Flowers For Football Part 2

High school students are getting together for their first official practices all over the country as this lovely study by Jesse Medz and other leading researchers in neurology and published in the Journal for the American Medical Association was released, which contained this horrifying reality check:

Among the 202 deceased brain donors (median age at death, 66 years [interquartile range [IQR], 47-76 years]), CTE was neuropathologically diagnosed in 177 (87%; median age at death, 67 years [IQR, 52-77 years]; mean years of football participation, 15.1 [SD, 5.2]; 140 [79%] self-identified as white and 35 [19%] self-identified as black), including 0 of 2 pre–high school, 3 of 14 high school (21%), 48 of 53 college (91%), 9 of 14 semiprofessional (64%), 7 of 8 Canadian Football League (88%), and 110 of 111 NFL (99%) players.

`Let's break this out a bit, in a sample size of 14, 3 individuals who simply played high school football were diagnosed with CTE, the debilitating disorder first recognized as "Punch Drunk" syndrome in the late 1920s. While a small sample size makes it so one kid in either direction will swing the percentage wildly, if someone told you you had somewhere around a 20% chance of dying when you left the house that day, I'm guessing you're staying in.

Why Are Men Making Period Apps For Women?

Miranda Hall writes about her discomfort with Silicon Valley bros developing period apps.

"A few months ago, I got an invite from my friend Holly to start using Eve, a fertility tracking app for "savvy" gals who "just want to track their cycle and have fun," as the app says. An estimated 200 million people have downloaded period trackers worldwide. 
Eve says things like "Men are cute" and "Get it, girl xo," and recommends sex positions that seem more likely to end in a hospital visit than an orgasm."

and

This becomes particularly weird with the "partner" feature that allows any second person, although usually assumed to be your DH (short for Dear Husband on the Glow chatrooms) to "monitor" the body of his DW. A senior representative from Glow told me that "notifications are not based on gender stereotypes but rather on the role that each user has on the journey ahead." But the different tips sent to the partners are based on some pretty outdated roles.

There is no clearer evidence that Silicon Valley is far too male-centric than the fact that any of these apps are developed by mostly men.

Meta-Speculating on Gruber's Speculation

John Gruber recently wrote up a terrific post trying to make sense of the various rumors which have been circulating about the next generation iPhones. Read it here.

As always, I think John is spot on with a majority of his analysis. The biggest wrench in the predictions is Kuo’s surprising prediction that the phones will only come in 64GB and 256GB flavors. Even if this is true, I find it hard to believe Apple will be offering the 256GB iPhone 7S plus at the 8xx(1) price point, but if they do that’ll be an extraordinary value.

So this brings us to the fabled iPhone “something more”, which was initially pitched in the rumor mill as the iPhone 10th anniversary edition. Gruber initially posited this phone should cost over $1,500, and immediately he received a lot of grousing from people saying that was too high. He has since amended this decision and is putting the price point at a slightly more reasonable $1,299 and $1,399. I’m pretty sure it was this thought that lead to the writeup, and it’s certainly what is inspiring this post. Let’s break this idea down, because I’m suspicious John’s first guess is more reasonable.

Security Theater

The Department of Homeland Security today said it will be demanding "enhanced security measures" for all commercial flights going into the US. The specific measures, which will be both "seen and unseen," aren't specified in a DHS fact sheet, but they generally include enhanced passenger screening, "heightened screening of personal electronic devices," and "deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional pre-clearance locations."

Traveling by plane is far safer than driving. 

Since 9/11, the United States has seen a series of attempted attacks on commercial aviation. A shoe bomber. Liquid explosives. An underwear bomber. And a plot to detonate explosive cargo. Most of these were disrupted just in time, but our enemies have not always failed.

Ok, that's 4 events in 16 years. Meanwhile.

A Lesson In Scaremongering

Writing for Wired, Lily Hay Newman writes an awfully misleading opening paragraph:

HOW MANY PEOPLE specifically know where you are right now? Some friends and family? Your coworkers, maybe? If you're using a Windows laptop or PC you could add another group to the list: the CIA.

The operative word there is could, but it reads more like a fact than a possibility. Functionally, the sentence should include a second if statement and read more like:

"you could theoretically add..."

I'm sorry, does anyone in America not think it's theoretically possible one of the various spy agencies knows their location at any given moment?

Back to the situation at hand.

Can Our Butler Serve Up a Ring?

As promised, here is my extensive breakdown of the Jimmy Butler trade from the Timberwolves perspective. Hard not to be extremely excited about this team, and no fan base is more deserving than Minnesota after the past 30 years. Check it out!

