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 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.


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


Cursive/ 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


Good night, #fediverse. Good night.

Links for 2018/08/09


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.


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 …

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) -

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) -

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

Links for 2017/12/07

Links for the last couple of days. Things on clean energy, cults, and horrible, horrible Christmas music.

Clean energy (or the lack thereof)

SCE&G dedicates Otarre Solar Park

I’ve certainly passed this on I-77 near I-26. It’s about the size of a smallish cornfield — too big to be a garden, but not really a commercial field, either. I don’t know how much this project is a respectable investment into sustainable energy, and how much is greenwashing. Bear in mind this is the same company that just raised rates to build a nuclear plant that, despite being massively over-budget, will never be completed.

Ban Cars

I know, banning cars isn’t feasible for the US outside of bigger cities, and it also has potentially ableist implications. But seriously, we should still ban cars.

Bitcoin could cost us our clean-energy future | Grist

And this is why we’re doomed, honestly. More energy than is used by the entire country of Ireland is currently being used to calculate collectible numbers in the hope that they will be valuable (currently they are, but don’t expect to be able to cash out). And the energy used is increasing exponentially. This is basically how we end up with the Vile Offspring in Charlie Stross’s Accelerando.


The GOP Has Become A Dangerous Cult

There’s basically no remaining connection between Republican policy and consensus reality.

Tech Bro Guru: Inside the Sedona Cult of Bentinho Massaro

This guy is more or less a baseline cult leader, in terms of what he teaches, and the way he takes advantage of his followers. What’s different, at least according to this article, is that he uses the same tactics for self-promotion as SV startups. And maybe A-B tests stuff on his core followers before rolling it out to the rest? But anyway, the main take-home is that supposed sophisticates are running the same broken wetware as backwoods snake handlers.

Why I Quit Guru Yoga - Tricycle: The Buddhist Review

An agnostic Buddhist takes a look at the abusive dynamics enabled by the traditional teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.

The ‘Redneck Revolt’ is recruiting working-class white people to destroy the very idea of white culture

Redneck Revolt and the John Brown Gun Club are doing good work.

ReactOS 0.4.7 released! | ReactOS Project

This is a Windows-compatible operating system, built mostly from the ground up (not on Linux). I’ve got like two Windows programs that I want to be able to run occasionally (I need Adobe Digital Editions to read library books (Thanks, Obama)). I’m going to see if I can install this in a VM and run them there.

Wondermark » Archive » #1120; The Modern Period

A like/fav is a minimal response to a social media post or comment. It says “I’ve seen this, but I don’t feel the need to reply”. And clearly you can do this in email, too.

The funniest part to me is that this is very similar to how Like/Dislike/Seen works in the ActivityPub distributed social media standard. A Like is another message sent to the server just like a reply.

Lindstrøm: Little Drummer Boy | CD review | Music | The Guardian

“Little Drummer Boy” is my least favorite piece of Christmas music (followed closely by “Do You See What I See”, and distantly by “Mary, Did You Know”). And someone has chosen, for some reason, to make a 45-minute version of it. 😱

Links for 2017/12/04

Here’s another long one, since I’ve been too busy/tired to collect my links for a few days. DRM, social media, indieweb, and, as usual, tons of bad news.

Sorry about that.

The story of how underspecified proprietary DRM became a W3C standard, and what the consequences are. The canary in the title is the “canary in the coalmine”: DRM at the W3C is just one example of how market concentration is killing the open web.

‘There’s no one for right-wingers to pick a fight with’: The far right is struggling to sustain interest in its social media platforms

Because the big web silos like Reddit and YouTube are starting to recognize the consequences of allowing hate speech on their platforms, the far right is starting to get banned from them. They’ve been starting their own platforms, but they can’t even sustain interest in them among themselves.

Medium is only an edge server of your POSSE CDN, your own blog is the origin

POSSE is Publish on Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. This article suggests a POSSE approach to using Medium. Effectively, your blog is the origin site for your articles, while Medium acts as a CDN to defray your bandwidth costs.

Sex isn’t chromosomes: the story of a century of misconceptions about X & Y

A history and explanation of a number of biological topics, but mostly how the idea of sex chromosomes came to be, and why and how it is oversimplified. If you end up having to deal with someone who thinks karyotype = sex determination, this is a good article to send them.

‘Transcendental Nonsense’ and Technology Companies: Reframing the Content Regulation Debate - Lawfare

It doesn’t really matter whether Google or Facebook “is” a technical platform or a media company, what matters is the results we want to see from regulation.

Why, Despite Our Media Company’s Record Growth, I Have Been Forced to Lay Off 40% of My Staff - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

I thankfully don’t come any closer to the SV startup/VC world than reading HN, but from what I can tell, this is extremely accurate.

The GOP Plan Is the Biggest Tax Increase in American History, By Far

Most people’s taxes are going to go up, by a lot, under the Republican tax plan. What remains to be seen is, if, next year, people actually connect their big tax bill to their Republican legislators.

