From the world pool: August 19th, 2017

Another long post…

Socio-political commentary

US politics

The digital guru who helped Donald Trump to the presidency 

“I mean what were Facebook and Google and Youtube people actually doing here, why were they here?”

“They were helping us, you know, they were basically our kind of hands-on partners, as far as being able to utilize the platform as effectively as possible. When you’re pumping in millions and millions of dollars to these social platforms you’re gonna get white glove treatment.”

America’s midlife crisis: lessons from a survivalist summit: Stephen Marche attends the Ohio Preppers and Survivalist Summit and discovers the contradictions in American life are the very conditions that are slowly crumbling it from within

Hackers descend on Las Vegas to expose voting machine flaws

A Veteran ICE Agent, Disillusioned with the Trump Era, Speaks Out

The Dirtbag Left and the Problem of Dominance Politics: Trump insulted his way to the White House. Now, Chapo Trap House is trying to insult Democrats into moving left—a strategy that’s doomed to fail.

Donald Trump and the Coming Fall of American Empire 

Canadian politics

How many more Saudi videos does Ottawa need to see?


Oh, the horror. Millenials have killed everything, and now we know why! Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis. 

News site makes readers answer questions to prove they understand story before posting comments

New Google algorithm restricts access to left-wing, progressive web sites 

Open Access

Library of Congress: free to use and reuse.

With ‘Open Access,’ the Met Museum’s Digital Operation Has a Bona Fide Hit on Its Hands

Opening the Memory Bank: The New York Public Library just made it easier for the public to access thousands of digitized high-resolution items as part of an effort to preserve our cultural history in the Internet Age.


Police Body Camera Company, Axon, Is Vacuuming In Data, Stoking Privacy Concerns

The video footage collected by its cameras is helping Axon build out its artificial intelligence business, which requires massive amounts of data to train computers to operate autonomously and in unprecedented ways that could vastly expand police surveillance and targeting. By giving the cameras to police departments, Axon is able to collect even more of the data it needs, in effect using the enticement of a free trial offer to build out its video analytics and computer vision business — all on the backs (or rather, torsos) of local police departments.

“This marriage of analytics with the vast amount of video being collected is an immense threat to privacy,” Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told International Business Times. “One of the things that in our society that preserves our privacy is that no one has the time to do the mind numbingly boring task of watching all the video collected. This technology could change that, so that video could in some sense be watched by computers.”

NAFTA talks: U.S. proposal for cross-border data storage at odds with B.C., N.S. law:
U.S. challenging provincial privacy rules that require personal information to be stored on domestic servers Feminist issues

Australian Cafe Charges Men 18% Surcharge to Highlight Gender Pay Gap

Cafe owner Alexandra O’Brian told Seven news that if customers are not comfortable paying the extra surcharge they won’t “kick them out the door,” it’s just their opportunity to do some good. Before being billed, men are asked if they would like to pay the voluntary surcharge. “There’s been nothing but positivity from everyone, males and females,” she told Broadsheet Melbourne. Men have so far been happy to pay the extra charge with some even giving a further donation. The extra money the cafe raises through the surcharge will be donated to women’s support services and a range of charities. The first organisation to receive donations will be Victoria-based Elizabeth Morgan House, that supports Indigenous women and children who have experienced family violence.

Kimberle Crenshaw on intersectionality and identity.  This snippet is part of a keynote for Women of the World Festival 2016

When tech firms judge on skills alone, women land more job interviews

Fashion for the 67 Percent

The Monstrous Female Ambition of the Harpy: “When women grab for space men thought reserved for their use alone, those men will surely call us foul.”

Women shouldn’t apologise for the pitter-patter of tiny carbon footprints

“Environmental concerns” are, of course, a reasonable excuse for the decision not to reproduce. But why should we need excuses? Speaking as a 30-year-old woman with no current plans to procreate, I profoundly resent the constant reminders about the apparently deafening ticking of my “biological clock”. The insistence that I produce either a baby or a bloody good excuse is unremitting, from friends, strangers, internet busybodies and advertising algorithms trying to sell me pregnancy tests and nappy rash cream. I find it a dispiriting example of gendered double standards, but mostly I find it goddamned rude. I’ve got my deflections and explanations lined up, the weary reassurances that I love babies and can’t wait to be an auntie – but the truth is much simpler. The truth is that I just don’t want to. I can’t be bothered. It looks like a huge amount of work, and I’ve already got a lot on, but even if I didn’t, I shouldn’t have to say anything more than “I don’t want to”. Nobody should. In this, as in every other question affecting women’s basic bodily autonomy, “no” ought to mean “no” – and “no further questions”.

