Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple
◆ We are enduring the hardest test of our lifetime for national-disaster response efforts.
Huge Hurricanes Back-to-Back and a Third Looming
The number of elderly in South Florida only compounds the potential tragedy.
Comment: So far, I have been impressed by
- The high quality of weather forecasts, often 4-5 days out
- The learning by federal, state, and local authorities after Katrina
- The much-greater competence of authorities in Texas than in Louisiana, in Houston than in NOLA, and in FEMA today than under Bush. (Granted, being more competent than NOLA officials is a very low bar.)
- The exceptional contributions by volunteers in Texas. Here’s hoping for the same in Florida.
- The absence of looting and other predation after Harvey. (Again, a welcome improvement over Katrina.)
Here’s hoping the worst weather forecasts don’t come true for Florida, the response is as effective as in Texas, and that the long-term recovery effort lets people rebuild their lives.
◆ The hack of Equifax computers records is the most massive to date
It exposes sensitive personal data on 44% of the US population.
To compound the injury, several executives seem to have sold the company’s stock before the hack was publicly disclosed.
ZipDialog has a separate post on the mess (link here)
◆ Rules for dealing with alleged sexual assault on campus to be rewritten by Department of Education
The New York Times gets the basic story right (link here):
Saying that the Obama administration’s approach to policing campus sexual assault had “failed too many students,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said on Thursday that her administration would rewrite the rules in an effort to protect both the victims of sexual assault and the accused.
Ms. DeVos did not say what changes she had in mind. But in a strongly worded speech, she made clear she believed that in an effort to protect victims, the previous administration had gone too far and forced colleges to adopt procedures that sometimes deprived accused students of their rights. –New York Times
Comment: The problem is their headline: “Betsy DeVos Says She Will Rewrite Rules on Campus Sex Assault”
She plans to rewrite the rules on allegations of campus sex assault.
The key word is “allegation.” That word is missing from the NYT headline.
The victims deserve thorough, fair investigations, with appropriately harsh penalties for sexual harassment and coercion when those have been proven. At the same time, the accused deserve through, fair investigations and a chance to present their side. The whole point of due process is to sort through the allegations.
◆ FIRE, the leading supporter of free speech on campus, uses this headline:
Education Department says it will finally confront its role in campus due process crisis (FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)
◆ Competition in Artificial Intelligence: IBM invests $240 million in AI Research Lab with MIT (Forbes)
Forbes reports IBM is struggling in the area, competing against Google, Microsoft, and Facebook.
The lab will focus on areas like training AI algorithms that don’t require extensive supervision and exhaustive manual labeling of data. Right now, many deep learning systems require people to go through and label each piece of data — like, say, that’s a car in the image.
In hardware, the lab hopes to move beyond what’s popular in AI today — namely, graphics processors usually made by Nvidia — and start experimenting with processors that don’t rely on traditional chip designs, such as quantum computing, an area IBM has already been pursuing. –Forbes
Comment: This is another example of how US leadership in basic research in the physical and biological sciences pays off for the larger US economy. A glance at Kendall Square (next to MIT) and Silicon Valley’s close connection to Stanford reinforce this critical point.
While the Humanities sink into political advocacy, second-rate ideology, and irrelevance to most serious students, the sciences and empirical social sciences continue to advance.
◆ The Debbie Wasserman Schultz scandal continues to unfold (Daily Caller)
The scandal centers on IT professional, Imran Awan, who (with family members) handled computers and software for lots of Democratic House members, led by DWS.
Awan was arrested trying to flee to his native Pakistan with significant cash. Federal prosecutors have brought some charges against him and expect to bring more.
Awan’s wife has already fled to Pakistan.
Because the family handled sensitive computer work for many Congressmen, they had access to all their computer files.
Most D’s fired them after the initial investigations turned up serious problems. DWS did not and actually pushed hard against investigators. We still don’t know why.
It is unclear whether sensitive information was stolen and perhaps sent to overseas entities, used for blackmail, etc.