Update2: There is a major error in the Seattle Times story. My original blog never criticized the protesters or BLM activists. My criticisms were limited to VIOLENT individuals who destroy property and hurt people. Please read my original blog if you want to confirm this. Some folks are choosing to misinterpret my words.
Update3: There are two types of mobs. First, mobs the hurt people and destroy property. Second, there are social media mobs that attempt to destroy those they disagree with or attack different viewpoints. We have seen both types of mobs here in Seattle during the past months. Neither is good.
Take a walk around downtown Seattle. You will be shocked by a shuttered, dystopian city and made angry by the inaction and ineptness of its political leadership. It is simply beyond words.
I wanted to know where the Derksens found the strength to say those things. A sexual predator had kidnapped and murdered their daughter, and Cliff Derksen could talk about sharing his love with the killer and Wilma could stand up and say, “We have all done something dreadful in our lives, or have felt the urge to.” Where do two people find the power to forgive in a moment like that?
That seemed like a relevant question to ask in a book called David and Goliath. The moral of the biblical account of the duel between David and Goliath, after all, is that our preconceptions about where power and strength reside are false.
Goliath seemed formidable. But there are all kinds of hints in the biblical text that he was, in fact, not everything he seemed. Why did he need to be escorted to the valley floor by an attendant? Why did it take him so long to clue into the fact that David was clearly not intending to fight him with swords? There is even speculation among medical experts that Goliath had been suffering from a condition called acromegaly – a disease that causes abnormal growth but also often has the side effect of restricted sight.
What if Goliath had to be led to the valley floor and took so long to respond to David because he could only see a few feet in-front of him? What if the very thing that made him appear so large and formidable, in other words, was also the cause of his greatest vulnerability?
For the first year of my research, I collected examples of these kinds of paradoxes – where our intuitions about what an advantage or a disadvantage are turn out to be upside down. Why are so many successful entrepreneurs dyslexic? Why did so many American presidents and British prime ministers lose a parent in childhood? Is it possible that some of the things we hold dear in education – like small classes and prestigious schools wh0 can do as much harm as good? I read studies and talked to social scientists and buried myself in the library and thought I knew the kind of book I wanted to write. Then I met Wilma Derksen.
Weapons of the Spirit
23 years ago, the internet was quite different from the one we use today. Google didn’t exist yet, fewer than 20% of U.S. households had internet access, and those who did were using a dial-up connection.
It’s no wonder that people complained about slow speeds on every website we tested back then, because the internet and the computers used to access it were painfully slow.
What is surprising is that, despite today’s much faster network speeds and computer processors, people using the internet today are still plagued by the exact same frustration: slow websites.
The Internet Is Faster, but Websites Aren’t
The Internet Is Faster, but Websites Aren’t
You might be wondering whether people simply don’t notice how much faster today’s sites are because their expectations have increased over time. While it’s true that people’s estimates of wait times are sometimes exaggerated, in this case it’s not just a matter of distorted perceptions.
For the past 10 years, Httparchive.org has recorded page load times for 6 million popular websites. (Httparchive.org is a part of the InternetArchive.org, whom you may know as the folks behind the WayBack Machine). The results are not encouraging: for webpages visited from a desktop computer, the median load time hasn’t improved. Today’s websites aren’t that much faster than they were 10 years ago.
Operating in the shadows of the online marketplace, specialized tech companies you’ve likely never heard of are tapping vast troves of our personal data to generate secret “surveillance scores” – digital mug shots of millions of Americans – that supposedly predict our future behavior. The firms sell their scoring services to major businesses across the U.S. economy.
People with low scores can suffer harsh consequences.
CoreLogic and TransUnion say that scores they peddle to landlords can predict whether a potential tenant will pay the rent on time, be able to “absorb rent increases,” or break a lease. Large employers use HireVue, a firm that generates an “employability” score about candidates by analyzing “tens of thousands of factors,” including a person’s facial expressions and voice intonations. Other employers use Cornerstone’s score, which considers where a job prospect lives and which web browser they use to judge how successful they will be at a job.
Brand-name retailers purchase “risk scores” from Retail Equation to help make judgments about whether consumers commit fraud when they return goods for refunds. Players in the gig economy use outside firms such as Sift to score consumers’ “overall trustworthiness.” Wireless customers predicted to be less profitable are sometimes forced to endure longer customer service hold times.
