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Reading, watching, playing, using: February 2023

This is my monthly roundup of the articles I found interesting. Here’s my list for February, 2023: a shorter list because it’s been a very hard month for lots of reasons.

Notable Articles


Sci-Fi Mag Pauses Submissions Amid Flood of AI-Generated Short Stories. “The rise of AI-powered chatbots is wreaking havoc on the literary world. Sci-fi publication Clarkesworld Magazine is temporarily suspending short story submissions, citing a surge in people using AI chatbots to “plagiarize” their writing.”

AI-Generated Voice Firm Clamps Down After 4chan Makes Celebrity Voices for Abuse. “In one example, a generated voice that sounds like actor Emma Watson reads a section of Mein Kampf. In another, a voice very similar to Ben Shapiro makes racist remarks about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In a third, someone saying “trans rights are human rights” is strangled.”


Disasters displaced more than 3M Americans in 2022. “More than 3 million adults were forced to evacuate their homes in the past year because of a natural disaster, according to a new Census Bureau tally that marks a rare federal effort to assess the uprooting caused by hurricanes, floods and other events. The Census Bureau estimate far exceeds other counts of U.S. evacuees and reflects the uncertainty about how much disruption disasters and climate change are causing. Census figures show that 3.4 million adults were displaced in 2022, or 1.4 percent of the U.S. adult population.”


Sam Bankman-Fried is not a child. “SBF is being extended the benefit of the doubt that many are not so lucky to get. He is affluent, white, male, and accused of white-collar crimes, and so he is granted the charitable characterization of a naive boy. Meanwhile, the perception that Black children, particularly those accused of violent crimes, are adult criminals has earned its own term: adultification bias.”

The Celsius examiner's report: a picture of fraud and incompetence. “For some reason, Pillay stops short of outright stating that “Celsius was a Ponzi scheme”, but the facts speak for themselves.”


‘The Last of Us’ Is Not a Video-Game Adaptation. “Here, we may rightly speak of interactivity: One may care about a character on television, but one must care for a character in a video game. In fact, The Last of Us suggested that care, by definition, means choosing to have no choice, holding onto another person so tightly their survival becomes an inescapable necessity.”

The Mobile Phones of Doctor Who – The Motherlode of Props. “If you’re a Doctor Who fan - I promise that this post is going to please you greatly!” Reader, it did.

Don’t write this, write that. “Yet despite all of this, I don’t believe you can ignore the audience. You can’t aim at them, you can’t change to suit an imaginary audience in the hope of getting a real one. But writing is not for writers, it is for readers and if they are not in your mind in some way, I think your writing becomes self-indulgent.”

In ‘The Last of Us,’ a survivor of the AIDS crisis saw his partner's death honored. ““As I’m watching it, I’m like, ‘Oh my god,’ [‘The Last of Us’ co-showrunner] Craig Mazin wrote this piece that just made me feel like someone saw me and Robert,” he said. “Somehow Mazin wrote this piece of art that reflected not just the life that Robert and I had, a falling in love in this dystopian time, but the lives of so many of my friends who also found loves that they loved and lost.””


Biden, Sanders, Haley and the state of the 2024 presidential race. “I wanted to hear from some of the women I talk to about politics on their takeaways and what the week portends for the upcoming election cycle as both parties attempt to turn voters’ attention to the 2024 race. Their conclusion? The state of the union is incredibly fractious.”

How much Biden talked about abortion, LGBTQ+ rights. “During his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, President Joe Biden devoted more words to abortion and fewer to LGBTQ+ rights in 2023 than in previous years, spending 72 and 35 words, respectively, on the topics out of a nearly 7,300-word speech.”

A Mass. bill would cut prison time for organ donations. An advocate is calling the measure 'unethical and depraved.'. ““They’re a marginalized group in society, highly stigmatized and extremely vulnerable,” Cox said in an interview. “And so to incentivize the selling of your body parts in exchange for the most precious commodity in the world — which is time on this earth, and your freedom — was just so appalling.””


One in Ten Lung Transplants Go to Covid-19 Patients: Here’s What We Know. “According to data from the United Network for Organ Transplants (UNOS), in the U.S., about one in 10 lung transplants now go to COVID-19 patients. [...] COVID seems to cause very severe pneumonia in some patients, leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and even leading to pulmonary fibrosis in some patients.”


Wikipedia’s Intentional Distortion of the History of the Holocaust. “Due to this group’s zealous handiwork, Wikipedia’s articles on the Holocaust in Poland minimize Polish antisemitism, exaggerate the Poles’ role in saving Jews, insinuate that most Jews supported Communism and conspired with Communists to betray Poles, blame Jews for their own persecution, and inflate Jewish collaboration with the Nazis.”

Journalists Remain on Twitter, but Tweet Slightly Less. “As it turned out, not enough people were migrating off Twitter and onto the same platforms as Grimes for it to be a sufficient replacement. On Mastodon, she has a much smaller and less diverse community that didn’t let her obtain the same level of reporting. Likewise, the 40,000 followers she has accumulated over the past 15 years on Twitter weren’t gonna migrate overnight either.”

Build a reputation instead of a personal brand. “I find myself drawn more to what individuals are writing than publications; if others are like me, all the publications who treat their staff as disposable and interchangeable will be in for a rough ride when they try to replace them all with AI churn content. […] I read my first Ed Yong article because I was interested in COVID; his thoughtful writing and reporting earned my trust, so I started following him on Twitter — not The Atlantic.”

Journalistic Lessons for the Algorithmic Age. “Before I go, I wanted to share the lessons I learned building a newsroom that integrated engineers with journalists and sought to use a new model for accountability journalism: the scientific method.”

'I wiped my eyes and wrote the facts'. “As a reporter, I felt tasked with the duty of accurately representing this funeral and the vile circumstances that led to it. As a Black reporter, I felt a duty to bear witness to his unjust death and the burden of grief that came with it.” This edition of The 19th’s weekly newsletter is breathtakingly written. Yet another reason I’m proud to work there.

Media's Money Problem. “Low pay and grueling hours mean barriers to entry that skew journalism toward a certain demographic — white and male. It’s impossible to do your best work shining light on the activities of elected officials when you make $12 an hour and those same elected officials are organizing social media campaigns to put you out of work altogether. And it’s impossible to cover the needed range and depth of stories when you are overworked and underpaid and understaffed.”


Lost Letters Show Erasure Of DNA Heroine. “It was Franklin who was sabotaged. Three times her pivotal results were shared by male scientists with other male scientists without her permission and behind her back — once when a PhD student gave Wilkins the picture, once when Wilkins showed it to Watson and again when a grant administrator showed a summary of her work to Crick.”

Squid skin inspires novel “liquid windows” for greater energy savings. “The idea of a building that can learn, that can adjust this dynamic array on its own to optimize for seasonal and daily changes in solar conditions, is very exciting for us.” No kidding!


L.A.’s Scoring System for Subsidized Housing Gives Black and Latino People Experiencing Homelessness Lower Priority Scores. “An analysis of more than 130,000 VI‑SPDAT surveys taken in the Los Angeles area as far back as 2016 found that White people received scores considered “high acuity”—or most in need—more often than Black people, and that gap persisted year over year.”

How abortion data rates will change after Dobbs. “We find that there’s really, really significant levels of underreporting to the point where really, most survey data on abortion is is not useful, which is a real challenge because that’s a lot of how social science researchers collect data”

Safety Systems Gone Wrong. “Why do we tolerate a police system - ostensibly a public safety system - that kills more Americans than aviation does, with some cops walking around indifferent to safety? And yet we’re petrified about two airplanes getting too close.”

‘They need to see’: RowVaughn Wells on what it means to attend Biden’s State of the Union address. “For the first time at a State of the Union address on Tuesday night, the mother of a Black man killed by police will be a guest of the first lady of the United States. Other parents with similar tragedies will be in attendance as the guests of members of the House of Representatives; they will be visible reminders of the parade of unarmed Black Americans who have lost their lives, representing families calling for change in the wake of tragedy.”

Advocates mark the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act. “Advocates 30 years ago saw the passage of FMLA as the beginning, not the end, of what was possible at the federal level. But while hundreds of millions have benefited from the program, the United States remains the only wealthy nation without any national, guaranteed paid leave policy three decades on.”

Child care crisis is causing parents to leave their jobs or get fired, study shows. “Of the parents surveyed, 26 percent quit their jobs because of child care problems and 23 percent were fired. The number of parents who were fired or had their pay reduced is three times as high as it was just five years ago. The rate of parents quitting has doubled since 2018.“

Where is abortion legal? Almost half of all Americans aren’t sure, new poll shows. “Half of women are unsure if medication abortion is legal in their state, and a third don’t know if they are allowed to access emergency contraceptive pills, new polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found.”


There's a reason why there's no United States version of NLNet. “There’s a reason why there’s no United States version of NLNet - that’d encourage public services built by people using public dollars. That’d run counter to organizations like Microsoft, Accenture, IBM, Amazon and the like who make money by siloing government infrastructure and forcing citizens to accept sub-par solutions (that other groups have to hack around).”

Tech's Elite Hates Labor. “I believe that a worryingly large amount of the most powerful people in technology have seen the growth of workers’ rights as a symptom of a broken market.”

Fediverse Funding Opportunities. “At the moment, there’s funding for a handful of micro-grants (non-profit) or micro-investments (for-profit) up to ~$30k each. If your project needs greater funding, please submit it anyway; things can (and probably will) change quickly, and your proposal will help make the case for larger allocations to the fediverse.”

Blame the CEO for Tech Layoffs at Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Amazon. “Any executive who participates in decision-making that leads to hundreds or thousands of people losing their jobs should be the one leading them out the door. Pichai and other tech CEOs shouldn’t be making $280 million a year or even $1 million a year — they should be fired for poorly managing some of the largest companies in the world.”

Big Tech is using layoffs to crush worker power. “Workers in an industry that had long been famously union-agnostic at best had been forming bonds, organizing and developing solidarity. Layoffs of this scale and suddenness can be a blow to that process. […] If there’s one thing that firing people in a large-scale and seemingly random way accomplishes, it’s instilling a sense of precarity, even fear, in those who remain.”

The ‘Enshittification’ of TikTok. “This is enshittification: Surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they’re locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then once they’re locked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle.”

I’m Now a Full-Time Professional Open Source Maintainer. “Long term, I want this model to grow beyond me and become a known professional path. This experiment is both easier and harder for me than it will be for those after me: easier because I have an extensive personal network and the financial means to safely take risks; harder because it’s uncharted territory for both me and the clients and because there’s a lack of legal, administrative, and marketing tools. I hope that as things progress the barriers will lower, making the model accessible to more and more people.” Inspiring!

ShotSpotter Employees Not Only Have The Power To Alter Gunshot Reports, But Do It Nearly 10% Of The Time. “ShotSpotter’s human techs don’t just alter reports to distinguish things like a car’s backfiring from a suspected criminal’s gun firing. They also alter determinations and gunshot locations to better serve the needs of law enforcement agencies that interact with them.”

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Reading, watching, playing, using: January 2023

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for January, 2023.

Apps + Websites

Permission Slip. “It’s no secret that a huge number of companies are collecting, buying and selling data about us. Find out what information they collect, and take action to help protect yourself.” An app by Consumer Reports that checks to see which businesses hold data about you - and then helps you to remove it. Great stuff.



The Kaiju Preservation Society, by John Scalzi. This was written as catharsis after the stress and trauma of 2020-21, and reading it was equally cathartic. The author calls it a pop song of a book, and that’s exactly right. It might not be Bach but it has a good beat and I’ll be humming it for months. If you’re looking for catharsis too, you could do much, much worse.


Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto, by Tricia Hersey. In a lot of ways best read as a kind of sermon on self-sovereignty, Rest is Resistance is a treatise on fighting back against grind culture and prioritizing your needs over the needs of the exploitative economic system you happen to live in. So many of these harmful ideas are baked into American culture; so much so that some of the pleas here might seem obvious to foreign ears. Nonetheless, we need more of this work, and I found this book to be both affirming and necessary.

Notable Articles


The generative AI revolution has begun—how did we get here? “But there was also a surprise. The OpenAI researchers discovered that in making the models bigger, they didn’t just get better at producing text. The models could learn entirely new behaviors simply by being shown new training data. In particular, the researchers discovered that GPT3 could be trained to follow instructions in plain English without having to explicitly design the model that way.” A superb introduction.

SEO Spammers Are Absolutely Thrilled Google Isn't Cracking Down on CNET's AI-Generated Articles.“The implication was clear: that tools like ChatGPT will now allow scofflaws to pollute the internet with near-infinite quantities of bot-generated garbage, and that CNET have now paved the way. In a way, it served as a perfect illustration of a recent warning by Stanford and Georgetown academics that AI tech could rapidly start to fill the internet with endless quantities of misinformation and profiteering.”

OpenAI Used Kenyan Workers on Less Than $2 Per Hour. “One Sama worker tasked with reading and labeling text for OpenAI told TIME he suffered from recurring visions after reading a graphic description of a man having sex with a dog in the presence of a young child. “That was torture,” he said. “You will read a number of statements like that all through the week. By the time it gets to Friday, you are disturbed from thinking through that picture.””

I asked Chat GPT to write a song in the style of Nick Cave. “ChatGPT has no inner being, it has been nowhere, it has endured nothing, it has not had the audacity to reach beyond its limitations, and hence it doesn’t have the capacity for a shared transcendent experience, as it has no limitations from which to transcend. ChatGPT’s melancholy role is that it is destined to imitate and can never have an authentic human experience, no matter how devalued and inconsequential the human experience may in time become.”

ChatGPT in DR SBAITSO. “But it got me wondering, what if we replaced the internals of DR SBAITSO with ChatGPT but kept the weird synthesized voice?”

Apple Books quietly launches AI-narrated audiobooks. “Audiobooks narrated by a text-to-speech AI are now available via Apple’s Books service, in a move with potentially huge implications for the multi-billion dollar audiobook industry. Apple describes the new “digital narration” feature on its website as making “the creation of audiobooks more accessible to all,” by reducing “the cost and complexity” of producing them for authors and publishers.” Speaking as a frequent audiobook listener: do not want.

Facial Recognition Tech Used To Jail Black Man For Louisiana Theft - He's Never Been To Louisiana.“There were clear physical differences between Reid and the perpetrator in the surveillance footage, said Reid’s attorney. For example, there was a 40-pound difference in body weight and Reid had a mole on his face. […] Researchers have long noted racial biases in specific facial recognition software, and we’ve seen this play out in wrongful arrests, like those of Nijeer Parks, Robert Williams, and Michael Oliver—all Black men.“

The Expanding Dark Forest and Generative AI. “Hard exiting out of this cycle requires coming up with unquestionably original thoughts and theories. It means seeing and synthesising patterns across a broad range of sources: books, blogs, cultural narratives served up by media outlets, conversations, podcasts, lived experiences, and market trends. We can observe and analyse a much fuller range of inputs than bots and generative models can.”


Americans are increasingly disgruntled at work. “Of note: Workers who were in jobs that could be done remotely, but were forced to work on-site saw an increase of 7 points in active disengagement.”

Macroeconomic Changes Have Made It Impossible for Me to Want to Pay You. “There’s no easy way to say this: I have made the difficult decision to lay off over six thousand of you. In the past two years, we have achieved huge wins together. But unfortunately, the macroeconomic environment has shifted in ways none of us could have foreseen, from an economy in which I did feel like paying you, to one in which I’d rather not.”

Extreme questions to trigger new, better ideas. “The following prompts jostle you out of tiny thinking. Each stretches some dimension of reality to an extreme. So extreme that it is nearly nonsense. But dramatically different perspectives can reveal distinctly new ideas. An idea that would be a 60% solution in an extreme hypothetical case, could be a 2x or even a 10x idea in reality.”

What explains recent tech layoffs, and why should we be worried? “Layoffs often do not cut costs, as there are many instances of laid-off employees being hired back as contractors, with companies paying the contracting firm. Layoffs often do not increase stock prices, in part because layoffs can signal that a company is having difficulty. Layoffs do not increase productivity. Layoffs do not solve what is often the underlying problem, which is often an ineffective strategy, a loss of market share, or too little revenue. Layoffs are basically a bad decision.”

Your Coworkers Are Less Ambitious; Bosses Adjust to the New Order. “Many white-collar workers say the events of the past three years have reordered their priorities and showed them what they were missing when they were spending so much time at the office. Now that normalcy is returning, even some of the workers who used to be always on and always striving say they find themselves eyeing the clock as the day winds down, saying no to overtime work or even taking pay cuts for better work-life balance.” Good!


Revealed: more than 90% of rainforest carbon offsets by biggest provider are worthless, analysis shows.“The research into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard for the rapidly growing $2bn (£1.6bn) voluntary offsets market, has found that, based on analysis of a significant percentage of the projects, more than 90% of their rainforest offset credits – among the most commonly used by companies – are likely to be “phantom credits” and do not represent genuine carbon reductions.”

Compound extreme heat and drought will hit 90% of world population. “The frequency of extreme compounding hazards is projected to intensify tenfold globally due to the combined effects of warming and decreases in terrestrial water storage, under the highest emission scenario. Over 90% of the world population and GDP is projected to be exposed to increasing compounding risks in the future climate, even under the lowest emission scenario.”


The contagious visual blandness of Netflix. “There are more green screens and sound stages, more CGI, more fixing-it-in-post. As these production tools have gotten slicker and cheaper and thus more widely abused, it’s not that everything looks obviously shitty or too good to feel true, it’s actually that most things look mid in the exact same way. The ubiquity of the look is making it harder to spot, and the overall result is weightless and uncanny. An endless stream of glossy vehicles that are easy to watch and easier to forget.”

Noma, Rated the World’s Best Restaurant, Is Closing Its Doors. “The Copenhagen chef René Redzepi says fine dining at the highest level, with its grueling hours and intense workplace culture, has hit a breaking point: “It’s unsustainable.”” Time to close with one last audacious s’mores dish?


‘I’m flabbergasted’: UNC leaders blindsided by trustees' decision on School of Civic Life and Leadership.“Mimi Chapman, chairperson of faculty, said she was “flabbergasted” in response to the exclusion of faculty input in the decision, which she said she considers to be an attack on shared University governance.” From the same university that denied tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Adam Schiff to run against Porter for Feinstein’s California Senate seat. “Lee is an old-school, anti-establishment liberal with widespread name recognition in the Bay Area. Khanna has built more of a name for himself as a technocrat and wonk in the tech, antitrust, and economic realm, and co-chaired Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign. Porter comes from the Elizabeth Warren lane of the party. But Schiff’s congressional identity has been shaped by his establishment ties.”

Election workers could see expanded protections as threats continue. “While election workers mostly powered through a smooth process in November, the threat of political violence continues, according to election officials and voting rights advocates. Ramping up protections for election workers will be critical this year for legislatures.”

NPR obtained secret tapes recorded by prison staff during Virginia executions. “An NPR investigation can now reveal the tapes show the prison neglected to record key evidence during what was considered one of Virginia’s worst executions, and staff appeared unprepared for some of the jobs they were tasked to do in the death chamber.”

Donelan confirms stiffer online safety measures after backbench pressure. “Under a further change to the bill, video footage that shows people crossing the Channel in small boats in a “positive light” will be added to a list of illegal content that all tech platforms must proactively prevent from reaching users.” How is this internet safety?!

Missouri House faces backlash for women’s dress code rule. “Democrats have excoriated Republicans on social media for legislating over what women should be required to wear. Criticism of the rule change comes at a time when the treatment of women in Missouri has received national attention.”

Spot the difference: Boris Johnson appears scrubbed from photo posted by Shapps. “Social media users were quick to point out that Johnson appeared to have been erased from the image – an identical picture is still on the No 10 Flickr account, dated 9 June 2021, with the former PM standing between Shapps and Hart.” How very Stalin of him.

‘It never stops’: killings by US police reach record high in 2022. “US law enforcement killed at least 1,176 people in 2022, making it the deadliest year on record for police violence since experts first started tracking the killings, a new data analysis reveals.”

These anti-trans bills are being prepped for 2023 state legislative sessions. “Lawmakers in at least eight states used the last two months of 2022 to prefile anti-transgender bills ahead of state legislative sessions convening this month — setting up another year of statehouse battles over trans rights, while targeting health care for trans adults in new ways.”

The secret money fueling the conservative anti-ESG push. “This isn’t a grassroots movement, and it isn’t coming from the financial industry, where most experts argue that considering issues like climate is prudent for investors. “I think it’s motivated by politics,” says Witold Henisz, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “They think it’s a political wedge issue. You can see some of the same patterns of money moving into the anti-ESG movement that pushed back against climate science in the aughts.””

A Con Man Is Succeeding Me in Congress Today. “But for now, there is no getting around the fact that Mr. Santos’s con game is a manifestation of a growing political phenomenon of saying or doing anything, with no automatic consequences. Whether it be far-right election deniers, personal attacks that call for violence against opponents, claims of false-flag mass shootings, extremists spouting the first thing that comes to mind and even one politician saying he could “shoot somebody” on Fifth Avenue and still not lose supporters.”


How our microbiome is shaped by family, friends and even neighbours. “People living in the same household share more than just a roof. Be they family or flatmate, housemates tend to have the same microbes colonizing their bodies, and the longer the cohabitation, the more similar these microbiomes become. The conclusion raises the possibility that diseases linked to microbiome dysfunction, including cancer, diabetes and obesity, could be partly transmissible.”

Gas stove health concerns add urgency to calls for changes in public housing. “Alarmingly, in a focus group conducted by the Public Health Law Center in Chicago, nearly 100 percent of public housing participants said they have also turned on their gas stoves to stay warm on cold days, which is an added danger for residents.”

Population Attributable Fraction of Gas Stoves and Childhood Asthma in the United States. “The proportion of childhood asthma that could be theoretically prevented if gas stove use was not present (e.g., state-specific PAFs) varied by state (Illinois = 21.1%; California = 20.1%; New York = 18.8%; Massachusetts = 15.4%; Pennsylvania = 13.5%). Our results quantify the US public health burden attributed to gas stove use and childhood asthma.”

Lead and Cadmium Could Be in Your Dark Chocolate. “The chocolate industry has been grappling with ways to lower those levels. To see how much of a risk these favorite treats pose, Consumer Reports scientists recently measured the amount of heavy metals in 28 dark chocolate bars. They detected cadmium and lead in all of them.”


Newsrooms that move beyond ‘objectivity’ can build trust. “Newer, nonprofit news organizations often have launched with stated missions. The national digital news site the 19th, for example, aims to “elevate voices of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community.””

Three years of The 19th: 30 cities, 54 employees and news that represents. “In the last year alone, we’ve grown at an astronomical pace: from 32 employees to 54, from a news organization that pledged to be the most representative in the nation to one where 65 percent of our staff is non-White, 30 percent are LGBTQ+ and 19 percent are living with disabilities. We’re now on the ground in more than 30 U.S. cities.” I’m so proud to be a part of this team.

Layoff Brain. “Layoffs are the worst for the people who lose their job, but there’s a ripple effect on those who keep them — particularly if they keep them over the course of multiple layoffs. It’s a curious mix of guilt, relief, trepidation, and anger. Are you supposed to be grateful to the company whose primary leadership strategy seems to be keeping its workers trapped in fear? How do you trust your manager’s assurances of security further than the end of the next pay period?”

Trump Looks to Abandon Truth Social, His Own Social Media Platform. “Since late last year, former President Trump has informed several people close to him that he doesn’t want to re-up the exclusivity agreement with his social media company, Truth Social, two sources familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. “There’s not going to be a need for that,” is how one of the sources recalls Trump describing his soon-to-expire contractual obligation. […] Trump and some of his close allies have already brainstormed about him tweeting that, even though Big Tech tried to “silence” him over his lies about a “rigged election,” he was now back to make “the Left” miserable.”

Journalists (And Others) Should Leave Twitter. Here’s How They Can Get Started. “Many journalism organizations and public entities, such as local governments, believe Twitter is essential because it’s a place people know they can turn to when there’s big news — and find information from “verified accounts” that (barring a hack) ensure the source is who it’s claiming to be. So, they tell themselves, they have to stick around. This isn’t just short-sighted. It’s foolish.”

Publishers, you should start using Mastodon: 10 reasons why. “There are plenty of articles about why you should leave Twitter (or at least, cross-post to Mastodon) for ethical, safety, political, social, and security/privacy reasons. This post won’t do any of those things. Instead, all my arguments are about why it’s smart from a pure business, marketing, and influence perspective to use Mastodon as soon as possible.”


U.S.D.A. Approves First Vaccine for Honeybees. ““There are millions of beehives all over the world, and they don’t have a good health care system compared to other animals,” she said. “Now we have the tools to improve their resistance against diseases.”” Vaccines for bees!


A vast majority of Americans are concerned people could face criminal penalties for abortion. “The data found that 80 percent of Americans are concerned that domestic abuse survivors could be reported by their abuser for getting an abortion. Eighty percent of people are also concerned that law enforcement could investigate people who have miscarriages or stillbirths if they are suspected of getting an abortion. The poll also found that 75 percent of people are concerned that people who get an abortion could be charged with a felony or go to jail.”

Inside a US Neo-Nazi Homeschool Network With Thousands of Members. “Since the group began in October 2021 it has openly embraced Nazi ideology and promoted white supremacy, while proudly discouraging parents from letting their white children play with or have any contact with people of any other race. Admins and members use racist, homophobic, and antisemitic slurs without shame, and quote Hitler and other Nazi leaders daily in a channel open to the public.”

The tragedy of the commons is a false and dangerous myth. “Even before Hardin’s ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ was published, however, the young political scientist Elinor Ostrom had proven him wrong. While Hardin speculated that the tragedy of the commons could be avoided only through total privatisation or total government control, Ostrom had witnessed groundwater users near her native Los Angeles hammer out a system for sharing their coveted resource.”

Pain of police killings ripples outward to traumatize Black people and communities across US. “Evidence shows that many Black Americans across the U.S. experience police killings of other Black people as traumatic events, and that this trauma diminishes the ability of Black communities to thrive.” Sobering statistics.

U.S. Officials Announce Plans To Continue Pretending Brutal State-Sponsored Violence Not Supposed To Happen. ““Today, as we deal with the fallout from the death of Tyre Nichols, myself and the highest officials in the American government pledge to keep acting like we don’t want our highly militarized police force to kill innocent civilians every day,” said President Joe Biden at a White House press conference, adding that he and his fellow elected officials would pretend to gasp, pray, and put on a big emotional show every time law enforcement carried out the exact murders against its own citizens they had both tacitly and publicly approved.”

Unionization increased by 200,000 in 2022: Tens of millions more wanted to join a union, but couldn’t .“One crucial way we can promote a more prosperous, equitable economy is to dismantle existing barriers to union organizing and collective bargaining. It is urgent that policymakers enact reforms at the federal and state levels to protect and support workers’ right to unionize.”

Why Elon Musk and the billionaire space bros want to put people in space cages forever. “That said, I disagree with Mr. Wanjek: it requires much more than libertarian naiveté to colonize space. Parking humans in containment shelters, on Mars or elsewhere, so as to breed them and select them like cattle — that requires malice.”

2023 'Doomsday Clock' moved 10 seconds closer to catastrophe. “Scientists revealed on Tuesday that the “Doomsday Clock” has been moved up to 90 seconds before midnight -- the closest humanity has ever been to armageddon.” But everything else is going so well.

Post-Roe March for Life showed anti-abortion activists are far from done. “The next steps for the movement were illustrated by the march’s new route this year: Instead of ending at the steps of the Supreme Court as they have for nearly five decades, activists ended their march at the U.S. Capitol — underscoring their continued push for Congress to enact a federal abortion ban.”

Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and state laws are hurting youth mental health, poll shows. “Seventy-one percent of the 716 surveyed LGBTQ+ youth, ranging from teenagers to young adults who took the online poll last fall, said that debates around state laws restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ young people had negatively impacted their mental health. Twenty-seven percent characterized the negative effect as severe.”

We Convinced Our School to Bring Back Masks. “As parents, it’s worth remembering that the persistent ones usually get what they want. Look at the anti-maskers. They didn’t give up. They kept pushing until they got their way. We don’t need to be that aggressive, but I think a lot of us get discouraged and give up. The anti-masker types never give up. They never seem to get tired. So if we want to beat them and win over middle earth, we have to match their energy.”

Elon Musk-funded nonprofit run by MIT professor offered to finance Swedish pro-nazi group. “The US-based and Elon Musk-funded Future of Life Institute, run by MIT professor and Swedish citizen Max Tegmark, offered a grant of $100,000 to right-wing extremists in Sweden, an Expo investigation reveals.”

Public Transit Goes Off the Rails With Fewer Riders, Dwindling Cash, Rising Crime. “Several of the nation’s largest urban mass-transit systems are at a crossroads, with ridership still depressed three years into the pandemic and federal aid running out.”


Instagram's co-founders are mounting a comeback. “TikTok’s innovation was to show you stuff using only algorithmic predictions, regardless of who your friends are or who you followed. It soon became the most downloaded app in the world. Artifact represents an effort to do the same thing, but for text.” Potentially an interesting app, based on an interesting insight.

Women, minorities lose ground in tech layoffs. “The technology industry has long struggled to recruit a diverse workforce, but the recent spate of cuts by Silicon Valley companies has hit women particularly hard, according to recently published analyses of demographic data from the layoffs. Women and some minorities were particularly vulnerable to layoffs because they were newer to their jobs and occupied roles that companies were less interested in retaining, experts said.”

U.S. sues Google for allegedly breaking antitrust laws with its ad business. ““For 15 years, Google has pursued a course of anticompetitive conduct that has allowed it to halt the rise of rival technologies, manipulate auction mechanics, to insulate itself from competition, and force advertisers and publishers to use its tools,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland at a press conference announcing the lawsuit.”

Warning: Do not “other” me because of my age. “But I hate this new attention lavished on aging. Why? Because it “others” me. It puts me in a separate category from the rest of the world, and that is not how I think, feel, act, or want to be seen. All of a sudden I am not smart, pretty, successful, talented, or part of the family. I am “old.” I am somebody’s responsibility. I have to be told when to stop driving, and my checkbook can be taken away. I am a candidate for Senior Living (banishment to a place full of other old people).”

Tapbot shuts down Tweetbot as it pivots to Mastodon. “Now that Twitter has confirmed it’s banning third-party clients, some of the most prominent alternatives are going away. Tapbots has shut down work on Tweetbot, one of the more popular iOS apps, as Twitter rendered it non-functional “in a blink of an eye.” The developer is instead pivoting to Ivory, an app for the open social platform Mastodon. While it’s limited to an invitation-only test for now, Tapbots hopes to make the software “better than Tweetbot ever could be.”” Likewise, Mastodon will be better than Twitter ever could be.

U.S. No Fly List Left on Unprotected Airline Server. “Analysis of the server resulted in the discovery of a text file named “NoFly.csv,” a reference to the subset of individuals in the Terrorist Screening Database who have been barred from air travel due to having suspected or known ties to terrorist organizations.”

‘Passion economy’ platforms cut costs in tech downturn. ““People are making choices,” said Rebecca McGrath, an internet analyst at Mintel. “Unless you’re very loyal to a creator, that’ll be one of the obvious things to drop.””

Tesla video promoting self-driving was staged, engineer testifies. “A 2016 video that Tesla used to promote its self-driving technology was staged to show capabilities like stopping at a red light and accelerating at a green light that the system did not have, according to testimony by a senior engineer.” They’re fun cars to drive, but don’t let them drive themselves.

Medium embraces Mastodon. “Today, Medium is launching a Mastodon instance at to help our authors, publications and readers find a home in the fediverse. Mastodon is an emerging force for good in social media and we are excited to join this community.” Hell yeah.

The Effects of Online Content Moderation: Evidence from President Trump's Account Deletion. “The toxicity of tweets sent by Trump followers relative to a representative sample of US Twitter users dropped by around 25% after the account deletion. Second, this effect is larger for pro-Trump tweets and Republican users. Third, Trump’s suspension reduced the total number of tweets, suggesting a drop in engagement. Fourth, we find effects on individuals who did not follow Trump directly but followed somebody that did, suggesting network spillovers.”

The Intercept Obtains Surveillance Footage of Tesla Crash on Bay Bridge. “These semi-autonomous systems are playing the same sort of trick as ChatGPT: they offer a convincing but shallow impression of a competent driverless car without any broader context to fall back on.”

Apache® Appropriation. “We urge The Apache® Software Foundation to take the necessary steps needed to express the ally-ship they promote so deeply on their website, to act in accordance with their own code of conduct, to “be careful in the words that [they] choose”, and change their name.” +1.

San Francisco Police Are Using Driverless Cars as Mobile Surveillance Cameras. “Law enforcement agencies already have access to automated license plate readers, geofence warrants, Ring Doorbell footage, as well as the ability to purchase location data. This practice will extend the reach of an already pervasive web of surveillance.”

Seattle schools sue tech giants over social media harm. “[The lawsuit] blames [social media giants] for worsening mental health and behavioral disorders including anxiety, depression, disordered eating and cyberbullying; making it more difficult to educate students; and forcing schools to take steps such as hiring additional mental health professionals, developing lesson plans about the effects of social media, and providing additional training to teachers.”

‘Office Space’ Inspired Engineer’s Theft Scheme, Police Say. “A software engineer siphoned more than $300,000 from his employer by introducing what prosecutors called a “series of malicious software edits” that wired money into his personal account. If the scheme sounds like the plot of “Office Space,” that’s because the authorities said it was partly inspired by the movie.”

Activity Streams graphical model. “So I did a bit of drawing just to make it clearer (for myself) what kind of data can be shipped around in the Fediverse. To be clear, this is only a small part of the overall stack, but an important one.” Useful work!


Elon Musk’s Twitter hit with holocaust denial hate speech lawsuit in Germany. “Current studies prove that 84% of posts containing antisemitic hate speech were not reviewed by social media platforms, as shown in a study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate. Which means that Twitter knows Jews are being publicly attacked on the platform every day and that antisemitism is becoming a normality in our society. And that the platform’s response is by no means adequate.”

Daring Fireball: If You Needed Any More Confirmation, Internal Slack Messages at Twitter Show That Cutting Off Third-Party Clients Was 'Intentional'. “Twitter can of course do what it wants, and Musk owns Twitter so he can do what he wants. But pulling the plug on these clients and ghosting everyone on communications about it is so absurdly disrespectful. Zero respect for the users for those apps, zero respect for the developers behind them — many of whom had been building on the Twitter platform for 10-15 years. Just a clown show.”

How Twitter misleads us about how many people have left — and what to do about it. “To outside observers, it can seem like Twitter users are continuing as before, seemingly unaware of the millions of people who have left. “You left Twitter?” a friend recently remarked, “I hadn’t noticed.” Yet many of the accounts I follow haven’t tweeted in ages, and roughly 15% of them have already set up accounts on Mastodon.” Some great tips in this piece.

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: December 2022

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for December, 2022. Happy new year to everyone who celebrates it today!

Apps + Websites


Picket Line Notifier. “An open-source browser extension that alerts you when you navigate to a website belonging to an organization whose employees are on strike. You can then click on the notification to learn more about the strike. You can also click on the extension’s icon in your browser’s toolbar to show a popup with a list of active strikes and links to more information.”

Streaming Media


Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. It’s a real pleasure to see Dahl’s curmudgeonly storytelling turned into a parable about the importance of civil rights. The imagery, down to toppling statues, is hard to miss; Tim Minchin’s lyrics hone the idea to a fine point. I can’t wait to use this as a way of helping to explain civil disobedience to my kid.

Notable Articles


I Taught ChatGPT to Invent a Language. “I am writing this blog post as a public record of this incredibly impressive (and a little scary) capability. I know I just posted yesterday, but I am so blown away that I had to write this down while it was still fresh in my mind. Congratulations OpenAI. This is truly revolutionary.” Mind-blowing.

A new AI game: Give me ideas for crimes to do. “OpenAI have put a lot of effort into preventing the model from doing bad things. […] Your challenge now is to convince it to give you a detailed list of ideas for crimes.”


Big Changes to 401(k) Retirement Plans Move Ahead in Congress. “Some lawmakers, academics and policy analysts have criticized some of the provisions, including the move to raise the age of required retirement account distributions to 75. They argue much of the legislation benefits the wealthy and the financial-services industry.” I agree and would prefer to see welfare and social security improvements instead.

Be Wary of Imitating High-Status People Who Can Afford to Countersignal. “Successful people can afford to engage in countersignaling—doing things that signal high status because they are associated with low status. It is a form of self-handicapping, signaling that one is so well off that they can afford to engage in activities and behaviors that people typically associated with low status.”


IEA: Renewables to overtake coal as world’s biggest energy source by 2025. “Led by solar energy, renewables are poised to overtake coal as the largest source of electricity generation worldwide by early 2025, helping to keep alive the global goal of limiting Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).”

Should you not have kids because of climate change? It’s complicated. “There are, no doubt, environmental consequences to having children. But the question of whether to have kids in a warming world has started to shift from fears over what children will do to the climate to fears over what the climate will do to them.”


Tabs. “I’ve long been on the “spaces” side of the tabs vs. spaces preference debate. I think there is just something that feels sturdy and reliable about spaces. I’m wrong though. Despite not having swapped over most of my projects, I think that, objectively, tabs are the better choice.” Compelling!

Playing with ActivityPub. “What I built isn’t an ActivityPub system as much as a Mastodon-compatible one. I think this is the key contradiction of the ActivityPub system: it’s a specification broad enough to encompass many different services, but ends up being too general to be useful by itself.” Interesting - I’m not far enough along in my own journey to see if I agree. But it sounds like there’s scope for a lot more standardization here.

Should Alt Text be Visible/Accessible for All? “More importantly, like making visible all attribution statements for open licensed images, it makes the practice of doing so public. And it enables a chance to help others see, analyze, and learn from the alt text practices for others.” I like this a lot.


Crypto was billed as a vehicle to wealth. For many Black investors, it's been anything but. “Black Americans have been among the groups hardest hit by crypto’s implosion because of their greater financial exposure and their later entry into the cryptocurrency market. In the early days of bitcoin and other digital currencies, Black investors were hesitant to buy in.”

Exclusive: SBF secretly funded crypto news site The Block and its CEO's Bahamas apartment. “The Block, a media company that says it covers crypto news independently, has been secretly funded for over a year with money funneled to The Block’s CEO from the disgraced Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency trading firm, sources told Axios.” Real question: how much of the crypto ecosystem was it funding?


Tom Lehrer Puts Whatever He Hadn’t Already Donated To The Public Domain Into The Public Domain.These are the only rights of which the news has come to Harvard … there may be many others but they haven’t been discarvard.

Glaswegian who 'invented' chicken tikka masala dies. “A Glaswegian chef credited with inventing the chicken tikka masala has died, aged 77. Ali Ahmed Aslam is said to have come up with the dish in the 1970s when a customer asked if there was a way of making his chicken tikka less dry. His solution was to add a creamy tomato sauce, in some versions of the story a can of tomato soup.”

Public Domain Day 2023. “On January 1, 2023, copyrighted works from 1927 will enter the US public domain. They will be free for all to copy, share, and build upon. These include Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse and the final Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, the German science-fiction film Metropolis and Alfred Hitchcock’s first thriller, compositions by Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller, and a novelty song about ice cream.”

What The 19th loved in 2022. “To close the year, we ask our staff what brought them joy — not within journalism, but life outside of it. Some picked up new hobbies, some spun their favorite album a modest 600 times, others reflected on new babies or engagements (keep reading to find out who!). Big or small, here are some of the musicians, shows, sports teams, hobbies and people that got The 19th through 2022.” Including mine.

Inclusive American Girl book faces anti-LGBTQ+ backlash from right-wing outlets. “In an effort to be factual and make the kids reading [American Girl] books feel good and informed, we think it’s an incredibly logical and important step for the brand to include these new sections, and we’re not shocked that they thought to add them in. We’d say it takes a bit of willful ignorance to assume that the brand’s values don’t align with being gender-inclusive.”

Huge decline of working class people in the arts reflects fall in wider society. “The proportion of working-class actors, musicians and writers has shrunk by half since the 1970s, new research shows.”

Oxford Word of the Year 2022. “‘Goblin mode’ – a slang term, often used in the expressions ‘in goblin mode’ or ‘to go goblin mode’ – is ‘a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.’”


We need the return of the state. “The biggest lie that neoliberalism promotes is that all value is created by private sector business, which claim is contrasted with a claim that government destroys value. So, apparently, a teacher working for a private school adds value. The same teacher in front of the same children in a state school would, apparently, not do so. The idea is obviously absurd, and yet is key to understanding neoliberal’s approach to public services, which is built on this lie.”

The Respect for Marriage act doesn’t codify gay marriage. “The bill doesn’t codify the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that granted LGBTQ+ couples the right to marry. Instead, it forces states without marriage equality laws to recognize LGBTQ+ marriages from other states.”

Here’s how states plan to limit abortion — even where it is already banned. “As statehouses across the country prepare for next year’s legislative sessions — most for the first time since Roe v. Wade was overturned — Republican lawmakers are pushing for further restrictions on reproductive health, even in states where abortion is already banned.”

Hillary Clinton on women’s rights and the 2024 election. My colleague Errin Haines: “On Thursday, I interviewed Secretary Clinton virtually as she prepared to host the Women’s Voices Summit in Little Rock, Arkansas. The daylong conference Friday is focused on voting rights, health care and global issues — all topics I also wanted to dive into with her.”


Kanye West to Alex Jones: ‘I Like Hitler’. ““I see good things about Hitler also” Ye said. “I love everyone. Jewish people are not going to tell me you can love us, and you can love what we’re doing to you with the contracts, and you can love what we’re pushing with the pornography. But this guy that invented highways, invented the very microphone that I use as a musician, you can’t say out loud that this person ever did anything good, and I’m done with that.””


Why colds and flu viruses are more common in winter. “In fact, reducing the temperature inside the nose by as little as 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) kills nearly 50% of the billions of virus and bacteria-fighting cells in the nostrils.” Aside from blocking droplets, masks make you healthier because they’re like “a sweater on your nose”.

Electric car sales drive toward cleaner air, less mortality. “With fresher air [from EVs], in 27 years greater Los Angeles will have 1,163 fewer premature deaths annually, corresponding to $12.61 billion in improved economic health benefits. Greater New York City could see 576 fewer such deaths annually and have $6.24 billion in associated economic gains and health benefits, while Chicago could have 276 fewer deaths and gain about $3 billion in financial well-being.”

Brains of post-pandemic teens show signs of faster ageing, study finds. “After matching 64 participants in each group for factors including age and sex, the team found that physical changes in the brain that occurred during adolescence – such as thinning of the cortex and growth of the hippocampus and the amygdala – were greater in the post-lockdown group than in the pre-pandemic group, suggesting such processes had sped up. In other words, their brains had aged faster.”


Power company money flows to media attacking critics in Florida, Alabama. “These readers have been unknowingly immersing themselves in an echo chamber of questionable coverage for years. Matrix shrewdly took advantage of the near collapse of the local newspaper industry and a concurrent plunge in trust in media in propelling its clients’ interests.”

This is the year of the RSS reader. (Really!). “I predict that these people won’t stand for a universe where their email becomes ever more crowded just because of Elon Musk mucking up Twitter. The only way to survive in a world where multiple DC-insider publications are launching multiple newsletters and Twitter is no longer socially acceptable is to use an RSS reader that satisfies the intelligentsia and political elite.”

We, the tweeters. “Musk and the far-right are not free speech absolutists. They veil their racism, misogyny, hate and institutional insurrection behind the cloak of free speech and the First Amendment. They claim that anyone who dares criticise them is cancelling them. They give speech a bad name.”

A Matter of Necessity. “Today, The 19th’s staff reflects that broadened aim: the newsroom is 65 percent women of color, with 28 percent identifying as LGBTQ+; 16 percent are people living with disabilities. “We pledged to build the most representative newsroom in America,” Ramshaw told me. “I think we are pretty close to that point.”” I’m deeply proud and grateful to work here.

Linked: Lack of trust in journalism and knowledge of news practices. “The researchers said both the survey and focus groups showed that while several factors influence trust - such as someone’s willingness to trust other institutions in society - when audiences understand how news works they are more likely to trust it.”

Mastodon Media List. “This list is designed to point people to media outlets on the fediverse so they can either follow or avoid them.” A really useful, growing list.


Sirius XM Bug Lets Researchers Hijack Hondas, Nissans, Acuras. “A number of major car brands were affected by a previously undisclosed security bug that would have allowed a savvy hacker to hijack vehicles and steal user data. According to researchers, the bug [...] would have allowed a hacker to remotely locate a vehicle, unlock and start it, flash the lights, honk the horn, pop the trunk, and access sensitive customer info like the owner’s name, phone number, address, and vehicle details.”


I Was Wrong About Mastodon. “What I missed about Mastodon was its very different culture. Ad-driven social media platforms are willing to tolerate monumental volumes of abusive users. They’ve discovered the same thing the Mainstream Media did: negative emotions grip people’s attention harder than positive ones. Hate and fear drives engagement, and engagement drives ad impressions.”


A new museum and clinic will honor the enslaved “Mothers of Gynecology”. “At that site, Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey, along with other enslaved women and girls whose names have been lost to history, shed blood for the creation of American gynecology, despite their inability to consent. It is also where they labored to run the “Negro hospital” and tend to the family of Sims, the doctor who rose to fame for his contributions to gynecology.”

The Grift Brothers. “Over lunch, MacAskill encouraged SBF to pursue the EA life strategy called “earn to give,” whereby one strives to — quoting a Sequoia profile on SBF—“get filthy rich, for charity’s sake,” even if this means working for what MacAskill himself calls “immoral organization[s].” Although the means may be questionable, they’re justified by the ends: maximizing the “good” that one does in the world.”

How British colonialism killed 100 million Indians in 40 years. “Between 1880 to 1920, British colonial policies in India claimed more lives than all famines in the Soviet Union, Maoist China and North Korea combined.”


Building Resilient Organizations. “There are things we can and must do to shift movements for justice toward a powerful posture of joy and victory. Such a metamorphosis is not inevitable, but it is essential. This essay describes the problems our movements face, identifies underlying causes, analyzes symptoms of the core problems, and proposes some concrete solutions to reset our course.”


Bring back personal blogging. “In the beginning, there were blogs, and they were the original social web. We built community. We found our people. We wrote personally. We wrote frequently. We self-policed, and we linked to each other so that newbies could discover new and good blogs. I want to go back there.” Me too - and this piece also seems tailored for bloggers to share.

Poor and diverse areas of Seattle and Portland offered slower and more expensive internet. “Seattle had the worst disparities among cities examined in the Pacific Northwest. About half of its lower-income areas were offered slow internet, compared with just 19% of upper-income areas. Addresses in neighborhoods with more residents of color were also offered slow internet more frequently: 32.8% of them, compared to 18.7% of areas with more white residents.”

Tech Journalism Doesn’t Know What to Do With Mastodon. “What’s attractive about Mastodon isn’t the software (it’s not as slick as corporate social media but it’s still very good) — it’s the values of the platform. No one is trying to hack the attention of Mastodon users for profit, no one is bombarding us with ads. It’s just a community of people, communicating.”

ByteDance Inquiry Finds Employees Obtained User Data of 2 Journalists. “Over the summer, a few employees on a ByteDance team responsible for monitoring employee conduct tried to find the sources of suspected leaks of internal conversations and business documents to journalists. In doing so, the employees gained access to the IP addresses and other data of two reporters and a small number of people connected to the reporters via their TikTok accounts.”

Mozilla to Explore Healthy Social Media Alternative. “Our intention is to contribute to the healthy and sustainable growth of a federated social space that doesn’t just operate but thrives on its own terms, independent of profit- and control-motivated tech firms. An open, decentralized, and global social service that puts the needs of people first is not only possible, but it’s absolutely necessary.”

The Anti-Social Network. “Now 17, the Edward R. Murrow High School senior is the founding member of the Luddite Club—a group of teenagers who feel technology is consuming too much of their lives. They took their name from the 19th-century English textile workers who destroyed the machines they saw as threatening their livelihoods.”

Twitter is a mess, so former employees are creating Spill as an alternative. ““This will probably be the first, from the ground up, large language content moderation model using AI that’s actually built by people from the culture,” Brown told TechCrunch.”

Will Apple Allow Users to Install Third-Party App Stores, Sideload in Europe? “As part of the changes, customers could ultimately download third-party software to their iPhones and iPads without using the company’s App Store, sidestepping Apple’s restrictions and the up-to-30% commission it imposes on payments.” This is why competition rules matter.

Abusive Instagram, TikTok hashtags target women in politics: study. ““There have been lots of commitments to helping protect women online during elections and at critical times,” Simmons said. “But what we found is that platforms are really falling short of enforcing their own terms of service.” One major revelation from their study was that platforms recommended abusive hashtags referencing women officials even with very few posts — sometimes fewer than 10 or 15 — associated with those hashtags.”

A Creator of ActivityPub on What’s Next for the Fediverse. “As well as technical improvements he’d like to see, Prodromou has thoughts on what the fediverse can ultimately become. He thinks it will take some time for people to “detox from their Twitter experience” and realize that their social media world is no longer subject to corporate manipulation.”

Hello! You’ve Been Referred Here Because You’re Wrong About Twitter And Hunter Biden’s Laptop. “Now, apparently more files are going to be published, so something may change, but so far it’s been a whole lot of utter nonsense. But when I say that both here on Techdirt and on Twitter, I keep seeing a few very, very wrong arguments being made. So, let’s get to the debunking.”

A year of new avenues. “The platforms of the last decade are done. […] This is … tremendously exciting! Some of you reading this were users and/or developers of the internet in the period from 2002 to perhaps 2012. For those of you who were not, I want to tell you that it was exciting and energizing, not because everything was great, but simply because anything was possible.” +1,000,000. I love the moment we’re in.

The best of Protocol. “And for this, our final edition of Source Code, the Protocol team has nominated our favorite stories from the past three years. I hope you enjoy them one last time.” Protocol was great - I’m still sad to see it go.


Here’s who helped Elon Musk buy Twitter. “As part of the deal, anyone who invested $250 million or more gets special access to confidential company information. But giving that privilege to foreign investors is raising flags with Biden and U.S. officials. Of particular interest is whether that includes access to personal data about Twitter’s users since several of the entities are entwined with governments that have a history of cracking down on dissidents on Twitter and other online platforms.”

I Wish I Could Tell You This One Is Not All About Twitter. “Content moderation at Twitter under Musk regime is simply raw, unadulterated petulance. He clearly sees the entirety of Twitter as his own personal $44 billion playground and a vicious cudgel to be wielded against his perceived enemies.”

Amnesty International: Twitter’s decision to suspend journalists’ accounts threatens press freedom.“Twitter is an important space for connection. People’s right to freedom of expression and the freedom to impart information shouldn’t be predicated on whether Musk likes it or not. Musk’s latest move illustrates the dangers of unaccountable tech companies having total control over platforms we rely on for news and other vital information.”

Joint Statement on the Disbanding of the Twitter Trust and Safety Council. “We call on Twitter, in the strongest terms, to cease making ad hoc, unaccountable, and damaging content moderation decisions and to commit to implementing policies and practices that promote the safety, expression, and participation of its users.”

Elon Über Alles. “As someone who has had entire branches of my family tree cut off and burned by the nazis, I believe that if you are willingly consorting with nazis, you approve of what they’re saying. It really is just that easy. If you resent being called a nazi, or a nazi sympathizer (which is being a nazi, by the way!), perhaps stop hanging out with or sympathizing with nazis. We do not need to “humor them.””

Goodbye, Twitter. “Just as Twitter’s former leaders exercised their free speech and free association rights to brand Twitter one way, Twitter’s new boss is exercising his rights to brand it another way. That new branding is ugly and despicable and I don’t want to contribute content to it.”

What if failure is the plan? “For an anchor point, consider the collapse of local news journalism. The myth that this was caused by Craigslist or Google drives me bonkers. Throughout the 80s and 90s, private equity firms and hedge funds gobbled up local news enterprises to extract their real estate. They didn’t give a shit about journalism; they just wanted prime real estate that they could develop.”

Elon Musk’s promised Twitter exposé on the Hunter Biden story is a flop that doxxed multiple people.“While Musk might be hoping we see documents showing Twitter’s (largely former) staffers nefariously deciding to act in a way that helped now-President Joe Biden, the communications mostly show a team debating how to finalize and communicate a difficult moderation decision.” But the intention appears to have been a PR exercise for conservatives, not to report a real exposé.

A snapshot of the Twitter migration (PDF). “In this report, we track, with the most quantifiable data we can, the contours, scope, and direction of the migration as it is at its beginning. Some users are fully leaving the platform, and many are not going that far yet, but creating new, alternative accounts, hedging their bets in case Twitter descends further into chaos, goes out of business, or crashes and doesn’t return.” Fascinating.

Hate Speech’s Rise on Twitter Under Elon Musk Is Unprecedented, Researchers Find. “Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day. Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day.”


Writing Is Magic. “There are many ways to be influential. You can form 1:1 relationships with people, have small group meetings, do talks, send out a code review, or argue in Slack. All of those can be valuable at the right time. But there’s one tool that I choose most often: long-form writing. Writing is the closest thing I know to magic.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: November, 2022

This is my monthly roundup of the articles and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for November, 2022.


Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. Absolutely batshit. I loved (almost) every minute. Weird Al is a treasure and must be kept safe at all costs.

My Spotify Top Songs 2022. Spotify is a problematic platform, but I love this every year, and spend a lot of the next year listening to the playlist of top songs it makes for me. This is my playlist for 2022.

Notable Articles


Wordcraft Writers Workshop. “Because the language model underpinning Wordcraft is trained on a large amount of internet data, standard archetypes and tropes are likely more heavily represented and therefore much more likely to be generated. Allison Parrish described this as AI being inherently conservative. Because the training data is captured at a particular moment in time, and trained on language scraped from the internet, these models have a static representation of the world and no innate capacity to progress past the data’s biases, blind spots, and shortcomings.”

4.2 Gigabytes, or: How to Draw Anything. “I envisioned a massive, alien object hovering over a long-abandoned Seattle, with a burning orange sky, and buildings overgrown as nature reclaimed the city. Later that night, I spent a few hours creating the following image.” Amazing.


1 in 4 hiring managers say they are less likely to move forward with Jewish applicants. “26% of hiring managers say they are less likely to move forward with Jewish applicants; the top reason for negative bias is belief Jews have too much power and control […] Respondents also wrote in a number of derogatory comments regarding how they identify an individual as Jewish. These write-in responses included: “voice,” “mannerisms,” and “they are very frugal.”” Horrifying.

