Shared posts

05 Sep 16:09

Cole Haan found a brilliant way to make high heels more comfortable

by Elizabeth Segran

The brand collaborated with UMass Amherst’s biomechanics lab to create heels that redistribute weight and reduce pressure on the foot.

Over the past few years, I’ve been tracking the quest to invent a more comfortable high heel, including efforts from startups like Sarah Flint, Marion Parke, and Antonia Saint to redesign the stiletto. A more established player, heritage brand Cole Haan, has taken another step forward to make a better heel. Today, the brand launches a new shoe collection aptly called Grand Ambition that is the result of a collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Biomechanics Lab. The key to the shoe’s comfort comes down to an anatomical molded footbed that is designed to redistribute weight as a woman walks and reduce pressure on the ball of the foot.

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05 Sep 16:09

Trump’s War On Science Is Hobbling The U.S. In The Global Innovation Race

by Environmental Defense Fund, Contributor
As the U.S. stalls, China, Germany and other countries are moving ahead. China is expected to surpass the U.S. in funding for research and development as early as next year.
05 Sep 16:09

The Oil And Gas Situation: Exxon Not Panicking, Permian De-Bottlenecking

by David Blackmon, Contributor
Rising volumes of Permian Basin-produced crude and natural gas are starting to flow downstream as a raft of new pipeline projects complete their construction phases. Thanks to a flurry of construction at various Texas ports, fears of a new export bottleneck developing are rapidly fading.
05 Sep 15:42

Why Energy Companies Struggle Without Women in Leadership

by Jen Simpson
woman leader hosting meeting

1,868 total views, 8 views today Companies don’t have enough women in leadership roles Women in leadership have always been underrepresented across virtually all industries. According to the US Department of Labor, women account for approximately 47% of the workforce, yet little more than 6% of Fortune 500 companies have a female CEO. Moving into the energy […]

The post Why Energy Companies Struggle Without Women in Leadership appeared first on Pink Petro.

04 Sep 17:48

New live online training courses

Get hands-on training in machine learning, TensorFlow, blockchain, Python, cybersecurity, and many other topics.

Learn new topics and refine your skills with more than 165 new live online training courses we opened up for September and October on the O'Reilly online learning platform.

AI and machine learning

Machine Learning with the Tidyverse in R, September 19

Deep Learning with PyTorch, October 1

Deploy Machine Learning Projects in Production with Open Standard Models, October 1

Building AI & ML Applications on Google Cloud Platform, October 2

Introduction to TensorFlow 2.0, October 7

Deep Learning for Natural Language Processing (NLP), October 9

Hands-on adversarial machine learning, October 22

Introduction to AI on Google Cloud, October 29

Intermediate Natural Language Processing (NLP), October 29

A Practical Introduction to Machine Learning, October 30

Hands-on Machine Learning with Python: Classification and Regression, October 30

Introducing Machine Learning with Amazon SageMaker, October 30

Hands-on Machine Learning with Python: Clustering, Dimension Reduction, and Time Series Analysis, October 31

Artificial Intelligence: AI For Business, November 5

Fundamentals of AI Algorithms in 90 minutes, November 20


Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Essentials, October 28


Business Applications of Blockchain, October 4

Introduction to Strategic Thinking Skills, October 9

Spotlight on Innovation: Blockchain for Intellectual Property with Saga Arvidsdotter, October 9

Foundations of Microsoft Excel, October 16

Spotlight on Cloud: DevSecOps Lessons Learned with Zane Lackey, October 16

Introduction to Delegation Skills, October 22

Agile for Everybody, October 22

Salary negotiation fundamentals, October 23

Applying critical thinking, October 23

Why Smart Leaders Fail, October 23

Building the Skills to Succeed as a Remote Worker in 90 Minutes, October 23

Managing your Manager, October 24

Business data analytics using Python, October 24

60 Minutes to a Better Daily Scrum, October 29

Succeeding with Project Management, October 29

Scrum Master: Good to Great, October 30

Building your people network, October 30

Developing your coaching skills, October 31

60 Minutes to Designing a Better PowerPoint Slide, October 31

Text Analysis for Business Analytics with Python, October 31

Building a case to start working remotely in 90 minutes, November 5

Fundamentals of Financial Decision-Making, November 5

60 Minutes to better product metrics, November 6

Incident Management, November 6

Leadership Communication Skills for Managers, November 7

Fundamentals of Management, November 11

Mastering Microsoft Excel Pivot Tables, November 11

Developing Resilience to Stress, November 12

Writing User Stories, November 13

Unlock your Potential, November 13

Adaptive project management, November 14

Quantitative trading with Python, November 14

SQL-Powered Excel for Business Analytics, November 14

Leading Innovative Teams, November 14

Data science and data tools

Text Mining and Sentiment Analysis in R, September 27

Python-Powered Spreadsheets Beyond the Basics, October 1

IoT Fundamentals, October 1-2

Facebook Libra, October 2

Cleaning Data at Scale, October 14

Accelerate and Migrate Your Data Science to GPU with RAPIDS, October 14

Time Series Data Processing and Modeling, October 14

Scalable Data Science with Apache Hadoop and Spark, October 14

Managing Data in a Multi-Cloud World, October 14

Causal Inference in Data Science, October 17

Python Data Science Full Throttle with Paul Deitel: Introductory Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and Cloud Case Studies, October 22

Visualization in Python with Matplotlib, October 30

Linear Algebra with Python: Essential Math for Data Science, November 4

Linear Regression with Python: Essential Math for Data Science, November 13


Beginning R Programming, September 18

Reactive Spring Boot, October 1

Bash Shell Scripting in 4 Hours, October 2

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Crash Course, October 2-3

Next Steps in Data Analysis with R: Revealing the logic and strengths of R for working with data, October 3

Advanced Javascript, October 7

Hands-on Introduction to Apache Hadoop and Spark Programming, October 7-8

Getting Started with PostgreSQL, October 8

Solving Java Memory Leaks, October 9

Statistical Literacy: Linear Models as a Unifying Concept (using R), October 10

Solidity Programming Fundamentals for Ethereum Applications, October 14

Mastering the basics of relational SQL querying, October 14-15

Python Full Throttle with Paul Deitel, October 15

Getting Started with Pandas, October 15

Getting Started with Python 3, October 15-16

Mastering Pandas, October 16

Learning Regular Expressions, October 18

Functional Programming in Java, October 21-22

Design Patterns Boot Camp, October 22-23

Testing Vue.js Applications, October 23

Introduction to the Bash Shell, October 23

Applied Cryptography with Python, October 24

Getting Started with SQL Server, October 24

Practical Linux Command Line for Data Engineers and Analysts, October 28

Applied Probability Theory from Scratch, October 30

Python-Powered Excel, November 4

Hands-On Algorithmic Trading With Python, November 5

Learn the Basics of Scala in 3 hours, November 5

Introduction to Quantitative Financial Risk Management with R, November 7

What's New in Java, November 11

Getting Started with Python 3, November 12-13

Inferential Statistics using R, November 13

Mastering Python’s pytest, November 13

Next-generation Java testing with JUnit 5, November 14

Reactive Spring and Spring Boot, November 15


Build Your Own Cybersecurity Lab and Cyber Range, September 30

CISSP Crash Course, October 2-3

Security Analytics with Snowflake, October 8

Getting Started with Cyber Investigations and Digital Forensics, October 14

Cyber Security Defense: Best Practices and Strategies for Current and Future Threats, October 18

