Facebook’s Internal Rulebook.

Facebook’s policy on threats of violence. A tick means something can stay on the site; a cross means it should be deleted. Photograph: Guardian.

The Guardian has an in-depth look at the ongoing problems of Facebook.  If you’re on FB, you’re no doubt already familiar with all these problems and inconsistencies, but you might want to still take the time to do the reading, it’s very interesting, to say the least. As I remarked on this post, the big problem with FB is that they are well aware of the fact that no matter how much people get upset, they won’t kill their account and walk.

As for the above graphic, one of many, “To snap a bitch’s neck, make sure to apply all your pressure to the middle of the throat.” is allowed because it’s not considered to be a credible threat, too generic. Given the sheer amount of women murdered every single. damn. day., I have a whole lot of problems with that, to say the least. Someone, somewhere, will appreciate that information, and put it to use. All I have here is WTF FB?

I had been considering going back to FB, for an Affinity feed, but have been very hesitant to do so. This made up my mind. No. My personal principles won’t stand for it.

*Ob. Disclaimer: Yes, I know most of the effing world is on FB, and that’s fine. I’m making a judgment call for myself, no one else.

Full story at The Guardian.

Mum’s Day.

By Ronincmc – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, wikimedia.

So, Mother’s Day. Let’s start with a bit of uStates history in that regard:

The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. St Andrew’s Methodist Church now holds the International Mother’s Day Shrine. Her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed that they were “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.

In 1908, the US Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, joking that they would also have to proclaim a “Mother-in-law’s Day”. However, owing to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all US states observed the holiday, with some of them officially recognizing Mother’s Day as a local holiday, the first being West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state, in 1910. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. Jarvis protested at a candy makers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925. By this time, carnations had become associated with Mother’s Day, and the selling of carnations by the American War Mothers to raise money angered Jarvis, who was arrested for disturbing the peace. Source.

I don’t much like the idea of a mother’s day, or a father’s day. I certainly don’t like that they have become an obligation, which in many cases, takes the form of a minor gift surrounded by insincerity, marked by a lack of actual appreciation. I do think that if you’re fortunate enough to have good parents, immediate or extended, then yes, it’s a grand thing to have a special celebration, on top of a true appreciation of that parent or parents. Many of us walk this world without anyone to appreciate in that regard, and I think it’s grade A shite to try and guilt everyone into paying homage, whether they feel that or no. I greatly dislike the afterthoughtness of father’s day, and I dislike the distinct gendering of parenting.

Love, honour, and appreciation should not be an obligation. No one should be made to feel less than a worm because they didn’t show with the obligatory card, candy, flowers, tie, or whatever. Parenting is the biggest gamble a person can take in life. Sometimes it works out well, and sometimes it doesn’t, with immense grief all the way around. Parenting is difficult as all hells, you’re never without challenges, the rewards can be bliss, and the disappointments heart-rending.

If you have parents who love you, and work for you, every day, and you love them, then show them that, and not just once a year. The smallest things, little gestures, unexpected, can be some of the very best ways to show your care and appreciation. Long days ago, I used to stop at a florist, get a single flower, and show up unexpectedly to present that to an adult who was very special to me. That’s the sort of thing I mean. Every day mindfulness means more in the long run, than a holiday which tends to mandate more frazzled people than anything else. Sometimes, just offering to do the dishes (or the cooking, or …) is a great gift.

And sometimes, if you’re someone who doesn’t have a good parent[s], there’s one or more adult, somewhere in your life, who was at some point, a lifeline, with a word or kindness, or a gesture of care that kept you hanging on. Those people deserve to be appreciated too. Rather than focus just on mothers today, to all those parents who do their very best each day, doing that most difficult of jobs, you’re doing good work, and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for raising up future adults who will do right and good things in this world. And great thanks to all those adult children who now find themselves caring for parents, with all the love, patience, and care. A Happy, Loving Family Day to you all, no matter the shape your family may take.

The Joy of Housing.

