April Fool’s Day

I hate this day. The vast majority of pranks aren’t funny, and almost always rely on social or cultural differences and naïveté in order to be considered “a good prank.”

Personally, I use this day as a way to make my inbox more manageable, but unsubscribing to every list that sends out an April Fool’s joke. It’s extremely effective, and I’ve never regretted any of my unsubscriptions.

Link Blog: April 14, 2019

been sitting on this list awhile…

Teen boys rated their female classmates based on looks. The girls fought back. I am pleasantly surprised to report that at least one of the misogynistic boys may have learned from this experience.

Sci-Hub and Alexandra basic information: Alexandra Elbakyan, the creator of Sci-Hub, talks about who she is and why she created Sci-Hub.

For decades, Garfield telephones kept washing ashore in France. Now the mystery has been solved. A shipping container of classic Garfield phones was finally found wedged inside a cave alongside cliffs hanging over the sea.

‘We’re doomed’: Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention. “With doom ahead, making a case for cycling as the primary mode of transport is almost irrelevant. We’ve got to stop burning fossil fuels. So many aspects of life depend on fossil fuels, except for music and love and education and happiness. These things, which hardly use fossil fuels, are what we must focus on.”

Nigerian Hospitals Are Locking Up Women Unable to Pay Their Childbirth Bills. A chilling article about what’s actually a global phenomenon known as hospital detention.

Vietnamese supermarkets go back to leaves, leaving plastic bags. In happier news, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such pretty packaging.

Counting the Countless: Why data science is a profound threat for queer people. “We are attempting to negotiate with a system that is fundamentally out to constrain us.”

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong: An extensive, but not exhaustive, summary of all the ways science, medicine, and the media is harming fat people in its mission to eradicate people of size.

The World Economy Is A Pyramid Scheme, Steven Chu Says. “Increased economic prosperity and all economic models supported by governments and global competitors are based on having more young people, workers, than older people. Two schemes come to mind. One is the pyramid scheme. The other is the Ponzi scheme. I’m not going to explain them both to you, you can look it up. But it’s based on growth, in various forms.”

Rethink Activism in the Face of Catastrophic Biological Collapse: The end of the article best sums it up: “what if all the fixing and mitigating and adapting fail? Perhaps we will have become worthy human beings, having acted during this time of crisis with extraordinary love and integrity. We will turn toward one another and all the beings on the planet, with clear and humble love, knowing we are one living whole. On bended knee, we will weep in abject gratitude for the gift of life itself entrusted to us. In this is profound meaning and purpose.”

Sleep or Die: Neuroscientist Matthew Walker Explains How Sleep Can Restore or Imperil Our Health. “Adults have ‘stigmatized sleep with the label of laziness.” We are in the midst of a “catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic” and lack of sleep can be attributed to loss of creativity, poor short-term memory, mood swings, decreased immune response, and higher risk of heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.

Link Blog: March 29, 2019

I promised myself I’d post more positive and enjoyable links… unfortunately, this post does not contain any.

Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left: “Since the 1980s, psychiatry has been increasingly colonized by Big Pharma, documented in many books, including Psychiatry Under the Influence (2015). Big Pharma has utilized psychiatry for marketing and sales by controlling it through funding: university psychiatry departments; psychiatry’s professional journals; psychiatrist ‘thought leaders’ who promote new diagnoses and drug treatments; and the American Psychiatric Association itself. Psychiatry’s official diagnostic manual is called the DSM (published by the APA), and each DSM revision adds new mental illnesses that expand the psychiatric medication market. In 2012, PLOS Medicine reported, ‘69% of the DSM-5 task force members report having ties to the pharmaceutical industry.'”

Struggling to stay alive: Rising insulin prices cause diabetics to go to extremes. “Canadian scientists discovered insulin in 1921, treated the first diabetic patient in 1922 and sold the patent to the University of Toronto for 3 Canadian dollars. The university did not charge royalties to drug companies that wanted to make the medicine…. Last month, the powerful Senate Finance Committee asked the three dominant insulin makers detailed questions about the drugs’ price increases. The price for one vial of Eli Lilly’s Humalog surged from $35 in 2001 to $234 in 2015. From 2013 to this year, Novo Nordisk’s Novolog jumped from $289 to $540 and Sanofi’s Lantus from $244 to $431, according to a committee letter.”

Fear of a Black Homeland: The Strange Tale of the FBI’s Fictional “Black Identity Extremism” Movement. The headline makes this sound more surreal and innocuous than it is. The FBI is labeling black and brown people who are fed up with police brutality and racism as “extremists” and domestic terrorists.

Big Tech is Spying on Us: a collection of articles to freak you out and convince your doubting friends. The headline cannot be understated: I found this collection very unsettling, so make sure you’re in a good place emotionally before you click.

FEMA data leak exposes personal information of 23 million disaster survivors: “The Office for the Inspector General for the DHS issued a report [March 22, 2019] that detailed how FEMA did not appropriately safeguard the personal information of 2.3 million survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the California wildfires in 2017.”