Software as a Tiny House – A Quantity of Stuff

An insightful article by JP (Mastodon).

#DropJ20 Podcast Update #3: Police Take the Stand - It’s Going Down

A look at untrustworthy police testimony in the J20 case.

Links for 2017/11/29

This one is pretty dark, sorry. Turn back if you need to protect yourself, I’ll understand. The basic theme: our institutions are not capable of dealing with the threats we are faced with today, and we don’t have any other solutions waiting in the wings. Let’s get started.

Fascism’s Rising in America Because America Doesn’t Understand Fascism

The author makes a few points about why America is /choosing not to fight/ the rise of fascism in America.

And that’s that, really.

Gaius Publius: The Building Is Burning and All the World’s Babies Are In It — Using Force to Fight Climate Change

Our institutions aren’t going to do anything to save us from climate change, either, because their incentive structures strongly favor the status quo.

The most we can hope for from current mainstream leadership is for people to look like they’re doing the right thing, or to do some of the right things, but not enough of them to upset the money-laden apple cart that gets them elected, or to turn the mainstream press so against them that they get the “Sanders-Kucinich treatment.” Recall that even Al Gore got the Sanders-Kucinich treatment from the press, one of the under-mentioned factors in his loss to Bush.

The author’s main argument is that acts of sabotage are justified under the “necessity defense” — as when someone is arrested for breaking and entering after they hear a baby crying in a burning building.

The author is hopeful that we can mitigate the worst consequences of climate change this way (i.e., hold ocean level rises to 6 feet this century rather than 11). I hope so, too, but I’m not wielding my Blue Lantern ring today, either.

Inside the Revolution at Etsy

How accepting VC money to grow turned a socially-responsible B-corp into another Silicon Valley hellhole. The numbers shareholders care about are up, but internally, it’s in a tailspin.

PeerTube — Decentralized Video, Powered by ActivityPub and WebTorrent

One bit of good news. The main block to a decentralized YouTube alternative is the possibility that a given video might go viral and overwhelm the server that it’s hosted on, and impose unbearable costs on the site’s operator. Using a P2P protocol (bittorrent, in this case) in the browser to stream videos means that site operators are protected. And because of federation, no single site owner has to take responsibility for indexing or storing all of the media, either. As a side bonus, you can embed PeerTube videos directly into your Mastodon timeline.

Here’s a video on how the federation works.

That’s it for tonight. There were other things I read today, but I’ve either already discussed them on Mastodon, I’m saving them to write about at more length, or I just don’t have anything to say about them at all. Good night, and stay safe out there.

Links for 2017/11/28

There’s a big link roundup today.

Nazis in the New York Times, Net Neutrality, global warming killing our shrimp, snaketits, bitcoin, and more.

New York Times publishes sympathetic profile of a neo-Nazi

I’m not going to link to that fishwrap’s article; a lot of the things I link to will have a link to it. I’m interested in rounding up reactions to it.

A couple from the HuffPo:

And from birbsite:

And the Daily Banter:

And a bit of contrast: how an organization with a bit of journalistic integrity does it:

Ignored By Big Telecom, Detroit’s Marginalized Communities Are Building Their Own Internet - Motherboard

We’re pretty much all going to have to be doing this, within the next few years, as the consequences of abandoning Net Neutrality start trickling down.

To Save Net Neutrality, We Must Build Our Own Internet - Motherboard

Speaking of which…

Alt-right glossary - RationalWiki

It is amazing that RationalWiki can so often be on-point even though the Internet skeptic and rationalism communities are so terrible. This roundup is informative and has all the signature wit of the site it’s published on.

It seems to be because of warmer fall waters than usual. The spring and summer harvests were fine, though?

A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation. - The Washington Post

A right-wing gotcha organization tries to gotcha the Washington Post (in a pretty stupid and transparent way), gets caught. Not that that will do anything to stop them from trying again and again.

Using the Natural Motion of 2D Materials to Create a New Source of Clean Energy | University of Arkansas

This isn’t exactly a source of energy so much as a way to collect ambient energy that would otherwise be lost. And maybe it’s only suitable for relatively low-drain applications? It’s hard to tell. But it’s neat.

Why Doesn’t This Magic: The Gathering Snake Have Boobs? - Motherboard

This was described as “Extremely Mastodon Content”, but not once was the phrase “snake tits” used. But seriously, a very funny look at femme representation in fantasy gaming. Outrageous examples of MTG cards.

Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the web: ‘The system is failing’ | Technology | The Guardian

Not just Net Neutrality, but also the advertising economy, aka “weaponized AI propaganda”.

The Revolutionary Optimism of Iain M. Banks’ Culture Novels |

Obviously, I’m heavily influenced by Iain M. Banks’ vision that “the future is – in Earth terms – a bright, bright red”.

The impossibility of intelligence explosion – François Chollet – Medium

An argument that the fear of an AI Singularity is misplaced, because it depends both on a misunderstanding of what actually-existing intelligence is.


A look at the horror of our actual society, by way of a TV dystopia that we actually put to shame.

