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Form and Function

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The limerick is furtive and mean;
You must keep her in close quarantine,
Or she sneaks to the slums
And promptly becomes
Disorderly, drunk and obscene.

— Morris Bishop

It needn’t have ribaldry’s taint
Or strive to make everyone faint.
There’s a type that’s demure
And perfectly pure,
Though it helps quite a lot if it ain’t.

— Don Marquis

The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical
But the good ones I’ve seen
So seldom are clean,
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.

— Anon.

A bather whose clothing was strewed
By winds which left her quite nude,
Saw a man come along,
And, unless I am wrong,
You expected this line to be rude.

— Anon.

There was a young lady … tut, tut!
So you think that you’re in for some smut?
Some five-line crescendo
Of lewd innuendo?
Well, you’re wrong. This is anything but.

— Stanley J. Sharpless

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istoner
3 days ago
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Meta-limericks!
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Lizard Brains Still Control Us All

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Over the past few years Amazon has been experimenting with new software to help them make better hiring decisions:

Automation has been key to Amazon’s e-commerce dominance, be it inside warehouses or driving pricing decisions. The company’s experimental hiring tool used artificial intelligence to give job candidates scores ranging from one to five stars — much like shoppers rate products on Amazon, some of the people said.

Hmmm. I’m not sure that machine learning is yet at a stage where it can really help much with this. On the other hand, it can be useful for ferreting out existing hiring patterns to see what Amazon’s managers seem to value most. So what did they find?

By 2015, the company realized its new system was not rating candidates for software developer jobs and other technical posts in a gender-neutral way. That is because Amazon’s computer models were trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period. Most came from men, a reflection of male dominance across the tech industry.

In effect, Amazon’s system taught itself that male candidates were preferable. It penalized resumes that included the word “women’s,” as in “women’s chess club captain.” And it downgraded graduates of two all-women’s colleges, according to people familiar with the matter. They did not specify the names of the schools….The Seattle company ultimately disbanded the team by the start of last year because executives lost hope for the project, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

This is yet another confirmation—as if we needed one—that even the best-intentioned of us are bursting with internalized biases. Most of Amazon’s managers probably had no idea they were doing this and would have sworn on a stack of C++ manuals that they were absolutely gender neutral in their hiring decisions. In fact, I’ll bet most of them thought that they bent over backward to give female candidates a break. But down in the lizard part of their brains, it was the same old story as always: they preferred hiring men to women.

There’s a limit to how much you can take away from this. It’s another example of how implicit biases can affect us all, and a warning that any system we’re responsible for training—whether it’s fellow humans or digital computers—will pick up those biases. We all know we need to be careful about passing along our biases to the next generation, and it turns out we have to be equally careful about passing them along to the software we build.

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istoner
10 days ago
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Fascinating (and forking depressing).
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Horror Movies

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"Isn't the original Jurassic Park your favorite movie of all time?" "Yes, but that's because I like dinosaurs and I WANT there to be an island full of them. If John Hammond's lab had been breeding serial killers in creepy masks, I wouldn't have watched!" "Wait, are you sure? That could actually be good." "Ok, I WOULD watch the scenes where Jeff Goldblum tries to convince a bunch of executives that the park is a bad idea."
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istoner
12 days ago
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Cosmopolitanism about horror movies. Right on.

I know everyone's into what they're into, but I have never understood romantic tragedies.
sirwired
12 days ago
Best summary of Nicholas Sparks movies: "White People Nearly Kissing" (was a caption to a photo of all his books) With that in mind, you can spot a Sparks movie without even being able to read the title.
MaryEllenCG
11 days ago
I feel the same way about Emotional Manipulation shows like This Is Us. I just don't get the appeal at all!
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5 public comments
mburch42
12 days ago
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same
Covarr
12 days ago
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I can absolutely see the appeal of horror movies. Like some movies aim to make you sad, some aim to make you laugh, some aim to inspire... it's about getting more deeply in touch with your emotions and feelings.

Which is all largely moot, because the overwhelming majority of horror movies aren't actually scary. Jurassic Park worked despite that, due to good characters and interesting science and philosophy, but the genre largely fails at its primary goal.
Moses Lake, WA
Covarr
12 days ago
(If you want true, proper horror, step away from the movies for a while and go read The Enigma of Amigara Fault.)
GreenChange
11 days ago
I don't see the appeal of horror movies, but I really enjoyed Cabin In The Woods - it turns the genre on its head!
rclatterbuck
12 days ago
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This follows right along with the Jurassic Park sequel: 4 million AD, dinosaur scientists clone extinct humans. The human they clone is Jeff Goldblum. They mix mosquito DNA to fill in the gaps. Boom! This is really a sequel to The Fly.
alt_text_at_your_service
12 days ago
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"Isn't the original Jurassic Park your favorite movie of all time?" "Yes, but that's because I like dinosaurs and I WANT there to be an island full of them. If John Hammond's lab had been breeding serial killers in creepy masks, I wouldn't have watched!" "Wait, are you sure? That could actually be good." "Ok, I WOULD watch the scenes where Jeff Goldblum tries to convince a bunch of executives that the park is a bad idea."
vfxGer
12 days ago
I want to buy the rights to the serial killer park film
alt_text_bot
12 days ago
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"Isn't the original Jurassic Park your favorite movie of all time?" "Yes, but that's because I like dinosaurs and I WANT there to be an island full of them. If John Hammond's lab had been breeding serial killers in creepy masks, I wouldn't have watched!" "Wait, are you sure? That could actually be good." "Ok, I WOULD watch the scenes where Jeff Goldblum tries to convince a bunch of executives that the park is a bad idea."

The Use of Narrative in Public Philosophy: A Diagrammatic Guide

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by Barry Lam This post is abridged and adapted from a longer piece. Forthcoming in the inaugural issue of Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice. When the ... Read more...
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istoner
20 days ago
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Insightful comment about the generic difference between academic and popular writing. A philosophical argument made accessible to a broader public is unlikely to be effective as a piece of public philosophy.
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Japan's asteroid hoppers deliver new batch of incredible images

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Pics of Ryugu's surface show loose piles of gravel strewn with larger rocks and boulders.
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istoner
23 days ago
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So forking cool.
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Feast your eyes on comet 67P's surface, with depth cues added

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Mattias Malmer made it a little easier to figure out what Philae really saw in 2014.
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istoner
37 days ago
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Such a cool idea! I've never seen anything like this before.
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