Sunday, September 30, 2018

Pop-Up Magazine

Left to ourselves, mechanistic and autonomic, we hanker for friends… Maybe altruism is our most primitive attribute, out of reach, beyond our control.”

The Scientific Poetics of Affection: Lewis Thomas on Altruism and Why We Are Wired for Friendship

The demise of the Village Voice underscores the end of Greenwich Village bohemia — which invites a question about the beginning  Cold Rivers 

'Everyone's stripped down': Why ocean swimming is growing in popularity

Growing numbers of swimmers, including former prime minister Tony Abbott, are swapping the black line of the pool for the freedom of open water.

20 Things Patients Can Do to Stay Out of My ER– Op-(m)ed

 As Jozef Imrich  would say, they are the two magazine cheeks of the same backside. A night of true stories, documentary films, photography, and radio from some of our favorite writers, performers, and musicians. Unrecorded, live onstage.
  • Pop-Up Magazine is a live magazine, created for a stage, a screen, and a live audience. Each evening is unique, but here are a few things to look forward to.
  • Remarkable Storytellers – Some of the country’s most interesting writers, filmmakers, photographers, radio producers, and illustrators share new, true stories onstage.
  • Stunning Visuals – Stories come to life on a giant screen filled with photographs, films, illustrations, and animations.
  • A Live Score – Story soundtracks are composed and performed live onstage by Magik*Magik Orchestra.
  • A Fascinating Audience – Curious, creative people come to see old friends and meet new ones
Dean Keith Simonton, The Genius Checklist: Nine Paradoxical Tips on How You! Can Become a Creative Genius, is a popularization of some of his earlier research on genius and creative achievement.P

In 1924, Paul Jordan-Smith founded a one-man art movement: Disumbrationism. It was an elaborate hoax — or was it?... Disumbrationism

Jad Abumrad – host, Radiolab & More Perfect: I’d venture a guess that most Americans (like us, before we started this project) can’t name more than one or two amendments to the Constitution, let alone remember that there are 27 of them.  But these 27 “insertions” to our founding document outline our basic rights as Americans.  Not only that, they show a country changing and evolving and re-imagining itself; striving (and not always succeeding) to be better.  With that in mind, the team at More Perfect challenged ourselves to come up with a way to give these words the swagger they deserve.  So we invited some of the best musicians in the world to create songs inspired by each of the 27 amendments; a kind of “Schoolhouse Rock!” for the 21st Century. These songs are a small way to say that these words matter.    We’re calling it “27: The Most Perfect Album,” and I hope it ends up on some playlists, maybe in a classroom or two.  Thanks to the National Constitution Center for partnering with us on the essays below. Most of all, we’re deeply indebted to all the musicians below that gave their time, talents, and energies to the project.  Enjoy!…”

The Guardian: “…Shailagh Murray had spent two terms in the White House helping to lead the administration’s communications strategy and it appeared to have taken its toll. With Obama just a few months away from leaving office, journalists wanted exit interviews; they wanted to be first, biggest, loudest. She was sick of the egos, the same old questions. The letters, she said, served as a respite from all that, and she offered to show some to me. She chose a navy blue binder, pulled it off the shelf, and opened it, fanning through page after page of letters, some handwritten in cursive on personal letterheads, others block printed on notebook paper and decorated with stickers; there were business letters, emails, faxes and random photographs of families, soldiers and pets. “You know, it’s this dialogue he’s been having with the country that people aren’t even aware of,” she said, referring to Obama’s eight-year habit of cor­responding with the American public. “Collectively, you get this kind of American tableau.” Obama had committed to reading 10 letters a day when he first took office, becoming the first president to put such a deliberate focus on constituent correspon­dence. Late each afternoon, around five o’clock, a selection would be sent up from the post room to the Oval Office. The “10 LADs”, as they came to be known – for “10 letters a day” – would circulate among senior staff and the stack would be added to the back of the briefing book the president took with him to the resi­dence each night. He answered some by hand and wrote notes on others for the writing team to answer, and on some he scribbled “save”…Starting in 2010, all physical mail was scanned and preserved. From 2011, every word of every email fac­tored into the creation of a daily word cloud, dis­tri­buted around the White House so policy makers and staff members alike could get a glimpse of the issues and ideas constituents had on their minds…”

Chronic fatigue syndrome - the 'missing people' enigma

Thousands of Australians with chronic fatigue syndrome try to survive a disease with an uncertain cause and no known cure.

