From the world pool: May 18, 2018

banana slug in water from hose
Some days the news really does feel like this.

Socio-political commentary

US politics

Why We’re Underestimating American Collapse Such a cheerful read.

End the White House Correspondents’ Dinner 

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner happened this weekend and mostly no one cared, rightly, until some journalists thought it was a good idea to criticize a comedian for telling the truth, which is what both comedians and journalists are supposed to do.

Canadian politics

Hundreds of Canadians die every year because they can’t afford medication: nurses’ union I will defend our medical system to the death, but the lack of the same coverage for prescriptions? It’s time.

Canada sued over years of alleged experimentation on indigenous people 


Anti-authority’ tech rebels take on ISPs, connect NYC with cheap Wi-Fi 


Three Things Should Frighten You 

What we should really fear is when future computers have the power to search everything from all of digital time and quantum computers are able to crack encryption. Suddenly, all the doors could fly open. We should anticipate a moment when a future version of Google can search for every image with your face in it. Not just photos on Facebook, but images in videos, from security cameras, from the background of other people’s holiday videos, photos of you in a crowd, marching in a rally. What happens when the opinionated teenagers of today run for political office in 20 years, and the future internet pulls up images of them as teenagers at some unsavory political meeting where they were forming their ideas? A generation back, you could make mistakes, do the stupid things teenagers do, and let it be buried by time. That is over.

Who should hold the keys to our data? 

Feminist issues

Incels are fuelled by stupid, pointless rage—but that rage is still a major threat

Of course, those who were and continue to be circumspect about assigning a single motive to the attack are right to do so. While Facebook has confirmed that the status quickly attributed to the alleged killer—“The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger”—is authentic and elements suggest he wrote it, there are still questions to be answered. Those questions should not, however, include “What does it matter why he did it?” and “Do these guys have a point about how women are doing sex all wrong?”

A broken idea of sex is flourishing. Blame capitalism 

Women-as-bodies are sex waiting to happen – to men – and women-as-people are annoying gatekeepers getting between men and female bodies, which is why there’s a ton of advice about how to trick or overwhelm the gatekeeper. Not just on incel and pick-up-artist online forums but as jokey stuff in movies. You could go back to Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Casanova’s trophy-taking, too.

How #MeToo revealed the central rift within feminism today 

The #MeToo moment and its backlash made it clear that there really was a divide among feminists, but analysis of that divide cast it as a mere catfight, or a screaming match between weary mothers and teenage daughters. The implication was that the feminist debate unfolding around #MeToo is a kind of routine domestic drama, something we’ve seen before.

This is a mistake. A closer look at the arguments being made by these two camps reveals a deeper, more serious intellectual rift. What’s really at play is that feminism has come to contain two distinct understandings of sexism, and two wildly different, often incompatible ideas of how that problem should be solved. One approach is individualist, hard-headed, grounded in ideals of pragmatism, realism and self-sufficiency. The other is expansive, communal, idealistic and premised on the ideals of mutual interest and solidarity. The clash between these two kinds of feminism has been starkly exposed by #MeToo, but the crisis is the result of shifts in feminist thought that have been decades in the making.

From the Montreal Massacre to the Toronto van attack: Why the reluctance to talk about male violence? 

LGBTQIA issues

Hidden transphobia:

Is track and field picking on Caster Semenya?

Racism and Civil Rights

Blacks Were Enslaved Well into the 1960s 

One day a woman familiar with my work approached me and said, “Antoinette, I know a group of people who didn’t receive their freedom until the 1950s.” She had me over to her house where I met about 20 people, all who had worked on the Waterford Plantation in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. They told me they had worked the fields for most of their lives. One way or another, they had become indebted to the plantation’s owner and were not allowed to leave the property. This situation had them living their lives as 20th-century slaves. At the end of the harvest, when they tried to settle up with the owner, they were always told they didn’t make it into the black and to try again next year. Every passing year, the workers fell deeper and deeper in debt. Some of those folks were tied to that land into the 1960s.

Blind spots: The dangers of unchecked social bias in race and media 

“It starts leaking water everywhere when I turn it on, if you could work on it fast before the ladies finish tea, and…” she continued to trail on, and I stood there watching the puzzle come together. She thought I was there to fix her dishwasher. This is why I was whisked away to the kitchen. This is why we were talking in hushed tones and why she didn’t want the ladies of the book club to see me. This is why she was ordering me around.

How she missed the photo ID on my neck emblazoned with the newspaper’s logo and my name, the Domke bag over my shoulder filled with lenses, the cannonball-sized Canon D2000 over my sore neck or that I brought no tools or gloves, and wasn’t dressed to roll around in suds of greasy water, I’ll never know.

Black activist jailed for his Facebook posts speaks out about secret FBI surveillance

Why the FBI’s “Black Identity Extremist” Classification Is Dangerous 

The inability of America’s Attorney General to differentiate between nonviolent protesters and a hypothetical violent, cop-killing, domestic terror regime is emblematic of why the label “black identity extremist” is so problematic, and it becomes even more insidious when it’s taken into account that this administration is seemingly going out of its way to ignore white supremacist terrorism, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)  reported in January is the leading domestic terror threat in the nation. According to the ADL’s report, white supremacist terror accounted for more than half of the domestic terror fatalities in 2017. And when it comes to the killing of police officers, the suspects and perpetrators are, by and large, white people, according to the FBI’s 2016 statistics, released last October.

