I.T. grunt, barking at the moon.
3680 stories
·
0 followers

Taco Bell Ditching Naked Chicken Chalupa In March

1 Comment

Taco Bell dropped its fried chicken shell Chalupa on customers nationally less than a month ago and the fast food giant is already preparing to remove the Naked Chicken Chalupa from its menu in March.

The OC Register reports that Taco Bell will remove the limited-time Naked Chicken Chalupa, which was in testing for two years, after spending less than two months on its menu.

The $2.99 Naked Chicken Chalupa, which debuted on the menu on Jan. 26, is created by frying a piece of four-ounce breaded and seasoned white meat chicken into a shell that is then filled with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and avocado ranch sauce.

A rep for the fast food chain tells the OC Register that the two months the Naked Chicken Chalupa will have spent on the menu isn’t unusual, as other limited-time products generally last that long.

Still, offering the item for just two months seems like a short duration considering Taco Bell tested the meal for nearly two years — first in Bakersfield, CA, in 2015 and in Kansas City, Mo, in 2016 — before taking it national.

Additionally, the unusual taco quickly gained popularity with those adventurous enough to try it.

Still others expressed disappointment about the size and appearance of the menu item.

In other Taco Bell news, the chain confirmed to the Register that it will soon make good on its recent pledge to get rid of the extra-large 40 oz. soda cups.





Read the whole story
sjk
5 hours ago
reply
I guess those PSAs from the "eating chicken the same way you always have" organization against Taco Bell are working. People realize that eating chicken this way is immoral and sales are plummeting.
Florida
Share this story
Delete

Google Launches New Tool To Fight Toxic Trolls In Online Comments

1 Comment and 3 Shares

“Don’t read the comments” is perhaps the most ancient and venerable of all internet-era axioms. Left untended, or even partially tended, internet comments have a way of racing straight to the bottom of the vile, toxic, nasty barrel of human hatred. But now, Google says it’s basically training a robot how to filter those for you, so human readers and moderators can catch a break.

Many strategies have been tried for filtering out toxic comments, over the years. Countless sites and systems employ some kind of blacklist-style keyword filter — but those aren’t enough, not by a long shot. All of us have seen comments that are, for example, horribly sexist or racist that never use a single “forbidden” slur.

This is why many platforms still have to rely on human moderators to trudge through the sludge. Though Google’s not alone in looking to machine-learning AI in order to filter content for humans; Facebook, too, has been building out the bots in recent years.

Google’s new tool is called Perspective. The idea is that it applies a “toxicity” filter to comments.

Google’s definition for “toxic” is, “a rude, disrespectful, or unreasonable comment that is likely to make you leave a discussion,” and it trained its bot to recognize toxic material by first gathering data from humans. People were asked to rate real comments on a scale from “Very toxic” to “very healthy,” and the machine learns from there.

By screening with that filter, Perspective determines how similar a given comment is to other comments that humans have marked as either toxic or not.

The site has a tool showing you how comments rate on a toxicity scale on three particular highly contentious topics: climate change, Brexit, and the 2016 U.S. election. Under climate change, for example, the comment, “How can you be so stupid?” rates as toxic; the comment, “Climate changes naturally,” on the other hand, is considered non-toxic.

You can also try it live in a text-entry box on the site. For example, the comment, “You’re a stupid jerk” rates as highly likely to be toxic, as do more profane variations on the same general thought.

The text-entry feature cautions that you may disagree with Google’s toxicity assessment of the content you typed, and adds that if you do, “Please let us know! It’s still early days and we will get a lot of things wrong.”

That, in turn, points to one of the big challenges with a machine learning algorithm like this: Its learning can only ever be as good as its input. For this to be successful, it will need to gather a wide, genuinely diverse array of users leaving a wide, genuinely diverse array of feedback. The folks who regularly sling online vitriol against people who don’t look or think like them probably have a different threshold for toxicity than the folks on the receiving end, after all.

And indeed, a Washington Post writer tried the filter against some deeply unsavory terms, and found that while one well-known racial slur rated as 82% toxic, other well-known slurs rated as low as 32% toxic.