Rich born on 16 May 1929

An Antidote to White Male Capitalist Culture: Adrienne Rich on the Liberating Power of Storytelling and How Reading Emancipates

“The decline in adult literacy means not merely a decline in the capacity to read and write, but a decline in the impulse to puzzle out, brood upon… argue about, turn inside-out in verbal euphoria, the ‘incomparable medium’ of language…”

Long before Sagan and Ruefle, Adrienne Rich (May 16, 1929–March 27, 2012) examined the emancipatory power of reading in her preface to On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966–1978 (public library) — the indispensable collection of essays and speeches that gave us Rich on honorable human relationships and what “truth” really means.

The Only Story in the World: John Steinbeck on Kindness, Good and Evil, the Wellspring of Good Writing

“Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love.”

We Grow Accustomed to the Dark: Emily Dickinson’s Stunning Ode to Resilience, Animated

A timeless serenade to finding light amid the “Evenings of the Brain.” 

How do we survive the unsurvivable? What is that inextinguishable flame that goes on flickering in the bleak, dark chamber of our being when something of vital importance has been lost? “All your sorrows have been wasted on you if you have not yet learned how to be wretched,”Seneca’s timeless insight into the key to resilience bellows from antiquity, echoed by the contemporary social science finding that psychological “grit” is the single most significant predictor of triumph over hardship and success in life. “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us,” the Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher Pema Chödrön offered in exploring how to thrive when things fall apart.

Physicist Alan Lightman on the Illusion of Absolute Rest

The beautiful and disorienting science of why we are mostly restlessness and empty space.

Cybernetics Pioneer Norbert Wiener on the Malady of “Content” and How to Save Creative Culture from the Syphoning of Substance

“When there is communication without need for communication, merely so that someone may earn the social and intellectual prestige of becoming a priest of communication, the quality and communicative value of the message drop like a plummet.”

US stories from Bowral via JK

This New Republic story, What the hell just happened on Capitol Hill?, seems to have the right take:
Further, if the FBI investigation goes through…it could help Kananaugh’s nomination. If the FBI finds no wrong-doing or comes to an ambiguous conclusion (as seems entirely plausible for a one-week investigation of a three-decades old case) this might give coverage to those Republicans who are reportedly undecided, like Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Maine Senator Susan Collins.
Specifically, the fact that Ford’s account in the Senate differs from the one in her therapist’s records (two people present v. four earlier) could be treated as proving her memory isn’t reliable enough, and if people interviewed in support of the Ramirez and Swetnik allegations have too many inconsistent details among them, those could be deemed to be inconclusive. Two risks for Kavanaugh are if Mark Judge won’t back Kavanaugh’s story or if the much-derided Kavanaugh calendar isn’t produced or is determined forensically to be a fresh creation. Kavanaugh almost certainly lied about his drinking habits, but as I read the scope of the inquiry, that’s not part of the probe. But if it is, he’s already admitted to being a binge drinker:
For Trump and White House, Kavanaugh hearing was a suspenseful drama in two acts Washington Post. UserFriendly: “Lovely, Kavanaugh’s performance was to an audience of 1, Trump. Or he was gonna get pulled. And good thing the Democrats rehabilitated Shrub! He’s whipping votes. Absolutely pathetic.”
Brett Kavanaugh hearing: key moments Financial Times. If you didn’t watch the hearing, a detailed recap.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Artificial Intelligence and Policing: Hints in the Carpenter Decision

‘A third of TripAdvisor reviews are fake’ as cheats buy five stars The Times

'Nicholas wants it': Macquarie Bank CEO's role in tax deal revealed
The Sydney Morning Herald 

Who's afraid of a starving watchdog?
"The Commonwealth's tiny law-enforcement integrity agency has failed to keep up with the demands put upon it." (Public Sector Informant)

