Test CircleCount PRO now!
Login now

Not your profile? Login and get free access to your reports and analysis.

Tags

Sign in

No tag added here yet.
You can login on CircleCount to add some tags here.

Are you missing a tag in the list of available tags? You can suggest new tags here.

Login now

Do you want to see a more detailed chart? Check your settings and define your favorite chart type.

Or click here to get the detailed chart only once.

Shared Circles including Trey Harris

Shared Circles are not available on Google+ anymore, but you can find them still here.

The Google+ Collections of Trey Harris

New!
Login and checkout your own profile to see the average response per collection.
Or check out how it looks like on the profile page of +CircleCount.

Looks like this is your profile but we haven't loaded your posts yet to show you here the average numbers per collection.
Just open your dashboard and let the server work for you.

Activity

Average numbers for the latest posts (max. 50 posts, posted within the last 4 weeks)

7
comments per post
2
reshares per post
8
+1's per post

3,519
characters per posting

Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 68

posted image

2016-11-11 06:43:35 (68 comments; 44 reshares; 33 +1s; )Open 

A must-read from Masha Gessen on how to live under autocratic rule

For a decade now, Masha has consistently been one of my favorite reporters and thinkers. From the time of her return to Russia from the US after the wall fell, she fearlessly reported on what her birth country was turning into under Vladimir Putin, even as free media outlets were being shut down. She continued, even as other reporters were being murdered and "disappeared", until she became so worried about the situation for LGBTQ Russians that she consulted a lawyer about how to ensure that her own teenage son wouldn't be taken away from her simply for her being lesbian, and his answer was, "you have American citizenship; your answer is at the airport". She left.

She's just an extremely cool person with principles and intelligence, and I'm an unabashed Masha fanboy. (She also... more »

Most reshares: 44

posted image

2016-11-11 06:43:35 (68 comments; 44 reshares; 33 +1s; )Open 

A must-read from Masha Gessen on how to live under autocratic rule

For a decade now, Masha has consistently been one of my favorite reporters and thinkers. From the time of her return to Russia from the US after the wall fell, she fearlessly reported on what her birth country was turning into under Vladimir Putin, even as free media outlets were being shut down. She continued, even as other reporters were being murdered and "disappeared", until she became so worried about the situation for LGBTQ Russians that she consulted a lawyer about how to ensure that her own teenage son wouldn't be taken away from her simply for her being lesbian, and his answer was, "you have American citizenship; your answer is at the airport". She left.

She's just an extremely cool person with principles and intelligence, and I'm an unabashed Masha fanboy. (She also... more »

Most plusones: 34

posted image

2016-11-17 16:17:14 (40 comments; 3 reshares; 34 +1s; )Open 

You know what's really upsetting about this article on a fake-news writer?

I thought I'd go back to various comment threads where I'd run into someone who really believed one of these stories and used it as "fact" to refute me, and I'd link to it, and say "see"? And I'd at least get a grumble about having seen other stories about it, so what if that one wasn't true, blah blah.

But it turns out that every last one of those arguments ended with the person in question saying they were blocking me for... being unreasonable and refusing to believe the truth.

I've never seen the bubble work so palpably before, the dots so visibly connected. And boy, is it depressing.

Latest 50 posts

2016-12-02 18:17:05 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Dear Android,

Please put a delay into your system modal pop-ups (like the "app is not responding, wait or close") between their appearing and accepting taps.

I don't know why the Pixel XL (and/or Nougat) seems to be doing this more frequently than I'm used to, but I regularly go to tap something in an app and between my finger hovering and reaching the glass a pop-up appears under my finger and I've tapped a button without knowing what I just did.

From doing UI programming (and event-loop programming in general), I know how easy this kind of thing is to say but how difficult it is to get right, especially in cases where the user might need to play a brief game of whack-a-mole for which a delay wouldn't be a welcome addition. You'd always rather a system seem over-responsive than unresponsive when you're targeting the reviewers looking... more »

Dear Android,

Please put a delay into your system modal pop-ups (like the "app is not responding, wait or close") between their appearing and accepting taps.

I don't know why the Pixel XL (and/or Nougat) seems to be doing this more frequently than I'm used to, but I regularly go to tap something in an app and between my finger hovering and reaching the glass a pop-up appears under my finger and I've tapped a button without knowing what I just did.

From doing UI programming (and event-loop programming in general), I know how easy this kind of thing is to say but how difficult it is to get right, especially in cases where the user might need to play a brief game of whack-a-mole for which a delay wouldn't be a welcome addition. You'd always rather a system seem over-responsive than unresponsive when you're targeting the reviewers looking for that "buttery" experience.

But usability has to be the nonpareil measure. I know your developers have more eye-tracking study data than nearly anyone else working in OS UX; you know exactly how any milliseconds it takes for someone who's decided to tap the screen to abort that decision based on something on-screen that's changed. I'm sure the upper error bar inconveniently overlaps with the lower error bar for "buttery responsiveness", but there's gotta be a Pareto optimal.

(...or maybe there is, and you've got that delay built-in, and I've just confessed to having poor eye-hand coordination. 🤔)

Love,

Trey___

posted image

2016-12-02 02:22:17 (5 comments; 1 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

I don't think I'm emotionally or intellectually equipped to understand politics anymore.

In the linked post, +Yonatan Zunger makes a point that I think dovetails with something I've seen discussed a bit recently: the difference between taking Trump literally and taking him seriously.

It's arguable that journalism's biggest single institutional failing this election cycle was in taking Donald Trump literally but not seriously, while failing to realize or report that Donald Trump's supporters for the most part were taking him seriously but not literally.

This led to reporting like fact checking his many spurious claims without getting deeper into what a Trump presidency would presumably mean, while assuming that his supporters in "the heartland" were existing in media bubbles that shielded them from their debunking. (At best; some... more »

I don't think I'm emotionally or intellectually equipped to understand politics anymore.

In the linked post, +Yonatan Zunger makes a point that I think dovetails with something I've seen discussed a bit recently: the difference between taking Trump literally and taking him seriously.

It's arguable that journalism's biggest single institutional failing this election cycle was in taking Donald Trump literally but not seriously, while failing to realize or report that Donald Trump's supporters for the most part were taking him seriously but not literally.

This led to reporting like fact checking his many spurious claims without getting deeper into what a Trump presidency would presumably mean, while assuming that his supporters in "the heartland" were existing in media bubbles that shielded them from their debunking. (At best; some journalists took a harsher view, namely that many Trump supporters were dunces, conspiracy theorists, or willfully ignorant.)

I understand why they'd do this. Certainly, since the election when I've managed to have a somewhat civil interaction with a Trump supporter, inevitably we get to a place where I quote Donald Trump to try to make a point, and the Trump supporter dismisses the quote by insisting I was treating him and his supporters unfairly by assuming that he meant what he said and supporters supported what he said rather than what (they believe) he meant.

Perhaps the most ostentatious and disarming example of this has been Peter Thiel's statements about what he thinks President Trump will do. He personally has attacked "the media" specifically for taking him literally but not seriously, but when you examine what Thiel thinks President Trump will do, it works out—remarkably enough—to be exactly what Peter Thiel would like President Trump to do.

Politically, if you can pull it off—and it seems like Republican nominee Donald Trump did—it's absolutely ingenious, because your supporters will love everything you say that they agree with, while assuming that anything you say that they don't agree with is something that shouldn't be taken literally. You can do no wrong. (Perhaps Trump himself had an inkling of this when he said that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose any supporters.)

This is why in one such exchange with a Trump supporter, I wrote, "You're saying that you can't take a candidate's statements, or his past behavior, as offering any indication of how he might govern. This is insane, and you seem to have no comprehension of how insane it is. In fact, my own inability to see your way of thinking and magically divine Trump's intentions as separate from what he's said, as you apparently can and do, is making you furious at me and further proving to you how out of touch I am. If this is how politics works now, then good lord: we're lost. Democracy is now inoperative."

And in response, I was told I was being blocked.

I've been writing about politics for a long time. You who read me know I've been posting about politics for the entire time Google+ has existed; well before that, I had a weekly political newspaper column in college. Thinking about politics is second nature to me, and I've always felt like I had a certain knack for it. But over the past week or so, I've felt increasingly unmoored. The world of politics no longer makes sense to me. I suddenly feel unequipped to handle the news.

It's not that I don't know how to deal with a government of the other party. I was writing on another platform when the 2000 election happened. The Florida recount was crazy, but I could make some sense of it. 9/11 was terrible, but if I couldn't explain the event itself, I could follow the aftermath. I knew how to distinguish partisan spin from reality. I could say with pretty fair certainty that people to my left were wrong, that we weren't going to war in Iraq for the oil. I could say with pretty fair certainty that people to my right were wrong, that the evidence Saddam Hussein supported Osama bin Laden seemed flimsy at best. When the horror of the "missing" WMD's and later, the Cheney manipulation of the news media came to light, I was appalled, but I could engage with it.

But this... I've never lived in a third-world country, I've never tried to analyze the internal politics of authoritarian regimes. The things I could always count on in the United States were that the truth would out, that petty corruption would be caught sooner or later, that corruption wouldn't escalate to the point where it undermined our institutions, that Tammany Hall was gone forever, that political patronage happened but was limited to appointments where a donor's lack of competence wouldn't do much harm (mostly to ambassadorships to sunny countries; Michael Brown's appointment to FEMA, by its very controversy, showed how rare patronage like that had become).

Most of all, I could count on the power of shame. Politicians might do almost anything until they were caught—but once they were caught, shame kicked in. The confessional press conference with the spouse, dabbing tears, beside the contrite politician; the only question being if the politician was going to resign on the spot, try to serve out the current term but announce an intent to then retire, or ride it out hoping for rehabilitation through pleas to God and excuses about moral or psychological or substance-abuse failings.

I could count on the flip side of shame, saving face. The announcement that a privately shamed politician had decided to spend more time with family. The embarrassing attempt at playing off a naked lie as a joke, ignorance, or a big misunderstanding. The magnanimous words spoken by the winner in the moment of triumph; the conciliatory and uniting words spoken by the loser in defeat.

I could count on the civil service being used, for the most part, apolitically. When former GE CEO Jack Welch proclaimed that the Obama administration's Bureau of Labor Statistics had "cooked" the unemployment numbers to help Obama's reelection, this was a laughable claim; the BLS were bureaucrats, number-crunchers, their every tweak to a formula announced in requests for comments, their corrections made as regularly and as publicly as their announcements. Nixon had used the bureaucrats for political ends and it nearly tore the presidency asunder; I could count on this lesson having been learned well.

I could count on access for the press. Friday night and pre-holiday news dumps, venue shopping, going on the record and off the record and on background, the softball interview, the "humanizing profile", the rush to a scoop, the strategic leak, the "press statement" the politician delivers before rushing off stage without taking questions: these were the tools of the game, often frowned upon but permitted because there was a hard backstop, always: at some point, sooner or later, the politician would have to "meet the press", would have to answer even the questions that had been dodged.

I could count on bigotry always being an institutional force echoing from history into now; sometimes being a personal failing of a politician, staffer, or other public persona; but rarely being nakedly expressed, and never with pride. To do so was to invite shunning, excommunication from the body politic. There was nothing so quickly and surely ruinous to someone's reputation than to baldly express blatant bigotry on the record. Of course, I knew what was considered bigotry was always changing; I knew that, by my year of birth, I had only just missed seeing overt racism and anti-Semitism being "acceptable". I was privileged to watch some of the "long arc of history bend towards justice" as homophobia, prejudice towards the disabled, and Islamophobia move from one side of that boundary to the other; I watched with fascination as transphobia began to move in that direction as well. You could tell it had happened by two easy markers: one, the press no longer felt bound to get a bigoted opinion from "the other side" as "balance"; and two, an expression of bigotry openly and on the record would lead to personal political ruin.

I could count on power or ideology, not personal enrichment, being the primary motivator of the politician. "Primary" being a key word there; the machinations to try to ensure a comfortable post-government life, the revolving-door of lobbyists, the perks of a trip on a private plane and junkets to sunny places with nice golf courses, those were always there, but they were always secondary. ("[T]he primary motivator of the politician" was also key: for the power brokers, the major donors, the bundlers, the super PACs, personal enrichment of someone was always at play; you just followed the money to see where it intersected with the power.)

These were the things I could count on. These were the things that anchored my analysis of current events, that guided me in figuring out what had really happened and in predicting what tomorrow might bring.

You very well might think me amazingly naïve—for someone who claims to have had some understanding of politics—to say I "could count on" these things. No; to be utterly clear, these were things that were never, by any means, universal, and sometimes were privately not even common, but were, publicly, the norms by which outliers were judged. Deviation—when eventually discovered because of the access of the press—was harshly punished using that all-powerful force, public shame.

But now, those things I could count on, those norms that anchored me to reality, they all seem to have come undone in an absurdly short period of time. Before, I analyzed current events knowing that these norms pertained even if they were being violated: that was what we called "scandal".

But now I face a reality where nakedly expressed bigotry is no longer scandal; where denying press access is no longer scandal; where personal enrichment from serving in office is no longer scandal. I face a reality where denying reality is no longer scandal.

In this new reality, I don't know how to understand politics, or make predictions about it. I lack the tools, I lack the frameworks. I feel like an artlover in the eighteenth century trying to appreciate modern art, or a contemporary devotee of baroque music trying to make sense of hip hop.

I think I'm beginning to understand why, when I was a child, some of my older relatives who were electrical and mechanical engineers kept books on computers and electronics and solid-state physics by their bedsides and struggled so mightily, and so emotionally, with them, as if they weren't just new things to know, but were malevolent forces inflicting terrible change upon the world—worse, were inflicting these changes at them.

In other words, I think I may be beginning to understand what it may feel like to be a Trump voter.___

posted image

2016-12-02 00:08:39 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

What's an "Unknown" cellular network?

I'm on Project Fi now so my Pixel XL switches between T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular. I got a nifty little app called Signal Spy to be able to keep tabs on what network I happen to be on (along with a nice little notification bar icon).

On my way to an errand this evening (walking), I got this weird thing in my history as I passed the same spot on my way out and back. (The linked album has the details.)

The spot happened to be the sidewalk in front of a police station. Any chance this is what a (presumably unconfigured) Stingray would look like? If not, what is this, anyway?

What's an "Unknown" cellular network?

I'm on Project Fi now so my Pixel XL switches between T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular. I got a nifty little app called Signal Spy to be able to keep tabs on what network I happen to be on (along with a nice little notification bar icon).

On my way to an errand this evening (walking), I got this weird thing in my history as I passed the same spot on my way out and back. (The linked album has the details.)

The spot happened to be the sidewalk in front of a police station. Any chance this is what a (presumably unconfigured) Stingray would look like? If not, what is this, anyway?___

posted image

2016-12-01 19:12:13 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

On the Pixel XL, Google Now can tell Google Maps appointment time, but Maps doesn't do anything with it...

I wanted to see when I needed to leave for my doctor's appointment this afternoon. Google Now on my Nexus 6 often offered me directions showing when I need to leave, but for some reason Google Now on my Pixel XL does not. Update, 14:25 EST: Once I got within 2 hours of time to depart, the card did update to include the "Leave by" directions. Added to the photo album.

It does show the event itself, though (first photo in album), so I can tap the location to open Google Maps. And Google Maps' thumbtack even has the appointment time (second photo)! So it's just a matter of tapping the "get directions" (blue car, train, etc.) button, and...

Wait, no. Instead of showing me the directions pegged to the time the thumbtack... more »

On the Pixel XL, Google Now can tell Google Maps appointment time, but Maps doesn't do anything with it...

I wanted to see when I needed to leave for my doctor's appointment this afternoon. Google Now on my Nexus 6 often offered me directions showing when I need to leave, but for some reason Google Now on my Pixel XL does not. Update, 14:25 EST: Once I got within 2 hours of time to depart, the card did update to include the "Leave by" directions. Added to the photo album.

It does show the event itself, though (first photo in album), so I can tap the location to open Google Maps. And Google Maps' thumbtack even has the appointment time (second photo)! So it's just a matter of tapping the "get directions" (blue car, train, etc.) button, and...

Wait, no. Instead of showing me the directions pegged to the time the thumbtack showed, it shows directions departing now (third photo). What about tapping the time? I can manually select departure or arrival times, but there's no way to select the appointment time without scrolling for it like any other time (fourth photo).

Maybe "Last"? Nope, that's just the last train in the schedule (fifth and final photo).

This is a disappointing feature loss between Nexus 6 and Pixel XL, especially since it seems there's no workaround. (Well, except for manually remembering the appointment time and entering it as the arrive-by time, but that's always been there as an option, before Google Now existed.)

(Note that I say "Google Now" meaning the personalized cards you get when you swipe left from the phone's home screen; on Pixels, saying "Okay Google" brings up Google Assistant instead. I've tried various ways to ask Google Assistant for the directions, but I haven't been able to convince it to give me times arriving at the right time, either. At best, I can get it to show when I need to depart to arrive at the next hotel I'll be staying at in a few days, which isn't exactly useful information for this. :-)

And yes, I do know that it's possible to read the blurred doctor's office. It's okay, it's the best I could do with the editor on my Android and I didn't feel it was worth downloading to the PC and re-editing.___

posted image

2016-11-30 21:38:18 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

A data visualization suited for VR?

As some of you know, my recent project has been to experiment with SRE/DevOps applications in VR. One of the disappointments has been that it's hard to find data visualizations that are a) genuinely useful in themselves and b) indisputably better in VR than on a 2D display.

I had settled on one that I thought fit the bill, the spiral plot (I only found that it had a name today; I had come to it independently). The picture below (which is of a 2D spiral plot) actually demonstrates why very well. Can you compare the values—the lengths of the bars—in the inner coil (purple) with the ones in the outer coil (pink) with any precision or accuracy?

Probably not. But imagine this were a birds' eye view of this same graph, lying on a virtual table, with the bars in a flat spiral, and their lengths in this image being mapped tothe... more »

A data visualization suited for VR?

As some of you know, my recent project has been to experiment with SRE/DevOps applications in VR. One of the disappointments has been that it's hard to find data visualizations that are a) genuinely useful in themselves and b) indisputably better in VR than on a 2D display.

I had settled on one that I thought fit the bill, the spiral plot (I only found that it had a name today; I had come to it independently). The picture below (which is of a 2D spiral plot) actually demonstrates why very well. Can you compare the values—the lengths of the bars—in the inner coil (purple) with the ones in the outer coil (pink) with any precision or accuracy?

Probably not. But imagine this were a birds' eye view of this same graph, lying on a virtual table, with the bars in a flat spiral, and their lengths in this image being mapped to the height of the bars. Then, it would be very easy to do comparisons: just compare the heights of the bars.

(What do you do if the values in the outer coil are larger than in inner coils? You just "lean over" and look down to see the coils that would otherwise be obscured.)

Some experimentation suggests that this works best when "the table"—the plane representing the zero value—is on a level at about knee-height, with the maximum extreme at about elbow level; this is "flat" enough to make the "leaning over" mechanism easy, but give enough height overall to read values fairly precisely. Also, not strictly required but very helpful, is a cross-section tool, its plane perpendicular to the floor, locked to the center of the spiral but free to rotate about it, so you can look at the same datapoint in each coil (time cycle) as a 2D scatter plot.

This visualization is best suited to time-series data such that a wedge cross-section represents the same point in each cycle. (For instance, divide the circle into seven wedges, and have each coil correspond to a week, then you can read the values at, say, 18:00 on ten successive Tuesdays by comparing the heights along a line from center to edge.)

(I've thought about some other geometries, such as using a helix or a conical spiral so that time is represented not just by in-out, but by up-down. They're somewhat more visually appealing to look at and can eliminate the issue of values getting obscured, but at the expense of tossing the biggest gain of the flat spiral: easily comparing values from one cycle [coil] to the next.)

