BIEM.

Courtesy of BIEM.

BIEM is a new sexual health app, designed to help de-stigmatize testing, and make communicating results with partners easier, too.

With the goal of removing stigmas and empowering a new generation to take action, Biem is offering the world’s first virtual sexual health clinic. The app, which launched today, allows users to discreetly talk one-on-one with sexual healthcare providers, get tested right at home, receive results directly to their phones and effortlessly share the information with sexual partners.

Bryan Stacy, Biem’s founder and CEO, created the mobile app’s concept after he was diagnosed with Chlamydia and testicular cancer at once.

“I realized that the worst part of the entire experience was the two-month period before I was diagnosed—the time during which I felt something was wrong, but rationalized it away,” says Bryan about the motivation for developing Biem. “I knew I had to eliminate the barriers that keep people in this damaging loop.”

Notably, Biem doesn’t require a subscription and complies with all medical regulations. The app’s judgement-free, information-forward experience requires a video chat with one of Biem’s healthcare providers prior to getting tested, and costs $45 for each session. Once complete, users will get tested through one of the app’s lab partners hosted throughout the United States. If users prefer being tested at home, there’s an additional $45 fee.

As STD rates in the U.S. rapidly rise, Biem hopes to address the national epidemic with a platform that eliminates “the awkwardness, shame and inconvenience that prevents people from getting tested and talking to their sexual partners about health and STDs.” Unlike other online heath clickbait, which often employs fear mongering tactics, Biem is an LGBTQ-friendly alternative that merges convenience with personalized care.

Courtesy of BIEM.

Via Out. You can download BIEM here.

What?

I’ll admit, I don’t pay much attention to Spicer or Sanders, there’s little point. Normally, I transcribe tweets, but I’m at a loss here, and can’t do it. I’m not much on smileys, and I loathe emojis. I’m far from alone on the WTF here, though. Seems no one has quite figured out what in the hell that mess is supposed to mean. Perhaps she had her phone in a back pocket, and instead of dialing 911, it did this? The dog tried to eat it? Cat pissed on it? The emoticon equivalent of wp9uuflkjasfnm3e8nsp;’a;d?  At least with pet rats, I have an excuse. They are geniuses when it comes to keyboards of any kind, and often execute commands, but they don’t do stuff like this. Who knows…

Via Raw Story.

Taco Power!

Steven Georges/Orange County Register.

This is nice, I get to say Hey, that’s my hometown! Go Santa Ana! Any native SoCalian can tell you the wonder and pure mmmmmffff oh gods so good, can I have more of Mexican run food trucks. Some of the best food in the world, that. Back when I worked in Costa Mesa, the only time you took your life in your hands was the rush to the food trucks at lunch.

Good food has a way of bringing people together around a table. You could say food trucks do the same thing, but on the street and sidewalk.

That’s part of the idea behind an ongoing campaign in Southern California called Taco Trucks at Every Mosque, timed to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. And it has caught on fast in the parking lot outside the Islamic Center of Santa Ana, California, which largely serves the area’s Indo-Chinese community (Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim populations).

“It was so exciting to see people that have that have fasted … break their fast — many of them for the first time in our lives  to tacos,” says community activist Rida Hamida. She co-organized the campaign with Ben Vazquez, a history teacher in Santa Ana, and Resilience Orange County, a community non-profit. The campaign launched on Twitter as #TacoTrucksAtEveryMosque.

With fasting during daylight hours being one of the demands of the celebration of Ramadan, they arranged for the community’s iftar meal to arrive in a brightly painted, green taco truck.

This is wonderful and warm story, full of wonderful and warm people. A lot of Americans might want to note that it’s those brown peoples who are making inroads at community, peace, acceptance, and togetherness. Lots of pasty types could take a lesson. Full story here.

BOTulism.

Twitter Audit.

Bots have always been a problem. They are now a much bigger problem, on Twitter in particular. Too many people are gullible, and far too many people simply do not take minutes out to fact check things. Fact checking can be tedious, but it’s part and parcel of being informed these days. Twitter bots have gotten a bit more sophisticated, not much, but enough to fool people, and that’s really all they need to do. This makes it much more difficult to refute all the fakery and Trakery™ out there. Bots can also outperform people, so there’s much more nonsense than valid information on the loose.

