From the world pool: April 28, 2018

tree frog hiding in crevice

Some days just feel like this. 

Socio-political commentary

Canadian politics

Kinder Morgan’s Blackmail 

Ron MacLean Deserves the Blame for Don Cherry 

So, if they can’t take him off the air, and he’s unwilling to leave on his own terms, there’s only solution to the Cherry dilemma: Ron MacLean needs to grow a pair.


The British media is a closed shop. These are the facts.

 If you want to know how we ended up in a cyber dystopia, read Ready Player One

Connection at all costs and without limit has been the defining principle of the internet for as long as it has existed, one that has continually superseded concerns of decency. It has done so in part because of one of the internet’s core values, which also lies at the heart of Ready Player One: the belief that the right to anonymously do as you please is in fact a right, and one that is “de facto good.”

Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match 

We came to this house to try to understand the forces of social disruption that have followed Facebook’s rapid expansion in the developing world, whose markets represent the company’s financial future. For months, we had been tracking riots and lynchings around the world linked to misinformation and hate speech on Facebook, which pushes whatever content keeps users on the site longest — a potentially damaging practice in countries with weak institutions.

Time and again, communal hatreds overrun the newsfeed — the primary portal for news and information for many users — unchecked as local media are displaced by Facebook and governments find themselves with little leverage over the company. Some users, energized by hate speech and misinformation, plot real-world attacks.

 Growth At Any Cost 

“So we connect more people,” he wrote in another section of the memo. “That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.”

…It is literally just what we do. We connect people. Period.

That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified. All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends. All of the work we do to bring more communication in. The work we will likely have to do in China some day. All of it.


Listeners’ Choices (pdf) I’m not quite sure why I found this academic paper so fascinating, but I did.

Free speech theory needs to come to grips with attention and ignorance as foundational concepts. In an age of virality, presidential tweets, and recommendation engines run amok, attention is theresource that powerful speakers fight over, and listener ignorance is often their weapon of choice. Preserving a safe space for a democratic culture will require new efforts to protect attention from hijacking and misuse, and new tools to channel it to places where it can be used for good. The truly unifying work on what a coherent First Amendment law of attention and ignorance would look like remains to be written. I hope that it will not be long. The problem is urgent.

Harassment and Bullying

PEN America: Online Harassment Field Manual 

She created a document to warn women of sexual harassers. It’s haunted her ever since. 

Feminist issues

‘Raw hatred’: why the ‘incel’ movement targets and terrorises women The man accused of carrying out the Toronto van attack has alleged links to ‘involuntary celibate’ online communities. The language they use may be absurd, but the threat they pose could be deadly

From the way chatroom moderators respond to threats of violence against women, to the reluctance among authorities to name this as a terrorist threat, I am filled with this unsettling sense that because incels mainly want to kill, maim or assault women, they are simply not taken as seriously as if they wanted to kill pretty much anyone else. Doesn’t everyone want to kill women, sometimes, is the implication? Or at least give them a fright?

Racism and Civil Rights

Being Black in Public 

In a broken-windows approach to policing, being black is the broken window. It is just cause for aggressive policing. The Philadelphia police commissioner wasn’t wrong when he said the officers did their job. They did. And that’s the problem.

Ijeoma Oluo and Aminatou Sow on Sally Kohn’s Book and What Comes Next

21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge With a great list of readings and resources.

Shutdown of Texas Schools Probe Shows Trump Administration Pullback on Civil Rights 

In 2010, an African-American newcomer to Bryan challenged the disciplinary divide. Marjorie Holmon, who had just moved her family to Texas from Maryland a few weeks before, was dumbfounded when her 12-year-old son, De’Angelo, came homefrom school with a misdemeanor ticket.

 Holmon had encouraged De’Angelo, who was being bullied by a classmate, to tell his teacher about it. But when he did, the teacher rebuked him, saying, “Here in middle school, we don’t tattle,” according to Holmon.

Without the teacher’s support, De’Angelo defended himself when his classmate struck him. Under the school’s zero-tolerance approach, both boys received Class C misdemeanor tickets from the school’s police officer. To resolve the ticket, De’Angelo would have to appear in adult criminal court, which could result in fines of up to $500, community service hours and behavior-management courses.

When Holmon arrived at the courthouse and looked around, she recalled, “It was only black and Hispanic students. You only saw one or two Caucasian students. That shined a light for me.”

Gun Control

Here is My Heart 

Write your name here. Address, here. Here — check every box on this long list of disorders and diseases and conditions that are a part of your medical history, your parents’ medical history, your grandparents’ medical history and down the DNA. So much terrifying possibility. So much what if in our blood, our bones.


Prisons and Policing

The Infiltrator and the Movement Infiltration into left-wing groups is just the sharp edge of an entire armory of political policing.

Police officers appeared in court under false names, stole the identities of dead children, and spied on the grieving families of black people killed in police custody. These sensational revelations have captured extensive media attention, but much of the scandal’s coverage has decontextualized the operations, neglecting their politicalaims and impacts. Undercover policing, in fact, is just the sharp edge of an entire armory of political policing. Managing, keeping tabs on, and even crushing political threats to the status quo is a steadfast feature of most modern capitalist states. It’s crucial for the Left to understand how political infiltration has functioned historically in the UK, and draw out the strategic lessons this history might contain.


Jeff Bezos v the world: why all companies fear ‘death by Amazon’  With its profound knowledge of its customers, Amazon can move into almost any sector – striking fear into the hearts of rivals. And the $740bn company is ‘just getting started’

The computer on which this article was written is sitting on a laptop stand that tells you everything you need to know about how Amazon does business. At $19.99 (£14.99) a pop, the laptop stand combines everything customers love about Amazon: utility, price and convenience. It’s also a total and complete knockoff – of a laptop stand that the San Francisco-based company Rain Design began selling nearly a decade before Amazon decided to make its own.

Amazon’s innovation with its own version was to replace Rain Design’s raindrop logo with its own smiley arrow logo – and cut the price in half.


Why Young People Are Joining Unions Again 


‘We’re doomed’: Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention Another cheery read.

Art + Design + Writing

Mini SF: I saw Cradle first from above 

Susan Kare: The Woman Who Gave the Macintosh a Smile 

Janelle Monáe: Dirty Computer 

Hayv Kahraman: Corporeal Mappings 

Quote of the week

These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.

—Najwa Zebian

Just cool

Fore-edge painting And more

Just for fun

Seven Types of Ordinary Happiness 

Run Walter, RUN! 

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