Being Julian Assange Consortiumnews

Joh, Elizabeth E., Artificial Intelligence and Policing: Hints in the Carpenter Decision (August 24, 2018). __ Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law __, 2018. Available at SSRN:
“In the 2018 Carpenter case, Chief Justice Roberts focuses on the quality of the information sought by the police as a means of deciding the case in Carpenter’s favor. Less obviously, however, the majority opinion also stresses the nature of the policing involved in Carpenter’s case: new technologies that do not just enhance human abilities. The majority makes no explicit clams about this focus. But the Carpenter decision reveals the Supreme Court’s first set of views on how it might evaluate police use of artificial intelligence. That contention, and the questions it raises, form the subject of this essay.”

8 ideas for empowering jurors in complex trials: DLA Piper – “Much time and attention has been spent examining ways to improve how lawyers can more effectively educate jurors in complex product liability trials. Many, if not most, of these efforts focus on “the hammer” – ie, the persuasiveness, credibility and clarity of the lawyers and of the witness presentations. But there is potentially another way to improve lawyers’ persuasion of jurors at trial: focus on informing and honing the thinking of the jury. Even an effective hammer benefits from sharpened nails. We can and should work to develop jurors who are better prepared and better equipped to carry out the difficult tasks we place before them. This article takes a look at eight ways to sharpen jurors’ abilities: to help them become better students in the courtroom and, hopefully, mitigate some of the skepticism voiced by lawyers and clients in an era of dwindling product liability and other complex jury trials

The Intercept: “Google built a prototype of a censored search engine for China that links users’ searches to their personal phone numbers,thus making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries, The Intercept can reveal. The search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, was designed for Android devices, and would remove content deemed sensitive by China’s ruling Communist Party regime, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest. Previously undisclosed details about the plan, obtained by The Intercept on Friday, show that Google compiled a censorship blacklist that included terms such as “human rights,” “student protest,” and “Nobel Prize” in Mandarin.

UK Serious Fraud Office trialling AI for data-heavy cases naked security – sophos: “The BBC says it looks like a kids’ digital game: a mass of blue and green rubber balls bounce around the screen like they’re on elastic bands in a galaxy of paddle balls. It’s no game, however. It is a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool that connects, and then visualizes, the parties and their interactions in a complex fraud inquiry. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) recently gave the BBC a look at the system, called OpenText Axcelerate, which staff have been training on Enron: a massive corporate fraud case from 2001 that’s no longer actively being investigated. The lines between the colored balls represent links between two people involved in the fraud inquiry, including the emails they sent and received, the people they carbon-copied, and the more discrete messages in which nobody was cc’ed. SFO investigator Edgar Pacevicius told the BBC that a major advantage of the AI is that it can spot connections between individuals far more quickly than humans can. It’s designed to help investigators keep track of all the parties involved in a given, wide-scale fraud, with all their communications, along with individuals’ interactions with each other. The tool also groups documents with similar content, and it can pick out phrases and word forms that might be significant to an investigation…”

The frontline feedback that could have spared DHS from robodebt fury
KATHRYN CAMPBELL: “It’s hard work. There’s often nowhere to hide. If something goes wrong, it often becomes apparent very quickly, and sometimes ends up in the public domain.”

Accountability in an age of democratic disquiet
KEN SMITH: “A willingness to listen and deliberate is not something that comes easily. It is easier if it is supported by information rather than simply opinion.”

Right to Know Day: federal FOI officers get schooled
ANGELENE FALK: “FOI is just one avenue for individuals to exercise their right to access government information. The starting point should really be the proactive release and publication of information and documents.”

NSW government's $20m cyber plan, call for cross-agency collaboration
LAUNCH: The NSW government’s chief information security officer Maria Milosavljevic unveiled the state’s first cyber security strategy this morning.

Movers & shakers: chief executives promoted, but a cloud hangs over one
BEYOND CANBERRA: A chief executive going on leave is not normally not a newsworthy event, but for pressure from media and the state Opposition led to statements issued by the Attorney General and ICAC commissioner.

