Because undoubtedly, there’s something enticing and seductive about «weirdness» for me too.) I want to emphasise the praxical, because it’s all too easy to arrive at something that feels fresh, directional, transformative, but never manages to transcend the realm of aesthetics, especially with regards to ethnifuturisms. (Not that aesthetics aren’t equally as important. A future featuring people who look like me? Radical) And what’s more directional and transformative than social justice?

Full Story: The State: july 20, 1969 // 2019 & aspirational weirdness

I wish she’d included some examples here because I’m not quite sure I know what’s meant here. Like Rahel, I do long for MORE WEIRD. But I’m not I’ve come across anyone really saying “what we want out of the future is not that it’s better or more comfortable or less ecologically destructive or more equitable or more just. What we want out of the future is that it’s weird, please let it be weird.” On the other hand, unlike Rahel, I’m a white male and might just not be seeing it.

One thing I can say, though, is that sometimes it seems that people end up fetishizing certain types of futures, even if they sound unpleasant. One can’t help but think that the people stocking up their bunkers for the proverbial “big one” really do want it to come. Likewise, those obsessed with certain ultra-controlled, Orwellian futures also seem to actually look forward to them at some point — perhaps because they really want to have someone else make decisions for them in their lives, or perhaps because they want to be a part of the struggle against it. In that regard, it’s not hard to think that there are those of out there who fetishize weirder possibible futures — without much, if any, regard for social justice.

Sky TV May Pump Ads Straight Into Your Skull

The Verge reports:

Sky Deutschland, the German wing of TV provider Sky, is testing a marketing concept that may be pure evil genius, or possibly just pure evil. The BBC and others report that Sky Deutschland and advertising company BBDO have tested a concept that would pipe messages directly into the heads of people who try to rest or sleep against train windows. The idea, which was first unveiled at the advertising-focused Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in late June, is known as the Talking Window. It uses bone conduction like that found in headphones, hearing aids, and Google Glass to send vibrations through a window.

When a commuter leans against the window, he or she will hear a message that nobody else can, asking if they’re bored and want to download Sky’s mobile app.

Full Story: The Verge: Sky Deutschland campaign will pipe ads straight into train passengers’ skulls

(Thanks Skry)

Sky TV used to be co-owned by none other than Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, but it looks like they sold their share earlier this year.

For more on this technology see: New Hearing Aid Uses Your Tooth To Transmit Sound

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