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DEER PARK, Texas - Firefighters have been using foam to try and control a fire that started Sunday morning at a plant in Deer Park that continued to burn steadily overnight and has now spread to six other tanks, bringing the total to eight.

The tank fire at Intercontinental Tank Company Deer Park was reported as "uncontrolled."

"As of 5:30 a.m. Monday, the City of Deer Park has received confirmation that no air quality readings conducted in response to the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) incident have exceeded action levels," city officials said in a statement. "In light of this information, the city has made the decision to lift the shelter-in-place order and to re-open State Highway 225 with the public. Portions of Independence Parkway will remain closed until further notice."

A public information officer for ITC Deer Park said the fire was reported just before 10:30 a.m. The facility is located on Independence Parkway, just north of Highway 225.

1 of 18 photos :



Officials said about 30 employees were working at the time of the fire and all have been accounted for. There were no injuries reported.

Officials are working to contain the fire, but the spokeswoman said the chemical burning is called petroleum naphtha, which is a colorless liquid with the odor of gasoline. The hazard level of this chemical can cause significant irritation.

Another chemical that was being stored in the tanks is called Toluene, which is used to make nail police remover, glues and paint thinner.

The City of Deer Park issued an update, saying:

Emergency responders continue to work on controlling the fire using foam and are working to prevent the fire from spreading further. Although the risk of explosion is minimal, we continue to take precautions to further reduce this possibility. Air monitoring continues and as of this update, low levels of particulate matter have been detected. A single volatile organic compound detection has been found 6 miles southwest of the facility. These readings are currently well below hazardous levels.

La Porte OEM said it closed Highway 225 in both directions from Beltway 8 to Independence Parkway, but it has since reopened.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement:

“The State of Texas and the Texas Department of Emergency Management are closely monitoring the fire at the Intercontinental Terminal in Deer Park and are in close consultation with local officials.

"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in coordination with Harris County, is monitoring the air quality. I have ordered that all state resources be made available to local and industry officials and urge residents to continue heeding the warnings of local officials.”

ITC Deer Park's website says it "has provided safe and reliable terminal services to the petrochemical industry for over four decades" and operates two terminals in Houston.

The Deer Park terminal currently has "3.1 million barrels (2.2 million cbm) of capacity in 242 tanks.  It stores all kinds of petrochemical liquids and gases, as well as fuel oil, bunker oil and distillates.  The terminal has five ship docks and ten barge docks, rail and truck access, as well as multiple pipeline connections."

https://www.click2houston.com/news/fire-reported-inside-itc-deer-park-facility-day-after-exxon-plant-fire
2
Beto O'Rourke raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours of his presidential campaign, his campaign said Monday, in what amounts to the largest announced first-day haul of any 2020 Democratic contender to date.
The former Texas congressman raised $6,136,763 in online donations from all 50 states in the first day, his campaign said. That tops the $5.9 million one-day total Sen. Bernie Sanders announced after he launched his campaign. The closest other 2020 Democratic candidate to publicize their first-day fundraising total was California Sen. Kamala Harris at $1.5 million.
The first-day total shows O'Rourke has the potential to recreate the record-smashing fundraising prowess he exhibited during his 2018 US Senate campaign. A more complete picture of what candidates have raised — and how much they spent, particularly on social media advertisements, to raise that money — will come in April, when reports covering the first fundraising quarter are due.

"In just 24 hours, Americans across this country came together to prove that it is possible to run a true grassroots campaign for president -- a campaign by all of us for all of us that answers not to the PACs, corporations, and special interests but to the people," O'Rourke said in a statement announcing the total.
O'Rourke's haul came after he launched his campaign with a video and several campaign stops Thursday in Iowa.



He began the campaign with big promises, telling reporters in Keokuk, Iowa, that he planned to "run the largest grassroots campaign this country has ever seen."
But until now, there had been little proof of O'Rourke's ability to carry out that plan. His refusal to release first-day fundraising totals over the weekend had raised doubts that O'Rourke had met fundraising expectations around his campaign launch. He remained coy about his fundraising for days.
"I can't right now," he said Friday in Washington, Iowa.
A reporter responded that O'Rourke could share his fundraising totals if he wanted to.
"You're right," he responded. "I choose not to."
Still, a sign that his campaign had began with a massive fundraising haul came Saturday night when O'Rourke -- who is playing catch-up in hiring staffers as one of the last major Democratic candidates to launch -- told reporters in Dubuque, Iowa, that he would support his campaign unionizing, as Sanders had, and hoped to pay the highest wages and benefits of any presidential contender.
Last year, O'Rourke shattered Senate campaign fundraising records and raised $80 million in his bid to oust Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. His closer-than-expected loss propelled talk of a presidential bid.
He did so with a pledge not to accept money from political action committees, which O'Rourke carried over to his presidential campaign. The approach is unusual -- many other Democratic presidential contenders have sworn off money from corporate PACs, but accept money from those friendlier to Democratic interests, like labor unions. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also sworn off all PAC money.
O'Rourke emphasized that pledge in a first-day fundraising email.
"Our campaign will be funded by We the People — that is how we'll be able to reach and listen to voters in all 50 states. No PACs. No corporations. No lobbyists or special interests. It'll be ALL people," an email to supporters signed "Team Beto" said.
"If we have a strong showing on our first day, people will see it as a sign that this campaign is off to a good start. That will encourage even more people to join us," O'Rourke said in another fundraising email on the first day.

