Tech is the new tobacco

My father as a teenager told me stories about the horrors of picking tobacco to encourage me to do well in school because manual labor sucks. The Truth Campaign started when I was young. But, technology companies appear to have learned only part of the lessons of Big Tobacco. This is AT&T mimicking Phillip Morris in a town hall with HBO employees who are part of the merger with Warner Brothers.

I want more hours of engagement. Why are more hours of engagement important? Because you get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow’s world.”

Technology companies call their clients users, which is what drug dealers call their clients. So one would hope tech would avoid more parallels, but it still seems that exploiting addiction is still the driver of tech. The business model is attention. There can never be enough attention, so they only have incentives to get more users and make those users spend more time.

Georgia Campus Carry Year One

AJC TL;DR: 27 violations; no shootings.

Basically, the AJC says that some students seem to have some issues understanding this pretty complicated law and run into situations where they are in violation. They are unaware that concealed means it needs to be out of sight. (Some supporters really want Open Carry.) Some people are negligent, such as the people at UGA who left guns in gym lockers, the conference center hotel room, or at a bus stop. This is still better than Georgia K-12 school teachers who accidentally discharged their gun or left it in places for a student to find them.

Supporters, in general, want a simpler law that allows guns everywhere as the existing one is pretty complicated to comply with given all the exceptions. Opponents, in general, want it repealed. Faculty supporters of campus carry feel the law discriminates against them because they can carry in their classroom but not their office. Faculty opponents see themselves under a more severe disadvantage to angry students still developing their executive function in the brain.

Somewhat surprised the AJC failed to add a few related things from their own reporting:

It doesn’t really look like campus carry ended shootings on campus. Nor did it spur a Wild West constant shootout situation or a rampage of mass shootings. Students are still getting robbed near campuses. So, it made some students feel safer that they are carrying a gun. Well, until they are held up and someone steals their $500 gun.

 

 

RIP Home Box Office

Mr. Stankey described a future in which HBO would substantially increase its subscriber base and the number of hours that viewers spend watching its shows. To pull it off, the network will have to come up with more content, transforming itself from a boutique operation, with a focus on its signature Sunday night lineup, into something bigger and broader.

HBO focuses on quality, spending millions on making a project right. When I saw HBO picked up the rights to make Game of Thrones, I was excited because I expected it would be high quality and got better than I expected. When I saw Auckland File Studios was making The Shannara Chronicles, I was disappointed because I did not expect high quality. It was so bad MTV dumped it to a lower profile network. The same as with Legend of the Seeker (based on The Sword of Truth), which was pretty bad. Both were other networks trying to capture the magic of GoT. Sony and Amazon Studios are co-developing a Wheel of Time series, and I have been pretty happy with what Amazon Studios has put out there.

Netflix is much more hit-and-miss as some things I like and other are meh. I rather liked the way South Park mocked N by having the kids trying to sell them on a hundred superhero movies because N will buy anything. Having HBO trying to be Netflix bothers me because I will always make sure to watch the HBO shows I am interested in watching. I often have conversations with people excited about their shows. Fewer people talk about Netflix shows and when they do, it is usually about how they were disappointed in it being not as good as they expected.

AT&T having HBO be more like Netflix means sacrificing quality to achieve quantity. Sure, this executive wants to have both, but to make that happen, AT&T better be prepared to heavily invest so much money into HBO that it is a huge money sink for them. My guess is that is not acceptable. So, RIP HBO.

Fact Check: Akon Lighting Africa

Saw a friend posted a photo claiming Akon had provided solar power to 600 million Africans, but the media was not going to tell you about it. It also questioned what is it the NGOs are doing.

This was an amazing claim, so I went looking into it. “Akon solar power” led me to his company Akon Lighting Africa. The key figures on the home page look much more modest with 100K street lamps, 1,200 micro-grids, and 102K domestic kits. The initial claim was that there were 600M without access to electricity. It does not look like it has put a dent in that number, much less the goal of 80 million people. The company was founded in 2014.

In 2015 they claimed to have provided solar power to about 8 million people (using the average household size of 8.7 people in Senegal rounded down; used average household size for Senegal as that is where Akon is from and started).

As of 2016, they claimed to have helped 1.5M lives.

