Cover photo
Verified name
Yonatan Zunger
Works at Google
Attended Stanford University
Lives in Mountain View, CA
137,020 followers|124,342,592 views


Yonatan Zunger

Shared publicly  - 
Today we've got Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Ethnography, and Spam.
The surprisingly interesting story of why the makers of Spam hired an anthropologist, & what came of it.
(Confession: One of my guilty pleasures is thinly sliced Spam, fried like bacon, with eggs.)
How the 125-year-old company known for its iconic canned meat became one of the hottest food companies in America.
8 comments on original post
Joshua Lee's profile photoDennis Clark's profile photoGod Emperor Lionel Lauer's profile photoMatt Schofield's profile photo
+God Emperor Lionel Lauer strange that Vegemite, Marmite etc never take off outside the populations introduced to it during war time rationing, isn't it? ;-)
Add a comment...

Yonatan Zunger

Shared publicly  - 
There's a very interesting article here about "white flight." Unlike the more common stories about this, this story isn't about whites moving out of an area when a black community arrives, to some newly-gentrified area which is guaranteed to have better schools and so on than the place they're abandoning: it's about whites moving out of an area when it becomes too predominantly Asian, to a nearby community with worse schools, and often taking a direct economic hit to do so.

The way in which this reverses our usual expectations highlights a key research result which the article discusses: race, not economics, is alone a predictor of the "white flight" phenomenon.

Via +Kee Hinckley and +Valkyrie 
If diversity is so important to liberal whites, why do they keep fleeing ethnically diverse suburbia?
Grant Fricks's profile photoAdam Berkan's profile photoSarah Lancaster's profile photoJ The Colossal Squid's profile photo
On the one hand I have no respect for people who blame other people for their lack of achievement, and especially in circumstances like this.  On the other it is ludicrous for the author to expect a while person to censor herself just because she is not white, and when all it seems (from her own article) was that the person she is railing against did was point out that a specific set of conditions exist, even if she had so in a huff, because the author herself ostensibly had already granted that the conditions being complained about actually do exist, and went to great lengths to explain why they exist, all while presuming the person complaining should somehow just stick around and watch their dumb ass kid bottom up in the class for the sake of diversity.

 This galls me because the truth would seem to smack of a kind of racism itself under the guise of diversity.  This being,... maybe the "dumb white kids" can be kept around because their parents are made to feel like racist for moving, and thus we asians in our community will not have compete with ourselves in what has now become our community much more exclusively  for those sought after college positions we all (mostly) love.  Naive and extremely  disingenuous.  And always provocative to me how there is often little mention in these conversations about how children in the U.S. from Nigerian-American communities score higher on the mean than even children in Asian communities do.
Add a comment...

Yonatan Zunger

Shared publicly  - 
First: This is a pretty cool bit of archaeology. The grenade is made of metal ceramic, and would have been filled with greek fire and thrown at people that one does not like.

Second: Welcome to the Middle East, where water disputes have been getting resolved with hand grenades for nearly a thousand years.

Via +Ben Hibben 
Monty Python and the Holy Grail had it right all along - behold ye the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch!

From the scriptures:
Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy." And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals ... Now did the Lord say, "First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."
Family shows metal artifacts retrieved from sea by late father, including knife-head some 3,500 years old
5 comments on original post
Lucas Appelmann's profile photorare avis's profile photo
Great information in the comments. Thanks, all.
Add a comment...

Yonatan Zunger

Shared publicly  - 
If you've spent even ten minutes watching the news, reading the paper, or on the Internet, you've probably encountered the latest TERRIBLE THING THAT WILL KILL YOUR CHILDREN. (It's always in caps) Our fears about children's safety are at an all-time high, even though by nearly every measure, children's actual safety is far greater than ever.

A recent research paper sheds some interesting light on this phenomenon: "People don't only think that leaving children alone is dangerous and therefore immoral. They also think it is immoral and therefore dangerous." That is, people are making far more moral judgments about parents doing things like leaving their children unsupervised, and when people make a negative moral judgment about it, they are likely to estimate the factual danger as being much higher.

