Ex-Uber engineer describes her year of being sexually harassed at Uber

Susan J. Fowler joined Uber as a site reliability engineer in November 2015. She was sexually harassed at work and Uber's human resources punished her for reporting it. She says other women at Uber have had similar experiences and that many have quit in disgust.

After the first couple of weeks of training, I chose to join the team that worked on my area of expertise, and this is where things started getting weird. On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn't. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn't help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.

Uber was a pretty good-sized company at that time, and I had pretty standard expectations of how they would handle situations like this. I expected that I would report him to HR, they would handle the situation appropriately, and then life would go on - unfortunately, things played out quite a bit differently. When I reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man's first offense, and that they wouldn't feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to.

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Breitbart interviews Sean Spicer: "Oh no, we're live now."

New York Magazine shared Breitbart's interview with White House press secretary Sean Spicer. It's glorious.

So much went wrong. There’s the uncomfortable silence at the open, the grade-school-level production values, and the nauseous look on reporter Charlie Sperling’s face. But those things are obvious. The real joy here are the Easter eggs, such as two of the four White House TVs playing President Trump’s most detested “fake news” channel, CNN.

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Magical levitating gun or bad Photoshop?

BB contributor Jess Hemerly spotted this concerning image on the Bay Area's KRON 4 Morning News. Even more disturbing than a middle school student bringing a gun to school is that it was apparently a sawed-off handgun stashed in an invisible holster.

(Here's the story.)

UPDATE: Thanks to our commenters, I'm now convinced that this is a snubnosed revolver in a plastic belt clip holster. Read the rest

The Bat Bot, a new flying robot with silicone bat wings

In a beautiful example of biomimicry, researchers at Caltech and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed the Bat Bot, an autonomous flying robot with silicone wings that change shape as it flies, just like a real bat. From Caltech:

The Bat Bot weighs only 93 grams and is shaped like a bat with a roughly one-foot wingspan. It is capable of altering its wing shape by flexing, extending, and twisting at its shoulders, elbows, wrists, and legs. Arguably, bats have the most sophisticated powered flight mechanism among animals, which includes wings that have the capability of changing shape. Their flight mechanism involves several different types of joints that interlock the bones and muscles to one another, creating a musculoskeletal system that is capable of movement in more than 40 rotational directions.

"Our work demonstrates one of the most advanced designs to date of a self-contained flapping-winged aerial robot with bat morphology that is able to perform autonomous flight," (UIUC researcher Alireza) Ramezani says.

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We are living in a 1990s Cyberpunk dystopia

Cartoonist Maki Naro made this one-page comic for The Nib that compares the world of today with 1990s era Cyberpunk dystopia fiction. Read the rest

Namco founder dies

You can thank Japanese game publisher Namco for Pac-Man, Galaga, Pole Position, Splatterhouse, Rolling Thunder, Soul Calibur and Tekken. And you can thank Masaya Nakamura, who died last week, for Namco.

During the decades following World War II, the rooftops of Japanese department stores were home to family friendly rides and carnival-style analogue arcade games. Namco got it start making such amusement machines. In the late 1970s and early 80s, Nakamura’s business took off with arcade hits like Galaxian, Galaga, Pole Position, and Xevious. However, it was Pac-Man that wasn’t only the biggest Namco hit of that era, but also of the most important Japanese video games ever made.

Pac-Man is, according to the Guinness book of World Records, still the most successful coin-op of all time.

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Update: dupe! Read the rest

Cows try to befriend grumpy turtle

Cows investigate a turtle

This turtle has bovinophobia. Read the rest

Astronaut.io: a fun way to watch YouTube videos almost no one has seen

Astronaut.io randomly plays new YouTube video that have close to 0 views. It plays a few seconds of each video before moving on to another random video. If a certain video catches your attention, click the dot below the video to see the whole thing. I could waste a lot of time here.

Today, you are an Astronaut. You are floating in inner space 100 miles above the surface of Earth. You peer through your window and this is what you see. You are people watching. These are fleeting moments.

These videos come from YouTube. They were uploaded in the last week and have titles like DSC 1234 and IMG 4321. They have almost zero previous views. They are unnamed, unedited, and unseen by anyone but YOU.

The Astronaut video stream starts when you press GO. Videos change periodically. If you wish to linger, tap the button.

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Watch this news anchor throw a tantrum about her colleague's outfit

Nine News Australia's anchor Amber Sherlock flipped out just before going on air that her colleague Julie Snook was wearing white, just like her, even though she advised her against it. Sure, they weren't live yet, but the Internet doesn't care. "It is an issue. Go and grab a jacket!"

Sherlock must be well-loved by her colleagues, especially whoever leaked the clip.

(News.com.au)

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Court rules against UK government's surveillance legislation

A European court has ruled that the UK cannot subject its citizens to indiscriminate data collection unless the data retained is being used solely to fight serious crime, reports the BBC.

