Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for December 9th, 2016

A teen fired up Facebook Live from the highway. Moments later, everyone in her car was dead.

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It breaks one’s heart: completely innocuous intention, and everyone is dead. Perhaps the psychological research devoted to making cellphones, the internet, and our technology more and more addictive—and that is indeed a big area of applied research. The ideal is something as addictive as cigarettes but without the cancer part. But addiction does come at a cost: a narrowing of focus so situational awareness shrinks to the object of addiction.

Peter Holley and Cleve R. Wootson Jr. write in the Washington Post:

“Are you going live?”

It would be the final question Brooke Miranda Hughes would hear before a tractor-trailer plowed into the back of her car as it crawled down Interstate 380 in Pennsylvania just after midnight Tuesday.

Chaniya Morrison-Toomey, the passenger who posed the question, was referring to Facebook Live, which Hughes had just launched to broadcast live from her moving vehicle, according to the Scranton Times-Tribune.

The final moments of their young lives — marked by a flash of lights, screeching tires and then seven minutes of blackness — were captured on the live-streamed video after Hughes, sitting behind the wheel, held her phone near her face for the rest of the world to see.

Hughes, 18, and Morrison-Toomey, 19, were declared dead at the scene.

The driver of the truck that killed them was uninjured, according to the Associated Press.

Video of the incident, which began so innocuously, was posted on Hughes’ Facebook page, where it has been watched more than 7,000 times, according to the Times-Tribune.

Facebook Live launched in 2015 and allows users to stream live video to their Facebook pages, where others can watch in real time, or after the fact. The service is used in a variety of capacities, from broadcasting breaking news, protests and events to giving lectures or communicating with friends.

Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, told CBS News in April that Facebook Live allows users to bring “a little TV studio” to their pockets.

It was via Facebook Live that Diamond Reynolds broadcast the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of her boyfriend during a traffic stop in a Twin Cities suburb.

“Stay with me,” she told Philando Castile. Her Facebook video quickly spread across social media and cable news, turning the deadly July confrontation into one of the highest-profile fatal police shootings in recent years. Last month, prosecutors in Minnesota charged the officer who killed Castile with second-degree manslaughter. . .

Continue reading.

At that point they had a video, which is worth watching, but watch this first. I think it is important, and you can see why Black Lives Matter has a lot of energy from quite valid causes. This nation is not looking good in some aspects—well, TBH, in quite a few aspects: Trigger warning: You do not see the actual shooting, but the video starts immediately thereafter and we witness intimate moments of immediate grief along with a raging sense of injustice.


Written by LeisureGuy

9 December 2016 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

Trump’s pick for White House counsel is wrong for the job

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Ellen L. Weintraub, a member of the Federal Election Commission, writes in the Washington Post:

The White House counsel operates out of the public eye but has the president’s ear. In the Trump administration, with the unprecedented multiplicity of conflict-of-interest challenges facing the businessman-president, the job will take on added importance. As a Democratic commissioner at the Federal Election Commission, I served five years alongside Donald F. McGahn, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for the post. My experience may be instructive — and disquieting.

The FEC’s fundamental mission is to fight corruption by shining a light on money in politics, empowering citizens to assess their elected officials’ potential conflicts of interest. From the moment he walked in the door in 2008, McGahn made no secret of his disdain for the agency, its mission and the commission staff.

At the six-member FEC, McGahn corralled his two fellow Republicans into a rigid voting bloc, promoting gridlock and delay. In decision after decision, he ensured that the money flooding our political system grew ever murkier and the connections between donors and candidates harder to trace.

Appointed to be an arbiter of campaign-finance complaints, McGahn instead assumed the mantle of defense counsel, making an art form of devising byzantine arguments against investigating alleged wrongdoing. Should we investigate groups that spend millions on political ads without disclosing a single donor? Not as he saw it. When a wealthy donor chartered a plane to bring hundreds of volunteers to a candidate’s fundraising event, could that possibly have been an in-kind contribution to the candidate? Again, no. When making its decisions, must the commission blind itself to public information known by any reader of The Post? Amazingly, according to McGahn, yes.

Agency dysfunction was not a byproduct of McGahn’s approach — it was the goal. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, McGahn vetoed proposed rules aimed at ensuring disclosure of the sources of political spending, barring employees from being coerced to support their bosses’ political choices, keeping foreign interests from influencing our elections and addressing the new political powerhouses known as super PACs.

I have served on the FEC for 14 years, with 14 commissioners. While disagreements are nothing new at the FEC, commissioners on both sides of the aisle used to understand that serving on a commission comprised of three Democratic and three Republican appointees required compromise and that it was our job to make the agency work. No other commissioner has been as intransigent, as hostile to other points of view and as determined to undermine the law and the commission as McGahn was. The example he set hampers the agency to this day.

Was McGahn motivated by libertarian fervor or by the sense that his partisans would take more aggressive advantage of the rule-free zone he worked to create? I don’t pretend to have a window into his motives. But the results are inarguable: During the five fiscal years before McGahn arrived (2003-2007), the commission negotiated more than $16 million in civil penalties in major cases. Even as the cost of campaigns skyrocketed over the next five years, from 2009 to 2013, McGahn’s relentless obstruction caused penalties to plummet 79 percent, to just $3.3 million. By his final year, we could muster the votes to launch only four investigations.

