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Brian Slesinsky
Harmless Science Experiment
Harmless Science Experiment


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From the article: "[The very purpose of educational testing is to identify inequality. That is, we develop and administer tests precisely to better understand how students are not the same."

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The Computer in the Driveway

Given that vehicles are increasingly being used to attack civilians (albeit by murderous human drivers), it's imperative that manufacturers start investing serious resources in embedded system security now -- lest some of these exploits be utilized in the near future to conduct widespread, vehicular attacks. Attacks, incidentally, that could occur while an innocent driver is physically at the wheel.

As vehicles acquire more capabilities and features, the on-board code base becomes more complex, and thus, more likely to contain errors that can be exploited. This is why none of these systems should be 'unpatchable.' It's no longer 1993, and cyber is now a domain of human conflict as real as the three dimensional world in which we all live. Automotive security should reflect that.

Posted (DS) THUR Aug 17, 2017 (3.18 pm)

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From the article: "More than one-half of Americans report exposure to unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions. [...] Nearly one in five American workers are exposed to a hostile or threatening social environment at work."

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From the article: "After its release in 1950, [the myxoma virus] went from killing more than 99 percent of rabbits to killing around 75 percent of them, or under 50 percent in some cases. In response, the rabbits evolved resistance, shrugging off strains that would once have finished them off. And that relaunched the arms race between myxoma and rabbits, prompting the virus to evolve its own countermeasures, which it still deploys today."

From the article: "A study published in the journal Coral Reefs in June looks at how successful restoration efforts have been at several sites in Florida and Puerto Rico over the first two years of a staghorn coral gardening program. The researchers behind the study—a team led by scientists with the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami—say they found that current restoration methods do not cause excessive damage to donor colonies (from which coral tissue is taken and propagated in a nursery), and that, once the coral fragments are planted back out in the wild, known as being "outplanted," they behave just like wild colonies."

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From the article: "[Strawberry polyphenol] has unique characteristics that make it ideal for melt-resistant ice cream".

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From the article: "Researchers studied mice and pigs in these experiments. In the study, researchers were able to reprogram skin cells to become vascular cells in badly injured legs that lacked blood flow. Within one week, active blood vessels appeared in the injured leg, and by the second week, the leg was saved. In lab tests, this technology was also shown to reprogram skin cells in the live body into nerve cells that were injected into brain-injured mice to help them recover from stroke."


"Researchers plan to start clinical trials next year to test this technology in humans."

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The Google "women can't math" manifesto
damage control has been swift

The guy who wrote it has been fired. Here's the issue -- he wasn't fired for "free speech" -- he was fired because at Google, there is a practice of peer review as part of the review process. Google is under federal investigation for why they don't advance women. This has got to make the leadership at Google bug**, because it's easy for anyone to jump from this manifesto to the concept that their earthy crunchy review process combined with the SV tech culture actually impedes the advancement of STEM women by letting the gamergate types blackball them.

My early career in the latter 70s and earlier 80s was riddled with guys who really believed that women were biologically impaired from being the equals of men in STEM. And these included my allies who treated me like a trick pony to be trotted out as proof that the outliers among women could be as good as a man.

Think about that statement. These were my friends. My mentors. The managers who made me their protegee and took credit for my ideas in the boardroom because -- it was patently obvious to both of us -- if they were presented as the ideas of a person with tits, they'd have no credibility.

Every new job I was harassed ("in good fun"), sexually hazed, and this little black cap I wear was part of a baby dyke disguise I adopted around 23 years old to confuse the old guys and make the young men more comfortable (the old guys suddenly felt like I could snarl back and have claws, and the young guys suddenly didn't turn to jelly in charrette with a pretty girl who they couldn't talk to). Somehow, the fact that I was shacking up with a guy didn't contradict all the cultural signals I gave off that I was a Harvard Square Holyoke Plaza art punk dykelette who listened to Kraftwerk, Nina Hagen, and Joan Jett and hunted, fished, and played war games at MIT on the weekends.

This reputation made it permissible for me to be good at engineering. I was an honorary male. But it wasn't because of an engineering degree. It was because I started in cultural anthropology and got so damn frustrated, I consciously decided I had to construct a persona -- a professional role -- that would permit me to be efficient and not lose my mind and temper every day.

One of my best friends was Demetrios Mena. We met at Varian Semiconductor. He was a brilliant physicist, mathematician, and coder. He was also half Greek and half Indio -- he grew up in Chile, and his mom was some undefined melange of native and African. I loved his stories about walking five miles to parochial school with his good shoes in his pack on rainy days when the roads were flooded over, so the guppies wouldn't panic and jump into his shoes (ewww squish squish squish). He was a snappy dresser, and wore perfectly tailored suits set off by Bill Nye like bow ties.

I remember one day, two Gloucester MA "good ol' boys" were chatting outside my cube about whether bow ties were up to code for the unspoken dress code around the office. "Well," one guy said, "he's not from around here. It's's a Latin thing." He was trying so hard not to say "black" it was hilarious, you could hear it in his voice -- it was nearly a sense of panic.

One day my boss called me into his office for an infraction of the dress code. I was braced. I'd missed doing laundry on the weekend, and I was wearing a lovely little blue and green tartan skirt and blue pantyhose, blue flat pumps with tassels, a white blouse with a spaghetti stain -- and a blue sweater that was kind of in need of a shave, you know how they get with little pills on them? So I was thinking, "OK, he's going to tell me that the sweater is super ratty and I need to pay better attention. And he's right."

Nope. He told me that blue pantyhose were unprofessional, and sent me home for the rest of the day with a reprimand. "These colored pantyhose things may be considered 'in vogue' in Cambridge, but we don't cotton to those fads in Gloucester. You are supposed to look like a proper young woman here." I looked like a cross between a Catholic school girl and a grandma, ffs. He should have seen me on the weekend, lol. But no, I was sent home under a miasma of shame. If I weren't salaried, I'd have been docked.

No kidding. Like, everyone in the office knew I'd been sent home for a dress code infraction.

I was a release engineer for an electron beam lithography device that had fourteen installations in the world. When we had a software release, I was the one who flew to our locations and trained our on site engineers (because the devices came with a site engineer with the product -- if it was down the customer was losing $10K+ an hour) on the deets of the new release, plus, each device was essentially a prototype and we had to run each installation through extensive testing to make sure nothing idiosyncratic cropped up. At the same time, every customer was a rival, so I had to move on as quickly as possible. Big fun, high responsibility, serious tech.

But, I got sent home for a pantyhose violation.

Demetrios and I did a reverse commute together from Cambridge, fourty two miles to the rotary in Gloucester where - at that time -- 128 gave up on civilization and turned around and went home. Rockport was dry, and still had a lot of gravel roads. Might as well been Mad Men with worse pay and much less cool.

Why should you be a feminist?

Because “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to [wo]man is eternal vigilance.”
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