As with most moral judgments, these have a very performative aspect; if everyone around you is outraged by something, but you aren't, you are likely to be perceived as immoral and therefore an outsider or even a threat. And since child-rearing is still such a communal thing (e.g., parents spend such a fraction of their time interacting with other parents of their children's peers), being marked as an outsider can have tremendous effects on one's life and one's children's. So there's pressure to echo those same sentiments. This is as true whether the threat is real (traffic accidents, not wearing safety belts) or entirely imaginary (satanic abuse, vaccines causing autism). And when everyone around you is performing the same fear, it's hard to judge which fears are actually real -- thus the rise of "stranger danger" fears ever since the 1970's, despite the fact that stranger abductions remain considerably less common than lightning strikes.

Also importantly (and as the interview below deals with), these moral judgments are often class judgments. Saying that a woman is doing something evil for not being with her children at all times is really placing a judgment on doing a very specifically class-centered thing: not being a full-time housewife and mother. Quite apart from the gender issues, this is something that's simply not possible if you can't afford to have one parent at home -- and is ludicrous if you're a single parent. Punishing people for not doing this is punishing them for not following class standards, and for not belonging to the right social class.

h/t +Steven Flaeck 
Tania Lombrozo looks at research published Monday showing people's factual judgment of how much danger a child is in while a parent is away varies according to the extent of their moral outrage.
Add a comment...

Yonatan Zunger

Shared publicly  - 
"A hat website which advertises by running a guy for president."

"A white nationalist media empire" (see

This, apparently, is what we have come to. Someone running for president as part of a get-rich-quick scheme.
As it turns out, we now have the answer to where Trump's campaign donations are going. And it wasn't to his campaign: after admin and fundraising costs, the Trump campaign's largest expenditure was hats. From a financial perspective, his campaign seems weirdly like a hat website which advertises by running a guy for president.

But that's only 1.8m. Where did the rest of it go? As it turns out, he isn't repaying his loans. He's just being dishonest about how many donations he's gotten.

Partisan political campaigns in the United States can set up what's called a JFC: a joint fundraising campaign. These are almost always split down the middle. But Trump's are unusual, and I suspect the reason was to make his campaign look more healthy than it actually is. That money is being split 80/20 between the RNC and the Trump campaign, but because the JFC funds are attributed to the presidential campaign until they're disbursed to the party, 100% of those funds were attributed to Trump on last month's fundraising reports.

Of the 20% which Trump keeps, the vast majority is being spent on more fundraising. Bizarrely, his main fundraising contractor is a web design firm which has previously done work for the Trump Organization, and they appear to be taking an almost 30% (!?!?!?!) commission on all fundraising done for the campaign.

So, TL;DR: Trump wasn't lying about how he's spending the money. He was lying about having it to begin with.

11 comments on original post
harry croup's profile photoHalina Aleksiejew's profile photogoth “the elder” 1856's profile photo
Add a comment...

Yonatan Zunger

Shared publicly  - 
Today on Twitter: as night comes for us all, the conversation gets steadily weirder.

I mean, I spent last night dreaming I was a Red Army colonel from the Civil War reminiscing with his old buddy Stalin while waiting to be executed as an enemy of the state, so really, this is about what you'd expect the rest of the day to go like.
Julian Bond's profile photoGreg Roelofs's profile photoDavid Washington's profile photo
Sound like no man's sky as well ;)
Add a comment...

Yonatan Zunger

Shared publicly  - 
Some late-night thoughts for you about why our lives in general, and the Internet in particular, feel so overwhelming at times; with everything from social anger and economic uncertainty to artificial intelligences and cognitive prosthetics.

There are clean and well-structured articles in here, but they haven't come out yet to play. Y'all get to see the early notes version.
How we survive in the Age of the Internet
Steven Johnson's profile photoYonatan Zunger's profile photoRobert Hansen's profile photoJ The Colossal Squid's profile photo
I would add in how easy it is to conflate that each and every state will drift in the same direction as most people have no clue crimes are adjudicated and enforced at the State level for the vast majority of criminal conduct.+Yonatan Zunger 
Add a comment...

Yonatan Zunger

Shared publicly  - 
The "neighborhood social network" Nextdoor started to develop a nasty racism problem a while ago: people were using it to identify and discuss "suspicious behavior" among their neighbors which was often nothing more than "being in our neighborhood while dark-skinned." This started to become the reputation of the company - and the company decided to do something about it.

