Monday, January 14, 2019

Siri Born Twice: How Slovakians Beat the Oligarchs

Not to have a big head about it, but people love me.
~ Ryan Lochte ;-)

Huge Heatwaves: Sydney facing scorching days and sticky nights

 Apple iPhone: The Siri shortcut enabling Google Assistant via voice

Thirty miles northeast of the Slovakian capital Bratislava is Veľká Mača, a village-turned-bedroom-community of tightly packed bungalows fanning out from a big Catholic church, a small supermarket, and a smoky pub. In winter, the surrounding fields are dusted with snow, some planted with wheat but many now filled with hangar-like logistic centers for Amazon, DHL, and other markers of economic change. 
Nearly a year ago, hired killers drove into this quiet town, broke into a small prefabricated bungalow, and shot dead two young people: the investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova, an archaeologist at a local research institute. 
Kuciak was investigating the link between senior political leaders and organized crime, and, as police investigations later made plain, this was the payback. In a region where authoritarianism is rising and press freedom is shrinking, the couple’s execution-style killing was seen as a portent of darker days to come, especially in a country long viewed as poorer and more autocratic than many of its better-known neighbors. 

"This is a frank biographer and an honest one; he uses no sandpaper on me.”

My dancers never fall to simply fall. They fall to rise ... Marta Chamilova 

I actively avoid office politics by disliking everybody equally.

I work so I can afford the amount of alcohol required to continue going to work.

Any Jewish holiday can be described the same way. They tried to kill us. They failed. Let’s eat

“It was beautiful spring weather, but neither dogs nor humans were aware of it. Each day the sun rose earlier and set later. It was dawn by three in the morning, and the twilight lingered till nine at night. The whole long day was a blaze of sunshine. The ghostly winter silence had given way to the great spring murmur of awakening life. This murmur arose from all the land, fraught with the joy of living.”

 I have news for you people: your data ain’t worth nuthin’:
I was ready to call it quits—unless, that is, my proceeds reeled me back in. I tallied up my fiat (that’s money, to the rest of us): 162 WIB, 1 DAT, 0 NRN. My earnings, while eclectic, were worth approximately 0.3 cents.
That is from a recent Wired article by Gregory Barber, who tried to sell his data in the open market.  Yet data can be worth a good deal in the aggregate — just ask some of the major tech companies.  The economics here are a bit like the economics of voting.  If it were legal, and you tried to sell your vote and your vote alone, you might not get much more than 0.3 cents.  That vote is unlikely to prove decisive.  Yet average and marginal value do not coincide.  If someone could buy a whole block of votes, which in turn could swing an election, the price could be much higher.
The upshot is that giving individuals ownership of their data, so they can sell it, is unlikely to yield much, unless of course you think widespread consumer collusion will prove feasible.

So You Automated Your Coworkers Out of a Job - Gizmodo: “…Inside many companies, automation doesn’t simply unfold as a top-down imperative. It can stem from random efficiency experiments or pilot programs initiated by employees who don’t always intend for their ideas to cascade into large-scale job loss. In some cases, management will ask a junior staff to spearhead an automation initiative (perhaps, some speculate, to help redirect blame for the job-eliminating policies). When either happens, it can lead to long-term guilt, confusion, and regret on the part of the automator—few people want to delete their friends’ or colleagues’ jobs—and embitterment and anger on the part of the automated.

…In a series of interviews with coders, technicians, and engineers who’ve automated their colleagues out of work—or, in one case, been put in a position where they’d have to do so and decided to quit instead—I’ve attempted to produce a snapshot of life on the messy front lines of modern automation. (Some names have been changed to protect the identities of the automators.) We’ve heard plenty of forecasting about the many jobs slated to be erased, and we’ve seen the impacts on the communities that have lost livelihoods at the hands of automation, but we haven’t had many close up looks at how all this unfolds in the office or the factory floor…”

Eastern European Literature 
“Nobody in Anna Karenina was oppressed, as I was, by the tyranny of leisure. The leisure activities in Tolstoy’s novel – ice skating, balls, horse races – were beautiful, dignified, and meaningful in terms of plot …

Anna Karenina was a perfect book, with an otherwordly perfection: unthinkable, monolithic, occupying a super-charged gray zone between nature and culture. How had any human being ever managed to write something simultaneously so big and so small – so serious and so light – so strange and so natural? The heroine didn’t turn up until chapter 18, and the book went on for 19 more chapters after her death, and Anna’s lover and her husband had the same name (Alexei). Anna’s maid and daughter were both called Anna, and Anna’s son and Levin’s half brother were both called Sergei. The repetition of names struck me as remarkable, surprising, and true to life.”

“Narcissists will never tell you the truth. They live with the fear of abandonment and can't deal with facing their own shame. Therefore, they will twist the truth, downplay their behavior, blame others and say what ever it takes to remain the victim. They are master manipulators and conartists that don't believe you are smart enough to figure out the depth of their disloyalty. Their needs will always be more important than telling you any truth that isn't in their favor..” Shannon L. Alder  


Agenda, a news service affiliated with the Financial Times, appeared to have a big scoop last month when it landed an interview with former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who had been ousted for allegations of sexual harassment. It would have been Moonves’ first public comments in four months.

Agenda quoted Moonves as saying that the fight over a $120 million severance was “far from over’’ and that CBS’s board would “do the right thing ultimately.’’ It was a stunning development. One issue, however: Moonves claims he never spoke to Agenda.

Now, Agenda has pulled all of Moonves' quotes from the story. In an editor’s note that appeared online with the new story Thursday (note: story is behind a paywall), Agenda wrote, in part:

“Our reporters had each dialed a number obtained from a subscription public records database that purported to be Mr. Moonves’s number and spoken with an individual who identified himself as Mr. Moonves. The individual had knowledge of the CBS board’s decision and the history behind it. We stand by our reporters’ portrayal of those comments but, in light of our statement from Mr. Moonves, we have removed the quotes from the article.’’

This came 24 hours after Agenda stood by its reporters, Stephanie Forshee and Jennifer Williams-Alvarez, when Moonves’ representatives released a statement that said, “Mr. Moonves did not speak with reporters from Agenda in December 2018 or at any other time. Any suggestion that he did is without any factual basis whatsoever.’’

For weeks, Vanity Fair had been working on a piece wondering if Agenda fell for a catfishing scheme after its sources said Moonves had denied speaking to Agenda. It also seemed unlikely that Moonves would pick an obscure publication such as Agenda to speak out.

Life in the political pressure-cooker: Government CIOs - CIO

The Christian is like the ripening corn; the riper he grows the more lowly he bends his head.
— A. B. Guthrie, Jr., born  in 1901

~Scattered Snippets from those Samizdatish Deep Bloggers