Monday, July 24, 2017

Manning Up Monday

"A 50-year-old professor and mother in Tuscaloosa, Ala. A 19-year-old woman in Toledo, Iowa. A 48-year-old man who lives in Seattle. All received free men’s razors from Gillette, along with wishes for a happy 18th birthday and a welcome to manhood — an amusing marketing misfire by the Boston-based company. “It came with a little booklet that says, ‘Your first shave won’t make you a man but your first real shave will get you pretty darn close,’ ” said Jennifer Greer, the Alabama professor. When she saw the package was meant for her, she thought it was hilarious. “Clearly, they have some bad algorithms or data set where they’ve misidentified someone in my household as a teenage boy,” she said. Gillette has mailed razors to young men since the 1990s. It will send out more than 2 million this year as it places more emphasis than ever on introductory marketing, often earning appreciative social media posts. Kody Meyer, a 19-year-old student in Iowa, said she got a razor last month, the second year in a row that has happened. “I kind of understand because Kody isn’t exactly the most feminine name and I’ve had a lot of miscommunications, like being invited to a lot of football camps,” said Meyer. Gillette declined to disclose the data sources it uses to identify potential customers. Bret Dodson, a 48-year-old in Seattle who works in cancer research, posted to Facebook about receiving the package on June 27, joking that the company was “only 30 and a half years late.”

Time to put your necklace on:

"Cool jewels — these necklaces help the wearer beat the heat" by Natasha Mascarenhas Globe Correspondent  July 16, 2017

Sam White developed a reliable technology to help 25,000 dairy farmers in India keep their milk cool. So, he figured, how hard could it be to help his wife keep cool, too?

White is an entrepreneur who cofounded Greentown Labs Inc., the incubator space for clean energy startups in Somerville, and then moved to India, where his company, Promethean Power Systems Inc., developed an innovative refrigeration system.

While living in India for three years, White’s wife suffered from the “unbearable” heat in Mumbai, he said. It inspired him to create a personal cooling system based on refrigeration technology that White packaged in jewelry — a kind of necklace of ice cubes.

The Nano-Ice Cooling Necklace uses plastic orbs filled with a proprietary liquid that White said produces longer-lasting ice than plain water.

“It’s amazing, it feels like ice around your neck,” said Lea Grossman, a 72-year-old Brookline resident who bought White’s necklace when she met him at her local farmers market two years ago. “It’s not too much, and the moment you feel cooler, just take it off!”

A Kickstarter campaign in 2015 raised more than $15,000, and White now makes the necklaces in Ipswich and sells them for $49. He expected the necklaces would be a work accessory, especially for janitors or chefs who work in uncomfortable environments. But comments on his Kickstarter campaign suggested a bigger audience: women going through menopause and patients with multiple sclerosis or cancer.

“Heat is the kryptonite for any autoimmune system, so that’s why this necklace works so well,” he said.

His invention is similar to a cooling necklace developed in 2011 by a New York woman that is a more fashionable take on the same idea.

The “pearls” in the Hot Girls Pearls necklace are made of the same plastic used in motorcycle helmets and filled with nontoxic gel commonly found in ice packs. Weighing about 6 ounces, they sell for $70 to $90.

“When I saw it for the first time, I laughed really hard,” said Hot Girls Pearls founder Constance Sherman, who has since moved to Florida. “And then I ordered one for me, and one for my patent attorney.”

After first wishing White’s invention would “die a natural ugly death,” Sherman cooled off and realized the market is big enough for both types, she said. Her product is decidedly aimed at women, while the bulkier one from White is a unisex model. Sherman’s necklace provides about one hour of cooling, White’s about two.

“In fact, we do have two different finished products, and different audiences, as well. The most important thing is that if we help people feel more comfortable in their skin, there’s room for both,” he said.

Sherman was inspired to make the necklace when medicine she took after a surgery made her feel like an “inferno.”

“I made something that’s beautiful and wearable, and I’ve sold well over 100,000 pieces,” Sherman said.

