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29 Jun 17:00

Conservation of Threat

by Bruce Schneier

Here's some interesting research about how we perceive threats. Basically, as the environment becomes safer we basically manufacture new threats. From an essay about the research:

To study how concepts change when they become less common, we brought volunteers into our laboratory and gave them a simple task ­-- to look at a series of computer-generated faces and decide which ones seem "threatening." The faces had been carefully designed by researchers to range from very intimidating to very harmless.

As we showed people fewer and fewer threatening faces over time, we found that they expanded their definition of "threatening" to include a wider range of faces. In other words, when they ran out of threatening faces to find, they started calling faces threatening that they used to call harmless. Rather than being a consistent category, what people considered "threats" depended on how many threats they had seen lately.

This has a lot of implications in security systems where humans have to make judgments about threat and risk: TSA agents, police noticing "suspicious" activities, "see something say something" campaigns, and so on.

The academic paper.

23 May 23:34

The Computer History Museum just published the sourcecode for Eudora

by Cory Doctorow

Eudora -- first released in 1988 -- was the first industrial-strength email client designed to run on personal computers like IBM PC and the Macintosh; though there are still die-hard users of the program, the last version was published in 2016. (more…)

23 May 23:29

Trump Can't Block Critics on Twitter. What Does This Mean For Free Speech?

by Issie Lapowsky
Here's how the decision impacts the future of the First Amendment online.
23 May 22:08

Today In “Please Stop Blaming Women for Men’s Behavior” News: Ariana Grande Shuts It Down

by Vivian Kane

ariana grande, twet, mac miller, breakup, blaming women, toxic masculinity

It seems like no matter what a man does, people will find a way to blame his behavior on a woman. Everything from school shootings and serial killers to football players not footballing well enough–it’s just a quick hop and a step to finding a woman to fault.  That’s what some dude was doing when he tweeted about rapper/producer Mac Miller’s recent car crash and DUI. As this guy saw it, Miller’s not to blame for his actions. Nope, this rando blames Ariana Grande for breaking up with him recently.

It’s bad enough to blame Grande’s choice to end a relationship for her ex’s destructive behavior, but the implication here is that Miller somehow earned and deserved Grande’s affection by writing songs about her. That sort of entitlement is dehumanizing and incredibly creepy.

Ariana Grande responded to the tweet directly:

“How absurd that you minimize female self-respect and self-worth by saying someone should stay in a toxic relationship because he wrote an album about them,” she writes, clarifying that really only one song on the album was about her–NOT THAT THAT MATTERS. As she writes, “I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they need to be. I have cared for him and tried to support his sobriety & prayed for his balance for years (and always will of course) but shaming / blaming women for a man’s inability to keep his shit together is a very major problem. Let’s please stop doing that.”

After Grande’s shut down what was happening with total firmness but no scorn or cruelty, the guy replied with an apology.

When it comes to talking on the internet about misogyny, those conversations usually only escalate. It’s heartening to see a man willing to listen to a woman he’s demeaned and respond with such open regret.

In terms of Twitter conversations, this was unusually productive.

(image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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23 May 21:42

"Hyperspace" shows how science can inform science fiction

by Baraka Kaseko and Marah Eakin on AUX, shared by Baraka Kaseko to The A.V. Club

Welcome back to Pop Lexicon, The A.V. Club’s series with Kory Stamper, Merriam-Webster lexicographer and editor, where she reveals the origins of America’s favorite colloquialisms. Today, Kory explains how not only can science can inform science fiction, but science fiction can influence scientific discovery, starting…

Read more...

23 May 21:42

A hard look at the wastefulness of "proof of work," the idea at the core of the blockchain

by Cory Doctorow

David Gerard is a technically minded, sharp-witted, scathing critic of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies; his criticism is long, comprehensive and multipartite, but of particular interest is is critique of "proof of work" (an idea that is central to the blockchain, but which many cryptographers are skeptical of). (more…)

23 May 21:19

Women Leaders: 3 Ways to Break Through the Glass Ceiling – Without Getting Cut

by Contributor

glass ceiling business woman

Sponsored by Landmark Sign Company:

No, it’s not emblazoned on big, bold office lobby signs for everyone to see, but women in leadership roles — or who aspire toward an elevated position and platform — know exactly what it feels like to crash into the glass ceiling. It’s a mixture of shock, awe, humiliation, exasperation, and of course, wholly justified anger at what has been, is now, and always will be a completely unfair and unjustifiable barrier to professional and personal...

Read the whole entry... »

            
22 May 17:46

The human element

Transformation is a recurring theme at oil and gas events, as was the case at this year’s Offshore Technology Conference held earlier this month in Houston. In 2017, OTC panelists discussed Big Data and the need for skilled workers to adopt and tackle the immediate and future needs of the oil and gas industry. This year, the conversation has inched forward from the what to the how, but the human element is still key.
22 May 17:33

There are only 24 women leading Fortune 500 companies

by Lydia Dishman

Amazon ranks behind CVS, Tesla leaps 123 places, but women CEOs are still a rarity.

Amazon may be eating the world (or at least Whole Foods) and its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is confident that everyone will eventually work for him, but the newly released Fortune 500 list shows that the e-commerce giant isn’t at the top of the heap just yet.