Expert Transport Layer Security (TLS), October 22

Introduction to Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing, October 22-23

Kubernetes Security: Attacking and Defending Kubernetes, November 4

Azure Security Fundamentals, November 6

Fraud Analytics using Python, November 7

Introduction to encryption, November 13

Systems engineering and operations

Rethinking REST: A hands-on guide to GraphQL and queryable APIs, September 24

Introduction to Docker Containers, September 30

Introducing Infrastructure as Code with Terraform, October 1

Ansible in 4 Hours, October 1

Automating with Ansible, October 1

AWS Certified Security - Specialty Crash Course, October 1-2

9 Steps to Awesome with Kubernetes, October 2

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam Crash Course, October 2-3

Linux Performance Optimization, October 4

Deploying Container-Based Microservices on AWS, October 7-8

Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) Crash Course, October 7-10

Take Terraform to the Next Level, October 8

Managing Cloud Costs: How to apply FinOps strategies to decrease your cloud spend, October 8

Getting Started with Serverless Architectures on Azure, October 8

Getting Started with Google Cloud Platform, October 9

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam Prep, October 9

Continuous Compliance on AWS, October 9

From developer to software architect, October 9-10

Practical Software Design from Problem to Solution, October 11

Essentials of JVM Threading, October 14

Hands-on Introduction to OAuth 2.0, October 14

Software Architecture by Example, October 16

ASP.NET Core 3.0, Web API and EF Core Fundamentals, October 17

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Crash Course, October 17-18

AWS Certified Big Data - Specialty Crash Course, October 17-18

Linux Fundamentals Bootcamp, October 17-18

Linux, Python, and Bash Scripting for Cybersecurity Professionals, October 18

Network Troubleshooting: Basic Theory and Process, October 18

Software Architecture Foundations: Characteristics and Tradeoffs, October 21

Docker: Up and Running, October 21-22

Ansible for Managing Network Devices, October 23

Architecture for continuous delivery, October 24

AWS core architecture concepts, October 24-25

Getting Started with OpenShift, October 25

Kubernetes in 4 Hours, October 25

AWS Account Setup Best Practices, October 28

Intermediate Git, October 28

Continuous Delivery and Tooling in Go, October 28

Developing Incremental Architecture, October 28-29

Implementing Evolutionary Architectures, October 28-29

Web Performance in Practice, October 29

60 minutes Introduction to Hypothesis Driven Software Development, October 29

Introduction to Google Cloud Platform, October 30-31

Google Cloud Platform Professional Cloud Architect Certification Crash Course, October 30-31

Introduction to Docker Compose, November 4

Getting Started: Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator, November 5

Comparing Service-Based Architectures, November 6

Implementing Infrastructure as Code, November 7

Introduction to Docker CI/CD, November 11

Microservices Caching Strategies, November 11

Architecture Foundations: Styles, Patterns, & Tradeoffs, November 11

Hands-on Introduction to Software Testing, November 12

Introduction to Kubernetes, November 13-14

Next level Git: Master your content, November 14

Microservice Decomposition Patterns, November 14

Introduction to Docker Images, November 14

Getting Started With Jenkins X, November 14

Microservice Fundamentals, November 15

Continue reading New live online training courses.

29 Aug 18:37

Bill Gates explains why he’s backing companies that change how we build

by Ben Paynter

The production of materials like steel, cement, plastic, glass, and aluminum causes enormous emissions, but it’s not going to stop being necessary. Gates wants to change how we make them.

Bill Gates loves to make solving complex problems sound fairly straightforward. Take the fact that the manufacturing sector accounts for roughly one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. To create the basic building blocks of urbanized society—steel, cement, plastic, glass, aluminum, and even paper—we are slowly destroying it.

Read Full Story

29 Aug 17:57

Pre-2020 US-China Trade Deal Likelihood Low

The probability of a U.S.-China trade deal being reached prior to the 2020 U.S. presidential elections appears low.
26 Aug 19:54

How organizations are sharpening their skills to better understand and use AI

by Ben Lorica

To successfully implement AI technologies, companies need to take a holistic approach toward retraining their workforces.

Continuous learning is critical to business success, but providing employees with an easily accessible, results-driven solution they can access from wherever they are, whenever they need it, is no easy feat. Additionally, delivering valuable content in a variety of formats—whether that is through books, videos, or live online training—is crucial to supporting employees to upskill and reskill on the job. These are some of the features O’Reilly Online Learning provides to its 2.25 million platform users to encourage personal and professional development, and there’s no better time to take advantage.

According to Deloitte, evolving work demands and skills requirements are one big reason why continuous learning is critical, and there is no sector experiencing this more abruptly than technology. Executives and employees alike are worried about how emerging tech, such as robotics and AI, are changing jobs and how people should prepare for them. In fact, a recent World Economic Forum report found that more than half (54%) of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling in just three years. So, what exactly are the skills data scientists and other tech titles are honing in response to this shift?

As the co-chair of the O'Reilly Artificial Intelligence conference, I regularly track broad changes in consumption patterns and preferences on our platform. For example, Figure 1 shows usage across a few select topics related to AI and Data. More precisely, it provides total usage across all content types in this subset of topics. We measure consumption with Units, a metric tuned specifically for the type of content (e.g., page views for books, minutes for videos):

AI and Data topics on
Figure 1. Content usage across a few select AI and Data topics on Image by Ben Lorica.

Python is the largest topic on our platform, and it also happens to be a popular language among data scientists (the second largest topic is another programming language, Java). Overall content usage, across all topics combined, grew by 8% from 2018 to 2019 (January to July). Among the fastest-growing topics are those central to building AI applications: machine learning (up 58% from 2018), data science (up 53%), data engineering (up 58%), and AI itself (up 52%).

One of the main reasons Python has been ascendant as a programming language is because of its popularity among data scientists and machine learning researchers and practitioners. In fact, of the top 20 most-consumed Python titles on O’Reilly Online Learning in 2019, several were focused mainly on data science and machine learning applications, including:

In a survey we conducted earlier this year about AI adoption in the enterprise, respondents cited culture, organization, and lack of skilled people among the leading reasons holding back their adoption of AI technologies. As I noted in a recent article, adopting and sustaining AI and machine learning within a company will require retraining your entire organization. To succeed in implementing and incorporating AI and machine learning technologies, companies need to take a more holistic approach toward retraining their workforces. The rapid growth in consumption of content in training-relevant topics on (including machine learning, data engineering, data science, and AI) provide early signs that companies and individuals are taking training seriously.

At our upcoming Artificial Intelligence conferences in San Jose and London, we have assembled a roster of two-day training sessions, tutorial sessions, and presentations to help individuals (across job roles and functions) sharpen their skills and understanding of AI and machine learning. In addition to our usual strong slate of technical training, tutorials, and talks, we return with a two-day Business Summit designed specifically for executives and business leaders. Wholesale transformation will require cross-functional teams who are familiar with digital, data, and AI technologies. With this in mind, the AI conference in San Jose also will feature several outstanding new tutorials as well as executive briefings and case studies from leading companies and research organizations.

Continue reading How organizations are sharpening their skills to better understand and use AI.

26 Aug 19:47

How to Send a File

by Randall

My new book, How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, comes out in a week! You can preorder it now on AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound, and Apple Books.

