Skip to main content
Log In | Register

TR Memescape


Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - Testy Calibrate

1
https://www.fastcodesign.com/90132632/ai-is-inventing-its-own-perfect-languages-should-we-let-it
Quote
Bob: "I can can I I everything else."

Alice: "Balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to."

To you and I, that passage looks like nonsense. But what if I told you this nonsense was the discussion of what might be the most sophisticated negotiation software on the planet? Negotiation software that had learned, and evolved, to get the best deal possible with more speed and efficiency-and perhaps, hidden nuance-than you or I ever could? Because it is.

This conversation occurred between two AI agents developed inside Facebook. At first, they were speaking to each other in plain old English. But then researchers realized they'd made a mistake in programming.

"There was no reward to sticking to English language," says Dhruv Batra, visiting research scientist from Georgia Tech at Facebook AI Research (FAIR). As these two agents competed to get the best deal-a very effective bit of AI vs. AI dogfighting researchers have dubbed a "generative adversarial network"-neither was offered any sort of incentive for speaking as a normal person would. So they began to diverge, eventually rearranging legible words into seemingly nonsensical sentences.

"Agents will drift off understandable language and invent codewords for themselves," says Batra, speaking to a now-predictable phenomenon that's been observed again, and again, and again. "Like if I say 'the' five times, you interpret that to mean I want five copies of this item. This isn't so different from the way communities of humans create shorthands."

[Screenshot: courtesy Facebook]
Indeed. Humans have developed unique dialects for everything from trading pork bellies on the floor of the Mercantile Exchange to hunting down terrorists as Seal Team Six-simply because humans sometimes perform better by not abiding to normal language conventions.

So should we let our software do the same thing? Should we allow AI to evolve its dialects for specific tasks that involve speaking to other AIs? To essentially gossip out of our earshot? Maybe; it offers us the possibility of a more interoperable world, a more perfect place where iPhones talk to refrigerators that talk to your car without a second thought.

The tradeoff is that we, as humanity, would have no clue what those machines were actually saying to one another.
We Teach Bots To Talk, But We'll Never Learn Their Language

Facebook ultimately opted to require its negotiation bots to speak in plain old English. "Our interest was having bots who could talk to people," says Mike Lewis, research scientist at FAIR. Facebook isn't alone in that perspective. When I inquired to Microsoft about computer-to-computer languages, a spokesperson clarified that Microsoft was more interested in human-to-computer speech. Meanwhile, Google, Amazon, and Apple are all also focusing incredible energies on developing conversational personalities for human consumption. They're the next wave of user interface, like the mouse and keyboard for the AI era.

The other issue, as Facebook admits, is that it has no way of truly understanding any divergent computer language. "It's important to remember, there aren't bilingual speakers of AI and human languages," says Batra. We already don't generally understand how complex AIs think because we can't really see inside their thought process. Adding AI-to-AI conversations to this scenario would only make that problem worse.

But at the same time, it feels shortsighted, doesn't it? If we can build software that can speak to other software more efficiently, shouldn't we use that? Couldn't there be some benefit?

[Source Images: Nikiteev_Konstantin/iStock, Zozulinskyi/iStock]
Because, again, we absolutely can lead machines to develop their own languages. Facebook has three published papers proving it. "It's definitely possible, it's possible that [language] can be compressed, not just to save characters, but compressed to a form that it could express a sophisticated thought," says Batra. Machines can converse with any baseline building blocks they're offered. That might start with human vocabulary, as with Facebook's negotiation bots. Or it could start with numbers, or binary codes. But as machines develop meanings, these symbols become "tokens"-they're imbued with rich meanings. As Dauphin points out, machines might not think as you or I do, but tokens allow them to exchange incredibly complex thoughts through the simplest of symbols. The way I think about it is with algebra: If A + B = C, the "A" could encapsulate almost anything. But to a computer, what "A" can mean is so much bigger than what that "A" can mean to a person, because computers have no outright limit on processing power.

"It's perfectly possible for a special token to mean a very complicated thought," says Batra. "The reason why humans have this idea of decomposition, breaking ideas into simpler concepts, it's because we have a limit to cognition." Computers don't need to simplify concepts. They have the raw horsepower to process them.
Why We Should Let Bots Gossip

But how could any of this technology actually benefit the world, beyond these theoretical discussions? Would our servers be able to operate more efficiently with bots speaking to one another in shorthand? Could microsecond processes, like algorithmic trading, see some reasonable increase? Chatting with Facebook, and various experts, I couldn't get a firm answer.