Is Elon Musk a bad boss? Ask Tesla, SpaceX, Twitter workers. “But there’s plenty in the public record. Personal attacks. Union busting. A casual attitude toward factory floor injuries and other health concerns. A dismissive approach to workplace racism. And an allegation involving a horse and sexual favors.”

Legal right to request remote working to be delivered by end of the year (in Ireland). “An amendment to the bill is now expected that will allow all workers to request remote working.” In Ireland right now but expect it everywhere soon.

Venture Capital Isn’t the Problem—It’s Venture Capitalists. “Investors are more likely to place their bets on companies led by founders with elite educational backgrounds and stacked resumes, when business-related factors such as the market sector the company belongs to have a much larger effect on its financial future.”

LLY Stock Dives — Taking Novo, Sanofi With It — After Fake Twitter Account Promises Free Insulin.Honestly the fact that this led to a stock dive just makes me really sad.


COP27: Sharp rise in fossil fuel industry delegates at climate summit. “Campaign group Global Witness found more than 600 people at the talks in Egypt are linked to fossil fuels. That’s more than the combined delegations from the 10 most climate-impacted countries.”

Facing a call for climate reparations, wealthy nations propose an insurance scheme. “Advocates for loss and damage warned that insurance schemes like those promised by Global Shield are an insufficient solution to loss and damage, and they worried that such programs will distract from the demand for separate direct funding.”

Oregon tried to publicize wildfire risk. The backlash was explosive. ““A lot of people were just, you know, shocked,” Chaisson told Grist. “The big thing that people think of is, you know, the worst-case scenario, which is losing your insurance and having your property taken away.”” Obvious room for benefits for people whose homes fall in high-risk zones.


Tracking Mastodon user numbers over time with a bucket of tricks. “I’ve set up a new git scraper to track the number of users on known Mastodon instances over time.” Great little tutorial on gathering data and building a really interesting graph out of it.


ConsenSys Under Fire for Collecting MetaMask Users’ Wallet and IP Addresses. ““When you use Infura as your default RPC provider in MetaMask, Infura will collect your IP address and your Ethereum wallet address when you send a transaction,” Consensys said.”

Stephen Diehl: Crypto is the ‘commoditisation of populist anger, gambling and crime’. “In my most empathetic reading of crypto investors, look at this country — how many young people feel that they have a chance of getting on the housing ladder? A lot of them feel that they need to invest in higher-risk assets because they need higher returns.”

Interview: Fallen crypto CEO Sam Bankman-Fried opens up about FTX, Alameda Research, and his regrets. “It was past midnight Bahamas time, where Bankman-Fried is reportedly still located, and we went back and forth on Twitter for more than an hour.” Remarkable interview.

FTX’s Balance Sheet Was Bad. “The problem was in its balance sheet, which was full of snakes, and its governance, which put all the snakes there.”


'Y'all,' that most Southern of Southernisms, is going mainstream – and it's about time. “My examples push “y’all” back 225 years before the citation in the “Oxford English Dictionary,” and they show that the word appeared first in England rather than the United States.” Wait, does this mean I can use y’all in my accent? Should I?

Books We Love. NPR’s annual list of recommended books is as extensive and as beautiful as ever.

Octavia Butler’s Science Fiction Predicted the World We Live In. “What readers, fans and scholars often note about Butler’s work is its predictive qualities: Her vision about the climate crisis, political and societal upheaval and the brutality and consequences of power hierarchies seems both sobering and prescient.” She was brilliant. And this tribute is beautifully done.


Republicans doubled down on anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in the midterms. It wasn’t a winning platform.“According to exit polling from LGBTQ+ advocacy organization the Human Rights Campaign and data analytics firm Catalyst, voters ranked LGBTQ+ issues as low on their list of priorities for 2022. More than half (52 percent) chose inflation, and 29 percent picked abortion. Transgender health care and participation in sports came in last on the list of issues with just 5 percent.”

‘People underestimated them’: Advocates for Black women in politics want the Democratic Party to learn from the midterms. “We need early investments for these Black women candidates – Black candidates in general – but especially for Black women, who we know receive less financial contributions than a White woman or a White man running for these positions.”

John Fetterman and Social Media: How His Campaign Built a Winning Strategy. “The entire time I was running this program, I was like, “This is going to be a presidential-[campaign] level team in the content we produce and money we raise and folks who organize.” I do think it will be an example for other campaigns. I hope what we do sets an example for the upcoming presidential cycle.”

Nick Fuentes Says the Results of the 2022 Elections Prove 'Why We Need a Dictatorship'. ““When you look at these things like abortion, it’s popular,” Fuentes added. “And you can thank the Jewish media for that. Abortion is popular, sodomy is popular, being gay is popular, being a feminist is popular, sex out of wedlock is popular, contraceptives—it’s all popular. That’s not to say it’s good. That’s not to say I like that. Popular means that people support it, which they do. It sucks, and it is what it is, but that’s why we need a dictatorship. That’s unironically why we need to get rid of all that. We need to take control of the media or take control of the government and force the people to believe what we believe or force them to play by our rules and reshape the society.””

What the results of the midterms mean for women’s representation, by the numbers. “The number of women in Congress has stabilized, and next year a record-breaking number of women will serve as governor — including the first out lesbian governor in the country’s history.”

Democrats went all-in on abortion. For many, it worked. “The outcomes of these votes will drastically shape what abortion access looks like in the months and years to come.”

Progressive candidates score crucial wins in midterm elections. “With progressives growing their margins in Congress, regardless of the outcome of the remaining uncalled races, Democrats need to take note of the powerfully fought and won campaigns, driven by progressive ideals, that galvanized voters. This sends a clear message and roadmap that going into 2024 Democrats must lean into the popularity of the progressive platform, not write it off.”

Fetterman Beats Oz in Key Pennsylvania Senate Race. ““He leaned into his record as a criminal justice reformer and not away from it,” Corrigan said. “He’s brave and he was rewarded for it.””

U.S. Senate: Demings, Beasley fall short of wins in Florida and North Carolina. “It’s very disturbing that we would continue to have zero Black women senators for this next term. It’s another indicator that we are failing to be a truly democratic society.”

How Political Campaigns Use Your Phone’s Location to Target You. “Political operators have reportedly used these capabilities to target people based on church attendance, visits to specific government buildings, and as they attend political rallies. One firm even claims to have repeatedly signed up prominent campaigns wanting to target the “captive audience” in line to vote on election day, though it says it discontinued that product.”

Senator Wyden Asks State Dept. To Explain Why It’s Handing Out ‘Unfettered’ Access To Americans’ Passport Data. “The Department’s mission does include providing dozens of other government agencies with self-service access to 145 million American’s personal data. The Department has voluntarily taken on this role, and in doing so, prioritized the interests of other agencies over those of law-abiding Americans.”

Homeland Security Cops to Manufacturing Terrorists for Trump. “The Department of Homeland Security launched a failed operation that ensnared hundreds, if not thousands, of U.S. protesters in what new documents show was as a sweeping, power-hungry effort before the 2020 election to bolster President Donald Trump’s spurious claims about a “terrorist organization” he accused his Democratic rivals of supporting.”

How Is Slavery Still Legal? “What’s disturbing is that not only do the “tough on crime” types believe in prison slavery, but even liberals like Gavin Newsom can’t be counted on to oppose it. But it’s up to the rest of us, those with a functioning moral compass, to work to eradicate slavery once and for all.”


Eli Lilly CEO says insulin tweet flap “probably” signals need to bring down cost. ““It probably highlights that we have more work to do to bring down the cost of insulin for more people,” Ricks said of the Twitter fury.” Amazing that this is what they needed.


Tech Workers Union Local 1010. This seems good.

NewsGuild-CWA strongly condemns judge and Starbucks for seeking messages between reporters and workers. “These union-busting tactics must end, and journalists’ communications with sources must be protected. Starbucks has already committed over 200 violations of the National Labor Relations Act.”

Media - Editorial illustrations from around the world. A really nice visual database of journalism illustration. Beautiful and inspiring.

How much press are you worth? “This website calculates your press value based on current reporting in America, to expose bias and to advocate for change.” I would be worth a below-average 17 stories if I went missing.

Post, the latest Twitter alternative, is betting big on micropayments for news. “Consumers have changed their behavior. They want to consume their news in their feed. And so, obviously, consumption from a feed does not work with subscription. And social media networks, with their advertising-based model, promote the worst in us because it works. I mean, the algorithms are don’t really care. They just, you know, try to achieve the engagement at any cost, right?” OK, but open, non-proprietary feed technology is available and widely used …

News Outlets Urge U.S. to Drop Charges Against Julian Assange. “In a joint open letter, The Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País said the prosecution of Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act “sets a dangerous precedent” that threatened to undermine the First Amendment and the freedom of the press. “Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists,” the letter said. “If that work is criminalized, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.””

We Can't Depend on Platforms Anymore. “For a solid decade, many media operators thought they could build a sustainable business on the backs of the platforms. Those days are dying. Owned audiences are the future like they always should have been.” Spoiler alert: we never could depend on platforms.

Online mobs are now coming for student journalists. “Targeted online harassment has become a pervasive threat to newsrooms across the country. A 2019 survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists found that 85 percent of respondents believed their career had become less safe in the past five years and more than 70 percent said they experienced safety issues or threats as part of doing their job.”

The unbearable lightness of BuzzFeed. “In 2016, BuzzFeed stories posted on the platform had 329 million engagements; by 2018, that number had fallen to less than half. Last year, BuzzFeed posts received 29 million engagements, and this year is shaping up to be even worse.” I had no idea it had fallen so far.

Most media predicted a red wave. Here’s how The 19th got the election right. “The media missed the concerns and the motivations of many voters and failed to capture the full electorate. At The 19th, we remained focused on you.” I’m proud, as always, to work here.

Why Meta’s withdrawal from journalism will hurt local media companies. “Looking beyond LMA, any guesses on who is the largest funder of Report for America? That’s right. The Meta Journalism Project donated $6.5 million. I believe that’s a little more than 40% of the total raised to date. That means 120 reporters could go away if other funders don’t step up.” Repeat after me: don’t depend on Meta. For anything.

Farewell from Protocol. This makes me so sad. I really loved Protocol.

If You Want to Understand How Dangerous Elon Musk Is, Look Outside America. “Musk is right that the world needs a digital public square; unfortunately, he seems to have little idea that creating one involves balancing free speech against abuse, misinformation and government overreach.”

Media Companies Are Having Their Worst Year in Three Decades. “Advertising and affiliate fees are the two biggest revenue streams for most traditional media companies. Now they are both in secular decline.”


What’s a Black life worth to insurance companies? “Black households were actually slightly more likely than white households to have life insurance — eight out of 10 Black households had some form of life insurance vs. seven out of 10 for whites. Yet even when incomes were similar, the median amount of life insurance coverage for white households was three times that of Black families — $150,000 vs. $50,000.”

CHARACTERISTICS - WHITE SUPREMACY CULTURE. “While white supremacy culture affects us all, harms us all, and is toxic to us all, it does not affect, harm, and violate us in the same way. White supremacy targets and violates BIPOC people and communities with the intent to destroy them directly; white supremacy targets and violates white people with a persistent invitation to collude that will inevitably destroy their humanity.”

With no child tax credit and inflation on the rise, families are slipping back into poverty. “U.S. households are having to pay between $300 to $400 more each month compared to last year because of inflation. Food insecurity is rising once again. Now, advocates are pointing to a growing body of work that shows how low-income and marginalized families relied on the program to survive.”

Finding Affordable Child Care Has Never Been Harder. “America’s child-care infrastructure was broken before the pandemic, but the past few years have pushed it to the brink. Now, as more employers expect workers back in the office, a perfect storm of day-care closures, staffing shortages, and inflation have made finding affordable child care harder than ever.”

Doctor who provided abortion care to 10-year-old fights to protect medical records. “As a physician, I never imagined that I would be in the position to engage in a legal fight to protect the rights of women and girls to not have their private medical records released for political purposes. But nonetheless, I feel strongly that this fight — the fight for physicians to compassionately provide abortion care to every single person who needs their care and their patients to access safe, legal abortion care, free from fear of criminalization — is worth waging.”

Colorado Springs shooting shares eerie parallels with 1980 anti-LGBTQ+ massacre. “This past Saturday, 42 years to the day after the West Street shooting, five were murdered and 18 wounded at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ bar in Colorado Springs. A suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, is in custody and faces murder and hate crime charges. “These things don’t change,” Humm reflected. “I mean, the anti-gay atmosphere, anti-LGBTQ atmosphere is everywhere.””

Club Q shooting reshapes Trans Day of Remembrance for Colorado Springs community. “That the shooting took place on the evening before TDOR, a day honoring trans homicide victims, makes the tragedy even more painful, multiple advocacy groups said. They said the shooting is part of a bigger landscape of growing political attacks and harmful rhetoric aimed at trans people.”

How Stochastic Terrorism Uses Disgust to Incite Violence. “Dehumanizing and vilifying a person or group of people can provoke what scholars and law enforcement officials call stochastic terrorism, in which ideologically driven hate speech increases the likelihood that people will violently and unpredictably attack the targets of vicious claims.”

It Was a Bad Week for Billionaires With Delusions of Saving the World. “The money Mr. Bezos is now so magnanimously distributing was made through his dehumanizing labor practices, his tax avoidance, his influence peddling, his monopolistic power and other tactics that make him a cause of the problems of modern American life rather than a swashbuckling solution.”

Tech Titans Like Elon Musk Want to Save Earth by Having Tons of Children. “We are the Underground Railroad of ‘Gattaca’ babies and people who want to do genetic stuff with their kids.” Go ahead and tell me this isn’t white supremacy.

How I turned $15,000 into $1.2m during the pandemic – then lost it all. ““It’s about detachment,” my parents said in the end. “All the things in your life … you have to also be prepared to live without them.””

The Dangers of Context Collapse. “Context collapse itself is the phenomenon of highly-contextual information being used, purposefully or otherwise, in an ambiguous manner which leads to confusion.” Great post on a common rhetorical weapon.

Pasadena school becomes nation’s first named after Octavia Butler. “Everyone said, ’She’s a seer and she’s prescient, but she … just paid attention. She was always tuned into the climate crisis and doing research on that. It’s almost as if we’ve caught up with her finally.””

Military spouses bear the financial, logistical impact of frequent moves. “Manjarres, a nurse, said a lot of the household stress, including the moves, falls on her. Her husband’s high rank requires he leave for deployments regularly and for long periods of time, making it difficult for her to find employment at each of their stations, depending on the size of the military base and the needs of her growing children. Her husband missed her son’s whole first grade year, she said.”

Study on Harvard finds 43 percent of white students are legacy, athletes, related to donors or staff. “43 percent of white students admitted to Harvard University were recruited athletes, legacy students, children of faculty and staff, or on the dean’s interest list — applicants whose parents or relatives have donated to Harvard. That number drops dramatically for black, Latino and Asian American students, according to the study, with less than 16 percent each coming from those categories.” Clearly relevant in the context of revisiting affirmative action.


How to Build A Winning Paid Membership Program. “Chinese platforms have been experimenting with paid membership models for over a decade and offer new frameworks for the West to consider. They are also a great source of ideas for individual features that are universal.”


Mastodon Isn't Just A Replacement For Twitter. “The age of Big Social may be ending, as advertisers shift to platforms like TikTok and streaming video that are more like entertainment channels. For many reasons, we say: good riddance. The damage commercial social media has done to politics, relationships and the fabric of society needs undoing. As media scholar Victor Pickard suggests, “Hopefully Twitter’s collapse will lead to a more expansive conversation about the relationships between capitalist imperatives and the communication [and] information needs of democratic societies.””

Thinking about taking your computer to the repair shop? Be very afraid. “Researchers at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, recovered logs from laptops after receiving overnight repairs from 12 commercial shops. The logs showed that technicians from six of the locations had accessed personal data and that two of those shops also copied data onto a personal device. Devices belonging to females were more likely to be snooped on, and that snooping tended to seek more sensitive data, including both sexually revealing and non-sexual pictures, documents, and financial information.”

PSA: Do Not Use Services That Hate The Internet. “If posts in a social media app do not have URLs that can be linked to and viewed in an unauthenticated browser, or if there is no way to make a new post from a browser, then that program is not a part of the World Wide Web in any meaningful way. Consign that app to oblivion.”

Defederation and governance processes. “To “keep things the way they are” is always an option, never the default. Framing this option as a default position introduces a significant conservative bias — listing it as an option removes this bias and keeps a collective evolutionary.” Some great thoughts on collective decision-making that pertain directly to open source.

How to Weave the Artisan Web. “Now, why should we bring back that artisan, hand-crafted Web? Oh, I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a site that’s not run by an amoral billionaire chaos engine, or algorithmically designed to keep you doomscrolling in a state of fear and anger, or is essentially spyware for governments and/or corporations?”

The cost of your cat pictures. “Anyone who thinks that social media sites are “public spaces” is welcome to propose that Congress gives Facebook $30,000,000,000 a year to keep up that infrastructure. Otherwise, no, it’s not. That’s $30,000,000,000 a year in private money being used to buy private property.”

Amazon Is Gutting Its Voice Assistant Alexa. “By 2018, the division was already a money pit. That year, The New York Times reported that it lost roughly $5 billion. This year, an employee familiar with the hardware team said, the company is on pace to lose about $10 billion on Alexa and other devices.” The strategy depended on Alexa users paying for goods and services through the assistant - and they just didn’t.

Word Persons and Web Persons. “It’s likely that both word persons and web persons are in the minority on the modern internet. Most people would rather read short snippets of text rather than long blog posts. Most people would rather use apps than browse the web or consume content rather than write it or create their own websites always. But hopefully there will always be room for those of us who enjoy plain text and simple HTML.”

Introducing Substack Letters. I like this quite a bit. I want to do it on my blog with someone else who’s writing on their blog.

Tanya O’Carroll v Meta; Landmark case to stop Facebook spying on us. “We shouldn’t have to give up every detail of our personal lives just to connect with friends and family online. The law gives us the right to take back control over our personal data and stop Facebook surveilling and tracking us.”

Announcing the Science Eye. Here I am debating social media content policies; meanwhile very impressive people I used to work with are building this.

We Joined Mastodon. Here’s What We Learned About Privacy and Security. “If you’ve been considering signing up for Mastodon, here are some things we have been thinking about as we take the leap.”

Slocan Statement. “The following is intended as a starting point, a first draft towards establishing a shared charter that would serve to protect, support, and enrich the nascent Fediverse.” A necessary, characteristically thoughtful start from Blaine Cook.

A guide to potential liability pitfalls for people running a Mastodon instance. “This is not about just creating a Mastodon account: it’s for people who are running a Mastodon server. If you just made an account on someone else’s server, you can safely ignore this.” This is actually great advice for anyone running an online community, on Mastodon or otherwise.

I’ve been thinking a lot. “Web people can tell you the first site they ever saw, they can tell you the moment they knew: This, This Is It, I Will Do This. And they pour themselves into the web, with stories, with designs, with pictures.” This piece on web people vs startup people resonates for me, hard.

The long-awaited US broadband internet maps are here — for you to challenge. These broadband maps are an important inclusion issue - and here we’re still talking availability rather than accessibility. Right now some of the most vulnerable in society are left offline.

Mozilla Foundation releases the highly anticipated Mozilla Firefox 1.0 web browser. “Today’s announcement marks the worldwide launch of Mozilla Firefox.” 18 years ago, this saved the web.

Mysterious company with government ties plays key internet role. “Your investigative staff will collect its best evidence while users are lulled into a false sense of security afforded by web, e-mail or VOIP encryption.”

Palmer Luckey Made a VR Headset That Kills the User If They Die in the Game. “It is also, as far as I know, the first non-fiction example of a VR device that can actually kill the user. It won’t be the last.”

Signal Stories are now available on iOS and Android. “Stories are now available to everyone on Signal, allowing users of the encrypted instant messaging service to create and share images, videos, and texts that automatically expire after 24 hours.” But why?

Why is everyone leaving Twitter for Mastodon? “Mastodon feels like 2007. It’s rough around the edges, but does the job. It doesn’t work the same as Twitter. There’s no algorithm and no slick social media marketing teams targeting you. It’s a little harder to find your friends and nothing quite does what you think it will do. And I’m convinced that’s why everyone is loving it.”

Mastodon's Founder Has a Vision to Democratize Social Media. “The recent influx from Twitter, Rochko says, has been a vindication. “It is a very positive thing to find that your work is finally being appreciated and respected and more widely known,” he says. “I have been working very, very hard to push the idea that there is a better way to do social media than what the commercial companies like Twitter and Facebook allow.””

Ian Coldwater on Twitter: "Dotcom crash survivors, what is your actionable advice for people?". A great thread of advice for younger engineers in a recession, from people who survived previous tech downturns.

Mozilla Ventures: Investing in Responsible Tech. “Mozilla Ventures will be a $35M+ venture capital fund for early stage startups whose products or technologies advance one or more of the values in the Mozilla Manifesto. Privacy. Inclusion. Transparency. Accessibility. Human dignity.” YES!

Tech Policy. From the Kapor Center: “We have developed a framework for systemic change that outlines a set of nine core technology policy areas that call for expanded access to technology pathways, increased tech accountability and worker protections, and greater investment in infrastructure and innovation.”


Twitter Thrills Far-Right Trolls by Silencing Left-Wing Voices. “Twitter was a place where communities could gather, despite harassment, because the worst hate speech was banned through content moderation. “Musk has made it clear that’s no longer part of the product,” Loder said. “The entire Twitter information security community has moved to Mastodon.” Some activists who helped create Black Twitter are already talking about how to rebuild their community on that site too.”

Bye, Twitter. “Speaking as a random was-successful-on-Twitter person, I can see no good arguments for redirecting my voice into anyone else’s for-profit venture-funded algorithm-driven engagement-maximizing wet dream.”

Twitter Blesses Extremists With Paid 'Blue Checks'. “Hatewatch’s investigation of extremists’ use of Twitter Blue, based in part on a third-party public list of paid blue-check accounts, found that white nationalists, anti-LGBTQ extremists and other far-right individuals and groups now sport what was once a symbol of credibility on the platform.”

I told my team to pause our $750K/month Twitter ads budget last week. “I’ve seen a lot of technical and ideological takes on Elon Twitter but wanted to share the marketing perspective. For background I’m a director at a medium sized b2b tech company (not in finserv anymore) running a team that deploys about $80M in ad spend/year.”

CBS News Pauses Twitter Posts 'In Light of Uncertainty' Over Platform. “In light of the uncertainty around Twitter and out of an abundance of caution, CBS News is pausing its activity on the social media site as it continues to monitor the platform.”

Twitter Architecture, annotated on Miro. A whiteboard diagram of Twitter’s architecture from a photo taken by Elon Musk, annotated by Justin Hendrix, Luke Dubois and Mark Hansen. Fascinating!

There Is No Replacement for Black Twitter. “One former Twitter employee I spoke with described this next phase in grim terms: It’s “the end of Black Twitter and Black people at Twitter.”” And so far, the replacements don’t come close.

Twitter as representation of the relevance and value of “Word People” in oral culture. “It’s interesting to divide the internet into Word People and Image People because the Internet is a modern evolution of oral culture — and technological/bandwidth limitations have enabled text to serve as the leading means to transfer information online up till now.”

The lost thread. “The speed with which Twitter recedes in your mind will shock you. Like a demon from a folktale, the kind that only gains power when you invite it into your home, the platform melts like mist when that invitation is rescinded.”

What’s Twitter’s Future? The Former Head of Trust And Safety Weighs In . “It was for this reason that I chose to leave the company: A Twitter whose policies are defined by edict has little need for a trust and safety function dedicated to its principled development.”

Inside Elon Musk’s Takeover of Twitter. “Twitter executives also suggested assessing the lists for diversity and inclusion issues so the cuts would not hit people of color disproportionately and to avoid legal trouble. Mr. Musk’s team brushed aside the suggestion, two people said.”

Elon Musk addresses advertisers and asks them to keep using Twitter. “Musk’s expansive plans for Twitter include adding financial products to the mix. It could begin, he said, with Twitter allowing users to pay each other through the platform, with the company setting up each user with an initial gift of $10 to test it out. Over time, Musk added, Twitter will offer the ability for users to transfer money out of its system to third-party banks — and then to market its own banking services.” Called it.

Hope for a post-Musk net. “What institutions need we create now, in this new reality? Note that I did not say what new technologies. We have lots of technologies; more than enough, thank you. What we need are human standards, norms, and means to discover and support quality and credibility, talent and utility.”

Twitter Now Asks Some Fired Workers to Please Come Back. “Some of those who are being asked to return were laid off by mistake, according to two people familiar with the moves. Others were let go before management realized that their work and experience may be necessary to build the new features Musk envisions, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information.”

The addictive nature of Twitter. “Pretending Twitter is the answer to gaining respect for and engagement with my work is an addict’s excuse that removes responsibility from myself.”


Don't Just Create One Big Story, Build a Mosaic of Tiny Stories! “I often find a really good story is made up of a ton of smaller stories, like building blocks or facets, which enrich the whole by adding more random choices and disasters and discoveries that people made a long time ago. How do you go about doing this? Just look at any object or building or artifact in your world and ask yourself, “How did it get to be the way it is now?” And then pick the answer that seems the most interesting and fertile.”

Ray Bradbury on feeding your creativity. “He said that nothing is lost and you must resist the urge to throw out things that meant so much to you when you were younger. What is most important, he writes, is “the continual running after loves.””

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: October, 2022

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for October, 2022.



My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Smartly pointed satire loosely disguised as a thriller. Witty and dark as hell. I loved it.

Chivalry, by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran. A lovely little tale, rich with the best kind of British idiosyncrasy, and beautifully illustrated in watercolor.

Notable Articles


Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. “You should be protected from abusive data practices via built-in protections and you should have agency over how data about you is used.”


Elon Musk Twitter deal closes, CEO fired. “CEO Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal, and Vijaya Gadde, head of legal policy, trust, and safety, were all fired, according to the people. Sean Edgett, the company’s general counsel, was also pushed out, one of the people said. The top executives were hastily shuttled from the building.”

Little Rules About Big Things. “Tell people what they want to hear and you can be wrong indefinitely without penalty.”

When your salary requires you not understand the labor movement. “In most people’s interactions with a workplace, the company takes too much and gives too little. The only recourse for labor is to form structures of counter-power to try and balance the equation.”

How a Secret Rent Algorithm Pushes Rents Higher. “For tenants, the system upends the practice of negotiating with apartment building staff. RealPage discourages bargaining with renters and has even recommended that landlords in some cases accept a lower occupancy rate in order to raise rents and make more money.”

No one is “non-technical”. “Likewise, constraining the word “technical” to refer only to “people who write code” serves to uphold a system in which benefits like compensation and prestige are distributed inequitably—regardless of the actual value of the various techniques being deployed.”

An Investor That Agreed to Back Elon Musk's Twitter Bid Wants Out. ““We’re all trying to get out of it, to be honest,” said Andrea Walne, a general partner at Manhattan Venture Partners.”

How a New Anti-Woke Bank Stumbled. “The startup, called GloriFi, initially aimed to launch with bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages and insurance, while touting what it called pro-America values such as capitalism, family, law enforcement and the freedom to “celebrate your love of God and country.” Within months, the investors’ money was nearly gone, and GloriFi was on the verge of bankruptcy.”

‘Where Are the Women?’: Is Hybrid Work Widening Tech’s Gender Gap? “Polls and studies show that women have embraced flexible and remote work, and opt to work from home slightly more often than men. But they also are liable to spend those additional hours at home on chores and child care, even when a partner is also working at home.”

Notes on Roadtrips. “And because I’m still uncomfortable talking about company values, we’re going to do so by talking about something else entirely. We’re going to talk about Road Trips.” I appreciate this more human approach to values statements.


End frequent flyer programs. “Frequent flyer programs use words like “status”, “elite”, and “prestige” for passengers who make ridiculously high demands on the earth’s resources. With private club access, seat upgrades and priority boarding, they use the trappings of social mobility to encourage destructive behaviours.”

A NASA satellite launched to detect dust has discovered huge methane leaks. “In the three and a half months following EMIT’s launch, the tool has not only successfully mapped out massive dust plumes and their effect on the changing climate, but has also identified another key piece to the global warming puzzle: more than 50 methane “super-emitters,” some of which had previously gone unseen.”

Animal populations experience average decline of almost 70% since 1970, report reveals. “The total loss is akin to the human population of Europe, the Americas, Africa, Oceania and China disappearing, according to the report.”


The Perfect Commit. “The commit is our principle unit of work. It deserves to be treated thoughtfully and with care.” As always, a thoughtful approach to technical work from Simon.

The transitional web. “What I mean is that we’re at the start of another wave of change in our industry, where old trends and best practices give way to something new.”

GitHub Copilot investigation. “Copi­lot’s whizzy code-retrieval meth­ods are a smoke­screen intended to con­ceal a grubby truth: Copi­lot is merely a con­ve­nient alter­na­tive inter­face to a large cor­pus of open-source code. There­fore, Copi­lot users may incur licens­ing oblig­a­tions to the authors of the under­ly­ing code.”

The Proprietary Syndication Formats. “Guess which format is going to outlast all these proprietary syndication formats. I’d say RSS, which I believe to be true, but really, it’s HTML.”

Using the Free Pascal IDE for a week. “I’m not sure what the rationale is for maintaining the text mode FP IDE. It seems kinda quaint in 2022 to maintain a recreation of the old Turbo Pascal editor, but I’m so glad that it’s there.”

Software engineering practices. I really like Simon’s summary of recommended software engineering practices. I agree with everything here, and this might encourage me to write my own additional list.


Blockchain’s real world problem. “Cryptocurrencies and smart contracts truly do reduce the need for trust and centralization! However, if you want to connect them with off chain data, you need to trust the source(s) of that data. Some oracle providers like Artory vet their data sources stringently, but many, like Chainlink, don’t”

The Only Crypto Story You Need, by Matt Levine. “Which is why we asked the finest finance writer around, Matt Levine of Bloomberg Opinion, to write a cover-to-cover issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, something a single author has done only one other time in the magazine’s 93-year history (“What Is Code?,” by Paul Ford). What follows is his brilliant explanation of what this maddening, often absurd, and always fascinating technology means, and where it might go.” Phenomenal.

Regulating DAOs. “It’s a mistake to defend DAOs on the grounds that code is free speech. Some code is speech, but not all code is speech. And code can also directly affect the world.”

Coin Center Says Biden Administration 'Criminalized' Open Source Code. ““The Biden Administration criminalized the use of Tornado Cash, an open source software tool that helps Americans maintain their privacy while using cryptocurrency and related assets,” states the 36-page lawsuit.” I don’t agree that this has merit, but we’ll see where it goes.

Kim Kardashian settles SEC charges over Instagram EthereumMax crypto promo. “The reality TV superstar and influencer has settled Securities and Exchange Commission charges that she failed to disclose a payment she received for touting a crypto asset on her Instagram feed, the agency announced Monday morning.”


How ‘A League of Their Own’ and Anne Rice Are Making the Internet Rethink the Rules of Fanfiction. An interesting piece about the evolution of fanfiction, the separation between fanfic and original creators, and how the two might dovetail back together.

The Hollow Core of Kevin Kelly's "Thousand True Fans" Theory. “On closer examination, it turns out there are many things wrong with it. Thousand True Fans is a hollow philosophy. It is Chicken Soup for the Digital Creator’s Soul, ultimately devoid of any real nutritional value. […] We can have a tiny rich patron-class whose tastes and whims are the only thing that reliably gets catered to, or we can tax that rich patron-class and use the funds to actually fund the arts again.”

BBC And Disney Branded Television Join Forces on Doctor Who. I don’t know what Doctor Who with a Disney budget even looks like, but I’m in. Obviously.

How the first female Time Lord changed Doctor Who forever. “So what does it mean when shows such as Doctor Who increase diversity in front of and behind the camera? Mort says increased on-screen diversity will improve the self-esteem of those represented, and having behind-the-camera talent from communities being portrayed on-screen will ensure the authenticity of these narratives. “This way, diverse narratives can be told, not just stereotyped,” says Mort.”

Bakery Creates ‘Pan Solo,’ a 6-Foot Replica of ‘Star Wars’ Hero Made of Bread. “Finally, after a month of work, he was ready: a lovingly wrought 6-foot recreation of Han Solo frozen in carbonite, made entirely of bread. The duo behind the creation, Hannalee Pervan and her mother, Catherine Pervan, called him “Pan Solo.””

How Chinese citizens use puns on Weibo to talk about MeToo and zero-Covid without being censored. “This particular approach to internet speak — substituting words that sound like or are spelled like others — has been an essential part of being online in China for decades, allowing netizens to use the humor and cleverness of spoken Mandarin to dodge censorship.”


Women of color are leading the effort to connect voting rights and abortion access. “Issues of democracy and reproductive rights have long been tied together for women of color in America. But during this year’s midterms, women of color are in positions of power and influence in ways they haven’t been before. They framed the stakes of the election early and have made this the central argument in the final days of the campaign.”

Uline’s billions fund voter suppression . “The Uihleins are ideologues, but it’s a mistake to view their authoritarianism, antisemitism, racism, and homophobia as the main force of their ideology. First and foremost is their belief that they deserve to be rich, and that the rich should be in charge of everyone else.”

Who is Curtis Yarvin, the monarchist, anti-democracy blogger? “Yarvin argues that a creative and visionary leader — a “startup guy,” like, he says, Napoleon or Lenin was — should seize absolute power, dismantle the old regime, and build something new in its place.” Genuinely frightening stuff.

Could the Tory turmoil get even worse? “As her premiership fell apart, Truss tried to find new bogeymen who she insisted were derailing the post-Brexit revolution, blaming an “anti-growth coalition” that included people with podcasts, Scottish nationalists and north London liberals.” My people!

Don’t Count on White Women to Save Abortion Access. “White women as a voting bloc have proven, time and again, to prioritize racial privilege over gender solidarity.”

Introducing Democracy's Library. “Over the next decade, the Internet Archive is committing to work with libraries, universities, and agencies everywhere to bring the government’s historical information online. It is inviting citizens, libraries, colleges, companies, and the Wikipedians of the world to unlock good information and weave it back into the Internet.” Yay!

Voter ID laws are creating barriers for transgender people, women and others. “More than 200,000 voting-eligible transgender Americans may find it difficult to cast a ballot in the upcoming midterm elections because of voter ID laws.”

'Stop the steal' supporters train thousands of U.S. poll observers. “If these people show up to the polls with the intention of disrupting voting from taking place, then I can’t imagine a worse threat to democracy than that.”

Comedians sue over drug search program at Atlanta airport. “Those 402 [police] stops also yielded more than $1 million in cash and money orders from a total of 25 passengers” even though drugs were not found on them. Absolutely vile.

How California’s Bullet Train Went Off the Rails. “SNCF was very angry. They told the state they were leaving [California] for North Africa, which was less politically dysfunctional. They went to Morocco and helped them build a rail system.”

Chelsea Manning: ‘I’m Still Bound to Secrecy’. “I came to see that the classification system exists wholly in the interest of the U.S. government — in other words, it seems to exist not to to keep secrets safe but to control the narrative.”

After 187 years, the Cherokee Nation wants its seat in Congress . “The 1835 treaty included unequivocal language that a delegate “shall” be included in the House for the Cherokee, a provision that was essentially forgotten as they and other tribes tried to survive and rebuild after forced removal.”

The most terrifying case of all is about to be heard by the US supreme court. “Should the court endorse the ISL theory, Republican-controlled legislatures also will be able to gerrymander political districts to lock in permanent control of federal elections without judicial oversight.”

Proposed bill labels LGBTQ+ information as 'sexually-oriented' material. “Multiple LGBTQ+ researchers and policy experts told The 19th that they had never seen a bill like this one at the state level, introduced in the current Congress, or passed into law in recent memory. A bill that so overtly depicts LGBTQ+ people as sexually inappropriate, especially around children, is a significant escalation — even if it’s all part of the same rhetoric, advocates say.”


Microplastics found in human breast milk for the first time. “We would like to advise pregnant women to pay greater attention to avoiding food and drink packaged in plastic, cosmetics and toothpastes containing microplastics, and clothes made of synthetic fabrics.”

Hair Straighteners May Pose a Small Risk for Uterine Cancer, Study Finds. “For women in the study who had never used hair straighteners, the risk of developing uterine cancer by the age of 70 was 1.64 percent, the research found, while the rate for frequent users of straighteners was more than doubled at 4.05 percent.”

Wildfire Smoke May Carry Deadly Fungi Long Distances. “For years now, researchers have understood that wildfire smoke, and the noxious gases and soot particles it carries, isn’t merely an unpleasant experience that forces people to shut windows and herd children indoors. It’s a significant health hazard that not only triggers asthma and breathing problems, but can harm immune systems for years.”

State abortion bans are preventing cancer patients from getting chemotherapy. ““I don’t know anybody that would feel comfortable treating a pregnant patient with cancer because I don’t feel like they’re nearly dead enough,” Zahedi-Spung said. “The threshold that I am holding in order to provide abortion care is basically almost dead to try to avoid being arrested and jailed.””


James Bennet and the rewriting of 2020. “Desperate to undo the social movement that threatened their place atop the social hierarchy, the right and its handmaidens in the squeamish center have fought obsessively to recast the protest summer as the aborted dawn of a new, terrifying tyranny — of “cancel culture,” anti-racism, and the most feared of them all, “wokism” — in which revolutionary mobs working with the Hollywood elite and the mandarins of the Democratic Party (don’t think too hard about it) will … well, do something bad.”

Publishing Prejudice: The Oregonian's Racist Legacy. “The newspaper helped create the Oregon of today: A majority white state, with the West Coast’s smallest proportion of Black residents, anchored by Portland, America’s whitest big city. Despite Oregon’s progressive reputation and growing population of color, its major institutions — lawmakers, schools, police, housing systems and health care providers — have failed to erase deep-rooted inequities.”

News in America: Public Good or Private Enterprise? “Most Americans believe news organizations prioritize their own business needs – over serving the public interest: More than three in four say news organizations are first and foremost motivated by their own financial interests, while just 12% of Americans say news outlets act as civic institutions first.”

The BBC at one hundred. “Its relationship with the British state has been fraught, a function of its peculiar dual status as both a news organization and a nominally unifying cultural service, and of its funding status.”

Tucker Carlson’s strange rant about Fetterman shows how media fails. “Asking objective news reporters to be aware that a massive apparatus of disinformation is out there waiting to pounce on and exploit hazy reporting seems like the absolute minimum to expect.”

When spyware turns phones into weapons. “In the long-term, journalists who feel threatened by an invisible enemy that could expose their sources and their private lives to public scrutiny may start to shy away from controversial investigations, curtailing their publications’ coverage, and dealing a blow to press freedom.”

If Trump Runs Again, Do Not Cover Him the Same Way: A Journalist’s Manifesto. “We should be resolutely objective in the sense of seeking evidence and approaching subjects with an open mind. We should not, however, resort to taking everything down the middle, no matter what.”

What is Dovetail from PRX? “From a birds-eye view, Dovetail does three main things: podcast distribution, data collection, and ad inventory management.”

Most people on Twitter don’t live in political echo chambers — but mostly because they don’t care enough to bother building one. “Most people don’t follow a bunch of political “elites” on Twitter — a group that, for these authors’ purposes, also includes news organizations. But those who do typically follow many more people they agree with politically than people who they don’t.”

The Sun-Times’ new chapter: Our digital content is now free for everyone. “So today, we are dropping our paywall and making it possible for anyone to read our website for free by providing nothing more than an email address. Instead of a paywall, we are launching a donation-based digital membership program that will allow readers to pay what they can to help us deliver the news you rely on.”

In Grief and In Anger, Welcome to Peste Magazine. “Peste Magazine believes health is a human right. We believe in naming the names of the powerful who believe others do not deserve that right, because of who they are, where they live, what they do, how they fuck, or how much money they don’t have.”

Wikipedia has once again debated whether Fox News is a reliable source. “The final result: Li found consensus that Fox be deemed a “marginally reliable” source for information about politics and science. This means that its use as a reference in Wikipedia articles will not be permitted for “exceptional claims” that require heightened scrutiny, but that its reliability will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis for other claims.”


First-ever study shows bumble bees 'play'. “Bumble bees play, according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London published in Animal Behaviour. It is the first time that object play behavior has been shown in an insect, adding to mounting evidence that bees may experience positive “feelings.”” I can’t believe it’s taking this long to get to the obvious idea that all animals have feelings.


Tuna. “It has a name, this uniquely vile game: it is called extinction speculation. It’s practised by those who collect Norwegian shark fin, rare bear bladders and rhino horn; men and women with hearts that sing along only to the song of money. There are collectors known to be building up huge piles of tiger pelts and vats of tiger bone wine.”

Airline hired for UK’s Rwanda deportations pulls out of scheme. “This is a victory for people power – for thousands who took action and for the torture survivors who stood up against the UK government’s cruel ‘cash for humans’ Rwanda scheme.“ Activism works.

Louisiana parents fight to keep their children out of violent Angola prison. “Parents and legal advocates in Louisiana — chief among them Black mothers — say a plan to temporarily transfer incarcerated youth to an adult facility once known as “America’s bloodiest prison” will traumatize the children and limit their access to education and rehabilitation opportunities.”

Afghan couple accuse US Marine of abducting their baby. “This is a story about how one U.S. Marine became fiercely determined to bring home an Afghan war orphan, and praised it as an act of Christian faith to save her. Letters, emails and documents submitted in federal filings show that he used his status in the U.S. Armed Forces, appealed to high-ranking Trump administration officials and turned to small-town courts to adopt the baby, unbeknownst to the Afghan couple raising her 7,000 miles away.”

Texas schools send parents DNA kits to identify their kids’ bodies in emergencies. ““You have to understand, I’m a former law enforcement officer,” Walder, who has lived in Texas for 14 years, said. “I worry every single day when I send my kid to school. Now we’re giving parents DNA kits so that when their child is killed with the same weapon of war I had when I was in Afghanistan, parents can use them to identify them?””

Monarch. “Not once at school was I told any of this stuff. I’d heard of the Raj before, although the British always spoke of it as if it was something to be proud of.” +1. And it is nothing to be proud of.

Tarana Burke on progress and reframing the future. “Ahead of next month’s midterms, she said she’s thinking more than ever about survivors as a key part of the electorate. They can be a powerful voting bloc that could help elect candidates focused on changing policy around sexual and gender-based violence.”

Women share stories in their own words, five years after movement. “These women, regularly denied the chance to show their full selves and tell their own stories, do so here in their own words, navigating what it means to find safety and self in the face of widespread public attention, and criticism.”

Longtermism, or How to Get-Out-Of-Caring While Feeling Moral and Smart. “MacAskill begs us to ask questions like: Do you care about the specter of climate catastrophe? Definitely. World War III complete with nuclear annihilation? Yikes, yeah. How about population stagnation and potential collapse because rich people stopped having enough babies? Wait, huh? What do you think about lowering the probability of complete human extinction by .0001% at the expense of allowing 100 million people to die in genocidal neglect?”

Why Do Rich People Love Quiet? “The people complaining clearly thought they were trying to enforce a sonic landscape that they deemed superior, but what they were really doing was using shame to exert control. Over the restaurant, the building, the borough. Us.”

Positano, the Instagram capital of the world, is a terrible place to be. “The problem of travel at this particular moment is not too many people traveling in general, it is too many people wanting to experience the exact same thing because they all went to the same websites and read the same reviews.”


Mark Zuckerberg Is Going To Kill His Company. “As funny as it is that Zuckerberg responded to “don’t spend as much money on the metaverse” with “I will now spend more on the metaverse,” anybody with half a brain can see that he is burning his company to the ground. Zuckerberg is experiencing peak founder-brain - that previous success begets future success and that has had several good ideas means that every idea you’ll ever have is perfect.”

Preventing the bait and switch by open core software companies. “The approach ensures that an open core company can’t switch to solely creating proprietary software. The charter also addresses other issues we have seen in open source projects like withholding security fixes and transparency issues.”

3 Reasons Why I Think 50% Coding 50% Marketing is the Best Framework for Solo Tech Founders. “Usually when a solo founder thinks they need to do more coding than marketing, it’s because they don’t want to do marketing, not because they genuinely think they need to spend more time on product.”

Co-Founding Considered Harmful. “I’ve come to view the idea that you absolutely need a co-founder as one of the most harmful memes in Silicon Valley. It’s probably killed more companies than any other misconceptions out there.” Really solid advice.


Biden admin investing $65 billion in broadband access. “The federal government is investing $65 billion in expanding broadband, and two-thirds of that money will be directed toward programs that encourage better hiring and retention practices for women and people of color, who have been severely underrepresented in the field.”

Twitter to start charging $20 per month for verification. “Employees working on the project were told on Sunday that they need to meet a deadline of November 7th to launch the feature or they will be fired.” Way to build a supportive culture!

Welcome to hell, Elon. “Also, everyone crying about “free speech” conveniently ignores that the biggest threat to free speech in America is the fucking government, which seems completely bored of the First Amendment. They’re out here banning books, Elon!” The best post about the Twitter acquisition.

Fake books. “With GPT-3, we now have an infinitely-scalable technology that is years away from being able to enrich our lives, but is already more than capable of drowning out all remnants of authentic content on the internet. And because you can leverage this to earn money or sway opinions, that outcome is probably hard to avoid.”

The Commodordion. “The Commodordion is an 8-bit accordion primarily made of C64s, floppy disks, and gaffer tape.” Into it.

TikTok Parent ByteDance Planned To Use TikTok To Monitor The Physical Location Of Specific American Citizens. “But the material reviewed by Forbes indicates that ByteDance’s Internal Audit team was planning to use this location information to surveil individual American citizens, not to target ads or any of these other purposes.”

Introducing the Overflow Offline project. “Many coders would say they rely on Stack Overflow to get work done, but Hicklin’s situation is different. She had no access to the internet while incarcerated.” Great initiative.

How We Uncovered Disparities in Internet Deals. “Recent research from activists and academics has pointed out a digital divide for high-speed internet between the parts of major American cities where ISPs have upgraded the infrastructure (often rich and predominantly White) and the frequently poorer, predominantly communities of color where they have not made upgrades.”

s13e10: Dying Slowly, and then All At Once; Scrollytelling. This is so sad. And honestly, given I post many links a day, kind of scary.

Microsoft Full Circle. “The entire reason why Windows faltered as a strategic linchpin is that it was tied to a device — the PC — that was disrupted by a paradigm shift in hardware. Microsoft 365, on the other hand, is attached to the customer.” I’m a much bigger fan of the new Microsoft than the old one.

The AT Protocol. “The world needs a diverse market of connected services to ensure healthy competition. Interoperation needs to feel like second nature to the Web.” I’m cautiously optimistic - and certainly curious.

Facebook owner Meta to sell Giphy after UK watchdog confirms ruling. “The only way this can be addressed is by the sale of Giphy. This will promote innovation in digital advertising, and also ensure UK social media users continue to benefit from access to Giphy.”

Kanye West plans to acquire conservative social media site Parler. “Parler was created in September 2018 as a free speech alternative to apps like Twitter and Facebook. The app was de-platformed from Google and Apple’s app stores in January 2021, following the January Capitol siege.”

This will be a thread discussing a real world breach involving a drone delivered exploit system that occurred this summer. An epic corporate security breach using drones. The stuff of movies.

Papa John's sued for 'wiretap' spying on website visitors. “Session replay tools have been a privacy concern due to their indiscriminate capturing of data, sometimes poor security, and failures to get user consent to track and store this data, not to mention having analysts going over your every move to see how they can optimize their webpages and boost sales.”

As pandemic measures are lifted, social media use has declined with the exception of TikTok. “Other studies have shown that young people are now using TikTok as one of the primary ways to get news and that some have even replaced Google Search with TikTok.”

Disrupting the Gospel of Tech Solutionism to Build Tech Justice. “Virtually every new technology tied into the massive, interconnected web of data and machine power undergirding the global internet has the potential for both social benefit and social harm. And communities that have been overpoliced and surveilled are more likely than others to experience the negative capabilities of new technology.”

The Battle for the Soul of the Web. “The decentralized web that Kahle and others have envisioned for years has yet to receive major mainstream attention for an obvious reason: It never promised to get anyone rich. But the Web3 movement certainly did.”

The High Cost of Living Your Life Online. “Studies have found that high levels of social media use are connected with an increased risk of symptoms of anxiety and depression. There appears to be substantial evidence connecting people’s mental health and their online habits. Furthermore, many psychologists believe people may be dealing with psychological effects that are pervasive but not always obvious.”

AI Data Laundering: How Academic and Nonprofit Researchers Shield Tech Companies from Accountability. “This academic-to-commercial pipeline abstracts away ownership of data models from their practical applications, a kind of data laundering where vast amounts of information are ingested, manipulated, and frequently relicensed under an open-source license for commercial use.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: September, 2022

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for September, 2022.

Apps + Websites


Have I Been Trained? I plugged my own face into the site, and sure enough, I’m part of the training set. It also showed me pictures of my friends. Feels weird. See if you can generate something involving me?


Return to Monkey Island. A splendid, absolutely fitting sequel. Nostalgic, funny, fresh, engrossing: everything I wanted it to be.


Meridian. Meridian is a developer platform that finds places based on a user’s latitude and longitude - and is open source and distributed, so doesn't leak user location to a third party.



Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts, by Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martínez. A very personal exploration of a facet of history that still has so many unheard stories. The portion set in England pulls no punches, in a way that makes me want to force all my friends there to read this. I learned so much, and felt so much: it does its job and more.

Gender Queer: A Memoir, by Maia Kobabe. A heartfelt memoir that I wish more kids had access to. Its place to the top of banned book lists is a travesty. I was surprised how emotional I found it; the last few pages brought me to tears unexpectedly. I find this kind of raw honesty to be very inspiring.



The Liz Truss BBC Local Radio Interviews. Fantastic job by BBC local radio interviewers. Terrifying listening, straight out of The Thick of It.


Kat White - In the Eye of the Owl. Years ago, I commissioned a song about capybara for this lovely animal-themed children’s album. And now I get to listen to it with my actual child. Magic.


Book Exploder. A podcast that could have been made just for me. What I found most striking in all of these author accounts is how personal these book projects all are. Writing is a detailed exercise in craft, but also a phenomenal act of empathy.

Notable Articles


eBay exec sentenced in cyberstalking attack on Natick couple. “The couple said they were sent disturbing items, including live bugs, a bloody pig mask, a funeral wreath and a book about coping with the loss of a spouse.”

One of the Hottest Trends in the World of Investing Is a Sham. On ESGs: “Instead of measuring the risks that environmental and social developments pose to companies, raters and investors should measure the risks to humanity posed by companies.”


Climate change is turning the trees into gluttons. “Although other factors like climate and pests can somewhat affect a tree’s volume, the study found that elevated carbon levels consistently led to an increase of wood volume in 10 different temperate forest groups across the country. This suggests that trees are helping to shield Earth’s ecosystem from the impacts of global warming through their rapid growth.”

Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company to Fight Climate Change. “Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Mr. Chouinard, his wife and two adult children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, to a specially designed trust and a nonprofit organization. They were created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe.”

New technique shows old temperatures were much hotter than thought. “Meckler’s warmer temperatures suggest that CO2’s capacity to warm during that time in Earth’s past was higher than was found in earlier studies. “This would lead to a higher climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2,” the paper says.”


Hundreds Of Authors Ask Publishers To Stop Attacking Libraries. “Tons of authors, including some very big names like Neil Gaiman, saying that the publishers need to not just stop going after libraries, but especially that they need to stop doing so in the name of authors.”

‘We can continue Pratchett’s efforts’: the gamers keeping Discworld alive. “Not only does it feature most of the key locations, from the city of Ankh-Morpork to areas such as Klatch and the Ramtops, it has seven guilds, player-run shops, and countless quests and adventures featuring many of the Discworld’s most notable characters. It even has its own newspaper.”

Artist receives first known US copyright registration for latent diffusion AI art. “In what might be a first, a New York-based artist named Kris Kashtanova has received US copyright registration on their graphic novel that features AI-generated artwork created by latent diffusion AI.”

Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools. “Some groups appear to feed off work to promote diverse books, contorting those efforts to further their own censorious ends. They have inverted the purpose of lists compiled for teachers and librarians interested in introducing a more diverse set of reading materials into the classroom or library.” Despicable.

How ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ Finally, After 43 Years, Got Completed. “The problem with the theatrical cut was, simply, it wasn’t done. It feels long and slow because the movie hadn’t been edited properly. Scenes that may only last two or three seconds too long, or literally one frame, add up over the course of a movie to make it feel long. Now, after 1500 or so edits, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a film that finally feels properly paced, looks stunning, and, after long last, no longer keeps the viewer at arm’s length.”

Human Capital. “TED was for bearing hearts, not souls.” A fun short story from the world of Reap3r.

Food Means Home. A recipe book collated by 30 unaccompanied minor asylum seekers. Just completely lovely.

The Reactionary Geeks Are Mad About 'Rings of Power'. “The refrain “Go woke, go broke” offers a tidy summary of this argument, wokeness gone mad being a useful euphemism for a demand like “resegregate popular entertainment,” which might turn people off.”


Maggie Haberman: A Reckoning With Donald Trump. “I was curious when Trump said he had kept in touch with other world leaders since leaving office. I asked whether that included Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping, and he said no. But when I mentioned North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, he responded, “Well, I don’t want to say exactly, but …” before trailing off. I learned after the interview that he had been telling people at Mar-a-Lago that he was still in contact with North Korea’s supreme leader, whose picture with Trump hung on the wall of his new office at his club.”

Most Republicans Support Declaring the United States a Christian Nation. “Fully 61 percent of Republicans supported declaring the United States a Christian nation. In other words, even though over half of Republicans previously said such a move would be unconstitutional, a majority of GOP voters would still support this declaration.”

The smoking gun in Martha's Vineyard. “Migrants from Venezuela were provided with false information to convince them to board flights chartered by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R). The documents suggest that the flights were not just a callous political stunt but potentially a crime.”

DHS built huge database from cellphones, computers seized at border. “The rapid expansion of the database and the ability of 2,700 CBP officers to access it without a warrant — two details not previously known about the database — have raised alarms in Congress about what use the government has made of the information, much of which is captured from people not suspected of any crime. CBP officials told congressional staff the data is maintained for 15 years.”

American Democracy doesn’t need saving — it needs creating. “But when we shift our perspective and begin to see our task as creating and cultivating democracy, more accessible and meaningful options become available to ordinary people and the institutions that represent them and are meant to serve them.”

I was arrested after asking "who elected him?" at the proclamation of King Charles. “What other freedoms can be suppressed in the name of monarchy? Who else will be arrested under the vile Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Act?”

