owenblacker + interesting   231

The Brown One, The Honey Eater, The Shaggy Coat, The Destroyer
In recent pre-historical and early historical times, bears are thought to have been more common in northern than in southern climes. The southern Indo-European tongues retain the old PIE word for bear, but different words for bear appear in the northern PIE language groups, like Germanic (which includes English, German, Dutch, and Swedish), Slavic (which includes Russian, Polish, and Czech), and Baltic (including Lithuanian, Latvian, and Old Prussian).

We know the common English word "bear" and its less common variant "bruin" (from Dutch "bruin", meaning brown. French "brun" and "brunette", also signify the color brown, though the French word for bear is, as we saw above, "ours"). The Dutch word for bear is "beer". In German, the word for bear is "baer" (now spelled "bär" with a-umlaut). In Old Norse, and its descendants Danish and Swedish, the corresponding bear word is "bjorn". These words appear in personal and family names and also in place names in Germanic speaking lands, for example "Berlin" in Prussia, "Berne" in Switzerland, "Brno" (German "Brunn") in Moravia in the former Czechoslovakia. All these words are derived from the PIE word *bher- = "brown". The Germanic speaking peoples, who inhabited and hunted in northern climes and were presumably in frequent contact with the bear, did not use its common name. Instead, they used a circumlocution: "the brown one", and this is reflected in the modern word for bear in all the Germanic languages. Linguists hypothesize that in old common Germanic, the true name of the bear was under a taboo -- not to be spoken directly. The exact details of the taboo are not known. Did it apply to hunters who were hunting the bear and did not want to warn it? Or to hunters hunting other animals and did not wanting to rile up the bear and have it steal their prey? Or did it apply to anyone who did not want to summon the bear by its name and perhaps become its prey? Whatever the details, the taboo worked so well that no trace of the original *rkto- word remains in Germanic languages, except as borrowed historically in learned words from Greek or Latin. The Greeks and Romans apparently had a more laid-back relationship with the bear, perhaps because there were relatively few encounters, and preserved the ancient name.

A similar taboo also operated in the Slavic languages, but a different circumlocution was used. The word for bear in Russian is "medved", and the same in Czech. In Polish, bear is a similar word "niedzwiedz", and in Old Church Slavonic, bear is "medvedi". All of these words mean something like "honey-eater" and are derived from the common Slavic words "medu" = "honey" (PIE *medhu-, from which we also get the English word "mead") plus "ed-" = "eat".

So, Slavic speakers, also living in northern climates and familiar with, and neighbors of, the bear, also showed circumspection by avoiding his name. They chose to call him by one of his habits rather by his color. The Baltic languages, related to the Slavic, with their speakers also living in northern regions close to those of the Slavs, also observed the taboo, but chose yet another characteristic for their circumlocution, calling the bear "lokys" in Lithuanian, "lacis" in Latvian, and "clokis" in Old Prussian, all of which are believed to be derived from *tlakis, meaning "hairy, shaggy", referring to the texture, rather than the color, of the bear's coat. We might imagine a debate between ancient Germans, Slavs, and Balts about whose circumlocution is better, but in such a debate, a person might slip up and utter the tabooed word for bear, and thus get into deep trouble. Maybe they never spoke about it.

And speaking of habits, there is also a suggestion that the original PIE word for bear, *rkso- (or its variants) is itself descriptive, meaning "destroyer (perhaps of beehives)", because a cognate word in Sanskrit is "rakshas", meaning "harm, injury". If the bear's standard PIE name did mean "destroyer", we can see why it would not have been used lightly by anyone familiar with the bear, for fear it might inspire or encourage the bear's destructive tendencies. Even today, we need only think of Yellowstone and Yosemite parks, and the shambles of a Ford or Toyota after a bear has torn it apart in a search for food, to know that "The Destroyer" is still an aptly descriptive moniker.
by:ChuckBigelow  language  euphemism  interesting 
july 2019 by owenblacker
The Tarot Cards Of Tech
From feeds full of fake news to smartphone adiction, we are all waking up to the unintended consequences of technology. We think it's time to ditch the Silicon Valley mantra, “Move fast and break things” for a new approach: Slow down and ask the right questions.

The Tarot Cards of Tech are a set of provocations designed to help creators more fully consider the impact of technology. They'll not only help you foresee unintended consequences — they can also reveal opportunities for creating positive change.
by:ArtefactGroup  design  interesting  technology  reference  work 
june 2019 by owenblacker
“So people are calling this gaslighting and I feel like while that's an important word to know and use, it doesn't really capture the full scope of what has happened with Trump and the truth…”
So people are calling this gaslighting and I feel like while that's an important word to know and use, it doesn't really capture the full scope of what has happened with Trump and the truth…
by:AlexandraErin  from:Twitter  DonaldTrump  cults  propaganda  SeanSpicer  interesting 
june 2019 by owenblacker
Smooth, angry, cool, powerful: how we talk about blackness
Teacher and writer Jeffrey Boakye has encountered endless labels – all of which have informed his experience of being black and British today. Here, he unpicks their meanings. Black, Listed: Black British Culture Explored by Jeffrey Boakye is published by Dialogue (£18.99).
by:JeffreyBoakye  from:TheGuardian  race  interesting  geo:UnitedKingdom 
april 2019 by owenblacker
Gay men in New York rate an undetectable viral load as less effective than PrEP
“If an HIV-negative man and an HIV-positive man have anal sex together without condoms, how much protection would the following strategies provide against HIV transmission?” Five strategies were presented.

◼ Daily PrEP: 70% believed this provided “a lot of” or “complete” protection. Current or former PrEP users were more likely to perceive this efficacy (86%) than other HIV-negative men (64%) or HIV-positive men (68%).
◼ Treatment as prevention (defined as, “the HIV-positive man maintains an undetectable viral load”): 39% believed it offered “a lot of” or “complete” protection. Ratings were higher among HIV-positive men (58%) and PrEP users (49%) than other HIV-negative men (28%).
◼ Intermittent PrEP (“the HIV-negative man takes PrEP/Truvada only soon before or after sex – like a day or two before and a day or two after”): 17% believed it offered protection.
◼ Strategic positioning (“the HIV-negative man limits himself to the top position and the positive man to the bottom position”): 16% said this would give “a lot of” or “complete” protection.
◼ Withdrawal (“if the HIV-positive man is the top, he makes sure to pull out before ejaculation”): 11% said this provided protection.
by:RogerPebody  from:NAMaidsmap  HIV/AIDS  PrEP  barebacking  TasP  geo:NewYork  interesting  health 
april 2019 by owenblacker
Library Rules: How to make an open office plan work
Libraries are full of people working, reading, thinking, studying, writing, contemplating, designing, etc. Yet they’re silent. People are heads down doing independent work. In our opinion, this is the model business, the model office. We pattern our way of working around Library Rules.

So this is the first lesson: Embrace Library Rules. Open offices work all around the world every day. They’re called libraries! And the more you treat your office as a library of work — rather than a chaotic kitchen of work — the better an open floor plan is going to work. Making an open floor plan work is a cultural decision.

Library Rules means keeping to yourself, keeping your voice down in hushed tones, not distracting one another. If you do need to talk to someone at normal volumes, grab a room. A key to making open floor plans work is also having private rooms scattered throughout the space. A place where a few people who need to discuss something in real time can jump in, talk it up and work it out without bothering anyone on the outside.
by:JasonFried  from:Medium  OpenPlan  work  interesting  Basecamp 
august 2018 by owenblacker
Color: From Hexcodes to Eyeballs
Why do we perceive background-color: #9B51E0 as this particular purple?

