Author Archives: Juan Marte Melendez

Final Project Proposal

I plan on investigating algorithms in the Criminal Justice System because I discover it prejudicial how a judge decides whether to send you home or to jail to await trial using math.  They call it “risk assessment tools,” where they fill out your history, demographics information, and essential details to obtain a score. That score will determine how likely you are to commit another crime or show up at your next hearing date. The problem is when risk assessment tools become racist against people of color and Latinos. We need to understand how algorithms are created to define if they are useful and neutral. According to “The era of blind faith in big data must end” by Cathy O’Neil, to build an algorithm, you need two things: 1- Data: what happened in the past, and 2- definition of success: the thing you are looking for. In fact, algorithms can go wrong because they can repeat our past practices or patterns. 

I have many questions about using algorithms in the Criminal Justice System. The first, are algorithms a threat to justice? Justice is fair, equal, and balanced for everyone. What happened if that concept of justice is not applied to the reality because algorithms increase discrimination based on race, putting in risk the legislative branch? Judges are focus only on what numbers are on their screen without an in-depth evaluation of the person is in front of them. Another critical question, what data did they use to create “risk assessments tools”? Did they use data from the time people of color and Latinos were discriminated against? If yes, algorithms will repeat the same actions.

I need to find out the different risk assessment tools used by the Criminal Justice System, specifically in New York City in 2019. After I identify which assessments judges are using, I want to verify if algorithms were right. It is important to collect data to analyze the results of judges’ decisions against people of color and Latinos. I think it would be difficult to interview a judge to know his point of view regarding algorithms. Another complex aspect would be to understand how algorithms work since they use mathematical formulas.

Steps 3 & 4: Research and Finding!

It was interesting to read about “The long shadow of bad credit in a job search” by Gary Rivlin, published in The New York Times. This article cites “Nearly half — 47 percent — of employers use credit checks when making a hiring decision, according to a 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management”. 

I did not know that employers run a credit screening when they are in the hiring process. It is no fair that the final decision made was on the credit score. There are many factors to affect your credit health, it is not only because you are irresponsible or careless about your finances.

I found a source through the John Jay library website. It’s called: “Two Essays on Spatial Econometrics and An Essay on Pre-Employment Credit Checks” by Xin Yu and Lucia Dunn, published in 2014. This dissertation consists of three chapters. Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 discuss two topics in spatial econometrics. Chapter 3 discusses one topic on pre-employment credit checks in job markets. In Chapter 3, they show links between credit score and probability of employment. Among current economic studies on employment credit checks, this research is the first one to use a nationally representative sample and deal with the endogeneity problem between credit score and employability. The sample of this study comes from Consumer Finance Monthly (CFM) survey, which contains valuable information on respondents’ employment status and income. CFM survey also allows them to construct an approximation to respondents’ credit scores. Using approximated credit scores, an economic model of employment with endogenous credit score is proposed to quantitatively analyze the relationship between credit score and employability. All model specifications suggest that bad credit score makes people less employable, which may result from pre-employment credit checks.

The second source was an article published on called “Can you be denied a job due to bad credit”.  Self is helping thousands of people begin their financial journey with a credit builder account. They understand that building a financial foundation is a daunting task for most people, so they’re dedicated to building a product that will help their customers move two steps in the right direction. They are a member of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Equal Housing Lender. 

Rhetorical Devices: Romance, Gender, and Sex Appeal

Romance Appeal #1 & 2

Context: This Ad promotes PrEP to prevent HIV.GILEAD uses romance as rhetorical devices to persuade the audience that PrEP treatment is healthy for individuals and couples. 
Context: This Ad promotes Norwegian Cruise using a couple with the slogan: Feel free to follow the sun. It implants that it is a romantic idea to take a cruise with your partner to a sunny place. 

Gender Appeal 1 & 2

Context: This commercial serves as a perfect representation of gender roles today because it implants that beer is for men and makes them more masculine and elegant.  
Context: This Ad is an example of gender stereotypes “smell like a man, man”. The Ad presents a muscular man, no shirt wearing, horse riding, beach going, type of man. It implants that a man uses Old Spice deodorant will become more masculine. 

Sex Appeal 1 & 2

Context: The most effective way to encourage people to buy a product is through sex and provocative advertising campaign. We are constantly fed with the image of naked and sexual human bodies. The Ad persuades the audience to say we buy food because we think is sexy. Also, the Ad is talking about the burger’s size? What is the correlation between food and the model? Definitely, it is a double message.
Context: Guicci’s men’s fragrance “Guilty” creates a sexual image of women. There is a man with a woman seductively wrapped around his body. The company intentionally uses sex appeal to sell the product. 

Analysis of an Ad Assignment

SEATED is a new application to book reservations in different restaurants and get rewards afterward. This application is presented as a modern alternative to explore a great diversity of elegant and prestigious restaurants statewide.

SEATED persuades the audience to use the application by following these steps: 

1- Find a spot: Browse over 1,500 curated restaurants and bars listed in the application. Sort by location cuisine, price, and more. It presents a large number of restaurants to explore using filters according to your preference.

2- Take a seat: Book a reservation ahead of time or use their walk-in feature for casual dining. You have the option to make the reservation in advance or make it when you are walking around the city.

3- When you are finished, snap a picture of your receipt. You must take a photo and upload,it in order to get benefits.