Auto insurers raise premiums based on scores calculated using information from smartphone apps that track driving styles. Large analytics firms monitor whether we are likely to take our medication based on our propensity to refill our prescriptions; pharmaceutical companies, health-care providers and insurance companies can use those scores to, among other things, “match the right patient investment level to the right patients.”
In Google’s early years, users would type in a query and get back a page of 10 “blue links” that led to different websites. “We want to get you out of Google and to the right place as fast as possible,” co-founder Larry Page said in 2004.
Today, Google often considers that “right place” to be Google, an investigation by The Markup has found.
We examined more than 15,000 recent popular queries and found that Google devoted 41 percent of the first page of search results on mobile devices to its own properties and what it calls “direct answers,” which are populated with information copied from other sources, sometimes without their knowledge or consent.
of the first page of Google search results is taken up by Google products.
Source: The Markup analysis
When we examined the top 15 percent of the page, the equivalent of the first screen on an iPhone X, that figure jumped to 63 percent. For one in five searches in our sample, links to external websites did not appear on the first screen at all.
A trending search in our data for “myocardial infarction” shows how Google has piled up its products at the top. It returned:
A drive west, far (north)west following I-94 is a visually rich journey. Beautiful sunsets, glorious rivers, lakes and endless open space.
Yet, the scale of our agricultural abundance boggles the mind.
17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.
22“In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.”
25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.
28“It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
“My 82 year old grandfather owns 3200 acres of wheat. He farms every day, using GPS equipped tractors and combines. Wheat is still king around here.”
The Palouse region, via wikipedia.
Todd Wickus, owner of a toy store on the square, recently suggested that all downtown businesses require masks and build a unified branding campaign around the policy. Twenty business owners signed on. But Mr. Wickus, who heads the downtown business association, said he tabled the idea because not enough businesses agreed.
John Kessenich, owner of a health- and natural-products store, opposed Mr. Wickus’s plan. He says he is already taking steps to keep people safe through “respectful distancing, personal hygiene” and promoting probiotics. “I don’t believe it’s a good thing to mandate that everybody wear a mask,” he said.
Ms. Burroughs, the hair stylist and a Trump backer, said she lost $12,000 in bookings under the governor’s stay-at-home order and more money in rents from other stylists who use her space. She thinks it was wrong that the state allowed big retailers to remain open while closing small businesses and places of worship.
“I don’t feel it was right to say who was essential and who was not,” she said. “I should be allowed to have a job and work. I don’t have another resource. Our livelihood depends on the income that we provide.
After much consideration, I’ve decided to break one of my key rules when talking about money, which is:
‘Never use substance metaphors to talk about money’
I have this rule because, while it may be printed upon physical objects (‘cash’), money is not a substance: it’s not ‘blood flowing through the veins of the economy’, or whatever other substance metaphor you may wish to use.
But, in this instance, I’m going to break the rule and use the metaphor of water to show you that bank deposits are never deposited into banks.
Depositing water deposits
The glass pictured above stores liquids. If I take a jug of water and pour water into this glass, I’m depositing water into it. After I’ve done that, I might say there is a ‘water deposit’ in the glass.
Admittedly we don’t often use that phrase to talk about water, but think for example of a geological metal deposit: in the beginning of the earth asteroids crashed and ‘deposited’ debris all over the planet, while volcanos ‘deposited’ lava, which nowadays leads us to discover ‘cobalt deposits’, ‘gold deposits’ or ‘iron ore deposits’.
Notice that the verb ‘deposit’ creates a noun of the same name: the exploding volcano ‘deposits iron deposits’, or the jug ‘deposits a water deposit’ into the glass.
We know that political bias warps cognition, sometimes catastrophically, and this is, I think, an example of that in action. Lepore read Feldman’s research and she misunderstood part of it, despite being an exceptionally intelligent person. Like many other Left-leaning Democrats, she is convinced that police brutality is a huge, under-acknowledged problem in the United States, and she therefore jumped to the conclusion that this wildly inflated ‘two-thirds’ figure was plausible.
The staff at the New Yorker who read her piece also, we must assume, considered it to be plausible. The sentence was printed and, as of the time of writing, has not been corrected. There has been no uproar on social media. I reached out to both the New Yorker and Feldman for comment, and have not received replies.
A small, troubling example of the effect of political bias on journalism.