O'Rourke has also quickly returned to a habit that made him a viral hit in Texas: He is livestreaming most events on Facebook, drawing an audience of thousands to watch him campaign in real time.
O'Rourke began his campaign with a series of smaller events in coffee shops across eastern Iowa, and then in Wisconsin. A small group is operating in El Paso, where he is headquartering his campaign. O'Rourke has not yet hired a campaign manager, though he is in talks with veteran Democratic strategist Jen O'Malley Dillon, who was former President Barack Obama's deputy campaign manager in 2012 and would be seen as a major coup, a source familiar with their discussions said.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/18/politics/beto-orourke-first-day-fundraising-record/
3
Doomsteading / Re: C5's Fear of Wind Towers durring a Collapse
« Last post by RE on Today at 04:57:26 AM »

The single greatest danger during a collapse... is wild fires.

Every inexperienced person will be starting fires. Fires still happen for the experienced. But any unmaintained wind tower is a fire waiting to happen... and what will start a forest fire faster that spewing wind supported, melting plastic, thrown long distances.

My morning thought. Clearing combustibles near the house is one of this years jobs.
So tell me oh wise one  ;)
Where are there no forest fires, no tornadoes, no earthquakes, and you are not to close to the coast for a massive hurricane to stall out over you, you are not in a flood plain, you have a long enough growing season without summer wet bulb temps that kill, you have consistent spring water, you are not too close to a large population center AND you are not immediately downwind of a nuke puke plant (or nuclear weapons launch facility or strike target) or a similar chemical facility?
I have given up trying to figure where the safest place is. :icon_scratch:
AJ

AJ!  Long time no keyboard.  Cat got your fingers?

RE
4
Doomsteading / Re: C5's Fear of Wind Towers durring a Collapse
« Last post by AJ on Today at 04:41:18 AM »

The single greatest danger during a collapse... is wild fires.

Every inexperienced person will be starting fires. Fires still happen for the experienced. But any unmaintained wind tower is a fire waiting to happen... and what will start a forest fire faster that spewing wind supported, melting plastic, thrown long distances.

My morning thought. Clearing combustibles near the house is one of this years jobs.
So tell me oh wise one  ;)
Where are there no forest fires, no tornadoes, no earthquakes, and you are not to close to the coast for a massive hurricane to stall out over you, you are not in a flood plain, you have a long enough growing season without summer wet bulb temps that kill, you have consistent spring water, you are not too close to a large population center AND you are not immediately downwind of a nuke puke plant (or nuclear weapons launch facility or strike target) or a similar chemical facility?
I have given up trying to figure where the safest place is. :icon_scratch:
AJ
5
The Kitchen Sink / Re: The Intellectual Dark Web (IDW)
« Last post by Surly1 on Today at 04:20:58 AM »
Many of these YouTubers are less defined by any single ideology than they are by a “reactionary” position: a general opposition to feminism, social justice, or left-wing politics.

I would call it reactionary, but not in exactly the way that author means....it is reactionary to certain memes that have been peddled in this country by a variety of sources. They include:

Diversity always makes our culture better.

People from groups that somehow might claim to have a history of having been persecuted are entitled to special consideration with regards to jobs, schools, and other opportunities that can be controlled by legislating special "rights" for those who fit into one of the defined groups.

White males are a group of oppressors who, through having seized control of the power structure somehow, manage to keep the special groups down by paying them less, taking the plum jobs and generally getting the best of everything, through some nebulous process known as "white privilege.

I love the way people instantly slap a label on those who say things they don't agree with. Reactionary right.....uh, not really. Not so much.

"Reactionary" means the same thing it meant when I learned it in sixth grade:

Quote
In political science, a reactionary is a person who holds political views that favor a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which they believe possessed characteristics (economic prosperity, justice, individual ownership, discipline, respect for authority, etc.) that are negatively absent from the contemporary status quo of a society.

QED.

The term comes out of the French revolution and means essentially, those who want to put things back the way they were before X fucked it up.
If the shoe fits...

"Reactionary right" is thus a redundancy.

Also from Wikipedia:

Quote

In the 19th century, reactionary denoted people who idealized feudalism and the pre-modern era—before the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution—when economies were mostly agrarian, a landed aristocracy dominated society, a hereditary king ruled and the Roman Catholic Church was society's moral centre. Those labelled as "reactionary" favoured the aristocracy instead of the middle class and the working class. Reactionaries opposed democracyand parliamentarism.


Then as now.

As for this trope:

Quote from: Eddie
...certain memes that have been peddled in this country by a variety of sources. They include: Diversity always makes our culture better.

Unfortunately for your argument, I am old enough to remember this:



Although as purposed it alludes to the union between the states and federal government, as a national motto it also reflect the "melting pot" concept taught to the children and grandchildren of immigrants own the public schools (back before we criminalized such ideas.)

6
Surly Newz / The Internet Knows You Better Than Your Spouse Does
« Last post by Surly1 on Today at 03:39:16 AM »
Found this article on Scientific American this morning while compiling the paper. Gives a glimpse at the sort of tools already in use to track us, sift and resell our preferences, for purposes unknown. What could possibly go wrong?

