Lazy linking – tech edition

I thought I’d share a few links about tech related stuff that I have found interesting in recent times.

Extreme Programming Creator Kent Beck: Tech Has a Compassion Deficit

Before, Beck saw technologists as “us” and management as “them,” he said. Now, he is “them,” and his view has changed.

“I do my one-on-one coaching, but I’m also in the room helping make strategic decisions with very little information, and I’ve gained a lot of respect and empathy for those decision-makers,” he said. “As a punk-ass programmer, I’d grumble about ‘management.’ Well, they have a job to do, and it’s a really difficult job.”

So, the capital-M management is alright with him. But that doesn’t mean Beck’s view of tech leadership is entirely rosy. Many of his anxieties about the tech industry center on power players and their evolving stances on issues like remote compensation, racial justice and content moderation.

“Not a lot makes me hopeful,” he said. “You caught me in isolation [due to COVID-19 precautions]. So this is not my day for bright sunshine.”

Kent Beck was the creator of eXtreme Programming (XP), which is probably the most programmer friendly agile methodology, and which has come up with many of the techniques and tools which is widely used in systems development today. I found this interview interesting because it shows how Kent Beck has evolved and shifted his focus to a much broader perspective than in earlier days.

For doubters of agile, there is also a great question/answer:

You signed the Agile Manifesto almost 20 years ago. How do you feel about agile now?

It’s a devastated wasteland. The life has been sucked out of it. It’s a few religious rituals carried out by people who don’t understand the purpose that those rituals were intended to serve in the first place.

I think he is a bit too pessimistic, but I also understand where he is coming from. From those of us, who have used agile for many years, it is some times scary to realize how little has improved over the years, and how little understanding there is of the ideas behind agile. When I try to explain to people that one of the main strengths of agile is rapid feedback, they all too often fail to understand that this is not just about implementing automatic testing (though that is a given), but also on making measurements and giving outsides the chance of providing feedback – either directly or through their behavior.

Agile and Architecture: Friend, not Foe

Continuing in the realm of agile, here is an article that is really partly a sales pitch for a book. Still worth reading nevertheless.

As an architect, I am frequently asked about the role that architecture can play in environments that practice agile development methods. The core assumption behind this question is usually that agile teams don’t need architecture or at least don’t need architects.

I once took a course by Kevlin Henney called Architecture with Agility, which went into how software architecture and agility could co-exist. One of the major points in the course, is that good architecture is a function over time. Things that were good decisions at one stage, can turn into being bad decisions later, when things change. As a natural consequences of this, you want to defer decisions as long as possible.

Gregor Hohpe seems to be making the same point, but he also makes the excellent point that software architecture allows you to defer certain decisions, until you have the knowledge to make it.

I have ordered his book, and am looking forward to reading it.

Blockchain, the amazing solution for almost nothing

We all have biases, and my bias regarding blockchain is that it is an over-hyped technology which has been born out of a completely useless idea (crypto currency). There are many reasons why I feel this way, but I don’t think I have seen any article describe my feelings about the technology as well as this article by Jesse Frederik.

I’ve been hearing a lot about blockchain in the last few years. I mean, who hasn’t? It’s everywhere.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought: but what is it then, for God’s sake, this whole blockchain thing? And what’s so terribly revolutionary about it? What problem does it solve?

That’s why I wrote this article. I can tell you upfront, it’s a bizarre journey to nowhere. I’ve never seen so much incomprehensible jargon to describe so little. I’ve never seen so much bloated bombast fall so flat on closer inspection. And I’ve never seen so many people searching so hard for a problem to go with their solution.

I am sure that many blockchain fans can point to examples in the article where it is unfair, but it doesn’t change the overall message. Blockchain is, at its current state, completely over-hyped and largely useless. The article kindly doesn’t mention goes into this, but the performance issues of blockchain technology makes it useless at its current state, and it seems like the only solution to the performance problems is to basically redefine the basic premises of how permissions should work (see e.g. Performance and Scalability of BlockchainNetworks and Smart Contracts (pdf).

Lazy linking – there is a lot going on

As everyone else, I am somewhat overwhelmed at the moment, and find it hard to find the time to write blogposts – instead I am fairly active on twitter, where I can be found under the handle Kriswager.

