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 2019/1/5

Computing, emacs

dengste/org-caldav: Caldav sync for Emacs orgmode

I’ve started to use this, to go along with my resolution to start using calendars more, and to-do lists less.

More emacs configuration tweaks (multiple-cursor on click, minimap, code folding, ensime eval overlays)

There were some useful hints in here for me. I tend not to use multiple-cursor-mode, because I have trouble remembering how it selects things, and it’s easier for me to use iedit-mode or just macros to do multiple similar edits.

How Apps on Android Share Data with Facebook - Report | Privacy International

This is fairly concerning. I no longer have a Facebook account, but while I prefer to use Free Software apps from F-Droid as much as I can, I don’t have a Google-free phone, and I use a few non-free apps. I find it concerning that they may be providing information to Facebook. I do use Blokada, which should block most of that kind of traffic, and you probably should, too.

XMPP is 20 years old! | The XMPP Newsletter

Lots of interesting stuff in this issue. If you want to run a modern XMPP (Jabber) server, check out my article on Setting Up Prosody for Conversations.

Local

COMET Eyes Greater Ridership Diversity | Local & State News | free-times.com

In Columbia, people mostly only use the bus if they have to, and that is mainly poor people, and especially poor Black people. The CMRTA seems to be mostly interested in trying to get more affluent white people to ride by making the bus more “fun”. But I have to say that I stopped riding the bus when they eliminated stops near my house, and made the routes less frequent. Reversing those two things would do a lot more to get me back on the bus than WiFi and chargers.

Politics

For Nancy Pelosi and the new women in Congress, fashion was a defiant statement of purpose — and resistance - The Washington Post

I’m not super-supportive of the #Resistance, especially the neoliberal wing like Pelosi. But the article does mention Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is the real deal. And it would be wrong to underestimate the role of fashion in political messaging.

Why Americans Get Socialism and Capitalism Backwards

An article that does a good job of explaining to economic liberals (i.e., conservatives and centrists, in US terms) why they would be better off under social democracy, and why they should support it. I think we need actual socialism, not just social democracy, but I do think that this article is tactically well-aimed.

Culture

JMF, one of the developers on Lollipop Cloud and an admin on one of the Mastodon instances I use, is also linkblogging. Go check her linkblog out if you like this one!

Art Nouveau coloring pages | Free Coloring Pages

Art Nouveau coloring pages under Creative Commons licenses. That’s pretty Solarpunk.

Old Nuclear Missile Silos for Homes

Interestingly, it seems to be mainly pacifists and environmentalists rehabilitating these structures.

Blood Music

I’ve enjoyed several artists from this label… which suggests I might want to listen to some of the others.


Links for 2018/12/28

Why Calendars are More Effective Than To Do Lists - Srinivas Rao - Pocket

Thinking about the link on org-mode use I posted a little while ago that suggested giving every TODO headline a SCHEDULED property.

Pleroma, LitePub, ActivityPub and JSON-LD — kaniini’s blog!

Gets at one of the reasons that ActivityPub is problematic — the LinkedData aspect is useful for Big Social (advertising targeting, business intelligence), but not for the actual use of sharing that we want to enable. This is one of several things that the fediverse inherits from corporate social media without really intending to (I think/hope).

Gritty’s evolution from mascot to meme to leftist avatar, explained - Vox

In case you need a Vox explainer on Gritty. I’m mainly posting it because of the ascending Muppet meme.

It’s Okay to Have Children

This Jacobin article addresses bourgeois liberal anti-natalism. But it doesn’t really assuage my fear that my children are going to grow up in a hellscape that I feel guilty for bringing them into.

The Rise and Demise of RSS

RSS is still extremely useful, and most sites still have it because it’s so simple to implement that it basically costs nothing relative to the rest of the CMS, blogging software, or static site generator. One thought I had while reading this was, “Goddamn, the Semantic Web people really do destroy everything they touch.”

Human Rights by Design

Don’t design your software to enable privacy violations, or indiscriminate censorship.

Hoppin’ John and How African Slaves Influenced Bean-and-Rice Culture | Restaurants | free-times.com

In time for New Year’s.

How Much of the Internet Is Fake?

