Linkdump for May 28th through June 15th

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between May 28th and June 15th.

Sometime between May 28th and June 15th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Why is English so weirdly different from other languages?: No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language.
  • PureText: Have you ever copied some text from a web page, a word document, help, etc., and wanted to paste it as simple text into another application without getting all the formatting from the original source? PureText makes this simple.
  • Let’s Be Real: Americans Are Walking Around With Dirty Anuses: “I find it rather baffling that millions of people are walking around with dirty anuses while thinking they are clean. Toilet paper moves shit, but it doesn’t remove it. You wouldn’t shower with a dry towel; why do you think that dry toilet paper cleans you?”
  • The Racist History of Portland, the Whitest City in America – The Atlantic: All in all, historians and residents say, Oregon has never been particularly welcoming to minorities. Perhaps that’s why there have never been very many. Portland is the whitest big city in America, with a population that is 72.2 percent white and only 6.3 percent African American.
  • No more ‘product of its time,’ please:I don’t think that we should hide texts with troubling elements. They are part of the literary canon and they have influenced us, for both good and ill. We should definitely be reading them, and we should also be talking about them. A lot.

Linkdump for April 27th through May 17th

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between April 27th and May 17th.

Sometime between April 27th and May 17th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Case of the Stolen Source Code: Last week, for about three days, the macOS video transcoding app HandBrake was compromised. One of the two download servers for HandBrake was serving up a special malware-infested version of the app, that, when launched, would essentially give hackers remote control of your computer. // In a case of extraordinarily bad luck, even for a guy that has a lot of bad computer luck, I happened to download HandBrake in that three day window, and my work Mac got pwned. // Long story short, somebody, somewhere, now has quite a bit of source code to several of our apps.
  • JSON Feed: Announcing JSON Feed: We — Manton Reece and Brent Simmons — have noticed that JSON has become the developers’ choice for APIs, and that developers will often go out of their way to avoid XML. JSON is simpler to read and write, and it’s less prone to bugs. So we developed JSON Feed, a format similar to RSS and Atom but in JSON. It reflects the lessons learned from our years of work reading and publishing feeds.
  • Let’s discuss the Linguistic & Pragmatic use of the [“N-word”]: No matter what your intentions, the word WILL mean something different depending on your relative status. Language is circumstancial.
  • The neural network writes the episode list for next season’s Dr. Who: I’ve trained this open-source neural network framework on a variety of datasets, including recipes, Pokemon, knock-knock jokes, pick up lines, and D&D spells. Now I give you: training a neural network on the complete list of Dr. Who episodes.
  • What we really need is an adaptation of the original 1740 The Beauty and the Beast: So were you aware that the The Beauty and the Beast story we all know is a heavily abridged and rewritten version of a much longer novella by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve?  And that a lot of the plot holes existing in the current versions exist because the 1756 rewrite cut out the second half of the novella, which consisted entirely of the elaborate backstory that explains all the weird shit that happened before?  And that the elaborate backstory is presented in a way that’s kind of boring because the novel had only just been invented in 1740 and no one knew how they worked yet, but contains a bazillion awesome ideas that beg for a modern retelling?  And that you are probably not aware that the modern world needs this story like air but the modern world absolutely needs this story like air?

Linkdump for March 31st through April 2nd

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between March 31st and April 2nd.

Sometime between March 31st and April 2nd, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Rosie’s Phenomenal Precision Insult Machine!: Don't reach for those old, tired gendered, ableist, or otherwise lazy and harmful insults. Trust the machine to help you find the perfect, targeted insult for your specific needs! (Does not contain gendered- genital-based insults, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, dis-ableism, body-shaming, slut-shaming. May contain peanuts.)
  • Joss Whedon’s obsession is not feminism: The problem is that at some point in his career, Joss became so intent on the masochistic fantasy of being hated by strong women for being a nerd that he spent a decade writing stories about violating those women to ensure they would hate him.
  • Of dwarves and gender: So one day a dwarf is talking to a human and finally realizes that when humans say woman, they generally mean “person who is theoretically capable of childbirth” because for whatever reason, humans assign social expectations based genital differences.
  • On Wm. Golding’s Lord of the Flies: Basically all the good Golding scholars agree that Lord of the Flies is intended as a condemnation specifically of western positivism and superiority, not a condemnation of human nature.  Golding believed that good societies were possible, but that he was not living in one.
  • What’s Wrong With Using The Word “Gypsy?”: TL;DR: It's racist. Here is a list of myths and realities about the Romani/Roma people.

Two Americas

Two profoundly different experiences of life in our country that you should be aware of: #CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack.

Two profoundly different experiences of life in our country that you should be aware of: #CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack.

Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people

‘…my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.’

Absolutely excellent interview with Chris Rock covering mostly comedy, politics, and the intersections between the two. The whole thing is worth reading, but this section I thought was particularly good:

What would you do in Ferguson that a standard reporter wouldn’t?

