"I've come to save you, Toskarin!"
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2023-02-06 22:44:34

    “The lists found by maia and shared with journalists and researchers confirm the TSA’s (1) Islamophobia, (2) overconfidence in the certainty of its pre-crime predictions, and (3) mission creep.”


    The most obvious pattern in the data is the overwhelming preponderance of Arabic or Muslim-seeming names. More than 10% of the entries on the No-Fly list (174,202 of 1,566,062) contain “MUHAMMAD” in either the first or last name fields. “It’s just crazy to me how big that Terrorism Screening Database is and yet there is still very clear trends towards almost exclusively Arabic and Russian sounding names throughout the million entries,” maia told the Daily Dot.

    The “NOFLY.csv” file found by maia contains 1,556,062 entries. The “SELECTEE.csv” file contains 251,169. The youngest of those on this version of the No-Fly List, as of 2019, were three four-year-olds. The oldest were twenty-five centenarians.


    That the No-Fly list is six times as large as the Selectee list suggests either that the government wrongly believes that it has near-perfect precogs and that uncertainty as to travelers’ criminal intentions (as inferred from profiling algorithms) is rare, or that the government is erring on the side of saying “no”, and violating the presumption of innocence and the right of access to common carriers, by putting most uncertain or edge cases on the No-Fly list rather than the Selectee list.

    To understand why this is problematic, it’s important to keep in mind that decisions to prevent would-be travelers from flying or to subject them to more intrusive search, questioning, or other special treatment aren’t based solely on the No-Fly and Selectee lists. These decisions are made in real time, each time you try to fly, by precrime predictive algorithms and human staff of the TSA (for domestic flights within the US) and US Customs and Border Protection (for international flights to, from, or via the US or US airspace).

    Pre-crime predictive algorithms.

    Pre-crime predictive algorithms.

    If the data about you in an airline reservation is determined to match an entry in the No-Fly list closely enough, the TSA or CBP won’t let you fly. But even if the information about you that the airline sends to the TSA or CBP isn’t found to match an entry on one of these lists, the TSA or CBP may decline to give the airline permission to let you on the plane if the algorithm generates too high a precrime risk score.

    (This system is now being globalized under United Nations and ICAO mandates, ignoring the provisions of human rights treaties that recognize a right to freedom of movement.)

    Pre-crime risk score.

    Exactly how is this not just. Blatant fascism. This literally a police state.

    “Last month, when a Twitter thread by a woman who sent her neighbors homemade chili went viral, the woman was accused of being a “white savior” and inconsiderate to autistic people (the woman who wrote the thread is autistic). It’s just one example of how high the stakes seem to be for interpersonal encounters that are objectively nobody’s business, and how so often our thirst for drama is really a thirst for punishment. Because none of these encounters matter. It literally doesn’t matter that someone made chili for their neighbors because you were never meant to know about it in the first place. It’s not your business. To demand retribution against someone who says they enjoy coffee with their husband or makes surprise chili for strangers — or even someone who complains about these things! — reflects something far more disturbing than humblebrags or being a presumptuous neighbor. It’s that these reactions are so normalized online that they’re almost boring. Of course people are going to freak out about someone’s misguided problematic author spreadsheet even though it has zero bearing on the real world whatsoever, and of course people are going to accuse a beloved indie rocker of ableism for being annoyed by constant flash photography. It doesn’t have to be this way! People in their regular lives don’t react this way to things. It’s only on platforms where controversy and drama are prioritized for driving engagement where we’re rewarded for despising each other.”

    Every “Chronically Online” Conversation Is The Same, Rebecca Jennings


    “Run into a cave and break your ankle so that people have to come find you and they see you lying at the bottom of this beautiful cave and maybe there’s a waterfall and the light from the crystals makes you look really beautiful and they say “Are you okay?” and you say “I think so” and they say “oh my God have you been here alone this whole time with a broken ankle” and you say “it’s okay” and they say “you’re so brave” and you are brave and you look so beautiful surrounded by cave crystals and everyone stands over you and says “oh wow” and “you poor beautiful thing” and “I’m so sorry we let you run into the cave but I’m so glad we found you” and let them carry you home and promise to be your best friends forever and that everything’s their fault and also they named the cave after you and you’re prettier than all of your enemies and your enemies all died of jealousy while you were in the cave.”

