Africa GIFs, Pharmaceutical Company Lobbying, Thames Water, More: Wednesday Buzz, October 17, 2018


Cosmopolitan South Africa: Africa’s Official Database Of GIFs is Here!. “If you don’t scroll past at least one GIF per day, you haven’t lived. They’ve pretty much taken over the online space but up until now, there haven’t been that many local GIFs available to use. That’s where 22-year-old, Lelo Macheke comes in! The Johannesburg native has launched GOWISHA or aka Africa’s Official Database Of GIFs – and we’re obsessed!” I mentioned Mr. Macheke in 2017, but at that point his collection was a GIPHY page. This seems much more extensive.

The Daily Beast: Reps. Greg Walden and Kevin McCarthy Get Tons of Money From Big Pharma. “As voters prepare to go to the polls, they can use a new database, ‘Pharma Cash to Congress,’ tracking up to 10 years of pharmaceutical company contributions to any or all members of Congress, illuminating drugmakers’ efforts to influence legislation.”

Thames Water: New 150-year digital archive captures growth of London. “Thousands of never-before-seen images documenting Thames Water’s past and the growth of London are now available to the public after a mammoth archiving project. The historic photographs of iconic and critical sites, including Walthamstow reservoirs, Abbey Mills pumping station and Beckton sewage works, from across the capital span almost a century, from 1886 to 1976, and can be downloaded for free.”


CNET: Facebook will ban false voting information during midterm elections, report says. “In an effort to battle voter manipulation on its platform, Facebook will reportedly ban misinformation about voting leading up to and during the US midterm elections in November.” Is anyone taking bets on how much Facebook will actually enforce this policy? I’ve got some money to put on “minimally if at all.”

Internet Archive: Internet Archive expands access to millions of books for people with disabilities. “Now, disabled users that are certified by a growing number of organizations can borrow hundreds of thousands of modern books and download mostly older books all for free. Individuals that are already a qualified user of NLS-BARD, Bookshare, or Ontario Council of University Libraries Scholar’s Portal (ACE) can link their accounts and gain access.”

TechCrunch: Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks publicly for the first time about its censored China search engine . “Commenting publicly for the first time about Google’s censored search engine for China, CEO Sundar Pichai said onstage at the WIRED 25 summit in San Francisco that the company is taking ‘a longer-term view’ about the country. Codenamed Project Dragonfly, the controversial development has been public knowledge since a report in August by the Intercept, generating significant backlash, with several employees resigning in protest.”


Lifehacker: Quickly Understand Complicated Ballot Initiatives in Your State Using This Site. “If the past few years have taught us as a nation nothing, it’s that we all should not only vote, but be informed about what we’re voting about. With all the information out there, figuring out what every item on the ballot means can be a daunting proposition.”


Reuters: Google latest to withdraw from Saudi conference. “Pressure has mounted on Saudi Arabia since prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi policies, went missing. He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Google said in a statement that Google Cloud Chief Executive Diane Greene would not attend the Future Investment Initiative Summit scheduled to be held in Riyadh starting Oct. 23.”

Huffpost: From Old Letters Preserved In Godrej Cabinets To One-Of-A-Kind Scientific Equipment, A Peek Inside NCBS Bengaluru’s Upcoming Scientific Archive. “Walking into what looked like a disused laboratory at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bengaluru, Venkat Srinivasan looked back with an apologetic smile. ‘This is just temporary, while we prepare the space downstairs,’ he said. The room still had some equipment, but that was not what we were here to see.”


The Register: Dating app for Trump loners commits YUGE blunder: It leaks more than the West Wing. “A much-hyped dating site for Donald Trump supporters in the US is being blasted for shoddy security that may have exposed all of its users to eavesdropping and account theft.”

Ars Technica: Already facing an uphill misinformation fight, Facebook loses to scammers, too. “Responding to critics in the US Congress and elsewhere who say Facebook isn’t doing enough to stop the flow of disinformation, the social network in recent days has purged hundreds of accounts it found were designed to sway elections, sow social division, and prop up ruthless governments. The focus has left an opening for scammers who routinely use Facebook to send unsuspecting users to fraudulent dating sites.”


Wolfram Blog: Revisiting the Disputed Federalist Papers: Historical Forensics with the Chaos Game Representation and AI. “In 1944 Douglass Adair published ‘The Authorship of the Disputed Federalist Papers,’ wherein he proposed that [James] Madison had been the author of all 12. It was not until 1963, however, that a statistical analysis was performed. In ‘Inference in an Authorship Problem,’ Frederick Mosteller and David Wallace concurred that Madison had indeed been the author of all of them. An excellent account of their work, written much later, is Mosteller’s ‘Who Wrote the Disputed Federalist Papers, Hamilton or Madison?.’ His work on this had its beginnings also in the 1940s, but it was not until the era of ‘modern’ computers that the statistical computations needed could realistically be carried out.” Good morning, Internet…

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