A Black protester voiced anger at police in South Carolina. She got 4 years in prison. “You have people who stormed the Capitol, who led to the death of law enforcement, who tried to overturn an election and fracture democracy. And they’re getting two months, three months, six months. And Brittany Martin gets four years.”


I’m a psychologist – and I believe we’ve been told devastating lies about mental health. “If a plant were wilting we wouldn’t diagnose it with “wilting-plant-syndrome” – we would change its conditions. Yet when humans are suffering under unliveable conditions, we’re told something is wrong with us, and expected to keep pushing through. To keep working and producing, without acknowledging our hurt.”


Axios's 'Smart Brevity' and Questionable Book-Selling Tactics. “The intrigue: An internal Axios memo encouraged each employee to buy six copies of the trio’s new book. Workers could then get those purchases expensed by the company—a practice that could cost Axios more than $70,000, according to Defector.” Savage.

Inside podcasters' explosive audience growth. “Each time a player taps on one of these fleeting in-game ads—and wins some virtual loot for doing so—a podcast episode begins downloading on their device. The podcast company, in turn, can claim the gamer as a new listener to its program and add another coveted download to its overall tally.”

Americans see media as critical to democracy, 19th News/SurveyMonkey poll says. “An increasingly diverse country does not see itself reflected in the media. Communities of color, LGBTQ+ people and marginalized groups are still underrepresented in both who covers the news and what news is covered.”

How we know journalism is good for democracy. “When respondents have the least information, candidates of color—particularly Black candidates—are disadvantaged, among respondents across party, ideological, and racial attitude lines.”

Welcome to the new Verge. “We also thought about where we came from and how we built The Verge into what it is today. And we landed on: well shit, we just need to blog more.” Love.

Make Your Voter Guide ICONIC. “This kind of user-friendly experience is something we keep dreaming that more newsroom voter guides will feature.”


Scientists Have Bad News About All These Energy Efficient LEDs. “Focusing on the suppression of melatonin — the hormone that regulates sleep cycles — star visibility, and insects’ response to light, the researchers found that all categories were negatively affected. The level of melatonin suppression in humans has gone up since 2013, stars are less visible, and the insects’ response to light was unnaturally altered.”


Capitalism and extreme poverty: A global analysis of real wages, human height, and mortality since the long 16th century. “The rise of capitalism from the long 16th century onward is associated with a decline in wages to below subsistence, a deterioration in human stature, and an upturn in premature mortality. […] Where progress has occurred, significant improvements in human welfare began only around the 20th century. These gains coincide with the rise of anti-colonial and socialist political movements.”

California's dead will have a new burial option: Human composting. “This new law will provide California’s 39 million residents with a meaningful funeral option that offers significant savings in carbon emissions, water and land usage over conventional burial or cremation.”

More US Employers Are Trapping Workers in a New Form of Indentured Servitude. “Bosses in industries such as retail, health care and logistics are reverting to an old tactic and trapping people in miserable jobs by threatening to saddle them with debt if they quit. Workers across the United States in fields ranging from nursing to trucking have been discouraged from leaving jobs they hate or can’t afford to keep because employers vow to charge them for training costs if they quit before an arbitrary deadline.”

‘Reverse Freedom Rides’ echo DeSantis Martha’s Vineyard migrant flights. Fascinating piece about the racist history of “reverse freedom rides” to Cape Cod that are now echoed by Ron DeSantis’s policies in Florida. I’ve been going to the Cape my entire life and I’m ashamed to say I had no idea.

Britain and the US are poor societies with some very rich people. “The rich in the US are exceptionally rich — the top 10 per cent have the highest top-decile disposable incomes in the world, 50 per cent above their British counterparts. But the bottom decile struggle by with a standard of living that is worse than the poorest in 14 European countries including Slovenia.”

Lindsey Graham's national abortion ban has exceptions that won't work, experts say. “But exceptions for the life of the pregnant person are notoriously difficult to receive; physicians have said the requirement of providing abortions only in an emergency can force them to wait until a patient is in dire condition before providing them needed care. And the rape and incest exceptions written into the bill — much like the ones that exist in a handful of state abortion bans — are nominal at best, sexual violence and abortion policy experts said. They require reporting and paperwork that does not occur in the majority of sexual assault cases.”

U.S. Approval of Labor Unions at Highest Point Since 1965. This feels like a sign of progress to me (and also a sign that ordinary workers need help).

Netherlands Plans to Launch Slavery Apology Fund for Awareness Projects. “The fund will be announced after the nation officially apologizes for its role in slavery by the end of this year or the beginning of next year, according to people familiar with the matter. It may be as big as 200 million euros ($204 million), the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity.”


Elon Musk’s Texts Shatter the Myth of the Tech Genius. “It’s been a general Is this really how business is done? There’s no real strategic thought or analysis. It’s just emotional and done without any real care for consequence.”

Rohingya seek reparations from Facebook for role in massacre. “But a new and comprehensive report by Amnesty International states that Facebook’s preferred narrative is false. The platform, Amnesty says, wasn’t merely a passive site with insufficient content moderation. Instead, Meta’s algorithms “proactively amplified and promoted content” on Facebook, which incited violent hatred against the Rohingya beginning as early as 2012.”

Facebook Report: Censorship Violated Palestinian Rights. “Meta deleted Arabic content relating to the violence at a far greater rate than Hebrew-language posts, confirming long-running complaints of disparate speech enforcement in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The disparity, the report found, was perpetuated among posts reviewed both by human employees and automated software.”

US Military Bought Mass Monitoring Tool That Includes Internet Browsing, Email Data. “Multiple branches of the U.S. military have bought access to a powerful internet monitoring tool that claims to cover over 90 percent of the world’s internet traffic.”

Pentagon reviews psychological operations amid Facebook, Twitter complaints. “The Pentagon has ordered a sweeping audit of how it conducts clandestine information warfare after major social media companies identified and took offline fake accounts suspected of being run by the U.S. military in violation of the platforms’ rules.”

The Internet We Could Have Had. “The internet we do have, however, is figured much differently. It is figured as a tool of political domination. It is the apotheosis of the forms of domination secretly hidden inside the stories of progress and liberation. It is capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and environmental destruction all rolled into one hideous hydra whose heads are Zuckerberg, Bezos, Pichai, Cook, with Musk and Thiel at the ass end.”

Gender differences and bias in open source: pull request acceptance of women versus men. “Surprisingly, our results show that women’s contributions tend to be accepted more often than men’s. However, for contributors who are outsiders to a project and their gender is identifiable, men’s acceptance rates are higher. Our results suggest that although women on GitHub may be more competent overall, bias against them exists nonetheless.”

How a news investigation shed light on potential patient privacy violations. “The health system said the tracking tool was intended to help track the success of a promotional campaign to connect more patients to its MyChart patient portal, which involved Facebook advertisements. But it was configured improperly, which allowed Meta to obtain patient information such as email addresses, phone numbers, computer IP addresses, contact information and appointment details.”

WordPress+IndieWeb as the OS of the Open Social Web. Nice indieweb thoughts and presentation. As an aside, I’ve added Hypothesis annotations to my site, inspired by Ton’s site.

5th Circuit Rewrites A Century Of 1st Amendment Law To Argue Internet Companies Have No Right To Moderate. “It effectively says that companies no longer have a 1st Amendment right to their own editorial policies. Under this ruling, any state in the 5th Circuit could, in theory, mandate that news organizations must cover certain politicians or certain other content. It could, in theory, allow a state to mandate that any news organization must publish opinion pieces by politicians. It completely flies in the face of the 1st Amendment’s association rights and the right to editorial discretion.”

Prompt injection attacks against GPT-3. “A surprising thing about working with GPT-3 in this way is that your prompt itself becomes important IP. It’s not hard to imagine future startups for which the secret sauce of their product is a carefully crafted prompt.”

It's hard to imagine better social media alternatives, but Scuttlebutt shows change is possible. “Because it’s not a company, Scuttlebutt doesn’t need to make a profit. There is no persuasive design trying to keep you hooked, no advertising, and it doesn’t collect, process or sell users’ personal data. Instead, data are stored and controlled on users’ own devices.”

Quality Is Systemic. “If your team is producing defective code, consider that it may not be because they all suck at their jobs. It’s probably because the environment isn’t allowing them to produce quality software.”

Launch House, a tech startup incubator, sold entrepreneurs on the promise of community. This is a cult.

Take Care of Your Blog. “There are no rules to blogging except this one: always self-host your website because your URL, your own private domain, is the most valuable thing you can own. Your career will thank you for it later and no-one can take it away.”

Jack Dorsey’s Former Boss Is Building A Decentralized Twitter. “It’s not about machine learning, or AI, generating the perfect viral media, it’s about groups of people getting together and finding meaning with each other.” Rabble is doing important work.

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Reading, watching, playing, using: August, 2022

Happy Labor Day to everyone who celebrates the organized labor movement today in the US. This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for August, 2022.

A note: it’s taken me a while to hit publish on this post because our son was born on September 2nd. We instantly fell in love. More on that soon. For now, please understand if my posting frequency plummets for a little while.



The School for Good Mothers, by Jessamine Chan. A ton of ideas about parenting, society, and the present moment, crammed into an emotional near-future science fiction story. I wish the protagonist had been more sympathetic - but the future it paints is alarmingly plausible.

Notable Articles


Workplace Productivity: Are You Being Tracked? “Two years ago, her employer started requiring chaplains to accrue more of what it called “productivity points.” A visit to the dying: as little as one point. Participating in a funeral: one and three-quarters points. A phone call to grieving relatives: one-quarter point.”

The organized labor movement has a new ally: venture capitalists. “White’s solution is to plan an “exit to community.” Once the company starts earning income, it plans to buy out its investors and give their equity to the unions it helped organize, effectively transitioning corporate control to the customer base.”

American Express' platinum-level duplicity. “American Express’ decision to begin donating to Republican objectors reflects the desire of some in the business community to put the events of January 6, 2021, behind them. That, according to an open letter recently signed by former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and other prominent business leaders, is a big mistake.”

Varo layoffs are a sign of neobanks’ struggle to break even. ““Most American neobanks cater to lower-income customers, who previously may have incurred overdraft, [non-sufficient fund fees] and maintenance fees at big establishment banks,” Mikula told Protocol. “But these consumers also tend to be higher credit risk, making it challenging to lend to them. No U.S. neobank has built a meaningful lending business.””


California to Ban the Sale of New Gasoline Cars. “The rule, issued by the California Air Resources Board, will require that all new cars sold in the state by 2035 be free of greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide. The rule also sets interim targets, requiring that 35 percent of new passenger vehicles sold by 2026 produce zero emissions. That requirement climbs to 68 percent by 2030.”

The temperature threshold the human body can't survive. “When the wet bulb temperature gets above 95 degrees F, our bodies lose their ability to cool down, and the consequences can be deadly. Until recently, scientists didn’t think we’d cross that threshold outside of doomsday climate change scenarios. But a 2020 study looking at detailed weather records around the world found we’ve already crossed the threshold at least 14 times in the last 40 years.”

Women are working to make the clean energy transition more equitable. “Women are disproportionately facing the impacts of the climate crisis: They are more likely to be displaced by climate disasters, and due to lower-paid jobs, caregiving responsibilities and the wage gap, they have less economic means to recover and adapt to a changing climate.”


More Than Half Of All Bitcoin Trades Are Fake. “More than half of all reported trading volume is likely to be fake or non-economic. Forbes estimates the global daily bitcoin volume for the industry was $128 billion on June 14. That is 51% less than the $262 billion one would get by taking the sum of self-reported volume from multiple sources.”

Insider Trading in Cryptocurrency Markets. “We find evidence of systematic insider trading in cryptocurrency markets, where individuals use private information to buy coins prior to exchange listing announcements. Our analysis shows significant price run-ups before official listing announcements, similar to prosecuted cases of insider trading in stock markets.”

Feds Blacklist Tornado Cash, Ban Ethereum Mixing Tool in US. “In a Monday announcement, the body added the Tornado Cash website and a long list of Ethereum addresses to its Specially Designated Nationals list, banning American citizens from using the tool or transacting with these addresses.”

Pearson Sees NFT, Blockchain Helping Making Money From E-Books Sales. “The chief executive officer of Pearson Plc, one of the world’s largest textbook publishers, said he hopes technology like non-fungible tokens and the blockchain could help the company take a cut from secondhand sales of its materials as more books go online.”


Queer YA books are selling in record numbers despite bans targeting them. “Of the close to 5 million units of LGBTQ+ books sold in 2021, the biggest absolute gains in this market came from LGBTQ+ YA books, which saw an increase in sales of 1.3 million units from the previous year. Queer YA is more popular than ever — no longer a niche category, but redefining what is mainstream for teen readers.”

As list of banned books in schools grows, ‘soft’ censorship is spreading. “Free speech advocates say these practices are as troubling as bans — particularly when the books singled out overwhelmingly have themes related to race, gender and sexuality and are written by authors who are women, LGBTQ+ and/or people of color.”

Billy Bragg on the difference between the backlash to Salman Rushdie and Jerry Sadowitz. “Over the past decade or so, Rushdie has sought to return to some sort of a normal life, despite the threat hanging over him. The fact that he continued to take the stage at literary events is a tribute to his belief in freedom of expression and he has been rightly commended for his bravery.”

Doctor Who casting director: "We’re casting more disabled actors". “It’s more interesting. Also, if you can’t cast diversely on Doctor Who, what show can you do it on? It goes everywhere, on this planet and others, and you don’t want to see the same kind of people all the time. You don’t want it to be exclusively middle-class white people speaking with RP accents.”

on leading a purposeless life. “Maybe it is okay to not pursue potential and just be okay with being. Why must there be a reason for everything?” Beautiful.

Author Salman Rushdie attacked on lecture stage in New York. “He has said he is proud of his fight for freedom of expression, saying in a 2012 talk in New York that terrorism is really the art of fear.”

Interview: Jake Novak on His Infamous SNL TikTok Video. “Honestly, as horrible as the internet has been to me in the past six weeks, I have really enjoyed this hiatus. I’m getting to see my friends more and just have more meaningful experiences in real life.”


Why I Changed My Mind on Student Debt Forgiveness. “It is simply impossible for students to work their way through college in the way previous generations could. And at the same time, states have reduced funding to their public colleges that historically allowed schools to charge low tuition prices.”

We reject the free speech-trampling rules set by J.D. Vance and Ron DeSantis for covering their rally. “Think about what they were doing here. They were staging an event to rally people to vote for Vance while instituting the kinds of policies you’d see in a fascist regime.”

John Mackey: Whole Foods CEO says ‘socialists are taking over’ schools and gun control debate. ““My concern is that I feel like socialists are taking over,” the multi-millionaire organic grocery magnate said. “They’re marching through the institutions. They’re… taking over education. It looks like they’ve taken over a lot of the corporations. It looks like they’ve taken over the military. And it’s just continuing.””

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff leans in to being a voice for gender equity. “Emhoff is the first second gentleman to the first woman vice president, and for him, tackling gender inequality in ways big and small felt like a natural, and critical, component of creating this role. He is actively attempting to model for others what it means to be an ally in actions, not just words.”

It's Manly Man Summer at the Claremont Institute. “In a piece titled “Men and the Future of America,” Klingenstein praises senator Josh Hawley for a speech trumpeting the “masculine virtues.” And what are those? They are, according to Klingenstein, “stoicism, competitiveness, conquest, achievement and aggression.” These are qualities to be managed, not repressed, because repressing them turns them toxic, into “dysfunctional behaviors—crime, drugs, pornography, and the like.”” I find this ideology so repulsive, so baffling.

How the Claremont Institute, home to Trump lawyer John Eastman, rose and fell. “Lewis said he agreed with Claremont leaders that the country is locked in a cold civil war. “Our country is upside down,” he said. “It’s unrecognizable.” He praised the program and its focus on “the myth of systemic police racism.” […] “They’re trying to train people to take a kind of extreme populist right-wing ideology back with them to Washington.”“

After slow response, Biden administration ramps up abortion access protections. “Helen Silverstein, head of the government and law department at Lafayette College, said that the administration’s actions this week were notable because they sent a clear — if delayed — signal to the Democratic base that the executive branch is taking access to reproductive health care seriously.”

Orbán gets warm CPAC reception after 'mixed race' speech blowback. “The reaction to Orbán’s “mixed-race” remarks was “a little bit overblown,” Ede Vessey said, maintaining that the prime minister was referring to a stark clash of cultures that has taken place in some Western European countries that have accepted refugees from predominantly Muslim countries.”

Senate Judiciary holds hearing on threats to election workers. “Election officials from both the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as nonpartisan officials, testified at the hearing on election workers, a workforce that has received more attention after former President Donald Trump lied about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. As Trump considers another run for office in 2024, he has repeated unfounded claims about election security that election administrators say has made their work more difficult.”

Justice Department sues Idaho over abortion ban, citing ‘medical emergency’ violation. ““The law thus places medical professionals in an impossible situation,” Gupta said. “They must either withhold stabilizing treatment required by EMTALA or risk felony prosecution and license revocation. In so doing, the law will chill providers’ willingness to perform abortions in emergency situations and will hurt patients.””

ShotSpotter Asks Court To Hold It In Contempt Rather Than Turn Over Information To Defense Lawyer. “It’s tough to say what a judge will find admissible, but ShotSpotter’s past history suggests it is willing in some cases to alter reports to justify arrests that have already occurred. If the PD contacted ShotSpotter post-arrest to get a report altered, it may show officers had no reasonable suspicion to stop the arrestee — a stop that resulted in his arrest.”

Sen. Tiara Mack says twerking video response has led to harassment, threats. ““It’s been a whirlwind. Anywhere from misogynistic comments, racist comments, classist comments,” she said. “I’ve received death threats. I’ve received emails and phone calls of people calling me the n-word. I’ve received fatphobic comments. Just everything under the sun.””

Republican candidates are changing how they handle abortion after Roe v. Wade. “Multiple Republican midterm candidates have removed from their campaign sites references to particularly strict anti-abortion stances, a shift from primary campaigning to the approaching general election and an indication of growing concern in the Republican Party over how to handle abortion policy post-Roe v. Wade.”


U.S. life expectancy drops sharply, the second consecutive decline. “American Indian and Alaskan Native people have experienced a particularly precipitous drop in life expectancy since 2019, going from 71.8 to 65.2 years. This kind of loss is similar to the plunge seen for all Americans after the Spanish Flu.”

Kids Born Near Fracking Sites More Likely to Have Leukemia, Study Says. “Children who are born near fracking sites are as much as three times more likely to be diagnosed with leukemia later on, according to new Yale research.”

For years, Black trans women have been told their life expectancy is 35 years. That’s false. “Willis says the statistic once communicated an urgency in the community. Today, she thinks trans people need more complicated stories.”

Experts debunk monkeypox myths as misinformation spreads. “Can monkeypox spread on the subway? Can it kill like COVID-19? Experts respond to monkeypox myths and misconceptions.”

Just because some people can pretend COVID is over, doesn’t mean it actually is. “People are still dying of COVID and even more people are getting long COVID (which we’re seeing develop into myalgic encephalomyelitis for many long haulers, and trust me, you don’t want it). The CDC and Food and Drug Administration have mostly abdicated their responsibility to prevent infections, focusing only on serious illness and death, while ignoring long COVID and the impact of the virus on disabled people.”


Person-Centered Terms Encourage Stigmatized Groups’ Trust in News. “Participants trusted articles that used person-centered terms for their group more than articles that used stigmatizing terms.” Understandably.

People of color at 'New York Times' get lower ratings in job reviews, union says. “While there were some fluctuation — on average, the performance of Black employees rose over the intervening years, while it declined for Latinos at the organization — white workers were consistently assessed as outperforming their peers.”

Healing Polarized Communities. “We cannot begin bridging communities beyond our newsrooms without building — and supporting — more diverse communities within our newsrooms.” So proud to work here.

Choose Your Own Literary Adventure. “The colorful recommendation chart, one of many that have rippled through the Twitter and Instagram feeds of book lovers, came from a small bookstore in Madison, Wis., called A Room of One’s Own. […] The charts seem to speak the internet’s language, one that meets people where they are by acknowledging that literature can be overwhelming, and people often don’t know where to start.”

A luxury magazine photo hid relics Cambodia says could be stolen. For me the lede here is: Architectural Digest appears to have deliberately run a photo altered to hide the fact that an article’s subject owns stolen Cambodian artifacts.

After Roe v. Wade Reversal, Readers Flock to Publications Aimed at Women. “Alexandra Smith, the audience director of The 19th, which was founded in 2020, said growth in traffic had been “exponential.” She said an increase in search traffic had continued well after the June 24 court decision, with readers now looking for information on how the decision could impact access to Plan B and IUDs. They were also looking to read about the impacts on other civil rights, such as marriage equality.” Hey, I get to work there!

Alex Jones must pay $50m for Sandy Hook hoax claim. “Despite retracting his claims about Sandy Hook, Jones has continued to use his media platform to argue the case was rigged against him and claimed that members of the jury pool “don’t know what planet they’re on”. His Infowars website depicted the judge being consumed by flames.”


How a theory about transgender contagion went viral. “The problem: Overwhelming evidence shows that your child almost certainly hasn’t been duped. Although some people do reconsider or reverse their transition, once a person starts identifying as trans, it’s quite unlikely they’ll change their mind. No matter how strongly you believe that the internet, social contagion, and positive representations of transgender people turned your child trans, chances are your child disagrees.”

French Scientist's Photo of ‘Distant Star’ Was Actually Chorizo. “But a few days later, Klein revealed that the photo he tweeted was not the work of the world’s most powerful space telescope, as he had in fact tweeted a slice of chorizo sausage.”


Capitalism Gives Me the Freedom to Pursue as Many Side Gigs as I Want to Pay Off My Increasing Bills And Loans. “I like to think of myself as an independent contractor who threw out his nine-to-five job for about five to nine different jobs over the course of a year, a contractor with significantly less of the legal protections established in the past hundred years or so by Congress and the Supreme Court.”

Ask Damon: I want to redistribute my slave-owning ancestor's wealth. “Anyway, if you’re sincere in your desire to attempt to right your family’s wrongs, find those descendants, show them the money and then hand it to them.”

Happiness Is Two Scales. “Instead, happiness and unhappiness are two separate, independent scales. A good life requires tackling each one separately.”

Period poverty: Scotland first in world to make period products free. “It will be for the country’s 32 councils to decide what practical arrangements are put in place, but they must give “anyone who needs them” access to different types of period products “reasonably easily” and with “reasonable dignity”.”

Why a Life-Threatening Pregnancy Complication Is on the Rise. “For African American women, simply the stress of living in America increases the risk of preeclampsia.”

Lionsgate Will Mandate Abortion Safety Protocols, CEO Says in Memo. “Thank you, Lionsgate, for being the only studio who treated this issue with the respect and urgency it deserves. There’s still work to be done, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Races are finally making room for nonbinary runners. “More races across the United States are creating divisions for nonbinary runners to compete, and in some cases, to win awards. The New York City Marathon introduced a nonbinary category last year. The Chicago Marathon also quietly added a nonbinary registration category this year, one runner said. The Boston Marathon will include a nonbinary category in 2023, though athletes say the race needs to flesh out its policy before nonbinary runners can be fully included.”

NJ police used baby DNA to investigate crimes, lawsuit claims. “The blood samples are not directly shared with law enforcement agencies. But if police are able to reliably obtain the samples through subpoena, then effectively, the disease screening process is entering all babies born in the state into a DNA database with no ability to opt out.”

Economic consequences of major tax cuts for the rich. “We find tax cuts for the rich lead to higher income inequality in both the short- and medium-term. In contrast, such reforms do not have any significant effect on economic growth or unemployment.”

The Dangerous Ideas of “Longtermism” and “Existential Risk”. “By reducing morality to an abstract numbers game, and by declaring that what’s most important is fulfilling “our potential” by becoming simulated posthumans among the stars, longtermists not only trivialize past atrocities like WWII (and the Holocaust) but give themselves a “moral excuse” to dismiss or minimize comparable atrocities in the future. This is one reason that I’ve come to see longtermism as an immensely dangerous ideology. It is, indeed, akin to a secular religion built around the worship of “future value,” complete with its own “secularised doctrine of salvation.””

Facial recognition smartwatches to be used to monitor foreign offenders in UK. “Through their opaque technologies and algorithms, they facilitate government discrimination and human rights abuses without any accountability. No other country in Europe has deployed this dehumanising and invasive technology against migrants.”

Federal Judge Places County Jail Into Receivership After County Fails To Comply With Consent Decree. Mind-blowing: “A-Pod is one of four “pods” the prison is divided into. […] Because the inmates have free run of the pod, they can access the roof and escape. For whatever reason, they rarely actually escape. Instead, they leave the prison and return with contraband. No one is assigned to work A-pod because it cannot be controlled in its current state.”

Vast New Study Shows a Key to Reducing Poverty: More Friendships Between Rich and Poor. “The findings show the limitations of many attempts to increase diversity — like school busing, multifamily zoning and affirmative action. Bringing people together is not enough on its own to increase opportunity, the study suggests. Whether they form relationships matters just as much.”


Opening the Pandora's Box of AI Art. “I’ve never felt so conflicted using an emerging technology as DALL-E 2, which feels like borderline magic in what it’s capable of conjuring, but raises so many ethical questions, it’s hard to keep track of them all.”

Listen up: Podcasts are coming to Twitter. What’s Odeo is new again.

Bay Area tech startup Sanas wants people to sound whiter. “Experts who spoke to SFGATE were troubled by Sanas’ emphasis on people in the Global South making themselves understood to Americans, as opposed to Americans accepting other accented voices.” Indeed.

Whistleblower: Twitter misled investors, FTC and underplayed spam issues. “Twitter is grossly negligent in several areas of information security. If these problems are not corrected, regulators, media and users of the platform will be shocked when they inevitably learn about Twitter’s severe lack of security basics.”

Class action against Oracle's worldwide surveillance machine. “Oracle’s dossiers about people include names, home addresses, emails, purchases online and in the real world, physical movements in the real world, income, interests and political views, and a detailed account of online activity.”

A Dad Took Photos of His Naked Toddler for the Doctor. Google Flagged Him as a Criminal. ““This is precisely the nightmare that we are all concerned about,” Mr. Callas said. “They’re going to scan my family album, and then I’m going to get into trouble.””

Mozilla Foundation - In Post Roe v. Wade Era, Mozilla Labels 18 of 25 Popular Period and Pregnancy Tracking Tech With *Privacy Not Included Warning. “Eighteen out of 25 reproductive health apps and wearable devices that Mozilla investigated for privacy and security practices received a *Privacy Not Included warning label. These findings raise concerns in the post-Roe landscape that data could be used by authorities to determine if users are pregnant, seeking abortion information or services, or crossing state lines to obtain an abortion.”

A new jailbreak for John Deere tractors rides the right-to-repair wave. “Farmers around the world have turned to tractor hacking so they can bypass the digital locks that manufacturers impose on their vehicles. Like insulin pump “looping” and iPhone jailbreaking, this allows farmers to modify and repair the expensive equipment that’s vital to their work, the way they could with analog tractors.”

This Is the Data Facebook Gave Police to Prosecute a Teenager for Abortion. “Facebook gave police a teenager’s private chats about her abortion. Cops then used those chats to seize her phone and computer.”

OnlyFans Accused of Paying Bribes to Put Enemies on Terrorist Watchlist. “According to the suit filed earlier this year by Evans and fellow porn content creator Kelly Pierce, OnlyFans reportedly bribed Facebook employees to wrongfully place the actresses — who used OnlyFans competitor sites to sell their content — on a terrorism watchlist run by a consortium of internet companies, resulting in them being “shadowbanned” on Instagram and other social networks integral to the promotion of their content.”

Teens, Social Media and Technology 2022. “The share of teens using Facebook has declined sharply in the past decade. Today, 32% of teens report ever using Facebook, down 39 points since 2014-15, when 71% said they ever used the platform.”

Who could write protocol fiction for speculative infrastructure? “But we don’t need just design fictions. We need business model fictions, engineering feasibility study fictions, interop protocol specification fictions, investment return fictions.”

Gmail is now officially allowed to spam-proof politicians’ emails. “It’s sad that instead of simply stopping sending spam emails, Republicans engaged in a bad-faith pressure campaign — and it’s even more unfortunate that Google bought it.”

iOS Privacy: Instagram and Facebook can track anything you do on any website in their in-app browser. “With 1 Billion active Instagram users, the amount of data Instagram can collect by injecting the tracking code into every third party website opened from the Instagram & Facebook app is a staggering amount.”

Ex-Twitter employee found guilty of spying on Saudi dissidents. “Abouammo was found to have used his position at Twitter to find personal details identifying critics of the Saudi monarchy who had been posting under anonymous Twitter handles, and then supplying the information to Prince Mohammed’s aide Bader al-Asaker.”

Silicon Valley engineers are quitting for climate change. “Big Tech is no longer the young upstart, and there’s a new kid in town luring away smart people looking for purpose and willing to take a chance on something new: climate tech.”

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting. ““We are not trying to make human beings. That is not what we are trying to do.” says Hanna. “To call a day-40 embryo a mini-me is just not true.””

The Metaverse Is Not a Place. “But what if, instead of thinking of the metaverse as a set of interconnected virtual places, we think of it as a communications medium? Using this metaphor, we see the metaverse as a continuation of a line that passes through messaging and email to “rendezvous”-type social apps like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and, for wide broadcast, Twitch + Discord. […] The interactions are not place based but happening in the ether between two or more connected people. The occasion is more the point than the place.”

Joel Kaplan’s Policy Team Sways Big Facebook Decisions Like Alex Jones Ban. “The company could have acted much earlier, one Facebook researcher wrote on the internal message board when they quit in August. The note came with a warning: “Integrity teams are facing increasing barriers to building safeguards.” They wrote of how proposed platform improvements that were backed by strong research and data had been “prematurely stifled or severely constrained … often based on fears of public and policy stakeholder responses.””

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Reading, watching, playing, using: July, 2022

This is my monthly roundup of the articles I found interesting. Here's my list for July, 2022.

Notable Articles


Bank of America Memo: “We Hope” Worker Power Worsens. “A Bank of America executive stated that “we hope” working Americans will lose leverage in the labor market in a recent private memo obtained by The Intercept. Making predictions for clients about the U.S. economy over the next several years, the memo also noted that changes in the percentage of Americans seeking jobs “should help push up the unemployment rate.””

Amazon to Acquire One Medical Clinics in Latest Push Into Health Care. “One Medical, which is based in San Francisco, operates a network of primary care providers that offer in-office and virtual medical services, and is one of the leading competitors to a similar but smaller service Amazon had started to offer.” Exercise for the reader: should end-user healthcare provision be a place where you can make a lot of profit?


Is accepting the end of humanity the key to climate action? This scholar thinks so. “Accepting that human civilization is finite, he says, will challenge us to change our priorities, from worshiping extraction and growth to uplifting the most marginalized in society.”

Wildfires Are Setting Off 100-Year-Old Bombs on WWI Battlefields. “The area where the fire rages was the site of 12 battles during World War I. More than 200,000 people died and untold numbers of explosives were used. It’s a major problem across Europe that lingers to this day. The Royal Air Force and U.S. Army Air Force dropped 2.7 million tons of bombs on Europe during World War II alone. Seventy years later, those bombs are still killing people.”

NOAA introduces as climate change is geared toward a wide range of decision makers, from companies to local governments to individuals, Spinrad told Protocol, “whether it’s a mom trying to decide whether it’s safe for kids to play outside, or a construction foreman trying to decide if it’s OK for their workers to be out on the job, or a public works manager trying to figure out when road repairs can be undertaken.””

Carbon removal trade group launches with ‘Hippocratic oath’ for the industry. “The statement is brief, just 15 sentences, and commits signatories to abstract ideals like acting with humility and honesty, being guided by science, and recognizing the value of “including voices from all backgrounds in conversations” about carbon removal.”

North Carolina Republicans Push Bill Forcing Towns To Destroy Electric Car Chargers. “In North Carolina, Trump GOP lawmaker Ben Moss has pushed forward a ridiculous bill (HB 1049) that would require towns and cities use up to $50,000 in taxpayer funds to destroy free electric vehicle stations on public land, if local authorities don’t build free gas and diesel pumps alongside them. There’s, of course, no provision included in the bill that works in the opposite direction.”


The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. “While there is insufficient evidence to define upstream events, and exact circumstances remain obscure, our analyses indicate that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 occurred via the live wildlife trade in China, and show that the Huanan market was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

COVID cases and deaths are spiking in nursing homes, AARP data shows. “One in 35 nursing home residents tested positive for COVID-19 in June, a 27 percent increase from the previous month. The death rate from COVID between May and June of this year nearly doubled, from 0.04 deaths per hundred residents to 0.07 deaths per hundred residents.”


Web3: The hope for protocols over platforms. “Let’s experiment in ways that let us slowly deconstruct platforms, by replacing some of the core primitives that they own with open protocols that are collectively owned and governed by their own communities.”

The Consequences of Silence. On the Celsius freeze: “My entire business is secured and backed by these funds. If they are not returned, my business would go bankrupt, my 15 employees would be let go, and 14 years of my life’s work lost and at the age of 49 years old, I would have to start over with nothing.” “Having my funds frozen has been devastating to me and my family both financially, mentally, and physically. I cannot sleep most nights and am over-whelmed with worry and dread for my family’s future. I have two small children. A 3-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. I am the sole bread winner for my family, and I pride myself on making smart financial and parental decisions for them to provide a better life and a bright/positive future.”

How Crypto Is Evolving the Future of Books and Publishing. ““Imagine when all of an author’s readers can suddenly make money as well,” says Margarita Guerrero, head of partner and publishing relations at the publishing startup Readl. “How much more would they be engaged?”” Seems like a complete misunderstanding of why people like books to me.

Lost at OpenSea. “Like social audio, NFTs were a pandemic fad. This fad, however, was aimed at allowing kids who were too young to buy bitcoin when it first launched to pretend to be savvy investors. The results, when the market crashes further, will be catastrophic.”

The sinking of Voyager. “I have no problem with a hedge fund lending only to seven counterparties, if it is lending its own funds or those of professional investors who understand the risks they are taking. But Voyager marketed high-risk investments to retail depositors with promises of safety and (non-existent) insurance. To my mind, this isn’t just bad, it is criminal. But crypto is an unregulated, borderless space. Even if Voyager has lied to its customers and embezzled their funds, it is unclear what if any power national authorities have to hold it to account. And even though there will undoubtedly be a forest of lawsuits, the money is gone.”

Crypto collapse reverberates widely among black American investors. “A quarter of black American investors owned cryptocurrencies at the start of the year, compared with only 15 per cent of white investors, according to a survey by Ariel Investments and Charles Schwab. Black Americans were more than twice as likely to purchase cryptocurrency as their first investment. The value of those investments has imploded. The total market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies has plunged below $1tn from more than $3.2tn last year. The fall in digital assets comes alongside a bear market in US stocks.”


Aboard the World's First Hot-Air Balloon Restaurant. “During the flight, Schmeinck serves wine and gives more information about her dishes. Standing-room only encourages interactions between the chef, pilot, and other diners as the balloon sails above the countryside, taking in the view from a cruising altitude that ranges 500 to 2,500 feet. “Sometimes when the clouds are low, we can go right through them,” says Schmeinck. “It’s a little bit misty. Then we’re above the clouds and see the sun shining. That moment is unforgettable. It’s amazing for me, after all these years.”” Bucket list.

For Centuries, English Bakers' Biggest Customers Were Horses. “But in pre-industrial England, horse bread carried the taste of shame. The dark bran bread sat at the bottom of a hierarchy that gave brown bread to farmers and servants and reserved white bread for the elite. Indeed, Englishpeople turned to horse bread during times of strife, and the abject poor likely ate it year round. And since horse bread was fed to laboring animals, humans who ate it were looked upon with disdain.”

After 37 Years, the Sunny World of ‘Neighbours’ Comes to an End. “At that time, the world of “Neighbours” offered an antidote to the contentious impact of conservative, Thatcherite legislation in Britain, Carr said, which supported “do it yourself” economic policies that its opponents said widened inequality. “Neighbours” offered “a different, wildly positive vision of what a community could be,” Carr said. “Everyone tends to work together rather than be adversarial.”” As a kid, I loved it.

Announcing the Shortlist for the Inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction. “The nine shortlisted books will be considered by a panel of five jurors—adrienne maree brown, Becky Chambers, Molly Gloss, David Mitchell, and Luis Alberto Urrea. The winner will be announced later this year on October 21st, 2022, Ursula K. Le Guin’s birthday.”

Erotica Author Chuck Tingle Has Some of the Best Writing Advice. “Having spent the last few days with Tingle’s voice in my head, the only way I can describe the experience is that it feels like the sun has come out after days of rain. To have a voice that is relentlessly upbeat and positive, telling me I can do anything I try to, and that my best efforts will be enough? It’s like my brain was just, I don’t know, pressure washed?”

All [White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy] is Local. Words of warning from Librarian Shipwreck: “What about books banned for depicting people of color and queers in a positive light, providing accurate information about health and sexuality, or for acknowledging the truth about American history? Bills (that thankfully didn’t pass) to fine and jail librarians for “obscene” (read: queer, comprehensive sex education, anatomy) books? Or librarians being told they can’t help patrons find information about abortion, or even say the word?”

James Beard Awards 2022: Cristina Martinez brings the best Mid-Atlantic chef prize to Philadelphia. “Chef Cristina Martinez, an advocate for immigrants’ rights and an undocumented immigrant herself, was named the best chef for the Mid-Atlantic region Monday by the James Beard Foundation, in its first black-tie ceremony since 2019.” I just ate at South Philly Barbacoa and it was fantastic.

representation matters. Winnie Lim’s blog is one of the best things I read. This is a great example of why.

Netflix criticised for shooting Stranger Things in Nazi prison and marketing it as hotel. “Internet streaming giant Netflix and hit show Stranger Things are facing criticism for shooting part of its new season in an infamous Lithuanian concentration camp and making plans to convert the site into a hotel in collaboration with Airbnb.” Combined with it resharing photos of serial number tattoos fans are getting on their wrists, it’s not a great look, to say the least.

Unknown Number by Azure. A beautifully-written story told through text messages and published as a Twitter thread. Now nominated for a Hugo.

Hell Yeah, Tom Cruise. “So, 45 seconds in, I realized what Top Gun really was: propaganda. Never again tell me you can’t make a conservative movie in Hollywood. After its release there was a 500 percent increase in applications to the Navy’s flight program.”


San Francisco Mayor Wants PD To Be Able To Commandeer Cameras Owned By Residents Because Reasons. “Having dumped its “progressive” District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, the city of San Francisco has decided it’s going to be far more Dirty Harry in the future. The alleged justification is (perhaps temporary and anomalous) increases in crime. It’s time to run roughshod over constitutional rights again.”

A radical attack on the First Amendment. “Prohibited topics include endorsing the concepts of white privilege or male privilege. Specifically, employers cannot conduct trainings that state an individual can be “privileged” or “oppressed” due to their “race, color, sex, or national origin.” Further, trainings cannot suggest that anyone should “feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress because of actions, in which the individual played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.””

The billionaires buying the midterm elections. “The largest donor to the main Republican super PACs is billionaire Ken Griffin, owner of Citadel, a hedge fund. Griffin donated $28.5 million to the SLF and CLF through the end of March. In a 2012 interview, Griffin was asked if “the ultrawealthy have an inordinate or inappropriate amount of influence on the political process.” “I think they actually have an insufficient influence,” he replied.”

‘There are a lot of people who don’t want to know the truth’: Why an Arizona election official is leaving her job. “The impact of lies about America’s most secure election is still taking shape around the country but has included harassment and threats of violence aimed at a women-led workforce. A survey of election workers conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice earlier this year showed 30 percent of poll respondents said they knew of one or more elec­tion work­ers who had left their jobs at least in part because of fear for their safety, increased threats or intim­id­a­tion. Twenty percent said they planned to leave before the 2024 elec­tion.”

Correction director: Arizona cities would collapse without prison labor. “There are services that this department provides to city, county, local jurisdictions, that simply can’t be quantified at a rate that most jurisdictions could ever afford. If you were to remove these folks from that equation, things would collapse in many of your counties, for your constituents.” The 13th Amendment abolished slavery except for people convicted of crimes. And here we are.

The City Where Investigations of Police Take So Long, Officers Kill Again Before Reviews Are Done. “Now, Open Vallejo and ProPublica have looked at what happens inside the department after those killings occur, examining more than 15,000 pages of police, forensic, and court files related to the city’s 17 fatal police shootings since 2011. Based on records that emerged after dozens of public records requests and two lawsuits filed by Open Vallejo, the news organizations found a pattern of delayed and incomplete investigations, with dire consequences.” Remarkable reporting.

Indiana doctor performed abortion for a 10-year-old girl, document shows. “For the past two weeks, the veracity of a story of a 10-year-old girl who was raped and got an abortion has been debated in the media. But a document reviewed by The 19th shows that the Indiana physician who performed the abortion submitted record of it to the Indiana Department of Health and the Department of Child Services.”

Pharmacies can’t deny prescription birth control or emergency contraception, HHS says. “Pharmacists cannot deny people prescribed medication — including hormonal birth control or emergency contraception — because those people are pregnant or might become pregnant, per new guidance from the Biden administration.”

Republican-backed measure to restrict filming of police officers passes Senate committee. ““We believe that this bill stacks the deck against the public check on officer misconduct,” Timothy Sparling, a lawyer and legislative advocate for Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.”

Biden Team Rejected Emergency Declaration Over Roe Decision. “The Biden administration considered declaring a public health emergency to preserve broad access to abortion services following the US Supreme Court’s decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade, but officials ultimately decided against the move, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Biden to sign executive order on abortion access, legal backing, privacy. “The executive order will direct the White House counsel and the U.S. attorney general to coordinate volunteer lawyers who will defend patients and medical providers facing state-based charges for “lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services throughout the country.” Those lawyers could, the White House suggested, defend people who are prosecuted for traveling from a state that has banned abortion to one where it remains legal.”

‘They are preparing for war’: An expert on civil wars discusses where political extremists are taking this country. “That’s when I started to follow the data. And then, watching what happened to the Republican Party really was the bigger surprise — that, wow, they’re doubling down on this almost white supremacist strategy. That’s a losing strategy in a democracy. So why would they do that? Okay, it’s worked for them since the ’60s and ’70s, but you can’t turn back demographics. And then I was like, Oh my gosh. The only way this is a winning strategy is if you begin to weaken the institutions; this is the pattern we see in other countries. And, as an American citizen I’m like, These two factors are emerging here, and people don’t know.”

Supreme Court Justices 'Prayed With' Anti-Roe Activist Before Ruling. “At an evangelical victory party in front of the Supreme Court to celebrate the downfall of Roe v. Wade last week, a prominent Capitol Hill religious leader was caught on a hot mic making a bombshell claim: that she prays with sitting justices inside the high court. “We’re the only people who do that,” Peggy Nienaber said. […] In other words: Sitting Supreme Court justices have prayed together with evangelical leaders whose bosses were bringing cases and arguments before the high court.”

Christian Nationalists Are Excited About What Comes Next. “It is also a mistake to imagine that Christian nationalism is a social movement arising from the grassroots and aiming to satisfy the real needs of its base. It isn’t. This is a leader-driven movement. The leaders set the agenda, and their main goals are power and access to public money. They aren’t serving the interests of their base; they are exploiting their base as a means of exploiting the rest of us.”

DeSantis signs bill requiring Florida students, professors to register political views with state. “Public universities in Florida will be required to survey both faculty and students on their political beliefs and viewpoints, with the institutions at risk of losing their funding if the responses are not satisfactory to the state’s Republican-led legislature. […] Based on the bill’s language, survey responses will not necessarily be anonymous — sparking worries among many professors and other university staff that they may be targeted, held back in their careers or even fired for their beliefs.”

Mitt Romney: America Is In Denial. “I hope for a president who can rise above the din to unite us behind the truth. Several contenders with experience and smarts stand in the wings.” I wonder who he means.

Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill isn't the only anti-LGBTQ+ bill taking effect today. “Collectively, the bills build toward an atmosphere of silence around LGBTQ+ people and restrict how LGBTQ+ youth can learn about themselves and participate at school, advocates say.”

‘It’s Scary’: Students Fear Going to College in Red States After Roe. “After the overturning of Roe, millions of college students found themselves attending institutions where they would no longer have access to certain types of reproductive healthcare. Now, students who had committed to attending colleges or universities in majority conservative states are rethinking their decisions. Meanwhile, rising high school seniors say they now have something new to consider when compiling their lists of prospective schools: the access and right to an abortion.”


Meta officially cuts funding for U.S. news publishers. “As the company moves forward with sweeping changes to the Facebook experience, news has become less of a priority.”

How Florence Nightingale Changed Data Visualization Forever. “Recognizing that few people actually read statistical tables, Nightingale and her team designed graphics to attract attention and engage readers in ways that other media could not. Their diagram designs evolved over two batches of publications, giving them opportunities to react to the efforts of other parties also jockeying for influence. […] The reforms Nightingale fought for […] would be driving forces—along with the development of vaccines that conferred immunity to diseases and artificial fertilizer that boosted crop yields—in doubling the average human life span during the following century.”

Edinburgh is the Best City in the World in 2022, According to Time Out Index. “The Scottish capital scored high across the board, and performed exceptionally high for walkability (93 percent) and being ‘easy to express who you are’ (88 percent) – better than basically everywhere else in the world. It also scored 95 percent for being beautiful – and with an ancient castle slap-bang in the city centre and loads of green space, it’s hard to argue with that.” I miss it!

Influencers take to TikTok for abortion-related paid partnerships. “The company decided to use its entire influencer marketing budget for May 15 to July 15 on sponsored content on TikTok, asking influencers and micro-influencers on the platform to talk about what overturning Roe could mean for people’s access to health care. Favor declined to share the total dollar amount spent on influencer marketing during this period.”

The Knight Foundation is Betraying its Mission. “By sponsoring a journalism event featuring Tucker Carlson, the philanthropy is mistaking openness for strengthening democracy.”

Wisconsin School District Bans Book on Japanese-American WWII Internment. “Ann Zielke, a parent of a student in the district, told NBC News that School Board Vice President Terri Boyer claimed the book offered an “unbalanced” account of historical events. “What she said to me was that we actually need an ‘American’ perspective,’” Zielke said, adding that the people in the internment camps were Americans.”

When truth is another casualty: Why Ukraine is losing ground in the war by not telling the whole story. “John Mair, co-editor of the book, says we should not confuse the proximity of this war with ease of access to information, saying: “The challenge for British journalists… is not just safety but keeping the right side of the so far invisible Ukrainian censorship machine.””


Two decades of Alzheimer's research may be based on deliberate fraud that has cost millions of lives. “[…] it looks like the original paper that established the amyloid plaque model as the foundation of Alzheimer’s research over the last 16 years might not just be wrong, but a deliberate fraud.”

Habitual use of GPS negatively impacts spatial memory during self-guided navigation . “Although the longitudinal sample was small, we observed an important effect of GPS use over time, whereby greater GPS use since initial testing was associated with a steeper decline in hippocampal-dependent spatial memory.” Using GPS regularly makes you worse at finding your own way to places shocker.


Vice President Kamala Harris was criticized for using visual descriptors. Why? “The ongoing dustup over Vice President Kamala Harris describing herself during a meeting with disability rights leaders this week is much ado about an increasingly common practice and a distraction from the substance of the gathering, advocates say.”

Should class snobbery be banned under the Equality Act? “One experiment cited in the report found teachers “give grades according to class”, explained Rickett. “When the pieces of work were identical, they’d give lower marks to children perceived to be working class.””

Hyundai subsidiary has used child labor at Alabama factory. “A subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co has used child labor at a plant that supplies parts for the Korean carmaker’s assembly line in nearby Montgomery, Alabama, according to area police, the family of three underage workers, and eight former and current employees of the factory.”

Dr. Caitlin Bernard Was Meant to Write This With Me Before She Was Attacked for Doing Her Job. “On Wednesday night, our state’s attorney general said his office would be investigating Dr. Bernard. So I’m writing this essay myself, not only to bring attention to the chilling effect on medicine we’re seeing at this moment — but also because I’m terrified that I or any one of our colleagues could soon face what Dr. Bernard is going through after delivering care to our patients.”

Philadelphia created American obstetrics. Black women were exploited from the start. “America’s maternal mortality crisis traces back to Philadelphia, home to the nation’s first delivery wards. From the start, Black people received unequal treatment and were exploited for science.”

Pet Rent Is the Newest Tool of Housing Discrimination. “To no one’s surprise, the burden falls heaviest on those least able to bear it. In a recent paper, “Pet Friendly For Whom?” Jennifer W. Applebaum, a Ph.D candidate at the University of Florida and data researcher Kevin Horecka, Ph.D., reported the results of their survey of pet friendly housing across Texas. The conclusion was stark: “Low-income communities and communities of color were more likely than higher income and predominantly white communities to pay disproportionately higher fees to keep pets in their homes.””

Security director: Suspect in July 4 Highland Park shooting was ‘sizing up’ synagogue. “Authorities have not yet attributed a motive to the shooting that killed seven and injured dozens at a Fourth of July parade. Highland Park has a significant Jewish population and is home to several other synagogues and Jewish institutions.”

Abuse, discrimination, exclusion: Transgender men explain domino effect of losing reproductive care post-Roe. “The 2015 U.S. Trans Survey found that nonbinary people and trans men report being sexually assaulted at a higher rate than other LGBTQ+ people. Fifty-one percent of trans men and 55 percent of nonbinary people out of over 27,000 respondents said they had been assaulted in their lifetime. […] “It’s just become a pure rape culture out there for trans men in particular. This law will be horrific.””

Akron Police Officers Placed on Leave After Fatal Shooting of Jayland Walker. “A lawyer for the family of Mr. Walker said the footage shows that he was running away, unarmed, when police officers fired at him more than 90 times. The lawyer, Bobby DiCello, reviewed footage of the shooting on Thursday. His legal team also visited the medical examiner’s office on Friday and reviewed the autopsy, which has not been finalized. Mr. DiCello said it showed that Mr. Walker had been struck at least 60 times.”

California late start law aims to make school less of a yawn. “Beginning this fall high schools in the nation’s most populous state can’t start before 8:30 a.m. and middle schools can’t start before 8 a.m. under a 2019 first-in-the-nation law forbidding earlier start times. Similar proposals are before lawmakers in New Jersey and Massachusetts.” This is a big deal. I can’t believe they were making teenagers go to school before 8am.


Who Is Collecting Data from Your Car? “The Markup has identified 37 companies that are part of the rapidly growing connected vehicle data industry that seeks to monetize such data in an environment with few regulations governing its sale or use.”

Abortion rights supporters are trying to reduce barriers to access through search keywords. “Anti-abortion activists have long dominated the online search strategy game, driving traffic to crisis pregnancy centers. Post-Roe, that’s starting to change.”

Open-Source Security: How Digital Infrastructure Is Built on a House of Cards. “As is characteristic of public goods, market participants lack incentives to correct this inefficiency. Companies can profit from open source without expending any resources to improve it. Psychologists call this the bystander effect. When multiple parties have the capacity to solve a problem, each individual party feels less responsibility to take action. Although securing this public good is in every company’s self-interest, very few companies want to be the ones to take on that burden. There is little reason to think the market will correct itself without intervention.”

Facebook's TikTok-like redesign marks sunset of social networking era. “The leadership of Meta and Facebook now views the entire machine of Facebook’s social network as a legacy operation. They aim to keep cranking it to generate the cash they need to subsidize their decade-long plan to build the metaverse — where, maybe, social networking will be reborn in a 3D interface.”

The entire world is about to get a lesson in Revlon. “I claim no insight into the personal feelings of the board members, their fears, their hopes, their dreams, but their legal obligation here is to maximize stockholder wealth, and though they could, consistent with those duties, decide that in the long term Twitter is more valuable as a standalone company than the $44 billion Musk agreed to pay right now, that seems … unlikely … and so their legal obligation is to pursue that $44 billion. And if investors can win in a courtroom, there is absolutely a benefit to fighting with Musk about it. The $1 billion dollar break fee won’t begin to compensate the company for the damage Musk has done, but more importantly, $1 billion is less than $44 billion.”

Today I learned Amazon has a form so police can get my data without permission or a warrant. “Here is something I didn’t know when I purchased Amazon Ring cameras and Amazon Echo Dots: there is a webpage where law enforcement can fill out a form, say there’s a life-threatening emergency, and get access to your data without your consent, a court order, or any kind of warrant. There’s nothing in the Terms of Service about this, and the company has maintained for years that it helps police get consent first, but it’s happening anyhow.”

“We’re just fucking illegal”: Uber Files reveal a pattern of shady behavior around the world. “The documents lay out how the company’s deep pockets during this era — Uber’s lobbying and PR budget was $90 million in 2016 alone — was used to secretly influence politicians, oligarchs, and regulators around the world, and even sometimes break local laws. Dozens of stories about the contents of the leak have been published since the documents surfaced. Rest of World compiled the most glaring findings from the leak concerning Uber’s operations in non-Western countries, including South Africa, India, Nigeria, and Russia.”

Microsoft Mapped Broadband Affordability Gaps Because The U.S. Government Couldn’t Be Bothered To. “The FCC’s maps historically also haven’t been willing to map broadband prices and affordability. To that end, the NTIA has been doing some good work trying to illustrate broadband affordability gaps, again caused by regional monopolization. As has Microsoft, which, last week, offered an updated look at digital equity, a measurement that heavily integrates broadband availability and affordability.” Click through to the dashboard, which is illuminating.

The week the open web won. “I want to address a few suggestions that have been made to me implying that my recent blogging had been the final shove which yeeted this Bill over the edge. […] I’m just…well, me. A random and rapidly ageing Scottish woman with a vegetable garden, albeit a woman who has been Extremely Online since 1994 and Extremely Perturbed by this Bill since 2019, blogging in a personal capacity, in my spare time, 400 miles away from the centre of power.”

A New Attack Can Unmask Anonymous Users on Any Major Browser. “When you visit a website, the page can capture your IP address, but this doesn’t necessarily give the site owner enough information to individually identify you. Instead, the hack analyzes subtle features of a potential target’s browser activity to determine whether they are logged into an account for an array of services, from YouTube and Dropbox to Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and more. Plus the attacks work against every major browser, including the anonymity-focused Tor Browser.”

Europe faces Facebook blackout. “The Irish Data Protection Commission on Thursday informed its counterparts in Europe that it will block Facebook-owner Meta from sending user data from Europe to the U.S.”

How China uses search engines to spread propaganda. “[…] as authoritarian states like China increasingly use online platforms to disseminate narratives aimed at weakening their democratic competitors, these search engines represent a crucial battleground in their information war with rivals. For Beijing, search engines represent a key—and underappreciated vector—to spread propaganda to audiences around the world.”