This is one of those questions where I thought I’d known the answer for a long time, but as I inspected my understanding, I realized there were pretty significant gaps.

Through an exploration of electromagnetic radiation, optical biology, colorimetry, and display hardware, I hope to start filling in some of these gaps.
by:JamieWong  colour  design  science  interesting 
april 2018 by owenblacker
Targeting Ads Without Creeping Out Your Customers
Next, we wanted to see what effect adherence to—or violation of—privacy norms would have on ad performance. So we divided participants in our study into three groups. In a simulation of acceptable, first-person sharing, one group first browsed a website; on that same site we later displayed an ad accompanied by the disclosure “You are seeing this ad based on the products you clicked on while browsing our website.” In a simulation of unacceptable, third-party sharing, another group browsed a website and then visited a second site, where we displayed an ad accompanied by the disclosure “You are seeing this ad based on the products you clicked on while browsing a third-party website.” The final group served as a control; like the other groups, these participants engaged in a browsing task and were then shown a targeted ad, but without a message. In all groups, we measured interest in purchasing the advertised product as well as the likelihood that participants would visit the advertiser’s website. Additionally, to understand how these three ad scenarios affected consumers’ attitudes, we asked all participants which they valued more: the personalization of ads or the privacy of their data.

We found that when unacceptable, third-party sharing had occurred, concerns about privacy outweighed people’s appreciation for ad personalization. Those attitudes in turn predicted interest in purchasing, which was approximately 24% lower in the group exposed to unacceptable sharing than in both the first-party sharing and the control groups—a clear indication of backlash.
We also found that when trust was high, disclosing acceptable flows actually boosted click-through rates. In a set of field experiments, we partnered with Maritz Motivation Solutions, which runs redemption websites for loyalty programs such as airline frequent-flier programs, a context in which consumer trust tends to be high. These sites use the same technology as the large e-commerce sites, except that the currency is points instead of money. In one experiment, when we revealed first-party sharing by telling shoppers that an advertisement was based on their activity on the site, click-through rates increased by 11%, the time spent viewing the advertised product rose by 34%, and revenue from the product grew by 38%.
In a novel experiment, MIT’s Catherine Tucker partnered with a nonprofit that advertised on Facebook. The nonprofit targeted 1.2 million Facebook users with calls to action such as “Help girls in East Africa change their lives through education.” For half those users, the ad was also personalized, openly invoking an attribute that a user had revealed on Facebook. For example, an ad might read, “As a fan of Beyoncé, you know that strong women matter,” if a user had liked the popular singer on Facebook. Midway through this experiment, Facebook instated new privacy features that gave users more control over their personal information (without changing the attributes that advertisers could use to target people). The social media platform allowed people to keep their connections private and to manage their privacy settings more easily. Before this policy change, the personalized ads did not perform particularly well; if anything, users were slightly less likely to click on them than on generic ads. After the change, however, the personalized ads were almost twice as effective as the generic ones. In other words, when consumers are given greater say over what happens with the information they’ve consciously shared, transparently incorporating it can actually increase ad performance.
Revealing why personal data has been used to generate ads can help consumers realize the upside of targeted ads. In one experiment by Tiffany Barnett White of the University of Illinois and her colleagues, a personalized ad by a movie rental company that invoked users’ physical locations backfired, but its performance improved when the copy explained why the physical location was important: The consumer was eligible for a service not available in all places. A commitment to provide justification can also foster appropriate use of data. If you have difficulty coming up with a good reason for the way you use consumers’ data, it should give you pause.
by:LeslieKJohn  by:TamiKim  by:KateBarasz  from:HarvardBusinessReview  marketing  advertising  surveillance  privacy  interesting 
january 2018 by owenblacker
Listening While Feminist: In Defense of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
The song sets up a story where the woman has dropped by her beau’s house on a cold winter night. They talk in the first verse about how long she’s going to stay. She has “another drink” and stays longer, and then later in the evening it’s implied that she’s going to sleep over.

If we look at the text of the song, the woman gives plenty of indication that she wants to stay the night. At the time period the song was written (1936), “good girls,” especially young, unmarried girls, did not spend the night at a man’s house unsupervised. The tension in the song comes from her own desire to stay and society’s expectations that she’ll go. We see this in the organization of the song — from stopping by for a visit, to deciding to push the line by staying longer, to wanting to spend the entire night, which is really pushing the bounds of acceptability.   Her beau in his repeated refrain “Baby, it’s cold outside” is offering her the excuses she needs to stay without guilt.
by:SlayBelle  from:Persephone  music  feminism  date:1930s  interesting  RapeCulture  winter  culture 
december 2017 by owenblacker
This Young Man Wants You To Know What It's Like Being Intersex
Doctors knew there was something different about Anick shortly after he was born. His penis was unusual – much smaller than most boys', and with an opening along the side. They explained what they could to his parents, but they didn’t know what it would mean, or what the future held.

They also could not foresee what shame would do to him, or how much he would have to fight when he couldn't bear the silence any more.

“I never thought that one day I’d be doing something like this,” says Anick, sitting in the BuzzFeed News office, “actually talking about what was originally the biggest secret of my life.”

He is here because he needs people to understand what it is to be intersex. Very few others in Britain have ever spoken publicly about it. He hopes that finally people will begin to discuss a basic fact of life: that a lot of people’s bodies are not entirely male or female. “I don’t want more children growing up the way I did – hiding it,” he says.
by:PatrickStrudwick  from:Buzzfeed  intersex  interesting  ethics  LGBTQ 
december 2017 by owenblacker
It's True: Alcohol Helps You Speak a Foreign Language Better
Each person was asked to have a casual, two-minute conversation with an interviewer in Dutch. Before that chat, half were given water to drink, while the other half were given an alcoholic beverage. The amount of booze varied based on the person’s weight, but for a 150-pound man, it was equivalent to just under a pint of beer.

The conversations were recorded and then scored by two native Dutch speakers who weren’t aware which people had consumed alcohol. The participants were also asked to self-score their own performances, based on how fluently they felt they’d spoken.

Unexpectedly, alcohol had no effect on the speakers’ self-ratings; those who’d had a drink weren’t any more confident or pleased with their performances than those who’d had water.

But they did perform better, according to those who listened to the recordings. Overall, the native Dutch speakers rated people in the alcohol group as having better fluency — specifically better pronunciation — than those in the water group. Ratings for grammar, vocabulary and argumentation were similar between groups.
by:AmandaMacMillan  from:Time  alcohol  interesting  language 
october 2017 by owenblacker
Climate symphony turns data into sound
Scientists and journalists constantly look for fresh ways to communicate the impacts of climate change. Visualisation of data is now well-known and widely practised. But a new project is doing something a little out of the ordinary: it’s turning climate data into sound.
The idea behind ‘Climate symphony’ is to translate hard data on climate change into a musical composition that engages the public — encouraging people to question their feelings and the stories behind the data, and create a conversation.
ClimateChange  music  miwsic  LeahBorromeo  JamiePerera  KatharineRound  interesting  visualisation  from:SciDevNet  by:AnitaMakri 
may 2017 by owenblacker
12 Old Words that Survived by Getting Fossilized in Idioms
English has changed a lot in the last several hundred years, and there are many words once used that we would no longer recognize today. For whatever reason, we started pronouncing them differently, or stopped using them entirely, and they became obsolete. There are some old words, however, that are nearly obsolete, but we still recognize because they were lucky enough to get stuck in set phrases that have lasted across the centuries. Here are 12 lucky words that survived by getting fossilized in idioms.
vocabulary  lang:English  interesting  via:SuwCharmanAnderson  from:MentalFloss 
april 2017 by owenblacker
HMA v Daniel Cieslak
At the High Court in Glasgow today, 17 March 2017, Lady Scott discharged Daniel Cieslak absolutely after the accused pled guilty to the rape of a 12-year-old girl.

