Unusual combination of American passions for diversity and litigation


“IBM sues Microsoft’s new chief diversity officer over non-compete agreement” (GeekWire) is a story covering America’s current twin passions:

IBM has filed suit against one of its longtime executives, Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, alleging that her new position as Microsoft’s chief diversity officer violates a year-long non-compete agreement, allowing the Redmond company to use IBM’s internal secrets to boost its own diversity efforts.

The suit, filed federal court in New York today, describes McIntyre as one of the company’s “most senior executives with knowledge of IBM’s most closely guarded and competitively sensitive strategic plans and recruitment initiatives,” including “confidential strategies to recruit, retain and promote diverse talent.”

The suit against McIntyre signals the growing significance of diversity initiatives in major tech companies.

The article contains the full 31-page Complaint.


Erica Garza is the smartest American?


If we exclude the folks who bought Bitcoin in 2010 (calculator), I used to think that the smartest Americans were those who maximized leisure and social time without the tedium of work, e.g., by bubbling to the top of the waiting list for public housing in San Francisco, Manhattan, Cambridge/Boston. There are, of course, some crazy rich people who have even better material lifestyles than folks on welfare in these parts of the U.S., but they may have (a) inherited money from a parent, (b) worked like a slave, or (c) taken a lot of risk such that they might easily have ended up middle class and exiled to the suburbs. None of these actions are evidence of intelligence.

It’s Valentine’s week so maybe it is time to consider Valentine’s Day-related occupations. From “The Dark Origins Of Valentine’s Day” (NPR):

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.

“A Recovering Sex and Porn Addict Tells All” (nytimes) concerns a young American, Erica Garza, who might have fit in well with the old school Valentine’s Day. If her book is a big financial success should we declare her to be the smartest American?

Ordinarily, Roman-style Valentine’s celebrations with a bunch of non-famous people is not lucrative. Back around 1990, an MIT undergraduate told me about her freshman year roommate having sex with 25 different men. When I pointed out that MIT was in session for only 26 weeks per year, the girl responded that her roommate “had a cold one week.” There was no hint that these freshman year lifestyle choices had led to wealth. (This was before young people needed to be drunk before having sex, so there was also no post-sex litigation tail with each of the 25 guys. Maybe the upcoming 25th-year class reunion will be awkward?)

Getting close to a Hollywood star and then writing about it has been moderately lucrative at times. But writing about encounters with a series of nobodies was not lucrative. Roxanne Ritchie and Susan Gilbert wrote about “36 men they claimed to have slept with” (The Tech, July 26, 1977) and earned nothing other than “formal probation” (double-secret probation for the women? The male editor of the on-campus publication in which the article appeared was suspended).

Having sex with a high-income partner and then harvesting child support can be worth $millions in California, Massachusetts, New York, or Wisconsin, but one may need to take care of a child for at least a few hours per week. Earning more after tax than the median college graduate as a result of one night spent with a married dentist is evidence of being smarter than average, but perhaps not “the smartest”.

I haven’t read Erica Garza’s book, but if she did actually make money from watching porn, having sex with a lot of new friends, and then writing about it, does that give her a credible claim to be the smartest American alive?

What will people do for love?


It is still Valentine’s Week so let’s consider the extremes to which people will go for love. Beautifully Cruel is mostly a story about Tracey Richter-Roberts and the lengths to which she was willing to go for cash and personal sexual fulfillment, but buried within is an interesting story about what others are willing to do for love and/or sex.

Context: Ms. Richter-Roberts sued her first husband and accused him of sexually abusing their toddler son in order to secure custody and child support cash. The second marriage, to an Australian, proceeds in a similar fashion:

Not a year into the marriage, Michael said later, Tracey was screwing around on him, having repeated affairs. This, mind you, fit into her MO; she had done the same to John Pitman. The marriage, almost from the first few months of Michael being in the States, was in shambles.

