2018/09/16: our public school systems are barely providing basic literacy: about 1 in 7 American adults would struggle to read a children’s book. In higher ed, students last year graduated with an average of $39,400 in debt. The top 1 percent of American households today controls more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. Our justice system puts African Americans in prison at five times the rate of whites.
And voting suppression and intimidation is everywhere — purges to voting rolls in Indiana, Texas repeatedly found guilty of discriminatory practices, gerrymandering everywhere turning Democratic votes meaningless. And Republicans are trying to pass a constitutional amendment that would require voters show a state-issued photo ID at the polls, which research, as well as common sense, tells us suppresses minority votes.
Do you ever stop and marvel how everything seems to be in crisis all at once? Or, as an African-American friend said to me recently, now everyone in America has a glimpse of what it’s like to be black.
It’s not a coincidence, of course. In the system of democratic society, all the parts are totally interdependent.
In the first two parts of this series, we discussed the hardware and software fundamentals for building network-attached storage (NAS) on a Raspberry Pi. We also put a proper backup strategy in place to secure the data on the NAS. In this third part, we will talk about a convenient way to store, access, and share your data with Nextcloud.
2018/9/18: For years, Facebook has publicly positioned its Messenger application as a way to connect with friends and as a way to help customers interact directly with businesses. But a new report from The Wall Street Journal today indicates that Facebook also saw its Messenger platform as a siphon for the sensitive financial data of its users, information it would not otherwise have access to unless a customer interacted with, say, a banking institution over chat. In this case, the WSJ report says not only did the banks find Facebook's methods obtrusive, but the companies also pushed back against the social network and, in some cases, moved conversations off Messenger to avoid handing Facebook any sensitive data. Among the financial firms Facebook is said to have argued with about customer data are American Express, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.
The report says Facebook was interested in helping banks create bots for its Messenger platform, as part of a big push in 2016 to turn the chat app into an automated hub of digital life that could help you solve problems and avoid cumbersome customer service calls. But some of these bots, like the one American Express developed for Messenger last year, deliberately avoided sending transaction information over the platform after Facebook made clear it wanted to use customer spending habits as part of its ad targeting business. In some cases, companies like PayPal and Western Union negotiated special contracts that would let them offer many detailed and useful services like money transfers, the WSJ reports. But by and large, big banks in the U.S. have reportedly shied away from working with Facebook due to how aggressively it pushed for access to customer data.
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Health misinformation in Nigeria varies from “cruel hoaxes” such as drinking saltwater to cure Ebola, to general misperceptions about causes of disease, mode of transmission and available treatment.
There are also ungrounded concerns about the safety of medical interventions. Classic examples include false beliefs about contraceptives and vaccinations.
Nigerians have "generally poor health-seeking behaviour" as a a result of poverty, religion and a poorly functioning health system. Social media makes the situation worse by spreading false health rumours.
2018/09/18: Kosovo is currently facing severe economic challenges. It is one of the poorest countries in Europe, and its unemployment rate has reached as high as 30%. Studies show that up to 57.7% of young people are unable to find a job. (In an extreme case, some 300 Kosovars went overseas to join ISIS.) According to a 2016 survey, up to half of Kosovars wish to ‘go westward’ and emigrate to countries in Western Europe.
From this backdrop spawned Open Data Kosovo, a civic technology organization which believes that the push for reform must continue after independence for a ‘good country’ to truly be born. “People are expected to follow the new constitution, but they don’t criticize what [this new country] lacks,” said Blerta Thaci, CEO of Open Data Kosovo. “In consequence, changing the status quo is but our own duty.”
2018/09/12: after a new report revealing a more than 25% rise in U.S. suicides since 2000, some called for new antidepressants, but that only buys into the mainstream notion that "mental illness" is primarily physiological in nature, caused by a "broken" brain.
we must move beyond a focus on the individual and think of well-being as a social issue.
economic inequality could be a significant contributor to mental illness.
2018/09/18: The board can be used as a general purpose I/O and DAQ add-on but is specifically designed as a control board for aquaponics and hydroponics gardening.
2018/09/12: Article 12a: No posting your own photos or videos of sports matches. Only the “organisers” of sports matches will have the right to publicly post any kind of record of the match. No posting your selfies, or short videos of exciting plays. You are the audience, your job is to sit where you’re told, passively watch the game and go home.
At the same time, the EU rejected even the most modest proposals to make copyright suited to the twenty-first century:
1. No “freedom of panorama.” When we take photos or videos in public spaces, we’re apt to incidentally capture copyrighted works: from stock art in ads on the sides of buses to t-shirts worn by protestors, to building facades claimed by architects as their copyright. The EU rejected a proposal that would make it legal Europe-wide to photograph street scenes without worrying about infringing the copyright of objects in the background.