The Internet Knows You Better Than Your Spouse Does
The traces we leave on the Web and on our digital devices can give advertisers and others surprising, and sometimes disturbing, insights into our psychology


The Internet Knows You Better Than Your Spouse Does

IN BRIEF

  • Users’ digital footprints disclose certain preferences and characteristics, such as their personality or mood.
  • Companies arevery interested in such data. Automated language analysis is already being used in the hiring of personnel. And advertising seems to be more successful when its message is adapted to the personality or mood of the customer.
  • These technological advances open opportunities not only for commerce but for public health. Among those possibilities: smartphone apps may in the future recognize when a bipolar patient is slipping into a depressive phase and can inform the person’s physician.
  • But the technology poses risks. Unless it is managed carefully and ethically, it can invade privacy.

f you enjoy computerized personality tests, you might consider visiting Apply Magic Sauce (https://applymagicsauce.com). The Web site prompts you to enter some text you have written—such as e-mails or blogs—along with information about your activities on social media. You do not have to provide social media data, but if you want to do it, you either allow Apply Magic Sauce to access your Facebook and Twitter accounts or follow directions for uploading selected data from those sources, such as your history of pressing Facebook’s “like” buttons. Once you click “Make Prediction,” you will see a detailed psychogram, or personality profile, that includes your presumed age and sex, whether you are anxious or easily stressed, how quickly you give in to impulses, and whether you are politically and socially conservative or liberal.

Examining the psychological profile that the algorithm derives from your online traces can certainly be entertaining. On the other hand, the algorithm’s ability to draw inferences about us illustrates how easy it is for anyone who tracks our digital activities to gain insight into our personalities—and potentially invade our privacy. What is more, psychological inferences about us might be exploited to manipulate, say, what we buy or how we vote.

SURPRISING ACCURACY

It seems that our like clicks by themselves can be pretty good indicators of what makes us tick. In 2015 David Stillwell and Youyou Wu, both at the University of Cambridge, and Michal Kosinski of Stanford University demonstrated that algorithms can evaluate what psychologists call the Big Five dimensions of personality quite accurately just by examining a Facebook user’s likes. These dimensions—openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism—are viewed as representing the basic dimensions of personality. The degree to which they are present in individuals describes who those people are.

The researchers trained their algorithm using data from more than 70,000 Facebook users. All the participants had earlier filled out a personality questionnaire, and so their Big Five profile was known. The computer then went through the Facebook accounts of these test subjects looking for likes that are often associated with certain personality characteristics. For example, extroverted users often give a thumbs-up to activities such as “partying” or “dancing.” Users who are especially open may like Spanish painter Salvador Dalí.

Then the investigators had the program examine the likes of other Facebook users. If the software had as few as 10 for analysis, it was able to evaluate that person about as well as a co-worker did. Given 70 likes, the algorithm was about as accurate as a friend. With 300, it was more successful than the person’s spouse. Even more astonishing to the researchers, feeding likes into their program enabled them to predict whether someone suffered from depression or took drugs and even to infer what the individual studied in school.

The project grew out of work that Stillwell began in 2007, when he created a Facebook app that enabled users to fill out a personality questionnaire and get feedback in exchange for allowing investigators to use the data for research. Six million people participated until the app was shut down in 2012, and about 40 percent gave permission for the researchers to obtain access to their past Facebook activities—including their history of likes.

Researchers around the world became very interested in the data set, parts of which were made available in anonymized form for noncommercial research. More than 50 articles and doctoral dissertations have been based on it, in part because the Facebook data reveal what people actually do when they are unaware that their behavior is the subject of research.

COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

One obvious use for such psychological insights beyond the realm of research is in advertising, as Sandra C. Matz of Columbia University and her colleagues (among them Stillwell and Kosinski) demonstrated in a 2017 paper. The team made use of something that Facebook offers to its business customers: the ability to target advertisements to people with particular likes. They developed 10 different ads for the same cosmetic product, some meant to appeal to extroverted women and some to introverts. One of the “extrovert” ads, for example, showed a woman dancing with abandon at a disco; underneath it the slogan read, “Dance like no one’s watching (but they totally are).” An “introvert” ad showed a young woman applying makeup in front of a mirror. The slogan said, “Beauty doesn’t have to shout.”

oth campaigns ran on Facebook for a week and together reached about three million female Facebook users, who received messages that were matched to their personality type or to the opposite of their type. When the ads fit the personality, Facebook viewers were about 50 percent more likely to buy the product than when the ads did not fit.

Ad Aimed to Extroverts

Ad Aimed to Introverts

“Dance like no one’s watching (but they totally are).”

“Beauty doesn’t have to shout.”

Two different advertising campaigns for a cosmetic were designed to appeal either to extroverts or introverts and were displayed to female Facebook users in a 2017 study. Sales were highest when ads fit the women’s personality. The ads here were among 10 that were used. Credit: Paul Bradbury Getty Images (left); Getty Images

Advertisers often pursue a different approach: they look for customers who have bought or likeda particular product in the past to ensure that they target people who are already well disposed to their wares. In limiting a target group, it makes sense to take previous consumption into account, Matz says, but this study demonstrated the power of adapting how the message is communicated to a consumer’s personality.

