What I'm Reading - 5/14/2018
Three to five links (almost) every weekday - Monday Funday edition.
It’s finally happening. Ripple is making a push to expand the use of its XRP cryptocurrency into new verticals and segments beyond the payment and banking space where the company is focused.
XRP is the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency behind only bitcoin, the original breakout artist, and Ethereum, the platform that most developers pomp for. XRP has a total ‘coin market cap’ of $28.7 billion today, according to Coinmarketcap.com, and yet it is barely used beyond a handful of pilot customer deployments that Ripple has announced.
That might change soon, however, after Ripple announced a new initiative called Xpring — pronounced ‘Spring’ — which is aimed at bringing entrepreneurs and their businesses over to XRP, both the cryptocurrency and the smart ledger, to build an ecosystem. The project will use a mixture of investment, grants, and incubation to lure companies and expand the use of XRP whilst allowing Ripple to continue to focus on its financial services business.
Biohacking - the modification of bodies with technology — is on the rise as more and more people start using tech wearables such as Apple Watches and Fitits.
About four years ago, Swedish biohacking group Bionyfiken started organising "implant parties" — where groups of people insert chips into their hands en masse — in countries including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Mexico.
Some 50 employees at Wisconsin vending machine company Three Square Market voluntarily agreed to insert microchips into their hands, which they could then use to buy snacks, log in to computers, or use the photocopier.
When the record-breaking fires swept California last year, there were only a few grapes left out — 90 percent had been harvested already. The wine industry is anxious to tell you that the wine was mostly unaffected. I talked to more than a dozen sources for this article, and all of them were afraid that the ‘17 vintage would be forever tainted as the Fire-Damaged Year.
But fires are more frequent than they used to be, which is why wineries are trying to identify what the industry calls smoke taint — a specific flavor profile that comes from fire exposure — and remove it, as quickly as they can.
Wildfires have always threatened world wine regions. In Australia, Chile, Portugal, Spain, Washington state, and California, fires have for decades damaged wine, resulting in billions of dollars lost. But the fires are only getting more frequent and more serious as climate change warms and dries certain wine-growing regions.
Now, this is a story all about how Will Smith’s life got flipped, turned upside down. In 1989, a year after he and DJ Jazzy Jeff unloaded their breakout hit “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” he was in serious debt to the United States Treasury, Bureau of Internal Revenue. Smith had no flow and needed a gig. Bad.
This video retells how The Fresh Prince of Bel Air got started. It’s a delightful five minutes, but very real. Anyone who’s had a 1099 filed on them knows the bad feeling, crawling up your back like a spider, when you get to April and remember you gotta pay the tax man. It is painful as shit. Ask Wesley Snipes or Willie Nelson. Smith was nearly bankrupted by his $2.8 million obligation to the government.
Antarctica is a fascinating and terrifying place that humanity still does not fully understand. And unlike the rest of the world, we will never conquer it (unless we end up melting it). It is cold and big and just being there can very easily kill you, and for this, it feels profound.
Because scientists have a sense of humor, there exists an Antarctic research station called the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, where scientists from all over the world gather to, as the IceCube’s website puts it, “observe the cosmos from deep within the South Pole ice.” The IceCube site adds: "Encompassing a cubic kilometer of ice, IceCube searches for nearly massless subatomic particles called neutrinos. These high-energy astronomical messengers provide information to probe the most violent astrophysical sources: events like exploding stars, gamma-ray bursts, and cataclysmic phenomena involving black holes and neutron stars."
Dang. Doing astronomy from the South Pole sounds goth as fuck.