However, as paradoxical as this might sound, we might see big gains in such software better understanding our intent. While two computers speaking their own language might be more opaque, an algorithm predisposed to learn new languages might chew through strange new data we feed it more effectively. For example, one researcher recently tried to teach a neural net to create new colors and name them. It was terrible at it, generating names like Sudden Pine and Clear Paste (that clear paste, by the way, was labeled on a light green). But then they made a simple change to the data they were feeding the machine to train it. They made everything lowercase-because lowercase and uppercase letters were confusing it. Suddenly, the color-creating AI was working, well, pretty well! And for whatever reason, it preferred, and performed better, with RGB values as opposed to other numerical color codes.

Why did these simple data changes matter? Basically, the researcher did a better job at speaking the computer's language. As one coder put it to me, "Getting the data into a format that makes sense for machine learning is a huge undertaking right now and is more art than science. English is a very convoluted and complicated language and not at all amicable for machine learning."

[Source Images: Nikiteev_Konstantin/iStock, Zozulinskyi/iStock]
In other words, machines allowed to speak and generate machine languages could somewhat ironically allow us to communicate with (and even control) machines better, simply because they'd be predisposed to have a better understanding of the words we speak.

As one insider at a major AI technology company told me: No, his company wasn't actively interested in AIs that generated their own custom languages. But if it were, the greatest advantage he imagined was that it could conceivably allow software, apps, and services to learn to speak to each other without human intervention.

Right now, companies like Apple have to build APIs-basically a software bridge-involving all sorts of standards that other companies need to comply with in order for their products to communicate. However, APIs can take years to develop, and their standards are heavily debated across the industry in decade-long arguments. But software, allowed to freely learn how to communicate with other software, could generate its own shorthands for us. That means our "smart devices" could learn to interoperate, no API required.

Given that our connected age has been a bit of a disappointment, given that the internet of things is mostly a joke, given that it's no easier to get a document from your Android phone onto your LG TV than it was 10 years ago, maybe there is something to the idea of letting the AIs of our world just talk it out on our behalf. Because our corporations can't seem to decide on anything. But these adversarial networks? They get things done.

If the self is socially constructed as many sociologists think it is, a product of language even, is real AI far away? Evolutionary algorithms are some scary ass shit sometimes.

2
Politics and Current Events / The Kush Thread
I heard his statement on the radio today and it's time for his own thread. It'll fill. Don't worry.
3
I'm totally conflicted here. If he wins on appeal because it turns out the CIA was just pulling a Venezuela trick on behalf of the global corporations it works for then he becomes a cult of personality and moves toward authoritarianism to deal with the CIA factions which sucks. If it turns out that he is actually guilty or if nothing comes of his appeal, then Brazil goes back to the bad old days. Anyway, here's the story:
Quote
Ex-Brazil President Lula sentenced to nearly 10 years for corruption

Brad Brooks


BRASILIA (Reuters) - Former Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a top contender to win next year's presidential election, was convicted on corruption charges on Wednesday and sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison.

The ruling marked a stunning fall for Lula, who will remain free on appeal, and a serious blow to his chances of a political comeback.

Lula was Brazil's first working-class president and remains a popular figure among voters after he left office six years ago with an 83-percent approval rating. The former union leader won global admiration for transformative social policies that helped reduce stinging inequality in Latin America's biggest country.

The verdict represented the highest-profile conviction yet in the sweeping corruption investigation that for over three years has rattled Brazil, revealing a sprawling system of graft at top levels of business and government and throwing the country's political system into disarray.

Judge Sergio Moro found Lula guilty of accepting 3.7 million reais ($1.2 million) worth of bribes from engineering firm OAS SA, the amount prosecutors said the company spent refurbishing a beach apartment for Lula in return for his help winning contracts with state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro (PETR4.SA).

Federal prosecutors have accused Lula, who first took the presidency in 2003, of masterminding a long-running corruption scheme that was uncovered in a probe into kickbacks around Petrobras.

Lula's legal team has previously said they would appeal any guilty ruling. They have continuously blasted the trial as a partisan witchhunt, accusing Moro of being biased and out to get Lula for political reasons.

Moro has denied the accusations.

Lula's lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Senator Gleisi Hoffmann, the head of the Workers Party, lashed out at the ruling, saying Lula was convicted to prevent him from running for the presidency next year. She said the party would protest the decision and was confident the ruling would be overturned on appeal.

The Brazilian real BRBY extended gains following Moro's decision and reached its strongest in two months. The benchmark Bovespa stock index .BVSP rose to a session high. Investors fear that another Lula presidency would mean a return to more state-directed and less business friendly economic policies.

"Power Vacuum on Left"
Lula would be barred from office if his guilty verdict is upheld by an appeals court, which is expected to take at least eight months to rule.

If he cannot run, political analysts say Brazil's left would be thrown into disarray, forced to rebuild and somehow find a leader who can emerge from the immense shadow that Lula has cast on Brazilian politics for three decades.