It is a power not lost on marketers. Numerous companies have discovered automated personality analysis and turned it into a business model, boasting about the value it can provide to their customers—although how well the methods used by any individual company actually work is hard to judge.

The now defunct Cambridge Analytica offers an infamous example of how personality profiling based on Facebook data has been applied in the real world. In March 2018 news reports alleged that as early as 2014, the company had begun buying personal Facebook data about more than 80 million users. (Stillwell’s group makes a point of emphasizing that Cambridge Analytica had no access to its data, algorithms or expertise.) The company claimed to specialize in personalized election advertising: the packaging and pinpoint targeting of political messages. In 2016 Alexander Nix, then the company’s CEO, described Cambridge Analytica’s strategy in a presentation in New York City, providing an example of how to convince people who care about gun rights to support a selected candidate. (See a YouTube video of his talk at [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8Dd5aVXLCc#]www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8Dd5aVXLCc[/url].) For voters deemed neurotic (who are prone to worrying), Nix proposed an emotionally based campaign featuring the threat of a burglary and the protective value of a gun. For agreeable people (who value community and family), on the other hand, the approach could feature fathers teaching their sons to hunt.

Cambridge Analytica worked for the presidential campaigns of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Nix claimed in his talk that the strategy helped Cruz advance in the primaries, and the company later took some credit for Trump’s victory—although exactly what it did for the Trump campaign and how valuable its work was are in dispute.

Philosopher Philipp Hübl, who, among other things, examines the power of the unconscious, is dubious of the Trump claim. He notes that selling cosmetics costing a few dollars, as in Matz’s study, is very different from swaying voters in an election campaign. “In elections, even undecided voters weigh the possibilities, and it takes more than a few banner ads and fake news to convince them,” Hübl says.

Matz, too, sees limits in what psychological marketing in its current stage of development can accomplish in political campaigns. “Undecided voters in particular may be made more receptive to one or another position,” she says, “but turning a Clintonista into a MAGA voter, well, that was pretty unlikely to happen.” Nevertheless, Matz thinks that such marketing is likely to have some effect on voters, calling the notion that it has no effect “extremely improbable.”

BEYOND FACEBOOK

Facebook activity is by no means the only data that can be used to assess your personality. In a 2018 study, computer scientist Sabrina Hoppe of the University of Stuttgart in Germany and her colleagues fitted students with eye trackers. The volunteers then walked around campus and went shopping. Based on their eye movements, the researchers were able to predict four of the Big Five dimensions correctly.

How we speak—our individual tone of voice—may also divulge clues about our personality. Precire Technologies, a company based in Aachen, Germany, specializes in analyzing spoken and written language. It has developed an automated job interview: job seekers speak with a computer by telephone, which then creates a detailed psychogram based on their responses. Among other things, Precire analyzes word selection and certain word combinations, sentence structures, dialectal influences, errors, filler words, pronunciations and intonations. Its algorithm is based on data from more than 5,000 interviews with individuals whose personalities were analyzed.

Precire’s clients include German company Fraport, which manages the Frankfurt Airport, and the international recruitment agency Randstad, which uses the software as a component of its selection process. Andreas Bolder, head of personnel at Randstad’s German branch, says the approach is more efficient and less costly than certain more time-consuming tests. 

Software that analyzes faces for clues to mood, personality or other psychological features is being explored as well. It highlights both what is possible and what to fear.

POSSIBILITIES AND PROBLEMS

In early 2018 four programmers at a hacker conference, nwHacks, introduced an app that discerns mood by analyzing face-tracking data captured from the front camera of the iPhone X. The app, called Loki, recognizes emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger and surprise in real time as someone looks at a news feed, and it delivers content based on the person’s emotional state. In an article about Loki, one of the developers said that he and his colleagues created the app to “illustrate the plausibility of social media platforms tracking user emotions to manipulate the content that gets shown to them.” For instance, when a user engages with a news feed or other app, such software could secretly track the person’s emotions and use this “emotion detector” as a guide for targeting advertising. Studies have shown that people tend to loosen their purse strings when they are in a good mood;advertisers might want to push ads to your phone when you are feeling particularly up.

Astonishingly, Loki took just 24 hours to build. In making it, the developers relied on machine learning, a common approach to automated image recognition. They first trained the program with about 100 facial expressions, labeling the emotions that corresponded to each expression. This training enabled the app to “figure out” how facial expression relates to mood, such as, presumably, that the corners of the mouth rise when we smile.

Kosinski, too, has examined whether automated image-recognition technology can surreptitiously discern psychological traits from digital activity. In an experiment published in 2018, he and his Stanford colleague Yilun Wang fed hundreds of thousands of photographs from a dating portal into a computer, along with information on whether the person in question was gay or straight. They then presented the software with pairs of unknown faces: one of a homosexual person and another of a heterosexual individual of the same sex. The program correctly distinguished the sexual orientation of men 81 percent of the time and of women 71 percent of the time; human beings were much less accurate in their assessments.

Given that gay people continue to fear for their lives in many parts of the world, it is perhaps not surprising that the results elicited negative reactions. Indeed, Kosinski got death threats. “People didn’t understand that my intention wasn’t to show how cool it is to predict sexual orientation,” Kosinski says. “The whole paper is actually a warning, a call for increasing privacy.”

