This is a daily (?) list of links I found worthwhile. Some of them are news, some are timely information, and some are things I should have known about a long time ago, but only now had pointed out to me.

Links for 2019/03/23

Going to try to do this whole link blog entry from emacs. Normally I have a workflow that involves dragging links from Firefox into emacs, where, by a bit of emacs magic, they are automatically converted into Markdown links. But I’m trying to live in the terminal (with Cool Retro Term) this week, so I’m using pinboard-list.el to give me my list of links to share. Hopefully I’ll have a macro or something that is almost as easy as my drag-and-drop hack…

The Male Feminist Movement Time Forgot

This article is a good introduction to the Men’s Liberation movement, and why we now have, instead, its shadow, then Men’s Rights movement. Oddly, it doesn’t mention contemtorary Men’s Lib resources, like /r/menslib on Reddit.

Why we use progressive enhancement to build GOV.UK

I also work in government web development, and because we have accessibility requirements that the private sector often doesn’t, progressive enhancement is a natural fit for us, too.

Geo for Bootstrap, a Timeless Theme by Divshot

This is a theme for Bootstrap that makes it look like a classic GeoCites webpage. A brilliant subversion, since Bootstrap is so closely associated with webpages that look professional but lack any unique character. A real piece of work.

How to Make a “Share on Mastodon” Button in Pure/Vanilla JavaScript

I’ve added this at the bottom of each of my pages as, of course, progressive enhancement. Without JavaScript, you get a “web+mastodon” URL, which depends on your browser having installed a handler for it. Unfortunately, neither is going to work in Lynx; you’re just going to have to copy and paste the URL in that case.

Where platforms go after Christchurch

The author identifies two classes of problems that make it easier for neofascists to spread their idology: platform problems, and internet problems. Internet problems are those that just come from everyone being able to talk to everyone. Platform problems are those that come from platforms growth-hacking, slapping on a thin layer of moderation, and using algorithms to try to optimize for engagement.

The Brutalist Path

An emacs user discusses how they went from using standard color themes to making a brutalist theme: more than no syntax highlighting, but substantially less than normal themes, and quieter. I’ve tried their theme, and for whatever reason, it causes font substitutions on my emacs both on Windows and GNU/Linux, so it’s not quite usable for me, but I really like the idea.

The Pyrex Glas Controversy that Just Won’t Die

Basically, what you’re buying these days under the Pyrex brand is not Pyrex, in the sense that it’s not borosilicate glass. Because it’s cheaper to sell tempered glass, even though it’s prone to shattering into small pieces under thermal stress. This is fine.

Shutting down Homestead child detention center: a Quaker perspective

The Miami Friends Meeting is working to shut down the child detention center in Homestead.

Quaker: The Quiet Revolutionaries

We saw this video at the Palmetto Friends Gathering last week. I wish I had a better link for you than vimeo, but youtube-dl will make it usable. This is a simplified history of Quakerism focusing on the social justice aspects. Sometimes it may be simplified to the point of not being 100% accurate, which was a point of contention for some of the people at the gathering.


Links for 2019/03/19

Web

A JavaScript-Free Frontend

This has some neat tricks that I hadn’t thought of for doing “live” front-end without JavaScript. The checkbox/label trick is really cool, though it’s a little over-complicated for my taste, and besides, doesn’t degrade well in browsers that don’t support CSS. The fact that you can use it to build a modal dialog is crash, though.

I’m using details/summary for subject/Content Warning in brutaldon. It degrades okay. The live behavior isn’t available in older browsers, but you do at least get all of the text displayed. The forms and input validation is an example of the “paving the cowpaths” approach that browser vendors should be taking for enabling behavior without JavaScript. Unfortunately, they aren’t doing it as much as they should. The author of this article recommends a few more HTML elements that would let you dump more JavaScript, like a native modal and standard drag-and-drop-sorting.

Digital guide to low tech

This article is another “how to build a low tech website”, using a lot of the same tips as the other article. The main criticism I’ve seen is that the image processing is performative – you could actually get smaller images without the dithering done in the article.

The web we broke.

tldr; Web developers don’t care about accessibility. And we often do things that require going out of your way to break things that are accessible in standard HTML.

Some emulations in the browser of older browsers

Jason Scott @textfiles Since it’s the 30th anniversary of the world wide web, let me just link to some emulations-in-the-browser of browsers, so you can see some of where it could have gone before we all decided to let Ol’ Sociopathic Googly be the entire engine for everything.