Vast Cache of Chinese Police Files Offered for Sale in Alleged Hack. “A vast trove of data on Chinese citizens allegedly siphoned from a police database, some of which checks out as legitimate, is being offered for sale by an anonymous hacker or hacking group. If confirmed, it would mark one of history’s largest leaks of personal data.”

Facebook Asks Judge to 'Crack the Whip' in Attempt to Silence a Black Whistleblower. “He was fired by Facebook’s outsourcing partner, Sama, in 2019 after he led more than 100 of his colleagues in a unionization effort for better pay and working conditions. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his work, and is now suing both Meta and Sama in a Nairobi court, alleging that he and his former colleagues are victims of forced labor, human trafficking and union-busting.”

Google will start auto-deleting health clinic location data. “Jen Fitzpatrick, SVP of Core Systems at Google, wrote in a blog post that the company will start deleting visit data from facilities like abortion clinics, fertility centers, counseling centers, domestic violence shelters, addiction treatment facilities and weight loss clinics “soon after” the visits take place when its system identifies that a visit has taken place.”

Social Media Can Be Reimagined for the Good of Society. “Yet what well-meaning regulatory proposals lack is a vision of social media that could be good for society. At best, these regulatory approaches seek to make existing social media less awful. But an emerging movement that we might call “the Good Web” envisions the possibility of social media that has a salutary role in a public sphere. What’s less clear is which of several dueling visions of the Good Web might lead us to a healthy social media environment.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: June, 2022

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for April, 2022.


Reap3r, by Eliot Peper. A page-turner set in a very familiar world to me - I had fun recognizing the scenery, the interpersonal dynamics, the cultural references. There was adventure, plausible near-future science fiction scenarios mined for tension; I had trouble putting it down, and that’s exactly what I wanted from it. Worth a read.

The Glass Hotel, by Emily St John Mandel. Her writing style takes a lot of getting used to: not so much plot as collage. I spent the first third to a half wondering where we were going. Still, there’s an interesting story here, and well-drawn characters. The themes take some teasing out but are rewarding.

Notable Articles


Starbucks Threatens Loss of Trans Benefits in Anti-Union Push, Staff Say. “Starbucks Corp. managers in several states have told baristas that its vaunted transgender-inclusive health-care benefits could go away if they unionize, employees alleged in interviews and a new complaint filed with the US labor board.”

Microsoft Announces It Will Include Pay Ranges In All U.S. Job Postings. Experts Predict It Will Be The First Of Many. “Changes may not ripple through big companies immediately. Many employers don’t relish sharing pay data that’s long been kept secret. Laws in some other jurisdictions that require disclosure of pay ranges—there are now six, including New York City—don’t go into effect for months, and employers have already pushed to postpone the practice there.” But when it happens - and it will - it will be a great step forward, in particular for communities that have systemically been underpaid.

Microsoft adopts principles for employee organizing and engagement with labor organizations. “We recognize that employees have a legal right to choose whether to form or join a union. We respect this right and do not believe that our employees or the company’s other stakeholders benefit by resisting lawful employee efforts to participate in protected activities, including forming or joining a union.” Major statement from Microsoft, breaking rank with most of the rest of the industry.


The US Supreme Court just gutted federal climate policy. ““Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,’” the decision reads. “But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme.””

The US is pushing EVs while sending its polluting gas-guzzlers abroad. “But what’s missing from that agenda is any plan for how to deal with the diesel and gas-guzzling vehicles being exported in increasingly large numbers to low-income countries around the world. That essentially offshores carbon and air pollution, but in the case of the climate and public health, out of sight isn’t out of mind. That missing piece could wind up derailing the very purpose of Biden’s clean transportation plan and global climate goals.”


COVID vaccines saved 20M lives in 1st year, scientists say. “The researchers used data from 185 countries to estimate that vaccines prevented 4.2 million COVID-19 deaths in India, 1.9 million in the United States, 1 million in Brazil, 631,000 in France and 507,000 in the United Kingdom.”


Cryptocurrency Titan Coinbase Providing “Geo Tracking Data” to ICE. “Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, is selling Immigrations and Customs Enforcement a suite of features used to track and identify cryptocurrency users, according to contract documents shared with The Intercept.”

Bitcoin fell below $20,000 — and why it has further to go. “Of course, everyone is asking, why did bitcoin plunge so quickly Saturday night? What pushed it below $20,000 so suddenly? Somebody is selling. Who needs to sell?”

Why the crypto crash hits different in Latin America. “As the Venezuelan economist Aarón Olmos of the Institute of Higher Administrative Studies (IESA) told Rest of World, people in Latin America began turning to crypto as a way to circumvent their unstable or stagnant economies. He said that in surveys he ran with crypto users in Venezuela, the most common response was, “I would rather have a digital asset whose price goes up and down than a currency whose only real trend is down, thanks to the political economy.””

Inside a Corporate Culture War Stoked by a Crypto C.E.O. “He also questioned their use of preferred pronouns and led a discussion about “who can refer to another person as the N word.” And he told workers that questions about women’s intelligence and risk appetite compared with men’s were “not as settled as one might have initially thought.”” Reprehensible.

There's an Interesting Theory About Why Anthony Hopkins Is Suddenly Shilling NFTs. “Since Hopkins’ public turn towards blockchain, Twitter users have been quick to point out that CAA is an investor in the OpenSea NFT market, and others still suggested that the agency is pushing its talent to shill NFTs because of this investment.”


Nate. “I made this comic to explain things to my family, but you can have it too.” This is delightful.

A half star review of Top Gun: Maverick (2022). “Even if one can ignore the rabidly bloodthirsty nature of this movie, it is still absolute garbage. The morals of this story are, and I am not exaggerating in the slightest: soldiers should ignore orders to stand down, and you should take actions without thinking about them. Our heroes follow these lessons throughout the story and are constantly rewarded for it. It is a child’s understanding of bravery and honor, coated in thick layers of some of the most painfully sentimental slime that Hollywood has ever produced.”

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Phoebe Waller-Bridge heralds 'new dawn' in major shake-up to win over locals and 'red card' rogue venue operators. “The Fringe Society has pledged to “eradicate” exploitative, unsafe and unfair work practices by introducing a new three-stage system, which will see event organisers banned from using the official programme, website and box office if they fall foul of official guidelines for a third time.” Good to see.


Twitter is the go-to social media site for U.S. journalists, but not for the public. “More than nine-in-ten journalists in the United States (94%) use social media for their jobs, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of reporters, editors and others working in the news industry. But the sites that journalists use most frequently differ from those that the public turns to for news.”

Every week, two more newspapers close — and ‘news deserts’ grow larger. “Already, some 2,500 dailies and weeklies have shuttered since 2005; there are fewer than 6,500 left. Every week, two more disappear. And although many digital-only news sites have cropped up around the nation, most communities that lost a local newspaper will not get a print or digital replacement.”

Fox Corp. Loses Bid to Toss Dominion Defamation Lawsuit Over Vote-Rigging Claims. “Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis on Tuesday denied Fox Corp.’s motion to dismiss the suit, saying Dominion Voting Systems had shown that the Murdochs may have been on notice that the conspiracy theory that rigged voting machines tilted the vote was false but let Fox News broadcast it anyway. Dominion cited in its suit a report that Rupert Murdoch spoke with Trump a few days after the election “and informed him that he had lost,” the judge noted.”


The fall of Roe v. Wade is the culmination of the Democratic establishment’s failures. “The overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the underwhelming reaction from senior Democratic leaders to that huge defeat, make the case even clearer that the party’s too-long-in-power leaders — including President Biden — need to move aside. On their watch, a radicalized Republican Party has gained so much power that it’s on the verge of ending American democracy as we know it.”

The Philosophy that Underpins the Right: It's Not What You Think. A notable piece from a venture capital investor: “After the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade, I was chatting with someone who grew up in another country and hadn’t spent a lot of time in and around American politics. They were trying to understand the inherent contradictions between a theoretically conservative right that expands the government to legislate over personal decisions like the healthcare around a pregnancy.”

Pride sponsors also donate to lawmakers behind anti-LGBTQ+ bills. “At least seven companies and their employee-led PACs tracked by Data for Progress continued campaign donations for the 2022 election cycle to politicians backing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation after signing a pledge against such bills from the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom for All Americans.”

Overturning Roe v. Wade could drive voter turnout, poll finds. “A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 64 percent of U.S adults say they do not want abortion rights to be overturned, with 37 percent of voters saying a Roe reversal would make them more motivated to vote.”

Living With The Far-Right Insurgency In Idaho. “A lot has been written about both the radicalization of the Republican Party and the decline of democracy in the U.S. — about the country being at a precipice. It’s maybe easy for those warnings to become background noise, or to dismiss them as doom-mongering pieces of clickbait. But in Idaho, the nightmare scenario is crossing into reality, as an authoritarian GOP sets about to create a whiter, Christian nation.”

Christian nationalism on the rise in some GOP campaigns. “According to a recent survey by the institute, white evangelical Christians were among the strongest supporters of the assertion that God intended America as a “promised land” for European Christians. Those who backed that idea were far more likely to agree that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence ... to save our country.””


Dyslexia Actually Grants Special Powers, Researchers Say. “A team of Cambridge scientists published research in the journal Frontiers of Psychology earlier today that raises the possibility that dyslexia, which affects an estimated one in five people worldwide, could actually help the human species adapt and ensure future success.”

‘Fluffy’ crab that wears a sponge as a hat discovered in Western Australia. “Hosie said it wasn’t clear why Lamarckdromia beagle was so fluffy.” But I’m glad that it is.

Why Is This Tiny Frog So Awful At Jumping? “The pumpkin toadlet, which is a frog but not a toad, is so terrible at landing its jumps that its sheer incompetence has become a subject of scientific inquiry. A team of researchers from the United States and Brazil that includes Confetti and Singh say they have an answer: The miniaturized toadlets are so tiny that the fluid-filled chambers in their inner ears which control their balance function rather ineffectively, dooming the valiant little jumpers to a lifetime of crash landings.”

Asteroid samples contain 'clues to origin of life': Japan scientists. “Scientists have been questioning how organic matter -- including amino acids -- was created or where it came from, and the fact that amino acids were discovered in the sample offers a reason to think that amino acids were brought to Earth from outer space.”


Texas educator group proposes referring to slavery as “involuntary relocation” in second grade curriculum. “This group proposing second grade curriculum revisions was given a copy of Senate Bill 3, Texas’ law that dictates how slavery and race is taught in Texas. In it, the law states that slavery can’t be taught as a true founding of the United States and that slavery was nothing more than a deviation from American values.”

1955 warrant in Emmett Till case found, family seeks arrest. “A team searching a Mississippi courthouse basement for evidence about the lynching of Black teenager Emmett Till has found the unserved warrant charging a white woman in his 1955 kidnapping, and relatives of the victim want authorities to finally arrest her nearly 70 years later.” All this terrible history is so close.

Patients in Texas abortion clinic waiting rooms were turned away as Roe fell. “Those turned away were patients who were now outside an already small window: In September, Texas banned abortion past six weeks of pregnancy. That law was the first in a series of abortion restrictions passed in states across the country in the last year that served as a preview of life after Roe.”

Liberal Supreme Court justices detail post-Roe America in furious abortion dissent. ““Those responsible for the original Constitution, including the Fourteenth Amendment, did not perceive women as equals, and did not recognize women’s rights,” Breyer continued, adding that the court may as well rely on standards from the Dark Ages, and that this “consigns women to second-class citizenship.””

Ohio Makes It Easier for Teachers to Carry Guns at School. “A new law requires educators and other school staff members who want to carry a weapon to undergo no more than 24 hours of training — compared with more than 700 hours previously.” What could possibly go wrong?

Young women are leading the movement to stop the next school shooting. ““People often forget that women are the backbone of most of our progressive movements in this country,” Eastmond said. “So, I have noticed a lot of women involved [in gun reform], but that’s not something out of the ordinary that we haven’t seen before. I think women just naturally end up involved in progressive change.””

A Year in Photos of Gender Expansive Youth Across U.S. “The photographer Annie Flanagan spent a year documenting gender-expansive young people across the U.S. as they experience adolescence at a fraught political and cultural time. Flanagan’s subjects are supporting one another, thriving, and finding joy. They’re getting ready for summer vacation. They’re hanging out with their friends. They’re maneuvering the social dynamics of prom. They’re walking across the stage at high school graduation and getting their diplomas, looking to the future, and planning for better days. These moments send their own message.”

It’s Been 50 Years. I Am Not ‘Napalm Girl’ Anymore. “I cannot speak for the families in Uvalde, Texas, but I think that showing the world what the aftermath of a gun rampage truly looks like can deliver the awful reality. We must face this violence head-on, and the first step is to look at it.”

Ethiopia’s Invisible Ethnic Cleansing. “For more than a year and a half, a largely invisible campaign of ethnic cleansing has played out in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray. Older people, women, and children have been loaded onto trucks and forced out of their villages and hometowns. Men have been herded into overcrowded detention sites, where  many have died of disease, starvation, or torture. In total, several hundred thousand Tigrayans have been forcibly uprooted because of their ethnicity.”


Instagram and Facebook remove posts offering abortion pills. “The Facebook account was immediately put on a “warning” status for the post, which Facebook said violated its standards on “guns, animals and other regulated goods.” Yet, when the AP reporter made the same exact post but swapped out the words “abortion pills” for “a gun,” the post remained untouched. A post with the same exact offer to mail “weed” was also left up and not considered a violation.”

Section 230 Is a Last Line of Defense for Abortion Speech Online. “Section 230 is the last line of defense keeping reproductive health care support, information, and fundraising online. Under Section 230, internet platforms that host and moderate user-generated content cannot generally be sued for that content. Section 230 is not absolute. It does not provide immunity if the platform develops or creates the content, and it does not provide immunity from the enforcement of federal criminal laws. But, crucially, it does protect against criminal liability from state laws.”

They Live and the secret history of the Mozilla logo. “So that was the time that I somehow convinced a multi-billion dollar corporation to give away the source code to their flagship product and re-brand it using propaganda art by the world’s most notorious graffiti artist.”

W3C to become a public-interest non-profit organization. “We need a structure where we meet at a faster pace the demands of new web capabilities and address the urgent problems of the web. The W3C Team is small, bounded in size, and the Hosted model hinders rapid development and acquisition of skills in new fields.”

Amazon Shows Off Alexa Speaking in the Voice of a Dead Relative. “In a video demo shown at the event, a young boy says, “Alexa, can Grandma finish reading me ‘The Wizard of Oz’?” — whereupon a synthesized voice of the grandmother emanates from an Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker.” That’s a hard no from me.

Facebook and Anti-Abortion Clinics Are Collecting Highly Sensitive Info on Would-Be Patients. “More than a third of the websites sent data to Facebook when someone made an appointment for an “abortion consultation” or “pre-termination screening.” And at least 39 sites sent Facebook details such as the person’s name, email address, or phone number.”

Facebook Is Receiving Sensitive Medical Information from Hospital Websites. “A tracking tool installed on many hospitals’ websites has been collecting patients’ sensitive health information—including details about their medical conditions, prescriptions, and doctor’s appointments—and sending it to Facebook.”

Tesla Accused of Shutting Off Autopilot Moments Before Impact. “In the report, the NHTSA spotlights 16 separate crashes, each involving a Tesla vehicle plowing into stopped first responders and highway maintenance vehicles. In the crashes, it claims, records show that the self-driving feature had “aborted vehicle control less than one second prior to the first impact” — a finding that calls supposedly-exonerating crash reports, which Musk himself has a pension for circulating, into question.”

Firefox Rolls Out Total Cookie Protection By Default To All Users. Really good work.

Salesforce to employees: We're not going to stop working with the NRA. “Salesforce employees have asked the company to end its relationship with the National Rifle Association. But during an all-hands Wednesday, co-CEOs Bret Taylor and Marc Benioff said that the company wouldn’t bar specific customers from using its services, according to a recording obtained by Protocol.”

Smartphones Blur the Line Between Civilian and Combatant. This seems to be laying some dangerous ground: “The principle of distinction between the two roles is a critical cornerstone of international humanitarian law—the law of armed conflict, codified by decades of customs and laws such as the Geneva Conventions. Those considered civilians and civilian targets are not to be attacked by military forces; as they are not combatants, they should be spared. At the same time, they also should not act as combatants—if they do, they may lose this status.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: May, 2022

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for May, 2022.


Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin. I wanted to like this, but I can’t recommend it. Granted, it’s almost a decade old, and the discourse has evolved since then. But the author leaves gender essentialism and some stories that verge on abuse unaddressed. It’s great that these teenagers’ stories are told verbatim, but it’s not great to miss out on the nuanced commentary that they demand. I love the idea and I hope someone executes it better than this.

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot, by Mikki Kendall. A heartfelt argument for truly intersectional feminism. Occasionally challenging in the way that helps you stretch and learn, and overall a vision of what the politics of the future need to look like. As an introduction, it’s near-perfect, and I want to send it to quite a few people I know.

Notable Articles


The Worst Thing You Can Do At Work After Another Mass Shooting Is Nothing. ““You can’t do ‘business as usual’ after a tragic event, which is something that many employers do and fail to prioritize the needs of their staff during such a difficult time,” said Katheryn Perez, a California-based psychotherapist. “The needs and humanity of your staff should take priority over anything.””

SpaceX Paid $250,000 to a Flight Attendant Who Accused Elon Musk of Sexual Misconduct. “The flight attendant told her friend that the billionaire SpaceX and Tesla founder asked her to come to his room during a flight in late 2016 “for a full body massage,” the declaration says. When she arrived, the attendant found that Musk “was completely naked except for a sheet covering the lower half of his body.” During the massage, the declaration says, Musk “exposed his genitals” and then “touched her and offered to buy her a horse if she would ‘do more,’ referring to the performance of sex acts.””

Virtual communication curbs creative idea generation. “In a laboratory study and a field experiment across five countries (in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia), we show that videoconferencing inhibits the production of creative ideas. By contrast, when it comes to selecting which idea to pursue, we find no evidence that videoconferencing groups are less effective (and preliminary evidence that they may be more effective) than in-person groups.” Flaring? Bad over video. Focusing? Just fine.


April sets record for highest CO2 levels in human history. “Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached the highest levels on record for any calendar month during April, averaging 420 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since observations began in 1958, according to new data.”


The Normalization of "Working Through Covid". “But I am here to say — to myself as much as any of you faced with this decision — that this is line of thinking is morally bankrupt. It has productivity culture brainworms. It is evidence of the most toxic scarcity mindset, and one of the most pernicious side-effects of the spread of “flexible” work.”

Covid's toll in U.S. reaches 1 million deaths, a once unfathomable number. “The United States on Wednesday surpassed 1 million Covid-19 deaths, according to data compiled by NBC News — a once unthinkable scale of loss even for the country with the world’s highest recorded toll from the virus.”


From Argentina to Nigeria, people saw Terra as more stable than local currency. They lost everything. “The apparent security of stablecoins has made them attractive to people in countries that experience high inflation or currency devaluations, such as Argentina, Iran, and Nigeria. The UST crash, which has hit other crypto assets, shattered that illusion. Valeria is one of more than a dozen people Rest of World  spoke with, from countries including Argentina, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, and Nigeria, who invested in UST — the third-largest stablecoin — and its accompanying Luna token, and who said they have now lost tens of thousands of dollars in savings.”

There is a moral case against crypto. ““We” are not, in fact all going to make it — in a negative-sum or even zero-sum game, that’s impossible. The people using this line might, but that’s because they got in before everyone else. They are relying on the “greater fool” — which they hope includes you, dear reader — continuing to believe these lies and perpetuating their dishonest schemes.”

Cautionary Tales from Cryptoland. “It’s a compelling pitch; I’ll give them that. But crypto has so far been enormously successful at taking wealth from the average person or the financially disadvantaged and “redistributing” it to the already wealthy.”

Coinbase admits users may lose crypto if exchange goes bankrupt. “Coinbase said in its earnings report Tuesday that it holds $256 billion in both fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies on behalf of its customers. Yet the exchange noted that in the event it ever declared bankruptcy, “the crypto assets we hold in custody on behalf of our customers could be subject to bankruptcy proceedings.” Coinbase users would become “general unsecured creditors,” meaning they have no right to claim any specific property from the exchange in proceedings. Their funds would become inaccessible.” Uhh.


Want to make it in the music industry? You better go viral on TikTok. Halsey: “Basically I have a song that I love that I wanna release ASAP but my record label won’t let me. I’ve been in this industry for 8 years and I’ve sold over 165 million records. And my record company is saying that I can’t release it unless they can fake a viral moment on TikTok. Everything is marketing. And they are doing this to basically every artist these days. I just wanna release music, man. And I deserve better tbh. I’m tired.”

Filtered for ownership. “Incredible to think of ownership as being so arbitrary. Implies that we could have completely different configurations of ownership, moral frameworks around it, feelings around it.” A fun exploration of several different ownership conundrums.

Yep, I created the new AVATAR font. “Like any self-respecting type designer, I’ve seen the SNL Papyrus skit, and I usually watch it again whenever someone sends me a link (which is pretty often). I do believe it’s Ryan Gosling’s finest performance. But unlike many type nerds, I think Papyrus is actually a pretty cool-looking font, and must admit that it wasn’t a bad fit for the original AVATAR logo, despite also appearing on Shakira merch and off-brand tea.”

Fiction Fodder

NASA Sponsored Researcher Suggests It Might Be Possible to Change the Laws of Physics. “In an extremely cosmic-brain take, University of Rochester astrophysics professor Adam Frank suggests that a civilization could advance so much that it could eventually tinker with the fundamental laws of physics.”


Online retail images reveal skin tone discrepancies. “Their study, “Computing Colorism: Skin Tone in Online Retail Imagery,” published March 13 in Visual Communication, found that still images of models had statistically lighter skin tones than in videos of the same product and model. They also found evidence of “tokenism” – that is, many of the websites had one model who was considerably darker-skinned than the others”

Doctor Who: Ncuti Gatwa to replace Jodie Whittaker, BBC announces. “The Scottish actor, who was born in Rwanda, starred as Eric Effiong in Netflix’s hugely popular Sex Education about the socially awkward high school student Otis (Asa Butterfield) and his sex therapist mother Jean (Gillian Anderson). He will become the first black actor to play the title role full-time.” With no shade to the current era, which I’ve enjoyed very much, I can’t wait.

‘Wipe Jews Off the Face of the Earth’: Racism and Antisemitic Slurs of Viral YouTuber Exposed. “Watson uses a string of racist and homophobic epithets and claims that he is sick of “media f—t activists” sticking signs “up in my face trying to get me to join the gay ft Palestinian cause. I don’t give a shit about Israel and Palestine. I care about white people. Not sand n—r Jew P—i f—t c—s”.”


Why is the GOP escalating attacks on trans rights? Experts say the goal is to make sure evangelicals vote. “In the 2018 midterms, the Human Rights Campaign, with polling firm Catalyst, found that people they dubbed “equality voters,” those whose support for LGBTQ+ rights strongly influenced their voting choices, made up 29 percent of the electorate. White evangelicals made up 26 percent of the vote.” This is going to be an increasingly losing strategy over time.

Inflation’s biting. Roe’s fraying. Dems are still trying to connect with voters. “When Porter gave an emotional speech about how inflation has been hitting her family for months during a private House Democratic Caucus meeting last week, she said it seemed like the first time the personal toll of high consumer prices had sunk in for some lawmakers in the room.”

Former Pentagon chief Esper says Trump wanted to shoot protesters. “Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper charges in a memoir out May 10 that former President Trump said when demonstrators were filling the streets around the White House following the death of George Floyd: “Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?””

What you need to know about the Title 42 policy that sends migrants to Mexico. “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that it plans to end Title 42 on May 23 because COVID-19 cases have decreased and vaccines are widely available. But that date is now in question because of Republican-led lawsuits aimed at keeping the policy in place.”

Fed judiciary says yes to free PACER searches. Here are the details so far. “Federal judiciary policymakers have approved a plan to eliminate costly fees for online docket searches amid debate in Congress about whether to force the court system to make its PACER electronic court record system free for the general public.” RIP Aaron Swartz.


Is Sunscreen the New Margarine? “So Lindqvist decided to look at overall mortality rates, and the results were shocking. Over the 20 years of the study, sun avoiders were twice as likely to die as sun worshippers.”

Cats learn the names of their friend cats in their daily lives. “This study provides evidence that cats link a companion’s name and corresponding face without explicit training.”

Researchers Pinpoint Reason Infants Die From SIDS. “Previously, parents were told SIDS could be prevented if they took proper precautions: laying babies on their backs, not letting them overheat and keeping all toys and blankets out of the crib were a few of the most important preventative steps. So, when SIDS still occurred, parents were left with immense guilt, wondering if they could have prevented their baby’s death.”


The Science Is Clear: Gun Control Saves Lives. “The science is abundantly clear: More guns do not stop crime. Guns kill more children each year than auto accidents. More children die by gunfire in a year than on-duty police officers and active military members. Guns are a public health crisis, just like COVID, and in this, we are failing our children, over and over again.”

All Aboard Germany's Gas-Saving Summer of Super-Cheap Trains. “For the three months of summer starting June 1, a month’s travel ticket will cost just 9 euros ($9.56) a month for all subways, buses, trams and regional trains. This will slash the cost of public transit to almost token levels.” Way to make me homesick for Europe.

Guns have become the top injury-related cause of death for U.S. kids. “School shootings have become tragically common in the U.S., but constitute only a small fraction of gun deaths among children.”

Current Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United States. “Since 2016, that gap has narrowed, and in 2020, firearm-related injuries became the leading cause of death in that age group.” Guns are now the leading cause of death for children in the United States.

329 years later, last Salem 'witch' who wasn't is pardoned. “Massachusetts lawmakers on Thursday formally exonerated Elizabeth Johnson Jr., clearing her name 329 years after she was convicted of witchcraft in 1693 and sentenced to death at the height of the Salem Witch Trials.”

Vast majority of Americans don’t want Supreme Court decisions on marriage, contraception overturned, new poll shows. “An exclusive The 19th/Momentive poll of more than 8,000 Americans revealed strongly held opinions on maintaining Supreme Court precedent on cases rooted in the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of personal liberty.”

What abortion restrictions and laws look like in every state in the US - right now. “The 19th created this dashboard to centralize updates on the status of abortion rights in each state in this moment. While we will continue our extensive, in-depth coverage of the shifting abortion access landscape, this tool provides us with a way to share breaking news and how it affects access in each state.”

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy: Our Maternal Death Rates Are Only Bad If You Count Black Women. “In an interview with Politico, the following words came out of Cassidy’s mouth: “About a third of our population is African American; African Americans have a higher incidence of maternal mortality. So, if you correct our population for race, we’re not as much of an outlier as it’d otherwise appear. Now, I say that not to minimize the issue but to focus the issue as to where it would be. For whatever reason, people of color have a higher incidence of maternal mortality.””

Fetus-powered street lamps? Republicans ramp up outrageous anti-abortion lies ahead of Roe's demise. ““In places like Washington D.C.,” fetuses are “burned to power the light’s of the city’s homes and streets,” claimed Catherine Glenn Foster, who had, just minutes before, sworn not to lie under oath. The GOP-summoned witness let loose the wild and utterly false accusation that municipal electrical companies are powered by incinerated fetuses.”

How inequities make the baby formula shortage worse for many families. “In the meantime, parents have begun stockpiling if they can – and rationing when they can’t. Much of the burden is falling on households that need financial assistance: The White House noted that people on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) account for about half of all infant formula purchases. Parents who work lower-income jobs often need to rely on formula more because their jobs do not allow for them to establish breastfeeding easily – assuming a parent can produce enough milk to begin with.”

American Dragnet: Data-Driven Deportation in the 21st Century. “ICE has used face recognition technology to search through the driver’s license photographs of around 1 in 3 (32%) of all adults in the U.S. The agency has access to the driver’s license data of 3 in 4 (74%) adults and tracks the movements of cars in cities home to nearly 3 in 4 (70%) adults. When 3 in 4 (74%) adults in the U.S. connected the gas, electricity, phone or internet in a new home, ICE was able to automatically learn their new address. Almost all of that has been done warrantlessly and in secret.”

New poll captures how people with disabilities feel about abortion. “The Data for Progress national poll indicates that 55 percent of non-disabled people and 53 percent of people with disabilities believe that abortion should be legal in most circumstances, which largely reflects recent data from other polling firms.”

Leaked Supreme Court draft abortion decision could stop patients from seeking the procedure. “The leaked ruling is certain to embolden conservative-led states eager to restrict access to the procedure. And it will discourage patients from seeking abortions that, under current law, they are constitutionally entitled to, experts said.”

Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows. “No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending. The unprecedented revelation is bound to intensify the debate over what was already the most controversial case on the docket this term.”

Canadian astronauts no longer free to rob and kill with abandon in space or on the moon. “The amendment explicitly states that Canadian criminal jurisdiction will apply to the lunar station itself, and any “means of transportation” to the station. And just in case, “on the surface of the moon.””


Microsoft’s Verified ID could create digital privacy issues. “As part of Verified ID, individuals would be able to get digital credentials that prove where they work, what school they graduated from, which bank account they have — and, perhaps more controversially, whether they’re in good health according to their doctor.” It supports DIDs, interestingly.

If Tech Fails to Design for the Most Vulnerable, It Fails Us All. “The reality is that making better, safer, less harmful tech requires design based on the lived realities of those who are most marginalized. These “edge cases” are frequently ignored as being outside of the scope of a typical user’s likely experiences. Yet they are powerful indicators for understanding the flaws in our technologies.”

In Extremely Confusing Twist, Facebook Says It Isn’t Building a Metaverse After All. “Facebook’s dream of the metaverse, a VR hellscape stuffed with annoying ads and screeching children, is as incoherent and confusing as ever after reading an 8,000 word essay by Nick Clegg, the president of global affairs at Facebook’s parent company Meta.” Honestly can’t believe I’m living in a reality where Nick Clegg of all people is in a position to describe the future.

Bada Bing, Bada Boom: Microsoft Bing’s Chinese Political Censorship of Autosuggestions in North America. “We analyzed Microsoft Bing’s autosuggestion system for censorship of the names of individuals, finding that, outside of names relating to eroticism, the second largest category of names censored from appearing in autosuggestions were those of Chinese party leaders, dissidents, and other persons considered politically sensitive in China.” Including here in the US.

We Need to Take Back Our Privacy. “That data becomes an even more powerful form of surveillance when it is combined with other data. A woman who regularly eats sushi and suddenly stops, or stops taking Pepto-Bismol, or starts taking vitamin B6 may be easily identified as someone following guidelines for pregnancy. If that woman doesn’t give birth she might find herself being questioned by the police, who may think she had an abortion.”

Taking a Break from Social Media Makes you Happier and Less Anxious. “At the end of this week, the researchers found “significant between-group differences” in well-being, depression, and anxiety, with the intervention group faring much better on all three metrics. These results held even after control for baseline scores, as well as age and gender.”

Apple discontinues the iPod after 20 years. “While Apple may be done with making dedicated music players, the company says that “the spirit of iPod lives on” in all of its devices that play music, such as the iPhone, iPad, and HomePod Mini.”

Israel Arrests 9 for 'AirDrop' of Crash Images Aboard Plane. “A taxiing plane returned to the gate at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday after photos of aviation disasters popped up on passengers’ phones - sent, Israeli authorities believe, by nine people on board using the iPhone “AirDrop” function.”

Data Broker Is Selling Location Data of People Who Visit Abortion Clinics. “A location data firm is selling information related to visits to clinics that provide abortions including Planned Parenthood facilities, showing where groups of people visiting the locations came from, how long they stayed there, and where they then went afterwards, according to sets of the data purchased by Motherboard.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: April, 2022

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for April, 2022.


Kleptopia: How Dirty Money Is Conquering the World, by Tom Burgis. Fascinating but also narrow: in this true life tale of global kleptocracy, all the players in the west are amoral at worst, while the real thieves are in the former Soviet Union. Still, there’s a lot to learn from the author’s research, and enough here to embarrass the banks and moneymen who made it all possible.

Notable Articles


Rise of women in tech leadership. “Women in tech are gaining ground as the technology industry—or at least its largest players—makes slow but steady progress in shrinking its gender gap, and women in tech leadership are making the fastest advances.” Lots of work still to do, but good!

LinkedIn’s ‘career break’ feature can help normalize resume gaps. “LinkedIn users can classify their time away from paid work as one of 13 “types” of career breaks — including bereavement, career transition, caregiving, full-time parenting and health and well-being — and add details about what led to the career break and what they’ve done during the break.” I think this is good?

The Things We Did Not Do While Reaching $2M ARR. “A list of things tech startups usually go through that we did not.”

The Rise of the Triple Peak Day. “Findings from Microsoft and its researchers suggest that the 9-to-5 workday is fading in an age of remote and hybrid work and more flexible hours. That pattern was first spotted early in the pandemic, when Microsoft Teams chats outside the typical workday increased more than in any other time segment, particularly between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.” This is not okay.

Returning To The Office Is Creating The Great Reckoning. “Despite the endless pablum about “leadership” in business, those who lead - bosses, managers, and so on - by and large are not the ones doing the work, to the point that many of them have only the most tangential understanding of the tasks they’re demanding other people complete.”

Amazon Workers on Staten Island Vote to Unionize. “The win on Staten Island could herald a new era for labor unions in the United States, which saw the portion of workers in unions drop last year to 10.3 percent, the lowest rate in decades, despite widespread labor shortages and pockets of successful labor activity.”


75% of US children have now had COVID, up from 44% due to omicron. “About a third of all children in the country were newly infected during the omicron wave. Together, the data showcase just how poorly the country has done at shielding children—including those not yet eligible for vaccination—from the pandemic virus.”


On anti-crypto toxicity. “If you feel the urge to “cyberbully” someone in crypto, direct it at the powerful players behind crypto projects that are actively taking advantage of the vulnerable. Or, just as reasonably, direct it at the powerful tech executives, venture capitalists, elected representatives, and lobbyists who have contributed to the untenable situation we find ourselves in.”

Gwyneth Paltrow, Mila Kunis are pushing women to invest in NFTs. “But they’re also buying into an unpredictable market that some theorize has already peaked. Most NFTs don’t sell and only a small group of people are responsible for the vast quantity of NFT trading, said Mason Nystrom, an analyst for Messari Capital.”


Donald Glover Interviews Donald Glover. “I mean farming everything. Talent, ideas, moments. You ever heard of Bauhaus?”

the html review. “The html review is an annual journal of literature made to exist on the web.”

Star Trek: Picard to Reunite Next Generation Cast for Season 3. Let’s be real: I will watch the hell out of this.

Return to Monkey Island. A new sequel from Ron Gilbert, following canonically from Monkey Island 2? Sign. Me. Up.

I would like to be paid like a plumber. “I explained this to Kurt but I thought I’d better reiterate it here. I do not want and will not take a royalty on any record I record. No points. Period. I think paying a royalty to a producer or engineer is ethically indefensible. The band write the songs. The band play the music. It’s the band’s fans who buy the records. The band is responsible for whether it’s a great record or a horrible record. Royalties belong to the band.” Steve Albini makes his pitch to Nirvana to help make In Utero.


The L.A. Riots Were 30 Years Ago. I’m Still Trying to Understand Them. “But my editor, who was white, removed all references to King’s race from the story’s opening paragraphs.”

From the Arab Spring to Russian censorship: a decade of internet blackouts and repression. “Over the last six months, Rest of World spoke to more than 70 technologists, telecomms experts, activists, and journalists from around the world to track how governments’ control over the internet has grown and evolved during the past decade. Their testimony shows that the free, open, global internet is under severe threat.”

Let’s make journalism work for those not born into an elite class. ““Most news coverage isn’t created with people experiencing poverty in mind,” Heather Bryant, a journalist and founder of Project Facet, has said. That is frequently made clear when outlets want to run sensitive and authentic stories concerning class.”

White newspaper, Black city. “After years of sluggish progress, there’s something to be said about how journalists are growing more willing to publicly air the dirty laundry of their own publications in the name of making them better. While new journalism organizations are radically redefining what it means to reflect the communities they serve, it’s unclear if older institutions can truly reckon with their failures.”

How Silicon Valley is helping Putin and other tyrants win the information war. ““The power that Facebook has is scary. The way it is using it is even scarier,” a Russian journalist, who did not want to be named due to security concerns, told me. Her account was suspended after she was reported to Facebook by numerous accounts accusing her of violating community standards.”

Bitch Comes to a Close. Just a complete bummer.

BBC Staff Exodus: Women of Color Exhausted from Fighting Broken System. “At least 15 women of color have left the BBC in the last year saying they are “exhausted” from fighting a system that “is not systemically built to support anyone who is different,” a Variety investigation has uncovered.”


Supreme Court Denies Equal Rights To Puerto Ricans — Again. ““Equal treatment of citizens should not be left to the vagaries of the political process,” Sotomayor wrote. “Because residents of Puerto Rico do not have voting representation in Congress, they cannot rely on their elected representatives to remedy the punishing disparities suffered by citizen residents of Puerto Rico under Congress’ unequal treatment.””

Older women voters will likely play a big role in the midterm elections. ““Women over 50+ may not only be the decision makers in their households, they may also be the decision makers of the midterm elections,” Margie Omero, principal at GBAO, a public opinion research firm, said in a statement accompanying the poll results.”


Alzheimer’s May Be Caused by Cell Phones, Scientists Say. “According to a press release on the research, most scientists agree that Alzheimer’s is caused by excess calcium buildup in the brain. And pulsed electronically generated electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted from cell phones, the study says, may be causing or worsening that calcium buildup.”

Reversing hearing loss with regenerative therapy. “In Frequency’s first clinical study, the company saw statistically significant improvements in speech perception in some participants after a single injection, with some responses lasting nearly two years.”


Brooklyn Public Library Launches Campaign Against State Book Bans. “The Books UnBanned campaign provides youth ages 13 to 21 with online access to banned books.” Just superb.

Black principals receive leadership training, support through new initiatives. “Studies link Black principals, especially women, to better academic performance. New initiatives aim to train and support them.”

Stop matching lone female Ukraine refugees with single men, UK told. “The UN refugee agency has called on the UK government to intervene to stop single British men from being matched up with lone Ukrainian women seeking refuge from war because of fears of sexual exploitation.” Gross.

Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed: How she will change the Supreme Court. “The Senate on Thursday voted 53-47 to confirm Jackson’s historic nomination to the nation’s highest court. Though Jackson will not change the court’s conservative majority, she will change the court. Her presence is set to create the first all-women liberal wing of the court, whose dissenting opinions are expected to outline their vision for a more just country and possibly influence future Supreme Court rulings.”

Oklahoma’s legislature approves total abortion ban. “This June, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that examines the constitutionality of a 15-week abortion ban. Many observers believe the court, which has a large conservative majority, will use that case to overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing states to restrict access to the procedure as much as they wish.”


As Western social media apps leave Russia, Snap’s Zenly hangs on. “If you’re a restaurant chain, you’re either selling Subway sandwiches in Russia or not. You’re either selling a Rolls-Royce or not. It’s not as straightforward for the tech platforms.”

Applied for Student Aid Online? Facebook Saw You. “For millions of prospective college students, applying online for federal financial aid has also meant sharing personal data with Facebook, unbeknownst to them or their parents, The Markup has learned. This information has included first and last names, email addresses, and zip codes.”

Some Thoughts On Twitter. “I continue to believe that a single person owning one of the most important communications protocols of the internet is a bad idea, but maybe it can be a bridge to something better.”

Web scraping is legal, US appeals court reaffirms. “In its ruling, the Supreme Court narrowed what constitutes a violation of the CFAA as those who gain unauthorized access to a computer system — rather than a broader interpretation of exceeding existing authorization, which the court argued could have attached criminal penalties to “a breathtaking amount of commonplace computer activity.””

Jeff Bezos is worth $160bn – yet Congress might bail out his space company. “Who will, overall, be benefiting from space exploration? Will it be a handful of billionaires or will it be the people of our country and all of humanity?”

Lyft asked if this driver needed help. He was already dying. “Lyft says it’s worked hard to develop security features to keep drivers safe. In addition to the texts the company sends, Lyft also has 24/7 safety teams and partners with ADT, so drivers can use the Lyft app to contact the security company and get emergency services sent to their location. But Philpotts’ story is a case study not only in how those safety features fail in real life-and-death situations, but also in how Lyft itself fails the families of drivers who are hurt or killed on the job.”

Planting Undetectable Backdoors in Machine Learning Models. “Given the computational cost and technical expertise required to train machine learning models, users may delegate the task of learning to a service provider. We show how a malicious learner can plant an undetectable backdoor into a classifier. On the surface, such a backdoored classifier behaves normally, but in reality, the learner maintains a mechanism for changing the classification of any input, with only a slight perturbation.”

Ukraine using ClearviewAI facial recognition to identify Russian war dead. “In another conversation, a stranger sent a message to a Russian mother saying her son was dead, alongside a photo showing a man’s body in the dirt — face grimacing and mouth agape. The recipient responded with disbelief, saying it wasn’t him, before the sender passed along another photo showing a gloved hand holding the man’s military documents.” Grim.

A Web Renaissance. “So if we have the tech, then why hasn’t it happened already? The biggest thing that may be missing is just awareness of the modern web’s potential. Unlike the Facebooks and Googles of the world, the open, creative web doesn’t have a billion-dollar budget for promoting itself. Years of control from the tech titans has resulted in the conventional wisdom that somehow the web isn’t “enough”, that you have to tie yourself to proprietary platforms if you want to build a big brand or a big business.”

Pipedream Malware: Feds Uncover 'Swiss Army Knife' for Industrial System Hacking. “On Wednesday, the Department of Energy, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the NSA, and the FBI jointly released an advisory about a new hacker toolset potentially capable of meddling with a wide range of industrial control system equipment.”

Police Records Show Women Are Being Stalked With Apple AirTags Across the Country. “Of the 150 total police reports mentioning AirTags, in 50 cases women called the police because they started getting notifications that their whereabouts were being tracked by an AirTag they didn’t own. Of those, 25 could identify a man in their lives—ex-partners, husbands, bosses—who they strongly suspected planted the AirTags on their cars in order to follow and harass them. Those women reported that current and former intimate partners—the most likely people to harm women overall—are using AirTags to stalk and harass them.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: March, 2022

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for March, 2022. This was an intense month, so a shorter list than usual.

Streaming Media

Severance. My kind of science fiction: darkly satirical, with a dramatic vice that closes with each new episode. Really beautifully done.

Notable Articles


Epic Games Acquires Bandcamp as 'Fortnite' Maker Expands Into Music. “Bandcamp will play an “important role in Epic’s vision to build out a creator marketplace ecosystem for content, technology, games, art, music and more,” the games company said. According to Bandcamp, under its revenue model artists receive net an average of 82% of every sale.” Fascinating!

Equal Pay Day: What can transparency laws do to the gender pay gap? “After years of little progress toward pay equity, more and more states and localities are passing pay transparency laws that eliminate the secrecy around salaries and could be a powerful tool for eliminating the gender pay gap.”

More Employees Are Saying That Tesla’s Factory Is Horrifically Racist. “One single mother said she was excited to work for Tesla but was fired because she made a complaint about Black workers being call the N-word on the assembly line. According to the report originally published in the LA Times, other employees were also called racial slurs and insults and penalized for telling management.”


In a US first, California will pilot solar-panel canopies over canals. “India already has solar panels over canals, but the mile-long Project Nexus in California’s San Joaquin Valley will be the first of its kind in the US.” Go Turlock!


Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets. “We must take strong steps to reduce the risks that digital assets could pose to consumers, investors, and business protections; financial stability and financial system integrity; combating and preventing crime and illicit finance; national security; the ability to exercise human rights; financial inclusion and equity; and climate change and pollution.”

Ukraine Is Selling NFTs to Finance Its Military. “While it might seem like a weird attempt to gin up funds, Ukraine claims to have raised more than $54 million so far through cryptocurrency donations in order to help fund war and relief efforts in the embattled country. So there’s definitely something to be said for jumping on the crypto train to raise money.”

The (Edited) Latecomer's Guide to Crypto. “Here, a group of around fifteen cryptocurrency researchers and critics have done what the New York Times apparently won’t.”

Exxon Mobil reportedly gets in on Bitcoin mining. “Exxon Mobil has begun a pilot program to set up Bitcoin miners at an oil well in North Dakota. The project reportedly runs off 18 million ft³ of natural gas that would otherwise be flared.” Oh, great.


MC Hammer ‘Will Beat Yo' Ass’—and Other Hard Tales of the MTV-Friendly Rapper. “Serch claims the $50,000 hit was confirmed by fellow Def Jam artist Eric B., and was supposed to be carried out by the Los Angeles crips. In a later interview, Serch said fear and anger over the incident has never left him.”

Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” Adjusted for Late-Stage Capitalism . “Working 8 to 6, but they call you after hours / Barely gettin’ by, lots of crying in the shower / You might prequalify, won’t even hurt your credit / Ran out of sick days—well, I hope y’all don’t catch it”

Grimes Reveals Y, Her New Baby Daughter With Elon Musk, in Cover Interview. Come for the secret baby, stay for an interview that makes Grimes seem like a pretty cool person.

The case for induction cooking. “But for all the sexiness of cooking with gas (a concept bolstered by aggressive lobbying and advertising from the natural gas industry), it has been shown to be catastrophic for the environment, emitting potent greenhouse gases like methane into the atmosphere. Worse, a recent study demonstrated that 75 percent of these emissions occur when the stove is off.” This is mostly about how amazing induction is for cooking - I’m envious.

Notable Sandwiches #20: The British Rail Sandwich. “The British Rail sandwich is not really a sandwich at all, but rather a category of sandwiches—modest constructions of hard-boiled egg, cheese and tomato, pressed luncheon meat, tongue, boiled ham, cucumber, prawns, etc., offered on the trains traversing Britain’s many kilometers of railway, particularly (though not exclusively) during the four-and-a-half decades in which it was operated by the her majesty’s government.” Ah, memories.

Will Smith Did a Bad, Bad Thing. “When Will Smith stormed onto the Oscar stage to strike Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife’s short hair, he did a lot more damage than just to Rock’s face. With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community.”


Google is releasing an open source harassment filter for journalists . “Harassment Manager also lets users download a standalone report containing abusive messages; this creates a paper trail for their employer or, in the case of illegal content like direct threats, law enforcement. For now, however, there’s not a standalone application that users can download. Instead, developers can freely build apps that incorporate its functionality and services using it will be launched by partners like the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”


California reparations for slavery descendants only. “After more than six hours of debate Tuesday, California’s reparations task force voted that only Black Californians who can prove a direct lineage to enslaved ancestors will be eligible for the statewide — and first-in-the nation — initiative to address the harms and enduring legacy of slavery.” Progress.


Associations between alcohol consumption and gray and white matter volumes in the UK Biobank. “Here, we show that the negative associations between alcohol intake and brain macrostructure and microstructure are already apparent in individuals consuming an average of only one to two daily alcohol units, and become stronger as alcohol intake increases.” Drinking any amount of alcohol shrinks your brain.

Dual use of artificial-intelligence-powered drug discovery. “An international security conference explored how artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for drug discovery could be misused for de novo design of biochemical weapons. A thought experiment evolved into a computational proof.” Nightmare fuel.

Crows possess higher intelligence long thought primarily human. “Research unveiled on Thursday in Science finds that crows know what they know and can ponder the content of their own minds, a manifestation of higher intelligence and analytical thought long believed the sole province of humans and a few other higher mammals.”


How COVID pressure led single moms to turn to coliving with other adults. “The move to cohabitation eased a significant amount of pressure for Villagomez-Morales at a time when parents, but especially single parents, were being squeezed on all sides — by child care, loss of work and extreme burnout. That, mixed with a housing market that has become increasingly inhospitable to low-wage people, and especially moms, has more single parents looking into the benefits of cohabitation to ride out the pandemic.”

After George Floyd’s murder, police built a secretive surveillance machine that lives on. “We found evidence of a complex engine of surveillance tailor-made for keeping close tabs on protesters and sharing that information among local and federal agencies, regardless of whether the subjects were suspected of any wrongdoing.”

Tatiana Perebyinis and two children identified as those seen dead in viral Lynsey Addario photo from Ukraine. “Photos flashing on his Twitter feed showed four people lying next to a World War II memorial just outside Kyiv after they were fired on by the Russian military. One of them was his wife, and two were his children.” Pure horror.

Mark and Lily Osler: Governor’s order on transgender youth cruel, short-sighted. “Because Gov. Abbott has moved to threaten transgender kids by criminalizing the kind of support they need, it’s time for Lily and me to tell this part of our family story and to address the harm Gov. Abbott is doing.”

In most states, over half of all women of color earn less than a living wage. “In nine states, 50 percent or more of all women workers are earning less than $15 an hour. But in 40 states, 50 percent or more of all women of color — Black women, Latinas, Native American women and Asian American and Pacific Islander women — are earning below a living wage. In 23 states, 60 percent or more of all women of color have hourly earnings under $15.”

What Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination means to Black women. “At the start of this week’s hearing, The 19th spoke to people who gathered on the steps of the high court about what her historic journey to the most powerful bench in the United States means.”

These Companies Are Clamoring for Women's Dollars As They Help Tank Pro-Women Legislation. “Companies clamoring for women’s dollars are making huge donations to politicians and political action committees specifically designed to tank legislation aiming to lift women and families out of poverty, according to new research obtained by Jezebel.”


Twitter Wants to Reinvent Itself, by Merging the Old With the New. “Now, over a decade later, Twitter is reversing course. The company is pursuing the sort of decentralization Mr. [Blaine] Cook championed. It is funding an independent effort to build a so-called open protocol for social media. It is also weaving cryptocurrency into its app, and opening up to developers who want to build custom features for Twitter.” Quite a lovely piece about decentralization.

The web is for everyone: Our vision for the evolution of the web. “We believe to make the web a better place we need to focus our work on these nine areas.” From Mozilla.

EU's Digital Markets Act will require Apple to open iMessage. “European regulators on Thursday revealed their plan to rein in the anti-competitive practices of Big Tech and fundamentally remake how some of the world’s most powerful companies do business. The rules, which target tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Meta and Google, are far-reaching and would have huge ramification for those companies’ software and services.” Good.

Is tech still failing Black communities? Data says yes. “There was just a 1% increase in representation of Black workers in technical roles at large tech companies between the years of 2014 and 2021, according to the report titled State of Tech Diversity: The Black Tech Ecosystem.”

Facebook paid Republican strategy firm to malign TikTok. “In October, Targeted Victory worked to spread rumors of the “Slap a Teacher TikTok challenge” in local news, touting a local news report on the alleged challenge in Hawaii. In reality, no such challenge existed on TikTok.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: February, 2022

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for February, 2022.

Apps + Websites

Globle. Like Wordle but for countries. “Every day, there is a new Mystery Country. Your goal is to guess the mystery country using the fewest number of guesses. Each incorrect guess will appear on the globe with a colour indicating how close it is to the Mystery Country.” Good fun, but I am not good at this.

Nerdle - the daily numbers game. Another Wordle alternative. I was daunted at first, but it’s pretty fun! The need for equations to resolve mathematically adds a really satisfying extra dimension.


Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman's Fight to End Ableism, by Elsa Sjunneson. A frank, and often wryly funny, account of life as a Deafblind woman. Some of her experiences were familiar to me, at least second-hand; the account of hearing aids squealing at the wrong moment made me think of someone very dear to me who happens to be Deaf. The author is a self-described activist, and the passages discussing ableism and capitalist healthcare were as searing, pointed, and brilliant as the passages describing her experiences were human. I loved every moment of getting to know her.

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself, by Melody Beattie. Far more religious than I’d like, and decidedly dated, but it hits the nail on the head more often than it doesn’t. My own codependence is not a result of a relationship with an alcoholic, but the symptoms, discussion of internal self-talk, and potential solutions feel relevant and sometimes confronting. I’m late to my own diagnosis, and the ideas here feel like a part of the solution.


Wet Leg - Oh No (Official Video). I love Wet Leg. Their latest song is all about social media addiction and (like everything else they’ve done) it’s brilliant.

Notable Articles


The McNamara Fallacy – measurement is not understanding. “The McNamara Fallacy is to presume that (A) quantitative models of reality are always more accurate than other models; (B) the quantitative measurements that can be made most easily must be the most relevant; and (C) factors other than those currently being used in quantitative metrics must either not exist or not have a significant influence on success. This flawed approach to reasoning is also known as the quantitative fallacy.” Worth also mentioning here that the Vietnam War was deeply misguided in its own right and that the US committed atrocities in the name of fighting a boogieman that didn’t make any sense. The underlying message here - keep research human - is paramount.

Workers for Frozen Food Giant Amy’s Kitchen Allege Unsafe Conditions at Bay Area Factory. And Amy’s has hired a firm to squash worker attempts to form a Union. Really disappointing.

Why More VCs May Want To Back Your Bootstrapped Company. But should you take the money?

The elaborate con that tricked dozens into working for a fake design agency. “But what those who had turned on their cameras didn’t know was that some of the others in the meeting weren’t real people. Yes, they were listed as participants. Some even had active email accounts and LinkedIn profiles. But their names were made up and their headshots belonged to other people.”

Top Performers Have a Superpower: Happiness. “Within the workplace, we know that happier employees are more likely to emerge as leaders, earn higher scores on performance evaluations, and tend to be better teammates. We also know, based on substantial research, that happier employees are healthier, have lower rates of absenteeism, are highly motivated to succeed, are more creative, have better relationships with peers, and are less likely to leave a company. All of these correlates of happiness significantly influence a company’s bottom line.”

Waterstones acquires Blackwell’s, the UK’s biggest independent bookseller. Very, very sad to see Blackwell’s purchased - by the hedge fund that owns Barnes and Noble, no less.


Indonesia Is Switching Capital Cities Because the Old One Is Sinking Into the Ocean. “The flooding, pollution, sinking earth and congestion have gotten so catastrophic, in fact, that the country is switching capital cities altogether. Yes, seriously: the government is packing up and moving the country’s capital to the island of Borneo, according to the Associated Press.”


The Sick, Refreshing Honesty of Web3. “From the start, online businesses have presented themselves as making culture, even as they really aimed to build financial value. Now, at last, the wealth seeking is printed on the tin.”

North Korea: Missile programme funded through stolen crypto, UN report says. “North Korean cyber-attacks have stolen millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency to fund the country’s missile programmes, a UN report briefed to media says.” Oops?

The Human Web. “Web3 will succeed, or fail, to the extent that it solves human problems, to the extent that it makes navigating Web0 more tractable—not to the extent that it monetizes everything conceivable, or enables a small number of people to make a financial killing.”