Read Full Story

22 May 17:30

Forget “Earth-Like”—We’ll First Find Aliens on Eyeball Planets - Facts So Romantic

by Sean Raymond

Artist’s conception of a hot Eyeball planet. The permanent day side is sun-baked and dry. The permanent night side is covered with ice. In between lies a thin habitat: the ring of life.Illustration by Beau.TheConsortium

Imagine a habitable planet orbiting a distant star. You’re probably picturing a variation of Earth. Maybe it’s a little cloudier, or covered in oceans. Maybe the mountains are a little higher. Maybe the trees are red instead of green. Maybe there are scantily clad natives…OK, let’s stop there.

That image may very well be completely off-base. There is good reason to think that the first potentially life-bearing worlds that are now being detected around other stars (see here for example) probably look very different than Earth. Rather, these planets are more likely to look like giant eyeballs whose gaze is forever fixed on their host stars (which is not something I recommend doing with your own eyeballs). 

Let’s take a step back. The easiest planets to find are those that orbit close to their stars. The sweet spot for finding a habitable planet—with the same temperature as Earth—is on a much smaller orbit than Earth’s around a star much fainter than the Sun.…
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22 May 17:28

Discover David Lynch’s Bizarre & Minimalist Comic Strip, The Angriest Dog in the World (1983-1992)

by Colin Marshall

Most David Lynch fans discover him through his films. But those of us who read alternative weekly newspapers in their 1980s and 90s heyday may well have first encountered his work in another medium entirely: the comic strip. Like many of the best-known examples of the form, Lynch's comic strip stars an animal, specifically a dog, but a dog "so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis." That text, which prepared readers for a reading experience some way from Marmaduke, introduced each and every edition of The Angriest Dog in the World, which ran between 1983 and 1992.

During that entire time, the strip's artwork never changed either: four panels in which the titular dog strains against a rope staked down in a suburban backyard, in the last of which night has fallen. The sole variation came in the word bubbles that occasionally emerged from the window of the house, presumably representing the voice of the dog's owners.

You can see a few examples at Lynchnet and also on this blog. "If everything is real... then nothing is real as well," it says one week. On another: "It must be clear to even the non-mathematician that the things in this world just don't add up to beans." Or, in a nod to the region of The Angriest Dog in the World's home paper the LA Reader: "Bill... who is this San Andreas? I can't believe it's all his fault."

"At some point David Lynch called up the editor at the time, James Vowell, and said, ‘Hi, I'd like to do a comic strip for you,’" says former Reader editor Richard Gehr as quoted by John F. Kelly at Spooky Comics. Every week thereafter, Lynch would phone the Reader to dictate the text of the latest strip. "We would give it to somebody in the production department and they would White Out the panels from the week before and write in a new, quote/unquote… gag.” The clip from The Incredibly Strange Film Show's 1990 episode on Lynch above shows the evolution of the process: someone, one of Lynch's assistants or perhaps Lynch himself, would regularly slip under the Reader's office door an envelope containing word balloons written and ready to paste into the strip. (Dangerous Minds finds an interview where Vowell describes another production method altogether, involving wax paper.)

Lynch came up with the words, but what about the images? "I assume he drew the first iteration," says Gehr as quoted by Kelly. "I don’t even know if the second and third [panels] were hand drawn. Those could have been mimeographed too or something." The style does bear a resemblance to that of the town map Lynch drew to pitch Twin Peaks to ABC. The attentive fan can also find a host of other connections between The Angriest Dog in the World and Lynch's other work. That factory in the background, for instance, looks like a place he'd photograph, or even a setting of Eraserhead, during whose frustrating years-long shoot he came up with the strip's concept in the first place. "I had tremendous anger," says Lynch in David Breskin's book Inner Views. "And I think when I began meditating, one of the first things that left was a great chunk of that." If only the Angriest Dog in the World could have found it in himself to do the same.

via Dangerous Minds

Related Content:

David Lynch Draws a Map of Twin Peaks (to Help Pitch the Show to ABC)

The Paintings of Filmmaker/Visual Artist David Lynch

David Lynch’s Photographs of Old Factories

“The Art of David Lynch”— How Rene Magritte, Edward Hopper & Francis Bacon Influenced David Lynch’s Cinematic Vision

David Lynch’s New ‘Crazy Clown Time’ Video: Intense Psychotic Backyard Craziness (NSFW)

The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Revisit 1980s Documentaries on David Lynch, John Waters, Alejandro Jodorowsky & Other Filmmakers

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Discover David Lynch’s Bizarre & Minimalist Comic Strip, <i>The Angriest Dog in the World</i> (1983-1992) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

22 May 17:28

Neil Cicierega presents the official nightmares of all 50 states

by Randall Colburn on News, shared by Randall Colburn to The A.V. Club

Neil Cicierega writes songs, makes video games, and routinely epitomizes everything wonderful and baffling about what the youngs think is funny these days. His latest effort is a straight-faced video in which he shares the official nightmare of each state in the U.S.A., and, refreshingly, none of them involve the…

Read more...

22 May 17:27

Excerpts from McSweeney’s Quarterly: Four Institutional Monologues

by GEORGE SAUNDERS

- - -

Today we’re happy to share a story by our friend George Saunders, which originally ran in McSweeney’s 4.

