Monday March 8th, 2021

Reinforcing bad machine learning

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Underpaid Workers Are Being Forced to Train Biased AI on Mechanical Turk

Workers who label images on platforms like Mechanical Turk say they’re being incentivized to fall in line with their responses—or risk losing work.

This summed it up nicely:

“I sometimes find myself thinking like, I think this is a wrong answer ... but I know that if I say what I really think I will get booted from the job, and I will get bad scores,” said Sarah. "And I'm like, okay, I will just do what they want me to do. Even though I think it's a shitty choice.”

So we're paying people crappy wages to continue their education experience.

in the presence of whiteness

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RT Michael Harriot @michaelharriot:

I have received a lot of emails pushing back on this quote from my mother.

“A black child’s humanity can never be fully realized in the presence of whiteness”

Some of them were genuinely interested in understanding why this is not racist.

A thread:

Some good observations about guitar playing and handedness in there.

Missing Palaces

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RT Helen Zaltzman @HelenZaltzman

People who argue that we can't abolish the British monarchy because of tourism know that no tourists ever go to France. All their palaces evaporated overnight in 1848

Trans Kids in Youth Roller Derby

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RT Nora Flanagan @noraflanagan

I coach junior roller derby. For the five years I've been coaching, we have welcomed trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming skaters. We might have been the first youth sport to do this. Here's what I've seen: ( 🧵 )

Sunday March 7th, 2021

Yesterday, a friend asked if I'd elaborate about the problems of high school, pep rallies, the promotion of sports, and willful blindness to abusive patterns of high school administrators and teachers.

Last night I asked Google for "best comedies on netflix", and after dismissing the ones with an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes ("Game Over, Man!"), we settled on the Amy Poehler directed "Moxie", a film about high school, and exactly those things.

Neither of us experienced it as a comedy. Both of us were glad to have seen it.

Both of us also came out of it shaken, like we'd just relived those experiences of three and a half or four decades ago. All the same willful blindness from administrators. Heck, I even had the cool engaging English teacher although, alas, I didn't get him until the last semester of my Senior year.

But, yeah. Kinda summed it up.

Moxie trailer

Booming Depression

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The Booming Depression. On how the Great Depression showed greater growth than the period of the real estate crisis and great recession.


Threats for deciding to keep masks

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If you had any doubts at all about what really motivates the anti-maskers: A Mexican restaurant in Texas kept its mask rule. People threatened to call ICE on the staff.

Traffic deaths up

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Traffic congestion saves lives. Automobile deaths are an infrastructure engineering problem: Traffic deaths rose 8% in 2020, even as Americans drove fewer miles during pandemic

The nonprofit National Safety Council estimates in a report issued Thursday that 42,060 people died in vehicle crashes in 2020, an 8% increase over 2019 and the first jump in four years.

Plus, the fatality rate per 100 million miles driven spiked 24%, the largest annual percentage increase since the council began collecting data in 1923.

When you search for best comedies on

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When you search for "best comedies on Netflix" and Google suggests something with an 18% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Mt Diablo

South across the bay

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South across the bay

Saturday March 6th, 2021

Noise Cameras

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More like this, pleaase: Supercars: Cameras set up to detect Knightsbridge noisy drivers

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea set up the cameras to tackle drivers using Knightsbridge streets as "racetracks".

The cameras intercept when a 74 decibel noise threshold is exceeded and records the offending vehicle.

Of course right now they're just getting wrist slaps...

Statin use and COVID-19 mortality

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Interesting: Statin users 50% less likely to die in hospital from severe COVID-19

Nature Communications: Association between antecedent statin use and decreased mortality in hospitalized patients with COVID-19

... The primary endpoint includes in-hospital mortality within 30 days. A total of 2626 patients were admitted during the study period, of whom 951 (36.2%) were antecedent statin users. Among 1296 patients (648 statin users, 648 non-statin users) identified with 1:1 propensity-score matching, statin use is significantly associated with lower odds of the primary endpoint in the propensity-matched cohort (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.36–0.62, p < 0.001). We conclude that antecedent statin use in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is associated with lower inpatient mortality.

Friday March 5th, 2021

We hate you now

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Some musings on some of the things many of us are feeling about the differing levels of safety with regards go COVID-19 and coronavirus spread. Quinn Norton on Medium: We Hate You Now — The Hardest Problem of The Aftertimes

This isn’t my first pandemic, I grew up in the age of AIDS in a deeply impacted community. I buried a lot of people back then, and eventually did a lot of safer sex education and learned a lot about how you fight a disease as a community member, not a clinician or a researcher. I learned the valuable lesson that shame is not a strategy. There are moments, interpersonal moments, where shame is absolutely a tactic, but it is never a political strategy. So I want to assure you what I’m talking about isn’t about shaming people.

This is about the consequences of human actions. This is about pure rage, caged up in millions of houses. ...

I mean, I completely understand that there are legitimate reasons that someone might want to transfer US dollars to Nigeria, but the jokes here write themselves...

Melissa Cross

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This Trained Singer Teaches Metal Bands How To Scream (HBO)

The teacher is Melissa Cross, and I'm tempted to take one of her online classes, both because new ways to approach my voice is awesome, but also because I'm fascinated from her sampler video about how she's managing the social aspects of online classes.