Nobody should be peer pressured into pregnancy – babies, after all, are rather like hard drugs, in that once you’ve had one, it’s surprisingly hard to simply put it down and walk away. That tends to be frowned upon, and not just by the baby. You can’t just dabble in these things. And having a baby can be a gateway that turns into something more serious, like having a toddler or, in extreme cases, a teenager.

LGBTQIA issues

Ivan Coyote: Why we need gender-neutral bathrooms.

NC is a no-go: bathrooms, libraries, and the limits of welcoming

At any rate, my experience is that many of us think we are being welcoming, but we are often just about as ham-fisted and unwelcoming as the woman who welcomed me to the ladies’ restroom after assuring me she was down with the gays and the transgenders.

Indigenous Issues

Whose land are you on?

Racism and Civil Rights

How America Spreads the Disease that is Racism by not Confronting Racist Family Members and Friends

Equality is Not Pie; Libraries and the Insidiousness of Subtle Racism

So, what exactly is white female aggression? It is the indirect, and often passive aggressive, ways that white women exert control and establish dominance over people of color, especially Black women. Unlike white male aggression, it is executed in phrasing and tone, and the goal is to damage or destroy one’s social standing. Like other types of relational aggression, it uses psychological manipulation to advance their own interests, while claiming ignorance of its harm to others. A great visual example of this is Kirsten Dunst’s role in Hidden Figures as the head of the computing women’s unit. Throughout the movie she actively builds roadblocks and attempts to stall careers, but maintains that she is not a bad person. Not only does her character maintain that she is not a bad person, but the movie does so as well, by having the scene where she shows a grudging modicum of respect to the Black women, as if the bare minimum is all that is needed to no longer be racist. 

Facebook’s Complicity in the Silencing of Black Women  CW: online abuse

And finally, facebook decided to take action. What did they do? Did they suspend any of the people who threatened me? No. Did they take down Twitchy’s post that was sending hundreds of hate-filled commenters my way? No.

They suspended me for three days for posting screenshots of the abuse they have refused to do anything about.

How We Make Black Girls Grow Up Too Fast

Watching men I love turn a girl into a woman and a woman into a ho has never left me. That conversation at my aunt’s dinner table was not the first time I felt deeply afraid, but it left a cut that will never heal. It’s the kind of wound that keeps you alert to every potential doorway through which you might enter as a friend, sister or woman, but leave as a bitch or a ho.

Let me tell you a bit of the history behind “court costs.”

We Have to Talk About White Privilege

When Your White Significant Other Says Something Racist

If you are Black or a Non-Black Person of Color (NBPOC), you are the one who cannot opt out of racism. You are the one who will recognize the microaggressions and the looks and the snide comments. You are the one who will be doing constant threat assessments when you’re out and about. You are the one who will have to correct your S.O.’s ignorance and help them fix their shit. Because if you are talking about these things, as you should be, it’s your partner who must choose to opt in to a discussion about racism — and sometimes, more often than I’d like, that shit doesn’t take.

Radical Black Women combats the erasure of black women from the political arena; created for a past study group and left up as a resource.

American Anthropological Association Statement on Race

How people have been accepted and treated within the context of a given society or culture has a direct impact on how they perform in that society. The “racial” worldview was invented to assign some groups to perpetual low status, while others were permitted access to privilege, power, and wealth. The tragedy in the United States has been that the policies and practices stemming from this worldview succeeded all too well in constructing unequal populations among Europeans, Native Americans, and peoples of African descent. Given what we know about the capacity of normal humans to achieve and function within any culture, we conclude that present-day inequalities between so-called “racial” groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances.

Foster Care as Punishment: The New Reality of ‘Jane Crow’ 

“It takes a lot as a public defender to be shocked, but these are the kinds of cases you hear attorneys screaming about in the hall,” said Scott Hechinger, a lawyer at Brooklyn Defender Services. “There’s this judgment that these mothers don’t have the ability to make decisions about their kids, and in that, society both infantilizes them and holds them to superhuman standards. In another community, your kid’s found outside looking for you because you’re in the bathtub, it’s ‘Oh, my God’” — a story to tell later, he said. “In a poor community, it’s called endangering the welfare of your child.”