- - -

I.
(EXHORTATION)

MEMORANDUM
DATE: Apr 6
TO: Staff
FROM: Todd Birnie
RE: March Performance Stats

I would not like to characterize this as a plea, but it may start to sound like one (!) The fact is, we have a job to do, we have tacitly agreed to do it (did you cash your last paycheck, I know I did, ha ha ha). We have also—to go a step further here—agreed to do the job well. Now we all know that one way to do a job poorly is to be negative about it. Say we need to clean a shelf. Let’s use that example. lf we spend the hour before the shelf-cleaning talking down the process of cleaning the shelf, complaining about it, dreading it, investigating the moral niceties of cleaning that shelf, whatever, then what happens is, we make the process of cleaning that shelf more difficult than it really is. We all know very well that that "shelf” is going to be cleaned, given the current climate, either by you or by the guy who replaces you and gets your paycheck, so the questions boil down to: Do I want to clean it happy or do I want to clean it sad? Which would be more effective? For me? Which would accomplish my purpose more efficiently? What is my purpose? To get paid. How do I accomplish that purpose most efficiently? I clean that shelf well and I clean it quickly. And what mental state helps me clean that shelf well and quickly? Is the answer: Negative? A negative mental state? You know very well that it is not. So the point of this memo is: Positive. The positive mental state will help you clean that shelf well and quickly, and thus accomplish your purpose of getting paid.

What am I saying? Am I saying whistle while you work? Maybe I am. Let us consider lifting a heavy dead carcass such as a whale. (Forgive the shelf/whale thing, we have just come back from our place on Reston Island, where there were 1) a lot of dirty shelves and 2) yes, believe it or not, an actual dead rotting whale, which Timmy and Vance and I got involved with in terms of the clean-up.) So say you are charged with, you and some of your colleagues, lifting a heavy dead whale carcass on to a flatbed. Now we all know that is hard. And what would be harder is, doing that with a negative attitude. What we found, Timmy and Vance and I, is that even with only a neutral attitude, you are talking a very hard task. We tried to lift that whale, while we were just feeling neutral, Timmy and Vance and I, with a dozen or so other folks, and it was a no-go, that whale wouldn’t budge, until suddenly one fellow, a former Marine, said what we needed was some mind over matter and gathered us in a little circle, and we had a sort of a chant. We got “psyched up.” We knew, to extend my above analogy, that we had a job to do, and we got sort of excited about that, and decided to do it with a positive attitude, and I have to tell you, there was something to that, it was fun, fun when that whale rose into the air, helped by us and some big straps that Marine had in his van, and I have to say that lifting that dead rotting whale on to that flatbed with that group of total strangers was the high point of our trip.

So what am I saying? I am saying (and saying it fervently, because it is important): let’s try, if we can, to minimize the grumbling and self-doubt regarding the tasks we must sometimes do around here that maybe aren’t on the surface all that pleasant. I’m saying let’s try not to dissect every single thing we do in terms of ultimate good/bad/indifferent in terms of morals. The time for that is long past. I hope that each of us had that conversation with ourselves nearly a year ago, when this whole thing started. We have embarked on a path, and having embarked on that path, for the best of reasons (as we decided a year ago) wouldn’t it be kind of suicidal to let our progress down that path be impeded by neurotic second-guessing? Have any of you ever swung a sledgehammer? I know that some of you have. I know some of you did when we took out Rick’s patio. Isn’t it fun when you don’t hold back, but just pound down and down, letting gravity help you? Fellows, what I’m saying is, let gravity help you here, in our workplace situation: pound down, give into natural feelings that I have seen from time to time produce so much great energy in so many of you, in terms of executing your given tasks with vigor and without second-guessing and neurotic thoughts. Remember that record breaking week Andy had back in October, when he doubled his usual number of units? Regardless of all else, forgetting for the moment all the namby-pamby thoughts of right/wrong etc etc, wasn’t that something to see? In and of itself? I think that, if we each look deep down inside of ourselves, weren’t we each a little envious? God he was really pounding down and you could see the energetic joy on his face each time he rushed by us to get additional clean-up towels. And we were all just standing there like, wow, Andy, what’s gotten into you? And no one can argue with his numbers. They are there in the Break Room for all to see, towering about the rest of our numbers, and though Andy has failed to duplicate those numbers in the months since October, 1) no one blames him for that, those were miraculous numbers and 2) I believe that even if Andy never again duplicates those numbers, he must still, somewhere in his heart, secretly treasure up the memory of that magnificent energy flowing out of him in that memorable October. I do not honestly think Andy could’ve had such an October if he had been coddling himself or entertaining any doubtful neurotic thoughts or second-guessing tendencies, do you? I don’t. Andy looked totally focused, totally outside himself, you could see it on his face, maybe because of the new baby? (If so, Janice should have a new baby every week, ha ha).

Anyway, October is how Andy entered a sort of, at least in my mind, de facto Hall of Fame, and is pretty much henceforth excluded from any real close monitoring of his numbers, at least by me. No matter how disconsolate and sort of withdrawn he gets (and I think we’ve all noticed that he’s gotten pretty disconsolate and withdrawn since October), you will not find me closely monitoring his numbers, although as for others I cannot speak, others may be monitoring that troubling fall off in Andy’s numbers, although really I hope they’re not, that would not be so fair, and believe me, if I get wind of it, I will definitely let Andy know, and if Andy’s too depressed to hear me, I’ll call Janice at home.

