thnidu: (Grass Mud Horse seal)
[personal profile] thnidu
From The Verge.

The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs, and how much it cost to buy them

They betrayed you for chump change

Republicans in Congress just voted to reverse a landmark FCC privacy rule that opens the door for ISPs to sell customer data. Lawmakers provided no credible reason for this being in the interest of Americans, except for vague platitudes about “consumer choice” and “free markets,” as if consumers at the mercy of their local internet monopoly are craving to have their web history quietly sold to marketers and any other third party willing to pay.

The only people who seem to want this are the people who are going to make lots of money from it. (Hint: they work for companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.) Incidentally, these people and their companies routinely give lots of money to members of Congress.

So here is a list of the lawmakers who voted to betray you, and how much money they received from the telecom industry in their most recent election cycle.

* The article doesn't say they're all Republicans, but I scrolled through the list, and they are.

Click headline for story.

A Study of the Battleground

Mar. 29th, 2017 03:05 pm
jducoeur: (Default)
[personal profile] jducoeur

When I dubbed my current politics posts with the tag "wartime thoughts", that was not originally intended as a general statement about the political arena. I've wound up using it more generally, but it was originally planned (before the gush of events distracted me) to be a series of posts on a specific topic, to make a specific point: we are already at war, a propaganda war. And the enemy are way the bloody hell ahead of us.

This was inspired by a moment on the WBUR call-in show "On Point", shortly before the election. One caller started matter-of-factly talking about how the show was of course being controlled by Project Mockingbird, and Tom Ashbrook, the host, completely lost his shit -- it was the only time I've ever heard him out-of-control angry. Which made me curious, so I Googled "Project Mockingbird", and quickly found myself in this weird parallel dimension of websites parroting all sorts of insanity. It was the moment when I finally realized where the bloody hell the Trump phenomenon had come from: in this parallel universe, Trump is right. (Or at least, not so obviously crazy.)

I'm reminded of that original inspiration by this brilliant article by Kate Starbird, a professor at the University of Washington. It's long, but you should find the time to read it in detail, because it is describing one of the primary causes of what's going right now. It outlines how her lab originally set out to do some analysis of the way that "alternative narrative" rumors spread after crises, and wound up consequently delving into the structure of what I think of as the "alt-net" -- the collection of websites and feeds that are the backbone of the alt-right movement.

This is seriously scary shit: while she keeps things carefully factual, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that what looks like an agglomeration of kooks are in fact a very principled and organized project to undermine Americans' collective sense of reality. On the surface it all appears to be authentic and independent opinion and reportage, but the cross-links are too deep to put much credence into that. There's a lot of very clever psychology at work here, focused on convincing readers that there is a gigantic conspiracy composed of the mainstream media, conventional government, the Jews, and so on, and that these plucky little websites are the good guys who are just trying to expose the truth.

(And while she never quite comes out and says it, the connections to Russia are kind of screamingly obvious. It is likely over-simplistic to say that this is just a Russian plot, but they are almost certainly deeply involved.)

This stuff is dreadfully important background, because it goes a long ways towards explaining the apparently-incomprehensible mindset of many core Trump voters. It isn't that they are stupid or insane, it's that they have been very carefully converted to a view of reality that is deliberately at odds with everything you and I know to be true. Their reality has been hand-crafted by some talented artists to be at least moderately self-consistent, and provides easy answers to many problems that, in reality, are just plain complicated. It's a reality view that is comforting, and therefore easy to believe, not least in that it provides for nice clear Enemies.

And through all of it, I'm left horribly curious about one key question: I honestly can't tell if Donald Trump is in on the joke. I mean, this is being run by a bunch of master manipulators. And I have a nasty feeling, based on his outbursts, that Trump is the Manipulatee-in-Chief...


Mar. 29th, 2017 12:20 pm
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
[personal profile] jazzfish
Been feeling fried lately. Partly that's due to having a lot going on, little of which bears public airing. It's getting sorted, is about all I can say for that. Looking forward to the Gathering in a couple of weeks, even though I'll only be there for a few days this year.

