Big Data is the new Artificial Intelligence – I, Cringely

a must read… known unknown unknowns
http://www.cringely.com/2014/04/15/big-data-new-artificial-intelligence/

Call climate change what it is: violence … Rebecca Solnit

if you’re tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. You can, say, build a sweatshop factory that will collapse in Bangladesh and kill more people than any hands-on mass murderer ever did, or you can calculate risk and benefit about putting poisons or unsafe machines into the world, as manufacturers do every day. If you’re the leader of a country, you can declare war and kill by the hundreds of thousands or millions. And the nuclear superpowers the US and Russia still hold the option of destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.

So do the carbon barons. But when we talk about violence, we almost always talk about violence from below, not above.

read more at LINK

n 1: What Happened to Canada?

(Ed Note: Just in case, I’m repeating this post from n+1 because I don’t want this to just ‘disappear’, a stunt the Harpercons might do more than daydream about.)
HARPER-STEPHEN-CANADIAN PM HEADSHOT-154X215-02“You won’t recognize Canada when I’m through with it.”
  –  Stephen Harper

 What Happened to Canada?

The left has long admired Canada as an enclave of social democracy in North America: for its openly socialist electoral parties, its robust welfare state, and its more moderate policy profile. Recent developments, however, have thrown that reputation into question. The country is helmed by a prime minister, Stephen Harper, known for his brazenly right-wing views and executive unilateralism. Both federal and provincial governments have embraced austerity and eroded public services. And Canada’s newly aggressive exploitation of its natural resources has it trampling on civil liberties and reneging on its international obligations like, as Foreign Policy put it, a “rogue, reckless petrostate.”

These are not changes born in the hearts and minds of the Canadian people, but an agenda designed and implemented from above, articulated in an imported conservative ideology, to abet the interests of private industry. Some of that agenda, like the shocking attack on Canada’s environmental research community, has been implemented so swiftly and unilaterally that the public is just now catching up. Other aspects, like the undermining of the country’s universal health care system, have been imposed more gradually, a death by a thousand cuts combined with a relentless propaganda campaign.

What is happening in Canada is part of a much larger trend: the formidable disciplinary forces of late capitalism are exerting themselves everywhere, including in other western democracies, where governments are scaling back social programs while lavishing tax concessions and subsidies on industry. The European Union and the United States are similarly absorbing market shocks on behalf of business while allowing downturns to undermine the poor and working class. If Canada is becoming indulgent of, even slavish toward, its resource industry (the biggest contributor to GDP), it is arguably no more so than the United States in relation to its banking sector, which was never brought to heel despite causing the 2008 collapse.

Still, the drastic turn in Canadian politics and policy raises some urgent questions. Why hasn’t the population stopped the attack on its public services? Why have left-leaning parties lost ground at the polls while Harper and his ilk continue getting reelected? Why, in a society with a more collectively oriented spirit, has the political discourse taken a sharp turn to the right?

The answers to those questions tell a story to which the left should pay heed, for the hijacking of Canada’s social democracy was made possible in part by the utter failure of its left parties, and the prospects for wresting the country from the current conservative agenda depend on the success of grassroots movements of resistance.

Canada’s public services, including health care and post-secondary education, the post office and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, are generally quite beloved. Unlike in the United States, where the government is viewed with some suspicion, in Canada government-administered and -funded institutions are understood to play an important nation-building role by servicing a population dispersed across a vast terrain. And the fact that all Canadians’ needs are provided for has become a point of pride.

Over the past few decades, however, private business interests and their neoliberal allies in government have led a concerted push to expand the role of the market and shift government expenditure away from social need. The assault on public services hasn’t been conducted by criticizing them on principle, but by manufacturing crises and then suggesting that the only solution is to expand the role of the private sector.

Such is the strategy playing out right now at the post office. Last December, it was announced that Canada Post would have to phase out home delivery within five years, requiring residential customers to retrieve their mail from nearby community boxes. The change would come along with a significant increase in the cost of postage (from 63 cents to one dollar for a single stamp) and the layoff of 8,000 postal workers.