And in terms of why is Andy so disconsolate? My guess is that he’s being neurotic, and second-guessing his actions of October—and wow, isn’t that a shame, isn’t that a no-win, for Andy to have completed that record-breaking October and now to sit around boo-hooing about it? Is anything being changed by that boohooing? Are the actions Andy did, in terms of the tasks I gave him to do in Room 6, being undone by his boo-hooing, are his numbers on the Break Room Wall miraculously scrolling downwards, are people suddenly walking out of Room 6 feeling perfectly okay again? Well we all know they are not. No one is walking out of Room 6 feeling perfectly okay. Even you guys, you who do what must be done in Room 6, don’t walk out feeling so super-great, I know that, I’ve certainly done some things in Room 6 that didn’t leave me feeling so wonderful, believe me, no one is trying to deny that Room 6 can be a bummer, it is very hard work that we do. But the people above us, who give us our assignments, seem to think chat the work we do in Room 6, in addition to being hard is also important, which I suspect is why they have begun watching our numbers so closely. And trust me, if you want Room 6 to be an even worse bummer than it already is, then mope about it before, after, and during, then it will really stink, plus, with all that moping, your numbers will go down even further, which guess what: They cannot do. I have been told in no uncertain terms, at the Sectional Meeting, that our numbers are not to go down any further. I said (and this took guts, believe me, given the atmosphere at Sectional): Look, my guys are tired, this is hard work we do, both physically and psychologically. And at that point, at Sectional, believe me, the silence was deafening. And I mean deafening. And the looks I got were not good. And I was reminded, in no uncertain terms, by Hugh Blanchert himself, that our numbers are not to go down. And I was asked to remind you — to remind us, all of us, myself included — that if we are unable to clean our assigned “shelf,” not only will someone else be brought in to clean that “shelf,” but we ourselves may find ourselves on that “shelf,” being that “shelf,” with someone else exerting themselves with good positive energy all over us. And at that time I think you can imagine how regretful you would feel, the regret would show in your faces, as we sometimes witness, in Room 6, that regret on the faces of the “shelves” as they are “cleaned,” so I am asking you, from the hip, to try your best and not end up a “shelf,” which we, your former colleagues, will have no choice but to clean clean clean using all our positive energy, without looking back, in Room 6.

This all was made clear to me at Sectional and now I am trying to make it clear to you.

Well I have gone on and on, but please come by my office, anybody who’s having doubts, doubts about what we do, and I will show you pictures of that incredible whale my sons and I lifted with our good positive energy. And of course this information, that is, the information that you are having doubts, and have come to see me in my office, will go no further than my office, although I am sure I do not even have to say that, to any of you, who have known me these many years.

All will be well and all will be well, etc etc,
Todd Birnie
Divisional Director

- - -

II.
(DESIGN PROPOSAL)

IT IS PREFERABLE, our preliminary research has indicated, for some institutional space to be provided, such as corridor, hallway, etc, through which the group may habitually move. Our literature search indicated that a tiled area is preferable, in terms of preventing possible eventual damage to the walls and floors by the group moving through the space. The review of published literature also indicated that it is preferable that this area to move through (henceforth referred to, per Ellis et al., as the “Fenlen Space”) be non-linear in areal layout, that is, should include frequent turning options (i.e., side hallways or corners), to give the illusion of what Ellis terms “optional pathway choices.” Per Gasgrave, Heller et al., this non-linear areal layout, and the resulting apparent optional pathway choices, create a “Forward-Anticipating” mindset. Per Ellis et al., the Forward-Anticipating mindset (characterized by an Andrew-Brison Attribute Suite which includes “hope,” “resolve,” “determination,” and “sense of mission”) results in less damage to the Fenlen Space, as well as better general health for the Temporary Community, which in turn results in significantly lower clinic/medicinal costs.

Also in Ellis et al., the phrase “Forward-Anticipating Temporary Community” (FATC) is defined to designate a Temporary Community which, while moving through a given Fenlen Space, maintains NTEI (Negative Thought External Indicator) values below 3 per person/per hour. A “Non-Forward-Anticipating Temporary Community” (NFATC) is defined as one for which NTEI values are consistently above 3 per person/per hour. NTEIs are calculated using the Reilly Method, from raw data compiled by trained staff observing from inside what are termed “Amstel Booths,” one-way mirror locales situated at regular intervals along the Fenlen Space.

For the purposes of this cost proposal, four Amstel Booths have been costed, along with the necessary ventilation/electrical additions.

As part of our assessment, we performed a statistical analysis of the NTEIs for four distinct Fenlen Spaces, using a standard Student’s T-test, supplemented with the recently developed Anders-Kiley outlier correction model. Interestingly, the most important component of the Fenlen Space appeared to be what is referred to in the current literature as the Daley Realignment Device (ORD). The ORD allows for quick changes in the areal layout of the Fenlen Space during time periods during which the Temporary Community is moving through another, remote, portion of the Fenlen Space. The purpose of the ORD is to prolong what Elgin et al. term the “Belief Period” in the Fenlen Space; that is, the period during which the Temporary Community, moving through the recently realigned DRD, fails to recognize that the portion of the Fenlen Space being traversed by them has already in face been traversed by them. Rather, the altered areal layout leads to the conclusion that the portion of the Fenlen Space being traversed is an entirely unfamiliar and previously untraversed place, thus increasing the Temporary Community’s expectation that, in time, they will arrive at what Allison and Dewitt have termed the “Preferable Destination.” At some facilities, a brief oral presentation is made to the Temporary Community shortly before the Community enters the Fenlen Space, during which it is strongly implied or even directly stated that the Community will be traversing the Fenlen Space in order to reach the Preferable Destination, which is described in some detail, especially vis-a-vis improvements in terms of cold/heat considerations, food considerations, crowding/overcrowding considerations, and/or perceived menace considerations. An “apology” may be made for any regrettable past incidents. It may also be implied that the individuals responsible for these incidents have been dismissed etc etc. Such presentations have been found to be extremely beneficial, significantly minimizing NTEIGs and prolonging the Belief Period, and several researchers have mentioned the enthusiasm with which the Temporary Community typically enters the Fenlen Space following such a presentation.