One of the big issues have been the BLM movement and the push-back on police violence. During this, the police has amply demonstrated that they don’t care about basic human rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of press, and a number of other fundamental principles of a society.

I could post hundreds of links on this subject, but here is one that I have come across recently.

Beverly Hills facing criticism after arrests of 28 peaceful protesters

Beverly Hills is facing criticism after officers arrested 28 people during a peaceful protest against police violence overnight, two weeks after imposing an unusual ordinance banning demonstrations in residential areas that “disrupted the tranquility.”

The latest protest, which began about 7:30 p.m. Friday and drew about 75 people, was the third demonstration in Beverly Hills organized by the Black Future Project, but the first that resulted in arrests, said organizer Austin Tharpe, 29.

The whole concept of an ordinance banning demonstrations in certain type of areas is fundamentally at odds with democratic concepts like the right to assembly.

On great product of the BLM movement and the talk about racism, is how people are stepping forward with stories about discrimination in workplaces, many of which are considered progressive.

Black Influencers Shortchanged By Big Brands Are Starting To Talk

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, as a new wave of Black Lives Matters activism ripples around the Black community and the world, Black people are choosing to speak up about the way we are treated in society and workplace.

People are lifting the lid on structural and institutional racism in their companies, on microaggressions in the office, and on the substantial career blocks and pay gaps they have faced in comparison with their white counterparts.

And what’s true of traditional careers is also true for Black influencers.

It is easy to dismiss the problems of influencers, since it can some times be hard to figure out what they are doing for the money that they get, but it should be a fundamental principle – no matter the job – that you should get equal pay for equal work (with clout as a factor in this case).

How to Know You’re Not Insane (And how a Cards Against Humanity Staff Writer was fired.)

This story is scary. A lone Black employee starts speaking out against racism at Cards Against Humanity, and they manage to get him committed to a mental ward (though pressure on his family). When he managed to get out again (not as easy as it sounds), he came back and got fired shortly after.

Cards Against Humanity has a progressive reputation much like e.g. Southpark, and the company is certainly progressive, when it e.g. comes to stand against Trump’s border wall. Unfortunately, as the article shows, they are progressive only when it comes to actions outside the company, not within the company.

I have always found Cards Against Humanity fake-edgy and faux-progressive, so I am not really that surprised by these news – other than the fact that it is possible to get people committed under such circumstances. That is a system ripe for misuse, as was the case here.

Popular YouTube channel FBE turns out to be racist

FBE is behind the popular kids/teens/college kids/adults/elders react channels, where a, often quite diverse, group of people react to something. FBE stands for Fine Brothers Entertainment, and the organization came out in support of BLM, which made several people remark on the fact that the founders, and owners, the Fine Brothers, had made racist sketches in the past, wearing blackface.

This is not the first time FBE has come under fire for being racist and sexist – most noteworthy was an anonymous article by a former FBE employee from last year.

A lot of people involved with FBE steps forward and share their stories about the problems at the place, leading to a number of popular reactors (people participating in the react videos) announcing that they are leaving. Others publish the fact that they were already in the process of leaving.

The link in the header takes you to a timeline of what have happened with loads of links.

Black Employees, Don’t Sign Away Your Right to Speak Out

[A]s we hold companies accountable when they share “we believe Black Lives Matter” statements, we must demand that black people feel empowered to share their stories of feeling sidelined, ignored and racially discriminated against. I stand with the labor activists, like the unions representing Condé Nast employees, who are calling for the ban of NDAs in such cases. I stand with my black peers like Tiffany Wines, who recently broke her NDA to publicly recount her painful experiences while working for Complex magazine.

After you leave a toxic work environment, not caving in to a “hush your mouth” document makes it better for the next black person. You can leave the door cracked with a detailed note. The bright and eager food editors have a right to know the names of allies, and the best office location to say a little prayer when times are rocky.

