Vol 2.21 | 05.24.19

Read time: 3 minutes
“Alexa, Am I Depressed?”

Just typing that hypothetical question feels a bit silly, and yet that’s not too far beyond what Amazon is actually working towards: teaching a wearable, Alexa-enabled device to “recognize human emotions … [and] be able to advise the wearer how to interact more effectively with others.”

What we need are more algorithms shaping how we interact with other people, because Facebook and Twitter haven’t quite broken us yet.

“The Real You” by Andrew Jasinski

How Long Is Long Enough?

25 years ago, Michael Thompson began serving a prison sentence for selling 3 lbs of pot to a police informant. He is now 68 years old, and still has 15-35 years to go. (His sentence was enhanced because of a prior record and having a firearm in his possession at home – although it wasn’t used as part of the drug sale).

As of last year, selling marijuana — even 3 lbs (or ~$20,000 worth) — is no longer illegal in Michigan. As more states move towards legalizing the possession, use, and sale of marijuana/pot/cannabis, policymakers are going to be faced with more questions like this: should large numbers of people (mostly men and mostly minorities) continue to be locked away for acts that are no longer illegal?

As a former prosecutor who prosecuted my fair share of pot-related crimes, put me down in ink on the side of “No. No, they should not.”

Lessons From the Stealth Fighter That Lost

Almost 30 years ago, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman aimed their stealth Advanced Tactical Fighter prototypes at each other and went head-to-head in a design and performance competition. At stake was the multi-billion-dollar USAF contract to build the next generation replacement for the venerable F-15 Eagle built by McDonnell Douglas. Lockheed’s YF-22 won, and went on to become the F-22 RaptorNorthrop’s YF-23 lost, and the two prototype aircraft were donated to NASA and have been living as museum pieces in California ever since.

As the Air Force begins the study process for what will replace the Raptor, the legacy of the prototype plane that never turned into a production fighter offers some lessons.

“It’s like Moneyball for cattle.”

I knew that data collection and analysis is changing everything, but I never would’ve guessed it would be the reason great steaks can be had from places like WalMart and Costco as easily as at a Jeff Ruby steakhouse. (Of course, the difference worth paying Jeff Ruby for is in the cooking…) This from Bloomberg offers a fascinating look into how “science and math have transformed the steak industry in less than a generation.”

“It was bigger than hula hoops and bigger than TV dinners.”

Before you could search YouTube for a tutorial on painting a landscape, and before Bob Ross was helping PBS viewers appreciate the joy of painting “happy trees,” aspiring hobbyists had another way to learn to paint: paint-by-number kits. What started as a fad in the 1950’s continues even today, and all thanks to the creative invention of Dan Robbins. Artsy’s Alexxa Gotthardt has the story behind the staple of DIY pop art.