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I’ve still got it

I’ve still got it! Covid, that is.

Today was a bit of a backslide: I feel worse, and I’m having a little trouble catching my breath. My pulse oximeter (actually my mother’s pulse oximeter, which I’d like to think she’d be happy I was using, but also sad I was using) reads 98, which isn’t bad.

And I’m just exhausted all of the time, which is getting really old. I’m trying not to think about how much weight I might be gaining being completely stationary, or what recovery will look like once the virus finally subsides, but I linger there sometimes.

I’m up to date on Ms. Marvel, which is really good. I had to bail from Obi-Wan Kenobi, which did not hold my attention. I am noticeably less good at Wordle.

On we go.

 

The startupification of education

Something in Anne-Marie Scott’s post about losing her love of what she does struck a chord with me. Not because I’ve lost the love of what I do - on the contrary, I’m lucky enough to have re-found it. But the way she describes the startupification of education sounds very familiar:

Access is a problem of scale at one level and I am committed to working on that but I increasingly hear reductive views of digital learning limited to students navigating personalised pathways through high-end content and teachers interpreting that learning through analytics. This seems devoid of any kind of good relations and community.

The need for high scale is a crater that has been dug in the fabric of civic life.

For a startup to be venture fundable, it must demonstrate that it is scalable: in other words, it can plausibly grow to be a billion dollar company without linearly increasing the size of its team. Or to put it a lot more simply: it has the potential to make exponential profit. Mint money. Make everyone involved incredibly rich.

And many of them have! Google and Facebook rule the world (figuratively speaking). A lot of founders and a lot of investors have become wealthy by turning startups into scalable flywheels. Venture funding isn’t the only way to fund a startup, but it’s certainly the way that’s caught the public’s and the industry’s imagination, and the result is that the notion of scalability has, too.

But not everything has to be scalable; not everything has to be venture scale. There are a lot of public services, technologies in the public interest, and fully-profitable businesses that benefit by not trying to reach scale. Relationships are the building blocks of society; eradicating those in favor of analytics, in education of all places, is counter-productive, to put it charitably.

The thing to understand about scale is that it’s the antithesis of intimacy. It’s possible to build a service that hits 10 people or 10 million people with the same team; it comes down to different design choices. But it’s not possible to build a service that serves those 10 million people with the same richness of understanding that the one for 10 people has the potential to reach. You can’t get to know each person; you can’t build up a real relationship of trust and 1:1 knowledge. The best you can achieve is a kind of rat-maze simulation of intimacy. How can you possibly hope to respond to a learner’s needs in that environment? And if the educational institution isn’t meeting a learner’s needs, that means someone else has to be - meaning that education at scale can only possibly serve learners who are privileged enough to have individual support at home.

It’s also used in public services under the mistaken assumption that running them like businesses will make them more efficient. Public services *aren’t* businesses, by definition. By making the bottom line a key performance indicator, rather than long-term learner outcomes across a range of inclusive lenses, school authorities are incentivized to trade 1:1 quality  off in favor of cost-effectiveness. That’s not how you get to an educated, creative society. And surely that’s the goal?

It’s been a while since I worked in education. The platform I co-founded, Elgg, was originally intended to support the kind of informal learning that happened in hallways and study groups, but remotely. I always said that if I thought it was going to replace or reduce in-person teaching, I’d shut it down tomorrow. I wish more EdTech projects would consider the same approach.

 

Still isolating

Covid kicked my ass for approximately four and a half days, and it’s still kicking my ass, but now at least I can read more than half a paragraph of text and string something approaching a complete sentence together. I’m still isolating, still contagious, still feeling like someone has come and sucked the energy from my body with a straw in one of the short windows at night when I’ve actually managed to get some sleep, but I feel a great deal more like me than I did. How I feel tomorrow depends greatly on how much sleep I manage to get tonight.

I’m lucky, of course: I have friends who have had narrow escapes from the ICU, and I know plenty of people who have lost loved ones. It’s a privilege to be able to claw my way online and complain about how much it sucks.

In a weird way, it’s been nice to have contemplative time, after a year that has felt like a whirlwind (which followed another year that felt like a whirlwind). It would have been better to have contemplative time where it didn’t feel like my body was disintegrating around me, so that’s a wake-up call that I need to build more solitary, quiet space into my life. That’s when I’m at my most creative, and I would like nothing more than more time doing more creative, self-driven work. I need more time by myself - and really, I haven’t had much of any over the last year or two - so I’ll find a way to make it.

Meanwhile, it turns out that writing this four-paragraph blog post has completely wiped me out. So I’m closing my laptop again and accepting that I’m not going to do anything productive until I’m much more rid of this virus than I am right now. Time for a dumb movie or something, or just some sleep.

 

Friday

Yesterday, the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, undoing fifty years of the right to an abortion in the United States. Here’s The 19th’s continually-updated list of what abortion laws look like across the country. And here’s what might happen next.

On a personal note, at the end of the day I also tested positive for Covid. It’s frustrating, because all I’ve been doing is clearing out a house to move out of it, and I’ve had little to no contact with other people. I have no idea where or who I got it from. It’s a good reminder that the pandemic is not over, and you should be careful, test often, and isolate yourself immediately if you test positive.

