Cosby charged with sexual assault

Bill Cosby charged with sexual assault in Pennsylvania

The TV legend is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand when she visited his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. A probable cause affidavit filed by investigators this week alleges that Cosby “sought to incapacitate” Constand by giving her a mix of pills and wine that sent her slipping in and out of consciousness and left her unable to consent to sexual activity.

Ms. Constand settled her civil case against Mr. Cosby but the latter’s statements in a deposition taken for that case and released to the public by request of the press triggered the Montgomery County District Attorney’s obligation to prosecute Cosby.

Is sending porn illegal in Pennsylvania?

Is sending porn illegal in Pennsylvania?

Dave Davies writes on his WHYY blog, Off Mic:

It’s right there in the state crimes code; it’s a third-class misdemeanor to “sell, lend, distribute, transmit, exhibit, or give away or show any obscene materials to any person 18 years of age or older…” (There’s a separate statute prohibiting distribution of pornography to anyone younger than 18.)

He’s right, you can find it at 18 Pa . C.S. 5903. Davies goes on to explain the difficulty of defining “obscenity,” a function of the concept’s basis in community standards which can vary from community to community.

Laser-armed fighter jets by 2020

Laser-armed fighter jets by 2020

Thom Patterson writes for CNN:

Here’s how Air Force special ops might use them: The commander of USAF special ops, Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, said last September that by 2020 he wants them on C-130J Ghostrider gunships for landing zone protection.

The laser weapons would take out possible threats like enemy vehicles, or disable infrastructure such as cell towers.

I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night (more on that coming in an article later) so laser weapons seem an appropriate story to share today.

Sorry HR, your job descriptions suck

Machine Intelligence In The Real World

[…] Textio is a text editor that recommends improvements to job descriptions as you type. With it, I can go from a 40th percentile job description to a 90th percentile one in just a few minutes, all thanks to a beautifully presented machine learning algorithm.

I respect Human Resources professionals. Their job can be shitty. But so can their job descriptions. The prospects who know what you mean by “incumbent” are probably too pedantic and detail-oriented to apply to the likely underpaid and/or intellectually vapid position you’re hiring for. The ones who don’t know what you mean don’t actually know what they’re applying to, which makes them terrible prospects.

If machine learning can remedy that, I hope it gains wider use. But I don’t think machine learning is necessary to stop writing the kind of drivel that passes for a job description these days. It’s a classic failure of capitalism: when demand dramatically outstrips supply, quality decreases without consequences to the supplier. This goes for jobs, treatment by employers, and even job descriptions. They were never exactly the pinnacle of eloquence, but I’ve seen a serious decline in the past year or so.

Many legal filings written by attorneys are also full of reader-hostile jargon and nonsense clearly included because the lawyer’s writing professor said it should be included, or because the named partner at their first firm always used it. It’s one of the most infuriating and offensive aspects of modern U.S. professional culture as far I’m concerned:

“We do it this way because we do it this way, because the people before us did it this way, that’s why we do it this way.”

Never, ever say that to me. It triggers an almost instinctual, lizard-brain contempt in me and an assumption that whoever said it is incapable of critical thinking or analytical reasoning, and I can be a real asshole when I think that about someone.

“A slower-track school where they do well”

“A slower-track school where they do well”

I’m just going to leave this Justice Scalia quote right here:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African­ Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less­-advanced school, a slower-­track school where they do well.

Further reading:

Israeli Supreme Court Rejects Family Petition To Bury Trans Woman As Their “Son”

Israeli Supreme Court Rejects Family Petition To Bury Trans Woman As Their “Son”

Peleg, who was 31, had long been concerned about a battle with her ultra-orthodox family after her death. Their beliefs forbid cremation, and she worried they would attempt to have a religious burial under her male name. Peleg paid for her own cremation in March 2014 at the one funeral home in Jerusalem that performs the service, and filed a will with an attorney a day before her suicide and asked that he fight for her wishes if her family attempted to interfere.

This is heartening. No one should be driven to suicide by discrimination against who they are, but the ultimate insult is ignorance of one’s post-death wishes, because when are we more vulnerable than in death?

Adele’s ’25’ on Pandora

Adele’s ’25’ on Pandora

Pandora confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that every track from Adele’e new album is available through its radio service. That’s not going to be a particularly great way of listening to 25 — because Pandora is a radio service, it means you can’t choose what to listen to and will have to wait for a station to play the new songs — but it does mean that Adele’s album is streaming in some form. You just have to be really, really patient to hear it all.

Pandora’s strange licensing niche usually works against it but here, despite the inability to listen through the songs in order, Pandora has something like an exclusive.

I wonder if Adele’s lawyers told her that keeping it off the on-demand streaming services means the track order she chose will not be the one many people hear the first time they hear the songs.

I don’t know how much that matters to modern musicians, or to someone like Adele, who doesn’t really have a customer acquisition problem.

For the, er, record, I prefer to listen to an album in order if possible.

Vizio TVs spy on you, here’s how to disable it

Vizio TVs spy on you, here’s how to disable it

Vizio’s technology works by analyzing snippets of the shows you’re watching, whether on traditional television or streaming Internet services such as Netflix. Vizio determines the date, time, channel of programs — as well as whether you watched them live or recorded. The viewing patterns are then connected your IP address – the Internet address that can be used to identify every device in a home, from your TV to a phone.

This is a damn good reason not to buy a Vizio TV. I won’t rant about opt-out/opt-in again. But I found Vizio generally had a good price-to-quality ratio: not top shelf hardware, but not top shelf prices, either. So this shadiness is a shame.

A shamey-ness?

Anyway, props to Samsung and LG, who, according to Julia Angwin at ProPublica, require user consent before enabling the sort of tracking Vizio turns on by default.

Disable Vizio “Smart Interactivity”

Vizio obviously knows how shady its default spying is because they have a page named after the feature which begins with information on how to turn it off:

VIA TV Interface

  1. Press the MENU button on your TV’s remote.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Highlight Smart Interactivity.
  4. Press RIGHT arrow to change setting to Off.

VIA Plus TV Interface

  1. Press the MENU button on your TV’s remote or open HDTV Settings app.
  2. Select System.
  3. Select Reset & Admin.
  4. Highlight Smart Interactivity.
  5. Press RIGHT arrow to change setting to Off.