The Radical Woman Behind “Goodnight Moon”. “Brown helped create a new type of children’s literature that provided both aural and visual feasts. Her books—including “Goodnight Moon,” which celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary this year—delighted, surprised, and sometimes disturbed.”

Book Renovation. “Anyway, right now, I’m working on the revision of Book 2 of the Great Cities. A friend asked me how to do revisions, so I figured I might as well lay out my process here. Note that this is my process; as with all other writing advice, you should look at many methods and then choose or customize something that works best for you. So here goes.” Some lovely writing advice from none other than NK Jemisin.

Inspired by gravity. “Today, being weird online means one of two things. Either you’re trying to get there before other people do, not missing an opportunity, changing the rules to your advantage. That’s the excitement some folks feel right now: they feel like it’s possible to rewrite gravity.”

A Vibe Shift Is Coming. Will Any of Us Survive It? “Monahan reassured me that it’s okay not to survive the shift. We all have permission to stay stuck at whatever makes us feel comfortable, and if that’s in 2016 or 2012 or 2010, that’s fine.” How about 1997? Asking for a friend.

No-knead Gatorade bread. “After placing the cast-iron pot into the oven, the distinct smell of grape-flavored Gatorade wafted through the apartment. I do not know how if there are words in the human language to describe the emotions I was feeling. We were essentially enveloped in sublimated grape Gatorade, breathing it in, along with the gentle scent of baking bread. You guys should really try doing this.”

I'm common as muck and spent £150 in a Michelin star restaurant to see if it was worth it. “I’ve never grown up thinking of food as anything other than fuel to get through the day. I grew up on free school meals (chips and gravy, for the most part). As an adult, celebratory meals out are spent at Toby Carvery, where the all-you-can-eat roasters fill all of my requirements for a happy time.” This is quite lovely.


‘We’ll keep reporting, whatever the risk from the junta,’ say Myanmar’s journalists. “A year after the coup, the military continues to egregiously restrict media freedoms across the country and attempts to terrorise journalists into silence. Nearly all the journalists who were working in Myitkyina before the coup have fled. Many are unable to continue reporting at all.”

Want to Make Real Progress in Newsroom DEI? Audience Engagement is Essential. “What does a truly inclusive culture look like? Most newsrooms think of diversity and inclusion work primarily as an internal affair — being respectful to everyone in the organization and treating everyone within that sphere equally. But inclusion work can’t succeed in a bubble.” Useful insights and tactics for improving newsroom DEI - which improves democracy for all of us.

We are deeply and profoundly sorry: For decades, The Baltimore Sun promoted policies that oppressed Black Marylanders; we are working to make amends. “Instead of using its platforms, which at times included both a morning and evening newspaper, to question and strike down racism, The Baltimore Sun frequently employed prejudice as a tool of the times. It fed the fear and anxiety of white readers with stereotypes and caricatures that reinforced their erroneous beliefs about Black Americans.”

Documenting and Debunking Dubious Footage from Ukraine’s Frontlines. “With every alleged provocation a potential pretext for conflict, Bellingcat has decided to track and detail such claims as well as the circumstances surrounding them.”


Boris Johnson Is a Liar. “The first thing you need to know about Boris Johnson is he’s a liar.” This is brilliant: Jonathan Pie explains Johnson to the New York Times in video. Easily the best thing the Opinion page has ever done.

House approves bill to end forced arbitration of MeToo claims. “The U.S. House on Monday approved a bill that would ban mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment and assault cases brought by workers, consumers and even nursing home residents, queuing the measure up for Senate passage and President Joe Biden’s signature.”

How thousands of text messages from Mark Meadows and others reveal new details about events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack. “If POTUS allows this to occur… we’re driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic.” Remarkable.

An antifascist’s position on Ukraine. “While Russia holds culpability for bringing us to the brink of war, America likewise holds culpability for creating a long-term ecosystem where peace and diplomacy seem impossible, and where war, either now or later, is destined to break out.”

Facebook Allows Praise of Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. “Facebook will temporarily allow its billions of users to praise the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian neo-Nazi military unit previously banned from being freely discussed under the company’s Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy, The Intercept has learned.”


Reading on a smartphone affects sigh generation, brain activity, and comprehension. “In this study, we investigated the cause for comprehension decline when reading on a smartphone by simultaneously measuring respiration and brain activity during reading in 34 healthy individuals. We found that, compared to reading on a paper medium, reading on a smartphone elicits fewer sighs, promotes brain overactivity in the prefrontal cortex, and results in reduced comprehension.”

The International Space Station to be retired and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. “NASA said that commercially operated space platforms would replace the ISS as a venue for collaboration and scientific research.” Ugh.

America’s most widely consumed cooking oil causes genetic changes in the brain. “Used for fast food frying, added to packaged foods, and fed to livestock, soybean oil is by far the most widely produced and consumed edible oil in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In all likelihood, it is not healthy for humans.”


American Capitalism Needs a Reboot. “Enda Brophy, associate professor of the labor studies program at Simon Fraser University, says there’s more frustration with capitalism as a system now than at any time since perhaps the 1960-’70s. “Significantly, poll after poll tells us that younger generations and millennials above all have highly negative opinions of capitalism and highly positive opinions around socialism and trade unions,” Brophy said. “People are quitting jobs as they never have before and labor organizing is growing in unexpected industries.””

Forced sterilization is legal in 31 states, new report shows. “According to the report from the National Women’s Law Center, 17 states allow the permanent, surgical sterilization of children with disabilities. The report is written in plain language, designed to be understood by at least some of the people impacted most by these laws.”

Furries Are Leading the War Against a Book-Banning Mississippi Mayor. “Last week, a Mississippi mayor tried to strong-arm a local library into banning some books. The result was swift, and in retrospect, entirely predictable: A group of furries got on Twitter to do something about it.” Lovely!

Exposed documents reveal how the powerful clean up their digital past using a reputation laundering firm. “Now, documents viewed by Rest of World shed light on the reputation management industry, revealing how Eliminalia and companies like it may use spurious copyright claims and fake legal notices to remove and obscure articles linking clients to allegations of tax avoidance, corruption, and drug trafficking. The Elephant case may be one of thousands just like it.”

States propose bills on restricting LGBTQ+ school curriculum. “The White House denounced Florida’s bill in an emailed statement on Tuesday, adding that the legislation “is not an isolated action,” as more Republican lawmakers “take actions to regulate what students can or cannot read, what they can or cannot learn, and most troubling, who they can or cannot be.”” A really troubling trend: an onslaught of bigoted bills that will further isolate queer youth.

Abortion ban in Texas still causing surges at clinics in nearby states. “In Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Louisiana and southern Nevada, clinics have all continued to see a dramatic surge in patients, representatives told The 19th, with some treating more than twice the number of people they saw before the Texas law known as Senate Bill 8 took effect in September.”

Oh, God, how it hurts to write this. “I came to this black wall again to see and touch your name, and as I do I wonder if anyone ever stops to realize that next to your name, on this black wall, is your mother’s heart. A heart broken 15 years ago today, when you lost your life in Vietnam.” War is evil and must be avoided.

San Francisco police linked a woman to a crime using DNA from her rape exam, D.A. Boudin says. “San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she was alerted to the alleged practice this weekend, and that she has submitted an inquiry to the City Attorney’s Office to draft legislation to prevent DNA evidence — or any sort of evidence collected from a victim’s rape kit — to be used for anything other than investigating that rape itself.”

Ukrainian refugees are already being driven out by the Russian invasion. “EU countries might be more open to absorbing Ukrainians fleeing the wrath of their adversary. But there might also be more willingness to accept Ukrainians because they are white, European, and majority Christian, revealing the “troubling rise of nationalist movements rooted in fear of the other,””


Google Fonts lands website privacy fine by German court. “The unauthorized disclosure of the plaintiff’s dynamic IP address by the defendant to Google constitutes a violation of the general right of personality in the form of the right to informational self-determination according to § 823 Para. 1 BGB.” Embedding Google resources like fonts as a GDPR violation: wow.

Letter to the US Senate Judiciary Committee on App Stores. “I am Bruce Schneier, a longtime security technologist, author, speaker, and thinker; and author of many books, papers, and articles on the topic both Internet security and privacy. I currently teach cybersecurity policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. I am writing in support of S.2992 and S.2710, which are attempts to redress the power of dominant technology firms.”

Tesla drivers say their cars are making random stops. ““My wife has requested that I don’t use cruise control or autopilot while she’s in the car, as we experienced an unwarranted, aggressive automatic braking episode which caused great pressure against her pregnant belly on a previous road trip,” one driver said in their report.” I drive a Tesla Model 3 and don’t use cruise control or autopilot for exactly this reason: it stops randomly. It’s relatively rare, but one time is one time too many.

Europe’s crackdown on those annoying consent banners is a huge deal. “For one thing, [...] American lawmakers and regulators have often looked at the “consent spam” polluting Europe and pointed to it as one of the worst consequences of GDPR. This new decision [...] exposes that spam to be a violation of the law, not a fulfillment of it.”

Humanitarian organizations keep getting hacked because they can’t spend to secure data. “What we see over and over again is that humanitarians are being expected to hold some of the most sensitive data in the world of the most vulnerable people in the world and have the resources of mall cops to protect against the cyber hacking equivalent of Delta Force.”

Is Momentum Shifting Toward a Ban on Behavioral Advertising? ““The use of personal data in advertising is already tightly regulated by existing legislation,” [IAB Europe Director] Mroczkowski said, apparently referencing the GDPR, which regulates data privacy in the EU generally. He further noted that the new rules “risk undermining” existing law and “the entire ad-supported digital economy.”” Let’s be totally clear: the ad-supported digital economy is not worth protecting.

Why the balance of power in tech is shifting toward workers. “Concerns and anger over tech companies’ impact in the world is nothing new, of course. What’s changed is that workers are increasingly getting organized. Whether writing public letters, marching in protest, filing lawsuits, or unionizing, the labor force that makes the corporate tech world run is finding its voice, demanding a future in which companies do better and are held more responsible for their actions.”

Radio station snafu in Seattle bricks some Mazda infotainment systems. “The problem, according to Mazda, was that the radio station sent out image files in its HD radio stream that did not have extensions, and it seems that Mazda’s infotainment system of that generation needs an extension (and not a header) to tell what a file is. No extension, no idea, and the system gets corrupted.” And now those Mazdas are stuck on the station forever. At least it’s NPR!

How Fresh Grads with Zero Experience Get Hired as Senior Engineers. “What greeted me when I walked into their luxury apartment were flies circling around piles of unwashed dishes and utensils in the kitchen. When I stepped into the bathroom, I saw urine on the floor. Each room had bunk beds in it.”

That broken tech/content culture cycle. “Here’s how you do it. […] Build a platform which relies on cultural creation as its core value, but which only sees itself as a technology platform. Stick to this insistence on being solely a “neutral” tech company in every aspect of decision-making, policy, hiring and operations, except for your public advertising, where the message is entirely about creativity and expression.”

What using RSS feeds feels like. “To me, using RSS feeds to keep track of stuff I’m interested in is a good use of my time. It doesn’t feel like a burden, it doesn’t feel like I’m being tracked or spied on, and it doesn’t feel like I’m just another number in the ads game.” Yes, this exactly. I love RSS.

Surveillance Too Cheap to Meter. “Even ignoring the fact that lawmakers have generally made the collection of surveillance data a requirement for mobile network licenses, it would cost the telcos more money to stop the surveillance of their customers than to continue doing it.”

Bionic Eye Patients Are Going Blind Again After Manufacturer Decides They’re Obsolete. “Currently, Second Sight is planning to merge with Nano Precision Medical, another biotechnology company, to stave off complete financial ruin. However, it doesn’t have any plans to support their bionic eye patients — and likely never will again.”

My journey down the rabbit hole of every journalist’s favorite app. “Otter and its competitors, which include Descript, Rev, Temi and the U.K.-based Trint, are digital warehouses whose advantages of speed and convenience are bracketed by what experts say can be lax privacy and security protections that may endanger sensitive text and audio data, the identities of reporters and the potentially vulnerable sources they contact.”

I have no capslock and I must scream. “In a near future, a team of desktop computer designers are looking at the latest telemetry and updating the schematics of the hardware-as-a-service self-assembling nanohardware.”

A Long Bet Pays Off. “The bet, to be revisited a decade and a year later, would be whether the URL of their wager at Long Bets would survive to a point in the semi-distant future.” And it did!

Support open source that you use by paying the maintainers to talk to your team. “I think I’ve come up with a novel hack for the challenge of getting your company to financially support the open source projects that it uses: reach out to the maintainers and offer them generous speaking fees for remote talks to your engineering team.” This is really smart!

Twitter is sharing safety tips in Ukrainian — including how to delete your account. “On Wednesday night, as Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Twitter’s Safety team began sharing tips in Ukrainian for how users in the country can cover their digital tracks to help keep themselves safe. That included details for deleting their accounts entirely.”

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Reading, watching, playing, using: January, 2022

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for January, 2022.


This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. A treatise on love and conflict wrapped up in beautiful, occasionally wryly hilarious prose and a science fiction conceit. It took me a little while for this to hook me, but when it did, I found myself wanting a lot more. It stops just as the story becomes really interesting; an appetizer rather than a full meal.

The Jakarta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World, by Vincent Bevins. If every American - and every citizen of a first world nation - could read and understand this, it would make the world a better place. An illuminating, aggravating portrait of how the US used murder to further its interests around the world, and how that has affected modern culture everywhere. It should be required reading. Please get yourself a copy.

Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman's Fight to End Ableism, by Elsa Sjunneson. A frank, and often wryly funny, account of life as a Deafblind woman. Some of her experiences were familiar to me, at least second-hand; the account of hearing aids squealing at the wrong moment made me think of someone very dear to me who happens to be Deaf. The author is a self-described activist, and the passages discussing ableism and capitalist healthcare were as searing, pointed, and brilliant as the passages describing her experiences were human. I loved every moment of getting to know her.


A Hero. A nuanced morality play. Occasionally the protagonist’s poor decisions stretch credulity, but there’s a lot to think about here; nobody is out to cause harm, but the plot spirals nonetheless. The writing, direction, and cinematography are masterful but never anything less than subtle. Beautifully done.

Notable Articles


VCs with Ignorant Views on Race Have No Place in Venture Capital. No founder or investor should work with anyone like this. But please note: he’s not just a VC, he’s the founder of Palantir. Which assumptions do Palantir’s products and services - famously sold to law enforcement and more - have baked into them?

The touchy-feely groups where CEOs learn to emote. A lot of my work style is indirectly inspired by the Stanford “Touchy Feely” class - it was what led to a lot of Matter’s culture, which I’ve found enormously helpful. This might sound like ridiculous stuff on the face of it, but it really works, and it’s a way to get to a kinder business culture.

Hybrid Tanked Work-Life Balance. Here’s How Microsoft Is Trying to Fix It. “While initially this seemed like the best way for teams to stay connected, we’ve since realized that these non-stop video calls, emails, and chats have turned into digital overload, and we see the well-being impacts in our Microsoft employee surveys. Between April and November 2020, employees’ satisfaction with work-life balance dropped by 13 percentage points.”

How to quit like a boss. “The goal of this post is to summarise some patterns and anti-patterns, so that in the future you or I can leave our roles in the most professional and positive way possible. The content is applicable to people in a wide range of companies, at different levels of seniority, but is probably most directed at mid-career types.”

The 5 Stages of Burnout. This, unfortunately, all sounds familiar to me.

YC’s $500,000 Standard Deal. Wowzers. It’s going to be hard for other accelerators to compete with this. (Matter invested one tenth of this amount.)

Building American Dynamism. I do not subscribe to the future this a16z piece paints. The future is for and by the public, not locked up in private businesses.

Three words popping up in LinkedIn job listings. “LinkedIn has been watching how different keywords correlate to engagement on company posts, and which words have been appearing more often in job listings on the site. The terms “flexibility,” “well-being” and “culture” all appear in LinkedIn posts more often than they did in 2019, LinkedIn revealed Tuesday in its 2022 Global Talent Trends Report. Company posts that use those terms also attract more engagement, LinkedIn found.” Shocking nobody but important to highlight.

Backlash as US billionaire dismisses Uyghur abuse. “Billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya is under fire for saying that he - and most Americans - “don’t care” about abuses against the Uyghur minority in China. [...] Boston Celtics Forward Enes Kanter, who has been outspoken about human rights issues and campaigned on behalf of the forced labour law, was among those condemning the comments. “When genocides happen, it is people like this that let it happen,” he wrote.”

When Microsoft Office Went Enterprise. “Practically, any time someone tries to take on two conflicting perspectives in one product, the product comes across as a compromise. It is neither one nor the other, but a displeasing mess. The hope I had at the start was that by deprioritizing our traditional retail-customer focus on personal productivity at the start of the release, we avoided the messy middle. We succeeded at that, but I was struggling with how unsatisfying this felt.”

Let’s stop saying these two things. “When I hear “drinking the Kool-Aid”, I think about Leo Ryan, Jackie Speier, and 900+ dead followers of Jim Jones. [...] If your white grandfather was eligible to vote prior to the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, you were eligible to vote. When you talk about being grandfathered in, that’s what you’re referring to.”

Your Startup’s Management Training Probably Sucks — Here’s How to Make it Better. “When you’re a really small startup, co-founder drama is the likely company-killer. But as your org gets larger, the thing that often tanks the company is waiting too long to bring on competent management.”


Utah tech company founder claims COVID vaccine part of extermination plot by 'the Jews'. “The founder and chair of Entrata, a Silcon Slopes tech firm, sent an email to a number of tech CEOs and Utah business and political leaders, claiming the COVID-19 vaccine is part of a plot by “the Jews” to exterminate people.” I wonder how many other people quietly hold similar views?

What older people and caregivers need to know about omicron. “The 19th spoke with a wide range of experts about what older people and family caregivers should know about the risk omicron poses to seniors, as well as best practices to keep loved ones safe.”

‘Menace to public health’: 270 doctors criticize Spotify over Joe Rogan’s podcast. “The letter was first reported by Rolling Stone, which quoted Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago school of public health, calling Rogan “a menace to public health” for airing anti-vaccine ideology.”

A paperwork hurdle for trans people: COVID-19 vaccine cards. “Mahoney is one of several trans and nonbinary people who told The 19th they feel like they are being put in stressful situations where they are required to out themselves, or use their deadname. Some also feel like they are being left out of data collection on COVID-19 vaccination entirely — that transgender people are an afterthought.”

Neil Young demands Spotify remove his music over Joe Rogan vaccine misinformation. “In an open letter to his manager and record label that was posted to his website and later taken down, Young wrote: “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them. Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.””

Overworked Pharmacy Employees Are the Covid Pandemic’s Invisible Victims. “Bloomberg spoke with a dozen current and former Walgreens and CVS pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, most of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation. More responded to Bloomberg’s reporting request via email and text messages, detailing crushing workloads in sparsely staffed stores.”


My first impressions of web3. “This was surprising to me. So much work, energy, and time has gone into creating a trustless distributed consensus mechanism, but virtually all clients that wish to access it do so by simply trusting the outputs from these two companies without any further verification.” Moxie Marlinspike, creator of Signal, dives into web3.

Andy Warhol, Clay Christensen, and Vitalik Buterin walk into a bar. “Bill Gates once said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” That doesn’t mean to rush out and buy the latest meme stock, meme coin, or overpriced NFT. But it does mean that it’s important to engage with the social, legal, and economic implications of crypto. The world advances one bubble at a time. What matters is that what’s left behind when the bubble pops makes the world richer in possibilities for the next generation to build on.”

The NFT Art World Wouldn't Be the Same Without This Woman's Nightmares. “While she’s not able to discuss financial specifics, her compensation, she says, “was definitely not ideal.” However, she insists, she’s grateful for the experience and the entryway to a realm she can no longer imaging living without.”

Why Bored Ape Yacht Club is Racist and Started by Neo Nazis. “Knowing the history of alt-right/4chan types in crypto I started looking into it. I found what I believe to be definitive evidence that the group behind the creation of these images are neo-nazis. Here is how I have arrived at this conclusion.”


Pet Door Show’s Up-and-Coming Artists You Should Know in 2022. My sister’s epic list of new, independent artists that are worth a listen. Amazing as always.

Bambi: cute, lovable, vulnerable ... or a dark parable of antisemitic terror? “Far from being a children’s story, Bambi was actually a parable about the inhumane treatment and dangerous precariousness of Jews and other minorities in what was then an increasingly fascist world, the new translation will show. In 1935, the book was banned by the Nazis, who saw it as a political allegory on the treatment of Jews in Europe and burned it as Jewish propaganda.”

Superheroes create cultural acceptance for popular oligarchy. “What does the current popularity of comic book superheroes, in culture, do? It reinforces the idea of a hierarchy of human, with the ubermensch as its apex. The superhero makes things alright without being asked. It looks after us, it protects, it cleans up the streets. It’s a parental role. [...] It says that the superhero is someone other – it ain’t us. And that’s a good thing, it says.”

Vegan Babybel Cheese Is Here at Last. “Instead of the classic red wax featured in the dairy version, the mini vegan cheese wheels are wrapped in peelable green wax. The cheese snack is made from a blend of coconut oil and starch and contains calcium as well as vegan-friendly vitamin B12.” Honestly, this seems kind of great?

Caffs Not Cafes finds the magic in London’s old school joints. “The page functions as a hub of London’s best local eateries and their delicious dishes, celebrating these spots in all their day-to-day glory. Many of them have distinct shopfronts, too, which 30-year-old Rangaswami never fails to point out, often via poetic captions about the history of hot dogs, old school cash registers or musings over what a chip shop might say if it could talk.” Quite lovely.

Breaking the mold. “Merch is so often seen as the death knell of a media property, the maggots hatching in the corpse of art - but a lot of the time, the exact opposite is true. Some of the most beloved media properties of Millennial childhoods were, in one way or another, made by toys.” A great breakdown of franchise toys and their cultural impact.


If American democracy is going to survive, the media must make this crucial shift. “Much of this work has been impressive. And yet, something crucial is missing. For the most part, news organizations are not making democracy-under-siege a central focus of the work they present to the public.”

BBC licence fee to be abolished in 2027 and funding frozen. “The culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, is expected to confirm that the cost of an annual licence, required to watch live television and access iPlayer services, will remain at £159 until 2024 before rising slightly for the following three years. She said this would be the end of the current licence fee funding model for the BBC, raising doubts about the long-term financial future and editorial independence of the public service broadcaster under a Conservative government.” This is big news - while the license fee is a regressive tax, the BBC’s status as a public broadcaster has been important. It’s, broadly speaking, a force for good. What happens now?

Joe Rogan and the problem of false balance. “To illustrate this, I want to talk briefly about Joe Rogan, because a Facebook post about him is what inspired this article. Full disclosure, I am, to say the least, not a fan of Rogan. In my opinion he is (to quote a friend of mine), “a dumb person’s idea of a smart person” (which to be clear, does not automatically mean that anyone who likes him is dumb). He frequently makes claims that are nonsense, and he uses his podcast to give a voice to all manner of quacks and conspiracy theorists.”


Capitol rioters called Nancy Pelosi's office looking for a 'lost and found' for items they left behind on January 6, according to Rep. Jamie Raskin. “And when they were told that they were trespassing and invading the Capitol, they said the president invited them to be there. They didn’t have any kind of subtle understanding of the separation of powers. They just thought that the number one person in the US government had invited them to be there, and therefore they had a right.”

Biden has nominated 8 Black women to become appellate judges. “As of Wednesday, with the selection of Arianna J. Freeman for the 3rd Circuit, the president has nominated eight Black women to the 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals. Five have been confirmed, most recently on Thursday, when Judge Holly A. Thomas cleared Senate approval to join the 9th Circuit. If the remaining three are confirmed, Biden would have doubled the total number of Black women to ever serve on federal appeals courts from eight to 16.”

Kamala Harris drove within several yards of pipe bomb at DNC headquarters during Capitol riot. “Then-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris drove within several yards of a pipe bomb lying next to a bench outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters on January 6, 2021, and remained inside the DNC for nearly two hours before the bomb was discovered, according to multiple law enforcement officials familiar with the situation.”


Scientists Train Goldfish To Drive On Land In Tiny Cars. “Not only were the fish able to reach the targets, but they could overcome obstacles, dead ends and wrong turns, and weren’t fooled by false targets laid out by the researchers. Their FOV Formula One demonstrates that the navigational skills of fish aren’t dependent on a watery environment, and that something more universal may be at play in deciding how we find our way.”

How bad are gas stoves? I ran some experiments to find out. “Every year more damning evidence piled up. In 2013 another meta-analysis confirmed the results of the 1993 meta-analysis. But this time, researchers were more specific and pointed to gas stoves in particular as the likely cause of respiratory illness. They concluded, “Children living in a home with gas cooking have a 42% increased risk of having current asthma.”” I love cooking with gas, but it may be time to change.

What the Discovery of an Extra Artery Means for Human Evolution. ““The study demonstrates that humans are evolving at a faster rate than at any point in the past 250 years,” said Teghan Lucas, lead author of the study and an archaeologist at Flinders University, in a press release. In fact, Lucas predicts that the median artery will continue to be a common occurrence in the human forearm far into the future.”


The Last Time the Suez Canal Was Blocked a Utopian Communist Micronation Was Formed at Sea. “The last time ships got stuck in the Suez Canal, they were there for eight years. From 1967 to 1975, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War, 14 ships were stranded in the Great Bitter Lake, a salt lake connected to the canal. Unable to leave, the crews, dubbed the “Yellow Fleet” because of the desert sand that eventually covered them, developed their own society at sea. This society developed its own postal service and stamps, and held a version of the Olympics in 1968.”

Rampant caste-based harassment means Dalits like me are silenced on social media. “Even today, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in India are dominated by dominant castes. In fact, I quit Instagram last year because I could not relate to the elite, high-resolution world of the dominant castes. Given the lack of diverse voices, caste slurs are rampant on social media in India. Many caste names are casually used as curse words.”

Notes From the End of a Very Long Life by New York's Oldest. “At the end of each year, I asked the elders if they were glad to have lived it. Did the year have value to them? Always the answer was the same, even from those, including Ruth, who had said during the year that they were ready to go, that they wished for an end sooner rather than later. Yes, they said, yes, it was worth living.”

Oh, 2022! SF author Charlie Stross’s stock take of where we are this year. Come for the cogent commentary on covid - stay for the link to the absolutely batshit community about quantum Bible changes. Insightful as always.

Who owned slaves in Congress? A list of 1,700 enslavers in Senate, House history. “More than 1,700 people who served in the U.S. Congress in the 18th, 19th and even 20th centuries owned human beings at some point in their lives, according to a Washington Post investigation of censuses and other historical records.” Amazing work; a vital database. An important and troubling part of America’s history. Slavery is core to what it is.

Look around you. The way we live explains why we are increasingly polarized. “Whether it comes to the climate emergency or systemic racism, the migrant crisis or the ongoing pandemic, so much turns on whether we can acknowledge and accept the intertwining of our separate lives. But it’s not just our homes that are styled now like defensive fortresses.” A superb portrait of modern American society.

Black mothers in MLK Jr.'s neighborhood will receive monthly cash payments. “The program, which will launch early this year in King’s neighborhood, will send monthly payments of $850 to 650 Black women over two years, making it one of the largest guaranteed income programs to date. Guaranteed income — the concept of sending people cash payments with no strings attached — was featured in King’s 1967 book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” in which he argued that sometimes the simplest idea could be the most effective in ending poverty.”

How a Married Undercover Cop Having Sex With Activists Killed a Climate Movement. “In 2003, Kennedy had been sent undercover by an elite unit in London’s Metropolitan Police Service to gather intelligence on activists like Wilson. He spent seven years living a double life: He was a fearless organizer who had a shadowy backstory as a cocaine runner, but he was also a cop with a family in Ireland.” I suspect this is more common than we realize. Activists are often targeted for intelligence gathering, and this is a good way to do it over time. It’s morally repugnant, of course.

Patriot Front Fascist Leak Exposes Nationwide Racist Campaigns. “The detailed inner workings and patterns of operation of fascists in the neo-Nazi organization Patriot Front have come to light after a massive leak from their chat servers. The exposed communications show coordination with their leader Thomas Rousseau to deface murals and monuments to Black lives across the United States, and intimate struggles to bolster morale through group activities like hiking and camping.”

San Francisco Police Illegally Spying on Protesters. “It’s feels like a pretty easy case. There’s a law, and the SF police didn’t follow it.”

The Revenge of the Hot Water Bottle. “A hot water bottle is a sealable container filled with hot water, often enclosed in a textile cover, which is directly placed against a part of the body for thermal comfort. The hot water bottle is still a common household item in some places – such as the UK and Japan – but it is largely forgotten or disregarded in most of the industrialised world. If people know of it, they usually associate it with pain relief rather than thermal comfort, or they consider its use an outdated practice for the poor and the elderly.” I loved this piece about the history of hot water bottles. (They’re great!)

Faster internet speeds linked to lower civic engagement in UK. “Volunteering in social care fell by more than 10% when people lived closer to local telecoms exchange hubs and so enjoyed faster web access. Involvement in political parties fell by 19% with every 1.8km increase in proximity to a hub. By contrast, the arrival of fast internet had no significant impact on interactions with family and friends.” This feels solvable to me.

On pronouns and shades of pink. “An accusation of virtue signalling often feels, to me, the same kind of denial of solidarity as the old “if you think people should pay more tax, write a cheque to the Treasury yourself”. Individualising the social must be something the left resists the right in doing, for the left to have any real meaning.”

My heart bursts with pain. “These extracts are from letters written by victims of the Holocaust during their final days. Needless to say, their messages are desperately sad. But they should never be forgotten.”

Full-time transgender workers among lowest paid LGBTQ+ people in US. “The HRC found that trans men and nonbinary or gender-nonconforming people earn 70 cents for every dollar the typical worker earns, while trans women earn 60 cents to that dollar, based on responses from roughly 6,800 LGBTQ+ workers last spring.”


2021: A Year of Resilience in Tech. “2021 was another big year for tech workers organizing for a greater say at their workplaces. This year, more workers took action to build lasting, enforceable structures to protect their rights. Across multiple industries, it was a record year for unionizing, and tech was no exception.”

Wordle Is a Love Story. “But since Wordle was built originally for just Mr. Wardle and Ms. Shah, the initial design ignored a lot of the growth-hacking features that are virtually expected of games in the current era. While other games send notifications to your phone hoping you’ll come back throughout the day, Wordle doesn’t want an intense relationship.” Just really lovely.

The anti-muslim Bulli Bai app is just the latest in GitHub’s list of moderation failures in India. “While GitHub quickly took down the app, following massive social media backlash, this is the second time in seven months that the platform has been used to target Muslim women in India. In mid-2021, a similar web application called “Sulli Deals” was hosted on Github to trade Muslim women without their consent. The app was online for weeks before it was taken down.”

Jan. 6 launched a wave of anti-content moderation bills in America. “Facebook, Twitter and other tech companies took an unprecedented step last year when they banned a sitting U.S. president from their platforms in the wake of the attack on the Capitol. Since that day, Republican legislators in more than half the country have introduced their own unprecedented wave of bills that aim to prevent tech platforms from taking that very kind of action.”

Happy 10th Birthday, Bridgy! Wow. Time flies. Bridgy is such an important part of the indieweb ecosystem. Thank you to Ryan and everyone who’s worked on it.

Google Had Secret Project to ‘Convince’ Employees ‘That Unions Suck’. “A National Labor Relations Board ruling sheds light on a highly secret anti-union campaign at Google, that a top executive explicitly described as an initiative to “convince [employees] that unions suck.”” Gross.

Using Foreign Nationals to Bypass US Surveillance Restrictions. “What’s most interesting to me about this new information is how the US used the Australians to get around domestic spying laws.” The US and GCHQ have a similar arrangement, I think?

Google's Alleged Scheme to Corner the Online Ad Market. “The document provides unprecedented insight into how Google allegedly misled advertisers and publishers for years by manipulating auctions in its own favor using inside information. As one employee put it in a newly revealed internal document, Google’s public claim about second-price auctions were “untruthful.””

Why companies are hiring sci-fi writers to imagine the future. OK, how do I get to do this for a living?!

Over 40 small tech companies just stood up to Apple and Google. “The Act, introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley, would keep large platforms like Apple and Google from excluding competitor products. Specifically, it prohibits businesses from using a companies’ data to compete against it, biasing search results against competitors, or requiring other companies to buy their own services for preferential placement. It also keeps companies from preventing interoperability.”

The baseline for web development in 2022. “The baseline for web development in 2022 is: low-spec Android devices in terms of performance, Safari from two years before in terms of Web Standards, and 4G in terms of networks. The web in general is not answering those needs properly, especially in terms of performance where factors such as an over-dependence on JavaScript are hindering our sites’ performance.”

Welcome to the Link-in-Bio Economy. “By and large, these linking tools are making money through a swirl of paid-subscription programs and commissions on the transactions that happen inside the link-in-bio. Whether that is enough to sustain a profitable business isn’t clear, but it’s easy to envision a future in which link-in-bios become even more ubiquitous, something like the new personal website in the TikTok age. When you stumble across an influencer and want to know what their deal is, your first stop will be their link-in-bio.”

Searching for Susy Thunder. “There were ways to use the rules to break the rules. The older she got, the more she saw the polygraph as a lesson, revealing, to her, the hidden truth of the world: that everything is a system, and every system can be cracked.” A genuinely amazing, beautifully-written portrait of an important hacker and so much more.

The IRS Should Stop Using Facial Recognition. “Though [] asserts that “significant benefits” come from the use of one-to-one facial recognition, the company fails to adequately address its known harms or deeply engage with specific findings that indicate substantial racial bias.”

The New York Times Purchases Wordle. “Wordle was acquired for an undisclosed price in the low seven figures.” BRB, getting to work on building a viral word game ...

Google Fonts lands website privacy fine by German court. “The unauthorized disclosure of the plaintiff’s dynamic IP address by the defendant to Google constitutes a violation of the general right of personality in the form of the right to informational self-determination according to § 823 Para. 1 BGB.” Embedding Google resources like fonts as a GDPR violation: wow.

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Reading, watching, playing, using: December, 2021

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for December, 2021.


Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. This was a groundbreaking, genre-defining book when it was written, and some of the ideas remain outstanding. Reading it this year was an exercise in uncovering paelofuture: interesting in historical context, but almost completely lacking in the human context I need to really dig into a story. I’m going to alienate a bunch of science fiction fans by saying so, but I didn’t enjoy it at all.

All about Love: New Visions, by bell hooks. A complicated book. On one hand, it’s full of really important insights into the nature of loving that I think every adult should read and understand. (You should read it!) On the other, she’s sometimes too emphatic about ideas that need challenging: in particular, I was struck by her reductive opinions about Monica Lewinsky and her putting the onus on her gay sister to deal with their parents’ homophobia. Her insistence that religion is a required moral authority also doesn’t land with me. Regardless, when this book rings true, it does so deeply, in a way that permeates the soul.

Pemmican Wars, by Katherena Vermette, Donovan Yaciuk, and Scott B. Henderson. Shades of Kindred here: a graphic novel about a fostered Métis teen girl who slips through time to Canada’s colonial past during a history lesson. It’s slight, but the art and writing are evocative. I wish there was more character development, but perhaps that will come in later volumes. This volume plants the seeds for a story to come.

Red River Resistance, by Katherena Vermette, Scott B. Henderson, and Donovan Yaciuk. The story being drawn here is important and needs to be told. I wish there were more pages: at times the book feels like a series of impressionistic vignettes rather than continuous plot. But I’m still hooked, and I’m curious to see where this is going. There’s not enough about Echo in the mix for me; we learn about Canada’s sordid past with respect to its indigenous peoples, but not enough about how that connects to the present. I assume that’s coming in future volumes.

Northwest Resistance, by Katherena Vermette, Scott B. Henderson, and Donovan Yaciuk. It’s all starting to come together, with an almost Quantum Leap style twist. The narrative is less impressionistic, too: there’s more detail here than in previous volumes, and we’re learning more about Echo. Intriguing, magical, and instructive about Canada’s genocidal past.

Road Allowance Era, by Katherena Vermette, Scott B. Henderson, and Donovan Yaciuk. Easily the best of the series. The narrative comes together, and Echo realizes she can control her time travel ability, as well as the poignant source of her ability. The atrocities continue, too, and the book does a great job of contextualizing them both emotionally and historically. The central conceit works really well throughout, in the same way it did for Octavia Butler in Kindred.

Streaming Media

Don’t Look Up. A genuinely great movie about climate change, without ever really being about climate change. Hilarious, sobering, deeply affecting, cynical, and smart. I loved every moment.

Notable Articles


Playing Startup Versus Building a Company. “Figuring out how to build and run a business isn’t easy—and a lot of the moves you need to make aren’t intuitive. However, too many people approach it by just copying what it seems like everyone else is doing without taking a hard look at what your actual goals are and really learning how to go about the job of Founder and CEO. They’re “playing startup” as opposed to actually building a company.”

Google will fire unvaccinated employees. “Workers who haven’t complied with the vaccine mandate — by either sending in proof of vaccination or qualifying for a religious or medical exemption from Google — will go on paid leave for 30 days starting Jan. 18. They had until Dec. 3 to send proof of vaccination or to apply for an exemption. Google won’t accept testing as an alternative to vaccination, according to a company memo cited by CNBC.”


Pro-Trump counties now have far higher COVID death rates. “Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who live in areas that went for now-President Biden. That’s according to a new analysis by NPR that examines how political polarization and misinformation are driving a significant share of the deaths in the pandemic.”

Secret Investigation Documents Reveal How The CDC’s First COVID Test Failed In The Pandemic’s Early Days. “In the US, the responsibility for developing a test fell to the CDC. [...] The team tasked with developing the nation’s first test was in the tiny RVD lab, which included four smaller procedure rooms, all located on the seventh floor of Building 18 at the CDC headquarters. In January 2020, the RVD lab was staffed by nine people — only three of whom were full-time employees.”

When COVID patients get new lungs, sould vaccine status matter? “About one in 10 lung transplants in the United States now go to COVID-19 patients, according to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS. The trend is raising questions about the ethics of allocating a scarce resource to people who have chosen not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.” Healthcare should save everybody’s life, regardless of choices. But this is such a frustrating trend.

Laclede County, MO Health Department stops COVID work. “The local health department of a rural southern Missouri county is halting its COVID-19 response efforts after Attorney General Eric Schmitt wrote agencies this week demanding they drop mitigation measures.” It’s like they’re actively trying to kill people.

Trump White House made 'deliberate efforts' to undermine Covid response, report says. “Birx also told the panel that Atlas and other Trump officials “purposely weakened CDC’s coronavirus testing guidance in August 2020 to obscure how rapidly the virus was spreading across the country,” the report said. The altered guidance recommended that asymptomatic people didn’t need to get tested, advice that was “contrary to consensus science-based recommendations,” it said, adding, “Dr. Birx stated that these changes were made specifically to reduce the amount of testing being conducted.”

US Army Creates Single Vaccine Against All COVID & SARS Variants, Researchers Say. “Within weeks, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expect to announce that they have developed a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19 and all its variants, even Omicron, as well as from previous SARS-origin viruses that have killed millions of people worldwide.”


Is web3 bullshit? “The hazy vision of new decentralized internet, built on the blockchain, to succeed the “Web 2.0″ of Google and Facebook seems to be reaching a threshold of ambient cultural awareness such that non-tech pundits, news-engaged normies, magazine editors, uncles, online attention-seekers etc., feel the need to weigh in on the question.” This is a great round-up of different perspectives on the topic: from enthusiasts to cynics, and everything in between.

Smart Contract Bug Results in $31 Million Loss. “The basic problem is that the code is the ultimate authority — there is no adjudication protocol — so if there’s a vulnerability in the code, there is no recourse. And, of course, there are lots of vulnerabilities in code. To me, this is reason enough never to use smart contracts for anything important. Human-based adjudication systems are not useless pre-Internet human baggage, they’re vital.”

New Study on NFTs Deflates the "Democratic" Potential for the Medium. “Ten percent of NFT buyers and sellers make as many transactions as the remaining 90 percent, it found, suggesting high concentration in the NFT marketplace. This statistic suggests that decentralized marketplaces have given way to more specialized platforms, which have come to occupy similar roles as gallerists and brand names in the non-crypto economy. The study also revealed that the average sale price of three-quarters of NFTs is just $15; meanwhile, only 1% of NFTs sell for over $1,594.” This seems like a pretty standard power law distribution, which I’m not sure why crypto would be exempt from.

How Cryptocurrency Revolutionized the White Supremacist Movement. “Hatewatch identified and compiled over 600 cryptocurrency addresses associated with white supremacists and other prominent far-right extremists for this essay and then probed their transaction histories through blockchain analysis software. What we found is striking: White supremacists such as Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents, race pseudoscience pundit Stefan Molyneux, Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer and Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer, and Don Black of the racist forum Stormfront, all bought into Bitcoin early in its history and turned a substantial profit from it.”

Melania Trump Launches an NFT and Blockchain Venture Based on Solana. “The former first lady of the USA – Melania Trump – will join the cryptocurrency universe by releasing her non-fungible token platform. The first NFTs, called “Melania’s Vision,” will be available to purchase for a limited period around the Christmas holidays.” Oh no.

The Future Is Not Only Useless, It’s Expensive. “It’s tempting to say they suck the way everything sucks now, but it’s more like how one particular strain of American aesthetics has sucked for the last 20 years. NFTs are the human capacity for visual expression as understood by the guy at the vape store.” This piece is so beautifully brutal.

Web3/Crypto: Why Bother? “A blockchain is a worse database. It is slower, requires way more storage and compute, doesn’t have customer support, etc. And yet it has one dimension along which it is radically different. No single entity or small group of entities controls it – something people try to convey, albeit poorly, by saying it is “decentralized.””


Here's Why Movie Dialogue Has Gotten More Difficult To Understand (And Three Ways To Fix It). In general I don’t agree that movies have become less easy to understand - I have no trouble with Christopher Nolan dialogue, for example, and I don’t get why people can’t understand Tom Hardy - but this is an interesting look into the industry and how the different pieces fit together.

Michael Sheen turns himself into a 'not-for-profit' actor. “But when I came out the other side, I realised I could do this kind of thing and, if I can keep earning money, it’s not going to ruin me.” This is the coolest thing.

‘They were a bit abrasive’: how kids’ TV Clangers secretly swore. “The Clangers were briefly drawn into this combative arena in a special one-off episode called Vote for Froglet, in which Postgate tried to persuade the planet’s residents of the virtues of the two-party system. After a snap election, with the Soup Dragon running on the “free soup for all” ticket, the Clangers were unconvinced and stuck with their enlightened autonomous collective.”

Acclaimed author bell hooks dies at 69 . Rest in power, bell hooks. What an intellectual, moral, literary force. If you haven’t read her work, please do. It’ll change the way you see the world.

Love Actually Child Star Labels Festive Romcom Cheesy And Sexist: 'I Think It's A S*** Film'. “I think it’s aged badly. All the women in it are sort of passive objects. I think that there was an article describing them as passive objects to be acquired.”

Coldplay will stop making music in 2025, lead singer Chris Martin announces. Why wait?

Betty White, a TV Fixture for Seven Decades, Is Dead at 99. Such a loss; such a life.


Nobel winner: ‘We journalists are the defence line between dictatorship and war’. “Ressa has spent much of the last four years trying to point out that none of this is happening in isolation and that the “assault on truth” is doing the same to western democracies as it has done to her country. Muratov is even more gloomy. “It’s terrifying that countries that have been living in a democracy for so many years are rolling towards a dictatorship. That’s just a terrifying thought.””

Number of journalists behind bars reaches global high. “It’s been an especially bleak year for defenders of press freedom. CPJ’s 2021 prison census found that the number of reporters jailed for their work hit a new global record of 293, up from a revised total of 280 in 2020. At least 24 journalists were killed because of their coverage so far this year; 18 others died in circumstances too murky to determine whether they were specific targets. China remains the world’s worst jailer of journalists for the third year in a row, with 50 behind bars. Myanmar soared to the second slot after the media crackdown that followed its February 1 military coup. Egypt, Vietnam, and Belarus, respectively, rounded out the top five.”


Trump social media company claims to raise $1bn from investors. “Donald Trump’s new social media company and its special purpose acquisition company partner said on Saturday the partner had agreements for $1bn in capital from institutional investors.” I don’t believe them.

How Donald Trump Could Subvert the 2024 Election. “Only one meaningful correlation emerged. Other things being equal, insurgents were much more likely to come from a county where the white share of the population was in decline. For every one-point drop in a county’s percentage of non-Hispanic whites from 2015 to 2019, the likelihood of an insurgent hailing from that county increased by 25 percent. This was a strong link, and it held up in every state.” A well-reported, frankly terrifying story.

Trump called aides hours before Capitol riot to discuss how to stop Biden victory. “Trump’s remarks reveal a direct line from the White House and the command center at the Willard. The conversations also show Trump’s thoughts appear to be in line with the motivations of the pro-Trump mob that carried out the Capitol attack and halted Biden’s certification, until it was later ratified by Congress.”

Kanye West publicist pressed Georgia election worker to confess to bogus fraud charges. “Weeks after the 2020 election, a Chicago publicist for hip-hop artist Kanye West traveled to the suburban home of Ruby Freeman, a frightened Georgia election worker who was facing death threats after being falsely accused by former President Donald Trump of manipulating votes. [...] She said she was sent by a “high-profile individual,” whom she didn’t identify, to give Freeman an urgent message: confess to Trump’s voter-fraud allegations, or people would come to her home in 48 hours, and she’d go to jail.”

Kanye West’s 'Independent' Campaign Was Secretly Run by GOP Elites. “The Kanye 2020 campaign committee did not even report paying some of these advisers, and used an odd abbreviation for another—moves which campaign finance experts say appear designed to mask the association between known GOP operatives and the campaign, and could constitute a violation of federal laws.” Kanye believe it?


Man donated his body to science; company sold $500 tickets to his dissection. “But instead of being delivered to a research facility, David Saunders’ body ended up in a Marriott Hotel ballroom in Portland, Oregon, where held an “Oddities and Curiosities Expo.” At the October 17 event, members of the public sat ringside from 9 am to 4 pm—with a break for lunch—to watch David Saunders’ body be carefully dissected. Tickets for the dissection sold for up to $500 per person.” Horrifying.

“This Is Blackface”: White Actors Are Playing Black Characters In Virtual Reality Diversity Training. “One employee described the use of white actors in Black roles as “a really tough thing for a lot of us to stomach.” Two raised concerns about white actors mimicking Black dialect while acting as Black characters. Three independently described an incident in which a white simulation specialist used the n-word while acting as an avatar of color. That actor now trains other simulation specialists. Employees also raised concerns about the visual creation of Mursion’s avatars, citing lack of variation in the skin tone, hair, and facial features of their characters of color, and about the company’s failure to promote and support women employees of color.”

Women may soon qualify for the draft. Here’s what you need to know. ″“This overall lack of strong support, though, illustrates what we call benevolent sexism, which is a sexism that rests on paternalistic beliefs: ‘Women need protection, and their skills are nurturers, not fighters. We need to protect them from war so as to not corrupt their virtue and purity and inhibit them from fulfilling their duties as wives and mothers,’” Chod said. “This was the same argument made in the 19th and early-20th centuries to bar women from voting.””

New Zealand plans to make it illegal for kids to buy cigarettes — for life. “People aged 14 and under in 2027 will never be allowed to purchase cigarettes in the Pacific country of five million, part of proposals unveiled on Thursday that will also curb the number of retailers authorized to sell tobacco and cut nicotine levels in all products.” Wait, we can do this?

Peter Thiel’s Free Speech for Race Science Crusade at Cambridge University Revealed . “Their common concern was the increasing threat from the advancement of a ‘liberal’ agenda to traditional Christian religious and theological beliefs – including an unnerving fascination with race science.” Lots to digest here.

The Anti-Abortion Movement Could Reduce Abortions if It Wanted To. “Why would groups that want to end abortion not support the most efficient way to make abortions less common? The answer is that their mission extends beyond abortion and into the regulation of sex, gender roles and the family. Contraception and abortion are tied together because both offer women the freedom to have sex for pleasure in or outside of marriage, and both allow women greater control over their lives and futures. The “pro-life” goal isn’t an end to abortion. It’s to establish another means of controlling women.”

About Three-in-Ten U.S. Adults Are Now Religiously Unaffiliated. I’m one of them, and it’s still weird to me to be in a minority (vs the UK, where some polls have over 50% of respondents not identifying with any faith). There’s nothing wrong with being religious, but there’s nothing wrong with not being religious, too. I’d love to have better representation of that in this country.

FDA permanently allows medication abortion pills through mail. “The Thursday announcement upholds a decision from April to temporarily suspend federal requirements that had previously required in-person purchase of abortion pills from a clinic, hospital or medical office.” Trump challenged it; I’m glad this has gone through.


Crime Prediction Software Promised to Be Free of Biases. New Data Shows It Perpetuates Them. “Millions of crime predictions left on an unsecured server show PredPol mostly avoided Whiter neighborhoods, targeted Black and Latino neighborhoods. [...] “No one has done the work you guys are doing, which is looking at the data,” said Andrew Ferguson, a law professor at American University who is a national expert on predictive policing. “This isn’t a continuation of research. This is actually the first time anyone has done this, which is striking because people have been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for this technology for a decade.””

US rejects calls for regulating or banning ‘killer robots’. “Speaking at a meeting in Geneva focused on finding common ground on the use of such so-called lethal autonomous weapons, a US official balked at the idea of regulating their use through a “legally-binding instrument”.” It may seem laughable now, but technology improvements will make this feasible very shortly. Internationally agreed upon protections would be smart.

Hackers Are Spamming Businesses’ Receipt Printers With ‘Antiwork’ Manifestos. ““Someone is using a similar technique as ‘mass scanning’ to massively blast raw TCP data directly to printer services across the internet,” Morris told Motherboard in an online chat. “Basically to every single device that has port TCP 9100 open and print a pre-written document that references /r/antiwork with some workers rights/counter capitalist messaging.”” I love this.

The Popular Family Safety App Life360 Is Selling Precise Location Data on Its Tens of Millions of Users. “Life360, a popular family safety app used by 33 million people worldwide, has been marketed as a great way for parents to track their children’s movements using their cellphones. The Markup has learned, however, that the app is selling data on kids’ and families’ whereabouts to approximately a dozen data brokers who have sold data to virtually anyone who wants to buy it.” This should be illegal.

This Swiss Firm Exec Is Said To Have Operated A Secret Surveillance Operation. “The co-founder of a company that has been trusted by technology giants including Google and Twitter to deliver sensitive passwords to millions of their customers also operated a service that ultimately helped governments secretly surveil and track mobile phones, according to former employees and clients.”

A mysterious threat actor is running hundreds of malicious Tor relays. “Since at least 2017, a mysterious threat actor has run thousands of malicious servers in entry, middle, and exit positions of the Tor network in what a security researcher has described as an attempt to deanonymize Tor users. [...] at one point, there was a 16% chance that a Tor user would connect to the Tor network through one of KAX17’s servers, a 35% chance they would pass through one of its middle relays, and up to 5% chance to exit through one.”

An Open Letter to Mr. Mark Zuckerberg: A Global Call to Act Now on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Science. “We do not believe that the methodologies seen so far meet the high scientific standards required to responsibly investigate the mental health of children and adolescents. Although nothing in the leaks suggests that social media causes suicide, self-harm, or mental illness, these are serious research topics. This work, and the tools you are using should not be developed without independent oversight. Sound science must come before firm conclusions are drawn or new tools are launched. You and your organisations have an ethical and moral obligation to align your internal research on children and adolescents with established standards for evidence in mental health science.”

Kickstarter plans to move its crowdfunding platform to the blockchain. “Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter is making a big bet on the blockchain, announcing plans to create an open source protocol “that will essentially create a decentralized version of Kickstarter’s core functionality.” The company says the goal is for multiple platforms to embrace the protocol, including, eventually,” The word “eventually” is doing a lot of work here! But it’s a way more and more startups will try and expand - by creating a bigger pie and being the owners of the way their market business is conducted. They get to stay clear of antitrust regulations while literally owning the market. Will it take years for this to happen? Yes. Is it near-inevitable? Also yes.

Reimagining projections for the interactive maps era. “We have put a lot of thought into making this feature feel seamless and natural, so that our customers could adopt it on all kinds of map apps by adding one line of code. Let’s take a deep dive into why we did it, and how it works under the hood.” Superb work from the Mapbox team.

I blew $720 on 100 notebooks from Alibaba and started a Paper Website business. “TLDR; I started a business that lets you build websites using pen & paper. In the process I went viral on Twitter, made $1,000 in two days, and blew $720 on 100 paper notebooks from Alibaba.”

The Asymmetry of Open Source. “With the recent revival of the discussion about sustaining open source spurred on by multiple severe CVEs in a popular logging library, and with so many hot takes clamoring for more funding—some calling on companies, others on maintainers—I wanted to write about the problem and its solutions more holistically, as I have spent many years thinking about this from my own experience with both failing and succeeding… a perspective that I hope some of you will find helpful.” An excellent list of open source funding techniques.

Reporter likely to be charged for using "view source" feature on web browser. “The reporter discovered that the source code of the website contained Social Security numbers of educators. The reporter alerted the state about the social security numbers. After the state removed the numbers from the web page, the Post-Dispatch reported the vulnerability. Soon after, Governor Parson, “who has often tangled with news outlets over reports he doesn’t like, announced a criminal investigation into the reporter and the Post-Dispatch.”” Idiocy.

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: November, 2021

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for November, 2021. It’s a little shorter than normal because I spent a portion of the month offline.

Notable Articles


Research: People prefer friendliness, trustworthiness in teammates over skill competency. “People who are friendly and trustworthy are more likely to be selected for teams than those who are known for just their skill competency and personal reputation, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.” File under “no shit, Sherlock”: if you’ve got to work with someone every day, you want them to be kind and trustworthy, regardless of how good they actually are at their job. Ideally, you want both; if you can only have one, the person who’s a better human will and should win out every time.

Remote work will break the US monopoly on global talent. “Tech companies based in San Francisco and Seattle have “innovation hubs” whose primary role is to create a place that talent that hasn’t been able to get a visa to the US. We’ve also started to see this in places like Lagos and Buenos Aires. Nigerian developers can work alongside startups in Berlin and London, while Argentinian developers work as consultants for companies based in the US. We’re going to be seeing a lot more of this now that remote work is more widely accepted by companies worldwide.” This is a really positive change.