The Hottest Chat App for Teens is Google Docs

Nature, uh, finds a way. People will use whatever tools are actually available to them to achieve their goals; taking away the chat apps won’t make people stop chatting.

Generative.fm

Generative ambient music. This is very much my thing, and it would be ideal for listening to at work, if it weren’t against office policy :(

Politics and Adjacent

‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ at Fifty

A good review.

Beto O’Rourke’s secret membership in America’s oldest hacking group

O’Rourke’s life story is pretty compelling to me (punk band, Cult of the Dead Cow), but that’s not how I choose candidates to support. His policy record is pretty conservative, and that’s the opposite of what we need today.

Move Fast and Build Solidarity

Activism at Google and Amazon paid off. But can the emerging “tech left” forge long-term alliances between janitors, drivers, and engineers?

Elizabeth Warren’s Big Tech Beatdown will Spark a Vital and Unprecedented Debate

Electroshocking the corpse of anti-trust law.

Something actually concrete and useful from our local fishwrap! If you’re not in SC, I’m sure you have similar or better resources available to you. A guide to what you can actually get from FOIA and public records.

Parenting

How Inuit Parents Raise Kids Without Yelling – And Teach Them To Control Anger

Basically, adults never show anger at kids, and they let kids know that showing anger is for babies, but in a playful way. And they use stories and play to let children practice controlling their anger while they are not mad.


Links for 2019/03/11

Mercifully short today.

A feminist’s guide to raising boys

A lot of this rings true. The article mentions that little boys are different from little girls because even parents treat them differently, even when they don’t mean to. One thing it doesn’t mention is what they pick up from peers, even as toddlers and preschoolers.

Medical benefits of dental floss unproven

I feel vindicated.

Nothing is a greater waste of time than the planned debate between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Žižek

This is bound to be entertaining, but debates don’t convince anyone, much less prove anything.


Links for 2019/03/07

I didn’t accumulate as many links this week, because while I was sick with the flu, I felt too bad to read as much as usual.

AI won’t relieve the misery of Facebook’s human moderators - The Verge

It might allow Facebook to pay less for moderators, though…

The Climate Change Paper So Depressing It’s Sending People to Therapy - VICE

There will be no new normal.

What “Knight Fight” Gets Dead Wrong about Medieval Men | The Public Medievalist

I knew as soon as I saw the name “John Clements” attached that it would be a shitshow.

Paul Woolcock / unroll · GitLab

A thread unroller for the fediverse! You can unroll a thread by replying and cc’ing @unroll@botsin.space.

NPR: Hate groups and white supremacists spread their message with flyers

My impression had been that after their many very public defeats when holding rallies, that US white supremacists were in retreat. But apparently that perception is wrong; they are more active, but in ways that don’t expose them to physical danger.

Cars are killing us. Within 10 years, we must phase them out | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian

Electric cars should only need enough range to drive you to and from the train station.


Links for 2019/02/26

Strap in, it’s a little depressing this time.

Why US cities are becoming more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians

Mostly the answer is a good thing — more people are biking and walking. Unfortunately, that brings more people into danger, given that our cities are designed for cars, and not for people.

The article overstates it a little bit. It’s chloramines, caused by reaction of chlorine with proteins that causes red eyes, and the smell of the pool. But sweat would also be enough to create chloramines, it’s not all pee.

Instagram account of University of Pennsylvania runner showed only part of story

This is a really good article about how perfectionism is implicated in depression and suicide. Also touches on social media, and how it can cover up depression while also making it worse for some people.

All of the reasons why the internet is bad—a breakup letter — Quartz

A personal, but also very generic and relatable, account of falling in and out of love with the Internet.

The Communal Mind: The Internet and Me

Similar theme, very good writing; more focused on the Extremely Online, and especially on Twitter, rather than on the changes in Internet culture over time.

On Smarm

A necessary antidote to the cult of forced civility. Smarm is the form of civility without its substance. A defense of snark.

The Hard Lessons of Dianne Feinstein’s Encounter with the Young Green New Deal Activists | The New Yorker

Dianne Feinstein treats a group of children who have come to beg her to let them grow up in a non-apocalyptic world as if they were some flesh golem made from pieces of lobbyists and Russian spambots. Strike that; she’d be friendlier to the lobbyists.

The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America - The Verge

This was a horror to read. You need to be in a resilient mental space before you read it, but you need to make time to read it when you’re in that space. I don’t think I’ve read any story that sums up the times we’re living in as well as this one. The workplace surveillance and abuse; the desperation, quiet and otherwise; the progressive face that corporate HR puts on while it basically tortures people for the sake of appearances and a goal they can never possibly fulfill.