Here’s an excerpt from the How To chapter on file transfers.

Chapter 19: How to Send a File

Sending large data files can be difficult.

Modern software systems have moved away from the concept of “files.” They don’t show you a folder full of image files; they show you a collection of photos. But files linger on, and will probably continue to do so for decades to come. And as long as we have files, we’ll need to send them to people.

The simplest, most obvious way to send a file is to pick up the device the file is stored on, walk over to the intended recipient, and hand it to them.

Carrying computers can be difficult — especially the earlier ones that were the size of a whole room — so rather than carry the whole computer, you can try detaching a piece of the computer containing the file. You can then bring this piece to the other person and let them transfer it to their own device. On a desktop-style computer, the files may be stored on a hard drive, which can often be removed without destroying the computer.

On some devices, though, file storage is permanently attached to the electronics, making removal more challenging.

A more convenient and less destructive solution is removable storage. You can make a copy of the file, put it on a device, then give the device to the person.

Carrying storage devices around is a surprisingly high-bandwidth way to transfer information. A suitcase full of MicroSD cards contains many petabytes of data; if you want to transfer very large amounts of data, mailing boxes of disk drives will almost always be faster than transferring them over the internet.

If you want to send data to a specific location that’s too far to walk, but not convenient to reach by mail — say, a nearby mountaintop — you could try using some kind of autonomous vehicle to carry it. A delivery drone, for example, could easily carry a small satchel of SD cards containing terabytes of data.

Quadcopter-style drones don’t work very well over long distances thanks to the limitations of batteries. If a drone has to carry its own battery, it can only hover for so long. If it wants to hover longer, it needs to carry a bigger battery, but that means more weight and faster power consumption. For the same reason that a house supported by jet engines [Note: For more on hovering houses, see Chapter 7: How to Move] can only hover for a few hours, small coaster-size drones typically have flight times measured in minutes, and the larger ones used for photography are usually limited to less than an hour in the air. Even if it flew very fast, a tiny drone carrying a MicroSD card could make it just a few miles before running out of steam.

You could increase your range by making the drone bigger, adding solar panels, flying higher, and going faster. Or you could turn to the real masters of efficient long-distance flight:


Monarch butterflies travel thousands of miles during their migration across North America, with some traveling all the way from Canada to Mexico in a single season. If you look up during the spring or fall on the East Coast of the United States, you can sometimes spot them gliding by silently overhead, a few hundred feet above the ground. Their extreme range puts drones — and even many large aircraft — to shame.

You might think butterflies have an unfair advantage over battery-powered aerial vehicles, since they can stop to consume nectar and “recharge.” Butterflies will certainly refuel if they can, but they don’t necessarily need to. Another butterfly species, the painted lady (Vanessa cardui), is even more impressive: it flies from Europe to central Africa, a 4,000-kilometer flight that takes it over the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara desert.

Butterflies make these journeys powered only by small reserves of stored lipids. They can fly so much more efficiently than drones in part by soaring — they seek out thermal columns and mountain waves, then hold their wings steady and ride the rising air upward like a vulture, hawk, or eagle.

If you want to send your file to someone who lives along the migration route, could you get a butterfly to carry it for you?

Butterflies can carry weights. Volunteers with groups like Monarch Watch tag tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies each year to track their migration and monitor their population (which has been in decline in recent decades). The smaller tags weigh about a milligram, but monarchs have completed their migration with larger tags that weigh 10 mg or more.

MicroSD cards weigh several hundred milligrams — comparable to the weight of a butterfly — so butterflies would have a hard time carrying them. But there’s no reason a storage device can’t be made smaller. MicroSD cards contain memory chips, and the storage density of these chips might be up to a gigabyte per square millimeter. Given those sizes, a butterfly could easily carry a tiny chip with a gigabyte of data. If your file is larger than that, you could break it up across multiple butterflies, and send multiple copies for redundancy.

When your data finally arrived at its destination, the recipient would have to check a lot of butterflies to assemble all the pieces of the file. You may need to develop some kind of touchless butterfly scanner that allows them to scan many butterflies at once.

You could avoid that problem — and increase your bandwidth dramatically — by using DNA-based storage. Researchers have stored data by encoding it into a DNA sample, then sequencing the DNA to recover it. Systems like this can achieve densities far beyond anything we do with chips — it’s possible to store and recover hundreds of petabytes of data using a single gram of DNA.

Each year, tens to hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies arrive in Mexico to spend the winter together in giant colonies in the mountains. If you tagged ten million of these butterflies with tiny pouches containing 5 mg of DNA storage each, the total capacity of the butterfly armada would be about 10 zettabytes — 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. That’s roughly the total amount of digital data in existence in the late 2010s.

If the Sun is warm, the winds are favorable, and it’s the right time of year, you could use butterflies to send someone the entire internet.

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems will be released on September 3rd. You can preorder it now on AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound, and Apple Books.


20 Aug 20:42

Read: Jeannette Ng's Campbell Award acceptance speech, in which she correctly identifies Campbell as a fascist and expresses solidarity with Hong Kong protesters

by Cory Doctorow

Life is not a ledger. Your sins can't be paid off through good deeds. Your good deeds are not cancelled by your sins. Your sins and your good deeds live alongside one another. They coexist in superposition.

You (and I) can (and should) atone for our misdeeds. We can (and should) apologize for them to the people we've wronged. We should do those things, not because they will erase our misdeeds, but because the only thing worse than being really wrong is not learning to be better.

We, collectively, through our norms and institutions, create the circumstances that favor sociopathy or generosity. Sweeping bad conduct under the rug isn't just cruel to the people who were victimized by that conduct: it's also a disservice to the flawed vessels who are struggling with their own contradictions and base urges. Create an environment where it's normal to do things that -- in 10 or 20 years -- will result in your expulsion from your community is not a kindness to anyone.

There are shitty dudes out there today whose path to shitty dudehood got started when they watched Isaac Asimov deliver a tutorial on how to grope women without their consent and figured that the chuckling approval of all their peers meant that whatever doubts the might have had were probably misplaced. Those dudes don't get a pass because they learned from a bad example set by their community and its leaders -- but they might have been diverted from their path to shitty dudehood if they'd had better examples. They might not have scarred and hurt countless women on their way from the larval stage of shittiness to full-blown shitlord, and they themselves might have been spared their eventual fate, of being disliked and excluded from a community they joined in search of comradeship and mutual aid. The friends of those shitty dudes might not have to wrestle with their role in enabling the harm those shitty dudes wrought.

Last weekend, Jeanette Ng won the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the 2019 Hugo Awards at the Dublin Worldcon; Ng's acceptance speech calls Campbell, one of the field's most influential editors, a "fascist" and expresses solidarity with the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.

I am a past recipient of the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer (2000) as well as a recipient of the John W Campbell Memorial Award (2009). I believe I'm the only person to have won both of the Campbells, which, I think, gives me unique license to comment on Ng's remarks, which have been met with a mixed reception from the field.

I think she was right -- and seemly -- to make her remarks. There's plenty of evidence that Campbell's views were odious and deplorable. For example, Heinlein apologists like to claim (probably correctly) that his terrible, racist, authoritarian, eugenics-inflected yellow peril novel Sixth Column was effectively a commission from Campbell (Heinlein based the novel on one of Campbell's stories). This seems to have been par for the course for JWC, who liked to micro-manage his writers: Campbell also leaned hard on Tom Godwin to kill the girl in "Cold Equations" in order to turn his story into a parable about the foolishness of women and the role of men in guiding them to accept the cold, hard facts of life.