4- Get rewards: Earn a percentage back in rewards you can spend on brands such as Amazon, Uber, Delta, Airbnb, Sephora, Nordstrom, and more.

The Ad relies on Restaurants are vital threads in our social fabric, but options like food delivery and meal kits are keeping many of us at home. This means less profit for the average restaurant. Seated rewards you for dining out more often, which is suitable for restaurants, good for you, and good for society!

The intended audience of the Ad is for people who like dining out; therefore, they will get rewards if they use the Ad. Also, it tries to convey people to go out for diner instead of ordering food delivery.

The strategy is to persuade the audience affirming dining out has never been so rewarding. It has selected a lot of restaurants to discover and give coupons for discounts. Besides that, they offer rewards for your spending at dinner. It sounds a good deal if you want to spend money, having a good dinner.

Another strategy is to make the audience aware of the importance of going out to dinner to boost the economy. The Ad promotes social integration since it tries to make people share more and be less isolated at home.

The Ad appeal to logos because it argues by logic. If you are frequently visiting restaurants for dining out, now you will get rewards and explore more and more restaurants. The Ad does not appeal to ethos because it hasn’t established an excellent reputation yet. I understand that it is a new Ad; nevertheless, it doesn’t show proof or statistic to corroborate its reputation and credibility. The Ad appeal to pathos because it uses emotions to connect with the audience. The Ad is presented as a social being that connects people; for instance, it offers that dining out is vital to society.

Clearly, the Ad is not effective at this moment. It encourages us to go out for dinner; however, there is a real problem outside with the coronavirus. Nobody wants to be outside to be exposed to the virus. For example, authorities are calling its residents to avoid public and crowed spaces or being in quarantine or isolation.

WMD Blog Assignment Response- Juan Marte-M.

  • What data do you already track about yourself, or have you tracked in the past but no longer pay attention to? Why have you made these choices? What do you get out of it? What are the advantages/disadvantages of self-tracking? Of using digital devices to help us do it? What patterns do you think are present in your life, but don’t have the data to back it up? (For example, the person who found that coffee actually hurts his concentration, or the person who found that watching a bad movie made him feel negative about his own film career).

Since 2012 I started tracking my finances. I created a workbook in Excel to self-track my income and expenses. It has been eight years, and I continue with more rigorous monitoring. Now I have created a dependency on that data. I put everything, to be specific what I spend, what I buy, and what I have to pay. I compare my budget monthly, and it helps me to determine when I should reduce expenses. It is a great help for me to know the progress of my budget; however, it is stressful to track the data every single day. I can’t even make any payments if I don’t have the data available. I want to be more flexible with my financial situation and not depend on the constant and continuous monitoring of my finances.

  • Look up John Jay on the U.S. News and World Report, as well as any other colleges you may have applied to (and/or attended in the past, if you are a transfer student). What kind of picture does it paint of John Jay? Is that image accurate to your own experience so far? What information were you able to access, and what were you not able to access? Do the rankings/methodology seem fair? Why or why not? What would you change if you were in charge of the ranking algorithm, and why? What additional questions do you have about

This is my first time in college in the United States. I only applied for John Jay, which has the major I was interested in. I did not know about the acceptance rate or rankings, because in my country, the education system is very different. After reading all of the articles Weapon of Math Destruction: Chapter 3, College Rakings, and SAT selling student info, I can understand more about US college and its admission process. 

According to US News College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice is ranked #100 in Regional Universities North, #8 in Top Performers on Social Mobility, and #27 in Top Public Schools. It looks that John Jay has a good raking, and that image is accurate to my own experience so far. I was able to find out helpful information, such as the total undergraduate enrollment, tuition and fees, alumni starting salaries, and the acceptance rate. I was not able to access the data where the numbers came from and how they assigned those numbers. Something that I was surprised, it was the acceptance rate. John Jay has an acceptance rate of 41%. What does it mean? Was I lucky to be accepted? Did my application was good enough, or was a single number of the data? The article “For Sale: SAT-Takers’ Names. Colleges Buy Student Data and Boost Exclusivity” by Douglas Belkin, published at the Wall Street Journal, explains how colleges buy SAT scores to become a more selective college. The article brings out many problems because of this practice. Students do everything to be part of the “elite colleges,” even parents have done illegal things to put their children into them. 

Colleges buy SAT-Takers’ Names to offer fake admissions to students. The article cites: “Then the kids say, ‘well, why did you recruit me if you weren’t going to let me in?’ They do it to increase the number of applications; you’ve got to keep getting your denominator up for your admit rate.”

I do not think this methodology seems fair. Colleges accept students only if they have a good SAT or GPA score. Students’ applications are evaluated based on data (SAT score). What happens if the data goes wrong? Why  SAT score is so essential to determine the success of students?

Rhetorical Device: Persuade

The ad is making the argument that “AptDeco is the easiest way to buy & sell furniture”. The intended audience is people who want to buy or sell pre-owned items. They are using the following strategies to convince the audience: free to list, free pick-up, no home visits, faster sold (in 6 days), and customer reviews.
The data presented is not reliable. How did they conclude that it is the easiest way to sell or buy items? What statistic did they use to bring that conclusion? Where can I find the customers’ reviews? Who is Emma S.? I think the ad is not effective because they do not use facts, real furniture, and real numbers to persuade the audience.