California Is Booming. But Californians Are Unhappy Reply

The New York Times
Conor Dougherty

Fire, garbage and homelessness increasingly plague the Golden State.

SAN FRANCISCO — Christine Johnson, a public-finance consultant with an engineering degree, was running for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

She crisscrossed her downtown district talking about her plans to stimulate housing construction, improve public transit and deal with the litter of “needles and poop” that have become a common sight on the city’s sidewalks. More…

Chinese scientist who edited twin babies’ genes jailed for 3 years Reply

CNN

Updated 3:30 AM ET, Mon December 30, 2019
(CNN) – A Chinese scientist who helped create the world’s first gene-edited babies has been sentenced to three years in prison.

He Jiankui shocked the world in 2018 when he announced that twin girls Lulu and Nana had been born with modified DNA to make them resistant to HIV, which he had managed using the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 before birth. More…

Many Japanese children refuse to go to school 1

Alessia Cerantola
BBC

In Japan, more and more children are refusing to go to school, a phenomenon called “futoko”. As the numbers keep rising, people are asking if it’s a reflection of the school system, rather than a problem with the pupils themselves.

Ten-year-old Yuta Ito waited until the annual Golden Week holiday last spring to tell his parents how he was feeling – on a family day out he confessed that he no longer wanted to go to school.

For months he had been attending his primary school with great reluctance, often refusing to go at all. He was being bullied and kept fighting with his classmates. More…

Federal study confirms racial bias of many facial-recognition systems, casts doubt on their expanding use 3

Drew Harwell
The Washington Post

Dec. 19, 2019 at 3:43 p.m. PST

Facial-recognition systems misidentified people of color more often than white people, a landmark federal study released Thursday shows, casting new doubts on a rapidly expanding investigative technique widely used by law enforcement across the United States. More…

A History of Decentralization 5

aragon.black
Jun 11, 2019
14 minute read (full)

First let’s decentralize history…

This month’s thematic has been a real challenge for us and raised many questions in our minds. Why? The history of decentralization is complex and non-linear. But most of all, it is difficult to be considered from an objective point of view, stripped of the predominance of the state.

Talking about decentralization leads obviously to discuss about centralization; to find the ghosts of history, to cross-reference the victories and failures of social-political movements; to discover some contemporary alternatives to the generalized centralization of our lives. Unless we consider that a technology is neutral, in the end, we cannot talk about decentralization without talking about governancesuffragepolitics or apoliticismautonomyorganization… and the dominant model of centralization: the nation-state. Still, if a very vast literature and documentation concerns rise of states, it must be stated that the one granted to the opposite, i. e. the absence of a state, is almost non-existent. More…

81% of ‘suspects’ flagged by Met’s police facial recognition technology innocent Reply

The force maintains its technology only makes a mistake in one in 1,000 cases, but it uses a different metric for gauging success.

Facial recognition technology is tested during a recent event in the US. File pic

By Rowland Manthorpe and Alexander J Martin
news.sky.com

Four out of five people identified by the Metropolitan Police’s facial recognition technology as possible suspects are innocent, according to an independent report.

Researchers found that the controversial system is 81% inaccurate – meaning that, in the vast majority of cases, it flagged up faces to police when they were not on a wanted list. More…

The Dr. Strange of the American Revolution Reply

nautil.us
Brian Gallagher

“I ascribe the Success of our Revolution to a Galaxy,” Benjamin Rush wrote to John Adams, in 1812. He wasn’t invoking the astrological. It was commonplace then to associate a bright assembly of people with the starry band in the night sky that Chaucer called “the Milky Wey.” Yet Rush crossed out “a Galaxy” and wrote in, perhaps for the sake of specificity, “an Illustrious band of Statesmen—philosophers—patriots & heroes.” Historian Jill Lepore has written that, in the “comic-book version of history that serves as our national heritage, where the Founding Fathers are like the Hanna-Barbera Super Friends, Paine is Aquaman to Washington’s Superman and Jefferson’s Batman.” And Rush? I posed this question to Stephen Fried, author of the recent book, Rush: Revolution, Madness & the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father. Fried replied, “Dr. Strange.” More…

Tourist buses ‘no longer welcome’ in Paris city centre Reply

france24.com

AFP / Lionel Bonaventure (file photo) | A tourist double decker bus in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Paris aims to ban tourist buses from the city centre to spur visitors to walk, cycle or take public transport, tackling complaints about nuisances caused by mass tourism, the French capital’s deputy mayor said.

Emmanuel Gregoire told Le Parisien newspaper that the situation in Paris was not as bad as in tourist-swamped Venice or Barcelona but Parisians were concerned about the influx of tourist buses. More…

Neanderthals glued their tools together Reply

arstechnica.com
KIONA N. SMITH

Neanderthals glued their stone tools into place on wooden handles, a new study suggests. Archaeologists found chemical traces of pine resin on 10 stone tools from Grotta del Fossellone and Grotta di Sant’Agostino, on the western coast of central Italy. That’s pretty solid evidence that Neanderthals living in Italy were hafting their stone tools and securing them in place with resin between 55,000 and 40,000 years ago—long before Homo sapiens set foot in Europe. More…

Oregon’s Tsunami Risk Reply

New article from the lady who wrote “The Really Big One,” that Pulitzer Prize winning article about the inevitable super earthquake that is supposedly going to destroy a nice chunk of the coastal Northwest. If this kind of stuff interests you I’d recommend reading this article before reading the newer one that I’ve posted below.