White Supremacy

So you want to fight white supremacy

The truth is: You’ve been trusted with the keys to the car, people of color haven’t — so, maybe you should take the wheel and make a hard left. There are countless opportunities every day to disrupt white supremacy — especially if you are white. If you need inspiration, here are a few ideas.

America is hooked on the drug of white supremacy. We’re paying for that today 

As long as Trump gives the white supremacists one more Ice raid, one more deportation, one more Muslim travel ban, one more hunt for “illegal voters” in a sanctuary city, the craving is temporarily satisfied. And as with any addict, anything that gets in between the user and the drug has to go. 

Republican congressional leaders fully understand. Trump, the pusher with a bad Russian habit, has become a way for the base to mainline. And because their very survival is tied up with feeding their constituency’s constant need for a fix, Republicans, acting like rogue cops straight out of Serpico, have made the decision to protect the pusher, bury his misdeeds, and attack his accusers. 

Charlottesville showed that liberalism can’t defeat white supremacy. Only direct action can.  An interesting application of the metaphor of rock, paper, scissors.

Why Trump Blames “Both Sides” For Charlottesville The history of fascism speaks volumes–but so does Trump, in his own words.

There was a time, in the distant era of 2015, when condemning nazis was a very low bar for an American politician to clear.

It was so low that candidates were almost never asked their view on the subject, as the default assumption was not only that the candidate rejected them–because they’re fucking nazis–but that nazis were not enough of a pertinent player in the 21st-century political field to merit inquiry. Racists, yes. White supremacists, maybe. But nazis? Swastika-bearing, sieg heil-ing, ethnic-cleansing nazis? Of course not. Of course not.

Today, that low bar is like a limbo pole under which our president cannot pass, having gorged himself on the worship of white supremacists waving tiki torches in a summer party from hell. 

A Letter to my Liberal Friends

It takes a lot to let go of your belief in the system. Moderate conservatives and a fair few market liberals are still clinging with quasi-religious desperation to their faith that the shuddering, mortgaged machine of Western democracy will stop bad things from happening, at least in their town. Many of the same people have persuaded themselves over the years that the young men publishing manifestos and gunning down civilians in cold blood were simply mentally ill “lone wolves.” Many of them doggedly insisted daylight would be the best disinfectant for abhorrent ideas about race and gender, mistaking those messages for some sort of smear on the windscreen of society rather than a fucking tree fallen in the path.

Those people were wrong. That doesn’t mean they weren’t nice people. But in the words of Naomi Shulman, “Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than ‘politics.’ They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away.”

They Will Not Replace Us: White supremacists can march on my hometown, but they can’t win.

If you were sickened and horrified by the images of Nazis openly marching through a town and its university, brandishing weapons and symbols of mass extermination, please know that Donald Trump and his attorney general are attempting to enact and effectuate policies that ring in the key of “You will not replace us” every single day. Their programmatic efforts to disenfranchise minority voters, gerrymander minority voting districts, end affirmative action, ban transgender soldiers from serving in the military, increase deportations, curb immigration, and foment racially discriminatory policing, sentencing, and incarceration systems are all the modern-day equivalent of this week’s ugly battle cry, “You will not replace us.” The same courts that have largely thwarted such efforts over time are the ones Donald Trump now seeks to pack with racists and homophobes. If you cannot see a straight line between this project and that espoused by Richard Spencer and his “blood and soil” pals, please look again. 

Fascism Has Already Come to America

There’s a curious tendency among those who seek to learn lessons about fascism to look overseas to find examples: Mussolini’s Italy, Franco’s Spain, and, of course, Hitler’s Germany. And it’s certainly true that we can learn lessons from European fascist movements and the antifascist resistance that rose up against them.

But if full-throated fascism should rise in the United States, it will be an American fascism, animated by American concerns and with antecedents in American history. Fascism has happened before in America.

