Sunday, September 30, 2018

"Racial diversity requires affirmative action" at elite schools, NYTimes columnist writes

Susan Dyanarski offers a column in the New York Times, “Economic View”, “Racial Diversity Requires Affirmative Action”, page 6, Sunday Business section. The tagline is “at elite colleges, admissions focusing on low income won’t help many minority students”.

Of course, the moral focus on many more moderate publications (like Vox) has been to focus on class rather than race per se in dealing with inequality.

But the article shows that at elite colleges like Harvard, legacy familial admissions complicate things.  Six times as many low-income applicants are white as minority, the article says. 
Admissions based on race are complicated by the fact that some groups do better.  Bias against Asian men has been an issue.  And claims to be a “person of color” can often be subjective.  A mixed-race person can look “white”.  And technically some darker skinned people from the Middle East and India are considered Caucasian.
I have personally never been one to do things by groups. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Can insurance companies deny coverage with data from fitbits or similar automated trackers?

I walked through a Macy’s on the way to the Metro yesterday and noticed Fitbits being sold along the pathway.  

The Washington Post Wonkblog, in a story by Christopher Ingraham, warns that the John Hancock Life Insurance company wants to track your fitbit data to set lower premiums.

The Conversation makes a similar report about United Health Care (whom I have through AARP as Medicare supplement for Part B) with Qualcomm, and a lot of other monitoring could detect diseases or arrhythmias. There is a an EKG which can be taken by simply placing two thumbs on the device (no chest leads or shaving, as with the Holter Monitor).
Personally, I don’t want to wear a device so an insurance company or employer can monitor me.  However, these devices seem less invasive than they might have been.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

No, most teen boys don't behave as in Christine Blasey Ford's accusations

Here is Christine Blasey Ford’s statement opening before the Senate this morning.

It’s easy to imagine, with cynicism, that the “Left” wants to delay any confirmation until after the 2018 midterms, and could try to stall any nomination if the Democrats are in control, to protect Roe v. Wade, among others.

I’m not convinced that Kavanaugh’s confirmation means that the sky falls, or that “stare decisis” won’t hold.  I know what Jeffrey Toobin says, but I’m not convinced he is right.

Should accusations from almost four decades ago matter now?

Ford’s testimony was emotional, and from the heart. It sounds amazing she got a Ph D from USC after floundering, as she says, at UNC.  She teaches and does research in clinical psychology at Stanford.  Since I have friends at Stanford and some others with connections to UNC, this has some personal relevance to me, possibly.

Is this a case of “will boys be boys”?  The young men I ran around with in high school and college myself would never have done these things, and the young men I know today (some online) I am pretty sure don’t to these things.  “The Young People Will Win.” 

But in that lost semester in the fall of 1961 in the dorm at William and Mary, there were boys who “bragged” and who tried to coerce others to join them.  There was also the issue of the “tribunals”, hazing ceremonies and gauntlets that supposedly applied to all, not just pledges.  I skipped out on those, which may also have contributed ultimately to my expulsion.  So there is more to this that a lot of men want to admit.  And I have to say, a few men of my father’s generation admitted to escapade like this back in their own youthful days, even before WWII.  Here's a piece on Medium and the Washington Post by Post by Monica Hess on "#NotAllMen". 
Look at Matthew Iglesias’s piece in Vox, “Republicans just don’t take sexual assault seriously.” 

And, ah, this. Access Hollywood.

Update: later today

Here is Brett Kavanaugh's opening statement. (or here on CNN). Kavanaugh testified that he corresponds to a character in an autobiographical fictional book of an acquaintance with addiction problems -- the issue of "libel in fiction" which I have discussed before. He also "blamed" big Left-wing money aimed at him (CNN).  I wonder what he would think of my own 2005 incident when I worked as as substitute teacher.  NPR offers a perspective on whom everyone believes by gender, here. 

Update: Oct. 4

While the demonstrations and arrests happen, here is Kavanaugh's side of the story as an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

David Hogg tweets info on specific states' voter registration drives for high school students turning 18

David Hogg has been tweeting voter registration drives for high school students in various places, like New York City or here in Virginia

Wikipedia has a comprehensive article on voting rights in the United States, with particular attention to the homeless.  No state can make the minimum voting age higher than 18. Some states allow registration at 17 if the voter will be 18 by the time of the general election.
Given the history of voting in the past, I wonder if the day will come when some will advocate that people with more dependents (more kids) be allowed more votes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mommy blogger attracts national attention blaming men for all abortions and unwanted pregnancies, with possible draconian actions

While I’m “on the road”, a mommy blogger Gabrielle Blair seems to have captured the media’s attention this morning with her Twitter thread blaming men for all unwanted pregnancies and for the moral outrages over abortion (in view of concerns that a Trump Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade). 

Here is her kernel blog post  and here is her Twitter thread

The Independent in the UK has a sample commentary .
Some sensational media reports suggest that she has said all men should have vasectomies in early adulthood or even face castration.  I don’t think Trump would agree.
Ironically, for this Mormon mom, it would be fair to ask if why cis gay men share any blame.
I don’t know what Heather Armstrong’s "firehose of flaming condemnation" (“dooce”) has said about this matter yet, but I can imagine.  
I would wonder if the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and now the accusations against him have helped feed the controversy this week.  