Not related to work, but rather to life outside work, Corina Newsome writes in the Audubon Magazine and tells fellow birders about life as a black birder in It’s Time to Build a Truly Inclusive Outdoors

It’s early April and American Woodcocks have begun twilight mating displays, making whistling, twirling falls from the sky. You’ve seen them before with friends, but to abide by social distancing rules you decide on a solo trip. Then you recall the sound of gravel behind you as a police car followed you to a trail head the other day. You quickly but calmly grabbed your binoculars and pointed them to a nearby tree. Not because you saw a bird, but to prove your innocence—to de-escalate what you feared could unfold. It’s cold outside and will be colder tonight when the woodcocks dance. You should layer up with your hoodie, but you know how that makes you look. Especially at night. Especially alone. You decide it’s better not to go.

If anyone ever is in doubt about the systematic, widespread racism in the US, articles like this clearly demonstrates how every aspect of the life of Black people in the US is affected. It is well past time it is addressed.

Unsurprisingly to everyone, the Trump administration keeps on proving to be horrible.

Federal officials allowed distribution of COVID-19 antibody tests after they knew many were flawed

Federal officials failed to immediately stop the distribution of many COVID-19 antibody tests they knew were flawed, leading to inaccurate data about the spread of the virus. Congress is now investigating why the FDA did not review the tests it allowed to be distributed widely throughout the U.S

This won’t surprise anyone remotely aware of what Antifa is, but it will certainly come as a surprise to both the US president and to many people living in conservative areas, fearing the great perils coming from Antifa.

White nationalist group posing as antifa called for violence on Twitter

A Twitter account claiming to belong to a national “antifa” organization and pushing violent rhetoric related to ongoing protests has been linked to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, according to a Twitter spokesperson.

It is a common tactic of the far-right to make fake profiles claiming to belonging to organizations that they are against. Some times these profiles are persons, but quite often they are supposed to be the actual organizations themselves. The tactic is more successful with leaderless organizations, like Anonymous and the Occupy Movement, and non-organizations like Antifa.

A couple of science related things.

Ethical and privacy considerations for research using online fandom data

As online fandom continues to grow, so do the public data created by fan creations and interactions. With researchers and journalists regularly engaging with those data (and not always asking permission), many fans are concerned that their content might end up in front of the wrong audience, which could lead to privacy violations or even harassment from within or outside of fandom. To better understand fan perspectives on the collection and analysis of public data as a methodology, we conducted both an interview study and a survey to solicit responses that would help provide a broader understanding of fandom’s privacy norms as they relate to the ethical use of data. We use these findings to revisit and recommend best practices for working with public data within fandom.

This article by Brianna Dym and Casey Fiesler seems much needed, and honestly isn’t just a necessary read for scientists doing research, but also, as they mention, the journalists writing about fandoms.

It’s Time to Abandon the “Classical Twin Method” in Behavioral Research

Twin studies supply the “scientific evidence” most often cited in support of the claim that human behavioral differences are strongly influenced by heredity. Yet genetic interpretations of twin studies of behavior, including areas such as IQ, personality, criminality (antisocial behavioral), schizophrenia, and depression are based on the acceptance of highly questionable or even false assumptions. I am compelled to keep writing about this because these studies have not gone away, despite the critics’ airtight arguments that indicate that they should have gone away a long time ago.

Twin studies are one of the common arguments used by evolutionary psychologists, and like everything else evo-psychologists use, they are deeply flawed at best, worthless in general.

New research reveals what made Danes stay home, and what didn’t

In a new study, researchers have shown how recommendations to maintain social distancing affect our behaviour. An experiment conducted among Danish residents at the peak of the pandemic reveals that reminders to stay home only affect people in poor health. The ensuing lessons about human behaviour can be crucial for campaigns in the second phase of the corona virus crisis.

It is worth remembering that Denmark is one of the success stories, but it seems like it wasn’t because of public appeals, but rather due to public restrictions. Most people were forced to work from home, which is considered a key factor in how Denmark got the spread under control.

Lazy linking – the Trump circus

Impeachment

The open hearings in the impeachment inquiry have started, and despite the orders from Trump of people not participating, some key people have already been in and have given some pretty damning evidence.

So far we have heard career diplomats like William Taylor, George Kent, and Marie Yovanovitch speak about what they experienced, and it has been pretty damning.

For a full transcript of the testimony by Taylor and Kent see: Read George Kent and William Taylor’s Full Opening Statements at the First Public Hearing in Trump’s Impeachment Inquiry

As for Marie Yovanovitch, this is an article worth reading.

