Saturday, May 06, 2017

Artistic Scientific and Fact Findings Spectrum

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Albert Einstein, interviewed by George Sylvester Viereck (Saturday Evening Post, ... read more

INK BOTTLE“The more one suffers, the more, I believe, has one a sense for the comic. It is only by the deepest suffering that one acquires true authority in the use of the comic, an authority which by one word transforms as by magic the reasonable creature one calls man into a caricature.”
Søren Kierkegaard, Stages on Life’s Way

“I also say to my team: Do 10% of your job shittily. It’s okay to do something shittily. Perfectionism prevents us from taking double steps in our career. We think we have to be perfect, but we don’t.”

The man behind "National Report" and several other fake news sites tells the story behind his career of deception and has some tips for journalists on dealing with sites like his. Read his confession in Nieman Reports

As “The Fate of the Furious” takes in more than $1 billion, it’s time Hollywood stopped whitewashing and learned the lesson that to make money, they’ll have to diversify every cast (and not make Scarlett Johansson as a supposedly Japanese character either)

Follow the money
Storyful, a content verification unit of News Corp, and online analytics company Moat, teamed up to launch a fake news tracker aimed at choking these sites' advertising revenue.

(1) Will this new law help kids get smarter about bad information on the Internet? (2) Fact-checkers crowd-fund in Brazil and the United Kingdom. (3) Climate Feedback took a look at that Bret Stephen's op-ed on climate change and found very few facts. (4) The International Fact-Checking Day lesson plan had a potential reach of 120,000 students. (5) A great dissection (in Italian) of whether 'post-truth' means anything. (6) Facebook gave up the term 'fake news,' see above, but Italian media didn't notice.  (7) ICYMI: Did fake news sway Jakarta's mayoral election? (8) Fact-checking science? Here's a free workshop in St. Petersburg, Fla. (9) Right or wrong, you're getting Trump tweets. (10) Seattle librarians launch a  “Fake News Survival Guide.” (11) Misinformation plagues a California police department. (12) The Knight Center and Lupa launch a MOOC on fact-checking in Portuguese. (13) Fake news is at the heart of the Star Wars saga? Link ≠ endorse

The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class The Writing of John Laurits  What customers steal from Toronto restaurants

One of the most important attributes a good photograph can have is mood. Mood can mean a lot of different things, but when you see it for yourself, it’s undeniable. This month’s photographs oozed with mood. Scenes such as a misty walkway in Poland, the excitement of foxes on the chase in Japan, cranes bathed in yellow light in Israel, and the end of a 
leisurely day in Lebanon transport us to another time and place.

WELL, GOOD: Inexpensive Drug Prevents Deaths in New Mothers, Study Finds. “An inexpensive generic drug that saves the lives of wounded soldiers and civilian car crash victims has now been shown to rescue women suffering hemorrhages in childbirth. . . . In a major six-year trial involving over 20,000 women in 21 countries, researchers showed that tranexamic acid, a little-known blood-clotter invented in the 1950s, reduced maternal bleeding deaths by a third if it was given within three hours. It costs less than $2 a dose and does not require refrigeration.”

Science, as you know, my little one, is the study
of the nature and behaviour of the universe.
It’s based on observation, on experiment, and measurement,
and the formulation of laws to describe the facts revealed.
In the old times, they say, the men came already fitted with brains
designed to follow flesh-beasts at a run,
to hurdle blindly into the unknown,
and then to find their way back home when lost
with a slain antelope to carry between them.
Or, on bad hunting days, nothing.
The women, who did not need to run down prey,
had brains that spotted landmarks and made paths between them
left at the thorn bush and across the scree
and look down in the bole of the half-fallen tree,
because sometimes there are mushrooms.
Before the flint club, or flint butcher’s tools,
The first tool of all was a sling for the baby
to keep our hands free
and something to put the berries and the mushrooms in,
the roots and the good leaves, the seeds and the crawlers.
Then a flint pestle to smash, to crush, to grind or break.
And sometimes men chased the beasts
into the deep woods,
and never came back.
Some mushrooms will kill you,
while some will show you gods
and some will feed the hunger in our bellies. Identify.
Others will kill us if we eat them raw,
and kill us again if we cook them once,
but if we boil them up in spring water, and pour the water away,
and then boil them once more, and pour the water away,
only then can we eat them safely. Observe.
Observe childbirth, measure the swell of bellies and the shape of breasts,
and through experience discover how to bring babies safely into the world.
Observe everything.
And the mushroom hunters walk the ways they walk
and watch the world, and see what they observe.
And some of them would thrive and lick their lips,
While others clutched their stomachs and expired.
So laws are made and handed down on what is safe. Formulate.
The tools we make to build our lives:
our clothes, our food, our path home…
all these things we base on observation,
on experiment, on measurement, on truth.
And science, you remember, is the study
of the nature and behaviour of the universe,
based on observation, experiment, and measurement,
and the formulation of laws to describe these facts.
The race continues. An early scientist
drew beasts upon the walls of caves
to show her children, now all fat on mushrooms
and on berries, what would be safe to hunt.
The men go running on after beasts.

The scientists walk more slowly, over to the brow of the hill
and down to the water’s edge and past the place where the red clay runs.
They are carrying their babies in the slings they made,
freeing their hands to pick the mushrooms
    DRTy Deeds. Anyone with kids in college 
has dealt with the FAFSA, the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” It is full of questions about your income taxes. To make this annoying form a little easier, IRS and the Department of Education created a “Data Retrieval Tool,” or “DRT,” to allow FAFSA applicants pull information needed directly from the applicants’ IRS files. I used it in the last year, and it worked pretty slick.
Alas, too slick. It turns out that ID thieves figured out how to use the DRT to help them hack into taxpayer accounts. Timothy Camus, a Deputy Inspector General in the office of Treasury Inspector General for Tax
Administration (TIGTA) testified at a congressional hearing yesterday on how it came about.  From the testimony (my emphasis):
It appears that identity thieves used personal information of individuals that they obtained outside the tax system to start the FAFSA application process in order to secure the AGI tax information through the DRT. The IRS’ current estimate for the number of impacted taxpayers is approximately 100,000. 
This reminds us how important it is to be careful with our own tax information. The whole data breach relied on personal information obtained ouside the government files. Some basics:
Don’t overshare on social media, and understand your privacy settings.
Don’t send personal information as an unencrypted e-mail or text attachment.
Don’t provide your social security number unless you know the person requesting it has a right to it and a need for it.
Be smart with passwords. Don’t use the same password for multiple applications, and make them at least reasonably hard to guess.
The IRS has some useful advice: Tips to Protect Your Personal Information While Online (
Affected taxpayers have begun receiving letters from the IRS informing them of the breach and offering them free credit monitoring. I haven’t received one (yet, anyway). It’s a dangerous world out there. Be careful. 

Correctiv, the only announced partner for Facebook's third-party fact-checking work in Germany, doesn't want the social network's money. “If Facebook starts paying you, then you are dependent," said its chief editor to the Financial Times. "When you’re in such a situation, they can tell you what to do, and when you’re working as a fact-checker you need to work independently.”

Academics at Harvard and Northeastern universities put together the proceedings of a "fake news" conference held in February. Their recommendations include citing more conservative voices, better academic-journalistic collaboration and more data from social platforms. Here's the report and key excerpts. 

Good advertisers do business with good news organizations, says John Avlon in the Daily Beast. “Supporting real news sites—whether national, local, or political—is a sign of social responsibility."