Blog Rolls

New on LLRX – Online Research Browsers 2019

Via LLRXOnline Research Browsers 2019Marcus Zillman’s guide highlights multifaceted browser alternatives to mainstream search tools that researchers may regularly use by default. There are many reliable yet underutilized applications that facilitate access to and discovery of subject matter specific documents and sources. Free applications included here also offer collaboration tools, resources to build and manage repositories, to employ data visualization, to create and apply metadata management, citations, bibliographies, document discovery and data relationship analysis.

Categories: Law and Legal

OPM-GSA merger plan detailed in legislative proposal – vests power over personnel service in presidential appointee “The White House is proposing legislation for a dramatic overhaul of human resources inside the government and wants $50 million to execute the plan. The administration is looking to move the Office of Personnel Management’s functions and resources to a service inside the General Service Administration, alongside real estate management and acquisition. A new policy shop — Office of Federal Workforce Policy — would be set up inside the White House with its director reporting to the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. Acting OPM chief and OMB Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert previewed the plan at a press conference earlier this week. The immediate impetus for the plan, Weichert said, comes from a $70 million shortfall resulting from the move of the National Background Investigative Bureau to the Department of Defense, but the merger of the two departments has been long contemplated in the Trump administration’s reorganization plans.

The legislative proposal includes moving all the rulemaking authority formerly vested in OPM to the OMB director and envisions that power being delegated to the GSA administrator.

The management authority once belonging to OPM would also devolve to the GSA administrator under the proposal. GSA’s new Personnel Service would be led by a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed official. The current OPM deputy administrator position would cease to be a Senate-confirmed post…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Rand Report – News in a Digital Age

News in a Digital Age – Comparing the Presentation of News Information over Time and Across Media Platform – “The media ecosystem in the United States has experienced rapid techno-logical changes over the past 30 years that have affected the way news is produced, consumed, and disseminated. This internally funded report seeks to assess empirically whether and how presentation of news in newspapers, television, and online has changed in light of these devel-opments. We use RAND-Lex, a suite of RAND Corporation tools that combine text analysis and machine learning, to explore changes in news presentation over time and across platforms. It considers the implications of observed changes and of areas in which reporting has stayed the same. The report will be of interest to journalists, those who study news media and mass communication, and consumers who want to understand more about the media ecosystem and how it has evolved.This report is one of a series focused on the topic of Truth Decay, defined as the diminishing role that facts, data, and analysis play in today’s political and civil discourse. The original report, Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life by Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich, was published in January 2018 and laid out a research agenda for studying and developing solutions to the Truth Decay challenge.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Why the Guardian is changing the language it uses about the environment

From now, house style guide recommends terms such as ‘climate crisis’ and ‘global heating’ – “We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.” “Increasingly, climate scientists and organisations from the UN to the Met Office are changing their terminology, and using stronger language to describe the situation we’re in,” she said. The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, talked of the “climate crisis” in September, adding: “We face a direct existential threat.” The climate scientist Prof Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a former adviser to Angela Merkel, the EU and the pope, also uses “climate crisis”. In December, Prof Richard Betts, who leads the Met Office’s climate research, said “global heating” was a more accurate term than “global warming” to describe the changes taking place to the world’s climate. In the political world, UK MPs recently endorsed the Labour party’s declaration of a “climate emergency”.

The scale of the climate and wildlife crises has been laid bare by two landmark reports from the world’s scientists. In October, they said carbon emissions must halve by 2030 to avoid even greater risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. In May, global scientists said human society was in jeopardy from the accelerating annihilation of wildlife and destruction of the ecosystems that support all life on Earth…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Face It, You’re Being Watched

“San Francisco is the first American city to ban facial recognition software used by police and other agencies. Bloomberg QuickTake  [YouTube] explains why the technology’s advance is so alarming to regulators, the public, and even the people developing it.”

See also: Government Is Using Most Vulnerable People to Test Facial Recognition Software; GAO Report – Facial Recognition Technology; and Yes, Americans can opt-out of airport facial recognition – and it is not easy.

Categories: Law and Legal

What happened to the MSPB?

U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board Congressional Budget Justification FY 2020: “Over the last year, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB or Board) has worked to improve the effectiveness and long-term impact of its missions function in response to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) memorandum M-17-22, “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce.”… If the President’s Budget Request of $42,265,500—which represents a 10% cut to our FY 2019 funding level—is enacted, MSPB will have to cut its workforce since personnel costs represent approximately 80% of our budget. Additionally, this will affect performance results for: (1) average processing time for both initial appeals and petitions for review (PFR); (2) the scope and number of merit system studies produced; (3) MSPB’s review of OPM’s significant actions and rules and regulations; (4) conducting outreach; (5) internal program evaluation; (6) our ability to conduct surveys in support of merit systems studies and reports, obtaining customer feedback; (7) our critical IT modernization efforts; and (8) a potential relocation of our Washington, D.C.Headquarters as a result of lease expiration. All of these issues are overshadowed by the backlog of approximately 2,000 PFRs before the Board due to the lack of quorum since January 2017…” [emphasis added]

Categories: Law and Legal

Robert Smith Pledges To Pay Off Student Loans For Morehouse College's Class of 2019

The billionaire founder of investment firm Vista Equity Partners made the surprise announcement in front of roughly 400 students while delivering the college's commencement address on Sunday.