So when Ng held Campbell "responsible for setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists," she was factually correct.

Not just factually correct: also correct to be saying this now. Science fiction (like many other institutions) is having a reckoning with its past and its present. We're trying to figure out what to do about the long reach that the terrible ideas of flawed people (mostly men) had on our fields. We're trying to reconcile the legacies of flawed people whose good deeds and good art live alongside their cruel, damaging treatment of women. These men were not aberrations: they were following an example set from the very top and running through fandom, to the great detriment of many of the people who came to fandom for safety and sanctuary and community.

It's not a coincidence that one of the first organized manifestations of white nationalism as a cultural phenomenon was within fandom, and while fandom came together to firmly repudiate its white nationalist wing, these assholes weren't (all) entryists who showed up to stir trouble in someone else's community. The call (to hijack the Hugo award) was coming from inside the house: these guys had been around forever, and we'd let them get away with it, in the name of "tolerance" even as these guys were chasing women, queer people, and racialized people out of the field.

Those same Nazis went on to join Gamergate, then take up on /r/The_Donald, and they were part of the vanguard of the movement that put a boorish, white supremacist grifter into the White House.

The connection between the tales we tell about ourselves and our past and futures have a real, direct outcome on the future we arrive at. White supremacist folklore, including the ecofascist doctrine that says we can only avert climate change by murdering all the brown people, comes straight out of sf folklore, where it's completely standard for every disaster to be swiftly followed by an underclass mob descending on their social betters to eat and/or rape them (never mind the actual way that disasters go down).

When Ng took the mic and told the truth about his legacy, she wasn't downplaying his importance: she was acknowledging it. Campbell's odious ideas matter because he was important, a giant in the field who left an enduring mark on it. No one disagrees about that. What we want to talk about today is what that mark is, and what it means.

Scalzi points out:

There are still people in our community who knew Campbell personally, and many many others one step removed, who idolize and respect the writers Campbell took under his wing. And there are people — and once again I raise my hand — who are in the field because the way Campbell shaped it as a place where they could thrive. Many if not most of these folks know about his flaws, but even so it’s hard to see someone with no allegiance to him, either personally or professionally, point them out both forcefully and unapologetically. They see Campbell and his legacy abstractly, and also as an obstacle to be overcome. That’s deeply uncomfortable.

He's not wrong, and the people who counted Campbell as a friend are legitimately sad to confront the full meaning of his legacy. I feel for them. It's hard to reconcile the mensch who was there for you and treated his dog with kindness and doted on his kids with the guy who alienated and hurt people with his cruel dogma.

Here's the thing: neither one of those facets of Campbell cancel the other one out. Just as it's not true that any amount of good deeds done for some people can repair the harms he visited on others; it's also true that none of those harms cancel out the kindnesses he did for the people he was kind to.

Life is not a ledger. Your sins can't be paid off through good deeds. Your good deeds are not cancelled by your sins. Your sins and your good deeds live alongside one another. They coexist in superposition.

You (and I) can (and should) atone for our misdeeds. We can (and should) apologize for them to the people we've wronged. We should do those things, not because they will erase our misdeeds, but because the only thing worse than being really wrong is not learning to be better.

People are flawed vessels. The circumstances around us -- our social norms and institutions -- can be structured to bring out our worst natures or our best. We can invite Isaac Asimov to our cons to deliver a lecture on "The Power of Posterior Pinching" in which he literally advises men on how to grope the women in attendance, or we can create and enforce a Code of Conduct that would bounce anyone, up to and including the Con Chair and the Guest of Honor, who tried a stunt like that.

We, collectively, through our norms and institutions, create the circumstances that favor sociopathy or generosity. Sweeping bad conduct under the rug isn't just cruel to the people who were victimized by that conduct: it's also a disservice to the flawed vessels who are struggling with their own contradictions and base urges. Create an environment where it's normal to do things that -- in 10 or 20 years -- will result in your expulsion from your community is not a kindness to anyone.

There are shitty dudes out there today whose path to shitty dudehood got started when they watched Isaac Asimov deliver a tutorial on how to grope women without their consent and figured that the chuckling approval of all their peers meant that whatever doubts the might have had were probably misplaced. Those dudes don't get a pass because they learned from a bad example set by their community and its leaders -- but they might have been diverted from their path to shitty dudehood if they'd had better examples. They might not have scarred and hurt countless women on their way from the larval stage of shittiness to full-blown shitlord, and they themselves might have been spared their eventual fate, of being disliked and excluded from a community they joined in search of comradeship and mutual aid. The friends of those shitty dudes might not have to wrestle with their role in enabling the harm those shitty dudes wrought.

Jeannette Ng's speech was exactly the speech our field needs to hear. And the fact that she devoted the bulk of it to solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters is especially significant, because of the growing importance of Chinese audiences and fandom in sf, which exposes writers to potential career retaliation from an important translation market. There is a group of (excellent, devoted) Chinese fans who have been making noises about a Chinese Worldcon for years, and speeches like Ng's have to make you wonder: if that ever comes to pass, will she be able to get a visa to attend?

Back when the misogynist/white supremacist wing of SF started to publicly organize to purge the field of the wrong kind of fan and the wrong kind of writer, they were talking about people like Ng. I think that this is ample evidence that she is in exactly the right place, at the right time, saying the right thing.

And I am so proud to be part of this. To share with you my weird little story, an amalgam of all my weird interests, so much of which has little to do with my superficial identities and labels.

But I am a spinner of ideas, of words, as Margaret Cavendish would put it.

So I need say, I was born in Hong Kong. Right now, in the most cyberpunk in the city in the world, protesters struggle with the masked, anonymous stormtroopers of an autocratic Empire. They have literally just held her largest illegal gathering in their history. As we speak they are calling for a horological revolution in our time. They have held laser pointers to the skies and tried to to impossibly set alight the stars. I cannot help be proud of them, to cry for them, and to lament their pain.

I’m sorry to drag this into our fantastical words, you’ve given me a microphone and this is what I felt needed saying.

John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fascist. [Jeannette Ng/Medium]

(Image: @JeannetteNg)

(via Whatever)

20 Aug 20:32

U.S. Recycling Industry Is Struggling To Figure Out A Future Without China

by Christopher Joyce
Trash sent for recycling moves along a conveyor belt to be sorted at Waste Management

China is no longer taking the world's waste. The U.S. recycling industry is overwhelmed — it can't keep up with the plastic being churned out. This doesn't bode well for our plastic waste problem.