White got the idea for the necklace when he was working with Olin College, the engineering school in Needham, to help dairy farmers in India, where diesel generators to power cooling equipment are expensive. The proprietary liquid helped to substantially increase how much milk could be cooled with the refrigeration systems Promethean Power developed for rural farming villages.

Watching his wife struggle with the heat at home, White wrapped his plastic orbs in cloth, and froze them.

“She came up to me the next day and said the cooling effect lasted for hours. She loved it,” he said. “And so I immediately thought I have to share this.”

A necklace soon emerged as the most practical way to package the cooling technology for everyday use. While the plastic orbs are dressed up in brightly colored cloth, White’s Nano-Ice necklace isn’t designed to look like evening wear.

“Mine targets more of a utilitarian technology rather than something quaint and beautiful,” White said. “The core of this is the technology, and secondarily aesthetic.”

Plus, he added, “beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.”


Here is another kind of necklace:

"Facebook is fighting a court order that blocks it from telling users if law enforcement asks to search their online information, particularly their political comments. Facebook is arguing in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals that the order violates First Amendment protections of the company and individuals. The US attorney’s office declined to comment. Many documents have been sealed in the case, and hearings closed. References in court documents that have been made public suggest the search warrants in question relate to demonstrations during President Trump’s inauguration, when more than 200 people were charged with rioting, The Washington Post said. For the last half of 2016, Facebook reported 41,000 requests for information from the government and said it provided data in 83 percent of the cases."

Good thing I live in Massachusetts:

"Power to seize phone, Net records is a ‘sanctioned fishing expedition,’ critics say" by Michael Levenson Globe Staff  July 16, 2017

When prosecutors first pushed for the power to seize telephone and Internet records themselves, bypassing the need for a judge to approve a warrant, they argued the power was necessary to help them quickly track down missing children and sexual predators.

But records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show prosecutors have used that significant subpoena power hundreds of times a year in routine investigations related to larceny, check fraud, assault, and other common crimes.

Just like we were told the cameras were only to catch terrorists before they started handing out the traffic tickets.

The explosion in the use of these administrative subpoenas, as they are formally known, has alarmed civil libertarians, who point out that, under the law, the targets do not have to be criminal suspects and are generally unaware that law enforcement is tracking their phone logs and online histories.


The law allows prosecutors to issue the subpoenas as long as they have “reasonable grounds to believe” the records “are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.” Unlike for a warrant issued by a judge, prosecutors do not need to present evidence that there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, and no independent arbiter oversees the process.

“It’s a sanctioned fishing expedition tool,” said Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “It shouldn’t be easy for law enforcement to dig around in our communications records, and find out who we’re talking to, and for how long, and be able to strip us of our anonymity online, simply by signing a piece of paper.”

Prosecutors argue the subpoenas are a critical tool to help investigators move quickly. They point out that the subpoenas allow them to obtain call logs, the names of telephone subscribers, and the IP addresses and names associated with social media and e-mail accounts, which can allow them to find a user’s physical location. Prosecutors cannot, under the law, obtain the contents of telephone calls, text messages, or e-mails.

“Administrative subpoenas enable us to build probable cause in the early stages of investigations into serious cases like human trafficking, child pornography, and drug trafficking,” said Chloe Gotsis, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Maura Healey. “Without them, we would not be able to successfully pursue many of our cases.”

Prosecutors were granted the power to issue administrative subpoenas under a 2008 state law called An Act Further Protecting Children. District attorneys and then-attorney general Martha Coakley pushed for the law — which also toughened penalties for child rapists — saying it would help them locate missing children and combat cybercrime.

But the ACLU has long been concerned that there is no independent oversight to prevent the law from being abused. In one case cited by the group, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley issued a subpoena in 2011 to find the subscriber information for several Twitter handles and for anyone who used the hashtag #BostonPD after the police removed an Occupy Boston encampment in Dewey Square.

Conley’s office said the records were needed to investigate the hacker group Anonymous, which was stealing data and attempting to intimidate law enforcement officers. But the ACLU argued the subpoena could net any Twitter users who criticized police and used the #BostonPD hashtag. Conley’s office later narrowed the subpoena to two specific Twitter handles, but no indictments ever resulted from the investigation.