Penny coin fountain

An art installation made up of £1,000 worth of penny coins left in a disused fountain disappeared in just over one day.
The 100,000 pennies were placed in the fountain at Quayside in Cambridge at 08:00 BST on Saturday and were due to be left for 48 hours.
All of the coins were gone by 09:00 BST on Sunday, but the In Your Way project is not treating it as theft.
Artistic director Daniel Pitt said it was “a provocative outcome”.
The work, which used money from an Arts Council England lottery grant, was one of five pieces staged across the city over the weekend.
Cambridge-based artist Anna Brownsted said her fountain piece “was an invitation to respond, a provocation”.
 Penny coin fountain

The burgled Kiwi professor (by Chinese spies?)

Even if you couldn’t care less about distance running or world records, Kipchoge’s accomplishment is worth pondering for what it says about human endurance and what the body is capable of, in terms of cardiovascular strength and muscle efficiency. Indeed, one of the reasons marathon running has become so popular is that it enables us ordinary runners to learn those lessons about our own endurance capacity, both physical and mental. The first-time marathon groups I see out running this time of year are as inspiring to me as Kipchoge. For someone to go from couch potato to marathoner in eight or nine months of determined training is an extraordinary accomplishment.
Kipchoge, who won the gold medal in the marathon at the 2016 Olympics, has dominated marathon running like no one before him over the past five years; going into Sunday’s race, he had won nine of 10 marathons he had entered since 2013. In a profile published on Saturday, The New York Times’ Scott Cacciola called him “a man of immense self-discipline” who keeps meticulous running logs and has never had a serious injury. He is also marathon running’s “philosopher king,” according to Cacciola, distinguishing himself as much with his motivational speaking as he does out on the course. “Kipchoge is the type of person,” writes Cacciola, “who says stuff like: ‘Only the disciplined ones in life are free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions.’ And: ‘It’s not about the legs; it’s about the heart and the mind.’ And: ‘The best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree is today.’”

Friday, September 28, 2018

Measuring Facebook’s fact-checking effort

Big day in Washington; Tucker Carlson's gaffe; The City rises in NYC; Is Siri a racist?

Today, Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Newsrooms such as NPR are trying to stay nimble on special coverage plans, as well as contingencies should the status of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein change after his meeting with President Trump — also today.

"At least we have warning," said Beth Donovan, NPR's Washington Desk head, "unlike so many other days when we're juggling two massive stories."

NPR plans gavel-to-gavel coverage of the judiciary committee and a special 8 p.m. EST wrap-up. Its annotation desk, putting in context to transcripts, will also be operating full-tilt.

For everybody else, here are a few resources for the day's coverage: 

— Network coverage of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (TV Newser)

— 'Seared into my memory:' Christine Blasey Ford's prepared opening remarks. (The Atlantic)

— Her four sworn affidavits. (Mother Jones)

— The facts on sexual assault: Why so few report, according to prosecutors and victim's advocates. (Salem Reporter)

— The third woman with a sexual misconduct allegation: Who is Julie Swetnick? (Washington Post)

— Ronald Brownstein: A vote won't end the Kavanaugh controversy. (The Atlantic)

Quick hits

BLAMING THE VICTIMS: Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson is coming under fire after blaming sexual assault victims for the prevalence of rape and attempted rape. To sexual assault survivors too frightened or shocked or demeaned to report, he said Tuesday night, "You're part of the problem." The remark, coming amid the sentencing of Bill Cosby and accusations that Kavanaugh committed sexual assault, prompted widespread denunciation.

TUCKER UNDER FIRE, PART II: The group Sleeping Giants, which has led successful ad boycotts, questioned how any brand reliant on women like Honda, Nutrisystem, Bayer or Jenny Craig, could continue to advertise on the network. I wondered if Carlson would be disciplined by new Fox News head Suzanne Scott, who has sought to reduce racist and misogynistic commentary.