Unfortunately, this visualization requires spatial head-tracking, so it's a no-go on Gear, Cardboard or Daydream. You need to be able to lean over and around the graph as you can with Oculus or Vive. (This has in general been my experience with every 2D visualization I've tried to translate into 3D: very little value is added simply by the depth of the additional dimension; you must be able to look around the data as well. I'm eager to get my hands on a Daydream to see whether this can be alleviated by using the motion controller to "grab" the model and tilt and turn it, but so far I'm still waiting on my Daydream promo code.)

I'm excited by this, but here's the kicker: all the examples I've done have been hand-crafted fake data just to give me something to look at. I could write a new graphics primitive for translating data into a "doughnut spiral graph" as I'm calling it, but that would easily take me more time then I've put into coding any VR thus far combined, and require I delve into a lot of fiddly math I'm not that comfortable with.

Not to mention, the algorithms I've been able to come up with on my own aren't clever at all (they're basically just converting the time/magnitude tuple into polar coordinates in the x and y axis and Cartesian in the z), and I'm sure there has been clever thought put to this sort of thing before.

I wonder if any of you have any immediate feedback — sorry I haven't posted any captures of my POCs; it's been easiest for me to write code directly for the Vive and not for SteamVR, so I don't have any easy way to capture in-world video; I think it's probably time to back up and make this a proper SteamVR app.

Also, if any of you know of a graphing package (in any freely-redistributable language—Java, C++, C#, Python, R, Haskell, other, it's all good) that would let me easily transform time-series data into [ρ, ϕ, z] tuples — or, alternatively, an algorithm that will convert a 2D curve (i.e., what an ordinary Cartesian time-series plot would display) into a spiral (allowing for the "squishing" that has to happen as the data series moves from outer coils to inner—otherwise, the periodicity along wedges doesn't work), I'd love to hear about it!___

2016-11-30 20:42:36 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

A question for my friends in Europe and/or academia

Something just struck me: weren't the Bologna Process (EU higher education) standards on graduate-level STEM programs being taught in English due to go into effect this academic year? Did Brexit change anything?

Obviously since Brexit hasn't, legally, happened yet, it hasn't "changed" anything in terms of the accord, but I mean just in terms of attitude about using English in graduate programs.

As a native speaker of English, I have to check my privilege here, but I remember it being excruciatingly annoying that many important books, papers, dissertations, and habilitations in linguistics were in German and French (and my languages were Ancient Greek, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili, none at the level necessary to read academic papers—oh, and Latin, in which I was proficient enough fort... more »

A question for my friends in Europe and/or academia

Something just struck me: weren't the Bologna Process (EU higher education) standards on graduate-level STEM programs being taught in English due to go into effect this academic year? Did Brexit change anything?

Obviously since Brexit hasn't, legally, happened yet, it hasn't "changed" anything in terms of the accord, but I mean just in terms of attitude about using English in graduate programs.

As a native speaker of English, I have to check my privilege here, but I remember it being excruciatingly annoying that many important books, papers, dissertations, and habilitations in linguistics were in German and French (and my languages were Ancient Greek, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili, none at the level necessary to read academic papers—oh, and Latin, in which I was proficient enough for that, but papers aren't written in Latin anymore), and it was clear when you could get a translation that the language barrier was creating different strains of thought in linguistics. (I don't know if it's true now, but back then in the 90's, linguists—and not just anglophones—would say "French linguistics" as if it were an entirely different field of study—because it basically was, there was so little cross-pollination.)

From that perspective alone, a common academic lingua franca (yes, I see the irony of that term) would have been really useful. And I imagine that if English weren't the consensus—though still very controversial—standard, the EU wouldn't have chosen French or German or Spanish or Bulgarian; they just wouldn't have set a standard pedagogical language at all.

So I'm just curious whether, politically, sentimentally or emotionally, Brexit has had any effect in raising misgivings about Bologna?

(Yes, I'm aware that English remains an official EU language regardless of Brexit and is an official or semi-official language in Cyprus, Ireland and Malta. And that having a common language with non-EU countries such as the US, Canada, and Australia is an advantage whether or not the UK is in the EU. I'm just wondering if any not-entirely-rational reaction has been happening.)___

2016-11-29 17:36:01 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Now playing "Getting Jiggy With It", by Various Artists

I don't know if this is Google Assistant, Google Play Music (with catalog access via YouTube Red subscription) or something else, but I've noticed that very frequently if I ask Google Assistant to play a top hit song from the past, instead of getting the real version, I get some random knock-off cover from a "Hits of the Whateverties" album.

My example in the post head is kinda funny because it gives a hint into one way the algorithm gets led astray. I actually first typed "Gettin' Jiggy wit It", by Various Artists as a joke, without having actually checked that this song was an example—I just thought it was funny. But then I figured I'd better choose a song that I'd actually seen this happen with—but "Gettin' Jiggy wit It" was still funny. So I said,&qu... more »

Now playing "Getting Jiggy With It", by Various Artists

I don't know if this is Google Assistant, Google Play Music (with catalog access via YouTube Red subscription) or something else, but I've noticed that very frequently if I ask Google Assistant to play a top hit song from the past, instead of getting the real version, I get some random knock-off cover from a "Hits of the Whateverties" album.

My example in the post head is kinda funny because it gives a hint into one way the algorithm gets led astray. I actually first typed "Gettin' Jiggy wit It", by Various Artists as a joke, without having actually checked that this song was an example—I just thought it was funny. But then I figured I'd better choose a song that I'd actually seen this happen with—but "Gettin' Jiggy wit It" was still funny. So I said, "OK Google, play Gettin' Jiggy wit It on Google Play", and indeed I got a knock-off, only one titled with the incorrect spelling in the header above.

So even though it was a joke, I now admit it's possible that Google Assistant will never, no matter how carefully I enunciate, be able to hear me say "Gettin' Jiggy wit It", and, because the song on the knock-off album is in fact titled as "Getting Jiggy With It", its behavior is more understandable in this case—offered the choice between a one-time smash hit song entitled something like what I said and an obscure song with exactly the title (it thinks) I asked for, the latter might more often be the right choice.

And indeed, I've caught it doing this a few times when I asked it to play a song by its popular name or by some words in the chorus rather than the official title, and that's caused it to play something in the Play Music catalog that's titled more like what I said but is a knock-off of what I actually wanted.

Still, some of the examples this has happened on were not songs where I got the title wrong. It still just chose a (seemingly) random no-name cover instead of the hit song.

I don't know what the correct fix is, but I was struck by how much this feels very like another example of the same algorithmic problem of filtering 'fake news'. From most easily-quantifiable appearances, the thing the algorithm is giving me is a perfectly good response—maybe a better one, given what the algorithm knows, than the thing I "should" have gotten. But from all unquantifiable (or at least, not yet quantified) respects, the thing the algorithm has given me is an absolutely inappropriate thing, one that is a disservice not only to me but also to the thing I actually wanted.___

2016-11-27 19:07:49 (11 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

A few random thoughts on recounts

1) I certainly think the chances of all three states (MI, PA, and WI) flipping is near-zero. Michigan, at a ∆ < 0.2% (+Trump), is well within the margin of past recount-flips (and it actually hasn't been called by the news organizations yet, the margin is so close there). Wisconsin, at ∆0.8%, is getting out of reach—but there are more reports of irregularities there. The margin in Pennsylvania, at ∆1.2%, would be unprecedented for a result-flip (and as the total vote numbers get larger, the likely margin for a recount change shrinks, too). I'd personally lay even money on one of the states flipping, though, and maybe a 5–10% chance of two.

2) I posted a few days after the election that I was worried about the swings from Obama to Trump I was seeing out of counties using paperless ballot (i.e., undetectably hackable) electionmachines ... more »

A few random thoughts on recounts

1) I certainly think the chances of all three states (MI, PA, and WI) flipping is near-zero. Michigan, at a ∆ < 0.2% (+Trump), is well within the margin of past recount-flips (and it actually hasn't been called by the news organizations yet, the margin is so close there). Wisconsin, at ∆0.8%, is getting out of reach—but there are more reports of irregularities there. The margin in Pennsylvania, at ∆1.2%, would be unprecedented for a result-flip (and as the total vote numbers get larger, the likely margin for a recount change shrinks, too). I'd personally lay even money on one of the states flipping, though, and maybe a 5–10% chance of two.

2) I posted a few days after the election that I was worried about the swings from Obama to Trump I was seeing out of counties using paperless ballot (i.e., undetectably hackable) election machines in PA and FL, which seemed greater than the swings in counties using paper (optical scan) or electronic with instant paper audit, which are not undetectably hackable.

  In that post, though, I mentioned a potential explanation besides hacking for the discrepancy: since almost all counties in both states replaced their machines at the same time as a result of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, and in both Florida and Pennsylvania, almost all those original machines were paperless, and it's since been pretty much accepted that paperless machines must be phased out, the counties with less resources to buy new machines may be precisely the same ones as those that would tend to swing Obama to Trump for demographic reasons.

  Since then, a number of folks have done this analysis and it looks like that is true: the paperless-machine county vote swings may not track with that of other counties in the same state, but they do track with counties with similar demographics in adjoining states.

  That said, a) a recount in Pennsylvania would result in the little auditing that can be done on these paperless machines to be done and released, which should give researchers enough information to more definitively answer the question and b) ultimately it doesn't matter; even if we found definitive proof that paperless ballots were tampered with, there is no mechanism for holding a new vote. (It is just barely possible that a judge could be persuaded to throw out all those counties' votes, just as a single spoiled ballot is thrown out. And Clinton won the counties of PA with election paper trails. But that scenario seems so perilous as to be unthinkable.)

3) To understand why a recount may cause a change in vote totals absent election fraud or Russian hacking: In addition to any corrections to precinct tallies, there are many uncounted provisional ballots in these states—and a few uncounted absentee ballots thrown in for good measure—however, and the margins were razor-thin. While absentee ballots may slightly lean Trump, provisional ballots are likely to greatly favor Clinton. People who voted a provisional ballot because they were purged from the rolls or couldn't prove ID to a precinct official on Election Day will be considered one at a time, and from past experience, most will be counted. There are also usually some machines found whose tallies weren't added to the precinct's total, some arithmetic or transposition errors, etc.

  Note that in all three states, every county's board of elections is controlled by Republicans and all three states had significant "anti-voter fraud" legislation spearheaded by Republicans and intended to depress Democratic votes, so it's not impossible to imagine that any conceivable place where a finger could be put on the scale, one was put on the scale. The effects of any one of these actions may be small, but cumulatively they could add up and matter, especially within such small margins.

4) The Trump campaign is using a framing that much of the press is going along with, simply because it's dramatic and makes for an easier telling of the story: Jill Stein is contesting the race and the Clinton campaign is "joining the bandwagon"; ergo, Clinton is "contesting" the race and isn't that hypocritical when she bashed Trump for refusing to say he'd accept the race?

  This framing is one of those that seems to make sense at first blush, but collapses under the slightest scrutiny. First, isn't the hypocrisy, if any, to be found in Trump's argument that Clinton shouldn't contest when he reserved that right for himself? Second, note that Trump representatives will be present at all stages of the recount(s), just like Clinton's; it's simply that, because they are the presumptive winners, they are not considered to be "contesting", while Stein, Clinton, Johnson, McMullin, etc., are. It would be utterly ridiculous, if a lawful recount is happening anyway, for Clinton to boycott participation even as Trump does not.

5) Note that for Russia (on whose payroll, one assumes, Jill Stein will once again soon be, via RT), this is a win-win scenario. If any state flips—and like I said, I'd bet even money one will— or if hacking is discovered, I can't even begin to imagine the political chaos, even if there's no change at the Electoral College level. If the results flipped—as unlikely as that is—the certain reaction would be protests much more widespread (and, I assure you, with many more guns, simply because of the difference in laws in states that voted for Trump) than those in blue cities after Nov. 8. They'd also involve the KKK and other neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, which would scare millions of Americans. (I know, I know, not all Trump voters are bigots. But basically all bigots were Trump voters.)

  I've heard people say, "but why would Russia support Stein in a recount? Doesn't Russia want President Trump?" If Trump does turn out to be the "useful idiot" in KGB parlance, and does decide he likes being allied with people like Putin and Assad, then yes, with President Trump, Russia wins. But they can't be sure of that. On the other hand, political chaos in the US is a benefit for Russia regardless. They'd be perfectly happy with (and this an extremely unlikely scenario, but I'm just using it for illustration) Clinton suddenly getting the presidency after all and having to govern a country that is in chaos on the verge of literal civil war.

  (Note that we've carefully set things up—in both countries, thankfully—such that the nuclear arsenal can only be in one government leader's hands at any one time, so the immediate objection to "chaos is good for them"—that chaos could end up with missiles flying without warning—is nearly impossible.)

6) As long as we're considering recounts, I'm not sure it's entirely out of the realm of possibility (again, remember how crazy this entire election has been already!) that by December 19, enough electors will have personally had a pitch from a constitutional scholar about the Emoluments Clause and the role of the Electoral College in our Constitution that we could actually have a lot of "faithless" Trump electors.

  In debates in the Constitutional Convention, when it was asked who would, for example, prevent someone under 35 who had been elected somehow from being inaugurated, the answer was the Electoral College. Not that the hypothetical teenaged president would be sworn in and impeached by Congress for being unqualified; the Electoral College would be sworn to prevent this in the first place. An unexpectedly large number of surprisingly-mainstream (and even conservative) legal scholars have gotten on board this theory as the only solution to the untenable situation we've found ourselves in with disentangling a President Trump from paterfamilias of the Trump Organization, unless Mr. Trump begins to take irrevocable steps now to ensure all the company's assets are in the control of people other than himself and his children before Inauguration Day.

  Likely to make a difference? Probably not. Even if at least 37 Trump electors were persuaded to be "faithless", denying Trump victory in the Electoral College, given that his electors were mostly Trump supporters, it's hard to believe that 38 (40 if two Washington State electors do in fact refuse to vote for Clinton as they've said they'll do) would ditch Trump to vote for Clinton. And if no candidate got 270 votes, it would go to the House, which would use a peculiar voting system where each state's congressional delegation would vote to give the state's single vote to one of the top three electoral vote candidates for President (i.e., Clinton, Trump, and possibly someone else faithless electors chose)—likely result, Trump. (The inside-straight result is the House deadlocks and it's thrown to the Senate to choose between the top two candidates for Vice-President — result, Pence.)

(Update 13:17 EST: I edited the final paragraph to more correctly describe the contested-election process. The House vote is between the top three Electoral College vote-getters, regardless of popular vote, and if the House deadlocks, the Senate chooses between the two, not three, top VP electoral vote-getters.)___

posted image

2016-11-25 19:48:36 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

What an odd error in the Knowledge Graph!

(This information is wrong in an odd way. Edward VIII abdicated—he wasn't deposed—in 1936 resulting in George VI's accession.)

Or is this a funny technical sense of the word "deposed" that's unfamiliar to me and means the opposite in British political terms to American, like "to table"?

What an odd error in the Knowledge Graph!

(This information is wrong in an odd way. Edward VIII abdicated—he wasn't deposed—in 1936 resulting in George VI's accession.)

Or is this a funny technical sense of the word "deposed" that's unfamiliar to me and means the opposite in British political terms to American, like "to table"?___

posted image

2016-11-25 00:40:14 (9 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

Shall I warm up that ice bath for you?

Sorry, this is squarely in the #firstworldproblems category: I made a sous vide turkey porchetta (a fabulous recipe I've done before) which, due to the long cooking times for sous vide recipes, was already underway when our dinner guests had to cancel.

A big advantage of sous vide recipes is that they're usually very forgiving: you can leave your cooked food in the bath until you're ready to serve (for hours for things like this turkey to as long as a couple days for some foods like steaks); the vacuum-sealing pouches makes it easy to prepare and then to refrigerate or freeze the food before cooking, after cooking, or both; and for any recipe over 130 °F (54 °C) taking more than a couple hours, you're effectively pastuerizing the food while cooking it, so you can store it easily for later finishing.

This recipec... more »

Shall I warm up that ice bath for you?

Sorry, this is squarely in the #firstworldproblems category: I made a sous vide turkey porchetta (a fabulous recipe I've done before) which, due to the long cooking times for sous vide recipes, was already underway when our dinner guests had to cancel.

A big advantage of sous vide recipes is that they're usually very forgiving: you can leave your cooked food in the bath until you're ready to serve (for hours for things like this turkey to as long as a couple days for some foods like steaks); the vacuum-sealing pouches makes it easy to prepare and then to refrigerate or freeze the food before cooking, after cooking, or both; and for any recipe over 130 °F (54 °C) taking more than a couple hours, you're effectively pastuerizing the food while cooking it, so you can store it easily for later finishing.

This recipe calls for a water bath at 140 °F, so pasteurization had occurred and I could safely refrigerate or freeze the pouch for later reheating and finishing. But to get the best results—as well as to be absolutely safe—you still need to get a dense lump of several pounds of 140 °F meat to safe storage temperatures < 40 °F as quickly as possible. And that means a saltwater ice bath.

So I cut the immersion circulator, drained the tank of hot water, and replaced it with a bag of ice, a cup or so of salt, and enough water to get liquid to the low-water line on the circulator. Then I set the circulator to its lowest temperature setting, and turned it back on.

I've done this before, and it works really well—it chills food, particularly those with lots of heat mass like this one, much faster than an uncirculated ice-brine bath. (As soon as you're done, it's important to run the circulator for a few minutes in a freshwater bath—room temperature is fine—to prevent corrosion.)

But the lowest temperature on my circulator (an Anova Culinary model) is 32 °F (0 °C). So an unfortunate side-effect of doing this is that the circulator runs the heater to try to get the brine up to freshwater's normal freezing point. It doesn't make much difference in the scheme of things, but it does slow down the chilling a bit and, more importantly, it's wasteful of energy.

Last week I received the second-generation Nomiku, which I'd Kickstarted at a moment when there were no good, cheap (relatively speaking) immersion circulators on the market. Literally within weeks of that Kickstarter closing, though, good models from Anova and Sansaire appeared on the market, and you didn't have to wait over two years for it. So I bought the Anova. (It won't be a waste; I actually have wanted to sous-vide at two different temperatures simultaneously many times.)

So I gave the Nomiku a try, and... it also has a minimum temperature setting of 0 °C, and it also has no way to prevent the heater from trying to get the ice bath up to zero. So that's disappointing. These really need a "heater off" setting somewhere.

They're firmware-upgradable, though, so maybe one of them will hear my plea....___

posted image

2016-11-23 19:30:39 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

Things I like: VR Lens Lab

Since the holiday gift season is almost upon us, I thought I'd share this (no, I'm not getting a kickback).

My recommendation is for VR lenses from the VR Lens Lab. I recommend them to anyone with an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift — even if you don't wear glasses. (I'll explain why in a bit.)

While the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift can both be used while wearing eyeglasses, doing so presents some big and small annoyances.

(Let me take a quick sidetrack here to dispel a common misconception: I've had friends with glasses think they wouldn't need them in VR because they're nearsighted and the HMD lenses are just centimeters from your eyes. But that's not how VR displays work. They're focused to infinity and so basically cause the same eye behavior as real-world scenes would.

(A quicki... more »

Things I like: VR Lens Lab

Since the holiday gift season is almost upon us, I thought I'd share this (no, I'm not getting a kickback).

My recommendation is for VR lenses from the VR Lens Lab. I recommend them to anyone with an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift — even if you don't wear glasses. (I'll explain why in a bit.)

While the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift can both be used while wearing eyeglasses, doing so presents some big and small annoyances.

(Let me take a quick sidetrack here to dispel a common misconception: I've had friends with glasses think they wouldn't need them in VR because they're nearsighted and the HMD lenses are just centimeters from your eyes. But that's not how VR displays work. They're focused to infinity and so basically cause the same eye behavior as real-world scenes would.