 

Infosec for abortion-seekers

We know from a leaked draft decision that over the next few days, it’s likely that the US Supreme Court will issue a ruling in Dobbs vs Jackson that will eliminate federal abortion protections.

Here, from my colleagues at The 19th, is what abortion laws look like across the US right now. Many states have trigger laws on the books that will take effect as soon as federal abortion protections are eliminated. Notably, states like Texas make it illegal to help someone get an abortion, and allow anyone to sue someone for doing so. Abortion travel bans are also looming: untested laws that would prevent someone from traveling to another state to get an abortion.

It’s remarkable that these sorts of restrictions should be placed on a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body in a democracy. It’s more remarkable still to see vigilante laws go into effect, and to see states weigh up legislation that denies people the right to choose whether to travel to a different state where abortion is legal. (These restrictions don’t exist for assisted suicide, for example, after a Constitutional challenge.)

For most people on the internet, their information journey begins with a service like Google or Facebook. On these services, your search history and other activity can be subpoenaed, meaning that if you go to court, perhaps because someone sued you for trying to get an abortion, it can be used against you. Pro-life organizations are already using Facebook to learn more about potential abortion payments. Earlier this year, a data broker was found to be selling data about people who visited Planned Parenthood.

So what happens if you do need an abortion? What kind of security stance should people take?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a guide that sensibly describes compartmentalization, community agreements, and safe browsing. This is really important, smart advice, but it doesn’t go far enough in a world where your cellphone’s location data may reveal that you went to a clinic.

A lot of location data is derived from the apps you use, and it’s usually not obvious which apps send information where. A few years ago, it was discovered that a Muslim prayer app shared information with the US military. It’s not inconceivable that an app wouldn’t, or isn’t, sharing data with law enforcement: although the Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement needs a warrant to get wireless carrier location data, it can buy location data from brokers.

Abortion isn’t the last stop for this kind of legislation or approach: gender affirming care and even marriage equality may be on the docket. Even more broadly, we should all consider whether we want to live in a world where our every private action can be tracked and used against us. Miranda rights state that “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law”; we’ve built a reality where anything we do can, too, whether or not we’ve been made aware.

The most effective protection would be a legislature that is in favor of an individuals’s right to choose and to privacy. A group of Senators is seeking a ban on the sale of health location data, following a letter that was sent to Google CEO Sundar Pichai urging the same. But failing legislative protection, pro-choice advocates need to begin building grassroots infosec skills and tools if they want to prevent this data from being used against abortion-seekers. Today, there is very little out there to help.

A few days ago, I asked the question: Who is doing the best work on infosec for women who may be seeking an abortion? As of now, there are no good answers.

 

Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash

 

FIDO passkeys are an existential threat to fintech startups

FIDO is a new authentication technology intended to supersede passwords. Here, passwords are replaced with a biometric input: for example, FaceID or TouchID on Apple devices. iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows are all getting this soon due to an alliance between Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

I think it’s unequivocally great: an open standard that provides better security for end users while simultaneously providing a better user experience. Yay!

But spare a thought for the fintech industry. It’s an open secret that the US financial industry widely uses screen scraping to enable data sharing integrations between entities. As a sector, it’s been incredibly slow to adopt open APIs and other mechanisms that would protect user safety.

Last year, Protocol wrote about screen scraping’s widespread use to integrate payroll systems:

Davis of Atomic said the company has used screen scraping "when user-permissioned APIs are not available." One example is when Atomic needs to connect with state unemployment systems, which typically don't have API connectivity. A Plaid spokesman said the company uses "a combination of API access and screen scraping at the direction of customers."

Technically, it’s not a great solution: by definition, screen scraping requires storing a user’s financial system passwords in clear text. Nonetheless, you can bet that every system that integrates with payroll systems, and almost every system that integrates with banks (at a minimum), uses the technique. The US has badly needed open banking style standards for years.

FIDO is likely to bring an end to this practice: when financial services use FIDO passkeys for authentication, screen scraping becomes impossible. Based on their historical precedent implementing new technologies, it may take years before financial services adopt the standard for authentication. But when they do, it will become impossible for third parties to access those systems without the service provider’s consent.

At this point, one of two things will happen: a set of open APIs for integration will appear and begin to reach adoption, or a whole generation of startups will die. It might be both!

If I was a fintech startup, I’d be establishing a set of open source APIs, forming an alliance with other fintech companies and financial institutions, and doing whatever I could to get traditional financial companies to adopt it before they transition away from password authentication. If I was a fintech investor, I’d be bankrolling this endeavor. If I was the government, I would be enacting strong legislation to force the industry forward (which may require lobbying from companies, investors, and consumers alike). Because otherwise, greater security and a better user experience for consumers looks a lot like an existential threat.

 

Tech on Juneteenth

Juneteenth is not the commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation, when President Lincoln declared that all slaves in the Confederacy were free. (Some Union slaves weren’t free until the passage of the 13th Amendment.) Instead, it celebrates the event, two and a half years later, when emancipation finally reached Galveston, Texas. Ending slavery in the US was a long and drawn-out process.