Unforeseen Consequences and that 1929 vibe

Scottish science-fiction author Charles Stross makes me hate bitcoin more than I did before, something that I would previously have considered impossible.

When these Scottish schoolchildren armed to fight a 7-foot vampire, parents started to worry

Children take in what we teach them, perhaps too well. Why then, do adults get so frightened of what children learn?

Surface Pro 3 SSD Upgrade: Surface Pro 3 SSD Upgrade I7 with 1 TB SSD!!!

This is terrible, but you can’t look away.

Melania Trump decks the halls with dead branches, spine-chilling wails of the damned

The rich aren’t like us.

Links for 2017/11/25

Back on track, sort-of. Links from just two days, lots of stuff left out.

Alice’s NNTP Server

This is a bit of nostalgia, a bit late for Thanksgiving. (Younger readers should take note that the “free speech” debate in the 90s was very different from the one going on now, and you should not, therefore, assume that the writer of this filk is a Nazi.)

Google’s Eric Schmidt admits political censorship of search results

A bit of info from the WSWS, which doesn’t exactly match the headline. Schmidt is proud of working to fight “fake news” and “weaponized content”. Since these categories include entirely accurate news from politically unacceptable sources like WSWS, it’s fair to call it political censorship, but they should do a better job making the connection in the lede of the article.

This should really not surprise anyone. I’m in search of a solution, but all the available ones make pretty bad compromises.

Ethical Tech Giving Guide

Want a computer or mobile device that really doesn’t spy on you, and really isn’t evil? Maybe try one of these refurbished older devices with pure Free Software distributions. They’re (IMO) overpriced for what you get, but that’s partly a knowledge/time/money tradeoff.

We can’t trust Facebook to regulate itself

More on surveillance capitalism. Basically, points out that keeping user information secure is not profitable for Facebook, and costs them money. They’d rather only do it to the extent it’s necessary to get scandals out of the news.

We reward the wrong things

More from the Web Of Shit.

Maybe the link is that gender is bullshit, and autistic people are not good at pretending bullshit doesn’t stink.

Links for 2017/11/23

Well, my idea of doing daily link posts hasn’t quite worked out. But I’ve been collecting things nonetheless, so here are a few days worth of links.

Social Media Sharing Buttons with no JavaScript

This site provides social media sharing buttons with no JavaScript or third party requests, and therefore no tracking. The social media sites supported are still all corporate silos (except for email), but they make a reasonable choice for promoting your decentralized content on the centralized networks.

What Does My Site Cost?

This site gives an estimate of what loading a page on your site costs, in US dollars, to load a single page of your site over a mobile network. It has average, high, and low costs for different countries.

Something is wrong on the internet

James Bridle writes about a disturbing trend in monetization of engagement on YouTube. AI-generated content, or AI-generated scripts for human-generated or produced content, designed to optimize appearance in search results for characters or trends in children’s videos. Some of the content tends towards the surreal, some towards the horrific.

I made a 100% edible roasted Alien Facehugger out of chicken and crab - and have been told I’m not allowed to make it for Thanksgiving this year.

To be clear, I didn’t make this; I just found it, and it’s very much my thing.

City of Villains: Why I Don’t Trust Batman - Uncanny Magazine

A story from the perspective of a henchman, on how it looks like the villains of Gotham really act more in the interests of regular people than Batman (and Bruce Wayne).

The Complete Moral Bankruptcy of Manipulating Human Psychology To Turn Users Into Addicts

An response to an article that was in favor of manipulating users. This response pulls no punches in condemning that behavior.

Using Social Media to Prevent Suicide

I confess to not having read this yet.

Adactio: Journal—Hooked and booked

An article on A-B testing, and how it tends to serve the interests of site owners rather than users.

Back when I was on Facebook, I used the mobile website, rather than the app, and I was frequently annoyed by their aggressive A-B testing. They would frequently break basic features of their website, mostly related to sharing, in order to A-B test.

Terabytes Of US Military Social Media Spying S3 Data Exposed

The perils of bad default settings.

New Research Suggests Social Issues are Down to Neurotypicals more than Autistics

Communication problems are a two-way street. Also, the importance of first impressions.

Did gender norms “cause” the autism epidemic?

CW: Nazi iconography.

A deconstruction of why autistics are problematized and medicalized under certain regimes of gender norms — notably the group-orientation and hypermasculinity of Nazi Germany, and the relentless self-promotion of contemporary late capitalism. Contrasts the valorization of autistic traits in high modernist literature, such as Camus’ The Outsider.

Capitalism: Not With a Bang But With a (Prolonged) Whimper

A review of a book on how the collapse of capitalism will be an inevitable, but also ongoing, dystopic process, thanks in large part to the lack of any other social movements that exist to replace it.

Technoanarchism - HackMD

A somewhat more positive view — how we can replace capitalism from within.

How far they’ll go: Moana shows the power of Polynesian celestial navigation

An explanation of the celestial navigation techniques seen in Moana.

Inclusive Components

Web components that emphasize accessibility and progressive enhancement.