Apparently, more than half of internet traffic is advertising-related scams (fake impressions, fake video views) of some kind. And that’s not counting the spam.


Links for 2018/12/25

Merry Christmas Edition

Free Software and Adjacent Topics

What does a private communicator look like? – Aral Balkan

There’s a pretty wide potential space, both hardware and software, for what a personal communicator could look like.

Free software and the revolt against transactionality

John Ohno (Modernist Microfiche Minotaur on the fediverse) writes (on Medium, unfortunately) an excellent article on saving the gift economy of Free Software from the way Big Software builds an industry on Open Source.

The kicker:

Software intended for businesses has a need that software intended for individuals does not: scalability. Software intended for individuals can be unstandardized, ad-hoc, quirky, and personal. ‘Enterprise’ software must pretend to scale (even if it cannot), & the centralization necessary for any business to make a profit increases the load on the software that inhabits that bottleneck.

For twenty years, we’ve been making corporations rich by buying into standardization and scale — making it feasible for them to funnel us into silos. We can stop this process, and perhaps even reverse it, by refusing to make un-frivolous software. Personal software should be personal: it should not scale or conform; it should chafe at strictures the same way you do, and burst out of any box that dare enclose it.

A Theme for Prose Writers | Irreal

Using this (and variable-pitch-mode) for linkblogging right now.

Environment

Building blocks of ocean food web in rapid decline as plankton productivity plunges | CBC News

This is what I worry about most when thinking about climate change — ecosystem collapse from the bottom. That and permafrost methane release leading to a Venus-like environment.

Facebook

The Cost of Living in Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet Empire - The Ringer

We Should Replace Facebook With Personal Websites - Motherboard

IMO the only problem with this is that personal websites are still a bit too hard for everyone to be able to do this. I’d like to see a secure, lightweight appliance running on free software and open hardware make this practical.

The Cost of Living in Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet Empire - The Ringer

This is probably the best article I’ve read recently about Facebook, and I’ve read a lot. Some really great quotes.

What’s on your mind? I can tell you only what’s on mine. What’s on my mind is that I miss the human internet with an intensity that borders on homesickness. […]

The internet of 1995 and 1999 and 2001 and even 2007 was a backwater by today’s standards, but to me, it was the most wonderful thing. It was strange and silly and experimental and constantly surprising, and it made you feel good about other people, because online, away from corporate media and every channel of established culture, other people turned out to be constantly surprising too. They translated Anglo-Saxon poetry and posted photographs of Victorian ghosts and told you, to your eternal benefit, about what it was like to be someone other than yourself (in my case, to be a woman, to be a person of color). They wrote fascinating, charismatic diaries. And all of this, this faster, weirder, more forgiving universe, was right there, at your fingertips, for free. This sounds like nostalgia, but it was how I really felt at the time. We were making this thing together.

The fact that I cannot remember the last time the internet made me feel, on balance, less anxious and better about other people tells you something about how much has changed online since 1999, 2001, and even 2007.

Mark Zuckerberg did everything in his power to avoid Facebook becoming the next MySpace – but forgot one crucial detail… • The Register

No one likes a lying asshole.

Culture

Dose Response (a roguelike where you’re an addict) 1.0 released

Haven’t played it, but it sounds interesting.

Star Wars is Really a Cautionary Tale About Devoting All Technological Advancements to Death | Tor.com

The Star Wars galaxy really does kind of suck.


Links for 2018/12/20

Facebook imploding

What Happens When Facebook Goes the Way of Myspace? - The New York Times

Even after no one is really using Facebook, everyone’s residual data will still be valuable (and dangerous).

As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants - The New York Times

Summary: Facebook gave complete access to its customer data, including “private” messages, and including not only reading them, but writing or deleting them, to its “partners”, including Apple, Spotify, Yahoo, Microsoft, and several others.

I feel like the private message issue may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for normal people.

Two years after #Pizzagate showed the dangers of hateful conspiracies, they’re still rampant on YouTube - The Washington Post

Bonus: YouTube is still a toxic hellworld.

Browser diversity

Adactio: Journal—Browsers

Why you absolutely must use Firefox.