Arguably, though, not every form of slavery ended. The US still employs slave labor through its prison system, which disproportionately incarcerates people of color and forces them to work for rates as low as $0.23 to $1.15 an hour. Some states, like Texas, Georgia, and Florida, don’t pay prisoners at all.

As the End the Exception campaign by Worth Rises describes it:

Passed in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is celebrated for abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude. However, to the surprise of many, the Thirteenth Amendment includes an exception clause that has been understood throughout history to allow slavery and involuntary servitude to be used as punishment for crime. During Reconstruction, this understanding encouraged the criminalization, incarceration, and re-enslavement of Black people.

Worth Rises maintains a report of corporations that use slave labor, which was last updated in 2020. As part of the report, you can download a filterable Excel spreadsheet of over 4,100 corporations that take advantage of prison labor.

Here are companies I found in the dataset from the internet / telecoms industry which take advantage of this labor, whether through profit or direct use. While I am not responsible for the dataset, any omissions to this list as I filtered from the main dataset are mine and purely accidental. These are names that jumped out to me; I recommend reviewing the whole dataset. It would also be worth considering which of these companies have advocated for Black Lives Matter and similar racial equity movements that seek to dismantle systems of oppression while continuing to engage in these systems.

Some of these were a complete surprise to me: for example, Adobe, Snap, Zoom, ESRI, Rackspace, and Google. They might surprise you, too.

Accenture
Adobe Systems
Akamai
Amazon
AT&T
Blackberry
Blackstone Technology Group
Blue Tech
BMC
Capgemini
Chainalysis
Charter Communications (dba Spectrum)
Cincinnati Bell
Cisco Systems
Deutsche Telekom [which owns 48.4% of T-Mobile]
Dun & Bradstreet
ESRI
Frontier Communications (formerly Citizens Utilities Company)
Google
IBM
Konica Minolta
Kyocera Group
MTM Technologies
NetApp
Nexcom
NTT Data
Onix
Oracle
Palantir
Polycom
Rackspace Government Solutions
Salesforce
SAP Concur Technologies
Snap
Softlayer
Symantec
T-Mobile
Time Warner Cable (dba Spectrum)
TransUnion
UNICOM Global
Venture Netcomm
Verizon
VMware
Zoom Video Communications

 

Updated to note that these companies may profit from the prison complex rather than use slave labor directly. Photo by Hédi Benyounes on Unsplash.

 

50 Years of Title IX: a free, streaming event

The 19th, where I now work on technology, is putting on a three-day summit, and you’re invited!

50 Years of Title IX marks 50 years of advances in gender equity in higher education, athletics, the workforce and beyond. The speaker list is genuinely incredible, and includes Elizabeth Warren, Jennifer Doudna (who co-invented CRISPR), Kate Calvin (Chief Scientist and Senior Climate Advisor at NASA), major figures in women’s sports, and representatives across parties.

The whole event streams online, and there’s an in-person day in Washington DC on Friday, June 17 if you’re in the area.

Registration is free, and you should go take a look. It starts today.

 

My personal websites - June 2022

Like every web nerd, I’ve got a bunch of domain names (even though I’ve worked hard to reduce their number). I thought it would be fun to enumerate them.

Live

werd.io: The home of my blog since 2013. My old domain name, benwerd.com, also points here.

werd.cloud: My personal wiki, powered by Obsidian. I update it from time to time: I find it a useful way to record non-linear, non-blog-like thoughts and opinions.

werd.dev: My developer domain. I intend to turn this into a real site, but for now it just points to my GitHub profile

werd.work: My work domain. I will turn this into a portfolio, but just like my developer domain, for now it just redirects - in this case, to my LinkedIn profile.

ben.lol: I bought this domain for use with temporary, fun projects. Right now it hosts a work-in-progress text adventure based on my dreams, written in Inform 7. Almost every dream I have is based in a consistent universe with interconnected locations - so I made them into an interactive world. I add to this from time to time.

fatberg.org: Registered and built on a whim during a W3C meeting, this is the enterprise software stack of your dreams.

5405spainave.com: A work-in-progress site for the house we’re selling. Once we’ve got professional photographs and the house is on the market, I’ll bring the site to life and do a lot more linking to it.

On the bench

werd.tips: I think I bought this to host reviews.

werd.press: I think mostly I couldn’t resist the pun?

werdmuller.org: For future family use.

squirming.net: I’ve owned this domain name for nearly 25 years. It made more sense when I was 19. But there’s no way I’m letting go of it now.

humanist.tech: For a future blog that I never had the time to put together. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a space that talks about humanist tech projects?

bookhackers.com: Years ago I helped run an event about the future of publishing. I bought this to coincide with that. Maybe I should do something with it?

 

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.

Books

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

Business

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.

Climate

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.”

Covid

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.”

Crypto

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.

Culture

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.”

Media

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”.”

Politics

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.

Science

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.”

Society

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.””

Technology

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.”

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