Obesity and U.S. Marathon Times

Conclusions

  • The average American runner have never been slower (across gender and distance);
  • This effect is not due to the increase of female participants or “runners” – people who run slowly or walk the race.
  • Signs of poor health are highly correlated to the decrease in speed. Though we cannot with certainty say that these are the causes for the slowdown. And if they have causal nature that they show the full picture.

—Andersen, Jens Jakob. “American Runners Have Never Been Slower (Mega Study).” RunRepeat. August 2017.

Finding Surveillance Aircraft in U.S. Cities

“…BuzzFeed News trained a computer to find [surveillance aircraft] by letting a machine-learning algorithm sift for planes with flight patterns that resembled those operated by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Last year, we reported on aerial surveillance by these planes, mapping thousands of flights over more than four months from mid-August to the end of December 2015…

…Some of these aircraft use technologies that challenge our assumptions about when and how we’re being watched, tracked, or listened to. It’s only by understanding when and how these technologies are used from the air that we’ll be able to debate the balance between effective law enforcement, national security, and individual privacy.”

—Aldhous, Peter. “BuzzFeed News Trained A Computer To Search For Hidden Spy Planes. This Is What We Found.” Buzzfeed. August 7, 2017.

The article goes on to highlight five examples:

  1. Use by state & local law enforcement
  2. Electronic eavesdropping by U.S. Border Patrol
  3. Testing Department of Defense capabilities over U.S cities.
  4. The Drug Enforcement Agency conducting surveillance over U.S cities.
  5. Military contractors.

All of these examples should give a citizen that would like to live in a free society pause.

Redecentralize the Internet

“Every new medium (read: technology) has four sets of effects, he said, which can be best discovered in answers to four questions:

  1. What does the medium enhance
  2. What does the medium make obsolete?
  3. What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolesced earlier? 
  4. What does the medium reverse, or flip into, when pushed to extremes?”

—McLuhan, Marshall quoted in Searls, Doc. “The Actually Distributed Web.” Linux Journal. August 8, 2017.

Interesting argument that decentralized protocols integrated with blockchains are more efficient than centralized systems and have the potential to undermine the platforms of the major Internet fiefdoms of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. I am not sure I believe that this is likely to happen, but it is a refreshing change from the doom and gloom of many technology discussions these days.

Dialogue from “The Twilight Samurai”

“Kayano Iguchi: Father, If I learn to do needlework someday I can make kimonos. But what good will book learning ever do me?

Seibei Iguchi: Well, it probably won’t ever be as useful as needlework. But you know, book learning gives you the power to think. However the world might change, if you have the power to think you’ll always survive somehow. That’s true for boys and for girls. All right?

Kayano Iguchi: Yes.”

—Yamada, Yogi. “The Twilight Samurai”. Film. 2002.

Is This Fascism?

“‘You submit to tyranny,’ Snyder writes, ‘when you renounce the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case.'”

—Snyder, Timothy. “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century” quoted in Gumbel, Andrew. “Is This Fascism?Los Angeles Review of Books. July 24, 2017.

Interesting discussion throughout regarding the Trump presidency. This quote on the American style of fascism seemed particularly on point:

In 1944, The New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to assess the risk of fascism in the United States, and Wallace’s startlingly frank answer was that there were millions of fascists in the country already. Wallace identified a peculiarly American brand of fascist, not a brownshirt bent on violence but rather a charismatic populist interested in poisoning the well of public information and appealing to the public’s worst instincts as a way of accumulating wealth and power. What Wallace most feared was a ‘purposeful coalition’ between ‘cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.’ ‘They claim to be super-patriots,’ he wrote, ‘but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.'”

Facebook & Facial Recognition 

Tech companies, whose business model is based on collecting data about its users and using it to sell ads, frequently oppose consumer privacy legislation. But privacy advocates say Facebook is uniquely aggressive in opposing all forms of regulation on its technology.

And the strategy has been working. Bills that would have created new consumer data protections for facial recognition were proposed in at least five states this year — Washington, Montana, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Alaska — but all failed, except the Washington bill, which passed only after its scope was limited.

No federal law regulates how companies use biometric privacy or facial recognition, and no lawmaker has ever introduced a bill to do so. That prompted the Government Accountability Office to conclude in 2015 that the “privacy issues that have been raised by facial recognition technology serve as yet another example of the need to adapt federal privacy law to reflect new technologies.” Congress did, however, roll back privacy protections in March by allowing Internet providers to sell browser data without the consumer’s permission.”

—Bennett, Jared. “Saving Face: Facebook Wants Access Without Limits.” The Center for Public Integrity. July 31, 2017.