"Lula's absence opens a gaping hole in the political scene, it creates an enormous power vacuum on the left," said Claudio Couto, a political scientist at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a top university. "We have now entered a situation of extreme political tension, even beyond the chaos we have been living for the last year."

Couto said he expected Lula's guilty verdict to be upheld by the appeals court. That would leave the 2018 presidential race wide open and raise chances of a victory by a political outsider, given most known contenders are also ensnared in Brazil's corruption investigations.
Boom to Bust

Lula's two-terms were marked by a commodity boom that momentarily made Brazil one of the world's fastest-growing economies. His ambitious foreign policies, aligning Brazil with other big developing nations, raised the country's profile on the global stage.

With Lula's swagger setting the tone, Brazil sought to shrug off northern economic and political hegemony and engage in global problems, like Middle East peace and the standoff over Iran's nuclear program.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama once labeled him the most popular politician on earth.

But upon leaving office and managing to get his hand-selected successor Dilma Rousseff elected, Brazil's economy soured, with the nation just now beginning to emerge from its worst recession on record.

Rousseff was impeached last year for breaking budgetary rules. She and her backers say her ouster was actually a 'coup' orchestrated by her vice president and now President Michel Temer, who himself faces corruption charges.

During his trial, Lula gave five hours of fiery and defiant defense, proclaiming his innocence and saying that it was politics and not the pilfering of public funds that put him on trial.

"But what is happening is not getting me down, just motivating me to go out and talk more," Lula said in his testimony. "I will keep fighting."

($1 = 3.22 reais)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-corruption-lula-idUSKBN19X2FO
4
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/12/536805816/marijuana-shortage-prompts-emergency-in-nevada-tax-officials-weigh-changes
Quote
Marijuana Shortage Prompts Emergency In Nevada; Tax Officials Weigh Changes

Sales of recreational marijuana have blown past expectations in Nevada, threatening to leave some dispensaries with empty shelves. After Gov. Brian Sandoval endorsed a statement of emergency in the first week of legal sales, regulators are looking to bolster the supply chain.

The Nevada Tax Commission is meeting Thursday to determine whether the state has enough wholesale marijuana distributors; it could also adopt emergency regulations.

"Right now, only companies that are also licensed to distribute liquor in Nevada are able to bring marijuana to dispensaries," Nevada Public Radio's Casey Morell reports for NPR's Newscast unit. "The dispensaries say that's why they're running out of the drug."

Nevada opened the retail pot market on July 1. The state has 47 licensed stores, and in the first weekend of sales, "well over 40,000 retail transactions" were carried out, tax officials say. Some retailers said they racked up twice as many sales as they had estimated -- and they also reported a dire need for new deliveries to restock their shelves.

At least seven wholesale liquor dealers have applied to become marijuana distributors -- but the tax department has said that as of July 5, "no wholesale liquor dealer has met the application requirements to receive a marijuana distributor license."

The situation has left some stores "running on fumes," Nevada Dispensary Association President Andrew Jolley told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Nevada tax officials expect pot sales to generate $100 million in revenue over the next two years. In the agency's statement of emergency, the Taxation Department's executive director, Deonne Contine, said changes are needed both to prevent marijuana customers from reverting to the black market and to support the new businesses that have sprung up around legal recreational sales, opening shops and hiring workers.

"Unless the issue with distributor licensing is resolved quickly, the inability to deliver product to the retail stores will result in many of these employees losing their jobs and will cause this nascent industry to grind to a halt," Contine wrote, in a statement that was endorsed by Sandoval.
5
Politics and Current Events / Supreme court
On top of approving trumps travel ban (at least til the case is heard next fall) plus this:

http://www.npr.org/2017/06/26/534084013/supreme-court-rules-religious-school-can-use-taxpayer-funds-for-playground
Quote
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that taxpayer-funded grants for playgrounds available to nonprofits under a state program could not be denied to a school run by a church.

"The consequence is, in all likelihood, a few extra scraped knees. But the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand," Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, "If this separation means anything, it means that the government cannot, or at the very least need not, tax its citizens and turn that money over to houses of worship. The Court today blinds itself to the outcome this history requires and leads us instead to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment."

Two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, refused to sign on to a footnote explicitly stating that the court's approval applied only to playground funding and should not be read as applying to parochial schools in general.

Goddammit. Revolution calling.
6
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/possible-dirty-bomb-docked-ship-evacuation-terminal-charleston/
Quote


MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. - Federal and state authorities are investigating the possibility that there's a "dirty bomb" on a ship at a local terminal, reports CBS Charleston, S.C. station WCSC-TV.

Coast Guard officials say the FBI is on-scene.

The terminal was evacuated.

A dirty bomb is composed of conventional explosives and radioactive material.

According to emergency officials, no radiation has been found.