How Google, Microsoft, and Big Tech Are Automating the Climate Crisis

tldr; providing IT and cloud services to coal and oil companies enables them to extract fossil fuels more efficiently, effectively moving carbon from the ground to the atmosphere faster. This effect massively overshadows any kind of investments that Big Tech is making in clean energy or efficiency.

Digital Life: What happened to voice mail?

Oh God, never leave me voicemail. I need to set all of my voicemail messaegs to remind callers to send a text or email instead.

Prisons Are a Biblical Abomination | Church Life Journal

An amazing Catholic argument for prison abolition.

Companies that insist on surveilling their employees want to make encryption weaker for everyone. Pervasive monitoring is an attack.

About Face – Popula

A powerful piece of sequential art about fascist aesthetics in modern America.

That’s all for this edition.


Links for 2019/02/19

Architecture

Over the last five years or so, maybe a little bit more, downtown Columbia has been sprouting these student apartments everywhere there’s space for them and a lot of places there isn’t (displacing existing local businesses). One thing about them is that they all look alike – basically they’re long boxes, four or five stories tall, with various superficial architectural features that don’t really do anything to hide the fact that they’re long boxes.

This week I finally found out why this is! Apparently they are a type of building called “five over one” or “five on one” that consists of one story of poured concrete and four or five stories of “stick” (wood frame) construction, the same kind you see in single family homes. Apparently this used to violate fire codes, but in 2009 the nationwide model code updated to allow it (with increased sprinkler requirements, I think?). And it spread because it’s cheap. You don’t need as skilled labor to assemble pre-cut and pre-attached wood frames as you do to build the steel frames that used to be required.

Here are the articles I read about this in.

_ Why America’s New Apartment Buildings All Look the Same - Bloomberg

The new Seattle, where everything looks the same | Crosscut

Community Architect: How “One-Plus-Five” is Shaping American Cities

Updates on the hellscape we live in

A thread written by @gilbertlisak

Teacher trainings for school shooter response are both terrifying and useless. And almost certainly profitable.

A Night at the Garden

A film compiling footage of a Nazi rally in the US by the German-American Bund, before Pearl Harbor.

The magical thinking of guys who love logic | The Outline

Why online “rationalists” are typically less rational than average.

New Studies Show Pundits Are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement in US Politics | The Nation

Russiagate is brain worms for liberals who are unwilling and unable to look for domestic causes for Trump’s win. We’re entering the primary season again, and it looks like we’re going to repeat the mistakes of 2016 or worse, because Americans are incapable of learning anything.


Links for 2019/02/12

A properly short linkblog today!

Web development

Designing for the web ought to mean making HTML and CSS - Signal v. Noise

One of a couple of recent articles that talks about how web design has turned into front-end development, which has turned into JavaScript development. The conclusion is good:

Designing for the modern web in a way that pleases users with great, fast designs needn’t be this maze of impenetrable complexity. We’re making it that! It’s possible not to.

Help! None of my projects want to be SPAs | Jason Goldstein

While there are certainly some projects that, if they’re going to be web apps, have to be SPAs, for the vast majority of projects, making an SPA means making life harder for yourself and going against the grain of what your project requires. Contrarian opinion: if your app does demand that it be an SPA, maybe it ought to be a native desktop app instead.

Social media

Amazon’s Home Security Company Is Turning Everyone Into Cops - Motherboard

Imagine a social network that consists almost entirely of old white people who are scared of their shadows, doing nothing but calling the police on their neighbors for walking on the street. That describes Amazon’s Neighbors, it describes NextDoor, and it describes my local neighborhood’s group on Facebook. That was one of the reasons, before the latest round of privacy scandals, that I disabled my Facebook account.

Fact-Checking Facebook Was Like Playing A Doomed Game Of Whack-A-Mole

This is worth a read, but the take-home point for me was that Facebook’s algorithmic approach to moderation wasn’t any better than its algorithmic approach to surfacing posts. Apparently the algorithm for presenting posts to fact-checkers kept aggressively missing the point and keeping the fact-checkers from doing anything substantial.

Environment, or, We’re All Going To Die Horribly

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’ | Environment | The Guardian

The collapse of insect populations is likely to lead to collapse of ecosystems and massive crop failures. Next to the collapse of ocean ecosystems, this is what I worry about more than anything.


Links for 2019/02/08

Got behind again, and have to drop a lot of things I was going to note here. Fewer is better.

Web topics

The Web is Made of Edge Cases by Taylor Hunt on CodePen

Designers and front-end developers tend to treat web rendering as a pixel-perfect graphics runtime; it’s not.

