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Ben Schweitzer
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Ben Schweitzer

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+Dell  XPS Developer Edition > +Samsung USA  ATIV Book 9 Plus. By miles. (except for that awkward webcam placement!)
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This bit of math is really important to be aware of, for a large number of reasons, but especially when making decisions and laws that risk sacrificing civil liberties. The best they can do is achieve the illusion of security while throwing a lot of innocent people under the bus.
 
Base Rate Fallacy vs. Population of Germany

There are 80 Million people living in Germany. The article in http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/islamisten-in-deutschland-wie-bedroht-ist-die-innere-sicherheit-a-1011912.html claims that 230 of them are in a file for radical islamists. Let's assume they are all actual evil people instead of suspects that may or may not be actually dangerous.

That's 230 out of 80,000,000 people, or a base rate of 0.00028%.

Let us assume we can check for terrorists with a special scanner. In a pro mille of all cases, 0.1%, the scanner will flag a good citizen erroneously as a terrorist. This leaves us with 80,000 upstanding citizens as false suspects.

In a pro mille of all cases, 0.1%, the scanner will also flag an actual terrorist as a law abiding citizen. This leaves us with zero undetected terrorists. That is, the scanner will actually catch all real terrorists, and in total we will have 80224 suspects.

That is, 224*100/80224 = 0.27% of our suspects will be actual terrorists, and 99.72% of our suspects will be actual law abiding citizens.

Let's improve the test 100 times, so the error rate is one pro mille of a percent, or one in 100,000.

Now we have 1024 suspects, out of which 224 (22%) will be terrorists, and 800 people, 78%, will be actual good citizens - 4 in 5 suspects will still be innocent.

TL;DR: If you are scanning for something rare you are fucked. You will have all of the targets in your suspect list and still are none the wiser until after the explosions, even if you have tools of impossible precision.
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Prost Nick! Du hues et verdengt.
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Amazing wedding! Congrats Nick and Nora. 
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I'm posting this article with an abridged, annotated version because it is quite long and quite detailed and if you haven't been following politics (both US and World politics) for the last 40 years, you won't be able to keep up.  But it's important that you keep up. Because if you do, you will have witnessed something far more astounding than you've ever imagined.

Hold on to your seat:
(Quoted material)

The genesis of Donald Trump’s relationship with Paul Manafort begins with Roy Cohn. That Roy Cohn: Joe McCarthy’s heavy-lidded henchman, lawyer to the Genovese family. During the ’70s, Trump and his father hired Cohn as their lawyer to defend the family against a housing discrimination suit. (Cohn accused the Feds of using “Gestapo-like tactics.”) But Cohn and Trump became genuine pals, lunching at the Four Seasons and clubbing together at Studio 54. It was Roy Cohn who introduced Stone and Manafort to Trump.

[This guy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Cohn ]

----------------

Despite his Yankee stock, Manafort ran Reagan’s Southern operation, the racially tinged appeal that infamously began in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the hamlet where civil rights activists were murdered in 1964.

[ He's talking about this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reagan%27s_Neshoba_County_Fair_%22states%27_rights%22_speech]

The success of the 1980 campaign gave Stone and Manafort cachet. More important, they helped run Reagan’s transition to power. They stocked the administration, distributing jobs across the agencies and accumulating owed favors that would provide the basis for their new lobbying business. They opened their doors in 1981.

--------------------

Manafort and Stone built a glamour firm. The Black in its name belonged to Charles Black, who as a 25-year-old launched the Senate career of Jesse Helms. Later, they lured Lee Atwater, the evil genius who would devise the Willie Horton gambit for George H.W. Bush.

[ He's talking about this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Horton ]

The firm had swagger. In the early ’80s, the partners spoke openly to the Washington Post of their annual $450,000 salaries. According to the consultant Ed Rollins, Black would later boast that the firm had schemed to gain cartel-like control of the 1988 Republican presidential primary. They managed all of the major campaigns. Atwater took Bush; Black ran Dole; Stone handled Jack Kemp. A congressional staffer joked to a reporter from Time, “Why have primaries for the nomination? Why not have the candidates go over to Black, Manafort and Stone and argue it out?”

----------------------

Strangely, the HUD scandal proved a marketing boon for the firm. An aide to Mobutu Sese Seko told the journalist Art Levine, “That only shows how important they are!”