“Tracey went back to their home [from the office],” Ben [the local prosecutor] continued, “took a bubble bath and, an hour after the [fight with the husband], called the cops on Michael. When the cops got there, Tracey told her fictitious version of events and then had Bert make a statement that he, Bert, had been abused by his [step]father, Michael.” Michael spent the night in jail. Because of Bert’s allegations, Child Protective Services (CPS) conducted an investigation, which Tracey wasn’t expecting. This addition to the truth, if you will, wound up being the beginning of a situation Tracey would soon find herself in with no way out. CPS reports are, by law, given to the biological parents. So John Pitman, Tracey’s ex, received a notice that Michael had abused Bert (which was untrue). When she realized what she had done, “Tracey had Bert lie [again] and tell Child Protective Services he wasn’t referring to Michael when he said his father hit him, but rather his biological father, Dr. Pitman,” Ben Smith added. Thus, Pitman received a notice of the allegation of abuse against Bert by Michael—but also that he, too, was once again the target of a child abuse investigation. This after Pitman had fought and proved false two sexual abuse claims already by Tracey. This became, in effect, the catalyst that sparked Pitman’s filing for a change in custody in late 2000—a filing on Pitman’s behalf, Ben Smith went on to claim, that facilitated Tracey’s new plan to now make sure that Pitman lost this new child custody case.

The story that that a guy in Virginia had abused a boy in Iowa ends up having some legs and Ms. Richter-Roberts wasn’t able to stop all of the gears from turning:

Tracey’s attempts to portray Pitman as sexually abusing Bert had failed. Every single exam, every single accusation she had ever made against John Pitman over the years—thus subjecting Bert to several colonoscopy-like exams for sexual abuse—had been proven to be nothing more than unfounded nonsense, trumped up by a woman hell-bent on destroying a man and his reputation so she could keep the cash flowing. None of it worked. Tracey had made it all up, according to the state and several investigations into the alleged abuse. The court was going to side with Pitman and his new motion to gain custody of Bert.

Thus, the obvious solution to all of Tracey’s problems—potentially losing custody of Bert and all of that money associated with custody, at a time when her husband’s computer company was hemorrhaging money they did not have—was written in a narrative by a local special-needs kid. If Dr. Pitman was arrested and charged with conspiracy, Tracey’s life—that is, as she saw it—would turn around.

She persuaded a 20-year-old neighbor, Dustin Wehde, to come over to her house, write a diary in a pink(!) notebook talking about how he had been hired by the first husband to kill the man’s son, and then shot the kid 9 times, purportedly in self-defense. The diary was conveniently left in the kid’s car, which he parked in the driveway during what was supposedly a home invasion (the second husband was away on a business trip). Despite all of the inconsistencies and absurdities in the heavily armed woman’s story about how she happened to kill an unarmed young man, it took the authorities 10 years before they arrested her and put her on trial.

Here’s the love story part of the book:

Thirty-year-old John Pitman, in his fourth year of medical school, was working a rotation at the hospital one night as a medical student, when he crossed paths with a woman claiming to be a radiographer, who caught his eye. She was simply breathtaking then: long, dark, thick mane of hair, all teased up into a 1980s metal-band do. She wore loose-fitting hospital scrubs and smelled of the sweetest perfume. She smiled and seemed nice. “Tracey . . . Tracey Richter,” she said. Tracey was twenty years old; John Pitman nearly ten years her senior. With her perfectly sculpted body and full face, high cheekbones and plump lips some women pay lots of money for, it was clear to John, like many men Tracey had come in contact with, that she could have chosen any guy she wanted.

Later, John would assess the dating portion of their relationship and find that Tracey had represented a picture and persona of a woman who’d had a tough life at home, didn’t get along with her father, and seemed to yearn for the sympathy that narrative would get her.