How to design website layouts for screen readers – freeCodeCamp.org

Facebook pays teens to install VPN that spies on them | TechCrunch

This is pretty extreme even by the standards of surveillance capitalism.

Google has quietly dropped ban on personally identifiable web tracking

This is business as usual – the simple rule is that everything always gets worse.

Carpetsmoker/hello-css: A CSS template focused on readability

Another basic CSS toolkit, focused on simple, good typography. This plus some slim wrappers around grid or flexbox are really all you need.

HTML, CSS and our vanishing industry entry points

Good points about the shape of the industry.

Transhumanism

Center for a Stateless Society » Review: Superintelligence — Paths, Dangers, Strategies

The Great White Robot God – David Golumbia – Medium

Two conflicting articles that should be read together for a good view of where we stand today.

US and International Politics

No such thing as Bernie Bros: Bernie’s approval rates are women 50%, blacks 70%, latinx 55%; men 46%, whites 43% / Boing Boing

It’s primary season again, and the neoliberals are even more out in force now than last time, so this is worth bearing in mind.

‘Resistance’ Media Side With Trump to Promote Coup in Venezuela | FAIR

The US is a single party state, but with its usual overindulgence, it has two of them.

Local

Trump Administration Allows South Carolina to Discriminate in Foster Care

SC makes national news for being horrible.

Civil forfeiture: SC police seize millions, often from innocent people

Basically if you have an interaction with the cops, and you are carrying cash, be prepared to lose it (especially if you are Black, naturally). I knew civil forfeiture was bad, but I had no idea it was this bad.

South Carolina Spent $9 Billion to Dig a Hole in the Ground and Then Fill it Back in

South Carolina makes national news again, for being at the forefront of taking regular people’s money to give to rich assholes.

Suburbanites want to destroy wetlands, teacher wants to save it, schoolboard member wants to use it as leverage in a grudge. SC local politics are amazing.

Culture

This Future Looks Familiar: Watching Blade Runner in 2017 | Tor.com

This is one of many valid takes on Blade Runner.

The Queer Art of Failing Better | Laurie Penny

A review of the Queer Eye reboot as a window into the kind of helplessness and incompetence that is produced by masculinity, and the kind of changes to identity that are required to move forward. Laurie Penny is also one of the best writers working in journalism today.

Winona Ryder Finally Agrees To Sleep With Generation X

Highly relatable.


Links for 2019/01/22

US Politics

It’s Bernie, Bitch | Amber A’Lee Frost

Amber from Chapo Trap House explains why Bernie is the only viable candidate for 2020, even if he dies on the campaign trail and his corpse has to be operated like a Muppet.

The Border Patrol Has Been a Cult of Brutality Since 1924

Even among law enforcement agencies, the Border Patrol has always been notably racist.

How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Allies Supplanted the Obama Generation | The New Yorker

In brief: the Green New Deal completely changes the conversation.

Vann R. Newkirk II: How to Kill a Revolution - The Atlantic

Liberal history treats MLK Jr’s assassination as something that happened after the success of his movement (the Voting Rights Act). But it was really at the beginning of a movement that was cut short.

The Lesson Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders have for the Left: Embrace Class Conflict – Canadian Dimension

Welcome the hatred of your actual enemies.

Gender and mental health

Therapy wars: The Revenge of Freud - The Guardian

This article seems to imply that if CBT is wrong (it probably is), then traditional Freudian analysis must be right (it probably isn’t).

‘Traditional masculinity’ deemed ‘harmful’ by American Psychological Association | TheHill

Enough said.

A proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder.

It’s certainly abnormal.

adult life does not spark joy

This link has already rotted between the time I saved it and the time I shared it. But basically, it points out the problem with Marie Kondo’s test for whether to keep something: your toilet plunger almost certainly does not spark joy. But you also can’t get rid of it. And really, there are a whole lot of things about adult life that are like that.

Opinion | I Put My Baby Daughter in Dinosaur Overalls. Am I an Anarchist? - The New York Times

This is an amazingly tepid take, but I guess the fact that it’s not obvious to everyone means that the gendering of babies is way out of control. The answer to the question is no, of course; you’re an anarchist if you put your baby in a red onsie that says “I’m a Little Wobbly” on them.

Computing, web

The Ethics of Web Performance - TimKadlec.com

“Poor performance can, and does, lead to exclusion…There is a growing gap between what a high-end device can handle and what a middle to low-end device can handle.”

