brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
I posted on my other blog about supporting a new New York City Council bill that would require city agencies to publish source code used to make decisions.

On MetaFilter, I posted about a transparency case pending before a California appeals court; the EFF and ACLU have submitted amicus curiae briefs saying (to simplify) that the right to due process includes the right to inspect source code used to convict you. Evidently the creator of the closed-source DNA testing software doesn't think so. As is often the case on MetaFilter, there are very lucid explanations in the comments regarding complicated technical issues.

And I really like the photo I used to illustrate the potential for algorithmic bias.

Linkage 2017-09-18

Sep. 18th, 2017 08:57 pm
asher553: (Default)
[personal profile] asher553
Theory vs. the Jews: Michael Weingrad on Bruno Chaouat.
https://jewishreviewofbooks.com/articles/2781/perish-the-thought/
My friend Michael Weingrad reviews Bruno Chaouat’s book on postmodern, academic anti-Semitism.
'The answer to the book’s title is straightforward: No, Theory is not good for the Jews (or, for that matter, anyone who cares about intellectual and moral clarity). And, yes, there are probably better ways to spend one’s life than marinating in postmodernism’s silly conceits and tin-eared jargon. And yet, if Chaouat hesitates to draw such un-ambiguous conclusions he has nevertheless performed a service here by chronicling a range of Theory’s recent intellectual and moral failures and how they continue to revolve around Jews, the Holocaust, and the State of Israel. This is worth knowing about since, to adapt Trotsky’s warning, Jews may not be interested in Theory, but Theory is very interested in Jews. ...'

Africa / India / Israel: Devsena Mishra in JPost.
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/India-Israel-and-the-possibilities-of-collaboration-in-Africa-504635#_=_
'... Africa is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Africa has 60% of the world’s arable land reserves. The combination of Israeli innovation/conceptual abilities and India’s “collective effort, inclusive growth” approach can provide the right direction to sustainable development efforts in Africa. Clean and renewable energy, healthcare, agriculture and rural development, vocational/technical education, and entrepreneurship promotion are some of the key areas where India and Israel need to collaborate for a better future for Africa.'

Masoud Barzani on Kurdish Independence Referendum: Rudaw
http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/1809201712
'Amid numerous calls to postpone next week’s independence referendum and focus on discussions with Baghdad, President Masoud Barzani told a visiting British minister that they will not postpone the referendum without commitment from Baghdad to begin independence negotiations, with international guarantees that agreements will be enforced. ... “[T]he referendum will not be delayed only for the sake of holding talks with Baghdad without knowing the content of these talks or knowing what international guarantees they will have,” the Kurdish statement read.'

Cooking Insight

Sep. 18th, 2017 07:37 pm
asher553: (Default)
[personal profile] asher553
The value of using tongs to cook hot food is greatly diminished if you place the tongs on the stove so that the handle gets as hot as the burner itself.

Monday evening: Driving.

Sep. 18th, 2017 06:20 pm
asher553: (Default)
[personal profile] asher553
Around the beginning of 2017, I got set up as a driver for Uber Eats, figuring I might make a little extra money in my spare time by driving food deliveries. But not much came of it, as I discovered that there was very little work to be had. I'd turn on the app, and wait for calls ... and wait and wait and wait. Eventually I gave up, and shelved the idea.

Recently I got an email from Uber saying that they'd brought a lot more restaurants on board and made numerous other improvements to the service. So last weekend I decided to see for myself, and lo and behold it was a world of difference. Calls started coming in, and finally I was driving deliveries and making money. I drove every day from Sunday through Thursday, and drove again yesterday. I'm taking tonight (Monday night) off, but looking forward to doing some runs tomorrow night.

For most of my adult life I've had some degree of anxiety around driving, but I think this is going to finally let me get over it once and for all. Plus it's a great way to explore Portland, especially the east side where I expect to be moving soon - and, of course, I could use the money.

Current Reading

Sep. 17th, 2017 04:03 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
[personal profile] stoutfellow
Ever since I got my Kindle, I've been making trawls through Project Gutenberg, grabbing whatever looks interesting. It's not always successful; the copy of Pepys' Diary that I downloaded was a Victorian edition, considerably bowdlerized.