Rick Steves gets a hug.

Ricks Steves, author, and well known television travel guru, has his own idea of investing, and that investment hasn’t just grown over the years, it’s helped a tremendous amount of people.

Travel guide guru Rick Steves just gave a $4 million apartment complex to homeless women and kids who need housing.

Steves realized, early on, the importance of affordable housing, during his travel adventures (how else?) as a young man in Europe.

[…]

Twenty years ago, he devised a scheme where he could put my retirement savings not into a bank to get interest, but into cheap apartments that could house struggling neighbors.

“I would retain my capital, my equity would grow as the apartment complex appreciated,” Steves explained on his travel blog. “Rather than collecting rent, my “income” would be the joy of housing otherwise desperate people. I found this a creative, compassionate and more enlightened way to “invest” while retaining my long-term security.”

The 24-unit apartment complex became began housing single moms who were recovering from drug addiction and were now ready to get custody of their children back.

“Imagine the joy of knowing that I could provide a simple two-bedroom apartment for a mom and her kids as she fought to get her life back on track.”

There’s a nice little glow. Steves has now given the complex over to the Y.

Via Raw Story.

Flight Pattern.

A ballet about the plight of refugees, commissioned for the Royal Opera House, has been showered with five star reviews and described with words like potent and sombre. It’s the work of the Canadian Crystal Pite who has built a reputation as one of the most respected choreographers of her generation – and who is the first woman to have created a new work for the Royal Ballet in almost two decades. It’s titled ‘Flight Pattern’ and Kirsty Wark went to speak to her about using dance to engage in a difficult harrowing subject.

Beautiful and so very poignant. I wish I could see this in person.

The Mental Cost of The Regime.

Tucker Viemeister.

Tucker Viemeister.

Before I get started, Snowflakes, melting, yeah, yeah, yeah. If you’re one of those people, stuff it, because you have your safe spaces, triggers, and melting points too. I certainly can’t say I’m happy with the shift into fascism, only fucking idiots are happy about that one, and I certainly answer to Tiny Tyrant Fatigue Syndrome, but outside of that, I’m doing okay. More or less. (Currently escaping into work, as I look down and see I’ve gotten paint all over my keyboard. Pretty!) Anyroad, the Regime is taking its toll on the mental and emotional health of too many Americans, so I guess it’s a really good thing the Fuck You Care Plan failed. If you do find yourself depressed, anxious, panicky, whatever, don’t be silly about it, reach out, and get help.

The White House occupants also remain steadfastly committed to wreaking havoc on our mental states. As Republicans pushed an insurance bill that would have done lasting damage to Americans’ mental and behavioral health well-being, clinicians reported the psychic wages of the Trump war against U.S. citizens. “Add up the additional medications prescribed, extra ER visits, delayed procedures, missed work, plus the fallout from other illnesses being relegated to the back burner, and you have the makings of a major medical toll from this election,” Danielle Ofri, a physician at Bellevue Hospital and professor of medicine at New York University, warned at Slate.

So how exactly is Trump harming our mental states in this moment and for the foreseeable future? Here are five ways, representing just a drop in the bucket, if that bucket were dropped in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

Head on over to Raw Story for the full article.

Facts Be Damned. Oh, And Fuck Women.

White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon listens at right as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the White House on January 31. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci.

White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon listens at right as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the White House on January 31. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci.

One of the uglier aspects of the ‘new’ Muslim ban is a focus on ‘honor killings’, even though that’s not a massive problem here in uStates, but it’s a convenient thing to rail about when you’re attempting to incite a racial panic. Just how much the Regime does not care about victims of honor killings is highlighted by the fact that the Violence Against Women grants are going to be eliminated, even though roughly 1,500 women are murdered as a result of domestic violence per year. It should not be ignored that both Trump and Bannon have been accused of domestic violence. Nor should Trump’s attitude toward women in general, which is incredibly ugly. The reasoning behind the ban is nothing more than slimy white nationalism, and there isn’t all that much to cover the shit over, they simply don’t care. Well, that’s not quite fair. They do care about any possibility of having this ban legally overturned as well. As usual the problem does not just rest with the Regime’s legislation and executive orders. It also lies on the shoulders of all those Regime voters and supporters.