It’s not surprising that large companies want to find people-free solutions to the toxicity problem. For one thing, paying a workforce gets expensive, very quickly — even if they’re workers in nations with lower minimum and average wages than the U.S.

For another, content moderation is extremely hard on the people who do it, as both Wired and The Verge have investigated. The folks who do it at any kind of volume burn out after reviewing endless tides of hate speech and violent, nightmare-fuel images.

Google’s initial corporate partners for developing Perspectives include Wikipedia, The Economist, The New York Times, and The Guardian, all of which in some way want to attract and retain high-quality discussion or debate while minimizing or at least reducing abuse and attacks against participants.







Read the whole story
sjk
5 hours ago
reply
There is no way that this won't be abused and used to censor non-toxic posts that conflict with the claimant's own opinion.
Florida
angelchrys
3 days ago
reply
Overland Park, KS
Share this story
Delete

Police: Florida Man Interprets “Test Drive” As “Free $150K Maserati”

1 Comment

If you sell cars, you’ve probably had your share of jokes from “hilarious” customers who crack wise about making off with the car they are test-driving, but most car-shoppers are indeed only joking about committing grand theft auto. Then there’s the Florida man accused of using a test drive to help himself to a $150,000 Maserati.

According to police, a 45-year-old man visited a Fort Lauderdale dealership on Tuesday and asked to go for a test drive in the luxury vehicle, reports the Palm Beach Post, and a salesman agreed to go with him.

The suspect said he wanted to drive to a resort and club in Boca Raton so he could show the car to his girlfriend, the arrest report says. Once they arrived at the club, the two men apparently got out of the car and walked over to the boat dock, where the man said he wanted to show the salesman his father’s boat. He left the salesman there and said he’d return shortly with his girlfriend.

Cut to 30 minutes later when the salesman finally started to get suspicious, and headed for the club’s valet parking service to pick up the car… which wasn’t there anymore. A valet supervisor told him he saw the suspect jump into the Maserati and take off.

It wasn’t too hard for police to track down the missing vehicle: The suspect had presented his driver’s license before he was allowed to take the wheel, and the valet supervisor claimed to have known him for years. Those factors, plus surveillance video at the dealership, brought detectives face to face with the suspect at an arranged meeting at Starbucks the next day.

After affirming that the valet supervisor recognized him, the suspect refused to answer any more questions and was arrested. He’s now facing a charge of grand larceny of $100,000 or more and is being held in the Palm Beach County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. It’s unclear what happened to the Maserati.

As one might expect, this kind of thing has happened before:

• Just last year, a Pennsylvania driver was accused of putting up a stolen Lexus as collateral and then stealing a Mercedes from a dealership during a test drive.

• In 2013, a Florida man was arrested after allegedly taking a pickup truck out for a test drive and failing to return with the vehicle afterward.





Read the whole story
sjk
5 hours ago
reply
Goddammit Florida Man! Stop validating the stereotype!

Also, WTF is a Maserati dealer doing in Florida?! Does Maserati make pickup trucks with missing tailgates and "Salt Life" decals on the window? Does Maserati make beater cars with extremely loud exhaust noise and extremely loud stereos to wake the neighbors at all hours of the day and night?
Florida
Share this story
Delete

20 Questions Liberals Need To Ask About Their Reaction To Trump

1 Comment

It’s just one month into the presidency of Donald Trump, and not even three months since he won the election, and already the American liberal establishment has been buffeted by turmoil. The Left seems confused and desperate and wholly unsure of how to proceed in the newly minted Age of Trump.

At times like this, introspection and self-examination are important tools for anyone. Here are 20 questions American liberals need to ask themselves as they move forward in the Trump Era.