[ This man https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobutu_Sese_Seko ]

Indeed, Manafort enticed the African dictator to hire the firm. Many of the world’s dictators eventually became his clients. “Name a dictator and Black, Manafort will name the account,” Levine wrote. (Levine’s piece, published in Spy, featured a sidebar ranking the ethical behavior of Washington lobbyists: It found Black, Manafort the worst of the bunch.) The client list included Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos (with a $900,000 yearly contract) and the despots of the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, and Somalia. When the Center for Public Integrity detailed the firm’s work, it titled the report “The Torturers’ Lobby.”

Indeed, the firm was an all-purpose image-buffing operation. As the Washington Post has reported, Manafort could book his clients on 60 Minutes or Nightline—and coach them to make their best pitch. He lobbied Congress for foreign aid that flowed to his clients’ coffers. He might even provide a few choice pieces of advice about tamping down domestic critics. Manafort understood the mindset of the dictator wasn’t so different from his corporate clients. According to one proposal unearthed by congressional investigators, the firm boasted of “personal relationships” with administration officials and promised “to upgrade backchannels” to the U.S. government.

This wasn’t empty rhetoric. On a Friday in 1985, Christopher Lehman left his job at the National Security Council. The following Monday, he was flying with Manafort, his new boss, to the bush of Angola to pitch the Chinese-trained guerilla Jonas Savimbi, who wanted covert assistance from the U.S. to bolster his rebellion against Angola’s Marxist government. Savimbi briefly left a battle against Cuban assault forces and signed a $600,000 contract.

[ He's talking about this man https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonas_Savimbi ]

The money bought Savimbi a revised reputation. Despite his client’s Maoist background, Manafort reinvented him as a freedom fighter. He knew all the tricks for manipulating right-wing opinion. Savimbi was sent to a seminar at the American Enterprise Institute, hosted by the anticommunist stalwart Jeanne Kirkpatrick, a reception thrown by the Heritage Foundation, and another confab at Freedom House. (Kirkpatrick introduced Savimbi, who conscripted soldiers, burned enemies, and indiscriminately laid land mines, as a “linguist, philosopher, poet, politician, warrior ... one of the few authentic heroes of our time.”)

Manafort’s campaign worked wonders. His lobbying helped convince Congress to send Savimbi hundreds of millions in covert aid. Indeed, every time Angola stood on the precipice of peace talks, Manafort, Black worked to generate a fresh round of arms—shipments that many experts believe extended the conflict. Sen. Bill Bradley was blunt in assigning blame. “When Gorbachev pulled the plug on Soviet aid to the Angolan government, we had absolutely no reason to persist in aiding Savimbi. But by then he had hired an effective Washington lobbying firm, which successfully obtained further funding.” Or as Art Levine concluded, “So the war lasted another two more years and claimed a few thousand more lives! So what? What counts to a Washington lobbyist is the ability to deliver a tangible victory and spruce up his client’s image.”

------------------

In 2005, the Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Ahmetov summoned Manafort to Kiev. Ahmetov hailed from Donetsk, the Russian-oriented heavy-industry east of the country. Ahmetov had cause for panic. The best political hope for his region, and, more to the point, his own business interests, was a gruff politician called Victor Yanukovych. As a teen, Yanukovych spent three years in prison for robbery and assault. After his release, he was again arrested for assault. None of this past history—these “youthful mistakes,” which he once instructed the KGB to expunge from his record—slowed his rise through the political ranks. In 2002, he served a brief stint as prime minister in a sclerotic pro-Russian government, mired in corruption scandals.

[ He's talking about this man https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Yanukovych ]

When Ahmetov summoned Manafort, in 2005, his candidate had suffered a crushing defeat. Yanukovych had just run for president of Ukraine, a campaign that involved rampant fraud and the possible poisoning of his opponent with dioxin. His bid ended in massive protests against him and his crude attempts to overturn the will of the people. The protests, the Orange Revolution, were a burst of optimism that Ukraine might transcend its past and take its seat as a European-style democracy. They should have destroyed Yanukovych’s career.

[ He's talking about Victor Yushchenko https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Yushchenko ]

Yanukovych seemed a hopeless case. “A kleptocratic goon, a pig who wouldn’t take lipstick” is how one American consultant who worked in Ukraine described him. Yet Manafort saw hope, as well as a handsome paycheck. Despite Yanukovych’s Soviet style, Manafort considered him political clay that could be molded. “He saw raw talent where others didn’t and he shaped it brilliantly,” one former State Department official told me. Manafort set about giving Yanukovych a new look: well-tailored suits, shirts and ties that matched, a haircut that tamed his raging bouffant. Manafort taught the pol a few simple lessons that helped sand down his edges. He showed him how to wave to a crowd, rather than keep his arms locked to his sides. He instructed him to refrain from speaking off the cuff. He taught him how to display a modicum of empathy when listening to the stories of voters. “I feel your pain,” Yanukovych would now exclaim at his rallies. One Ukrainian columnist cheekily asked his readers to identify the 10 elements of Yanukovych rallies that Manafort had imported from the Republican conventions he’d run.