Should Building Ed Terry wish to supplement its DRD with such a pre-traversing oral presentation, Judson & Associates would be pleased to provide the necessary technical writing expertise, a service we have already provided successfully for nine facilities in the Northeast.

In any event, some sore of DRD is strongly recommended. In a study of a Fenlen Space located in Canton, New Jersey, a device which was not equipped with a DRD, it was reported that, toward the end of Day 1, the Temporary Community went, within a few hours, from a strong FATC (with very low NTEIs, ranging from 0-2 per person/per hour) to a very strong NFATC (with NTEIs as high as 9 per person/per hour). Perhaps the most striking finding of the Canton study was that, once the Temporary Community had devolved from an FATC co a NFATC (i.e., once the Belief Period had expired), NTEI values increased dramatically and catastrophically, until, according to one Amstel Booth observer, the NTEIs were occurring at a frequency that were “essentially impossible to tabulate,” resulting in the event being classified as “Chaotic” (on the Elliot Scale), after which the Fenlen Space had to be forcibly cleared of the Temporary Community. In other words, once the Temporary Community perceived the Fenlen Space as a repetitious traversing of the same physical space, morale eroded quickly and, per clinical data, could not be restored. Needless to say, the forcible clearing of a Fenlen Space involves substantial risk and expense, as does the related interruption to the smooth flow of facility operations.

In contrast, since a DRD was added to the Canton facility, no further Chaos Situations have occurred, with one exception, which was later seen to be related to a small fire that occurred within one of the Amstel Booths.

Currently available DRDs range from manually rearranged units (typically featuring wallboard panels with quick-release bolts, which are placed into a floor-embedded grid) to electronic, track-based units which offer a large, practically unlimited range of configurations and are typically integrated using the ChangeSpace computer software package. The design we have submitted for Building Ed Terry includes cost estimates for the economical Homeway DRD6 (wallboard-grid model) as well as the higher-end Casio 3288 DRD (track-based, computer-operated unit). For the Homeway unit, we have included approximate costs for the physical labor involved in the manual rearrangement of the DRD. For the purposes of this proposal, we have assumed seven rearrangements a clay, with four persons required for each rearrangement. This corresponds with a circumnavigation period of approximately three hours—that is, seven rearrangements a day, precluding the possibility that the Temporary Community would inadvertently encounter areal rearrangements in progress, which has been shown (in Percy et al.) to markedly decrease the belief period, for obvious reasons.

Judson & Associates firmly believes that the enclosed proposal more than meets the needs described in your Request for Proposal of January 9. Should you desire further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact either Jim Warner or myself. We look forward to hearing from you, and to working with you on this exciting and challenging project, and on other projects yet to come.

Sincerely, Mark Judson
President and CEO
Judson & Associates

- - -

III.
(A FRIENDLY REMINDER)

WE IN KNUCKLES herebuy request that those of you in Sorting refran from calling the Fat Scrap Box the Pizza Hut Box and refran from calling the Bone Scrap Box the Marshmallow Box and refran from calling the Misc. Scrap Box the Dog Food Box because we think that is insulting to our work and workplace in terms of why do you have to make fun of what we all of us do for a living as if it is shameful. Even though it is true that some of our offal might get used for pizza tapping and mashmallows and dog food we do not like it when you are saying those names in a sarcastic voice. Because new hires can be infected by these attitudes which are so negative and soon they will not be working their best but only laughing at your smartass dumb jokes, so in the future use the correct names (Fat Scrap and Bone Scrap and Misc. Scrap) for these boxes if you feel like you have to talk at all while working although also we in Knuckles suggest you just shut up and just work. For example when one of us in Knuckles throws a Knuckle but it misses the belt you do not have to call it a “skidder” or act like you are a announcer on a basketball show by saying whoa he missed the hole. And also you dont have to say Ouch whenever one of our throwed Knuckles goes too far and hits the wall, it is not like the Knuckle could feel that and say Ow, because it is dead dumbass, it cannot feel its leg part hitting the wall, so we know you are being sarcasmic. And we dont think this is funny because when we miss the belt or hit the wall what do we have to do is we have to put down our knives and go get it which takes time. And already we are tired without that extra walking. Because what we do takes real muscle and you can easily see us if you look huffing and breeching hard all day in the cold inside air, whereas you, although its true you are all hunched over, we never see you breeching hard and you dont even work with knives...

22 May 17:26

Theranos's corporate culture was a nightmare

by Rob Beschizza

John Carreyrou broke the story of Theranos' epic medical fraud. At Wired he now takes a sharp look at its dysfunctional corporate culture, excerpted from his new book on the corrupt Silicon Valley unicorn's spectacular downfall, Bad Blood [Amazon].

Not all of it was Elizabeth Holmes, either. COO Sunny Balwani was a quietly stupid office tyrant:

[Theranos'] device remained very much a work in progress. The list of its problems was lengthy.

The biggest problem of all was the dysfunctional corporate culture in which it was being developed. Holmes and Balwani regarded anyone who raised a concern or an objection as a cynic and a nay-sayer. Employees who persisted in doing so were usually marginalized or fired, while sycophants were promoted.

