It took incredibly careful study and observation. Now, researchers have taught a robot how to screw, with exactly the right combination of power and finesse.

For all your space-filling needs. Animated Hilbert curve by Wunkulo.

In case you missed it: Patreon’s attempted fee change in December last year was a total disasterYes, even moreso than the OkCupid real names debacle, where at least network effects insulate them from apples-to-apples competition.

. The move would have seen patrons explicitly bearing the transaction cost of each individual payment, rather than Patreon’s existing model of deducting an amortised cost (with savings due to batched transactions) from what creators received. The cost would have been a strong disincentive for patrons donating small amounts in the $1-$5 range, who constitute a significant revenue source for many creators on the platform. Needless to say, they were upsetPatreon’s apology sets a good example for other companies putting their foot in their mouth – contrite, zero patronisation, and setting a tone for future behavioural change – though of course it would be better for many creators had this just not happened in the first place.


To a certain extent, sure, this is Patreon “losing touch” with its user base and blatantly disregarding the interests of its long tail of smaller creators. (One of the better arguments for the prosecution comes via Sibylla Bostoniensis.) But it feels like a stretch to suggest that their leadership fundamentally doesn’t understand their own revenue streams. (I propose Hanlon’s second razor: Never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by intelligence.)

I suspect Christie Koehler is on the moneyeyy

: Patreon is trying to avoid classification as a “money services business”A classification that includes “money transmitters”.

, which would see them face tighter regulation, because (legal) reasonsPresumably the kind of legal reasons where being honest with your userbase and stating, on the record, that your company might have been acting like a money services business, would be admissible evidence of one sort or another.

. The easiest remedy is not to hold money on patrons’ or creators’ behalves for even a split second, if possible. Since that approach tanked on the PR front, it remains to be seen what they’ll try next – perhaps raising fees in some more transparent way; perhaps finding a new way to batch transactions?

Audrey EschrightEschright works with Koehler on the podcast The Recompiler. It features a lovely episode discussing the Patreon situation.

, discusses some alternatives to Patreon. She has a practical setup using Square Cash (US-only) for one-off donations and Moonclerk for recurring donations. It doesn’t have the pay-per-work (per article, per song, etc.) capabilities of Patreon, which appears to be trickier, but it may satisfice for a lot of creators.

Concept art: “a fashion line based around emblazoning various dresses with the phrase: Please do not talk to me about cryptocurrency.”
Source: aurahack (Twitter), riffing off of christinelove.

Ultra-thin needles, about the width of a human hair, can now inject drugs directly into the brain. If this doesn’t qualify as the creepy science fiction future we were promised, I don’t know what does.

Updated speculum design.
Source: yona project

Also in inventions: The humble vaginal speculum, one of only a few medical instruments more feared than the dental drill, is getting a redesignOh, pardon me, we say “reimagining” nowadays, don’t we?

courtesy of – get this – people with vaginas. Whether they can get the gynecology community to adopt the new design is an open question, but there’s no doubt it’s more comfortable than the status quo. The speculum design commonly in use today was created via extensive testing on enslaved black women, which is about as ethically dubious as it sounds.

The design is part of yona, a project to overhaul the end-to-end pelvic exam experience to centre on the patient’s holistic experience. This is the kind of shift I can only hope to see more of across all medical practice.

It turns out that most women can, in fact, distinguish between sexual assault and a bad date. It turns out that sex is just one more thing we really do not need mansplained to us.

Why do birds sing? Is it to impress us?

Hardly novel, but rarely said: maybe we should stop hating on the rich for having gotten money, and start hating on them for hoarding it. I’m not sure whether I’m on Team Wealth Tax (what’s to stop that money being burned on frivolous, ephemeral experiences?), but I do like the idea of shifting the focus away from partisan “But I worked so hard for this money!”/“That was luckPrivilege, if you prefer, but I’m partial to the “birth lottery” metaphor, so, same thing.

, mate” discourse, and onto more philosophical marginal-utility-of-money grounds. (And I especially like the recognition that income tax doesn’t even necessarily touch the 1%/0.1%/[insert outgroup here].)

Is the ubuquity of power lawsClosely related to the 80/20 rule.

unfalsifiable pseudoscience? Broido and Clauset conduct an empirical study to search for the proverbial dragon in the garage.

Daniel Kelly provides an excellent short history of early webcomics, chronicling the ever-shifting trends in art direction, tone, and genre.

Aeon: The common-sense notion of “simultaneous” has been dead ever since Einstein first wrote train fanfic, and QM has been wreaking havoc on the notion of determinism for nearly as long. Naturally, there’s a new casualty: causalityHow sure are you that I got those last two words in the right order?

. Entanglement Swapping between Photons that have Never Coexisted, 2013, really really wants to mess with your hidden-variable intuitions.

Source: peteulatan (Instagram)

On the other hand, there’s always utterly crackpot pop-physics. I just finished Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, which starts off with some interesting maths, physics, and philosophy, and somewhere in the final act degrades (evolves?) into some of the weirdest literal-Platonist metaphysics imaginable. George Martin Fell Brown has an excellent takedown of the book’s philosophy and worldbuilding alike, with liberal use of the phrase “quantum shit” because, honestly, that’s pretty much what it is by the end.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the read: Stephenson’s ability to relay dry facts with passion is as on point as ever. One harrowing scene centres on orbital physics“Revolves around”, whatever.

, and is both accurate and nail-biting. Matthew Reilly wishes he could be that good.

Anyhow, by pleasant coincidence, Lou Keep has been writing on the philosophy of mathematics as of late, with a little less recourse to nonsenseRead: metaphysical realism. Yes, I’m that kind of bigot.

. The latest entry is on on mathematical Platonism, and is excellent (albeit bitter) as always.