The announcement was shocking, but calculatedly so. The recommendations were prepared by a think tank arguing for privatization. It claimed that the post office is unsustainable and uncompetitive, a burden to taxpayers, and poor at meeting consumers’ needs. In reality, Canada Post has netted a profit for sixteen of the last seventeen years, and, despite occasionally suffering losses, has yet to receive a single dollar in taxpayer bailout. All of the report’s recommendations were part of a larger and often-used strategy to “restructure” services so that user costs increase while services deteriorate, and then, in response to public frustration, suggest market-based solutions.

The same strategy has been exercised repeatedly in health care: crises are brought on by underfunding, and the alleged only solution is to expand the role of private profit. Services are “delisted,” i.e. taken out of universal medicare coverage, but private supplemental insurance becomes available to cover them. Public hospitals are closed but private clinics allowed to open. Wait times for services increase due to budget cuts, but patients are permitted to “jump the queue” and pay out of pocket for their own MRI. The public is thus softened for market-based solutions, although on an ideological level it remains staunchly committed to medicare and vocally resistant to efforts to introduce parallel private health insurance and private hospitals. The CBC, itself constantly menaced with cuts, recently held a months-long contest to select “The Greatest Canadian.” The population chose Tommy Douglas, the architect of Canada’s medicare system, ahead of Wayne Gretzky, Alexander Graham Bell, and Pierre Trudeau.

Continue reading

The Dark Side of the Ukraine Revolt | The Nation

“The April 6 rally in Cherkasy, a city 100 miles southeast of Kiev, turned violent after six men took off their jackets to reveal T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Beat the Kikes” and “Svoboda,” the name of the Ukrainian ultranationalist movement and the Ukrainian word for “freedom.” ”
– Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 12, 2013

While most of the Western media describe the current crisis in Ukraine as a confrontation between authoritarianism and democracy, many of the shock troops who have manned barricades in Kiev and the western city of Lviv these past months represent a dark page in the country’s history and have little interest in either democracy or the liberalism of Western Europe and the United States.

“You’d never know from most of the reporting that far-right nationalists and fascists have been at the heart of the protests and attacks on government buildings,” reports Seumas Milne of the British Guardian. The most prominent of the groups has been the ultra-right-wing Svoboda or “Freedom” Party.

http://www.thenation.com/blog/178716/dark-side-ukraine-revolt

Wisconsin Historical Images for April 2014 Newsletter

Wisconsin Historical Images from the Wisconsin Historical Society
April 2014

FEATURED GALLERY
| Highlights from over three million photographs in our holdings

WHI_Image_ID_90655.jpg
Wisconsin Honey Farm label for trademark registration. WHI 90655


Bees and Beekeepers Since 1872

More than 200 images in this gallery show the rich history of beekeeping in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states, including developments in beehives, equipment, techniques and advertising. The beekeepers shown were both hobbyists and commercial honey producers. The images show beekeepers and their families, apiaries, beekeeping equipment, meetings of the Wisconsin Honey Producer Association, agricultural exhibitions, and Wisconsin and Minnesota “Honey Queens.” Printed ephemera includes illustrations and artwork, letterhead, pamphlets and advertisements. Most materials range in date from the late 1800s to the 1980s.

The documents come from several different collections at the Wisconsin Historical Society. The majority are from the Wisconsin Honey Producer Association records and date from 1875 to 1979. Others were found in the records of the Wisconsin Plant Industry Division, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and Markets Photographs and the papers of Charles Dadant, a Frenchman who immigrated to Illinois in 1863 and established the bee supply firm Charles Dadant & Son in 1874.

Professionalization of Bee Culture

Many 19th-century farmers kept bees despite the fact that Wisconsin’s cold climate was a challenge to beekeepers. Advances in technology like box hives, movable “Langshroth” frames, honey extractors and other equipment increased production. By 1860 the Italian honey bee, considered superior to other varieties, had been introduced in Wisconsin. Another important step was agricultural diversification, which created more varieties of pollen and nectar, and further increased production. By 1900 more than 2.6 million pounds of honey were being produced in Wisconsin annually.

