Links: Raspberry Pi web services, the trouble with being inspiring, and the history of some important medicines

One of these days, I’m going to get myself on a schedule, and publish my links on a single day of the week.

First steps to running a web service on a Raspberry Pi: If you are interested in hosting your own Mastodon or Pleroma instance (or some other kind of more-involved web service), but haven’t a clue where to begin, this might help.

I am not here to inspire you. Sophia talks about the very serious problem of abled people finding disabled people inspiring.

Sir David Jack: an extraordinary drug discoverer and developer. David Jack’s goal as a pharmaceutical developer was to find “better medicines for the treatment of poorly-treated common diseases.” On a personal note, without David Jack’s invention of albuterol (brand name Ventolin), I would not be alive today. I think many of us can say the same, because Jack’s discoveries also include (but are not limited to) glucocorticosteroids for asthma treatment, ranitidine (Zantac) for gastric acid diseases, and ondansetron (Zofran) for severe nausea often associated with chemotherapy treatment.

Links: Amazon’s bizarre world of returns, sick-shaming at the office, more accessibility fail

Where Amazon Returns Go to Be Resold by Hustlers: “Every box is a core sample drilled through the digital crust of platform capitalism. On Amazon’s website, sophisticated sorting algorithms relentlessly rank and organize these products before they go out into the world, but once the goods return to the warehouse, they shake free of the database and become random objects thrown together into a box by fate. Most likely, never will this precise box of shit ever exist again in the world.”

You sneezed, go home: talking about “sick shamers,” who push people to go/stay home from work if they’re displaying cold symptoms. Sadly, the article doesn’t stress the lack of adequate sick time offered to most workers. Nor does it highlight how many chronically ill and immune-compromised people are in the workplace: staying home might literally save your coworkers’ lives.

Learn to do it yourself: a valid critique of the (lack of) concern for accessibility in open source.

Links: screen reader accessibility, lab notebooks, and brutalist WordPress

How to Design Website Layouts for Screen Readers: A great tutorial on making your web design more accessible.

Lab Notebooks and Software Development: As a former laboratory chemist, there’s a special place in my heart for a good lab notebook and thorough documentation. Sure enough, whenever I’ve tripped myself up in this process of learning to code, it’s almost always because I failed to document my work, resulting in duplicate or useless efforts. Since adopting more of a laboratory notebook style of learning and project tracking, I’ve been less stressed, and creating more useful, reliable code.

BrutalPress theme for WordPress: is finally functional enough to include in my link list.

Links: sunscreen, sunlight, facial recognition technology, and the atom bomb

Is Sunscreen the New Margarine? “Vitamin D now looks like the tip of the solar iceberg. Sunlight triggers the release of a number of other important compounds in the body, not only nitric oxide but also serotonin and endorphins. It reduces the risk of prostate, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. It improves circadian rhythms. It reduces inflammation and dampens autoimmune responses. It improves virtually every mental condition you can think of. And it’s free.”

Two US electric utilities have promised to go 100% carbon-free—and admit it’s cheaper. As the costs of carbon-based fuels skyrocket, this is unsurprising, but interesting.

Facebook’s ’10 Year Challenge’ Is Just a Harmless Meme—Right? The author explores the potential impacts of assisting facial recognition software with our 10-year-old selfies. The best scenario could involve training software that will aid in finding missing kids. The creepier scenarios involve a repeat of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Read the Scientific American article the government deemed too dangerous to publish: “In April 1950, the US federal government raided the offices of Scientific American Magazine to destroy every printed issue. ‘Three thousand copies already run off were burned, type was melted down, and every galley proof and script impounded.’ Three years later, Fahrenheit 451 was published without knowledge of this incident.” The banned article was about the moral meaning of the hydrogen bomb and its foreign relations implications.

Links: Python tools, accessibility, racism in tech, toxic masculinity, unwanted JavaScript, and sweaty robot butts

Flat: a Python library for creating and manipulating digital forms of fine arts.

Stanford’s Online Accessibility Program: a comprehensive explanation along with tools for making your web projects more accessible. Not only is this the ethical thing to do, but it increases your audience size and user base.

Not a black chair: A tech worker reflects on an overtly racist experience she had at a well-known tech company. “Every day, marginalized people are punished for simply existing. They are harassed, discriminated against, insulted, and disrespected repeatedly.”

‘Traditional masculinity’ deemed ‘harmful’ by American Psychological Association: according to the report, “traditional masculinity ideology has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict and negatively influence mental health and physical health.”

GoDaddy is sneakily injecting JavaScript into your website and how to stop it: apparently designed to monitor site reliability and performance, this unsolicited feature can deteriorate site reliability and performance.

Ford’s robot butt for testing car seats can now sweat: the RoButt has been given a upgrade so it can more accurately conduct durability testing on car seats.


The Ethics of Web Performance: a compelling discussion about the modern web’s impact on accessibility and the environment.

