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Weapons of Math Destruction
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy | Cathy O'Neil
A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life and threaten to rip apart our social fabric We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our liveswhere we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insuranceare being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. But as Cathy ONeil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when theyre wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student cant get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), hes then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a toxic cocktail for democracy. Welcome to the dark side of Big Data. Tracing the arc of a persons life, ONeil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These weapons of math destruction score teachers and students, sort rsums, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole, and monitor our health. ONeil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, its up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change. From the Hardcover edition.
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encinarus

I'm currently in the section of the book covering the us news and world report impact on college admissions. I want to dig more into the industry that rose around this, anyone know of further reading on this? This feels similarly systemic as the tax prep market and the inefficiencies in health care.

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pilardib
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Great documentary and the author of this book is featured!

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OutAndAbout
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Panpan

⭐ ⭐This book is a disappointing missed opportunity. I understand and share some of the author's concerns. We need discussions about how to manage these models, how to update them more frequently, how to build self correcting & self identifying attributes that help us identify & manage the downsides. This book should have been that discussion. It was not.
Full review: https://beta.thestorygraph.com/book_reviews/2170a799-10f1-44a8-95a4-3fbc732e4005

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Connster
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Pickpick

Frightening, but not surprising. Imagine how much better the world would be if Big Data was used for good, rather than for profit.....

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Connster
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In other news, I don‘t have a great deal to do today and am really tired, so it‘s my intention to read, drink tea and nap after having a bath. I‘m looking forward to this a lot! 🛁 📚 ☕️

wanderinglynn Sounds like an excellent plan! 👍🏻💜 2y
33 likes1 comment
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Connster
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This is the way they measure student progress in the U.K.: how well students achieve in comparison to how well they *should* achieve. I have such issue with this for many reasons, but am happy that I don‘t get given a ‘score‘ as a result!

Bookwomble I apologise if I offended you. 2y
Connster @Bookwomble You didn‘t offend me at all, it‘s interesting to hear different opinions. You might find the tagged book interesting 👍 2y
27 likes3 comments
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Connster
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I‘ve been really into the Dubner/Levitt Freakonomics series, so I thought this one might be interesting.

In other news, Alan has made a friend who keeps coming to call for him. When the door is on the latch, they bump noses through the gap and softly pat each other with their stumpy hands 😍😍😍

Chelsea.Poole Adorable 😻 2y
Kelly_the_Bookish_Sidekick 😻How sweet! 2y
42 likes2 comments
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jackday
Pickpick

Awesome intro to how data models can inadvertently (or advertently) screw individuals and society over. Was going to be a great prelude to a data training but then the rona hit.

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rsteve388
Pickpick

I enjoyed this book but thought it was a lot of information to take in at one time. It was challenging to read in some cases because I work as a data scientist and I have to wonder if anything I have created in the last three years has contributed to these new weapons. This is an important read for anyone conducting research, or data collection. #NFNov

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BMWtheAuthor
Mehso-so

A repetitive look into the dangers of blindly trusting algorithms. For the full review, please visit http://benjamin-m-weilert.com/index.php/2019/11/20/book-weapons-of-math-destruct...

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rsteve388

Points have been counted.

Please Note: I have to work two jobs tomorrow so I won't count points tomorrow, so I'll count them up on Thursday after work.

#NFNov

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rsteve388
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So @Clwojick and I have switched for this week! So she will count points for this week and I'll be here to answer questions and tell you all, how cool your Non Fiction Reads are!

I am working my way through the tagged book. Trying hard to understand WMDs as they apply to finance.

#NFNov

Eric1313 Cute 3y
28 likes1 comment
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rsteve388

#NFNov Hey Y'all. I am very sorry but I won't be counting points tonight. My partner is leaving for IN and tonight is our last night together. But I'll count all points for the two days tomorrow. Sorry!

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maximusje
Pickpick

“Big Data processes codify the past. They do not invent the future. Doing that requires moral imagination, and that‘s something only humans can provide.”

For a while now I have been struggling with the global trend of data-driven decision making. Rather than relying on rhetoric and power, in many aspects of our lives, we now put our faith in algorithms and supposed neutrality of models. This book gives me hope that I am not alone in my worries.