(A quick illustration to make my point: I'm getting to that age where, in addition to being myopic as I have been since childhood, I'm becoming presbyopic as well, so I have to hold writing with fine print a little farther away or push my glasses down my nose to lower their effective strength. Since I've been a little hard-of-hearing since I was a teenager, I turn the subtitles on in video games. To my amusement, some titles, such as ADR1FT, place the subtitles so "close" in virtual space that I had trouble reading them — and I couldn't move them farther away or push my glasses down my nose! I sent bug reports instead.)

The annoyances of eyeglasses and HMD's (head-mounted displays, a.k.a. the "VR headset"):

1. You have to adjust the lenses of the HMD farther away than might otherwise be comfortable to allow for the extra room.

2. Even if you do that, if your glasses have metal protrusions on the front (like almost all rimless glasses do), you can easily scratch the Fresnel lenses on the HMD. I did so within days of getting my Vive.

3. Compared with someone not wearing glasses, the field of view is reduced because of the greater distance of the displays from your eyes (and possibly also by the glass's frames or nose bridge).

4. The foam padding on both headsets and the nose light baffle on the Vive both pick up sweat and oil like crazy, and you can't help but brush them across your glasses when putting the HMD on or taking it off. In practice, this means you must clean your glasses every time you take the HMD off, even if you're going to put it right back on.

That last one was the really big nuisance to me. Since the current generation of headsets can be fiddly, it's not at all uncommon to put the HMD on, discover some setting is wrong, and need to take it off again to access the operating system. (SteamVR has an in-VR mirror of the OS desktop built-in, and there are apps for the same on Oculus, but they're not really usable for messing with control panel settings unless your monitor is small or you've intentionally set a lower resolution or high scaling factor; with larger monitors at normal resolution, you literally have to walk around the room to be able to read the text on the sides of the screen.)

And for applications like 3D design or VR development, where you're frequently "ducking your head in and out" of the virtual space to check things while you work on the flat desktop, smudging the hell out of your glasses every time is just not workable.

After getting my Vive, I originally used an old pair of glasses for use in the Vive so that when I took it off I could swap back to my new, clean glasses. But sometimes I forgot. And it was a pain anyway, especially when I was working on something incremental like a particle effect or a model placement where I wanted to take a lot of quick glances at the virtual space while working on the flat panel.

So when I saw the VR Lens Lab on Kickstarter, I immediately backed it. (These folks are the same ones who make the very nice Gauss color-changing computer glasses I already owned, so I knew they had the manufacturing capability that derail so many Kickstarters.) And sure enough, they delivered as-promised and on-time (how many Kickstarted projects do that?).

And they've been absolutely fantastic. They have models for both Oculus and Vive. I'm not sure how the Oculus ones work, but the Vive ones are dead simple: you open the ordinary lens distance adjustment dial to its deepest setting, place each lens over the Vive's Fresnel lens, and then turn the dial back to its shallowest setting, and the lenses lock into place by tension against the Vive housing itself. It works like a dream; they've never so much as wobbled, even when I spin my head around frenetically or look straight down or up.

(I understand the Oculus Rift versions have sometimes fit slightly less well because it turned out that different batches of production Rifts had ever-so-slightly different dimensions, but the VR Lens Lab includes spacers now for that case and have provided them for free to prior customers.)

I actually got a pledge level including two sets of lenses, one with prescription lenses and one with non-prescription (Plano) lenses. The second set I'd recommend as a must have to anyone with a VR headset. As I mentioned, I scratched my Vive's lenses the very first day I had it because my rimless glasses had metal fittings protruding from the front. Since almost anyone who has a VR rig (and friends or family) undoubtedly demos it a lot, you'll breathe a lot easier if the Plano lenses are installed so your eyeglass-wearing friends don't scratch the HMD's lenses.

My own prescription is a rather annoying one — I'm astigmatic in both eyes, and very nearsighted in both, but my left eye's diopter power is just under the point where normal poly lenses get unbearably thick, while my right eye's diopter is well past that point. So I need special "high-index" lenses ground to deal with this.

The VR Lens Lab had no issue with this special order, even though they aren't using a standard grinding process. Rather, they grind lenses that have been flipped around so that the convex side faces you, so that it doesn't make glass-to-glass contact with the HMD lens leading to scratches. (This, by the way, is why you shouldn't just buy the adapters and try to take them to your local optician to fill the prescription; they won't be able to do it easily.)

This inside-out process causes an artifact called "barrel distortion", which many people (such as myself) can easily ignore. But some people can't deal with barrel distortion without getting headaches, or they can't stop seeing the image "squished". (If you're someone who sometimes can't switch back and forth between two pairs of glasses without discomfort, you probably are in this category.) And so in addition to high-index and "blueguard" (UV- and blue-filtering, like "gamer glasses") lenses, for those folks, VR Lens Lab even offers special "RABS" (aspherical freeform) lenses that correct for barrel distortion.

Delivery for my Kickstarter pledge took just two months, and now orders ship in less than two weeks.

I now have to take off my glasses before putting the HMD on and replace them when taking it off, but that's much less bothersome. Their solid lock against the Fresnel lenses keep dust or oil from getting on the far side of the lenses, and they don't seem any worse about getting dirty from use than any pair of eyeglasses.

And the view is magnificent. Since my day-to-day glasses actually have a narrower field of view up-to-down than the Vive, I see better in VR than I do the real world. Combine that with being able to ratchet the HMD all the way in without hitting your glasses, and the immersiveness is noticeably better than the Vive with eyeglasses.

The prescription ones are pricey, and there's no guarantee that the next generation of either headset will still fit them. But still, I can't recommend these highly enough.

(Note that if you're going the prescription-lens, rather than Plano route, you'll need an optical prescription from an ophthalmologist or optometrist, including pupillary distance measurement. And one additional thing to be aware of: at least for my order, the lab is based in Thailand and they did not pay duty, so it was held at the border and a customs official called me; I had to pay the duty for it to enter, and that was around an additional $30 total.)___

2016-11-23 18:24:13 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Morning, afternoon, and evening don't always mean the same thing...

It was nice when +Inbox by Gmail and Google Keep added a feature to reminders where you could set your own personal defaults for "morning", "afternoon", and "evening" reminders and snoozes, since the default times weren't the ones I preferred.

In using my new Pixel XL, it seems like there's been a feature regressions with Google Assistant, however. When I create a reminder using it and don't specify the time or specify "morning", it sets 0800, not the 0930 I've set for other Google apps. I see nowhere in settings to change it just for Google Assistant (or Google Now), either. Am I missing it, and if so, can someone point me at it?

Morning, afternoon, and evening don't always mean the same thing...

It was nice when +Inbox by Gmail and Google Keep added a feature to reminders where you could set your own personal defaults for "morning", "afternoon", and "evening" reminders and snoozes, since the default times weren't the ones I preferred.

In using my new Pixel XL, it seems like there's been a feature regressions with Google Assistant, however. When I create a reminder using it and don't specify the time or specify "morning", it sets 0800, not the 0930 I've set for other Google apps. I see nowhere in settings to change it just for Google Assistant (or Google Now), either. Am I missing it, and if so, can someone point me at it?___

2016-11-22 23:32:07 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

What the hell is going on with G+ formatting?

All of a sudden (like, as of today, I think), if I edit a post or comment, it loses all formatting. The underscores and asterisks just disappear when I go to re-edit. Now that I've gotten wise to it, I select-all, copy, update, edit again, select-all, paste, and update again. And rinse and repeat if I need to make another edit.

That's really bizarre behavior.

What the hell is going on with G+ formatting?

All of a sudden (like, as of today, I think), if I edit a post or comment, it loses all formatting. The underscores and asterisks just disappear when I go to re-edit. Now that I've gotten wise to it, I select-all, copy, update, edit again, select-all, paste, and update again. And rinse and repeat if I need to make another edit.

That's really bizarre behavior.___

posted image

2016-11-22 19:53:28 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

He means what he says...

There was a lovely moment in Glen Beck's interview with The New York Times where he said: "We both play that game; we’ve done, on the right, the same thing that we accuse the left of doing."

I know what he meant to say, namely that "we've done on the right the same thing that we criticize the left for doing". But reading it literally is quite delicious, as it is exactly what our president-elect has been doing: the same things he accuses his opponents of doing, even when they haven't.

(The above was copied from my comment in another thread.)

He means what he says...

There was a lovely moment in Glen Beck's interview with The New York Times where he said: "We both play that game; we’ve done, on the right, the same thing that we accuse the left of doing."

I know what he meant to say, namely that "we've done on the right the same thing that we criticize the left for doing". But reading it literally is quite delicious, as it is exactly what our president-elect has been doing: the same things he accuses his opponents of doing, even when they haven't.

(The above was copied from my comment in another thread.)___

2016-11-22 18:32:39 (34 comments; 0 reshares; 19 +1s; )Open 

Don't let President-elect Trump play you by making you distrust journalists, too.

I'm writing a longer post on this, but the below was from a comment in another thread I just wanted to bubble up.

Don't be part of the problem. Don't allow yourself to be manipulated. Trump is attempting to undermine the free press in such a way that even people of a liberal bent begin to doubt, just as he has undermined so many other institutions vital to our democracy.

Trump is gaming the rules of journalistic ethics by violating long-established norms. This, like so many other battles with Trump and his supporters, is an asymmetric battle; journalists can respond by a) breaking their own norms, undermining their own credibility, or b) by not breaking their own norms, playing into Trump's narrative and becoming unwilling propagandists, or c) by... more »

Don't let President-elect Trump play you by making you distrust journalists, too.

I'm writing a longer post on this, but the below was from a comment in another thread I just wanted to bubble up.

Don't be part of the problem. Don't allow yourself to be manipulated. Trump is attempting to undermine the free press in such a way that even people of a liberal bent begin to doubt, just as he has undermined so many other institutions vital to our democracy.

Trump is gaming the rules of journalistic ethics by violating long-established norms. This, like so many other battles with Trump and his supporters, is an asymmetric battle; journalists can respond by a) breaking their own norms, undermining their own credibility, or b) by not breaking their own norms, playing into Trump's narrative and becoming unwilling propagandists, or c) by refusing to play the game.

We can't ding them for choosing "c", even when that means we have to go outside the straight press to find out why. Doing so, even when it's "bullshit", just helps Trump to minimize, marginalize, denigrate and, eventually, deprecate and then destroy the free press.___

2016-11-22 04:47:58 (10 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Math-heads: how does quaternion algebra work?

In my VR programming I've been using quaternion rotation, which is not a new concept to me, but I just tried to work out an optimization and I realized I got the wrong answer because I don't know how algebra works with quaternions since i, j, and k are non-commutative across multiplication.

In high-school algebra, there's a simple rule that if you perform an operation to both sides of an equation, the equation holds.

Is there a simple rule like that when using quaternions, like "given q1 and q2 as expressions involving quaternions, where q1 = q2, it's valid to multiply both sides of the equation by m but you must put m first on the left-hand-side of the equation but last on the right-hand-side"? Or does non-commutativity make multiplying both sides of an equation, at all, an invalid identity?

Math-heads: how does quaternion algebra work?

In my VR programming I've been using quaternion rotation, which is not a new concept to me, but I just tried to work out an optimization and I realized I got the wrong answer because I don't know how algebra works with quaternions since i, j, and k are non-commutative across multiplication.

In high-school algebra, there's a simple rule that if you perform an operation to both sides of an equation, the equation holds.

Is there a simple rule like that when using quaternions, like "given q1 and q2 as expressions involving quaternions, where q1 = q2, it's valid to multiply both sides of the equation by m but you must put m first on the left-hand-side of the equation but last on the right-hand-side"? Or does non-commutativity make multiplying both sides of an equation, at all, an invalid identity?___

posted image

2016-11-21 18:55:44 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

I picked a gaming headset: a review of the SteelSeries Siberia 800.

An update to my post last week (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+TreyHarris/posts/H32RD92CYBC) asking for suggestions for headsets: The day I wrote the post, the balance on the Corsair VOIDs got so out of whack that I could no longer get enough gain to rebalance while being able to maintain a reasonable maximum volume level. So it was time to just make a damn decision already.

I picked the SteelSeries Siberia 800 (previously known as the Siberia H Wireless, and available at http://amzn.to/2gvapEA). These have a great reputation in e-sports (where folks are usually reflexively against anything wireless for fear of latency), the build and sound quality is excellent, and several of the reviewers I trust have rated it as their top headset (not just wireless headset, but headset) for several years running. There are some... more »

I picked a gaming headset: a review of the SteelSeries Siberia 800.

An update to my post last week (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+TreyHarris/posts/H32RD92CYBC) asking for suggestions for headsets: The day I wrote the post, the balance on the Corsair VOIDs got so out of whack that I could no longer get enough gain to rebalance while being able to maintain a reasonable maximum volume level. So it was time to just make a damn decision already.

I picked the SteelSeries Siberia 800 (previously known as the Siberia H Wireless, and available at http://amzn.to/2gvapEA). These have a great reputation in e-sports (where folks are usually reflexively against anything wireless for fear of latency), the build and sound quality is excellent, and several of the reviewers I trust have rated it as their top headset (not just wireless headset, but headset) for several years running. There are some newer models from SteelSeries, but this one was available on Prime Now and I needed a working headset. So rather than continue the decision paralysis, I just went with it and hoped for the best.

And... I like it. It's super-comfy; being wireless it's great for VR (yes, the Vive HMD has both 3.5 mm and USB ports available for wired headsets, but if you want to use them for non-VR stuff it's a pain to open up the HMD to disconnect and reconnect them, and one less dangling wire is a win when doing room-scale VR anyway).

As far as slippage goes: when it's at its most comfortable adjustment for my head, it doesn't slip at all when I look up or even look up while leaning back (something I do a lot in cockpit games). It does slip when I look straight down at the floor. But that's only generally going to be a problem in VR, and it turns out that the Vive's head straps add enough friction to stop that slippage, too. (Making the headphones a notch tighter than I'd ideally like fixes the issue, too.) I wear a medium-sized men's hat; if have a smaller head, slipping might be an issue.

Unlike the VOIDs, which while closed-cup weren't acoustically isolating, these are isolating to the point of being passively noise-cancelling. Basically if you've got a moderate amount of sound coming from the headset (music or "stuff happening" in a game) you won't be able to hear someone talking to you, but if it's silent or just ambient environmental VR sounds, you will. (The VOIDs allowed the sound of street-level sirens in, which could really break immersion in a game, or, worse, make me spin around in VR looking for the in-game source of sirens. These don't allow that, so that's nice.)

That's pretty much perfect for my use-case, as with the VOIDs I'd talk to my fiancé not knowing if he was occupied with a game and he'd get annoyed; with these, he just won't hear me in that case, which is fine by me. I get less annoyed by his talking to me, so less isolation didn't bother me very much, but this is a fine compromise.

Note that while these are wireless, they are not Bluetooth audio (A2DP). The aptX codec of A2DP is probably low-latency enough for gaming (though not, I would bet, good enough for e-sports), but most other codecs are not, and aptX doesn't have great fidelity. Instead, the Siberia 800's use a proprietary DC-powered base station/charging dock/DAC with USB, optical, and analog ports (which you can source-switch and mix using an OLED panel on the base station, also controllable via a control dial on the headphones). So it appears as a normal USB headset to the PC, or a normal headphone amp to anything hooked up to the analog or optical ports.

The base station, in addition to serving as transmitter, mixer, and DAC (well, USB audio device; the wireless signal is digital, so technically the DAC is on the headset itself; also, since the box accepts analog, it's technically an ADC), also has a slot for recharging the headset's battery. Two (proprietary) batteries come in the box, and they recharge faster (about 2 hours from empty) than they discharge (about 8 hours of normal use), so you can theoretically game forever by swapping batteries back and forth.

(More importantly for most users, I assume — at least, I hope — they tuned the batteries for this use case, as battery life is just destroyed by the normal headphone-like usage of constant topping-up from different, often small, levels of discharge; in this setup, you only ever recharge a discharged battery, so they should have a much longer duty lifetime.)

The battery is replaced by turning and removing the left ear cup panel, which is helpfully marked with arrows to help you replace it. Unfortunately, the removable panel is smooth and glossy, so removing it can be a challenge until you learn the trick: push your whole palm against it and use the friction to twist. (It only needs to be turned about 15° counterclockwise to remove it, and it has a solid latch, though unfortunately not one that provides any tactile feedback to let you know when you've removed or replaced it.)

The right ear cup panel is also removable in the same way, and reveals a mini-USB plug. It presented as a USB audio device when I tried plugging it in but it caused Windows 10 to complain about it misbehaving. So either it's for firmware upgrades or for powering it and/or recharging the battery without the dock—I didn't wait with a discharged battery to see, and wasn't about to plug in a mini-USB AC adapter and take the risk of frying the thing.

Speaking of AC adapters: in addition to the source ports, the back of the base station/charging dock includes a barrel-connector DC receptacle; the DC plug provided terminates in a USB-A connector, and the provided wall-wart comes with a full set of replaceable international AC plugs. The etching on the wall-wart says it's a dumb 5V 1A charger, and the base station/dock end does not have any polarity or power markings, so I assumed it was safe to plug into any standard USB source—and it was.

That said, I'm not sure why it's necessary. The base station draws power from the micro-USB input as easily as from the DC barrel connector. (It will even hot-swap between the two without power-cycling.) The thin setup manual shows the DC connected even when the USB is connected. I assume it's just in case the selected USB port can't deliver enough power. In any case, for now I'm giving it a try without the DC connection because one fewer cable and wall wart is always good; I haven't yet had a chance to see whether this affects battery recharging, but will update here once I have.

The base station/charging dock's front has a crisp black-and-white OLED screen, a push button/dial wheel, and a back/cancel button. By default, the wheel controls volume, but with a press it goes into a hierarchical menu system that controls input sources, Dolby and equalizer settings, screen brightness, source mixing, and so on.

The headset has a pushwheel as well, easily located on the top-rear of the right ear cup, right where you'd grab it when taking the headset off; by default it also controls volume, but a press takes you to sources, equalizer presets, and other screens (you can select which screens to show via an editor on the base station; there being no "back" button on the headset, cycling through the settings, or waiting for it to time out and go back to controlling volume, is the only way to choose what the headset dial controls).

There's also a power button on the headset, in an easy-to-find, hard-to-press-by-mistake recess under the right ear cup. Holding it down powers the headset on and off; tapping it mutes or unmutes the boom mic. When the mic is muted, an LED ring on the end of he boom pulses. Unfortunately, this is purely a software mute; if you plug in an analog source directly to one of the jacks found under a rubber door on the right ear cup, it will receive audio from the mic regardless of when the LED shows. This is probably the third-worst flaw in the headset to me (stay tuned for the other two, also mute-related); if there's going to be such a visible "this is muted" light, it shouldn't be able to lie to you so easily. Since the headset mic mute status is not communicated to the OS, so it's just muted at the base station, this seems doubly odd to me.

(I understand why this is: it turns out that if you plug in an analog TRS or TRRS cable directly into the on-cup jack, bypassing the wireless, you can use the headphones and mic unpowered, even with a dead battery. Adding circuitry so that the mic-mute was done on the headphones rather than in the base station would have added cost and complexity. I still think they should have done it, even if you couldn't mute the mic when the headset was running in this wired and unpowered mode, which seems unlikely to be common.)

The second-greatest-flaw, also mute-related: the headset doesn't remember the mic-mute state when turned on, and there's no option to have it muted by default. I prefer headsets to default mic-off. It does remember the volume setting, so this is annoying.