One recent pickup was "Bearslayer", an epic poem by the Latvian poet Andrejs Pumpurs. It's kind of a Latvian analogue of "Kalevala"; Pumpurs gathered together a bunch of folk tales about the legendary hero Bearslayer and wove them into a single poem. I finished it the other day. It's rather interesting; the Latvian gods appear, along with devils, witches, ogres, and assorted other monsters. It's set, however, in a fairly recent time-period, during the invasion of the Baltic states by the Teutonic Knights. Bearslayer is a leader in the doomed defense. There's one bit which jarred me, though. As Bearslayer's prophesied doom approaches, it is suddenly revealed that he has bear's ears, and if they are cut off his power will be diminished. No foreshadowing at all; his bride never asks, "Honey, what's wrong with your ears?" Still, it was fun.

My current Kindle reading (I rotate through them):
Lad, a Dog, Albert Payson Terhune. Yes, Terhune was a racist, and it's very explicit when it comes up. Fortunately, it's only come up once in the first 80% of the book. Other than that, they're standard dog stories.
The Mysteries of Udolpho, by Ann Radcliffe. I think this is one of the books that Jane Austen mocked in Northanger Abbey. Not too much Gothic yet, but I'm still in the early part of the book.
Sir Walter Scott's Journal. It's pretty interesting; we get glimpses of James Fenimore Cooper, the Duke of Wellington, and various other early-nineteenth century figures. There's a story of a man who'd been exiled to Australia and, feeling for some reason indebted to Sir Walter, sent him an emu. Scott accepted it, being under the impression that an emu was a sort of large parrot. He was unpleasantly surprised by the truth. (There's a later entry: "I offered the emu to Lord ####." No indication that the offer was accepted.)
Morphosyntactic Change, by Los, Blom, and Booij. This is a rather technical work on particle verbs in Dutch, German, and English, today and through history, and I'll admit I'm in over my head. But it's interesting to see what questions they're wrestling with, and what kinds of answers they give.

I'm also rereading Peter Hamilton's Judas Unchained. It and the preceding volume, Pandora's Star, are doorstops, but the story is intricate and absorbing.

A Memory

Sep. 15th, 2017 11:19 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
[personal profile] stoutfellow
I have no particular reason to post this, but it's a memory that keeps popping up in my mind, and I thought I'd share it. It's a scene from the old Get Smart show. After Hymie the robot defected from KAOS, they sent some agents to try to bring him back. One of the agents, talking to Hymie in private, says the following.

(to Hymie): "Hymie, what happened to you? You used to love to kill, and to hellodolly, and..."
(to himself): "Hellodolly? That's not right."
(singing softly): "DUT-dut-DUT-dut-DUT-da-DUT-da-DUT-DUT, Ma-"
(to Hymie): "Maim!"

Still cracks me up, after half a century.

Elevator Incident

Sep. 15th, 2017 08:39 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
[personal profile] stoutfellow
I'm not good with faces.

Yesterday, a little before six, I headed over to Peck Hall for my Linear Algebra class. On arrival, I went to the elevator and punched the "Up" button. (It's on the third floor, the stairs are kind of steep, and my knees are not in good shape. I'm entitled.) As I waited, a young man joined me. When the car came, I stepped in, pushed the "3" button, and asked him what floor. He replied, "Same as you." This stopped me for a moment. Hmm, evidently this fellow has ridden up in the elevator with me several times this year. Aloud: "I'll try to remember that next time." At that point he informed me that he was one of my Linear Algebra students. I recognized him then, of course.

I'm really not good with faces.

Cool things

Sep. 14th, 2017 09:48 pm
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
Max Gladstone: "What happens when it’s so difficult to understand the people we live beside—or the people we love—that we can’t help them? That we don’t even know how to help each other?"

These awesome photos of Sloane Stephens!

Some useful information on the General Data Protection Regulation which will affect many of us starting May 2018.

"ProPublica would like to hear from people who have expertise in some facet of the health insurance industry." And then they will do investigative journalism on it!!

Upcoming New York City Council bill on algorithmic transparency:

g. Each agency that uses, for the purposes of targeting services to persons, imposing penalties upon persons or policing, an algorithm or any other method of automated processing system of data shall:

1. Publish on such agency’s website, the source code of such system; and

2. Permit a user to (i) submit data into such system for self-testing and (ii) receive the results of having such data processed by such system.