(Image credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

This economics journal only publishes results that are no big deal

Vox – Most new publications, upon their launch, seek to promote their content as novel, surprising, exciting. A new journal that began publishing this week does … the opposite of that. “Start with the name: Series of Unsurprising Results in Economics (SURE). The journal publishes papers with findings that are, well, really boring — so boring that other journals rejected them just for being boring. Its first paper, published Tuesday, is about an education intervention that was found to have no effects at all on anything. But before you close this tab, hear me out. SURE is actually far from boring, even if the papers it publishes are guaranteed to be, as the name implies, unsurprising. In fact, it’s a pretty big deal, and a significant step toward fixing a major problem with scientific research.

SURE exists to fight “publication bias,” which affects every research field out there. Publication bias works like this: Let’s say hundreds of scientists are studying a topic. The ones who find counterintuitive, surprising results in their data will publish those surprising results as papers. The ones who find extremely standard, unsurprising results — say, “This intervention does not have any effects,” or, “There doesn’t seem to be a strong relationship between any of these variables” — will usually get rejected from journals, if they bother turning their disappointing results into a paper at all. That’s because journals like to publish novel results that change our understanding of the field. Null results (where the researchers didn’t find anything) or boring results (where they confirm something we already know) are much less likely to be published. And efforts to replicate other people’s papers often aren’t published, either, because journals want something new and different…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Where is the Truth?

Who What Why: At a time when the American public seems to be more ignorant than ever, the tools of deception have become more sophisticated  “We live in an age of scams that trick the senses. Photos can be altered, films and videos can be manipulated to an exquisite degree of realism. Malware can add images of nonexistent cancerous lymph nodes to CT scans. Artificial intelligence can generate photorealistic images of people who do not even exist. Videos appear to show someone saying things in a speech they never said. Voice simulators can fool your nearest relative into thinking that’s you on the phone asking for $500 to spring you from a Turkish prison.

And then there are the sophisticated tools of psychological manipulation.The human sock puppets. The trolls who control the internet. The CIA, with its department of perception management and its assets in the media. The unlimited supply of bribable witnesses who will swear to anything. And those who manufacture scandals, like the conservative activists who tried to frame presidential candidate Peter Buttigieg for sexual assault. The paid audiences, like those for hire from companies such as Crowds on Demand, who surround politicians with canned adoration. The manufacturers of false claims that genuine protesters — even children who survived mass shootings — are just paid actors.

All of this chicanery has three main effects: First, much of it does the job it was intended to do, fooling all kinds of people, from rubes to rascals… Second, knowledge that such things go on makes it easier to believe what you want…Third, and this is the most disturbing of all, those who are savvy about these fancy tools are actually ignorant in their own way — because they often don’t know the truth when they see it…”

Categories: Law and Legal

President Trump's Golf Scores Hacked On U.S. Golf Association Account

The awful scores of 101, 100, 108 and 102 were posted to Trump's USGA-administered handicap system on Friday, according to Golfweek.

(Image credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Legendary Comic Sammy Shore, Co-Founder Of The Comedy Store, Dies At 92

Shore died on Saturday surrounded by his family, his son announced on Twitter. The Comedy Store went on to become a hotbed for famous performers like David Letterman and Robin Williams.

(Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Cirque du Soleil)

Categories: Just News

Biden Eschews Anger, Hoping 'Unity' Can Lift Him To The Presidency

The former vice president, who saw Barack Obama win twice on a unifying message, is betting that will win out over anger. Will that be enough for Democrats, who feel they have good reason to be angry?

(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

How Vietnamese Americans Took Over The Nails Business: A Documentary

If you got a manicure lately, chances are your nail salon was run by Vietnamese entrepreneurs. In Nailed It, director Adele Free Pham investigates how refugees built a multi-billion dollar industry.

(Image credit: Adele Pham/Courtesy of 'Nailed It')

Categories: Just News

Deported After Living In The U.S. For 26 Years, He Navigates A New Life In Mexico

After losing protections under the DACA program, Gilberto Olivas-Bejarano was deported to his birth country. In the Mexican city of León, far from his former life, he says he has much to offer.

(Image credit: Alicia Vera for NPR)

Categories: Just News

Billion-Dollar Gamble: How A 'Singular Hero' Helped Start A New Field In Physics

In the 1970s, Rich Isaacson was presented with what seemed a crazy idea: using lasers to detect gravitational waves. It became the biggest project the National Science Foundation had ever funded.

(Image credit: Ryan Kellman/NPR)

Categories: Just News

The Mystifying Case of the Missing Planets

Wired Top Stories - Sun, 05/19/2019 - 08:00
There's a puzzling lack of planets slightly bigger than Earth, which is making astronomers rethink how planets form in the first place.
Categories: Just News

12 Best Android Phones of 2019 (New, Unlocked, and Cheap)

Wired Top Stories - Sun, 05/19/2019 - 08:00
Wonder what the absolute best Android phone is right now? We have the answer, and some alternatives, including Google Pixel, OnePlus, Samsung Galaxy, LG, Moto, and more.
Categories: Just News

In France, The #MeToo Movement Has Yet To Live Up To Women's Hopes

"The excuse we hear in France is that we have the French seduction type. ... it's in our culture and our tradition and blah, blah, blah," says a former member of parliament.

(Image credit: Francois Mori/AP)

Categories: Just News


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