Linkdump for September 21st through November 11th

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between September 21st and November 11th.

Sometime between September 21st and November 11th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Linkdump for April 2nd through April 7th

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between April 2nd and April 7th.

Sometime between April 2nd and April 7th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Custom Men’s High Tops: Custom printed pseudo-Chucks for $89 CAD (roughly $66 USD). Out of my budget now, but in the future….
  • Mastodon Is Like Twitter Without Nazis, So Why Are We Not Using It?: I'm @djwudi on mastodon.social, if you're over that way.
  • Joss Whedon’s Greatest…hits?: My new album, Joss Whedon Kind Of Really Sucks and Even Though I Have and May Continue to Enjoy Some of His Shows or Aspects of His Shows That Doesn’t Mean That I Don’t Need To Recognize How They Have A Lot of Problematic Elements, is coming out next week!
  • How to Make the Electoral College Work for Everyone: The Constitution asks us to elect a president of the United States, but what we get is a president of Ohio and Florida. There’s an easy way to fix that.
  • UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it: The information networks we’ve built are almost perfectly designed to exploit psychological vulnerabilities to rumor. “Your brain tells you ‘Hey, I got this from three different sources,’ ” she says. “But you don’t realize it all traces back to the same place, and might have even reached you via bots posing as real people. If we think of this as a virus, I wouldn’t know how to vaccinate for it.”

Day One

Two brief thoughts on today’s inauguration.

I keep thinking that I should say something to mark the day, but I really don’t know what to say that hasn’t been said already by many other people, more eloquently than I’m likely to do.

So, instead, I’ll just say two things.

First, that I see this as a very unfortunate day, and I only hope that the next four years aren’t as bad as I fear they are going to be.

And second, midterm elections are in just under two years, and the next presidential election in just under four.

Vote.

Resistance is Not Futile

The day we accept ANY of this as normal, we have already lost. Fascism accumulates power by pushing people, by testing us, by testing boundaries.

Danielle Muscato, in an interview after her Twitter rant following Trump’s latest SNL whine:

We must resist. Bottom line, resist. That’s why yesterday, I was using the hashtag #RESIST. The day we accept ANY of this as normal, we have already lost. Fascism accumulates power by pushing people, by testing us, by testing boundaries. We must call him out literally every time he says or proposes something that is unacceptable; we must actually label it as “unacceptable”; and we must demand change. From access to health care, to LGBTQ rights, to international relations, to so much more, complacency is literally death in this case, for potentially millions of people around the world, and also for people here in the USA. If you do not already, I encourage everyone reading this to start identifying, personally, as an activist, and to work toward that end accordingly. Resistance, en masse, is our only hope.

Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About

Don’t let the apologists and obfuscations dominate the conversation. Name things for what they are.

Excellent piece in the New Yorker by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

America loves winners, but victory does not absolve. Victory, especially a slender one decided by a few thousand votes in a handful of states, does not guarantee respect. Nobody automatically deserves deference on ascending to the leadership of any country. American journalists know this only too well when reporting on foreign leaders—their default mode with Africans, for instance, is nearly always barely concealed disdain. President Obama endured disrespect from all quarters. By far the most egregious insult directed toward him, the racist movement tamely termed “birtherism,” was championed by Trump.

Yet a day after the election, people spoke of the vitriol between Barack Obama and Donald Trump. No, the vitriol was Trump’s. Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one.

Now is the time to refuse the blurring of memory. Each mention of “gridlock” under Obama must be wrought in truth: that “gridlock” was a deliberate and systematic refusal of the Republican Congress to work with him. Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it. Now is the time to forge new words. “Alt-right” is benign. “White-supremacist right” is more accurate.

Now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about.

Don’t let the apologists and obfuscations dominate the conversation. Name things for what they are.

Fighting Authoritarianism

Important lessons from history to keep in mind over the upcoming years.

Yale history professor Timothy Snyder posted this list of twenty lessons to consider when fighting authoritarianism. These are just the bullet points, I highly recommend reading the full thing (either the original post, or this mirror by Jason Kottke).

  1. Do not obey in advance.
  2. Defend an institution.
  3. Recall professional ethics.
  4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.
  5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
  6. Be kind to our language.
  7. Stand out.
  8. Believe in truth.
  9. Investigate.
  10. Practice corporeal politics.
  11. Make eye contact and small talk.
  12. Take responsibility for the face of the world.
  13. Hinder the one-party state.
  14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can.
  15. Establish a private life.
  16. Learn from others in other countries.
  17. Watch out for the paramilitaries.
  18. Be reflective if you must be armed.
  19. Be as courageous as you can.
  20. Be a patriot.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted this. Unfortunately, I find it all too topical these days, thirty years after it was written.

Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shat out through wholesome American guts.
Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison.
Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.
Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.
Thanks for the American dream, to vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.
Thanks for the KKK.
For nigger-killin’ lawmen, feelin’ their notches.
For decent church-goin’ women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.
Thanks for “Kill a Queer for Christ” stickers.
Thanks for laboratory AIDS.
Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs.
Thanks for a country where nobody’s allowed to mind their own business.
Thanks for a nation of finks.
Yes, thanks for all the memories — all right, let’s see your arms!
You always were a headache and you always were a bore.
Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

Star Wars Without Politics Wouldn’t Be Star Wars

Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization. Opposed by a multicultural group led by brave women.

Disappointed that these two tweets by Star Wars: Rogue One writers were removed (but not terribly surprised, especially if the deletions were decreed by the Powers Above):

On November 11, 2016, Rogue One writer Chris Weitz tweeted: “Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization.” He later deleted that tweet after receiving lots of complaints from other Twitter users, many of whom asked him to stop “injecting politics” into Star Wars. Weitz clarified in one response tweet, “My apologies. You have a right to enjoy it as you wish; and I don’t wish to harm my colleagues’ work either.”

Weitz’ colleague, Gary Whitta, had already written his own response to the tweet comparing the Star Wars Empire to white supremacy, which said: “Opposed by a multicultural group led by brave women.” Whitta’s tweet has also since been deleted.

I have just as much sympathy (to wit: absolutely none) with people whining about “injecting politics” into Star Wars as those who did the same with Star Trek (most recently, regarding Bryan Fuller’s preparation for Star Trek: Discovery). Politics are integral to these stories. Even if you try to ignore the parallels between the Empire and the Nazi regime (which were explicit and intentional in both the original films and in The Force Awakens, so attempting to ignore that is rather ridiculous), the Star Wars prequels open with the Trade Federation controlling a blockade around a planet at the bidding of Chancellor Palpatine…but, no, sorry, that has nothing to do with politics. How silly of me.

All these people really mean is that they don’t want their politics to be called out as the bad guys…but, c’mon, if the shoe fits….

So Rogue One has already been passing the Furiosa Test (Do people on the internet get mad about it being feminist?), and now Trump supporters might be staying away as well (though, really, the two groups do seem to have a lot of overlap)? I don’t see much of a downside to that. I’d certainly be quite happy going to a movie knowing that there’s a smaller-than-normal chance of being surrounded by those types of people, and given the juggernaut that Star Wars is, I just don’t see a major impact on their bottom line from this. Win-win for everyone!

Except the Empire, perhaps.

In Regards to Our Company’s New Phone Plan

‘Now, some of you are complaining that you don’t feel safe working with a phone that could randomly explode on any given day.’

Brilliant piece from McSweeny’s: Now is not the time to criticize the Galaxy Note 7.

We all have a lot of work to do if we want to get this company to be the best in the world, and I believe that if we work together, we can accomplish just that. However, I do have a message for those of you who have been complaining about our new company phone plan the past few days: Now is not the time to criticize the Galaxy Note 7.

Now, I’m not going to stand here and pretend like this phone doesn’t have problems. After all, the proof that it gets overheated and explodes for practically no reason at all has been evident for months, but now, we need to focus on its positive aspects and wipe the slate clean. It is our company phone now, and there’s no use complaining about it anymore.

Thank you, Wen Powers, for finding a way to actually make me laugh about this mess.

Word of the Day: Kakistocracy

Kakistocracy: Government by the worst persons; a form of government in which the worst persons are in power.

Kakistocracy n. (kak·is·toc·ra·cy / kækɪsˈtɑkɹəsi)\
Government by the worst persons; a form of government in which the worst persons are in power.

More background, from Jury:

The origins of kakistocracy are actually pretty neat. The term was first used around 1829 and was coined as an opposite to “aristocracy”. It comes from the Greek “kakistos” or “worst”, which is the superlative form of “kakos” or “bad”. Switch the “k” to a “c” and you have the root of modern words like “cacophony”.

But here’s where it gets even more fun. “Kakos” is closely related to “Caco” or “defecate”. As we saw above, it’s essentially the same phonetic sounds and has similar modern words derived from it.

Today, you’ll find this in the Greek “Kakke” “human excrement”, Latin “cacare“, Irish “caccaim“, Serbo-Croatian “kakati“, Armenian “k’akor“, Old English “cac-hus” or “latrine”, Dutch “kak“, German “Kacke“, and the school-yard favorite “caca“.

So in this trying time, remember the word “kakistocracy”.

Quite literally, government by the shittiest.