(Image credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

20 Aug 15:37

Cory Doctorow on Walkaway: This will all be so great if we don’t screw it up

by Socrates
Cory Doctorow is probably my all time most favorite science fiction writer. The reason for that is simple – Doctorow is not only a great story-teller but also an activist. To paraphrase Karl Marx, writers have tried to capture and describe the world but the point, however, is to change it. And Cory is a […]
20 Aug 15:36

An Ode To Microsoft Encarta

by msmash
Scott Hanselman: Microsoft Encarta came out in 1993 and was one of the first CD-ROMs I had. It stopped shipping in 2009 on DVD. I recently found a disk and was impressed that it installed just perfectly on my latest Window 10 machine and runs nicely. Encarta existed in an interesting place between the rise of the internet and computer's ability to deal with (at the time) massive amounts of data. CD-ROMs could bring us 700 MEGABYTES which was unbelievable when compared to the 1.44MB (or even 120KB) floppy disks we were used to. The idea that Encarta was so large that it was 5 CD-ROMs (!) was staggering, even though that's just a few gigs today. Even a $5 USB stick could hold Encarta - twice! My kids can't possibly intellectualize the scale that data exists in today. We could barely believe that a whole bookshelf of Encyclopedias was now in our pockets. I spent hours and hours just wandering around random articles in Encarta. The scope of knowledge was overwhelming, but accessible. But it was contained - it was bounded. Today, my kids just assume that the sum of all human knowledge is available with a single search or a "hey Alexa" so the world's mysteries are less mysteries and they become bored by the Paradox of Choice. In a world of 4k streaming video, global wireless, and high-speed everything, there's really no analog to the feeling we got watching the Moon Landing as a video in Encarta - short of watching it live on TV in the 1969! For most of us, this was the first time we'd ever seen full-motion video on-demand on a computer in any sort of fidelity - and these are mostly 320x240 or smaller videos!

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20 Aug 15:35

India's Moon probe enters lunar orbit

India's Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft entered lunar orbit on Tuesday, executing one of the trickiest manoeuvres on its historic mission to the Moon.
09 Aug 19:49

We Need a Wizard Who Can Appeal to the Moderate Orc Voter

by David Howard

I may be just an ordinary orc, but I wasn’t at all surprised when the Dark Lord Sauron became the leader of Mordor. A lot of my smart, liberal friends, though, reacted as if Middle-earth was coming to an end. Dwarves in the barroom of the Prancing Pony said it was the pride of the High Elves. Ravens twittering under the eaves of Mirkwood blamed the cunning of dragons. The Steward of Gondor, posting on FacePalantir, said it was because of Sauron’s hatred for the heirs of Isildur.

I’m here to tell you: it’s the economy, stupid.

It’s all very well for those of you who dwell in the Shire, the haven of Rivendell, or the quiet forests of Lothlórien. You live in a bubble. You don’t know what life is like for the average orc, in depressed areas like the Trollshaws, the Misty Mountains, or the Dead Marshes. Let me tell you, it’s hard out here for an orc. We experience tremendous insecurity, not knowing whether we’ll have a job, or be able to raid peaceful villages, or if our friends will eat us. Sauron appeals to us economically challenged goblins because he offers us the chance of a decent wage, respect for our values, and renewed pride in being the corrupted spawn of Morgoth.

If the Free People are going to defeat Sauron, you need to let go of your elitist attitudes and choose someone who can appeal to the moderate orc vote. That’s why I support Saruman the White to lead the Council of the Wise.

Now, I know there are a lot of orcs who won’t vote for any wizard. I get that. They’re blindly loyal to the Dark Lord, and nothing anyone does or says can change that. But those orcs represent no more than 10% of the Middle-earth electorate.

Gandalf has gotten a lot of attention by making the One Ring the center of his campaign. We all can agree that the Ring is important, but shouldn’t we also address the kitchen-table issues that moderate orcs — swing orcs — care about?

Destroying the Ring sounds appealing, but it’s naïve and simplistic. Much of Mordor’s infrastructure was built with the Ring. The building of the Dark Tower of Barad-Dûr and the Black Gate of Udûn employed thousands of trolls, goblins, and Haradrim. What are they supposed to do if it’s suddenly dissolved in the fires of Orodruin? Gandalf’s plan makes no provision for relocating and retraining thousands of Sauron’s minions.

Besides, Gandalf’s plan for dealing with the Ring just won’t work. It’s too far to the left to gain support from mainstream dwarves, and would vastly increase Hobbit immigration. If the Ring has to be dropped into Mount Doom, why can’t we have our own, native-born Great Eagles do the job?

Saruman the White supports a more gradual approach to destroying the One Ring. Under Saruman, Mordor will be transitioned away from a Ring-based economy, without the loss of thousands of orc jobs that Gandalf’s plan would entail. Saruman will work with the Ring, not against it, to gradually phase out the Shadow, the Eye of Fire, and the Nazgûl, and replace them with more sustainable alternatives.

Of course, Saruman’s record isn’t perfect. He said at one time that Rings of Power were good for Elves. We know that’s an outdated attitude. But that was more than a thousand years ago, before the Witch-King of Angmar destroyed the Northern Realm. Things were different then.

Saruman has repudiated his previous support for building engines of fire and doom beneath the tower of Isengard and breeding the Uruk-hai in its pits. But what’s done is done. We can’t go back and fix the past. Many radical Ents still oppose him for his one-time policy of “cutting down all the trees.” Saruman has acknowledged that he was wrong and says his position on Ents has evolved. But let’s be realistic. Sometimes you have to build hellish devices and generate foul orc-spawn to get things done. That’s just how politics works.

Saruman has received endorsements from the savage tribes of Dunland, the Great Goblin, and the King of Rohan (according to Theoden’s loyal advisor and spokesman, Gríma Wormtongue). He’s the wizard who can lead us into a bright new age.

And to those who say it’s time we choose someone like Lady Galadriel, forget it. There are still a lot of people who will never vote for an elf.

06 Aug 21:52

A Doctor's Insights Into Gun Violence And Gun Laws Around The World

by Marc Silver
Guns collected in an effort to buy back firearms in Anaheim, Calif., in 2016. The police department obtained 676 guns and gave out $100 gift cards in exchange. The U.S. rate of deaths from gun violence, at 4.43 deaths per 100,000 people, it is four times higher than the rates in war-torn Syria and Yemen.

Vin Gupta, a critical-care physician with military experience and a scientist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, talks about the U.S., Mexico, South Africa and Afghanistan.

(Image credit: Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

22 Jul 21:52

Immigrants are good for business, and this study proves it

by Melissa Locker

45% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their kids.

While the Statue of Liberty still stands in New York’s harbor welcoming newcomers to American shores, the Trump administration has made it clear that most immigrants are not welcome.

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22 Jul 21:04

We Have Theories About the ‘”Mind-Melting'” Ending to Star Wars

by Rachel Leishman

Rey readies herself for battle in the first trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Finally, Jar Jar Binks is going to be revealed as the true Sith Lord that he is! At San Diego Comic-Con, Kevin Smith decided to talk about Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker and gave us a bit of information that many were probably not expecting. While he didn’t know exactly what the final set of the movie looked like, Smith did let IGN know that it was apparently so good that even J.J. Abrams told him not to go look at it.

“There was a scuttlebutt about the set there at Pinewood. They’re like, ‘You have to see this. When you see it, it will melt your mind.’ So I ask J.J., ‘They keep telling me I should see the set.’ He’s like, ‘Don’t. It’s the last shot of the movie. You don’t want this spoiled. You want to be in a theater when this happens. Trust me.’”

First of all, Kevin Smith continues to live my nerd dreams because who wouldn’t want to go on the set of the latest, top-secret Star Wars? I might even let myself be spoiled just so I can enjoy thriving in the world of Star Wars for any amount of time. Second, what was so “mind-melting” that even Abrams told Kevin Smith not to be spoiled?