I’d do a special on race, but I’d have no black people.

Well, that would be much more revealing.

Yes, that would be an event. Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before

Right. It’s ridiculous.

So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

It’s about white people adjusting to a new reality?

Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.


The Washington Post has some additional commentary springboarding off of Rock’s interview, with some very interesting poll results looking at changes in racial attitudes over time. On the one hand, there has been a lot of improvement over the years. On the other hand, though, we still have a long way to go.

In 1972, for instance, nearly two-thirds of whites said homeowners should be able to discriminate against blacks when selling their homes. That number fell to 28 percent by 2008.

Fully one quarter of whites said they would oppose [a family member’s interracial] marriage in 2008, the same year America elected the son of a white mother and a black father to the highest office in the land.

More than four-in-ten white Americans still say whites are more hardworking than blacks, and one-in-five say whites are more intelligent. Similarly, a majority of whites say that lack of willpower among blacks is driving racial inequality, and one-in-ten say that blacks are poor simply because of a lesser ability to learn.

Today’s Lesson: Both You and Morgan Freeman are Wrong About Racism

I believe racism is my problem. _My_ problem. I claim it. It is not my problem because I am guilty. It is my problem because I am responsible. I didn’t create racism. It’s not my fault. But if I do nothing, I become a part of it.

From Today’s Lesson: Both You and Morgan Freeman are Wrong About Racism:

I believe racism is my problem. My problem. I claim it. It is not my problem because I am guilty. It is my problem because I am responsible. I didn’t create racism. It’s not my fault. But if I do nothing, I become a part of it. And it is not something I want to be a part of. I can make that decision. You can make that decision. We can all make that decision.

I know that it can be hard as a white person to read and talk about racism. It’s hard for everyone to read and talk about racism, because it is an ugly thing. When we confront racism, we commit to staring into the face of something both repellant and familiar. It’s hard for all of us, but what I know most about is what it’s like to be white and I can understand the temptation of defensiveness for us white folks. Of resentment. Of feeling accused. I understand the lure of clinging to all the ways in which you, too, don’t have it so good. I am more than familiar with the temptation to demonstrate your own oppression.

But it’s time to grow up. Children make excuses. Children engage in competitions to one-up each other. You’re not a child anymore. It’s time to do better.

Debate links regarding Ferguson and Darren Wilson

Just found this excellent Tumblr post laying out the most common arguments defending Darren Wilson or condemning the Ferguson protests, and linking to a wealth of stories and resources addressing those points.

Just found this excellent Tumblr post laying out the most common arguments defending Darren Wilson or condemning the Ferguson protests, and linking to a wealth of stories and resources addressing those points.

Points addressed include:

  1. It’s not a race issue!
  2. The officer feared for his life. It was self defense.
  3. Michael Brown stole from a convenience store. He was a thug and a thief.
  4. The jury saw all the evidence, they know better. / Something about insufficient or unreliable evidence.
  5. The riots and protests are out of hand and unnecessary. It’s just an excuse to be violent and steal things.
  6. You can’t fight violence with violence, what would Martin Luther King say?

Adding another one. Some of the links might be the same, some might be different, but it looked like another useful compilation.


And one more.

Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common

About twice a week, or every three or four days, an African American has been killed by a white police officer in the seven years ending in 2012, according to studies of the latest data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That number is incomplete and likely an undercount, as only a fraction of local police jurisdictions even report such deaths – and those reported are the ones deemed somehow ‘justifiable’.

About twice a week, or every three or four days, an African American has been killed by a white police officer in the seven years ending in 2012, according to studies of the latest data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That number is incomplete and likely an undercount, as only a fraction of local police jurisdictions even report such deaths – and those reported are the ones deemed somehow “justifiable”.

…Even though white Americans outnumber black Americans fivefold, black people are three times more likely than white people to be killed when they encounter the police in the US, and black teenagers are far likelier to be killed by police than white teenagers.

…there are parallels between the violence of the past and what happens today. Images and stereotypes built into American culture have fed prevailing assumptions of black inferiority and wantonness since before the time of Jim Crow. Many of those stereotypes persist to this day and have mutated with the times. Last century’s beast and savage have become this century’s gangbanger and thug, embedding a pre-written script for subconscious bias that primes many to accept what they were programmed to believe about black Americans, whether they are aware of it or not.

…A Pew study last week found that 80% of black Americans polled, preoccupied by the killing of Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson and its aftermath, felt that the case raised important issues about race. Only 37% of white respondents felt that way, due in part to de facto segregation and a majority status that does not require engagement with those outside their own group.