On making the order for absolute discharge, Lady Scott made the following statement in court:

“Daniel Cieslak, you have pled guilty to a contravention of s18 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 namely the offence of the rape of a girl under the age of 13 years. You were 19 years old at the time.
from:JudiciaryOfScotland  StatutoryRape  SexualAssault  geo:Scotland  interesting  law 
march 2017 by owenblacker
Cindy Gallop on Why Advertising Needs to Get Over its Sex Problem
MakeLoveNotPorn founder on why authentic, honest sex is good for advertising and good for society
advertising  sex  sexism  pornography  datamining  interesting  by:CindyGallop  from:LittleBlackBook 
december 2016 by owenblacker
HP holiday ad starring deaf character hits sour note with disability advocates
"It's this narrative of 'I feel sorry for myself, I can't hear,' which is B.S.," said Tari Hartman Squire, founder and CEO of disability-inclusive, strategic marketing firm EIN SOF Communications. "I believe this ad is out of touch and did not engage the Deaf community in its creation."
Worse, the ad slighted the very community it's supposedly embracing by overlooking some basic factors, said the critics. "There are no captions, and the frame cuts off the signing between the two brothers," making it impossible for Deaf people to follow the conversation, said Squire. "It's sloppy at best, destructive at worst."

But HP and AMV BBDO, the company's AOR for its personal computer business, said they consulted the deaf community. Deaf actor Joshua Castille plays the main character, and the UK's Action on Hearing Loss (formerly Royal National Institute of the Deaf) advised on the script. Signing experts taught the actor who plays the musician brother to sign, so he could create an authentic bond with Castille on set.
disability  advertising  interesting  AMVBBDO  HewlettPackard  from:Campaign  by:KathrynLuttner 
november 2016 by owenblacker
My Complicated Relationship With White Privilege
I grew up in The Netherlands as a half-Dutch, half-Turkish person with a Turkish name. Being on the paler side of the Turkish spectrum, I’ve come across visually as a white person for most of my life. I say visually, because that distinction is fairly key: the experiences I had in phone calls with customers who only heard my name was noticeably different from the experiences I had with customers in person. That difference was racism.
As an example, I can walk around and, due to being perceived as essentially “just a white guy,” I will likely not experience any racial profiling, harassment or discrimination. People won’t ever call me a “thug” (or worse). I have what could be described as “passing privilege,” i.e. I pass for a white person, at face value, and benefit from the white privileges that work on a visual appearance-level.
This often stops being true the moment my name is introduced into the situation, however. For instance, I’ve very frequently gotten a “random” bag check the moment after my name shows up on the check-in attendant’s screen. (In one particular airport, I’ve got a 90% “random” check rate)
by:FarukAteş  from:Medium  race  privilege  culture  interesting 
november 2016 by owenblacker
Space Yourself
Did you ever take a walk through the entire Unicode table? No? You should. It is fascinating. It’s the history of our civilization expressed in typography. It might be organized in an arbitrary fashion and not explained well, but it’s all here: languages, cultures, concepts. Transport and Map Signals live next to Alchemical Symbols. Emoji share the screen with Counting Rod Numerals. Currency Symbols will make you want to explore the financial world, and Miscellaneous Technical to become an engineer. There are failed alphabet experiments and head-scratchers such as incomplete infinity. And, on a different page, you will find VCR playback symbols hanging out with a snowman. That must be one hell of a party.

A lot of typographical history is here, too. You can travel back in time with Dingbats, try to decipher the mysteries of Letterlike Symbols, and compare what must be about a dozen dashes – each, like the one your eyes just glanced at, with a specific purpose.

Spaces are here, too. There’s the one with an agent good enough to have gotten it the biggest key on everyone’s keyboard, but there are many more: the very narrow hair and thin spaces, the super-wide en and em spaces, and a few others in between
by:MarcinWichary  from:SmashingMagazine  Unicode  typography  interesting  reference 
november 2016 by owenblacker
The Plan to Save a Life by Head Transplant - The Atlantic
Repairing spinal cords is just one part of a larger, much more audacious project that Ren and a surgeon in Italy are leading. Clues to their plan can be seen on the walls of Ren’s lab. Had the mouse on the operating table raised its red eyes, it would have seen three seemingly unrelated posters. The first shows two mice: a black mouse with a white head and a white mouse with a black head. The second shows a monkey with thick zigzag stitches circling its neck, like a choker necklace. The third shows a tiny Russian man in a wheelchair.
transplantation  breakthrough  interesting  by:SamLean  from:TheAtlantic 
august 2016 by owenblacker
Sham Poo Washes Out: Fecal Transplant Pill Fails Clinical Trial
This continued for months. “The chief hospital administrator discovered what was up,” Falkow later wrote. “He confronted me and exclaimed: Falkow, is it true you’ve been feeding the patients shit?” Yes, Falkow confessed, and was fired—only to be re-hired two days later.
health  interesting  via:JennyBlacker  from:TheAtlantic  by:EdYong 
august 2016 by owenblacker
Micro-targeted digital porn is changing human sexuality | Aeon Essays
That transsexual gangbang you fapped to last night? That high-def rosebud you clicked on? They probably didn’t just float to the top of some indiscriminate data dump to reach your attention. You saw them because producers and distributors are fitfully learning to harness big data. The desire stew that you dumped into a site’s search bar: they probably recorded and learned from it. Data on what we search for, pay for and click on is being used to predict our desires and funnel us bespoke(ish) porn.

At first blush, it might seem like this kind of micro-targeting would just turbo-boost the internet’s existing trajectory, making it even easier for people to find and embrace a diversity of bodies and fetishes. But there’s a fundamental shift here from a world in which we explore a passive sea of content to a world in which porn actively explores and prescribes itself to us. Because this shift stems from deep financial upheaval in the adult industry, the content pushed upon us will likely increasingly reflect what is most profitable, not what is most widely desirable. It could well become narrowing, or at least channelling, rather than broadening.
by:MarkHay  from:Aeon  pornography  datamining  interesting 
july 2016 by owenblacker
Drone privacy is about much more than sunbathing teenage daughters.
By 2012, however, five justices understood that using GPS technology to persistently track somebody’s location over nearly a month, even in public places, and even though GPS technology is certainly in widespread public use, could violate a reasonable expectation of privacy and thus the Fourth Amendment. These justices recognized that we calibrate behavior based on the assumption that it’s just too hard or too expensive for someone to follow us that consistently, over that amount of time. And persistent tracking over time and space can disclose sensitive information, such as religious beliefs, or sexual or political preferences.

