The best Mario Kart character according to data science

Here are a couple of sentences I didn’t ever expect to read:

The question for an aspiring Mario Kart champion nowadays is “How can I pick a character / kart / tire combination that is in some sense optimal, even if there isn’t one ‘best’ option?” To answer this question we turn to one of Mario’s compatriots, the nineteenth century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who introduced the concept of Pareto efficiency and the related Pareto frontier.

Source: The best Mario Kart character according to data science

Southern New Guinea languages such as Ngkolmpu use senary (base-6) numeral systems. There are words for multiples and powers of six, like ulamaeke: 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 = 7776. The likely reason? The cultural importance of yams, which naturally fall into neat piles of six.

Brutalist web design guidelines

Don’t tell anyone, but the Brutalist web design guidelines are simply guidelines for intuitive, usable web design:

  • Content is readable on all reasonable screens and devices.
  • Only hyperlinks and buttons respond to clicks.
  • Hyperlinks are underlined and buttons look like buttons.
  • The back button works as expected.
  • View content by scrolling.
  • Decoration when needed and no unrelated content.
  • Performance is a feature.

Source: Brutalist Web Design

ẽ̞ẽẽ̝ is the three-note grunt used (mostly) by surly teenagers to mean “I don’t know”; a paper explores how such sentences can be compressed so heavily without losing meaning.

Before it began, I was resigned to that being a terrible World Cup—the pantomime of VAR, too many teams, hosts that never should have been—yet it was as enjoyable a tournament as I can remember, helped considerably by an England team that visibly believed in what they were doing.

The bizarre story of the Seattle mystery vending machine

In the city of Seattle, Washington there exists a vending machine that over the years has become something of a local landmark amongst residents who are familiar with its mysterious history. Situated on the corner the John Street and 10th Avenue East in the bustling Capitol Hill neighbourhood, the seemingly ancient machine is well known for dispensing random, sometimes rare, cans of soda- a fact that’s made all the more intriguing when you consider that nobody seems to know who stocks the machine or where it came from.

Source: The Bizarre Story of the Seattle Mystery Vending Machine

Future Fonts looks interesting: sort of typographic Patreon. You pay a designer and you get a half-finished typeface—maybe it’s missing some characters or weights—and they get the resources to finish it off.

Why I Taught My Son to Speak Russian

One of my downfalls as Raffi’s Russian teacher is that I am bad at scheduling. There are constant Russian parent meetups in Brooklyn that I can’t attend or just don’t care to drag myself to. Nonetheless, a few weekend mornings ago I took Raffi to a kids’ sing-along in a bar in Williamsburg. A Russian parent had booked the space and gotten a singer, Zhenya Lopatnik, to perform some children’s songs. There we were—a bunch of Russian-speaking parents with our two-and-three-year-old kids. Most of us were more comfortable in English than in Russian, and none of us had any wish to repatriate. Why, then, were we doing this? What did we want to pass on to our children, exactly? Certainly nothing about Russia as it is currently constituted. Perhaps it was fitting that we were listening to children’s songs. There was something magical about our childhoods, we were sure of that; what we couldn’t know was whether any of it was due to the music we listened to or the books we read in Russian or to the very sound of the language. Probably none of these things; probably it was just magical to be a child. But as we couldn’t rule out that Russian had something to do with it, we had to give it to our kids as well. Maybe.

A brilliant piece about raising a bilingual child.

Source: Why I Taught My Son to Speak Russian | The New Yorker

Why influencer marketing lacks trust and credibility

It’s one thing for brands to work out that influencer marketing is mostly a scam but quite another to stop investing marketing budgets in it. If we have learned anything over the past decade about digital it’s that evidence of malpractice and fraud has absolutely zero influence on the prevailing levels of investment that a platform subsequently receives.

Keith Weed can ask for as much transparency as he wants; the problem with influencer marketing is axiomatic. Which is a $2,000 way of saying that its fucked from the outset but that this won’t stop brands spending money on it regardless.

Specifically, there are three contiguous, ever-decreasing circles of bullshit surrounding all influencer marketing. Let’s break them down one by one and reveal the fundamental issues that all brands should be aware of before they start paying Mr Sixpack and Ms Perky to start pumping their products.

This is very good. Influencer marketing is gross and I don’t know why anyone can seriously defend it.

Later, an experiment:

I decided that the best option would be to take a picture of my arse (obviously) and ask my 18 newly recruited influencers to post it on their Instagram feeds with a complementary comment. I took the photo (shown above in all its glory) and then pixelated it using a graphics program from 1996. The resulting image was then titled ‘The Colour of Influence’ and I asked my new-found influencer army to proclaim it “amazing” or “my best work ever”.

How many of the influencers would lower themselves to that standard within the 12-hour time limit I set them? How many would refuse the commission and prove themselves trustworthy and credible? Would my bottom become a new social media sensation that would propel me to global arse-driven fame? A Kardashian, if you will, for the marketing industry. In just 12 hours’ time I would find out.

Source: Mark Ritson: Why influencer marketing lacks trust and credibility

Baby update: he likes broccoli and, somewhat surprisingly to me, trout. Yesterday was warm enough to sit and eat in the garden. Today we’re inside watching Russia vs. Saudi Arabia.

I follow 165 people on Instagram. A handful of these are what might loosely be described as ‘celebrities’: people famous for things other than social media.

Recently Facebook has started to recommend these people to me as potential FB friends. Only: they mostly go by pseudonyms, presumably so fans or trolls can’t find them by searching their names. But it’s obviously them. Their Facebook and Instagram accounts must be linked.

There are many ways to remain private on the internet, but The Dreaded Algorithms are killing these off as well.

The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code

Bill Benter did the impossible: He wrote an algorithm that couldn’t lose at the track. Close to a billion dollars later, he tells his story for the first time.

Source: The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code – Bloomberg

A great in-depth feature on how algorithms, and a lot of automated betting, were used to win on horse racing. Sort of—there’s something of a twist at the end.

The Miranda Grosvenor Obsession

She said she was a beautiful, well-connected blonde named Miranda, and she enchanted an astonishing circle of powerful men—Billy Joel, Paul Schrader, Buck Henry, and Quincy Jones among them—with her flirtatious, gossipy phone calls. But who was the woman behind the voice?

Source: The Miranda Grosvenor Obsession | Vanity Fair

This starts off a bit slow but is very interesting in the end. I’m surprised the various men in the story—all famous, and most were friends with each other—didn’t put two and two together sooner. But that’s the male ego, I suppose.

Sweden is going cashless, with an unexpected consequence. Thieves are now focusing on high-value goods and outlandish crimes, like stealing Apple products from moving trucks, and dealing in protected species. A single great grey owl can sell for $120,000 on the dark web.