Quintonio LeGrier, Bettie Jones, and the Paranoid Style of American Policing – The Atlantic

When officers take the lives of those they are sworn to protect and serve, they undermine their own legitimacy.

When you live in communities like ours—or perhaps any community—mediating violence between young people is part of being an adult. Sometimes the young people are involved in scary behavior—like threatening people with metal objects. And yet the notion that it is permissible, wise, moral, or advisable to kill such a person as a method of de-escalation, to kill because one was afraid, did not really exist among parents in my community.

In America, police officers are agents of the state and thus bound by the social contract in a way that criminals, and even random citizens, are not. Criminals and random citizens are not paid to protect other citizens. Police officers are. By that logic, one might surmise that the police would be better able to mediate conflicts than community members. In Chicago, this appears, very often, not to be the case.

It will not do to note that 99 percent of the time the police mediate conflicts without killing people anymore than it will do for a restaurant to note that 99 percent of the time rats don’t run through the dining room. Nor will it do to point out that most black citizens are killed by other black citizens, not police officers, anymore than it will do to point out that most American citizens are killed by other American citizens, not terrorists. If officers cannot be expected to act any better than ordinary citizens, why call them in the first place? Why invest them with any more power?

Legitimacy is what is ultimately at stake here.

When police can not adhere to the standards of the neighborhood, of citizens, or of parents, what are they beyond a bigger gun and a sharper sword? By what right do they enforce their will, save force itself? When policing is delegitimized, when it becomes an occupying force, the community suffers.

A state that allows its agents to kill, to beat, to tase, without any real sanction, has ceased to govern and has commenced to simply rule.

Source: Quintonio LeGrier, Bettie Jones, and the Paranoid Style of American Policing – The Atlantic, by Ta-nehisi Coates

How the Internet of Things Limits Consumer Choice – The Atlantic

In theory, the Internet of Things—the connected network of tiny computers inside home appliances, household objects, even clothing—promises to make your life easier and your work more efficient. … In theory, connected sensors will anticipate your needs, saving you time, money, and energy. Except when the companies that make these connected objects act in a way that runs counter to the consumer’s best interests

companies set up proprietary standards to ensure that their customers don’t use someone else’s products with theirs … To stop competitors just reverse-engineering the proprietary standard and making compatible peripherals, these companies rely on a 1998 law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). … Specifically, the DMCA includes an anti-circumvention provision, which prohibits companies from circumventing “technological protection measures” that “effectively control access” to copyrighted works. That means it’s illegal for someone to create a Hue-compatible lightbulb without Philips’ permission, a K-cup-compatible coffee pod without Keurigs’, or an HP-printer compatible cartridge without HP’s.

Because companies can enforce anti-competitive behavior this way, there’s a litany of things that just don’t exist, even though they would make life easier for consumers in significant ways.

the Internet of Things is on track to become a battleground of competing standards, as companies try to build monopolies by locking each other out.

Source: How the Internet of Things Limits Consumer Choice – The Atlantic, by Bruce Schneier

China has made obedience to the State a game | The Independent

With a concept straight out of a cyberpunk dystopia, China has gamified obedience to the State. China has created a social tool named Sesame Credit which gives people a score for how good a citizen they are. The system measures how obediently citizens follow the party line, pulling data from social networks and online purchase histories.

The system could also become a powerful tool for social conditioning, as users could lose points for having friends with low obedience scores.

Source: China has made obedience to the State a game | The Independent

Why Are Projects Always Behind Schedule?

A misunderstanding of statistics might be a huge part of why projects are alway late at your company.

we found that setting simplistic timelines – adding up median completion times for each step in your project – consistently underestimated how long projects would take. In fact, creating a timeline based on median completion times underestimates the actual project timeline 67% of the time.

For every step in a project, there’s about a 50% chance of completion under or on the median step completion time. And there’s about a 50% chance of not. … If a project has 6 steps, the chances of some of those steps going over its median is greater than 98%. … But while there’s a lower bound to how “under” the median a step can be – a step can’t take negative time – there’s virtually no upper limit to how much over the median time a project can take.

Source: Why Are Projects Always Behind Schedule?

Obama’s Address: The Truth but Not the Whole Truth « LobeLog

RE: President Barack Obama’s televised address from the Oval Office on Sunday night in the wake of the San Bernardino, California attack.

What follows is not meant as criticism of what he said, but is rather an exegesis of what he left unsaid, mostly because of either raison d’état or seemingly insurmountable domestic politics. … All this was right, proper, and sensible. But there were many things that the president either couldn’t say or chose not to bring into the open.

the president didn’t mention how the fear of terror is promulgated … the Western (and especially American) media—which, in “doing their job,” blow the actual terrorist acts far out of proportion.

Source: Obama’s Address: The Truth but Not the Whole Truth « LobeLog by Robert E. Hunter

The Tail End – Wait But Why

No matter what your age, you may, without realizing it, be enjoying the very last chapter of the relationships that matter most to you. Make it count.

A little post about the unintuitive notion that you may be 30% of the way through your life but 90% of the way through many of your best relationships.

I’ve been thinking about my parents, who are in their mid-60s. During my first 18 years, I spent some time with my parents during at least 90% of my days. But since heading off to college and then later moving out of Boston, I’ve probably seen them an average of only five times a year each, for an average of maybe two days each time. 10 days a year. About 3% of the days I spent with them each year of my childhood.

Being in their mid-60s, let’s continue to be super optimistic and say I’m one of the incredibly lucky people to have both parents alive into my 60s. That would give us about 30 more years of coexistence. If the ten days a year thing holds, that’s 300 days left to hang with mom and dad. Less time than I spent with them in any one of my 18 childhood years.

It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time.

I see three takeaways here:

1) Living in the same place as the people you love matters. I probably have 10X the time left with the people who live in my city as I do with the people who live somewhere else.

2) Priorities matter. Your remaining face time with any person depends largely on where that person falls on your list of life priorities. Make sure this list is set by you—not by unconscious inertia.

3) Quality time matters. If you’re in your last 10% of time with someone you love, keep that fact in the front of your mind when you’re with them and treat that time as what it actually is: precious.

Source: The Tail End – Wait But Why

The Moral Failure of Computer Scientists – The Atlantic

In the 1950s, a group of scientists spoke out against the dangers of nuclear weapons. Should cryptographers take on the surveillance state?

I don’t think you can have a healthy democracy without healthy journalism, and I don’t think you have healthy journalism without the ability to conduct a private conversation.

And that includes not just what you’re saying, but whom you’re saying it to. If every contact a journalist makes—and the weight of that contact: the number of minutes, the frequency, and such—is something that hundreds of thousands of analysts can get from a Google-like search tool, I think that this makes serious investigative journalism effectively impossible.

Source: The Moral Failure of Computer Scientists – The Atlantic