Monday, May 21, 2018

What the royal family and Donald Trump both understand; CNN, May 21, 2018

; What the royal family and Donald Trump both understand

"At the root of Trump's appeal to his voters is a promise to check the disruptive forces of globalized economics and ethnic diversity that have been remaking the United States in recent decades.

Almost every week brings a new controversy over Trump's approach, from the failure to deal with undocumented migrants brought to the US as kids and his administration's plans for a more selective legal immigration system. 

That's where he and the royals differ. While Harry's bride sees a chance to use ethnicity to reboot the magic of the monarchy, Trump has more often used diversity to divide."

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Achieving Diversity Demands Less Talk and More Action. And Good Intentions Alone Won't Do It.; Entrepreneur, May 1, 2018

Dan Lauer, Entrepreneur; Achieving Diversity Demands Less Talk and More Action. And Good Intentions Alone Won't Do It.

"If you're like me, you probably never heard of inclusion riders until Frances McDormand mentioned them in her Best Actress acceptance speech at the Oscars. But these contract clauses, mandating certain demographic hiring goals for casts and crews at movie shoots, will likely become more ubiquitous as conversations around diversity continue to increase -- in both Hollywood and the wider world.

Still, while the value of diversity has become a staple in everyday dialogue, there has yet to be much real progress to show for it, particularly in the startup space...

Inclusion programs, in short, can be effective. But to truly succeed at these initiatives, a company needs to weave in diversity from the ground up. Here’s how to get started..."

Giving up on ‘diversity and inclusion’; TechCrunch, April 29, 2018

Jon Evans, TechCrunch; Giving up on ‘diversity and inclusion’

"I went to see Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital speak this week. Her remarkable story is pretty well known by now — she “built a venture capital fund from the ground up, while homeless,” to quoteBackstage’s site. She said several interesting things, but let’s start with this one: as of 2019, she will no longer be giving talks on diversity and inclusion.

That may raise eyebrows, given that her fund focuses on funding underrepresented minorities. Her reason, and I’m paraphrasing here but I feel I’ve captured the gist, is that Diversity & Inclusion have become to the tech industry as Human Resources is to a big company; a fig leaf there to protect the status quo, not to improve it.

It’s hard not to agree with her. Companies host D&I events and speakers; hire vice presidents of D&I; organize “diversity training” (which, according to copious evidence, doesn’t work and in fact often backfires.) They talk about diversity. They add diversity slides to their PowerPoint decks. But what do they actually do? I am reminded of Nassim Taleb’s famous dictum: “Don’t tell me what you think, just show me your portfolio.”"

A black man was forced to pay upfront at a Chinese restaurant. He got his meal — and $10,000.; The Washington Post, April 30, 2018

Amy B Wang, The Washington Post; A black man was forced to pay upfront at a Chinese restaurant. He got his meal — and $10,000.

"Hong Shing will also be required to display a poster that says the establishment “respects and follows the letter and spirit of the Ontario Human Rights Code.”"

Sunday, April 29, 2018

At Nike, Revolt Led by Women Leads to Exodus of Male Executives; The New York Times, April 28, 2018

Julie Creswell, Kevin Draper, and Rachel Abrams, The New York Times; At Nike, Revolt Led by Women Leads to Exodus of Male Executives

"Finally, fed up, a group of women inside Nike’s Beaverton, Ore., headquarters started a small revolt.

Covertly, they surveyed their female peers, inquiring whether they had been the victim of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Their findings set off an upheaval in the executive ranks of the world’s largest sports footwear and apparel company.

On March 5, the packet of completed questionnaires landed on the desk of Mark Parker, Nike’s chief executive. Over the next several weeks, at least six top male executives left or said they were planning to leave the company, including Trevor Edwards, president of the Nike brand, who was widely viewed as a leading candidate to succeed Mr. Parker, and Jayme Martin, Mr. Edwards’s lieutenant, who oversaw much of Nike’s global business.

Others who have departed include the head of diversity and inclusion, a vice president in footwear and a senior director for Nike’s basketball division.

It is a humbling setback for a company that is famous worldwide and has built its brand around the inspirational slogan “Just Do It.” While the #MeToo movement has led to the downfall of individual men, the kind of sweeping overhaul that is occurring at Nike is rare in the corporate world, and illustrates how internal pressure from employees is forcing even huge companies to quickly address workplace problems.

As women — and men — continue to come forward with complaints, Nike has begun a comprehensive review of its human resources operations, making management training mandatory and revising many of its internal reporting procedures."