A similarly perplexing case of "we had the technology but we didn't do it" is that, when you switch the source from USB to optical or analog, the USB audio device disconnects from the PC (though it continues to draw power), letting the OS switch to, say, the monitor, if you can have your outputs ordered in your OS by preference; but if you just turn the headset off, without switching sources, it does not disconnect the audio device. This seems to me like it should at least be an option; it's annoying to fiddle with audio settings (though, admittedly, changing sources on the base station is easier than changing them in Linux or Windows).

The boom mic retracts fully into the ear cup, or can be pulled out to whatever length you like. It's initially unclear which side of the cylindrical boom should face the mouth — there are two mics on opposite sides with differently-shaped holes — but there's a huge improvement in mic level and quality if you turn the smaller of the two holes to face your mouth and position the boom correctly (in case you don't know what that is: as close to your face without touching as possible and extended just beyond the edge of the corner of your mouth so plosives don't cause a shock wave directly into the condenser).

But here's the third and greatest flaw in the Siberia 800's: the mic does not automatically mute if you fully retract it. (It clearly isn't meant to be used in that position, as some retractable booms can be; the sound quality is horrible.) This is annoying, but the combination of easy-access to mic muting (the power/mute button is very easy to find without feeling around; it's directly below the right ear cup) and very visible mute LED makes this a smaller quibble than it would otherwise be for me.

The ear cups rotate both for better fit and so that they can be stored flat. For some reason, they rotate in the opposite direction from most headphones, towards the back, so that's going to take getting used to, especially when I'm putting them on with the VR headset blinding me.

The sound quality is excellent. It's certainly the best sound from any wireless headphones I've ever tried (and I've tried a bunch over the years, both analog and digital). I'm slightly hard of hearing so I won't give impressions of how it compares to wired audiophile sets; but I know when it was released (as the Siberia H Wireless), many reviews said it had near-audiophile quality. Even with poor hearing, I can tell it's better than my Parrot Ziks, which are supposedly one of the best Bluetooth headsets out there, so that's something.

One possible caveat: if I'm wearing them when the audio source has gone silent, I have heard the occasional crackle or hiss just barely in my audible range. It's nowhere near constant, and it doesn't really bother me, but since I'm hard of hearing it might bother people with normal hearing more.

Because of my hearing I tend to crank stuff up — that means with wired, unamplified headphones, and with my Parrot Ziks, around 60-70%. The Siberia 800's are relatively quiet in comparison. In my opinion, I should never want more volume when everything's at 100% — 100% should be just beyond comfortable — and there's been a case (playing a podcast on the PC that has always been mixed too quietly for me; I usually use BeyondPod to increase the gain a couple notches) where 100% wasn't sufficient. Just tweaking the EQ to add gain across the board fixed that problem (and the "voice" EQ preset also was sufficient, but I didn't like the sound otherwise; its flat response is fine). But these aren't going to be a good choice if you like blaring, booming cans on your head.

(One thing to note: it appears to your OS as a standard USB audio device. There is no software to tweak it; a bit unfortunate, since the hierarchical menus are a little clumsy to access the more obscure options, but you can create your own named presets if you want to switch between settings quickly. This confused me because the packaging suggested there was software, as did the SteelSeries website, which invited me to download the SteelSeries Engine app—like Logitech and so many other peripheral manufacturers, they've moved to having a single customization app for all products—but I couldn't get that app to recognize the Siberia 800's. I plugged and unplugged cables and played with the Device Manager trying to get the SteelSeries Engine to recognize it, then finally found the answer by Googling. The app can't recognize it because they have no OS-accessible configuration.)

So, with a couple days' use, my verdict so far is: very, very good, and the muting-related quibbles are manageable. I'll update if something changes my mind or I have any new information (like if it will recharge the battery sufficiently running only on USB power).___

2016-11-20 20:30:45 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

Okay, I give up. Somebody tell me how in the iOS Google+ app you find out who +1'd a comment? It's a pop up option on Android and web, but I don't see in on iOS.

Okay, I give up. Somebody tell me how in the iOS Google+ app you find out who +1'd a comment? It's a pop up option on Android and web, but I don't see in on iOS.___

posted image

2016-11-20 20:23:35 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

The original post has the solution. Basically, I was stupid.

Pixel XL and headphones?

I just connected wireless (non-Bluetooth) headphones to the headphone jack of my Pixel XL. I can make and receive calls just fine, and I can hear the Google Assistant, but when I walk far enough away from the phone, neither "OK Google" detection works, nor, if I tap the Assistant button first then walk away, does the Assistant hear me.

There's a setting for enabling voice to work over Bluetooth headphones, but I don't see a corresponding setting for "wired" headphones. Can anyone else verify or contradict?___The original post has the solution. Basically, I was stupid.

posted image

2016-11-20 20:22:53 (7 comments; 1 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Pixel XL and headphones?

Update, 10:40 EST 21 Nov: Problem solved, answer: I'm stupid. See my comment below.

I just connected wireless (non-Bluetooth) headphones to the headphone jack of my Pixel XL. I can make and receive calls just fine, and I can hear the Google Assistant, but when I walk far enough away from the phone, neither "OK Google" detection works, nor, if I tap the Assistant button first then walk away, does the Assistant hear me.

There's a setting for enabling voice to work over Bluetooth headphones, but I don't see a corresponding setting for "wired" headphones. Can anyone else verify or contradict?

Pixel XL and headphones?

Update, 10:40 EST 21 Nov: Problem solved, answer: I'm stupid. See my comment below.

I just connected wireless (non-Bluetooth) headphones to the headphone jack of my Pixel XL. I can make and receive calls just fine, and I can hear the Google Assistant, but when I walk far enough away from the phone, neither "OK Google" detection works, nor, if I tap the Assistant button first then walk away, does the Assistant hear me.

There's a setting for enabling voice to work over Bluetooth headphones, but I don't see a corresponding setting for "wired" headphones. Can anyone else verify or contradict?___

2016-11-20 18:50:53 (16 comments; 9 reshares; 14 +1s; )Open 

The White House: if President Trump doesn't live there, he has to pay

I don't mean figuratively. From the first White House presidency of Jefferson on, the President himself was responsible for all White House expenses. Of course, that wasn't sustainable unless all presidents were independently wealthy, but they were until James Garfield, who was so not independently wealthy — he had to borrow a coat for his inauguration because he didn't own one — that Congress appropriated the cost of the residence from the federal government's budget from then on.

It's generally accepted that the perks a president enjoys are neither income nor benefits nor gifts, but are rather part of the necessary conveniences to make the "employer/employee" relationship between the public and the President run smoothly — like if a company offers free snacks so peopledon&#... more »

The White House: if President Trump doesn't live there, he has to pay

I don't mean figuratively. From the first White House presidency of Jefferson on, the President himself was responsible for all White House expenses. Of course, that wasn't sustainable unless all presidents were independently wealthy, but they were until James Garfield, who was so not independently wealthy — he had to borrow a coat for his inauguration because he didn't own one — that Congress appropriated the cost of the residence from the federal government's budget from then on.

It's generally accepted that the perks a president enjoys are neither income nor benefits nor gifts, but are rather part of the necessary conveniences to make the "employer/employee" relationship between the public and the President run smoothly — like if a company offers free snacks so people don't have to run out all the time, taken to its logical extreme.

But it would be so easy for corporations to abuse this principle for housing, meals and transportation (for example, simply writing up a lease so that an executive could live in her own home, temporarily leased to her own company, for tax advantage to both company and executive) that the tax code very specifically spells out when this is allowed. For instance, for lodging and meals:

"There shall be excluded from gross income of the value of any meals or lodging furnished to him, his spouse, or any of his dependents by or on behalf of his employer for the convenience of the employer, but only if—

(1) in the case of meals, the meals are furnished on the business premises of the employer, or
(2) in the case of lodging, the employee is required to accept such lodging on the business premises of his employer as a condition of his employment" (26 U.S.C. § 119 (2015), emphasis mine).

See the problem? If Mr. Trump makes Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago, or both, his primary residence and the White House a ceremonial one, then he hasn't "accepted the lodging... as a condition of his employment", and the costs of those times he stays in the White House should be considered to be taxable fringe benefits. (Worse, he'd have to consider any additional cost borne by the government in lodging him to be a fringe benefit; he couldn't use the accounting trick of calculating the cost of a night as equivalent to a night in a hotel.)

I've spent some time reading profiles of Donald Trump from before he was a political figure, when his "guard was down", so to speak. From everything I've read, he's an incredible germaphobe (watch how events are orchestrated so he doesn't have to shake hands — when he passed lines of public he gave out autographs rather than handshakes — and he practically winced when President Obama shook his hand in the Oval Office), he expects his executives to personally scrub and polish any surface he might touch or see, and he doesn't sleep at others' residences. Suites in his own properties, such as Turnberry, where he sleeps are fully refurbished before he stays in them. He famously stands in others' offices or boardrooms rather than trusting unknown upholstery. An acquaintance theorized that his love of fast food comes largely from its coming packaged in nice, sanitary, disposable wrappers.

His plane is a study in how he looks at such things. His bedroom on the Trump plane is his and his alone with bedding that is replaced after each use. It's reported that he once demanded a $150,000 "repair" to his 757's galley because the rubber task flooring had a visible seam that offended his sensibilities. (This came up because he refused to pay for both the original and the replacement.) It's routine in aircraft operations to swap parts needing maintenance for equivalents with similar flight time so that a plane isn't grounded while repairs are made, but Trump has insisted that all parts on his plane either be the repaired originals or brand-new replacements. The ceiling of the cabin interior is ultrasuede — not exactly a sensible material for a surface that passengers' hands frequently press or run against! — and the flight crew (including the pilots) carefully brush it before each flight so that any crushes are removed and the grain all goes the same direction.

Is it imaginable that this man will put up with the indignities of the White House? Or even of Air Force One, which while certainly one (actually, two) of the nicest planes in the sky, is primarily a workhorse — a strong, ballistic/microfiber nylon sandwich, textured to look like leather, is used for many upholstery surfaces and the only gold to be found in the cabin is on the Great Seal. Compare that to Trump's plane, where every visible metallic surface in the cabin, from the seatbelt buckles to the headrest buttons to the lav faucets, are gold-plated.

This is a conflict whose resolution I'm really interested to see — if we hear that he complained but was quickly shut up after the Secret Service, Air Force and intelligence explained to him the extreme expense and equally extreme necessity of the classified parts of the planes, then it's a sign he's probably finally starting to become resigned to the fact that his life will change whether he likes it or not. If he makes some attempt to superficially luxe up the Air Force VC-25's, I'd take it as a sign he's still fighting the idea of truly becoming the President rather than simply being the President as he is. If he continues to fly the Trump plane around, it would be unprecedented and highly inadvisable — but when has that stopped him before?

But, bonus! The federal government would pay the Trump Organization whatever cost the Trump Organization chooses to charge for flight operations in that case, out of classified "dark budget" money we'd never know about. (Before you ask, the cost to retrofit Trump's 757 to Secret Service and military standards would be staggering and probably technically impossible, even if it were remotely possible to do it quickly — and it isn't. The Air Force has already been working full-tilt for a year with Boeing for the next generation of the president's planes, but they won't be delivered until 2024.)

So... I think it's going to be even money on whether the President moves to the White House or not. (How could he allow the traditional hundreds-of-movers "turnover" of the White House from one president to another that happens during the inauguration if there weren't time to repaint and replace all the upholstery?)

And then given the lodging exclusion I quoted above, I think President Trump is going to run into a huge problem here, since he'll immediately face IRS scrutiny for... oh, wait. Nevermind.___

2016-11-19 21:42:55 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 14 +1s; )Open 

If only...

You know, things might have really turned out very differently if the reporters who unearthed so many disqualifying characteristics of Donald Trump in the months before the election hadn't all been self-aggrandizing kooks who claimed their stories were important, because they contained potentially disqualifying information about a candidate who could actually be elected President of the United States.

It's really too bad that the rest of the press had to wait until after he was elected to bring attention to them. But what were they supposed to do — devote airtime and column-inches to stuff that would disqualify Donald Trump, who had no chance to win, when there were so many more things to rehash about the next president's emails? Really, let's keep this in perspective.

If only...

You know, things might have really turned out very differently if the reporters who unearthed so many disqualifying characteristics of Donald Trump in the months before the election hadn't all been self-aggrandizing kooks who claimed their stories were important, because they contained potentially disqualifying information about a candidate who could actually be elected President of the United States.

It's really too bad that the rest of the press had to wait until after he was elected to bring attention to them. But what were they supposed to do — devote airtime and column-inches to stuff that would disqualify Donald Trump, who had no chance to win, when there were so many more things to rehash about the next president's emails? Really, let's keep this in perspective.___

2016-11-18 19:36:51 (7 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Catching up on things I missed: a far future teeming with life — and green skies?

(Update: curious, I originally used the solar-mass symbol in this post, and on iOS and Android, display of the post text stopped dead right before the first appearance of that symbol. An odd bug, but I've rewritten to avoid the symbol.)

In the hubbub of the election, I missed a lot of interesting stories. One of them was about the paper below by astrophysicists at Harvard and Oxford, positing that the vast majority of biological activity (i.e., life) in the universe will happen more than one trillion years from now (almost 100 times the current age of the universe), when due to accelerated cosmic expansion, the gas density necessary for stellar formation will drop to the point where stellar formation will dwindle and eventually stop.

As a star's lifetime is inverselyp... more »

Catching up on things I missed: a far future teeming with life — and green skies?

(Update: curious, I originally used the solar-mass symbol in this post, and on iOS and Android, display of the post text stopped dead right before the first appearance of that symbol. An odd bug, but I've rewritten to avoid the symbol.)

In the hubbub of the election, I missed a lot of interesting stories. One of them was about the paper below by astrophysicists at Harvard and Oxford, positing that the vast majority of biological activity (i.e., life) in the universe will happen more than one trillion years from now (almost 100 times the current age of the universe), when due to accelerated cosmic expansion, the gas density necessary for stellar formation will drop to the point where stellar formation will dwindle and eventually stop.

As a star's lifetime is inversely proportional to its stellar mass (divided by its luminosity, but that doesn't affect things in this context), and most stars will be much less massive than at present, around one-tenth the mass of Sol, most stars will have longer lifetimes — far longer lifetimes, on the order of 10 trillion years — billions of times longer than it took for the Solar system to evolve humans!

This fact was well-known, as part of the "far future history of the universe". What this paper argues is that this vastly expanded timeframe gives a much greater chance for any given solar system (orbiting around such an M7 red dwarf) to develop life.

The counterargument (unmentioned in this paper except inferentially) is that the habitable zone (HZ, a.k.a. "Goldilocks zone") would be so close to the star as to render life unviable because of two main factors: tidal locking (the planet's orbit would be so close to its sun that it would forever have one side facing the sun and the other away, just as the Moon is tidally locked to the Earth), which would cause one side to bake while the other froze; and greater stellar radiation hazard both from simply being closer to the sun (though that's a small effect since the sun would be much smaller than ours) and because of a red dwarf's greater variability as compared to higher-mass stars which burn very smoothly.

There are counter-counterarguments, though. First, there have been some studies that, with enough water, a tidally locked planet would not experience such extremes of temperature as water (both in the atmosphere as clouds and in oceans) carried warmth to the far side — they'd have much higher and more-constant winds as compared to the Earth, but we don't have any reason to consider that fundamentally incompatible with life. Not to mention, the habitable zone of a red dwarf does contain an outer ring where tidal locking does not occur; since it's estimated that an Earthlike planet is about three to five times as likely to be found in the HZ of a red dwarf than around a sun like ours, even if tidal locking is a fatal complication to life, there would still be trillions of planets within the "real" HZ discarding the zone of tidal locking.

And stellar radiation, while a hazard to life, also is the principal driver of life, as evolution by natural selection depends on mutation, and greater stellar radiation means greater mutation, possibly (on such huge time frames, maybe probably) including mutation that is ameliorative of the radiation's other effects!

Something that has captured my imagination since I was a kid was what an alien sky would look like. For some reason, I always imagined a green sky. Our blue sky is due to Rayleigh scattering of our sun's light being shifted out of the visible range; we perceive this as blue (because our eyes are not very sensitive to violet; by the way, I'm massively simplifying this, but there are lots of places to look to find out why our sky is blue if you're so interested). If I'm running the numbers correctly, a Earthlike planet with an Earthlike atmosphere around an M7 red dwarf — whose temperature is much cooler than our sun's and with less light shifting out of visibility — should give a green cast to the daytime sky (an aquamarine color, I think). Can someone check me on that?

While that would be lovely, the sky on such a planet would have some definite aesthetic disadvantages, I think. The planet's sun would only appear about half as large as our Moon (though, if such a planet could support its own Moon, eclipses would be fairly commonplace!) — again, if I'm running the numbers right and I understand where the ring of tidal locking ends — which I might not.

The night sky would likely be filled with aurorae, which is nice because otherwise I think the sky would be almost black. Other planets in the system might be visible to the naked eye, but at that stage in the universe's life, the chance of even one naked-eye star being visible in the sky would be low (especially once we get past the point of stellar formation, somewhere between 1 and 200 trillion years from now). To give you a sense of this, the very closest star to us is a red dwarf, Proxima Centauri, only 4.25 ly away, and it is too faint to be seen without a powerful telescope, yet it's an M5.5, not an M7, so would be about ten times brighter! A sky literally filled with red dwarfs would be entirely black to us.

I wonder if intelligent beings, evolving on such a planet, would be very different from us without the ever-changing yet never-changing canvas of light overhead at night. Could they evolve civilization without the wonder of the night sky giving birth to astronomy, which gave birth to technology and mathematics? Could they "wonder" at all? (Sorry to go all Cosmos on you. It's the sort of thing I think about.)

If they did develop technology, what stage of advancement would they reach before someone thought to point a powerful light collector at the blackness above? Could they reach that advancement without the knowledge gained by naked-eye and Galilean astronomy? (To put it in perspective, Proxima Centauri was the first red dwarf observed, and it wasn't seen until 1915. There are a dozen or so red dwarfs that are observable with backyard telescopes, but none are anywhere near the long life of a dim M7, so I think even exhaustive Galilean astronomy of an M7-filled sky would be fruitless.)

(Before I get too maudlin about the poor plight of these hypothetical aliens-without-a-night-sky, I will admit that a lot of the technology and mathematics arising from astronomy came from observation of the planets, not the stars, and eventually for navigation by the Sun and Moon. But the number of planets and moons visible in a red dwarf system would be lower, too.)

I can't figure out if nearby galaxies of mostly-M7's and the fossil light at that stage of the universe would give any character to the night sky or not. Again, would love someone who has better command of this stuff to come to my rescue and let me know.

Such an interesting thing to contemplate, though!___

2016-11-17 16:40:47 (5 comments; 1 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

Oh, great, my iPad thinks the sound of people on television saying "Nikki Haley" sounds just like me saying "hey Siri".

Oh, great, my iPad thinks the sound of people on television saying "Nikki Haley" sounds just like me saying "hey Siri".___

posted image

2016-11-17 16:17:14 (40 comments; 3 reshares; 34 +1s; )Open 

You know what's really upsetting about this article on a fake-news writer?

I thought I'd go back to various comment threads where I'd run into someone who really believed one of these stories and used it as "fact" to refute me, and I'd link to it, and say "see"? And I'd at least get a grumble about having seen other stories about it, so what if that one wasn't true, blah blah.

But it turns out that every last one of those arguments ended with the person in question saying they were blocking me for... being unreasonable and refusing to believe the truth.

I've never seen the bubble work so palpably before, the dots so visibly connected. And boy, is it depressing.

You know what's really upsetting about this article on a fake-news writer?

I thought I'd go back to various comment threads where I'd run into someone who really believed one of these stories and used it as "fact" to refute me, and I'd link to it, and say "see"? And I'd at least get a grumble about having seen other stories about it, so what if that one wasn't true, blah blah.

But it turns out that every last one of those arguments ended with the person in question saying they were blocking me for... being unreasonable and refusing to believe the truth.