The Ecological Impact of Browser Diversity | CSS-Tricks

This one is from before we lost EdgeHTML as an independent browser engine, but talks about why it’s important.

Cultural notes

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Watch | Topic

A nicely illustrated essay on how social media is exploited to sell cheap Chinese knock-off watches as lifestyle brands.

Image Synthesis from Yahoo’s open_nsfw

Note: images are sort-of NSFW. This article looks at neural networks that have been trained to recognize pornography, and then what you get if you generate images that are maximally or minimally pornographic. The maximally pornographic ones are still abstract — no people and, really, few naturalistic recognizable body parts, but they still manage to be both perverse and disturbing. The minimally pornographic ones are semi-abstract landscapes.

A few pages of Superman showing that it’s something other than his powers that make him the world’s greatest superhero.

And finally some politics

Pamela Anderson on Europe’s Turmoil

Comrade Pamela, go on Chapo!

Why I’m a climate change denier – The Rational Radical – Medium

Spoiler: the author is a denier in the sense of psychological denial, rather than denying the facts of pending ecological collapse. The facts are too horrible to face, so on a day to day basis, we don’t face them.


Links for 2018/12/15

Newsy/politicky

The Snowden Legacy, part one: What’s changed, really? | Ars Technica

Article gives maybe too much credit to Snowden’s opponents, but does give a good overview of what the impacts have been.

Finally, some good news: the ERG has been aggressively made love to by an ass | Marina Hyde | Opinion | The Guardian

Apparently, Brexit has gotten bad enough that mainstream newspaper columnists are invoking our Dread Lord Cthulhu.

Walls Work

The US government in action — this is quite possibly the most illiterate press release I’ve ever read, and it’s an official publication of the federal government.

Enemy of the Imperium - Contrapoints - T-Shirt | TeePublic

I want this Contrapoints shirt, though.

The White Problem – The Message – Medium

Quinn Norton on why giving up on white privilege is terrifying to whites.

Cultural

Bertrand Russell’s Advice For How (Not) to Grow Old: “Make Your Interests Gradually Wider and More Impersonal” | Open Culture

This is astonishing advice from someone I greatly expect, but I’m not sure exactly how to implement it.

X-Men: First Class

Magneto did nothing wrong.

Techy

puntoblogspot: 3 basic org agenda tips for the fundamentally forgetful

This article seems to be aimed at me: I love org-mode, but I fundamentally fail at every organizational technique I try, from GTD to Bullet Journal. A lot of that is having my personal and work org-mode trees physically separated by IT policy, but surely there’s some way I can do better.

VF-1/README.md at master · solderpunk/VF-1

A command-line gopher client. So far I’ve been using Lynx on GNU/Linux, and Pocket Gopher on Android to read phlogs.

How to Gopher

I’d like to mirror my blog and this linkblog on gopher. In principle it should be easy because my site is just a directory tree of markdown files, already gopher-friendly. The only bit is autogenerating the gopher maps the way I autogenerate the html site.


Links for 2018/12/13

I aten’t dead.

Stuff that I saw actually this month

microformats2-experimental-properties · Microformats Wiki

How to use microformats to tag your pronouns in your blog’s metadata

Web Design is 95% Typography: How to Use Type on the Web

This is why my hate for JavaScript and the modern web does not extend, as some people’s does, to CSS. CSS is what lets us have reasonably good typography on the web.

Housing Can’t Be Both Affordable and a Good Investment - CityLab

How US official policy is inherently contradictory, and why no one dares say so.

Dutch Oven Bread | Le Creuset® Official Site

I usually make a no-knead bread, but this one time I forgot to put it in the night before, and still wanted a dutch oven loaf. Mine came out kind of flat because it was 100% whole wheat, but it was still good and not crumbly.

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay | Poetry Foundation

A poem that was in a friend’s memorial service.

Were there Transgender People in the Middle Ages? | The Public Medievalist

Violates Bettridge’s Law of Headlines. tldr: yes, there were.

Could Ketamine Be Used to Vaccinate for Depression or PTSD?

Vaccinate in the preventative sense here applies more to PTSD than to depression; for depression it’s something like a monthly treatment.