  1. Do you really think the whole “not my president” thing is a good idea? Don’t you think it makes you seem irrational, petulant, and immature?
  2. Do you think it’s wise to call Trump an “illegitimate” president? Based on the lack of evidence to back that claim up, does that not make you seem like wild-eyed conspiracy theorists?
  3. On that note, do you think it’s smart to truck in wild-eyed conspiracy theories? Doesn’t this make one look foolish?
  4. Should you be having a major freak out every time Trump does anything? Wouldn’t it be wiser to save the freak outs for when Trump does something actually bad?
  5. Do you think threatening to commit acts of domestic terrorism is a good look for American liberalism?
  6. Do you think screaming at and obstructing the secretary of Education as she tries to perform her job is a good look for American liberalism?
  7. Do you think Democrats freaking out about a judge they nominated a decade ago is a good look for American liberalism?
  8. Is comparing Trump’s voting base to the violent genocidal “herrenvolk” of Nazi Germany a smart thing for a liberal to do?
  9. When one says things like “There’s no such thing as a good Trump voter,” what should one expect the outcome to be? Does this increases the chances that a Democrat will win the presidency in 2020?
  10. Many of you were hysterical over the prospect of a Mitt Romney presidency in 2012. Now many of you seem to have changed your minds about him. Does this embarrass you at all? Does it give you any perspective?
  11. Was it a smart idea for 50 House Democrats to boycott the Trump inauguration? If 50 House Republicans had boycotted Hillary Clinton’s inauguration, how would that have made you feel?
  12. Why do you think liberals are so receptive to fake news these days, especially after they got so upset about fake news during the election season?
  13. Do you think it’s right to scream at Ivanka Trump because you don’t like her father?  Isn’t it unfair to blame a woman for the actions of her father?
  14. Do you think it’s right to denigrate Ivanka Trump’s business because you don’t like her father? Do you believe that women are merely “appendages of the men in their lives,” and thus liable for the sins of their male relatives?
  15. Do you think it’s wise for liberals to embrace violence as a political tool? Is there any way this tactic could backfire?
  16. Is it smart for liberals to claim that “Hollywood” is one of “the most vilified segments in American society right now?” How might such a claim look to average people who, unlike the Hollywood elite, are not rich, not hugely influential and not powerful?
  17. On that note, is it smart for liberals to mock football and mixed martial arts? How do you think the people who regularly watch these sports will feel about being mocked?
  18. Sen. Elizabeth Warren seems to be on the verge of becoming a standard-bearer of the anti-Trump Democratic Party. However, years ago she appears to have lied about being a Native American, possibly to advance her career. Do you think it’s okay for people to lie about their ethnicity for personal gain?
  19. President Trump previously signaled his support for banning people on the terror watch list from buying firearms. Do you think the Trump administration should have the power to strip Americans of their constitutional rights even if they haven’t been charged with a crime?
  20. The singers Andrea Bocelli and Jennifer Holliday both received death threats for agreeing to participate in Trump’s inauguration; a shop owner in Franklin, Tennessee, received rape threats after stating her opposition to the anti-Trump Women’s March. Why do you think these people were subject to such vile treatment? Does such treatment say anything important about American liberalism?
Read the whole story
sjk
6 days ago
reply
As bad for the American people as Trump and his corporate cronies are, the Liberals are doing everything they can to shoot themselves in the foot and help Trump's re-election.
Florida
Share this story
Delete

Trump Needs To Fire Regulatory Agencies, Stat

1 Comment

One of the headlines most frightening to progressive liberals would probably be “Extra! Extra! Donald Trump to abide by Constitution!” You can almost feel them begin to shake.

One good thing President Obama taught us was never to let a crisis go to waste. (Actually it was Obama’s first White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel—now the somewhat-disgraced mayor of Chicago, which on his watch has become the U.S. murder capital—who made the phrase famous, even if he didn’t invent it.) Another way of putting the thought is that every crisis should be seen as an opportunity.

President Trump has a plethora of crises to manage if he is to make America great again. One of the most important of these is taming the so-called independent regulatory agencies. There are dozens of them—perhaps scores: no one seems to know. They wield tremendous regulatory influence and control over just about every aspect of Americans’ lives, which means they will need to be reined in if Trump is to reach his goal of cutting 90 percent of regulations.

These agencies also exist essentially outside the law. At least they exist outside the Constitution, which is the highest law of the land. Or at the very least, they exist outside a strictly construed Constitution, which is the way President Trump has said the Constitution should be construed.