“This Is the Way Gangsters Operate”: A Hero Is Born as Yovanovitch Gives Voice to Widespread Rage at State

The diplomatic rank and file believe Mike Pompeo has allowed Trump to pollute the State Department with politics. Marie Yovanovitch made their case. “I think people are feeling huge pride in Masha,” says a former ambassador.

While the testimony of the three career diplomats have been very damning, things are going to be much worse for Trump. Coming up are witnesses like State Department official David Holmes , US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, Defense Department official Laura Cooper, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, and National Security Council staffer Fiona Hill. And many more are probably to come, including John Bolton and Mick Mulvany, especially if the courts find that the House’s subpoena overrules the orders from Trump (something which would be obvious in any other timeline).

Roger Stone found guilty

It hasn’t gotten much notice, but Roger Stone has been found guilty on all counts, making him the 6th Trump Associate Convicted Under Mueller Probe.

Giuliani is in trouble

Or so it would seem

Giuliani ‘is potentially in a heap of trouble’ and could be indicted today: ex-prosecutor

On MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade suggested that President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani could be indicted today, based just on the facts that are already known about his involvement in the Ukraine plot.

The idea of Giuliani going to jail is bringing me great joy.

Trump pardons war criminals

Trump uses his presidential power to grant pardons – and unsurprisingly he pardons the worst sort of people.

Trump Clears Three Service Members in War Crimes Cases

Top military leaders have pushed back hard against clearing the three men. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy have argued that such a move would undermine the military code of justice, and would serve as a bad example to other troops in the field, administration officials said.

It is not like US soldiers often get prosecuted for their actions in war zones, and even rarer they get found guilty. In these cases, there is clear evidence that they killed unarmed civilians – often the witnesses were their fellow soldiers – yet Trump decides that he knows better, and pardons them.

Lazy linking

A few things I have come across on the internet, which I thought might interest others.

Hail Satan?: The Satanists battling for religious freedom – A profile of the upcoming movie about the Santanic Temple and their fight for religious freedom and women’s rights.

Related to my blogpost on Trump, Greenland, and Denmark, here is a fun fact – The U.S. ambassador to Denmark starred in a movie mocked by MST3K

Something different from the stuff I usually post about – an archive of folk music from around the world. There is not a lot in it yet, but I suspect it will grow over time.

A somewhat scary article by Carl Zimmer in the NY Times: Zika Was Soaring Across Cuba. Few Outside the Country Knew.

The mosquito-borne virus spread through the island in 2017, but global health officials failed to sound the alarm.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who grew up around ‘broken’ and defeated Nazis, has some blunt advice for the alt-right (and Trump)

Lazy linking

A few links to articles and blogposts that I think worth sharing

Laurie Penny has written a long-read article about not debating people: No, I Will Not Debate You

Civility will never defeat fascism, no matter what The Economist thinks.

Professor Julie Libarkin of Michigan State University has compiled a list of know harassers in academia

Rates of sexual abuse and harassment in academic science are second only to the military. It’s estimated that at least half of women faculty and staff face harassment and abuse and that 20 to 50 percent of women students in science, engineering, and medicine are abused by faculty. Those numbers are generally based on surveys, which are an important way of getting a handle on the problem and how it changes women’s career trajectories.

But when it comes to holding institutions accountable and making meaningful changes, naming perpetrators may be even more powerful.

Julie Libarkin has taken on the challenge of creating a database of harassers. She’s a professor at Michigan State University and she heads the Geocognition Research Laboratory. She’s compiled a list of some 700 cases of sexual misconduct in academia.

The human league: what separates us from other animals? by Adam Rutherford

You are an animal, but a very special one. Mostly bald, you’re an ape, descended from apes; your features and actions are carved or winnowed by natural selection. But what a special simian you are. Shakespeare crystallised this thought a good 250 years before Charles Darwin positioned us as a creature at the end of the slightest of twigs on a single, bewildering family tree that encompasses 4bn years, a lot of twists and turns, and 1 billion species.

Republicans hoped voters would forget they tried to kill Obamacare. They bet wrong. by Andy Slavitt

Andy Slavitt described his article thus on twitter:

Do you notice this phenomenon where your MOC behaves differently in odd numbered years and even numbered years? My @USATODAY column this week explains.

