Sausage, courgette, kale, and kidney bean stew
From decklin's contacts (Kake Pugh) / 2015-01-22 12:42

Kake Pugh posted a photo:

A collaboration between me and Toby (aged 2 years 9 months). He chose between green and white courgettes, he chose the type of bean, and the sausage was entirely his idea. He washed the kale and the kidney beans, and he cut up the sausage and courgettes with scissors after I'd already sliced them into rounds. He helped me choose seasonings too ("yes" to tomato puree and BBQ sauce, "no, too sharp" to lime juice). We had it with couscous.

The Lost Tribe of Coney Island
Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2015-01-22 12:42

I just finished The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice. It seems that there have been a few changes over the past 100 years in the U.S. We still like invading countries because we don’t think that the natives can run things for themselves, but we don’t bring back those natives and exhibit them alongside other “freaks” in amusement parks. This may be because we now have television and YouTube rather than because we have evolved in the moral department…

The specific natives in Prentice’s book are a group of Igorrotes, headhunting, dog-eating, g-string-wearing people from the Philippines, an American territory at the time. They are brought to Coney Island by a medical doctor, Truman Hunt, who cheats the Igorrotes out of their pay and spends all of the cash on fine living and booze. He would fit right into any subprime mortgage story!

Who started this deplorable practice of exhibiting exotic foreigners? Our federal government:

In 1904, the American government spent $1.5 million taking thirteen hundred Filipinos from a dozen different tribes to the St. Louis Exposition. The Philippine Reservation became one of the most popular features of the fair, and the Igorrotes drew the largest crowds of all. By displaying the tribespeople in this manner, the US government hoped to gain popular support for its occupation of the Philippines by showing the American public that the Filipinos were innocents, a people far from ready for self-government, and in need of paternalistic American protection. Hunt brought his tribe first to Coney Island, which in those pre-TV days was a more important source of entertainment for New Yorkers than today: Luna Park occupied thirty-eight acres and operated like a self-contained town, employing more than a thousand people and housing its own telegraph office and long-distance telephone service. Dubbed an “electric Eden,” it was a dream world lit by one million tiny electric lightbulbs (the electric bill was four thousand dollars a week1) and filled with domes, spires, minarets, lagoons, colonnades, and castles. In the park grounds, Thompson and Dundy staged dramatic dioramas of real and imagined events like The War of the Worlds, The Kansas Cyclone, and The Fall of Port Arthur. They were designed to take advantage of the public’s fascination with wars, disasters, and distant lands and people at a time when newspapers carried few photographs. Luna Park occupied thirty-eight acres and operated like a self-contained town, employing more than a thousand people and housing its own telegraph office and long-distance telephone service. Dubbed an “electric Eden,” it was a dream world lit by one million tiny electric lightbulbs (the electric bill was four thousand dollars a week1) and filled with domes, spires, minarets, lagoons, colonnades, and castles. In the park grounds, Thompson and Dundy staged dramatic dioramas of real and imagined events like The War of the Worlds, The Kansas Cyclone, and The Fall of Port Arthur. They were designed to take advantage of the public’s fascination with wars, disasters, and distant lands and people at a time when newspapers carried few photographs. Dr. Hunt was married three times. The first wife died, leaving him with a daughter whom he entrusted to relatives and almost never saw. He married a second wife, a trained nurse from Germany, in the Philippines, but they quarreled and he abandoned her with an infant son. Without going to the trouble of divorcing the second wife he married a girl he met at the St. Louis fair: She had been just seventeen, less than half his age, when they met in St. Louis the previous year. She was a girl just out of school, and she was named Sara. Like thousands of young women and men, Sara had traveled to St. Louis to find work and excitement at the fair. She had left her widowed father, her brother, and her five sisters behind in her childhood home in Louisville, Kentucky, in the hope of making a new life for herself. She would get her dream, though she could hardly have imagined how her life would turn out. Truman had given her a job as his stenographer in the Igorrote Village. They married a few short months later, just days before Truman left America for the Philippines. On her wedding day she took new Christian and middle names to go with her new surname. From now on Sara A. Gallagher was Sallie G. Hunt. Although he was pursued and prosecuted for some of his crimes against the Filipinos, Dr. Hunt was not charged with bigamy. The second wife was eventually able to obtain an uncontested divorce from Hunt on the grounds on adultery (i.e., marrying and living with another woman!). How was marriage different back then? With both communication and travel being expensive and slow, Prentice describes couples being apart for many months or even years with just a few letters exchanged. Why did the good doctor go bad? McIntyre [a federal official] had come across men like Truman Hunt before. He had been stationed in the Philippines long enough to see that in the climate of upheaval and lawlessness that prevailed in the new colony at the turn of the century, even honest men had been known to commit dishonest acts. Embezzlement, theft, drunkenness, gambling, exploitation of the tribespeople, and licentious association with native women were among the vices that thrived among the islands’ new American populace. An early Report of the Philippine Commission noted, “Many [men] leave the United States honest, but with the weakening of the restraints of home associations and with the anxious desire to make so long a trip result successfully in a pecuniary advantage, demoralization and dishonesty are much more likely to follow than at home. Dr. Hunt was eventually pursued by the federal government for cheating the Bontoc Igorrotes but they didn’t have full-time U.S. Attorneys in every state and a convenient menu of federal crimes for which he could be charged in a federal court. The Feds had to hire a private lawyer to prosecute Hunt and it had to be done under state law and in state court, where the judges were just as likely to defer to local Elks Lodge members as to the awesome majesty of the federal government: [Federal agent] Barker had brought with him Schneidewind and an attorney named Louis J. Blum, whom he had hired on behalf of the government to prosecute Truman. Blum ran the respected Chicago law firm Blum and Blum with his brother; the Blums were both bachelors who still lived at home with their Jewish German mother. Louis Blum was fifty pounds overweight, something he put down to his mother’s delicious home cooking. Julio, Maria, Feloa, Dengay, and Tainan were staying on to act as witnesses in Truman’s prosecution. The others would take the train from Chicago to San Francisco, where they would board a ship to Manila. Judge Bethea had ruled that any of them who wished to stay could, but the tribespeople had had enough of their American adventure. FOR SEVEN WEEKS, Blum and Barker worked tirelessly to build a case against Truman while the showman raged, drank, and grumbled his way around Chicago, telling anyone who would listen that he was the victim of a conspiracy that went all the way to the top of the US government. Finally, on September 4, 1906, Truman was arrested for embezzlement and taken before Justice Wolff. Wolff found in favor of the Filipinos and Truman was taken to the county jail. Blum, who had agreed with the government to prosecute all the cases against Truman for a flat fee of five hundred dollars,8 had learned that Truman had already paid Funk more than seven hundred dollars.9 For that money she was presumably prepared to do whatever it took to keep him at liberty. The cost of securing an indictment in Memphis was around$120.19 On top of that, there would be the expense involved in taking Truman, under guard, to Memphis. The government had already spent $4,193 on deporting the Igorrotes who had sailed for the Philippines in July. Added to that would be the legal and detectives’ fees, Barker’s time, and the cost of travel, food, and accommodations for the Igorrotes and all other witnesses. Barker knew the bureau chief was eager to keep further costs to a minimum, and had been relieved when McIntyre had agreed to pursue a prosecution in Memphis. Had Pinkerton only done what he was assigned to do and kept Truman in his sights, the showman would be in Memphis by now awaiting trial. Barker felt sorry for the savage. The Igorrotes were good, honest people whose straightforward worldview and complete lack of cunning made them pathetically vulnerable to attack in the rough and tumble of the courtroom. Barker and Blum turned to each other, speechless. This was an astounding verdict in