2018/09/16: non c’è nulla di meglio della incedibile vicenda della Bekaert - dunque - per spiegare i motivi della rottura fra il centrosinistra e la sua base elettorale.
2018/09/14: Con New York abbiamo un laboratorio congiunto di innovazione civica e urbana. Con Berlino lavoriamo sulle politiche abitative e su come regolare le piattaforme della sharing economy, con Parigi sui Fab Labs e l’economia circolare, con Amsterdam abbiamo forti affinità e progetti congiunti come DECODE. In Italia collaboriamo con Milano, Roma e Torino sulle politiche dei dati, sulle piattaforme digitali per la partecipazione democratica e sul software libero. Le altre città vedono Barcellona come modello di una politica innovativa e allo stesso tempo democratica. Abbiamo lavorato anche con il team digitale del governo inglese, che già da alcuni anni ha realizzato una digitalizzazione di successo, e quello estone, che è stato il primo a creare un’identità pubblica digitale. E nel contesto europeo coordino una rete di Chief Innovation Officers (CIOs) che si scambiano policy e soluzioni concrete per valorizzare le opportunità e ridurre i rischi del digitale. È fondamentale sperimentare e replicare strategie e progetti, partendo dalle città come laboratorio del futuro digitale che vogliamo, più inclusivo e democratico.
The narrative that government is inefficient and its optimum role should be "limited" to avoid disrupting the market has proven extremely powerful. But this prevailing view of government is wrong; it is more the product of ideological bias than anything else.
2018/08/02: a truly sustainable and ethical future for fashion requires a seismic cultural shift in how humans work together. Not, sadly, a technological one.
2018/09/13: Racist bridges aren’t the only inanimate objects that have had quiet, clandestine control over people.
the residents of Scunthorpe, in the north of England, who were blocked from opening AOL accounts after the internet giant created a new profanity filter that objected to the name of their town.
an automatic hand-soap dispenser that perfectly released soap whenever white hands where placed under it did not recognize as hands those of a Nigerian man.
they discovered that home cooks were less likely to make claims on their home insurance and were therefore more profitable. The most significant item that gives you away as a responsible, house-proud person more than any other was fresh fennel.
there are concerns about this kind of data profiling being used in an exclusionary way: motorbike enthusiasts being deemed to have a risky hobby or people who eat sugar-free sweets being flagged as diabetic and turned down for insurance as a result. A study from 2015 demonstrated that Google was serving far fewer ads for high-paying executive jobs to women who were surfing the web than to men.
searches for “black-sounding names” were disproportionately likely to be linked to ads containing the word “arrest” (for example, “Have you been arrested?”) than those with “white-sounding names.”
2018/09/10: The lack of diversity in Wikipedia biographies of notable individuals extends to women in STEM. Ongoing lack of representation in the largest, most frequently accessed body of knowledge in the world contributes to the silencing of our voices.
“According to Wikipedia, being a notable person is less about to life expectancy, somewhat more about education and economic status, and even more about positions of power.” - Klein and Konieczny, 2018
To help change cultural perceptions of who can contribute to STEM and to inspire the next generation of young scientists and engineers, it is essential that open access platforms, especially Wikipedia, offer a realistic perspective on the diversity of people already working to tackle big global challenges and historical contributions by underrepresented groups. Let’s speed up the process… sixteen more years to achieve gender parity on notable biographies is too long!
What can women and allies in STEM do to accelerate the improvement of Wikipedia as an inclusive, fact-based resource for the global community?
A circular economy is an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. It replaces the end-of-life concept with restoration, shifts towards the use of renewable energy, eliminates the use of toxic chemicals, which impair reuse and return to the biosphere, and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, systems and business models.
For technical nutrients, the circular economy largely replaces the concept of a consumer with that of a user. This calls for a new contract between businesses and their customers based on product performance. Unlike in today’s buy-and-consume economy, durable products are leased, rented or shared wherever possible. If they are sold, there are incentives or agreements in place to ensure the return and thereafter the reuse of the product or its components and materials at the end of its period of primary use.
The power of the inner circle refers to minimizing comparative materials use vis-à-vis the linear production system. The tighter the circle, i.e. the less a product has to be changed in reuse, refurbishment and remanufacturing and the faster it returns to use, the higher the potential savings on the shares of material, labour, energy and capital still embedded in the product, and the associated externalities (such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water and toxicity).