For generations of black Americans, the United States between the end of Reconstruction, around 1876, and the triumphs of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s was a fascist state. Local and federal governments enforced an authoritarian regime that curtailed the movements and advancement of black Americans, and black Americans only. America has been governed by the heavy hand of white nationalism before. The lessons learned by black Americans living under a restrictive and domineering regime a century ago are ones we can take now, too. If we want to know what it looks like when the worst happens, we don’t have to look to the old world; we have a rich history of horror in the new.

The Money Man Behind the Alt-Right: He Spent Almost 20 Years Funding The Racist Right. It Finally Paid Off.

When you start talking “white pride”, that’s not a culture. That’s a skin colour. There is no white culture, never was. 

Lee’s Reputation Can’t Be Redeemed

Lee was a man of his time. So was George Henry Thomas, a son of Virginia who chose to fight for the Union over fighting for slavery. The abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was a man of his time, as was Frederick Douglass. Ulysses Grant and Abraham Lincoln were men of their time. Wesley Norris, whom Lee had tortured for escaping his plantation, was a man of his time. The hundreds of thousands of men who fought for the Union, including the black soldiers murdered and humiliated by Lee’s lieutenants, were men of their time. We do not, in the main, build statues to people about whom the best that can be said is that they were of their time.  We build them to people who rise above their times, and like many other men of his time, as a farmer, a general, a statesman, and an educator, Lee failed this test in every respect.

And just in case you thought the problem only existed in the US:
Buildings renamed, monuments fall in recognition of oppression of Indigenous people

Free speech and hate speech

Fresh Perspectives on Harmful Speech Online

When ‘Free Speech’ Kills

Securing unlimited rights for Nazis does not guarantee my rights; it forfeits them. 


How the N.R.A. Manipulates Gun Owners and the Media

Over the past few months, the N.R.A. has released a succession of Web videos, all strikingly bellicose even by the standards of the association. They’re also notable for how far they seem to veer from the N.R.A.’s ostensible priority, defending gun rights. In early April, NRATV published a video that featured images of the Times’ headquarters and interspersed footage of violent protesters with commentary from Loesch—coiled and urgent—accusing the left of inciting people “to smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding, until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.” Biting off each word and brimming with derision, Loesch says, “The only way to stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.”

Justice and Prisons

My Brother, the Violent Offender

Some of the most important questions we can ask about violent criminals have more to do with philosophy than policy. Is violence a permanent and immutable condition? Is violence always physical? What if a person is harmed and hurt and scared but never touched? Is fear a prerequisite for violence? How much does intention matter? Is violence more violent if you wear a certain color or if you’re friends with certain people? If you’re a certain race? Should those who are deemed violent be condemned forever, or are there violent people wasting away in prison cells who deserve our mercy?


Christians are more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty on lack of effort

Murder by numbers: the legacy of the Grenfell Tower fire

There is a species of evil in which an individual allows the dark and yammering corners of his mind to direct him to put a blade in a bystander’s belly, or a bomb in a bustling crowd of teenage girls. That sort of monstrosity is as easy to identify as it is mercifully rare, though frighteningly less rare than it was in less febrile times. But there is another sort of evil that seldom makes the headlines. This comes about when someone sits down with a calculator and works out how much it will cost to protect and nurture human life, deducts that from the cost of a tax rebate for local landowners or a nice night at the opera, then comes up with a figure. It’s an ordinary sort of evil, and it has become routine and automated in the austerity years. It is a sort of evil, in the words of Terry Pratchett, that “begins when you begin to treat people as things”. 

Inequality Is About Access to Public Goods, Not Income


Blame BC Liberal Neglect, Not Climate Change, for Year of Fires Despite warnings, government failed to invest in measures to reduce wildfire risk.

Almost as soon as the Campbell government was elected, it began planning deep cuts to fire prevention and firefighting budgets. And as I wrote in 2004 in The Georgia Straight, it proposed to make the cuts even though the province’s director of forest protection warned in 2001 that a planned 35 per cent reduction to his budget would result in disastrous fires hitting communities and costs of hundreds of millions of dollars. 

National Butterfly Center Founder: Trump’s Border Wall Prep ‘Trampling on Private Property Rights’. Staff discovered workers with chainsaws on the center’s private sanctuary clearing the way for Trump’s border wall in South Texas.

Well, this is worrisome. The Wheat Disease Threatening Asia’s Food Supply: Farmers are struggling to control a deadly fungus that jumped two oceans and now has U.S. scientists on guard. 


