Tag Archives: Wired.com

The Polls Are All Wrong. A Startup Called Civis Is Our Best Hope to Fix Them

During primary season, when they were still mainly just spectators to the 2016 presidential race, Dan Wagner and David Shor had a routine they liked to observe on election nights. The two men—the CEO and senior data scientist, respectively, of a startup called Civis Analytics—would stay late at work, drinking bourbon and watching returns come in. Their office, a repurposed industrial space in Chicago’s West Loop, would rattle every time the L train rumbled by. As much as Wagner and Shor were following the political horse race itself, they were also watching to see how the race’s oddsmakers were doing. The US polling industry has been suffering a crisis of insight over the past decade or so; its methods have become increasingly bad at telling which way America is leaning. Like nearly everyone who works in politics, Wagner and Shor knew the polling establishment was liable to embarrass itself this

It’s Easy to Forget Hillary Clinton Is About to Make History

Hillary Clinton speaking to supporters on June 6, 2016 in Lynwood, California.FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images Bernie Sanders still isn’t giving up his bid for the presidency. After the Associated Press announced that Hillary Clinton has the requisite number of delegates to secure the Democratic nomination, the Sanders campaign insisted he’ll march onward to the Democratic convention in July. He says he will work to convince the party’s “superdelegates” to turn their backs on Clinton and vote for him instead. They won’t, but over the next month you’ll likely be hearing a lot about pledged delegates versus superdelegates, contested conventions, and “the math.” And that’s fine: a vigorous, contentious contest is a sign of a healthy democracy. But amid all the conflict and drama, it’s easy to lose sight of the most historically significant fact of the 2016 election: For the first time ever, a woman is about to become a

AP Psychics Call the Nomination for Clinton—And They’re Right

Matt Rourke/AP The Associated Press says Hillary Clinton has enough delegates to become the Democratic nominee for president. The AP says its count of delegates and so-called superdelegates shows Clinton has reached the 2,383-delegate majority needed to become the party’s presumptive nominee. The declaration comes on the eve of the last major day of primaries in the Democratic race, including the delegate-rich states of California and New Jersey. Upon receiving the news, the Clinton campaign tweeted a message to supporters in tomorrow’s primary states, urging them to vote anyway: We’re flattered, @AP, but we’ve got primaries to win. CA, MT, NM, ND, NJ, SD, vote tomorrow! https://t.co/8t3GpZqc1U — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 7, 2016 The AP determined Clinton had reached the magic number after surveying the Democratic party’s 714 superdelegates, who are free to vote for any candidate at the convention. It found that 571 superdelegates have “unequivocally” committed to

T-Mobile Is Giving Away Free Stock—And Pizza—to Customers

T-Mobile CEO John LegereChris Goodney/Bloomberg/Getty Images T-Mobile is giving away the company. Starting tomorrow, every account holder with a voice plan will be able to claim a single share in the telecommunications company. New customers will also be eligible for a share. If you’ve been a T-Mobile customer for at least five years, you’ll get two shares for every new customer you refer. Everyone else will get one share per referral. T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced the stock giveaway during a live-streamed event in New York City today. Legere has rarely met a marketing stunt he doesn’t like. But enticing customers with shares may be more than just another come-on. As federal regulators scrutinize another T-Mobile promotion—free data for select apps and services—giving away stock could help keep customers loyal. The carrier claims to have more than 30 million postpaid phone customers. As of this writing, the company’s stock is

Game of Thrones Recap: Putting the Broken Man Back Together

Helen Sloan/HBO After five seasons of traumatizing its characters—and sometimes, its audience—Game of Thrones has spent quite a bit of its current season examining the consequences of the violence it splashes so liberally, and lavishly, on the screen. Beyond the blood feuds and the domino-effect killings, however, those consequences are increasingly personal; the horrors we’ve seen inflicted on individuals can change them forever. “I’m tired of watching you cower like a beat dog,” Yara Greyjoy snaps at Theon, as their crew pounds drinks at a brothel in Volantis. “Drink the goddamn ale.” Their fleet has made it across the sea to Essos, and they’re enjoying a little R&R before they head to Meereen to negotiate with the Dragon Queen. Theon isn’t feeling very festive, given the whole castrated/tortured/disfigured thing, but Yara is out of patience for his PTSD and tells him to suck it up—they have kingdoms to conquer. The