Employees were Balwani’s minions. He expected them to be at his disposal at all hours of the day or night and on weekends. He checked the security logs every morning to see when they badged in and out. Every evening, around 7:30, he made a flyby of the engineering department to make sure people were still at their desks working. With time, some employees grew less afraid of him and devised ways to manage him, as it dawned on them that they were dealing with an erratic man-child of limited intellect and an even more limited attention span.

Holmes, by contrast, was savvy yet unreasonable. And it got worse after high-ranking staff quit rather than be party to Theranos going public with its unreliable tech...

The resignations infuriated Holmes and Balwani. The following day, they summoned the staff for an all-hands meeting in the cafeteria. Copies of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho’s famous novel about an Andalusian shepherd boy who finds his destiny by going on a journey to Egypt, had been placed on every chair. Still visibly angry, Holmes told the gathered employees that she was building a religion. If there were any among them who didn’t believe, they should leave. Balwani put it more bluntly: Anyone not prepared to show complete devotion and unmitigated loyalty to the company should “get the fuck out.”

You look at all this and wonder at the legal event horizon, for corporate executives, beyond which nothing is truly forbidden. But then you realize that Theranos was a just billion-dollar version of Amy's Baking Company.

22 May 17:24

Stacey Cunningham: 4 things to know about the NYSE’s first woman president

by Melissa Locker

Fearless girl turned fearless leader.

For the first time in its 226-year history, the New York Stock Exchange has a woman president. Stacey Cunningham, who is currently the NYSE’s chief operating officer, will become the exchange’s 67th president as of Friday.

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21 May 17:42

Tesla Releases Some of Its Software To Comply With Open-Source Licenses

by BeauHD
Jeremy Allison - Sam shares a blog post from Software Freedom Conservancy, congratulating Tesla on their first public step toward GPL compliance: Conservancy rarely talks publicly about specifics in its ongoing GNU General Public License (GPL) enforcement and compliance activity, in accordance with our Principles of Community Oriented GPL Enforcement. We usually keep our compliance matters confidential -- not for our own sake -- but for the sake of violators who request discretion to fix their mistakes without fear of public reprisal. We're thus glad that, this week, Tesla has acted publicly regarding its current GPL violations and has announced that they've taken their first steps toward compliance. While Tesla acknowledges that they still have more work to do, their recent actions show progress toward compliance and a commitment to getting all the way there.

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21 May 16:37

Agents of SHIELD Didn't Do the Thing, and That's Probably for the Best

by James Whitbrook

There’s been a lot of buzz around Agents of SHIELD’s last few episodes—not just because fans were waiting to hear if the show was going to be picked up for a sixth season, but because the show set itself on a collision course with the earth-shattering climax of Avengers: Infinity War. But SHIELD’s season finale went…

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21 May 16:31

Westworld's Wu-Tang cover ruled everything around it

by Clayton Purdom on TV Club, shared by Clayton Purdom to The A.V. Club

Westworld’s period-appropriate cover songs have always been a love-it-or-hate-it proposition, and I have, accordingly, always sort of loved and sort of hated them. There’s a bit of comic sparkle to the entire concept, rolling up a somber player-piano cover of Radiohead or Soundgarden or whatever for each new montage…

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21 May 16:25

Advice for Dudes Who Get in Trouble for Offensive Jokes

by Jef Rouner
This subject came up recently thanks to Richard Ned Lebow, a professor of international political theory at King’s College in London. The professor was in a crowded elevator with colleagues at an academic conference when someone asked what floor he needed to get off on. Lebow responded, “ladies lingerie.” The...
21 May 16:22

The Line Between Big Tech and Defense Work

by Nitasha Tiku
Employees at Google are protesting a Pentagon contract. But there are few signs of unrest over CIA deals at Amazon and Microsoft.
14 May 18:51

This Eerily Real-Looking Fake Wood Is Stronger Than The Real Thing

by Eillie Anzilotti

Meet Ekoa, a flax-based “wood” that might soon be in your chairs and skateboard–and won’t contribute to deforestation.

Around a century ago, the biggest threat to the United States’ trees was deforestation: The logging industry cut down trees at will, and no structures existed to manage how they did so to minimize harm. The forests that contain old-growth trees like redwood and spruce are 91% deforested.

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14 May 18:09

This Is How To Make Air Travel Easier On Your Brain And Body

by Dani Gordon

These tips for before takeoff, in-flight, and right after landing, can curb your jet lag and help you avoid getting sick.

Flying can take a toll on even the most experienced traveler. If you’re not careful, it’ll zap your energy, disrupt your sleep patterns, and make your digestive system sluggish. Fortunately, with a few simple travel hacks you can make air travel less stressful on your system, curb the effects of jet lag, and keep your energy levels up.

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14 May 18:08

Archie McPhee's Rubber Chicken Museum opens in Seattle

by Rusty Blazenhoff

They've been building it up for weeks...

https://www.instagram.com/p/BidEeYcnbH7/?taken-by=archiemcphee

Teasing us with build photos of the world's largest rubber chicken... https://www.instagram.com/p/Bh69bBNFmSC/?taken-by=archiemcphee https://www.instagram.com/p/BiCoLcOlfbB/?taken-by=archiemcphee https://www.instagram.com/p/BikGogIFZnI/?taken-by=archiemcphee

Now, finally, the folks at Archie McPhee have opened the world's first Rubber Chicken Museum at their retail store in Seattle's Wallingford district! The grand opening ceremony for this fowl museum began on Friday at 3 PM, with much fanfare, clucking, and squawking. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bipxb8rgjHt/?taken-by=mcpheeceo

The museum's curator, the High Priestess of the Rubber Chicken Shana Iverson, used giant novelty scissors for the ribbon cutting, which was broadcast on Facebook Live.