The hilarious way a German town turned neo-Nazis against Nazism

In 2014, after enduring the annual Nazi march for over a quarter century, Wunsiedel residents responded with “Germany’s most involuntary charity walk” — a project of the Center for Democratic Culture in Germany (ZDK Deutschland).

The idea of the walk, labeled “Nazis against Nazis,” was to make the neo-Nazis’ march the trigger for an anti-Nazi fundraiser. For every meter the neo-Nazis walked, donors agreed to give €10 to EXIT-Deutschland, an organization that helps neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists escape radicalism and build new lives.

Residents marked the path of the march with milestones thanking the neo-Nazis for how much money they’ve raised so far — including a big banner at the end of the march announcing that the marchers raised a total of €10,000 to fight Nazism. Banners with slogans like “If only the Führer knew!” and “Quick like a greyhound! Tough like leather! And as generous as never before” taunted the neo-Nazis along the way.

Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves Never more necessary.

Now, more than ever, white people of conscience need to take responsibility for educating ourselves and those around us and propelling that education into meaningful action. Now is the time to loudly proclaim our active resistance to white supremacy. Now is the time to stand with our siblings of all races, genders, sexualities, national origins, religions and abilities. I hope this will prove a valuable resource to do so.

Science and Technology

Research finds people who play games are more culturally engaged

Tech’s Moral Reckoning

Art + Design + Writing + Music

Strandbeest Evolution 2017

Dear Mr Johnston

Cananea – Morning After Song  Her voice reminds me of Tracy Chapman.

how to do nothing


The Next AIDS Pandemic: Funding cuts to key U.S. programs that support medicine and treatment are coming. And with a booming African population and drug-resistant strains on the rise, the future is grim.

Scientists Edge Closer To Elusive Lab Test For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Fingernail-sized chip can repair damaged tissue in seconds: The non-invasive technology works without breaking the skin.

‘Whose Streets?’ film highlights Ferguson activists’ battle with the trauma of protests

We’re All Guinea Pigs in a Failed Decades-Long Diet Experiment

An ‘insurance warrior’ fights to get pricey therapies covered

Just cool

How to make a pinhole camera to watch the solar eclipse. This is my plan, if it’s not cloudy.

The Real Face Of Jesus: Advances in forensic science reveal the most famous face in history.

Everything you need to know about birch bark book conservation

‘We Thought We Would Be Ruled By Robots’ 

 ‘Loving Vincent’ Trailer

After more than six years in production, Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s “Loving Vincent” is finally coming to U.S. theaters this September, and it’s safe to say nobody has ever seen anything quite like it before. In telling the story of Vincent van Gogh, the directors have decided to create the world’s first oil painted movie. 

‘It is a different perspective’: UBC acquires rare travel diary of B.C. in 19th century. Diary is the earliest known account of B.C. by an English woman.

Pasta maker printing press

Florianne Koechlin: Tomatoes talk, birch trees learn – do plants have dignity?

Finally: An App That Can Identify the Animal You Saw on Your Hike

The Nashville Public Library loans seeds!

Use your library card to borrow vegetable, herb, and flower seeds at Main Library, Bellevue, Bordeaux, Donelson, Edgehill, Edmondson Pike, Green Hills, Goodlettsville, Hermitage, Inglewood, Richland Park, or Southeast Branch. … Once the season is over, harvest seeds from your garden and return them to the library. 

Just for fun

Brigadier Sir Nils Olav 

Ugly bunny fracas is swiftly broken up by the chicken police

Terrific optical illusion by Victoria Skye 

You Need to See These Hooded Grebes Perform Their Bonkers Mating Display Tango!

Someone made the panda GIF better

Ode to the New York Times Food Section

“Never heard of it growing up in Chicago,” said Michael Stern, a chronicler of regional fare and an author of the “Roadfood” book series, “and really not much beyond Fairfield County in Connecticut.” (Indeed, one can roughly trace the expansion of the buttered roll to the migration of New Yorkers to surrounding commuter suburbs.)

If your job is “food journalist” and you have never heard of a “buttered roll” then you should not be writing about food. For what it’s worth, I have also eaten rolls with butter in Chicago, so we must assume this writer grew up in a Four-Yorkshireman hole in the muck where all he ever ate was gravel and WAS GRATEFUL FOR IT, DAMMIT!

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