The White House counsel interprets a great many separation-of-power issues, and here again McGahn’s tenure at the FEC gives pause. It is the role of commissioners to enforce laws adopted by Congress, unless and until they are struck down by the courts. But McGahn substituted his own view of the Constitution. As he once boasted, “I’m not enforcing the law as Congress passed it. I plead guilty as charged.”

And it’s not just Congress McGahn ignored. Even though the Supreme Court resoundingly endorsed the benefits of disclosure in Citizens United, McGahn blocked all attempts to rein in unreported dark-money spending. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 December 2016 at 1:50 pm

Treksit is a tricky interactive game

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Give it a go.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 December 2016 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Games

How not to fuck up your manufacturing startup

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Interesting post by Johnny Bowman:

This post is meant to share the lessons I’ve learned in a manufacturing startup. It’s intended audience are people who are working on a manufacturing startup idea, are familiar with the tech startup scene, but don’t have a ton of experience in the manufacturing sector. And by “manufacturing startup idea”, I mean you’ll be operating in a warehouse or factory setting. This is not about having a formula or design for a copacker, 3d printer, or artisans in Italy — ya’ll got different issues.

I work as the CFO/COO of Edenworks, an indoor farming startup in Brooklyn. Given our job is to design and operate farms inside warehouses to produce salad greens as efficiently as possible, our issues are more manufacturing than farm related. Most of the conventional startup wisdom out there doesn’t apply to us or other manufacturing startups. So given these lessons were all learned the hard way, I figured I’d share them to spare some sweat.

Process, not features, are your competitive advantage. This has been the biggest learning for me. Most startups focus on features to gain customers. Manufacturing startups largely don’t because features are easy to copy, and second movers often have the advantage if they can produce your feature for cheaper. Consequently, most manufacturers stay ahead in their industry by having the highest level of productivity, and that means focusing on process. This is what frustrates guys like Peter Thiel about manufacturing. He wanted flying cars, but instead got 40 years of relentless process innovation to drive down costs. The undisputed leader of this drive has been Toyota. As a result, Toyota is worth is $186 billion, 2.5x more than the second place finisher, Daimler.

Focus on physics before software.  . . .

Continue reading.

And let me again recommend W. Edwards Deming’s wonderful and highly readable book, Out of the Crisis.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 December 2016 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Business

Always keep in mind you might not know the whole story

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Stephen Covey related an illuminating anecdote in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. (You download a brief outline of the book, but the whole book is worth reading.)

In the book he tells of a time he was riding the subway on a slow weekday afternoon. At one stop, a man and two young children boarded the car. The man sat quietly, staring into space, but the children were wild, running around and shouting and generally being boisterous. Covey watched for a while, inwardly fuming because the father seemed totally uninterested in controlling the children and ignoring how they were bothering other people.

Finally, Covey could stand it no longer, and went over to the man. “Your children are being rowdy and are bothering people.”

The man came out of his reverie, looked around, and said, “Oh, I’m sorry. We’ve just come from the hospital. Their mother just died, and I think they don’t know how to react, and I don’t know either.”

With the greater understanding, Covey’s view of the situation changed totally, as did his attitude and response. Insight affects attitude (how we view things) and that affects behavior.

I thought of that story when I saw this post in the Facebook group Pantsuit Nation:

I am a teenaged girl in New York. Everyday I take the train home from school. Today however, was different because on the train was a woman wearing a “make America great again” hat. This woman was attacked the second she got on the train. There was a woman who actually said “fuck you, like can you maybe leave?” With a smile. Immediately I jumped in. I told the people attacking her that it isn’t okay to attack people and invalidate their feelings, no matter what, because no matter right or wrong, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. I am a firm believer in purple 💜. Treat your peers with respect, no matter what. Ask them why they feel a certain way. Ask them when they decided to exercise their right to choose. But never, ever try to invalidate them and their feelings. Choose love.

To everyone commenting about Trump symbolizing hate and that the woman didn’t deserve to be treated respectfully– please understand that she wasn’t acting rude. She never said anything hateful. She thanked me for standing up for her. Please be respectful of that. 💜

One of the comments brought the above anecdote to mind:

There is no moral high ground when we try to fight ignorance, generalizations and blind hate with the same. Good for you! For all you know, she may have been part of an experiment to find out whether “the other side” is just as hateful!

Keep in mind when viewing a situation that knowing more about the circumstances might change your view, as it did for Covey (and it would for us if we suddenly thought that the woman was a psychology grad student running a little experiment). Update: And of course Dunning-Kruger applies: while we may think we understand a situation fully, in general we don’t know what salient facts about the situation are still unknown to us. Humility is generally not inappropriate, particularly in day-to-day interactions that are not extreme situations.

FWIW, I find Covey’s book and method quite helpful. The outline linked above will get you started, but I do recommend reading the book. And note the website that facilitates weekly planning. The outline explains the basic idea of the weekly plan.



Written by LeisureGuy

9 December 2016 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

Human population through time

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We’ve overrun the planet and seem intent on ruining the ecology that we need.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 December 2016 at 11:19 am

Posted in Science

Quick tour of 100 countries, one interesting factoid per country

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Written by LeisureGuy

9 December 2016 at 11:15 am

Posted in Video

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