The Fourth Amendment applies to law enforcement, not to private actors. But current developments provide better ways of thinking about data-gathering technologies such as drones. Like GPS, drones make it cheaper and easier for creepy neighbors to follow someone over an extended period of time. Like thermal imaging (and sometimes using thermal imaging), they make the physical barriers that we rely on less effective. Drones pose a hybrid of information and spatial privacy problems. That hybrid of issues is increasingly the problem of this age.
privacy  drones  interesting  from:Slate  by:MargotEKaminski 
may 2016 by owenblacker
What if Shakespeare HAD written Old English?
Whenever I tell people I study and teach Old English, they react by feeding me their favourite lines of Shakespeare, noting that it is very difficult indeed: “Is this a dagger I see before me? Alas, poor Yorick! Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”. Indeed, as a little search on Twitter (see the image at the bottom of this post) indicates, the association between William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and Old English (ca 45o-1100) is a widespread myth that deserves to be busted. What better way to do so, than to imagine what it would look like if William Shakespeare HAD written Old English? This blog features my own very first translation of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets into Old English.
lang:English  lang:OldEnglish  Shakespeare  interesting  linguistics 
april 2016 by owenblacker
The Language Construction Kit
This set of webpages (what’s a set of webpages? a webchapter?) is intended for anyone who wants to create artificial languages— for a fantasy or an alien world, as a hobby, as an interlanguage. It presents linguistically sound methods for creating naturalistic languages— which can be reversed to create non-naturalistic languages. It suggests further reading for those who want to know more, and shortcuts for those who want to know less.
reference  conlang  interesting  language 
march 2016 by owenblacker
After the Big One
The chances of a 9.0 earthquake slamming the Pacific Northwest are disturbingly high. Introducing a novel way to engage the threat: reported science fiction.
from:Motherboard  earthquake  geo:Portland  interesting  disaster  by:AdamRothstein 
march 2016 by owenblacker
The End of the Establishment?
A respected political insider recently told me most Americans are largely content. “The economy is in good shape,” he said. “Most Americans are better off than they’ve been in years. The problem has been the major candidates themselves.” ¶ I beg to differ. ¶ Economic indicators may be up but they don’t reflect the economic insecurity most Americans still feel, nor the seeming arbitrariness and unfairness they experience. ¶ Nor do the major indicators show the linkages Americans see between wealth and power, crony capitalism, declining real wages, soaring CEO pay, and a billionaire class that’s turning our democracy into an oligarchy.
by:RobertReich  Establishment  politics  geo:UnitedStates  interesting  DonaldTrump  BernieSanders  HillaryClinton  JebBush  USElection2016 
february 2016 by owenblacker
Toki Pona: A Language With a Hundred Words
“It is by metaphor that language grows,” writes the psychologist Julian Jaynes. “The common reply to the question ‘What is it?’ is, when the reply is difficult or the experience unique, ‘Well, it is like —.’”
conlang  lang:TokiPona  lang:Ithkuil  psychology  interesting  via:SuwCharmanAnderson  by:RocMorin  from:TheAtlantic  language 
february 2016 by owenblacker
Trans Activists, Don’t Throw Mad People Under The Bus!
These victories form part of a process of depathologizing trans identities which parallels the depathologization of gay identities between the 1960s and the present day, and looks to it for inspiration. Fewer and fewer people think of homosexuality as a mental illness, and it is becoming rarer for gay people to be forced into the supervision of psychologists, or for doctors to attempt to cure them, electroshock them, or interrogate their desires and choices. Trans activists have been working for a similar transformation in treatment of trans people. ¶ What trans activists need to be careful of, as we begin to win this fight, is this: that we don’t also imitate gay activists in throwing mad people under the bus in the interests of respectability.
transgender  gender  MentalHealth  oppression  interesting  from:Feministing  by:CatFitzpatrick  LGBTQ 
february 2016 by owenblacker
Why Good People Ghost: The Rise of a Dishonest Dating Culture
My commentary: Wow. And I thought being a poly gay guy just failing to get round to getting laid sucked. This straight(ish), mono(ish), presumably-cis dating business songs like loads of not fun. At least slut-shaming is (a bit) less of a think for us queer types. (Apparently ghosting is when someone just falls off the face of the earth, rather than having the decency to break up with someone, even if it's only after a few not-so-serious dates.)
relationships  society  via:RossPhillips  interesting  monogamy  heterosexuality  SlutShaming  from:ThoughtCatalog  by:HeidiPriebe 
january 2016 by owenblacker
George Soros: "Europe Is On The Verge Of Collapse" | Zero Hedge
Interesting interview. "The campaign for the Brexit has deliberately misled the public. Currently, Britain has the best of all possible deals with Europe. It has access to the common market where nearly half of UK exports go while it is not weighed down by the burden of having joined the eurozone." and "The Soviet Union has been replaced by a resurgent Russia and the European Union has come to be dominated by the forces of nationalism. The open society that both Merkel and I believe in because of our personal histories, and that the reformers of the new Ukraine want to join because of their personal histories, does not really exist. The European Union was meant to be a voluntary association of equals but the euro crisis turned it into a relationship between debtors and creditors where the debtors have difficulties in meeting their obligations and the creditors set the conditions that the debtors have to meet. That relationship is neither voluntary nor equal. The migration crisis introduced other fissures. Therefore, the very survival of the EU is at risk."
GeorgeSoros  geo:EuropeanUnion  interesting  from:ZeroHedge 
january 2016 by owenblacker
Unionist Assembly member writes in January An Phoblacht on the challenges of the ‘Decade of Centenaries’
Unionism and Republicanism both have a responsibility to demonstrate a spirit of generosity if a greater, more authentic reconciliation is to be achieved in the “Decade of Centenaries”, writes unionist Assembly member John McCallister in the January issue of An Phoblacht. ¶ The former deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party says that the “Decade of Centenaries” – including the Ulster Covenant of 1912, the outbreak of the First World War, the 1916 Easter Rising and Battle of the Somme, the first meeting of Dáil Éireann in 1919, the Government of Ireland Act 1920, the first meeting of the Stormont Parliament in 1921 – “poses significant challenges both for unionists and republicans”.
geo:Ireland  geo:NorthernIreland  history  from:AnPhoblacht  politics  interesting  by:JohnHedges  JohnMcCallister 
january 2016 by owenblacker
Bombing Syria Considered Stupid
Once the scale of the atrocity was clear certain responses became inevitable. President Francois Hollande of France is facing re-election in early 2017, 18 months out, and he is both relatively unpopular and threatened by Marine le Pen, leader of the anti-immigrant, racist, neo-fascist National Front. Failing to go Full Bush on those to blame for the massacres—in this case, ISIL/Da'esh—would be electoral suicide, and so within days France sent its nuclear carrier battle group in the direction of Syria. Aide Memoire: do not fuck with the French, they have a centuries-long history of being an aggressively expansionist imperial power. Their collapse during the second world war was an historical aberration arising from the scale of their war dead a generation earlier (8% of total male population killed, many more injured; compare that to the ~2% death toll of the US Civil War)
by:CharlesStross  geopolitics  geo:Syria  geo:Turkey  geo:Russia  geo:France  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  war  WW2  interesting  from:CharlesStross  geo:Kurdistan  geo:NearEast 
december 2015 by owenblacker
The secret design of “The Traitor Baru Cormorant”
Here are all my secrets.

A few months ago I sold a long essay about my goals in The Traitor Baru Cormorant—artistic goals, yeah, but also human goals. Hopes for what the book might achieve.

I canceled that essay before it ran. I felt like I had to let the book speak for itself.

Being an author carries a strange hollow weight. You must, at times, pretend to be no one. Readers couldn’t discuss a book if they saw that book as a human being. So there’s a barrier we have to maintain between author, text, and audience, a barrier of impersonality and remove.

If you don’t want to know anything about what I was thinking when I wrote this book, turn back now.