When they got back [from skiing in Vail], John and his roommate were in the kitchen talking about the incident earlier. The roommate was saying if Tracey, like everyone else, had taken skiing lessons, then the entire situation could have been avoided. But Tracey had refused to take the lessons. Tracey must have been eavesdropping, because she came storming into the kitchen at that point. She had heard what the roommate said and was clearly pissed. She got right into the roommate’s face. A vile, angry look washed over her. “It was wrong of you to expect us to wait for you,” the roommate said. “You are acting like a crybaby!” Tracey became enraged and charged the man, sticking him in the face with her right hand, and then striking him “fairly hard . . . sending” his glasses “flying across the room.”

John finished medical school in June 1987. The University of Colorado was up next. “I’m going back to Chicago, John,” Tracey said one night before they were scheduled to leave. She’d made up her mind. “I’ll decide while in Chicago whether I’m coming out to Denver or not.” What could he do? They packed and left for Chicago. John told Tracey he would drop her off and head to Denver. If she wanted to come out, great; if not, was there anything he could do to change her mind? It seemed as though they had been through so much. Tracey was a lot to deal with. Very needy. Very sensitive. Very dramatic. Tracey had always wanted dogs, as did John. They both wanted a home. As they were driving out to Chicago, John indicated he had something to say. He wanted to give the relationship one more shot. “Will you marry me?” Tracey accepted.

In early 1991, Tracey had spent thousands of the family’s dollars on breast implants. It was April 1992 and Tracey was showing off her new breasts to a friend and the Pitmans’ new babysitter, Monica (pseudonym).

Tracey had been working at a medical facility and “began an affair with a man” who worked there. She blamed him, claiming he was obsessed with her and one day cornered her in a dark room and forced himself on her. She loved the attention, at first, she later admitted. It was something she was not getting, according to her, at home. So she “had intercourse with him” two times and then “called it quits,” leaving her job. At home, to John, it was a different story. “I’m being sexually harassed,” [#MeToo] she told him. Tracey said the guy was someone closely connected to the owners of the company. “He is possibly even following me. He asked me out one day and I refused. Since I said no, the company has been complaining about my job performance.”

Monica found an issue with Tracey’s mothering skills. “Bert was often dirty and/or inappropriately dressed,” Monica reported later. Because of this and several other things Monica uncovered about Tracey, their relationship deteriorated. The one major problem Monica had was that Tracey got involved with several “shady characters” she had met at the strip clubs, both male and female strippers who used drugs “and possibly engaged in other illegal activities.” Tracey seemed to be drawn to people like this.

Beyond those incidents, there were all the men, Monica said, claiming Tracey was not only having an affair with a guy she worked with, but a male dancer and another man—all at the same time. “She even sold one of their dogs and told John that it had been run over by a car,” Monica told authorities.

When Tracey found out Monica was onto her, she spun it and claimed Monica couldn’t be trusted because she was having an affair with John at the time.

“I wish you were dead,” Tracey said one night to John during a fight. “I wish that you had gone to Desert Storm [the husband was in a military program] and died.” She slapped him across the face.

TRACEY GOT A NEW JOB and worked part-time during the day. John felt a bit less stressed; however, he worried what she was going to do next. Then the behavior started all over again. He never saw any of the money Tracey earned, nor had he any idea what she did with it.

Then she fell in with a new group of people—and with that came another affair. John suspected this when, with Tracey working what was only about twenty hours a week, she was never at home. She was always out, gone, always hiring a babysitter. … When he did run into Tracey at home or talked to her on the phone, John would ask where she was going. “Work,” Tracey would say. But she was dressed like a $500-an-hour hooker—dolled up in tight, short skirts, wads of makeup lathered on her face, skintight blouses showing off her large breast implants.

Tracey was sleeping with a man—maybe even two or three—fairly regularly by this point, even buying him gifts. Skis. Weekend getaways. All on John’s credit cards, mind you. When John questioned the charges, Tracey gave her husband the guy’s name and said he must have stolen the numbers from her pocketbook at work. John called the credit card company, which then tracked the man down. Of course, he said Tracey had bought the items for him. He told the credit card company he and Tracey had been dating for four months.

