Jared Kushner finally speaks and we cannot unhear it

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Jared Kushner finally speaks and we cannot unhear it

Why does this dude always look like he's the evil person in a movie who knows more than the other characters and wants the audience to know it?Why does this dude always look like he’s the evil person in a movie who knows more than the other characters and wants the audience to know it?

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

A long-gestating mystery to the American public has finally come to its dramatic conclusion: We now know what the voice of Jared Kushner sounds like.

Kusher — boyish prince, husband to a daughter of the president, also some sort of advisor to the president, winner of 2017’s Most Iconic Jerk Photo Award, real estate predator, possible vampire who emerges daily from a coffin embedded under a cherry tree somewhere in the greater D.C. area, a man who was reportedly keen on opening a backdoor with Russian government officials for reasons that are unclear but potentially illegal — spoke before tech executives on Monday, and people were very “whoa” because this, to our collective recollection, is the first time the American public has heard the man speak. 

The American public was not particularly impressed.

Now we have all heard the voice of the Kushner, and we cannot return. 

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Can Bitcoin Be Considered A Real Asset Class Or Currency?

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The global cryptocurrency sphere has taken a slight breather from an incredible rally from 18B total coin market cap at the start of 2017 to about 100B as of this writing, with Bitcoin (Pending:COIN) (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) trading at $2303 and $318 respectively. In this article I will talk about the seemingly irrational exuberance in this new “asset class”, and discuss some of the arguments from both sides.

Bitcoin

For those new to the cryptocurrency world, here is a quick summary of some important terms:

Cryptocurrency – A digital medium of exchange designed for peer-to-peer and payment transactions that utilizes blockchain technology to very and record transactions in a public distributed ledger.

Blockchain – Think about how transactions have been traditionally recorded, you have one book or excel sheet usually stored in one location. Sure you might have backups, but considering that there is generally one master copy, risks relating to tempering are high. With blockchain, you have multiple master copies, all stored in different locations. For each transaction on the blockchain, the respective transaction will have to be validated (proof-of-work) before confirmation and updating. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network. This decentralized system creates a highly secure platform and is very attractive to many organizations.

Currently, because of the huge increase in both the value and volume of transactions, the size limit of the individual block in the blockchain has caused certain issues with regards to transaction and validation time in bitcoin. Unfortunately, because of its decentralized system and large size, decreasing transaction timing has been somewhat of a challenge for bitcoin – especially with two very large and different opposing views on how this is to be achieved. Although I won’t go into too much details of the politics behind the two schools of thought, this has – to a lesser degree now – been a thorn in the price of bitcoin.

On 25 November 2016, Ernst and Young, released a press release stating that all Swiss employees will be provided digital wallets and bitcoin will be accepted as payments for its consultation services. Additionally, a bitcoin ATM will be installed in their offices in Switzerland. Many other large institutions and governments of developed countries have made progress in this digital transformation, be it in bitcoin or private blockchain development. And since April 1, 2017, bitcoin has been accepted as a legal payment method in Japan (not a joke). Clearly, the dawning of a cryptocurrency and blockchain age is very real. The question on many investors’ minds is, is its valuation justified?

Venezuela

A commonly repeated argument against bitcoin’s consideration as a currency is its high volatility. Consequently, such volatility is not absent from existing “currencies”. Mostly due to the fall in oil prices, the Venezuelan economy has been thrown into turmoil, with experts expecting inflation to go as high as 1600%. Unlike the Bolivar, a government can’t just print more Bitcoin. There’s no central agency regulating Bitcoin, allowing free market mechanisms to take hold. While the value of Bitcoin can (and does) change quite dramatically, the shifts aren’t as violent as the devaluation of Bolivar. In such situations, the true strength of bitcoin emerges. Unlike traditional currencies, you do not need to have a bank account or an intermediary to send/receive bitcoin. All you need is internet connection. Humanitarians can donate Bitcoin to those in need, who can then use Bitcoin to purchase goods through online retailers. Because of this, many Venezuelans are turning to Bitcoin as an alternative.

Which price is right?

