Link Blog: May 15, 2019

Trashserver.net is an XMPP server that’s 100% powered by renewable energy.

Offices Can Be Hell for People Whose Brains Work Differently: “Work spaces today come with strong smells, harsh light, lots of chatter, and constant messages on email or Slack. For neurodivergent people, this can be a big ask.”

The AI Supply Chain Runs on Ignorance: Even if you could decipher the legalese in apps’ terms and conditions, the fact of the matter is that not only are developers opaque about how users’ data will be used, developers themselves often don’t know how that data will end up being used.

I’ve Been Committed To A Psych Ward Three Times — And It Never Helped: A personal account with plenty of research data about how psych hospitals aren’t actually helping people when they involuntarily imprison patients.

If You Care About Health Justice, Stop Clicking on “Florida Man” Stories: the so-called “Florida man” is actually code for “Man Likely Suffering From Mental Illness or Drug Addiction.” Stop laughing at other people’s suffering, and stop clicking those links.

The rise of fear-based social media like Nextdoor, Citizen, and now Amazon’s Neighbors: Crime is going down, but you wouldn’t know it when you join a neighborhood social networking site.

Purism’s bigotry problem

Purism has created its own fork of Mastodon, but has removed the ability to report posts, and has basically taken a pro-bigotry stance by not condoning some pretty basic anti-bigotry concepts.

It turns out they’re going to be blatantly allowing hate speech on their servers, as long as they don’t harass individuals, whatever that means. See this Pleroma post with screenshots.

The author of the post, Chris, says he had a phone call with one of the execs at Purism today, so maybe things will change.

But it never should’ve gotten to the point of having to blow up on social media in order to be heard.

Taking an anti-hate-speech stance and spelling that out in obvious ways (like the Contributor Covenant) should not be so difficult. Expecting an organization to say “racism/sexism/ableism/sizeism/all forms of bigotry are not tolerated here” should NEVER be controversial.

Sadly, this is not limited to Purism, but I do think it’s a smidge bit extra hypocritical for a company to be all about liberty and that brags about creating a safe workplace.

Tech has a very long way to go.

Link Blog: May 3, 2019

One type of diversity we don’t talk about at work: Body size. Despite all the documented evidence of anti-fat bias in the workplace, and all of the pro-diversity initiatives happening, companies continue to disregard the importance of fighting size-related microaggressions and discrimination. I’d argue they’re actively promoting size discrimination in workplaces that continue to cling to wellness programs (which are known to be ineffective at improving employee wellness).

The Bad News About Delivering Bad News: This is no surprise to anyone who’s ever received bad news from a doctor, but it turns out doctors have no idea how to deliver bad news to patients. They’re looking to researchers for guidance, and researchers are asking healthy volunteers…. apparently no one’s considered asking those of us who’ve received bad news how doctors could’ve handled themselves better.

Patients ‘Discouraged’ As US Announces It Won’t Ban Cancer-Linked Breast Implants: Despite mounting evidence that macro-textured implants are causing long term health problems (including a very rare cancer), despite evidence that manufacturers are hiding negative health outcomes to the public, and despite other countries’ decisions to halt sales of these same implants, the FDA says it will do nothing.

A biomarker for chronic fatigue symptom may have been identified: a new blood test identified people with and without CFS (or myalgic encephalomeylitis) with 100% accuracy in a very small (40-subject) study. The same test may also potentially identify patient-specific drug treatments.

China’s recycling ban has sent America’s plastic to Malaysia. Now they don’t want it — so what next? The US is sending its garbage to Malaysia (illegally under Malaysian law) because other Asian countries are refusing our poorly-sorted refuse. Instead of taking care of our own waste, we continue to heap it onto poorer regions, expecting them to clean up after us.

Link Blog: April 29, 2019

Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The Planned Obsolescence of Old Coders. The author admits that he neglected to reach out to older coders to add to the diversity of PyGotham, and discusses the challenges faced by older coders. As a disabled Jewish woman over the age of 40 who has not received a single job offer by the tech industry, this article hits especially close to home.

Apologies for linking to Medium. If you’ve reached your limit of free articles and are hitting a paywall, you may be interested in this article instead:

Cutting ‘Old Heads’ at IBM: Propublica’s investigation of IBM’s massive layoffs of older workers (or strong-arming them into retirement) while hiring younger replacements.

And, relatedly:

Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about, study suggests. An admittedly small study (of teens no less) evaluates how people perceive their aptitude for 16 math-related skills, including 3 that don’t exist, and rich males were more likely than anyone else to boast about their skills in these areas.

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 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!

Links

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.”

Happy New Year!

I am still looking for a job, and one thing that both amuses and saddens me is that the more time passes without finding the right job, the more experience I’m getting to qualify for the right job. Ironic.

So here’s what’s new:

  • The University of Michigan and Coursera have created another fantastic Python 3 specialization, building on the Python for Everybody specialization. I’ve finished the first three courses and am waiting for the last two to open.
  • Lollipop Cloud Project is going well. We are working through some hardware issues with our board of choice, and deploying more cool stuff like Plume, a federated blogging platform.
  • I don’t do New Years resolutions, but I’ve decided to start talking more openly about being disabled, and specifically about being a disabled job seeker.
  • I’ve also decided to start posting links (perhaps weekly) that I find interesting. I don’t care for Reddit (too much bigotry and abuse), and I’m not so active on social media, but I like to save links I find interesting.

#100DaysofCode Day 11

I took the previous day‘s code for the Morse Translator and changed it to include list comprehension.

Through a series of unfortunate events, I had an unexpected allergic reaction two days in a row. One reaction often throws me for a loop for a day or two, requiring extra rest, but two in a row have left me feeling pretty wiped. It can take a short minute to get back in the swing of things when something like this happens (I partly blame the Benadryl hangover). This is one of life’s minor annoyances when living with chronic illness or disability. Some annoyances are bigger than others, of course. This could’ve been much worse, all things considered.