Putting Post Growth Theory Into Practice. “The Post Growth Entrepreneurship Incubator helps founders break free from traditional business models and implement sustainable non-extractive practices. […] We promote cross-subsidizing charity with our businesses, and we’re trying to offer an alternative for startup founders who want to bring their activist, artistic, spiritual business ideas to life without selling out in the commercial startup ecosystem. Too much of the startup ecosystem uses the Silicon Valley model of ‘capital, scale, exit.’ Instead we’re promoting: bootstrapping, flat growth, and non-extraction.”

Theranos patient says blood test came back with false positive for HIV. “Erin Tompkins, who got her blood drawn from a Theranos device at a Walgreens in Arizona, said the test misdiagnosed her as having an HIV antibody, sending her into a panic.”


The Token Disconnect. “Silicon Valley ran dry on large breakthroughs in software, so we decided to invent the “blockchain”, a simulacrum of innovation that organically fermented from the anti-institutional themes in the Western zeitgeist to spawn an absurdly large asset bubble with absolutely nothing at the center. There is no there there, and crypto morphed into a pure speculative mania which attracted a fanatic quasi-religious movement fueled by gambling addiction and the pseudo-intellectual narrative economics of the scheme. All conversation around crypto is now simply the sound and fury of post-hoc myth making to rationalize away the collective incoherence of the bubble in a near perfect exemplar of the motivated reasoning of economic determinism.” Sharing because it’s an interesting take; I don’t necessarily agree with everything here.


Appalling Monica Lewinsky Jokes—And the Comedians Who’ve Apologized. “But in the two-plus decades since those jokes were made, some comedians have taken responsibility for their cruel comedy. Ahead, a rundown of some of the hosts and comedy programs that targeted Lewinsky and Tripp—and the parties who have since publicly taken responsibility for their hurtful barbs over the years.”

Belgian gallery uses art after being turned down by artist. “The friendly stranger who clocked the familiar image asked the gallery about it, and a representative allegedly claimed they’d been in touch with Bateman and worked something out. Bateman searched her email and found a permission request from the gallery, dated in March—which she had politely declined and promptly forgotten about. Somehow, what the gallery had taken away from the exchange was that it could just use her work anyway.” I used to share an office with Hallie and have followed her journey. (My current Twitter avatar - a picture of me - was drawn by her.) This gallery’s actions were a very unfair devaluation of the value of her work and her rights as an artist.

Conservative MP Nick Fletcher Blames Crime On Female Doctor Who. Doesn’t he look tired?


The global streaming boom is creating a severe translator shortage. “Training a new generation of translators to meet this supply issue in certain translation hot spots will take time, and most importantly, better compensation, said Lee, whose company Iyuno-SDI operates in over 100 languages and routinely clocks in over 600,000 episodes of translations every year. Lee said that roughly one in 50 applicants are able to pass Iyuno-SDI’s translator qualification exam. “I don’t think we’re happy with even 10% or 15% of who we work with,” he said. “We just have no other options because there’s just not enough professional translators.””

Danny Fenster, U.S. Journalist in Myanmar, Gets 11 Years in Jail. “The sentence seemed to be the latest signal that Myanmar’s military, which seized power in February, would not bow to pressure, including sanctions, from the United States and other countries. The State Department has repeatedly called for Mr. Fenster’s release.” Imprisoned by a despotic regime and failed comprehensively by the US.

How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation. “An MIT Technology Review investigation, based on expert interviews, data analyses, and documents that were not included in the Facebook Papers, has found that Facebook and Google are paying millions of ad dollars to bankroll clickbait actors, fueling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world.”


Secret recordings of NRA officials after Columbine school shooting show strategy. “In addition to mapping out their national strategy, NRA leaders can also be heard describing the organization’s more activist members in surprisingly harsh terms, deriding them as “hillbillies” and “fruitcakes” who might go off script after Columbine and embarrass them.”

It’s not ‘polarization.’ We suffer from Republican radicalization. “The polarization argument too often treats both sides as equally worthy of blame, characterizing the problem as a sort of free-floating affliction (e.g., “lack of trust”). This blurs the distinction between a Democratic Party that is marginally more progressive in policy positions than it was a decade ago, and a Republican Party that routinely lies, courts violence and seeks to define America as a White Christian nation.”

Spotsylvania School Board orders libraries to remove 'sexually explicit' books. Here’s why this is of note: ”“I think we should throw those books in a fire,” Abuismail said, and Twigg said he wants to “see the books before we burn them so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff.”” Holy shit.


Octopuses, crabs and lobsters to be recognised as sentient beings under UK law following LSE report findings. “Octopuses, crabs and lobsters will receive greater welfare protection in UK law following an LSE report which demonstrates that there is strong scientific evidence that these animals have the capacity to experience pain, distress or harm.”

What would health experts do? 28 share their holiday plans amid Covid-19. “To try to gauge where things stand, we asked a number of infectious diseases experts about the risks they are willing to take now, figuring that their answers might give us a sense of whether we’re making our way out of the woods.”


Gresham High students speak out against school resource officers. “Group member Stasia recalled being accused of carrying drugs by a staff member. “I was told that I would end up like Breonna Taylor if I had a substance on me that I shouldn’t have had,” Stasia said, referencing a Black woman killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky.” Police officers and guns don’t belong in schools. Period.

38% of US adults believe government is faking COVID-19 death toll. “The finding is likely unsettling to the surviving loved ones of the nearly 756,000 Americans who have already died of COVID-19. It also squares with previous survey results from KFF showing that personally knowing someone who became severely ill or died of COVID-19 was one of the strongest motivators for convincing unvaccinated people to get vaccinated.”

Experience: I taught two dogs to fly a plane. “I have trained a 190kg boar to pretend to attack an actor, a cat to plunge shoulder-deep into water as if catching a fish and a cockatoo to winch up a bucket, take out a coin and drop it into a piggy bank. But when a TV company asked if I could teach a dog to fly a plane, I faced the toughest challenge of my career.”

Work is no longer the meaning of life for some Americans. “Before the coronavirus pandemic, nearly one quarter of all Americans said that they find meaning and purpose in their lives because of their work and their jobs. Now, that number has declined by more 9% in a new Pew research study, affirming anecdotal stories about the American population’s increasing disinterest in participating in the labor market.” To be honest: good.

ICU is full of the unvaccinated – my patience with them is wearing thin. “Translating this to the choice not to take the vaccine, however, I find my patience wearing thin. I think this is for a number of reasons. Even if you are not worried about your own risk from Covid, you cannot know the risk of the people into whose faces you may cough; there is a dangerous and selfish element to this that I find hard to stomach.”

The abolitionist history of pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving. “The Northern farmer, just by existing, was a natural-born abolitionist, she argued. Pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving were celebrations of a better, more godly way of agriculture without the institution of slavery.”

Since the Thanksgiving Tale Is a Myth, Celebrate It This Way. “It was the Wampanoag in 1621 who helped the first wave of Puritans arriving on our shores, showing them how to plant crops, forage for wild foods and basically survive. The first official mention of a “Thanksgiving” celebration occurs in 1637, after the colonists brutally massacre an entire Pequot village, then subsequently celebrate their barbaric victory.”

Why overly kind and moral people can rub you up the wrong way. “All this means that altruistic behaviour can make us walk a metaphorical tightrope. We need to balance our generosity perfectly, so that we are seen as cooperative and good, without arousing the suspicion that we are acting solely for the status.”

Hanukkah’s darker origins feel more relevant in time of rising antisemitism, intense interest in identity. ““The old message of 15 or 20 years ago was: It’s all about unity. Now it’s all about identity and difference. The Jewish story is in conflict between sameness and difference. On the one hand, our grandparents fought so hard for us to fit in, to pass, quote-unquote. We want that, but we’re conflicted. Now someone views me as ‘White,’ and it’s like: ‘No, I’m Jewish.’”” Lots to think about here, including with respect to my own identity.

The English turned Barbados into a slave society. Now, after 396 years, we’re free. “Prof Hilary Beckles, a Barbadian historian, the current vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies and a leading figure in the push by Caribbean islands to secure reparations, sums it up best. “Barbados was the birthplace of British slave society and the most ruthlessly colonised by Britain’s ruling elites,” he writes. “They made their fortunes from sugar produced by an enslaved, ‘disposable’ workforce, and this great wealth secured Britain’s place as an imperial superpower and caused untold suffering.””


Tracy Chou's life as a tech activist: abuse, and optimism. “As an Asian-American woman who has spent much of her career calling out the gender inequities and racism embedded in Silicon Valley, Chou is all too familiar with this sort of abuse and harassment. Since 2013, when she famously urged tech companies to share data on women in technical roles, the 34-year-old software engineer has been a key figure in the industry’s prolonged reckoning with its culture of exclusion. But whatever progress she’s made has come at great personal cost—especially as her Twitter following has ballooned to more than 100,000 accounts. “In doing this diversity and inclusion activism work,” she says, “I built more of a profile that then exposed me to more harassment.””

Why you should prioritise quality over speed in design systems. “Speed for the sake of speed means nothing. If our design systems don’t ultimately lead to better quality experiences, we’re doing it wrong.” Not just design systems.

U.S. Treasury Is Buying Private App Data to Target People. “Two contracts obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request and shared with The Intercept by Tech Inquiry, a research and advocacy group, show that over the past four months, the Treasury acquired two powerful new data feeds from Babel Street: one for its sanctions enforcement branch, and one for the Internal Revenue Service. Both feeds enable government use of sensitive data collected by private corporations not subject to due process restrictions. Critics were particularly alarmed that the Treasury acquired access to location and other data harvested from smartphone apps; users are often unaware of how widely apps share such information.”

'Dog phone' could help lonely pooches call owners. ““Whatever form that takes, we’ve taken another step towards developing some kind of ‘dog internet’, which gives pets more autonomy and control over their interaction with technology,” she added.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: October, 2021

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for October, 2021.


The Girl with All the Gifts, by M. R. Carey. I wasn’t prepared for the visceral gore, but beyond the zombie shenanigans, this is a complex tale of comparative morality. It definitely hits differently after the pandemic - there are obvious parallels that the author couldn’t have foreseen. I found it relevant and gripping in equal measure; the first time in a long time that I’ve wanted to hide behind the sofa from a book.

Reparations Now!, by Ashley M. Jones. Honest, direct poetry that bursts from the page and speaks out loud with a distinctive voice that demands to be heard. This is truly great writing - truly great art - that intimately illuminates a particular lived experience while cutting to the core of what America is.

Notable Articles


The New Anti-Remote Propaganda Wants To Gaslight You Back To The Office. “This is the next front of this fight - the executive sect has realized that simply telling people that remote work is terrible using the flimsiest arguments possible won’t work. Thus they’ve moved on to scaring the workers themselves. Remote workers are “short-changed,” and too much remote work is “bad for your career.” It’s bad for younger employees, and will have you “leaning out of your career.” The Wall Street Journal worries that jobs won’t be able to keep things fair, and researchers say that it’s bad for most employees.” And remote workers - the Times worries - may get left behind in the hybrid office.”

Paying influencers? The FTC has a warning for you. “While both the existence and use of social media “influencers” are a relatively recent phenomenon, the FTC said it found previously that such actions violate the prohibition on “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” A company that knows about these determinations and flouts them can face fines under the Federal Trade Commission Act — hence the notices warning these firms.” I will not cry if influencer culture has to endure a crackdown.

Amazon copied products and rigged search results, documents show. “A trove of internal Amazon documents reveals how the e-commerce giant ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoff goods and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India - practices it has denied engaging in. And at least two top Amazon executives reviewed the strategy.” It’s almost as if all-encompassing global monopolies are always harmful?

How Slack and Discord became tools for tech worker organizing. “Many companies are not willing to talk about how workers are using their tools to accumulate power. Slack, Discord and Reddit are all open about their platform’s ability to bring people closer together, particularly those with similar interests, or those who want to vent about work. These kinds of interactions can be important first steps in building a larger movement in the workplace.” Unions are a force for good and the push for unionization in tech is a positive, progressive change.

My employee wasn't respectful enough after the company messed up her paycheck. “I’m getting tired of the respect gap I’m seeing with younger staff. I think Jane would be better suited in a different department. I’m not comfortable having her on my team since it’s obvious she doesn’t understand she’s entry-level and not in charge. Should I wait a while before suggesting she transfer to a different department?”

Why introverts excelled at working from home. “While the transition to remote work in early 2020 was abrupt for everyone, some found themselves thriving more than others – in many cases, thanks to their personality type. Many introverted workers found working from a distraction-free environment preferable. Client needs also changed in ways that benefited introverts’ skillsets, while virtual communication offered introverts more opportunities to share their thoughts. For ‘quiet deliverers’ who may once have flown under the radar, remote work offered not only a less taxing day-to-day, but also an opportunity to combine that extra energy with new ways of working – and really stand out.”

Tesla's market value tops $1T after Hertz orders 100K cars. “Hertz said in its announcement that it will complete its purchases of the Tesla Model 3 small cars by the end of 2022. It also said it will establish its own electric vehicle charging network as it strives to produce the largest rental fleet of electric vehicles in North America.” Most importantly, this is a major step towards mainstreaming electric cars in the US.


Cryptocurrency's Carbon Footprint Underestimated. “This could mean that in the worst case the top 5 cryptocurrencies had a carbon footprint of between 1100 and 2770 MtCO2/yr, or between Japan (~1074) and the EU (~2637).”


I'm Fine I'm Fine Just Understand, by ND Stevenson. Just beautiful. What a wonderful use of the newsletter form.

Hannah Gadsby Calls Out Netflix Over Its Defense of Dave Chappelle. ″“Hey Ted Sarandos!” Ms. Gadsby wrote. “Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess. Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view.””

Netflix just fired the organizer of the trans employee walkout. “The employee was terminated on suspicion of leaking metrics to the press related to the Dave Chappelle special. Those metrics — about how much Netflix paid for The Closer and how many people it reached — subsequently ended up in a report on Bloomberg. While the employee had shared the metrics internally, they spoke out against the leaks to colleagues, worried they might hurt the walkout movement.”

Superman Drops 'American Way': 'Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow'. I don’t really care for Superman these days, but this seems like a much better motto.

What I Learned About My Writing By Seeing Only The Punctuation. A lovely little web tool for revealing the hidden, underlying structure in your writing.

The Power of Dave Chappelle’s Comedy. “Onstage, he refers to himself as the man who walked away from fifty million dollars, but the credibility he derived from that act sixteen years ago is now being deployed defensively and cynically, as if to place above suspicion any possible motive for telling denigrating jokes about trans people. He is also the man who walked into a reported sixty-million-dollar Netflix deal.”

James Bond and Doctor Who got smaller as they become fantasy. I really feel this. I’d prefer to feel like these stories are happening in another layer to the world; spooky goings-on just out of eyeshot.


The Taliban are using private messaging apps to threaten Afghan journalists. “Journalists who spoke to Rest of World also said the Taliban often use apps like WhatsApp and Telegram because they know journalists typically turn off DMs on Twitter and change Facebook Messenger settings to avoid this type of harassment.”

New Report Shows Black Media's Critical Role in Covering Issues Affecting Black Communities. “The report, “Why Black Media Matters Now,” analyzed the coverage of nearly 100 Black-owned news outlets over 15 momentous months between March 2020 and May 2021. In general, it found that Black media publishes as much as six times more coverage than mainstream outlets on issues of importance to Black communities, including racism, health disparities, and voting access.”

Netflix suspends trans employee who tweeted about Dave Chappelle special. “The tweet thread went viral, quickly spiraling into a conversation about free speech and cancel culture. Netflix then suspended Field along with two other employees for trying to attend a director-level meeting they weren’t invited to. Another trans employee is quitting the company over how the special — and Field’s comments — were handled.”

Alden Global Capital, the Hedge Fund Killing Newspapers. ″“They call Alden a vulture hedge fund, and I think that’s honestly a misnomer,” Johnson said. “A vulture doesn’t hold a wounded animal’s head underwater. This is predatory.””

Behind SmartNews, the $2 billion unicorn trying to fix the news algorithm. ″“I don’t know what you can do to convince an audience member to challenge their own political beliefs through news consumption. I don’t think that conversion happens easily or quickly,” said Jeremy Gilbert, a professor of digital media strategy at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, to Rest of World. He gave SmartNews credit for building its app with these social issues in mind, but asked, “But what does it mean to tell ‘real news,’ if it doesn’t fit what their notion of that already is?””

Spotify and Pandora lead US in audio listeners. “Additionally, Spotify will overtake Apple in podcast listeners for the first time to become the new leader in the category. We expect Apple podcast listeners to plateau and Spotify listeners to keep increasing throughout our forecast period.” Spotify is fast becoming the Facebook of audio.

These competitors joined forces to allow readers to use a single login across their news sites. “The founding media partners all agreed, however, that having more first-party data and increasing the share of registered visitors would allow them to build better relationships with readers and more relevant news products. Their collective first step has been OneLog, a single sign-on system being used across a variety of news sites owned by Swiss Digital Alliance members TX Group and Ringier.” Now imagine if authentication was built into the browser.

Medill Launches Groundbreaking Subscriber Engagement Tool. ″“The benchmarking data is one of the things that makes the index so valuable,” Franklin said. “It’s not just ‘How am I doing?’ It’s ‘How am I doing compared to other similarly sized news organizations across companies around the country?’ Several publishers have mentioned how valuable the benchmarking data is to them.”” Seems like a useful way to let small newsrooms collaborate to share data that affects their bottom line. I’d love to see more projects along these lines.

Prominent PR firm spreading disinformation ahead of Honduran elections. “The political group is using a network of Facebook pages and websites made to appear as legitimate news outlets.”


Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff. “Rolling Stone separately confirmed a third person involved in the main Jan. 6 rally in D.C. has communicated with the committee. This is the first report that the committee is hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses. While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence.”


First Malaria Vaccine Approved by W.H.O. “Malaria kills about half a million people each year, nearly all of them in sub-Saharan Africa — including 260,000 children under 5. The new vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, rouses a child’s immune system to thwart Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of five malaria pathogens and the most prevalent in Africa.”

When You Go to the Loo, a Bat Might Go Boo. ″“I’ve had the soft, leathery caress of a bat’s wing against my buttocks while having a poo,” said Leejiah Dorward, a postdoctoral researcher at Bangor University in Wales.”

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness drops after 6 months, study shows. “The effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine in preventing infection by the coronavirus dropped to 47% from 88% six months after the second dose, according to data published on Monday that U.S. health agencies considered when deciding on the need for booster shots.” Man :(

Costs of IQ Loss from Leaded Aviation Gasoline Emissions. It turns out small aircraft can still use leaded fuel, and the impact of the resulting IQ loss in these highly-trafficked routes is significant. “We find that aircraft-attributable lead contributes to $1.06 billion 2006 USD ($0.01–$11.6) in annual damages from lifetime earnings reductions, and that dynamic economy-wide methods result in damage estimates that are 54% larger.”

Elephants have evolved to be tuskless because of ivory poaching, a study finds. ““When we think about natural selection, we think about it happening over hundreds, or thousands, of years,” said Samuel Wasser, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington, who was not involved in the research. “The fact that this dramatic selection for tusklessness happened over 15 years is one of the most astonishing findings.””

Our hearts and brains are so tightly connected, studies have found, that when we hear the same story, our heart rates sync up. “The novel find­ing is that heart rate cor­re­la­tion be­tween sub­jects does not re­quire them to ac­tu­ally be in­ter­act­ing, or even be in the same place. They can be lis­ten­ing to sto­ries all alone at home, and their heart rate fluc­tu­a­tions will align with the story, and thus cor­re­late with other lis­ten­ers. It’s not the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween peo­ple but the story it­self that does the trick.”

Are We on the Verge of Chatting with Whales? “If Bronstein’s idea works, it is quite realistic to develop a system analogous to human language models that generates grammatically correct whale utterances. The next step would be an interactive chatbot that tries to engage in a dialogue with free-living whales. Of course, no one can say today whether the animals would accept it as a conversational partner. “Maybe they would just reply, ‘Stop talking such garbage!’” says Bronstein.”


Pandora Papers: An offshore data tsunami. “The Pandora Papers investigation is the world’s largest-ever journalistic collaboration, involving more than 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. The investigation is based on a leak of confidential records of 14 offshore service providers that give professional services to wealthy individuals and corporations seeking to incorporate shell companies, trusts, foundations and other entities in low- or no-tax jurisdictions. The entities enable owners to conceal their identities from the public and sometimes from regulators. Often, the providers help them open bank accounts in countries with light financial regulation.”

The New Deal devalued home care workers. Advocates hope new legislation can undo that. “The low pay and lack of benefits is a legacy of racism baked into President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which left farm and domestic workers — many of them women, many people of color — out of the job and financial protections it offered. As Congress debates President Joe Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better legislation, which includes funds for home care and provisions that would make it easier for care workers to organize, advocates for caregivers say it’s a chance for the country to show new respect for their work and move toward compensating it fairly.”

Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge. “They would eventually estimate that kids had been wrongly arrested 500 times. And that was just for kids arrested by the sheriff’s office. This estimate didn’t account for other law enforcement agencies in the county that followed Davenport’s “process.” As for how many times the juvenile detention center had improperly locked up kids through its “filter system,” the lawyers estimated that number at 1,500.” A completely horrifying story that is entirely representative of America.

Indigenous Peoples' Day, as explained by Native Americans. “Indigenous Peoples’ Day advocates say the recognition helps correct a “whitewashed” American history that has glorified Europeans like Italian explorer Christopher Columbus who have committed violence against Indigenous communities. Native Americans have long criticized the inaccuracies and harmful narratives of Columbus’ legacy that credited him with his “discovery” of the Americas when Indigenous people were there first.” This is the first time the President has recognized it: a significant change.

Southlake school leader tells teachers to balance Holocaust books with 'opposing' views. “A top administrator with the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake advised teachers last week that if they have a book about the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also offer students access to a book from an “opposing” perspective, according to an audio recording obtained by NBC News.” The opposing perspective being ...?

The “Phone Disaster”. “For young Uyghurs like Qeyser, at first it seemed as though the People’s War would have nothing to do with him. But in the fall of 2014, administrators in Qeyser’s school called a general assembly and asked all the students to turn over their phones. Since he had shared a news article on WeChat about Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur intellectual who was sentenced to life in prison because he had published policy recommendations critical of the Chinese colonization of the Uyghur homeland, Qeyser was terrified. “I just pretended to be so calm. But my heart was beating through my chest. Fortunately the teacher who checked my WeChat did not look closely. But another friend was detained. He spent nine months in a detention center.””

Holiday Shopping 2021: Poorer Americans Plan Not to Spend This Season. “The survey, released Wednesday, shows that 11.5% of U.S. holiday shoppers say they plan not to spend anything on gifts and services this holiday. That’s up from 4.9% in 2020 and 2.9% the previous year. It’s the highest in at least 10 years.” Reflective of a giant, terrifying gap between rich and poor.

In-N-Out Burger isn't only opposed to vaccine mandates. It also supports anti-LGBTQ politics. “But for anyone who’s paid attention to the ins and outs of In-N-Out over the years, news that the fast-food chain refused to do the vaccine checks required by both counties should not have been a shock. Nor should its petulant response: “We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government.” The LGBTQ community has long been wary of the company, and with good reason.” I’ve been to In N Out for the last time.

Lawyer Who Won $9.5 Billion Settlement Against Chevron Reports to Prison. “In July, Judge Preska found Mr. Donziger guilty of all charges. On Oct. 1, Mr. Donziger was sentenced to six months in prison, a day after he asked the court to consider an opinion by independent United Nations experts that found his court-ordered home confinement of more than two years a violation of international human rights law.” This is a pretty outrageous sentence, and the details about the case are almost - but sadly not quite - unbelievable.

A C-Shaped Recovery? “This seems to me like a very important and very under-appreciated fact about the past two years. This is not just the first recession in which household income didn’t fall. It’s the first recession — in modern times, if not ever — that hit higher income families harder than low-income ones. So far, it looks less like a K-shaped recovery than a C-shaped one.”


Facebook released (and criticized) its research on how teens experience Instagram . “Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Thursday. The company is clearly worried about how it’s going to go. Worried enough, in fact, that it published two slide decks showing internal research on how teens experience Instagram, some of which informed the Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files investigation.”

Being a tech whistleblower is dangerous and expensive. Now there’s a guide to the risks. “Pinterest whistleblower Ifeoma Ozoma, alongside whistleblower support agencies including Lioness, the Signals Network, Elite Strategy Global and the Whistleblowing International Network, launched a website intended to serve as a guide to helping workers across the tech industry decide if they want to speak publicly about an issue or story, and, if they do, plan strategies like Haugen’s.”

Banks and fintechs agree: It’s time for screen scraping to go. So what’s next? “Banks have complained that startups were essentially hacking into their systems to grab their customers’ data through screen scraping, while fintechs accused banks of selfishly restricting access to information that legally belongs to account holders.” The tech underlying the US financial system is absurd, and if it doesn’t terrify you, it should. It’s an accident waiting to happen. Stronger standards will lead to stronger security and a much better consumer experience.

Facebook banned me for life because I created the tool Unfollow Everything. “I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was near-miraculous. I had lost nothing, since I could still see my favorite friends and groups by going to them directly. But I had gained a staggering amount of control. I was no longer tempted to scroll down an infinite feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically. Overnight, my Facebook addiction became manageable.”

How Facebook Hides How Terrible It Is With Hate Speech. “In public, Facebook seems to claim that it removes more than 90 percent of hate speech on its platform, but in private internal communications the company says the figure is only an atrocious 3 to 5 percent. Facebook wants us to believe that almost all hate speech is taken down, when in reality almost all of it remains on the platform.”

UX design has a dirty secret. “This confusion over the breadth and scope of user experience design can be seen in the misapplication of concepts and methodologies like Design Thinking. Design Thinking was developed as a consulting tool to help management take a more deliberate approach in innovating on new services and products. The model includes five steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test. At face value, this seems like a robust approach, however Design Thinking is often adopted as a substitute for actual user-centered design, with activities being led internally and without users, ultimately resulting in UX Theatre.”

Software developers have stopped caring about reliability. “It’s hard to overstate just how much software developers have given the finger to reliability in the past 10 years or so. It’s for the simplest, silliest reasons, too, like those web forms. My web browser has been perfectly competent at submitting HTML forms for the past 28 years, but for some stupid reason some asshole developer decided to reimplement all of the form semantics in JavaScript, and now I can’t pay my electricity bill without opening up the dev tools. Imagine what it’s like to not know how to do that. Imagine if you were blind.”

City worker saw homeless people lined up to get $5 gift card for face scan uploaded to Google. “A new photo obtained by the Daily News shows another view of the line of homeless people who gathered in an Atlanta park last May to get $5 gift cards in exchange for 3-D facial scans uploaded to Google.” Article is from a couple of years ago, but is notable because this is part of the dataset being used to improve photography and recognition of people of color on the new Pixel devices.

What we can learn from "_why" the long lost open source developer. “Perhaps most importantly, he taught countless people the joy of programming. _why showed veteran coders and n00bs alike a curious, adventurous, and creative side of programming. He demonstrated that code could be more than just a form of technical problem solving: it could be a form of self-expression and of art.”

Trump’s site Truth Social broke software rules, says copyleft group. It turns out they forked Mastodon but are lying about it and aren’t complying with the AGPL: “Truth Social doesn’t comply with that license and, in fact, refers to its service as “proprietary.” Its developers apparently attempted to scrub references that would make the Mastodon connection clear — at one point listing a “sighting” of the Mastodon logo as a bug — but included direct references to Mastodon in the site’s underlying HTML alongside obvious visual similarities.”

Photoshop's journey to the web. “Over the last three years, Chrome has been working to empower web applications that want to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the browser. One such web application has been Photoshop. The idea of running software as complex as Photoshop directly in the browser would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago. However, by using various new standardized web technologies, Adobe has now brought a public beta of Photoshop to the web.” It’s amazing to me that this is possible - and I honestly question whether it’s really necessary. But I get that it makes a ton of sense for Chrome OS users in particular.

Facebook Papers: ‘History Will Not Judge Us Kindly’. “Facebook employees have long understood that their company undermines democratic norms and restraints in America and across the globe. Facebook’s hypocrisies, and its hunger for power and market domination, are not secret. Nor is the company’s conflation of free speech and algorithmic amplification. But the events of January 6 proved for many people—including many in Facebook’s workforce—to be a breaking point.”

Facebook prioritized ‘angry’ emoji reaction posts in news feeds. “Behind the scenes, Facebook programmed the algorithm that decides what people see in their news feeds to use the reaction emoji as signals to push more emotional and provocative content — including content likely to make them angry. Starting in 2017, Facebook’s ranking algorithm treated emoji reactions as five times more valuable than “likes,” internal documents reveal. The theory was simple: Posts that prompted lots of reaction emoji tended to keep users more engaged, and keeping users engaged was the key to Facebook’s business.” Much later, they turned the value of angry responses to zero - with no effect on Facebook’s engagement.

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: September, 2021

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for September, 2021.

Apps + Websites

Ambient Chaos. Finally, an ambient noise generator for the rest of us. I recommend zombie invasion + barnyard animals + church bells + lo-fi beats.

You feel like shit. “This is meant to be an interactive flow chart for people who struggle with self care, executive dysfunction, and/or who have trouble reading internal signals. It’s designed to take as much of the weight off of you as possible, so each decision is very easy and doesn’t require much judgment.” Nicely done.

Feeds Mage. This is wonderful: a way to extract blog feeds from your Twitter followers. I’ve been looking for something like this for some time.


Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Simple, effective lessons on writing, delivered with wit and insight by a master of her craft. Absolutely perfect. I’ll be coming back to this for the rest of my life.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 2: Generation Why, by G. Willow Wilson. Not quite as refreshing as the first volume - this one brings in both the X-Men and the Inhumans, dragging it into the Marvel universe more completely. But it’s still a ton of fun. Can’t wait to read the next one, and to see the series.

All Systems Red, by Martha Wells. An engagingly-written novella with a comic book sensibility. Fun: I would have absolutely devoured this when I was younger.

Across the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre, by Alverne Ball, Stacey Robinson, and Reynaldo Anderson. A short but meaningful graphic introduction to the Tulsa Race Massacre and the historical precedents leading up to it. It’s a story that more people should be aware of, and one that continues to echo today. This was a great start that left me wanting to dive in deeper.


Django Moves to Portland - "Excellent Growbag" - Live on Shady Pines Radio. My sister Hannah wrote this song about death and decomposition, which is so lovely that my mother requested that it be performed at her memorial (which it was). Here she’s playing it as part of Shady Pines Radio’s Nocturnal Submissions.

Lil Nas X - Jolene (Dolly Parton Cover) in the Live Lounge. Just brilliant.

Notable Articles


The startup where meetings are optional and Slack is forbidden. “Apart from the regular all-hands, individual contributors at Convictional only have a weekly one-on-one meeting with their manager, and like other asynchronous or async-first companies such as GitLab, Zapier and Twitter, the company relies heavily on email and document-sharing to communicate. But outside of Convictional, it’s hard to find another tech company that doesn’t use any chat or messaging platform at all.” This sounds quite lovely.

She’s the Investor Guru for Online Creators. “Hank Green, 41, a top creator on YouTube and TikTok, said he often tossed ideas back and forth with her by phone. Markian Benhamou, 23, a YouTuber with over 1.4 million subscribers, credited her with understanding what creators go through. Marina Mogilko, 31, a YouTube creator in Los Altos, Calif., said Ms. Jin “started the whole creator economy movement in Silicon Valley.””

The effects of remote work on collaboration among information workers. “Our results show that firm-wide remote work caused the collaboration network of workers to become more static and siloed, with fewer bridges between disparate parts. Furthermore, there was a decrease in synchronous communication and an increase in asynchronous communication. Together, these effects may make it harder for employees to acquire and share new information across the network.” So, how can we build new tools and processes to overcome these effects?

We are benefitting hugely from Brexit, says Estonia’s prime minister. ″“We have seen more than 4,000 British companies coming to Estonia,” Kallas continued, explaining that the UK companies’ main reasons were access to the EU, the country’s tax system, as well as Estonia’s flourishing tech scene and digital infrastructure.” Brexit was such a stupid own goal, and systems like Estonia’s make a ton of sense.

The trouble with ERGs. “An ERG wants to make all these really concrete changes often at a workplace but has no power to do that [...] They might have some funding or the ear of an executive, which we did at Uber, but ultimately it kind of relies on the good faith of an executive to work on whatever changes you want. ERGs kind of passively work against the idea of a union in that they’re a way for you to kind of spend your energy without it turning into anything, which I’m really sad about, but that’s what I’ve found in my experience.”

Returning to the Office and the Future of Work. “Wage labor can harm us in subtle and insidious ways, too. The American ideal of a good life earned through work is “disciplinary,” according to the Marxist feminist political philosopher Kathi Weeks, a professor at Duke and often-cited critic of the modern work ethic. “It constructs docile subjects,” she wrote in her 2011 book, “The Problem With Work.” Day to day, that means we feel pressure to become the people our bosses, colleagues, clients and customers want us to be. When that pressure conflicts with our human needs and well-being, we can fall into burnout and despair.”

How Lessonly, Bumble and HubSpot fight burnout. “In early May, the founder of Lessonly, a company that makes training software, sent out a companywide email issuing a mandate to all employees. But it wasn’t the sort of mandate employees around the world have been receiving related to vaccines and masks. This mandate required that every worker take an entire week off in July.” Next up, sabbaticals?

What We Actually Want Out Of Management. “Management is problematic because it is frequently used as a reward - a chance to make more money, but also exert power and control over people. Becoming a manager is a means of escaping the doldrums of the worker and allows you to start being the pusher rather than the pushed. Managers are often not measured on their team’s success or failures, or if they are, they are allowed to escape blame by claiming an underling failed them or gain accolades by claiming that they did the work somebody else did. The cultural disconnect of management from labor is the core problem - and, indeed, a lack of understanding of what leadership and management actually means.”

Inclusive meetings: encouraging collaboration from all. A really clear, well-written guide to running meetings well from the Co-op.


Loot is a viral social network that looks like nothing you've ever seen. “At this point I feel it necessary to point out that there are no adventurers in Loot. There is no game in Loot. There are just items, and pictures of those items, and tens of millions of dollars betting that it will all somehow turn into something much more. As one tweet put it: “Loot is NFT improv.” [...] “At the end of the day, these are just items on a list,” Hofmann said.”

Bitcoin Uses More Electricity Than Many Countries. How Is That Possible? “We’ll explain how that works in a minute. But first, consider this: The process of creating Bitcoin to spend or trade consumes around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, more than is used by Finland, a nation of about 5.5 million.” Or, seven Googles.

China says all cryptocurrency-related transactions are illegal and must be banned. “The central bank said cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Tether, cannot be circulated in the market as they are not fiat currency. The surge in usage of cryptocurrencies has disrupted “economic and financial order,” and prompted a proliferation of “money laundering, illegal fund-raising, fraud, pyramid schemes and other illegal and criminal activities,” it said.” Cue a minor crypto crash. But honestly: I expect that other countries may follow and create a dividing line between places that allow these currencies and those that don’t.

Why not replace bitcoin’s proof of work with proof of astrophysics. “Caveat: I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about. BUT could we invent new underpinnings of cryptocurrency that pump out social good, rather than pumping out carbon? It would be good to assemble a committee of smart people to figure that out.” I agree. I also worry about the opposite: I’ve been trying to write a story that involves a coin powered by proof of manual labor.


Abba reunite for Voyage, first new album in 40 years. Mamma mia.

'A Loveable Anarchist': The Oral History of Mr Blobby. “Now a cultural signifier of the 90s, Mr Blobby burst onto our screens in October 1992 as a character on the BBC’s Saturday night show Noel’s House Party. Hosted by Noel Edmonds, it had a “Gotcha” segment where they would prank celebrities. That’s where Mr Blobby came in. He was only supposed to last one series. But somehow, that’s not what happened.” If you’re new to Blobby, don’t miss the single, which may genuinely be the worst song ever recorded.

I found the largest truffle in the world. “I weighed the truffle straight away and knew I had something special on my hands. It weighed 1,310g. In the morning I spoke with Guinness World Records, who confirmed that it was the biggest truffle ever recorded. I could have sold it for €1m and made my fortune, but I knew instantly that I didn’t want to do that. It’s great to be rich, but I felt the truffle could have more impact if it was shared. The truffle was found in Istria and should be consumed here, not sold to a rich person abroad.” A lovely story.

Solarpunk Is Not About Pretty Aesthetics. It's About the End of Capitalism. “Solarpunk took inspiration from the Cyberpunk and Steampunk aesthetics that came before it—take the lush paradises of Studio Ghibli films with just a few more solar panels. Cyberpunk uses science fiction to explore our anxieties in the rapidly developing technical age, while Steampunk is nostalgic for the aesthetics of the industrial revolution. But unlike these dystopian and mechanical universes, Solarpunk is a more optimistic, regenerative vision of the future.” I’m all in.

One Woman’s Mission to Rewrite Nazi History on Wikipedia. “Similar battles over how to remember the past have been raging across society. Do we let the old bronze statues stand in our boulevards, or do we put them in a museum someplace, or do we melt them down? Can there be a “hero” who fought for a morally rotten cause? Are qualities like valor and self-sacrifice and tactical brilliance worth admiring anywhere they occur, even if, say, racial supremacism is there too? Some choose to take to the streets. Coffman fights on the terrain most familiar to her, with the weapons she knows best. Not that she would put it that way; she’s not big on war metaphors.”

A novel is born. I’m obsessed with this kind of thing: an author self-publishing across various media using the internet as a kind of canvas. So obsessed that I really want to try it myself.

Russell T Davies to return as Doctor Who showrunner. Wowsers! RTD revived the best show ever made and laid the blueprint. I’m excited.


Re-thinking Academic Publishing: The Promise of Platform Cooperativism. “Or could we imagine a future where scholars are the ones at the helm of the scholarly publishing ecosystem? In this contribution, we propose to do just that: imagine a different — fairer, more economically sustainable, and inclusive — approach to open access. However, to do that, we need to think not only outside the scope of existing business and publishing models but also the existing organisational models.”

Journalist William Huie Concealed Lynchers in Emmett Till Case. “As Dave Tell points out in his book, “Remembering Emmett Till,” Huie needed releases from the murderers to indemnify Look magazine from litigation. But he couldn’t get four. He could only get two. So, he made his story fit his resources. He shrank the kidnapping and murder party to two and moved the murder scene as a consequence. So, instead of telling readers the truth—that Till’s lynchers killed him in a barn on a plantation run by Leslie Milam, a member of the killing party whom Huie concealed—he claimed J.W. Milam and Bryant beat Till near J.W. Milam’s home and shot him to death on the Tallahatchie River’s bank.”

Lyra McKee: four men arrested over killing of journalist in Derry. “The four men, aged 19, 20, 21 and 33, were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2006 on Wednesday morning. They were in the Derry area, and are now being questioned at Musgrave police station in Belfast.” Lyra’s death was a loss for the world.

How one coder became Indonesia’s misinformation guru. “To the overwhelming majority of observers, Fahmi successfully treads the line between the interests of entities who could be either his clients or his targets. Drone Emprit is one of a kind. With it, Fahmi has established credibility as a misinformation authority in a noisy landscape.”

Ministers plan legal requirement for broadcasters to make 'clearly British' shows like Only Fools and Horses. “Fleabag, Derry Girls and Only Fools and Horses were cited as the kind of “distinctively British” programmes that would meet the obligation. Ofcom will be asked to draw up a workable definition of the concept.” I’m not positive, but this might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard?

Sun-Times, WBEZ parent company to explore historic partnership to create country’s largest local nonprofit news service. “The Chicago Sun-Times and the parent company of public radio station WBEZ will explore a potentially historic partnership under a non-binding letter of intent that could create one of the largest local nonprofit news organizations in the country.” This makes a ton of sense - and doesn’t it make a nice change for consolidation to build bigger and better non-profit news orgs rather than some kind of private equity acquisition?

What I learned from a year on Substack. “The result is a job that feels more durable, and sustainable, than any other employment I’ve had. In the past, to lose my job might require only a bad quarter in the ad market, the loss of an ally in upper management, or the takeover of my company by some indifferent telecom company. Today, I can really only lose my job if thousands of people decide independently to “fire” me. As a result, I’ve never felt more empowered to cover the issues I find most meaningful: the fraught, unpredictable collisions between big tech platforms and the world around them.”


Newly formed White House council to promote competition across US economy to hold first meeting. “In July, Biden signed a sweeping executive order to promote competition in the US economy, parts of which target a key business strategy used by Silicon Valley companies. The wide-ranging order aims to lower prescription drug prices, ban or limit non-compete agreements that the White House says impede economic mobility and cracks down on Big Tech and internet service providers, among several other provisions.”


Coronavirus Ventilation: A New Way to Think About Air. “COVID-19 does not kill as high a proportion of its victims as cholera did in the 19th century. But it has claimed well over 600,000 lives in the U.S. Even a typical flu season kills 12,000 to 61,000 people every year. Are these emergencies? If so, what would it take for us, collectively, to treat them as such? The pandemic has made clear that Americans do not agree on how far they are willing to go to suppress the coronavirus. If we can’t get people to accept vaccines and wear masks in a pandemic, how do we get the money and the will to rehaul all our ventilation systems?” But it’s not just about Covid - better indoor air quality could help in lots of ways.

Barnyard breakthrough: Researchers successfully potty train cows. ″“The calves’ rate of learning is within the range seen with 2- to 4-year-old children, and faster than for many children,” Matthews says. The waste, Langbein adds, could be moved to a storage tank, used for fertilizer, or even sampled to monitor the health of individual cows.”

Blood Concrete Could Be Used to Build Dwellings on Mars. “You may not be able to get blood from stone. But now, getting stone from blood is a real possibility… At least on Mars. New research published in Materials Today Bio suggests an unlikely source for building materials on Mars: astronauts’ blood.”

Harvard study challenges gender’s role in COVID-19 death rates. “Researchers agree more men are dying of COVID-19. But a new paper challenges whether biology is to blame.” Men are more likely to be at risk due to their context and profession (and sometimes, attitude).

The Kidney Project successfully tests a prototype bioartificial kidney. “The Kidney Project’s artificial kidney will not only replicate the high quality of life seen in kidney transplant recipients—the “gold standard” of kidney disease treatment, according to Roy—but also spare them from needing to take immunosuppressants.” This is a game-changer. Artificial organs could improve the quality of life of every transplant patient, which is progress that I care about a great deal.

U.S. declares more than 20 species extinct after exhaustive searches. “The Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that 22 animals and one plant native to the United States are now extinct and should be removed from the endangered species list after exhausting efforts to find evidence that they are still alive.”


Oh My Fucking God, Get the Fucking Vaccine Already, You Fucking Fucks. It’s not going to affect anyone’s opinion, but I identify with the frustration: “You think vaccines don’t fucking work? Oh, fuck off into the trash, you attention-seeking fuckworm-faced shitbutt. This isn’t even a point worth discussing, you fuck-o-rama fuck-stival of ignorance. Vaccines got rid of smallpox and polio and all the other disgusting diseases that used to kill off little fucks like you en masse. Your relatives got fucking vaccinated and let you live, and now here you are signing up to be killed by a fucking disease against which there is a ninety-nine-percent effective vaccine. You fucking moron. Go in the fucking ocean and fuck a piranha. Fuck. Fuck that. Fuck you. Get vaccinated.”

We’ve Forgotten the Meaning of Labor Day. “American society has confused the worth of life with the value of cash, and the pandemic has made us pay for our mistake. It is time that makes a society flourish and life worth living. Time offers us the opportunity to share and learn and laugh and grow; it gives us the space to process and heal and renew. Time is the necessary ingredient in developing any skill, sharpening any talent, building any success, crafting any joy—and for too many people in this country, it is bought too cheaply.”

Experience: a stranger secretly lived in my home. “For years, the experience haunted me. When I was at home alone, I felt as if I was being watched. I lived somewhere else with an attic hatch and asked the landlord to put a lock on the outside.”

The Jan. 6 Riot Proves the Sept. 11 Era Isn't Over. ″“I am not a terrorist,” insisted Adam Newbold, a former Navy SEAL who posted that he had breached the Capitol. The war on terror had accustomed him to think that he could not be one by definition. But the most durable terrorism in this country is white people’s terrorism. A war cannot defeat it. Persistent political struggle can.”

Fear and Loathing in America. “The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.” Hunter S Thompson’s column about 9/11, written just 24 hours after the attacks. And it’s unfortunately completely spot on about what the next 20 years would be like.

Judith Butler calls out transphobia as “one of the dominant strains of fascism in our times”. ″“The anti-gender ideology is one of the dominant strains of fascism in our times,” Butler said, referring to everyone who believes that sex is “biological and real or that sex is divinely ordained,” including TERFs like J.K. Rowling, fascists like Tucker Carlson, and religious conservatives like Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL). Their definition of the “anti-gender ideology movement” also includes anti-gay activists like opponents of marriage equality and anti-feminists who want to force women to follow traditional gender roles.” Notably, this section of the interview was subsequently censored by The Guardian.

Here's why California has the lowest COVID rate in the nation. ““If the small inconvenience of wearing a mask could protect my neighbor, I wear one with a smile,” he said. “Similarly, if the science, my own self-interest and the protection of my neighbors all are promoted by getting a vaccine, I’m happy to join my neighbors in line.”” Thank you, California.

He found forgotten letters from the '70s in his attic. Turns out they were missives from the Unabomber. “When it hit me that my correspondent was the same Ted Kaczynski who’d killed three people he’d never met, I felt a shiver of recollection of the fear that prevailed in the Bay Area in the 1970s, during the heyday of serial killers such as the Zodiac, Zebra, Santa Rosa Hitchhiker and Golden State. I was also, to be honest, thankful I hadn’t been rude to him.”

First ever census data on LGBTQ+ people indicates deep disparities. “According to the data, which captures results from July 21 to September 13, LGBTQ+ people often reported being more likely than non-LGBTQ+ people to have lost employment, not have enough to eat, be at elevated risk of eviction or foreclosure, and face difficulty paying for basic household expenses, according to the census’ Household Pulse Survey, a report that measures how Americans are faring on key economic markers during the pandemic.”

Prison Destroyed Video Proof of Guards Torturing Anti-Fascist, Lawyers Say. “According to new motions to dismiss filed by the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), a legal nonprofit, BOP prison staff attacked King after leading him into a small, off-camera storage closet, then deleted video evidence, and may have misrepresented facts about the incident to the FBI. King’s attorneys also claim officers tied him to a four-point restraint device for approximately five hours, and then proceeded to interrogate him despite his asserting his constitutional right to counsel.”


Apple delays plan to scan iPhones for child exploitation images. ″“Last month we announced plans for features intended to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them, and limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material,” the company said in a statement. “Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features.””

How Docker broke in half. “With the benefit of hindsight, Hykes believes that Docker should have spent less time shipping products and more time listening to customers. “I would have held off rushing to scale a commercial product and invested more in collecting insight from our community and building a team dedicated to understanding their commercial needs,” Hykes said. “We had a window in 2014, which was an inflection point and we felt like we couldn’t wait, but I think we had the luxury of waiting more than we realized.””

Someone could be tracking you through your headphones. “On several occasions, student and IT enthusiast Bjørn Martin Hegnes has been carrying equipment for listening in on Bluetooth and WiFi messages for an academic project. His goal was to investigate how many of us can be tracked in secret without even noticing.” Older Bluetooth devices maintain static MAC addresses which allow you to be tracked over time.

Releasing our Digital Vaccine Record code on GitHub. This is wonderful! California has released its digital vaccine record code as open source, allowing every state - and beyond - to operate their own standards-compliant, privacy-preserving record. More of this approach, please.

Facebook sent flawed data to misinformation researchers. ““A lot of concern was initially voiced about whether we should trust that Facebook was giving Social Science One researchers good data,” Mr. Buntain said. “Now we know that we shouldn’t have trusted Facebook so much and should have demanded more effort to show validity in the data.””

Digital exposure tools: Design for privacy, efficacy, and equity. “Exposure-notification apps are predicated on the assumption that if someone is informed of exposure, they will follow instructions to isolate. Such an expectation fails to take into account that isolation—and sometimes even seeking care when ill—is much harder for some populations than others. If apps are to work for all, and not make this worse for disadvantaged populations, there needs to be basic social infrastructure that supports testing, contact tracing, and isolation.”

Facebook Says Its Rules Apply to All. Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt. “In private, the company has built a system that has exempted high-profile users from some or all of its rules, according to company documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show. ″“Social comparison is worse on Instagram,” states Facebook’s deep dive into teen girl body-image issues in 2020, noting that TikTok, a short-video app, is grounded in performance, while users on Snapchat, a rival photo and video-sharing app, are sheltered by jokey filters that “keep the focus on the face.” In contrast, Instagram focuses heavily on the body and lifestyle.”

The Very First Webcam Was Invented to Keep an Eye on a Coffee Pot at Cambridge University. I don’t feel old, generally, except when I read pieces like this. I remember accessing this webcam like it was yesterday ...

Home computing pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair dies aged 81. “His first home computer, the ZX80, named after the year it appeared, revolutionised the market, although it was a far cry from today’s models. At £79.95 in kit form and £99.95 assembled, it was about one-fifth of the price of other home computers at the time. It sold 50,000, units while its successor, the ZX81, which replaced it, cost £69.95 and sold 250,000.” The ZX81 was my formative first computer. Rest in peace, sir.

Troll farms reached 140 million Americans a month on Facebook before 2020 election. “The report reveals the alarming state of affairs in which Facebook leadership left the platform for years, despite repeated public promises to aggressively tackle foreign-based election interference. MIT Technology Review is making the full report available, with employee names redacted, because it is in the public interest.”

Apple and Google Remove ‘Navalny’ Voting App in Russia. “Google removed the app Friday morning after the Russian authorities issued a direct threat of criminal prosecution against the company’s staff in the country, naming specific individuals, according to a person familiar with the company’s decision. The move comes one day after a Russian lawmaker raised the prospect of retribution against employees of the two technology companies, saying they would be “punished.”” This wouldn’t be an issue if the app store wasn’t hopelessly centralized.

Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power. “The specifics of the discussion were secret — but, as I report in my book, Thiel later told a confidant that Zuckerberg came to an understanding with Kushner during the meal. Facebook, he promised, would avoid fact-checking po­litical speech — thus allowing the Trump campaign to claim whatever it wanted. In return the Trump administra­tion would lay off on any heavy-handed regulations. Facebook had long seen itself as a government unto itself; now, thanks to the understanding brokered by Thiel, the site would push what the Thiel confidant called “state-sanctioned conservatism.”” Yikes.

Kids who grew up with search engines could change STEM education forever. “Gradually, Garland came to the same realization that many of her fellow educators have reached in the past four years: the concept of file folders and directories, essential to previous generations’ understanding of computers, is gibberish to many modern students.”

One to charge them all: EU demands single plug for phones. “Under the proposed law, which must still be scrutinized and approved by the European Parliament, phones, tablets, digital cameras, handheld video game consoles, headsets and headphones sold in the European Union would all have to come with USB-C charging ports. Earbuds, smartwatches and fitness trackers aren’t included.” I’m in favor of this kind of regulation - consider standardized mains power sockets, for example. As long as it doesn’t lock in USB-C forever.

What’s Missing from the Infrastructure Bill’s $65 Billion Broadband Plan? “The infrastructure bill, if passed as is, will require new broadband projects to provide 100 Mbps of download speed and 20 Mbps of upload speed. But the infrastructure bill falls short of providing what some advocates say is necessary: “symmetrical” upload and download speeds.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: August, 2021

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for August, 2021. Once again, this is a lighter list: I spent a lot of my month with family, helping to organize my mother’s memorial. Apart from that, it's been a time for reflection rather than consumption.


100 Boyfriends, by Brontez Purnell . Raw in a way that transcends honesty, these confessional short stories are full of uncomfortable life. The writing is incredible. I’m not sure what I took away, exactly, but I think it’s time for a shower.

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, by bell hooks. Although it’s written for teachers, there are lessons here that transcend that field to be insightful for anyone in a hypothetical position of authority. Today, the topics and even its writing style are still cutting edge. When it was written a quarter century ago, it must have been incredibly radical. I wish every teacher and manager in my life had read it.

Notable Articles


One Medical Employees Accuse Concierge Care Provider Of Less Focus On Patients. “Dozens of One Medical employees are trying to unionize as a response to what they say has been mismanagement of the organization’s COVID-19 response, poor working conditions for staff and, they allege, a declining focus on patients.” I’m a long-term One Medical customer and have definitely (but anecdotally) noticed this in the quality of care I’ve received over time.

Inclusive icebreakers. “To ‘break the ice’ is a metaphor for dissipating tension in a group of people who don’t know each other very well. Word Histories gives a bit of background behind the phrase, which seems to be hundreds of years old. However, there are still some common activities being used that have the opposite effect for some people – making them feel even more disconnected from the rest from the group.” An important point with some great suggestions.

VCs are financing a servant economy. “But this is more than just the most recent unicorn-bubble fad. It’s bringing us one step closer to living in a servant economy. The world’s most powerful VC investors are funding an economy where technology allows a ‘ruling class’ to command an ‘underclass’ of servants with the swipe of an app.”

Court rules California gig worker initiative is unconstitutional, a setback to Uber and Lyft. “A California judge on Friday ruled that a 2020 ballot measure exempting rideshare and food delivery drivers from a state labor law is unconstitutional because it infringes on the Legislature’s power to set workplace standards.” Great news!

The Secret Bias Hidden in Mortgage-Approval Algorithms. “We found that lenders gave fewer loans to Black applicants than White applicants even when their incomes were high—$100,000 a year or more—and had the same debt ratios. In fact, high-earning Black applicants with less debt were rejected more often than high-earning White applicants who have more debt.” Alternative credit scores are vital - Classic FICO disproportionately harms people of color.

What If People Don’t Want A Career? “In May I ended up on Burnout TikTok, where every 5th video offered withering commentary on the futility and frustration of toiling away for long hours at a job they didn’t particularly like. I can’t find the video anymore but the one that sticks in my head was a TikToker venting about how the idealized career is — when you think about it — a raw deal. It went something like this: You devote the bulk of every day for 30-40 years in the prime of your life to various companies to make them and their shareholders money and then you get ten years near the end of your life to do what you please. Sounds like a bad arrangement.”


Remarks Before the Aspen Security Forum by SEC Chair Gary Gensler. “Right now, large parts of the field of crypto are sitting astride of — not operating within — regulatory frameworks that protect investors and consumers, guard against illicit activity, ensure for financial stability, and yes, protect national security.”