At my viola lesson last night I managed to work out much of why I've been having so much trouble with my left hand. On cello the left hand ought to be in a perfect C shape, fingers more or less perpendicular to the fingerboard and only touching the neck at the fingertips, thumb resting on the neck behind the second finger. I've mostly-unconsciously carried this over to viola, where it's almost entirely wrong. I end up supporting the viola with my thumb, leaving my hand extremely tense and having trouble reaching the lower strings. It worked well enough as long as I stayed mostly in first position, but now it's making it exceedingly difficult to shift.

So I talked to Tegen about how I couldn't figure out how to relax my hand, or to keep my thumb off to the side of the neck like she's been telling me, or to generally have any kind of flexibility and suppleness to my left arm. And between us we got my left hand into proper position: base of the first finger resting on/below the neck, so that that's where I'm supporting it; fingers bent at sort of a 30-degree angle instead of straight on to the strings. This is going to take some amount of practice to get in the habit of, but will almost certainly make my life much, much easier.

Now if I can just find more than a couple of nights a week to practice.

Caturday: Salem steps out

Mar. 29th, 2017 12:19 pm
madfilkentist: The Catmobile at Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society (Catmobile)
[personal profile] madfilkentist
The cat population in the kitten room was the same as last week. Endor is off bite quarantine but still caged. Salem wasn't in the covered box any more, but was hiding under a set of cat shelves. Dory is even friendlier than before, if anything. Paco Taco was hiding under the fancy cage, and I don't think I actually saw him the whole time I was there. (Virginia did.)

At first Salem was making scary noises, but after a while he surprised us by coming out and wandering around more or less calmly, even rubbing up against my leg. He still spent most of his time in corners, and I wasn't ready to feed him a hand, but it was quite an improvement.

The picture behind the cut is of Dory. The eyes aren't really two different colors; it just came out that way.
cat picture )

House Filk: April 15

Mar. 29th, 2017 11:37 am
bedlamhouse: (Default)
[personal profile] bedlamhouse
Late notice here, unfortunately, though I got the FB notice out somewhat early...

Our annual House Filk/Bardic Circle/Music Party will be April 15, 2017 starting at around 6 PM.

BYOB - we'll have some sort of group dish, but feel free to bring anything else to contribute.

If you need crash space, let us know!


Mar. 29th, 2017 08:42 am
jducoeur: (Default)
[personal profile] jducoeur

Here's an interesting article about "adtech" -- those automated algorithms that companies like Google and Facebook use to spy on you and serve up advertisements that they think you will respond to. The major upshots are:

  • Adtech is at best wildly ineffective, and at worst actively damaging, for brands that are trying to advertise.
  • The core precepts of adtech is going to be illegal in Europe starting next year.

I'm not sure how accurate all this is -- it sounds a tad self-serving in favor of traditional advertising, so I take it with a grain of salt -- but I suspect there's a substantial grain of truth in it. It clarifies a distinction that the tech world has been trying very hard to blur, between direct sales and branding. It appears to me that adtech works a little for direct sales, but I suspect the article is right that it's inappropriate for serious branding.

I find myself ever more glad that Querki's business plan is specifically not built on the "spy on the users for purposes of advertising" model, which is looking ever more rickety. Asking people to pay for a service is old-fashioned, but it at least makes sense...

Leftover Soup --a quick memorium

Mar. 29th, 2017 07:10 am
sorcyress: Drawing of me as a pirate, standing in front of the Boston Citgo sign (Default)
[personal profile] sorcyress
(This entry started on Twitter):

Welp, the point in LeftoverSoup where I decided not to read any further ahead has just arrived. Five
strips left, and I'll read 'em honest.

I'm pretty sure I've been sneaking ahead in the archives since the 200s or so. A loooooong time. Even earned myself a boon once for it!

But LeftoverSoup is on its way out and I wanna give it at least a little bit of respect there. It's...important to me.

Approx 995 strips ago, I found the talented and famous @tailsteak and started sending random @-
replies. To my utter shock, he returned them!

That parlayed into chatting on the forum and to sending email* and to one of my best friends in the world and that's really cool.

So, if you've never read LeftoverSoup, now's a great time --you'll likely finish right when the comic does. It's a hell of a run.