(If Legistar's RSS feeds work, [syndicated profile] nyc_algo_bill_feed should let you track further actions on it.)

on the hair bounty

Sep. 14th, 2017 12:52 pm
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
So I saw the news story about Martin Shkreli getting punished for posting online and offering USD$5,000 for a strand of Hillary Clinton's hair. And it gets at a bunch of deep primal or overlapping things, doesn't it?sexist bullying )

Torchship Captain is Out

Sep. 13th, 2017 12:22 am
selenite0: (Bujold--book is an event)
[personal profile] selenite0
The Torchship Trilogy is complete.

Michigan Long blackmailed her enemies into joining the war against the AIs. Now the secret she used is leaking out and the Fusion is shattering. Caught in the middle of a civil war, she will have to use any weapon that comes to hand—her wits, her ship, her mate.

And other things

Sep. 9th, 2017 07:05 pm
catsittingstill: (Default)
[personal profile] catsittingstill
The song I just put up was actually written the day after Heather Heyer died but I guess I never quite got around to hitting post, so there it is now.

In other news I've been having trouble with sitting around poking the internet all day. If there is some kind of urgent thing I must do I can still get up and make it happen but in the absence of some urgent thing I've been losing whole days just feeling bad and scrolling through Twitter and Facebook.

So today I made a point of going canoeing. Lauren was interested in coming along so we made an afternoon of it and went to Panther Creek State Park. It had been something like a year since the last time I went canoeing. Moxie is in my woodshop because I repaired a little nick in her keel and now need to revarnish her and see above about poking the internet instead. So we took Constance and Patience. Patience isn't tame so I paddled Patience and ended up getting dumped. We went up Panther creek and there was this one spot I was trying to duck a low tree branch and my paddle got tangled in the tree and I couldn't duck the way I needed to and over we went.

I had put on my canoeing pants but was wearing a cotton t-shirt because dumb. Fortunately it wasn't quite cold enough that I had to turn back, but the rest of the trip was rather damp. We just took it easy and paddled around sometimes and did a lot of sitting on the water looking at the scenery.

My arms are very tired now. But I'm glad we did it.

Okay, so some things...

Sep. 9th, 2017 07:04 pm
catsittingstill: (Default)
[personal profile] catsittingstill
I wrote a new song. I am having some trouble getting audio into my computer properly and feeling disorganized and scattered enough here in Trumpland that I haven't dug into the manual and solved the problem. So as a stopgap I put up a YouTube video of me singing it.

Heather Heyer.
Lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber @2017

Heather Heyer met her fate
In this crucial hour
Standing up to Nazi hate
May she rest in Power!
Rest in power, not in peace
While old hatreds find new lease--
Let our efforts never cease
May she rest in Power!

Those who loved her grieve this night
Gone their joy and flower
Doing what she thought was right
May she rest in Power.

Find new courage in the fight
Sweet amid the sour
Gay and straight and black and white
May she rest in Power!

Life's our joy and love's our will
Let the racist cower!
This good work continues still
May she rest in Power.

Three Weeks In

Sep. 9th, 2017 03:39 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
[personal profile] stoutfellow
Week three of the semester is complete. I'm teaching three courses: Math 320, "Introduction to Algebraic Structures"; Math 421, "Linear Algebra II"; and Math 435, "Foundations for Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometry".

Math 320 is a tough course for our students. The problem is that the mathematical objects we study in that class, "groups", are totally unlike anything else they've ever encountered. I mean, calculus is tough, but going in the students know what functions are and they can visualize things like tangent lines. Linear algebra is hard, but they've at least seen vectors in 2- and 3-space. Groups? Nothing like them. I have thirteen students in the class; four of them have had classes with me before. (I think all four have had multiple classes with me, in fact.) When I ask questions in class, ("Okay, what's the next step?" "Why did I just do that?") it is almost always one of those four who answers. I have to directly choose one of the others to get them to speak up.

Math 421... On Thursday, I asked my students for input on the time and content of the first midterm - two weeks hence, including the extensive review material, or a week later and concentrating on the new material. The discussion was lively, one student in particular pushing hard for the latter, but the consensus favored the former option. After class, she apologized to me for the, um, vigor of her opinions... She teaches high school math, and mentioned that her students were complaining about the amount and difficulty of their homework, saying, "Kids, if you only knew!" - the latter a reference to the homework I was giving her. I told her the story of Janis Ian and Connie Willis (subtitle, "In which the famous singer learns about fangirling from the other side"); she laughed, then caught my point. "Ok, that gives me a different perspective on my students...." That may have been the best thing I did that day.

