Tag Archives: Someone

Why Someone Put a Giant, Inflatable Bitcoin Rat on Wall Street, Facing the Federal Reserve Bank
October 13, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

Bitcoin was created in part out of a distrust of centralized authorities like the Federal Reserve. Now a symbol of the cryptocurrency’s growing threat to the Fed stands on Wall Street: a giant, inflatable rat covered in crypto code.

The bitcoin rat, first noted on Reddit, was created by Nelson Saiers, an artist and former hedge fund manager, according to Coindesk. The art installation, which appeared earlier this week and is temporary, is intended as much as a tribute to bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto as much as it is a condemnation of the Fed and critics of cryptocurrencies.

“The sculpture’s supposed to kind of reflect the spirit of Satoshi and what he’s trying to do,” Saiers told Coindesk, who noted the rat image was inspired in part by another titan of traditional finance. “Warren Buffett called bitcoin ‘rat poison squared’ but if the Fed’s a rat, then maybe rat poison is a good thing,” he said.

Fed officials have made comments on cryptocurrencies that range from the critical to the conciliatory. Last December, former Fed Chair Janet Yellen called it a “highly speculative asset” that “doesn’t constitute legal tender.” In April, one Fed official claimed bitcoin couldn’t replace the dollar, while another conceded it’s “like regular currency” in that it has no intrinsic value.

Inflatable rats have become a staple of union protests during the past quarter century, so much so that a few companies specialize in renting them out to organizers. “Rat” is not only an epithet thrown at nonunion contractors, it symbolizes greedy, unscrupulous behavior ascribed to companies opposing unions.

“This is a very iconic image for protest,” Saiers told blockchain news site Breaker. “Somewhere in the heart of bitcoin is a bit of protest of big bank bailouts.”

That idea appeared to be lost on some Redditors, who claimed they spotted the bitcoin rat in the wilds of Wall Street but didn’t immediately see its significance. “I walked past it today,” one wrote. “Had no idea it was about Bitcoin.” “It’s cool, but people walking by won’t understand it,” said another. “I don’t even understand it. Needs a BTC logo or something.”


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Science Says This is the Best Way to Persuade Someone Who's Wrong (Jeff Bezos Will Hate It)
June 17, 2018 6:11 pm|Comments (0)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

In today’s America, we tend to feel gray areas are a touch passé.

You’re either right or you’re wrong. And if you can’t see which you are, then you’re two slices short of a sandwich.

How, though, can you even begin to persuade someone who’s mistaken — or even worse, vehemently disagrees with you?

A new study makes a curious suggestion, one that won’t please everyone.

The study, conducted by Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College and Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter, is entitled The roles of information deficits and identity threat in the prevalence of misperceptions.

They’re very polite about the fountains of knowledge pouring into today’s humans.

“Why do so many Americans hold misperceptions?” the researchers ask. 

To which I reply: “Why do many Americans now put mis in front of pleasant words, instead of calling them that they really are? Lying has become misspeaking? Oh, I don’t think it has.”


Nyhan and Reifler come to a startling, even painful conclusion: “In three experiments, we find that providing information in graphical form reduces misperceptions. A third study shows that this effect is greater than for equivalent textual information.”

Yes, if you want to persuade your half-cut, halfwitted neighbor or colleague about the parlous state of the world and the dangers of fascism/socialism/democracy/self-help books, your best bet is to show them a chart.

Worse, it seems that a chart is better than even text. Goodness, is that where I’ve been going wrong all my life?

I can, though, already see Jeff Bezos’s eyes rolling into the back of his head and emerging with a very red hue.

As the Amazon CEO explained in his latest letter to shareowners: “We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos. We silently read one at the beginning of each meeting in a kind of ‘study hall.'”

So no slides or charts and graphics for Bezos. All he wants is a short story. Could he, perhaps, misperceive the benefits of charts? 

Still, charts surely can’t be so effective, otherwise everyone would have tried them. 

Moreover, it’s not as if you can create a chart to describe every false belief. How, for example, do you create a chart for a CEO who simply thinks his touch and feel is always right?

