And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Linkee-poo it's a long long way to Tipperary

I think I've said before that there's a warm spot in my heart for fucked up love songs. "The first time you hear it, you're stunned: 'I hope you die.' You wonder if you heard right, and a moment later you get your answer: 'I hope we both die.' Released in 2002 on the album Tallahassee, 'No Children' is perhaps the best-known, most enduring song by The Mountain Goats, the prolific songwriting project of author and musician John Darnielle for over 25 years. But more than that, it has found a place in recent history as an anthem to dysfunction, able to unite listeners in a sentiment that makes you gasp and laugh all at once."

Space is hard. "A US astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut were forced to make an emergency landing after their Russian Soyuz rocket malfunctioned en route to the International Space Station (ISS)." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Across New York City, more than 70 restaurants are tossing their oyster shells not into the trash or composting pile, but into the city's eroded harbor. It's all part of Billion Oyster Project's restaurant shell-collection program."

"When people living with HIV walk out of prison, they leave with up to a month's worth of HIV medication in their pockets. What they don't necessarily leave with is access to health care or the services that will keep them healthy in the long term."

Algorithms are not these holy objects, they're as flawed as the people who make them. And when you add machine learning into the mix, you get a recipe for "status quo." "Amazon.com Inc's machine-learning specialists uncovered a big problem: their new recruiting engine did not like women… The team had been building computer programs since 2014 to review job applicants' resumes with the aim of mechanizing the search for top talent, five people familiar with the effort told Reuters." Also, computer programmers are not "scientists", no matter what the degree says. Don't get me wrong, machine learning can be a great thing, and computers can be more efficient pattern recognition engines, but just because we call it AI doesn't mean it actually is. "That is because Amazon’s computer models were trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period. Most came from men, a reflection of male dominance across the tech industry… In effect, Amazon’s system taught itself that male candidates were preferable. It penalized resumes that included the word 'women's,' as in 'women’s chess club captain.' And it downgraded graduates of two all-women’s colleges, according to people familiar with the matter." That is, they plugged in the data about 10 years of hiring, identifying "quality" candidates, and the machine didn't come to the conclusion that sexism is the way to go, it just recognized the previous pattern of sexism as the preferred method. That's not fully true, the machine itself is not sexist, it recognized the pattern of sexism the humans created and without judgement continued that same pattern. Anyone who has had to write or update a resume in the last decade understands this. "Other companies are forging ahead, underscoring the eagerness of employers to harness AI for hiring." Of course they are. Companies are always looking for ways to keep the status quo while saying, "it's not my fault." Look at the ongoing arguments of sexism in publishing (especially for awards and "Best of" anthologies). And then there is this golden quote, "Kevin Parker, chief executive of HireVue, a startup near Salt Lake City, said automation is helping firms look beyond the same recruiting networks upon which they have long relied. His firm analyzes candidates’ speech and facial expressions in video interviews to reduce reliance on resumes." Ah, see, we'll add something new to the mix, imitate actual interviewing skills. You know, make it "real." And here I'll point out the obvious problems with facial recognition programs (and how Google's first try at it failed to recognize black people, or the problems with Apple's facial-unlocking programs) and the fact that "language use" is highly dependent on culture, social-economic status, and education. By helping companies "look beyond" this AI company just instituted the worst possible solution that will lead to even less diversity of the workforce. Just as a kicker, Amazon sells books on how AI will revolutionize HR. (Grokked in a roundabout way from Kameron Hurley)

"The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower-court order requiring voters in North Dakota to present certain forms of identification and proof of their residential address in order to cast a ballot in next month’s elections. A case challenging this requirement on behalf of the state’s sizable Native American populations alleged that the requirement would disenfranchise tribal residents, many of whom lack the proper identification and do not have residential addresses on their identification cards." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"A Missouri judge ruled on Tuesday that state election officials can no longer tell voters they must show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The ruling blocks part of Missouri's voter identification law." Not that they invalidated the law, it's just that they have to tell people about all the materials they can show to validate their ID.

"A Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper assigned to provide security for both gubernatorial candidates was removed from his post last month after violating a nondisclosure agreement by revealing details of Democrat Karl Dean’s schedule to Republican Bill Lee’s campaign… After learning about a Dean stop the Lee campaign understood to be part of a 'Muslim event,'… the Lee campaign reportedly asked another trooper whether his staff could obtain a photo of Dean in a mosque… The Sept. 7 event in question was a meet and greet at a falafel restaurant in Knoxville, and not a religious gathering." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Regarding Rand Paul's worrying about "violence", a GOP press release from this morning: "As Republicans, we believe in treating every American with respect and dignity. We believe political differences are not an excuse for bad behavior… We do not 'kick' those with whom we disagree. Instead, we work hard to win elections and support President Trump’s agenda – one that reflects the same respect for opportunity and liberty for all." Dear GOP, remember "Lock her up", remember the now president promising to pay the legal bills for anyone who would beat up protestors at his rallies and bragging about how "those people" wouldn't make it out of the venues in the old days and then waxing reminiscent and wondering why it wasn't the same, remember the president saying to law enforcement to not be too careful just bang their heads against the doors, remember your "second amendment solutions", remember all your representatives shooting copies of the ACA, remember laughing about Obama and Hillary "zombie" gun targets, remember Obama punching bags, remember armed citizens going to Democratic rallies, remember "target" lists of political opponents that had actual cross-hairs, and remember the "wanted dead or alive" posters? Do you remember all that? Fuck you. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s (R) office is blocking 53,000 people from registering to vote, according to records obtained by the Associated Press, a huge number that could sway his gubernatorial race against Democrat Stacey Abrams… Now we know exactly how many people that might affect this election. According to the AP, fully 70 percent of the voter applications that are being held up by Kemp’s office are from black people." Funny how that works. (Grokked from Ellen Datlow)

Just a disclaimer, I haven't seen this is any major news outlet and the site is a little self-serving. "Indiana has purged no less than 20,000 voters in violation of a federal court order." So this may be conformational bias. I'd like to see a little more independent confirmation on this. (Grokked from Annalee Flower Horne)

"The end of the fight over Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination sets up a new battleground over abortion rights, and activists on both sides of the issue are gearing up for what's likely to be a series of contentious battles from the high court to state legislatures."

For the "ZOMG, what will we tell the kids" crowd. "In the basement of a suburban Philadelphia home a half-dozen high school freshman boys recently met to munch on chips and pretzels ... and to talk about sexual assault in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings."

Regarding the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi: "At a 2015 campaign stop, Trump bragged to the crowd about his business dealings with the Saudis. 'Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them,' Trump said. 'They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.'"

On the Media's podcast: "In the latest episode of Trump, Inc., a WNYC collaboration with ProPublica, our colleagues look at the ways Trump has tried to buy and enforce silence — and how it matters more than ever now that he’s president. They talk to The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow about just one of the tactics used by those helping the president: the 'catch and kill.'"

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