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Jason Morrison
Googler on the Search Quality Team and a bit of a geek.
Googler on the Search Quality Team and a bit of a geek.

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Parts of northern California have been ravaged by intense and fast-burning wildfires that broke out on October 8. Blazes that started a on a few hundred acres around Napa Valley have now consumed as much as 100,000 acres of land. Get more details:
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I read this article, that says men are so afraid of being accused of sexual harassment they are avoiding 1:1 meetings with women:

As a man, the idea of being falsely charged with sexual harassment is terrifying. So, how much do I have to worry? How likely is it to happen?

Total sexual harassment charges in a year:
11,364 in 2011 [1], seems to be declining, but let's say ~12,000

Subtract accusations by males (~16%) = 10,080
Subtract accusations with No Reasonable Cause found (~50%) = 5,040
Take Pct False of 6% [2]
= 302

Let's say we want to use this data to decide if we should avoid 1:1 meetings with women we work with.

I don't now how many total 1:1 male-female workplace interactions there are in the US in a year, but let's take a lower bound - 66M women in the US workforce [3]
302 false accusations by women / 66M women
= 0.000004575757576
Or about 1 in 218,000.

For comparison [4]:
- You are about half as likely to die from an accidental firearms discharge (1 in 544,125).
- You are a little less than twice as likely to die falling down the stairs (1 in 139,544).
- You are 24 times as likely to die in a motor vehicle accident (1 in 9008).

So, still a terrifying idea, and these numbers do nothing to ease the pain of the people who have had careers derailed by false accusations.

But dying in a car accident is a terrifying idea too - more terrifying, to me at least. And it's a much, much higher risk. I'm willing to take the risk of driving to work everyday, so I guess I won't cancel any 1:1s with the women I work with.


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You're going to hear a lot about tax cuts paying for themselves, tax cuts spurring economic growth, and especially about how tax cuts on the wealthiest will cause them to create jobs. They said all the same things in Kansas. Worth reading about how that turned out.
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"His first tweet, at the top of this item, dramatized his inability to conceive of any event, glorious or tragic, in terms other than what it means about him. People are dying in Puerto Rico; they have lost their homes and farms; children and the elderly are in danger. And what he sees is, “nasty to Trump.”"
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The Global Spread of Bare Ground

Satellites have captured several eye-opening views of human activity changing the surface of Earth. They have been used to map the world’s changing forests, the spread of impervious surfaces, and the nighttime lights of human civilization.

Now University of Maryland scientists, led by Qing Ying and Matthew Hansen, have developed a new metric to measure the human fingerprints on Earth’s surface: bare ground gain (alternatively known as vegetative cover loss). Their results show a remarkable spread in bare ground between 2000 and 2012—a global gain of 94,000 square kilometers, an area larger than Lake Superior. China saw the largest increase in bare ground, roughly 35 percent of the global total; 17 percent occurred in the United States.

Flagging an area as “bare ground gain” means that Landsat satellites observed a vegetation loss without significant regrowth of greenery for at least three years. (In contrast, deforested areas or areas cleared for farming typically showed signs of regrowth in the months and years after vegetation was removed.) Monitoring bare ground captures key types of land use—such as mining and energy production—that are not always included in satellite-based maps of forest change or impervious surfaces.

The first map depicts bare ground gain in Asia. Areas with the greatest increase in bare ground are shown in purple and black. Orange and red areas saw a more modest increase. White areas indicate no change. The map depicts the spread of development in urban and suburban areas, the creation of new roads and other transportation networks, and even the installation of greenhouses in rural areas. Bare ground caused by geologic processes—such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, drying lakes, and meandering rivers—are also captured, but such natural processes were responsible for just 5 percent of the observed increase in bare ground. Note that a few areas were potentially caused by changes in snow and ice cover or in planting schedules.

The scientists noticed some interesting patterns. East Asia saw a larger increase than any other region, mainly because of rapid urbanization, expanding suburbs, and the growth of transportation networks in China. Note that the spread in bare ground did not necessarily track with population increase. While India and many African countries, for instance, saw populations rise significantly, these areas did not experience a large increase in bare ground.

Notice how clearly new roads stand out in the map of southeastern China. Several cities in the Pearl River Delta and near Fuzhou have grown rapidly, requiring major investments in transportation.

After China, the United States was the country that saw the second biggest increase. Whereas new transportation stood out as a major driver of bare ground in China, resource extraction—including gas and oil development and mining—stood out in the United States as a key cause for the increase. Both countries also saw major increases as cities and suburbs expanded.

In the map of Texas and Louisiana, notice the bare ground gain in the suburbs around Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. There were also major areas of change in rural areas because of new extraction activities in the natural gas and oil plays of southeastern Texas.
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Science fiction has long drawn its inspiration from science, and science and engineering have, in turn, been inspired by science fiction. The rocket dreams of the 1950's gave way to the cyberpunk dystopias of the 1980's, both in literature and (a few decades later, in each case) in life. We are just starting to see the ecological dystopias of 1990's-2000's science fiction manifesting themselves in our world.

But all that said, it's pretty alarming to see scientific papers quoting H. P. Lovecraft in their analysis of the Fermi Paradox. (Why we haven't run into any aliens yet)

The full paper can be found here:

Credit, or perhaps blame, for my encountering this goes to David Manheim and Venkat Rao over on Twitter.

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Finn, at the table - "I want ALL the toast, EVER. And I want waffles, but TWO waffles."
Me: "So, are you hungry this morning?"
Finn: "...YES."
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Finn, at least once a week, asks me this:
"Daddy, why do your eyebrows look like Star Trek?"

I'm choosing to believe he's comparing me to Spock and not Worf.
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Finn keeps mixing up the Beastie Boys and the Beach Boys. Should I correct him, or encourage it?
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