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Marvel’s Champions to Introduce Teenage Inuk Superhero, Snowguard; Comic Book Resources, April 26, 2018

Justin Carter, Comic Book Resources; Marvel’s Champions to Introduce Teenage Inuk Superhero, Snowguard

"For help with Amka’s development, Zub went to Nyla Innuksuk, founder of the VR production company Mixtape, who’s Inuit and grew up in Igloolik and Iqaluit. Innuksuk was initially hesitant upon learning about Zub’s plans to add an Inuit character, but said she appreciated that he came to her early in Snowguard’s development. She was also drawn to the character because she’s not another Indigenous woman portrayed as a victim. “To see a powerful young person who is fighting back against what she sees as wrong has the potential to make a real difference,” Innuksuk said."

Facebook finally explains why it bans some content, in 27 pages; The Washington Post, April 24, 2018

Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tracy Jan, The Washington Post; Facebook finally explains why it bans some content, in 27 pages

"“We want people to know our standards, and we want to give people clarity,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, said in an interview. She added that she hoped publishing the guidelines would spark dialogue. “We are trying to strike the line between safety and giving people the ability to really express themselves.”"

Monday, April 23, 2018

Starbucks won’t have any idea whether its diversity training works; The Washington Post, April 23, 2018

Hakeem Jefferson and Neil Lewis, Jr., The Washington Post; Starbucks won’t have any idea whether its diversity training works

"Without the expertise to know what makes an intervention more or less successful, it is hard to imagine that Starbucks or any other organization stands much of a chance of developing a successful diversity training program that has long-term, sustainable effects on its culture. Moreover, Starbucks claims that it is interested in knowing whether the training program it will implement will be effective. As social scientists, we know firsthand how difficult it is to measure the effects of an intervention, and we wonder who on Starbucks’s team is sufficiently equipped to do this. The track record of those Starbucks has included in its announcement is remarkable, but it is social scientists — not lawyers or activists — who are trained to adequately and rigorously assess whether this intervention works, or if it will join the long list of those that don’t.

The inclusion of social scientists at every stage of the process can make diversity training more than feel-good PR moves that are of little consequence. Yes, engaging the scholarly community will mean that the process will be slower. But as bias expert Brian Nosek said, if Starbucks and its corporate peers think interventions like this are worth doing, they should certainly think that it’s worth doing well."

Monday, April 16, 2018

China's Weibo reverses ban on 'homosexual' content after outcry; The Guardian, April 15, 2018

Lily Kuo, The Guardian; China's Weibo reverses ban on 'homosexual' content after outcry

"One of China’s largest social media sites, Sina Weibo, has reversed a ban on online content “related to homosexuality” after outcry from the country’s internet users.

On Friday, Sina Weibo said that for the next three months it would be removing comics and videos “with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to homosexuality”. The internet company said the initiative was in an effort to “create a sunny and harmonious community environment” and comply with the country’s cybersecurity laws...

Many quoted China’s constitution and laws about the protection of minorities. One internet user referred to article 38 of China’s constitution which maintains that the “personal dignity” of Chinese citizens is “inviolable” and that insult directed against citizens is prohibited.

Others pointed out homosexuality was decriminalised in 1997 and in 2001 removed from the government’s list of mental disorders."

Longing for the freedom not to hide myself; The Washington Post, April 15, 2018

Ria Tabacco Mar, The Washington Post; Longing for the freedom not to hide myself

"Ria Tabacco Mar is counsel of record for Charlie Craig and David Mullins in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Charlie Craig, one of the men that Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Colorado bakery, turned away because they are gay, said something about shopping for a wedding cake that stuck with me: “That day,” he said, “I really let my guard down.”

I knew exactly what Craig meant. Not just because he’s my client but because I keep my guard up most days, too — just like nearly every LGBT person I know."

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Watch: The Best Parts of the X-Men; Parade, April 5, 2018

Parade; Watch: The Best Parts of the X-Men 

"Co-created by Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby in 1963, the X-Men are a group of mutants born with superhuman powers ranging from telepathy, flight and superhuman strength and agility, to the ability to absorb physical characteristics of others. Young X-Men hone their skills with the guidance of Professor Charles Xavier (aka Professor X). Unfortunately, they’re persecuted for being different, even though they fight interstellar battles against evil on the regular. Still, what kid wouldn’t want to attend Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters?

Among the first X-Men were Cyclops, Beast, Ice Man, Angel, Marvel Girl and Magneto. Other legendary heroes include Storm, Wolverine and Rogue. With so many heroes—and villains—in the X-Men universe, each going through their own internal struggle, nearly everyone can find a character to relate to."