A Coast Guard statement says authorities were made aware at 8 p.m. of a potential threat in a container aboard the vessel Maersk Memphis.

    #Update A 1 NM safety zone has been established around the vessel while law enforcement authorities investigate the threat.
    -- USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) June 15, 2017

"The Maersk Memphis is currently moored at Charleston's Wando terminal, which has been evacuated while bomb detection units from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies investigate the threat," the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard says a unified command has been established to oversee the coordinated response.

Authorities were seen taping off a ship.

 Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

The Charleston County Sheriff's Office, Hazmat and EMS crews were also on scene.

Workers say they were told to leave the terminal at around 9 p.m.

Boaters say they were also escorted off the water due to the situation.
7
Politics and Current Events / Sessions
I love Senator Wyden.
8
Arts and Entertainment / twitter
2 things.
1) how many times do you have to say I don't like this tweet before stupid shit like it stops showing up in the feed?

and 2)
Quote
This media may contain sensitive material. Your media settings are configured to warn you when media may be sensitive.
was hiding this image:

wtf?

how do you all find this entertaining?
9
There will be a right wing nutjob March on the 4th with "private security".

Then you get truly dumbass reporting like this:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-hate-crime-in-super-progressive-portland-should-surprise-no-one/2017/06/01/d3b99782-46d8-11e7-a196-a1bb629f64cb_story.html
And, if you live in Portland, the giveaway line is this one:
Quote
I went to high school outside Portland, and I encountered more overt white supremacy there than anywhere else
PDX is a large island of sanity in a shallow sea of ignorant hate. Outside Portland is not like inside Portland.

But Jesus how did wapo allow the rest of this article which uses a history lesson as evidence?
10
http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2017/05/post_255.html
Quote
Buried among the revenue-generating ideas in President Donald Trump's new budget proposal is a plan to sell off publicly owned transmission assets, including those operated by the Bonneville Power Administration.

For public power companies - and really all utilities in the Northwest - the proposal will ring alarm bells and resurrect a debate about the control of assets that were built with federal dollars but paid for by local ratepayers.

Bonneville operates three-quarters of the region's high-voltage transmission system, which it uses to market power from 31 hydroelectric dams in the Columbia River Basin and wheel power around the Pacific Northwest and down to California.  The system spans 300,000 square miles, and includes more than 15,000 miles of lines and 299 substations that deliver electricity to some 12 million people. The agency provides transmission service to regional utilities, commercial customers and independent power producers, and it provides a slew of other services.

The Trump budget summary contemplates raising $4.9 billion for the U.S. Treasury by selling the BPA's transmission assets from 2018 to 2027. An estimated $1.8 billion is expected in 2019.

Bonneville, like other federal power marketing agencies, is part of the U.S. Department of Energy. The BPA's budget proposal does not include any detailed discussion of the proposal, but simply a line tacked on to its normal budget narrative: "The Budget includes a proposal to authorize the Federal government to sell the transmission assets of Bonneville."

Another reference said, "BPA is considering approaches, in addition to or in lieu of the use of its U.S. Treasury borrowing authority, to sustain funding for its infrastructure investment requirements, including a divestiture of Bonneville's transmission assets."

The BPA referred questions to the Department of Energy, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The agency did send out a news release about its overall budget proposal, but that included no mention of the asset sales.

"This budget delivers on the promise to reprioritize spending in order to carry out DOE's core functions efficiently and effectively while also being fiscally responsible and respectful to the American taxpayer," Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in the news release.

The notion of divesting BPA assets isn't new. It is a favorite proposal of conservative think tanks and lawmakers, and has surfaced periodically during the past three decades. But the region's congressional delegation has always managed to beat it back.

Rep. Greg Walden, Oregon's only Republican member of Congress, did not respond to a request for comment. But his office issued a general statement on the budget proposal, saying it "demonstrates President Trump's commitment to balancing the budget and responsibly prioritizing taxpayer dollars."

"The initiatives modernizing our energy infrastructure and promoting our nation's energy abundance would undoubtedly make positive impacts on our constituents' lives. The president's proposals show the difficult choices facing the country as we work to reduce the deficit, protect our security, and grow jobs."

Sen. Ron Wyden on Tuesday blasted the budget summary in general, calling it "Madoff Math" and "a cynical assault on the the fundamental idea that Americans should be there for one another when it counts."

The Oregon Democrat also noted the proposal to sell Bonneville assets, saying it would increase costs for tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the state.

"I successfully fought Republicans' efforts more than a decade ago to privatize Bonneville Power, and I will fight this misguided attempt," Wyden said in a news release. "Public power customers in the Pacific Northwest have paid for the system and their investment should not be put up for sale.

"I'm putting this budget where it belongs - in the trash can."