This article is about how minor user interface tweaks can profoundly affect user behavior. By injecting friction at the right point, you can significantly change how people behave - and in this case, substantially reduce the problem. It's a good lesson in UX design, and even more so a good discussion of how subtle cues shape people's behavior in a system.

h/t +Amber Yust​
'We hated the idea that something we built would be viewed as racist,' said Nextdoor's CEO. So the company decided to do something about it.
KevyneShandris's profile photoSteve S's profile photoDavid Prieto's profile photo
+Steve S then why not include those fields as required too, if the person doing the reporting is likely to be giving that information anyway?
Add a comment...

Yonatan Zunger

Shared publicly  - 
Articles like this make me sad that I never quite got into superhero comics as a genre. The headline is a bit trite, trying to collapse a discussion of two contrasting characters – Superman and Icon – into a single buzzword. The article is a lot deeper, as is the contrast it describes: between two characters whose origins were almost entirely identical, aliens fallen to Earth and raised as human, except that one chanced to look black while the other looked white. But none of the development that follows is obvious; Superman's alter ego, Clark Kent, is a middle-class reporter, while Icon's Augustus Freeman is a conservative lawyer.

As issue #16 noted, this is not simply a story of race – it's a contrast of two different immigrant narratives as well.

Lots to think through in here.

h/t +Laura Gibbs 
An alien ship lands on Earth. Its occupant gets raised as human, hiding special abilities for fear of reprisal. But when the superpowered extraterrestrial becomes an adult, Truth, Justice and the American Way mean something very different. Because this strange visitor from another planet is black.
Dominic Kurtzweil's profile photoCat in the Formal attire's profile photoMichael Sims's profile photo
Also, if you liked Watchmen, you may find Astro City interesting. If Watchmen deconstructs superhero comics, Astro City reconstructs them.
Add a comment...

Yonatan Zunger

Shared publicly  - 
I am trying to think of a more perverse idea for a local ordinance than this, but I'm coming up short. Evicting people for calling 911, for living in the same building as someone who called 911, or for living in a building to which police came in response to a 911 call seems to just give up on even pretending that the town's police are there for any public purpose. But apparently, this is what quite a few towns do.

Via +Steven Flaeck
In cities and towns across the country, little-known local laws penalize calls to the police and can get people kicked out of their homes. And it doesn’t matter whether people called the police for help or that they were the victim of the crime. <- my country. isn't that wonderful? #priorities   #bullshit
1 comment on original post
sandra skolnik's profile photodrumcorps0junkie's profile photoKevyneShandris's profile photoJoshua Lee's profile photo
+drumcorps0junkie It's over for me now. My living situation is much improved...
Add a comment...

Yonatan Zunger

Shared publicly  - 
I suspect that I have a new thing to watch at night.

h/t +Robyn Miller and kudos to the +YouTube team for negotiating this. :)
It's Monday, you don't really want to be working. Instead, watch all of the classic 1980s episodes of Ray Bradbury Theater free on YouTube.
Watch all of the classic 1980s episodes of Ray Bradbury Theater free on YouTube
9 comments on original post
Jens Reuterberg's profile photoLucas Appelmann's profile photoGeorge Station's profile photoHalina Aleksiejew's profile photo
Add a comment...
Yonatan's Collections
Have him in circles
137,020 people
Daniel Kolubah's profile photo
Christian Chenier's profile photo
Scott Ewing's profile photo
Yamaja Manjarrez's profile photo
Manoj Yadav's profile photo
kaoutar fatiii's profile photo
Jairo Miguel Lopez Venegas's profile photo
christian baharanyi's profile photo
mehenni farid's profile photo
  • Stanford University
    Ph. D., Physics, 2003
  • University of Colorado, Boulder
    B. A., Mathematics, Physics, 1997
Basic Information
Head of Infrastructure for the Google Assistant
The obligatory (very important!) disclaimer: I'm not on this system as an official representative. While I'm listening to user feedback and interacting about the system, I'm also here for perfectly ordinary social networking purposes. If I am saying something official on behalf of Google, I will make that explicitly clear; anything else that I say here is not the position of Google, or of anyone other than myself.
  • Google
    Chief Architect, Social, present
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Mountain View, CA
Boulder, CO - Rehovot, IL