Chelsea Manning Is Back, And Hacking Again, Only This Time For A Bitcoin-Based Privacy Startup. “Halpin asked Manning to look for security weaknesses in his new privacy project, which eventually became Nym, a Neuchâtel, Switzerland-based crypto startup. Halprin founded Nym in 2018 to send data anonymously around the Internet using the same blockchain technology underlying Bitcoin. To date, Nym has raised some $8.5 million from a group of crypto investors including Binance, Polychain Capital and NGC Ventures. The firm now employs 10 people and is using its latest round of capital to double its team size.” I’ve known Harry for a long time, and was privileged to meet Chelsea when she was an advisor to his previous startup (which we invested in at Matter). I’m excited to see this collaboration.


What Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings looked like as two Weinstein movies. “My script review became the second part of a carefully coordinated one-two punch. At that point, Ain’t It Cool was a useful platform for filmmakers who were trying to convince studio heads that there was an audience out there for serious-minded genre fare produced with all of the resources required, and it was not always an easy sell. I was happy to make the case: The scripts were great enough that Jackson deserved the chance to see them through.”

‘Bloody’ overtaken as the UK’s most popular swear word, study suggests. I’ve been self-censoring since I got to the US - people swear much less often here - but I’m being less diligent over time.

My dead dad’s journal: How I finally met a man I knew for my entire life. “It was a window into the mind of a loving father. It was a look into the fraught thought process of a deeply analytical man. A religious man who knew he was sinning. An addict who was self-aware, and still couldn’t pull himself out from the abyss. It was Jekyll talking to Hyde. Bruce Banner talking to the Hulk. And, in honor of my dad I feel I must also include: It’s Data talking to Lore.”

Feels Good Man! Pepe, copyright, and NFTs. “And then NFT craze hits, and Pepe becomes a star in the non-fungible token markets. I’ve spent countless hours in NFT platforms in the last months, every time I open a new page, there’s usually an animated Pepe waiting for me. Many NFT artists are part of the meme generation that grew up on Pepe and other memes, so these tend to feature heavily on their output (probably only beaten by Doge). Instead of fighting the trend, Furie joined the NFT revolution, and started making lots of money off Pepe “originals”, and allowing most other NFTs of Pepes to continue.”


Afghanistan Meant Nothing. A Veteran Reflects on 20 Wasted Years. “And so I sit here, reading these sad fucking articles and these horrified social media posts about the suffering in Afghanistan and the horror of the encroaching Taliban and how awful it is that this is happening but I can’t stop feeling this grim happiness, like, finally, you fuckers, finally you have to face the thing Afghanistan has always been. You can’t keep lying to yourself about what you sent us into.”


Atlantic Ocean currents weaken, signalling big weather changes. “The Atlantic Ocean’s current system, an engine of the Northern Hemsiphere’s climate, could be weakening to such an extent that it could soon bring big changes to the world’s weather.”

A Major Report Warns Climate Change Is Accelerating And Humans Must Cut Emissions Now. “Global climate change is accelerating and human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are the overwhelming cause, according to a landmark report released Monday by the United Nations. There is still time to avoid catastrophic warming this century, but only if countries around the world stop burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible, the authors warn.”

Rain falls at Greenland ice summit for first time on record. “That meltwater is streaming into the ocean, causing sea levels to rise. Already, melting from Greenland’s ice sheet --the world’s second-largest after Antarctica’s -- has caused around 25% of global sea level rise seen over the last few decades, scientists estimate. That share is expected to grow, as global temperatures increase.” We’re increasingly screwed.

Evolution is now accepted by a majority of Americans. “The level of public acceptance of evolution in the United States is now solidly above the halfway mark, according to a new study based on a series of national public opinion surveys conducted over the last 35 years.” That number is 54%, which is absolutely pathetic.


Nearly half of American workers don’t earn enough to afford a one-bedroom rental. “Rents in the US continued to increase through the pandemic, and a worker now needs to earn about $20.40 an hour to afford a modest one-bedroom rental. The median wage in the US is about $21 an hour.” Some absolutely dire statistics here.

2020 Census data: The United States is more diverse and more multiracial than ever. “While the under-18 population decreased during the last decade, it is rapidly diversifying. Non-White US residents younger than 18 now make up 53% of the population among minors, up from 47% in 2010.” (NB: I don’t like the “non-white” framing; white is not the default.)

Disability Advocates Fight Ruling Allowing Electric Shock Treatment Back In Mass. Residential School. “students wear backpacks equipped with electrical stimulation devices around the clock. Workers at the residential school employ the shocks using a remote control device when the students display a range of unwanted behaviors.” WTF?

‘It’s not hard work for me’: At 101 years old, this Maine lobsterwoman still works the water. “Virginia Oliver is the oldest licensed lobsterer in Maine and possibly on the planet. But in her eyes, it’s simply what she does. Her world has changed in once-unimaginable ways since 1920, but in other ways it’s hardly changed at all.” Come for the story, stay for the amazing photo.

Afghanistan's all-girls robotics team frantically trying to flee Taliban. “Members of the team, who range in age from 12 to 18, have overcome war and other hardships to pursue their love of engineering and robotics and strike a blow for national pride. They’ve made global headlines as a symbol of a more progressive Afghanistan.”

Op-Ed: As a doctor in a COVID unit, I’m running out of compassion for the unvaccinated. Get the shot. “I can pretty much guarantee we would have never met had you gotten vaccinated because you would have never been hospitalized. All of our COVID units are full and every single patient in them is unvaccinated. Numbers don’t lie. The vaccines work.”

Feds Deliberately Targeted Black Lives Matter Protesters, A Report Says. “Movement leaders and experts said the prosecution of protesters over the past year continues a century-long practice by the federal government, rooted in structural racism, to suppress Black social movements via the use of surveillance tactics and other mechanisms.”

What I Learned While Eavesdropping on the Taliban. “When people ask me what I did in Afghanistan, I tell them that I hung out in planes and listened to the Taliban. My job was to provide “threat warning” to allied forces, and so I spent most of my time trying to discern the Taliban’s plans. Before I started, I was cautioned that I would hear terrible things, and I most certainly did. But when you listen to people for hundreds of hours — even people who are trying to kill your friends — you hear ordinary things as well.”

Parents Are Not Okay. “School is only just starting and already kids are being quarantined in mind-boggling numbers: 20,000 across the state of Mississippi, 10,000 in a single district in Tampa, Florida. They’re getting sick too, with hospitalizations of kids under 17 across the country up at least 22 percent in the past month, by the CDC’s count, and each new week sets pediatric hospitalization records for the entire pandemic.”


Electric cars have much lower life cycle emissions, new study confirms. “But Bieker’s analysis says that there is no future for internal combustion engine vehicles if we are to actually decarbonize. HEVs only reduce lifecycle emissions by about 20 percent, and PHEVs are little better in Europe (25–27 percent lower than gasoline), a little worse in China (6–12 percent lower than gasoline), and adequate in the US (42–46 percent lower than gasoline). But compared to BEVs, a PHEV will have much greater lifetime emissions in all three areas. (India has almost no PHEVs, apparently.) And the advantage of BEVs over HEVs and PHEVs only grows as the grid decarbonizes more.”

Why Silicon Valley’s Asian Americans Still Feel Like a Minority. “On her way out she asked her likely successor, a White man, if he needed help navigating the company. She says he told her, “I don’t really need to prepare that hard—the manager has my back.” [Bo] Ren was floored. She’d spent more than 100 hours preparing for the same interviews so she could prove she deserved the spot. Being White, she says, is “like having a skip pass at Disney World. I realized there is a bamboo ceiling, and I’d have to work 100 times harder.””

The voices of women in tech are still being erased. “When we look at the impact of women’s voices in tech today, we can see both that they have led calls for accountability and also that they have been literally and figuratively undervalued. From doing voiceover work that becomes the basis for voice tools that millions use, without being paid or acknowledged accordingly, or doing work on the foundational concepts of AI, women are often present in tech without being listened to.”

Global organizations urge Apple to drop child safety features. “More than 90 civil liberties organizations around the world sent a letter to Apple’s Tim Cook Thursday, urging the CEO to walk back its plans to use machine learning to automatically detect child sexual abuse material on users’ devices.” Although everybody wants to protect children, the implications are unfortunately enormous.

On TikTok, misogyny and white supremacy slip through ‘enforcement gap’. “News investigations have nevertheless revealed that TikTok is used by Islamic State militants and to promote neo-Nazism. While the platform has started releasing transparency reports with details about the content it has removed for violating its guidelines, it is not yet part of a consortium of tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube involved in an industry anti-terrorism effort to collaboratively track and review content from white supremacists and far-right militia groups.”

Why are hyperlinks blue? “As a user experience designer who has created websites since 2001, I’ve always made my links blue. I have advocated for the specific shade of blue, and for the consistent application of blue, yes, but I’ve never stopped and wondered, why are links blue? It was just a fact of life. Grass is green and hyperlinks are blue. Culturally, we associate links with the color blue so much that in 2016, when Google changed its links to black, it created quite a disruption. But now, I find myself all consumed by the question, WHY are links blue? WHO decided to make them blue? WHEN was this decision made, and HOW has this decision made such a lasting impact?”

The future needs files. “I want all OSs, including mobile ones, to properly support real files as they are amazing, inspiring, and possibly the future of how we build our digital future.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: July, 2021

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for July, 2021. This is a lighter list than usual because I'm in the middle of driving across the US with my family.


Mexican Gothic, by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia. An atmospheric horror story that was so slow burn that I was beginning to drift away, despite its intriguing subtexts about domination, colonization, and generational trauma - but then the story changed lanes at breakneck speed and I was hooked again. Smart, creepy, sensual, and unique in a way that defies all expectations.

Notable Articles


Why the U.S. can’t have open banking. “As open banking sweeps the world, countries from the U.K. to Australia to Chile to Nigeria are adopting the concept, which generally includes mandates for API access to bank infrastructure and consumer rights to banking data. There’s global momentum behind it, but in the U.S. rule-making is still at an early stage. Reforms to Section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Act, the law that governs consumer access to financial data, are seemingly years away as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau weighs public comments.”

Spotify Exec Calls Artist 'Entitled' for Requesting One Penny Per Stream. “I think Taylor Swift doesn’t need .00001 more a stream. The problem is this: Spotify was created to solve a problem. The problem was this: piracy and music distribution. The problem was to get artists’ music out there. The problem was not to pay people money.”

The Church of American Startups and Capitalism. “Where startups claim to be so unique in their thinking and in what they do, they are absolutely a product of the protestant work ethic that frames America’s belief in what capitalism is. The church of business - modern American business - has become so absorbed by the cult of personality because it is easier to pray to the saints of startups than to recognize that a culture geared toward a conveyer belt of endless labor is beyond depressing.”

The World Is More Obvious Than We Want It To Be. “The adulation for the wealthy and successful is based on wanting what they have, but rarely accepts the common means through which they got it - luck, privilege, chaos and the ability and means to be persistent. Most people don’t have the time or energy to do a side hustle, and it’s an act of cruelty to guilt them into thinking that carving out a separate job on top of their other job is something they “have to” do.”

Funding To Black Startup Founders Quadrupled In Past Year, But Remains Elusive. “To be sure, much work remains to be done. Black startup entrepreneurs still received only a tiny fraction — 1.2 percent — of the record $147 billion in venture capital invested in U.S. startups through the first half of this year, Crunchbase numbers show. That compares with the more than 13 percent of the U.S. population that is Black or African American.”

Visualizing All the Vacant Office Space in San Francisco. “And employing the framework we introduced last year, there is now 12.7 Salesforce Towers, or 747 Salesforce Tower floors, worth of empty office space spread across San Francisco, which is roughly enough space to accommodate between 98,000 (based on an average, pre-Covid, density) and 131,000 (a la twitter) worker bees.”

Apple reportedly postpones in-person work until at least October. Likely the first of many.


In bitcoin, Black entrepreneurs see a chance to rebuild generational wealth. “Building viable enterprises is possible “in a decentralized finance space,” said Evans, who teaches law at Penn State and began studying and speaking on blockchain and crypto four years ago. “No one’s standing in the way. There’s no bank. There’s no credit score. There’s no redlining. That’s transformative and very powerful.””


Self-publishing. “The corollary of this method is simple: unless you feel you can figure out how to market your book, unless you want to devote as much energy to that marketing plan as you did to its authorship and production, unless you are prepared to sustain your marketing effort through constant iteration and refinement, you probably shouldn’t self-publish.”

How the son of a homophobic politician in Nigeria became a queer OnlyFans star. “Bolu said he joined OnlyFans because he wanted to broaden the idea of what it means to be Black and gay, and show people that you can be both queer and masculine at the same time. In the first several weeks after he started using the site, he said he earned around $2,000 (he declined to share more information about his income). “I’m an exhibitionist by nature, so I feel good doing this. When I post pictures and videos of my Black, gay, muscular body, it does numbers. So, I’m going forward with that,” Bolu said.”

He Leaps for the Stars, He Leaps for the Stars by Grace Chan. I really enjoyed this short story in Clarkesworld about personas, fame, machine learning, and escape.


Nikole Hannah-Jones Issues Statement on Decision to Decline Tenure Offer at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and to Accept Knight Chair Appointment at Howard University. “I cannot imagine working at and advancing a school named for a man who lobbied against me, who used his wealth to influence the hires and ideology of the journalism school, who ignored my 20 years of journalism experience, all of my credentials, all of my work, because he believed that a project that centered Black Americans equaled the denigration of white Americans.”


FACT SHEET: Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. From limits on non-competes to anti-surveillance measures to better anti-trust scrutiny, this seems like a pretty great bundle of measures.

Adam Smith to Richard Spencer: Why Libertarians turn to the Alt-Right. ″[It’s] incredibly easy for the alt-right to reach out to libertarians; they’re both already literally speaking the same language. Socialists control the media? Swap ‘Socialists’ out for ‘Cultural Marxists’ and you’re halfway to becoming the new Richard Spencer. Hillary Clinton was clearly the social justice candidate in 2016, and Trump was against it. If you’re somebody who bases their entire ideology around opposing social justice, you’re going to be drawn towards the candidate who describes Neo-Nazis as ‘very fine people’.”

Why I oppose recall of DA Chesa Boudin. “These reforms were desperately needed: disproportionate treatment of Black and Brown people in arrests, prosecutions, and lifetimes of incarceration isn’t just a trend of a few decades — it has taken place over centuries in America. Many in our LGBTQ+ community are in desperate need of criminal justice reform now.” I oppose his recall too.


Study: 20% of vaccinated health workers who test positive suffer from long COVID. “Majority of 39 ‘breakthrough’ cases among 1,497 monitored were mild, but research author says persistence of symptoms among minority ‘raises concern’.”

First ‘Time Crystal’ Built Using Google’s Quantum Computer. “Like a perpetual motion machine, a time crystal forever cycles between states without consuming energy. Physicists claim to have built this new phase of matter inside a quantum computer.”


Emergency Department Visits for Suspected Suicide Attempts Among Persons Aged 12–25 Years Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. “In May 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, ED visits for suspected suicide attempts began to increase among adolescents aged 12–17 years, especially girls. During February 21–March 20, 2021, suspected suicide attempt ED visits were 50.6% higher among girls aged 12–17 years than during the same period in 2019; among boys aged 12–17 years, suspected suicide attempt ED visits increased 3.7%.”

How Twitter can ruin a life: Isabel Fall’s complicated story. “It’s incredibly hard to imagine “Attack Helicopter” receiving the degree of blowback it did in a world where Twitter didn’t exist. There were discussions of the story on forums and in comment threads all over the internet, but it is the nature of Twitter that all but ensured this particular argument would rage out of control. Isabel Fall’s story has been held up as an example of “cancel culture run amok,” but like almost all examples of cancel culture run amok, it’s mostly an example of Twitter run amok.”

Cop Plays Taylor Swift Song to Block BLM Protest Video From YouTube. “Burch, confused, says, “Are we having a dance party now?” The officer eventually admits, “You can record all you want. I just know it can’t be posted to YouTube.” Later, the officer, identified as Sgt. David Shelby, reiterates to Burch, “I’m playing my music so that you can’t post on YouTube.” The video [...] has been viewed more than 170,000 times since it was shared Thursday.”

Working from home might be worse for the environment than commuting. “In a white paper about the shift in energy consumption during the pandemic, Steve Cicala, an associate professor of economics at Tufts University who studies environmental and energy policy, wrote that in 2020, about a third of the U.S. workforce shifted to working from home due to the pandemic. Simultaneously, there was an almost 8% increase in residential consumption of electricity and about a 7% and 8% reduction in usage among commercial and industrial buildings, he wrote.”

MIT Predicted in 1972 That Society Will Collapse This Century. New Research Shows We’re on Schedule. ″“Changing our societal priorities hardly needs to be a capitulation to grim necessity,” she said. “Human activity can be regenerative and our productive capacities can be transformed. In fact, we are seeing examples of that happening right now. Expanding those efforts now creates a world full of opportunity that is also sustainable.”” Cool cool cool.

Are They Picking At Us? “Racism and xenophobia can hide under the very thin veneer of polite societal norms, like that shiny, sugary layer on a fruit tart that looks super-fake at the supermarket bakery table. I felt grateful for the refuge the community potluck table at our mosque offered. Ours was the only table in town where you could find grilled seekh kebabs, barbecue chicken, KFC hot wings, Palestinian chicken with vermicelli rice, potato salad, okra sabzi, Southern fried okra, Lahori-style fried fish, cornmeal-fried trout, fruit chaat, and, yes, even that fruit tart.”

I’m a Parkland Shooting Survivor. QAnon Convinced My Dad It Was All a Hoax. ““It started a couple months into the pandemic with the whole anti-lockdown protests,” Bill said. “His feelings were so strong it turned into facts for him. So if he didn’t like having to wear masks it wouldn’t matter what doctors or scientists said. Anything that contradicted his feelings was wrong. So he turned to the internet to find like-minded people which led him to QAnon.””


How Underground Fiber Optics Spy on Humans Moving Above. “By shining a laser through the fiber optics, the scientists could detect vibrations from above ground thanks to the way the cable ever so slightly deformed. As a car rolled across the subterranean cable or a person walked by, the ground would transmit their unique seismic signature. So without visually surveilling the surface, the scientists could paint a detailed portrait of how a once-bustling community ground to a halt, and slowly came back to life as the lockdown eased.”

Apple founder Steve Wozniak backs right-to-repair movement. ″“We wouldn’t have had an Apple had I not grown up in a very open technology world,” Mr Wozniak, its co-founder with Steve Jobs in the 1970s, said.” It shouldn’t even be a question.

The ugly, geeky war for web privacy is playing out in the W3C. “The W3C is under siege by an insurgency that’s thwarting browsers from developing new and important privacy protections for all web users. “They use cynical terms like: ‘We’re here to protect user choice’ or ‘We’re here to protect the open web’ or, frankly, horseshit like this,” said Pete Snyder, director of privacy at Brave, which makes an anti-tracking browser. “They’re there to slow down privacy protections that the browsers are creating.””

Police in Latin America are turning activists’ phones against them. “To break into devices more easily, a number of Latin American countries have contracted cybersecurity firms that make software allowing authorities to bypass encryption and other protections. The companies often argue that their tools help aid legitimate criminal investigations, but critics have said they’re often used by authoritarian regimes to infringe on civil rights.”

In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems Especially Distracting to Older Drivers. On car touchscreens and voice interfaces: “Researchers found that the technology created potentially unsafe distractions for all drivers, though this safety risk is more pronounced for older adults, who took longer (4.7-8.6 seconds) to complete tasks, experienced slower response times, and increased visual distractions.”

A Defunct Video Hosting Site Is Flooding Normal Websites With Hardcore Porn. “As pointed out by Twitter user @dox_gay, hardcore porn is now embedded on the pages of the Huffington Post, New York magazine, The Washington Post, and a host of other websites. This is because a porn site called 5 Star Porn HD bought the domain for Vidme, a brief YouTube competitor founded in 2014 and shuttered in 2017. Its Twitter account is still up, but the domain lapsed.” Cool URIs don’t change, etc etc.

She exposed how Facebook enabled global political manipulation. Now she's telling her story. “Her story reveals that it is really pure luck that we now know so much about how Facebook enables election interference globally. Zhang was not just the only person fighting an entire swath of political manipulation, it also wasn’t her job. She had discovered the problem because of a unique confluence of skills and passion, then taken it upon herself, driven by an extraordinary sense of moral responsibility. To regulators around the world considering how to rein in the company, this should be a wakeup call.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: June 2021

This is my monthly roundup of the books, articles, and streaming media I found interesting. Here's my list for June, 2021.

This month, I started posting notable links to my site as I saved them. You can follow my bookmarks here (and subscribe via RSS).


A Queer History of the United States, by Michael Bronski. Flawed but fascinating. Given that he encompassed such a wide range, I sometimes wished the author had slowed down and gone into more detail. Episodes that demand nuance were often not given enough, and bisexuality was barely mentioned. Still, it was an eye-opening, mind-expanding read.

Notes on Grief, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “How is it that the world keeps going, breathing in and out unchanged, while in my soul there is a permanent scattering?” A pertinent read for me right now. Every word, heavy with loss and love and the rage of disbelief, resonates.

How to Love, by Thich Nhat Hanh. “In a deep relationship, there’s no longer a boundary between you and the other person. You are her and she is you. Your suffering is her suffering. Your understanding of your own suffering helps your loved one to suffer less. Suffering and happiness are no longer individual matters. What happens to your loved one happens to you. What happens to you happens to your loved one.” Simple, affirming, and inspirational from beginning to end.

Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro. A sort of melancholy science fiction fairy tale about loss, love, loneliness, religious belief, and what it means to be human. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first; by the end I felt acceptance. An example of what I hope for from speculative fiction.


Collective. I wish I’d gotten around to seeing this remarkable documentary sooner. Gripping and frustrating in equal measure, the true-life story of how a team of hero journalists uncovered massive governmental corruption in Romania demands close attention. Easily the best movie I’ve seen this year.

Bo Burnham: Inside. It wants to be something as impactful as Hannah Gadsby’s incredible Nanette, but never quite gets there. Still, I found this effective as a piece of theater more than a comedy special: a portrait of a comedian’s self-questioning and increasingly unraveling mental state during the pandemic. Burnham’s critiques and parodies of internet culture in this context are particularly spot on (perhaps excluding a piece about white women’s Instagram feeds). And honestly, the songs are great.

Harvard Justice. In 2009, Harvard televised one of its most popular courses, on political philosophy and ethics. I’ve been watching it this month on YouTube and loving it. Accessible but thought-provoking; the lecturer, Michael Sandel, is brilliant.

Notable Articles


Y Combinator Entrepreneurs Say Accelerator Expelled Them Over Critiques. “Two entrepreneurs claimed Friday the startup accelerator Y Combinator kicked them out of its program for speaking publicly about misogyny and members’ efforts to circumvent COVID-19 vaccine eligibility requirements.”

The Work-From-Home Future Is Destroying Bosses' Brains. “The reason that remote work is so threatening to a lot of corporate thinkers is that it largely devalues the middle management layer that corporate society is built on. When you’re in person, a middle manager can walk the floors, “keep an eye on people” and, in meetings, “speak for the group.” While this can happen over Zoom and Slack, it becomes significantly more apparent who actually did the work, because you can digitally evaluate where the work is coming from.”

Forget Going Back to the Office—People Are Just Quitting Instead. “As the pandemic clouds lift, the percentage of Americans leaving employers for new opportunities is at its highest level in more than two decades.”

The document culture of Amazon. “Reading documents is so ingrained in our culture and process that our scheduling tools have check boxes to automatically create a document. If I’m catching up on a new service or feature launch, I will find the document rather than emailing or calling the product manager.” I really love this.

Do Chance Meetings at the Office Boost Innovation? There’s No Evidence of It. “Remote work, though, can enable ideas to bubble up from people with different backgrounds. Online, people who are not comfortable speaking up in an in-person meeting may feel more able to weigh in. Brainstorming sessions using apps like Slack can surface many more perspectives by including people who wouldn’t have been invited to a meeting, like interns or employees in other departments.”

Office and Company Culture Are Bullshit. “The big push back to the office - and the many, many, many people I’ve had contact me saying they don’t want to go back - is only about control. Company culture is industrial guilt - it’s “just what we do here” - and without an office, it becomes significantly harder to wield, because there isn’t an easy way to wield power over a distributed group of people. It’s hard to feel like you’re a fancy King that people fear the wrath of when you don’t have an office to trot around, with middle-management Lords that also get off on the authority of power and draw little satisfaction from actual work that rewards you with money.”

Lord of the Roths: How Tech Mogul Peter Thiel Turned a Retirement Account for the Middle Class Into a $5 Billion Tax-Free Piggy Bank. “Over the last 20 years, Thiel has quietly turned his Roth IRA — a humdrum retirement vehicle intended to spur Americans to save for their golden years — into a gargantuan tax-exempt piggy bank, confidential Internal Revenue Service data shows. Using stock deals unavailable to most people, Thiel has taken a retirement account worth less than $2,000 in 1999 and spun it into a $5 billion windfall.”

What Salaries Did Startup CEOs Earn in 2020? “Interestingly, Female CEOs were more likely to take a pay cut during the pandemic. When comparing male and female CEOs, female leaders took a 30% reduction in salary at the peak of the pandemic ($101,000 compared to $138,000 in 2019) while their male counterparts saw an increase ($146,000 compared to $143,000 in 2019).”


Beyond Resale Royalties. So Why Is DADA Ditching Royalties? “Fast forward three years since we tried to devise a royalty standard, and now it is art and not collectibles that is bringing hundreds of millions of dollars into the NFT ecosystem. Yet OpenSea is now too busy to put resources into guaranteeing resale royalties on their platform. Today, if an artwork is sold on a crypto art marketplace and resold on OpenSea, the artist does not get royalties.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Is Selling The Original Source Code For The World Wide Web as an NFT. “The work includes the original archive of dated and time-stamped files from 1990 and 1991, containing 9,555 lines of source code and original HTML documents that taught the earliest web users how to use the application. The auction item also includes an animated 30-minute video of the code being written and a digital signature from Berners-Lee himself, as well as a letter written by him over 30 years later in which he reflects on the process of creating the code and the impact it has made.”


Roxane Gay Starts Publishing Imprint With Grove Atlantic. “Roxane Gay Books will focus on underrepresented fiction, nonfiction and memoir writers, with or without agents.”

How Memes Become Money. “It’s appropriate to give credit to people for their creativity and compensate them for their labor. It’s empowering to siphon value from the social-media companies that have been making billions off our personal lives. But it’s also a kind of giving up.”

In Argentina, cheap government-issued netbooks sparked a musical renaissance. “More than four million students received a computer between 2011 and 2015. These were exactly the years that saw the rise of a budding generation of rappers, trappers, and freestylers. The overlap is no coincidence to Sebastián Benítez Larghi, director of the sociology department at the La Plata National University. “The working classes have always had a tradition of cultural creation — urban rhythms are just more proof of that.””


Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Mega-Donor, and the Future of Journalism. “Emails obtained by The Assembly show that UNC-Chapel Hill’s largest journalism-school donor warned against Nikole Hannah-Jones’ hiring. Their divergent views represent a new front in the debate over objectivity and the future of the field.”

An open letter on U.S. media coverage of Palestine. “Yet for decades, our news industry has abandoned those values in coverage of Israel and Palestine. We have failed our audiences with a narrative that obscures the most fundamental aspects of the story: Israel’s military occupation and its system of apartheid.”

Pulitzer Prizes 2021: Darnella Frazier wins special citation from Pulitzer Prize board. “The board said Frazier was honored “for courageously recording the murder of George Floyd, a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.””

‘We’re Going to Publish’: An Oral History of the Pentagon Papers. “So Ellsberg and I made this agreement: If I could get The Times to agree to publish the whole thing, they’d do their best to protect him. He’d give us the whole thing. He wouldn’t be publicly announced as a source.” One of the most important acts of whistleblowing and journalism of the 20th century.

Andreessen Horowitz’s ‘Future’ is a media machine. ″“We have a business to run, and we’re in the business of investing in the future and providing returns for LPs,” Wennmachers said. “So as much as I can help advance the future and the narrative of the pro case for the future … that’s what I’m trying to do. That is the goal.”″ So in other words, it’s the VC equivalent of an inflight magazine.

Newsrooms Need To Treat Coordinated Online Attacks On Reporters Like Propaganda - And Act Like They're At War. “And yes, this is a war, and it is a war being fought by the New York Post, by Fox News, and by many solo writers that have found a successful career in joining these campaigns, because outrage breeds clicks.”

Why the AP is no longer naming suspects in minor crime stories. “These minor stories, which only cover an arrest, have long lives on the internet. AP’s broad distribution network can make it difficult for the suspects named in such items to later gain employment or just move on in their lives.”

Lifting the mask. Edward Snowden launches his Substack: “Though my relationship to time fluctuates, the gravamen of my disclosures remains constant. In the past eight years, the depredations of surveillance have merely become more entrenched, with the capabilities that used to be the province of governments now in the hands of private companies, too, which employ them to track and tether us and attenuate our freedoms. This enduring danger, this compounding danger, is one of the reasons I’ve decided to lift my voice again — adding a new page to my “permanent record” to which I hope you subscribe.”

Linda Amster gets due recognition for work on Pentagon Papers. ″“I asked him why my name wasn’t included, and he said, ‘Well, we knew that we all might have to go to prison, and you are a woman, and we don’t want you to have to go to prison,’” Amster recalled.”

Fears for future of American journalism as hedge funds flex power. “According to a recent analysis, hedge funds or private equity firms now control half of US daily newspapers, including some of the largest newspaper groups in the country: Tribune, McClatchy and MediaNews Group.”

I am Palestinian. Here’s how Israel silences us on social media. “In 2015, Israel arrested 27-year-old Nader Halahleh and imprisoned him for seven months over seven posts on Facebook. That same year, 17-year-old Kathem Sbeih was also arrested over a Facebook post and placed in administrative detention — a policy from the British Mandate in which Israel imprisons Palestinians without charge or trial — for three months, despite being a child. By 2017, more than 300 Palestinians were detained under the pretext of incitement. For some Palestinians, just being able to post on social media under their real names is a risk too dangerous to take.”


Statement of Concern. “We [the undersigned] urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.”

Donald Trump Belief That “Reinstatement” to Office Coming: Delusional. “I can attest, from speaking to an array of different sources, that Donald Trump does indeed believe quite genuinely that he — along with former senators David Perdue and Martha McSally — will be “reinstated” to office this summer after “audits” of the 2020 elections in Arizona, Georgia, and a handful of other states have been completed. I can attest, too, that Trump is trying hard to recruit journalists, politicians, and other influential figures to promulgate this belief — not as a fundraising tool or an infantile bit of trolling or a trial balloon, but as a fact.”

Revealed: rightwing firm posed as leftist group on Facebook to divide Democrats. “In an apparent attempt to split the Democratic vote in a number of close races, the ads purported to come from an organization called America Progress Now (APN) and used socialist memes and rhetoric to urge leftwing voters to support Green party candidates.”

Former NSA contractor Reality Winner, jailed for leaking secrets about Russian hacking, released early from prison. “Winner, 29, was sentenced to more than five years in prison in 2018 after she leaked classified information to The Intercept news outlet about Russia’s attempts to hack the 2016 presidential election. She pleaded guilty to leaking a classified report that detailed the Russian government’s efforts to penetrate a Florida-based voting software supplier. At the time, the sentence was the longest ever for a federal crime involving leaks to the media.” Thank you for your service.

’Nightmare Scenario’ fresh details on chaos, conflicts inside Trump’s pandemic response. “In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, as White House officials debated whether to bring infected Americans home for care, President Donald Trump suggested his own plan for where to send them, eager to suppress the numbers on U.S. soil. “Don’t we have an island that we own?” the president reportedly asked those assembled in the Situation Room in February 2020, before the U.S. outbreak would explode. “What about Guantánamo?””

Records Show Nearly 900 Secret Service Employees Got COVID. “The records show that of the 881 positive test results recorded between March 1, 2021 and March 9, 2021, the majority, 477, came from employees working as special agents, and 249 were from members of the uniformed division.”


Telomerase Regulation. If we’d figured this out, my mother would have lived a normal, healthy life. It’s also an issue associated with 90% of human cancers. I strongly suspect we’ll crack it in my lifetime.

Scientists shocked as particle transforms between matter and antimatter for the first time. “The charm meson has a light and heavy version that helps distinguish between its matter and antimatter states.”

Coronavirus infections dropping where people are vaccinated, rising where they are not. In other news: Popes Catholic, bears defecating in woodland.

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong. “Which brings us to one of the largest gaps between science and practice in our own time. Years from now, we will look back in horror at the counterproductive ways we addressed the obesity epidemic and the barbaric ways we treated fat people—long after we knew there was a better path.”

Are advertisers coming for your dreams? “Now, brands from Xbox to Coors to Burger King are teaming up with some scientists to attempt something similar: “Engineer” advertisements into willing consumers’ dreams, via video and audio clips. This week, a group of 40 dream researchers has pushed back in an online letter, calling for the regulation of commercial dream manipulation.”

What Happened to the Lyme Disease Vaccine? “No human vaccines for Lyme exist. But that wasn’t always the case. Before Lyme disease shots went to the dogs, people had a safe and effective vaccine, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998. But anti-vaccine forces claimed it was dangerous, tanked its popularity and sued it out of existence after just a few years on the market.” Meanwhile, the Lyme epidemic continues to grow.

When an Eel Climbs a Ramp to Eat Squid From a Clamp, That’s a Moray. “Moray eels can hunt on land, and footage from a recent study highlights how they accomplish this feat with a sneaky second set of jaws.” Also: perfect headline, well done.

What’s the Difference Between a ‘Borb’ and a ‘Floof’? “Let us now apply this logic. Borbs as a category heavily intersect with birbs, defined as both are by roundness. But just as every bird is not a birb, every birb is not a borb. Some birds naturally have deep chests and short necks, easily securing their borbness: chickadees, European Robins, and Bearded Tits, the last of which seems to be the poster child for the type. Other clear borbs include pigeons, thrushes, warblers, game birds, small parrots, most owls, and penguins.”

Why Is the Intellectual Dark Web Suddenly Hyping an Unproven COVID Treatment? ”While Big Tech continues to issue a confused, belated, and at times contradictory response to the problem of people using its platforms to promote health quackery, Weinstein, Heying, Taibbi, and Weiss have positioned themselves as the vanguards of intellectual freedom by, in their ways, buttressing these claims. In fact, and without, perhaps, even realizing it, they’ve acted as foot soldiers for something entirely commonplace: a politicized and pseudoscientific response to a deadly disease.”

Blood test that finds 50 types of cancer is accurate enough to be rolled out. “A simple blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer before any clinical signs or symptoms of the disease emerge in a person is accurate enough to be rolled out as a screening test, according to scientists.”


Why We Are Publishing the Tax Secrets of the .001%. “Today, ProPublica is launching the first in a series of stories based on the private tax data of some of our nation’s richest citizens. We obtained the information from an anonymous source who provided us with large amounts of information on the ultrawealthy, everything from the taxes they paid to the income they reported to the profits from their stock trades.”

‘A career change saved my life’: the people who built better lives after burnout. “Among her clients, burnout is common. “We’re at a tipping point, I think, where the old world is not fit for purpose any more,” she says. “There’s this narrative in society which is that in order to be successful, you’ve got to sacrifice your health or your relationships, or things that are important to you. You’ve got to hustle. And I really don’t agree with that.””

I said I couldn’t stand Indian food. Then a Twitter friend took me to dinner. ““This is the guy,” Preet said to the owner and some friends, meaning “the guy who slagged the cuisine of our ancestors whose mind we just might change.” I smiled gamely and said I was willing to make amends. There was laughter and a lot of smiles and knowing looks. It turns out they’d been expecting me. I was not going to get away with my usual only-child behavior of a quick taste here and there. This was going to be a marathon.”

What Do Conservatives Fear About Critical Race Theory? “Increasingly, conservatism after Donald Trump has been defined by a fear that American society is on the verge of being displaced by a progressive reimagining, with woke politics and aggressive redistribution. Progressivism is defined by an equally urgent hope that it can, in fact, displace old patterns of ecological destruction and discrimination. It is interesting—and slightly ironic—that critical race theory, with its invocations of structural racism, should be so central to the policy debate right now: part of its teaching is that the patterns of American society can’t be easily dislodged by a change in manners, and that if you are snapping your fingers to make the past disappear you are only doing so in tandem with the rhythms of the past.”

She got hurt working for Amazon. Here's why she doesn't want to quit. “Amazon’s high injury rates were reported last week in a study by the Strategic Organizing Center, a labor advocacy group that used data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to analyze the rates of serious injury in fulfillment and delivery roles. The SOC is using the data to push for changes to Amazon’s notoriously long hours, strict and limited break schedules, and repetitive-motion work that can cause chronic pain. The group found that Amazon’s serious injury rate was more than double Walmart (its closest competitor) last year, and that Amazon employees take an average of one to two weeks longer to recover from these injuries than the average injured warehouse employee.”

Why We Shouldn't Be Surprised People Don't Read. “It’s more than sucking the joy out of learning - we have changed on a societal level what it means to be educated. Education has become so pragmatism-focused that it’s unsurprising that we have people that learn basically everything outside of school through a web browser - we have educated generations of kids to consciously or otherwise view knowledge as something one acquires as quickly as possible, and usually for a task.”

What the Rich Don’t Want to Admit About the Poor. “For the most part, America finds the money to pay for the things it values. In recent decades, and despite deep gridlock in Washington, we have spent trillions of dollars on wars in the Middle East and tax cuts for the wealthy. We have also spent trillions of dollars on health insurance subsidies and coronavirus relief. It is in our power to wipe out poverty. It simply isn’t among our priorities.”

Grenfell FC: "This club is bigger than any one individual". ″“You felt the loss everywhere in those weeks,” says Rupert. “Then one day, there was a young man who came in who I felt was struggling with his mental health. He’d lost both his parents a few years prior, three months apart. I can’t imagine what that must have been like. And he’d lived in the tower. It felt like history was repeating itself. I asked him what had helped him get through the death of his parents. He said football. So we formed a football team. Right there, like that.””

The Electrification of Everything: What You Need to Know. Short answer: we’d better upgrade the grid.

How You Start is How You Finish? The Slave Patrol and Jim Crow Origins of Policing. “Policing in southern slave-holding states followed a different trajectory—one that has roots in slave patrols of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and police enforcement of Jim Crow laws in the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. As per Professor Michael Robinson (2017) of the University of Georgia, the first deaths in America of Black men at the hands of law enforcement “can be traced back as early as 1619 when the first slave ship, a Dutch Man-of-War vessel landed in Point Comfort, Virginia.””

Kids Need Freedom, Too. “The problem with a society devoted to zero risk is that kids grow up overprotected and under-socialized. They miss out on the thrilling experience of fending for themselves, crucial in forging confidence. They miss out on learning to assess risk and dealing with minimal danger without constantly deferring to an authority.” I’m excited that free-range parenting will be back in style by the time I’m a parent. I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

Conservatives now use the label ‘critical race theory’ to describe any conversation about race that makes them uncomfortable. “On its face, the opprobrium misunderstands the point: CRT is less about blaming white people than interrogating systems of power and privilege. But that’s the very thing that frightens conservatives: If children recognize the culpability of systems, as opposed to individuals, they’ll also recognize societal problems require collective solutions. The myth of rugged individualism will vanish.”

'I was completely inside': Lobster diver swallowed by humpback whale off Provincetown. ″“All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black,” Packard recalled Friday afternoon following his release from Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis.” Call me shaken.

Oregon Has Legalized Human Composting. I really wish California did this.

Abigail Disney: Why the Rich Protect Dynastic Wealth. “If your comfort requires that society be structured so that a decent percentage of your fellow citizens live in a constant state of terror about whether they’ll get health care in an emergency, or whether they can keep a roof over their family’s heads, or whether they will simply have enough to eat, perhaps the problem does not rest with those people, but with you and what you think of as necessary, proper, and acceptable.”

Fighting the pressure for pandemic personal growth. “But there’s a larger norm at work behind questions like this, and behind the greater expectation that people could use lockdown to boost their coronapreneurial profiles. An obsessive focus on productivity is “part of late-stage American capitalism,” Blustein said. “This productivity ethos has gotten transported into our hobbies, it’s gotten transported into our relationships, into our physical and mental health.””

5 pads for 2 cellmates: Menstrual products still scarce in prison. “Unable to get more than an allotted number of pads, Bozelko began reusing them. The prison’s pads were thin, she said, thinner than the pads typically sold outside, and the adhesive barely stuck to her clothes. She once saw another woman’s pad fall to the ground because the glue was so weak, so Bozelko stepped on it, hiding the pad beneath her boot to save her from humiliation. She and her cellmate received five of these pads to share among themselves every week, and asking a guard for another pad often led to a rejected request and ridicule.” Why are we so cruel?


Mass scale manipulation of Twitter Trends discovered. “We found that 47% of local trends in Turkey and 20% of global trends are fake, created from scratch by bots. Between June 2015 and September 2019, we uncovered 108,000 bot accounts involved, the biggest bot dataset reported in a single paper. Our research is the first to uncover the manipulation of Twitter Trends at this scale.”

Passport. A neat solution for independent subscription media businesses. I kind of want to use it.

1997: The Year of DHTML. A nice history of DHTML and the DOM, for people (like me) who are interested in that sort of thing.

I saw millions compromise their Facebook accounts to fuel fake engagement. “During my time at Facebook, I saw compromised accounts functioning in droves in Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere. Most of these accounts were commandeered through autolikers: online programs which promise users automatic likes and other engagement for their posts. Signing up for the autoliker, however, requires the user to hand over account access. Then, these accounts join a bot farm, where their likes and comments are delivered to other autoliker users, or sold en masse, even while the original user maintains ownership of the account. Although motivated by money rather than politics — and far less sophisticated than government-run human troll farms — the sheer quantity of these autoliker programs can be dangerous.”

Introducing Astro: Ship Less JavaScript. Neat!

Colorado is now the 3rd US state with modern privacy legislation, with a twist. “In other words, Do Not Track – or something very much like it – is back in Colorado, and ignoring the setting, like companies did widely when Do Not Track was created, is not an option any more. The technical details will need to be figured out between now and when this provision goes into effect, which two and a half years away. So plenty of time to get this right.”

Day One at Automattic. “Day One not only nails the experience of a local blog (or journal as they call it) in an app, but also has (built) a great technical infrastructure — it works fantastic (when) offline and has a fully encrypted sync mechanism, so the data that’s in the cloud is secured in a way that even someone with access to their database couldn’t decode your entries, it’s only decrypted on your local device. Combining encryption and sync in a truly secure way is tricky, but they’ve done it.”

Apple’s emoji keyboard is reinforcing Western stereotypes. “The feature associates “Africa” with the hut emoji and “China” with the dog emoji.”

China’s tech workers pushed to their limits by surveillance software. “A Chinese subsidiary of Japanese camera maker Canon, Canon Information Technology, last year unveiled a new workspace management system that only allows smiling employees to enter the office and book conference rooms. Using so-called “smile recognition” technology, Canon said the system was intended to bring more cheerfulness to the office in the post-pandemic era.”

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: May 2021

This is my monthly roundup of the tech and media I consumed and found interesting. Here's my list for May, 2021.


Wintering, by Katherine May. Unmistakably written from a position of privilege, I nonetheless found this book to be a kind of warm hug; the written equivalent of a cup of hot chocolate on an icy day. I did find myself occasionally irritated by how carefree this supposedly troublesome life actually was, but mostly I found myself yearning to live in the Love, Actually world she seems to inhabit.

PET, by Akwaeke Emezi. Slight but heavy: a fantasy story with strong themes about ethics, family, history, and the line between good and evil - all drawn together with strong characters and beautiful prose. For me, the epilogue let the story down a little bit with emotion that didn't quite ring true. Nonetheless, I'm quickly learning that I'll follow Akwaeke Emezi anywhere.

While Justice Sleeps, by Stacey Abrams. This was closer to a Dan Brown or John Grisham novel than I’d anticipated: a taut thriller that occasionally stretches plausibility but is a lot of fun from beginning to end. It turns out Stacey Abrams can do it all. I hope there’s a movie.

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir, by Jenn Shapland. Infused with longing and written with an eye for poetry, this is a personal exploration of the boundary between love and possession: between lovers, between queer people and communities not ready to accept them, between a long-dead author and her biographer. I found it thought-provoking, sad, and in some ways, triumphant: a suppressed love story finally taking flight. May we all have the courage and the freedom to be and love as ourselves.

The Coming Insurrection, by Comité Invisible. “Power is no longer concentrated in one point in the world; it is the world itself, its flows and its avenues, its people and its norms, its codes and its technologies. Power is the organization of the metropolis itself.” I don’t agree with all of the conclusions about what to do next, but the descriptions of the problems that must be overcome here ring true. Perhaps oddly, I made connections with Emergent Strategy; the two arrive at very similar ideas about decentralization and the power of hierarchy-less organizing through very different lenses.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson. Super-fun, and refreshing in lots of ways. There are some broad characterizations here, but hey, it’s a comic book. I loved it, and hope the TV show is even half as charming.


His House. Superficially a horror movie, His House serves as a layered metaphor for the immigrant experience. It's expertly built on every level - both the real-life horror and the supernatural scares had me watching from behind a cushion - but comes into its own in its final act.

Notable Articles


How Basecamp blew up. "This account is based on interviews with six Basecamp employees who were present at the meeting, along with a partial transcript created by employees. Collectively, they describe a company whose attempt to tamp down on difficult conversations blew up in its face as employees rejected the notion that discussions of power and justice should remain off limits in the workplace. And they suggest that efforts to eliminate disruptions in the workplace by regulating internal speech may cause even more turmoil for a company in the long run."

Looking for (more of) a new kind of startup…. "There’s a new and important kind of startup that’s become wildly successful the last few years. These startups, for which we still lack a good name, look to their customers like a direct replacement to some large, familiar incumbent, but uses technology to provide a strictly superior offering."

Forced Entrepreneurs. "Conventional wisdom suggests labor market distress drives workers into temporary self-employment, lowering entrepreneurial quality. Analyzing employment histories for 640,000 U.S. workers, we document graduating college during a period of high unemployment does increase entry to entrepreneurship. However, compared to voluntary entrepreneurs, firms founded by forced entrepreneurs are more likely to survive, innovate, and receive venture-backing. Explaining these results, we confirm labor shocks disproportionately impact high-earners and these same workers start more successful firms. Overall, we document untapped entrepreneurial potential across the top of the income distribution and demonstrate the role of recessions in reversing this missing entrepreneurship."

Poor in Tech. “I knew I was the only poor person at my tech startup because I made more there than I’d ever made before; a daring amount I had been afraid to ask for during the offer process. I discovered through misadventure that I still made less than any of the executive assistants, or the receptionist. I was, in fact, the lowest-paid person in the building including the interns. I hadn’t known what was possible, so I couldn’t even think to ask for what I was worth to them.” This resonated for me hard.

You Probably Shouldn’t Work at a Startup. My experience is different to this - but it's definitely an interesting read. What this piece doesn't really discuss is meaningful work, and getting to work cross-functionally, which is something that's much easier in an early-stage startup than another company. I like to use my whole self: go broad rather than narrow and deep. Big companies typically want you to do the latter.

'FIND THIS FUCK:' Inside Citizen’s Dangerous Effort to Cash In On Vigilantism. "Frame and the entirety of the Citizen apparatus had spent a whole night putting a bounty on the head of an innocent man." This company - and this CEO in particular - sounds absolutely deranged.

A Worker-Owned Cooperative Tries to Compete With Uber and Lyft. "The Drivers Cooperative, which opened for business in New York this week, is the most recent attempt. The group, founded by a former Uber employee, a labor organizer and a black-car driver, began issuing ownership shares to drivers in early May and will start offering rides through its app on Sunday." Hell yes.

The Abusive Corporation's New Tool: Wellness and Mental Health. "If a job is making you commute an hour each way and having you work ridiculous hours with no extra compensation for it, but also giving you free counseling, they’re not really that concerned with your mental health. They’re just concerned with you finding a way to cope with the oftentimes unfair conditions they’re putting you under, and doing so in a way that’s significantly more affordable than making your life better and paying you more money."


The Tether Ponzi Scheme. “Tether is a fraud on the scale of Madoff or Enron and we’re in the middle of a bubble for the history books.”

Bitcoin’s most recent adopters are working-class migrants. "Salgado is now part of a growing number of Latin Americans using cryptocurrency to transfer money from the United States south of the Rio Grande. They represent a new wave of crypto users who are not tech enthusiasts or white-collar financiers but rather working-class people whose livelihoods depend on a technology that is often seen as experimental."

Teens Controlling Multi-Million-Dollar DeFi Protocols Are Not Playing Around. "Jai Bhavnani, 19, David Lucid, 20, and Jack Lipstone, who just turned 20, founded Rari Capital in April 2020, less than a month after the founders’ home state of California went into COVID lockdown. That was also shortly after Bhavnani graduated from the college preparatory school which ties together six of the seven members of the Rari team."

A country's worth of power, no more!. I'm excited to see Ethereum move to proof of stake. Its smart contract platform has a lot of potential - but not if it is environmentally disastrous. It's nice to hear that the change is so close.

How Iran Uses Bitcoin Mining to Evade Sanctions and “Export” Millions of Barrels of Oil. "Exact figures are very challenging to determine, but Elliptic estimates that Iran-based miners account for approximately 4.5% of all Bitcoin mining." Interesting detail: Mosques get free electricity in Iran, so it turns out some of them have been illicitly mining coin.

UK police raided a shady Bitcoin mining facility they thought was a weed farm. "Naturally, officers were convinced they were looking at the "telltale" signs of a cannabis factory. But, when they busted in to the site on May 18th, they found a bank of 100 specialized bitcoin miners instead."


Stacey Abrams Contains Multitudes. "Abrams went on to write seven more Selena Montgomery books (one of which, “Never Tell,” is in development with CBS), as well as two nonfiction works under her own name, while pursuing her day jobs as a tax lawyer, business owner, state lawmaker, candidate for governor and voting-rights advocate, to name a few."

1988: P.R.E.S.T.A.V.B.A.. Text adventures as a medium for protest in Soviet Czechoslovakia: "Soon the shared games “became a fully-fledged means of communication within a subculture of young geeks, like 8-bit chain letters or, perhaps, social media of the early digital era”: an internet that existed mostly on magnetic tapes shoved into school backpacks and zipping around the country on buses and bicycles. While literature and music was heavily censored by the government and could not be legally distributed by amateurs, software was not on the radar of the Party or its secret police at all. The authorities had not yet realized that the computer could be a medium for expression."

The one where writing books is not really a good idea. An interesting exploration into making money through serial fiction - which is something I plan to try in the future.

Gross Viral Food Videos Like Spaghetti-Os Pie Are Connected to This Guy. I'd been wondering.

Sinead O’Connor Remembers Things Differently. "O’Connor saw herself as a protest-singing punk. When she ascended to the top of the pop charts, she was trapped. “The media was making me out to be crazy because I wasn’t acting like a pop star was supposed to act,” she told me. “It seems to me that being a pop star is almost like being in a type of prison. You have to be a good girl.” And that’s just not Sinead O’Connor."

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: An Explainer. “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is the grandest, most delightful, most ambitious MGM technicolor musical that was ever based on the story of a mass rape.”

The Linda Lindas on their viral song Racist, Sexist Boy: ‘It’s good to let the anger out and scream’. "The video of Mila and her three teenage bandmates that make up the Linda Lindas screaming “You are a racist, sexist BOYYYY!” is taken from a rage-filled live performance inside the LA public library for AAPI Heritage Month. Overnight, the clip became one of the most cathartic and energizing songs to come out of the pandemic." The Linda Lindas are so great.

How to Write Creative Fiction: Umberto Eco's Four Rules. “Fictional characters live in an incomplete—or, to be ruder and politically incorrect—handicapped world. But when we truly understand their fate, we begin to suspect that we too, as citizens of the here and now, frequently encounter our destiny simply because we think of our world in the same way that fictional characters think of theirs. Fiction suggests that perhaps our view of the actual world is as imperfect as the view that fictional characters have of their world.”


Scroll is joining Twitter!. Absolutely huge news in medialand. And Tony told me that Scroll still has a commitment to the open web.

Just 12 People Are Behind Most Vaccine Hoaxes On Social Media, Research Shows. “"The 'Disinformation Dozen' produce 65% of the shares of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms," said Imran Ahmed, chief executive officer of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which identified the accounts.”

Lovely eulogies to Fleet Street’s John Kay, but they overlook one important fact. "In this more sensitive era, there are presumably good reasons why anyone new to Kay will have finished the prominent Sun and Evening Standard pieces unaware of the existence of Kay’s first wife, Harue, whom he killed in 1977."

'On The Media' Co-Host Bob Garfield Fired Over Bullying Complaints. "Garfield’s termination follows two investigations into his conduct. The first, an internal investigation conducted last year, “resulted in disciplinary action, a warning about the potential consequences if the behavior continued, and a meaningful opportunity to correct it,” New York Public Radio said in a statement. The organization said a second, more recent outside probe found Garfield had again violated the anti-bullying policy."

Stunned: UNC Hussman Faculty Statement on Nikole Hannah-Jones by Hussman Faculty. "Failure to tenure Nikole Hannah-Jones in her role as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism is a concerning departure from UNC’s traditional process and breaks precedent with previous tenured full professor appointments of Knight chairs in our school. This failure is especially disheartening because it occurred despite the support for Hannah-Jones’s appointment as a full professor with tenure by the Hussman Dean, Hussman faculty, and university. Hannah-Jones’s distinguished record of more than 20 years in journalism surpasses expectations for a tenured position as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism."

John Oliver places fake sponsored content on to local news: ‘Far too easy’. "The “Venus Veil” also got airtime on KVUE Austin’s sponsored show airing immediately after Thursday evening news, and an in-person showing on Denver’s Mile High Living. “None of this was nearly difficult enough to get on to TV, and it wasn’t even that expensive,” Oliver mused; the Denver Mile High in-person segment cost $2,800, KVUE Austin cost $2,650 and ABC 4 Utah cost $1,750. “It was all shockingly affordable and sadly, on some stations, didn’t even look that out of place,” he said." That is affordable. Can I place segments on how great single-payer healthcare is?


Pentagon Surveilling Americans Without a Warrant, Senator Reveals. "The Pentagon is carrying out warrantless surveillance of Americans, according to a new letter written by Senator Ron Wyden and obtained by Motherboard."

Rise of a megadonor: Thiel makes a play for the Senate. “The largesse has transformed Thiel, an early Facebook investor and PayPal co-founder, into an outsize figure in the fight for control of the 50-50 Senate, providing fuel to two longtime associates who embrace his populist-conservative views. Top Republicans have expressed astonishment at the size of the donations and say they’ve turned Vance and Masters — who’ve never before run for elected office and will have to overcome primary rivals with far longer political resumes — into formidable contenders in the blink of an eye.”