By analyzing 83 measuring points on faces, an algorithm correctly identified the sexual orientation of many men based on their photograph in a dating portal. In addition, the program generated supposedly “archetypal straight” (left) and “archetypal gay” (center) faces and calculated how the facial expressions differed on average (right). The researchers say they conducted the study partly to warn that photographs posted on the Internet could be mined for private data. Credit: Yilun Wang and Michal Kosinski; Source: “Deep Neural Networks Are More Accurate Than Humans at Detecting Sexual Orientation from Facial Images,” by Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang, in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 114, No. 2; February 2018.

In late 2016 computer scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich demonstrated that the personalities of Facebook users can be pinned down more precisely if their likes are coupled with analyses of their profile photograph. Interestingly, the researchers, like many others who use machine-learning software, do not know exactly how the algorithm forms its judgment—for example, whether it relies on such features as a person’s haircut or the formality of the individual’s dress. They are in the dark because machine-learning programs do not reveal the rules they apply in drawing conclusions. The investigators know that the software finds correlations between features in the data and personality but not exactly how it concludes that a man in a photograph is attracted to other men or which characteristics in my e-mail might indicate that I am conscientious and somewhat introverted.

“The image we are often given is that predicting personality is a kind of magic,” says Rasmus Rothe, who was involved in the Swiss study. “But in the final analysis, computer models do nothing other than find correlations.”

The use of facial-recognition technology for analyzing psychology is not merely an object of research. It has been adopted by several commercial enterprises. Israeli company Faception, for example, says it can recognize whether a person has a high IQ or pedophilic tendencies or is a potential terrorist threat.

Even if a correlation is found with a trait, experts have their doubts about the usefulness of such analyses. “All that the algorithms give us are statistical probabilities,” Rothe says. It simply is not possible to identify with certainty whether a person is Mensa material. “What the program can tell us is that someone who looks sort of like you is statistically more likely to have a high IQ. It could easily guess wrong four times out of 10.”

With some applications, incorrect predictions are tolerable. Who cares if Apply Magic Sauce comes to comically erroneous conclusions? But the effect can be devastating in other circumstances. Notably, when the characteristic being analyzed is uncommon, more errors are likely to be made. Even if a company’s computer algorithms were to finger terrorists correctly 99 percent of the time, the false positives found 1 percent of the time could bring harm to thousands of innocent people in populous places where terrorists are rare, such as in Germany or the U.S.

LANGUAGE RECOGNITION AND SUICIDE PREVENTION

Of course, automatic psychological assessments can be used to help people live better. Suicide-prevention efforts are emblematic. Facebook has such an initiative. The company had noticed that users on its platform occasionally announce there that they intend to kill themselves. Some have even live streamed their death. An automatic language-processing algorithm is now programmed to report suicide threats to the social network’s contact checkers. If a trained reviewer determines that a person is at risk, the person is shown support options.

Twitter posts might likewise be worth analyzing, according to Glen Coppersmith, a researcher at Qntfy, a company based in Arlington, Va., that combines data science and psychology to creates technologies for public health. Coppersmith has noted that Twitter messages sometimes contain strong evidence of suicide risk and has argued that their use for screening should be seriously considered.

Taking a different tack, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus in Dresden is using smartphones to measure behavioral changes, looking for those characteristic of severe depression. In particular, it is attempting to determine when patients with a bipolar affective disorder are in a manic or depressive phase (see “Smartphone Analysis: Crash Prevention”).

Even designers of algorithms that are created with good intentions must balance the potential for good against the risk of privacy invasion. Samaritans, a nonprofit organization that aims to help people at risk of suicide in the U.K. and Ireland, found this out the hard way a few years ago. In 2014 it introduced an app that scanned Twitter messages for evidence of emotional distress (for example, “tired of being alone” or “hate myself”), enabling Twitter users to learn whether friends or loved ones were undergoing an emotional emergency. But Samaritans did not obtain the consent of the people whose Tweets were being collected. Criticism of the app was overwhelming. Nine days after the program started, Samaritans shut it down. The Dresden hospital has not made the same mistake: it obtains permission from participants before it monitors their smartphone use.

Automated psychological assessments are becoming a part of the digital landscape. Whether they will ultimately be used mainly for good or ill remains to be seen.

SMARTPHONE ANALYSIS: CRASH PREVENTION

If Jan Smith (a pseudonym) were to spend the morning in bed and miss a class, his absence would definitely sound an alarm. This is because the 25-year-old student has a virtual companion that is pretty well informed about the details of his daily life—when he goes for a walk and where, how often he calls his friends, how long he stays on the phone, and so on. It knows that he sent four WhatsApp messages and two e-mails late last night, one of which contained more than 2,000 keystrokes.

Smith suffers from bipolar disorder, a mental illness in which mood and behavior constantly swing between two extremes. Some weeks he feels so depressed that he can hardly get out of bed or manage the basic tasks of everyday life. Then there are phases during which he is so euphoric and full of energy that he completes projects without seeming to need sleep.

Smith installed a program on his smartphone that records all his activities, including not only phone calls but also his GPS and pedometer readings and when he uses which apps. This information transfers to a server at regular intervals. Smith is taking part in a study coordinated by University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus in Dresden. The goal of the project, known as Bipolife, is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorders. Researchers intend to monitor the smartphones of 180 patients for two years.

