A collection, with occasional commentary.

The White House’s ‘AI Bill of Rights’ outlines five principles to make artificial intelligence safer, more transparent and less discriminatory

To improve the safety and effectiveness of AI, the first principle suggests that AI systems should be developed not only by experts, but also with direct input from the people and communities who will use and be affected by the systems. Exploited and marginalized communities are often left to deal with the consequences of AI systems without having much say in their development. Research has shown that direct and genuine community involvement in the development process is important for deploying technologies that have a positive and lasting impact on those communities.

This is a role that civil society can take; making sure the communities they serve are reflected in this data that is used to train AI and how that training plays out. The difficulty, of course, is how to facilitate that engagement.

#civilsociety #democracy

The other thing that struck me was that the bean man had been making this Saturday crack-of-dawn drive, and usually another Sunday drive to another city market, for decades. He was one of the originals still at the market. He was an Eastern Shore truck farmer, he sold the only fresh beans around — cannellini, Navy beans, red beans, black beans, October beans, lima beans, Dixie butter beans, speckled beans, black-eyed peas — and in the spring, oh my goodness, he sold fresh peas. That is, he had something that the Baltimore of all colors and incomes loved, he could make a living at it, it was good to do, he did it, he never stopped.

From The Last Word On Nothing | In Praise of the Bean Man via

#commonplace #grind

One thing we all should’ve learned from the public hearings of the January 6 select committee is that almost nothing is spontaneous anymore. Dig deep enough, and you’ll find someone organizing these “spontaneous” events (as well as someone bankrolling them). In any case, Reuters found examples of this occasionally criminal behavior all over the country. Most of the incidents ran on the same rails.

From Fumbling for Democracy


When I’m not writing, I’m often surfing. Something most non-surfers don’t realize is that surfing is mostly waiting. You paddle out and then wait for the right wave to roll in. When a promising set rears up out of the deep, you try to catch it. If you hesitate, even for a moment, you’ll either miss the wave or, worse, get sucked over the falls as it breaks. To catch a wave, you have to fully commit.

I suspect the same principle is at work when writing about something changes your mind. The brain is an intricate, sparkling, densely interconnected maze—an easy place for ideas to hide in vague generalities. But writing forces you to commit to specifics as surely as surfers must commit to waves. Seeing an idea reveal itself on the page, you may find yourself entranced or repulsed or inspired by its specificity, its naked meaning.

From Writing is a Tool for Making New Ideas – Every

#writing #commonplace

Lynn’s songs defied societal expectations by connecting her musical representations of working-class and rural women to broader social issues affecting women across the U.S.

She aimed for her music to articulate the fears, dreams and anger of women living in a patriarchal society. It railed against those who idealized women’s domestic roles and demonized outspoken feminists.

From Loretta Lynn was more than a great songwriter – she was a spokeswoman for white rural working-class women

#LorettaLynn #Music

What was the ocean like? I couldn’t tell him. The sea was too big, and my bucket was so small. Also, it had a hole. I put my hand on the back of his calf. It seemed like my best available answer.

From Bewilderment by Richard Powers


Cover of Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli is a beautiful, beautiful novel. Two sound engineers, one a documentarian and the other a documentarist, travel across country with their two children from previous marriages. The book captures and archives and arranges for the sake of memory. It unfolds stories — made up histories, real histories, and current events against a backdrop of geography and family inventing itself and unbundling.

Please read this book.

Logistics: Checked out from the Berkeley Public Library and listened to on walks, and sitting on the front porch so the walk could last longer. Book 12 finished 24 March.

#read2022 #ValeriaLuiselli

When we communicate, the real issue isn’t how many bits of information are available. Instead, I think there are three forces at work:

Are we using all the information we can? (The baker can choose how the store smells and how the display looks).

Are we showing up with permission, in the right moment?

Is there a path to emotional connection and trust?

From The resolution of communication


The cover of We by Yevgeny Zamyati

We by Yevgeny Zamyati was written in the early 1920s. The book and the author was attacked by the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers. Zamyati ended up leaving Russia, dying in Paris in the late 30s. The book was a Christmas present from Erica. She found it on a shelf of bookseller recommendations. The billing as a seminal and influential work of science fiction sold her. It’s prescient in the way Trump had so many of saying Parable of the Sower is prescient.

It’s a political novel. The abandonment of the soul for the all knowing regimentation of the state. It is warning of the dangerous future ahead. The one person who discovers a core, a soul that makes him different. The conflict at all levels that creates. You can see Metropolis — which is broadly contemporary, 1984, of course, and the mass weddings and cults of the late 70s. It is a fantastic read an feels so weird with the new version of the Russian state playing out in front of us now.

Other perspectives: 1. From George Orwell 2. Masha Gessen for the New Yorker

Logistics: I read the mass market paperback copy — my favorite format for any science fiction novel — in bed. It went slow. Sometimes only a page before falling asleep, sometimes rereading what I’d read the day before. And then it went all at once, finishing it on the front sofa, not even music playing. Book 11 finished 18 March.

#read2022 #YevgenyZamyati

The cover of Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

I found Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham scrolling through available audio books on Libby. Like almost everyone else, I watched the miniseries. And from that I had a picture of what happened. This book filled in the shadows. It showed people with belief in a system where systemic issues — cost cutting, unrealistic delivery schedules, quotas — undermined everything. Especially when inside a system that seems opposite of learning.

Other perspectives:

  1. Jennifer Szalai for the New York Times
  2. Sunil Dasgupta for Washington Independent Review of Books

Logistics: Checked out from my local library on audio and listened to while walking. It was interrupted by the availability of Peril, so I read it in two segments. Book 10 finished 16 March.

#read2022 #AdamHigginbotham

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.