If you do, I’ve drawn out a few of the core points below.
BaruCormorant  literature  metafiction  by:SethDickinson  via:SethDickinson  interesting  race  gender  sexuality  imperialism 
december 2015 by owenblacker
What I learned about languages just by looking at a Turkish typewriter
Turkey decided to do something different. In 1955, following decade-long rigorous analysis of the language and studies of typing (including taking x-rays of muscles within fingers), the new “F layout” was introduced and eventually enforced as a national standard, at great difficulty and expense. The new layout had nothing in common with Q·W·E·R·T·Y. It was ergonomically superior, and measured to be up to twice as fast in typing; Turkey went on to break dozens of world records in typewriting championships before the end of century.
by:MarcinWichary  from:Medium  lang:Turkish  lang:English  keyboard  interesting  language 
october 2015 by owenblacker
It is time to end traditional trade unions and replace them with New Unions
So if we abandon the traditional mission of achieving socialism through political action, what can unions actually do to help their members earn more, now and in the future? One place to look for insight is 15th Century Italy, in Florence. Modern capitalism started in Florence.  It invented investment banking, merchants, the industrial city, patents, trademarks and the trade union. The Florentine union, or “guild” as it was known in the 15th Century, was much more powerful than a modern trade union. The guilds incorporated the city’s businesses and nominated the city’s government. They trained workers, organised trade, protected intellectual property, provided welfare to members’ families and support services (like watchmen) to members’ businesses. Becoming a member of a guild was the route to a skill (through the apprenticeship route to master or even grandmaster level) and to a commercial income (through the protection a licence offered against competition). It was also the route to social and political status. There were 3 levels of guild – Arti Maggiori (the 7 major guilds like lawyers, bankers and doctors); Arti Mediane (the 5 middle guilds like butchers, masons and smiths); Arti Minori (the 9 minor guilds of inn keepers, carpenters, bakers and wine sellers). But the majority of the population (the Minute Populo) were not even allowed to form or join a guild. This included skilled workers like weavers and boatmen who all remained waged staff. To cut a long story short, the Arti Maggiore became all powerful.
by:PaulKirby  via:JasonKitcat  TradesUnions  FlorentineGuilds  economics  interesting  mutualism 
october 2015 by owenblacker
Unbuilt London: Straightening the River Thames
The River Thames is a rather curvy beast, especially around the Isle of Dogs, but had a plan in 1796 been carried out, it would be considerably straighter. ¶ The big problem that was to be solved was that sailing ships were constrained by the wind conditions, and moved comparatively slowly, so navigating around the loop of the Isle of Dogs took some considerable time. So why not get rid of it altogether?
geo:London  Thames  geo:Docklands  by:IanMansfield  from:IanVisits  interesting 
october 2015 by owenblacker
Hong Kong's border war over 'green buffer' - CNN.com
Sandwiched between Hong Kong and Shenzhen—two of the world's busiest metropolises—lies a Cold War-era anomaly: a 26 km² green zone that is home to isolated villages, fishponds and flocks of migratory birds.
geo:HongKong  border  interesting  from:CNN  by:PeterShadblot 
september 2015 by owenblacker
Almost None of the Women in the Ashley Madison Database Ever Used the Site
Overall, the picture is grim indeed. Out of 5.5 million female accounts, roughly zero percent had ever shown any kind of activity at all, after the day they were created. ¶ The men’s accounts tell a story of lively engagement with the site, with over 20 million men hopefully looking at their inboxes, and over 10 million of them initiating chats. The women’s accounts show so little activity that they might as well not be there. ¶ Sure, some of these inactive accounts were probably created by real, live women (or men pretending to be women) who were curious to see what the site was about. Some probably wanted to find their cheating husbands. Others were no doubt curious journalists like me. But they were still overwhelmingly inactive. They were not created by women wanting to hook up with married men. They were static profiles full of dead data, whose sole purpose was to make men think that millions of women were active on Ashley Madison.
by:AnnaleeNewitz  by:CarlosAguilar  by:JoshLaurito  from:Gizmodo  AshleyMadison  hack  analysis  fraud  interesting 
august 2015 by owenblacker
A heretical thought: the Federation has no need for Star Fleet
A heretical thought I have had about Star Trek: the Federation has no need for Star Fleet. They're fantastically wealthy and cannot meaningfully gain from trade in physical items. They're not just singularity-esque wealthy relative to the present-day US, they're equally more secure. Nobody kills mass numbers of Federation citizens. That occasionally happens on poor planets elsewhere. Sucks but hey poverty sucks.