By March 1992, after John suffered a nasty back injury while sledding with Tracey and Bert, having been in a back brace for three months, the marriage, hanging on by a thread as it was, deteriorated into dust. At this point, Tracey did not even hide what she was doing anymore. She did whatever she wanted, went out whenever she wanted, slept with whomever she wanted, spent whatever amount of money she needed. Each job Tracey took on always turned into a drama and ended with her leaving or being fired “on a note of controversy,” John later said in a report.

By early summer 1992, Tracey agreed to move to Chicago so John could begin a plastic surgery fellowship at Northwestern University. Perhaps this was the final chance for their marriage.

Then John thought about something else: before leaving for Toronto [for a medical conference], Tracey had demanded he “up [his] life insurance.”

John decided to call the private investigator his parents had used to look into the credit card theft in Vail. … “I’m concerned for your safety, Mr. Pitman,” the PI said. John was now scared. “I think I should put her under surveillance,” the PI suggested. “Okay,” John agreed. Within two days the investigator came back with some news. Tracey had spent two nights in one guy’s apartment, a “bodybuilder type.” She had spent the entire time with the man.

While in Chicago, John had his private investigator continue surveillance and report back. Tracey moved around a lot, always seemingly involved in something reprehensible. A lot of the men she interacted with during her day “appeared to be bodybuilders.” One of her favorite dresses to wear out at night was a “tight black evening dress, long black gloves, [with] high heel pumps.” On several occasions, the PI followed Tracey into adult bookstores, where she’d spend time buying sex toys and condoms and oils and then head off to a motel, where a man would soon meet her. She’d spend a few hours inside and the man would leave. A while later, another man would arrive and enter the same motel room, spend several hours and leave.

“Tracey had stolen one of Dr. Pitman’s prescription pads,” Ben Smith added. “That’s how she was able to obtain the steroids.”

So here’s a guy who was smart enough to be a plastic surgeon, rational enough to get the U.S. military to pay for his medical training, capable enough to serve as an officer in the U.S. military, etc. Yet he couldn’t resist marrying a woman whom he knew to be violent and tried to hold onto the woman as a wife despite knowing about her multiple affairs, incompetence/neglectfulness as a mother, involvement with criminal activities, etc.

I’m not in love with the way that the book chops up the timeline or the way in which the author TELLs readers that this woman has lied when the facts easily SHOW the lie. And that one person would be willing to lie in order to get what she wanted isn’t surprising. But the book is fascinating when you think about people on the other side of the “trade” as Wall Streeters would say. Why were so many people, especially men, buying what this woman was selling? After, literally, a life of crime, here’s the scene at her murder trial:

Tracey was now engaged to a man who sat in the courtroom every day. She “blew kisses at him” and signed the words “I love you,” a courtroom source recalled.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to interview that man and ask him, in a country of 327 million souls, why would he choose to be engaged to an accused murderess who had already been convicted of a variety of lesser crimes?

More: read Beautifully Cruel

MIT and Slavery


You might think that a school that offered its first classes in 1865, after the end of the Civil War, didn’t have a dog in the “which college can be guiltiest about slavery” fight. But you’d be wrong!

This week I got a letter from Rafael Reif, the president of MIT:

At MIT, we face facts, and we turn passionately toward the future. Today, however, we must attend to some newly uncovered facts from our past. A distinguished member of our history faculty, Professor Craig Steven Wilder is the leading authority on how the emergence and growth of American colleges and universities is entwined with the history of slavery. Last spring, I sought Craig’s advice on how MIT could best explore its historical connections in this realm. Based on our conversation, SHASS Dean Melissa Nobles and I immediately endorsed his proposal: to develop an ongoing undergraduate primary-research course, to be called “MIT and Slavery.”

