Monday, May 16, 2016

Racial Bias in 911 Operator

I recently had a few experiences calling 911 which I would like to share, though I won't name any of the cities involved (it wasn't Denver).

One caveat here is that apparently 911 centers are not as well funded as they should really be.

The most recent was when I saw an unattended backpack. First I called the non-emergency number, but they just transferred me to 911. I'm going to paraphrase here:

911: "911, what is your emergency?"
me: "I have found a suspicious backpack"
911: "Where is it located?"
me: [give the exact location]
911: "what does it look like"
me: "A black Jansport backpack"
me: "it looks exactly like the backpack on the 'if you see something say something' posters"
[It really was a splitting image of the backpack on the poster barely 200 ft. away.]
911: "do you know whats inside of it?"
me: "I don't know, I didn't touch it"

911: "are there any wires coming out of it or anything"

me: "I don't see anything coming out of it, just a backpack"
911: "Okay, an unattended  backpack, with no wires coming out ... so what is suspicious about it?"

The tone of voice made it sound like they weren't going to do anything about it.

I once noticed a shop-lift occur, and chased the getaway vehicle on my bike, taking photos. I called 911 right away, and part of my conversation included:

911: "do you know what race the person was"
me: "I can't be sure what race they were, I only saw them from the back, and on a dark street"

911: "were they black or Hispanic?"

STOP RIGHT THERE, the moment they ask the question this way, it introduces a huge bias in the data collected. Despite my conscious attention to think independently, at that moment I couldn't help but imagine the thief as black or Hispanic.

I read the license plate out to the operator and described the car, but surprisingly the operator said they had no capacity for me to actually send them the photos. Thanks John Oliver and the last week tonight team for raising these issues. Hoping we can get more public support for 911 centers!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Awesome construction photos

Construction in Boston is booming right now. Here is a collection of photos I've taken over the past few months.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Don't flush your hopes and dreams down this toilet

I've been in back in England for about a week now, and I've discovered a major problem facing modern British society. The issue is that the sewage systems in British buildings are not sufficiently robust to provide for the extensive sewige-based disposal needs of the British public. See for yourself in these toilet signs below:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

IBQ Exclusive Cancer Insurance for Ladies

While I'm on a middle eastern theme (talking about SA import commodity restrictions), I recently discovered that:
Not really sure what else to say so I'll just include some screenshots including this very popular – stock photo:

And here are the benefits including that sweet free cancer insurance. Just what women want from their banking institution.

And the link with handy custom url 'ladiesbanking'

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Truth in advertising

After searching far and wide in Home Depot, asking multiple salespeople for help, and finally finding them at the bottom of a shelf in a random aisle, I agree completely with the descriptive label on these drawers:

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Saudi Arabian Import commodity restrictions

As part of my ongoing adventures with Loud Bicycle I'm learning a lot about shipping. Last time it was that a strip of a mailing label and connected packing slip can be shipped across an ocean and arrive at the destination with no evidence of the actual box. Now some customers in Saudi Arabia have raised concerns about their shipping regulations.

Just to call out a few of these here,

  • Car horns are OK but annoying car horns are not allowed. You know what I can't blame them really since they are probably talking about these car alarms.
  • No Christmas Trees, with a capital T. Sounds like a real War on Christmas.
  • Frogs mean, seems oddly specific, what about newt meat?
  • Musical greeting cards ... interesting, but seems kind of petty to ban these.
  • Massage equipment indecently packaged, I think we know what this is really about, but funny to imagine they had a big problem with massage equipment arriving in boxes like this:

    (could not find original source for this image, maybe here

I am not making this up, these are the real regulations, here is the document with all the information:

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Risky multiplication

Saw this on a bus, riding home from work one day:
This is a really risky thing to wish for. What if someone wishes a painful death for him -- he could wind up with a thousand painful deaths! Alternatively, he doesn't specify the scale factor. So, perhaps I wished he earns a million dollars -- that could be multiplied by -10,000.