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News 06.07.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 06.07.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 06.07.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 06.07.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Uber’s Path of Destruction

Since it began operations in 2010, Uber has grown to the point where it now collects over $45 billion in gross passenger revenue, and it has seized a major share of the urban car service market. But the widespread belief that it is a highly innovative and successful company has no basis in economic reality.

An examination of Uber’s economics suggests that it has no hope of ever earning sustainable urban car service profits in competitive markets. Its costs are simply much higher than the market is willing to pay, as its nine years of massive losses indicate. Uber not only lacks powerful competitive advantages, but it is actually less efficient than the competitors it has been driving out of business.

Uber’s investors, however, never expected that their returns would come from superior efficiency in competitive markets. Uber pursued a “growth at all costs” strategy financed by a staggering $20 billion in investor funding. This funding subsidized fares and service levels that could not be matched by incumbents who had to cover costs out of actual passenger fares. Uber’s massive subsidies were explicitly anticompetitive—and are ultimately unsustainable—but they made the company enormously popular with passengers who enjoyed not having to pay the full cost of their service.

Read the rest of this article at: American Affairs

News 06.07.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Overlooked No More: Alan Turing, Condemned Code Breaker and Computer Visionary

News 06.07.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

LONDON — His genius embraced the first visions of modern computing and produced seminal insights into what became known as “artificial intelligence.” As one of the most influential code breakers of World War II, his cryptology yielded intelligence believed to have hastened the Allied victory.

But, at his death several years later, much of his secretive wartime accomplishments remained classified, far from public view in a nation seized by the security concerns of the Cold War. Instead, by the narrow standards of his day, his reputation was sullied.

On June 7, 1954, Alan Turing, a British mathematician who has since been acknowledged as one the most innovative and powerful thinkers of the 20th century — sometimes called the progenitor of modern computing — died as a criminal, having been convicted under Victorian laws as a homosexual and forced to endure chemical castration. Britain didn’t take its first steps toward decriminalizing homosexuality until 1967.

Only in 2009 did the government apologize for his treatment.

“We’re sorry — you deserved so much better,” said Gordon Brown, then the prime minister. “Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted, as he was, under homophobic laws were treated terribly.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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Are These Teenagers Really Running a Presidential Campaign? Yes. (Maybe.)

ach Montellaro, a Politico reporter, reads the Federal Election Commission website like a tabloid. He not only trawls the big, dry database in which presidential candidates register to run; he also reads several smaller aftermarket ones that reformat the filings from the first. On Twitter, he follows F.E.C. bots that tweet out campaign filings as they post. On the night of March 19, he was up late when one such tweet, from @CATargetBot, crossed his feed: “NEW FEC F1 #POTUS Mike Gravel for President Exploratory Committee.”

At first, Montellaro wasn’t sure if the filing was real. He remembered Gravel from the 2008 Democratic primary. The former Alaska senator, once well known for helping disseminate the Pentagon Papers, was 77 then. His run, when it’s remembered at all, is recounted as a kind of Dada diversion that began with a silent art-house film of the candidate throwing a rock into a lake and peaked in the primary debates, with Gravel pointing fingers, castigating war hawks, roasting Joe Biden, embarrassing himself and asking future President Obama, “Barack, who do you want to nuke?”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 06.07.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Glorious, Almost-disconnected Boredom Of My Walk In Japan

News 06.07.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

THE JAZZ CAFE was tiny, with a few polished wood tables, a record collection on display, and two beautiful speakers. The owner, in his 70s, wore a porkpie hat and a sleeve garter. I’d stumbled into this place during a long walk through a stretch of rural Japan. I had a coffee while listening to an original pressing of Miles Davis performing in Tokyo, and afterward, the owner looked me in the eye and said: “I want you to give me a present. I want you to tell me one thing you love about Japan.”

I thought for a second, and unable to name just one, answered, with overly earnest awkwardness: the health care system, the lack of guns, the safety. I’m an American, so I suppose these things are on my mind. But I’ve also lived in Japan for nearly 20 years, and these qualities still impress me. When I walked into the jazz cafe, I had been walking for 25 days across the country and had never once worried about my safety. It’s not that I feel especially unsafe when walking around the US, but I feel the constant hum of violence in the background. In contrast, on this walk in Japan everyone was courteous. Lovely, even. Sometimes a bit bossy, but never malicious. Did I have to sneak out of a barely functioning inn in the middle of the night because the room smelled overbearingly of urine? Sure. But what I saw around me were people who were taken care of—by their families, communities, government—a feeling which, in turn, made me feel hopeful in the biggest, most cosmic way of being hopeful.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

History’s Greatest Horse Racing Cheat and His Incredible Painting Trick

News 06.07.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The bathtub was still full of champagne when Peter Christian Barrie barged into the gamblers’ hotel room just after dawn on Labor Day in 1926 with bad news to share.

The party had been rolling since Saturday at the Congress Hotel in downtown Chicago, and as the sun rose on Monday there were still some women over, and everyone was half-drunk. The gamblers, described enigmatically in the New York Daily News a decade later as “a railroad man and a local millionaire,” were celebrating the $250,000 they planned to win that afternoon at Lincoln Fields, a new racetrack 30 miles south of the city.

Nothing is certain on the thoroughbred racetrack, but the men thought they had something as close to can’t-lose as it gets. Their planned coup wasn’t exactly on the level, but it wasn’t exactly illegal either. It relied somewhat on the gullibility of the betting public, but mostly on the extraordinary talents of Barrie, the Scottish horseman who blew into their pre-race victory celebration with a warning that all was not well.

Barrie had red cheeks, black hair, and an indistinct sort of face that could pass as a stablehand’s or a stockbroker’s, depending on the exigencies of the particular con he was running at the moment. His antecedents were hazy: A veteran of the Battle of Gallipoli and Dartmoor Prison, he trailed alibis like ex-lovers.

He was a master, at 38, of the various measures a man could take to bend the odds at the track. He knew, for example, just how much heroin to shoot into a horse’s neck to make him “think he was Pegasus,” as the Daily News put it in 1932 (about 30 milligrams by hypodermic needle, or 160 milligrams down the throat).

But it was Barrie’s fingernails that told the story of his particular genius: They were nearly gone, eaten away by the bleach and ammonia he rubbed into the hides of thoroughbred horses so that racetrack stewards, detectives, jockeys, and even the horse’s own trainers mistook them for entirely different creatures.

The horse bleaching was in the service of an elegant scam that the gamblers called “ringing.” You take two horses, one slow and one fast. The very slow one doesn’t actually need to exist, but it’s convenient if it does. You enter the slow horse in a race for slow horses, but on the day of the race, run the fast one instead. No one but you and the gangsters staking you know that the slow horse is really the fast one, so the horse goes off at long odds, and when he wins, you clean up.

Read the rest of this article at: Narratively

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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