April 15, 2014

I like cat pictures and cute pictures of animal antics. But I really love seeing baby pictures online. Often times I find myself avoiding Facebook, but something I’m truly grateful for Facebook is seeing photos and updates about the children of my friends and family.

Today I was glancing at some of the blogs whose authors follow this blog. One that had a lot of content interesting to me. I’d seen it before too, but I didn’t click follow—and I’m a promiscuous follower—because there were also pictures of the author’s children on the blog.

When I see baby pictures I can feel my face change as if I’m actually seeing a child in person. I think there’s something quite deeply set in people in our reactions to young children. Of course there are millions of things we have to learn, but in most of us there’s something of a built in program to interact with a young child. And that program is deeply connected with what any of us know about love.

It’s fundamental to being an adult to be there to protect children. And there are simply too many ways that as people in society we fail to. 

At Tom Dispatch there’s an excerpt from Astra Taylor’s new book: The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age.

Taylor makes so many important points, and the depressingly obvious one is just how much misogyny there is online. I see it in my feed, women simply get—on average—more anonymous hate.

The posts that show up in my feed, even ones I’m not particularly interested in, are gifts. Some bloggers are simply so good it seems impossible not to feel gratitude. And then I see those very bloggers getting anonymous hate. It’s incredible, but hard to miss the predominance of that hatred is directed at women.

Raising children is very important for all of us, whether or not we have children of our own. I like it when men talk about their experiences in this endeavor and I like it when women do too. It really matters.

I felt a real tension trying to decide whether to follow a blog with baby pictures. I felt following might seem a bit creepy. Like I said, I really do believe that it’s one of my primary duties as a grown-up to make sure kids are safe. And, creepy guys are contrary to safe. On the other hand women who are primary care givers to young children don’t suddenly stop being interested in the myriad other topics and issues of living in the world today. Besides, raising children is a hell of an important topic on its own.

I don’t know how I can make online spaces safer, more fair, and inclusive for women. Surely not being a jerk is a good place to start. Still, I’m convinced that the ubiquitous misogyny online is a critical issue for everyone. Taylor’s “taking back power” means empowering women’s voices.

I just can’t shake how revealing trying to decide whether to follow back a person following this blog was: Of course the Internet isn’t safe for women. But that’s something we all should work to change. 

April 14, 2014
"Look, sooner or later there will be a meltdown of the net. We were headed for that long before Heartbleed. I never said what I believed because I didn’t want to be the first to say it. But we have been building more complex systems and more life-sustaining dependencies on a fragile and insecure system. The ability to do harm increases with every new dependency. When the network equivalent of Katrina happens, it will be felt everywhere."

Dave Winer at Scripting News. Knock knock

April 13, 2014

It is a “post-transgressive” novel because it seems relatively uninterested in whether or not its bourgeois readers and critics will “conquer” their disgust. And, also, I think, because it is so invested in “fun” and “affection.” Whereas the “transgressive” novel is invested in a big “fuck you” to the world, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders is interested in what a livable world might be, especially a world in which a Shit can thrive. (And, here, it’s striking how much easier it seems for reviewers to focus on Eric to the exclusion of Shit.)

This is a post-transgressive novel precisely because it imagines a world where Shit can thrive.


keguro at Gukira. “Benign Perversion”

I haven’t read any of Samuel Delaney's books. It's not very likely that I'll read Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders. But this review is one of the reasons I love the Internet so much. I read keguro’s earlier piece about the book after I read this and he linked to two further reviews by Lavelle Porter and Steven Shaviro and I read those too.  Pre-Internet, perhaps I would have found a review of the book somewhere. What’s so different is to be able to instantly get other takes too.

Yesterday I posted a link to Clare Stestanovich's piece in The Atlantic about the online conversation between Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jonathan Chait. I came to this conversation by way of Ta-Nehisi Coates, but it's quite clear plenty of other readers had it the other way around, or found themselves in the midst of the conversation by way of Andrew Sullivan or others.

I know, I know, it’s a boring old-man’s point, but this sort of writing was much less possible pre-Internet. It’s still astonishing to me that writing like this exists. 

April 12, 2014
"And so, finally, we end up with what to learn from Heartbleed. First, we need a new model of Critical Infrastructure protection, one that dedicates real financial resources to the safety and stability of the code our global economy depends on – without attempting to regulate that code to death. And second, we need to actually identify that code."

Dan Kaminsky on his blog. Be Still My Breaking Heart

March 24, 2014
"Make and enjoy culture that is true to where it comes from, not to what color it is supposed to be."

Adam Rothstein at The State. how not to be white on the internet

March 22, 2014
Rentacops on desktops: Edward Snowden's dismissal of Surveillance Valley is wrong, and dangerous

(Source: seanbonner, via mostlysignssomeportents)

March 22, 2014
"As The Intercept revealed last week, clandestine hacking has become central to the NSA’s mission in the past decade. The agency is working to aggressively scale its ability to break into computers to perform what it calls “computer network exploitation,” or CNE: the collection of intelligence from covertly infiltrated computer systems. Hacking into the computers of sys admins is particularly controversial because unlike conventional targets – people who are regarded as threats – sys admins are not suspected of any wrongdoing."

Ryan Gallagher an Peter Maass at The Intercept. Inside the NSA’s Secret Efforts to Hunt and Hack System Administrators

Youtube link Julian Assange: Sysadmins of the world, unite!

March 17, 2014
"All of these capabilities give the NSA and GCHQ considerable reach. But they also run the risk of allowing others to stand on the agencies’ shoulders and take advantage of the exploits the NSA has already seeded into parts of the Internet’s infrastructure. Regardless of the scope of the NSA’s ongoing surveillance, the chance that someone else could hijack or repackage a capability like Hammerstein or SecondDate for criminal or other malicious means poses a risk to the entire Internet."

Sean Gallagher at ArsTechnica. NSA’s automated hacking engine offers hands-free pwning of the world 

With Turbine, no humans are required to exploit phones, PCs, routers, VPNs.

March 15, 2014
Author Teju Cole Talks His New Essay On Immigration, Twitter, And Censorship

"Teju Cole has a history of innovative story telling on Twitter and has now released a lengthy, straight-to-Twitter essay. BuzzFeed spoke with Cole about his new essay, the benefits of Twitter as a …"

What made you decide that this specific essay would be best presented in this medium?

Teju Cole:I’ll answer that by saying I didn’t think this essay could be “best” presented in this medium, but I asked the opposite question: Why does a serious longform investigative piece have to be in print in a major magazine? In various parts of West Africa, there are different iterations of the idea that “white people like paper so much that they even wipe their butts with it.” You know, you spend your life staring at paper, you spend paper money, proof of ownership of everything is on paper, you fill your house with paper, and when you die, the announcement is in the paper.

I love paper too. I love print. But maybe not everything has to be on it. And in the case of Twitter (and, before that, blogging), I just feel so strongly that there’s an audience here, and audience that deserves to be treated with the same seriousness as the paper crowd.

A Piece of the Wall (Twitter timeline)

March 10, 2014
"Without alternative routes, customers have no choice but to pay the toll and accept all the associated traffic jams. The incentive for profit oriented gatekeepers is not to construct more lanes, but to raise fees. More consolidation does not provide the correct incentives to alleviate this problem."

Joel Maxcy at Philadelphia Business Journal. Economist: Why the Comcast-TWC merger is bad for the public

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