The verdict concerns an earlier incarnation of Britain's blanket domestic surveillance plans brought to court by opponensts. It does not specifically address the recently-passed "Snooper's Charter," though experts say it will lead directly to a legal challenge against it. The charter, officially known as the Investigatory Powers Act, requires phone companies and internet providers to maintain records of users' online activity for a year.

One irony of it is that an original champion of the challenge, David Davis, is now Britain's Brexit chief: he left the case after a change of personal circumstances led to a sharp change in his principles regarding privacy.

Mr Davis, who had long campaigned on civil liberties issues, left the case after Theresa May appointed him to her cabinet in July.

Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, who is one of those bringing the case, said: "This ruling shows it's counter-productive to rush new laws through Parliament without a proper scrutiny."

The Home Office said it would be putting forward "robust arguments" to the Court of Appeal.

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Bravo Twitter: company promises not to help create Trump's Muslim registry

The Intercept's Sam Biddle asked nine tech companies if they would help authorities create a national registry of known muslims—one of president-elect Donald Trump's campaign suggestions. Only Twitter would go on the record to state that it would not co-operate with such a list.
Twitter: “No,” and a link to this blog post, which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.” which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.”

Bravo. It takes courage and planning for publicly-traded businesses to take a hostile stand on hot potatoes like this, and Twitter bothered. Compare to IBM, whose CEO wrote Trump a slobbering mash note promising the services of her company.

Seven of the other companies didn't respond at all. Microsoft responded with "We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point."

We're asking if tech firms are going to cooperate. But when it comes to inferring affiliations from the mass surveillance of private data, it's just the sort of thing whistleblowers warn us is already going on. Trump's off-the-cuff blather about official registries isn't about what is known, but about making it acceptable.

That said, Biddle's post was met this weekend by dismissive sneering from the Gilfoyles: a good reminder that Silicon Valley is cynical and willing, and that fatalism is the best policy.

Update: Duped Cory. Read the rest

UK Members of Parliament exempt themselves from spying law

The UK lumpenproletariat will surely accept, nay, cheer, the fact that their betters are too well-bred to be expected to follow the same rules as the rabble.

From The Independent

Politicians have exempted themselves from Britain's new wide-ranging spying laws.

The Investigatory Powers Act, which has just passed into law, brings some of the most extreme and invasive surveillance powers ever given to spies in a democratic state. But protections against those spying powers have been given to MPs.

Most of the strongest powers in the new law require that those using them must be given a warrant. That applies to people wanting to see someone's full internet browsing history, for instance, which is one of the things that will be collected under the new law.

As J.R. "Bob" Dobbs said, "I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to." Read the rest

Donald Duck is a quite effective and surreal math teacher

"Donald in Mathmagic Land" was released in 1959. As Walt Disney said, "The cartoon is a good medium to stimulate interest."

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Make America Grit Again: poor towns tearing up roads they can't afford to maintain

Aarian Marshall reports that poor towns are ripping up pothole-ridden roads rather than pay to maintain them.

Repaving roads is expensive, so Montpelier instead used its diminishing public works budget to take a step back in time and un-pave the road. Workers hauled out a machine called a “reclaimer” and pulverized the damaged asphalt and smoothed out the road’s exterior. They filled the space between Vermont’s cruddy soil and hardier dirt and gravel up top with a “geotextile”, a hardy fabric that helps with erosion, stability and drainage.

In an era of dismal infrastructure spending, where the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the country’s roads a D grade, rural areas all over the country are embracing this kind of strategic retreat.

It's also true that some rural towns paved unnecessarily and bizarrely. When I lived in the southwest, I'd sometimes run into grids of perfectly black country roads gridding through the empty flat llano, like something put into Sim City before you even get started on what buildings you zone for. Oil money.

Which is to say this sounds like an infrastructure problem, but in many cases it's just coming to terms with the reality of life in the country: "most of the community leaders interviewed by the report’s authors said their residents approved of de-paving, especially if agencies kept them informed about the process."

Photo: Deborah Fitchett (CC-BY-2.0) Read the rest

Trump fans melting down online for some reason

Trump's fans are having a tough time so far today. First, the realization struck many that one must be registered before election day to vote in all but 14 states. Second, the Trumpernet seems to be context-collapsing: they might yet win the night, but backstabbing and chaos is already upon it. A subreddit, r/the_meltdown, is collecting the most spectacular ragequits. Most are from /pol/, though, which is as much a performance venue as anything else. Read the rest

Interactive clothing via dynamic projection mapping

Technically, cloth is a "deforming non-rigid surface," so projecting a stable image onto clothes is a big technological challenge. To solve it, Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory combined two new techniques that allow stable projection of an image onto clothes even as they move. Read the rest

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 went to Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". From the New York Times:

Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, called Mr. Dylan “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition” and compared him to Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally. Asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician signaled a broadening in the definition of literature, Ms. Danius jokingly responded, “The times they are a changing, perhaps,” referencing one of Mr. Dylan’s songs.

"Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature" (NYT)

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