That racial isolation, combined with the negative messages embedded in American culture, create a lack in empathy that allows otherwise well-meaning people to turn away from the plight of fellow citizens. This implicit anti-black bias, present in varying degrees across races, extends to every sphere in American life, from harsher sentencing for black people in the criminal justice system to the likelihood that young men of color with clean records are less likely to be hired for jobs than white applicants with a criminal record.

via Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up | Isabel Wilkerson | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Post-Ferguson Decision Links

All originally posted to my Facebook account, but I need to post here more regularly (jeez, it’s been over a _year_ now), and I feel strongly enough about the discussions I’m seeing in the aftermath of the Ferguson decision that this seemed a good way to get some movement here.

All originally posted to my Facebook account, but I need to post here more regularly (jeez, it’s been over a year now), and I feel strongly enough about the discussions I’m seeing in the aftermath of the Ferguson decision that this seemed a good way to get some movement here.


12 things white people can do now because Ferguson

Let’s talk about an active role for white people in the fight against racism because racism burdens all of us and is destroying our communities. And, quite frankly, because white people have a role in undoing racism because white people created and, for the most part, currently maintain (whether they want to or not) the racist system that benefits white people to the detriment of people of color. My white friends who’ve spoken out harshly against the murder of Michael Brown end with a similar refrain: What can I do that will matter in the fight against racism?

White people who are sick and tired of racism should work hard to become white allies.

In the aftermath of the murder of Michael Brown, may he rest in power, here are some ways for white people to become white allies who are engaged thoughtfully and critically in examining the situation in Ferguson and standing on the side of justice and equity. This list is a good place to start your fight to dismantle racial inequity and shine a light on the oppressive structures that lead to yet another extrajudicial killing of a black person.


Ferguson, goddamn: No indictment for Darren Wilson is no surprise. This is why we protest

The young people know about John Crawford III, a 22-year-old black man who died after an Ohio police officer shot him for carrying an unloaded BB rifle in the pet-food aisle of Walmart, whose mother misses her son and doesn’t understand why an Ohio grand jury did not indict the cops responsible for this death.

The young people know about Eric Garner, the 43-year-old black father of six who died after a New York police officer put him in an illegal chokehold, whose family awaits in tears of rage as a grand jury still has not indicted any of the cops responsible for that death.

They know about Darrien Hunt and Vonderrit Myers Jr, another unarmed teenager shot dead by a white law-enforcement officer with a gun. After this weekend, they know about 12-year-old Tamir Rice and 28-year-old Akai Gurley. They know about Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell; I am teaching them about Edmund Perry and the Edmund Pettus Bridge. But do they know about Ezell Ford in Los Angeles or Marlon Horton in Chicago and all the black and brown bodies gunned down by cops every day since that August afternoon when Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown after those 90 seconds on Canfield Drive? Does a grand jury of our supposed peers – an extreme version of the kind I sat on – mean to say that if the cops are never wrong, they never shall experience any penalty or consequences for their errors, especially when they prove fatal? Or do we just expect this and that death, do we just embrace this failure of humanity?


It’s Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson’s Just Did

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.


Ferguson isn’t about black rage against cops. It’s white rage against progress.

Protests and looting naturally capture attention. But the real rage smolders in meetings where officials redraw precincts to dilute African American voting strength or seek to slash the government payrolls that have long served as sources of black employment. It goes virtually unnoticed, however, because white rage doesn’t have to take to the streets and face rubber bullets to be heard. Instead, white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations.

White rage recurs in American history. It exploded after the Civil War, erupted again to undermine the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision and took on its latest incarnation with Barack Obama’s ascent to the White House. For every action of African American advancement, there’s a reaction, a backlash.


Ok fellow white folks, here’s the deal, and why I speak up when you tsk tsk people of color for things like the Ferguson riots.

As white people, it is NOT OUR JOB to tell black people how to react to centuries of still-ongoing oppression at the hands of white people. We all benefit from the institutionalized racism in this country. We don’t get to tell them how they’re doing Being Black (or Hispanic, or Asian, etc.) wrong. We don’t get to tell them they can get our attention, but only in ways we can ignore.

Not Really a Surprise

It is no accident that women have been complaining…for nearly 10 years now…. What was different? Suddenly an able-bodied white man is the one who was complaining.

Sad, but very true.

From elusis: (stix cartoon by eyeteeth of Small Pecul:

The thing is that nothing about this is new. Private citizens being arbitrarily singled out for intrusive searches and rough treatment by authority figures because of their appearance, their “attitude,” or just a momentary need for an endorphin rush by a small-minded bureaucrat? Welcome to the lives of people of color, the phenomenon of Driving While Black, the lives of women, of transpeople, of disabled people (oh hai, Canada!).

It is no accident that women have been complaining about being pulled out of line because of their big breasts, having their bodies commented on by TSA officials, and getting inappropriate touching when selected for pat-downs for nearly 10 years now, but just this week it went viral. It is no accident that CAIR identified Islamic head scarves (hijab) as an automatic trigger for extra screenings in January, but just this week it went viral. What was different?

Suddenly an able-bodied white man is the one who was complaining.

(via Bruce Schneier’s excellent roundup of recent TSA stories)