The Logistical Miracle of Cramming 80,000 People Into Bonnaroo

TDOT For 360 days each year, Manchester, Tennessee is a quiet town of 10,000 people. It has not quite 50 churches, eight schools, and three supermarkets. But for several days each June, it balloons into the seventh largest city in the state as 80,000 people and perhaps half that many cars descend on the outskirts for the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Music is the focus (Pearl Jam! J. Cole! Ellie Goulding!), but the vehicles are an inescapable sideshow. The first festival, in 2002, caught the state Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol completely unaware. “It was quite a nightmare,” says Jennifer Flynn, a DOT community relations manager. “Traffic was backed up for miles and miles and miles.” Today, festival organizers work with the city, the county, the state and a conference roomful of consultants to create a plan for getting everyone in and out quickly and efficiently. You can’t beat congestion—try

Buzzfeed Takes A Stand Against Trump, Rejects RNC Ads

Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti told employees Monday that the media giant is dropping the Republican National Committee as an advertiser, now that Donald Trump is the party’s presumptive nominee. In an email to the staff, Peretti explained the decision, likening Trump ads to cigarette ads. “We don’t run cigarette ads because they are hazardous to our health,” Peretti wrote, “and we won’t accept Trump ads for the exact same reason.” Peretti took particular issue with Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, his approach to immigration, his comments about women, and his threats to limit the free press. “We certainly don’t like to turn away revenue that funds all the important work we do across the company,” the email reads. “However, in some cases we must make business exceptions.” Buzzfeed’s decision to withdraw from the advertising deal illustrates just how thorny Trump’s relationship with the media has become. As the candidate consistently

What Tarantula Toxins Teach Us About the Science of Pain

Lucas Foglia When David Julius needs a fresh batch of venom, he usually calls an Australian. Which makes sense—the continent is literally crawling with poisonous critters. Julius has hundreds of samples; boxes upon boxes of vials milked from spiders, snakes, scorpions, and the occasional platypus. A humming gray refrigerator in his San Francisco lab keeps the whole collection chilled to -80 degrees Celsius. Over the past decade, Julius and his team at UC San Francisco have been combing through a vast chemical library of animal venom to discover new toxins. Not because they want to poison anybody—quite the opposite. Julius is a physiologist studying pain, and the toxins in those venoms make you hurt in different ways. By looking at how and where those toxins attack different parts of the nervous system, Julius and his lab might find some that could be used to develop better painkillers. Pain is your nervous

It’s Time to Revisit Ali, Will Smith’s Knockout Boxing Biopic

Columbia Pictures The first 10 minutes of Ali are a history lesson, a character study, and a compact soul-symphony, all at once. Opening with a sweat-stirring medley by Sam Cooke, the film quickly introduces us to Will Smith as Cassius Clay, Jr., who’s taking an evening run in the winter of 1964, his hoodie pulled up, his eyes cast down. From there, we cut back and forth between past and near-present: One moment, Clay’s a young boxing star, coolly but steadily pounding away at a bag; the next, he’s a small boy, walking toward the “coloreds only” section of a bus, where he sees a photo of the murdered Emmett Till in a newspaper. Then, just as we’re getting settled into Clay’s early years, we’re back to the present, watching as the fighter gets hassled by a pair of passing cops, and as he stands in the back of a

Are Expensive Bicycle Wheels Worth the Money? Let’s Check the Physics

Athletes compete in the cycling during the Ironman 70.3 World Championship Zell am See Kaprun.Joern Pollex/Getty Images In this video, you see a cyclist testing new aerodynamic wheels from Zipp. Swapping your wheels may seem like a small change, but can make a big difference. From his tests, the rider discovers: With conventional wheels, he can ride 20 minutes at an average speed of 41.12 kph with an average power of 379 watts. With the Zipp 808 NSW aero wheels he rides 51 minutes at an average speed of 41.13 kph and average power of 344 watts. Before looking at power and energy, I should go over two small details. [embedded content] First, how do you measure power? Cyclists can measure power by installing a small computer, called a power meter, that measures the input torque at the pedals or crankshaft and records the rotation angle at timed intervals. If

