All posts by charlescearl

Travel

Mawlid with Shaykh Salim

Yesterday the world celebrated the birth of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.)

We visited Fatehpur Sikri the night before.

It’s a world heritage site built by Akbar the Great that has so much significance in the Islamic world.

Akbar picked this particular site for his palace because it was where Sufi Shayk Salim Chishti — a beloved advisor — had his camp.

My son and I offered prayers on behalf of family and friends at Shayk Salim’s resting place.

Despite Azad and our guide trying their best, I succumbed to a very persistent artisan.

Shayk was looking out though — the pieces I bought were an extremely good deal.

Capitalism aside, the moments were priceless — we felt so fortunate and uplifted to breathe in the spiritual beauty.

ElectionsGeorgiaSocial JusticeVoting

Why voting in Georgia matters: Black infant mortality

If you are an infant born to an African American mother in Georgia (also Mississippi or Alabama) your chances of making it past the first year are worse than that of an infant born in Syria. China and Venezuela also have lower infant mortality rates than the 12.5 deaths per 1,000 infants that the Kaiser Family Foundation reports for Georgia.

If you’re eligible to vote in the upcoming Georgia election on November 6, 2018, this is a PSA to: 1) vote, and 2) vote for candidates that can change the healthcare disparities impacting expecting mothers and their children.

I delved into these statistics after reading this Atlantic article and was stunned, saddened, outraged. The popular reports of life in Syria and Venezuela paint those countries as war zones, places in the throes of chaos, places where the healthcare system has collapsed and failed the most vulnerable. Coincidentally, the infant mortality rate for Black children in Georgia (the state) is identical to the overall rate of Georgia the country (12.9  deaths / 1,000) — and the democratic institutions of the two Georgias may be in similar shape. Georgia the country is making strides towards full democracy.

You might say that I’m comparing disparate populations — Black people in Georgia vs the overall population of Syria. Would you agree that a comparison of Caribbean nations to the U.S. Black populations is reasonable? All of these islands have significant African diaspora populations — equalling or exceeding the Black population of the state of Georgia. Many of the current Black inhabits of the U.S. claim Caribbean ancestry. Let’s then compare Georgia’s infant mortality with that of the most populous Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico (a U.S. territory).

infantmortality

These figures are from the Kaiser Family Foundation table cited earlier and the CIA infant mortality rankings. The United Nations and CDC keep similar statistics.

The overall impact of Georgia’s health policies — the defunding of rural health, unaddressed racial disparities, the refusal to support medicaid expansion among them — are richly detailed in this report When the State Fails: Maternal Mortality & Racial Disparity in Georgia. The results of these policies have been devastating  — a perfect storm on the life expectancy of Black women and children, and also upon those of rural Georgians of all races and ethnicities.

What can be done?

  • If you live in Georgia, please remember to vote — there are candidates on the November 6, 2018 ballot who are committed to ending health disparities based on class and race.
  • You might consider moving to Georgia (in the mode of Freedom Summer). To quote Stacey Abrams “Georgia matters to everyone. If you change the leadership of Georgia, you change the South. If you change the South, you change the country.
  • Stay informed and advocate for universal healthcare in the U.S.
  • If you’re a healthcare professional, consider getting involved in volunteer efforts in the Southern U.S.
MigrationPolitics

Reverse migration and the Georgia election

According to this story in the Atlantic, the migration of African Americans from the Northeast to Georgia in particular (and the Southeast generally) may be a factor in the November 6 election. The reason it is called reverse migration? In the 20th century more than 10% of the Black population of the South left the oppressive, openly racist and anti-democracy regimes in Southern US states ( like Georgia) to mildly better regimes in the U.S. north. Emerging political representation, flourishing Black communities, and lower costs of living have been beckoning the descendants of the refugees of the 1920s and 50s back.

I ran some numbers on this a few months ago. It could very likely impact the Georgia governor election in which Stacey Abrams is in a statistical draw with the current Georgia Secretary of State (who seems to have nostalgic fondness for un-democratic practices of the 20th century). It will be interesting to see how the reverse migration factors in coming political social events.

Machine LearningNatural Language Processing

I know you’ll be back: interpretable new user clustering and churn prediction on a mobile social application

I know you’ll be back: interpretable new user clustering and churn prediction on a mobile social application

I know you’ll be back: interpretable new user clustering and churn prediction on a mobile social application
— Read on blog.acolyer.org/2018/10/05/i-know-youll-be-back-interpretable-new-user-clustering-and-churn-prediction-on-a-mobile-social-application/

Interesting paper on mobile user churn prediction at Snapchat

AtlantaPoliticsSocial Justice

Vote absentee if you live in Georgia

Want to make sure your vote counts in the Georgia November election? Casting an absentee ballot may be the way to go!

Federal judge Amy Totenberg (sister of Nina Totenberg if you are an NPR listener) ruled Monday that Georgia could go ahead using insecure paperless voting machines.

Although Judge Totenberg concurred with many cybersecurity experts that the voting machines pose a credible threat of alteration of ballot counts, she decided that the last minute switch would impose a burden on voters and a logistical challenge to the state’s election commission. If you’re not up on the current events, the head of the Georgia election commission is running for governor in a highly contested election and there have been some irregularities in his management (or lack thereof) of voting records. Hmm.

There have been charges of voter suppression, a 21st century step back from a hard won right to vote — ponder the 19th century Harper’s magazine image above celebrating the democratic participation of newly emancipated peoples post Civil War.

The main concern with electronic voting machines — especially the ones used in Georgia — is that they cannot be easily audited. The National Academy of Sciences in their report recommended in fact that “Voting machines that do not provide the capacity for independent auditing (e.g., machines that do not produce a voter-verifiable paper audit trail) should be removed from service as soon as possible.” This applies to the machines used in Georgia, and Judge Totenberg effectively ruled that this should be the last election in which such machines are use.  Further, a malicious and technically sophisticated insider could alter voting records — that is “hack” the election.

Now if you cast an absentee ballot, the paper copy is preserved. Voter advocate sites like vote.org can help you get your ballot in a matter of seconds. There is an online tool that the Georgia Secretary of State’s office provides. I am not whether the online tool provides the functions that the National Academy of Sciences recommends — tracking of absentee ballot delivery and receipt.

In any case, absentee is a good way to be very present in the democratic process in Georgia.