Already, they have uncovered a range of evidence showing how MIT’s early decades were shaped by the post-Civil War process of reconstruction … Perhaps the most jarring finding: an 1850 Virginia census document, which shows that before William Barton Rogers moved to Boston to found MIT, he and his wife, Emma, held six human beings as slaves.

In the 157 years since MIT’s founding, we have often celebrated William Barton Rogers for his creative vision as an educator and his tenacity in pushing to establish MIT. With this new evidence, and our ongoing commitment to learn more about the links between the institution of slavery and technical institutions like MIT, today we must start thinking together about how to tell a more complete version of our history.

One “bad fact,” as the litigators say, is that the no-longer-known-to-be-neighborly Mr. Rogers’s name is engraved in stone (concrete?) on the main MIT building (funded by George Eastman about 20 years prior to his suicide).

Tomorrow at 1 pm the self-flagellation begins at the MIT Media Lab, 6th floor. The event will be streamed live as well and folks can ask questions, e.g., “How big a memory hole do you need for stuffing in a dead guy like Rogers?”

[In other news, MIT will be hiring professors to teach “Christianity before the birth of Jesus” and “Scientific results from NASA robot exploration of the Planet Vulcan“.]


None of us is as dumb as all of us: NYT committee looks at opioids


The New York Times assembled a committee of “30 experts” to come up with ways to “solve the opioid crisis” (report) by spending $100 billion in tax dollars.

None of these folks offered the idea of “stop creating new addicts by buying opioids with tax dollars”! They don’t like opioids, but they want the U.S. government to keep buying them.

I find this interesting as an insight into the cognitive processes of Americans.


La Broheme


Happy Valentine’s Day.

What could be more romantic than an operatic love story? A friend’s daughter is singing in La bohème soon. What if we were to update the story for the 21st century? Suppose that Bro culture meets Puccini: La Broheme.

La bohème La Broheme
Marcello is painting while Rodolfo gazes out of the window. They complain of the cold. In order to keep warm, they burn the manuscript of Rodolfo’s drama. Asher and Beckett complain of the cold. In order to keep warm, they turn on the Xbox.
Benoît, landlord, arrives to collect the rent. Asher and Beckett text their parents, reminding them to pay the rent.
 The girl says her name is Mimì and describes her simple life as an embroiderer The girl says her name is Juno and describes her simple life brewing craft beer.
 As the men and Mimì dine at the cafe, Musetta, formerly Marcello’s sweetheart, arrives with her rich (and elderly) government minister admirer, Alcindoro, whom she is tormenting. It is clear she has tired of him. … Alcindoro leaves to get Musetta’s shoe fixed, and Musetta and Marcello fall rapturously into each other’s arms. … The sly Musetta has the entire bill charged to Alcindoro. As the men and Juno do shots at the bar, Zora, who formerly hooked up drunkenly with Beckett, arrives with Fenton, whom she met when adopting a pit bull.
 Alcindoro returns with the repaired shoe seeking Musetta. The waiter hands him the bill and, dumbfounded, Alcindoro sinks into a chair. All five of the young people charge the bill to their parents.
Mimì hides and overhears Rodolfo first telling Marcello that he left Mimì because of her coquettishness, but finally confessing that his jealousy is a sham: he fears she is slowly being consumed by a deadly illness (tuberculosis) … Rodolfo, in his poverty, can do little to help Mimì and hopes that his pretended unkindness will inspire her to seek another, wealthier suitor. Juno hides and overhears Asher telling Beckett that he can’t remember why he left Juno because he was too plastered. Asher says that that he hopes Juno can get a good Obamacare policy on the exchange because she has a really nasty-sounding cough.
Marcello and Rodolfo are trying to work, though they are primarily talking about their girlfriends, who have left them and found wealthy lovers. Asher and Beckett are trying to talk, but they keep getting interrupted by Instagrams from college classmates.
Musetta suddenly appears; Mimì, who took up with a wealthy viscount after leaving Rodolfo in the spring, has left her patron. Musetta found her that day in the street, severely weakened by her illness, and Mimì begged Musetta to bring her to Rodolfo. Zora suddenly appears. Juno has been bitten by her pit bull.
To Mimì’s delight, Rodolfo presents her with the pink bonnet he bought her, which he has kept as a souvenir of their love. They remember past happiness and their first meeting—the candles, the lost key. To Juno’s delight, Asher presents her with the Apple Watch, which he has kept because, though useless, it was too expensive to throw out.
Schaunard discovers that Mimì has died. Rodolfo rushes to the bed, calling Mimì’s name in anguish, weeping helplessly as the curtain falls. Shamed by Ellen Pao‘s tales of debauched conversations aboard Gulfstreams, Asher and Beckett declare that they are “woke feminists” and spend the rest of the opera weeping helplessly. Juno and Zora wander off in search of powerful men with whom they can have sex and then later complain of a “power imbalance.”