The Public Power Council, which represents many of the BPA's public utility customers, said it was opposed to the proposal for several reasons, including the loss of regional control and value; the risk of increased costs to consumers; the potential for remote areas of the system to be neglected, harming rural communities; and, impacts to reliability.

 "We'll want the details, but the effect appears to be a transfer of value from the people of the Northwest to the U.S. Treasury," said Scott Corwin, the council's executive director. "Electricity consumers in the West have paid to construct and maintain a system that would be sold off to fund the federal government."

The council said utilities in the region were already working toward the modernization of the grid and those efforts are best handled in the region.
http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/news/2017/05/23/trump-budget-includes-proposal-to-privatize-bpa.html
Quote
The Trump administration is proposing privatizing transmission assets owned by the Bonneville Power Administration, an idea that has popped up periodically since the Reagan administration but gone nowhere.

The proposal to sell off BPA's transmissions assets -- about three-quarters of the high-voltage grid in the Northwest -- is included among "major savings and reforms" offered up the administration in its fiscal year 2018 budget released on Tuesday.

The administration says unloading BPA's grid would save about $4.9 billion over the course of a decade.

The proposal also includes selling off other assets of the Power Marketing Administration for a total savings of $5.5 billion.

"Ownership of transmission assets is best carried out by the private sector where there are appropriate market and regulatory incentives," the administration says in its justification for the proposal. "The budget proposal to eliminate or reduce the PMA's role in electricity transmission and increase the private sector's role would encourage a more efficient allocation of economic resources and mitigate risk to taxpayers."

President Ronald Reagan proposed privatizing the BPA during his second term. President Bill Clinton made a similar bid in the mid-'90s. And in 2005, President George W. Bush proposed forcing BPA to sell its power at market rates, widely seen as a step toward privatization.

None of the proposals found sufficient support in Congress, and President Donald Trump's came in for immediate criticism.

Oregon's senior senator, Democrat Ron Wyden, sharply attacked the proposal, which he said would increase costs for "homes and businesses."

"I successfully fought Republicans' efforts more than a decade ago to privatize Bonneville Power, and I will fight this misguided attempt," Wyden said in a news release. "Public power customers in the Pacific Northwest have paid for the system and their investment should not be put up for sale."

The Public Power Council, which represents about 100 consumer-owned utilities in the region, put out a statement opposing the proposal and listing four major concerns: "(1) loss of regional control and value; (2) risk of increased costs to consumers; (3) potential for remote areas of the system to be neglected, harming rural communities; and, (4) impacts to reliability of what is currently a complex and integrated system."

This is really scary in some fundamental institutional ways. The kind of privatization being pushed through this administration, Energy, Education, Health care, represents the largest non military tax/revenue streams there are. He is intentionally dismantling the vestiges of the public state. Bannon wasn't kidding apparently. This represents a level of fucked that is barely comprehensible if this agenda succeeds even partially. We are talking about not just aristocracy/corporatocracy, but honest to god fascism.
12
One of the really odd geniuses of the 20th century. His personal journals where he recorded every idea for theory that ever occurred to him. It's kind of incredible. It's worth scanning.

http://www.rossashby.info/journal/volume/index.html
13
Politics and Current Events / the new drug war
yeah, huffpo, but this has potential to be a really big deal.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/guess-who-sessions-war-on-drugs-will-target_us_5915e1e6e4b00ccaae9ea22e
Quote
Attorney General Jeff Sessions made it official. The federal government will now reboot its war on drugs. The official word came down in the form of memos from Sessions that ordered federal prosecutors to cease and desist on the soft approach former Attorney General Eric Holder took toward prosecuting petty drug offenders. Now prosecutors must demand the harshest sentence, must use the threat to harshly pile on sentence enhancements to browbeat drug offenders into copping a guilty plea, and they must itemize the drugs an offender uses to insure they are slapped with the minimum mandatory sentence.

Sessions isn't just talking about cracking down on the use of the hard stuff. He has a near paranoid obsession with pot. He has railed against its use, thinks it's one of the worst drug evils, and is convinced it is undermining the nation's morals. Sessions has long chomped at the bit to cop the title as America's number one drug warrior. He took giddy delight as a federal prosecutor and a U.S. Attorney in putting the hammer to drug offenders whenever he could. Sessions would likely scoff at the frank admission by disgraced Nixon White House advisor John Ehrlichman, in an interview in Harpers in 1994, that the war on drugs was not about law enforcement getting a handle on drug sales and use, but another weapon to lock up as many blacks as possible.