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Illuminating the Profession: Women in Copyright; Landslide, A Publication of the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law, March/April 2018

[Kip Currier: The new issue of Landslide magazine, a digital and print publication of the Intellectual Property Law Section of the American Bar Association (ABA), has a fascinating interview of 6 female copyright experts. Ralph Oman, a former U.S. Register of Copyrights (1985-1993) and a copyright law professor at George Washington University Law School, poses intriguing copyright-related questions, of interest to copyright wonks and would-be copyright practitionersfrom the future of copyright in the digital age, to copyright cases that were decided “right” and those decided “wrong”, to “the number one legislative copyright priority in this Congress?”, and more.

Unfortunately, the full article is only available for members of the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law. In my view, this article could and should have been made freely accessible future  to reach a much wider audience and showcase these outstanding and inspiring role models and leaders in copyright law, representing a wide range of sectors and copyright areas. [C'mon ABA, I get that you want to have a paywall for the IP Section of ABA, but how about providing some limited access or a few articles from an issue. The article's called "Illuminating the Profession: Women in Copyright", so why not further that aim by making the article accessible to more people and attracting more women to IP careers?!]

The six copyright luminaries are, in alphabetical order, June Besek; Dale Cendali; Mary Rasenberger; Kate Spelman; Francine Ward; Nancy Wolff. ]


Illuminating the Profession: Women in Copyright
Meet the copyright stars! Get to know some of the outstanding attorneys who practice copyright law."

Monday, March 26, 2018

Sources: Zinke tells employees diversity isn't important; CNN, March 26, 2018

Sara Ganim, CNN; Sources: Zinke tells employees diversity isn't important

"Several employees at the Interior Department have told CNN that Secretary Ryan Zinke repeatedly says that he won't focus on diversity, an apparent talking point that has upset many people within the agency.

Three high-ranking Interior officials from three different divisions said that Zinke has made several comments with a similar theme, saying "diversity isn't important," or "I don't care about diversity," or "I don't really think that's important anymore."

Each time, Zinke followed with something along the lines of, "what's important is having the right person for the right job," or "I care about excellence, and I'm going to get the best people, and you'll find we have the most diverse group anyone's ever had," the sources said."

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Computer science faces an ethics crisis. The Cambridge Analytica scandal proves it.; Boston Globe, March 22, 2018

Yonatan Zunger, Boston Globe; 

Computer science faces an ethics crisis. The Cambridge Analytica scandal proves it.

"Software engineers continue to treat safety and ethics as specialities, rather than the foundations of all design; young engineers believe they just need to learn to code, change the world, disrupt something. Business leaders focus on getting a product out fast, confident that they will not be held to account if that product fails catastrophically. Simultaneously imagining their products as changing the world and not being important enough to require safety precautions, they behave like kids in a shop full of loaded AK-47’s...

Underpinning all of these need to be systems for deciding on what computer science ethics should be, and how they should be enforced. These will need to be built by a consensus among the stakeholders in the field, from industry, to academia, to capital, and most importantly, among the engineers and the public, who are ultimately most affected. It must be done with particular attention to diversity of representation. In computer science, more than any other field, system failures tend to affect people in different social contexts (race, gender, class, geography, disability) differently. Familiarity with the details of real life in these different contexts is required to prevent disaster...

What stands between these is attention to the core questions of engineering: to what uses might a system be put? How might it fail? And how will it behave when it does? Computer science must step up to the bar set by its sister fields, before its own bridge collapse — or worse, its own Hiroshima."

Pitt makes disciplinary moves after department implicated in sex-harassment investigation; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 22, 2018

Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Pitt makes disciplinary moves after department implicated in sex-harassment investigation

"The University of Pittsburgh has disciplined an unspecified number of people associated with its Department of Communication after an investigation found violations of university policy and federal law against gender discrimination. 
The investigation, triggered by past and recent allegations of sexual harassment and sexual relationships between staff and students, “found a consistent pattern in which women were not as valued and respected as their male colleagues,” said a statement by Kathleen M. Blee, the dean of Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences.
“This resulted in an environment in which the inappropriate acts of the few were tolerated by the silence of others,” she acknowledged.
“The investigations revealed failures of systems and failures of character,” her statement added."

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Can Higher Education Make Silicon Valley More Ethical?; Chronicle of Higher Education, March 14, 2018

Nell Gluckman, Chronicle of Higher Education; Can Higher Education Make Silicon Valley More Ethical?

"Jim Malazita, an assistant professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, hopes to infuse ethics lessons into core computer-science courses."...