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The New Yorker
by Kathryn Schulz

JULY 1, 2019

Other than asteroid strikes and atomic bombs, there is no more destructive force on this planet than water. Six inches of it, flowing at a mere seven miles per hour, will knock a grown man off his feet. Two feet of it will sweep away most cars. Two cubic yards of it weighs well over a ton; if that much of it hits you at, say, twenty miles per hour, it will do as much damage to your body as a Subaru. In rough seas, a regular ocean wave can break with a force of two thousand pounds per square foot, more than enough to snap a human neck. A rogue wave—one that is more than twice the height of those around it—can sink a nine-hundred-foot ship. More…

Why we disagree about human nature Reply

Elizabeth Hannon & Tim Lewens (Eds) Why we disagree about human nature.Oxford University Press, 2018. 206 pp. £30 hbk.

JULY 1, 2019

By Simon Jarrett

If one day a disturbingly precocious child were to ask what part you had played in the nature/ nurture war, what would you reply? Were you with the massed intellectual ranks who, since the philosopher David Hull’s ground-breaking 1986 classic ‘On Human Nature,’ have denied that there is any such thing as a common nature for all humans? Or did you join Stephen Pinker’s 2003 counter-revolution, when The Blank Slate sought to reclaim the ground for the Enlightenment, and the idea that there is something essentially the same about all humans across time, space and culture?

If you are not quite sure where you stand, or perhaps too sure where you stand, then this pleasingly eclectic collection of ten essays on human nature, and whether we can meaningfully talk about such a thing, will be of great help. Its contributors, who come from psychology, philosophy of science, social and biological anthropology, evolutionary theory, and the study of animal cognition, include human nature advocates, deniers, and sceptics. We could perhaps call the sceptics ‘so-whaters’ – they agree there may be something we can attach the label ‘human nature’ to, but query whether it really matters, or carries any explanatory weight. These people would take our (hopefully apocryphal) infant prodigy aside and say, ‘well there are some conceptual complexities here that make it quite difficult to give you a straightforward answer.’ More…

Video Games That Made People Question Their Beliefs Reply

Gita Jackson
Kotaku

When Scott Udall first played Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance shortly after it came out in 2005, he was in a vulnerable spot. Udall, who grew up Mormon in Salt Lake City, Utah, was very religious, and his family were all politically active Republicans. His parents had gone through a messy divorce, and he’d lost contact with his father’s side of the family. He found solace in Path of Radiance’s world, and when the sequel, Radiant Dawn, came out two years later, he was excited to revisit the characters. He didn’t realize when he started playing that Radiant Dawn would become a catalyst that shook him from his previously held convictions. More…

It took a decade for the Declaration of Independence to matter in American life Reply

Stanford News

Two Stanford historians discuss how the United States’ Declaration of Independence became one of the pillars of American civic life and other lesser-known historical facts about what happened on July 4, 1776.

On the historic day of July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress, Thomas Jefferson, its primary author, went on a small shopping spree and bought seven pairs of women’s gloves.

Declaration of Independence

Celebrating the Declaration of Independence on July 4 is an American tradition, but it took a while for that tradition to develop. (Image credit: todd taulman / Getty Images)

More…

Open Letter From Steve Forbes To Mark Zuckerberg Reply

by Steve Forbes

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:

Your company made big headlines when it announced it would be launching a cryptocurrency called the Libra in 2020. Not surprisingly, given the nature of the times, the project has been greeted with intense criticism and skepticism. Don’t lose heart. In one sense, the idea of a company creating its own kind of money is an old one. The airlines’ frequent-flier miles are really a form of money that customers can earn and use to buy trips and various other things. Credit card companies, hotels and numerous retailers have all sorts of loyalty programs in which people earn points that will let them buy all manner of goodies.

But if you play your cards right with the Libra, you could be to money and finance what Henry Ford was to automobiles. Your new currency could take its place alongside the inventions of coins and paper money many centuries ago. It could replace the U.S. dollar as the global currency. More…

The Gap Between Rich and Poor Americans’ Health Is Widening Reply

NPR
by Susie Neilson

Researchers compared Americans’ health status today with that of 25 years ago and found that health is worsening among lower-income Americans.

Orbon Alija/Getty Images

 

Income inequality in the U.S. has grown over the past several decades. And as the gap between rich and poor yawns, so does the gap in their health, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open Friday. More…

Rising US Inequality: How We Got Here, Where We’re Going 1

Stanford Business
Shana Lynch

An economist and a business advisor discuss what might happen if the gap between rich and poor continues to grow.