This reader offered a helpful chart for Carlson:

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER JOURNALISM INVESTMENT: Welcome to The City, a nonprofit site being set up in New York, working in conjunction with New York magazine, the NYT’s Jaclyn Peiser reports. The idea: Replace some of that lost local accountability and investigative journalism with dwindling local sections and news outlets. Its editor is Jere Hester, a former New York Daily News city editor. The City’s $8.5 million in initial funding includes $2.5 million chunks from Craig Newmark, the Leon Levy Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation.

REACTION FROM THE BOROUGHS: Bklyner editor Liena Zagare greeted the creation of The City on her local website, saying “There’s a new kid in town and they’re hiring.” For Zagare, the kid is not so new: The City's board chair is her husband, Ben Smith of BuzzFeed. (Earlier: Zagare and The Atlantic’s Scott Nover on Brooklyn’s vanishing local news voices.)

LIFE AND DEATH: Why didn’t Orlando paramedics move faster to help victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting? The city’s fire department had a mass-shooting plan, but bureaucratic delays prevented it from being implemented, ProPublica reports. A peer-reviewed study estimates 16 of the 49 victims could have been saved. (h/t Doris Truong)

NEW THIS MORNNG: Three years ago, a conference and festival began to highlight the work of the relatively few women then in podcasting. Now, both it and the role of women in podcasting is huge. Work It 2018, this year’s conference, will be at Knockdown Center in Queens on Nov. 13-14, coupled with live events and podcast tapings in venues across New York, such as the Apollo Theater, Hunter College and The Greene Space at WNYC.

RUSSIAN MISCHIEF: Beware of a Moscow-based and funded site called USAReally, started by a Russian with little journalism experience. The NYT’s Kevin Roose makes the case for it being another Trojan Horse from the Kremlin to influence Americans.

WHY A WHATSAPP CO-FOUNDER LEFT FACEBOOK: FB wanted Brian Acton to monetize his invention and open it up to commercial messaging, he tells Forbes’ Parmy Olson. In March, with the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal brewing, Acton got tired of fighting Facebook leaders and walked out the door, tweeting to the world to #deletefacebook. Yeah, he left a final tranche of $850 million on the table from his sale of the world’s biggest messaging service to Facebook. But hey, he’s worth $3.6 billion, enough to tip $20 for a cup of coffee on one recent morning.

THINK BEFORE YOU QUOTE: Define American, which advocates for DREAMers and immigration reform, says four leading American dailies have sharply increased their sourcing from three migration “think-tanks” that have been characterized as anti-immigrant hate groups. The Trump administration has borrowed ideas and personnel from the groups as it developed the disastrous “family separation” policy, expanded private detention centers, sought to limit legal migration and attempted to strip citizenship retroactively from naturalized residents.

SIRI, DON’T GIVE ME A RACIST: The “Siri Suggested” recommended feature has led Apple users to Pizzagate conspiracies and debunked articles on bogus race “science” and Holocaust denial, BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel found. Apple removed the search results Warzel supplied, but the exercise raised new questions about relying on algorithms to police the internet.

WANT A GRANT FOR STORY COVERAGE?: Two organizations have opportunities. The Solutions Journalism Network has grants for 13 newsrooms on projects related to the midterm elections and their effects. Each grant is $2,500. Apply here. Also, The Fund for Investigative Journalism has four diversity fellowships available, in partnership with Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, InsideClimate News and the Marshall Project. Apply here by Oct. 4.

BETTER CALIFORNIA COVERAGE: Could that be the play of the Los Angeles Times' new owner in backing a bid by Sacramento-based McClatchy  for Tronc, publishers of the Chicago Tribune and New York Daily News? Via the New York Post.

MOVES: Charo Henríquez has been promoted to senior editor of digital strategy at The New York Times, Media Moves reported. Henríquez, formerly senior editor of digital storytelling and training, previously was executive digital editor of People en Español. ... The Chronicle of Higher Education’s editor, Liz McMillen, is changing roles and will be the new executive editor of Chronicle Intelligence, a new initiative. The Chronicle will be conducting a search for McMillen's successor. 

QUIT: The chair of Australia's independent national broadcaster, after reports that he wanted to fire two journalists just because the government said it disliked them. 