The urge to share news of our lives is neither new nor narcissistic | Aeon Ideas

I was amazed to learn about 18th-19th century diaries being written to be passed around to fiends and family.

When YouTube Red-Pills the Love of Your Life - MEL Magazine

This is one reason why I love Chapo Trap House and ContraPoints. They may sometimes be problematic, but in terms of both style and substance, they are exactly what is needed for deprogramming people who might be just beginning the slide towards the alt-right.

social_media_design | Recent Entries

A Dreamwidth community for talking about the design of social media platforms.

Brutstrap

A CSS stylesheet for making brutalist websites. Eventually I need to make a theme for brutaldon that uses this.

Quitting Facebook & Google: Why Exit Option Democracy is the Worst Kind of Democracy

A sociologist looks at the cost you have to pay to quit Facebook and Google.

Nothing Can Stop Google. DuckDuckGo Is Trying Anyway.

A kind of corporate puff piece on DuckDuckGo, but you should totally be using it anyway.

How Facebook Advertising Works - The Atlantic

Most Facebook users have no idea how Facebook makes money, or what that has to do with their data.

Local

Surprised/not surprised.

Music

ASTRAL | Polymer Witch

Solarpunk/lunarpunk aesthetic.

The Songs We Sing - Best Of 2002-2012 | Flunk

Folktronica, alternative pop, some nifty covers.

Houmeissa | Hama

Nigerién composer Hama presents a groundbreaking album of traditional electronic desert folk songs, hovering somewhere between early 90s techno and synthwave. Nomadic herding ballads, ancient caravan songs, and ceremonial wedding chants are all re-imagined into pieces seemingly lifted from a Saharan 1980s sci-fi soundtrack or score to a Tuareg video game.


Links for 2019/01/10

Facebook

Facebook rolls out AI to detect suicidal posts before they’re reported | TechCrunch

This could actually increase deaths as armed police are dispatched to “check in” on reportedly suicidal people. And that’s not counting the opportunities for algorithmic cruelty, like notifying someone’s domestic abuser that they’re suicidal.

Goodbye Facebook

This was the last straw for the fediverse’s jjg, who reports on the previous techcrunch post in his goodbye letter to Facebook. He points out that the AI capability is bound to be used to bring marketing to a new level.

Facebook Knows How to Track You Using the Dust on Your Camera Lens

But they’ve still got lots of ways to track you, even if you yourself aren’t on Facebook anymore. You should still quit, though.

Politics

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s response to the Trump wall speech revealed why she threatens both Democrats and Republicans

AOC is a breath of fresh air…

Abolishing ICE by funding it

But let’s not get carried away with the hero worship just yet.

‘Bowl Patrol’: Dylann Roof Fans Hope to Inspire More Mass Shootings - UNICORN RIOT

It constantly amazes me how the fash have zero security culture, even compared to anarchists. I guess it comes from not having to worry about being targeted by the state.

ActivityPub

ActivityPub: The “Worse Is Better” Approach to Federated Social Networking — kaniini’s blog!

ActivityPub: the present state, or why saving the ‘worse is better’ virus is both possible and important — kaniini’s blog!

Pleroma’s kaniini goes into some technical details on what’s wrong with ActivityPub (the protocol Mastodon, Pleroma, and others use to federate) from a security perspective.

The Web

404 Page Not Found | Kate Wagner

The artifacts of internet life are personal—that is, not professionally or historically notable—and therefore worthless.

Stumbling blocks on the way to web performance - macwright.org

I agree that native (non-JS) lazy image loading is needed, and that service workers are a great way to stumble into the second hardest problem in computer science. The image format issue I’m less concerned with; people could do a better job optimizing their PNGs and JPGs, but the gains of webp and jpeg2000 are pretty marginal. The real problems with web performance are mostly self-owns: too much JavaScript, too much of it third-party, and just generally too heavy resources.

Ditching Medium | JJ’s JavaScript Blog

Medium is a lot like other silos — it makes money off of other people’s content, and generally doesn’t give anything back.

Misc

mathiasdahl/dotemacs: dotemacs

A minimalist emacs setup, sufficient to bootstrap you into setting up everything else you need.

How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation

While I’m not a Millennial (late GenX, child of earliest boomers), a lot of this resonated with me. Especially this:

That’s one of the most ineffable and frustrating expressions of burnout: It takes things that should be enjoyable and flattens them into a list of tasks, intermingled with other obligations that should either be easily or dutifully completed. The end result is that everything, from wedding celebrations to registering to vote, becomes tinged with resentment and anxiety and avoidance.

Good night, internet. Good night.