A tent is seen next to Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Reuters/Lucy NicholsonInequality is on the rise in the United States. Stanford experts discuss possible solutions. | Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

The U.S. economy hit a historic high in 2018, and today unemployment is at its lowest rate in five decades. Yet wage growth for the vast majority of Americans has stalled, and more people are struggling to afford housing, health care, education, and other basics.

More…

The Long, Slow Death of Venice 1

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The local population is at its lowest since the 1950s, with no turnaround in sight, as tourists continue to chase locals out.

by Chiara Albanese, Giovonni Salzano, and Federico Vespignani

If you’ve been to Venice, you get it. Even the most jaded globetrotter can’t help but do a double-take at the sheer originality—and beauty—of the centuries-old city built entirely on water.

Yet even the quickest visit reveals that Venice is no longer a living city, with scores more tourists than actual Venetians crowding its lagoon, bridges and walkways. The numbers bear that out. The city’s population basically peaked in the 1500s, and though it rallied again to near 16th century levels in the 1970s, today there are just one third as many Venetians as 50 years ago. More…

Kick the Puppy Episode 25 1

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Retired Florida cop punches old lady in the face over a parking spot, Florida woman accused of shoplifting and masturbating in front of teen on way to jail, why are there so many wild crime stories in Florida? The hidden costs of drug prohibition, nearly half of Americans have a close family member that has been incarcerated, the normalization of jail, 61% of Americans want weed to be legalized, New Zealanders have surrendered 37 out of 1.2 million private firearms since the Mosque shooting, Russia investigation concluded, Italy bans unvaccinated children from schools, artificial meat: UK scientists growing ‘bacon’ in labs, killing some chickens, housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard, how the National Enquirer got Bezos’ texts: it paid $200,000 to his lover’s brother.

More…

Studying the demise of historic civilizations 1

Must read.

**

By Luke Kemp
19 February 2019

Studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us how much risk we face today, says collapse expert Luke Kemp. Worryingly, the signs are worsening.

Great civilisations are not murdered. Instead, they take their own lives.

DEEP CIVILISATION

This article is part of a new BBC Future series about the long view of humanity, which aims to stand back from the daily news cycle and widen the lens of our current place in time. Modern society is suffering from “temporal exhaustion”, the sociologist Elise Boulding once said. “If one is mentally out of breath all the time from dealing with the present, there is no energy left for imagining the future,” she wrote.

That’s why the Deep Civilisation season will explore what really matters in the broader arc of human history and what it means for us and our descendants.

So concluded the historian Arnold Toynbee in his 12-volume magnum opus A Study of History. It was an exploration of the rise and fall of 28 different civilisations. More…

Kick the Puppy Episode 23 Reply

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Actor Justin Smollet fakes racist attack on himself, Ohio nail shop called ‘Hand Jobs Nail & Spa’ under fire for its controversial name, Supreme Court rules against excessive fines/fees/forfeiture, Houston police chief ends no-knock raids after shootout, Trump launches global gay rights initiative, Trump administration wanted to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia, the leftward drift of the Democratic Party, the leftward drift of the west in general, Democrats becoming less white, more educated, more liberal, Tulsi Gabbard explains why war is bad to clueless hacks on “The View”, how a one million person tribe in Indonesia keeps their dead relatives at home feeding and cuddling their bodies, 11 year old shoots home intruder says invader was “crying like a baby”, Lincoln County now a 2nd amendment sanctuary city, California lawmakers propose state wide tax on sugary drinks, the rise of DIY podcasts, some airlines have cameras in their seat-back screens, Zuckerberg forgetting about Facebook’s Portal doesn’t want ‘a camera in everyone’s living room’, Zuckerberg quite possibly the worst billionaire in the United States, Zuckerberg quite possibly non human, Jussie Smollett just wanted more money, Payless ShoeSource closing all 2,100 U.S. stores, R.I.P. Sears, California considers doing away with speed limits on two highways, speed limits are dangerous.

More…

Kick the Puppy Episode 21 Reply

schools

Kid with the last name Trump falls asleep during Trump speech, American anarchist murdered in Acapulco, Cody Wilson indicted on multiple charges, person upset by Virginia governor’s abortion stance tipped off about racist photo, veterinarian stitched bags of heroin into the bodies of puppies to use them as drug mules, drug dogs, Black Panthers in prison after 46 years, the New Black Panthers are racist assholes, man in Smokies dies of meth, bear eats man in Smokies who died of meth, man kills bear in Smokies who ate man who died of meth, Colorado woman dies after two kidneys mistakenly removed, incompetent doctors, fake doctors, weird doctors, 8 children taken to hospital after eating weed gummy bears, anti-weed book pushes “reefer madness” hysteria, frozen cat covered in ice revived after being found in snowbank, cryogenics and weird rich people, one school district’s security upgrade includes facial recognition to track IDs and AR-15s, school in China, schools in England introduce a new subject: “mindfulness,” wtf is mindfulness, German town votes no to street addresses, new study says smoking weed is associated with higher sperm count, El Paso zoo will feed animals cockroaches named after your ex on Valentine’s Day, “living alone can be deadly” – if you’re not rich, of course.

More…