What Passes For Justice

On Wednesday, a California appeals court denied efforts to overturn a county court’s decision not to intervene in an ongoing dispute between the public defender’s office and the administrative arm of the Alameda County Superior Court itself. The dispute is over allegedly flawed court software.

Wait for it.

As Ars reported in December 2016, the Alameda County Superior Court switched from a decades-old courtroom management software to a much more modern one on August 1, 2016.
However, since then, the public defender’s office has filed approximately 2,000 motions informing the court that, due to its reportedly imperfect software, many of its clients have been forced to serve unnecessary jail time, be improperly arrested, or even wrongly registered as sex offenders.

Even rounding down significantly, 2,000 reported incidents in less than a year comes to at least 5 a day. In one County.

No problem here, just move along.

F*#^ING Censors!

If Wikipedia is an example of how free speech succeeds, Facebook is the proof that censorship fails.

In the wake of a terrorist attack in London earlier this month, a U.S. congressman wrote a Facebook post in which he called for the slaughter of “radicalized” Muslims. “Hunt them, identify them, and kill them,” declared U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, a Louisiana Republican. “Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.”
Higgins’ plea for violent revenge went untouched by Facebook workers who scour the social network deleting offensive speech.
But a May posting on Facebook by Boston poet and Black Lives Matter activist Didi Delgado drew a different response.
“All white people are racist. Start from this reference point, or you’ve already failed,” Delgado wrote. The post was removed and her Facebook account was disabled for seven days.

Watson Is Too Elementary

I teased IBM about their Watson advertising in my WWDC 17 roundup, but it seems their ridiculous advertising is causing some backlash.

Early on, some large companies that were interested in Watson as portrayed by IBM, privately noted later that while they saw great promise, Watson in reality, was a set of technologies that needed to be stitched together at their site. That meant buying Watson—and then preparing data for Watson—was more a big integration project than a product purchase.

This was basically the gist of what I was saying in the roundup\review, the solutions being offered currently all require the individual organization to be fluent in taking advantage of training models. This is an extraordinary amount of work, and makes the gains from these efforts inaccessible to the masses. In theory, this is what Apple appears to be addressing with their Core ML framework. It will be very interesting to see who can deliver on this ideal first.

Correcting Betelgeuse

Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy has written an article about the photo I shared yesterday of Betelgeuse. Against my better judgement, I was taken in by the senselationism of the article and reported it as a picture of the surface of the star. Well, it sort of is, but the truth is much more beautiful than the simplistic description.

Read the article, he is the gold standard of relatable physics journalism.

Understanding Freedom of Speech

Wired has run an article about the proliferation of white supremacist versions of Wikipedia running under various aliases. The article is filled with brief quotes from these Nazis, mostly espousing their frustration with the high quality results you get from a volunteer encyclopedia. After finding no success attempting to change Wikipedia's adherence to reality, they found a new solution, create their own wikis.

He made a copy of the entire site and invited his followers to start rewriting its pages. “Wikipedia was the easiest and the most important of the social justice-converged social media giants to replace,” Day told me.

This is not coincidence, it is inherent to the concept and success of Wikipedia that it's so easy to access the data and modify to one's own purpose.

15 Billion Solar Masses

A few months back I wrote a deep dive on why the discovery of gravitational waves was such a big deal in the field of physics. Effectively, gravitational waves gave us a whole new method for observing the universe, and among other things, allow us to directly observe blackholes rather than simply attempt to infer their existence as we had done previously.

Now another observatory, the Very Long Baseline Array (VBLA), which in a concept similar to LIGO is a group of ten telescopes spread across over 8,000 km from Mauna Kea, Hawaii to St. Croix, Virgin Islands which are all controlled from Socorro, New Mexico. This massive collection of 25m antennas has managed to observe two supermassive black holes orbiting one another.

Fake News

Annalee Newitz of Ars Technica takes a look at the proliferation of fake news.

The problem is that most people weren't raised to expect that their social spaces would be full of bots, blabbing the results of simple algorithms and infecting human conversations with misdirection. Rarely do audiences on Twitter and Facebook pause to wonder where their information is coming from.

Newitz comes to a similar conclusion as I do that the solution is education.

Living in a Glass House

Matt Honan of Buzzfeed reviews his new Amazon Echo and its an interesting read, but this is absurd.

