NewsQuirks 320

Fruitful DiscussionA dispute erupted in Gastrip, Denmark, when four kindergarten teachers announced that they would no longer peel the oranges that the 19 pupils bring with them for their snack. Explaining that peeling oranges wasn't their job and was taking time away from their teaching, the teachers told the children who wanted to eat oranges to bring them from home already peeled. A compromise was reached when the teachers agreed to cut the unpeeled oranges into wedges.End of an EraIn England, Young and Co.'s Brewery PLC announced it would no longer serve beer at its annual shareholders meeting. Over the years, people discovered that by buying only one share, for about $8, they could attend the meeting and partake of the company's beer, as well as wine and food. The single-share holders numbered in the hundreds, and the meetings evolved into raucous parties. After years of trying to control the revelry, chairman John Young finally decreed that the meeting would be limited to company business. Iain Loe, research manager for the Campaign for Real Ale, a beer drinkers' advocacy group, called the change "disastrous."Good Clean FunIn England, Labor Councilor Ben Summerskill accused undercover council officials and police of going "beyond the call of duty" after they visited a massage parlor 17 times to make sure it was breaking the law. Noting that they were given "amateurish massages" by scantily clad young women before being offered sex, which they politely refused, the inspectors explained that the 17 visits, costing $3,160, were necessary to prove that it was the owner and not the individual masseuses who were breaking the law. After a court in Edmonton, Alberta, found Marilyn Tan, 35, not guilty of injecting the AIDS virus into her former lover, photographer Con Boland, during sado-masochistic sex, Boland said that he holds no grudge against Tan, telling reporters, "She has wonderful qualities."Seemed Like a Good Idea at the TimeA bicyclist who confronted three well-dressed men walking to their hotel in Alexandria, Va., pointed what looked like a 9mm semiautomatic handgun at them and demanded money. The three men turned out to be off-duty federal agents, who drew their own weapons and fired more than 20 shots, hitting the would-be robber, as well as three cars, a truck, two homes and an office building. The injured suspect's weapon turned out to be a pellet gun.Full of Hot AirAfter authorities in Canberra, Australia, said they were considering taxing animal flatulence as part of the city's plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by the year 2005, scientists said they had discovered an anti-flatulence compound. Announcing the find, Dr. Chris May of the animal health division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Melbourne said the antimethanogen is "almost completely non-toxic." He added that it not only suppresses flatulence, but also speeds weight gain.Legal Tender UnwelcomeA Maryland-based retail furniture chain this June stopped taking cash for purchases at its 10 Baltimore-Washington stores. J. Russell Dailey, president and chief executive officer of Scan International Corp., explained the no-cash policy was implemented after two of its employees were wounded in a robbery attempt.Sticking It to the Big AppleNew Yorkers are paying cash for sticks and twigs at the city's open-air markets, reportedly to bring them some contact with nature. "It's getting bigger all the time," said James Stannard, who works on the Harvester farm in Highland, N.Y., which sells pussy willow branches for $3 a bunch. "When we prune trees, what we used to just throw out we bunch up and bring it to the city and sell it."Cure Worse Than DiseaseAbout 30 percent of the people who undergo radial keratotomy to correct nearsightedness may eventually have to wear glasses anyway to correct farsightedness that results from the popular surgical procedure, according to a 10-year study sponsored by the National Eye Institute. Dr. Peter J. McDonnell, an ophthalmologist who co-chaired the study, said, "Based on these findings, it may be that some people will be pleased with their vision shortly after having RK, but their opinion may change five, 10 or 15 years down the road." Air bags may save lives in automobile collisions, but they cause many survivors to suffer injuries previously found only on the bodies of those who had been killed in accidents. The Baltimore Sun reported that as air bags became more popular, doctors began noticing crash survivors with smashed lower bodies and relatively untouched torsos. Dr. Andrew R. Burgess, head of orthopedic surgery at the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center, first thought the air bags were defective, but he soon realized they were working so well that people were surviving despite the violent blows of the crash. Instead of both the upper and lower body lunging forward with comparable force and speed, the upper body was being cushioned by the air bag, whereas the lower half slammed into the metal floor panels, dashboard and pedals. "We're seeing anything from a broken foot to half your leg being ripped off to a serious pelvic injury," Ralph Hitchcock, director of Crashworthiness Research at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said. "It's an expensive medical problem, it's traumatic, difficult to repair and can result in a lot of permanent disabilities."Reach Out and Touch SomeoneIn Baltimore, Jonita Anderson, 23, ran up $45,000 in 900-number phone calls to psychic and horoscope lines from 1991 to 1994, leaving unpaid bills on 14 different phone numbers under her own name and nine aliases. "We are talking about a sickness here," Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger said as he suspended her sentence to three years in jail on the condition that she "not make another 900 call."Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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