So why have a Star Fleet? Because Jean Luc Picard is a Federation citizen, and he wouldn't be happy as other than a starship captain. It's a galaxy-spanning Potemkin village to make him happy. Why would they do that? You're thinking like a poor person. Think like an unfathomably rich person They do it because they can afford to. He might have had a cheaper hobby, like say watching classic TV shows, but the Federation is so wealthy that Starfleet and a TV set both round to zero.
StarTrek  culture  SpeculativeFiction  funny  interesting  LARP  from:Ycombinator 
august 2015 by owenblacker
Machine-Learning Algorithm Mines Rap Lyrics, Then Writes Its Own
The highly structured nature of rap makes it particularly amenable to computer analysis. And that raises an interesting question: if computers can analyze rap lyrics, can they also generate them? ¶ Today, we get an affirmative answer thanks to the work of Eric Malmi at the University of Aalto in Finland and few pals. These guys have trained a machine-learning algorithm to recognize the salient features of a few lines of rap and then choose another line that rhymes in the same way on the same topic. The result is an algorithm that produces rap lyrics that rival human-generated ones for their complexity of rhyme.
from:MitTechnologyReview  music  rap  interesting  MachineLearning 
july 2015 by owenblacker
Farewell to America
For the past couple of years the summers, like hurricanes, have had names. Not single names like Katrina or Floyd – but full names like Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown. Like hurricanes, their arrival was both predictable and predicted, and yet somehow, when they landed, the effect was still shocking. ¶ We do not yet know the name that will be attached to this particular season. He is still out there, playing Call of Duty, finding a way to feed his family or working to pay off his student loans. He (and it probably will be a he) has no idea that his days are numbered; and we have no idea what the number of those days will be.
long-read  by:GaryYounge  from:TheGuardian  race  society  geo:UnitedStates  interesting 
july 2015 by owenblacker
Jonathan Ive and the Future of Apple
“So much of our manufactured environment testifies to carelessness,” Ive says. Things are “developed to be different, not better.”
JonyIve  IndustrialDesign  design  from:TheNewYorker  technology  Apple  interesting 
june 2015 by owenblacker
An essay on digital identity and democracy
An introduction to how public-key cryptography can change everything and nothing all at the same time.
by:MoMcRoberts  e-voting  crypto  interesting  from:Medium 
may 2015 by owenblacker
The insider’s guide to Westminster: from Portcullis House to the Burma Road
Next week the new MPs will take up their seats in the Commons. For the lost or confused, John Crace gives his definitive guide to the Westminster house rules
by:JohnCrace  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  Parliament  from:TheGuardian  interesting  culture 
may 2015 by owenblacker
Where Labour went wrong – and what we must do to put it right
In spite of our superior ground operation and the tremendous efforts of members and candidates, Thursday was a devastating result for Labour. Ed Miliband had put his finger on one of the biggest issues of our time: the need for prosperity to extend beyond the top 1%. He had grown in stature over the campaign. The Tories were seen as out of touch and for the few. Yet they ended up with a majority. We won 100 fewer seats than them: our worst election performance in almost three decades. Ed was too hard on himself in assuming all the responsibility for the scale of our defeat; all of us on the front line are implicated. So, as the dust settles, on the result it’s time to confront things which, in retrospect, we should have done years ago. As a political family, we are in shock, but must channel our disappointment into the work of rebuilding and renewal. That starts with having an honest look in the mirror and asking: why did we lose?
by:ChukaUmunna  Labour  GeneralElection  GeneralElection2015  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  interesting  inequality 
may 2015 by owenblacker
Election Aesthetics: In Praise of the Polling Station: Analogue Non-Design
“Nobody has ever asked me that before,” said the surprised person at the Electoral Commission. I’d called to ask about polling booths – those flimsy softwood-and-plywood folding arrangements, each equipped with its stubby pencil on a string, at which one stands to vote in UK elections. They appear to be precisely designed: room for just one person, the side screens discouraging overlooking, each one a tiny lectern at pretty much the right height, linked either in cruciform pattern or in rows. Ultra-basic but utterly fit for purpose, they have not changed in my lifetime – with the important exception of a low one now being mandatory at all polling stations for those needing it - and, so far as I can tell from archive photos, go back much further. Are there national design guidelines for these? Does a factory somewhere make them, or are they knocked together by local municipal workers from a manual?
politics  design  via:JamesHeaver  interesting  also:Pinterest 
may 2015 by owenblacker
Microsoft at middle age: Opening Windows
Today the rules are different in Redmond. The new boss who took over last year, Satya Nadella (pictured, centre, with Mr Gates to the left and Mr Ballmer on the right), recoils when he hears the term “strategy tax” and says he now tells his staff simply to “build stuff that people like”. Some of the things he has done would surely have been seen by his two predecessors as “fuck Windows” strategies. Office, the company’s popular suite of word-processing, spreadsheet and other applications, now runs on mobile devices that use competing operating systems. The company is embracing free, “open-source” software, which it used to regard as anathema. At an event in San Francisco last October Mr Nadella showed a slide that read: “Microsoft loves Linux”. In contrast, Mr Ballmer once called the open-source operating system a “cancer”. ¶¶ Yet Mr Nadella’s biggest achievement so far is that he has given Microsoft a coherent purpose in life, as it enters its fifth decade. He sums it up in two mottos. One is “mobile first, cloud first”: since these are where the growth is going to come from, all new products need to be developed for them. The other is “platforms and productivity”. Windows is still an important platform, and Office still an important set of productivity tools. But Azure is an increasingly significant, and more flexible, platform. And among a new range of productivity applications Microsoft offers is Cortana, an intelligent personal assistant much like Apple’s Siri and Google Now. It already recognises natural language, answers questions and issues reminders; in future it will increasingly anticipate what a user needs, for instance by pulling together the documents for a meeting.
Microsoft  technology  from:TheEconomist  by:TheEconomist  interesting  via:Medium 
april 2015 by owenblacker
A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Doge. Wow.
If you spend time on the meme-ish corners of the internet, you’ve probably noticed a certain trend in captioning pictures of shiba inus, known as doge, although there’s considerable disagreement about how to pronounce the word itself. ¶ You’ll notice that unlike the LOLcats of yesteryear (which have actually had a thesis and an academic paper written about them), the font choice is Comic Sans instead of Impact, multiple fluorescent colours instead of white with a black border, and all lowercase instead of all caps. Spelling overall is quite standard, which is very different from classic internet memes (more on this later). ¶ Although the meme started with words on top of a picture of a shiba inu, and this is still the form that’s been commented on by linguists, io9, and knowyourmeme alike, doge speak has become famous enough that it’s recognizable when it violates these constraints.
doge  interesting  via:Medium  by:GretchenMcCulloch  language 
march 2015 by owenblacker
American democracy is doomed
The idea that America's constitutional system might be fundamentally flawed cuts deeply against the grain of our political culture. But the reality is that despite its durability, it has rarely functioned well by the standards of a modern democracy. The party system of the Gilded Age operated through systematic corruption. The less polarized era that followed was built on the systematic disenfranchisement of African-Americans. The newer system of more ideological politics has solved those problems and seems in many ways more attractive. But over the past 25 years, it's set America on a course of paralysis and crisis — government shutdowns, impeachment, debt ceiling crises, and constitutional hardball. Voters, understandably, are increasingly dissatisfied with the results and confidence in American institutions has been generally low and falling. But rather than leading to change, the dissatisfaction has tended to yield wild electoral swings that exacerbate the sense of permanent crisis.
geo:UnitedStates  politics  democracy  interesting  long-read  from:Vox  by:MatthewYglesias 
march 2015 by owenblacker
Butter Tea from Tibet
Butter tea, known as Po cha in Tibet, is made from churning tea, salt and yak butter. The tea used is a particularly potent, smoky type of brick tea from Pemagul, Tibet. A portion of this brick tea is crumbled into water and boiled for hours to produce a smoky, bitter brew called chaku. This is then stored until used to make butter tea. To make a serving of Po cha, some of the chaku is poured in a wooden cylindrical churn called a chandong, along with a hunk of yak butter and salt and churned for a couple of minutes before serving. ¶ The authentic ingredients used to make po cha are hard to be found outside Tibet, but you can still get a close taste using the following recipe
ButterTea  food  recipes  interesting  geo:Tibet 