I have a feeling that this could be improved substantially with suggestions from a young person who is actually familiar with Bro culture!

Russia is bad, Olympics Edition


“Success of Russia’s Female Figure Skaters Takes a Toll in Injuries and Stress” (nytimes) raises some questions.

First, is it any more punishing on the body to train to a world-class level in Russia compared to in the U.S. or anywhere else? The answer within the article seems to be “no”:

Johnny Weir, a retired, two-time Olympian from the United States who trained with Russians during his career, said that while there was always danger in overtraining or attempting jumps a skater was not ready for, Russian coaches and officials were systematic and careful in their approach.

“There are far more injuries to the Americans, I find,” he said.

Second, is it so bad to take the risk of injury given that most Americans are essentially crippled by middle age? We don’t need to skate to fall apart. We just need to eat and sit and then eat some more. If we’re going to be decrepit by middle age, why not strive to be in great shape for at least a few years in our youth?

Are DVRs actually not smart enough to record delayed shows?


We have Verizon FiOS, an all-digital phone/TV/Internet service. We use the TV part of the service once every year or two. I tried the DVR for the first time this year to record the Olympics, starting with an 8-11 block on the local NBC channel. NBC decided that things were too exciting to quit precisely at 11, but the DVR quit exactly at 11 nonetheless. Thus we missed the part of the show that NBC deemed most interesting.

How is this possible? If the TV guide is all digital and the DVR is part of the cable box, how can it not know that a show is continuing? Does this happen in general? If a football game is scheduled for 3 hours, but goes into overtime and takes 3.5 hours, does the DVR miss the most important part of the game? If so, how is it possible that this kind of system engineering has persisted?

Back in the late 1980s some friends and I built a system to monitor the broadcast of TV commercials. A digital ID code was inserted into one of the unviewable lines of the analog signal and we designed a board populated by PALs to run a phase-locked loop that synced up to the NTSC signal and pulled out the information. By distributing these boards around the U.S. and equipping them with modems, we were able to have a server with a record of which commercials had been aired in which markets and when. If it was possible in the 1980s to identify a broadcast and do something reasonably intelligent, why isn’t it possible today for the Verizon set-top box?

Amazon and the Chinese prove that Karl Marx was right?


Karl Marx talked about a world in which there would be no scarcity so we’d be able to transition from socialism to true communism. Maybe Amazon back by the Chinese factory state has finally delivered that world? See “A small leak in the Amazon pipeline: A true fable of the Internet.”

(Note that Henry Minsky, the author, is the son of Marvin Minsky, who was moderately successful as a futurist.)

Good tools for doing reverse IP and geolocation out of a web server log?


Folks: Not everyone on the planet is cool enough to use Google Analytics. What if you have an old-school HTTP server log and want to get more information about users, especially hostnames and geolocations? What are the most reasonable tools these days, either desktop Windows apps or Unix server-based? I don’t need something scriptable that can run every night.

Alternatively, given a list of IP addresses, what would you do if you wanted to turn that into a CSV file of IP, hostname, location?

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