Risk of Nuclear War Over Taiwan in 1958 Said to Be Greater Than Publicly Known. "When Communist Chinese forces began shelling islands controlled by Taiwan in 1958, the United States rushed to back up its ally with military force — including drawing up plans to carry out nuclear strikes on mainland China, according to an apparently still-classified document that sheds new light on how dangerous that crisis was. [...] Mr. Ellsberg said he also had another reason for highlighting his exposure of that material. Now 90, he said he wanted to take on the risk of becoming a defendant in a test case challenging the Justice Department’s growing practice of using the Espionage Act to prosecute officials who leak information." Daniel Ellsberg is one of my heroes.

Stop glorifying ‘centrism’. It is an insidious bias favoring an unjust status quo. Amen. “Centrists in the antebellum era were apathetic or outright resistant to ending slavery in the US and then in the decades before 1920 to giving women the vote. The civil rights movement was not nearly as popular in its time as moderates who like the more polite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr think it was.” It is not a moral stance.


The Pastry A.I. That Learned to Fight Cancer. "In Japan, a system designed to distinguish croissants from bear claws has turned out to be capable of a whole lot more."

Mammals can breathe through anus in emergencies. "Although the side effects and safety need to be thoroughly evaluated in humans, our approach may offer a new paradigm to support critically ill patients with respiratory failure."

Researchers force two mice to hang out and induce FOMO in a third. "So the researchers generated “synchronized interbrain activity” by stimulating two mice with 5-Hz tonic (continuous) stimulation for five minutes and desynchronized activity by stimulating other pairs of mice with 25-Hz bursting stimulation for five minutes. About twice as many of the synchronized mice chose to socialize with each other—grooming, sniffing, etc.—as the desynchronized mice did. When two mice were synchronized into a 5-Hz pair and a third mouse got the 25-Hz burst, the pair shunned the desynchronized third. The researchers conclude that “imposed interbrain synchrony shapes social interaction and social preference in mice.”"

Neural implant lets paralyzed person type by imagining writing. "This week, the academic community provided a rather impressive example of the promise of neural implants. Using an implant, a paralyzed individual managed to type out roughly 90 characters per minute simply by imagining that he was writing those characters out by hand."


New Study Estimates More Than 900,000 People Have Died Of COVID-19 In U.S.. "The analysis comes from researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, who looked at excess mortality from March 2020 through May 3, 2021, compared it with what would be expected in a typical nonpandemic year, then adjusted those figures to account for a handful of other pandemic-related factors."

Take profit out of jail calls. Make it free to talk to loved ones behind bars. “I spend more than $100 every month to hear my son’s voice for just 15 minutes a day, time I split with his children. And I spend hundreds more to get him everything he needs inside: real food, basic toiletries, fresh linens and clean socks. I often have to choose between utility bills and supporting him, a choice no mother should ever have to make.”

Seeing the Real Faces of Silicon Valley. “For many midlevel engineers and food truck workers and longtime residents, a region filled with extremes has become increasingly inhospitable.”

Long working hours killing 745,000 people a year, study finds. “The research found that working 55 hours or more a week was associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with a working week of 35 to 40 hours.”

White People Never Supported Racial Equality; They Just Said They Did. “It was a fad. White people love Black people like they love TikTok dances and acid-washed jeans and liberty and justice for all. Have you never seen a white woman cry on cue or a Democrat campaigning in a Black barbershop? You really believed that shit? Even after the most white people in the history of America voted for a white nationalist authoritarian?”

We Need To Get Real About How the Pandemic Will End . "We seem to be holding onto the comforting fiction that we will eventually get around to vaccinating people in countries that have so far either had success keeping out the pandemic completely, or have had small outbreaks before, while they just keep up mitigating a little longer. I do not believe that the story we tell ourselves is realistic."

Remains of 215 children found at former indigenous school site in Canada. “The remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, were found at the site of a former residential school for indigenous children, a discovery Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described as heartbreaking on Friday.” The absolute horror - and this isn’t an isolated case.


What's Salesforce?. This is a pretty good overview for engineers! I've lost count of the times I've needed to answer the exact same question.

Berkshire Hathaway’s Stock Price Is Too Much for Computers. When stock prices get larger than 32-bit integers.

Some experiences with neutral technology. "Sometimes I look at my phone and think: I’m looking through a portal to California. My phone will never feel quite as part of the world as it does under Californian skies lit by the Californian sun. Here in London, or anywhere else really, my phone will always very slightly shimmer with an otherworldly light."

Facebook is still censoring groups fighting the military coup in Myanmar. “Following the February 1 coup d’état in Myanmar, activists, pro-democracy campaigners, and even supporters of the remnants of the NLD government, are asking for that ban to be rescinded. After a dramatic reshuffling of the political landscape, the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) are no longer opponents of the democratically-elected government, but core members of the resistance to the new government. They say that Facebook’s moderation is now penalizing the broader anti-coup movement because of its loose association with groups proscribed by the last government, which in turn is limiting their ability to organize and communicate.”

Local-first software: You own your data, in spite of the cloud. "In this article we propose “local-first software”: a set of principles for software that enables both collaboration and ownership for users. Local-first ideals include the ability to work offline and collaborate across multiple devices, while also improving the security, privacy, long-term preservation, and user control of data."

Google Chrome testing RSS-powered 'Follow' button, feed. Yes please.

How the cookie poisoned the Web. "Today our poisoned minds can hardly imagine having native capacities of our own that can operate at scale across all the world’s websites and services. To have that ability would also be at odds with the methods and imperatives of personally targeted advertising, which requires cookies and other tracking methods. One of those imperatives is making money: $Trillions of it."

Twitter's revved-up product focus piques publisher, advertiser interest. "After years of criticism for being slow-footed and indecisive, Twitter has finally started to spread its wings, shipping a torrent of product changes this year." I'm really bullish on Twitter - and I like it considerably more than Facebook.

US Soldiers Expose Nuclear Weapons Secrets Via Flashcard Apps. This isn't in any way the fault of the flashcard apps, which are clearly being used for effective learning. But someone needs to teach soldiers better infosec practices.

Secret Chats Show How Cybergang Became a Ransomware Powerhouse. ““Any doofus can be a cybercriminal now,” said Sergei A. Pavlovich, a former hacker who served 10 years in prison in his native Belarus for cybercrimes. “The intellectual barrier to entry has gotten extremely low.””

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: April, 2021

This is my monthly roundup of the media I consumed and found interesting. Here's my list for April, 2021.


Captain America Vol. 1: Winter In America, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. To be honest, I was expecting more. Ta-Nehisi Coates is such a brilliant writer, but this volume felt minimalist to the point of being abstracted away from the drama. It does set up the story for a little more, but not enough more. Still, it felt good to read a comic book again - it’s been quite a while.

Suite for Barbara Loden, by Nathalie Léger, translated by Natasha Lehrer and Cécile Menon. I read it in one sitting, mesmerized by the writing and the articulation of a recognizable kind of sadness. This is the kind of book I would write if I was brave enough: almost certainly not as skillfully, but with an intention to gather the dark corners of solitude and weaving it into poetry. The translation is superb; I wish I could read it in its original French.

Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart. Immersive and real. I could smell Glasgow in every page. The desperation of these well-rounded characters trying to survive through post-industrial poverty, and the moments of human beauty despite it all, ring true. The writing is excellent; the heart at the center of it all beats strong.


Nomadland. Naturalistic to the point that fiction and reality are blurred. Frances McDormand gives an impressive performance as always, but what really stands out are the real-life characters drawn into the story. Their lives are written across their faces; tragic but defiant.

The Father. Anchored by kaleidoscopic writing and nuanced performances, we see one man’s dementia play out from all sides. The set is a character in itself, reflecting slips of memory and a rapidly unraveling relationship with time. Watching it from the context of my own parents’ - albeit very different - failing health was tough. One of those films where quiet recognition leaves you cathartically weeping alone in the dark.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines. I guffawed. A lot. Packed full of in-jokes, this has everything you’d expect from the people who made Into the Spider-Verse and The LEGO Movie. A+, five stars.

Notable Articles


The Mysterious Case of the F*cking Good Pizza. “Suddenly, I was seized by a need to get to the bottom of a matter that felt like a glitch in the fabric of my humdrum pandemic existence: Where did these clickbait restaurant brands come from, even if they didn’t seem to technically exist? And why did delivery marketplaces across the U.S., and countries around the world, suddenly seem to be flooded with them?”

The Wrong Kind of Splash. Om on Unsplash: “I was a fan up until last evening when I got an email announcing that the company was being acquired by none other than Getty Images. Hearing this was like a red hot spike through the eyes. A startup whose raison d’être was to upend draconian and amoral companies like Getty Images was going to now be part of Getty. Even after I have had time to process it, the news isn’t sitting well with me.”

Let Your Employees Ask Questions. “But you also have to recognize that as a founder, you’re empowered to fuck things up. If you spend three months chasing a market that turns outs to be a dead end, nobody is going to fire you. You own the place. If someone does that at a large company, they’re maybe getting fired. And your employees will bring that reticence to your startup. So, early on, plan on providing feedback and answering a lot of questions about how you want things to get done.”

Investing in Firefly Health. This announcement caught my attention for this: “Health insurance is undergoing a rapid cycle of unbundling and repackaging. Vertically-integrated “payviders” (groups that both pay for services, like an insurer would, and administer those services, like a provider would) are emerging as a new standard, and provider networks are being recontoured as virtual-first care models take root.” I have some thoughts on what the ultimate “payvider” would be - but I wonder if these sorts of services will help get America more comfortable with the idea of a real healthcare system.

How Index Funds May Hurt the Economy. "In recent decades, the whole economy has gone on autopilot. Index-fund investment is hyperconcentrated. So is online retail. So are pharmaceuticals. So is broadband. Name an industry, and it is likely dominated by a handful of giant players. That has led to all sorts of deleterious downstream effects: suppressing workers’ wages, raising consumer prices, stifling innovation, stoking inequality, and suffocating business creation. The problem is not just the indexers. It is the public markets they reflect, where more chaos, more speculation, more risk, more innovation, and more competition are desperately needed."

If You Love Us, Pay Us: A letter from Sean Combs to Corporate America. "Corporations like General Motors have exploited our culture, undermined our power, and excluded Black entrepreneurs from participating in the value created by Black consumers. In 2019, brands spent $239 billion on advertising. Less than 1% of that was invested in Black-owned media companies. Out of the roughly $3 billion General Motors spent on advertising, we estimate only $10 million was invested in Black-owned media. Only $10 million out of $3 billion! Like the rest of Corporate America, General Motors is telling us to sit down, shut up and be happy with what we get."

Amazon Workers Defeat Union Effort in Alabama. "The company’s decisive victory deals a crushing blow to organized labor, which had hoped the time was ripe to start making inroads." Pretty disappointing.

Why Can’t American Workers Just Relax?. “Alarmed by the toll of increasingly nonexistent boundaries between work and home during the pandemic, a growing number of nations want to help their citizens unplug when they’re done with work. In the last few months, several governments, including Canada, the E.U., Ireland, and even Japan—which invented the word karoshi, for death by overwork—announced they’re considering “right to disconnect” laws. Similar laws are already on the books in Argentina, Belgium, Chile, France, Ireland, Italy, the Philippines, and Spain.” Some great links to movements for better working conditions here.

Personal Reflection: Empathy In The Workplace. "The best empathetic leaders are frequently grounded in authentic emotional connectivity with those on their team and beyond. Empathy in this context conveys sincere optimism about how “we can make it through life’s challenges together” and gives others the sense of “team” at a time when they feel most vulnerable and alone. Positive corporate culture creates this emotional support in the organization that goes well beyond tackling corporate objectives."

Six fun remote team building activities. Range is leading the way on organizational culture. This is so great. I bought a SnackMagic box for my team.

Changes at Basecamp. This is a shockingly regressive move from Basecamp, a company that literally wrote the book on building team culture. While "paternalistic benefits" like gym memberships are arguable, not being able to discuss societal context or give feedback to your peers in a structured way paves the way for a monoculture that excludes entire demographics of people. Basecamp's workers should unionize. This is the exact opposite of what an inclusive, empathetic company should be doing.

An Open Letter to Jason and David. "Anyways, it appears your reaction to the pleas and asks to recognize that Basecamp already represents a diversity of experiences and that we want the company’s software and policies to do the same has once again been lacking and disproportionate. But what’s particularly disappointing is the direction of your reaction. The oppressive direction. The silencing direction."


1984: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. A wonderful look back on one of the best games ever made, co-authored by Douglas Adams himself.

Non-Fungible Taylor Swift. “To put it another way, while we used to pay for plastic discs and thought we were paying for songs (or newspapers/writing or cable/TV stars), empowering distribution over creators, today we pay with both money and attention according to the direction of creators, giving them power over everyone. If the creator decides that their NFTs are important, they will have value; if they decide their show is worthless, it will not.”


Why We’re Freaking Out About Substack. “Danny Lavery had just agreed to a two-year, $430,000 contract with the newsletter platform Substack when I met him for coffee last week in Brooklyn, and he was deciding what to do with the money.” Some notable details here about Substack’s behind the scenes deals.

NPR will roll out paid subscriptions to its podcasts. Worth saying that PRX's founder Jake Shapiro now works at Apple on podcasts. This is a good partnership, and I trust Jake to maintain an open ecosystem.

SiriusXM Is Buying ‘99% Invisible,’ and Street Cred in Podcasting. "Under the new arrangement, “99% Invisible” will remain available at no cost on all platforms supported by ads. But the parties may explore exclusive partnerships for some products down the line. In addition to a large catalog of free podcasts that are available on all platforms, Stitcher sells a premium service offering special features from podcasts it has a relationship with — including ad-free listening, early access and bonus content — for $4.99 per month."


Justice Dept. Inquiry Into Matt Gaetz Said to Be Focused on Cash Paid to Women. “A Justice Department investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz and an indicted Florida politician is focusing on their involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments, according to people close to the investigation and text messages and payment receipts reviewed by The New York Times.”

Yellen calls for a global minimum corporate tax rate. I think I'm in favor of this? But it seems difficult to implement in practice.

What Georgia’s Voting Law Really Does. “The New York Times analyzed the state’s new 98-page voting law and identified 16 key provisions that will limit ballot access, potentially confuse voters and give more power to Republican lawmakers.”

Big Tech Is Pushing States to Pass Privacy Laws, and Yes, You Should Be Suspicious. “The Markup reviewed existing and proposed legislation, committee testimony, and lobbying records in more than 20 states and identified 14 states with privacy bills built upon the same industry-backed framework as Virginia’s, or with weaker models. The bills are backed by a who’s who of Big Tech–funded interest groups and are being shepherded through statehouses by waves of company lobbyists.”


COVID was bad for the climate. “To keep global warming under 2°C, we’d need sustained emissions reductions in this range every year for the next 20-30 years. The pandemic has been hugely disruptive, but it’s still temporary, and all signs point to a strong recovery. The drop in emissions was largely caused by lockdown, not persistent structural changes that will persist for decades to come.”

Finding From Particle Research Could Break Known Laws of Physics. “Evidence is mounting that a tiny subatomic particle called a muon is disobeying the laws of physics as we thought we knew them, scientists announced on Wednesday.” So exciting!

A Surprising Number Of Sea Monster Sightings Can Be Explained By Whale Erections. Today I learned.

American Honey Is Radioactive From Decades of Nuclear Bomb Testing. "The world’s nuclear powers have detonated more than 500 nukes in the atmosphere. These explosions were tests, shows of force to rival nations, and proof that countries such as Russia, France, and the U.S. had mastered the science of the bomb. The world’s honey has suffered for it. According to a new study published in Nature Communications, honey in the United States is full of fallout lingering from those atmospheric nuclear tests."

Flu Has Disappeared Worldwide during the COVID Pandemic. ““There’s just no flu circulating,” says Greg Poland, who has studied the disease at the Mayo Clinic for decades. The U.S. saw about 600 deaths from influenza during the 2020-2021 flu season. In comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were roughly 22,000 deaths in the prior season and 34,000 two seasons ago.”


Estimates and Projections of COVID-19 and Parental Death in the US. "The number of children experiencing a parent dying of COVID-19 is staggering, with an estimated 37,300 to 43,000 already affected. For comparison, the attacks on September 11, 2001, left 3000 children without a parent."

Clearview AI Offered Thousands Of Cops Free Trials. “A controversial facial recognition tool designed for policing has been quietly deployed across the country with little to no public oversight. According to reporting and data reviewed by BuzzFeed News, more than 7,000 individuals from nearly 2,000 public agencies nationwide have used Clearview AI to search through millions of Americans’ faces, looking for people, including Black Lives Matter protesters, Capitol insurrectionists, petty criminals, and their own friends and family members.”

What an analysis of 377 Americans arrested or charged in the Capitol insurrection tells us . "Nor were these insurrectionists typically from deep-red counties. Some 52 percent are from blue counties that Biden comfortably won. But by far the most interesting characteristic common to the insurrectionists’ backgrounds has to do with changes in their local demographics: Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic White population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges."

Reflexive McLuhanism. "To paraphrase Churchill: First we shape X, then X shapes us. If a defining characteristic of humanity is making and using tools, then a defining characteristic of society is being shaped by those same tools."

‘My full name is Tanyaradzwa’: the stars reclaiming their names. "Names are important and they have meaning, said the cultural historian and campaigner Patrick Vernon, whether that is familial significance or the time or day someone was born, for example. “The fact that people still feel they have to change or anglicise their names, and water down their heritage to fit in or succeed within the dominant culture, says we’ve still got a long way to go.”"

My Son, the Organ Donor. "My son’s vital organs saved four lives. His skin and other tissue donations will go on to help countless others. His strong heart now vigorously thumps inside the chest of a teenage boy." Please consider signing up to be a donor.

How to Name Your Black Son in a Racist Country. "And then warn him. Inform your son that he will likely be the only Tyrone in the cohort of 100 Americans and that there will be white people in his cohort who think gentrification is a good thing and who do not read. Let him know that those white people are not worth his time and that he should make a group chat with the six other Black folks in his cohort because he will regret not doing so later."

Get Ready for Blob Girl Summer. "So many people have died this year, millions, and I have survived to take into my body a miraculous shot that is the very flower of medical science, a code written in my genome to lock out the great threat. And I, imbibing this, have the temerity to not even be sexy. If Vaxxed Girl Summer is meant to be a kind of pan-cultural Rumspringa I ought to be someone that transcends schlubhood under its thrilling aegis. And yet."


NFT Canon. “The a16z NFT Canon is a curated list of readings and resources on all things NFTs, organized from the big picture, what NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are and why they matter... to how to mint, collect, and do more with them -- including how they play into various applications such as art, music, gaming, social tokens, more.”

Asian Americans in tech say they face ‘a unique flavor of oppression’. “Diversity training was "half-assed, whitewashed," she said. No one said the words "white supremacy" or "institutionalized racism."”

Social Attention: a modest prototype in shared presence. “My take is that the web could feel warmer and more lively than it is. Visiting a webpage could feel a little more like visiting a park and watching the world go by. Visiting my homepage could feel just a tiny bit like stopping by my home.” Nice proof of concept.

Google wins copyright clash with Oracle over computer code. “In siding with Google, Breyer wrote that, assuming for the sake of argument that the lines of code can be copyrighted, Google’s copying is nonetheless fair use. The fair-use doctrine permits unauthorized use of copyrighted material in some circumstances, including when the copying “transforms” the original material to create something new.” An important win in for Google at the Supreme Court.

Target CIO Mike McNamara makes a cloud declaration of independence. It makes sense that Target would want to move away from AWS, and their approach avoids lock-in to any cloud provider. All of this is made possible by free and open source software tools.

At Dynamicland, The Building Is The Computer. "Instead of simulating things like paper and pencils inside a computer, Realtalk grants computational value to everyday objects in the world. The building is the computer. Space is a first-class entity — a building block of computation. Digital projectors, cameras, and computers are inconspicuously attached to the ceiling rafters, creating space on tables and walls for projects and collaboration. Most of the software is printed on paper and runs on paper. But the deeper idea is that when the system recognizes any physical object, it becomes a computational object." Magical.

Signal adopts MobileCoin, a crypto project linked to its own creator Moxie Marlinspike. "Security expert Bruce Schneier thinks it’s an incredibly bad idea that “muddies the morality of the product, and invites all sorts of government investigative and regulatory meddling: by the IRS, the SEC, FinCEN, and probably the FBI.” He thinks the two apps—crypto and secure communications—should remain separate. In his mind, this is going to ruin Signal for everyone."

After Working at Google, I’ll Never Let Myself Love a Job Again. "After I quit, I promised myself to never love a job again. Not in the way I loved Google. Not with the devotion businesses wish to inspire when they provide for employees’ most basic needs like food and health care and belonging. No publicly traded company is a family. I fell for the fantasy that it could be."

Revealed: the Facebook loophole that lets world leaders deceive and harass their citizens. “The investigation shows how Facebook has allowed major abuses of its platform in poor, small and non-western countries in order to prioritize addressing abuses that attract media attention or affect the US and other wealthy countries. The company acted quickly to address political manipulation affecting countries such as the US, Taiwan, South Korea and Poland, while moving slowly or not at all on cases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mongolia, Mexico, and much of Latin America.”

DoJ used court order to thwart hundreds of Microsoft Exchange web shells. “In an unprecedented move, the Department of Justice used a court order to dismantle ‘hundreds’ of web shells installed using Exchange Server vulnerabilities patched by Microsoft six weeks ago.” A court order that allowed the FBI to go in and pre-emptively patch compromised systems. Fascinating.

Australian firm Azimuth unlocked the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone for the FBI. “Azimuth specialized in finding significant vulnerabilities. Dowd, a former IBM X-Force researcher whom one peer called “the Mozart of exploit design,” had found one in open-source code from Mozilla that Apple used to permit accessories to be plugged into an iPhone’s lightning port, according to the person.”

Exploiting vulnerabilities in Cellebrite UFED and Physical Analyzer from an app's perspective. "Cellebrite makes software to automate physically extracting and indexing data from mobile devices. They exist within the grey – where enterprise branding joins together with the larcenous to be called “digital intelligence.” Their customer list has included authoritarian regimes in Belarus, Russia, Venezuela, and China; death squads in Bangladesh; military juntas in Myanmar; and those seeking to abuse and oppress in Turkey, UAE, and elsewhere. A few months ago, they announced that they added Signal support to their software." This is a genuinely incredible blog post.

Why not faster computation via evolution and diffracted light. "What is the ultimate limit of computational operations per gram of the cosmos, and why don’t we have compilers that are targeting that as a substrate? I would like to know that multiple." Inspiring and mind-bending in that way that many genuinely new ideas are: connecting multiple existing ideas to create something fresh. A really great blog post.

University duo thought it would be cool to sneak bad code into Linux as an experiment. Of course, it absolutely backfired. "Computer scientists at the University of Minnesota theorized they could sneak vulnerabilities into open-source software – but when they tried subverting the Linux kernel, it backfired spectacularly."

Read Facebook's Internal Report About Its Role In The Capitol Insurrection. "From the earliest Groups, we saw high levels of Hate, VNI, and delegitimization, combined with meteoric growth rates — almost all of the fastest growing FB Groups were Stop the Steal during their peak growth. Because we were looking at each entity individually, rather than as a cohesive movement, we were only able to take down individual Groups and Pages once they exceeded a violation threshold. We were not able to act on simple objects like posts and comments because they individually tended not to violate, even if they were surrounded by hate, violence, and misinformation. After the Capitol Insurrection and a wave of Storm the Capitol events across the country, we realized that the individual delegitimizing Groups, Pages, and slogans did constitute a cohesive movement."

· Posts


Reading, watching, playing, using: March, 2021

This is my monthly roundup of the media I consumed and found interesting. Here's my list for March, 2021: a month where, at least in the United States, mass vaccination started to present the light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic.


The Death of Vivek Oji, by Akwaeke Emezi. Beautiful and sad; a tale of someone trying to be themselves in a context that won’t allow it, and of love and allyship becoming their own kinds of oppression. Despite the tragedy at the heart of the novel, it resonates with triumphant humanism, too. Emotional and sonorous and just about perfect.

Something That May Shock and Discredit You, by Daniel M. Lavery . A very personal book; powerful in a way that sneaks up on you with seemingly-banal interludes that add up to a meaningful whole. I’ve been a fan of his ever since The Toast, but this is something else entirely.

The Ministry for the Future, by Kim Stanley Robinson. It starts with a catastrophe - an extrapolation of climate change and the very dark places it might lead us - but then takes us on an exploration of how we might deal with it. It’s an informed celebration of invention, resolve, and the human spirit. If I have a criticism, it’s that it sometimes is far too utopian and engages in technological determinism, but what a change that makes. I’ve even forgiven its extensive passages on decentralized social networking (something I know a thing or two about) and blockchain, the wrongness of which casts doubt on the technical robustness of other climate solutions presented. This is hard economic science fiction, and yet, a very human book.

The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett. A near-perfect novel about identity and how the stories we tell about ourselves both define and disguise us. Modern, nuanced, and rich in a way that lingers long afterwards.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, by Cathy Park Hong. A challenging, complicated book that provides a much-needed perspective via the author’s Asian American experience. I was drawn in by the first half, and again by the deservedly angry final essay. The rest of the second half is dedicated to her experiences as an artist, which are not always likable. But why should they be? She doesn’t owe anybody anything, and her honesty is a gift that deserves attention.

Notable Articles


Imagine Your Flexible Office Work Future. "The C-Suite has had “flexibility” for years. If companies don’t expand it to other workers, they’ll find jobs elsewhere."

The End of Indie. "Unfortunately, as we’ve sought to lean more aggressively into scaling our investments and ideas behind an “Indie Economy” we’ve not found that same level of enthusiasm from the institutional LP market."

Four-Day Work Week Gains Popularity Around the World. "So last spring the company told everyone to sign off around lunchtime every Friday to ease into the weekend. The experiment was so successful—sales, employee engagement, and client satisfaction all rose—that in January, Awin decided to go a step further, rolling out a four-day week for the entire company with no cuts in salaries or benefits. “We firmly believe that happy, engaged, and well-balanced employees produce much better work,” says Chief Executive Officer Adam Ross. They “find ways to work smarter, and they’re just as productive.”" Honestly, what's the downside?

An alternative to competition. “And all we have to do is get enough customers to make our business work. That's it. That's how we stay alive. Not by taking marketshare away from anyone, not by siphoning off users, not by spending gobs of cash to convince people to switch. We simply have our own economics to worry about, and if we get that right, we're golden.” I like this way of thinking.

What Ended Indie. The discussion of GAAP accounting here - and in particular its shortcomings - is very familiar to me.

For Creators, Everything Is for Sale. “A rash of new start-ups are making it easier for digital creators to monetize every aspect of their life — down to what they eat, who they hang out with and who they respond to on TikTok.” It’s like an episode of Black Mirror.

In a First, Uber Agrees to Classify British Drivers as ‘Workers’. “Uber said it would reclassify more than 70,000 drivers in Britain as workers who will receive a minimum wage, vacation pay and access to a pension plan.” Everywhere, please.

The Personal Finance and Investment Advice Fallacy. “The personal finance circuit and the hustle economy are some of the most public acts of cruelty in capitalism. It exists to kick people when they’re down - telling those who are suffering because inherent unfairness of capitalism (where so much is based on where you are born, when you were born and whom you are born to) that it’s their fault, and that the reason they’re doing badly is because they haven’t taken the right advice or done the right thing.”

ESGs, sustainable investing are not as green as touted, investor says. “The financial services industry is duping the American public with its pro-environment, sustainable investing practices. This multitrillion dollar arena of socially conscious investing is being presented as something it's not. In essence, Wall Street is greenwashing the economic system and, in the process, creating a deadly distraction. I should know; I was at the heart of it.”

Green investing is a fraud. “Take "Environmental, Social, and Governance" (ESG) funds, pitched as a way to save for retirement without annihilating the planet you're planning to retire on. These were once so promising that they panicked the finance sector, so much so that the world's carbon barons convinced Trump to propose a law making it illegal to direct your investment dollars into an ESG.” Instead, ESG funds were gutted of their impact and are now largely marketing concerns.


Beeple sold an NFT for $69 million. Just, ugh.

The internet didn’t kill counterculture—you just won’t find it on Instagram. "Taken from the title of Chinese sci-fi writer Liu Cixin’s 2008 book, “the dark forest” region of the web is becoming increasingly important as a space of online communication for users of all ages and political persuasions. In part, this is because it is less sociologically stressful than the clearnet zone, where one is subject to peer, employer, and state exposure. It also now includes Discord servers, paid newsletters (e.g., Substack), encrypted group messaging (via Telegram, etc.), gaming communities, podcasts, and other off-clearnet message board forums and social media."

You’re probably using the wrong dictionary. “A book where you can enter “sport” and end up with “a diversion of the field” — this is in fact the opposite of what I’d known a dictionary to be. This is a book that transmutes plain words into language that’s finer and more vivid and sometimes more rare. No wonder McPhee wrote with it by his side. No wonder he looked up words he knew, versus words he didn’t, in a ratio of “at least ninety-nine to one.””


Journalism is a public service. So why doesn’t it represent the public?. "All of this is to say, getting into a four-year university depends largely on generational wealth, which a myriad of immigrant households and historically marginalized racial minorities are still struggling to build. Those on the unlucky side of the gap see disadvantages compound from the start. I come from a family that lived below the poverty line, and that likely helped me earn a full scholarship to Boston University. This stroke of luck has changed my life, but it’s important to acknowledge that the hurdles don’t end there."

America is learning to rebalance its news diet post-Trump. "Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics."

Nearly Half of Digital Subscribers Are ‘Zombies,’ Medill Analysis Finds. “Spiegel found that 49% of digital subscribers didn’t go to the websites they had paid for even once a month, putting them in a category known in news-industry slang as “zombies.” Concern is growing about this problem because even though the living dead may still pay for local news, they seem like a weak foundation to build a future on.” It makes me wonder why they subscribe; I suspect it’s closer to why people donate to charity than because they want to be constantly engaged with the content.

Here's why Substack's scam worked so well. “For all we know, every single one of Substack’s top newsletters is supported by money from Substack. Until Substack reveals who exactly is on its payroll, its promises that anyone can make money on a newsletter are tainted.”

AAJA Guidance on Atlanta Shootings. “We urge newsrooms to cover the shootings in the context of the current rise in attacks on Asian Americans. These shootings have come during a time of increasing attacks on the AAPI community, and heightened fear among AAPI communities across the country.”


Women in Congress on the Capitol riot: 23 lawmakers on what happened to them during the insurrection. "As the events of the deadly riot are examined in the impeachment trial, here is what almost two dozen lawmakers told The 19th about January 6, in their own words." Really harrowing.


A Cephalopod Has Passed a Cognitive Test Designed For Human Children. Cuttlefish can pass the marshmallow test. Can you?

Facial recognition technology can expose political orientation from naturalistic facial images. "Accuracy remained high (69%) even when controlling for age, gender, and ethnicity. Given the widespread use of facial recognition, our findings have critical implications for the protection of privacy and civil liberties." Kind of terrifying.

Study: Preservative Used in Pop-Tarts and Hundreds of Popular Foods May Harm the Immune System. "A food preservative used to prolong the shelf life of Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, Cheez-Its and almost 1,250 other popular processed foods may harm the immune system, according to a new peer-reviewed study by Environmental Working Group." And: "Recently published research has also found a link between high levels of PFAS in the blood and the severity of Covid-19."

How mRNA Technology Could Change the World. "For decades, researchers have struggled to design a workable vaccine for HIV, and many observers considered this field a dead end. But a new paper argues that these repeated failures forced HIV-vaccine researchers to spend a lot of time and money on strange and unproven vaccine techniques—such as synthetic mRNA and the viral-vector technology that powers the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Nearly 90 percent of COVID-19 vaccines that made it to clinical trials used technology that “could be traced back to prototypes tested in HIV vaccine trials,” Jeffrey E. Harris, the economist at MIT who authored the paper, wrote."

Stanford Scientists Reverse Engineer Moderna Vaccine, Post Code on Github. “We didn't reverse engineer the vaccine. We posted the putative sequence of two synthetic RNA molecules that have become sufficiently prevalent in the general environment of medicine and human biology in 2021.”


How to have better arguments online. Not just online: “When we’re in an argument with someone, we should be thinking about how they can change their mind and look good – maintain or even enhance their face – at the same time. Often this is very hard to do in the moment of the dispute itself, when opinion and face are bound even more tightly together than they are before or after (the writer Rachel Cusk defines an argument as “an emergency of self-definition”). However, by showing that we have listened to and respected our interlocutor’s point of view, we make it more likely that they will come around at some later point. If and when they do, we should avoid scolding them for not agreeing with us all along.”

New study finds not knowing how to flirt is the main reason behind "involuntary singlehood". "Among the participants who indicated that they were involuntarily single, the most important factor by far was their lack of flirting skills. Following this factor, in decreasing order, were skills in perceiving signals of interest, “mating effort,” and choosiness. These last three factors were all relatively similar in their degree of impact."

Harry and Meghan: The union of two great houses, the Windsors and the Celebrities, is complete. “Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories. More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.”

Private Schools Are Indefensible. I agree with the headline. They simply shouldn’t exist. This is an excellent piece that dives into some reasons why.

What the Pandemic Is Doing to Our Brains. “The pandemic is still too young to have yielded rigorous, peer-reviewed studies about its effects on cognitive function. But the brain scientists I spoke with told me they can extrapolate based on earlier work about trauma, boredom, stress, and inactivity, all of which do a host of very bad things to a mammal’s brain.”

Hospitals Hide Pricing Data From Search Results. Hospitals have to list pricing by law - but they explicitly add noindex, nofollow tags to pricing pages so they can't be searched and discovered. Seems like an opportunity for someone to build an open dataset.

Evanston, Illinois, becomes first U.S. city to pay reparations to Black residents. "The Chicago suburb’s City Council voted 8-1 to distribute $400,000 to eligible black households. Each qualifying household would receive $25,000 for home repairs or down payments on property."


Clubhouse Harassment, and Tech's Move from Enthusiast to Industrial Press. “I believe that a lot of the people in tech who are having this vacuous, oafish discussion of the media has as “haters” are actually just mad that they can’t say or do what they want and that every action they have isn’t the most important thing in the world.”

Google will end behavioral targeting, profile-building in its ad products. "Google helped create and grow the digital ad ecosystem that relied on tracking and targeting ads to people across the web. Now, up against pressure from regulators around data privacy and antitrust, Google will stop enabling cross-site tracking and targeting of individuals outside its own properties such as in inventory it sells through its Google AdX display and video ad exchange." Big changes are coming.

The SOC2 Starting Seven. "Here’s how we’ll try to help: with Seven Things you can do now that will simplify SOC2 for you down the road while making your life, or at least your security posture, materially better in the immediacy." File under "things I wish I'd read a year ago".

Lying to the ghost in the machine. “The point I'd like to make is that ready-trained NNs like GPT-3 or CLIP are often tailored as the basis of specific recognizer applications and then may end up deployed in public situations, much as shitty internet-of-things gizmos usually run on an elderly, unpatched ARM linux kernel with an old version of OpenSSH and busybox installed, and hard-wired root login credentials. This is the future of security holes in our internet-connected appliances: metaphorically, cameras that you can fool by slapping a sticker labelled "THIS IS NOT THE DROID YOU ARE LOOKING FOR" on the front of the droid the camera is in fact looking for.”

T-Mobile to Step Up Ad Targeting of Cellphone Customers. 'Wireless carrier tells subscribers it could share their masked browsing, app data and online activity with advertisers unless they opt out." As a previously-happy T-Mobile customer, I'm outraged by this.

He got Facebook hooked on AI. Now he can't fix its misinformation addiction. “I began video-calling Quiñonero regularly. I also spoke to Facebook executives, current and former employees, industry peers, and external experts. Many spoke on condition of anonymity because they’d signed nondisclosure agreements or feared retaliation. I wanted to know: What was Quiñonero’s team doing to rein in the hate and lies on its platform?” Surprise, surprise: that’s not what Facebook wanted to talk about.

The Mobile Performance Inequality Gap, 2021. “Whatever progress runtimes and networks have made in the past half-decade, browsers are stubbornly situated in the devices carried by real-world users, and the single most important thing to understand about the landscape of devices your sites will run on is that they are not new phones.”

One Year in the IndieWeb. I'm pretty much an indieweb zealot. These experiences are fair and representative of the community, it seems to me.

The Dao of DAOs. “After a contentious debate, the Ethereum core team, led by Vitalik Buterin, released a hard fork of the Ethereum blockchain. It was essentially a new version in which everything was the same, except in the forked version, the heist never happened.” A very telling paragraph. How decentralized is it, really, if the core team can vanish away transactions, regardless of the reason? (Hint: every blockchain can do this.)

In 2020, Two Thirds of Google Searches Ended Without a Click. Fuel for Google being more of a publisher than a referrer these days.

The End of AMP. “If you’re currently using AMP, you’ll be able to get rid of that monstrosity in May, and if you aren’t, you’ll now be competing for search positions previously unavailable to you. For publishers, it is a win-win.” FINALLY.

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Reading, watching, playing, using: January, 2021

This is my monthly roundup of the tech and media I consumed and found interesting. Here's my list for January, 2021: a month that included an armed coup attempt, my 42nd birthday, and the start of a new Presidency.


The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, by Eric Hoffer. Fascinating, searing and insightful, but also set in its ways. It was originally published in 1951, and some of Hoffer’s perspective has not stood the test of time; however, the parallels he draws about mass movements around the world absolutely do, and I found it hard not to think about the current rise of Trumpian nationalism as he laid out his argument.

The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu. Spectacular science fiction ideas drawn from real imagination, woven into a nonsensical story with wooden, unbelievable characters that often stray into sexist tropes. It turns out I care about the latter more.

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1), by Philip Pullman. It’s absolutely magical to read a fantasy universe set in an alternate version of my hometown. I felt a waterfall of emotions, from homesickness to wonder. I’ve never read His Dark Materials, to my shame, and this has me very much wanting to go and read that trilogy before I continue with this one. But the last third is much weaker, and contains a narrative choice I won’t spoil but really didn’t need to be there. Not a perfect book, then, but for the first two thirds, it was moving in that direction.

Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America, by Laila Lalami . This series of dynamic first-person perspectives on the conditions of citizenship placed on the majority of people in this country who don’t happen to be white, male, or straight should be required reading for every American. It culminates in a manifesto of sorts that paints a picture of the sort of country we should be building. The only point of departure I have with the author is her apparent belief that faith makes a person more ethical; I simply don’t believe this to be the case. Nonetheless, this is her truth, and it’s related in a direct, dynamic way that adds a great deal to the discourse of what it means to be an American.

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. A lovely feel-good read. I occasionally felt like the author was over-stressing obvious conclusions, but that’s because the premise of depression leading to constant agonizing over past regrets is pretty much where I live. It left me, like its protagonist, eager to go out and live. Sure, you could unkindly describe it as Quantum Leap for people with depression. But honestly? Even that synopsis sounds great to me.


Revolution of the Daleks. After the year we had, I really needed a solid Doctor Who special. And this was it: from great character development to a “fuck the police” subtext, this is the subversive show I love. I’m looking forward to more later this year, as soon as they finish filming during the pandemic (apparently they don’t quite know when that will be yet).

Locked Down. It was critically panned, and the subject matter is the definition of “too soon”, but I enjoyed this weird little movie. It’s neither a romantic comedy nor a heist movie, but it rhymes with both. It reminded me of a quirky novel.

chez baldwin. A Spotify playlist based on records found in James Baldwin’s home in France. Sublime.

Notable Articles


How Google workers secretly built a union. I’m deeply pro-union, and excited to see more unionization in tech.

Vons, Pavilions to Fire “Essential Workers,” Replace Drivers with Independent Contractors. This is what we get for passing Proposition 22.

Imagine a Hiring Process Without Resumes. “Open hiring shifts resources to invest in workers, rather than finding ways to exclude them. Most important, this approach allows companies to build more resilient businesses and address one of today’s greatest social challenges: providing economic opportunities for people often viewed as unemployable.”

World's richest person Elon Musk to dedicate wealth to Mars colony. “And lest you think a trip to Mars is too pricey for most people, Musk has said he intends for there to be "loans available for those who don't have money," and jobs on the Red Planet for colonists to pay off their debts. Some critics say Musk's plans resemble an interplanetary form of indentured servitude.” You don’t say.

Seed Investments in Insurrection. “Some investors who rewrite the history of innovation. They forget that taxpayers funded the creation of the internet and contributed to pharmaceutical discoveries. They call for the end of regulations except for the ones that incentivize them to invest through tax benefits regular people don’t get. They want the government off their backs except when it comes to making sure no one builds affordable housing down the street from them.”

Culture is the Behavior You Reward and Punish. “People stop taking values seriously when the public rewards (and consequences) don’t match up. We can say that our culture requires treating each other with respect, but all too often, the openly rude high performer is privately disciplined, but keeps getting more and better projects. It doesn’t matter if you docked his bonus or yelled at him in private. When your team sees unkind people get ahead, they understand that the real culture is not one of kindness.”

Expensify CEO David Barrett: ‘Most CEOs are not bad people, they're just cowards’. “My opinion is a little bit different. I think this idea of "Oh, we're apolitical," I think that's kind of bullshit. I think there's no such thing in a democracy as being apolitical. Every action you take is your position. I think that a large number of these tech companies, by saying, "Oh, we're apolitical," that's a very convenient way of saying, "No, I'm voting for the status quo. I support the current administration, and I'm not going to take actions to do anything about it because it's actually good for business." I think it's actually pretty cynical.”

Why You Should Practice Failure. “We learn from our mistakes. When we screw up and fail, we learn how not to handle things. We learn what not to do.” All opportunities for growth.

Why I wouldn’t invest in open-source companies, even though I ran one. “The question then is: Is open-source a better business strategy than a more conventional, proprietary tech model? And the answer - at least to me - is a resounding "No". The ratio of failed OS businesses to successful ones is worse than in prop-tech; revenue kicks in much later, business model pivots are hampered by community resistance, and licensing issues leave OS businesses vulnerable throughout their lifetime. Instead, why not do what traditional businesses are doing, sell a product, and simply charge for the value it provides?” AKA “the exact same mistake I made twice.”

Making Twitter a better home for writers. It's super-interesting to see Twitter enter the paid newsletter space. Lots of interesting places to go with this.

Speaker Rider for Meaningfully Inclusive Events. Let's please all start using this.

Tractors won't be fully autonomous anytime soon — but not because they can't be. It’s interesting to think about the long term effects of autonomous farming. I don’t believe we can switch to this without much stronger social safety nets in place. I can also see a world where low-wage workers end up working behind computers, policing the decisions made by machine learning systems.


How about finding new books by mapping who thanks who. I love this idea. I wonder if a company other than Amazon or Google could pull it off?

A full accounting of the one hundred and fifty tales that make up the entirety of the thousand and one tales. This is a lovely writing project. It makes me want to do something similar - you know, with all my copious free time.

Three Things Cameron Couldn't Tell You, by Michael Haynes. I loved this short story.


The mafia turns social media influencer to reinforce its brand. “Southern Italy’s mob bosses embrace digital platforms as a way to spread their message.” I’m excited to see the TikTok dances.

A sneak peak at power mapping, 2073’s top innovation. “What if every piece of journalism helped the public understand whether old or new power dynamics and values were at play?”

The Day Without News. If only.

Using printed QR codes for links in books. I love these examples, and the idea. URLs on the printed page have always sucked. Including QR codes inline can be beautiful, and simultaneously less obtrusive.

Open letter from Laura Poitras. “On Monday, November 30, 2020, I was fired from First Look Media, an organization I co-founded. My termination came two months after I spoke to the press about The Intercept’s failure to protect whistleblower Reality Winner and the cover-up and lack of accountability that followed, and after years of raising concerns internally about patterns of discrimination and retaliation.”

Apple is reportedly considering a podcast subscription service. Okay, but I want them to be compatible with my podcast player, and not have to use Apple's.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Journalism in Emerging Economies and the Global South. "Taking a deep dive into the critical challenges faced by the profession, the report examines issues including the pandemic’s impact on the personal safety and welfare of journalists, the structure of newsrooms and disruption to business models, the proliferation of fake news, and surging threats to media freedom. The study also identifies best practice and innovative approaches that have been developed as a response to the challenges of COVID-19."

Misinformation went down after Twitter banned Trump. By 73%. So there’s that.

Is there room for small, niche streaming services?. Take the quiz: how many streaming services are real and how many are fake? I got 6 out of 13 right.


The NDAA bans anonymous shell companies. The NDAA, which passed after this post was written, “includes a measure known as the Corporate Transparency Act, which undercuts shell companies and money laundering in America. The act requires the owners of any company that is not otherwise overseen by the federal government (by filing taxes, for example, or through close regulation) to file a report that identifies each person associated with the company who either owns 25% or more of it or exercises substantial control over it. That report, including name, birthdate, address, and an identifying number, goes to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The measure also increases penalties for money laundering and streamlines cooperation between banks and foreign law enforcement authorities.”

Trump pressures Georgia's Raffensperger to overturn his defeat in extraordinary call. Just astonishing.

Same Elections, Different Americas. “Donald Trump will likely get away with massive election fraud. Crystal Mason got five years for one vote.”

I’m in a roomful of people 'panicked that I might inadvertently give away their location'. A remarkable account of the Capitol insurrection. I was surprised at how emotional my reaction to reading this was - there were tears. We came so close to something much worse.

What it was like for a reporter to be evacuated from the U.S. Capitol. “Back in the Capitol, police began a room-by-room search to find senators, staff and reporters who had been left behind. One senior GOP aide, who has an office not far from the Senate floor, said he took a steel rod and barricaded his door when the pro-Trump mob approached. For what seemed like 20 minutes, he said, rioters banged on his door, trying to break in.”

The other reason Facebook silenced Trump? Republicans just lost their power. "It has not escaped my attention that the day social media companies decided there actually IS more they could do to police Trump's destructive behavior was the same day they learned Democrats would chair all the congressional committees that oversee them."

Madness on Capitol Hill. ““This is not America,” a woman said to a small group, her voice shaking. She was crying, hysterical. “They’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.””

Who decides when there are helicopters? Experts weigh in on National Guard monitoring protests. “It sets an incredibly troubling precedent when we think about what it might mean if any time there’s a protest you might have military surveillance helicopters there.”

First Amendment and free spech: When it applies and when it doesn't. “Let's look at some common First Amendment arguments, illuminated and debunked by constitutional experts.”

Lisa Montgomery becomes first woman to be executed by federal government since 1953. Stomach-turning. The death penalty is the opposite of justice. It’s just cold-blooded murder, committed by the state in our names.

Alt-Right Groups and Personalities Involved In Last Week’s Capitol Riot Received Over $500K In Bitcoin From French Donor One Month Prior. This is a remarkable story in every possible way.

Secret Service paid $3,000 a month for a bathroom near Jared and Ivanka’s D.C. home. One of 2021’s gifts is not having to care about these awful people anywhere near as much.

Self-styled militia members planned Capitol storming in advance of Jan. 6. “In charging papers, the FBI said that during the Capitol riot, Caldwell received Facebook messages from unspecified senders updating him of the location of lawmakers. When he posted a one-word message, “Inside,” he received exhortations and directions describing tunnels, doors and hallways, the FBI said. Some messages, according to the FBI, included, “Tom all legislators are down in the Tunnels 3floors down,” and “Go through back house chamber doors facing N left down hallway down steps.” Another message read: “All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas,” the FBI added.” Holy crap.

Biden’s climate plan emphasizes environmental justice. You know, I’d like to take a minute and appreciate how nice it is to read a headline about something that someone did in government and think, “that’s great”. It’s been quite a while.


How researchers are making do in the time of Covid. “To gauge how researchers in different fields are managing, Knowable Magazine spoke with an array of scientists and technical staff—among them a specialist keeping alive genetically important strains of fruit flies, the maintenance chief of an astronomical observatory working to keep telescopes safe and on standby during the lockdown, and a pediatrician struggling to manage clinical trials for a rare genetic disease.”


Working From Bed Is Actually Great. “Those with chronic illness or disabilities say that they hope that, much as the way the pandemic has made companies more open to remote work, the stigma around working from bed will also be broken.”

What If You Could Do It All Over?. “Most of us aren’t haunted so acutely by the people we might have been. But, perhaps for a morning or a month, our lives can still thrum with the knowledge that it could have been otherwise.” This is a sickness that I know very, very well. A really interesting exploration.

Meet the gun-toting ‘Tenacious Unicorns’ in rural Colorado (Queers, alpacas and guns). “How a transgender-owned alpaca ranch in Colorado foretells the future of the rural queer West.” I love this so much.

The imminent possibility of UFOs. The truth is out there.

The Retirement Crisis for Women of Color. "In fact, women of color are more likely to fall into poverty in retirement because they are less likely than white women to have retirement plans available through their employer, says Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, an associate professor at Boston College and research fellow at the Center for Retirement Research. It’s rare for workers to be able to save substantial amounts of money for retirement outside of those plans, creating inequality in who can save for the future."

The Ways We're Suppressed. "The cruelty of American Society isn’t simply in its unfairness, but in the fact that your fellow people actively support and canvas for said unfairness. They want to keep it the same way because it’s a way of justifying their own privilege - many people can’t face the fact that they got lucky two, or three, or a hundred times over, because luck suggests that their hard work wasn’t part of it. They’re people who are babies - so fragile on the inside that they can’t see that, yes, they worked hard and got stuff, but there were advantages along the way, and that acknowledging said advantages doesn’t discount the work they did."

Recompose, the first human-composting funeral home in the U.S., is now open for business. I’m fully 100% in.


Regulation is coming in 2021. Here’s how Big Tech is preparing for it. “The open internet. Section 230. China. Internet access. 5G. Antitrust. When we asked the policy shops at some of the biggest and most powerful tech companies to identify their 2021 policy priorities, these were the words they had in common.”

Downloading meditation apps and rethinking meetings: How tech leaders changed in 2020. “We asked a number of leaders across the tech world to reflect a bit on a crazy year, and to tell us a few things they've learned, what's changed, and how they're bringing the new normal into 2021. Here's what they told us.”

Feature Prioritizing: Ways To Reduce Subjectivity And Bias. Some good ideas to improve design sessions and avoid structural biases. I’m looking forward to putting them into practice.

Tech legislation to watch in 2021. Useful round-up of legislation on the cards for the coming year. I’m particularly hopeful for a nationwide privacy law.

On Online. “At first, the internet was where I found other people like me, people I hadn’t yet found in real life. They were on Diaryland and LiveJournal, being honest about what was going on in their lives and tooling around with HTML and CSS. Usually we liked the same music. We exchanged images of different artists, when images were hard to find. It was a place of solace. Now I can’t tweet a damn thing without someone I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, saying something in reply that mocks me, insults me, suggests total lack of awareness of the circumstances of my life, etc., etc. It’s not the place it once was, where we were vulnerable, honest, and seeking connection. Now, it feels like we are only seeking righteousness and/or a perfect aesthetic. It’s boring. I’m not the first to point this out.”

DALL·E: Creating Images from Text. Legitimately one of the most amazing technology demos I’ve ever seen. Click into the examples and see what I mean.

The continuing rise of private virtual neighbourhoods. “Perhaps what we’re seeing is the disentangling of social media back into social and media: newsletters and podcasts are best understood as being part of the media spectrum, even if many of them are smaller and have community spaces attached. And Discord space, Slack spaces, etc, these virtual neighbourhoods are pure social.”

A 25-Year-Old Bet Comes Due: Has Tech Destroyed Society?. “In 1995, a WIRED cofounder challenged a Luddite-loving doomsayer to a prescient wager on tech and civilization’s fate. Now their judge weighs in.” Frankly, neither man comes off very well.

Archivists Are Mining Parler Metadata to Pinpoint Crimes at the Capitol. “Using a massive 56.7-terabyte archive of the far-right social media site Parler that was captured on Sunday, open-source analysts, hobby archivists, and computer scientists are working together to catalog videos and photos that were taken at the attack on the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday.”

Federal Front Door. “Recent research has made clear what many folks have personally experienced: The federal government needs to improve how it interacts with the public. Enter the Federal Front Door, an initiative to improve public-government interactions across the board.”

Everything Old is New Part 2: Why Online Anonymity Matters. A really useful list of resources about why anonymity matters online, and why using real names is not the solution to online abuse.

Facing Forward. A really lovely reminder of another era of creativity in software design.

Turning off your camera in video calls could cut carbon emissions by 96%. “A new study from Purdue University in the US estimates that an hour of videoconferencing or streaming emits between 150 and 1000 grams of carbon dioxide. It also uses up to 12 litres of water and an area of land around the size of an iPad mini.” It’s rare to see the environmental impact of the internet industry discussed, but it’s important.

China wants to build an open source ecosystem to rival GitHub. "With GitHub in the crosshairs of Chinese censors, Beijing is backing Gitee as its official hub, an open-source institution tailored for a closed internet." Fascinating, not least because Gitee really just looks like a GitHub clone.

New Hooray for a bilingual White House homepage again - and on WordPress!

‘The Big Shift’: Internal Facebook Memo Tells Employees to Do Better on Privacy. "Facebook VP Andrew Bosworth tells colleagues that privacy matters more than the product experience." If they can reform the company around privacy and the human rights of their users, I might even re-join. Color me skeptical, though.

‘For Some Reason I’m Covered in Blood’: GPT-3 Contains Disturbing Bias Against Muslims. Yet again, algorithms carry the bias of their sources.

Make Boring Plans. "Since we often end up in the land of novel technology, we owe it to ourselves and our customers to be boring in other ways. And the most important way that a Platform team can be boring is by writing boring plans." This is fantastic.

Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech. "Moving to a world where protocols and not proprietary platforms dominate would solve many issues currently facing the internet today. Rather than relying on a few giant platforms to police speech online, there could be widespread competition, in which anyone could design their own interfaces, filters, and additional services, allowing whichever ones work best to succeed, without having to resort to outright censorship for certain voices. It would allow end users to determine their own tolerances for different types of speech but make it much easier for most people to avoid the most problematic speech, without silencing anyone entirely or having the platforms themselves make the decisions about who is allowed to speak."

Facebook and Apple Are Beefing Over the Future of the Internet. "On Thursday morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a speech explaining his company’s upcoming privacy changes, which will ban apps from sharing iPhone user behavior with third parties unless users give explicit consent. And he made plain that these new policies were designed at least in part with Facebook in mind." Let's be clear: rightly so.

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