There is so much about the Star Wars franchise that we know very little about. Throughout the years, we’ve been getting more and more information on the former Jedi Order and the fall of Anakin Skywalker, but there is a lot that remains a mystery to us. So, is this going to be something so much bigger than what we’ve seen before? Or is this just a ploy to get us excited about a movie that we’re, arguably, already excited for?

Here’s my theory: Jar Jar Binks is standing on a pile of carcasses. All our favorite characters are dead. He reigns supreme. He is the ultimate Sith.

But, in all seriousness, where could they possibly go that would be a surprise to us as fans? Alderaan was blown up by Darth Vader but was that a lie? Can Princess Leia finally go home? Or are they somewhere completely new? Truly, I can’t even think of where they could possibly go that would be so out there that we, as fans, would be screaming. If anything, I feel like we’ve been given all our favorite locations in this trilogy except for Tatooine but even then, I don’t think that’d be a ‘mind-melting’ development.

That’s what gets me so much about this. It isn’t that Smith shouldn’t see who is there, it is the set itself. So it is clearly a location that we are going to instantly recognize and that is maybe what is the scariest part about this reveal. What could it possibly be?

This delights me, frightens me, and turns me on so can’t wait to see what Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is going to do to my heart.

(via Slashfilm, image: LucasFilm)

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22 Jul 20:08

A Library of Photo Books Reveals the Texture of Location

by Megan N. Liberty
Installation view of Thinking of a Place at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

PHILADELPHIA — Once upon a time, we would document our travels to new places with photographs we’d paste into albums. Nowadays, this practice has migrated to the screen; Instagram and Facebook are our primary means of collecting and sharing pictures of our adventures. Thinking of a Place at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, curated by Josh Brilliant, explores the capacity of photographs, specifically those in photo books, to capture the texture of a location. The exhibition includes works by such luminaries as Daido Moriyama, Roni Horn, Viviane Sassen, and William Eggleston. In addition, it features books published by commercial presses and nonprofit publishers, as well as self-published books.

The books, from locations around the world, are displayed on shallow wood shelves with their covers facing outward. Vinyl wall texts throughout instruct viewers to “Feel free to remove books from their shelves.” A rare allowance in an art exhibition, even one centered on books, it transforms the show from an experience of distanced viewing into an active reading room. A table in the gallery is scattered with copies of a reference guide that lists all the titles, organized by artist, with a screenshot of a map indicating the location documented in the books’ photographs, along with excerpts from press releases for more information on the titles.

Installation view of Thinking of a Place at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center
Oliver Hartung, Iran, A Picture Book (Spector, 2016)

The titles offers glimpses into different locations with the slow and detailed pace of that comes with reading books. Oliver Hartung’s Iran, A Picture Book (Spector, 2016) is an oversized floppy book with matte photographs printed in a dreamy CMYK color palette. From 2011–14 Hartung photographed political monuments as well as domestic settings filled with posters of Western celebrities, granting foreign readers access to the everyday life and landscapes of a country Americans often see only as a tragic site of war and destruction. Iran, A Picture Book rests on a shelf near books like Andreas Gursky’s glossy Bangkok (Steidl, 2012), which features photos of the Chao Phraya River’s waters that resemble abstract paintings.

Such abstracted representations expand what it means to capture a place through photographic representations. In Bottom of the Lake (Koenig, 2015) Christian Patterson records the character and texture of his hometown, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, by superimposing images of matchbooks and scraps of paper into the seams of a facsimile of his family’s telephone book, like they got stuck. He also inserts photographs of the landscape, such as a lake and two-story houses in the snow. These interventions create a picture of the place through Patterson’s eyes.

Installation view of Thinking of a Place at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center

I applaud Brilliant’s positioning of widely accessible books as art object — most of the titles are available in bookstores and online. But the exhibition also includes unique books, such as Laura Barrón’s Absentia (2019), a self-published artist’s book composed of seven booklets stored together in a sleeve. The books have the texture and color of heavy-weight cardboard, yet are fragile, with slips of smaller typed text pages sewn into the bindings between full-page pictures of water, brick walls, parks, and other nondescript but specific markers of place. Each booklet serves as travel journal, cataloguing the artist’s journey through Cali, Buenos Aries, Quito, Lima, Havana, La Paz, and her final destination, Mexico City, which marks her return to her home country.

By grouping the books according, apparently, to aesthetic affinities rather than place or publisher, Brilliant heightens the sense of travel that characterizes them. The exhibition’s mixed presentation makes it feel like the best type of reading room, one where browsing leads to unexpected discoveries, and one that reflects something about why many people travel to new places.

Installation view of Thinking of a Place at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center
Laura Barrón, Absentia (2019)

Collectively, the books speak to the myriad ways that photos can share our travel the stories, especially when seen in sequence. These images offer a temporal and intimate viewing experience, at the reader’s own pace, one encouraged by seating area at a table or a comfy chair. Like a friend or family member’s travel album, these photos are intensely personal documents of each artist’s journey. But unlike a travel album, the artful book designs and photographic methods and compositions can produce a sense of restless unease — a feeling that what we are seeing is just a slice of what’s out there — potentially leaving us with a desire to experience the full picture of place.

Thinking of a Place continues at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (1400 N. American Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) through July 27. The exhibition was curated by Josh Brilliant.

The post A Library of Photo Books Reveals the Texture of Location appeared first on Hyperallergic.

22 Jul 17:15

The Energy Transition Is More Than Another Moonshot - It's Harder

by Brian Murray, Contributor
The energy transition is a technological challenge like Apollo, but the economic and social dimensions make it even tougher.
22 Jul 17:14

Google Maps 101: how we map the world

The world is a beautiful, messy, constantly changing place—roads are added, buildings are built, and new businesses are opened all the time. Our role on the Google Maps team is to accurately model and reflect this ever-evolving world, and we’re often asked how we make a map that does that. The answer is, it takes a number of different steps, and the right mix of people, techniques and technology.

In a series of posts over the coming months, we’ll give you a closer look at how we build our map—diving deep into each of the elements we use to help more than one billion people navigate, explore and get things done. Today, we’ll start with an overview of the basics.

It all starts with imagery 

Street View and satellite imagery have long been an important part of how we’re able to identify where places are in the world—it shows us where roadways, buildings, addresses and businesses are located in a region, in addition to other important details—such as the town’s speed limits or business names. In 2007, Street View launched to help people virtually explore the entire world, from the depths of Antarctica to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. In the 12 years since then, our Street View car and trekker operations have collected more than 170 billion images from 87 countries. Thanks to our newest trekker that is equipped with higher-resolution sensors and increased aperture, we’ve significantly improved the quality of imagery we capture. 

SV trekker

A Street View trekker

Then you add data

Authoritative data brings the map to life. Our data comes from more than 1,000 third-party sources from all over the world. Some, like the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) in Mexico, provide information about an entire country. Others are specific to smaller regions, like data from a local municipality, an NGO or a housing developer. Our teams carefully vet every authoritative data source to ensure that we have the most accurate and up-to-date data available. And recently, we introduced a new tool to make it easier for local governments to upload dataabout new roads and addresses in their area, right to Google Maps. 


Road outlines from one of our data partners, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.

A human touch 

Data and imagery are key components of mapmaking, but they’re static and can’t always keep up with the pace of how quickly the world changes. This brings us to the third piece: the people that help us tie everything together. We have a data operations team staffed all over the world that plays a role in just about every aspect of mapmaking, from gathering Street View images and vetting authoritative data sources to correcting the map for inaccuracies and training machine learning models (more on that in a second). 