"Q. You mentioned you’ve been getting some pushback.

A. I’ve had to do a lot of social work with computer-science faculty. The faculty were like, This sounds cool, but will they still be able to move on in computer science? We’re using different, messier data sets. Will they still understand the formal aspects of computing?

Q. What do you tell faculty members to convince them that this is a good use of your students’ time?

A. I use a couple of strategies that sometimes work, sometimes don’t. It’s surprisingly important to talk about my own technical expertise. I only moved into social science and humanities as a Ph.D. student. As an undergraduate, my degree was in digital media design. So you can trust me with this content.

It’s helpful to also cast it in terms of helping women and underrepresented-minority retention in computer science. These questions have an impact on all students, but especially women and underrepresented minorities who are used to having their voices marginalized. The faculty want those numbers up."

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

IBM settles legal dispute with diversity officer hired by Microsoft; IBM, March 5, 2018

Jan Wolfe, Reuters; IBM settles legal dispute with diversity officer hired by Microsoft

"International Business Machines Corp on Monday said it settled a trade secrets lawsuit it brought against its former chief diversity officer who left for a similar job at Microsoft Corp.

The settlement allows Lindsay-Rae McIntyre to begin working at Microsoft in July."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Here’s how Canada can be a global leader in ethical AI; The Conversation, February 22, 2018

The Conversation;    Here’s how Canada can be a global leader in ethical AI

"Putting Canada in the lead

Canada has a clear choice. Either it embraces the potential of being a leader in responsible AI, or it risks legitimating a race to the bottom where ethics, equity and justice are absent.
Better guidance for researchers on how the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedomsrelates to AI research and development is a good first step. From there, Canada can create a just, equitable and stable foundation for a research agenda that situates the new technology within longstanding social institutions.
Canada also needs a more coordinated, inclusive national effort that prioritizes otherwise marginalized voices. These consultations will be key to positioning Canada as a beacon in this field.
Without these measures, Canada could lag behind. Europe is already drafting important new approaches to data protection. New York City launched a task force this fall to become a global leader on governing automated decision making. We hope this leads to active consultation with city agencies, academics across the sciences and the humanities as well as community groups, from Data for Black Lives to Picture the Homeless, and consideration of algorithmic impact assessments.
These initiatives should provide a helpful context as Canada develops its own governance strategy and works out how to include Indigenous knowledge within that.
If Canada develops a strong national strategy approach to AI governance that works across sectors and disciplines, it can lead at the global level.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ruth Simmons on Cultivating the Next Generation of College Students; New York Times, February 28, 2018

Marguerite Joutz, New York TimesRuth Simmons on Cultivating the Next Generation of College Students

"In 2012, after a distinguished career in higher education, which included serving as the president of Smith College and Brown University — where she was the first black woman to lead an Ivy League institution — Ruth J. Simmons retired and moved back to her home state, Texas.

She didn’t think she’d ever work at a university again. But after several years, Prairie View A&M University, a historically black school with about 9,000 students, came calling...

M.J.: You’ve led several institutions that are all very different from each other, and the topic of leadership is something you’ve talked a lot about. In another interview with The Times you said that it’s much easier to lead people “if you convey the underlying principles.” Can you elaborate?

R.S.: One thing that I’ve learned is that the perceptions of what it takes to be a leader are often based on prototypical models that don’t have much truth in reality. People look at the institutions that I have led and they see dissimilarities. I see similarities. When people think in terms of leadership, they’re often thinking about the kind of specific skills needed for different types of enterprises. I think of leadership as more of a disposition — the ability to step into a situation to learn about the history of the enterprise, the opportunities that it faces, the culture that exists and the people who are served by it. To look at all of that, to listen to stakeholders and then to think about how that enterprise or institution should best be served. There is no one model of leadership if you approach it that way. What I have tried to do wherever I go is to start where the institution is rather than try to import particularly rigid constructs from other places. In that sense, I think a leader is more than anything else a facilitator. A person who is able to come in to show a community a picture of what it is, to provide some insight into what it could be — how it could be different or improved perhaps — and then enlist the help of people who are there and others who support that institution in order to move forward together.

I don’t subscribe to the model of hero leadership, which is identifying somebody who can come in and have magical powers and then wield the wand and fix things that have not been fixable before. I don’t see that. I think leadership is a community affair."

