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diversity, Drama, Google, James Damore, lawsuit, TC, Tech

James Damore, a former Google engineer who was fired in August after posting a memo to an internal Google message board arguing that women may not be equally represented in tech because they are biologically less capable of engineering, has filed a class action lawsuit against the company in Santa Clara Superior Court in Northern California.

His claims: that Google unfairly discriminates against white men whose political views are unpopular with its executives.

Damore is joined in the suit by another former Google engineer named David Gudeman, who spent three years with Google working on a query engine. According to Gudeman’s LinkedIn profile, he left the company in December 2016 and has been self-employed since.

The lawsuit, filed by Dhillon Law Group, says it aims to represent all employees of Google who’ve been discriminated against due to their “perceived conservative political views by Google,” due to “their male gender by Google” and “due to their Caucasian race by Google.”

More specifically, it accuses Google of singling out, mistreating and systematically punishing and terminating employees who “expressed views deviating from the majority view at Google on political subjects raised in the workplace and relevant to Google’s employment policies and its business, such as ‘diversity’ hiring policies, ‘bias sensitivity’ or ‘social justice’…”

Damore isn’t holding back any punches here. According to his filing, Google employs “illegal hiring quotas to fill its desired percentages of women and favored minority candidates, and openly shames managers of business units who fail to meet their  quotas—in the process, openly denigrating male and Caucasian employees as less favored than others.”

The suit also claims that “numerical presence of women celebrated at Google” was based “solely due to their gender” while the “presence of Caucasians and males was mocked with ‘boos’ during companywide weekly meetings.”

Somewhat redundantly, it adds that Damore, Gudeman and “other class members” were “ostracized, belittled, and punished for their heterodox political views, and for the added sin of their birth circumstances of being Caucasians and/or males.”

The lawsuit is seeking monetary, non-monetary and punitive remedies.

Damore’s firing last summer became the talk of the nation, with many in Silicon Valley outraged that Google didn’t act even more swiftly to terminate him. Elsewhere, many wondered whether the firing would have a chilling effect on employees’ ability to openly discuss their viewpoints.

Google said it fired Damore for violating its code of conduct and advancing “harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” Damore meanwhile began a kind of press tour, denouncing the company for being close-minded and worse. In an interview with CNBC, for example, he compared being a conservative at Google to “being gay in the 1950s.”

In a press conference this afternoon, Damore’s attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, a California representative for the Republican National Committee, elaborated more on the very lengthy complaint and argued that her current clients are far from alone. In fact, she said she spoke with “dozens” of employees at Google to formulate the lawsuit and that she expects there will be “future lawsuits” to explore, as well.

To underscore her point, she cited so-called TGIF meetings at Google, telling reporters that during Damore’s tenure, “managers were called out and shamed and mocked if they didn’t have 50/50 gender parity in [their respective] units.” She called it a “fair goal” but asked, rhetorically: “How do you get there? Job fairs. Making yourself more attractive. Not by saying, ‘White guy, you can’t have that job because that’s reserved for a woman or [other] minority.’”

The new suit isn’t the only one Google is having to defend itself against. In September, three female former Google employees filed a lawsuit against the company, saying it pays women at all levels of the company less than men, as well as assigns them lower job tiers with less opportunity for upward mobility. Last month, a fourth complainant joined their suit.

The Labor Department is separately investigating systemic pay discrimination at the company.

Google says it hasn’t found a pay gap in its own analysis.

You can read the lawsuit filed by Damore and Gudeman here:

James Damore vs. Google: Class Action Lawsuit by TechCrunch on Scribd

Featured Image: James Damore/Twitter


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Entertainment

Over the Christmas period, Ridley Scott was a little critical of the running time of the hugely acclaimed Blade Runner 2049, suggesting that the film was too long. This ties into a narrative that suggests the movie would have been a bigger success if it was shorter. Scott, of course, opted to direct the shorter Alien: Covenant ($240m worldwide), with Denis Villeneuve tackling Blade Runner 2049 ($258m worldwide).

Still, Scott was very much involved in the new movie, and in a new interview, he’s suggested that Blade Runner 3 is a possibility.

“I hope so”, he told Digital Spy. “I think there is another story. I’ve got another one ready to evolve and be developed, so there is certainly one to be done for sure”.

The chances of it happening aren’t great, we’d suggest, although the home entertainment release of Blade Runner 2049 may yet be the determining factor….



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Humor / Daily Shouts, Tech

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Arrow, Black Lightning, Entertainment, Legends of Tomorrow, News, Supergirl, The flash, tv

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Now that the “Super Season” is about ready to resume, it’s time that we all gear up for the returns of the various shows making up the Arrowverse. And when we say “gear up,” some folks are obviously going to take that quite literally.