march 2015 by owenblacker
Why Did Human History Unfold Differently On Different Continents For The Last 13,000 Years?
"As we all know, Eurasians, especially peoples of Europe and eastern Asia, have spread around the globe, to dominate the modern world in wealth and power. Other peoples, including most Africans, survived, and have thrown off European domination but remain behind in wealth and power. Still other peoples, including the original inhabitants of Australia, the Americas, and southern Africa, are no longer even masters of their own lands but have been decimated, subjugated, or exterminated by European colonialists. Why did history turn out that way, instead of the opposite way? Why weren't Native Americans, Africans, and Aboriginal Australians the ones who conquered or exterminated Europeans and Asians?" Jared Diamond reduces Guns, Germs and Steel into a talk.
JaredDiamond  society  development  interesting  via:JamesHeaver  by:JaredDiamond 
february 2015 by owenblacker
Welcome to Earth: population 500 million
"It’s also instructive to look back at the last time Earth was inhabited by 500 million humans, in the 17th century, coincidentally also a time of tremendous climate-induced upheavals. ... Historians have called this era the General Crisis because wars raged almost non-stop across the globe, including the Thirty Years War, and the collapse of the Ming Dynasty in China and the Stuart monarchy in England. But it was also the century when the Little Ice Age was most intense, leading to a cooling of the entire planet, although it was felt most keenly in the northern hemisphere where most people lived. The extreme weather shift was behind most of the crises that occurred during the 17th century: colder weather, with many more episodes of storm-generating El Niños, contributed to flooding, crop failures, drought and famine, leading to civil unrest, rebellions and war.... The prolonged crisis weakened once-dominant states such as Spain, Russia and the Ottoman Empire, and left about a third of the population dead. ‘Certainly, the Global Crisis ended prematurely the lives of millions of people, just as a natural catastrophe of similar proportions today would end prematurely the lives of billions of people,’ "
by:LindaMarsa  from:Aeon  ClimateChange  SpeculativeFiction  interesting  environment  GreatCrisis  date:1600s  date:2100s 
february 2015 by owenblacker
What ISIS Really Wants
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
Islam  apocalypse  Daesh  from:TheAtlantic  via:JamesHeaver  interesting  long-read  ISIL  ISIS  MusaCerantonio  religion  geo:Mesopotamia  geo:NearEast  caliphate  AnjemChoudary  politics 
february 2015 by owenblacker
Unihan Readings, Unicode version 6.3.0
RT @Dymaxion: Via @vruba, there's a Chinese dictionary embedded in the Unicode spec for disambiguation: http://t.co/UpLTVtmizw
via:EleanorSaitta  lang:Chinese  Unicode  interesting  language 
february 2015 by owenblacker
HBO's 'Looking' Now Stars a Bear With a 'House in Virginia'
All was answered in a scene the next morning, when Agustin replayed the night's shenanigans to his friends, saying that Eddie is "a big bear who cares about trans people and has a house in Virginia." When a friend asked about the house, it's explained that the phrase is slang for being HIV positive. And then something miraculous happened: No one freaked out! All the characters took the information in stride and then conversation about the party continued. I found that refreshing, especially in light of news that Eddie will be a recurring character, as will issues of HIV.
by:TrentonStraube  HIV/AIDS  Looking  journalism  interesting  from:Poz.com 
january 2015 by owenblacker
The top-viewed Wikipedia page for every day of 2014 - Quartz
Wikipedia is the internet’s first stop for fast familiarization. Quartz has analyzed English-language Wikipedia data from 2014 to find out how the things people want to learn about change day to day. The interactive graphic below shows the top-viewed page for every day of last year. Some top pages: Cher, Cremation, Daft Punk, Amazon.com, Denial, Impossible colors, Brown v. Board of Education.
Wikipedia  interesting  infographic  from:Quartz  date:2014 
january 2015 by owenblacker
The CDC Dives Into the Great American Circumcision Debate
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is weighing whether to make its first-ever recommendations on the sensitive and divisive subject of male circumcision. On December 2, the federal agency issued a draft proposal that, if put into effect, would advise clinicians to counsel men, boys and expectant parents that removing the penis’s foreskin reduces the risk of female-to-male transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as a number of other health problems.
by:BenjaminRyan  from:Poz.com  circumcision  HIV/AIDS  epidemiology  geo:UnitedStates  geo:Kenya  interesting 
january 2015 by owenblacker
Reporting on Suicide Notes
Take this situation; we have two sets of well-intentioned people – one set want to bring wider light to a story in the hope of saving lives, the other set think this is dangerous because telling this story could kill more people. This is important stuff, who is right? Here are the key questions. The Samaritans explicitly state their guidelines are only advisory; has suicide contagion been demonstrated to such an extent that there can be no exceptions to guidance? I'd argue not. Is there any evidence suggesting suicide notes in particular cause harm? Again, the answer's no. By all means, be concerned – but let's not pretend anyone knows which course of action saves more lives.
suicide  psychology  interesting  by:AlexParsons  Samaritans  journalism 
january 2015 by owenblacker
Polity IV Project: Individual country regime trends, 1946–2013
Annual Polity scores have been plotted for each of the 167 countries currently covered by the Polity IV data series for the period 1946–2013 (trend graphs are also included with the Polity IV 2010 Country Reports). This version of the Polity Country Trend graphs display periods of "factionalism" and important Polity change events, including autocratic backsliding, executive auto-coup or autogolpe, revolution, collapse of central authority (state failure), and successful military coups. Click on the country of interest in the "Regimes by Type 2013" map directly below (or table following) to view that country's contemporary regime trend
politics  democracy  reference  peace  war  interesting 
january 2015 by owenblacker
I Don't Know What to Do With Good White People
A year ago, outside the Orange County airport, a white woman cut in front of me at the luggage check. She had been standing next to me, and soon as the luggage handlers called next, she swooped up her things and went to the counter. She'd cut me because I was black. Or maybe because I was young. Maybe she was running late for her flight or maybe she was just rude. She would've cut me if I had been a white woman like her. She would've cut me if I had been anyone. Of course, the woman ended up on my flight, and of course, she was seated right next to me. ¶ Before the flight took off, she turned to me and said, "I'm sorry if I cut you earlier. I didn't see you standing there." I often hear good white people ask why people of color must make everything about race, as if we enjoy considering racism as a motivation. I wish I never had to cycle through these small interactions and wonder: Am I overthinking? Am I just being paranoid? It's exhausting. "It was a lot simpler in the rural South," my mother tells me. "White people let you know right away where you stood."
race  society  police  policebrutality  geo:UnitedStates  geo:Ferguson_MO  interesting 
december 2014 by owenblacker
Fallen London Test Piece · Failbetter Games
Failbetter Games are an awesome company, who created and build upon the interactive narrative fantasy game Fallen London, "a highly-acclaimed Victorian fantasy RPG set in a unique subterranean city". A central part of their hiring process is to get candidates to: "Create a very short piece of choice-based interactive fiction set in the world of Fallen London, entitled ‘The Last Voyage of the Cinnabar‘. Please provide 3-5 nodes/scenes/storylets with at least two choices each. Use at least one variable/quality to track or control outcomes." They've left entire task explanation online.
recruitment  games  interesting  via:Medium  FailbetterGames  FallenLondon  copywriting  InteractiveStorytelling 
december 2014 by owenblacker
On the Origin of the ‘Name’ DAESH – The Islamic State in Iraq and as-Shām
It seems more and more Western media are using the derogatory DAESH when they’re talking about the Islamic State in Iraq and as-Shām (commonly known as ISIS). As nobody seems to have the faintest idea what DAESH stands for, here’s an attempt to explain. The capitals in the word DAESH point out it is an acronym of some sort. And indeed if we single out the beginning letters of the Arabic name for ISIS : الدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشام we get the Arabic: داعش
Daesh  ISIL  ISIS  etymology  interesting  geo:Iraq  geo:Syria  by:PieterVanOstaeyen 
december 2014 by owenblacker
Peak oil and the Fall of the Soviet Union: Lessons on the 20th Anniversary of the Collapse
The causes of the fall of the Soviet Union are thought to be inefficiency and the Soviet response to the Reagan Administration’s military buildup of the early 1980s. However, a more plausible explanation is the decline in Soviet oil production caused by peak oil. This gives the world an example of a modern economy confronted by peak oil and what lessons we can learn from it.
geo:SovietUnion  collapse  peakoil  interesting 
december 2014 by owenblacker
The Prophet's Work - Civilization: Beyond Earth