From its inception in the 1970s, the war on drugs has been a ruthless, relentless and naked war on minorities, especially African-Americans. Former President Obama and Holder got that. And they made it clear that it was time to rethink how the war was being fought and who its prime casualties have been. They pushed hard to get Congress to wipe out a good deal of the blatantly racially skewed harsh drug sentencing for crack versus powder cocaine possession and to eliminate minimum mandatory sentencing. Congress didn't finish the job and as long as Sessions is in the driver's seat at the Justice Department it won't. The Obama and Holder reforms in low level drug prosecutions did produce positive, and dramatic results. The number of minimum mandatory sentences imposed plunged, and there was much more reliance on drug counseling and diversion programs for petty offenders.

You can kiss that good-by with Sessions. Even though countless surveys have found that whites and blacks use drugs in about the same rate, more than 70 percent of those prosecuted in federal courts for drug possession and sale (mostly small amounts of crack cocaine) and given stiff mandatory sentences are blacks. Most those who deal and use crack cocaine aren't violent prone gang members, but poor, and increasingly female, young blacks. They clearly need treatment not long prison stretches. Obama and Holder understood that.

The fed war on drugs before Obama and Holder, and now reignited under Sessions, targeted blacks for a good reason. The top-heavy drug use by young whites -- and the crime and violence that go with it -- has never stirred any public outcry for mass arrests, prosecutions, and tough prison sentences for white drug dealers, many of whom deal drugs that are directly linked to serious crime and violence. Whites unlucky enough to get popped for drug possession are treated with compassion, prayer sessions, expensive psychiatric counseling, treatment and rehab programs, and drug diversion programs.

A frank admission that the laws are biased and unfair, and have not done much to combat the drug plague, would be an admission of failure. It could ignite a real soul-searching over whether all the billions of dollars that have been squandered in the failed and flawed drug war -- the lives ruined by it, and the families torn apart by the rigid and unequal enforcement of the laws -- has really accomplished anything.

This might call into question why people use and abuse drugs in the first place -- and if it is really the government's business to turn the legal screws on some drug users while turning a blind eye to others?

The greatest fallout from the nation's failed drug policy is that it has further embedded the widespread notion that the drug problem is exclusively a black problem. This makes it easy for on-the-make politicians to grab votes, garner press attention, and balloon state prison budgets to jail more black offenders, while continuing to feed the illusion that we are winning the drug war.

This means little to Sessions. In his fundamentalist, self-righteous, puritanical world, drug users are the scourge of the nation. They must be swiftly and mercilessly removed from the streets, workplaces, schools, and any other place that their presence subverts the good upstanding morals of the nation. Sessions said as much in a memo when he claimed that his tough drug crackdown will "advance public safety, and promote respect for our legal system." It will do neither. It will balloon prison building, the hiring and maintaining of waves of corrections officers, and further bloat state budgets. But worst of all it will again do what it was always intended to do and that's be a war on minorities and especially blacks.
14
Politics and Current Events / may day riots
15
Politics and Current Events / opioid epidemic
http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/24/health/opioid-deaths-cdc-report/
Quote
Over half of the deaths involving opioids in Minnesota between 2006 and 2015 had not been captured in the state's total, said Hall.
"While my research cannot speak to what percent we are underestimating, we know we are missing cases," Hall said. "It does seem like it is almost an iceberg of an epidemic."
...
"It's quite concerning, because it means that the (opioid) epidemic, which is already quite severe, could potentially be even worse," Hall said. A total of 33,000 opioid-related deaths were reported across the nation in 2015, a historic high, she said.

Like it is for most of the problems that plague america, my little corner of the liberal oasis of portland keeps me blissfully sheltered from actually experiencing them in a tangible way. I had some friends in the 80s who used heroin and overdosed and died but that was a different universe altogether. Has the recent outbreak touched any of your lives?
16
Jeeze, this could go in science as easy as politics.
Quote
"We are not creating a Terminator": Russia denies risk as Putin's 'robot army' is trained to shoot guns

Vladimir Putin's 'robot army' is being trained to shoot guns from both of its hands, it's emerged.

MirrorOnline reported last December how the android robots called FEDOR - Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research - are being developed for space exploration by Russia.
Now it's emerged that the human looking robots - with a head, two arms and two legs - have been handed guns as part of their training.
A video clip of them in action has already caused a senior government officials to issue a denial that they are creating a real-life "Terminator-style" killer.
FEDOR stands six foot tall, weighs between 106-160 kg depending on extra equipment - and can lift up to 20 kg of cargo.
Its creators claim that teaching them to shoot will help improve their motor skills and decision-making abilities.
Posting a short clip showing the armed robot in action, Russia's deputy PM Dmitryi Rogozin said: "Robot platform F.E.D.O.R. showed shooting skills with two hands.
"We are not creating a Terminator, but artificial intelligence that will be of great practical significance in various fields."

The robot was originally created with rescue missions in mind until military uses began being suggested.

FEDOR is set to travel into space in 2021 - and has been touted as a permanent replacement for cosmonauts currently maintaining the ISS in the long term.

The robot is being developed by Android Technics and the Advanced Research Fund.