It has this wild new feature called Drop In. Drop In lets you give people permission to automatically connect with your device. Here’s how it works. Let’s say my father has activated Drop In for me on his Echo Show. All I have to do is say, “Alexa, drop in on Dad.” It then turns on the microphone and camera on my father’s device and starts broadcasting that to me. For the several seconds of the call, my father’s video screen would appear fogged over. But then there he’ll be. And to be clear: This happens even if he doesn’t answer. Unless he declines the call, audibly or by tapping on the screen, it goes through. It just starts. Hello, you look nice today.
Honestly, I haven’t figured out what to think about this yet. But it’s here.

You don't know what to think of this?!? The whole concept of a home is that you have a space where you can define when other people have access. This product violates the very premise of a door.

Also, notice all the marketing photos show this product face on, there's a reason for that.

Black and Pink

Wired has written an absolutely amazing article about the surprisingly cut-throat scene of art supplies. It all started when scientists created a material, Vantablack, so black, any structure made of it appears featureless to eye.

The alignment and density of the nanotubes captures photons from the wee wavelengths of ultraviolet to wide, hot infrared—and all the wavelengths of visible light in between. Then they push that energy out the back as heat. With just the barest fraction of photons that hit the stuff bouncing off, even at a glancing angle, practically none reach a human eye and trigger a human brain. So when you look at something coated in Vantablack, you see a blank. A void. “It’s a nuts material,” Jensen says.

Immediately the art community was intrigued, but prominent artist Anish Kapoor managed to acquire its exclusive rights. The ensuing battle is pretty hilarious and a must read, and has brought us several new colors including a whole new level of pink.

Is this narcissism as the mother of invention?

Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse

As the myth goes, if you say Betelgeuse three times in a row you can see it. Well, thanks to ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) we now have the most detailed photo to date of the surface of the star. It's pretty undefined, but this HAL-looking image was taken of an object that is 600 light years away, about 1,800 TRILLION miles away. It's impossible to put a number like that in perspective, but 1 trillion seconds is the same as 31,688 years so 1,800 trillion seconds would be over than 57 million years.

We like photographing Betelgeuse as it's one of the brightest stars we've ever discovered and is about 1400x the size of our Sun. Like bigger engines, bigger stars burn fuel much faster, exponentially so, and thus huge stars lead very short lives. Already 8 million years old, we expect the star to be nearing its end. Whenever the day comes that we see it go supernova, it will be bright enough to be visible with the naked eye even in broad daylight! 

Quick reminder that since it's 600 light years away, it could have already gone supernova when Galileo was first searching the sky and we still wouldn't know about it here on Earth for around another 200 years.

Certainty for Potential: The Jimmy Trade

A deep dive into the Jimmy Butler trade and it's implications for the 2017 Chicago Bulls. I will be posting another article soon looking at the same deal from the Timberwolves perspective. Keep your eyes peeled!

Juno Finally Reveals Jupiter's Poles

NASA's Juno spacecraft, which reached the planet Jupiter in July 2016 after a five-year, 1.7-billion-mile (2.7-billion-kilometer) journey, is exploring our solar system's biggest planet. It's taking advantage of a polar orbit that allows it to swoop down within 3,100 miles (4,990 kilometers) of the immense world's cloud tops. Imagine it this way: If Jupiter were the size of a basketball, Juno would be only about a third of an inch away.

I just can't get enough of all these photos of Jupiter, what beautiful marbling. We've spent all our time looking at the equator of the planet and gazing at the red spot, and it turns out this some of the more mundane part of Jupiter's weather. 

The funniest thing to me is that scientists continue to always say they are surprised at how complex weather systems are on other planets. Maybe after this we'll start to appreciate that any time you have that much matter in such a small space, the result of all that interaction is going to be exceedingly fascinating. 

Off-duty St. Louis Cop Shot By Officer When Assisting

A 38-year-old, black off-duty cop was shot by a white officer Wednesday after he reportedly offered to assist police who were involved in a chase, Fox News reported. Neither of the officers' names have been released.
When the off-duty cop approached, he was initially confronted by two uniformed officers who ordered him to the ground. However, shortly after their exchange, both of the uniformed officers recognized the officer and instructed him to walk toward them, according to a St. Louis Police Department report of the incident. Then a third uniformed officer approached and fired rounds at the off-duty cop. That officer, a 36-year-old who has been on the force for eight years, did not recognize the man when he mistakenly shot the off-duty cop, an 11-year veteran of the force. The officer is listed as in good condition.

The situation of the black off-duty cop being shot when coming to assist is tragic. The best news is that he is ok. If you watch the police cam video, it scares me that what transpired before the off-duty cop arrived is not getting equal attention for how it was handled. The sad thing is this is just an ordinary traffic stop if the off-duty cop doesn't get involved.