I am sick to death of people wringing their hands over these poor, poor Trumpians who start crying when the chickens come home to roost. No, I do not have sympathy for them, because they have none for anyone, they were firmly and flatly in favour of bigotry, hatred, and misogyny, and any of them who claim they weren’t, they are liars. Trump’s whole fucking campaign was nothing but a constant litany of bigotry, hatred, and misogyny, as well as a paen to the might of white, and a psalm sung to the filthy rich.

The whole excuse of “well, some of them just wanted to throw a brick at the establisment” is a fucking lie, too. One Big Lie. If those people truly wanted to buck the establishment, Trump would have been dumped and Sanders would have ended up in the white house, and we would be moving towards a properly socialized government. That would have been tossing a brick at the man. Voting for Trump? For fuck’s sake, how could you possibly get more establishment? The excuse of “they thought he was a good business man!” won’t wash either. Trump’s constant failures over the years were not a secret. His incompetency was out there for all to see, during the whole campaign. The regime voters chose to ignore it. The excuse of “oh hey jobs”? No, doesn’t wash either, because what all those white Trumpians meant by that was “stomp all over those brown peoples!”. They never have anything to say when you point out that they don’t want to work cleaning toilets and peoples’ houses.

No, no more fucking excuses. The assholes who voted in the regime who are now crying? They’re only crying because they weren’t supposed to get bitten on the arse. They wanted all those others to get fucked over. Anyroad, back to the fucked up, shit-caked ban…

President Trump’s second Muslim ban, signed on Monday, includes a provision directing the Department of Homeland Security to collect and make public “information regarding the number and types of gender-based violence against women, including so-called ‘honor killings,’ in the United States by foreign nationals.”

According to numbers from a Department of Justice-sponsored study conducted in 2014, there are less than 30 such “honor killings” in the country each year. The killings — which are “perceived by the perpetrator to be a way to restore honor to the family in the face of a perceived damage,” according to the report — are sometimes “motivated by a radical and dark interpretation of Islam,” as Fox News wrote in late 2015.

The inclusion of the “honor killings” provision in the new Muslim ban marks the second time in a week the Trump administration has outlined a plan to use federal resources “to whip up as much racial panic as possible,” as Matt Yglesias of Vox puts it. The first instance was Trump’s vow to create the Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement office, or VOICE, during his speech to Congress last week, even though immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.

In a similar vein, the number of “honor killings” in the U.S. stands in stark contrast to the roughly 1,500 women who are murdered as a result of domestic violence in a given year. But according to numerous reports, Trump’s budget proposal will eliminate the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women grants. Those grants had a $480 million budget last year and funded 25 grant programs helping domestic violence victims, according to Mother Jones. Trump and chief strategist Steve Bannon have both been accused of domestic assault.

[…]

But the “honor killing” provision is just the latest example of Trump trying to portray Islam in a violent light. Despite the fact that a person in America is much more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim terrorist, the Trump administration has signaled it wants a federal counter-terrorism program to stop focusing on violent white supremacists and any other extremist groups not comprised of Muslims. And after the Department of Homeland Security released a report last month undermining the administration’s core rationale for the Muslim ban  — “citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity,” it found — the administration tried to downplay the report.

“The president asked for an intelligence assessment,” the a senior administration official told the Wall Street Journal. “This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for.”

Right. An accurate assessment is provided, but the Tiny Tyrant doesn’t want that, and neither does shadow tyrant Bannon. They want shit shoveled onto a platter, and shaped into the form of whatever they asked for, providing them with a basis for the regime.

Think Progress has the full story.

Also see: The mass deportation of African immigrants that isn’t getting media attention. Nobody noticed.