5 Fascinating Podcasts to Ease Your Commute This Week

Yeah, this Monday feels particularly tough after last week’s glorious three-day weekend. But hey, no moping! We’ve got something for you to get excited about this morning. Actually, we have something for you to look forward to at sunup every day this week. Here are our current Top Five podcast episodes, primed and ready to entertain you all the way to work. Happy commuting, everyone! Code Switch, “Can We Talk About Whiteness?” For the first episode of NPR’s new race and identity podcast, Code Switch, hosts Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby chose a surprising focus: whiteness. As they see it, since we assume whiteness as the norm, we mistakenly don’t consider it as a separate interest group, in politics or beyond. Meraji and Demby talk about whiteness—and why we’re uncomfortable discussing it—with a series of thoughtful guests, including Peggy McIntosh, author of Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack; Catherine Orr and Chenjerai

Tor Developer Jacob Appelbaum Resigns Amid Sex Abuse Claims

Jacob Appelbaum at the re:publica conference in 2014. Credit: DAVIDS/Gregor Fischer Jacob Appelbaum has courted controversy throughout his career as a privacy and transparency activist, picking fights with several of the world’s most powerful government agencies over surveillance and state secrecy. Now he’s at the center of an entirely different sort of controversy: accused of rampant sexual and emotional abuse. On Saturday, the privacy-focused non-profit Tor Project where Appelbaum held a position as a developer and activist released a statement explaining that Appelbaum had resigned from his position with the group as a result of a series of “serious, public allegations of sexual mistreatment” made by unnamed victims against 33-year-old Appelbaum. An anonymous website collecting testimonials from those alleged victims published the same day, with five victims detailing claims that range from uninvited groping and kissing to rape. On Monday morning, Appelbaum responded to the accusations in a statement, calling

Etsy Must Grow to Survive. But Can It Stay True to Itself?

Virginie Millefiori’s tools and jewelry. David Brandon Geeting for WIRED Inside a tightly packed studio on the fourth floor of a squat brown building in Queens’ Long Island City, Virginie Millefiori is positively bubbly. This is her general mood anyway, but this space is also where Millefiore feels most at home. She spends upwards of 70 hours a week here—including weekends—making jewelry pieces to sell on Etsy. And nothing gets Millefiore more fired up than talking about how she works. “When I get here, I immediately go through the list I prepared the day before,” she told me during a recent visit to her studio. “I go through that list, then I start making stuff on my bench.” She waves toward a corner of the room where a long, narrow table with a handful of gold rings sit in different phases of production. Plastic domes cover a few to let

Crotch Explosions, Severed Heads, and Pee Cups: Yep, It’s Mary Roach on the Science of War

Jake Stangel Mary Roach was never especially interested in war. She didn’t come from a military family, she never served, and she hadn’t reported on war as a journalist. But the best-selling author of books on the science of sex (Bonk), eating (Gulp), and death (Stiff) specializes in, as she puts it, “turning over rocks and writing about peculiar things.” So when Roach met with researchers in India who were using ghost peppers to make a nonlethal weapon—and discovered they were also testing leech repellent for use in the military—she sensed an opportunity. The researchers were planning to send subjects into a river during peak leech season with one bare leg and the other covered in the repellent. “I had a moment where I went, ‘Whoa. That could be a very Roach-y area,’” she says. The leech story wasn’t meant to be—the repellent research concluded before she had a chance

The Biggest Crowdfunding Project Ever—the DAO—Is Kind of a Mess

Getty Images The Decentralized Autonomous Organization is a venture capital firm, like Andreessen Horowitz or Kleiner Perkins. It chooses new ideas and businesses to invest in. But the DAO isn’t run by rich white Silicon Valley dudes. It’s run by a network of machines that operate according to the same basic principles that drive the bitcoin digital currency. If you put money into the DAO, these machines let you vote on which new ideas it should invest in. The more money you put in, the more votes you get. By the time the deadline for investing in the DAO arrived late last month, about 10,000 people had anonymously poured more than $168 million into this new online creation. That makes it the largest crowdfunded project ever. Now, it’s time for the DAO to start accepting pitches for all those anonymous people to vote on, bringing a new kind of democracy