A bot will write on Twitter in clunky English, reciting paragraphs of propaganda or fake news in compartmentalized tweets, often featuring rudimentary linguistics and nondescript profiles. Unlike computer programs, frustrated citizens and real people online engage with the context of specific posts, respond to counterpoints and typically use profiles that reflect human personalities. “They’re yelling fools,” Philip N. Howard, a sociologist at the Oxford Internet Institute, told the New York Times, “and a lot of what they pass around is false news.”

But bots—including those designed to support the Trump presidency—are continuing to invade social media and create chatter at such a rapid speed, that the differences are becoming blurred for many users attempting to keep a grasp on reality in 2017.

[…]

But as of recently, many of those bots appear to have one common and undeniable goal: to protect and defend the 45th president of the United States.

[…]

The Trump bots are active virtually 24/7, and especially during times when the president is furiously tweeting.

“A bot army can be utilized for a number of dishonest purposes, chief amongst them, misrepresenting public sentiment about whichever topics the controller has interest in,” Brad Hayes, fellow at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab’s Interactive Robotics Group, told NY Daily News Saturday. “If 3 million people started tweeting in favor of or against a particular topic, would it shift public perception? What if those same 3 million people targeted every source you use for information? It’s fair to say that this kind of written ‘show of force’ can certainly alter perceptions.”

There’s much more at Raw Story.

Here Lies Imzy, RIP.

Credit: Imzy.

Imzy, the “nice Reddit” has been laid to rest, and is being mourned by its users. It would seem that nice has little place on the ‘net, and has once again been chased into small pockets here and there in the netverse.

After a long bout of illness and injury sustained from battling racism, misogyny, and general depravity, Imzy — the last hope for human decency on the internet — has died. It was 2 years old.

Imzy, the “nice Reddit” created by Jessica Moreno and Dan McComas, two former Reddit executives who left the company in 2015 amid intense controversy over their anti-harassmentpolicies, will officially shut down June 23.

The reason? There’s no room for a platform that promotes basic politeness in the social media market.

In a blog post announcing the impending shut down Wednesday, McComas wrote “it is time for us to shut down the site” as Imzy couldn’t find a “place in the market.”

[…]

Imzy’s sunset isn’t just a loss for users, who regarded it as a place of belonging, it’s also a sign that the worst things about human interaction — bullying, harassment, forums dedicated to promoting racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia, unsolicited photos of genitalia, beheading and other snuff videos, child pornography — are likely permanent fixtures on the internet, and by extension in society.

[…]

Maybe this is what life on the internet is supposed to be. After all, the internet is just a mirror of the society it serves and a product of the biases and blind spots of a technology’s creators, so why would we expect it to be any different? Why should the internet somehow be better than the casual and blatant nastiness people experience every day?

It seems that belief in duality persists, this idea that online is distinct and separate from ‘real’ life. Yes, the ‘net is societies, writ large, often in crayon and spray paint. There’s a whole lot of ugly in human societies, so it should not be a surprise that ugly rears up on the ‘net. There’s a whole lot of kindness and creativity in human societies too, and that also shows up on the ‘net. It’s true that nice, fun, and kind don’t garner the same attention as ugly and malicious; we are all attracted to the worst excesses of humankind, if for no other reason, to tsk and be shocked that people could do such a thing. I’ve done my own tiny experiments here on Affinity, with doing nothing but art / photography / nice and fun stories in a day of blogging. When I do that, my stats take a serious hit. Blog about politics, assholes, bigots? Much better for my stats. I try to strike a balance, but it’s not always easy to do.

I am not a social person, at my keyboard, or away from it. I find socializing to be exhausting, and can only handle it in limited amounts, so for someone like me, the internet is ideal, because I can wander away when it all becomes too much. That’s why I don’t indulge in social media much, because being involved with social media means being involved with people, and all the consequent obligations to those people. I don’t think there is any particular reason nice can’t thrive on the ‘net, there are pockets of it all over the place, if you go looking. PZ has written about Mastodon a couple of times, and seems to enjoy it. If you’re trying to be a massive media giant, maybe it doesn’t work so well, I don’t know. Imzy had a great deal of money in October, $8 million. I won’t pretend to understand why it’s now being considered a failure, and those in charge don’t seem to want to explain it fully. Perhaps if there was less focus on the money, nice would thrive better on the ‘net, I don’t know. Seems to me that greed and nice don’t go hand in hand, but what do I know?

Think Progress has the full story.

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.