Congratulations to Shana and everyone involved with creating this glorious madness. I look forward to my personal curator's tour of the museum on my next visit.

Need a rubber chicken or three? They've got you covered. https://twitter.com/mcpheeceo/status/995119240435789824

lead photo by Mark Pahlow

14 May 17:20

Chadwick Boseman Gives Commencement Address at Howard University

by Chelsea Steiner

black panther

Black Panther star/your boyfriend Chadwick Boseman was the commencement speaker at Howard University’s graduation ceremony yesterday. Boseman returned to his alma mater to give words of wisdom to the new graduates in a rousing and inspiring speech that proved he’s not just the king of Wakanda, he’s the king of our hearts. “I don’t know what your future is,” said Boseman, at the university’s 150th commencement. “But if you’re willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, then you will not regret it.”

Boseman praised student protesters in his speech, who spent nine days occupying the Howard administration building and won an overhaul of the school’s sexual assault policy, the creation of a food bank to serve students and the surrounding community and a review of policies allowing campus police officers to carry weapons. “Everything that you fought for was not for yourself, it was for those who came after you,” he said to the crowd of graduates. “Many of you will leave Howard and enter systems and institutions that have a history of discrimination and marginalization. The fact that you have struggled with this university that you loved is a sign that you can use your education to improve the world that you are entering.”

The students were overcome with emotion at Boseman’s presence and took to social media to share their excitement.

Boseman wrapped up his speech by urging grads to find their own purpose in the world and prioritize that over a job or career. “Purpose is an essential element of you,” he said. “It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”

Watch the speech in its entirety below and I dare you not to come out of it inspired to take on the world.

(via Huffington Post, image: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for GQ)

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14 May 17:19

Earthquake prediction is a fool’s errand

by Chris Rowan

If you want to make earthquake scientists jumpy, all you need to do is ask, "can you predict the next earthquake?"

In fact, any variation on the theme of ‘earthquake’ and ‘prediction’ will do – unless it is one which informs you that their combination is impossible.

Use of the word ‘prediction’ implies precise knowledge about an upcoming event, both in space and in time: we think that fault will fail, in an earthquake so big, over this timeframe. But such specificity is exactly what we don’t have, and may never have, when we’re considering the future risk of large earthquakes.

In a geological echo of the uncertainty principle, we can only narrow down the location of a future earthquake if we are very fuzzy about the timeframe over which it will occur, and we can only talk with any confidence about a specific period in which an earthquake of a particular size will occur by greatly expanding the area of the planet we are considering. So we can ‘predict’ there will be a magnitude 6 or greater earthquake somewhere in the world in the next fortnight. We can ‘predict’ that the San Andreas Fault will rupture at some point in the next 250 years. But neither of these predictions are useful: we don’t know even roughly where in the world that magnitude 6 will occur, let alone which fault will rupture to produce it. And we don’t know when in the next 250 years the San Andreas will rupture. It could be tomorrow; it could be two centuries from now; it could be any point in between.

If we confine ourselves geographically to a particular fault or collection of faults, there are two specific timeframes over which a bona fide prediction would be actionable, giving us the chance to meaningfully act to mitigate the worst of the damage and devastation. One is short – days to weeks. If we knew that there was going to be a major rupture on a particular fault in the next few days or weeks, we could evacuate the area at risk, and disaster response could be ramped up in advance of the inevitable damage and casualties. This is the realm of claimed earthquake precursors – a subject which I have written about many, many, many, many times. At best, we don’t understand enough to interpret potential precursor signals ahead of time. At worst, large earthquakes don’t actually generate precursors, because they’re just small earthquakes that happened to keep going.

The other useful timescale is longer. If we could make confident predictions about a major fault rupture in the next few decades, then that could inform specific decisions about where to build the most resilient infrastructure, which populations need to be prepared, and how to train emergency personnel. Unfortunately, the behaviour of faults is highly variable over precisely the sort of 50-100* year timescales that would be useful to us. In places where we can use paleoseismology – the study of the geological record left by earthquakes – to construct a history of multiple large earthquakes over hundreds or thousands of years, we see quasi-periodic behaviour: the average interval between dozens of earthquakes often remains fairly constant, but the interval between any two earthquakes can vary quite significantly from that average. A couple of examples:

Earthquakes can never really be ‘overdue’, because they don’t have a fixed schedule. All we can say for sure is that an active fault will rupture eventually. If scientists have done the hard work of reconstructing the paleoseismic record, we may also know that over many events, the average time gap between them is so many years. But because the gap between individual large earthquakes on a fault can vary by a century or more, we cannot truly know for sure if there is going to be a major earthquake in the next 50 years. This uncertainty will always be with us: it is a fundamental aspect of how large earthquakes seem to work. And, as such, making specific predictions about when the next big earthquake will strike is folly – arguably, even attempting to do so is dangerously misleading, because it tacitly accepts the premise that such a thing is possible, when it isn’t.

Sketch plot of relationship between the timescale of an earthquake prediction and the likelihood of it being true - the curve is a step function, showing a high chance of being wrong for all periods of less than a few centuries

Our certainty about an earthquake occurring within a particular timeframe is only high over periods of centuries or more. For anything less, our prediction has a very high chance of being wrong.