There’s overwhelming evidence that the criminal-justice system is racist. Here’s the proof. by Radley Balko

This is very relevant to my earlier post about the need for a reform in the US judicial system.

Lazy linking

A few thing I have found of interest.

SF will wipe thousands of marijuana convictions off the books

San Francisco will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases, District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday — expunging or reducing misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades.

The unprecedented move will affect thousands of people whose marijuana convictions brand them with criminal histories that can hurt chances of finding jobs and obtaining some government benefits.

Proposition 64, which state voters passed in November 2016, legalized the recreational use of marijuana in California for those 21 and older and permitted the possession up to 1 ounce of cannabis. The legislation also allows those with past marijuana convictions that would have been lesser crimes — or no crime at all — under Prop. 64 to petition a court to recall or dismiss their cases.

This is an important move. A lot of people have been jailed in the past for crimes which is no longer on the books, and it is only fair that they get released.

Science behind bars: How a Turkish physicist wrote research papers in prison

Thousands of academics in Turkish universities stand accused of either having supported terrorism or the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016. Theoretical physicist Ali Kaya is one of them. He was arrested three months after the failed coup and held for more than a year before his trial took place. On 20 December, a court declared him guilty of being a member of a terrorist organization and sentenced him to six years of imprisonment — but released him early owing to the time he had already served in prison while awaiting trial. Kaya says that he is innocent and is appealing against the verdict. In the meantime, he has been suspended from his academic post, and he has yet to learn whether his university, Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, plans to fire him or to await the outcome of the appeal.

This story shows how Turkey has become a totalitarian regime, and how scientists can persevere under horrible circumstances.

Your Grandma Was a Chain Migrant!

Jennifer Mendelsohn, a freelance writer based in Baltimore, has a low tolerance for bad faith. Last summer, after Stephen Miller, the White House senior policy adviser, went on television to support a bill that would penalize immigrants who didn’t speak English, Mendelsohn took to Twitter. “Miller favors immigrants who speak English,” she began. “But the 1910 census shows his own great-grandmother couldn’t.” Her tweet, which included a photograph of a census document indicating that Miller’s ancestor spoke only Yiddish, went viral. “It’s hilarious how easy it is to find hypocrisy,” Mendelsohn said. “And I’m a scary-good sleuth.”

Ursula K. Le Guin, the spiritual mother of generations of writers; John Scalzi pays tribute

World’s oceans rise to hottest temperatures ever recorded ‘by far’

‘Long upward trend that extends back many decades does prove global warming’

Not that we really need any more evidence.

Spiritual hyperplane

How spiritualists of the 19th century forged a lasting association between higher dimensions and the occult world

Interesting bit of history.

Lazy linking

A few links I thought worth sharing

Republicans Have Lost Touch With Blue America

You know how the media are always carrying on about how Democrats are so woefully out of touch with red America? Of course you do. We hear it in one form or another every day from conservative bloviators, and the mainstream media pick it up because after three decades of such attacks it’s just automatically accepted conventional wisdom. And I acknowledge there’s some truth to it. But here’s the other side of the coin, which no one ever, ever, I mean ever talks about: Republicans are totally out of touch with blue America.

Who goes Nazi? Media edition

There’s an article I think about pretty much every day called “Who Goes Nazi?” It is by Dorothy Thompson, one of the few Western journalists to interview Hitler, and it was published in the August 1941 issue of Harper’s. It is the best article ever written, narrowly beating Lynn Hirschberg’s profile of M.I.A. and Lynn Hirschberg’s profile of Kurt and Courtney.

The article’s premise is very simple. Thompson imagines a dinner party attended by well-heeled guests. Then she tells us which ones she thinks are, or will become, Nazis. “Nazism has nothing to do with race and nationality,” she writes. “It appeals to a certain type of mind.”

The Making of an American Nazi

How did Andrew Anglin go from being an antiracist vegan to the alt-right’s most vicious troll and propagandist—and how might he be stopped?

The Strange Saga of Arrested Inauguration Protesters’ Seized Property

Nearly a year after the J20 protests, the cops don’t seem to know exactly what they took from those arrested, or from who.