...And its creator is a hell of a guy. I can't wait to see what he does next. <3

((*emails --ah, footnote's too long for here, I'll just have to put it in LJ instead.))


Hopefully I'll write a longer memorium sometime later. It's a really fascinating comic, written by a clever and fascinating guy. It ends next Monday, April 10th, and is probably the only webcomic I'll ever read consistently, every update as it updates, for the entire run. ((Skin Horse has already had a healthy chunk in the middle where I stopped reading for a while, and I can't think of very many others I actually started at the beginning.))


*So, Tailsteak is the only person I've ever met who could meet a random womanish** person online, send her a bunch of porn, and parlay that into a six year friendship. He is one suave motherfucker!

((Yes of course there's more detail to that story, but it's more fun without it.))

**For the purposes of being sent internet pornography, I definitely align myself with my female-socialization and...opposite of privilege? Basically, if you send dicks at me, unless you are the aforementioned suave motherfucker above, I am probably going to feel like you're trying to assert male power over me-as-female and feel attacked.

Haters gonna hate

Mar. 29th, 2017 07:07 am
supergee: (monkeys)
[personal profile] supergee
Some of the differently intelligent people who think fat people wouldn’t be fat if they exercised also think Nike shouldn’t make clothes for them to exercise in.

Thanx to [ profile] andrewducker
supergee: (pissed)
[personal profile] supergee
The problems we have because Smart Republican Paul Ryan and his followers think that insurance shouldn’t work like insurance

Thanx to [ profile] mslorelei


Mar. 29th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"so when you hear i am trans i can say nice grin slick
 i win big either way i play, gay or straight
 i make it so you can't concentrate and while you hate
 your baby girl's like 'hey wait,
 he looks good, his sound's tight too'"

  -- Katastrophe, "Enough Man"

"I grew up in a disguise
 The pain has made me wise
 Oh, my people stand, be seen, and we will rise
 My body is my home
 I won't ever be alone
 And I found my place behind this microphone"

  -- Joe Stevens, Daughterson

"First omes love, then comes transition. Then comes a music career in the baby carriage." -- Ingrid Elizabeth, bandmate of Joe Stevens, k 2010-04-06

A genuine reason to make your bed

Mar. 28th, 2017 01:22 pm
thnidu: A place for everything, and everything someplace else (A place for everything)
[personal profile] thnidu
From Good Housekeeping.

Please, Please, Just Learn to Make Your Bed Already

Rachel Hoffman — who authored the just-released book Unf*ck Your Habitat: You're Better Than Your Mess — shares her no-nonsense, actually realistic approach to cleaning up your clutter.
MAR 15, 2017

One of the quickest and easiest ways to make a big impact on the overall neatness of your bedroom is to just take a few minutes and make your bed. I know, I know — pretty much everyone hates making their bed. You don't see the point, since you're just going to get back in it later. Or you're rebelling against a childhood of being made to make the bed every morning. Or you think your bed needs to "breathe" and not making it is the way to accomplish that. There are a million excuses not to make your bed, and I have heard them all.

Taking a moment to straighten up your bedding creates an orderly and neat focal point in what might be an otherwise messy disaster.

But consider the potential positives: for one, taking a moment to straighten up your bedding creates an orderly and neat focal point in what might be an otherwise messy disaster. And even though a made bed doesn't magically turn the rest of your bedroom clean, it can help you to focus on the potential of a clean room, as well as giving you a home base to work from when you do start working on everything else in the room.

Click headline for story.

thnidu: road sign: diamond-shaped black on yellow. Animated silhouette of user banging head on keyboard over & over (headbang)
[personal profile] thnidu
You may well have already seen this horror story and quite possibly nearly died laughing. This, evidently, is the tale as told by the original victim, including an actual photo, as grabbed off the web by my sister and mailed out to everyone she knew, had known, or ever will know.

So, last week, something pretty tragic happened in our household. It's taken me until now to wrap my head around it and find the words to describe the horror. It started off simple enough - something that's probably happened to most of you.

Sometime between midnight and 1:30am, our puppy Evie pooped on our rug in the living room. This is the only time she's done this, so it's probably just because we forgot to let her out before we went to bed that night. Now, if you have a detective's mind, you may be wondering how we know the poop occurred between midnight and 1:30am. We were asleep, so how do I know that time frame?