Not Quite A Babelfish…

A science-fiction staple has inched closer to reality with the reveal of a prototype in-ear wearable that translates languages almost instantly.

Acting in a similar manner to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s babelfish or Star Trek’s Universal Translator, startup company Waverly Labs‘ Pilot earpiece sits in the ear to translate spoken foreign languages to the wearer.

This is pretty exciting! You can read much more at Dezeen.

This Is Our Land.

Water Protectors Leave Oceti Sakowin Reluctantly.

‘Absolutely False’: No Contact From Trump Administration, Archambault Says.

marty-two-bulls-cartoon-dapl-020717
NODAPL; The Last Stand © Marty Two Bulls.
 
marty-two-bulls-cartoon-dapl-020117_WEB
No DAPL; Beware the Early Thaw © Marty Two Bulls.

Oh. So. Cool.

I want one!

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Made for Ikea’s Space10, this is the Growroom, specifically made for cities, it can grow a communities worth of food and herbs. I’m not urban, but I still want one. The best news? Space10 and architects Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husum have open sourced this, so anyone can make one.

You can see the specs at two places: one, two.

On National Strike.

On strike today. See you all on Saturday!

 

Demonstrators block an escalator at the international terminal as protests against President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries continue at San Francisco International Airport, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Olga Rodriguez).

Demonstrators block an escalator at the international terminal as protests against President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries continue at San Francisco International Airport, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Olga Rodriguez).

In a column for the Guardian on Monday, American writer Francine Prose called for a “nonviolent national general strike” to demonstrate “how many of us there are, how strong and committed we are, how much we can accomplish.”

She wrote: “Let’s designate a day on which no one (that is, anyone who can do so without being fired) goes to work, a day when no one shops or spends money, a day on which we truly make our economic and political power felt.”

Calls to do just that have been circulating online recently, with activists setting Feb. 17 — the Friday before President’s Day — as the day for a #nationalstrike against the presidency of Donald Trump.

No one working, no one buying anything, for one day. I realize not everyone will be able to blithely ignore their job for one day, but if you can get away with it, please, please, do. Affinity will be closed for the strike on Friday, February 17th, and I will post a reminder prior to the day. Pretty sure most people can manage to forgo shopping for one day. Be ungovernable.

The full, in-depth story is at News.Mic.

The Bias of Devices.

Getty Images.

Getty Images.

A lot of people are enamored with the idea of artificial intelligence, imbued with the rosy hues of optimism, eternal life, and other amazing feats. What you don’t hear about so much are all the little problems which creep in, like the very real biases and bigotry of humans infecting devices which are made to learn. The term artificial intelligence has always struck me as inherently biased, underlining the point that organic intelligence is always superior. Why not machine intelligence, or some other actually neutral term? Anyroad, we aren’t that far along that terminator fears need be realized, but Wired has a good article up about how good humans are at providing devices with the very worst of our intelligence.

Algorithmic bias—when seemingly innocuous programming takes on the prejudices either of its creators or the data it is fed—causes everything from warped Google searches to barring qualified women from medical school. It doesn’t take active prejudice to produce skewed results (more on that later) in web searches, data-driven home loan decisions, or photo-recognition software. It just takes distorted data that no one notices and corrects for.

It took one little Twitter bot to make the point to Microsoft last year. Tay was designed to engage with people ages 18 to 24, and it burst onto social media with an upbeat “hellllooooo world!!” (the “o” in “world” was a planet earth emoji). But within 12 hours, Tay morphed into a foul-mouthed racist Holocaust denier that said feminists “should all die and burn in hell.” Tay, which was quickly removed from Twitter, was programmed to learn from the behaviors of other Twitter users, and in that regard, the bot was a success. Tay’s embrace of humanity’s worst attributes is an example of algorithmic bias—when seemingly innocuous programming takes on the prejudices either of its creators or the data it is fed.