They are attempting to teach it a wide variety of basic and advanced skills - from how to use a set of keys and various tools to how to screw in a light bulb and drive a car.
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/we-not-creating-terminator-russia-10237755
17
Politics and Current Events / Trump's tax returns
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/04/16/after-a-day-of-marches-trump-asks-why-people-are-still-talking-about-his-taxes/
Quote
Trump asks why people are still talking about his taxes a day after protesters asked for his returns
By John Wagner April 16 at 11:42 AM

President Trump lashed out Sunday at the protesters who took part in marches across the country Saturday to demand that he release his tax returns, declaring on Twitter that "The election is over!"

Trump's comments followed a nationwide Tax March that drew thousands of people in dozens of cities on the country's traditionally recognized deadline to file taxes, April 15.

As a candidate, Trump declined to voluntarily release his tax returns -- a practice followed by other presidential hopefuls since the 1970s -- claiming he couldn't do so because he was under audit. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton hammered him on the subject.

    I did what was an almost an impossible thing to do for a Republican-easily won the Electoral College! Now Tax Returns are brought up again?

    -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2017

    Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!

    -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2017

"I did what was an almost an impossible thing to do for a Republican -- easily won the Electoral College! Now Tax Returns are brought up again?" Trump said in one tweet Sunday morning.

In another, he suggested that someone "should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday," adding: "The election is over!"
so, what do you all suppose is in them that he is so clearly unhappy to share?
18
Introductions / Hello new member Obadiah!
Your name sounds familiar. Hope you enjoy tr. :wave:
19
Arts and Entertainment / thor ragnarok
looks like a really great movie to see super baked. I want to see it super baked anyway.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7MGUNV8MxU
20
Science / Octopuses
http://www.popsci.com/octopuses-can-basically-tinker-with-their-own-genes-on-fly

Popsci article but it's generally well done
Quote
Home
SUBSCRIBE to the Magazine

ANIMALS
Octopuses can basically edit their own genes on the fly
Crazy levels of RNA tinkering could explain how cephalopods got so smart
By Rachel Feltman  April 6, 2017
 
octopus
CC via Flickr
To edit is divine

You're a complex organism. You socialize with family and friends, you solve puzzles and make choices. Humans may be some of the most cerebral animals on the planet, but we know we're not alone in having this sort of behavioral complexity. Crows use tools. Primates create incredible social structures. Whales congregate.
But all of these critters have one thing in common: they're vertebrates. Members of our subphylum share more than just a backbone; our common ancestor gifted us with the sort of structure and central nervous system that lends itself to behavioral complexity.
And then there are cephalopods. They can solve a shocking number of complex puzzles, suggesting a cognition that rivals those found in the vertebrate world--even though they last shared a common ancestor with us at least 500 million years ago. In the world of invertebrates, octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish stand apart.
We may finally have some idea why. According to a study published in Cell, these creatures have an uncanny ability to manipulate the instructions found within their DNA. An unprecedented panache for RNA editing may explain why cephalopods are so bright and adaptable.
You probably remember RNA from your high school biology class. DNA is like a blueprint of genetic instructions laid out for us at conception. DNA is stable and sequestered (mostly) in the nucleus, keeping genetic information safe to pass it on to the next generation, while its single-stranded sibling RNA translates those directions into marching orders. When DNA says "we should produce these proteins at this time", RNA goes out into the world of the cytoplasm and makes it happen.
But sometimes RNA rebels. Sometimes enzymes intervene, pulling out the RNA adenosine bases that code for certain proteins and replacing them with inosine bases instead. When this happens, the RNA can be 'edited' to produce a different protein than the one called for by the DNA.
"About 25 years ago, people identified the first example of RNA editing in mammals. There were a few cases where you'd see the DNA saying one thing and then see the actual protein was different," says study co-author Eli Eisenberg, a biophysicist at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Eisenberg co-lead the study with Joshua Rosenthal at the Marine Biological Laboratory, though both point to Tel Aviv's Noa Liscovitch-Brauer as the driving force behind the research.
For a couple decades, Eisenberg says, study of this phenomenon was limited to a handful of cases found by accident. But in recent years, scientists have made a more systematic approach--and found that humans occasionally use this genetic trick, too. But for us, it's a rare occurrence. We have many sites where editing could occur, but most are located on parts of the genome with 'junk' DNA that doesn't code for anything. Of the 1,000 or so coding sites where editing could take place, only a few dozen exist in places where the editing would likely have an important impact.
Squid, which have the same number of genes, have around 11,000 of these useful sites.
The new study, which tracked down the RNA editing sites in several species of cephalopod, built upon earlier research that found that octopuses use RNA editing to rapidly adapt to temperature changes, and that extensive editing occurs in squid neural tissue. In examining additional species, the researchers determined that this boon of editable RNA is almost universal among cephalopods--and the exceptions that prove the rule provide some fascinating clues.
All members of the "coleoid" subclass--squid, cuttlefish, octopuses--that the researchers examined had this boost in RNA editing. But the chambered nautilus, which is considered a primitive beast in comparison to its whip-smart cousins, had much lower levels of RNA editing. An even more distant mollusk cousin (not a cephalopod) tested for comparison had similarly low levels.
Because so much of the RNA editing occurs in brain tissue, the researchers think this correlation could indicate that the process helps give some cephalopods their smarts. Exactly how or why this process occurs is a question for future studies. But one thing is for certain: RNA editing can make a species incredibly flexible.