Why I'm Writing Captain America And why it scares the hell out of me; The Atlantic, February 2018

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic; Why I'm Writing Captain America

"Finally, but most importantly, I have to thank the black comic creators I admired as a youth, often without even knowing they were black—Christopher PriestDenys CowanDwayne McDuffie, specifically—without whom none of this would be possible. There has long been a complaint among black comic creators that they are restricted to black characters. I don’t know what it means to live in a world where people restrict what you write, and the reason I don’t know is largely because of the sacrifices of all those who were forced to know before me. I have not forgotten this.
Captain America #1 drops on the Fourth of July. Excelsior, family."

Conservative Groups Want ‘Harmful’ LGBT Books Segregated at Iowa Library; Daily Beast, February 24, 2018

Tatyana Bellamy-Walker, Daily Beast; Conservative Groups Want ‘Harmful’ LGBT Books Segregated at Iowa Library

"Conservative groups in Iowa are demanding a library in Orange City shelve LGBTQ materials, including books and DVDs, separately to everything else, claiming they could "harm" children.

The groups equate the reading of such books to drug use and eating Tide pods."

The Iceman Cometh Out; New York Times. February 19, 2018

Stephanie Burt, New York Times; The Iceman Cometh Out

"Superhero comics address, and empower, straight white nerdy boys. That’s been true of most comics, for most of their history. But is it the genre’s central truth? For some of us, it never was. As Ramzi Fawaz, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has pointed out, superhero comics are the only popular genre in which anomalous bodies are not just tolerated but celebrated: The same thing that makes you look weird means you can save the world. Moreover, comics — because they involve stories of human (and superhuman) conflict and change; because they show hand-drawn pictures, with stylized faces; because they often appeal to us first in childhood — invite identification: We read them in search of ourselves, or our future selves.

These facts about comics explain — in part — why the X-Men became the most successful superhero franchise of the 1980s. Mutation, the source of X-powers, could stand, well or badly, for stigmatized real-world identities, as well as for the outsider status most kids, at some point, feel. The best X-books integrated real-world diversity too. Under Chris Claremont (who wrote many of them from 1975 to 1991) the core cast included a few women of color, one of them a virtual god, along with very strong hints of queer sexuality. More than almost any other gaudy bang-pow-pop cultural property, X-books offered — then and since — an imaginative space where L.G.B.T. readers could feel at home."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

'Access+Ability' exhibit showcases designs for, and by, those with disabilities; CNN, February 21, 2018

Erin Gabriel, CNN; 'Access+Ability' exhibit showcases designs for, and by, those with disabilities

"Eye-catching objects designed for, and by, people with physical and other disabilities are the focus of the current "Access+Ability" exhibition in New York.

More than 70 exhibits, including colorful prosthetic leg covers and jeweled earrings that are also hearing aids, are featured as examples of "inclusive design" at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

"There has been a surge of design with and by people with a wide range of physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities," according to the museum's website.

The new exhibit -- like the museum itself -- aims to reflect that trend. "This year Cooper Hewitt embarked on a very ambitious initiative about accessibility, about making our campus, our program, who we are, much more accessible and it seemed like the perfect moment to do the exhibition 'Access + Ability,' " said Cara McCarty, the museum's curatorial director."

Read Ryan Coogler’s Heartfelt Thank You to Black Panther Fans; Comic Book Resources, February 21, 2018

Geoff Miller, Comic Book Resources; Read Ryan Coogler’s Heartfelt Thank You to Black Panther Fans

"Black Panther took the world by storm on its way to a historic opening weekend, and director Ryan Coogler has now shared his heartfelt thoughts on the film’s resounding success.

“I am struggling to find the words to express my gratitude at this moment, but I will try,” the filmmaker wrote in a letter posted on Twitter by Marvel Studios. “Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong. It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film. But to see people of all backgrounds wearing clothing that celebrates their heritage, taking pictures next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the lobbies of theaters often moved me and my wife to tears.”"

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Why Wakanda matters; Washington Post, February 20, 2018

Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post; Why Wakanda matters

"“Identity is not dead, as the incredibly identitarian Trump administration has made quite clear,” wrote my colleague Christine Emba, hailing the film as a “black triumph.” “Because of, and in spite of, an increasingly divided racial climate, the representation of people of color in broader spaces matters.”

"We’re in a political moment where the president of the United States calls people from Haiti and Africa, he calls those countries ‘s---holes,’ ” Narcisse told The Post. “If you’re a young person hearing that … you need to see a superhero that’s smart, cunning and noble who also looks like you. Granted, it’s fiction, but superheroes have always had an aspirational aspect to them.”

In the end, “Black Panther” delivers a pointed message of inclusion, a call to build “bridges” — not “walls” — to move beyond a past of violence and injustice."