I've never seen the bubble work so palpably before, the dots so visibly connected. And boy, is it depressing.___

posted image

2016-11-16 18:35:00 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Recommendations for gaming headset?

On Prime Day, I picked up a Corsair VOID (what a terrible name) and I initially liked it, but with use, the balance has gotten farther and farther out of whack so that now I have to drastically weight towards the right to get an even balance, meaning the maximum possible volume is much lower, too, and it's getting close to below where I want it. Worse, when the volume knob is turned, it changes the balance too.

Also — and had I known this before I bought them, I wouldn't have — the boom mic doesn't automatically mute when flipped up. I like a) a visual cue as to whether the mic is active, b) a tactile cue when I'm in VR, and c) a hardware mic switch, which most flip-up mutes have, as opposed to a firmware mute or a damper (the VOID's "mute" button is so poor that Cortana would sometimes correctly respond towha... more »

Recommendations for gaming headset?

On Prime Day, I picked up a Corsair VOID (what a terrible name) and I initially liked it, but with use, the balance has gotten farther and farther out of whack so that now I have to drastically weight towards the right to get an even balance, meaning the maximum possible volume is much lower, too, and it's getting close to below where I want it. Worse, when the volume knob is turned, it changes the balance too.

Also — and had I known this before I bought them, I wouldn't have — the boom mic doesn't automatically mute when flipped up. I like a) a visual cue as to whether the mic is active, b) a tactile cue when I'm in VR, and c) a hardware mic switch, which most flip-up mutes have, as opposed to a firmware mute or a damper (the VOID's "mute" button is so poor that Cortana would sometimes correctly respond to what I was saying with the mute active — since it's designed to reply across the room with an unmuted mic).

That said, the comfort level of these has been superb — they're comfy for hours and hours, they don't pinch ears or feel tight over the head, and they don't get hot. Other pluses:
• The cans rotate so the headset can sit flat or hang from a desk hook without brushing your leg. More importantly, rotation allows for greater flexibility in fit.
• The cable is 6' (1.8 m), which is enough to not get me in trouble when I'm doing something room-scale with the Vive.
• It terminates in a 3.5 mm TRRS plug (à la most phone earbuds with mics but unlike many analog gaming headsets that terminate in separate stereo and mic plugs), but comes with a USB DAC dongle, which is useful for the versatility. (If I had to choose, I'd pick USB over 3.5 mm, but I can use this dongle or any number of two-socket USB DACs I've accumulated over the years.)
• They won't slide off even when leaning far forward or looking straight up — every Logitech set I've ever tried has had this problem, which is pretty much a nonstarter for VR use.

I'm sure that if I tried, I could get a replacement, but they frankly were so cheap on Prime Day that the lack of retract-mic mute is enough to make we want to pick something else.

Anyone have a nomination? Again, my priorities:
1. Comfort over long periods (and doesn't get hot) with no slippage when moving my head around
2. A mic that folds or retracts and mutes automatically
3. Sound quality good enough to let me follow aural clues for locating things in VR (which in my experience, just means pretty much anything decent in the $75 and over range; I'm not looking for audiophile quality or studio monitoring here)
4. Mic quality decent enough for streaming/screen-capture narration and good voice recognition
5. A long cable (at least 1.75 m)
6. I generally prefer on-can controls to on-cord controls, but I really dislike headsets like the Sony PlayStation Gold where all the can-mounted controls feel exactly the same, so you have to remember positionally which button does what

I don't think I should care about surround support, but if you know differently tell me. I don't play games or anything outside of VR where I need directional audio cues, and inside VR, directional audio (including simulated surround) is just something you get from the VR software framework. (I've heard disputing opinions without any authoritative answer as to whether SteamVR or OpenVR programs can make use of surround headphones, or whether they just always send a stereo signal with their own trickery for positional awareness.)

I've spent enough money in the past few years on cheaper headsets that haven't lasted that I'm willing to go more upscale this time for quality.

The Sennheiser Game Zeros would probably be my pick except everyone says they get hot and can be tight on the head. The Sennheiser 373D's seem nice and are probably the ones I'm leaning toward at the moment, but a) they don't fold up (a minor issue I can live with) and b) apparently have rather flat sound if you don't use the proprietary software equalizer. If the higher-end Logitechs didn't have that ridiculous "falling off your head when you lean forward or back" issue, that would probably be my leading contender.

What say you?___

posted image

2016-11-16 17:12:26 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

I just set up Android Pay on my new Pixel XL, and got this screen. Oddly, the "learn more" link opens Chrome and sends me into a never-ending loop of Google account login requests. (It reacts differently when I intentionally enter the wrong password, so I know that I'm not getting the password wrong somehow.)

Googling for "Android Pay small purchases" isn't turning up anything, so I wonder if this is a upcoming feature there's no help page for yet?

I just set up Android Pay on my new Pixel XL, and got this screen. Oddly, the "learn more" link opens Chrome and sends me into a never-ending loop of Google account login requests. (It reacts differently when I intentionally enter the wrong password, so I know that I'm not getting the password wrong somehow.)

Googling for "Android Pay small purchases" isn't turning up anything, so I wonder if this is a upcoming feature there's no help page for yet?___

2016-11-15 21:51:42 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 11 +1s; )Open 

Is it just me, or does it seem like recent events have ruined Mr. Robot and The Man in the High Castle as entertainment?

Is it just me, or does it seem like recent events have ruined Mr. Robot and The Man in the High Castle as entertainment?___

posted image

2016-11-14 19:14:19 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

I got home very late Saturday night (early Sunday morning) and thought about turning on SNL but didn't. After waking up, I hit "play" on the DVR, saw the hands on the keyboard, heard those first notes, saw Kate McKinnon's costume, and quickly hit pause—for my fiancé's sake, not mine, as he's still in the "I don't want to see anything election-related at all" phase of his recovery—and I dissolved into tears.

After my fiancé was out of sight I put on headphones, hit play again, and just sobbed my way through it. Just seeing the thumbnail in this post is making me tear up again.

"Hallelujah" is one of my favorite songs, but it never occurred to me that the lyrics (as in Leonard Cohen's album Various Positions, which was the version she sang) were so perfect here and now. Losing Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen all this yearis ju... more »

Shared not for political reasons. It's just a very good rendition of the song.___I got home very late Saturday night (early Sunday morning) and thought about turning on SNL but didn't. After waking up, I hit "play" on the DVR, saw the hands on the keyboard, heard those first notes, saw Kate McKinnon's costume, and quickly hit pause—for my fiancé's sake, not mine, as he's still in the "I don't want to see anything election-related at all" phase of his recovery—and I dissolved into tears.

After my fiancé was out of sight I put on headphones, hit play again, and just sobbed my way through it. Just seeing the thumbnail in this post is making me tear up again.

"Hallelujah" is one of my favorite songs, but it never occurred to me that the lyrics (as in Leonard Cohen's album Various Positions, which was the version she sang) were so perfect here and now. Losing Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen all this year is just confirmation: 2016 has been the worst.

When I was finished watching SNL, I went in to tell my fiancé it was safe to come out. He asked me: "was it sad?" I think it's a testament to the place half the country finds itself in right now that the most natural question to ask after an episode of Saturday Night Live is that: "was it sad?"

2016-11-14 16:29:37 (10 comments; 4 reshares; 21 +1s; )Open 

Today, Trump gets the "nuclear football" briefing. What happens next will tell us a lot.

Updated below.

Today, President-elect Trump gets the national security briefing about how the nuclear arsenal, launch codes, protocols and "football" work. (It's actually more like "training"—he will practice at least one simulation of ordering a nuclear strike, and probably two or three—but we don't presume to "train" our president-elect, so we call it a "briefing".) Every president who's received this briefing has reported that day as one of the most emotionally straining experiences of their lives, and how our new president-elect handles it will tell us a great deal about whether he's going to move America towards a new foreign policy, retrench into the hawkishness of some of his newly-announced advisors, or take us tothe... more »

Today, Trump gets the "nuclear football" briefing. What happens next will tell us a lot.

Updated below.

Today, President-elect Trump gets the national security briefing about how the nuclear arsenal, launch codes, protocols and "football" work. (It's actually more like "training"—he will practice at least one simulation of ordering a nuclear strike, and probably two or three—but we don't presume to "train" our president-elect, so we call it a "briefing".) Every president who's received this briefing has reported that day as one of the most emotionally straining experiences of their lives, and how our new president-elect handles it will tell us a great deal about whether he's going to move America towards a new foreign policy, retrench into the hawkishness of some of his newly-announced advisors, or take us to the brink of armageddon.

It's been reported that after getting this same briefing in 2008, President-elect Obama called Vice President-elect Biden and said he wanted to "jump out a window and run", and supposedly asked Biden (how seriously, I don't know) if he should just resign before ever taking office and just let Biden take the presidency, because he feared he didn't have the foreign policy experience necessary.

The stories of how Donald Trump apparently sat, dumbfounded ("quiet" is how his campaign has described it), for several minutes early Wednesday morning after realizing he'd won makes me wonder what today's going to do to him. I'd look to see if Trump tweets or makes any interview statements of note this afternoon or tomorrow. I'm betting a > 75% chance he will say something that makes news. Not necessarily on foreign policy—I'm just saying he'll make some statement just because he's stressed out, and when he feels pressured, he always ends up saying something—er, "unusual"—about something. (If the unflappable Obama was stressed out after this briefing, God knows Trump will be).

If he does say something, I think it will probably be the most illuminating window we'll have until Jan. 20 on how his presidency will actually look and behave. I've been thinking about this a lot (actually, I was thinking about it in terms of what I would hear from Hillary Clinton, but I've had almost a week to at least subconsciously rethink it from the new terms on the board). Here's what I'll be listening for:

If he lashes out at the protesters again, that will be very, very bad, and should frighten us all—if his reaction to realizing that he will soon have the power to end all life on earth is to belittle the American public in opposition to him, then those of us who saw his authoritarian and even fascist leanings are probably going to be proven right.

If he shows some bravado about foreign policy—like that once he's president, ISIS will be gone so soon our heads will spin—that will terrify me. It would arguably be worse than a statement about protests, because it might show that being shown the nuclear arsenal made him feel powerful rather than humbled. (I know, the concept of Donald Trump feeling "humbled" seems laughable on its face, but if there's anything on Earth that could — and should! — humble anyone on Earth, it's being led through actual missile targets with maps and fatality estimates in the billions and being told "this power is yours now".)

  In the case of his displaying braggadocio, we may actually have to start seriously thinking about whether our generals and admirals, our colonels and Navy captains, and even our lieutenants and Army captains are prepared to defy illegal orders, and whether they will do so if worst comes to worst.

If he makes no news on foreign policy or protests for the next several days, does not make good on his promise to meet with Vladimir Putin, does not speak to our nuclear arsenal or the Iran deal or the military or ISIS, that will tell me so many of us were right eighteen months ago—he was an unserious candidate and will be an unserious president. If we make it through four years without a crisis, everything might be fine, but basically the advisors and Cabinet secretaries will be running the country. It will be like the Cheney-run foreign policy with more variability.

If he says something unremarkable and anodyne, like "received security briefing today—our military is so very important and we're going to make it great again!", then he'll leave us still guessing (but see my point on NATO below).

These four are, I think, the most likely statements to come out in the wake of his briefing. But some more possibilities are worth considering:
• He might break protocol and reveal something compartmented, or seem to reveal something that's untrue but, were it true, would be top secret. ("We have so many undercover agents working in countries that are supposed to be our 'allies'—amazing!") We have precedent for this kind of thing from Mr. Trump, as his untrue statements about his intelligence briefings around the time of the debates show us. This one will tell us to buckle up for the clown car and random numbers presidency. If this is what happens, I'm going to be babbling like an idiot for awhile.

• He might say nuclear non-proliferation needs to be one of his priorities as president, or that the Iran deal does not need to be "torn up" after all. You may snicker at this one, but remember that his first foray into politics in the 80's was offering himself to the Reagan administration as the deal-maker to reverse the nuclear arms race, an issue that many people who knew him socially at the time said he was obsessed with. I haven't lived long enough to know whether the political ideals I hold at the age I am now will still hold when I'm 70, but I think today's reminder could very well put him back in that mindset. This possibility is a hopeful one, but his "plan" to deal the world out of mutually-assured destruction was not very sophisticated (as his failure in a debate to define our "nuclear triad" of ground-based ICBMs, ballistic missile submarines, and strategic nuclear bombers showed), so the jury will remain out in this case.

• If he says something nice about Putin or announces his plans to meet with the Russians, that's probably as close to a neutral cipher—something that anyone with a theory about Trump's foreign policy will see as confirmative—as we might get. It's clear that Putin has been cultivating Trump, but we know from U.S. and allied intelligence leaks that the Khan family debacle caused great alarm in the Kremlin, because it made them think Trump may be mentally unbalanced—to a clinical extent. They were looking for a "useful idiot", not a "potentially friendly madman". I will stop speculating beyond that point, because how a Trump/Putin relationship is likely to work out is something far too complex for this space.

• If on the other hand, he says something anti-Putin or anti-Russian, that will superficially cause alarm, but I think would, depending on how it's worded, actually be reassuring. It could indicate that, like Obama's one-on-one apparently gave Trump second thoughts on health care, the nuclear briefing could make him reevaluate his position on the U.S.'s place in geopolitics and begin to realize how any intervention by Russia into our internal politics, even to his benefit, was a very bad thing.

• If he makes yet another statement—this would probably be in an interview response rather than a tweet—along the lines of "I'm not telling" or "I don't want them [ISIS, Russia, Iran, etc.] to know my plans" or "remember, I do have a secret plan to defeat ISIS" doubling down on the "I'm going to be unpredictable" shtick, that's probably going to make me just stare out the window mumbling to myself for a few hours. Of all his statements about foreign policy during the campaign, this "keep them guessing" reflex is so misguided that if he didn't already get slapped upside his face by President Obama about it, and if today's briefing—complete with a war game showing why deterrence matters—doesn't convince him of why it's misguided, then concerns about civil rights be damned: we are really, truly looking at the possibility of going from Iran deal to nuclear war in less than twenty-four months.

• On the other hand, if he makes a strong statement in support of NATO and our commitment to our allies, we can all breathe a sigh of relief, as that could be among the most hopeful things he could do. Not "say", "do"—his "keep them guessing" shtick was scary because it showed how profoundly he misunderstood the fact that, in foreign policy, the president acts by what he says. Foreign Affairs decided to endorse Hillary Clinton—the first endorsement the magazine has ever made in its 94-year history—largely, they said, because of the damage Trump had already, as Republican nominee, done to the most important alliance humanity has ever known.

NATO's power comes from its total lack of unpredictability; if Russia or another power attacks one of us, Article 5 goes into effect and we are all at war: "an attack on one is an attack on all." That has presented (up till now, that is) an insurmountable obstacle to Russia's ambitions into Eastern Europe. By merely calling our commitment to NATO into question, Mr. Trump (before he was President-elect Trump) had already weakened NATO. His becoming the president-elect has weakened it further, and he must — I cannot stress this enough, he must, he must, he MUST! — fix that damage by publicly reiterating the United States' unwavering support of our alliance, before he is inaugurated. The international diplomatic and military communities have been on tenterhooks since Nov. 9 waiting for this; every day it doesn't happen, the worse the geopolitical situation gets.

We need to pay very close attention to what the president-elect says next. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Doomsday clock, which now stands at 3 minutes to midnight, will be moved ahead by one or even two minutes in January if he handles this test badly. This is as deadly serious as it gets.

Update, 20:20 EST: Two things: 1) it's possible that President-elect Trump did not receive the "Black Book" briefing today; we only know that he received the first of three "deep secret" briefings (the other two being on covert operations and on counterintelligence), and the president-elect can choose what order to take them in. (Most president-elects have held the nuclear briefing for last—perhaps to keep their mood for as much of the transition as possible—though President Obama chose to have his first, which was why I—erroneously and, perhaps, incorrectly—assumed the same was happening today.) 2) After the briefing, Trump did, in fact, have a phone conversation with Vladimir Putin and the readout from the Trump camp was quite positive, so it's possible that my "nice things about Putin" option above was the operative one. OTOH, the readout from the Russian foreign secretary, though also positive, gave an entirely different list of topics discussed than Trump's did, so go think on that one for a bit....___

posted image

2016-11-13 21:16:19 (2 comments; 7 reshares; 19 +1s; )Open 

How "honest and trustworthy" is an insincere apology?

In a comment to my post linked below, +Stacy S brought up something I think deserves more consideration than a single comment. She wrote about the comments made on Sec. Clinton's side during the campaign that were inappropriate and, perhaps, hateful.

I think some perspective is called for here.

There are scattered ill-considered remarks that are apologized for, and there are a constant stream of disqualifying remarks that aren't apologized for; the two aren't remotely equivalent.

There are remarks made by rank-and-file supporters of the candidate (including members of the opinion media who support her), and there are remarks made by the candidate himself and his designated surrogates; the two aren't remotely equivalent.

There are comments directed at people who seem... more »

How "honest and trustworthy" is an insincere apology?

In a comment to my post linked below, +Stacy S brought up something I think deserves more consideration than a single comment. She wrote about the comments made on Sec. Clinton's side during the campaign that were inappropriate and, perhaps, hateful.

I think some perspective is called for here.

There are scattered ill-considered remarks that are apologized for, and there are a constant stream of disqualifying remarks that aren't apologized for; the two aren't remotely equivalent.

There are remarks made by rank-and-file supporters of the candidate (including members of the opinion media who support her), and there are remarks made by the candidate himself and his designated surrogates; the two aren't remotely equivalent.

There are comments directed at people who seem to be acting out emotionally or with soft or hard bigotry, and there are comments directed at the disenfranchised and disadvantaged and disempowered; the two aren't remotely equivalent.

Remember that Sec. Clinton herself apologized for the "basket of deplorables" remark—if people were annoyed that she only apologized for implying that a majority of Mr. Trump's voters were deplorable rather than apologizing for the entire remark—well, unlike Mr. Trump, she seems to understand what an apology means.

A true apology is neither an "I'm sorry" of sympathy as in "I'm sorry you feel that way"; nor is it a thing you say only once pressured so much that saying it is the only way you feel you can get other people to move on; nor is it something you can say with sincerity unless you actually feel like you messed up, understand how you messed up, and are willing to make amends. She apologized for exactly the part of the remark she agreed was wrong and felt bad about—implying that people who were not in her "basket of deplorables" were in that basket. For her to apologize for claiming there was such a basket supporting Mr. Trump at all, or for her to apologize for saying people who held the beliefs she enumerated were "deplorable", or to apologize for calling any American citizen or voter "deplorable" (all things I heard both Trump's campaign surrogates and the so-called "objective" media demand) would have been the politically expedient kind of apology, not the sincere kind.

Her inability to apologize on using the private email server reflects that same understanding of apology—before she became Secretary of State, she knew her personal emails, if made available as they would be had she used the state.gov email, would be mined and used as opposition research. We now know, via the FSB and Wikileaks, that her concern wasn't mere self-aggrandizement or paranoia but was perfectly prescient. I hate to use the content of anything from the Wikileaks dumps because of the stench of the material's provenance, but leaks show many of her campaign advisors pleading with her to just apologize over the email server. In the end, years after she was first implored by a staffer to apologize for political expediency, she agreed to say "it was a mistake... [I] wouldn't do again"—but she still didn't apologize.

She didn't apologize, because the reason she said it was a mistake was that she had come to agree her choice to use the server was not politically the right move—but she still didn't feel remorse, so she didn't apologize. We can disagree with her choice (though in hindsight, after the Russians intervened, it's pretty hard to knock her instincts here), but her response was sincere even when sincerity was terribly politically damaging. This is the woman that such a large percentage of the public thought was less "honest and trustworthy"—a perception that first the special Benghazi committee and then the House Oversight committee and the FSB and Wikileaks and finally the FBI director promoted in a constant drip-drip-drip of innuendo, keeping reminding the public that something you just can't trust her about was there.