With conventional valuation methods, it is impossible to determine a true price for bitcoin. It cannot be valued like a traditional currency because there are no economic nor interest rate factors in play. There are neither cash flows from which you can discount, nor EV/EBITDA-like margins you can compare against peers. I won’t even attempt to value it because any attempt would require too many assumptions and price derived would be nonsensical. That said, it is evident through the examples discussed that there is real substantial value here.

To give some context let’s take a look at one of the oldest asset class ever to exist: Gold

(Source: BullionByPost)

Even with gold, ex Federal Reserve Chairmen, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke couldn’t agree on whether gold is considered a currency. As you can see from the historical price chart of gold above, it too experienced large swings in prices – particularly the 7x increase from about 2000-2011 and subsequent correction.

(Source: CoinMarketCap)

True, the increase in market cap for bitcoin is dramatically greater than that of gold, but the point is that the definition of “currency” is not as straight forward as many people think. So don’t be too quick to discount bitcoin as a form of currency with real value.

Potential for hacks

Wherever there is money to be made, there will always be the good guys who try to make it legally and ethically, and the bad guys who try to take as much as they can get away with. Yes, because it is on a digital platform, you experience the risk of an online attack that might completely deplete your wallet of its coins – as compared to if you had kept it as cash under your mattress. Just as robbers will continue to attempt to rob banks, the risk of a hack will always be present. Fortunately, the same way banks can protect themselves from such an event, there are also ways to protect your digital wallet.

Ethereum

With over 700 digital currencies in existence, by transitive properties from bitcoin, does it also mean that they all have real value? The answer is no. Just like how there were numerous internet companies going IPO in the late 90s, many of these “coins” are worthless. The second largest coin by market cap, Ethereum , has also gained significant exposure and coverage, which is reflected in the price. But how does ETH compare to BTC?

Unlike BTC which has a limit of 21 million bitcoins, there is no cap to ETH. There is a steady state at which new ETH is being created, and while limited, it is susceptible to the same inflationary risks as would a currency controlled by a central government; Except in this case, a 23 year old, Vitalik Buterin. While there is no denying what this man has accomplished in his young age, his position as the founder of ETH introduces a huge risk in its lack of decentralization. He has a very strong influence over everything that happens with ETH, which goes against one of the key ideas behind cryptocurrency.

A part of the value case of ETH over BTC are its “smart contracts”, which allows companies/projects to raise funds easily on its platform. It is common knowledge to ETH holders that 30 large organizations, known as the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, which includes names like J.P. Morgan, and Microsoft, “use” ETH. Actually, what the alliance is utilizing are customized private versions of the decentralized computing network behind ETH, and incidentally, have zero exposure to the price swings or value of the currency. This does not necessarily mean that the platform has no value, but therein lies a common misconception and perhaps unseen risk to current/potential investors.

Ethereum Classic (ETC)

Ethereum Classic came into existence as a result of the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) hard-fork. The DAO, a set of smart contracts developed on the platform, was subjected to a spectacular exploit in June 2016 where USD$50M in ETH was claimed by an anonymous entity. The fork served to isolate the compromised system resulting from the exploit. People who held ETH from before the DAO hard fork have both a balance of ETC and an equal amount of ETH. Exchanges that held customer funds in Ethereum also held in their control a proportional quantity of ETC after the hard fork but may have lost significant amounts due to the lack of replay protection that was not programmed in the DAO Hard Fork code released by the Ethereum Foundation and exchanges lack of knowledge of how to separate ETC from ETH and secure it. Subsequently, ETH was forked twice more in response to other attacks. While the effects of the other two hard-forks were less significant than the first, trades are usually halted in the event of a hard-fork, posing huge risks to holders of ETH. Imagine half of your coins being worth significantly less due to a hard fork.

Despite starting off the article putting forth a case for BTC, I strongly believe that the cryptocurrency sphere is currently in a bubble. Greed is rampant in this realm, where new investors are throwing money at questionable coins hoping either to make a quick profit from flipping the initial coin offering (NYSE:ICO), or for it to become the next BTC or ETH.

Waves Platform

Another interesting thing that piqued my interest while doing research for this article is Waves Platform, which also benefited from the recent surge of money into cryptocurrency. It attempts to incorporate the benefits of a decentralized exchange and smart contracts, with a strong focus on auditability, ease of use and mass adoption. On the surface it looks to be able to perform the same functions as ETH and more without many of the risks involved. Given the weakness in cryptocurrency right now, I might initiate a position in this.

