Early Wyoming Photography, Congressional Stock Trading, Twitter, More: Tuesday ResearchBuzz, August 3, 2021


New-to-me from New Yorker, discovered via Kottke: A Woman’s Intimate Record of Wyoming in the Early Twentieth Century. “Between 1899 and her death, in 1962, [Lora Webb] Nichols created and collected some twenty-four thousand negatives documenting life in her small Wyoming town, whose fortunes boomed and then busted along with the region’s copper mines. What Nichols left behind might be the largest photographic record of this era and region in existence: thousands of portraits, still-lifes, domestic interiors, and landscapes, all made with an unfussy, straightforward, often humorous eye toward the small textures and gestures of everyday life.” The best word for this photography is “charming.” Absolutely unfussy but so full of detail and life.

Markets Insider: Want to win big like Nancy Pelosi’s husband? A new website tracks what politicians and their families are trading. “Legislators have to report what securities they buy and sell, thanks to the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act – known as the STOCK Act. German company 2iQ’s Capitol Trades service, launched Monday, has brought together all of those filings in an enormous, free database that lets users see what politicians are trading and filter by asset class.”


CNET: Twitter now supports Apple and Google sign-in options. “Twitter has added the ability to sign in to the app with your Google account or Apple ID. Signing in with your Google account will work on the Twitter app or on the web, according to Twitter Support on Monday. For now, if you want to use your Apple ID, it’ll only work on the app, according to the tweet.”

Google Blog: Cheer on the finalists of our Indie Games Festival. “On September 4, we’re celebrating some of the best indie talent on Google Play during the Indie Games Festival finals for Europe, Japan and South Korea. This year the three festivals are virtual, so you can join us to discover the games, meet the developers who created them, cheer them on and be the first to hear who the winners are.”


Washington Post: How the long-dead public-television painter Bob Ross became a streaming phenomenon (and kicked up plenty of dirt in the process). “Netflix has its towering complex in Hollywood. Disney Plus has its famed Burbank, Calif., lot. But it may be an anonymous office park in Herndon, Va. — next door to a used-computer store just four miles from Dulles Airport — where some of the most cutting-edge streaming work is being shaped. The space houses the roughly dozen employees of Bob Ross Inc., which controls its namesake’s likeness and steers its future, fielding the numerous licensing suitors who blow up its suburban phone lines. Run by a little-known family-business executive named Joan Kowalski, the firm has turned a public-television painter who died 26 years ago into a supremely unlikely hero of the digital video age.”

Berkeley News: Berkeley Talks: Roger McNamee on his quest to stop Facebook. “In episode 120 of Berkeley Talks, longtime venture capitalist Roger McNamee discusses how he, an early investor in Facebook and former adviser to Mark Zuckerberg, came to realize the damage caused by the social media giant and others like it, and how he’s committed to try to stop them.” This is a one-hour video, but I spot-checked it and it appears to be completely captioned.

Wired: Phantom Warships Are Courting Chaos in Conflict Zones. “According to analysis conducted by conservation technology nonprofit SkyTruth and Global Fishing Watch, over 100 warships from at least 14 European countries, Russia, and the US appear to have had their locations faked, sometimes for days at a time, since August 2020. Some of these tracks show the warships approaching foreign naval bases or intruding into disputed waters, activities that could escalate tension in hot spots like the Black Sea and the Baltic. Only a few of these fake tracks have previously been reported, and all share characteristics that suggest a common perpetrator.”


TechCrunch: Amazon will pay you $10 in credit for your palm print biometrics. “The retail and cloud giant says its palm scanning hardware ‘captures the minute characteristics of your palm — both surface-area details like lines and ridges as well as subcutaneous features such as vein patterns — to create your palm signature,’ which is then stored in the cloud and used to confirm your identity when you’re in one of its stores.”

USA Today: Biden wants more transparency for police disciplinary records. Experts say it’s harder than it sounds.. “The George Floyd Justice Policing Act of 2021, introduced originally in 2020, would create a federal registry of police misconduct complaints and disciplinary actions. The bill passed through the House on mostly party lines in early March but has met gridlock in Senate. But the move to make the records public is more difficult than it seems, experts say. Here’s why.”

BBC: Zoom settles US class action privacy lawsuit for $86m. “Video-conferencing firm Zoom has agreed to pay $86m (£61.9m) to settle a class action privacy lawsuit in the US. The lawsuit alleged that Zoom had invaded the privacy of millions of users by sharing personal data with Facebook, Google and LinkedIn.”


Columbia Climate School: New York City’s Hidden Old-Growth Forests. “Historic preservation has never been New York’s strong point; about 1,000 old buildings are demolished or gut-renovated every year, the remains mostly going to landfills. Now, a team from the Tree Ring Laboratory at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is harnessing the destruction to systematically mine torn-out timbers for data. Annual growth rings from trees that were young in the 1500s may offer records of past climate no longer available from living trees. Studies of timber species, ages and provenances can shed light on the history of U.S. logging, commerce and transport.”

Boing Boing: How dumb Social Media rules punished me for a Lovecraftian parody of Billy Joel. “I realize that this is standard practice for this kind of intellectual property dispute: the social media company relies on overly-aggressive algorithms and always errs on the side of the powerful corporate complaint and removes the content until it’s proven innocent. It’s … not a great system.” Good morning, Internet…

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