The buffed image was born from opinion surveys, conducted by a team of pollsters Manafort brought to Kiev. He found that the hope of the Orange Revolution had curdled into frustration with the government’s incompetence. So Manafort crafted a new image of Yanukovych—businesslike, not likable but persistent—that stood as a pragmatic antidote to the hapless Orange Revolutionaries. People believed that when Yanukovych was prime minister, “there had been an order to things,” Brian Mefford, a Ukraine-based consultant told me. “That’s the sentiment they tried to run on.”

At the same time, Manafort understood how to accentuate divisions in the Ukrainian electorate. He had overseen Reagan’s Southern strategy;

[ The Southern Strategy is a political maneuver in which a Republican appeals to racists in order to win. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_strategy ]

he understood the power of cultural polarization. His polling showed that Yanukovych could consolidate his base by stoking submerged grievances. Even though there was little evidence of the mistreatment of Russian language speakers by the Ukrainian state, he encouraged his candidate to make an issue of imagined abuses to rally their base. To the same end, he instructed Yanukovych to rage against NATO, which he did by condemning joint operations the alliance was conducting in Crimea.
-------------

To be fair, Manafort was hardly the only American in Yanukovych’s orbit. Bernie Sanders’ consultant Tad Devine went to work for him in 2009. Ukrainians spent heavily in Washington, hiring a small army of top-drawer Republican lobbyists, including former congressmen Vin Weber and Billy Tauzin, to bolster Yanukovych’s image in Washington and ultimately stave off American support for Ukrainian democracy. But Manafort set up the largest shop in Kiev, housed in a well-guarded office just off Independence Square. During elections, his operation swelled to six American consultants, in addition to Ukrainian translators and drivers. He procured a special role in the Yanukovych camp. Anders Aslund told me, “Manafort became Yanukovych’s closest political advisor.”

-----------

It wasn’t just Ukraine. That year, the pair [Manafort and Davis] had consulted on behalf of pro-independence forces in the tiny principality of Montenegro, which wanted to exit Serbia and become its own sovereign republic. On the surface, this sounded noble enough, so noble that McCain called Montenegro’s independence the “greatest European democracy project since the end of the Cold War.”
A report in the Nation, however, showed that the Montenegrin campaign wasn’t remotely what McCain described. The independence initiative was championed by a fantastically wealthy Russian mogul called Oleg Deripaska.

[ This man https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleg_Deripaska ]

Deripaska had parochial reasons for promoting independence. He had just purchased Montenegro’s aluminum industry and intended to buy broader swaths of its economy. But he was also doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin, on whose good graces the fate of all Russian business ultimately hangs. The Nation quoted Deripaska boasting that “the Kremlin wanted an area of influence in the Mediterranean.”

Manafort and Davis didn’t just snooker McCain into trumpeting their client’s cause; they endangered him politically, by arranging a series of meetings with Deripaska, who the U.S. had barred from entering the country because of his ties to organized crime. In 2006, they steered McCain to attend a dinner with the oligarch at a chalet near Davos, where Deripaska speechified for the 40 or so guests. (The Washington Post reported that the oligarch sent Davis and Manafort a thank-you note for arranging to see the senator in “such an intimate setting.”) Seven months later, Manafort and Davis took McCain to celebrate his 70th birthday with Deripaska on a yacht moored in the Adriatic.

------------------

As for Bulgari Tower, the project sputtered and shuttered in January 2009. Yulia Tymosehnko didn’t like the smell of things. She sued Manafort and Firtash for racketeering in the Southern District of New York. “The money kept going in and out,” her lawyer Kenneth McCallion told me. “Real estate was the ostensible reason for sending money to New York. But they never wanted to close on the project, they wanted to keep the cash liquid, so it could keep going back to Ukraine.” The suit never had much of a chance, because it didn’t offer enough supporting evidence to justify its grandiose claim: that Manafort and Firtash were laundering money to finance human rights abuses on a grand scale. But her case raised all manner of troubling questions, and reinforced an old one: Why would Paul Manafort so consistently do the bidding of oligarchs loyal to Vladimir Putin?
Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s palace, is impressive by the standards of Palm Beach—less so when judged against the abodes of the world’s autocrats. It doe ...
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For the convenience of my German readers here is a translation of the Republican National Convention's schedule into German.



