Monday, May 31, 2021

The uses of fear …

 Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is well over one hundred thousand light years across. We only see a pitiful portion of it. Although it contains several hundred billion stars in its expanse, we can only see a fraction of a fraction of them.

And even that doesn’t fully capture the essence of a galaxy, which also has planets, gas, dust, dark matter, and more. Galaxies are colossal objects, their true nature only becoming apparent to us a century ago.

Deepfake Maps Could Really Mess With Your Sense of the World

Wired: “Researchers applied AI techniques to make portions of Seattle look more like Beijing. Such imagery could mislead governments or spread misinformation online….In a paper published online last month, University of Washington professor Bo Zhao employed AI techniques similar to those used to create so-called deepfakes to alter satellite images of several cities. Zhao and colleagues swapped features between images of Seattle and Beijing to show buildings where there are none in Seattle and to remove structures and replace them with greenery in Beijing. Zhao used an algorithm called CycleGAN to manipulate satellite photos. The algorithm, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley, has been widely used for all sorts of image trickery. It trains an artificial neural network to recognize the key characteristics of certain images, such as a style of painting or the features on a particular type of map. Another algorithm then helps refine the performance of the first by trying to detect when an image has been manipulated…”

If the ministerial code is completely malleable then we’re in deep trouble

Posted on 

I posted this thread on Twitter this morning: The new independent adviser on ministers’ interests, Christopher (Lord) Geidt gave two rulings yesterday. Both suggest that
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Nailing the truth twisters down

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It is a year since this Tweet was posted on the official UK Civil Service Twitter account: The post did not survive online for long,
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Fifty Shades of Black Fords and Browns - The uses of fear …

… The ‘weaponisation’ of behavioural psychology

New Book on Decision in Human Judgment, Including Sentencing 

Steven Brill offers this New York Times book review of Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R. Su

There are about 465,000 open positions in cybersecurity nationwide as of May 2021, accordingto Cyber Seek — a tech job-tracking database from the U.S. Commerce Department — and the trade group CompTIA”  Link here, though if you bring up skills mismatch you still get shouted down these days.

One-minute Covid breath test approved in Singapore (Bloomberg).  And my early April Covid predictions.

Predicting high-impact science.  And Ashlee Vance on Celine Halioua and her anti-aging start-up and work (Bloomberg).

The importance of immunocompromised individuals for Covid issues.

Ross Douthat on Foucault is completely correct(NYT)

Brain synchronization remains an underdiscussed topic (NYT)

The FBI will feed compromised passwords to Have I Been Pwned


Ruptures almost always lead to a stronger project.
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Anne Carson

Acclaimed writer Anne Carson is as well known for her translations of ancient scholarly texts as she is for her own experimental written work, which often weaves together poetry with essay and even opera, rock, dance, and other mediums. A veteran collaborator, she has worked with the likes of Lou Reed, the Merce Cunningham dance company, and what, for some, could be the most challenging collaborator of all: her husband (Robert Currie, a visual artist). But Carson resists the idea that collaboration could lead to irreparable differences, disagreements, or fallings-out. Asked what she does when a rupture arises, she replied, “Simply do something else and return to it later to find the problem wasn't a problem at all.” Obstacles, for Carson, are simply opportunities to think about the work in new ways.

Political Risk And Corporate Tax Behavior: Firm-Level Evidence

Taxpayer Deference Can Help Close The Tax Gap

The FBI will feed compromised passwords to Have I Been Pwned

Engadget: “Have I Been Pwned, the website that gives you a way to check which of your login details have been compromised by data breaches, is working with the FBI to grow its database. The partnership will give the website access to fresh passwords as they become compromised, depending on what the feds are investigating at the moment. Troy Hunt, the website’s creator, has announced the partnership, explaining that the FBI reached out to ask if there’s a way to provide the agency with an “avenue to feed compromised passwords into HIBP and surface them via the Pwned Passwords feature.” As Hunt explained, the FBI is involved into all sorts of investigations into digital crimes, such as botnets, ransomware, online child sexual exploitation and terrorism. The compromised passwords they find are often being used by crime rings, so the passwords’ quick addition to the HIBP database would be extremely helpful. That said, the website doesn’t have a way for the feds to quickly feed passwords into its database yet…”

Mr O'Farrell, who is now serving as Australian High Commissioner to India, did not respond to questions put to him by Four Corners.