We also have our community of Local Guides and Google Maps users, whom we empower to correct the map via the Send Feedback button in Google Maps. Our team reviews the information and publishes it if we have a high degree of confidence that it matches the roads, businesses and addresses in the real world.


Our data operations team at work

Speeding things up with machine learning 

Imagery, authoritative data and human input have gotten us to where we are, but we want to make our maps more useful to more people even faster. To increase the speed of our mapping, we turn to machine learning. Machine learning allows our team to automate our mapping processes, while maintaining high levels of accuracy. 

Let’s look at how we map building outlines as an example. Previously, an algorithm that tried to guess whether part of an image was a building or not resulted in what we dubbed “fuzzy buildings”—amorphous blobs that didn’t look like real buildings when you draw them on a map. And this was an issue—buildings are more than just buildings—they’re landmarks and a key part of how someone knows where they are when looking at a map. To fix this, we worked with our data operations team to trace common building outlines manually, and then used this information to teach our machine learning algorithms which images correspond with building edges and shapes. This technique proved effective, enabling us to map as many buildings in one year as we mapped in the previous 10. 


Fuzzy building outlines on Google Maps.

clear buildings

Clear building polygons outlined on the map.

We’re in it for the long haul 

Maps are critical to helping communities thrive. They connect people with each other, help grow economies as people discover new businesses and restaurants, and help people get things done. Although we’ve come a long way, with maps in more than 220 countries and territories to date, we know that our work is far from over. Different regions have different needs, and their own mapping challenges. In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at how one component—imagery—helps us overcome these challenges.

22 Jul 17:13

Alaska's Engineering Colleges Prepare To Slash Programs, Lay Off Faculty

by BeauHD
In response to Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy's dramatic budget cuts to the state's only public institution of higher education, the University of Alaska's engineering colleges in Fairbanks and Anchorage are preparing to cut faculty members and slash a number of programs. "Dozens of engineering faculty, researchers, and staff could see their positions eliminated, and even tenured faculty members could lose their jobs. Students may not be able to finish their degrees in the programs or locations in which they started," reports IEEE Spectrum. "Many engineering students have already lost merit-based scholarships promised to them via the Alaska Performance Scholarship program." From the report: On 28 June, Gov. Dunleavy vetoed US $130 million in state funding for the University of Alaska system for the fiscal year that began on 1 July -- a step he said was necessary to contend with the state's $1.6 billion budget deficit, inflicted in large part by sluggish oil prices. Those cuts came on top of a $5 million reduction proposed by Alaska's legislature. Overall, state funding for the University of Alaska has been reduced by $136 million [PDF], or 41 percent, for the fiscal year that began 1 July. That translates to a 17 percent reduction to the University of Alaska's total operating budget. Citing reputational damage caused by these cuts, the University of Alaska's Board of Regents expects tuition, grant funding, and charitable donations to also drop, adding to a total loss of more than $200 million [PDF] in funding for the current fiscal year. The University of Alaska is now widely expected to declare financial exigency [PDF], an emergency status that would allow administrators to take extreme measures to reduce costs by closing campuses, slashing salaries and programs, or laying off tenured faculty. However, closing the university's flagship Fairbanks campus would still not be enough to cover the shortfall. In response to budget cuts in previous years, the university has already suspended or discontinued more than 50 degree programs and certificates, including its MS in Engineering Management program.

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22 Jul 17:05

A free, accessible, hyperlinked version of the Mueller Report

by Cory Doctorow

The Internet Archive, the Digital Public Library of America and Muckrock have released a version of the Mueller Report as an Epub with 747 live footnotes, fully compliant with both Web and EPUB accessibility requirements.

The Mueller Report is arguably one of the most important documents in American Politics. However, when the report was made available to the public, by the Department of Justice (DOJ), on the morning of April 18th, 2019, the formatting left much to be desired. For one thing, it was initially published as a PDF image file with no text, which meant it could not be searched. That version of the report can be found here. An updated version of the report, with searchable text, was published by the DOJ on April 22nd, at the same URL and with the same filename (report.pdf). More importantly, while the report had 2,390 footnotes, only 14 of those referenced links to live web pages. In addition the report suffered from many formatting issues that made it less than accessible to reading disabled people and was not compliant with US federal law “508“accessibility standards.

The Internet Archive hoped it could help make the report more useful, by adding links to as many references in the footnotes as possible, as well as help make it more accessible to the reading disabled community. To do this, we teamed with MuckRock to crowdsource the identification of web-based resources referred to in footnotes. Later we worked with a team of interns to carefully research every footnote and, in some cases, the multiple references each one contained. We identified 733 external resources (added to the 14 available in the original report, for a total of 747 links) which we archived via the Wayback Machine, the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive, and uploaded to its collections. We included links to archived webpages to guard against the ephemerality of web-based resources. In particular referencing archives guards against link rot (when URLs go dead, e.g. return a status code 404) and content drift (when the content associated with a URLs changes over time.)

The Mueller Report – Now with Linked Footnotes and Accessible. [Mark Graham/Internet Archive]

22 Jul 16:55

Microsoft Demos Hologram 'Holoportation'

by EditorDavid
Microsoft "continues to plug away at making holoportation possible," reports ZDNet: In a new demonstration, officials showed off a scenario where a life-sized holographic representation of a person could be beamed into a scenario with real-time simultaneous language translation happening -- a communication scenario on which Microsoft has been working for years. At Microsoft's Inspire partner show (which is co-located with its Ready sales kick-off event) on July 17, Microsoft demonstrated such a scenario on stage during CEO Satya Nadella's keynote. Azure Corporate Vice President Julia White donned a HoloLens 2 headset and [demonstrated] a full-size hologram of herself translated simultaneously into Japanese and maintaining her speech cadence and patterns. [Microsoft later said that the life-sized hologram was created at Microsoft's Mixed Reality Capture Studios.] Microsoft pulled off the demo by combining a number of its existing technologies, White said, including Azure speech-to-text, Azure Speech Translation and neural text-to-speech. The text-to-speech from Azure Speech Services allows apps, tools and devices to convert text into natural human-like synthesized speech. Users can create their own custom voice unique to them. In a video of the demo, White first appears to be holding a smaller version of her hologram in the palm of her own hand. She jokingly telling the audience, "Let me introduce you to Mini-Me."

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22 Jul 16:41

Atlassian's Changes Annual Performance Reviews To Stop Rewarding 'Brilliant Jerks'

by EditorDavid
Australia-based Atlassian"has implemented a new performance review strategy designed to give their workers a better evaluation of how they're performing," reports Business Insider, adding that Atlassian's global head of talent said the company wants to measure contributions to a larger team effort. "We want people to get rewarded for what they delivered." In 2018 it soft-launched a strategy where most of its performance review process will have nothing to do with the skills in an employee's job, but more to do with how well they are living with the company values. Now, the strategy is being rolled out permanently and will be tied to employee bonuses... "We want to be able to evaluate a whole person and encourage them to bring their full self to work and not just focus on skills itself, but really focus on the way they do their work," said Bek Chee, Atlassian's global head of talent. She added that while workforces have changed over the past 30 years, performance reviews, for the most part, have stayed the same... With this performance review system, Atlassian aims to throw out the idea of the "brilliant jerk", which Chee describes as someone who is technically-talented, but perhaps at the expense of others. Instead it is focusing on how an employee demonstrates the company values, how they complete their roles and how they contribute to their team. "We really want to enforce the way that values get lived, the way that people impact the team and the way that they also contribute within their role.