As you may recall, The CW circulated a rather amusing trailer not long ago showing the likes of the Green Arrow, the Waverider crew and some of our other favorite DC TV heroes suiting up. Well, this time, they topped that by releasing the full promo that’s chock full of the playful banter between characters that we’ve come to love in crossovers like Crisis on Earth-X, which is set to re-air this week, mind you.

But even with the boatload of added material, the moment that gets me most is when the two fastest heroes – Supergirl and the Flash – are lagging behind, and Oliver Queen informs them that everybody else has been suiting up for twenty minutes. Being someone who actually owns a replica of the costume currently worn by the Green Arrow, I can confirm that it does indeed take a while to put on the entire ensemble – though probably not as long as it takes for the Atom to put on his rig.

What’s especially noteworthy here, though, is that Black Lightning puts in an appearance at the very end. Sure, we’ve been given the line that the new series will be its own thing for the first season, which will allow it to not worry about the drag of continuity, but this offers much hope that Jefferson Pierce will join forces with the heroes of the Arrowverse before long.

And for more on Black Lightning, be sure to check out our review.

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Tech

Oh, Cortana, will you ever be truly loved? Microsoft really did try, naming you after a character in its (once popular, now less so) Halo series, and embedding you so deeply into Windows 10, that yours is the first voice we hear when we install the operating system (which can be a little frightening if you’re reinstalling and forget that your PC speakers are turned up to full volume).

Microsoft saw what Apple was doing with Siri, and put its considerable talents and expertise in voice recognition software to create Cortana and fully integrate its voice assistant into Windows PCs. However, with two of the biggest laptop makers, Acer and Asus, announcing that they are adding Amazon’s younger, and more popular, Alexa voice assistant into their laptops, could the end be nigh for Cortana?

Things aren’t looking especially good, and it doesn’t help that while Microsoft does still appear to support Cortana, removing features like music recognition and simply leaving an ugly error message in its place makes it feel like Microsoft itself is beginning to lose faith. The relative failure of Microsoft’s smartphone ambitions will also have dulled Cortana’s appeal.

Speak to me

To be honest, while voice assistants on smartphones, and screen-less devices like smart speakers, make sense, I’ve never seen the appeal of a voice assistant on a laptop or PC.

Now, I’m not talking about voice control for accessibility – those features definitely have a use for people who cannot use other input methods. What I mean is those chirpy voice assistants like Cortana, Siri and Alexa, who have been programmed to have a bit of personality alongside their cutesy names (which usually involves programming in some groan-worthy ‘humorous’ replies to certain questions).

I’m one of those weird creatures that prefers using a desktop PC, and with no built-in microphone in my rig, Cortana is the first thing I disable. When I do work on a laptop, I’m usually on a train or busy office, so don’t want to yell at my computer to create a reminder to pick up more toilet roll on the way home. In fact, when I’m using my PC, I’m pretty much always sat right in front of it, so I never really need to shout at it from across the room unless YouTube accidentally begins to play a PewDiePie video.

So, while I’m no big fan of Cortana, Alexa coming to my laptop isn’t too exciting either. What Alexa on a laptop does have going for it is that Alexa is a pretty embedded presence in my house already. This is thanks to a number of Amazon Echos dotted around the place, and I’ve got it connected to my smart lights, thermostat and more. So I could possibly see myself using it if I wanted to turn on the lights and there wasn’t an Amazon Echo device nearby. Remember, I have issues using a light switch.

Goodbye Cortana?

So, is this the beginning of the end for Cortana? Maybe, but maybe not. Last year it was reported that Amazon and Microsoft were working together to allow Alexa and Cortana to also work alongside each other.

Now, this may be evidence that Cortana still has life in it yet, and that the two voice assistants can coexist peacefully, but it could also be seen as Microsoft laying the groundwork for Cortana to be replaced, much like a parasite gradually leeches off the life-force of its host. This is an image that I’m sure the marketing departments of both Microsoft and Amazon will be keen to use.

So, is Cortana getting dumped? It’s not looking all that positive at the moment, but it will make little difference to me, as I’ll still be giving my PC the silent treatment no matter which voice assistant it uses.

  • New year, new tech – check out all our coverage of CES 2018 straight from Las Vegas, the greatest gadget show on Earth


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28

alien, Entertainment, movies, News

Even at 80 years young, Ridley Scott continues to be one of the most prolific creators in all of Hollywood.

Between directing, producing and writing, the illustrious filmmaker is often juggling numerous projects simultaneously, and he shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. As a matter of fact, Scott has already floated an idea for a third Blade Runner movie, while a full-blown adaptation of The Merlin Saga is said to be on the cards, too.