(Disclaimer: I didn't come up with the translation but saw it elsewhere on the Internet.)
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"How to compose a successful critical commentary:

1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

If only the same code of conduct could be applied to critical commentary online, particularly to the indelible inferno of comments.

But rather than a naively utopian, Pollyannaish approach to debate, Dennett points out this is actually a sound psychological strategy that accomplishes one key thing: It transforms your opponent into a more receptive audience for your criticism or dissent, which in turn helps advance the discussion."

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/03/28/daniel-dennett-rapoport-rules-criticism/
“Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”
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"Stochastic terrorism" is a concept in the theory of war. It refers to putting out open calls for terrorism, and trying to incite specific acts of terror, without knowing who (if anyone) will take you up on it. It's one of the principal tactics of ISIS outside its home regions: this is why we hear of "ISIS-inspired" terrorists, who had no particular funding, backing, or material support from the organization, but who were simply acting on a call to arms put out by the terror group to go out and kill infidels. (Or other Muslims, or whoever else ISIS feels like killing that day)

It's not a legal concept, and in fact our laws have no good mechanism to handle it. "Vague threats" are deliberately not threats, under the law; you can't be imprisoned for saying "I'm gonna kill that son-of-a-bitch," or for "Someone oughta do something," unless one can show that in the context it was said, that's something that would cause someone to fear for their life. (It's actually even more complicated than that, but that would be a whole long article in its own right. +Ken Popehat wrote a short summary relevant to today's news here: https://popehat.com/2016/08/09/lawsplainer-no-donald-trumps-second-amendment-comment-isnt-criminal/)

In general, this sort of narrow law is wise; we don't want people being rounded up and imprisoned for anything that sounds vaguely angry. However, it creates an opening for groups like ISIS to actively try to radicalize people around the world.

In the specific case of ISIS, of course, there's a workable solution, one which involves the liberal application of high explosives. However, not all terror threats so conveniently live in places where we feel free to engage in open warfare.

All of this brings us to today's news. Remember that just a few days ago, Trump "suggested" that the election was rigged, and that if he loses it, people should reject its legitimacy. Today, he took that a step further, "suggesting" that, if elected, Clinton should be murdered. That is to say, Trump has rather pointedly rejected the most fundamental principle of democracy: that elections should be the mechanism which decides who is in office.

(People often say that elections are the basis of democracy, but that's not quite true. Syria has had elections for decades, in which you could vote for anyone you wanted, so long as it was Hafez (or later Bashar) al-Assad. The crucial thing which defines a democracy is that after an election, the losers step down. The preconditions for people to feel safe doing this are complex, and have a lot to do with why democracy is working better in some places than others)

Beyond the obvious problems of an American Presidential candidate openly preaching against democracy is the issue we just discussed: this was not merely a thinly veiled call to overthrow a potential US President, but a textbook example of stochastic terrorism.

As this article put it:

Stochastic terrorism, as described by a blogger who summarized the concept several years back, means using language and other forms of communication "to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable."

Let's break that down in the context of what Trump said. Predicting any one particular individual following his call to use violence against Clinton or her judges is statistically impossible. But we can predict that there could be a presently unknown lone wolf who hears his call and takes action in the future.

Stated differently: Trump puts out the dog-whistle knowing that some dog will hear it, even though he doesn't know which dog.

h/t +Lev Osherovich.
Donald Trump engaged in so-called stochastic terrorism with his remarks about "Second Amendment people" and Hillary Clinton.
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Chill July hike!
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well done
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Education
  • University of Baltimore
    MS in Interaction Design & Information Architecture
  • Towson University
    BA in Graphic Design
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Human-Computer Interaction Researcher
Introduction
I'm a user experience researcher a passion for everything related to Human-Computer Interaction and a keen eye for visual design. Through 5+ years of experience doing user research and an MS in Interaction Design, I've built a thorough and broad understanding of every aspect of the user experience design process. 

In addition to my user experience passion, I'm also a general science & and technology geek. I spend a lot of time experimenting with my digital devices and catching up on the latest research. 

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I fluently speak a language you've never heard of - Luxembourgish.
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User Researcher
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Usability Testing & Eye-Tracking Research . Agile Prototype Testing . User Surveys & Quantitative Analysis . Usability & User Experience Reviews . Information Architecture & Card Sorting . User Experience Design . Wireframing
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  • Amplify Education
    Lead Research Manager, 2013 - present
  • University of Baltimore
    Adjunct Professor, 2013 - 2014
  • True Action (an eBay Inc Company)
    Interaction & Usability Research, 2011 - 2013
  • University of Baltimore
    User Research Fellow, 2009 - 2011
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