NSW premier Barry O'Farrell and James Packer
Then-NSW premier Barry O'Farrell (left) and James Packer (middle) pictured at an event in 2013.

James Packer used to tell MLC in NSW parliament how to vote on bills when he was in his 20s. Amazing story about how Sydney works  

Billionaire James Packer and then-NSW premier Barry O'Farrell failed to reveal a private lunch at influential broadcaster Alan Jones's apartment as they became central players in the high-stakes battle to build Crown Sydney. The private lunch to pitch Crown casino that James Packer and then-premier Barry O'Farrell failed to mention

Fast Company: “In the midst of the [pandemic] uncertainty, Epic, a private electronic health record giant and a key purveyor of American health data, accelerated the deployment of a clinical prediction tool called the Deterioration Index. Built with a type of artificial intelligence called machine learning and in use at some hospitals prior to the pandemic, the index is designed to help physicians decide when to move a patient into or out of intensive care, and is influenced by factorslike breathing rate and blood potassium level. Epic had been tinkering with the index for years but expanded its use during the pandemic. At hundreds of hospitals, including those in which we both work, a Deterioration Index score is prominently displayed on the chart of every patient admitted to the hospital. The Deterioration Index is poised to upend a key cultural practice in medicine: triage. Loosely speaking, triage is an act of determining how sick a patient is at any given moment to prioritize treatment and limited resources. In the past, physicians have performed this task by rapidly interpreting a patient’s vital signs, physical exam findings, test results, and other data points, using heuristics learned through years of on-the-job medical training

Science and culture

The only time you run out of chances is when you stop taking them.

— Alexander Pope, born in 1688

Chinese scientists created COVID-19 in a lab and then tried to cover their tracks, new study claims | Daily Mail Online.

Discuss "'Much sadness': Tax office in working-from-home court fight"

Report: USPS ‘Internet Covert Operations Program’ Is ‘Much Broader in Scope Than Previously Known’.

They can't deliver the mail on time, but they have time for spying. Heads should roll.

Translating sites, search engines, social networks, browsers, ISPs, and other internet entities into geographic features, Martin Vargic has created a map of the internet circa 2021.

It includes several thousand of some of the most popular websites, represented as distinct “countries”, which are grouped together with others of similar type or category, forming dozens of distinct clusters, regions and continents that stretch throughout the map, such as “news sites”, “search engines”, “social networks”, “e-commerce”, “adult entertainment”, “file sharing”, “software companies” and so much more. In the center of it all can be found ISPs and web browsers, which form the core and backbone of the internet as we know it, while the far south is the domain of the mysterious “dark web”.

See also an actual map of the known internet from May 1973.

  1. “You cannot understand what science is, and therefore cannot really do philosophy of science, without understanding the extent to which science is embedded in culture” — a defense of ethnoscience from Justin E.H. Smith (Paris)
  2. Would you like to learn how to incorporate argument-mapping into your teaching? — there’s a free seminar on it coming up in June, sponsored by ThinkerAnalytix and Harvard’s Dept. of Philosophy
  3. A list of black studies texts philosophers should be reading — a list from Nicholas Whittaker (CUNY)
  4. If we’re interested in holding police accountable, we need to know what they should do. Medicine and public health provide some instructive analogies. — Brandon del Pozo (Miriam Hospital/Brown University) on how to improve policing
  5. Mommy-shaming and philosophy of science — Cailin O’Connor (UC Irvine) on “the use of scientific findings to promote unrealistic standards for modern parents”
  6. When does a philosophy Ph.D. go “stale”? — a discussion of some findings from Charles Lassiter (Gonzaga)
  7. Some infinities are bigger than others — a new animation tells the story of Hilbert’s Hotel