Stuff that I saw back in November.

Everyone hates postmodernism but that doesn’t make it wrong — Quartz

“Postmodernists didn’t create the new fractured reality; they merely described it.”

Private by Design: How we built Firefox Sync - Mozilla Hacks - the Web developer blog

It used to be even more private, but less convenient. I think the current implementation is a good balance.

Finding the Heart | The New Yorker

A moving story about the unbearable grief of losing a child.

Dear Developer, The Web Isn’t About You - sonniesedge.co.uk

“An old lady’s personal anger and rants about the modern web industry.” This really captures the way I and a lot of other people feel about the web today.

On Incels and Courtly Love – Going Medieval

How current toxic ideas about gender and sex today trace back to the Medieval invention of romance.

Facebook Allowed Advertisers to Target Users Interested in “White Genocide” — Even in Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre

Because of course it did.


Links for 2018/10/22

I’m very behind on link blogging (over a month! And the last one was very minimal!), so I’m just going to dump some things.

Politics

Threat Modeling For Activists: Tips For Secure Organizing & Activism

An intro to protecting what you need to protect.

Trump Administration Eyes Defining Transgender Out of Existence - The New York Times

Another case where the cruelty is the only point.

What duelling can teach us about taking offence | Aeon Essays

The right is currently using a model of “offense as [emotional] hurt”, while the left is using a model of “offense as harm”. But this author proposes “offense as insult”, a model based on early-Modern dueling culture as better suited to the current situation.

Facebook carries out massive purge of oppositional pages - World Socialist Web Site

‘There is no DNA test to prove you’re Native American’ | New Scientist

You can’t do a biological/chemical test for a social status.

The tech worker advocate, Bjorn Westergard

We’re finally getting to the point where tech worker unionization has traction.

What Is Voldemorting? The Ultimate SEO Dis | WIRED

Technology

Cursive/Readme.md at master · gyscos/Cursive

A TUI library for Rust.

A familiar HTTP Service Framework — responder 0.1.0 documentation

A low-boilerplate web backend library for Python. It’s more minimal, like Flask, but also more opinionated, like Django. Also, async.

JMP - JIDs for Messaging with Phones

This would really be appealing to me if I were still doing a mobile data-only, no phone number dealio. Only thing is that my fake phone number (SIP) and my fake SMS number (JMP) would be different.

How I remember CSS Grid properties | Zell Liew

Mastodon Embed Shortcode for hugo | Kevin Gimbel — Developer

If I can motivate myself to do more blogging, I’ll need this.

dizzy-labs/mastodon-archive-to-html: python script to take a mastodon archive and convert it into a human-readable webpage for viewing

Literature and Weird

Mary Elizabeth Counselman

An under-appreciated woman in Weird Fiction.

Horror is a dark and piercing reflection of our anxious times | Aeon Essays

The Demonstration | DRAB MAJESTY

Some mood music

End

Good night, #fediverse. Good night.


Links for 2018/08/09

Web

The Web is still a DARPA weapon. – Giacomo Tesio – Medium

A good article on a few loosely connected points. How centralization of the web tends to promote US government/business interests, as against those of internet users and other countries. A lot of it is nothing you haven’t heard before, especially about DNS.

But the better part is the discussion of how JavaScript is fundamentally a weapon, aimed against users, because it is basically designed to execute untrusted code.

I’d like to see browser vendors “pave the cowpaths” when it comes to the actually useful things that can be done with JavaScript, and allow them to be done declaratively, without client-side scripting. I’m thinking of something similar to Intercooler.js, but implemented natively in the browser.


Links for 2018/07/11

Links for the past few days, no unifying theme.

The continuing crisis

This is fine.

Democrats break with left on ICE | TheHill

This is expected behavior for the Democrats right now — avoid doing something that is both right and popular, because it would be disruptive. Beto O’Rourke’s position (abolish ICE through a reorganization of DHS, and moving their responsibilities elsewhere) should be the base position of Democrats, allowing progressives to stake out more radical positions.

News outlets join forces to track down children separated from their parents by the U.S. | Poynter

Haven’t seen any results from this yet. But the news organizations involved are all credible. Yes, even BuzzFeed.

