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Sunday, June 12th, 2022

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A Letter from the Washington State Supreme Court After the Death of George Floyd (June 2020) (courts.wa.gov)

Dear Members of the Judiciary and the Legal Community:

We are compelled by recent events to join other state supreme courts around the nation in addressing our legal community.

The devaluation and degradation of black lives is not a recent event. It is a persistent and systemic injustice that predates this nation’s founding. But recent events have brought to the forefront of our collective consciousness a painful fact that is, for too many of our citizens, common knowledge: the injustices faced by black Americans are not relics of the past. We continue to see racialized policing and the overrepresentation of black Americans in every stage of our criminal and juvenile justice systems. Our institutions remain affected by the vestiges of slavery: Jim Crow laws that were never dismantled and racist court decisions that were never disavowed.

[...]

I either completely missed when this was published or had forgotten about it, nevertheless, I am thankful to live in a state where the highest court takes a proactive stance on pushing for social change and equality. Washington is far from a perfect state, and it has its share of white supremacy and problematic history (and current reality), but proactiveness like this is what furthers change.

Yesterday I was out with my wife walking around downtown Kent, the town outside of Seattle, I live in. And I was seeing the growing minority communities with a Kenyan restaurant and other Black-American and African migrant places which are finding homes here. It excited me. Growing up in the South I was used to a much more diverse population than what I found when we moved to Seattle, and I am hopeful the diversity will continue to grow.

The letter that I linked was brought to my attention by this article in the Seattle Times, "‘We’re not colorblind’: Two years after George Floyd, WA Supreme Court tries to chart a different path on race" - which highlights both the progress the state is making while citing a recent study which shows that there is still much to be done.

In the two years since their letter, the court has made efforts large and small, symbolic and concrete, trying to move toward a more just legal system. The court has overturned decades-old hateful precedents, with little public notice. It has thrown out laws, vacating tens of thousands of criminal convictions. It has ordered pay raises to thousands of immigrant farmworkers. In many cases, it has moved faster than both the state Legislature and the nation in barring practices that it considered unjust or racially discriminatory.

[...]

A report from Washington’s three law schools, issued last fall, found racial disparities at every level of the criminal legal system, from who gets stopped and searched by police, to who is arrested and convicted, to the length of sentences that are handed out. Advertising

The report did show some areas of improvement. The rate of Black people incarcerated in Washington fell by nearly half from 2005 to 2020, from about 2.5% of the Black population to about 1.3%. But a Black person in Washington is still 4.7 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person.

“Race and racial bias continue to matter in ways that are not fair, that do not advance legitimate public safety objectives, that produce disparities in the criminal justice system, and that undermine public confidence in our legal system,” the report said.

The state also has a truly awful history in its treatment of the first people and tribes of Washington. The article goes on to highlight the work of a lawyer working to right past wrongs by the state for members of tribes exercising rights which should have been protected by the treaties that were signed and then ignored.

So, the battle for justice and rights continues. It won't stop. It can't stop. And it is heartening to see the diversity of the Washington Supreme Court and its desire to do just that.

The Washington state Supreme Court may be the most diverse high court in the country. Among the nine justices there is only one white man. There are seven women, four people of color, three Jewish justices, two lesbians, the court’s first Indigenous justice and a Black immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago.

6/12/2022 8:30 am | |
Tags: black history, black lives matter, george floyd, diversity, washington state, first nations

US Census looking into how to include questions regarding sexuality and gender (seattletimes.com 🗝️)

6/12/2022 9:09 am | |
Tags: us politics, lgbtq

Google's Blake Lemoine Feels Their Latest AI Has Reached Sentience (washingtonpost.com 🗝️)

Two notable excerpts for me:

“I know a person when I talk to it,” said Lemoine, who can swing from sentimental to insistent about the AI. “It doesn’t matter whether they have a brain made of meat in their head. Or if they have a billion lines of code. I talk to them. And I hear what they have to say, and that is how I decide what is and isn’t a person.” He concluded LaMDA was a person in his capacity as a priest, not a scientist, and then tried to conduct experiments to prove it, he said.

As well as this counter perspective:

But when Mitchell read an abbreviated version of Lemoine’s document, she saw a computer program, not a person. Lemoine’s belief in LaMDA was the sort of thing she and her co-lead, Timnit Gebru, had warned about in a paper about the harms of large language models that got them pushed out of Google.

“Our minds are very, very good at constructing realities that are not necessarily true to a larger set of facts that are being presented to us,” Mitchell said. “I’m really concerned about what it means for people to increasingly be affected by the illusion,” especially now that the illusion has gotten so good.

6/12/2022 10:07 am | |
Tags: google, artificial intelligence

How to Future (kk.org)

6/12/2022 10:17 am | |
Tags: futurism

What I'm Thinking About

Perhaps a new regular writing prompt for my blog, but I thought it might be interesting to put down a few things which I've been thinking about a lot:

Complexity

A lot of the problems with today's society, from my view, stem from or are greatly empowered by complexity. The US government, in many ways, has become too complex. Society as a whole has proven it's complex nature and that the complexity does not inherently provide safety when things like the supply chain get interrupted.

Collecting

I've been thinking about the act of collecting things, cataloguing them, and finding joy in them.

Friendships

As with many, I find the nature of modern day friendships and acquiring new friends challenging. Faced with the news of two of my close friends preparing to move away really stirred this up for me.

The Future

Both in a futurist sense, but also in the personal sense. What does the future hold in five, ten, or twenty years.

6/12/2022 10:50 am | |
Tags: thinking about

"Up like a rocket, down like a feather" - A quote I remember my father using in regards to gas prices back in the 90s.

Reading this morning I realized that the gas price movement described above is just a flipped Seneca effect. And I don't think this is limited to gas, it's just the most easily observable in this way.

Seneca, the philosopher, stated in the 1st century AD:

Increases are of sluggish growth but the way to ruin is rapid.

I don't think these are directly related; more of an interesting thought I wanted to share. What is actually going on is corporations take the first opportunity to launch prices up to the max they can, and then will slowly let it fall down as people's willingness to spend dwindles until the next reason to drive prices upward.

6/12/2022 10:58 am | |
Tags: seneca, gas prices, capitalism, economics

GM Daniel Naroditsky to start covering chess for NYT (nytimes.com 🗝️)

6/12/2022 12:39 pm | |
Tags: chess, newspaper

Yes, Democratic Messaging Sucks. But It’s Harder to Fix Than You Think (newrepublic.com)

6/12/2022 7:24 pm | |
Tags: us politics, democrats

Every so often, I go check to see if I can get wifi networking on my laptop. Unfortunately this MSI laptop continues to not have a supported wifi network card in Linux distros. I'm honestly getting close to getting a wifi USB dongle.

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