Mashable: “COVID vaccines give us much better protection than a COVID infection, say infectious disease experts. That’s one of many reasons to get a COVID shot, which are rigorously (and continually) tested for safety. The vaccines trigger a significantly more robust immune response than a naturally-acquired infection. Ultimately, this better prepares your body for a real infection, which can ravage the lungs, among other risks. “I would advise everyone to get the vaccine,” said Philip Felgner, an infectious disease expert and director of the Vaccine Research and Development Center at the University of California, Irvine. “I would advise everyone to get the vaccine.” The evidence is strong. For example, Felgner and other researchers assessed thousands of blood samples from people who were naturally infected with the coronavirus, versus those who received an FDA-authorized mRNA vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna). The new research, published online and now currently under peer-review, found the immune system’s response is “much stronger” with vaccines, explained Felgner. Following the second shot, people had ten times more antibodies than people who recovered from COVID…”

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The strange theater of mask-wearing

A society and organisations are in decay, final or transitional, when common sense really becomes uncommon.

— G. K. Chesterton, who was born in 1874 nailed some of the madness performed at workplaces in 2021 AD

 In the great green room

There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of —
The cow jumping over the moon.

That, of course, is Goodnight Moon (1947), the top-selling children’s books of all time. (Source: The Writer’s Almanac)

The strange theater of mask-wearing

Curated by The Luupe, this is “a collection of photographs and words celebrating the complexities of motherhood”. And somehow even 100 photographs don’t adequately capture the vast experience of motherhood around the world. Photos above by Dee WilliamsBrittany MarcouxDiane Allford (via storythings)

Brown Ford Nailed at auction $355k

Sorry for the very cringe post but I just have to get this on the record. I will never kill myself and it is extremely unlikely that I will have an "accident". Hearing some people might not be too happy with the work we're doing.

“Behind fairly impressive fortunes lie many, many dumb little annoying crimes perpetrated by dumb little annoying people,” Shanks describes in the video

YouTube comedian Friendlyjordies sued for defamation by NSW deputy premier John Barilaro The state Nationals leader is also suing Google for not removing two YouTube videos posted by the comedian whose real name is Jordan Shanks

What keeps dictators in power is an absence of room in the mainstream media for disparate views. This necessitates niche approaches, such as vloggers, who gather support from audiences whose voices aren’t heard and whose stories aren’t told, by the mainstream media.

Back at home, Youtuber Jordan Shanks, aka Friendlyjordies, is filling that niche. On September 14, he posted a 26-minute video that alternated between mocking NSW deputy premier John Barilaro, and exposing a well-researched commentary on the corruption that Barilaro has embraced. The research was comprehensive, with sources provided.

At the time of writing this, the video had amassed 351,000 views in four days. It made national news. But what, exactly, made the news? The detailed exploration of the John Barilaro’s alleged corruption? His alleged misuse of taxpayers’ money for personal gain? His failure to declare a property that netted $160,000 per year in profits?

Holding comedians to account: Nine and News miss John Barilaro, hit Friendlyjordies instead

The World’s Greatest Card Trick Can’t Be Taught

Jason Kottke   May 25, 2021

World-renowned magician David Berglas, now 94 years old, does a card trick that’s so effortlessly simple and dazzling that no one has figured it out and Berglas himself says it cannot be taught.

The trick is a version of a classic plot of magic, called Any Card at Any Number. These tricks are called ACAAN in the business.

ACAAN has been around since the 1700s, and every iteration unfolds in roughly the same way: A spectator is asked to name any card in a deck — let’s say the nine of clubs. Another is asked to name any number between one and 52 — let’s say 31.

The cards are dealt face up, one by one. The 31st card revealed is, of course, the nine of clubs. Cue the gasps.

Witness the response last week when the Centers for Disease Control announced that there’s no need for fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks, other than in a handful of circumstances (e.g. on planes and public transport, where frankly there’s no scientific justification for the vaccinated to mask up, either). Twitter exploded in outrage. How dare you allow us to go shopping without snot continuously drooling from our noses that we can’t even wipe away! We love running and cycling in a state of oxygen deprivation! Are you seriously proposing we go back to interacting with fellow human beings as if they’re anything other than repulsive bipedal pustules that weep disease?

Where Poets Are Being Killed and Jailed After a Military Coup NYT

China’s Communist Christ, and more along those lines.