In this column, Dear Readers, I have enjoyed pillorying the so-called great figures of the day. The fatuous and frequently hypocritical sots who set themselves up as emissaries of god (or just cut out the spiritual middlemen and claim divinity for themselves) have been my favorite targets. By far the boldest claims I had ever planned to debunk were waiting for me in New Delhi: The mystic Kavitha Thakur, daughter of self-described syncretic guru Raj Thakur. Born supposedly 17 years prior to The Great Mistake and yet here she stands today – 200 years later – looking like she’s in the prime of life. I either needed her youthful secrets or to tear down the Kavithan façade. Or both.
InteractiveStorytelling  Civilization  games  via:FarukAteş  interesting  SidMeier 
december 2014 by owenblacker
A behind the scenes look at the Wikimedia Foundation’s emergency response system « Wikimedia blog
Threats of violence or self-harm are a sad, but luckily relatively uncommon, event on our projects. The English Wikipedia community has developed a process for handling them, as have a number of other projects. The emergency email address serves to help protect the public and users of Wikipedia, and the community advocacy team responds to these as part of our regular duties. We process threats of violence against self and others posted on WMF sites, running them through a protocol developed in consultation with the FBI. When a threat is credible and imminent according to the reporting criteria, we pass it along to federal or local authorities. This has brought us into contact with law enforcement around the world.
Wikipedia  emergency  suicide  terrorism  police  interesting  from:Wikipedia 
december 2014 by owenblacker
If These Walls Could Talk :: HIV Equal
"I’m a hard working Truvada Whore. My day job is at an HIV/AIDS non-profit as an HIV test counselor/recruiter, and my night job is at a sex club. Yes, a private club where dudes go to have sex. Isn’t that perfect? Sometimes I test someone for HIV in the afternoon, and then not two hours later, greet them as they enter my glory hole palace. You can’t make this stuff up! "I love being able to talk to people about PrEP at both of my jobs. Gay dudes have a lot of questions about it, and rightfully so. This is all very new and groundbreaking information. Most people I talk to these days have vaguely heard something about PrEP or Truvada out there in the world. When I’m doing HIV test counseling with my #TruvadaWhore t-shirt on, it often sparks a topic of conversation that the client might not have otherwise felt comfortable bringing up."
PrEP  interesting  from:HIVEqual  by:AdamZeboski  HIV/AIDS 
december 2014 by owenblacker
Pedro Leaves Us Breathless - by Hal Rubenstein
How a nice Cuban boy from the suburbs of Miami becomes a nationally respected AIDS activist, gets on MTV's muy hot true-life soap, The Real World and winds up America's summer heartthrob
PedroZamora  date:1994  HIV/AIDS  from:Poz.com  interesting  interview  ChildAbuse  geo:UnitedStates  MTV  by:HalRubenstein 
november 2014 by owenblacker
The High Frontier, Redux
As Bruce Sterling has puts it: "I'll believe in people settling Mars at about the same time I see people settling the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert is about a thousand times as hospitable as Mars and five hundred times cheaper and easier to reach. Nobody ever writes "Gobi Desert Opera" because, well, it's just kind of plonkingly obvious that there's no good reason to go there and live. It's ugly, it's inhospitable and there's no way to make it pay. Mars is just the same, really. We just romanticize it because it's so hard to reach." In other words, going there to explore is fine and dandy — our robots are all over it already. But as a desirable residential neighbourhood it has some shortcomings, starting with the slight lack of breathable air and the sub-Antarctic night-time temperatures and the Mach 0.5 dust storms, and working down from there.
space  futurism  FutureTech  by:CharlesStross  interesting  via:MatthewMalthouse 
october 2014 by owenblacker
I Didn’t Know I Was a Boy
I didn’t know I was a boy until my younger brother called me one. I must have been eleven and Tonton was five. In our small Philippine town of Talacsan, my super-Catholic Aunt Rosa was visiting and Tonton showed her a trick I taught him. We found some condoms in my father’s cabinet and I showed him how to blow balloons. The condoms were stashed along with hisPenthouse magazines so I knew I shouldn’t be touching them. I forgot to tell Tonton not to show anyone else. Aunt Rita told him he’d get AIDS, and asked him where he got the condoms from. Kuya showed me, he said in Tagalog, then tried to find me with his voice. Kuya! Kuya! I pretended not to hear. This was not the last time I betrayed my brother. But it’s my first memory of being a boy.
transgender  from:Medium  interesting  lang:Tagalog  geo:Philippines 
october 2014 by owenblacker
I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup
We noted that outgroups are rarely literally “the group most different from you”, and in fact far more likely to be groups very similar to you sharing almost all your characteristics and living in the same area. We then noted that although liberals and conservatives live in the same area, they might as well be two totally different countries or universe as far as level of interaction were concerned. The outgroup of the Red Tribe is occasionally blacks and gays and Muslims, more often the Blue Tribe. The Blue Tribe has performed some kind of very impressive act of alchemy, and transmuted *all* of its outgroup hatred to the Red Tribe.
psychology  via:AlecMuffett  interesting  prejudice  politics  race 
october 2014 by owenblacker
Why accents are hard to shake (Wired UK)
After surveying a broad sample of studies, the authors found that the strength of a person's accent in their second language directly correlated with the age at which they learned the language. "You start learning language by picking up sounds, trying to imitate your parents," explained Eric Baković, a linguist who studies sound patterns in language at UC San Diego, but was unaffiliated with either study. "Then, your brain gets busy doing other things and assumes you have learned all the sounds you need to learn to communicate with the people around you."
interesting  from:Wired  language 
october 2014 by owenblacker
10 Space Empires That Actually Make Economic Sense
Everybody loves a huge space empire. A far-flung interplanetary civilization combines the romance of exploration with the pride and cool-factor of building something. But not every star-spanning regime is a viable proposition. Here are 10 star-empires from science fiction that make economic sense. The main problem with an interstellar (or even interplanetary) empire is justifying the immense costs of traveling from one world to another — there have to be goods or services valuable enough to justify shuttling back and forth and maintaining control over multiple planets. This is especially the case if you rule out faster-than-light travel, but it's going to be an issue in either case. Because the economics of interstellar trade are actually quite challenging.
SpeculativeFiction  economics  literature  interesting  to-read  from delicious
september 2014 by owenblacker
10 big questions the Pew Research Center has tackled in the past decade | Pew Research Center
Ten years ago, the Pew Research Center was established by The Pew Charitable Trusts to bring together several of Pew’s information initiatives. The new organization had a unique mission to offer nonpartisan, non-advocacy information to decision-makers and the public. The Center has amassed a large body of work over the past decade. For our tenth anniversary, here’s a look back at some of our most important findings.
politics  geo:UnitedStates  by:PewResearch  interesting  from delicious
september 2014 by owenblacker
The black Victorians: astonishing portraits unseen for 120 years
“Black Chronicles II is part of a wider ongoing project called The Missing Chapter,” says Mussai, “which uses the history of photography to illuminate the missing chapters in British history and culture, especially black history and culture. There is a widespread misconception that black experience in Britain begins with the arrival of the Empire Windrush and the first Jamaican immigrants in 1948, but, as this exhibition shows, there is an incredible archive of images of black people in Britain that goes right back to the invention of photography in the 1830s.”
from:TheGuardian  race  culture  geo:UnitedKingdom  interesting  photography  from delicious
september 2014 by owenblacker
Should you use 5 or 7 point scales? — Measuring Usability
If you've ever designed a survey or questionnaire you've probably wondered how many points the response options should have. Most questionnaires I've examined either use five point scales or seven-point scales.  Is one better? The short answer is that 7-point scales are a little better than 5-points—but not by much. The psychometric literature suggests that having more scale points is better but there is a diminishing return after around 11 points (Nunnally 1978).  Having seven points tends to be a good balance between having enough points of discrimination without having to maintain too many response options.
usability  survey  interesting  via:PaulFilby  from delicious
september 2014 by owenblacker
HIV and the Brain -- Then and Now - TheBodyPRO.com
In high-income countries, the widespread availability of potent combination anti-HIV therapy (commonly called ART or HAART) has made cases of severe HIV-related brain injury -- commonly called dementia -- uncommon among people who are engaged in their care and treatment. Indeed researchers estimate that today only about 2% of HIV-positive people will develop dementia. Instead of dementia, researchers are now finding milder forms of HIV-related brain injury. These milder cases, particularly if they are initially symptom free, are often subtle and discovered only through complex and time-consuming neuropsychological assessments.
HIV/AIDS  MentalHealth  interesting  from delicious
september 2014 by owenblacker
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