Conclusion

At these levels, it is likely that the prices continue to increase as more people learn about cryptocurrency and experience the “fear of missing out”. On the other side, you have many people looking at the increasing number of ICOs and thinking, “Why aren’t I doing one?” There is a lot of hot money flowing into cryptocurrencies right now, and can move out equally as quickly. When that happens, prices will come crashing down. BTC with a current dominance of 39.5% of the total market capitalization is positioned to benefit from that crash and subsequent consolidation. Which will create a more sustainable price level that will broaden the use cases of BTC.

Traders and investors in this field are advised to be extremely cautious when participating in lesser reputable offerings or buying into coins with little to no practical mass-adopting functions.

Disclosure: I am/we are long COIN.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: I may increase my position in bitcoin and initiate a position in Waves due to current market weakness.

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Get your notes right on Novation Circuit … what tutorials do you want?

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Novation last week released a new set of tutorials for their Circuit. These cover scales, melodies, and chords. Those are interesting not just for those with limited skills on other instruments, but also, ironically, as a way to get away from your usual habits if you are used to something like a piano.

The tutorials are great, but this raises a question. Which tutorials would you most want to see – what topics, and what hardware?

There’s of course way more gear out there than you could ever reasonably cover. But while some material applies to everything (music theory, for instance, or the principles of mixing), some technique really is specific to particular hardware.

Reader stats on the articles we’ve had on Circuit tell me that you agree with us – this is a sort of “people’s drum machine,” thanks to its simplicity, low cost, and a steady stream of updates. (For the latter, firmware updates I imagine will soon hit the limits of the hardware, though users should continue to make interesting sounds and so on.)

Now, Novation are lagging a bit – documentation is only just complete on the Novation Circuit Bass Station, which is by some measures more complex than the original Circuit. (At least that’s true considering what’s available on the hardware itself, before you get into Circuit’s editor.)

We could do some research / survey on this, of course, but prior to that I’m curious to open this up to discussion.

Oh, and let us know how you’re working with the Circuit, as I know a lot of you are making fairly heavy use of it.

Back to the human side of this, it’s worth revisiting this film CDM co-produced with Novation. Shawn, I want to hear what you’re up to these days with the Circuit (and everything else).

I love Shawn’s idea of “a lot of Jedis.” That’s why it’s actually exciting that more people are developing chops – and a reason to do good tutorials and share knowledge. A golden age of Jedis would be great for music. No one would ever say, “I wish there weren’t so many Jedis – it’d be better if there were fewer.”

The post Get your notes right on Novation Circuit … what tutorials do you want? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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NASA Finds 10 More Planets Humanity Might Be Able to Ruin Next

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Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Humanity hasn’t done a ton of good in our short stint on Earth, though we’ve definitely succeeded at turning this planet into a trash pit of despair. Today, researchers from NASA’s Kepler space telescope team announced we might get to bring our garbage party to another planet—perhaps a bunch of them.

The Kepler team has apparently identified 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are roughly Earth-size and within their star’s habitable zone, the region that could support liquid water and possibly life. This latest update to the Kepler catalog brings the total number of planet candidates identified by the space-based telescope to 4,034.

One research group took advantage of the Kepler data to make precise measurements of thousands of planets, revealing two distinct groups of small planets. The team found a clean division in the sizes of rocky, Earth-size planets and gaseous planets smaller than Neptune. Few planets were found between those groupings. So while humanity can’t take over every planet, there are definitely quite a few that are, in theory, suitable for us to destroy.

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Kepler detects planets via the transit method, meaning it observes the dips in a star’s brightness when a planet passes in front of it. The next generation of space-based telescopes such as the James Webb Telescope—which is set to launch in October 2018—will allow astronomers to further analyze the worlds Kepler has found.

“The Kepler data set is unique, as it is the only one containing a population of these near Earth-analogs–planets with roughly the same size and orbit as Earth,” Mario Perez, Kepler program scientist in the Astrophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement. “Understanding their frequency in the galaxy will help inform the design of future NASA missions to directly image another Earth.”

