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 2019/02/12

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.


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.