    — Daniel M. Lavery, How To Respond To Criticism (via boringoldraphael)

    “We are At War now, according to President Bush, and I take him at his word. He also says this War might last for “a very long time.” Generals and military scholars will tell you that eight or 10 years is actually not such a long time in the span of human history – which is no doubt true – but history also tells us that 10 years of martial law and a war-time economy are going to feel like a Lifetime to people who are in their twenties today. The poor bastards of what will forever be known as Generation Z are doomed to be the first generation of Americans who will grow up with a lower standard of living than their parents enjoyed. That is extremely heavy news, and it will take a while for it to sink in. The 22 babies born in New York City while the World Trade Center burned will never know what they missed. The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what’s coming now. The party’s over, folks. The time has come for loyal Americans to Sacrifice. … Sacrifice. … Sacrifice. That is the new buzz-word in Washington. But what it means is not entirely clear.”

    Hunter S. Thompson (9/17/2001)


    “As early as the 1920s, researchers giving IQ tests to non-Westerners realized that any test of intelligence is strongly, if subtly, imbued with cultural biases… Samoans, when given a test requiring them to trace a route form point A to point B, often chose not the most direct route (the “correct” answer), but rather the most aesthetically pleasing one. Australian aborigines find it difficult to understand why a friend would ask them to solve a difficult puzzle and not help them with it. Indeed, the assumption that one must provide answers alone, without assistance from those who are older and wiser, is a statement about the culture-bound view of intelligence. Certainly the smartest thing to do, when face with a difficult problem, is to seek the advice of more experienced relatives and friends!”

    — Jonathan Marks - Anthropology and the Bell Curve (via leofarto)


    I was reading an interesting article years ago about collective memory. There have been a lot of thinkpieces over the years about how humans are getting lazier and worse at remembering things thanks to technology. There’s a tendency, particularly in the western world, to behave as if memorization was all people did prior to the internet. 

    But outside of artificial school test-taking environments, human beings have always relied on the collective memory of their close peers to keep track of information. Anyone who’s ever worked clothing retail knows that no single employee has the location of every item in the store memorized, but as long as you have enough people working the floor, nobody will ever have to waste time searching for an item because at least one employee is bound to remember which rack it’s on.

    TL&DR - brains were never designed to function in isolation. 

    Testing the intelligence of an individual in an isolation is never going to give you an accurate idea of a person’s true intellectual potential.


    Two (or more) heads is better than one.


    My maternal grandfather was a math professor at the City University of New York. He died before I was born, but he passed a key bit of wisdom to my mother, and she passed it on to me:

    The important thing is not knowing the answer, it’s knowing how to find the answer.

    It our era of text and alphabets, that’s often knowing how to look something up. But for most of human existence, there were no alphabets. So knowing how to find the answer meant finding the person who knew the answer.

    All human knowledge is cooperative.

    “On many occasions Liu Ling, under the influence of wine, would be completely free and uninhibited. Sometimes he would take off his clothes and sit naked in his room. Once some people came to see him and chided him for this behaviour. Liu Ling retorted, “I take heaven and earth for my pillars and roof, and the rooms of my house for my pants and coats. And now, what are you gentlemen doing in my pants?” (23.6)”

    — “On Liu Ling” from Shishuo xinyou (A New Account of Tales of the World)

    “Karl Marx is most famous as a critic of capitalism, but at the heart of his critique can be found a desperate plea for the transformation of work. People, he argues, express themselves and create the world through creative and collective activity. This natural tendency is twisted into something unrecognisable in work under capitalism. He didn’t just think work around him was bad because it took place in noisy and dangerous conditions, or for low wages and long hours. The problem of work was a fundamental one: under capitalism, work takes something human and turns it into something monstrous. The forces of capital become ravenous, eating up all that is human, sucking on the very lifeblood of society.”