Why, friends, that's because our Roomba runs at 1:30am every night, while we sleep. And it found the poop. And so begins the Pooptastrophe. The poohpocalypse. The pooppening.

If you have a Roomba, please rid yourself of all distractions and absorb everything I'm about to tell you.

Do not, under any circumstances, let your Roomba run over dog poop. If the unthinkable does happen, and your Roomba runs over dog poop, stop it immediately and do not let it continue the cleaning cycle. Because if that happens, it will spread the dog poop over every conceivable surface within its reach, resulting in a home that closely resembles a Jackson Pollock poop painting.

Read more... )

But there's a light at the end of the tunnel. After spending a week researching how to fix this damn $400 Roomba without spending $400 again - including refurb units, new motherboards, and new batteries - you finally decide to call the place where you bought it. That place called Hammacher Schlemmer. They have a funny name, but they have an awesome warranty. They claim it's for life, and it's for any reason.

So I called them and told the truth. My Roomba found dog poop and almost precipitated World War III.

And you know what they did? They offered to replace it. Yes, folks. They are replacing the Roomba that ran over dog poop and then died a poopy, watery death in the bathtub - by no fault of their own, of course.

So, mad props to Hammacher Schlemmer. If you're buying anything expensive, and they sell it, I recommend buying it from them. And remember - don't let your Roomba run over dog poop...

Techno-Liberty pausing

Mar. 28th, 2017 07:03 am
madfilkentist: Photo of Carl (Default)
[personal profile] madfilkentist
One or two of you may notice the lack of a Techno-Liberty post today. I'm discontinuing regular posts, at least for the present.

I'd hoped the blog topic would pick up some interest that would cross conventional political boundaries. The numbers just aren't there. Now that I'm a full-time writer, any project I devote a lot of time to has to either make money or increase my visibility.

These days, maybe the only way to get noticed is to do lots of insults and denunciations. I can do those, but it's not what I was aiming for. This time, I was looking for a constructive approach to freedom, focusing on the tools. Maybe someone who was more of a specialist in them could have made that work better.

I thank the handful of people who read and supported the blog.

Update: I just noticed that the post on my personal blog on Twitter's search blocking, which I hardly publicized, got more views than the all-time high for Techno-Liberty. That supports my theory. (Incidentally, Twitter has stopped blocking, at least for the terms I checked.)


Mar. 28th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"No matter how many times they come for trans folks, we will always fight. And seriously trans women & femmes of color lead the way. Always." -- Chase Strangio, 2017-03-20

[31 March is the annual International Transgender Day of Visibility. The week's quotes kinda have a theme.]


Mar. 27th, 2017 08:56 pm
thnidu: blank white robot/avatar sitting on big red question mark. via Google Images (question mark)
[personal profile] thnidu
This is my laundry hamper. It's lined with a laundry bag of some synthetic fabric. I came in just now from an afternoon of errands & stuff, took off my shoes, and, looking down, saw what looked like a black sock sticking out through one of the holes. But it isn't a sock.

Now, how the heck did that happen?

Read more... )

Library e-books

Mar. 27th, 2017 06:11 pm
madfilkentist: Photo of Carl (Default)
[personal profile] madfilkentist
I don't much like e-books that I can't keep. Till very recently, I'd never borrowed an e-book from a library. However, I figured it was a no-loss proposition, so I borrowed (if that's the right word, which I'm not convinced of) James Gleick's The Information from the Kingston Library, or actually from the state library. That's the book I found out about "Napoleon's Telegraph" from.

It's all a bit bizarre. For contractual, not technical, reasons, the library can only lend out so many copies at a time. The book expired today, as I was in the middle of reading a sentence. Just gone. It's rather appropriate that I was reading about entropy.

However, I was able to check it out again immediately. The hard part was getting it to put the book back on my "bookshelf" after checking it out. The Kingston Library uses an app called Overdrive. I'd say that Overdrive sucks, except that that insults sucking. As most of you know, I have a bit of experience with library software, and I've never encountered (or written) any this bad before.


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Joshua Kronengold

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