SOCIAL HELP: The Local Media Association is setting up a news resource center to help members with social media questions. The center is being funded by the Facebook Journalism Project and will focus on training, case studies and best practices.

Measuring Facebook’s fact-checking effort

Many have tried to figure out how exactly Facebook’s effort to cut down on misinformation is going.

BuzzFeed News does an annual roundup of the top-performing hoaxes on the social network. Newswhip regularly measures how well fake news stories perform on Facebook. And other publishers have gotten more anecdotal evidence on how the company’s efforts are going.

Last week, those ad hoc measurements got some academic backup (which Slate’s Will Oremus covers well here.)

In a working paper, researchers at Stanford University, New York University and Microsoft Research analyzed 570 sites between January 2015 and July 2018 that were identified by at least one credible source as being consistent purveyors of false news. They found that interactions with those sites rose on both Facebook and Twitter during 2016, but fell sharply for the former in the beginning of 2017 while the latter’s continued to rise. They found no similar patterns for other news sites.

At least one reason for the fall in interactions with fake news sites could be Facebook’s partnership with independent fact-checking projects, which debunk false news stories, images and videos on the platform, decreasing their reach in News Feed. The project launched in December 2016 (and is partly facilitated by the IFCN).

The partnership isn’t perfect. Daniel found in July that many stories Facebook’s fact-checking partners rate as false aren’t flagged in the platform’s system.

Facebook has worked to improve its flagging mechanism — which fact-checkers told the company was hard to use — by incorporating the ClaimReview markup, which Facebook announced it was incorporating at the Global Fact-Checking Summit in June. That should cut down on the amount of time it takes to get a fact check into Facebook’s system.

Beyond Facebook, the study’s results also highlight the need for a more robust approach to misinformation on Twitter. Daniel pointed out in August that the platform doesn’t have a similar initiative like Facebook’s fact-checking product — in spite of fact-checkers repeatedly asking for one. It’s taken smaller steps to cut down on misinformation, such as deleting bot accounts, but the working paper suggests that they don't seem to be working.

The study’s authors concede that their findings are “far from definitive.” As Alexios noted, the definition of "fake news" at the domain level — and which domains made the cut — makes a big difference on the results. The researchers also concentrated only on the United States.

With these caveats, the study provides helpful additional information to what journalists have spent months trying to figure out.


This is how we do it

This is bad

This is fun

Coming up


A closer look

  • The New York Times took a look inside Facebook’s election War Room, where dashboards show spikes in the circulation of false stories or the creation of automated accounts in specific locations.
  • At the Online News Association conference, danah boyd of Data & Society gave a keynote about how the media can avoid amplifying conspiratorial messages. Read a summary of her remarks on Medium.
  • Agência Lupa boss Cris Tardáguila co-authored "Você foi enganado," a book fact-checking claims by Brazilian presidents all the way back to 1921. Political lying has a long history, turns out.

12 quick fact-checking links

  1. Three members of Congress have asked the intelligence community to assess the potential security threat posted by deepfake videos.
  2. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being sued for sharing a fake news story about George Soros.
  3. Stop. With. The. Post-Truth. Headlines.
  4. Still relevant, from our archives: Journalism can’t afford for corrections to be the next victim of the “fake news” frenzy.
  5. A modest proposal: Maybe Sweden should run Twitter.
  6. Do you know the difference between a goatee and a Van Dyke? If not, you’re in good company.
  7. Sometimes saying there’s no evidence is as important as saying what evidence there is.
  8. Polygraphs are in the news this week. Evidence suggests they aren’t actually any good at detecting lies.
  9. Google is still featuring results from dubious sources. This time, on celebrities’ wealth.
  10. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a photo of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper in waist-high floodwaters, claiming he faked the scene to make it look like Hurricane Florence was worse than it was. But Cooper debunked that on his show — the photo was actually from Hurricane Ike.
  11. A fact-checking training event in Kazakhstan was interrupted when police arrested a journalist visiting from Ukraine.
  12. The New York Times issued an editor’s note after a story about expensive curtains at the home of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. It focused too much on current ambassador Nikki Haley, even though the curtains were ordered under the Obama administration.

via Daniel and Alexios