Tay represents just one example of algorithmic bias tarnishing tech companies and some of their marquis products. In 2015, Google Photos tagged several African-American users as gorillas, and the images lit up social media. Yonatan Zunger, Google’s chief social architect and head of infrastructure for Google Assistant, quickly took to Twitter to announce that Google was scrambling a team to address the issue. And then there was the embarrassing revelation that Siri didn’t know how to respond to a host of health questions that affect women, including, “I was raped. What do I do?” Apple took action to handle that as well after a nationwide petition from the American Civil Liberties Union and a host of cringe-worthy media attention.

One of the trickiest parts about algorithmic bias is that engineers don’t have to be actively racist or sexist to create it. In an era when we increasingly trust technology to be more neutral than we are, this is a dangerous situation. As Laura Weidman Powers, founder of Code2040, which brings more African Americans and Latinos into tech, told me, “We are running the risk of seeding self-teaching AI with the discriminatory undertones of our society in ways that will be hard to rein in, because of the often self-reinforcing nature of machine learning.”

I don’t understand why anyone would assume tech to be more neutral than we are, after all, this is not a scenario where machines and devices are having a board meeting and figuring out how to maintain neutrality and purge biases. All the code, it comes from us naked apes, who truly suck at neutrality en masse. Even when we think we are neutral about this or that, implicit bias tests often show us deep biases we weren’t altogether aware of, and how they influence our thinking.

As the tech industry begins to create artificial intelligence, it risks inserting racism and other prejudices into code that will make decisions for years to come. And as deep learning means that code, not humans, will write code, there’s an even greater need to root out algorithmic bias. There are four things that tech companies can do to keep their developers from unintentionally writing biased code or using biased data.

I imagine the suggestions will give all the bros serious indigestion, but they are suggestions which need wide implementation, given the human penchant for racing ahead in technology while lagging woefully behind in social evolution. Wired has the full story.

Oh, that fucking wall.

An agent of the border patrol, observes near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico, on January 25. CREDIT: AP Photo/Christian Torres.

An agent of the border patrol, observes near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico, on January 25. CREDIT: AP Photo/Christian Torres.

The projected cost for President Donald Trump’s border wall continues to rise, and Trump has no good plan to contain it.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that the border wall will be much more expensive than the $10 billion figure Trump repeatedly cited during his campaign or the $12–$15 billion cited by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) last month.

“Trump’s ‘wall’ along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct,” Reuters reported, citing a U.S. Department of Homeland Security document the outlet obtained.

And it could end up costing even more than that.

“Bernstein Research, an investment research group that tracks material costs, has said that uncertainties around the project could drive its cost up to as much as $25 billion,” Reuters reports.

On Saturday morning, Trump responded to that news by assuring Americans that costs of constructing the wall will come “WAY DOWN” as soon as he gets involved in the negotiations.

<Tweets snipped.>

But Trump’s citation of the reduced cost of F-35s should give no one confidence he’ll be able to bring down the exorbitant cost of his border wall.

That’s because on January 30, Trump took credit for cost cuts to the fighter jets that were already put in place before he got involved. A Washington Post fact-check gave Trump’s claim that he was responsible for cutting $600 million from the F-35 program “Four Pinocchios.”

[…]

Trump has repeatedly taken credit for deals that were in the works long before he won the election or became president. For instance, he’s overstated his role in deals with Intel, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and Sprint to take credit for saving American jobs.

[…]

Last year, Reuters reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents don’t think the type of border wall Trump has long supported is necessary for national security. Instead, they seek better equipment and technology.

Not only is this wall idea the epitome of idiocy, people tend to forget a different cost of such idiocy – the high cost imposed on animals, the environment, and various ecologies. This sort of arrogant assholery is little more than a chest-pounding display of cruelty, a game for bully boys. Unfortunately, such people don’t much give a shit about the planet which gives them life, or the diversity of life on our earth, which has no use for the concrete idiocy of naked apes intent on warring with their neighbours. You can read a bit about this high cost here.

Full story at Think Progress.