Mr. Trump made only one apology the entire campaign (as far as we know, the only apology he's made on the record in his life), after the Access Hollywood tape, and that apology was barely one, as it was arguably the "I'm sorry you feel that way" type, was inarguably the politically expedient type, and was laced with pinprick attacks and innuendo at his opponent and her husband. This is the man who was judged more "honest and trustworthy" than Sec. Clinton, a candidate who lied endlessly about all kinds of things, large and small, significant and trivial, and continued to lie about them even after being publicly corrected again and again and again!

It's yet another example of the two candidates being held to dramatically different standards—but perhaps the most egregious and damaging one in the context of the final election results. You can argue it was sexism (that played some part, certainly), but I think the most reasonable assessment of the double-standard was that the mainstream media (forget the opinion press), convinced that Mr. Trump had no shot at actually winning, reasonably felt their duty was to investigate the woman they thought was going to be president much more than the man for most of the election they considered little more than a circus sideshow.

(Here's a little post-election fact that I found stunning—so stunning that I'm sure anyone who insists on living in partisan subjective reality simply won't believe it: more front-page column-inches in The New York Times and The Washington Post were devoted to investigative articles critical of Sec. Clinton's handling of email than all investigative coverage critical of the President-elect combined, even if you start counting only after Mr. Trump won the Republican nomination.)

Today on the Sunday morning politics shows, the President-elect's surrogates' biggest talking point seems to be that we Democrats criticized Mr. Trump for not promising to accept the election result, but here we are on the streets protesting it when it didn't go our way—so hypocritical! In the New York Review of Books article I shared in a prior post (https://goo.gl/xoKxhC), Masha Gessen wrote:

> "in the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock. This will lead people to call you unreasonable and hysterical, and to accuse you of overreacting. It is no fun to be the only hysterical person in the room. Prepare yourself."

This new talking point is an especially easy one to normalize, to miss the bit of rhetorical legerdemain. Let me walk you through it:

1. Sec. Clinton isn't leading or organizing protests. (No, she isn't. The surrogates doubled down on their "professional protestors" line from President-elect Trump's anti-protester tweet, but it's simply false—groups offering bus rides to the protests or passing out bagged sandwiches so that protestors don't have to leave to find food doesn't make the protestors "professional"—such support wouldn't get people otherwise uninclined to protest out—and even those moves haven't been paid for by the Clinton campaign.)

2. The statements we were calling dangerous a few weeks ago were from the candidate's threats against the "rigged election". Sec. Clinton has not said the final result was rigged.

3. Rigging aside, Sec. Clinton won:
• The popular vote by a margin of what is likely to be around two million votes once all are counted;
• More popular votes than any Republican candidate in history (including, obviously, the President-elect himself);
• More popular votes than any Democratic candidate in history, excepting President Obama;
• A vote that, contrary to earlier reports, was not one with lower turnout than in 2012;
• A majority of white voters in the lowest two quintiles of income (contra the conventional wisdom that a Trump victory was from low-income whites);
• A majority of every non-white group;
• Nevada, where she had a get-out-the-vote operation, but not Wisconsin, where she didn't;
• An Electoral College victory using the expected post-2020 Census allocation;
• A vote deficit in several states smaller than the number of voters turned away by voter suppression ("anti-voter fraud") bills passed after the Supreme Court gutted key provisions of the Voting Right Act.
To my mind, these things constitute "rigging" much more plausibly than the "rigging" that Mr. Trump warned about, which seemed to be a combination of in-person voter fraud (something that, for all practical effect, simply doesn't happen at all) and the media somehow causing an institutional rigging (but, see above, my earlier comment about the difference in investigative coverage of the two candidates).

4. If you listen to the protestors, their signs and chants—things like "Not my President" and "Reject the President-elect"—are far less often about somehow seeing Sec. Clinton take the oath of office on Jan. 20 after all than about protesting the President-elect as a leader whom they can support. That's the sort of protest that we had every right to expect whoever won, and doesn't represent a practical refusal to accept the results but a moral refusal to accept this president-elect and what he stands for.

5. Democrats didn't believe for a moment that Mr. Trump's supporters would fail to take to the streets after Election Day had he lost, no matter what he said. We were simply pointing out how dangerous it was for the candidate himself to stoke them on in claims of a rigged election or to suggest that Sec. Clinton had no right to assume office. One can't prove this, but I think it's fairly safe to assume that Sec. Clinton would not have claimed such protestors were "professional" or that the protesting was "incited by media" or that it was "very unfair!"—or that she would have done it through a tweet.

So today's talking point represents another false equivalence: calling a hypothetical rejection of our democracy by Mr. Trump equivalent to a series of popular protests against the President-elect across the country. The lie that they're "professional protestors" makes it even worse, but it wouldn't matter if they were all paid by non-campaign political groups like Move On or the DNC—they're not (yet) protesting his legitimacy to assume office.

I threw the "(yet)" in there because of what Masha wrote: if the falsely equivalent attacks of protesters continue, they could very well decide "what the hell, if President-elect Trump—the man who started his political career by delegitimizing the presidency of Barack Obama—is going to act like we're calling his legitimacy into question, we might as well actually do it."

Masha's point is important for one more reason: we need to be shocked and outraged that his surrogates would say these things today, just as shocked as we were when he wrote that anti-protester tweet. Otherwise, the next step is something else Masha and other observers of how descent into autocracy works have documented: calling political protesters "traitors".

Our electorate somehow decided during the campaign that honesty and trustworthiness were to be found more in Mr. Trump than in Sec. Clinton. We know that once he says something, he isn't going to later apologize for it or admit it was wrong; if his nose gets rubbed in its wrongness, he very well might double down on the damned lie (a "damned lie", in Mark Twain's parlance, was the lie told knowingly with the intent of discrediting the truth-teller).

We need to start preparing ourselves for the moment—and it looks to be coming—when the president-elect and his surrogates start to call the protesters "un-American" traitors.

When that happens, we'll soon find out if Americans saw Mr. Trump as more "honest and trustworthy" only in comparison to Sec. Clinton—or if they decide he's still more honest and trustworthy than the protesters or the free press.___

2016-11-12 22:03:16 (26 comments; 1 reshares; 24 +1s; )Open 

What's with the hate?

The reason I use Google+ and not the other social networks is because I've had so many good discussions with people, even those I disagree with profoundly. The way I deal with ideas I don't agree with is to start with the presumption that I just don't understand; then I ask questions, bring up evidence, follow up and dig deeper until I can conclude that a) my interlocutor and I have a fundamental disagreement I can formulate in a way that we would both agree describes our disagreement, b) my interlocutor is misinformed, or c) I am wrong.

That sort of back-and-forth just doesn't happen, in my experience, much on other networks, so I really appreciate how much it happens here.

But since this general election began, and since Election Day far, far more, that approach to discussion has frequently resulted in my adversary—Ih... more »

What's with the hate?

The reason I use Google+ and not the other social networks is because I've had so many good discussions with people, even those I disagree with profoundly. The way I deal with ideas I don't agree with is to start with the presumption that I just don't understand; then I ask questions, bring up evidence, follow up and dig deeper until I can conclude that a) my interlocutor and I have a fundamental disagreement I can formulate in a way that we would both agree describes our disagreement, b) my interlocutor is misinformed, or c) I am wrong.

That sort of back-and-forth just doesn't happen, in my experience, much on other networks, so I really appreciate how much it happens here.

But since this general election began, and since Election Day far, far more, that approach to discussion has frequently resulted in my adversary—I hesitate to give them the name "interlocutor"—lashing out with pure vitriol.

Take this, for instance, in the comment thread of a recent post, after I asked a person who mistakenly had replied to me in the wrong thread to move the comment to the correct thread (I left it there despite my desire to delete it just so people could see what's happening):

> "You are a douchebag. I answered the question and I will now block you because your ego is out weighing your ass. Take it like you want it, I answered that question in this thread because you brought that fucking question into this thread. So have a great day and go fuck yourself."

This is among the most responsive and least hateful examples—many have just been pure expletive salad, to the point that I often can't figure out if someone's talking about me, about someone else in the thread, a whole group, or the subject of the post.

What the hell is going on here? I've been to the protests at Trump Tower; our side feels grief, we feel loss, we feel fear, we feel anger, but though I've seen some signs and heard some chanting on the lines of "fuck Trump", they're pretty uncommon and I haven't seen or heard anything like that directed at Trump supporters. I'm sure it happens—I've seen news reports showing it—but it seems pretty isolated.

Meanwhile, I've been multiple times a day deleting and/or reporting comments containing pure hate simply because an opinion they disagree with has been expressed.

We're angry at the man who's due to be inaugurated, and at his and some of his supporters' bigotry and odious ideas; but they seem to be angry at us for not supporting them (or not being like them).

This, more than anything in the news or in Mr. Trump's campaign positions or prior statements, has me truly afraid for the future of my country. You won. Why on earth do you need to lash out at us because we lost and are expressing our disappointment? Do you kick dogs and make fun of ugly babies too?___

2016-11-12 19:02:09 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

Look on the bright side...

Counterintelligence analyst Malcolm Nance, on AM Joy today, said that as of Jan. 20, for the first time in history, the leader of the free world will be a very competent woman: Angela Merkel.

Look on the bright side...

Counterintelligence analyst Malcolm Nance, on AM Joy today, said that as of Jan. 20, for the first time in history, the leader of the free world will be a very competent woman: Angela Merkel.___

posted image

2016-11-11 20:47:00 (25 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

"Repeal and replace" has a lot of people terrified. Trump voters, what's your response?

I posted about this a couple days ago asking for responses from pro-Trump (or even non-Trump anti-ACA folks), and got nothing. From the explosion of comments from Trump voters on some of my other threads, I know that you're out there, so let me just ask again.

Given that the "replace" part — whatever it is, and if it even happens — is at minimum 2 years away just because of the mechanics of how a bill would have to be passed and implemented, even if it was President-elect Trump and the Congress's number-one, exclusion-of-all-else priority — we'll be living through a prolonged period when we just have the "repeal" part. Can anyone explain to me how that's a good thing?

I really, honestly, truly want to know, because it wouldhelp ... more »

"Repeal and replace" has a lot of people terrified. Trump voters, what's your response?

I posted about this a couple days ago asking for responses from pro-Trump (or even non-Trump anti-ACA folks), and got nothing. From the explosion of comments from Trump voters on some of my other threads, I know that you're out there, so let me just ask again.

Given that the "replace" part — whatever it is, and if it even happens — is at minimum 2 years away just because of the mechanics of how a bill would have to be passed and implemented, even if it was President-elect Trump and the Congress's number-one, exclusion-of-all-else priority — we'll be living through a prolonged period when we just have the "repeal" part. Can anyone explain to me how that's a good thing?

I really, honestly, truly want to know, because it would help me personally to be able to plan. Because right now my understanding is that pre-existing condition exclusions return, annual and lifetime maximum benefits return while annual and lifetime out-of-pocket maximums disappear. This is even assuming that the private insurance market doesn't simply collapse as a result of their having reoriented themselves towards a post-ACA world and can't just turn back the clock.

Just tell me in 10,000-foot terms what people like me are supposed to do. The medication — truly a "miracle drug" — that changes me from a person in a wheelchair waiting for the odds of a fatal infection to catch up with me into a person who is in remission and usually perfectly healthy, the medication that costs thousands of dollars per dose at retail (so even plans with, say, 40% coinsurance on prescriptions would be ruinous) would be out of reach within a short period of time, even if I liquidated all of my and my fiance's savings, even if I cashed out my retirement accounts.

At that point, Medicaid expansion under ACA will be gone, so my being broke won't get me my meds again. Instead, I'll have to wait the fairly brief time (is that a good or bad thing?) between med discontinuation and becoming disabled enough to qualify for Social Security. But then I still must wait 24 months before I would qualify for Medicare under the SSDI.

"Get a job with health benefits", you say. Fine, of course; I'm covered under an employer plan now. But I first was diagnosed and began therapy long before the ACA, at a time when those old regulations existed, and I can tell you that in many states, even employer plans could exclude pre-existing conditions. Those that didn't, had a six-month waiting period before they covered expenses relating to them. And changing jobs — even changing plans with the same job, even if that was because the employer no longer offered the old plan — restarted that six-month clock.

So I moved back to New York, which had state regulations that forced employer plans to cover pre-existing conditions without waiting periods. (I believe, but have been unable to get confirmation, that those regulations are now gone because they were eliminated in the law that set up the state's ACA exchange; they were moot because of Obamacare's own robust pre-existing condition regulations.)

So: three months from now, President Trump signs the reconciliation bill (which can be passed without filibuster under Senate rules) that rips away the protections. What do I, and people like me, do then?

Trump supporters, I know you're there, you were eager to jump into other threads. So answer me. Your refusal to answer this says to me that you don't care what happens. Maybe that's because of me, you couldn't care what happens to me, maybe because I brought this on myself by supporting Obama and then Hillary; fine, there are millions like me, tell me what happens to someone in your family in the same position, someone who voted for Trump, say.

Your silence up to now has been deafening.

(I'll tag a few of you to challenge you to prove me wrong, that you're not just unable to answer: +Grumpy Veteran +Mike Serafin +Cynthia Sturm +Bertrand Thompson +Eeny Meany.)

Keep it on topic, though, and "keeping it topic" doesn't include magically turning the clock back to before Obamacare ruined it all, or attacking my political motives, or how the premiums are going up [I'd happily, happily, pay higher premiums, I just want to continue to walk], or how your own preferred replace plan will deal with this if enacted [we don't know it will be, or if any replace will be, and as I said, in any case, it doesn't matter because we're going to be living under "repeal without replace" for awhile no matter what].

I just want to know if you're really saying to me and people like me (including people who voted for and supported Trump) "just drop dead" or not. And if not, what you expect us to do.

And, Good Lord, don't make me lock this thread or have to delete comments or report anybody. There's absolutely no reason why we can't have a civil discussion about this; I'm not attacking you, I'm assuming you don't just want me to drop dead; I'm attacking the president-elect and the Congressional majority only insofar as I'm saying "I don't understand, and as far as I've been able to figure, there's nothing to understand, but maybe I'm wrong; if so, educate me."___

2016-11-11 19:41:35 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 10 +1s; )Open 

I hereby stand available as a professional protester. Please DM or email me your best offers. Must come with health benefits

I hereby stand available as a professional protester. Please DM or email me your best offers. Must come with health benefits___

posted image

2016-11-11 06:43:35 (68 comments; 44 reshares; 33 +1s; )Open 

A must-read from Masha Gessen on how to live under autocratic rule

For a decade now, Masha has consistently been one of my favorite reporters and thinkers. From the time of her return to Russia from the US after the wall fell, she fearlessly reported on what her birth country was turning into under Vladimir Putin, even as free media outlets were being shut down. She continued, even as other reporters were being murdered and "disappeared", until she became so worried about the situation for LGBTQ Russians that she consulted a lawyer about how to ensure that her own teenage son wouldn't be taken away from her simply for her being lesbian, and his answer was, "you have American citizenship; your answer is at the airport". She left.

She's just an extremely cool person with principles and intelligence, and I'm an unabashed Masha fanboy. (She also... more »

A must-read from Masha Gessen on how to live under autocratic rule

For a decade now, Masha has consistently been one of my favorite reporters and thinkers. From the time of her return to Russia from the US after the wall fell, she fearlessly reported on what her birth country was turning into under Vladimir Putin, even as free media outlets were being shut down. She continued, even as other reporters were being murdered and "disappeared", until she became so worried about the situation for LGBTQ Russians that she consulted a lawyer about how to ensure that her own teenage son wouldn't be taken away from her simply for her being lesbian, and his answer was, "you have American citizenship; your answer is at the airport". She left.

She's just an extremely cool person with principles and intelligence, and I'm an unabashed Masha fanboy. (She also writes the dialog for the Russian actors in The Americans, which is awesome.)

She now sees what's happening in this country, which is also her country, and her insight and experience is something we all need to pay attention to.

Today, President-elect Trump, in his first day of official transition business, did at least four things that were unprecedented for a president-elect:

1. He did not allow a press corps to follow and report on him (all footage we've seen today of him came from reporters invited by the White House, Speaker Ryan, or the Congressional press corps).

2. His spokespeople lied to the press pool about where he'd be spending the night and he gave them the slip for several hours until he showed up at Trump Tower—causing for the first time in 40 years a situation where the American people did not know where their president and president-elect was (even if "the American people" was notionally represented only by a small "tight pool" sworn to secrecy for national security reasons).

3. He tweeted. He has his phone back, ironically on the very day that he gained unlimited security clearance and was politely asked by the Director of National Intelligence to cease using an unsecured phone as Bush and Obama had done at this point in the transition—a request he refused. (I suppose that's two unprecedented things, but I meant the refusing to follow security protocols, not tweeting.)

4. That tweet was to complain that spontaneous protests around the country were actually "professional protesters incited by the media". (And that's actually such a ball of unprecedented things that I can't untangle them all and will pretend like it's just one.) If you've never visited the alt-right corners of the web, you may be unaware of the concept of "crisis actors", but he's claiming that they've been mobilized against him. (Oddly, "crisis actors" up till now have always been in the Obama administration's payroll, but I guess "the media" has decided to take them over as part of the peaceful transition of power?)

This is happening, folks. If you'd hoped he was going to make that presidential pivot; if you thought that last week, when his phone was stolen from him by his own advisors and he was convinced to just sit back and let the Comey letter do its job—"easy, Donald, play it smooth"—and everyone applauded him for managing to get through eight whole days without a scandal (so presidential!), if you thought that was a preview of his presidency, today put the lie to that.

Prepare yourself. Masha's advice will help.___

posted image

2016-11-11 03:24:48 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

Okay, tinfoil hat time...

I'm getting a bit obsessed with this, but in reading something unrelated, I saw a link to a visualization from the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/elections/how-trump-pushed-the-election-map-to-the-right.html that set some pattern-recognition neurons firing.

Look at the sparsest (highest-signal) map, "Shift in counties with populations of 150,00 or more". In Pennsylvania and Florida, every one with a red shift (Obama-voting county that went to Trump) is one of the counties with paperless (i.e., undetectably hackable) balloting.

(For clarity because I didn't spell it out last time, I'm not cherry-picking; Pennsylvania and Florida are the only swing states in the country that use unauditable voting machines anywhere — unless you consider Georgia a swing state.)

I'm justu... more »

Who's doing the due diligence that the vote wasn't hacked?

Understand me: I am not claiming that the election was rigged — it would be ridiculous for me to say so after so many weeks criticizing Trump and saying how dangerous it was to our democracy for him to be saying that.

At the same time, I did warn, repeatedly, that Trump, if nothing else, is a projection machine. (My fiance says we should call him President "Epson".) Pretty much everything during the campaign he lashed out at others about — coarseness, misogyny, womanizing, unfairness, bigotry, secretiveness, not facing the press, thin skin, the list goes on — were traits we could all see from him, usually in a greater degree than from whomever he was directing his vitriol of the moment towards.

And he kept saying the election was rigged. Most people wrote this off as more Trump insecurity. But what if it was more projection?

The reason I ask this is because everyone I know in cyber intelligence said last week that they were waiting for Russia to attack, that they just weren't sure what the attack would be. Most thought a multipronged approach would happen, with another DDoS attack on consumer Internet access, attacks on infrastructure, and attacks, where vulnerable, of the vote-gathering and counting systems.

Unlike the situation ten years ago (thank you Ed Felten), we can probably be relatively comfortable that the election couldn't have been remotely hacked in a way that was both large in scope (turning an election by more than a point or so), totally undetectable, and totally irrecoverable. For the most part, paper ballot trails exist.