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maximusje

Over half-way, this book is getting more and more relevant in the data-driven economy and politics.

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SarahSaysRead
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Pickpick

Learned some stuff I didn't know, and just a good reminder about how data can be used for good and evil, algorithms can have unintended terrible consequences, and always check the methodology whenever possible (and ideally, it should always be possible).

#nonfiction #datascience

WanderingBookaneer This book is fascinating! 4y
26 likes1 stack add1 comment
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iread2much
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Mehso-so

It‘s interesting, but since my grad degree is in information science, and I‘m familiar w/ most of the topics discussed, a lot of it wasn‘t very surprising or new to me. I think the author was really trying too hard with the whole WMD, but I appreciated how she made things accessible and easy to read. I think the main takeaway is that algorithms are only as good as their creators and need constant updates and oversight. 2/5 stars

Sleepswithbooks Your pup is sooo gorgeous!!! 4y
iread2much @Stacypatrice thank you! I certainly think so 😉 4y
Tonton Gorgeous doggo, missing my Thunder❤️ 4y
iread2much @Tonton im so sorry for your loss. 4y
21 likes4 comments
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iread2much
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Just have to point out that it‘s funny she claims that we shouldn‘t place all the blame on the ranking, but then does. I want to see more data, and actual references, indicating the role the US News WMD, as she calls it, had on the rise of college as a necessity to life. Give me data!

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iread2much
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This is something I try to teach my students every class. Algorithms, which control the databases we use in our research, aren‘t perfect because they are made by flawed humans. The faith people put into algorithms is so scary

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iread2much
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Thank you so much @AmyG for the wonderful #thankfulforbooks gifts. I am so excited for these and the chocolate was super thoughtful. Thank you! @JamieLou this was a lovely swap, thank you 😊

JamieLou Yay! 😍🦃 Enjoy! 4y
AmyG Enjoy your books! And Happy Thanksgiving! 4y
bookcollecter Cathy O'Neil books looks very interesting 4y
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iread2much @AmyG thanks and you too 🍁🍂 4y
iread2much @bookcollecter I‘ve not read anything by her before, but I think it will be interesting to see how she views big data. 4y
iread2much @JamieLou thank you! 4y
bookcollecter What year was it published? 4y
AmyG Thank you, Rachel, for the lovely thank you note! Again, hope you enjoy the books. 4y
iread2much @AmyG you are very welcome! I am glad it made it to you safe. 😄 4y
22 likes1 stack add10 comments
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Chelsey
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Pickpick

And with that I'm halfway there! WMD was a must read. None of it was exactly new info to me, but it was always more of a feeling and general cultural awareness. Now I have data backing it up. I finished American War but it was far more grim than I'd imagined. Very dark. I've realized that a lot of the speculative fiction I read ends on a high note. I think I like it that way.

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Chelsey
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Yes!!!

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Chelsey
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I've got this one on audio and as an ebook to help me focus on what promises to be a fascinating and worrying look at big data

zembla I love using multiple formats, especially when I really want to cram something into my head! 4y
16 likes1 stack add1 comment
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keithmalek
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Bklover Wow! 5y
14 likes1 comment
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keithmalek
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keithmalek
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keithmalek

According to a watchdog group, the Consumer Federation of America, Allstate analyzes consumer and demographic data to determine the likelihood that consumers will shop for lower prices. If they aren't likely to, it makes sense to charge them more. And that's just what Allstate does.

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keithmalek

The algorithms would make sure that those deemed losers would remain that way. A lucky minority would gain even more control over the data economy, raking in outrageous fortunes and convincing themselves all the while that they deserved it.

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Trace
Pickpick

Highly recommended if you want to better understand how firms target you in their advertising, lending, and hiring efforts.

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LauraJ
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Pickpick

I‘m always leery of statistics if I don‘t know how the numbers were derived. O‘Neil makes it easy to understand how stats and algorithms can mislead and be used for all kinds of dishonest practices that hurt large groups of society. In the era of fake news, this is a must-have for any beginner‘s BS Detection Kit.

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WanderingBookaneer
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What do you think?