When should conversations end?

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Scientific evidence that we should probably be talking less. Best observation, from the MeFi thread: "More evidence for my pet theory that neurotypicals systematically overestimate how good they actually are at judging social cues."

People Literally Don’t Know When to Shut Up—or Keep Talking—Science Confirms

When should you end a conversation? Probably sooner than you think

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Do conversations end when people want them to?

Abstract Do conversations end when people want them to? Surprisingly, behavioral science provides no answer to this fundamental question about the most ubiquitous of all human social activities. In two studies of 932 conversations, we asked conversants to report when they had wanted a conversation to end and to estimate when their partner (who was an intimate in Study 1 and a stranger in Study 2) had wanted it to end. Results showed that conversations almost never ended when both conversants wanted them to and rarely ended when even one conversant wanted them to and that the average discrepancy between desired and actual durations was roughly half the duration of the conversation. Conversants had little idea when their partners wanted to end and underestimated how discrepant their partners’ desires were from their own. These studies suggest that ending conversations is a classic “coordination problem” that humans are unable to solve because doing so requires information that they normally keep from each other. As a result, most conversations appear to end when no one wants them to.

Thursday March 4th, 2021

Drone Strikes & Locate X

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Angry Birds indeed: Military Unit That Conducts Drone Strikes Bought Location Data From Ordinary Apps

The 132d Wing of the Iowa National Guard bought Locate X, a product that lets users search by a specific area to see which devices were present.

the presence of whiteness

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Wednesday March 3rd, 2021

Different for white supremacists

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Uh huh: Capitol riot probe zeroes in on Pentagon delay in sending troops

In his testimony, Walker agreed with Capitol security officials that Pentagon leaders gave a tepid response to urgent pleas for aid during a 2:30 p.m. call on Jan. 6.

McCarthy was not on the call, according to Walker, even though others wanted him to be. Walker described that coordination as a stark contrast from the military’s response to civil unrest during racial justice protests over the summer, when McCarthy was in real-time contact with him about helping law enforcement.

Emphasis mine.

For Some Black Students, Remote Learning Has Offered A Chance To Thrive

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Petaluma is currently blanketed in signs promoting some probably Tea Party affiliated "open the schools" campaign. "Missing: All CA Students" and hashtag "open Sonoma schools now", like overriding evidence-based policy with mob rule is somehow a good idea.

But I'm finding that so many of my friends who are parents, even those who were in the "we should send our kids to public school because we believe in the mission of public school" camp, are saying "we didn't realize what our kids had to put up with, and we're not sure if we're going to make them go back".

Which, of course, echoes Charlene's decision back in 2019 that, as her work in the schools took her towards working with more mainstream students, that she no longer believed that working within that system was good for the students.

Of course, not all parents and students have the privilege or resources to find alternatives. And we've all known the products of homeschooling disasters.

But maybe the pandemic will provide the chance to step back and take a look at how we can rework schools to be actually focused on learning.

NPR: For Some Black Students, Remote Learning Has Offered A Chance To Thrive.

Goofy cat

Tuesday March 2nd, 2021

Port scanning in bash

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Twitter thread describing a cool little trick for using bash and /dev/tcp to do port scanning, with refinements:

Monday March 1st, 2021

more I play with various different

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The more I play with various different modern languages (today it's trying to unfuck some TypeScript), the more I've learned to appreciate C.

FBI, police & Malcolm X

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Malcolm X's family releases letter alleging FBI, police role in his death

The letter released at a news conference on Saturday was attributed to a former undercover NYPD officer named Raymond Wood. His cousin Reggie Wood joined some of Malcolm X's daughters at the news conference at the site where the Audubon Ballroom once stood to make the letter public.

Raymond Wood's letter stated that he had been pressured by his NYPD supervisors to lure two members of Malcolm X's security detail into committing crimes that resulted in their arrest just days before the fatal shooting. Those arrests kept the two men from managing door security at the ballroom and was part of conspiracy between the NYPD and FBI to have Malcolm killed, according to the letter.

"Under the direction of my handlers, I was told to encourage leaders and members of the civil rights groups to commit felonious acts," Wood's letter stated.

Maybe if your messaging provider

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Maybe if your messaging provider expresses a sincere belief in supernatural enemies you shouldn't assume that they're technically competent. Also thinking about the fine line between psychosis and spiritual emergency in this context...

Fucking hell

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Fucking hell, all I want to do is change one line in a template on this static website, but now I'm in npm/nvm/node hell.

Friday February 26th, 2021

Windows XP wallpaper

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Cute article on the Windows XP background image. I have, of course, driven past this any number of times, but never seen the then and now so nicely lined up: I found the Bay Area hill in Windows XP's iconic wallpaper

Suicides in Saskatchewan actually down

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Okay, Saskatchewan is not the world in general, but maybe "I can say 'no' to the normal social obligations and stay the fuck home" isn't all that bad for mental health after all? Many assumed suicides would spike in 2020. So far, the data tells a different story

Thursday February 25th, 2021

Petaluma Creamery

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