But... but. I really don't want to be alarmist here — it's been a full day I've been looking at these numbers — and the vote was close enough in both Florida and Pennsylvania, just in counties with paperless voting machines, to have flipped the election.

Now, this seems unlikely, and a statistical model more rigorous than mine (which just involved research, selection of counties, addition and subtraction) should be able to rule it out. And I'd think it could be ruled out, since Pennsylvania and Florida flipped, but to my untrained eyes not significantly differently from other states that flipped.

My point is, I'd have expected some trained eyes by now to have reported on whether it was possible. We got no promised cyber attack on Election Day — that we know of. What if the result were close enough that Russia decided that it didn't need to create havoc at all, but did need to scooch the vote totals just a tiny bit in a handful of counties?

Let me one more time say, unequivocally, I don't currently dispute the election result. Yes, I'm a Democrat who supported Hillary, yes, I still don't understand Trump's appeal, yes, I'm a New York City liberal homosexual Jew lefthander — or was that leftist? Both, I guess — blah blah blah. I just want to know that some folks qualified to analyze this have analyzed it, and decided it was all fine.

If I just missed that bulletin, would greatly appreciate a link to it. Data-free, inexpert, or obviously tilted sources will be deleted on sight.

(Yes, I saw Schneier's column yesterday morning in The New York Times. But a) he doesn't say he himself did an analysis, b) he doesn't quote any analysis, and c) the article appears to have been published too early to have the county-by-county numbers to show that the election could have flipped this way.)___Okay, tinfoil hat time...

I'm getting a bit obsessed with this, but in reading something unrelated, I saw a link to a visualization from the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/elections/how-trump-pushed-the-election-map-to-the-right.html that set some pattern-recognition neurons firing.

Look at the sparsest (highest-signal) map, "Shift in counties with populations of 150,00 or more". In Pennsylvania and Florida, every one with a red shift (Obama-voting county that went to Trump) is one of the counties with paperless (i.e., undetectably hackable) balloting.

(For clarity because I didn't spell it out last time, I'm not cherry-picking; Pennsylvania and Florida are the only swing states in the country that use unauditable voting machines anywhere — unless you consider Georgia a swing state.)

I'm just using a binary here (R-shift present or absent) because I can't judge the length of the arrows well enough (I know I could dig up the historical records by county and munge them, but I'm really exhausted by this, maybe tomorrow), but the chances of this being due to random variance seems extremely low.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised if the counties that have the least resources to do things like replace relatively new (but known dangerous) voting machines (most counties expect voting machines to last decades) would be the same that might skew Trump for reasons having nothing to do with the voting machines.

But gee whiz, after hearing the Russian deputy foreign secretary admit today that they've been in regular contact with people in the Trump campaign, I'm having trouble just putting this aside.

Somebody tell me where I'm messing up here, and I'll put away the Ouija board and go back to obsessing about tolerating intolerance.

If not, somebody just hold me; the silence from my last post was deafening.

(+Gregory Marton, can you talk me down from this ledge?)

posted image

2016-11-10 19:54:29 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

It's so, so important to remember that a) Donald Trump Jr. told Kasich, in offering him the VP slot, that he'd effectively be the head of government while Trump himself served as head of state, "making America great again" and b) Trump's actual running mate, Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, was probably the leading politician in the country in supporting conversion therapy—both for adults and children—before being tapped. And that he attempted to or actually did (it depends on how you count it) reallocate funds from women's health to conversion therapy. That is incredibly scary.

Gregory from The True Colors Fund wrote a beautiful piece on their website. I encourage you to read, and share it too.
We will stay committed. <3___It's so, so important to remember that a) Donald Trump Jr. told Kasich, in offering him the VP slot, that he'd effectively be the head of government while Trump himself served as head of state, "making America great again" and b) Trump's actual running mate, Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, was probably the leading politician in the country in supporting conversion therapy—both for adults and children—before being tapped. And that he attempted to or actually did (it depends on how you count it) reallocate funds from women's health to conversion therapy. That is incredibly scary.

posted image

2016-11-10 19:22:14 (8 comments; 1 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Who's doing the due diligence that the vote wasn't hacked?

Understand me: I am not claiming that the election was rigged — it would be ridiculous for me to say so after so many weeks criticizing Trump and saying how dangerous it was to our democracy for him to be saying that.

At the same time, I did warn, repeatedly, that Trump, if nothing else, is a projection machine. (My fiance says we should call him President "Epson".) Pretty much everything during the campaign he lashed out at others about — coarseness, misogyny, womanizing, unfairness, bigotry, secretiveness, not facing the press, thin skin, the list goes on — were traits we could all see from him, usually in a greater degree than from whomever he was directing his vitriol of the moment towards.

And he kept saying the election was rigged. Most people wrote this off as more Trumpinsec... more »

Who's doing the due diligence that the vote wasn't hacked?

Understand me: I am not claiming that the election was rigged — it would be ridiculous for me to say so after so many weeks criticizing Trump and saying how dangerous it was to our democracy for him to be saying that.

At the same time, I did warn, repeatedly, that Trump, if nothing else, is a projection machine. (My fiance says we should call him President "Epson".) Pretty much everything during the campaign he lashed out at others about — coarseness, misogyny, womanizing, unfairness, bigotry, secretiveness, not facing the press, thin skin, the list goes on — were traits we could all see from him, usually in a greater degree than from whomever he was directing his vitriol of the moment towards.

And he kept saying the election was rigged. Most people wrote this off as more Trump insecurity. But what if it was more projection?

The reason I ask this is because everyone I know in cyber intelligence said last week that they were waiting for Russia to attack, that they just weren't sure what the attack would be. Most thought a multipronged approach would happen, with another DDoS attack on consumer Internet access, attacks on infrastructure, and attacks, where vulnerable, of the vote-gathering and counting systems.

Unlike the situation ten years ago (thank you Ed Felten), we can probably be relatively comfortable that the election couldn't have been remotely hacked in a way that was both large in scope (turning an election by more than a point or so), totally undetectable, and totally irrecoverable. For the most part, paper ballot trails exist.

But... but. I really don't want to be alarmist here — it's been a full day I've been looking at these numbers — and the vote was close enough in both Florida and Pennsylvania, just in counties with paperless voting machines, to have flipped the election.

Now, this seems unlikely, and a statistical model more rigorous than mine (which just involved research, selection of counties, addition and subtraction) should be able to rule it out. And I'd think it could be ruled out, since Pennsylvania and Florida flipped, but to my untrained eyes not significantly differently from other states that flipped.

My point is, I'd have expected some trained eyes by now to have reported on whether it was possible. We got no promised cyber attack on Election Day — that we know of. What if the result were close enough that Russia decided that it didn't need to create havoc at all, but did need to scooch the vote totals just a tiny bit in a handful of counties?

Let me one more time say, unequivocally, I don't currently dispute the election result. Yes, I'm a Democrat who supported Hillary, yes, I still don't understand Trump's appeal, yes, I'm a New York City liberal homosexual Jew lefthander — or was that leftist? Both, I guess — blah blah blah. I just want to know that some folks qualified to analyze this have analyzed it, and decided it was all fine.

If I just missed that bulletin, would greatly appreciate a link to it. Data-free, inexpert, or obviously tilted sources will be deleted on sight.

(Yes, I saw Schneier's column yesterday morning in The New York Times. But a) he doesn't say he himself did an analysis, b) he doesn't quote any analysis, and c) the article appears to have been published too early to have the county-by-county numbers to show that the election could have flipped this way.)___

posted image

2016-11-10 17:50:11 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 16 +1s; )Open 

Should a reply be marked spam?

Well, so long as we're talking about people losing trust in previously-entrusted institutions: Gmail's spam filter just left me in lie-down, can't-socialize physical pain for an extended period. That's a new one, innit?

I had a question for my doctor a few days after a procedure last week—I was in some pain and bleeding well past the point that was supposed to be happening. So I called as soon as his office opened for the morning. When he called back (it took him a few hours, as it usually does with doctors when you don't insist on urgency, which I did not), he asked me to email him a photo, which I dutifully did the moment I hung up.

Then I waited, and waited, and then called back at 5:15pm — my last appointment at his office had been at 5:30, so I figured that was safe — to check in again and found thatthey&... more »

Should a reply be marked spam?

Well, so long as we're talking about people losing trust in previously-entrusted institutions: Gmail's spam filter just left me in lie-down, can't-socialize physical pain for an extended period. That's a new one, innit?

I had a question for my doctor a few days after a procedure last week—I was in some pain and bleeding well past the point that was supposed to be happening. So I called as soon as his office opened for the morning. When he called back (it took him a few hours, as it usually does with doctors when you don't insist on urgency, which I did not), he asked me to email him a photo, which I dutifully did the moment I hung up.

Then I waited, and waited, and then called back at 5:15pm — my last appointment at his office had been at 5:30, so I figured that was safe — to check in again and found that they're one of those doctor's offices that annoyingly turn off the phones 30 minutes before closing. I could get connected to the on-call service, but was it worth it? I decided not, and waited until the next morning, when I called again at the moment the office opened.

Again I left a message and waited about three hours (on that morning, he was in surgery, so I'm not miffed by that either, even though I had mentioned I had expected a call back the prior day and it was more urgent though not an emergency), when I got a call from the doctor asking what was wrong. I told him the pain hadn't improved at all, and if anything was worse.

"Did you take Aleve and use the lotion on the wound like I told you to?"

"Uh, you didn't tell me about that."

"Yes, I did, it was in my email."

"You didn't send me an email."

"Hmm, I've heard of this happening before, check your spam folder? I'll resend from my Yahoo account though..."

And sure enough, there it was. This made me do a search (try subject:"Re:" in:spam if you're a Gmail or Inbox user), and I found to my alarm that I had quite a few messages in this category from the past month (though most were actually spam), some of which were with people I had initiated emails with and been feeling annoyed at the lack of response.

Now, this doctor was a dermatologist, and I know a lot of dermatologists send emails to patients about cosmetic treatments, which many people probably mark as spam (and are certainly in a gray area — you inarguably have a preexisting relationship with the entity emailing you, but you may have not volunteered your email address expecting any marketing whatsoever).

Working in email since before spam existed, and having been in charge of Amazon's bulk emailing system at more or less the dawn of spam protection (that was fun), I'm hyper-aware that learning spam algorithms have always had to deal with the annoying fact that many people click the Spam button to mean "I don't want to see this" even if the email wasn't, properly speaking, "spam" — they will even use the Spam button instead of unsubscribing from non-marketing lists they don't know how (or can't be bothered) to properly unsubscribe from!

So, probably, there was a higher chance of my dermatologist's mail getting marked spam than most doctors. But, really amusingly, most of these false positives were from Google, like the one in the screenshot!

Now, obviously, without a "supermute" functionality (like "Mute this thread", but not even allowing the thread to reappear if someone specifically mentions you—it was a Gmail Lab) the spam filter can't just be entirely detached from replies, because it's possible you'll email, say, a helpdesk, and then get unwanted marketing emails from then on that always bubble to the top of your inbox because they're "replies".

But it feels to me like the right heuristic is to force replies in a conversation you have participated in to be diverted from spam (perhaps with a phishing warning if necessary) until and unless you manually mark it as Spam. Now, I know Google has wanted to build a spam filtering system that requires no interaction from the user at all (so long as they're willing to check the Spam folder at least once every 30 days for false positives if they so desire), but after this experience, I no longer trust Gmail's spam filtering. Before, I'd get false positives here and there but they were always newly-initiated messages, and I could accept that — just unmark as spam and reply and then that won't happen again, and sheepishly beg pardon from the person who'd been inadvertently snubbed.

But the idea that I could have been inadvertently snubbing who knows how many people who I initiated contact with and who took the time to reply — that's much less acceptable.

And, by the way, it made me hurt for about 18 hours longer than I needed to and miss a party. ___

2016-11-09 22:17:53 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

I don't have time to write much today, but I want to remind you all of this:

Right and wrong have not changed since yesterday. An "accommodation" which goes in the face of that is not an accommodation, it is collusion in a moral wrong which does not gain any innocence by the defense of "I had to" or "those were the orders."

We will all be sorely tried in the months and years which are to come; we will see our fellow citizens and neighbors harmed and harassed, fired and fired upon. To stand up for them will not be easy, nor will it come without a price. We will pay the price, because the price of refusing is measured in lives and in souls.

But I will also tell you this: we will survive. We will, now and always, use every tool at our disposal, to fight and to shelter, to speak and to listen, to think and to act. This country is not, and has... more »

I don't have time to write much today, but I want to remind you all of this:

Right and wrong have not changed since yesterday. An "accommodation" which goes in the face of that is not an accommodation, it is collusion in a moral wrong which does not gain any innocence by the defense of "I had to" or "those were the orders."

We will all be sorely tried in the months and years which are to come; we will see our fellow citizens and neighbors harmed and harassed, fired and fired upon. To stand up for them will not be easy, nor will it come without a price. We will pay the price, because the price of refusing is measured in lives and in souls.

But I will also tell you this: we will survive. We will, now and always, use every tool at our disposal, to fight and to shelter, to speak and to listen, to think and to act. This country is not, and has never been, the Promised Land; there was never a promise, only what we chose to build out of it. That choice is undiminished today.

I want you to remember, today, the words of Tarfon: "it is not yours to finish the task, but neither are you free to set it aside." We do not stop, we shall not stop, and we shall never surrender our morals.___

2016-11-09 19:11:16 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 10 +1s; )Open 

Data, science, and reality still matters.

Can we in the reality-based community all agree that we won't:

1. Attack Nate Silver on "getting it wrong", when giving a 7:3 probability is definitionally admitting a 30% chance of the lower-probability thing that happened; and that, in fact, if his higher probability outcomes always came true, it would mean he was forecasting wrong?
Most people generally aren't good at thinking about risk in general. Inexpert crowds are generally even worse in assessing risk than individuals. But if we're really committed to empiricism and a scientific understanding of our world, we need to be true to that even in assessing what just went wrong.

2. State with certainty that the Comey letter gave it to Trump, or lower-than-expected turnout from this or that group gave it to Trump, or that Bernie would have beaten... more »

Data, science, and reality still matters.

Can we in the reality-based community all agree that we won't:

1. Attack Nate Silver on "getting it wrong", when giving a 7:3 probability is definitionally admitting a 30% chance of the lower-probability thing that happened; and that, in fact, if his higher probability outcomes always came true, it would mean he was forecasting wrong?
Most people generally aren't good at thinking about risk in general. Inexpert crowds are generally even worse in assessing risk than individuals. But if we're really committed to empiricism and a scientific understanding of our world, we need to be true to that even in assessing what just went wrong.

2. State with certainty that the Comey letter gave it to Trump, or lower-than-expected turnout from this or that group gave it to Trump, or that Bernie would have beaten him, or Jeb Bush would have won too, or or or.... Hypotheticals are useful for working through arguments, but they aren't arguments themselves, and counterfactual conditionals aren't facts.

3. Inflate the risk of climate change? I know that's counter-intuitive when talking about fighting against a candidate who entirely denies it, who literally calls it a Chinese hoax, but that doesn't give us blanket permission to go equally off reality in the other direction. (Lest this point be misunderstood, anthropogenic climate change is almost definitely happening, it is very bad, and Republican policy will almost definitely be disastrous to the planet and all of us living on it. I'm just saying that we have enough argument entirely within the realm of science and facts, so there's no need to go off the rails and make assertions that aren't backed by evidence.)

4. Lend even tacit support to anti- or pseudoscience advocates. Antivaxxers, anti-GMO, quackery of any kind—it doesn't matter if the person peddling bullshit is politically with us or against us, they're still peddling bullshit.

5. Retweet or reshare or quote anything even remotely surprising without at least clicking through and checking the source first? This shit is bad enough in reality, we don't need made-up bullshit (like the fake "Trump victory rally crowd is doing an anti-Muslim, anti-black chant" tweet that made the rounds last night) to inflate our arguments, and when we promote falsehoods because we didn't do minimum due diligence of checking the source, we undermine ourselves.

6. Permit the media to reinstate old-school, from-the-gut, chummy punditry because of this great "failure" of data-based journalism? Because they will try it, they're already grasping in that direction. Sure, the models that gave Trump a <1% chance were probably wrong. But we don't even know that, he very well may have pulled a one-in-a-million chance last night. You're (almost certainly) not going to win the lottery, but the fact that someone does is totally unremarkable. Data journalism has been a fantastic innovation over the past decade or so, and we can't allow one bad night to kill it.

7. Forget this: technological innovation increases productivity, but productivity increases are not good for everyone. And for the first time in human history we have entered on a track of technological productivity gains that we cannot, with certainty, even say will improve the overall condition of the majority of people even in the long-run. Look at the income levels of Trump voters; contrary to pre-election conventional wisdom, at least as many who could likely benefit from this increased inequality (at least in the short- or medium-run) voted for him as did people who face a very real chance of being permanently put out of work in the near future.
I am not a Luddite. But I was already coming to the conclusion that universal basic income was becoming an inevitable societal need. We in tech can't do our usual hand-waving about everything coming out better in the end after "disruption" does its momentary disruptive thing. We have to start taking responsibility for the consequences of disruption, particularly when those consequences befall ordinary hard-working people and not (just) "the corporations" or "the established order" or "the incumbents" or whatever you like to call it.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.___

2016-11-09 19:10:38 (12 comments; 3 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

Data, science, and reality still matter.

Can we in the reality-based community all agree that we won't:

1. Attack Nate Silver on "getting it wrong", when giving a 7:3 probability is definitionally admitting a 30% chance of the lower-probability thing that happened; and that, in fact, if his higher probability outcomes always came true, it would mean he was forecasting wrong?
Most people generally aren't good at thinking about risk in general. Inexpert crowds are generally even worse in assessing risk than individuals. But if we're really committed to empiricism and a scientific understanding of our world, we need to be true to that even in assessing what just went wrong.

2. State with certainty that the Comey letter gave it to Trump, or lower-than-expected turnout from this or that group gave it to Trump, or that Bernie would have beaten... more »

Data, science, and reality still matter.

Can we in the reality-based community all agree that we won't:

1. Attack Nate Silver on "getting it wrong", when giving a 7:3 probability is definitionally admitting a 30% chance of the lower-probability thing that happened; and that, in fact, if his higher probability outcomes always came true, it would mean he was forecasting wrong?
Most people generally aren't good at thinking about risk in general. Inexpert crowds are generally even worse in assessing risk than individuals. But if we're really committed to empiricism and a scientific understanding of our world, we need to be true to that even in assessing what just went wrong.

2. State with certainty that the Comey letter gave it to Trump, or lower-than-expected turnout from this or that group gave it to Trump, or that Bernie would have beaten him, or Jeb Bush would have won too, or or or.... Hypotheticals are useful for working through arguments, but they aren't arguments themselves, and counterfactual conditionals aren't facts.

3. Inflate the risk of climate change? I know that's counter-intuitive when talking about fighting against a candidate who entirely denies it, who literally calls it a Chinese hoax, but that doesn't give us blanket permission to go equally off reality in the other direction. (Lest this point be misunderstood, anthropogenic climate change is almost definitely happening, it is very bad, and Republican policy will almost definitely be disastrous to the planet and all of us living on it. I'm just saying that we have enough argument entirely within the realm of science and facts, so there's no need to go off the rails and make assertions that aren't backed by evidence.)

4. Lend even tacit support to anti- or pseudoscience advocates. Antivaxxers, anti-GMO, quackery of any kind—it doesn't matter if the person peddling bullshit is politically with us or against us, they're still peddling bullshit.

5. Retweet or reshare or quote anything even remotely surprising without at least clicking through and checking the source first? This shit is bad enough in reality, we don't need made-up bullshit (like the fake "Trump victory rally crowd is doing an anti-Muslim, anti-black chant" tweet that made the rounds last night) to inflate our arguments, and when we promote falsehoods because we didn't do minimum due diligence of checking the source, we undermine ourselves.