AceOnRoam I think not. Bad seeds are everywhere. So are good ones 😎 5y
Ddzmini My grandmother used to say “it‘s not what‘s on the outside of a person it‘s what‘s on the inside.” She meant that how a person behaves (by actions and deeds) is how he or she should be judged. I would have too agree with her. 5y
Laura317 I don‘t think so either. That‘s way too broad of a brush with which to paint an entire race. We are all one race. Human. 5y
49 likes3 comments
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Blaire
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Pickpick

O‘Neil explains how algorithms perpetuate the class divide, racist policies, and contribute to the cycle of poverty. I knew for-profit colleges were bad, but was shocked by how outrageous their tactics were in targeting those who were vulnerable. An eye-opening look on how reliance on data has unintended consequences. Covers topics from stop and frisk to college loans to Facebook. Good choice for #readharder #nonfictionabouttech #litsyatoz #O

rockpools That sounds so interesting! 5y
keithmalek I saw a guy reading this on the train a few weeks ago. The title was interesting, so I looked it up and then added it to my TBR list. 5y
43 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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WanderingBookaneer
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vivastory Great haul. White Tears is one of my favorites of the year 5y
87 likes3 stack adds1 comment
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Lindy
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It was because of hearing Cathy O‘Neil on the 99% Invisible podcast that I sought out her book. You can listen to the episode here: https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-age-of-the-algorithm/

ClairesReads Oh cool! I have this at home- thanks for sharing the podcast! 5y
38 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Lindy
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Pickpick

O‘Neil, a mathematician passionate about fairness, accountability & democracy, gets riled up about the misuse of data & predictive models & that makes for good #audiobook listening. Big data gets excellent teachers fired, makes physically fit people pay higher health premiums, a driver with drunk driving convictions pay lower premiums than a driver with a clean record but a poor credit rating & credit ratings are inaccurate anyway. 😠

Yellowpigeon Back during the recession, I worked with a guy who did a very specific type of consulting. The projects had high $$ but went very quick. Our job was driven by utilization (aka hours worked). So he was at the bottom but was the only person who did this work. Our boss had to lay off people and the metric given was utilization. He was let go but rehired as an outside consultant. He worked fewer hours but charged us more. So stupid. 5y
Lindy @Yellowpigeon Yes, there are so many examples like yours. Why do smart people do this? (Rhetorical question.) 5y
NCNY I was watching 20/20 years ago when John Stossel was on that show. He was trying to argue that the rich pay their fair share of taxes. He showed a pie chart that said the 5% of the US population that earned the most paid 25% of all taxes. Even though I was like 15, I was offended at the abuse of numbers. He needed to show what percent of total US income those 5% earned. That kind of thing drives me crazy. 5y
Lindy @NCNY Yes! You go, 15-year-old self! 5y
35 likes1 stack add4 comments
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Lindy
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I‘m surprised by one thing after another in this audiobook. Just learned that the BMI is a bogus measurement.

merelybookish I have always been a bit skeptical of BMI. 5y
Hooked_on_books I have had body builder patients with practically zero body fat who will have BMIs in the “obese” range. It should be used with caution. 5y
Megabooks Yes, that is true! 5y
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Lindy @Hooked_on_books O‘Neil specifically mentions body builders as an example. 5y
Lindy @merelybookish @Booksandcooks O‘Neil reminds readers that averages measure entire populations, not individuals. 5y
Spiderfelt I heard an interview with the author. It sounds like a fascinating book. 5y
54 likes6 stack adds6 comments
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ssravp
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Mehso-so

A few skippable parts but overall a pretty interesting listen.