Nefarious LinkedIn: It turns out that LinkedIn scans’ users browsers for extension usage. Why is that? Why encrypt and bury the information it finds? I don’t know the answers, but this plugin will help you detect what LinkedIn is looking for.

The Norwegian Art of the Packed Lunch: while a traditional Norwegian lunch of bread with cheese or meat is completely off limits for me as someone with celiac disease and food allergies, the concept of eating the same simple lunch every day on a set schedule as a means of alleviating decision fatigue is very appealing.

Tennessee doctors are paid to review applications to the federal disability program. How much they earn depends on how fast they work. Some doctors work very fast. Highlighting the corruption and flaws with the disability system… Tennessee is not unique, but The Tennessean did a hell of a job investigating that state and the harm it’s caused to disabled people who need benefits.

Stop The Rock Stacking: There’s a recent trend for tourists to stack rocks randomly in nature, which is disrespectful and can be downright harmful to nature. Stop it. Visit Aruba also explains why rock stacking is harmful.

I Was Pregnant and in Crisis. All the Doctors and Nurses Saw Was an Incompetent Black Woman: “What I remember most about the whole ordeal, groggy from trauma and pain and narcotics, is how nothing about who I was in any other context mattered to the assumptions of my incompetence. I spoke in the way one might expect of someone with a lot of formal education. I had health insurance. I was married. All of my status characteristics screamed ‘competent,’ but nothing could shut down what my blackness screams when I walk into the room.”

link blog: diversity in tech

Just one link today, but I have some feelings about it:

The 10 most in-demand skills of 2019, according to LinkedIn: Saving you a click, here they are: time management, adaptability, collaboration, persuasion, creativity, UX design, people management, analytical reasoning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing. “Instead of emphasizing the need for specific titles and experience, organizations are shifting towards a focus on the skills that a potential employee may bring.”

They irony (and forgive my pessimism here) is the number of resumes I’ve sent out with this in mind (and many matching skills)… without so much as an interview.

Here is my challenge to employers:

If you’re dedicated to improving diversity in tech, you need to lower the barriers for entry. We need more entry-level and early-mid-level positions, with the expectation that we are going to knock your socks off because of how quickly we’ll pick up the extra skills and experience you’re looking for, by just giving us a chance to prove it.

The tech industry is historically and overwhelmingly white, straight, (cis-)male, able-bodied, neurotypical, young, and middle-class. This means that the vast majority of people with the vast majority of experience are going to be all of these things– making them more competitive in the job market. Because the industry has historically excluded marginalized people, the majority of the minority cannot compete with those who’ve historically had most of the opportunities in tech.

And so, we’re passed over for job opportunities, because we lack the experience of our less marginalized colleagues, through no fault of our own.

This isn’t about lowering your standards or expectations for us when we apply to your companies. This is about recognizing the historical and systemic prejudice that permeates the tech industry.

If you want to improve diversity in tech, we need to have a frank conversation about how marginalized people remain on the margins because of systems that were put in place many generations ago.

I challenge you to look beyond the surface, and critically examine the systemic issues that lead to tech’s lack of diversity.

We marginalized people could make your company wildly successful… if you’d only give us a chance.


Brutaldon: a brutalist web interface for Mastodon, which is a decentralized social network.

Why policing self-diagnosis of disabled folks is classist: “There can be many barriers to obtaining a diagnosis, and they often tie right in to some form or other of systemic marginalization. Yet there are still people in our own communities who treat undiagnosed or self-diagnosed people like outsiders, as if no matter how hard your disability makes your life, it isn’t real until you can prove it.”

The Economics of Tidying Up: about Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and how the arguments for decluttering our lives correlate to many economic theories, such as the sunk cost fallacy (we often keep things just because we spent resources acquiring them), and status quo bias (we often keep things just because we can’t think of a good reason to get rid of them).

I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America. “Thirty-five inches is a lot of snow. A state trooper told me to get the fuck off the road. My supervisor said, ‘We can’t. We do phone so we’re considered emergency service.’ I didn’t have any phone jobs. No one else I talked to did either.”

We Should Replace Facebook With Personal Websites: “Personal websites and email can replace most of what people like about Facebook—namely the urge to post about their lives online.” While I agree with this, there’s still an accessibility barrier. Sites like and Neocities offer free services with user-friendly interfaces, but it’s still not quite as easy as signing up for a facebook account, and entering some text in the status update box. That said, I think it’s a noble goal to give up facebook, and the next article is one of the best arguments for it:

The Cost of Living in Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet Empire describes how facebook has negatively impacted internet culture, with plenty of links to examples of facebook’s ethical failings. I’ve been thinking a lot about this article in the last two weeks, because it’s really resonated with me. I grew up in an isolated rural part of the United States, surrounded by bigotry rooted in both fear of the unknown and genuine hatred. It was difficult feeling so alone. Finding the internet was like finding freedom. Like finding home. I haven’t felt that sense of belonging and community in years.

But I am hopeful that we can get it back.