Most Liked.

Barack Obama: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…”

Barack Obama: “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love…”

Barack Obama: “…For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

Here’s a great example of the stark difference between this current presidency and the last: in the wake of Trump’s horrific response to the Charlottesville tragedy, Barack Obama tweeted a three-part quote from Nelson Mandela, the first tweet of which has become the most liked post in the site’s entire history.

Via Out.

The Intertwining of Trees and Crime.

Screencapture.

There’s been some very interesting research happening in Chicago, and it turns out that trees reduce crime. I don’t find this surprising at all, but I’m a “must be attached to the land” person. When your environment is bleak and desolate, you end up with bleak, desolate, desperate people. We need to be aware of our earth, we need to be connected to our planet. In urban environments, the best way to restore that connection is with trees. Yes, they are a long-term investment, but that’s good, because it means people are thinking the right way, generations ahead of themselves.

In June, the Chicago Regional Tree Initiative and Morton Arboretum released what they say is the most comprehensive tree canopy data set of any region in the U.S., covering 284 municipalities in the Chicago area. Now, that data is helping neighborhoods improve their environments and assist their communities.

“When we go to talk to communities,” says Lydia Scott, director of the CRTI, “We say ‘trees reduce crime.’ And then they go, ‘Explain to me how that could possibly be, because that’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard.’”

In Chicago, where more than 2,000 people have been shot this year, scientists are looking at physical features of neighborhoods for solutions. “We started to look at where we have heavy crime, and whether there was a correlation with tree canopy, and often, there is,” says Scott. “Communities that have higher tree population have lower crime. Areas where trees are prevalent, people tend to be outside, mingling, enjoying their community.”

The map revealed that poorer neighborhoods are often “tree deserts,” areas with little or no tree canopy. Trees reduce flooding, improve property values, prevent heat islands, promote feelings of safety, reduce mortality, and provide other significant social and health benefits. This means that when you live in, for example, the South Side, where trees are scarcer, you lose more than just green leaves overhead.

Never before have researchers been able to look so widely and deeply at this sort of data. The map is huge—it covers seven counties—and extremely detailed. That has allowed Scott and her colleagues to notice some startling patterns. For example, in the North Shore community—an affluent, lakeside, suburban area—canopy cover tends to be 40 percent or higher. On the economically depressed South Side, canopy can be as low as 7 percent.

That last is no surprise, either. As it goes with people, the poorer you are, the less of everything you get, including trees. There’s much more to the article, all the research, how it was conducted, and information about Blacks in Green, who are doing stellar work. Click on over to Atlas Obscura for the full story. Then see if you could help plant a tree. Or just hug one.

#Pimpmyfactura.

Yacarebaby’s paste ups are a common sight on the Buenos Aires streets. Photo courtesy of PMF.

Gas and electricity bills, and estimates for bricks, paint, toilets, or doors are being turned into canvases—as we speak—by the indie graphic arts scene in Argentina. Through a program called #pimpmyfactura, the underground visual arts scene scene is bailing out three community day cares by transforming their debts into artwork. Top graffiti, paste up, collage and graphic design artists are merging from diverse disciplines towards one common goal: converting those unsettled bills into marketable works of art.

Over 40 artists from Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Uruguay, the Philippines and Colombia answered #pimpmyfactura‘s call and created artworks to be sold for charity for the value of the bill turned canvas.

This Icarus is brought to you by Colombian illustrator Chaparro on a paint store estimate of 1163 Argentine pesos.

The #pimpmyfactura project emerged last year in a contest that linked a foundation involved with low income daycares to TBWA, an advertisement agency that came up with a creative and concrete way of generating funds for the foundation. TBWA copywriter Enzo Ciucci is co-creator of #pimpmyfactura, and drew a bird’s skull on a hardware store estimate.

[…]

All pieces will be on exhibition at Buenos Aires’ Centro Cultural Rojas from August 4th to the 14th. They will be for sale for the amount of the bill they are painted on, and 100% of profit goes to the debts of these daycare centers through the Publicidar foundation.

You can read and see more at The Creators Project.

For Shame!

Have you no shame?

Shame on you for suggesting that!

Take the walk of shame down the hall of shame.

I can’t, I am beyond shame.

What a shame — you’re naked;

cover your shame!

But, I have no shame.

Well, it is a bit small, but nothing to be ashamed of.

Adam and Eve left the garden, ashamed.

Ain’t that a shame?

A low-down dirty shame!

Odgraphix has an excellent post up about shame and embarrassment, very powerful tools. I had a solid eight years of that, courtesy of catholic school, and we probably don’t think about the mechanics of shame and embarrassment often enough, or their effects on our lives. Go have a read, highly recommended.

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.