6. Permit the media to reinstate old-school, from-the-gut, chummy punditry because of this great "failure" of data-based journalism? Because they will try it, they're already grasping in that direction. Sure, the models that gave Trump a <1% chance were probably wrong. But we don't even know that, he very well may have pulled a one-in-a-million chance last night. You're (almost certainly) not going to win the lottery, but the fact that someone does is totally unremarkable. Data journalism has been a fantastic innovation over the past decade or so, and we can't allow one bad night to kill it.

7. Forget this: technological innovation increases productivity, but productivity increases are not good for everyone. And for the first time in human history we have entered on a track of technological productivity gains that we cannot, with certainty, even say will improve the overall condition of the majority of people even in the long-run. Look at the income levels of Trump voters; contrary to pre-election conventional wisdom, at least as many who could likely benefit from this increased inequality (at least in the short- or medium-run) voted for him as did people who face a very real chance of being permanently put out of work in the near future.
I am not a Luddite. But I was already coming to the conclusion that universal basic income was becoming an inevitable societal need. We in tech can't do our usual hand-waving about everything coming out better in the end after "disruption" does its momentary disruptive thing. We have to start taking responsibility for the consequences of disruption, particularly when those consequences befall ordinary hard-working people and not (just) "the corporations" or "the established order" or "the incumbents" or whatever you like to call it.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.___

2016-11-09 17:42:51 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

So, about that "repeal and replace"...

Like the proverbial dog who's finally caught that car he's been chasing, here we are. In about three months, if the people who have been elected follow through on their promises, they'll repeal Obamacare, with the "replace" TBD.

Anyone want to make a stab at explaining to me how this is a good thing? You complained enough about it before, chasing that car when you didn't think you'd catch it. Now you've caught it. So tell me, what happens next?

So, about that "repeal and replace"...

Like the proverbial dog who's finally caught that car he's been chasing, here we are. In about three months, if the people who have been elected follow through on their promises, they'll repeal Obamacare, with the "replace" TBD.

Anyone want to make a stab at explaining to me how this is a good thing? You complained enough about it before, chasing that car when you didn't think you'd catch it. Now you've caught it. So tell me, what happens next?___

posted image

2016-11-09 17:30:45 (5 comments; 1 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

SNL's Pete Davidson on the election

This is heartbreaking. Remember, Pete lost his dad, a firefighter, on 9/11, after he was last seen heading back into the WTC after already saving some people.

SNL's Pete Davidson on the election

This is heartbreaking. Remember, Pete lost his dad, a firefighter, on 9/11, after he was last seen heading back into the WTC after already saving some people.___

2016-11-09 07:23:52 (9 comments; 0 reshares; 13 +1s; )Open 

No, Hillary shouldn't have conceded tonight...

But not (necessarily) because recounts could change the result (that seems very unlikely). No, because you have to remember that Trump has permanently altered the parameters of the American political system.

In this moment, when in other campaign years the losing candidate would be making a "I called to congratulate him... he's my president and yours, too" speech after, Hillary Clinton—if she's to take Trump at his word—needs to instead be doing what the losing candidate would be doing in many other countries: calling other world leaders to arrange asylum.

This isn't a joking matter, folks. The "lock her up" chants have been going in the Hilton hotel four blocks from where I'm sitting all night, and they've continued—even increased—since the electoral map all but ensureda Trump... more »

No, Hillary shouldn't have conceded tonight...

But not (necessarily) because recounts could change the result (that seems very unlikely). No, because you have to remember that Trump has permanently altered the parameters of the American political system.

In this moment, when in other campaign years the losing candidate would be making a "I called to congratulate him... he's my president and yours, too" speech after, Hillary Clinton—if she's to take Trump at his word—needs to instead be doing what the losing candidate would be doing in many other countries: calling other world leaders to arrange asylum.

This isn't a joking matter, folks. The "lock her up" chants have been going in the Hilton hotel four blocks from where I'm sitting all night, and they've continued—even increased—since the electoral map all but ensured a Trump victory.

+Jeff Jarvis had a great thread on Twitter about blame after this result. Whomever you blame, the media, even after this stunning, stunning earthquake, still doesn't get that the world has changed, that the norms are gone, that the old rules don't apply anymore.

Whinging that Clinton isn't observing proper decorum? Fuck you. She literally needs to fear for her own freedom and life at this moment, if you are to take our President-elect-apparent at his word. Not taking him seriously for the past 15 months has gotten you (and, arguably, us) into this mess. You fucking need to start doing it now.

Update, 03:00 EDT: I wrote this during the brief window between Podesta's speech from the Clinton HQ podium and news that Secretary Clinton had called the President-Elect to concede. It's still true, though. In folly I'm saving this while he's still giving his victory speech, so I'm assuming he's not about to announce his lock-er-up plan.___

posted image

2016-11-08 18:49:03 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Not exactly on-topic, but related. Since I'm still waiting for my Pixel, I'm curious what Google Assistant does if you ask it to make an appointment with a contact with a name like these?

Android Calendar/Contacts integration: No, I don't call my dermatologist 'Adam'.

I generally like the quick-event feature Android's Calendar has had for a year or so now, but one thing really irritates the crap out of me, especially since I manage a chronic condition so make a lot of doctors' appointments: if you select a name from your contact cards—which is convenient as it enters both the name into the event name and the contact's address as the location—it changes something like 'Dr. Sid Zabrowski, M.D.' into just "Sid".

Um, no. I don't call my doctor 'Sid', and even if I did, I wouldn't recognize an appointment labeled 'Sid'. I want it to say 'Dr. Zabrowski'.

It doesn't seem to matter whether you type "Dr. Jane Doe" or "Jane Doe, M.D." or "Dr. Jane Doe, M.D." or the same without commas, or even if you use the web editing interface to expand out all the individual fields and manually put first name, last name, prefix, suffix. (Amusingly, even if you put their entire name in "First name" and leave "Last Name" blank, it still picks the first word of the "First name".) Making "Last name" be just "M.D." seems to have an effect—the appointment now reads "Jane Doe" rather than just "Jane"—but that's still not what I want.

I know, I know, #firstworldproblem to be sure. So I gotta type out "Dr. Zabrowski", reject the suggestion, then type "Zab..." again to get it to offer to fill in the location. Big whoop. But still, it's one of those ongoing annoyances of an "assistant" being "too smart" that irks me.___Not exactly on-topic, but related. Since I'm still waiting for my Pixel, I'm curious what Google Assistant does if you ask it to make an appointment with a contact with a name like these?

posted image

2016-11-08 18:44:42 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

Android Calendar/Contacts integration: No, I don't call my dermatologist 'Adam'.

I generally like the quick-event feature Android's Calendar has had for a year or so now, but one thing really irritates the crap out of me, especially since I manage a chronic condition so make a lot of doctors' appointments: if you select a name from your contact cards—which is convenient as it enters both the name into the event name and the contact's address as the location—it changes something like 'Dr. Sid Zabrowski, M.D.' into just "Sid".

Um, no. I don't call my doctor 'Sid', and even if I did, I wouldn't recognize an appointment labeled 'Sid'. I want it to say 'Dr. Zabrowski'.

It doesn't seem to matter whether you type "Dr. Jane Doe" or "Jane Doe, M.D." or "Dr. Jane Doe,M.D... more »

Android Calendar/Contacts integration: No, I don't call my dermatologist 'Adam'.

I generally like the quick-event feature Android's Calendar has had for a year or so now, but one thing really irritates the crap out of me, especially since I manage a chronic condition so make a lot of doctors' appointments: if you select a name from your contact cards—which is convenient as it enters both the name into the event name and the contact's address as the location—it changes something like 'Dr. Sid Zabrowski, M.D.' into just "Sid".

Um, no. I don't call my doctor 'Sid', and even if I did, I wouldn't recognize an appointment labeled 'Sid'. I want it to say 'Dr. Zabrowski'.

It doesn't seem to matter whether you type "Dr. Jane Doe" or "Jane Doe, M.D." or "Dr. Jane Doe, M.D." or the same without commas, or even if you use the web editing interface to expand out all the individual fields and manually put first name, last name, prefix, suffix. (Amusingly, even if you put their entire name in "First name" and leave "Last Name" blank, it still picks the first word of the "First name".) Making "Last name" be just "M.D." seems to have an effect—the appointment now reads "Jane Doe" rather than just "Jane"—but that's still not what I want.

I know, I know, #firstworldproblem to be sure. So I gotta type out "Dr. Zabrowski", reject the suggestion, then type "Zab..." again to get it to offer to fill in the location. Big whoop. But still, it's one of those ongoing annoyances of an "assistant" being "too smart" that irks me.___

2016-11-07 22:47:10 (2 comments; 4 reshares; 15 +1s; )Open 

The Trump lies you don't hear fact-checked

I don't make a habit of listening to Donald Trump speeches, but you can't help but stumble upon them sometimes when you turn on the news (until tomorrow, thank God!)....

He was just talking about how interim DNC chair and former CNN analyst Donna Brazile gave Hillary Clinton "the questions" for "the debates". This is a misleading statement, sure, but one that has been fact-checked a lot. That's not what this post is about.

But after bringing this up, he continued to riff: "I wonder if she gave her the answers, too? We just don't know...."

The man was in over a dozen debates; he knows that a political debate isn't an oral pop quiz, the moderator doesn't have "answers". But when he said this obviously false thing — no surpriset... more »

The Trump lies you don't hear fact-checked

I don't make a habit of listening to Donald Trump speeches, but you can't help but stumble upon them sometimes when you turn on the news (until tomorrow, thank God!)....

He was just talking about how interim DNC chair and former CNN analyst Donna Brazile gave Hillary Clinton "the questions" for "the debates". This is a misleading statement, sure, but one that has been fact-checked a lot. That's not what this post is about.

But after bringing this up, he continued to riff: "I wonder if she gave her the answers, too? We just don't know...."

The man was in over a dozen debates; he knows that a political debate isn't an oral pop quiz, the moderator doesn't have "answers". But when he said this obviously false thing — no surprise there, alas — it was also a very stupid thing to say. He's feigning ignorance of something that isn't the kind of thing any other politician, as far as I know, feigns ignorance of.

This is an character fault/strategy of Trump that's particularly craven.

It's like how he complains about how there's always a camera fixed on him at his events, not swinging around to show the crowd, or protesters, or particular supporters. He knows that's the press pool camera, the single camera providing a video feed that all the news outlets share for the best view of the candidate, while each network's own cameras roam freely. (Well, "freely" within the bounds of the press pool pen, a 2016 campaign innovation that I could write a whole essay on itself.)

This isn't a secret. He's told reporters he knows this, that he knows how the pool camera works. But yet he still acts like he doesn't.

It's all just more false "man of the peepul" bullshit. He figures the Ordinary American doesn't know or care how television works or how debates work, so he can just knowingly say false things purely for the emotional valence, detached entirely from truth, with no consequences. To the contrary, with only positive consequences from his perspective.

Here's a short reminder of some of them:

Why are so many dead people still on the voter rolls? Because dead people voting isn't a problem, nor is live people voting in dead people's names, but mistakenly erasing someone off the rolls is a very big problem. So getting dead names off the rolls is neither a priority for boards of elections, nor something that can be done aggressively without causing voter suppression, nor something that's necessary to prevent voter fraud. He knows this. But he says it anyway.

So many about Russia... Russia has entered Ukraine; in fact, Russia annexed a huge part of Ukraine less than three years ago. Russia is responsible for a number of cyberattacks on institutions of American democracy, particularly on the Democratic Party side. Russia has been testing the waters for a possible cyberattack on the election itself, whether directly against election-gathering and counting machines and networks, or indirectly by just creating havoc tomorrow. Russia has been feeding Wikileaks material (what in post-Soviet propaganda terms is called kompromát, information that could be found about almost anybody but that is nonetheless compromising when targeted). He knows these things; he's been repeatedly told them in his national security briefings. But he denies them anyway.

A younger Arkansas attorney Hillary Rodham had little or no choice but to represent an accused child rapist when the court assigned her as his defender. Our adversarial criminal justice system would fall apart unless every criminal defendant, no matter how heinous their (real or alleged) crime, was able to secure counsel. Publicly attacking lawyers who were appointed public defenders—questioning their morality based on the people they defended—is something that can get you sanctioned if you are an attorney yourself. Donald Trump is not an attorney, so no ethics board is going to censure him. But he doesn't have to be a lawyer to know why we simply do not criticize defense attorneys in general—but most especially public defenders—for the wickedness of those they defended. He knows this. But he says it anyway.

Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is a pollster, and by all accounts a competent one. He knows that when leaked stolen Clinton campaign emails courtesy Wikileaks talk about "oversampling", that they're talking about an accepted statistical practice of surveying more people belonging to minority groups so as to get a decent sample of the minority group; that way, statistical questions can be asked about that minority demographic. He knows that after oversampling, pollsters then reweight those answers to account for their greater-than-average sample size.

(To give a gross example, if you wanted to survey a group of voters on their candidate preferences and you also wanted to know the preferences of a minority group representing 10% of the population, you might include a 30% share of that group in your survey to answer the second question, but you would only count each of their answers 1/3 as much in the broader first question.)

He also knows that this isn't Gallup; the polling discussed in the campaign emails was internal polling for the campaign's use, never to be released to the public, so even if it were using a statistically shady practice (it wasn't), it would only result in the Clinton campaign screwing itself with bad analysis. He knows this. But he says it's an example of how the election's been "rigged" anyway.

He knows that if his various immigration proposals were all put into effect, that not only would it cause a depression; or result in human rights violations in contradiction of not just specific treaties the United States is a party to but the UN charter; or cause mass human suffering to both natural-born and naturalized citizens of the United States with relatives who are undocumented; that it wouldn't improve crime rates (and in fact would likely make crime worse by removing safe havens for undocumented immigrants to report and give testimony about crimes without fearing deportation); he also knows that, were all his policies put into effect, that his own wife would be subject to revocation of her citizenship and deportation. He knows all this. But he says it anyway.

He knows that, short of threatening war with Mexico, there's essentially no way to get them to pay for his wall. (He's admitted that the wall will have to be appropriated funding by Congress—in other words, be paid for by taxes.) But he says it anyway.

He knows that Hillary Clinton has had as demanding a campaign schedule as he has had—but she spends time on things he finds of little interest, instead of rallies which, in his mind, are all that count. He knows this. But he talks about Clinton's "sleeping for days" between events, darkly intimating that she's seriously ill and using this as a hook for his misogynistic "no stamina" line, anyway.

He knows that while, indeed, Hillary Clinton didn't give press conferences for months during the primary campaign, she's since given hundreds—in a period in which he's given none unless you count press conferences that were entirely for advertising Trump Organization properties. He knows this. But he attacks her reticence to speak to the press routinely.

And then there are things that he should know, but if his ignorance isn't feigned, are simply scary things for a prospective leader of the free world to claim not to know (or believe).

For instance, his repeated dumbfoundedness—displayed frequently in the general election debates—as to why the junior senator from New York couldn't singlehandedly pass a legislative agenda opposed by the majority party and the president in office at the time.

Or his apparent ignorance of what a special prosecutor is and how and why one is appointed.

Or why killing a domestic terrorist's family is, in his mind, neither unconstitutional nor an international war crime.

Or how it's impossible that the FBI could use something called "computer programs" to analyze 650,000 email messages in less time than it would take for a human to read them.

Or that the POTUS can just fire general officers of the military on his own say-so. Or why doing so, even if it were justified (it's not), wouldn't be disastrous to the armed forces.

Or that there are no good reasons why we shouldn't want South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia or other allies to have nuclear weapons.

Or that the only time Article 5 of NATO was invoked wasn't to call the other member nations to help protect the United States, rather than the other way around. Or why shaking down other NATO members for cash in exchange for the United States' full faith and credit somehow isn't distastefully reminiscent of a protection racket; that it would result in any remittances at all, and also doesn't just happen to be an outcome better for Russia than anything it could ask for.

Or that our military spending has gone down over the past decades. Or that our military's weaponry, ships, and aircraft are woefully outmatched by Russia's or China's.

Or that calling libel law "reform"—where "reform" seems to simply mean, "easier for Trump to sue and once he's sued, to win"—a top priority of his theoretical administration's first hundred days isn't terrifying. Or that the American people would somehow be served well by President Trump focusing on getting revenge on the women who have accused him of sexual assault. Or that the most important result of his proposed "reform" would be to go after these women, and not journalists.

Or that the science of global climate change is a hoax to somehow improve China's balance of trade.

Or that threatening his opponent with investigation, prosecution, and jailing is not an existential threat to our system of democracy.

Or that boasts of sexual assault is ordinary "locker room talk".

Or that President Barack Obama is not a legitimately-elected, natural-born citizen of the United States.

Or that no one respects women (or Latinos, or African-Americans) more than he.

Or that he has "the best temperament".

Or that, even if his advisers did feel they couldn't entrust him with his own Twitter account in the last week of the campaign, he can still be entrusted with the nuclear launch codes.

Or that he'll somehow have "great relationships" and work out "amazing deals" with powerful people, at home and abroad, that he's repeatedly insulted publicly in the grossest ways imaginable.

Or that there's an Alicia Machado sex tape.

Or that there's not soft-core porn starring Donald Trump.

Or that he's not the most unqualified, most poorly-tempered, and most uninformed major-party presidential candidate in history.

Or that he should be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office.

Or that you don't see through his small-minded pandering and egomaniacal raving.

Or that you won't vote tomorrow and show him that truth does matter, that reality does exist.

Or that, after tomorrow, he won't be—to use, from his perspective, the ultimate insult—a loser.
___

2016-11-03 18:29:20 (23 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Sharing disk between Windows 10 and Linux

Looking for firsthand experience here: with a Windows 10 host, what's the best way to create a shared disk between Windows and a Linux (Ubuntu 16.04) Hyper-V VM? Bonus points if it can also be used easily by Bash on Ubuntu on Windows. (Windows being version 10 AU, Linux being Ubuntu 16.04, and hypervisor being Hyper-V aren't necessarily significant, I just threw it in there in case it matters.)

Sync solutions like OwnCloud/Dropbox/Drive have been good enough for day-to-day needs, but I now have a use case involving very large binary files for which wholesale copy-on-update is too inefficient. I don't need particularly robust locking as I won't be editing the same files on two OSes at once but I do need fast consistency (even if I have to manually refresh something for that), since my workflow will involve importing the... more »

Sharing disk between Windows 10 and Linux

Looking for firsthand experience here: with a Windows 10 host, what's the best way to create a shared disk between Windows and a Linux (Ubuntu 16.04) Hyper-V VM? Bonus points if it can also be used easily by Bash on Ubuntu on Windows. (Windows being version 10 AU, Linux being Ubuntu 16.04, and hypervisor being Hyper-V aren't necessarily significant, I just threw it in there in case it matters.)

Sync solutions like OwnCloud/Dropbox/Drive have been good enough for day-to-day needs, but I now have a use case involving very large binary files for which wholesale copy-on-update is too inefficient. I don't need particularly robust locking as I won't be editing the same files on two OSes at once but I do need fast consistency (even if I have to manually refresh something for that), since my workflow will involve importing the data with Windows, munging it with Linux, and exporting it with Windows.

(For those who don't know, I'm a Unix sysadmin going on 25 years now, I know ways to do it, especially various network filesystem solutions. I just don't the easiest/best way because my Windows admin experience is basically nil.)___

Buttons

A special service of CircleCount.com is the following button.

The button shows the number of followers you have directly on a small button. You can add this button to your website, like the +1-Button of Google or the Like-Button of Facebook.






You can add this button directly in your website. For more information about the CircleCount Buttons and the description how to add them to another page click here.

Trey HarrisCircloscope