This Week In Forth | Week of September 12
Trump’s secret military plan:
Donald Trump recently announced that he has a foolproof plan that will defeat ISIS once and for all. He conveniently mentioned that divulging the plan would compromise its efficacy, as an announcement as to the particulars would allow Isis to prepare. Given the furtive nature of the plan in question, I’m led to believe that Trump’s Isis plan is in fact the first stage of an elaborate pyramid scheme. The three-stage pyramid scheme process is nothing new. We’ve all seen it before. Stage one consists of nebulous allusion to a secretive plan that is yet to be revealed for strategic reasons. One manifestation might be a series of cryptic social media posts such as:
“you sleep, I grind #building”
“good news to come, will be revealed in due time #beastmode”
“exciting plans on the horizon, can’t share just yet #buildingwealth”
Clearly, Trump’s cryptic announcement as to his Isis defeat plan is nothing more than phase I of the three stages of pyramid scheme indoctrination. Stage 2 consists of dedicating one’s life and social media presence toward the pitching and promotion of the pyramid scheme of choice. Finally, stage three consists of ostracizing (or at least making them extremely uncomfortable) those that choose not to take the pyramid scheme journey with you. This may include another round of cryptic social media posts such as “some folks are only called to be in your life for a season”, “it’s amazing how folks you’ve been supportive of don’t reciprocate #unequallyyoked”, “let your haters be your motivators #beastmode”, and a repeat of the old faithful “you sleep I grind #staywoke”. If Donald Trump’s hybrid pyramid scheme-ISIS defeat plan works as he intends, he won’t need a stage 3. My theory is that he plans on using stage 2 as a torture/interrogation tactic of sorts. That is, he will play pyramid scheme pitches on a repeating loop (the playlist will include but not be limited to: “It Works”, “Beach Body”, and a vintage throwback “Pre-Paid Legal”) to ISIS operatives until they cave and provide pertinent information that could lead to the capture of additional operatives. Having been on the receiving end of several pyramid scheme pitches, I am most certain that this will be a fruitful torture technique.
War on EFD Culture:
Apple recently announced that the Iphone-7 would ship sans headphone jack. Apple has marketed this change as merely a step toward an inevitably wireless future. However, I think their intentions are far more sinister that that. I believe it is slippery slope in the direction of an all out culture war against EFDs, “Extremely Frugal Dads”. When I mentioned Apple’s announcement to my own father, a staunch supporter of the core values of the EFD demographic, my dad responded in absolute shock and devastation . My father is committed to his right to spend only $5 on headset microphones despite the diminished music sound quality and the fact that he has to practically yell during phone conversations because I can barely hear him through his microphone that cost slightly less than a Big Mac meal. My dad is committed to the tenants of EFD culture which include the following behavior in addition to refusing to pay more than $5 for earbuds:
–Frequent coupon clipping and/or grocery store comparison-shopping often accompanied by bulk discount purchases and a deep freezer for bulk storage
–Wearing and requesting gifts of shirts with “Dad” on it (i.e, “dance dad”, “football dad”, “choir dad”, “insert your college name dad”)
— Placing free grocery bags inside of more expensive “tall kitchen bags” (I say tall kitchen bags, because Glad bags are way too expensive for EFDs) to extend the life tall kitchen bags beyond one use (ie, putting the actual trash in a small free bag inside the bag that actually fits the trash can)
–Leveling up on Kroger Plus Fuel Points (via frequent Kroger grocery trips) and gathering volunteers to help them drive all of their vehicles assembly line fashion past a single Kroger gas station pump so they can fill up all the vehicles they own when they redeem their 30 cents/gallon single pump Kroger Plus gas discount.
EFDs however do not pay $159 for wireless earpods. The push toward wireless earphones will be even more devastating to my extremely frugal dad as he is also a 3X(soon to be 4X) granddad. It is common knowledge that extremely frugal granddads are even more devastated by the deprecation of antiquated technologies in favor of more expensive albeit better performing technologies than their father only peers.
Mosquito Jar Show and Tell:
Representative David Jolly of Florida brought a jar of mosquitoes to a congressional hearing in order to drive home the severity of the zika outbreak. I’m all for supporting research geared toward the containment of the zika virus as the virus has a devastating effect on unborn babies. However, toting around jars of mosquitoes is a bit much. I can’t help but think that representative Jolly must have been one of those kids who brought gross things to show and tell such as jars of fruit flies. He likely also engaged in trifling science fair projects such as creating moldy bread or rotting bananas. I always found such endeavors to be academically lazy as we all know that if you leave a banana in your backpack for a month, it will turn into something absolutely disgusting—an insult to the scientific method if you ask me. Jolly’s jar of mosquitos notwithstanding, I surely do hope that we allocate the necessary funding required to contain and ultimately eliminate the zika virus.
I’m kind of surprised that this is actually a thing. I naively thought that the practice of confiscating native lands, relocating the population to marginal lands, and reclaiming the land we initially thought to be of little value upon discovery of precious commodities such as gold was a staple of history books. Obviously this is in fact present reality, with the exception that the current commodity of choice is crude oil. The Sioux already have an uncollected $1 billion ($100 million that has ballooned to $1 billion due to accrual of interest) settlement burning a hole in US treasury stemming from the wrongful reclamation of the Black Hills. The Sioux refused to accept the payment as the land was never for sale to begin with. Fast-forward, to 2016, and Energy Transfer Partners LP is attempting to construct a 1,168 million dollar pipeline that crosses 200 waterways and disturbs Sioux burial grounds. The Toy Story adage “Always keep your promises if you want to keep your friends” most nearly means, “Always keep your promises unless you discover gold, wish to build Mount Rushmore, or want to build a $3.8 billion oil pipeline.”