They plan to collect moment-to-moment information about each participant’s mental state. Such data should be useful because bipolar patients are often unaware when they are about to have a depressive or manic episode. That was certainly Smith’s experience: “When I was on a high, I threw myself into my work, slept maybe three or four hours, and wrote e-mails to professors at three in the morning. It never occurred to me that this might not be normal. Everyone I knew envied my energy and commitment.”

The smartphone app is meant to send up warning flares. “The transferred data are analyzed by a computer algorithm,” explains Esther Mühlbauer, a psychologist at the Dresden hospital. For example, it recognizes when a participant makes significantly fewer phone calls or suddenly stops leaving the house—or works around the clock, neglecting sleep. “If our program sees that, it automatically e-mails the patient’s psychiatrist,” Mühlbauer says. Then the psychiatrist gets in touch with the patient.

The researchers first have to get a baseline, determining, for example, how particular patients use their cell phones during asymptomatic phases. Then the software notes when the behavior deviates from a patient’s norm so that treatment can be given quickly. Smith finds this monitoring very reassuring: “It means that there is always someone there who looks after my condition,” he says. “This can be a significant support, especially for people who live alone.”—F.L.

MORE TO EXPLORE

Computer-Based Personality Judgments Are More Accurate Than Those Made by Humans. Wu Youyou et al. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 112, No. 4, pages 1036–1040; January 27, 2015.

Psychological Targeting as an Effective Approach to Digital Mass Persuasion. S. C. Matz et al. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 114, No. 48, pages 12,714–12,719; November 28, 2017.

Language-Based Personality: A New Approach to Personality in a Digital World. Ryan L. Boyd and James W. Pennebaker in Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 18, pages 63–68; December 2017.

The Data That Turned the World Upside Down. Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus in Motherboard. Published online January 28, 2017.

Deep Neural Networks Are More Accurate Than Humans at Detecting Sexual Orientation from Facial Images. Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 114, No. 2, pages 246–257; February 2018.

Predicting the Big 5 Personality Traits from Digital Footprints on Social Media: A Meta-Analysis. Danny Azucar et al. in Personality and Individual Differences, Vol. 124, pages 150–159; April 1, 2018.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

Frank Luerweg

Science journalist Frank Luerweg, age 50, fed a part of this article into Apply Magic Sauce. Its algorithm identified him as a 31-year-old, which he took as a compliment.


7
Surly Newz / Doomstead Diner Daily March 18
« Last post by Surly1 on Today at 02:58:45 AM »


Doomstead Diner Daily March 18


The Diner Daily is available HERE with even MORE sections and stories:
http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/news/


News digest brought to you by the Doomstead Diner.


The Pentagon’s Bottomless Money Pit

[url=http://www.rollingstone.com]www.rollingstone.com[/url]- A retired Air Force auditor — we’ll call him Andy — tells a story about a thing that happened at Ogden Air Force Base, Utah. Sometime in early 2001, something went wrong with a base inventory order. …

New Zealand shooting: Prime minister says gun reforms are coming

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Editor's note

The Doomstead Diner is a hub for discussion and information pertaining to the ongoing Economic Collapse of the Industrial Economy. The Diner is the result of many years of discussion and debate on many other forums. At Doomstead Diner, our goal is to collate much of the information we can to assist in planning for the world to come.
8
Surly Newz / Re: The Daily Meme
« Last post by RE on Today at 02:49:31 AM »

Thoughts and prayers, WTF.

Do the math.  Never mind.  I did for you.  In the photo of my blog in progress.  The number works out to 5000.

http://chasingthesquirrel.com/

Are you going to submit it for publication on the Diner?

RE
9
... ONWARD to the Mighty Mississippi goes the water, in it's desperate search for sea level...

Next stops...Kansas City & St. Louis.

RE

https://www.omaha.com/weather/missouri-river-spills-into-hamburg-iowa-other-cities-more-rain/article_2599d630-95a0-55c9-911f-0b2453435236.html

Missouri River spills into Hamburg, Iowa, other cities; more rain could be on the way

    By Nancy Gaarder

    and Ryan Soderlin / World-Herald staff writers
    4 hrs ago


Related Videos:

    Donkey among lucky animals saved from floodwaters

    Levee being overrun with floodwaters near Hamburg, Iowa

    Giant ice chunks propelled by floodwaters wreak havoc

    Water flowing through Gavins Point Dam

    Black Hawk helicopter makes rescue on Elkhorn River

    Offutt Air Force Base hit with heavy flooding

    Governor Ricketts comments on flooding in Nebraska

    Nebraska family rescued from rooftop

    Flooding making a mess of western Iowa

    Floodwaters surrounding Arlington, Nebraska

    Floodwaters impacting homes in Council Bluffs

Levee breaks occurred again Sunday as historic flooding continued in Nebraska, Iowa and nearby states. Conditions won’t be safe until water is off the levees, and that may not happen for days.

On Sunday, the levee overtopped at Hamburg, Iowa, and water flowed into the south end of town, flooding homes, a cafe and other local businesses.

A hastily made earthen berm protected the water plant, as the floodwater continued to slowly rise.

It was the worst flooding in many years, said Lana Brandt, 70.

She said Hamburg is getting help from its neighbors. People from as far away as Omaha have offered to help with sandbags, as have students from nearby towns like Sidney and Tabor.