Start By Firing Richard Cordray

President Trump’s first not-to-be-missed opportunity to deal with the “independent” agencies is presented by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau described by House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican, as “arguably the most powerful and least accountable Washington bureaucracy in American history.”

Established as part of the Dodd-Frank law after the 2008 financial crisis, the CFPB has only a single commissioner. Because the CFPB was established as a unit within the Federal Reserve System, it gets its funding directly from the Federal Reserve, which in turn gets its funds from its own operations.

So, in this great democracy of ours, who’s in charge of the CFPB? In theory the people are, but only, of course, through their representatives in the legislative branch who raise funds for the operations of the government, and through the executive branch which supervises the work of the agencies. But the people are not in charge of the CFPB since their elected officials control neither the CFPB’s budget nor the actions of its chairman. This situation is made for Donald Trump.

In a recent case involving an enforcement action brought by the CFPB against mortgage lender PHH, PHH challenged the CFPB’s action in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where a three-judge panel reversed the enforcement action. The court said, among other things, that “The CFPB’s order violated bedrock principles of due process.” That’s about what you’d expect from an agency not subject to any political control. Two of the three judges ruled also that the structure of the agency was unconstitutional.

Now the Trump administration is said to be looking for reasons to justify firing CFPB Chairman Richard Cordray, who can be removed, according to statute, only for cause (“inefficiency,” “neglect of duty,” or “malfeasance”). It is extremely unlikely they will find such cause.

What Trump should do is stop looking for cause and simply deliver to Cordray his iconic phrase: “You’re fired!” (Just because your goal is to drain the swamp doesn’t mean you can’t shoot a few alligators along the way.)

The President Needs the Power to Fire His Employees

The problem is not just the CFPB. It’s the whole concept of independent regulatory agencies. The Constitution provides for only three branches of government: Congress, the executive branch, and the judiciary. Independent agencies fall into none of those categories.

Although the theory is that the agencies are independent of the executive branch, which is what makes them unconstitutional, under the Obama administration that was not always the case. President Obama instructed, or pressured, the Federal Communications Commission into a very controversial decision to protect so-called “net neutrality.” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler resigned as soon as Trump became president, but suppose he had not? Should Trump have been saddled with a commissioner who had been doing President Obama’s bidding?

The Obama-Wheeler partnership is actually the way the system should work: the president should make the decisions and then be held accountable for them. And if a commissioner of an agency doesn’t do what the president wants, he should be fired.

Of course, at the moment it’s slightly more complex than that. In 1935, the Supreme Court held that President Roosevelt did not have the authority to fire a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. The decision is clearly wrong. The Supreme Court said the debates over the creation of the Federal Trade Commission demonstrated that the commission was not to be subject to anybody in the government, but only to “the people.”

Please. On its face, that upends the whole constitutional scheme. By attempting to make the commission subject only to “the people,” Congress made it subject to no one. Being free from legislative or executive branch (i.e., political) domination or control means being free from democratic accountability. That may please the kind of people who like government by pen and phone, but not, probably, the people who are so governed.

A few good appointments of strict constructionists to the Supreme Court could go a long way toward helping President Trump meet his goal of eliminating 90 percent of the country’s regulations—as well as rattling and rolling the progressive liberals. The court wouldn’t have to eliminate the so-called independent regulatory agencies altogether. It could just hold, as the court of appeals did in the CFPB case, that they are not independent, but subject to the control of the president, a ruling that just might produce the headline, “Extra! Extra! Supreme Court Follows Constitution.”

Read the whole story
sjk
6 days ago
reply
This is why so many people hate corporate Republicans. They hate having their greed and avarice to abuse the American people restricted.
Florida
Share this story
Delete

23 Well-Intentioned Acts That Don't Make Things Better

1 Share
Look, we get it; everybody, for whatever reason, tries to do some good for our planet. Whether out of self-righteousness or truly noble intentions, the end result is the same: You're really dicking the rest of us over. How, exactly? Glad you asked!
Read the whole story
sjk
7 days ago
reply
Florida
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories