by Jamie Morgenstern, Assistant Professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington.

Online advertising systems have received a great deal of recent scrutiny regarding their systems’ displaying of high-stakes advertisements to different demographic groups at wildly different rates. Examples include advertising for high-wage jobs being served to men at higher rates than women [1], arrest record search sites being shown at higher rates when searching for black-identifying names than white-identifying names [2], showing hiring advertisements less often to older users [3], and showing housing advertisements in a way which strongly correlated…


When I was very young, for a couple of years my family lived in southern California. I remember a weird smattering of things from my second birthday to my fourth: just because your parents allow you to mix milk, cereal, *and* yogurt together (and that both milk and yogurt go with cereal) doesn’t mean you should; brothers are primarily good for ripping the heads off your dolls and syphoning off your parents’ attention; the weather outside is always appropriate for running around without shoes or a coat. I don’t remember that many of my parents’ friends from that period of…


From a pretty young age, I remember being told the way I dressed, the way I took care of my body, and acting ‘like a lady’ would be hugely influential in the way people would treat me in every context during my life.

In kindergarden, a boy and I played “chickenfight”, a game where two parties hang from monkey bars and try to pull one another off the monkey bars by wrapping their legs around one another. The boys in my class regularly played this game at recess. The girls, on the other hand, didn’t usually participate, but I had…


This year is unusual in a lot of ways. At the risk of losing my rep as a scrooge/grinch, I’ll mention one that’s kind of fun. This year, for the 2nd time in my life, Christmas happens during Chanukah! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, you might have to make some hard choices this year: eggnog (gross) with store-bought sugar cookies at a Christmas party or poorly fried latkes and Kosher wine at a Chanukah party.

The first time in my life the two actually shared a date was my senior year in high school. Chanukah almost exclusively fell outside of…


When I was in high school, my aunt and cousin came to visit my nuclear family in Montana. As anyone who’s ever experienced a Flathead summer knows, there is no more fantastic a time and place in the world. We hiked, we swam in the lake, we ate ice cream and picked huckleberries. I got sunburned.

One afternoon, I was walking around with my cousin, an adorable toddler at the time, in a town next to mine. I remember walking down the block and worrying that I might have gotten swimmer’s itch, because my skin felt very tight and itchy…


Before high school, the only exposure to sex education my school provided was a 2-hour session in sixth grade, where the boys and girls were separated, the girls taught about menstruation and their breasts growing, and the boys told about who knows what. There was no discussion of sex per se on the girls’ side, though there were allusions to the fact that our bodies were changing so that we could have children. When we got to high school (after at least one girl in my class had gotten pregnant in middle school), driver’s ed was spliced together with Health…


Here’s my next anecdote that I’m hoping gives some life to some of my political leanings, which I think maybe not all people experience every day.

My uncle and my aunt met in Washington, DC when I was in elementary school, and by the time I was in high school, they’d gotten married, had a son and moved to Scottsdale to be closer to my grandparents. They bought a house less than a mile away from the house my grandmother still lives in. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ place growing up: it’s where I learned to…


This story is perhaps the most personal of those that I’ll share in my tirade this week.

Summers in Pittsburgh are hot. Really, really, really hot. So much so that running in the summer is almost always unpleasant, regardless of. time of day or clothing choice. My body in particular seems to have no limit in terms of the sweat it produces on humid summer days. …


For my next attempt at ‘humanizing a political issue’, I’ve decided to talk about another issue which I feel very strongly influences my political beliefs.

My great-grandfather was born in what is now Poland. His life as a child and an adolescent was difficult: Jews were oppressed and persecuted, forced to live in ghettos where food and other resources were scarce, constantly faced with violence and killing brought about by citizens, police, and the military of the country they inhabited. For this reason, Grandpa Ira boarded a ship towards the United States, looking for a life free from persecution and…


One thing that is apparent to me from the latest election is that neither Republican nor Democrat-leaning individuals have a good understanding of the fears, hopes, or dreams of members of the other side of the aisle. There is quite literally a total lack of understanding of how someone could vote for X, or how they could think X’s or X’s parties’ policies could be good in any way. I was at dinner last night with some people who suggested the following interesting experiment, which might have interesting consequences.

Rather than us expressing anger at the individuals who voted for…

Jamie Morgenstern

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