Nyhan and Reifler explain that a considerable reason why people hold on to false information is purely psychological. It confirms their world view.

“On high-profile issues, many of the misinformed are likely to have already encountered and rejected correct information that was discomforting to their self-concept or worldview,” they say.

Yes, but it’s not as if that nice man on CNN with his Election Night charts has ever persuaded many people, is it?

Expect, though, the rising stars in many companies now rushing to create charts in order to show that they’re right and their brain-manacled bosses are wrong. 

Expect, too, that American politics will now be revolutionized with the presentation of definitive charts of right and wrong.

You think I’m wrong about that? 

Send me a chart to show me why.


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What It Means When Someone Stops Posting on Facebook
December 1, 2017 12:19 pm|Comments (0)

For millions of people around the world, posting to Facebook is a routine affair that happens daily, if not multiple times a day. But it’s not uncommon for someone to dramatically slow how much they post, or to stop posting altogether and “go dark”. What does it mean when this happens? Should you worry? Here are some possibilities about what might be happening.

Facebook silence on personal accounts

1. The person is seriously busy.

This is the simplest explanation for Facebook darkness. Research shows that people spend an average of 135 minutes a day on social media. But an individual might put Facebook on the back burner if other demands–for example, a stretch project or transitioning to a new technology system in the office–intensify.

2. The individual is taking time to unplug.

In recent years, the concept of “unplugging” or spending time without technology has gained a ton of steam. The idea is, when you get off Facebook or other social media, you get to reconnect with yourself and others and remember what’s really important. Many people who go dark for this reason will put up a courtesy post saying they won’t be on Facebook for a while, but they don’t always do this.   

3. The person is frustrated or discouraged with what they see coming across their Facebook feed.

Social media can be saturated with all kinds of drama, whether it’s people ending romantic relationships or spewing political rhetoric. People sometimes get to a point where they find these kinds of interactions draining, and they’ll pull back from using Facebook as a result. When they feel like the drama is quieting, or when their circumstances are less stressful and enable them to cope better, they come back to the platform. It’s worth noting here, too, that experts have found using social media often eats away at self-esteem because of the way people compare themselves to what they see. People sometimes need a Facebook hiatus to stop feeling like they’re less worthy.

4. The person is depressed for reasons outside of Facebook.

Withdrawal from friends and family is one of the most basic symptoms of depression. But because so much of the interaction we do now is Internet based, inactivity on a social media account after an extended pattern of consistent interaction should be viewed under the same lens as face-to-face withdrawal. Looking at the tone of what the person posted before their Facebook silence might give you a sense of whether the person is struggling.

Facebook silence on business accounts

Facebook business accounts might be manned by a single marketing or social media expert, but the posts represent the pulse of the entire business. Even if a company decides that other marketing and forms of interaction give better results, most companies won’t cut posts altogether. They avoid total darkness because they understand that social still reaches a percentage of their audience. Extended silence thus usually is reason for concern. The company might be experiencing some major internal changes. They go dark, even when they sincerely value transparency, because they don’t have a clear goal or direction they can communicate to customers in writing.

What to do to turn the light back on

At the very least, for individuals, Facebook silence signals that a person needs a break, if only to rest or reaffirm the joy of life outside of devices. At worst, it signals that the individual is going through a period of real emotional suffering. Darkness from a company similarly means that the business likely is in some degree of turmoil. In all cases, seeing silence is your cue to ask face-to-face if you can help. Maybe they can delegate to you, for example, or you could offer some feedback to the company. The bottom line is, don’t let your response to Facebook silence be more silence.


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Someone Is Trying to Scrub Trump’s Name From the Wikipedia Page of Lieberman’s Law Firm
June 13, 2017 12:02 pm|Comments (0)

There’s a Wikipedia edit war going on right now on the page of the law firm of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman. That wouldn’t be notable except for the fact that someone is trying to scrub Donald Trump’s name from the page and Joe Lieberman is a special counsel at the firm. Lieberman is a frontrunner to head the…

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