The Wisconsin Honey Producers Association (WHPA) was organized in 1864. Farmers had begun organizing into beekeeping associations to provide technical assistance, share scientific information, and define standards for honey quality. Today there are beekeeping organizations throughout Wisconsin, usually organized by county, in addition to the statewide Wisconsin Honey Producers Association. The WHPA’s purpose is “to form a strong bond and fellowship among commercial and hobby honey producers.”

The WHPA has advanced the interests of beekeepers through improving marketing of honey and bee products, running advertising campaigns, supporting scientific developments beneficial to honey producers, and disseminating scientific information among members. After World War II the association sponsored an annual “Honey Queen,” similar to the state’s Cranberry Queen and Alice in Dairyland marketing campaigns. All these activities are documented in the association’s large collection of photographs shown here.

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BROWSE THE COLLECTIONS | View nearly 60,000 digitized visual materials in our online database
cole_feature.jpg Harry Ellsworth ColeBaraboo, The Dells and Devil’s Lake

The Harry Ellsworth Cole collection reflects his lifelong love of nature and history through more than 200 photographs that document and preserve Sauk County’s and Wisconsin’s natural beauty and history.

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singer_feature.jpg Singer CompanyAdvertising Card Collection

This collection depicts people from around the world, dressed in traditional clothing and posing with Singer sewing machines. The cards offer perspective on popular depictions of race and ethnicity in the late 19th century.

View the Gallery >>

This monthly email newsletter from Wisconsin Historical Images features gallery exhibits from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s visual materials collections.
Wisconsin Historical Society
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Madison, WI 53706Link to Society's website at wisconsinhistory.org

Collecting, Preserving and Sharing Stories Since 1846

Did you know? Nearly 60,000 historical photographs are available for purchase online as high-quality archival pigment prints or digital files.Browse dozens of topical galleries or search for specific people, places, topics or events. Proceeds benefit the Society’s image collections.

View more information about buying images online or email Lisa Marine.


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College “Sports” Emilio DeGrazia