Defense contractor detained migrant kids in vacant Phoenix office buildingReveal

This is a notable atrocity among many.

Government and major party complicity with the far right

‘I snookered them’: Illinois Nazi candidate creates GOP dumpster fire

The FBI Is Using Unvetted, Right-wing Blacklists to Question Activists about Their Support for Palestine | Portside

Social Media

How to make friends and verify requests - Official Mastodon Blog

Gargamel documents how ActivityPub works in practice, which is really useful because you wouldn’t know it from the standard.

Alex Schroeder: 2018-07-05 Preventing Dog Piling

Alex Schroeder discusses the features of social media that make harassment and dog-piling easy, and suggests what changes you’d need to make in order to avoid them. What results doesn’t look very much like social networking as we know it, and doesn’t provide what most people would want.

I think the suggested system for stranger introductions is a little complex, and could violate users’ privacy expectations if they didn’t understand the system well. But something more like FOAF introductions for “public” posts could work.

The “no celebrities or news bots” is a beneficial effect.

Fiat Money, Fiat News - Epsilon Theory

The author of this article makes a useful distinction among types of “fake news”: fiat news, and counterfeit news. Counterfeit news is news that is blatantly fake — put out by clickbait sites to maximize ad impressions, or by state actors to misinform. Fiat news is news that is real, or at least, mostly real, from a certain point of view, but basically useless. The point of fiat news is neither to be accurate nor inaccurate, just to be believed, in the interest of preserving an institutional status quo. This is, of course, what the NYT, WaPo, and other companies in the business of manufacturing consent produce. Fiat news is a kind of hyperstition, since it is effectively true as long as everyone believes that everyone else believes it. And the author posits that fake news (of both kinds) drives out real news like bad money drives out good.

I’m not crazy about the currency metaphor, because while I’m still a little attached to the idea of real news, the idea of real currency is totally ridiculous, especially in the form of Goldbuggery (Rational Wiki). But it does capture something significant about two different kinds of “fake news”


Links for 2018/06/19, US Police State Edition

Links for the last couple of days, focusing on the US police state, and companies that are complicit with it.

Microsoft

tldr; Microsoft is providing cloud services to ICE. They claim that this support is not going directly to supporting child detention, but services are fungible, and the ethical thing would be to refuse to accept the contract.

Microsoft needs to pick a side in the ICE debate. The world is watching

Microsoft CEO: don’t worry, we’re mostly helping the parts of ICE that don’t involve kidnapping children / Boing Boing

There are some tech writers speaking out about it, and there are companies refusing to provide services to companies that can be expected to contribute to the problem.

Separating immigrant families isn’t just wrong, it’s a war crime

It Takes a Village to Separate A Family - Deps

Doxxing ICE Employess

An artist wrote a Python script to scrape LinkedIn (no link because they are a terrible company) for employees of ICE and publish their information.

antiboredom/ice-linkedin: Dataset of LinkedIn members who work for ICE

This information was immediately deleted by GitHub, of course.

GitHub, Medium, and Twitter take down database of ICE employee LinkedIn accounts - The Verge

However, there are still forks of it available on GitHub that didn’t get removed, and there is also a backup on archive.org.

github.com-antiboredom-ice-linkedin_-_2018-06-19_03-03-37 …

What are US riot police armed with?

A Mastodon user shares with us a detailed thread on what US riot police are likely to be using against you.

pɹıq ɥsɐɹʇ ǝɥʇ: "USpol, activism, police violence" - Mastodon

What you can do

Here are a couple of bills that have been entered into the US Congress to restrict the actions of ICE.

The Keep Families Together Act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to end the practice of separating children from their parents. It really doesn’t otherwise stop ICE abuse, but any little bit helps. You can call your senator about this, especially if they are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is where the bill is currently residing.

Keep Families Together Act (S. 3036) - GovTrack.us

The DONE Act was introduced in the House by Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) to prohibit the expansion of immigration detention facilities and to improve their oversight. You can call your US representative about this bill.

DONE Act (H.R. 5820) - GovTrack.us

Neither bill goes far enough, and neither is likely to pass the current Congress, but we must imagine Sisyphus to be happy.