I naively thought that the practice of confiscating native lands, relocating the population to marginal lands, and reclaiming the land we initially thought to be of little value upon discovery of precious commodities such as gold was a staple of history books.
How to Reinvent the Wheel and Put in on Backwards:
In this week’s episode of cultural appropriation that makes Iggy Azalea look like a regular social justice warrior, Philadelphia hipster chef Tyler Akin contributes a video to BonAppetit.com entitled “PSA: How to Eat Pho” (replete with really odd chopstick technique instructions), because apparently Vietnamese people have been eating pho wrong all along. The video also declares that “Pho is the New Ramen” in much the same way that Columbus declared “America is the New India”. Fortunately, I came across an amazing “How to Eat Pho” video that helped me to forget the BonAppetit video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C92m3c7BczM
Hipster chefs reinventing the wheel and making ethnic cuisine fun and trendy is nothing new.
Hipster chefs reinventing the wheel and making ethnic cuisine fun and trendy is nothing new. I remember driving near my neighborhood a few years ago and happening upon a new chicken joint that I assumed was owned by African Americans as the sign sported an extremely black sounding first name that I can’t remember (think Tyrone, Deandre, or Jimarcus). My friend and I stopped at the chicken joint, because we figured it would be an opportunity to try a new restaurant and support local black businesses. We were shocked to realize that the owners were young white hipsters, who were selling chicken at the price of my mortgage under the guise of an extremely black sounding moniker that in its current context was feeling uncomfortably minstrel-esque. We honestly wanted to turn back because at the prices they were charging, we could have purchased our own organic free range chicken pasture. However, we didn’t turn away because there were no other customers and a large number of workers who seemed eager to finally have patrons to serve. To make matters, worse, the joint didn’t even sell wings (who doesn’t love chicken wings?). In light of the wing infraction, I put their offensive prices and restaurant name aside and offered the owners genuine free advice by warning them that if they didn’t start selling wings (this is Atlanta after all), they would be sure to go under. An enthusiastic woman with a vexing vocal fry and average “like” per sentence count in the double digits began to counter my wing arguments with the explanation that she believed that the Atlanta consumers would be smart enough to understand that her restaurant provides a superior product, blah, blah blah (I guess product might be deemed superior to those who hate seasoning?). To make a short story long, the hipster chicken minstrel show went under in less than a month.
Data Science Gone Wild:
People of color are grossly underrepresented in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and the recent string of seemingly racist machine learning algorithms can be attributed to this lack of diversity. I’ve seen articles that claim that math is racist, which is ludicrous, because like children, algorithms only know what we humans tell them. Algorithms are no more innately racist than newborn babies. Most recently, AI was utilized to judge a beauty competition, which resulted in a bias against dark skin. Of course machine learning isn’t inherently racist, however the algorithm wasn’t provided (by humans) sufficient data points that included people of color in the model training phase, which resulted in the bias. There have been many other cases in which lack of inclusion of people of color in training datasets yielded racist results. In particular, Google’s image labeling algorithm received insufficient training data from African Americans, which resulted in black people being labeled as primates in photos. As a Data Scientist/Machine learning practitioner, I regularly have to oversample or under-sample data points with particular characteristics in order to obtained more balanced model training datasets and more useful results. The inclusion of people of color in the practice of Data Science is paramount as people of color through their life experiences are likely to be more aware as to how models might have unexpected societal impact on people of color. Thus, the inclusion of people of color in the field could help prevent the implementation of racist algorithms. The inclusions of people of color becomes even more important as the stakes get higher, since utilizing machine learning for tasks such as predictive policing is becoming more and more common.
This has truly been a bad month for Data Science overall. To add insult to racist injury, Data Science is also serving up privacy violations this month. Specifically, Facebook rolled out an algorithm in which GPS is utilized to make friendship recommendations, the rationale being that you are likely to be friends with others that frequent the same locations. Apparently the algorithm in question doesn’t give a damn about HIPPA violations, because it is in the business of recommending that psychiatric patients that frequent the same physician’s practice friend each other. Facebook’s GPS based friend recommendation algorithm could have broader implications beyond healthcare privacy violations. In particular, if you are taking your side chick to the same places as your main chick, Facebook very well may blow your cover.
Nicholls State Who?:
As Georgia Tech alum, I can certainly say that I am not a Georgia fan. However, the one thing that I used to like about Georgia was coach Richt. I’ve written at length about my opinion as to the NCAA and its exploitation of collegiate athletes, so what has intrigued me about Richt is that he seemed to make an extra effort in terms of promoting athlete’s welfare. In particular, he opposed over signing (recruiting more athletes than available scholarship and releasing athletes that are older, injured, or don’t perform as well as others) in favor of guaranteeing scholarships for 4 years. I honestly think that was his demise. I think the powers that be wanted someone that had more of a killer instinct, someone say from the Alabama organization (ie, Kirby Smart), a school that is perhaps the greatest offender when it comes to caustic SEC practices such as over signing. What else could explain the firing of March Richt, a coach with a winning average of 10 games per year, six SEC division titles, 2 SEC championships, nine bowl games, and three BCS championship appearances throughout his 15 season tenure. In light of Richt’s firing, I couldn’t help but feel all the smugness when Georgia nearly lost to the likes of Nicholls state last weekend. This year I will cheer fervently against Georgia because I am both a fan of Georgia Tech and coach Richt.