Over-the-Air TV: You probably have cable TV, or you watch all your TV online. But if you’re like me and occasionally (or frequently) turn on a TV to watch over-the-air (free) channels, you might be as disappointed as I am. Gone are the days of distant and snowy stations where you can still watch old Doctor Who broadcast from over 100 miles away, even if it’s fuzzy. Here are the days of glitchy, pixelated, laggy, and downright unwatchable stations based just a few miles down the road. This site talks about the technical side of why digital TV sucks.

Link Blog: March 22, 2019

If it’s not absurd, it’s depressing… but this week, it’s probably both.

Privacy is becoming a luxury: what data leaks are like for the poor. Poorer people are less likely to have the time or money to fight back against data leaks, like the one from the Seattle Housing Authority last month, potentially making them bigger targets, since attackers know they’re more likely to get away with it.

Floriday’s war on drugs made chocolate and cheese illegal. This is what happens when policy is decided by people who know nothing about science.

The Government Is Using the Most Vulnerable People to Test Facial Recognition Software: NIST’s “Facial Recognition Verification Testing program depends on images of children who have been exploited for child pornography; U.S. visa applicants, especially those from Mexico; and people who have been arrested and are now deceased. Additional images are drawn from the Department of Homeland Security documentation of travelers boarding aircraft in the U.S. and individuals booked on suspicion of criminal activity.” Obviously, individuals probably never consented to the use of their likeness for this purpose.

The Companies Vying to Build the Border Wall Seem Shady as Hell: From 2018, but still relevant. The companies bidding on Trump’s border wall catastrophe have concerning pasts, from claiming to mentor minority-owned businesses (and not really doing it) to actual prison time.

California jury finds Monsanto’s Roundup caused a man’s cancer: this is the second civil suit where the company has been found at fault for not warning people of the risks.

Court Says VA Was Wrong in Denying Vietnam Veterans Benefits: in February, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the VA’s decision to deny disability benefits to Navy veterans who were sickened by Agent Orange exposure. The decision could affect 90,000 vets, as well as their children who may also have been sickened or disabled by AO exposure.

For Larger Customers, Eating Out Is Still a Daunting Experience: “For people who identify as large, plus-size or fat, dining out can be a social and physical minefield. Chairs with arms or impossibly small seats leave marks and bruises. Meals are spent in pain, or filled with worry that a flimsy chair might collapse.” A timely article about what it’s like to go out to eat as a larger person, and what’s happening to improve the experience.

MuckRock’s annual FOIA March Madness is here again: and there are stickers!

Link Blog: March 15, 2019

The Ides of March: a short but relevant history lesson about the Roman calendar.

Me and White Supremacy Workbook: Layla Saad turned her her viral Instagram challenge into an email format: “the Me And White Supremacy Workbook will lead you through a journey of personal reflection and deep shadow work. The purpose of this workbook is to educate people with white privilege as to their internalised racism, and facilitate personal and collective change to help dismantle the oppressive system of white supremacy.”

Observations on Burnout: A tech-leaning anatomy of burnout that applies to plenty of other industries, as well. This sarcastic/ironic line about what keeps people stuck in the rut that leads to burnout hits very close to home when it comes to my past experiences: “In short, the [worker] should never feel like their actions have any actual positive impact on the state of things but should have just enough hope that maybe the next time will be different.” And to be fair, I found some of the advice frustrating: it says to help recover from burnout, to address health issues that you’ve been ignoring. Which is reasonable advice, but it disregards the fact that many people burning out in the first place may have been doing so because they can’t afford or don’t have access to mental or physical healthcare.

The Western Erasure of African Tragedy: Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed last week, killing all 152 souls on board. The accident was a tragedy, and the same kind of plane (a Boeing 737 Max 8) that crashed in Indonesia in October, but the Western media is (as usual) choosing to highlight the loss of non-African lives, or to question the safety of the airline itself. (Ethiopian Airlines is no less safe than any other airline.)

Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial–ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure. A research article from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States highlighting environmental racism. From the abstract: “We show that, in the United States, PM2.5 exposure is disproportionately caused by consumption of goods and services mainly by the non-Hispanic white majority, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic minorities. On average, non-Hispanic whites experience a “pollution advantage”: They experience ∼17% less air pollution exposure than is caused by their consumption. Blacks and Hispanics on average bear a“pollution burden” of 56% and 63% excess exposure, respectively, relative to the exposure caused by their consumption.”

IBM didn’t get permission from subjects before their photos were fed into its facial-recognition system: Sadly, but unsurprisingly, IBM used Flickr photos for its facial recognition research. Spoiler alert: plenty of other companies don’t either. The sad reality is that if photos of you have ever been online, they could’ve been archived into data sets for these purposes. The sadder reality is that even if you expressly do not consent or opt out (which is difficult, if not impossible, to do), we don’t really know if our wishes are being honored.