Kepler’s been a good sport for nearly a decade. The telescope’s primary mission began in 2009, when it debuted as NASA’s first planet-hunting spacecraft. In 2013, however, two of its reaction wheels suddenly broke. Some clever scientists repurposed the telescope as an exoplanet-hunter in a new mission called K2, and it’s been hard at work ever since. It’ll undoubtedly help humanity find a new world to contaminate someday.

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[NASA]

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Coconut oil’s health benefits are a myth — here’s what you should buy instead

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coconut oil

Most of us are familiar with those "health" foods that we’ve heard about on the news or seen health-conscious friends eat — almond milk, agave nectar, granola.

But many of these items aren’t actually as good for you as you might assume.

Coconut oil is one of the latest in a handful of recent health food trends that nutritionists and registered dietitians wish never happened.

The American Heart Association recently updated its guidelines on fats to include the recommendation that people avoid saturated fats — which are primarily found in things like butter, beef, and coconut oil. While it acknowledges that the majority of saturated fats in the American diet come from animal products, it says that plant products like palm and coconut oil can contain saturated fats as well.

In terms of calorie and fat content, coconut oil is virtually identical to olive oil. But as opposed to a tablespoon of olive oil, which has just one gram of saturated fat, the same amount of coconut oil has 12 grams.

The AHA says the high saturated fat content in animal products like butter and coconut oil can raise levels of unhealthy "bad" cholesterol. Experts suggest avoiding saturated fats because they’ve been linked with high cholesterol and a risk of Type 2 diabetes.

So in this case, it’s best to stick to the classics. And olive oil is an all-around winner.

SEE ALSO: Why exercise isn’t the key to weight loss — and what you should do instead

DON’T MISS: A new show features ‘Biggest Loser’ winners who regained weight — and reveals a deeper truth about weight loss

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: You’re eating a lot of fake, rotten olive oil — here’s how to find the real stuff

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What Is The Etherum Cyrptocurrency And How Will It Make You Rich AF?

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money cash

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If you pay attention to the cyrptocurrency game, you’re probably well-aware of Etherum, a “more transaction-friendly” cyrptocurrency that’s enjoying a nice boom right now. Yesterday it dipped 25% before rallying to back to previous high prices of over $350 per unit. But what exactly *is* Etherum besides the cyrptocurrency du jour that’s backed by a number of companies? Here’s a great explanation for anyone trying to jump in the game and make a little coin:

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Here’s why you get butterflies in your stomach when your crush walks by you

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Here’s why you get butterflies in your stomach when your crush walks by you

Physician Dr. Roshini Raj explains what causes those butterflies in your stomach.

Love 101 is a new mini-series from Mashable and Bravo. Dr. Raj guides you through the effects of falling in and out of love.

For more videos, subscribe to Mashable: http://on.mash.to/subscribe

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Leaked Files Show How the CIA Can Hack Your Router to Spy on You

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Photo: Getty

The CIA has had the ability to turn routers and network access points into surveillance devices for years, according to secret documents published by WikiLeaks on Thursday.

In the latest installment of its Vault 7 series of leaks, WikiLeaks has disclosed an alleged CIA program known as CherryBlossom. The purpose of the initiative is to replace a router’s firmware with a CIA-modified version known as FlyTrap. In some cases, WikiLeaks says, physical access to the device may not even be necessary.

The potential applications of this toolkit are harrowing. With control over their router, a remote observer could monitor the target’s local network and internet traffic and inject malicious malware for a variety of purposes—injecting keyloggers to collect passwords or seizing control of a device’s camera and microphone, for example.

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Further, CherryBlossom would allow the CIA to detect when a person is using their home network and divert the user’s traffic through predetermined servers.

Most of the router listed in the leak are older models, indicating that the documents themselves may be somewhat outdated, though there are undoubtedly plenty of targets still using the affected devices. One document, which is not dated, lists over 200 WiFi devices allegedly susceptible to the CherryBlossom program..

Once FlyTrap is deployed successfully, agents are able to monitor the target using a web-based platform called CherryWeb, the documents say. The command-and-control server that receives the data collected by FlyTrap is codenamed CherryTree.