PRIVATIZE

“Have we gone insane?” is what a Minnesota cattle farmer probably not much interested in March Madness asked. His question was a reaction to the news that Jerry Kill, the University of Minnesota football coach, had his $1,2000,000 salary increased by an extra $2,100,000, plus perks, for guiding the Gophers to eight wins and five losses during the 2013 season. Maybe winning isn’t everything. It certainly isn’t for everyone.
No doubt Coach Kill is a nice enough guy and competent enough at what he does. And he didn’t complain about the salary bump he received. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer makes $4,600,000, plus perks, and he’s in the same league.
It’s hard to imagine anyone in his or her right mind seriously believing that the NCAA Division One big money sports––football, basketball, hockey––have anything but a tendril connection to a university’s higher education missions. There are several fine student-athletes who get excellent grades while working very hard at their sports. The graduation rate for athletes and non-athletes is comparable, though the amount of money it takes to get a student-athlete a degree is hidden in a murk of red ink. But it seems obvious that the hazards of football seem well out of line with what health educators teach, and that at the D-1 level students need to learn how to keep their classes from interfering with their serious sports jobs.
Student-athletes must suspect they’re part of an entertainment industry. Coach Kill was honest enough to fess up to it, and he left the impression that as a newcomer to the industry his new salary represents his fair market value.
But some of the people responsible for overseeing the numbers at D-1 higher educational institutions maybe need some refresher courses in elementary arithmetic. Only 23 of the 228 NCAA D-1 sports programs generated enough income to cover expenses in 2012, and 16 of the 23 winners received subsidies by way of student fees and university and state funds. The other 205 were losers, as were the donors and tax payers who picked up the tab. Losing seasons are a financial trend for most NCAA schools.
Meanwhile, the NCAA as an organization quietly showed a profit of $71,000,000 for 2012. Rather noisily state governments try to figure out how to pay their bills.
It’s time to turn these big-time sports teams into what they really are: Businesses. Because I’m addicted to thrift I think they should get off an unsustainable welfare system. Privatize them.
I’m not a spoil-sport. I know that millions love to cheer for the logos and colors on the laundry they love. Big time sports are major rituals that stimulate a deep need for community identity. As a kid in Michigan I grew up loving the Spartans and Wolverines, and I got my graduate degrees as a Buckeye at Ohio State, and when I married a Nebraska woman I learned to love Cornhuskers, and because I pay taxes in Wisconsin I have a Badger in me, and because my daughter is a student at the University of Iowa I’m a Hawkeye too. As a Minnesotan I’m a devout Gopher, for reasons I can’t fully explain. I want everyone to win.
A lot of people are not ready to give up big-time collegiate sports yet, even when they go home from a game losers again.
Turning big-time collegiate sports programs into for-profit enterprises should especially appeal to fiscal conservatives who have a passion to cut taxes and privatize the public schools.
Here’s my business plan: Turn the big-time intercollegiate sports over to private entrepreneurs willing to invest in new business ventures. Let entrepreneurs, rather than participating schools, run them as private for-profit businesses. They buy the naming, branding, and concessions rights from universities. They lease the cheerleaders and marching bands. They lease university facilities, or construct their own. They pay all travel and advertising expenses. They cut their own TV and bowl game deals. They hire the coaches and other managers. They pay the bills and enjoy the profits that come rolling in. Private investors could get involved, and maybe Wall Street too.
Could these new business enterprises––let’s call them clubs––still be considered intercollegiate sports? A few rules would give them permission to say yes. The players would be recruited from the pool of graduating high school student-athletes, as they are now. They would have five years to fulfill four years of service on the playing field. They would be required to establish student identity by taking at least one class at the university whose logo they wear during games.
Nothing much would change, except the ownership of teams, business plans, and bookkeeping responsibilities. Gopher fans could continue to cheer for players wearing Gopher uniforms, and everyone could continue to have a good time.
Currently there’s some talk about student-athletes unionizing. That’s an issue players could work out with management, maybe after some discussion about salaries for coaches and club executives. Clubs, as free enterprise businesses, could make millions, or not. And if not, owners could downsize or apply other lean strategies.
Already there are rumors about the University of Minnesota needing $190,000,000 for improved practice facilities. Experts feel that the UM will not be able to compete without the upgrades. They’re very probably right. Why would an eighteen year-old super athlete high school recruit want anything but the latest and best high-tech facilities? Why not go to Penn State instead?
Tim Dahlberg, sports writer for the AP, says, “That’s the way things are in big-time college athletics, where the rich are getting richer. Hard not to profit when the labor is free.” Hard not to profit when public university athletic programs are bailed out by student fees and tax dollars.
I’m with the cattle farmer from western Minnesota. Why play this game? “Have we gone insane?”
Four or five times a year I get a call from sweet-voiced students at my alma mater Ohio State. They want me to send OSU money because there’s never enough to go around. I plead with them to spread the word: For starters, I tell the voices on the line, cut the coaching salaries in half. Call me again after you begin there.=

Why Auden Matters…

The Secret Auden

Edward Mendelson in New York Review of Books

1.

W.H. Auden had a secret life that his closest friends knew little or nothing about. Everything about it was generous and honorable. He kept it secret because he would have been ashamed to have been praised for it.

mendelson_1-032014.jpg Jerry Cooke/Pix Inc./Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
W. H. Auden, Fire Island, 1946

I learned about it mostly by chance, so it may have been far more extensive than I or anyone ever knew. Once at a party I met a woman who belonged to the same Episcopal church that Auden attended in the 1950s, St. Marks in-the-Bowery in New York. She told me that Auden heard that an old woman in the congregation was suffering night terrors, so he took a blanket and slept in the hallway outside her apartment until she felt safe again.