To shed more light on the issue, the ACLU recently asked Healey and the state’s 11 district attorneys how many administrative subpoenas they issued between 2014 and 2016, and the types of investigations for which they were needed.

District attorneys Thomas M. Quinn of Bristol County and David E. Sullivan of the Northwestern District did not respond to the request.

Conley, Michael W. Morrissey of Norfolk County, Anthony D. Gulluni of Hampden County, and Jonathan W. Blodgett of Essex County declined to provide data, saying they did not track their use of the subpoenas or would not release the information because it relates to investigations and is therefore exempt from the public records law. As a result, for six district attorneys, almost nothing is known about how many people were targeted, and for what purpose.

All that tyrannical secrecy in deep blue, liberal Ma$$achu$etts!!!!!

Four other district attorneys disclosed a limited amount of data. But Healey and Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan turned over a large trove of information that revealed how frequently the subpoenas are used.

Ryan’s office said it issued more than 2,400 over the last three years, while Healey’s office said it sent more than 1,200 during the period.

Healey’s office did not disclose all of the criminal matters involved but said some were related to human trafficking, child sex abuse, larceny, and drugs.

Ryan’s office said the subpoenas were used to investigate crimes ranging from annoying calls and destruction of property to stabbing and rape of a child.

District Attorney Michael O’Keefe of the Cape and Islands, who issued 450 subpoenas over the last three years, said his prosecutors used them most frequently to investigate homicides, unattended deaths, and drug crimes. He said investigators cannot always wait for a judge or grand jury to approve a search warrant.

“You might lose some valuable time in the initial stages of the investigation, so the use of the administrative subpoena moves things along fairly quickly,” he said. 

That's why the cops shoot citizens, or so I was told.

Senator Cynthia S. Creem, a Newton Democrat, said she is frustrated that prosecutors initially told lawmakers the subpoenas were needed to protect vulnerable children from predators.

“We were promised that it was limited, and that immediacy required it,” Creem said. “It seems like they took a tool that was voted for one purpose, and used it for their own purposes, and that’s not how it works.”

Actually, that IS how IT works in this bastion of leftist fascism!!

Creem has filed a bill that would limit the use of administrative subpoenas to certain crimes against children and require prosecutors to report how many subpoenas they issue, the types of investigations involved, and whether they led to charges and convictions.

That should have been in the original law, and why was it not?

The bill would also require prosecutors, at the close of an investigation, to inform the customers whose telephone and internet logs were seized.

It won't pass, you just watch.

Prosecutors typically urge the internet and telephone companies that receive subpoenas not to alert the customers who have been targeted. Law enforcement officials said if the customers knew they were being investigated, they could destroy records. But Crockford said the request means most people are never aware their phone and internet records have been tracked.


Time to go on hiatus:

"Harvard theater school to go on ‘three-year hiatus’" by Malcolm Gay Globe Staff  July 16, 2017

CAMBRIDGE — Harvard University’s struggling ART Institute, a graduate-level theater training program housed within the American Repertory Theater, has announced that it is suspending admissions for the next three years “to work on a strategic plan” for the Institute.

The move is the latest setback for the troubled school, which in January suspended admissions for the coming academic year after receiving a “failing” grade from the US Department of Education for saddling students with onerous levels of debt. In May, the Institute dropped off The Hollywood Reporter’s annual list of the 25 best drama schools for an acting degree. And in June, Scott Zigler, the Institute’s longtime director, announced he was leaving after more than 20 years to become dean of the School of Drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Over the past six months, the ART has labored to resolve the Institute’s problems, engaging its board of trustees, consulting with Harvard administrators, and exploring the option of partnerships with other Boston-area universities. With no good solution in sight, ART leadership decided to close the school temporarily to develop a plan.

“What we’re looking at is taking a three-year hiatus so we can come back stronger, better, and with better funding,” said director Zigler of the 30-year-old school, known formally as the ART/MXAT Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. “We found a couple of possibilities where we could have stayed open, but staying open just to stay open didn’t look like the best thing to do.”

I agree.