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22 Jul 16:40

The Best CPUs Ever Made

by Joel Hruska

We’ve already covered the worst CPUs ever built, so it seemed time to flip around and talk about the best ones. The question, of course, is how do we define “best?”

In order to qualify for this article, a CPU needed to do more than just introduce significant new features or support a new instruction set. The Pentium Pro, for example, was a very important chip. It pioneered features still in use today and demonstrated that out-of-order execution and micro-op translation were viable techniques for high-end, next-generation processors. At the same time, however, the Pentium Pro had issues. It was slow when running 16-bit code and its FPU performance was only about half of comparable RISC cores at the time. The Pentium Pro was a very important CPU core, in other words — but it doesn’t meet our criteria when making a list of the best CPU cores ever invented.

To see which cores do measure up, check the slideshow below. We’ve taken a broad look at the industry over the past 40+ years, with mobile, server, and desktop CPUsSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce all represented. Our selections were based on a variety of factors, including feature set, market impact, total strength of the product, and long-term performance.


Celeron300A AMD_Duron_D600AUT1B (1) BAE-RAD750 Core_2_Q6600_G0 Intel Core i7 2600K CPU top view Opteron-275 Pentium-M-Banias Snapdragon800 Apple_A9_APL0898

Honorable Mentions

Writing a “Best CPUs” list means that inevitably, a lot of really good CPUs are going to get left off the list. CPUs like the Intel 8086 or Motorola 68000 are often regular staples of articles like this, because of how they transformed the computing industry (launching the IBM PC in one case, and launching the Macintosh as well as the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in the other). We address many of Intel’s chips in more detail in our history of Intel products, parts one and two.

Honorable mentions for great chips that didn’t quite make our list would include the original Intel 4004, Pentium Pro, Pentium III, Intel’s Pentium 4 Northwood, AMD’s original K7, and CPUs like the Core i7-8700K.

Last, but not least, there’s AMD’s recent Ryzen launch. I didn’t want to try to pick a single CPU model to put in this list — third-generation Ryzen CPUs have only been on the market for a matter of weeks. But one of our criteria for CPUs is that the CPU needs to have transformed the market — and while we may not have a specific Ryzen model listed above, the family’s competitive standing has forced Intel to dramatically overhaul its product positioning. Prior to the launch of the Ryzen 7 1800X, an eight-core CPU from Intel would have cost over $1,000. Today, an eight-core Core i7-9700K is $365, while the 8-core / 16-thread Core i9-9900K runs ~$485 – $500.

Given that market impact is one of our major criteria, we wanted to acknowledge Ryzen’s collective impact.

Now Read: 

19 Jul 19:50

Where’s the Outrage That the Trump Administration Just Defunded Women’s Health Providers?

by Kylie Cheung

Pro-choice activists, politicians and others associated with Planned Parenthood gather for a news conference and demonstration.

Welcome to The Week in Reproductive Justice, a weekly recap of all news related to the hot-button issue of what lawmakers are allowing women to do with their bodies!

Last week, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration’s domestic “gag rule” could take effect, and within days, the Health and Human Services Department announced its intent to implement and enforce the policy. This tends to be the sort of news that gets buried in a news cycle that’s seen a sitting U.S. president tell four congresswomen of color to “go back where they came from,” but it’s important nonetheless. Thousands of low-income, disproportionately women of color could lose access to key reproductive healthcare because of this policy, with an estimated 40 percent of all women on Medicaid reliant on Planned Parenthood for preventive care.

Despite ongoing lawsuits filed in response to the Ninth Circuit’s decision, there is currently no legal obstacle to prevent the Trump administration from enforcing this policy, and this week, reproductive health providers across the country were formally put on notice. Unfortunately, none of this should come as a surprise. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump (and just about all Republican candidates) vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, which has been one of the most salient conservative talking points for years.

And that’s probably because it works: The majority of their base froths at the mouth at the thought of women forced to be pregnant and give birth—generally women who are unable to afford the most basic healthcare they need to prevent pregnancy in the first place. What’s frustrating about the gag rule and the minimal coverage it has received is, like the ongoing wave of state-level abortion bans, the appointment of anti-abortion Supreme Court justices, and all the other horrors that were promised by this administration from day one, women and activists warned of what was at stake, only to be ignored but ultimately proven right.

Sure, there was some meaningful coverage, conversation, and collective national consciousness of the War on Women in the wake of abortion bans in Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Missouri in May and June. But where has all of that gone, since? Where has that energy and passion and awareness gone, now that, effective immediately, reproductive healthcare providers across the country could lose key funding, leaving the most vulnerable members of society without access to key healthcare?

So many challenges to reproductive rights and justice arise constantly, all but on a daily basis; it’s understandable that not everyone, everywhere is going to know every single thing going on, but this—the defunding of women’s health providers—is huge. If we, as a nation, lack the collective attention span to be aware of and care about this, that’s a problem.

In case you’ve missed it in the news cycle in the last several months, the gag rule refers to a policy that would strip Title X funding from all organizations and healthcare providers that offer abortion care or abortion referral services. Yet, in a dangerous twist of irony, these organizations often rely on Title X funds to offer access to the very birth control resources that prevent the need for abortion care in the first place, in the only effective way: by preventing unwanted pregnancy. These resources include contraception, sexual health education, breast and cervical cancer screenings, STD testing, and more. According to some estimates, Title X funding helps prevent 1 million unwanted pregnancies annually.

Under the gag rule, healthcare providers would effectively be censored and banned from offering or even talking about abortion care as an option with their patients—or lose Title X funding. This coming from an administration that frequently bemoans purported censorship of right-wing and anti-abortion activists, and endlessly praises its own self-serving definition of the First Amendment. It’s healthcare providers’ job to tell patients about the healthcare options available to them. The insinuation here, in blocking healthcare providers from speaking about abortion, is that abortion is not healthcare.

The implementation of the domestic gag rule is nothing short of a national emergency, but the very lack of urgency around it speaks to a greater problem of issues regarded as “women’s issues” being erased from public consciousness.

“Women’s healthcare” is understood as less important and lesser, in general, than healthcare itself. Liberal men will point out that birth control isn’t that expensive, despite how the most reliable forms can cost more than $1,200, and the $10 to $50 monthly cost of birth control pills can make all the difference for women in poverty. Liberal men may also argue that it’s okay to prevent taxpayer funding from going to organizations that offer abortions since some taxpayers may oppose abortion, and there’s so much wrong with that logic that it’s hard to even know where to begin. (For example, abortion is life-saving healthcare, and access to it shouldn’t hinge on socioeconomic status or public opinion; everyone in civilized society sees their taxes pay for things they may not like—be that wars where actual, living people and children die, or anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers.”)

But none of that is the point. The point is that, with hundreds of state and federal anti-abortion laws passing in the last few years alone, and maternal and infant death rates soaring, often disproportionately in states with more restrictions on abortion, the state of women’s health in the U.S. has never been more precarious in recent history. It’s time to start paying attention—and taking action.

Tune in next week to see what lawmakers will try next in their never-ending mission to derail reproductive justice!

(image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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