From the world pool: August 10, 2018

black cat lying on his back

Here, have a cat.

Socio-political commentary

Media

Google Struggles to Contain Employee Uproar Over China Censorship Plans 

Google bosses were scrambling to contain leaks and internal anger on Wednesday after the company’s confidential plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China was revealed by The Intercept. Just a few hundred of Google’s massive 88,000-strong workforce had been briefed on the project prior to the revelations, which triggered a wave of disquiet that spread through the internet giant’s offices across the world. Company managers responded by swiftly trying to shut down employees’ access to any documents that contained information about the China censorship project, according to Google insiders who witnessed the backlash.

Privacy

Company suspends use of mall directory cameras running facial recognition software Cadillac Fairview had been testing the technology since June, but didn’t tell mall patrons

Feminist issues

The new Alt-Feminism, when white supremacy met women’s empowerment

In the past four years … many political changes have taken place. Mostly, we have witnessed a relentless growth of extreme right ideologies vying for positions of power in North America and Europe. Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage, the list of people advocating white supremacist ideologies to position themselves within their respective electorates goes on. It then stands to reason that, vis a vis this mainstreaming of white supremacy, women’s issues would follow suit (after all, they are half of their respective voter bases). Enter what I call “the alt-fem” or “alt-feminism”, a repurposing and expansion of white feminism to explicitly serve white supremacy. As part of this expansion, women like Megyn Kelly or Ivanka Trump are lauded as feminists advancing the cause of women’s equality, even though they both support extreme right and racist ideologies.

How Anti-Abortion Advocates Are Using A Pro-Woman Message To Appeal To A New Generation

“When you accept the male-normative culture, that’s when you need things like birth control and abortion for women to succeed, to be like men,” Jacobson said. “If you accept a culture that is based on the natural biological norm of women,” who menstruate, get pregnant, and breastfeed, she said, “you can see how misogynistic it is to expect that women … suppress your fertility, that you have to abort pregnancy or lose your career.”

Harassment and Bullying

Tolerance is not a moral precept

Tolerance is not a moral absolute; it is a peace treaty. Tolerance is a social norm because it allows different people to live side-by-side without being at each other’s throats. It means that we accept that people may be different from us, in their customs, in their behavior, in their dress, in their sex lives, and that if this doesn’t directly affect our lives, it is none of our business. But the model of a peace treaty differs from the model of a moral precept in one simple way: the protection of a peace treaty only extends to those willing to abide by its terms. It is an agreement to live in peace, not an agreement to be peaceful no matter the conduct of others. A peace treaty is not a suicide pact.

Alexandra Erin: “There’s fear, and then there’s fear of witches.”

Fear of witches is how you motivate yourself to do exactly what you want to do and simultaneously feel like a brave hero and a poor victim, but without preventing you from enjoying a single ounce of the sadistic thrill you get for victimizing someone else.

The Comedian Forcing Standup to Confront the #MeToo Era Now I want to see this.

But for every moment of tension, Gadsby gives her crowd release in a punch line—until she doesn’t. When the jokes stop, the audience is forced to linger in its unease. “This tension? It’s yours,” she says at one particularly upsetting moment, toward the end of the show. “I am not helping you anymore.”

Labour

The Story of a Bracero

So what was it like to be a bracero in the old days? Rigoberto Garcia was one of many thousands who came every year, and remembers the experience with a mixture of anger and resignation. Some of his memories document the brutal exploitation and callous treatment suffered by the contract laborers themselves. But other memories puncture some of the stereotypes about the program. Braceros not only went on strike (and suffered deportation as a result), but their experiences laid the groundwork for later strikes by the UFW, when those same workers came back after the program was abolished. And Garcia remembers the solidarity of a Japanese grower, interned during World War Two, who finally helped him win his legal status.

Environment

Can We Grow One of the World’s Largest Food Crops Without Fertilizer?

Bennett is part of a multidisciplinary team of researchers from UC Davis, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Mars, Incorporated that has made a remarkable discovery: an indigenous variety of Mexican corn that can also fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, instead of requiring synthetic fertilizers.

Art + Design + Writing

Photography: Jody Miller The storm photography in particular is stunning.

Fascinating

A small-town couple left behind a stolen painting worth over $100 million — and a big mystery

Jerry and Rita Alter kept to themselves. They were a lovely couple, neighbors in the small New Mexico town of Cliff would later tell reporters. But no one knew much about them. They may have been hiding a decades-old secret, pieces of which are now just emerging. Among them:

After the couple died, a stolen Willem de Kooning painting with an estimated worth of $160 million was discovered in their bedroom. More than 30 years ago, that same painting disappeared the day after Thanksgiving from the University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tucson.

How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Stole Millions  Jerome Jacobson and his network of mobsters, psychics, strip-club owners, and drug traffickers won almost every prize for 12 years, until the FBI launched Operation ‘Final Answer.’

The commas that cost companies millions  I know I’ve posted an article on this before, but some things are worth repeating.

How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million 

They nodded, mesmerized, stars and dollar signs in their eyes. They took notes, but why? When G.P. said “aspirational,” she wasn’t kidding. Her business depended on no one ever being able to be her. Though I guess it also depended on their ability to think they might.

The next morning, I had another article to write. But my hotel was on the beach, and the ocean was just a block away. I still had a bottle of Madame Dry Rose Water, which is “botanically infused, positively charged” water that is filtered through rose-quartz crystals, and a bottle of Lifewtr, which is just water without vowels. I thought, for maybe the first time in my life, that work could wait. Self-care. Wellness. It started now. I had a long trip home ahead of me, and now I was someone who said “self-care.”

I walked down to the beach with my waters. I sat on a bench as I drank them. I became buoyant with hope. I could feel my posture straightening. I was so free of anxiety and so full of forward motion. I couldn’t remember feeling that way ever before. I could do this, I thought. I could change. I could be someone who pursued only the best. The ocean air. The sand. The sky. All the wellness, it was mine. I could stop smoking. I could exercise. I could hydrate. Look at all the kinds of waters we have! Look at all the kinds of moisturizer! All the ingredients, all of them so beautiful. Everything beautiful, lovely and clean. What if you could pay the price — time, intention, a serious allocation of funds — and make it all this way? I could. I would.

Thought-Provoking

A.R. Moxon: Bubbles  The first in a series of thought-provoking posts on politics, culture, and applied ethics.

I find myself increasingly uncomfortable in crowds, particularly crowds that skew demographically in favor of our political lurch toward white supremacy and kakocracy. We seem to be at a tipping point, where our politicians feel safe in their jobs even while telling lies for which contrary video evidence exists, in order to pass legislation that will bring about the inevitable death and suffering and bankruptcy of thousands, of tens of thousands. We seem to be at a tipping point, where the idea that objective knowledge even exists may be called into question, and that the best minds of history and science might be scorned in favor of badly spelled memes from sweaty conspiracists. We seem to be at a tipping point, where those who would like to speak the language of mass extermination feel free to test these ideas outside the laboratories of their own twisted imaginations. We seem to be at a tipping point, where people will either decide that these things are unacceptable, and must be fought, or else are the acceptable new state of things. Polling evidence suggests that ‘white’ people, especially ‘white’ Christians, are undiminished in their enthusiasm that all this barbarism might come to pass into general acceptance.

I’m sorry, I have to make fun of this

This actually scares me more than earthquakes.  (“Lovemaking!” said my partner, brightly.)

Just cool

We finally know what ancient Greek music sounded like

Just for fun

Round animals

Tape tapping

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