The articles is written by Siobhan

Richard Smith: Strong evidence of bias against research from low income countries

We know from previous studies that the acceptance rates of articles is higher when first authors come from English-speaking high income countries; and articles from high income countries have higher citation rates. Indeed, an author’s affiliation with the United States can increase his or her citations by 20% (probably because citations are derived from databases that favour American journals and because Americans cite Americans just as Brits cite Brits). But all this could be explained not by bias but simply because research from high income countries, particularly the US, is better. What has been needed is a study that controls for the quality of the research and even for the reviewer. Now we have such a study.

The study, which comes from Imperial College’s Institute of Global Health Innovation, is a double-blind randomised crossover trial in which 347 clinicians reviewed the same abstracts a month apart with the source of the abstract being changed without their knowledge between low and high income countries. Only three clinicians recognised that the abstracts came from a different source.

Link via Retraction Watch

Remembering

Came across this tweet, and thought I’d I share it

Wikipedia has a fairly good article on the 1973 student uprising.

Lazy linking

Another round of interesting links from the internet

Should complementary and alternative medicine charities lose their charitable status?

Right now, the Charity Commission is in the middle of a public consultation, asking whether or not organisations that offer complementary and alternative therapies should continue to have charitable status. This review presents an unprecedented opportunity for the public to turn the tide, and to make it clear to the Charity Commission that it is not enough to make a medical claim, but that such claims have to be backed up by reliable evidence.

The Good Thinking Society has raised the problem with organizations based on promoting pseudo-science having charitable status, forcing the Charity Commission to hold a public consultation on the subject. As part of his work for the Good Thinking Society, Michael “Marsh” Marshall (host of Skeptics with a K) has written a great opinion piece in the Guardian explaining the reasons behind the Good Thinking Society’s focus on this.

Note: the public consultation ended on March 19th, but it is still worth reading the piece anyway.

Making Progress Toward Open Data: Reflections on Data Sharing at PLOS ONE

Since its inception, PLOS has encouraged data sharing; our original data policy (2003 – March 2014) required authors to share data upon request after publication. In line with PLOS’ ethos of open science and accelerating scientific progress, and in consultation with members of the wider scientific community, PLOS journals strengthened their data policy in March 2014 to further promote transparency and reproducibility.[1] This move was viewed as controversial by many, particularly for PLOS ONE, the largest and most multidisciplinary journal to ever undertake such a mandate. In this post, we look at our experience so far.

Interesting blogpost by PLOS ONE on their data sharing policy, and what the effect of their policy has been, three years after they implemented it.

The Doomsday Scam

This NY Times Magazine article is from November, 2015, but I have just recently come across it. It is a fascinating look into a hoax-substance red mercury, which is supposed to be highly dangerous, and the people searching for it.

The Eurocrat Who Makes Corporate America Tremble

Vestager’s entire tenure has been laced with an instinctive mistrust of big corporations. She’s driven investigations of Amazon.com, Fiat, Gazprom, Google, McDonald’s, and Starbucks—and she still has two and a half years remaining in her term. Rulings on McDonald’s and Amazon, both under scrutiny for their tax deals with Luxembourg, are imminent. If Vestager levies a multibillion-dollar fine against Google—a distinct possibility because the company is fighting three separate European antitrust cases—she will truly set headlines aflame. Google came under review for allegedly forcing Android phone manufacturers to pre-install its suite of apps, favoring its own comparison-shopping services in its search results, and preventing third-party websites from sourcing ads from its competitors. As with Apple and Amazon, these cases were bequeathed to Vestager by her predecessor, but she’s accelerated them to their finish lines.

Great profile of EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager, which focuses not only on her work, but also how the American corporations don’t know how to approach her.

‘The Drug Whisperer’: Drivers arrested while stone cold sober (warning: autoplay video)

Apparently some American police districts teaches cops how to “recognize” signs of drug use. I use scare quotes around recognize, as this news segment clearly shows that they do nothing of the sort. Instead they jail people without a cause.

 

Lazy linking

Catching up on sharing interesting links – some of these might be used for posts in the future.

Seems like the far-right is spreading everywhere, including into the more niche communities, such as the furries. This has led to this article, which must be a headline writer’s wet dream (warning Daily Mail link)

Neo-Nazi furries uproar causes convention cancelation

The rise of the alt-right movement has many people nervous about the spread of neo-Nazi sympathies – and the furry community is apparently not immune to these political trends.

