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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

The Secret History of Women in Coding

The New York Times Magazine – The Secret History of Women in Coding – Computer programming once had much better gender balance than it does today. What went wrong? by Clive Thompson (adapted from “Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World,” available March 26, 2019): “When digital computers finally became a practical reality in the 1940s, women were … pioneers in writing software for the machines. At the time, men in the computing industry regarded writing code as a secondary, less interesting task. The real glory lay in making the hardware. … If we want to pinpoint a moment when women began to be forced out of programming, we can look at one year: 1984. A decade earlier, a study revealed that the numbers of men and women who expressed an interest in coding as a career were equal. … From 1984 onward, the percentage dropped; by the time 2010 rolled around, … 17.6 percent of the students graduating from computer-science and information-science programs were women. One reason … has to do with a change in how and when kids learned to program. … Once the first generation of personal computers, like the Commodore 64 or the TRS-80, found their way into homes, teenagers were able to play around with them [before entering college] … By the mid-’80s, some college freshmen … were remarkably well prepared. … [T]hese students were mostly men, as two academics discovered when they looked into the reasons women’s enrollment was so low…”

The median gender pay gap: It’s time to tell the whole story

Quartz: “There are gender pay gaps … and then there are median gender pay gaps. Understanding the difference between the two may determine just how much progress women make in terms of fairer compensation in the next decade. So first, the definitions: “Equal pay” gap: What women are paid versus their direct male peers, statistically… Continue Reading

A New Americanism Why a Nation Needs a National Story

Foreign Affairs – Jill Lepore: “…The United States is different from other nations—every nation is different from every other—and its nationalism is different, too. To review: a nation is a people with common origins, and a state is a political community governed by laws. A nation-state is a political community governed by laws that unites… Continue Reading

12 months, nearly 1200 deaths: the year in youth gun violence since Parkland

McClatchy: “The 12-month period starting Feb. 14, 2018, saw nearly 1,200 lives snuffed out. That’s a Parkland every five days, enough victims to fill three ultra-wide Boeing 777s. The true number is certainly higher because no government agency keeps a real-time tally and funding for research is restricted by law. The Trace, an online nonprofit… Continue Reading

Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition

The Atlantic – What science can tell us about how other creatures experience the world – “…Jains move through the world in this gentle way because they believe animals are conscious beings that experience, in varying degrees, emotions analogous to human desire, fear, pain, sorrow, and joy. This idea that animals are conscious was long… Continue Reading

Discrimination In The Age Of Algorithms

Via NBER – Discrimination In The Age Of Algorithms. Jon Kleinberg, Jens Ludwig, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Cass R. Sunstein. #25548 [h/t Mary Whisner] “The law forbids discrimination. But the ambiguity of human decision-making often makes it extraordinarily hard for the legal system to know whether anyone has actually discriminated. To understand how algorithms affect discrimination,… Continue Reading

Why data, not privacy, is the real danger

NBCNews: “While it’s creepy to imagine companies are listening in to your conversations, it’s perhaps more creepy that they can predict what you’re talking about without actually listening…First, understand that privacy and data are separate things. Your privacy — your first and last name, your Social Security number, your online credentials — is the unit… Continue Reading

New Library Bill of Rights Provision Recognizes and Defends Library Users’ Privacy

American Library Association – “The Library Bill of Rights — first adopted in 1939 and last amended in 1980 — has been updated to include an article focused on the concept of ensuring privacy and confidentiality for library users.The new article of the Library Bill of Rights, Article VII, states: “All people, regardless of origin, age,… Continue Reading

TAKEN: How police departments make millions by seizing property

Greenville Online – In South Carolina, civil forfeiture targets black people’s money most of all, exclusive investigative data shows“. The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail examined these cases and every other court case involving civil asset forfeiture in South Carolina from 2014-2016. Our examination was aimed at understanding this little-discussed, potentially life-changing power that… Continue Reading

NYT Special tribute to extraordinary black men, women who were left out of obituaries when they died

A Design to Bring Life to Death – “A special section in the Sunday paper paid tribute to extraordinary black men and women who were left out of The Times’s obituaries when they died. Its design aims to bring joy to readers:  By Andrew Sondern…”Death is not often a cause for joy. But a special… Continue Reading

Baker’s Dozen: 13 Policy Areas that Require Congressional Action

POGO: Promoting Ethics and Addressing Corruption Improving Transparency and Accountability in US Immigration Detention and Exploring Alternatives Placing Proper Checks and Limits on Invasive Surveillance Slowing the Federal Revolving Door Smarter National Security Spending and Policy Reprioritize and Revitalize Work of Federal Inspectors General Commonsense Contracting Reforms to Protect the Taxpayer Ensuring Good Stewardship of… Continue Reading

One Lawyer, One Day, 194 Felony Cases

The New York Times – “High-level felonies carry sentences of 10 years or more and should each get 70 hours of legal attention, according to a workload study. For Mr. Talaska, that’s more than two years of full-time work. Mid-level felonies require 41 hours each.A few of Mr. Talaska’s clients faced life without parole. Such… Continue Reading