Sunday Spam: bagels, lox and smoked salmon

In belated honour of my breakfast in New York, Sunday July 8.

Baby Loss and the Pain Olympics
Warning for baby loss discussion.

I really have to question why seeing someone else processing their emotions is her pet peeve.

Do I believe a miscarriage and neonatal death is the same thing — of course not. If they were the same thing, they would share the same term. But just because I see them as apples and oranges doesn’t mean that I don’t also see them as fruit. They are both loss.

The deadly scandal in the building trade

Readers would not guess from the “national conversation” that the construction industry is sitting on a story as grave in its implications as the phone-hacking affair – graver I will argue. You are unlikely to have heard mention of it for a simple and disreputable reason: the victims are working-class men rather than celebrities… The construction companies could not be clearer that men who try to enforce minimum safety standards are their enemies. The files included formal letters notifying a company that a worker was the official safety rep on a site as evidence against him.

On Technical Entitlement

By most measures, I should have technical entitlement in spades… [and yet] I am very intimidated by the technically entitled.

You know the type. The one who was soldering when she was 6. The one who raises his hand to answer every question–and occasionally try to correct the professor. The one who scoffs at anyone who had a score below the median on that data structures exam (“idiots!”). The one who introduces himself by sharing his StackOverflow score.

Puzzling outcomes in A/B testing

A fun upcoming KDD 2012 paper out of Microsoft, “Trustworthy Online Controlled Experiments: Five Puzzling Outcomes Explained” (PDF), has a lot of great insights into A/B testing and real issues you hit with A/B testing. It’s a light and easy read, definitely worthwhile.

Selected excerpts:

We present … puzzling outcomes of controlled experiments that we analyzed deeply to understand and explain … [requiring] months to properly analyze and get to the often surprising root cause … It [was] not uncommon to see experiments that impact annual revenue by millions of dollars … Reversing a single incorrect decision based on the results of an experiment can fund a whole team of analysts.

When Bing had a bug in an experiment, which resulted in very poor results being shown to users, two key organizational metrics improved significantly: distinct queries per user went up over 10%, and revenue per user went up over 30%! …. Degrading algorithmic results shown on a search engine result page gives users an obviously worse search experience but causes users to click more on ads, whose relative relevance increases, which increases short-term revenue … [This shows] it’s critical to understand that long-term goals do not always align with short-term metrics.

Angels & Demons

One of the various Longform collections, and like many of them, a crime piece:

On June 4, 1989, the bodies of Jo, Michelle and Christe were found floating in Tampa Bay. This is the story of the murders, their aftermath, and the handful of people who kept faith amid the unthinkable.

On Leaving Academia

As almost everybody knows at this point, I have resigned my position at the University of New Mexico. Effective this July, I am working for Google, in their Cambridge (MA) offices.

Countless people, from my friends to my (former) dean have asked “Why? Why give up an excellent [some say ‘cushy’] tenured faculty position for the grind of corporate life?”

Honestly, the reasons are myriad and complex, and some of them are purely personal. But I wanted to lay out some of them that speak to larger trends at UNM, in New Mexico, in academia, and in the US in general. I haven’t made this move lightly, and I think it’s an important cautionary note to make: the factors that have made academia less appealing to me recently will also impact other professors.

Ethics, Culture, & Policy: Commercial surrogacy in India: A $2 billion industry

Since its legalization in 2002, commercial surrogacy in India has grown into a multimillion-dollar industry, drawing couples from around the world. IVF procedures in the unregulated Indian clinics generally cost a fraction of what they would in Europe or the U.S., with surrogacy as little as one-tenth the price. Mainstream press reports in English-language publications occasionally devote a line or two to the ethical implications of using poor women as surrogates, but with few exceptions, these women’s voices have not been heard.

Sociologist Amrita Pande of the University of Cape Town set out to speak directly with the “workers” to see how they are affected by such “work.”

Graeme Reeves received 2 to 3.5 year sentence

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

Trigger warning for medical and sexual violence.

The case of deregistered and abusive obstetrician and gynaecologist Graeme Reeves was covered here several times (see the graeme reeves tag). There’s been a name publication ban associated with his trials this year that’s been lifted: throughout this year there have been reports of the trial of “a former doctor” reported in the NSW press.

In March, a jury found Reeves guilty of maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on [Carolyn] DeWaegeneire with intent to cause her grievous bodily harm in 2002.

In April, Judge Woods found him guilty of indecently assaulting two patients, while conducting internal pelvic examinations.

Reeves pleaded guilty in February to obtaining a financial advantage by deception, involving his breaching a ban by carrying out obstetric procedures.

Survivor Carolyn DeWaegeneire rejects the sentence:

Standing outside Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court where Reeves was sentenced by Justice Greg Woods this morning, Carolyn DeWaegeneire said she was “livid” that Reeves could be released as early as 2013.

“Until now I thought the law was to protect the public and the people. I have now learnt otherwise,” she said.

“I was hoping that a woman would be treated equal to a man.”

Asked what sentence Reeves should have been given, Ms DeWaegeneire said: “If your penis was cut off and your scrotum cut-off how long would you want the man to serve?”

She rejected Judge Woods’s decision to mitigate Reeves’s sentence on the grounds he is suffering from severe mental illness.

Quotes from Victim livid at Bega doctor’s sentence by Paul Bibby, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 Jul 2011.

Note on selection of front page image
: the image is the photograph of Carolyn DeWaegeneire by Simon Alekna from the SMH article. I decided not to use Reeves as his face is rather stuck in my mind, and if anyone else is in the same boat I don’t want to trigger them on the Hoyden front page.