Source: Twitter search for “from:AkonLighting million

Hopefully 1 million households in the first one should have been lives to make it consistent. Otherwise, in 2016 there was a huge backslide.

Let’s unpack the current numbers on the website.

  • 102K domestic kits = 887.4K lives
  • It is not clear what the micro-grid means, but the website has photos of charging stations attached to a set of solar cells. That could mean about 600K additional people counted not with power in their home, but able to visit a charging station to charge up a device to bring home.
    • My interpretation of micro-grid would be a network of homes connected to a grid. It would also power the street lamps.

Eviction filings to collect late rent

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of eviction filings from Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton counties found that more than a third of the 1 million cases filed since 2010 were serial filings — filings made within a year of one another at the same property, against a tenant with the same name. The AJC found more than 70,000 cases where renters got three or more eviction notices at the same property…

Falling behind one month often leads to a grueling cycle of repeat filings and eviction fees, leaving a tenant thousands of dollars in the hole with a ruined financial record in the process. Tenants carry those filings with them, making it harder to rent somewhere else, even if they were never actually evicted.

This probably is not solely an Atlanta thing. My guess is cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and DC where affordable housing is becoming a crisis problem as rents are skyrocketing. Amazon HQ2 coming to Atlanta would probably make the problem much worse. Though, 20% of rental households experiencing this makes worse seem unfathomable.

My guess is tenants sign a lease near the 30% household income which is the legal threshold. I wonder if landlords are required to recheck household income as they annually raise rents? If not, people could be fine the first couple years, but end up in a situation where they are no longer able to afford their home because rents are going up 19% a year where hourly wages are 4% a year.

The company noted in the story has about half their tenants with serial filings. For them to be serial filings, they are allowing these people to stay. Probably not because they have hearts of gold, but because turning out half your tenants means you will have vacant units which earn you no income.

Skynet for school shooting prediction

This sounds likely to be fraught with false positives.

In particular, the language a student uses during an interview can help distinguish a high-risk teenager [shooter] from a low-risk one, according to previous research Barzman directed. That study concluded that the former was more likely to express negative feelings about himself and about the acts of others. He also was more likely to talk about violent acts involving himself and violent video games or movies.

My clique in high school were the metalheads, barely passing nerds, and social rejects. Self-deprecation was the basis of our humor. Violent video games or movies was the basis of our media consumption. The only one of us every accused of fighting was a case of mistaken identity as the first and last (not middle) names matched the very common actual guy of another race.

Artificial intelligence is the tool of choice for this kind of stuff. I hope the research is light years ahead of where this article describes it.

MS-13

Donald Trump references an international gang as the reason to secure the southern United States border. He claims the porous border allows members of this gang to enter the country at will.

The refugees trying to enter through the southern border are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. MS-13 dominate these countries. The refugees are fleeing the violence of this gang and the inability of their country’s leaders to deal with the gang.

I guess the question then is why is MS-13 so entrenched in these countries? Well, in the 1980s, Salvadoran immigrants to the US during their civil wars ended up in Los Angeles. In protecting their people from the American gangs, they created their own who were deported to El Salvador. Weak governments were unable to control the gangs who consolidated into MS-13. In a nutshell, though, MS-13 was created in the US and exported to Central America where it has become a disaster and is coming back to hit us in the face. The sad part to me is that President Trump is all about deporting every member of MS-13 when deportation is what made them so powerful.

The United States is probably not a good place for refugees to come as MS-13 has a strong presence here. In fearing sons being recruited in CA, coming to the USA means they will be recruited here. MS-13 is also allied with the Sinaloa cartel, whose territory is along much of Mexico near the border with the USA, so staying in the camps outside the USA means facing the risk of MS-13 finding you there too.

Wonder if the United Nations considers the issue bad enough that they might get to go to places which are not in North or Central America?

Wellness Allergy

Work has a wellness program. One component involves a website that purports to educate users about healthy eating. The funny thing to me is that I was not going to participate at all until I found out that had potentially an allergy issue. So, I thought, why not try it? Maybe it can provide some ideas on things I can eat that are healthy?

Well, apparently healthy foods are allergy foods. It recommends eating more fish, nuts, soy, eggs, cheese*, whole wheat instead of unhealthy foods. Exactly the things that are likely allergens.

Yes, I know it is cow’s milk that is a possible allergen, so goat’s or sheep’s milk likely is fine.