Rather than stating that a large earthquake will definitely happen (or not) in the next 50 years, earthquake scientists must instead grapple with the uncertainties in fault behaviour and estimate the 50 (or 25, or 100) year probability of such an event occurring. Using our knowledge of a fault’s past behaviour, and our assumptions about how deformation in the crust works, we ask the question: if we could run the next 50 years multiple times, how often would we see a big quake?

This approach has it’s limitations. Our knowledge and understanding of the system is not complete, and different assumptions can lead to very different estimated probabilities (here is a good start for understanding these issues). People are also exceedingly bad at interpreting probabilities correctly, particularly in cases such as this: we only get to live through the next 50 years once, and for a single roll of the seismic dice, although certain outcomes are more likely, any scenario with a non-zero probability could happen.

That is not to say these forecasts should be ignored. They represent our current best guess about the seismic risks a region faces, and are a valuable starting point for preparing to meet them. But their core message is that the dice exists, and bad rolls are possible. Even if we don’t know exactly how many sides spell bad things for us, we know that some of them do, and we should prepare accordingly. We don’t know when in the next few hundred years the San Andreas Fault, the Alpine Fault, or the Cascadia subduction zone will rupture, just that they will. We must prepare like it might be tomorrow, and not be surprised if it is instead two centuries from now. With faults, you never can tell which it will be.

"Eeyore said that an Extremely Big Earthquake could happen Very Soon", Piglet squeaked, nervously "Did he?" said Pooh, scratching his nose thoughtfully.  "But is it _true_, Pooh? _Is it_?" "It could happen Very Soon", said Pooh, "but it could also *not* happen for an Extremely Long Time. You never can tell with Earthquakes."

* 50 years – the interval for which we generally construct seismic hazard maps – is the average lifetime of a building.

14 May 17:12

Top 10 Doctor Who Parody Videos

by Jef Rouner
With Season 11 still months away from airing and my budget for Big Finish audio stories all tapped out, I’m forced to look elsewhere for my Doctor Who fix. Today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best parody videos out there in the world. If you can’t...
14 May 17:10

Life is Great Now That I’ve Quit My Job and Pinned Myself Under This Enormous Boulder

by KNOWLTON BOURNE

One morning, after years of slogging through 60 hour work weeks, I woke up, looked in the mirror, and realized that I didn’t like what I saw. I was burnt out, alone, and unhealthy. I needed a lifestyle change. So I quit my cushy marketing job, packed my bags, traveled to the middle of the desert, and sandwiched myself between this enormous boulder and the ground.

Now, my life is great! Like, really, really great. I feel refreshed, I’m healthier than ever, and my social life is thriving. Everything is phenomenal, and it’s all because I’m pinned under this enormous boulder!

Ironically enough, I felt way more like Sisyphus when I was pushing papers in a cubicle than I do now that I’ve rolled this massive rock on top of my torso. See, back when I was a workaholic I hardly ever slept, I was constantly trying to meet deadlines and hit quotas. It was awful. Now, I don’t have any responsibilities. Literally, the only thing weighing on me is this boulder. It’s fantastic. No more living to work for me, now I’m working just to stay alive!

Now that I’m stranded in the middle of the desert, I feel better mentally and physically. It’s like a spa out here! The hours upon hours of direct sunlight I get every day have added a nice glow to my skin, and the sand acts as a natural exfoliant, which allows all the dead layers to slough right off — so smooth! Also, my urine and sand diet is doing wonders for my figure; it’s WAY cheaper than any trendy paleo, ketogenic diet, or hip juice craze. Not to brag, but I look like a freakin’ movie star! That is, if a movie star has been pinned under an enormous boulder for a couple of weeks.

An added bonus of this new lifestyle is how quiet life is now; I can finally unplug and clear my head. I haven’t been on social media in a while and It feels fantastic, almost like I’m better than you, which at this point, I probably am. Instead of scrolling through my social feed, I spend most of my time watching a group of vultures feed off the remains of a lost hiker. Now, that’s good content! Out here, I’m living in the moment, ya know? I can really smell the roses… and the rancid stink of gangrene coming from my now completely paralyzed legs.

But don’t just take my word for it! You can feel this great too. Escape the hustle and bustle of modernity and join me under this boulder, or you can spend the rest of your days withering away in the humdrum of everyday life. I know, I know, it seems like a tough decision, almost like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, but trust me, that’s a good thing!

14 May 16:56

Site generates privacy-preserving YouTube embeds

by Rob Beschizza

Jag Talon''s Embed Bud is a single-serving site (made with Glitch) that generates less invasive YouTube embed snippets to use on the web. It's a simple trick that adds the encrypted-media attribute to the http iframe so you don't have to. Suggestion: it could also add modestbranding and showinfo (to remove logos and telltale overlays), rel=0 (to remove next-up recommendations based on user history), and start=15s (because the only thing that ever happens in the first 15 seconds of a YouTube video is logos, music and "hey guys")
14 May 16:55

For the Love of God, Stop Asking the Black Panther Cast to Do the 'Wakanda Forever' Salute

by Charles Pulliam-Moore

The cast of Marvel’s Black Panther has been touring the world for months promoting their movie in interviews and red carpets where they’re inevitably asked to do the iconic “Wakanda Forever” salute. While there’s a lot to discuss about Black Panther, the one question that virtually everyone involved in the movie has…

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14 May 16:55

I could not put down Tom Miller's 'The Philosopher's Flight'

by Jason Weisberger

Magic is barely understood science in Tom Miller's The Philosopher's Flight. A United States engaged in the early days of World War II both eagerly adopts Philosophy as everyday technology, while rejecting the few able to use this magic in as the United States always does.

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