Someone else recalled that Auden had once been told that a friend needed a medical operation that he couldnt afford. Auden invited the friend to dinner, never mentioned the operation, but as the friend was leaving said, I want you to have this, and handed him a large notebook containing the manuscript of The Age of Anxiety. The University of Texas bought the notebook and the friend had the operation.

From some letters I found in Audens papers, I learned that a few years after World War II he had arranged through a European relief agency to pay the college costs for two war orphans chosen by the agency, an arrangement that continued, with a new set of orphans every few years, until his death at sixty-six in 1973.

At times, he went out of his way to seem selfish while doing something selfless. When NBC Television was producing a broadcast of The Magic Flute for which Auden, together with Chester Kallman, had translated the libretto, he stormed into the producers office demanding to be paid immediately, instead of on the date specified in his contract. He waited there, making himself unpleasant, until a check finally arrived. A few weeks later, when the canceled check came back to NBC, someone noticed that he had endorsed it, Pay to the order of Dorothy Day. The New York City Fire Department had recently ordered Day to make costly repairs to the homeless shelter she managed for the Catholic Worker Movement, and the shelter would have been shut down had she failed to come up with the money.

At literary gatherings he made a practice of slipping away from the gaunt and great, the famed for conversation (as he called them in a poem) to find the least important person in the room. A letter-writer in the Times of London last year recalled one such incident:

Sixty years ago my English teacher brought me to London from my provincial grammar school for a literary conference. Understandably, she abandoned me for her friends when we arrived, and I was left to flounder. I was gauche and inept and had no idea what to do with myself. Auden must have sensed this because he approached me and said, Everyone here is just as nervous as you are, but they are bluffing, and you must learn to bluff too.

Late in life Auden wrote self- revealing poems and essays that portrayed him as insular and nostalgic, still living imaginatively in the Edwardian world of his childhood. His Doggerel by a Senior Citizen began, Our earth in 1969/Is not the planet I call mine, and continued with disgruntled complaints against the modern age: I cannot settle which is worse,/The Anti-Novel or Free Verse. A year after he wrote this, I chanced on a first book by a young poet, N.J. Loftis, Exiles and Voyages. Some of the book was in free verse; much of it alluded to Harlem and Africa; the authors ethnic loyalties were signaled by the name of the publisher, the Black Market Press. The book was dedicated To my first friend, W.H. Auden.

A few years later I got a phone call from a Canadian burglar who told me he had come across Audens poems in a prison library and had begun a long correspondence in which Auden gave him an informal course in literature. Auden was especially pleased to get him started on Kafka. He was equally helpful to unknown young poets who sent him their poems, offering detailed help on such technical matters as adjectives and enjambment.

When he felt obliged to stand on principle on some literary or moral issue, he did so without calling attention to himself, and he was impatient with writers like Robert Lowell whose political protests seemed to him more egocentric than effective. When he won the National Medal for Literature in 1967, he was unwilling either to accept it in Lyndon Johnsons White House during the Vietnam War or to make a Cal Lowell gesture by a public refusal, so he arranged for the ceremony to be held at the Smithsonian, where he gave an acceptance speech about the corruption of language by politics and propaganda.

He was always professional in his dealings with editors and publishers, uncomplainingly rewriting whole essays when askedexcept on at least two occasions when he quietly sacrificed money and fame rather than falsify his beliefs. In 1964, for his translation (with Leif Sjöberg) of Dag Hammarskjölds posthumous Markings, he wrote a foreword that mentioned Hammarskjölds narcissistic fascination with himself and alluded almost invisibly to Hammarskjölds homosexuality, which Auden perceived as something entirely inward to Hammarskjöld and never acted upon:

A thorn in the flesh which convinces him that he can never hope to experience what, for most people, are the two greatest joys earthly life has to offer, either a passionate devotion returned, or a lifelong happy marriage.

He also alluded to Hammarskjölds inner sense of a messianic, sacrificial missionsomething he seems to have recognized as a version of the messianic fantasy to which he had himself been tempted by his youthful fame as a revolutionary left-wing poet. Continue reading