Hubble captured an image of galaxies colliding, 230 million light years away. The image is fascinating, but it’s also fascinating that, according to the article, the collision was “first spotted by astronomer William Herschel on June 11, 1784, who thought it was a single oddball galaxy with an exceptionally strange shape.”

60 Minutes covers the court case where a group of kids are suing the U.S. government to halt the use of fossil fuels. (Fair warning: the video auto-plays. A transcript is below the video.) The plaintiffs have amassed 50 years of evidence showing that government officials have known about the dangers of burning fossil fuels and its impact on climate change for over 50 years, as well as 50 years of evidence showing the government hasn’t done anything substantial to address it.

Indian tribe revives heirloom seeds for health and climate security. “The Dongria Kondhs, devotees of their mountain gods in the remote hills of eastern India, are custodians of dozens of vanishing seed varieties. With the region in an agrarian crisis due to recurrent droughts and erratic rainfall, the tribe is on a mission to return to its farming roots and resuscitate long-lost heirloom crops.”

Remove Google fonts from the most popular WP themes: the themes I have experience with are a bit too complex for the suggestions here, but this is an awesome place to start. For this site’s current theme (a heavily simplified GeneratePress), the Disable Google Fonts plugin did the trick.

Link blog: March 8, 2019

I never know whether to title this with a date or a summary.

New Moon, a dark theme for web development. Created by the talented and always-helpful Tania Rascia, this dark theme can be applied to your text editor (VS Code, Brackets, Sublime, or Atom), Chrome, and iTerm2. I’m red-green colorblind and I’ve enjoyed this theme more than other dark themes.

Is This the End of Recycling? After sending countless shipments of poorly-sorted trash to China, China has finally started refusing our garbage-disguised-as-recycling. While it’s nice for consumers to consume less so there’s less waste produced, the onus is really on corporations and manufacturers to produce more responsibly. It’s time to radically rethink our packaging and what we do with it when it’s empty.

The Romani Cultural and Arts Company is a Welsh nonprofit organization created by Romani people to encourage arts and community engagement in order to fight racism against the Romani people.

Sex Redefined: The idea of two sexes is simplistic. Biologists now think there is a wider spectrum than that. (2015, and forever relevant.) A woman got pregnant in her 40s and was surprised to learn through a routine test that she has both XX and XY chromosomes, proving that gender is not as black and white (or pink and blue) as the creators of “gender reveal parties” and bathroom legislation would like us to believe.

On Likability. “I think, perhaps, one reason — maybe the primary reason — that the world tries so hard to pressure us to be likable (and to punish us when we aren’t) is because they are afraid we will realize that if we don’t need anyone to like us we can be any way we want. We can tell any story. We can tell the truth.”

Daily Hugz is a sanctuary for homeless and abused animals, and offers a safe play space for the children of Palestine. This site is full of adorable photos, and you can support them financially or by ordering some of the most special olive oil money can buy.

greener pastures: a Lollipop update

After a year of great experiences, I have decided to leave the Lollipop team in order to pursue other endeavors. I look forward to watching from a distance and seeing what happens next for Lollipop. Thank you to Kemonine and all the contributors for the support and camaraderie. It’s been a pleasure. I look forward to seeing you around the ‘verse. -jmf

Link blog: Facebook’s exploited workers, open source seeds, and a blast from the past

The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America: SERIOUS CONTENT WARNING for this link: there’s descriptions of very violent real-life things. Please only click this link if you’re in a good place emotionally. Facebook’s underpaid moderator contractors are left with PTSD, death threats, and denial of reality (becoming flat earthers and holocaust deniers, among other things).

Open Source Seed Bank: “The Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) is dedicated to maintaining fair and open access to plant genetic resources worldwide in order to ensure the availability of germplasm to farmers, gardeners, breeders, and communities of this and future generations.”

Computers in RVs: Check out this adorable blast from the past (1999!) about RVing as a computer user.

Taking a bit of a hiatus…

I’ve been lucky enough to find a great temporary position, and I’ll be focusing on that for awhile.

I’m still working with Lollipop Cloud, as well, and am excited to announce our new Open Collective for those wishing to support the project, and follow along for status updates. Lollipop is really gaining momentum!

I’m not going anywhere… just being quiet for a bit. 🙂

Links: privacy’s broader implications, colonization’s effect on the planet, and helping our houseless neighbors

Privacy is not just a personal matter: “The loss of our privacy is a loss for society and democracy. In a surveillance society, the impact of data collection is not just personal because collective privacy is lost too.”

America colonisation ‘cooled Earth’s climate’: “Colonisation of the Americas at the end of the 15th Century killed so many people, it disturbed Earth’s climate.”

A video about the importance of mutual aid to alleviate the housing crisis. Houselessness is a serious problem year-’round, but it’s especially deadly right now, in parts of the country where the cold has become downright dangerous. Reach out to your neighbors and local warming shelters and save a life.

Lollipop Cloud’s Works on Arm Sponsorship: “We are happy to announce we have been awarded a slot in the Works on Arm initiative. We never, in our wildest dreams, thought we would be accepted.”