Math 435 only has four students. It probably would have been cancelled, but V, who heads our Math Ed program, vigorously defended it before the Dean as an essential component of that program - cancel it, and the students wind up delayed a full year. I enjoy that class. The first couple of weeks dealt with familiar, high school geometry, results, but this last week we got to more advanced topics like the Star Trek and Bow Tie Lemmas, and the Cyclic Quadrilaterals Theorem. Next week we fall back to similar triangles, but then roar ahead into circle geometry - radical axes, coaxal systems, and so forth.

So that's where we stand at the end of week three.

Hurricane

Sep. 7th, 2017 10:32 pm
asher553: (Default)
[personal profile] asher553
While we're dealing with dry weather and forest fires in the Northwest, the opposite corner of the USA has to worry about wind and rain from hurricanes. A very dear friend whom I've known for more than half my life, and who recently settled among family in Miami, reports via FB that she has recently evacuated to inland. 'We've made it to higher ground. Irma's scheduled to make her debut Friday night. The b*+€# better behave herself.' I'll be keeping her in my prayers.

Gorge Fire

Sep. 6th, 2017 08:51 pm
asher553: (Default)
[personal profile] asher553
http://www.oregonlive.com/wildfires/index.ssf/2017/09/gorge_retains_splendor_despite.html

'"One thing that was encouraging is there are still a lot of green trees, there's still a lot of area that did not burn," said Traci Weaver, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

"The fire did not burn through there and burn every tree and every green plant in its path. And I think people need to recognize that, that it's still going to be a beautiful place. And one nice thing about being on the wet side, like we are: Things are going to start to recover much quicker than they would in a drier forest area." ...'

Linkage 2017-09-06

Sep. 6th, 2017 06:56 am
asher553: (Default)
[personal profile] asher553
Melanie Phillips: The greater danger.
http://www.melaniephillips.com/greater-danger-left/
'For the left’s Israel-hatred and Jew-baiting prejudices are on display virtually every day through the media, the arts, the universities, the trade unions, the churches and other institutions.

Of course neo-Nazis and their ilk pose a danger to Jews and other minorities, but their numbers are tiny. The immeasurably greater danger to everyone comes from the far-left and the Islamists — and from the broad left who ignore or sanitise what they do.

Unlike the far-right, the left controls the culture. It uses that power to deny its own Jew-hatred as well as Muslim antisemitism and religious aggression, and to defame and destroy those who call these out.

Ask the former Labour front-bencher Sarah Champion [https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/left-failing-to-confront-truth-of-sex-crimes-says-sacked-labour-frontbencher-sarah-champion-mp-for-rotherham-dismissed-by-jeremy-corbyn-after-writing-for-the-sun-gbbm8p837], who drew attention to the cultural identity of the overwhelmingly Pakistani Muslim child pimping gangs, or the Muslim Labour councillor Amina Lone who stuck up for her — both now punished by sacking and de-selection respectively. ...'

Caroline Glick at JPost: The strategic case for Kurdistan.
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/The-strategic-case-for-Kurdistan-503922
'Compared to their neighbors, not to mention to the Times’ favored group the Palestinians, the Kurds, who have been self-governing since 1991, are paragons of good governance. Not only have they given refuge to tens of thousands of Iraqis fleeing ISIS. Iraqi Kurdistan has been an island of relative peace in a war-torn country since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Its Peshmerga forces have not only secured Kurdistan. They have been the most competent force fighting ISIS since its territorial conquests in 2014.

The same is the case of the Kurdish YPG militia in Syrian Kurdistan. ...'

Smoke and Ash

Sep. 6th, 2017 05:58 am
asher553: (Default)
[personal profile] asher553
Yesterday morning dawned with an eerie light. Red sun, grey sky. It was overcast without clouds.

All day, Portland was blanketed with the smoke from the Eagle Creek fire burning in the Columbia River Gorge about 50 miles east of here. At times flakes of ash fell like snowflakes. Pedestrians could be seen wearing surgical masks on the street. The haze reminded me of Kuwait in '91 when the other side set fire to the oil wells and there was smoke everywhere.

http://www.oregonlive.com/wildfires/index.ssf/2017/09/eagle_creek_fire_rages_in_colu.html

As my LJ readers may remember, I visited Eagle Creek / Cascade Locks with a friend last May. Dreadful to think of that beautiful place on fire.
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