But what of his sci-fi gem? We are, of course, referring to the time-honored Alien franchise, which admittedly strayed into troubled waters soon after the release of Covenant. That’s not to say the prequel-sequel was ostensibly bad; rather, it failed to light up the box office in the way Fox would have hoped, leading studio executives to “reassess” the franchise’s future. And that’s before we even factor in the recent Disney-Fox merger.

In fact, while promoting All the Money in the World, Ridley Scott chimed in with his own thoughts on the seismic acquisition, and what it means for the future of Alien.

It looks to me that the Fox deal is certainly going to go ahead with Disney, and I’ve been with Fox for a number years now. I’m hoping I’ll still probably be there so whether or not they go ahead with such a dark subject, being Disney, as Aliens remains to be seen. I think they should because when people have a hard and fast franchise which has ongoing interest, it’s crazy not to do something with it.

The Mouse House is known and loved for its palatable, PG-13 movies, so it’s hard to imagine how Alien could slither into such a strict template. Nevertheless, as Scott says up above, it really would be crazy to leave Alien by the wayside.

That’s why they’re so successful. And they draw the line at anything that crosses PG-13. [If] they find that they’re so successful with that that they want to cross the line and do something a little darker, and if they do that, do they want to do that under Disney or do they want to do that under the Fox banner? I think there’s a business plan afoot definitely.

As for what’s next, a sequel to Covenant is still on the table, even if it comes at the expense of Neill Blomkamp’s planned sequel.

I’m in tune with where Covenant 2 would go. We already know what we’d do with that.

So, there you have it; even after Disney’s historic acquisition, it appears the Alien series is dormant, not dead.



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androidwear2.0, ces2018, cycling, fitness, gadgetry, Gadgets, gear, running, smartglasses, solos, Tech

In addition to new abilities like being able to listen to music and communicate with the rest of your cycling group, the smart glasses can now be used by runners as well. The SOLOS software has been freshly rejiggered to work for runners including the most common tracking metrics like elapsed time, speed, pace, cadence, and heart rate. In addition to music, the glasses can also display visual notifications (say if you get an important email) and provide audio turn-by-turn navigation.

The glasses reportedly offer around 5 hours of battery life, though I’m primarily concerned with trying the read the HUD while these goggles and the rest of my head are bobbling about as I run. Audio directions shouldn’t be as much of an issue as the headset includes both directional speakers and earbuds, depending on your preference. The system is compatible with Android Wear 2.0 and ANT+ which means you’ll be able to integrate them with your existing Strava, Training Peaks, and Under Armor equipment. The glasses will retail for $500 when they hit the market some point in the first quarter of 2018.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.



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18

Entertainment, Red Sparrow, Trailers

The second trailer for the Jennifer Lawrence spy/assassin thriller movie Red Sparrow is now online. Based on the 2013 book of the same name written by Jason Matthews and adapted for film by screenwriter Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road, A Cure for Wellness), the movie reunites Jennifer Lawrence with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2 director Francis Lawrence. Originally set for a November 2017 theatrical rollout, Red Sparrow was pushed back to March 2018 by 20th Century Fox and is now getting its marketing machine fully up and running, with just two months left before it hits the scene.

Lawrence stars in the film as a young ballerina named Dominika Egorova, who suffers a career-ending injury that sets her on a very different career path. A series of events thereafter leads Dominika to become a member of a secret Russian intelligence service. Given her years of intense mental and physical training as a dancer, Egorova takes quickly to the ways of the organization and becomes a Sparrow: a highly specialized spy/assassin that seduces their targets for information and kills them as needs be. However, everything changes for Dominika after she crosses paths with CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) and the pair develop mutual feelings for one another, prompting the Russian spy to give serious though to becoming a double agent.

RELATED: Jennifer Lawrence Sees Red in Red Sparrow Poster

The second theatrical trailer for Red Sparrow has now been officially released online by 20th Century. Check it out in the space above!

Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow Red Sparrow Trailer #2: Jennifer Lawrence Becomes An Assassin

Joining Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton as members of the Red Sparrow cast are such names as Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons (Justice League), as well as Irons’ Oscar-nominated Assassin’s Creed costar Charlotte Rampling. Also costarring in the film are Joely Richardson (Emerald City), Matthias Schoenaerts (The Danish Girl), Douglas Hodge (Penny Dreadful), Mary-Louise Parker (Mr. Mercedes), and Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones).

The last few years have been bumpy for Jennifer Lawrence as far as the reception and box office returns for her starring vehicles are concerned. Neither the sci-fi drama/romance Passengers (which Lawrence costarred in with Chris Pratt) nor the X-Men film X-Men: Apocalypse were well received critically in 2016, while her turn in Darren Aronofsky’s mother! last year has failed to bring Lawrence much attention this awards season. 2018, however, could be a different story, between Lawrence’s intriguing turn in Red Sparrow and her return to the X-Men movie franchise with this fall’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix, where Lawrence reprises her role as Mystique.