“We’re an older community, so many of us can’t do sandbags anymore,” she said. “We count on people helping us.”

Brandt, who has lived in Hamburg all her life, noted that the town withstood the 2011 Missouri River flood for months by piling extra dirt on top of the almost 2-mile-long levee on the west side of town. Locals wanted to keep the higher levee, but federal officials said they would have to make about $5.5 million in improvements. That was too costly, so the levee was lowered to its pre-flood height.

“The government made us tear the top off of the levee and bring it down to stump size,” Brandt said. “And so the water’s rushing over the levee now. Whereas, if we had been able to keep that levee, we might have been able to keep our community dry, and we wouldn’t lose businesses and property and crops. This is huge.”
Photos: Major flooding hits Nebraska and Iowa towns
1 of 119

Taylor Parton, 67, who has lived in Hamburg for three years, praised its spirit.

“We all take care of each other,” he said as he looked toward the flooded southern edge of town. “We were all rubbing elbows, bagging sand together, helping each other out.”

The Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday warned that some 210 miles of levees along the Missouri River between Offutt Air Force Base and Leavenworth, Kansas, have been compromised. That stretch touches Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

“The majority of the levee system along the Missouri River south of Omaha continues to deteriorate,” said Col. John Hudson, commander of the Omaha district of the Corps of Engineers. “The bulk of the levees are overtopped or breached.”

Most of the communities at risk have already flooded, Hudson said. Affected cities include Hamburg and Thurman in Iowa and Nebraska City and Brownville in Nebraska.

There are no plans to force a breach in any of the levees as a way of lowering flood levels, corps officials said.

Rain in the forecast

The National Weather Service said rain is moving into the area Monday night into Tuesday. On Monday, forecasters expect to have a good grasp on rainfall amounts, said Kevin Low, a hydrologist at the weather service. Early indications were that rainfall amounts would range from ¼ to ½ of an inch or more, he said. Light snow is also possible.

The forecast places most of the storm track over the watershed that feeds into the Missouri River at St. Joseph, Missouri, he said. The storm is expected to add about 0.1 of a foot to a half-foot of water from St. Joseph to Jefferson City, Missouri.

Gavins Point releases

The large dam that feeds water into the Missouri River continues to lower its releases after peaking at 100,000 cubic feet a second last week. The dam is a pass-through point for water from the Niobrara River.

Releases could be back to relatively normal later this week, according to Corps of Engineers projections.

Northern Plains and mountain snowmelt is expected to begin flowing into the upper Missouri next week. It is likely to result in minor flooding.

John Remus, who oversees the dams for the corps, said mountain and Plains snowpack is normal to slightly above normal and won’t overburden the reservoirs.

The corps has 97 percent of its flood storage space available behind dams, he said.

“We’re in good shape to capture that snowmelt,” Remus said.

A broken Missouri River gauge at Plattsmouth, Nebraska, has been fixed, and the gauge at Brownville, Nebraska, has been recalibrated. It was reading 0.4 of a foot too high, said Kellie Bergman, chief of the hydrologic engineering branch for the corps.

ice threat diminishes

Waterways in eastern Nebraska — the Elkhorn, Loup and Platte Rivers — have begun dropping, but the situation remains dicey, said David Pearson, a hydrologist at the weather service. On Sunday, a levee on the Platte River near North Bend was breached, he said.

“There are still some places that have had water on the levees for a long period of time, so it could just blow through,” Pearson said. Additionally, water continues to pour through holes in some levees, so floodwaters will continue to rise in those areas, he said.

River levels need to drop below the minor flood stage before the flood threat fully subsides, Pearson said.

Most of the ice in rivers has broken up and moved along, Pearson said. The main area of concern for ice jams is along the Elkhorn River upstream of Neligh, Nebraska, Pearson said.

“That’s the only place where we are aware there is quite a bit of ice,” he said. “We’re just not sure of the depth.”

The Missouri River is dropping by the hour, and that has helped, Pearson said.

“Every hour, it gets a little better,” he said.
10
https://wolfstreet.com/2019/03/14/botched-transition-to-cashless-society-would-lead-to-financial-exclusion-and-system-vulnerability-uk-study-warns/

Transition to Cashless Society Could Lead to Financial Exclusion and System Vulnerability, Study Warns
by Don Quijones • Mar 14, 2019 • 68 Comments • Email to a friend   


“Serious risks of sleepwalking into a cashless society before we’re ready – not just to individuals, but to society.”


By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

Ten years ago, six out of every ten transactions in the UK were done in cash. Now it’s just three in ten. And in fifteen years’ time, it could be as low as one in ten, reports the final edition of the Access to Cash Review. Commissioned as a response to the rapid decline in cash use in the UK and funded by LINK, the UK’s largest cash network, the review concludes that the UK is not nearly ready to go fully cashless, with an estimated 17% of the population – over 8 million adults – projected to struggle to cope if it did.

Although the amount of cash in circulation in the UK has surged in the last 10 years from £40 billion to £70 billion and British people as a whole continue to value it, with 97% of them still carrying cash on their person and another 85% keeping some cash at home, most current trends — in particular those of a technological and generational bent — are not in physical money’s favor:

Over the last 10 years, cash payments have dropped from 63% of all payments to 34%. UK Finance, the industry association for banks and payment providers, forecasts that cash will fall to 16% of payments by 2027.

