Cow representation in the Senate

For the Absurd America section of The Washington Post, Sergio Peçanha asks the question that’s on everyone’s mind: Are cows better represented in the Senate than people?

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Quiz to see which Democratic candidate agrees with you most

The Washington Post asked Democratic candidates a series of policy questions. To see which one agrees with you most, the Post made a quiz:

Now, it’s your turn to answer. Below are 20 questions we found particularly interesting, mostly because they reveal big differences between the remaining major candidates. We haven’t asked the campaigns about every topic, but this selection tries to cover a variety of issues. Answer as many as you like.

It was also a good way to catch up on what candidates currently stand for. I’ve found it hard to keep up lately.

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Where Christmas trees come from

For The Washington Post, Tim Meko and Lauren Tierney:

Before the 1930s, Christmas trees typically were cut down on an individual’s property or out in the wild. Now, tree farms in all 50 states (yes, Hawaii too) are where most Christmas trees come from, accounting for 98 percent of live Christmas trees brought into homes. These farms churn out many kinds of conifers, but two main regions — Clackamas County near Portland, Ore., and the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina — produce the most.

I wonder if we can see a similar map for artificial Christmas trees.

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Fall foliage colors mapped

For The Washington Post, Lauren Tierney and Joe Fox mapped fall foliage colors across the United States:

Forested areas in the United States host a variety of tree species. The evergreens shed leaves gradually, as promised in their name. The leaves of deciduous varieties change from green to yellow, orange or red before letting go entirely. Using USDA forest species data, we mapped the thickets of fall colors you may encounter in the densely wooded parts of the country.

Nice. Be sure to click through to the full story to see leaf profiles and an animation of the changing colors as fall arrives.

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AI-generated voice used to fake phone call and steal money

Reporting for The Washington Post, Drew Harwell describes the case of the fake voice used for bad things:

Thieves used voice-mimicking software to imitate a company executive’s speech and dupe his subordinate into sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to a secret account, the company’s insurer said, in a remarkable case that some researchers are calling one of the world’s first publicly reported artificial-intelligence heists.

The managing director of a British energy company, believing his boss was on the phone, followed orders one Friday afternoon in March to wire more than $240,000 to an account in Hungary, said representatives from the French insurance giant Euler Hermes, which declined to name the company.

Publicly available software that makes it straightforward to impersonate others digitally: what could go wrong?

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AI-generated voice used to fake phone call and steal money

Reporting for The Washington Post, Drew Harwell describes the case of the fake voice used for bad things:

Thieves used voice-mimicking software to imitate a company executive’s speech and dupe his subordinate into sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to a secret account, the company’s insurer said, in a remarkable case that some researchers are calling one of the world’s first publicly reported artificial-intelligence heists.

The managing director of a British energy company, believing his boss was on the phone, followed orders one Friday afternoon in March to wire more than $240,000 to an account in Hungary, said representatives from the French insurance giant Euler Hermes, which declined to name the company.

Publicly available software that makes it straightforward to impersonate others digitally: what could go wrong?

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School diversity visualized with moving bubbles

The Washington Post visualized 13,000 school districts to show the change in diversity between 1995 and 2017. Each bubble represents a district and the size represents number of students. The bubbles transition to diverse, undiverse, and extremely undiverse. It’s an important topic and worth the read.

But right now, all I can think about is that I need to up my moving bubble game.

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A sim to show self-driving car challenges

On the surface, driving a car might seem fairly straightforward. Follow the rules of the road, don’t crash, and watch out for others. So why not just let a computer do all of the work? The Washington Post provides an interactive simulator to put you in the passenger seat and see for yourself.

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Looking at the Amazon fires wrong

For The Washington Post, Sergio Peçanha and Tim Wallace use maps to show why we need to adjust the common view of the Amazon up in flames. It’s about the fires on the fringes.

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Fantasy football draft rankings, with weekly projections

Football season is starting soon, which means many will participate in the age-old tradition of the fantasy football draft. For the Washington Post, Neil Greenberg and Reuben Fischer-Baum have your back:

Your fantasy football draft sets a season-long foundation for your team, but its ultimate result will be based on the weekly performance of your roster. That’s why The Washington Post is adding weekly point projections (using PPR scoring) to its draft rankings, based on a player’s role in his team’s offense and the difficulty of the matchup.

Look at all the players or pick a position and quickly get the rankings.

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