In shocking news, the Rocky Mountain Fur Con, the annual event that brings together furries, has been canceled after a splinter group known as the Furry Raiders came under fire for embracing ‘altfur’ symbols similar to those of Nazis and fascists.

Furries are pretty much at the bottom of the internet pecking order, but I can’t help notice that unlike many other groups that the far right has tried to infiltrate, they actually take action – in this case cancelling the convention.

My fellow FreethoughtBlogger Crip Dyke has written a great blogpost about the One Drop rule

The One Drop Rule

Shermer has had an abomination of a tweet called out by PZ Myers over on Pharyngula, and I’m sure most of you have read that. There are many good points to make about it and a number have been made there, but here I’d like to say something that hasn’t been mentioned yet over there. Here, I’d like to offer some praise for a One Drop Rule.

The One Drop Rule that Crip Dyke is praising is not the one that we generally know, but rather the inverse one – the one where minorities took in anyone who was forced out by the One Drop Rule, providing a community and a home for them.

This article is a year old, but it is important to keep sharing it, since the stereotype still exists, and forms policy in the US

A racist stereotype is shattered: Study finds white youth are more likely to abuse hard drugs than black youth

By now we can all agree that the real target of Reagan’s enduring war on drugs was never drugs, it was African Americans. But if rising incarceration rates among black youth or the utter failure to curtail drug use is not enough proof, perhaps a new study from Northwestern University on racial differences among drug users will do the trick.

According to the study’s findings recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, abuse and dependence on “hard drugs” (opiates, amphetamine, etc.) are “less common among delinquent African American youth than those who are non-Hispanic white.”

It can be debated whether the “war of drugs” is a good idea or not (though I think most of my readers will on the side of thinking it being a bad idea), but studies like this clearly shows that the law is being used to target minorities rather than doing what they are supposed to do.

 

The next link is an interesting article about mixed up identities and the slow awakening of the awareness of racial prejudice of a white woman in the US.

For 18 years, I thought she was stealing my identity. Until I found her

A woman apparently using my name meant a nightmare of unpaid traffic fines and a criminal record. But when I tracked her down, a different story emerged

Most of the problems encountered in the article is due to the lack of a national identity in the US, where people get confused with other people all the time (something John Oliver has covered relating to credit scores), but I found it interesting how the author slowly become aware of the racial prejudice that affected her namesake(s)

I had never been to any other kind of court except traffic court (at which, both times, the police officers had flat-out lied). While I was familiar with the statistics –75.6% of arrestees for misdemeanor crimes are African Americans or Hispanic – the reality took my breath away. Like any other privileged white person living in the protected segregation of New York, who isn’t directly dealing with the New York criminal justice system, I hadn’t seen it first hand. The room was almost entirely filled with people of color, other than the judge, the court-appointed lawyer, and me. Most of them had summonses for smoking pot, one of the city’s least offensive offenses.

 

It is incredible hard to hide one’s identity on the internet, especially if you are a public person, but you’d think that the head of the FBI would be able to do so. Apparently not.

This Is Almost Certainly James Comey’s Twitter Account

Digital security and its discontents—from Hillary Clinton’s emails to ransomware to Tor hacks—is in many ways one of the chief concerns of the contemporary FBI. So it makes sense that the bureau’s director, James Comey, would dip his toe into the digital torrent with a Twitter account. It also makes sense, given Comey’s high profile, that he would want that Twitter account to be a secret from the world, lest his follows and favs be scrubbed for clues about what the feds are up to. What is somewhat surprising, however, is that it only took me about four hours of sleuthing to find Comey’s account, which is not protected.

Going to IT conferences, where security is often covered, has left me a bit cynical about the chances of hiding, or even protecting yourself, on the internet, but it seems Comey has done some pretty basic mistakes, which a person in his position should have avoided (e.g. not making the profile private).

 

This Scandinavia and the World strip pretty much summons up Brexit.

 

Berkeley Breathed made a great April 1st joke: A merger of Berkeley Breathed and Calvin and Hobbes. This even let to a great comic strip:

April 1st comic strip

Berkeley Breathed with Calvin and Hobbes