MORE: The 30 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

Source: 20th Century Fox



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Tech

For those who only spend time in the kitchen out of necessity rather than a love for cooking, Whirlpool has added an integration with recipes app Yummly to help making meals a bit less stressful. At CES 2018, the appliance company has unveiled a new line of smart kitchen range and microwave that pairs with Yummly so you can select recipes you’d like to make and the appliances will automatically preheat, cook, and turn themselves off when the meals are done cooking.

Yummly works by letting you pick your dietary preferences, ingredients you have in the fridge, or cooking difficulty / time and walks you through how to make a dish with step-by-step instructions. If you have random stuff in the fridge, you’ll also be able to use Yummly to take a photo of the ingredients to have the app recommend recipes based on what you’ve got. If you prefer to plan recipes ahead of time, you can also create a shopping list from the app, or select to have the ingredients sent to Instacart for one-hour deliveries.

Once you’re ready, Yummly can send notifications on when to start cooking to have a meal ready by. As you follow along the app, it’ll send preheating and cooking instructions (bake, broil, etc.) to the oven or microwave so everything is ready to go by the time all prep is done. There’s also an option to automatically turn the oven down to a warming temperature when the cooking’s done in case you don’t plan to eat right away. This is similar to other smart cooking solutions like the Tovala oven that scans its pre-packaged meals to automatically set individualized cooking temperature and time.

Of course, because this is CES, a smart appliance isn’t quite complete without a third party voice assistant integration. Amazon recently announced that Alexa can now be used to control ovens and microwaves, and the new Whirlpool line will be compatible with this new feature. They will also support Google Assistant and can send notifications to the Apple Watch.

All this means your appliances will require Wi-Fi to operate all of their connected features, though obviously it’ll work as a dumb equipment as usual should your internet goes under. The new range seems useful for those who are trying to be better at cooking and want to optimize for time, though eventually the goal should be to know how to do all this yourself in the future and not rely on the web to make sure you don’t burn your house down if the Wi-Fi disconnects for a bit.

The new Whirlpool smart range and microwave will be available later this spring. The company has not yet disclosed exact pricing.



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Entertainment

This review contains spoilers.

11.12 The Matrimonial Metric

The Big Bang Theory’s eleventh season has so far done a fair job of milking storylines out of the big finale non-cliffhanger, and The Matrimonial Metric once again produces a nice ensemble piece based around the catalyst that is Sheldon and Amy’s upcoming nuptials.

When Amy reveals that she’s still in the process of choosing a maid of honour for the wedding, she asks Sheldon to change the subject should it come up in conversation with their friends. He somehow manages to throw them off the scent despite some close calls, and the couple later decide to use detailed metrics to decide who should be in the wedding party.

This is of course pretty arbitrary because, as the audience, we know that Sheldon would never choose Raj or Howard to be his best man, and Amy has been in love with Penny for multiple seasons now.

So the two of them set about performing a number of tests that will prove how trustworthy, proactive or resourceful their individual friends are, at one point switching around to ‘best woman’ and ‘guy of honour’. Once rumbled, Penny declares that Amy is her closest friend and she won’t accept no for an answer, and Sheldon chooses Leonard after he’s reminded that wedding planning is about being selfish – something he’s been training for his whole life.

Poor Stuart gets to be best man for a whole day before he’s usurped, but wouldn’t a Monica Geller-esque headset and clipboard have looked great on him at the rehearsal dinner?

Considering that the entire show has more or less become a way for the writers to throw a spotlight on their biggest cash cow character (to the point where an entire spin-off has been created), it’s been nice to have Sheldon paired with Amy for most of their storylines this year. There’s a reason the couple has been a hit with fans, and Amy balances him out very nicely at times.

It’s particularly charming when the two of them can be as goofy and terrible as each other, like when Amy rejoices in the idea that she can hurt her friends’ feelings without taking on any of the responsibility. It’s also a testament to how thoroughly quirky the couple are that none of their friends twig until the last minute.

It goes uncommented upon in the episode itself, but it should also be noted that Raj and Howard’s friendship seems to have been repaired entirely. One small difference – the only cutting remark made between them this week was Raj towards Howard.

A huge part of me wishes The Matrimonial Metric had been a bottle episode that began when Amy and Sheldon entered the gathering at the start. The concept would have provided huge potential for a great, farcical hour in which Sheldon kept tripping over his obligation not to reveal Amy’s indecision and, once revealed, the gang would voluntarily compete for the roles.

Alas, was we got was still a fun instalment and, even if the results of the experiment where the obvious ones, it makes me hopeful for episodes centred on the remaining milestones. That’s before we get to the wedding itself, of course, and with the news that season 12 might be the last, we should expect fireworks.



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