Picture: Albuquerque NM from the air: mine

Monday, September 17, 2018

Kavanugh situation with ancient accusations creates an irony in political combativeness: Justice v Power

Dan Rather made an important comment to Chris Cuomo right now, that this whole question about the accusations against Kavanaugh, and the GOP rush to confirm him, is really about the balance of Power and Justice in our culture.

This is about combativeness, the need to win for your tribe to have control of things.

But it’s quite possible that the Left is pulling this off this time.  How can somebody refute a story of what happened 40 years ago in a dorm?  As for the deadly triad, there is double irony, or maybe double jeopardy here.
Of course the Catholic Church often faces the same dilemma these days.  Almost anyone can be accused of something that happened  in very young adulthood.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

NYTimes editorial discusses weighing the "risk" of kids playing football -- when POC kids need it as a chance for prosperity

Andrew Hart has run an op-ed in the Sunday New York Times, “The Kids Who Still Need Football”, link (paywall).

There is a tagline: “America is moving away from this dangerous sport. But some families will decide the risks are worth it.”

Of course, he is talking about the concussion risk, which is appearing in previous pro-football players as leading to progressive brain damage in later years.  Generally, we haven’t heard about this a lot in previous college and high school players.  But Malcom Gladwell has written that being a football fan is morally questionable.

You can guess where the article goes.  Children of color are more likely to get a ticket out of poverty with sports, and the most promising is American football.

Baseball, soccer, ice hockey, and basketball all seem much mess hazardous generally.  Soccer might have the heading issue. 

Here’s another piece, by Edwin Rios, in Mother Jones, May 2018. The risk to high schoolers is worse than scientists thought. 
And it’s true, the real “Young People Will Win” crowd – all of the kids are articulate, bright, and don’t play contact sports. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Why are Americans repeatedly ill prepared for natural disasters?

USA Today on Monday ran a story about Americans as a “go bag” people, not prepared for natural disasters.  The story by Rick Hampson is here.

There is a story of a woman in LA whose family survived a 1961 fire, who rebuilt in the area when it was ash and had another fire.

Several places I have lived have had disasters after I left.  An apartment complex in New Jersey would be flooded by the Raritan River.  In Dallas, an apartment I had lived in burned after I left (drug lab, supposedly) in the late 80s.

It is very difficult for most people of average means to live in areas that are “safer”.  Yet, our building in coastal areas and on exurban interface areas makes it a lot worse.

Here’s a Facebook video up-close of a huge tornado in Wray, Co (northeastern part of state). 

Friday, September 07, 2018

Trump administration plans to take Flores settlement out of court supervision

There are different spins offered on the Trump administration’s plan to outflank the Flores settlement and keep families together – but by building more detention centers or supervised housing – which it will self-license.

Truth-out, in an article by Candice Bernd, puts the leftist spin on is here

From the right, we have Stephen Dinan in The Washington Times.  It’s important that the plan would stop court scrutiny and allow the administration to do “what it wants” in not releasing people it considers here illegally.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

"The New Socialism" claims to make you freer

Corey Rubins takes up the balance point for “The New Socialists” in an op-ed Aug. 24 in the New York Times, here. The tagline is “Why the pitch from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders resonates in 2018.

He says that the new socialism is about being “free”.

Rather like one of FDR’s “four freedoms” – freedom from want. You don’t have any freedom if you have to take orders from a boss and can’t make enough to qualify for an apartment.

But, it might be that the best way to protect your freedom is to use it. There is something about this freedom of speech thing – if you like to be respected for knowing it all and getting everything right before agreeing to fight for anything, but don’t really care about the people who policy affects, up close and personal.  The answers to this dilemma might be to join group activism, perform service, and actually enter a relationship you wouldn’t have considered before, to fit in somewhere.  That’s going to be experienced as a loss of self, at first, but that may not be the same as loss of freedom.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Interview with a cybersecurity excerpt on how air-gapping of infrastructure components could be compromised, so a major cyberthreat

On a day with a riotous morning in the Senate starting the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh – it was “back to school”.  We’ll get back to that again.

I did a phone interview of John Gomez from Sensato (Spanish for “sensible”), a cyber security company in Red Bank, NJ.  We talked about my Medium essay on media coverage of the varied threats to the US power grid (solar storms, EMP – E1 and E3, and cyber) – which I mentioned and linked on Aug. 30 on my “BillBoushka” blog (q.v., through the Blogger Profile). 

I will follow up on this in a lot more detail on Wordpress in the next few days.

But I wanted to mention the “air gap” issue.  The “air gap” is what is supposed to keep electric utility control centers (controlling power loads through transformers) and other infrastructure components (pipelines, water purification, etc) topologically separated from the public Internet.  That is, it’s not supposed to be possible for a hacker to reach any such system from the computer I type on at home, anymore than it could reach military systems.

But there are “jump machines” which can connect the controllers briefly for updates.  Furthermore, there are ways USB ports can be compromised.  So a worm might be able to wait until connection happens.  You would think there could me more defenses, such as blockchain ideas – how does the Pentagon or NSA protect itself?

I’ll watch his videos tomorrow but share one of them now (above), about the Orangeworm, which can target healthcare systems. 

I can remember, when working for Sperry Univac in 1972-1973, that I worked in downtown Newark NJ at Public Service Electric and Gas (right next to Penn Station), as a site rep supporting the (Univac 1106/1108/1110)  Fortran applications.  Some of these did power grid calculations, although I don't know how the results would have been loaded to the control equipment then. This was a curious experience to remember given today's interview. 
This is a developing story.