RaimeyGallant Sounds interesting...and terrifying. #LitsyLoveBoost 5y
9 likes1 comment
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geodynamical_nonfiction
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Paraphrased: If you look at a student's grade level test scores from year to year, they are as random as M&Ms thrown on a graph, yet analyses on these student test scores are used to score teachers and fire them. #nonfiction #datascience #monitoring #surveillance #algorithm #code #program #math #education

Cinfhen WOW! 5y
Victoria_C This book was really eye opening for me. 5y
Debiw781 The infamous and oh so ridiculous VAM score? 5y
23 likes3 stack adds3 comments
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geodynamical_nonfiction
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Pickpick

I already got the gist of this book before I started listening, but I listened to it twice anyway so I could give it lots of thought. Food for thought: most job applicants are filtered out based on zip codes, social media, personality tests, and credit scores before they ever see a live person. It's illegal to filter by race/religion/disability, but what's next? Health scores? The talented exceptions to the rule are hurt the most by algorithms.

minkyb 😲 5y
19 likes1 comment
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geodynamical_nonfiction
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I finally figured out how to borrow audiobooks from the library. Listening to this now. #datascience #programming

SheilaChew What app do you use? 5y
27 likes1 comment
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emtobiasz
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Whew! It feels like I have been away from Litsy forever, but it's really only been a week or so. This is my last week of my graduate program, so I'm scrambling to read all the books and write all the papers. Oh, and I'm moving this weekend. And working tomorrow.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book and wanted to spend more time with it, but someone else is waiting for it at the library. I'll have to ask for it again... later 😆

LiteraryinLawrence Good luck finishing your program and moving!! 5y
Heretherebedragons Good luck with finishing grad school! You can do it! 5y
43 likes1 stack add3 comments
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JacintaMCarter
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I thought this cover was an interesting take on the usual #SkullAndCrossedBones. #WhatAWayToLive #PiratesLife

CrowCAH Too cute! ☠️ Love the pun on the math book. 6y
42 likes1 comment
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Ksvz
Pickpick

2017 #61 nonfiction audio read this. Understand why we are being lied to even by people who believe they are telling the truth. The most brutal accounting of the economic system. The end got a little to preachy for me but the first 3/4 was super insightful and solid.

geodynamical_nonfiction Definitely on the lookout for a sale in this book. I needs it. 6y
3 likes1 comment
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8little_paws
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Pickpick

Really interesting look at how data metrics can cause further marginalization and harm. It's a pretty easy read, and she brings together facts in interesting and new ways.

Why I read it: NBA nonfiction longlist 2016

Sace I have to read this. 6y
54 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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ABookGeek
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Needless to say, racists don't spend a lot of time hunting down reliable data to train their twisted models. And once their model morphs into a belief, it becomes hard wired. It generated poisonous assumptions, yet rarely tests them, settling instead for data that seems to confirm and fortify them. Consequently, racism is the most slovenly of predictive models.

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ABookGeek
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Just stating this and it's already grabbed me.

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rivercityreading
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Pickpick

Super interesting look at the way algorithms dominate our world, in areas like employment, criminal justice, and education. Not nearly as mathy as it sounds, much more focused on the inequality these "WMDs" can lead to.

BkClubCare Interesting. (Since I'm in the middle of Just Mercy! This algorithm concept does not compute) 6y
rivercityreading @BkClubCare It seems out of left field (especially with a book like Just Mercy!), but as an example...there's an algorithm sometimes used when determining whether or not to grant parole that tries to assess how likely someone is to re-offend. As you can probably imagine, it's imperfect and tends to misclassify defendants of color as a higher risk too often. 6y
BkClubCare @rivercityreading - will check it out. Thx 6y
23 likes3 stack adds3 comments
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angrylilasian
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Essential #readingequipment includes but is not exclusive to:
Reading log notebook
A good pen
Cute flags
Bookmark (this little sprout is my fav right now)
Coffee/tea/wine (depending on when and what I'm reading 😋)
#readJanuary
@RealLifeReading

RealLifeReading The sprout is so cute! 6y
MeganB The sprout!! 💕💕 6y
LuLeeBelle All the cute stationary!! 6y
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angrylilasian @RealLifeReading @MeganB I know! It's ridiculously cute and it can stick out the top of the book or stay inside the way I have it in the picture. 6y
angrylilasian @LuLeeBelle I'm a sucker for cute stationary. 😋 6y
MeganB Cute and versatile is the best combination ☺️ 6y
59 likes1 stack add6 comments
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Kathrin
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Pickpick

For me, this is an eye opening and enraging read and I think the author accomplishes beautifully to explain these models and how they impact us.

Suet624 Really good quote. 6y
34 likes1 stack add1 comment