In 2017, there were 13.2 billion debit card payments in 2017, compared to 13 billion cash payments, knocking cash down to second place in the rankings for the first time ever.

The number of LINK ATM cash withdrawals in 2018 fell 5% from 2017, the total value of cash withdrawn fell 3.5%. One obvious reason for this is that ATMs — or cashpoint machines, as they’re termed locally — are disappearing at a rate of around 300 per month, leaving consumers in rural areas struggling to access cash. Banks want to drive consumers toward alternative payment methods that are cheaper and easier for the banks to manage and offer more succulent fees than cash.

The decline in access to ATMs is just the tip of the iceberg. Lessons from Sweden and China suggest that the issue of cash acceptance by merchants and retailers represent an even greater threat than issues around cash access.

Use of contactless cards in the UK grew 99% in 2017, to 4.3 billion payments. It’s particularly popular among the 25-34 age group, as too are mobile payments. By the end of 2017, nearly 119 million contactless cards had been issued in a country of just 66 million people.

Things could soon get even worse for cash. The report identified eight factors that could further dampen its use:

    Increased acceptability of cards.
    Shops and others stop accepting cash.
    Increased use of online shopping.
    Increased use of cards, mobile apps etc on public transport.
    Problems and costs of processing and banking cash for retailers, especially as it becomes less common.
    More of UK covered by broadband and mobile connectivity.
    Accelerated closure of bank branches and ATMs.
    New innovative services that make digital payments even easier, such as biometrics.

By contrast, the authors could only come up with four factors, albeit potentially significant ones, that could drive up cash usage:

    Consumers losing faith in digital payments because of repeated systems failures.
    Increased consumer concern over privacy.
    Significantly negative interest rates.
    Major economic crisis.

Financial Exclusion and System Vulnerability

The UK isn’t alone in facing this challenge of dwindling cash use. Across many advanced economies, from Sweden, Denmark and Finland to the Netherlands, Canada, France, and the United States, cash usage has fallen well below 50%. There are some important exceptions, of course, including Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain, where cash still accounts for over 80% of point of sale purchases.

But where cash usage is falling fastest, major risks are already becoming apparent, including financial exclusion and system vulnerability.

“There are some serious risks of sleepwalking into a cashless society before we are ready – not just to individuals, but to society,” said the review’s chair, former UK financial ombudsman Natalie Ceeney. “We identified risks to the viability of rural communities, the loss of personal independence and increased risks of financial abuse and debt.”

Of respondents to the Review’s survey, 47% said they would struggle to live without cash. While 34% of respondents appeared to be comfortable with the prospect, there is a clear danger of millions of people being left behind, especially the most vulnerable. The elderly are widely perceived as the most reliant on cash, but the authors of the report found that poverty, not age, is the biggest determinant of cash dependency.

There’s also the risk of system vulnerability. Recent IT failures in the UK, from Visa’s day-long outage last June to TSB’s never-ending IT nightmare upgrade, have left chaos in their wake. When a digital or online system goes down cash becomes the automatic fall-back for consumers, since it’s both widespread and works without power or internet. But the less it’s used, the less effective it becomes as a back up. Even now, there’s not enough cash in all the right places to keep a cash economy working for long if digital or power connections go down, warns the report.

“It’s no longer good enough to see cash as just a commercial issue. It needs to be treated as a core part of the UK’s infrastructure,” says Ceeney. “We can’t wait long for action. Once infrastructure has gone, or communities have been harmed, rebuilding is very hard. But if we act now, we can take steps to stop harm happening, and prepare for a world of lower cash, without societal and economic damage.”

To that end, the report makes five recommendations for ensuring cash’s continued survival for the foreseeable future, as well as eventually including everyone in a society where digital payments dominate:

Guarantee consumers access to cash. Consumers should be able to get cash wherever they live or work. Crucially, this is about access to cash, not just access to ATMs, as the authors see “huge potential for new ways of providing cash access which could both widen access and help keep the high street alive.”

Take steps to keep cash accepted, whether by a local coffee shop or a large utility provider. If shops and service providers stop accepting cash, the economics of processing it will collapse. This will trigger a domino effect where the costs for the remaining cash businesses climbs and cash use quickly fades, eventually leaving those who rely on cash excluded from those services. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents said it is a good idea to force businesses to accept cash, while just 24% were opposed.

Implement radical change to the wholesale cash infrastructure. This means transitioning from a commercial model to more of a “utility” approach that can help reduce cash handling costs for businesses and banks, as recently proposed in Sweden.

Government, regulators and the industry must make digital inclusion in payments a priority, ensuring that solutions are designed not just for the 80%, but for 100% of society.

A clear government policy on cash, supported by a joined-up regulatory approach which treats cash as a system.

Even on the off-chance that the UK government and financial regulators will take the recommendations on board and turn them into speedy action, they’re going to have their work cut out given the forces stacked against physical money, including some of the world’s most powerful financial institutions, credit card companies and tech giants. By Don Quijones.

Well-connected investors started smelling a rat 10 months before the first disclosure. Read…  Balance Sheet “Error” Wreaks Havoc on UK’s Fastest Growing, Most Popular Bank
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