The power of circling longer refers to maximizing the number of consecutive cycles (be it repair, reuse, or full remanufacturing) and/or the time in each cycle. Each prolonged cycle avoids the material, energy and labour of creating a new product or component.
The power of cascaded use refers to diversifying reuse across the value chain.
2018/05/08: Apple has dominated the education market for a generation. However, in recent years, Google seems to be challenging Apple for domination of the education sector. Google is an excellent option for cash-strapped districts.
Chromebooks are substantially less expensive than Apple's laptops.
schools can begin and remain within the Google ecosystem and not face an awkward transition at the beginning of third grade.
Google products show a high degree of compatibility with each other, which makes things much easier for teachers and students.
2018/09/12: In the book, the narrator, a sociologist, describes how a system in which status accorded by birth had been replaced by a society in which the classes are reconstituted in the basic formula, IQ plus Effort = Merit. The belief in a common good and a flourishing civic life is corroded. “If the meritocrats believe…that their advantage comes from their own merits,” Young wrote. “They can feel they deserve whatever they can get.
As Young’s book predicted, opportunities to accrue social capital, the springboard that allows the middle classes to leap ahead, have been drastically reduced for those at the bottom of society even as, contrary to one of Young’s predictions, the rich have grown wealthier with 10% owning 40% of this country’s wealth.
Democracy does not require perfect equality but it does require that citizens share a common life.
Do we want a society in which everything is up for sale? Meritocrats might say, “Yes”. As Young pointed out all those years ago, the ability to buy what it wants when it wants is one way in which the meritocracy proves its “worth” – at least to itself.
2018/09/10: is society incapable of tackling income inequality peacefully?
Walter Scheidel: No, but history shows that there are limits. There is a big difference between maintaining existing arrangements that successfully check inequality (Scandinavia is a good example) and significantly reducing it. The latter requires real change and that is always much harder to do: think of America or Britain, not to mention Brazil, China or India. The modern welfare state does a reasonably good job of compensating for inequality before taxes and transfers. However for more substantial levelling to occur, the established order needs to be shaken up: the greater the shock to the system, the easier it becomes to reduce privilege at the top.
Are we really living in an unfathomable period of wealth inequality, or was the relatively equal society that followed the second world war the real aberration?
Walter Scheidel: When we view history over the long run we can see that this experience was certainly a novelty. We now know that modernisation as such does not reliably reduce inequality. Many things had to come together to make this happen, such as very high income and estate taxes, strong labour unions, and intrusive regulations and controls. Since the 1980s, liberalisation and globalisation have allowed inequality to rise again. Even so, wealth concentration in Europe is nowhere near as high as it was a century ago. America, meanwhile, is getting there, which shows that it all depends on where you look.
measures that worked well in the past may have done so because they were taken in the unique context of massive violent shocks and threats: the world wars and communism. This requires us to be more creative in dealing with inequality. Above all we must think harder about feasibility. It is not enough for economists to come up with recipes to reduce inequality, we also need to figure out how to implement them in an environment that is politically polarised and economically globalised. Both factors limit our scope for intervention.
in practice there will always be losers, and even basic-income schemes can take us only so far. At the end of the day, someone owns the robots. As long as the capitalist world system is in place, it is hard to see how even huge productivity gains from greater automation would benefit society evenly instead of funnelling even more income and wealth to those who are in the best position to pocket these gains.
2018/03/08: In northern Nigeria, thanks to the ingenuity, dedication, and hard work of a local entrepreneur, Habiba Ali, a new solar energy initiative is not only providing her community with a sustainable and affordable source of energy, but is also empowering other women through access to income-generation activates.
There is huge energy poverty in our country and over 89 per cent of this poverty lies in rural areas. There is a need to bring innovation in renewable energy and sustainability to bridge the poverty gap. I believe innovation is only as good as the impact that it makes.
This sentiment echoes IRENA’s research, which shows that off-grid renewables offer a cost-effective, environmentally sustainable way to accelerate the pace of electrification. Expanding the range of appliances powered by off-grid renewables can also encourage income generating activities in rural areas.
Through Sosai, Habiba also created Women of the North for Excellence (the MASI), an initiative where women can become entrepreneurs through leadership in commission-based projects.
One project involves renting out solar dryers for drying peppers and other crops, thereby increasing their shelf life. Nigeria accounts for about 50 per cent of Africa’s pepper production and in rural northern Nigeria as much as 40 per cent of a family’s income can come from harvesting peppers.
Women play a major role in agriculture, and the introduction of solar powered technology will go a long way to improving their economic and social status.