The FBI’s framing of black activism as effectively equal to domestic terrorism must be resisted, because if the term is left unchallenged, large swaths of young, militant yet nonviolent activists could find themselves being federally prosecuted as terrorists for participating in acts of civil disobedience — the same acts that iconic black activists engaged in to topple oppressive laws decades ago. 

Why racial segregation is a design feature, not a bug, of US cities 

How American Racism Influenced Hitler 

These chilling points of contact are little more than footnotes to the history of Nazism. But they tell us rather more about modern America. Like a colored dye coursing through the bloodstream, they expose vulnerabilities in the national consciousness. The spread of white-supremacist propaganda on the Internet is the latest chapter. As Zeynep Tufekci recently observed, in the Times, YouTube is a superb vehicle for the circulation of such content, its algorithms guiding users toward ever more inflammatory material. She writes, “Given its billion or so users, YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century.” 

Indigenous Issues

Faceless Doll Project: Commemorating Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls 


Criminal Myths, and in particular, How Prison Changes People 


Millennials are struggling. Is it the fault of the baby boomers? 

Life, money and opportunities had an elasticity that they lack today. A minority of millennials are rich but the majority are definitely not, while almost two million older pensioners, mainly female – the silent generation – live in deep poverty. The Resolution Foundation has provided forensic detail of how this has come about – and why. A complex mix of reasons includes the financial crisis, austerity and reluctance by successive governments (albeit ones filled with baby boomers) to radically tackle the challenges of housing, health, social care, employment and a woefully deregulated market at a time when people are living so much longer – but no baby-boomer banditry. Politicians have failed to decide equitably, in this different climate, who pays and how – and what they receive in return.

“The Workplace Is Killing People and Nobody Cares” 


Tell Prime Minister Trudeau: No Kinder Morgan Bailout 

Field Cameras Catch Deer Eating Birds—Wait, Why Do Deer Eat Birds?


Incredible Edible: Yorkshire town’s food-growing scheme takes root worldwide I’m not sure how this is different from the guerilla gardening movement that “started” in New York in 1973, and let’s not forget the Diggers in 1649. But good on them anyway.

It’s a simple idea: take over unused or unattractive bits of public land to plant food to feed the community. What is not so simple is where they’re doing it. 

Ashley C, Ford: Wounds are Where the Light Enters 

You have to get sick of your own bullshit. You have to say, ‘That hurt. That sucked. That was messed up; I’m mad about it.’ And then you can move into a next phase, which really sucks and that phase is, ‘What am I gonna do about it?’

Art + Design + Writing

The Humanitarian Works of Shigeru Ban For those near nearby, there’s a full size replica of the Paper Log House at the Vancouver Art Gallery this summer. 

Traditional art made new in Utah Navajos’ baskets and A Renaissance in Navajo Basket Art 


“Facts and Inferences”—Digitizing Shadows From the Walls of Death 

In a digitization workflow, the assessment of the physical condition of each book is a critical step to determine whether its fragile pages can withstand the rigors of scanning without damage. However, for one book in the NLM collection, these considerations also had to be flipped. Aside from a random paper cut, what if the book itself could potentially harm the person scanning each page? Contained inside the binding of the rare but increasingly popular Shadows from the Walls of Death: Facts and Inferences Prefacing a Book of Specimens of Arsenical Wall Papers are 84 samples of wallpaper sheets colored with arsenical pigments.

Greg Stirling: Kinetic Sculpture

The Tragedy of the Commons Found on Pretty Terrible. As Natalie said, “Dorms. They’ve invented dorms.”

As helpfully indicated by the folks at Common, the state of the housing market is under stress: “For the first time in over a century, more young, working people live with their parents than own a home.” Twenty-five million Americans share an apartment, with approximately 30 percent of all adults bunking with roommates in New York—where the average one bedroom rents for over 200 hours of minimum wage labor a month, give or take a lunch break. Often, these passing arrangements are entered into begrudgingly and between total strangers who, brought together on Craigslist and out of necessity, may have once entertained visions of building a utopian commune and instead got a windowless bedroom with an innocuous patch of mold on the ceiling.

Common solves all of that, doing its part to present for incoming vessels of human capital a sanitized city life, one without past or texture and therefore more and more indistinguishable from other urban centers. 

Just cool

An open book: a photographer’s love letter to city libraries – in pictures 

Stop, don’t go: stop-motion animation creates life from the stuff we throw away 

2018 European Stone-Stacking Championship – in pictures 

And more stone stacking: Manu Topic 

Just for fun

Dear People Who Live in Fancy Tiny Houses

You look so freakin’ happy in that Dwell Magazine article or Buzzfeed post, but c’mon, you can’t tell me that you don’t lie awake at night, your face four inches from the ceiling because the only place your bed fits is above the kitchen sink which also acts as your shower, and think, I’ve made a terrible mistake.

The internet has a cat: Purrli 

Creative Beats! 

The Cake Server 

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