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The CherryBlossom disclosure is part of an ongoing WikiLeaks series titled Vault 7 which began on March 7 with the leaking of weaponized 0-day exploits used by the CIA in targeting a wide range of US and foreign products, including iPhones, Android devices, and Samsung TVs.

The CIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Atari, yes Atari, confirms it’s making a new game console

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Your retro gaming icon wants back into the console business.

Twenty four years after the company put out its last home console, Atari announced Friday that it will release a new console for an already crowded mass market. 

In an exclusive interview with GameBeats, Atari CEO Fred Chesnais confirmed that the New York company had big plans in the works. 

“We’re back in the hardware business,” he said.

The move was teased last week, when Atari launched a site for something called the Atari Box. The site featured a video of a wood-paneled something that could only be the Atari Box. 

At this point, little else is known. Chesnais only seems to have told GameBeats that the Atari Box (Or maybe it’s Ataribox?) uses PC technology (which, what console doesn’t?). He also said they are still finalizing the design and will show it off some time in the future. There is no word on what kind of games would be provided for it or how development would work.

Atari led the market in home console adoption in the late 1970s and largely contributed to the video game industry’s collapse with its oversaturation of poor quality titles. The company launched its last console, the sad-fated Jaguar, in 1993. The Jaguar was discontinued in 1995, selling only about 125,000 units — compare that with one of its competitors, the Super Nintendo, which sold almost 50 million.

After Atari filed for bankruptcy protection in 2013, Chesnais bought the company and made it profitable by focusing on mobile games. He told GameBeats that he sees the Ataribox as another step in the company’s revival. 

Good luck, buddy.

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Would a fidget spinner spin forever in space?

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Space. It’s the final frontier. 

We all know that NASA and other space agencies around the world want us to boldly adventure into the solar system, and send people and robotic explorers deep into our cosmic neighborhood. 

But what about fidget spinners? 

The Earthly fad — popular among teens and adults alike — hasn’t made it to space yet, but if it did and astronauts started twirling their fidget spinners with reckless abandon, what exactly would that be like?

Would these fidget spinners just spin forever and ever in weightlessness?

The quick answer is: probably not. 

But to fully answer this question for the ages, we need to get specific and determine exactly where these spinners are. 

If the fidget spinners were used somewhere built for humans, like the International Space Station (ISS), then the answer is somewhat easy: The fidget spinners would work very similarly to those spun on Earth.

“A spinner on ISS would still be subject to friction and air resistance which would still cause it to stop spinning,” NASA spokesman Dan Huot said via email.

Basically, fidget spinners work thanks to nifty low-friction ball bearings that allow the outer mechanism to just spin and spin around its central axis. 

Even on the Space Station, the (albeit low) friction and air pressure would still slow the spinner down to eventually stop it.

Now, once you take the spinner outside into the vacuum of space, things get a little more interesting. 

If an astronaut were to spin the fidget spinner on its axis, it would probably spin for a bit longer than it would on the Space Station if only because of the lack of air pressure. 

But even so, eventually the spinner would stop because of friction — or the ball bearing falling apart, whichever comes first.

If that astronaut managed to get the entire spinner twirling around — not just on its axis, but the whole device — then it would basically spin forever.

“If it’s in vacuum and it doesn’t hit anything, then it should spin for a very, very long time,” theoretical physicist Robert McNees said. “Though, even then, there are things that (over interminably long timescales) will cause it to slow down.”

The funny thing is, low-friction has actually been a useful part of a NASA mission in the past, according to Columbia University astrophysicist Summer Ash.

Gravity Probe B “had four gyros that were set spinning in as frictionless a setting as possible,” Ash said in a text message. 

That mission was designed to test parts of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity by seeing just how much the fabric of space and time is warped by Earth and its movements in orbit.

“The gyros were [the] size of ping pong balls and so smooth [that] if they were blown up to Earth size, [the] tallest mountain/bump would only be 6 feet high,” Ash added. So yeah, that’s some low friction.

This whole fidget spinning in space utopia may not be all that far off. 

According to Huot, NASA may actually be sending a spinner or two up to the Space Station in the not too distant future.

“We might have some on station later this year for some educational demos so stay tuned,” Huot said. 

Oh we will, Dan. We will.

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