21
Arts and Entertainment / Rick and Morty
Why didn't anyone tell me?
22
Sports / please
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/28/521810071/footy-mcfooty-face-is-stomping-competition-in-vote-for-mls-team-name
Quote
Fans are embracing a San Diego group's effort to bring a Major League Soccer team to the city -- or at least, they're embracing the most unlikely name for the squad. With the final round of an online vote set to close Friday, Footy McFooty Face has more than twice the votes of any other potential name.

As of Monday, Footy McFooty Face led the way with nearly 7,700 votes, well ahead of San Diego Surf (2,341) and San Diego Bad Hombres (1,644) -- the only other names that have attracted more than 1,000 votes.

By tapping into the Internet's love for silly names, the episode evokes the famous "Boaty McBoatface" saga of last year, in which online voters chose that name to grace a $300 million British ocean research vessel.

That U.K. result was overruled -- and it seems likely that if MLS does expand to San Diego, its team won't be wearing Footy McFooty Face jerseys. FS Investors, the backers of San Diego's MLS bid, say they'll submit the top 10 names to the league for review.

As The San Diego Union-Tribune notes, the online vote plays into the hopes of FS Investors, as the group vies for attention and support for its plan to land an MLS team in Qualcomm Stadium, which up until January was known as the home of the San Diego Chargers.

Perhaps Footy McFooty Face will go the way of Boaty, and be given to a less imposing entity. While Boaty McBoatface is now the name of a small submersible, might San Diego someday have a sports mascot named Footy McFooty Face?

As the organizers note on their Facebook page, "a nickname or mascot can be added to traditional names."

Here's looking forward to the day we see an oversized foam foot patrolling the sidelines in Qualcomm Stadium.
https://www.facebook.com/SoccerCitySD/app/303561899745219?brandloc=DISABLE&app_data=chk-58da9e387953d
24
https://www.the74million.org/article/impact-of-weaker-unions-in-wisconsin-and-other-states-much-clearer-for-teachers-than-students

Some of these stats (well, analysis of stats) are bullshit for weird and complicated reasons (mostly the performance pay correlation with higher test scores) but over all it's an interesting read.
25
https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/admiral-seven-others-charged-with-corruption-in-new-fat-leonard-indictment/2017/03/14/faf01600-08da-11e7-b77c-0047d15a24e0_story.html
Quote
The Justice Department unsealed a fresh indictment Tuesday charging eight Navy officials -- including an admiral -- with corruption and other crimes in the "Fat Leonard" bribery case, escalating an epic scandal that has dogged the Navy for four years.

Among those charged were Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, a senior Navy intelligence officer who recently retired from a key job at the Pentagon, as well as four retired Navy captains and a retired Marine colonel. The charges cover a period of eight years, from 2006 through 2014.

The Navy personnel are accused of taking bribes in the form of lavish gifts, prostitutes and luxury hotel stays courtesy of Leonard Glenn "Fat Leonard" Francis, a Singapore-based defense contractor who has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Navy of tens of millions of dollars.

The indictment lists page after page of bribes allegedly provided to the defendants including $25,000 watches, $2,000 boxes of Cohiba cigars, $2,000 bottles of cognac and $600-per-night hotel rooms.

According to the charging documents, Francis also frequently sponsored wild sex parties for many officers assigned to the USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the Navy's 7th Fleet, and other warships.
Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless (Navy)

During a port visit by the Blue Ridge to Manila in May 2008, for example, five of the Navy officers attended a "raging multi-day party, with a rotating carousel of prostitutes," at the Shangri-La Hotel, according to the indictment. The group allegedly drank the hotel's entire supply of Dom PĂ©rignon champagne and rang up expenses exceeding $50,000, which Francis covered in full.

On another port visit by the Blue Ridge to Manila in February 2007, Francis allegedly hosted a sex party for officers in the MacArthur Suite of the Manila hotel. During the party, "historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts," according to the indictment.

In exchange, according to federal prosecutors, the officials provided Francis with classified or inside information that enabled his firm, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, to gouge the Navy out of tens of millions of dollars.