    — Amelia Horgan, Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism


    “J.R.R. Tolkien has become a sort of mountain, appearing in all subsequent fantasy in the way that Mt. Fuji appears so often in Japanese prints. Sometimes it’s big and up close. Sometimes it’s a shape on the horizon. Sometimes it’s not there at all, which means that the artist either has made a deliberate decision against the mountain, which is interesting in itself, or is in fact standing on Mt. Fuji.”

    — Terry Pratchett


    Some vitriol was printed … when The Lord of the Rings was voted the best book of the century in a poll of Waterstone’s readers. Certain critics felt that the public were being jolly ungrateful … It didn’t matter. The book is beyond their control. They might as well have been throwing bricks at a mountain; it doesn’t cause any damage, and it makes the mountain slightly higher. The book is now a classic, and real classics aren’t created by diktat.

    Terry Pratchett : A Slip of the Keyboard : collected non-fiction.


    Rutherford County established the position of elected juvenile court judge in 2000, and ever since, Donna Scott Davenport has been the job’s only holder. She sometimes calls herself the “mother of the county.”

    While juvenile court is mostly private, Davenport keeps a highly public profile. For the past 10 years she’s had a monthly radio segment on WGNS, a local station where she talks about her work.

    She sees a breakdown in morals. Children lack respect: “It’s worse now than I’ve ever seen it,” she said in 2012. Parents don’t parent: “It’s just the worst I’ve ever seen,” she said in 2017. On WGNS, Davenport reminisces with the show’s host about a time when families ate dinner together and parents always knew where their children were and what friends they were with because kids called home from a landline, not some could-be-anywhere cellphone. Video games, the internet, social media — it’s all poison for children, the judge says.

    Davenport describes her work as a calling. “I’m here on a mission. It’s not a job. It’s God’s mission,” she told a local newspaper. The children in her courtroom aren’t hers, but she calls them hers. “I’m seeing a lot of aggression in my 9- and 10-year-olds,” she says in one radio segment.

    Scrutinizing the inner workings of Tennessee’s juvenile courts can be difficult. Court files are mostly off-limits; proceedings can be closed at a judge’s discretion. But on the radio, Davenport provides listeners a glimpse of the court’s work. “I’ve locked up one 7-year-old in 13 years, and that was a heartbreak,” she said in 2012. “But 8- and 9-year-olds, and older, are very common now.”


    The following year, Rutherford County violated federal law 191 times by keeping kids locked up too long, according to a story later published by The Tennessean. By law, children held for such minor acts as truancy were to appear before a judge within 24 hours and be released no more than a day after that. The newspaper interviewed Davenport, who estimated half those violations occurred because a kid had cursed her or someone else. For cursing, she said, she typically sentenced kids to two to 10 days in jail. “Was I in violation?” she said. “Heck, yes. But am I going to allow a child to cuss anyone out? Heck, no.”

    >puts child in jail for 10 days cause they said ‘bitch’

    “They lied, my friend. They injected their despair beneath your skin like a parasitic insect laying eggs in the body of another species. Nothing they said is true, everything about you is honorable. Every pore that opens and closes—a multitude along the expanse of your body, the follicles from which hair sprouts emerging again and again like spiders’ floss spun from a limitless source. You wait, huddled. Or carry yourself from place to place like a burden. As if you would stash yourself, if you could, in a bus station locker, or somewhere smaller. You don’t really hope, but you can’t give it up completely. Some stubborn nugget is lodged like a bullet in bone. Though each breath stings with the cold suck of it, you can know the truth. Every cell of your body vibrates with its own intelligence. Every atom is pure.””

    — Ellen Bass