favor of the pagan Filipino tribespeople from the southern, all-white, Christian jury [in Memphis]. … Truman’s sentence was set at eleven months and twenty-nine days to be served in the Shelby County workhouse. Truman did serve a few months in jail but his connections with some local good ol’ boys enabled him to get a new trial from the judge and immunity from being extradited to Louisiana where the feds could have prosecuted him for some of his thefts from the Filipinos that had occurred in New Orleans. The Feds eventually got tired of the expense of chasing after Truman. What about the Igorrotes? Two and a half months had passed since the other members of Truman’s original group had set sail for Manila. After four hundred and sixty days in the United States, twelve thousand miles by train and sea on the outward journey alone, and thousands of tribal performances before millions of Americans in fifty towns and cities, their financial rewards came to just thirty dollars and eighty-five cents each. Before he left Coney Island, Chief Fomoaley shared his impressions with a journalist. “I have seen many wonders [in America], but we will not bring any of them home to Bontoc. We do not want them there. We have the great sun and moon to light us; what do we want of your little suns [electric lighting]? The houses that fly like birds [trains and cars] would be no good to us, because we do not want to leave Bontoc. When we go home there, we will stay, for it is the best place in all the world And when did we finally loosen our grasp on the Philippines? The debate over America’s involvement in the Philippines and the rights of Filipinos to rule their own country reached a milestone with the passing of the Jones Act of 1916, which formally declared the US government’s commitment to Philippine independence. But another three decades passed before the issue was finally resolved: on July 4, 1946, America handed sovereignty of the islands back to the Philippine people with the signing of the Treaty of Manila. In the eyes of many Filipinos, the Americans had done nothing but harm; others celebrated the introduction of public education and widespread political elections. More: Read the book, for which Prentice deserves tremendous credit due to her comprehensive research and evocative writing. Video it was a strange time in my life / 2015-01-22 12:42 Pirating the Oscars 2015: HD Edition Waxy.org Links / 2015-01-22 11:42 pirates are now regularly releasing films in higher quality than screeners sent to Oscar voters Saffron Square progress From decklin's contacts (Kake Pugh) / 2015-01-22 09:42 Kake Pugh posted a photo: Purple-pink cladding slowly makes its way up the height of Saffron Square. Opening hours at OK Clinic, Croydon, London CR0 From decklin's contacts (Kake Pugh) / 2015-01-22 09:42 Kake Pugh posted a photo: OK Clinic, Croydon, London CR0 From decklin's contacts (Kake Pugh) / 2015-01-22 09:42 Kake Pugh posted a photo: Licensing notice at ex-Croydon Emporium, Croydon, London CR0 From decklin's contacts (Kake Pugh) / 2015-01-22 09:42 Kake Pugh posted a photo: Inside the ex-Croydon Emporium, Croydon, London CR0 From decklin's contacts (Kake Pugh) / 2015-01-22 09:42 Kake Pugh posted a photo: "The theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution" Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2015-01-22 07:42 From Missouri House Bill No. 486, introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives on January 13, 2015 (emphasis added): The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, superintendents of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues, including biological and chemical evolution. Such educational authorities in this state shall also endeavor to assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies. Toward this end, teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution. Gordon Campbell, who sent this in, is not convinced that the last sentence is grammatical, though he admits that he "just asked someone and they said it sounds fine." It's an example of Right Node Raising, and on that basis there are certainly precedents. But in this case, the pivot ("evolution") and its conjoined partners ("[[theory of biological ___ ] and [hypotheses of chemical ___]]") are either several layers deep in a complex structure: [permitted to [help students [understand … [the [[scientific strengths] and [scientific weaknesses]] [of the [[theory of biological __] and [hypotheses of chemical __]]evolution]]]]] or else are separated from one another by an equivalent number of layers of structure. Or maybe somewhere in between. Also, the earlier part of the sentence (on the apparently intended reading) involves Heavy NP Shift of the whole right-node-raising structure out of another conjunction-heavy construction. A plausible reading (of a simplified version) would be: [[[understand critique and review] ___] in an objective manner] [the [[strengths and weaknesses] of the theory]]] This sentence presumably evolved by natural grammatical processes out of a simpler structure: [help students [understand [the weaknesses of evolution]]] via missing links like [help students [understand [the [strengths and weaknesses] of evolution]]]] [help students [understand [the [strengths and weaknesses] of evolution]] in an objective manner]] [help students [[understand analyze critique and review] [the [strengths and weaknesses] of evolution]] in an objective manner]] [help students [[understand analyze critique and review] [the [[scientific strengths] and [scientific weaknesses]] of evolution]] in an objective manner]] [help students [[understand analyze critique and review] [the [[scientific strengths] and [scientific weaknesses]] of [the [theory of evolution]]]] in an objective manner]] [help students [[understand analyze critique and review] [the [[scientific strengths] and [scientific weaknesses]] of [the [theory of [biological evolution]]]]] in an objective manner]] [help students [[understand analyze critique and review] [the [[scientific strengths] and [scientific weaknesses]] of [[the [theory of [biological evolution]] and [hypotheses of [chemical evolution]]]]]] in an objective manner]] The result is a spectacular Rube Goldberg contraption of a sentence. If you found it lying in a field, you would certainly think that it had been designed by a being who had been designed by a being with a sense of humor. At the White House, a Sense of Humor (and the Old Shazam!) BAGnewsNotes (Michael Shaw) / 2015-01-22 03:42 (click for full size) Way back when, the White House Flickr site was a jewel in a well honed communications machine. No president had ever had access to social media before, and this one — with all the excitement of HOPE and CHANGE — took full advantage. Sure there have continued to be noteworthy visuals here and there, but not so many or ones distinctive enough to keep people coming back or to attract the old buzz when a new batch gets uploaded, this photo appearing in Pete Souza’s post of the Administration’s 2014 photos of the year. White House Flickr, however, has been useful for marking the political cadence of the White House, and sometimes, too, the emotional mood. If off-beat, this photo might suggest a few things about the 2015 edition now that Obama has run his last campaign and seems lighter in his step, more free-wheeling in his actions, and more ideologically unbound. What we see in this picture is a sense of humor, a good dose of theater and some good old Shazam! Photographing Michelle encountering Barack on a screen, it’s reminiscent in a much smaller way, of the scene at the 2008 convention in which Obama was informally (and televisually) introduced the night before his official appearance and acceptance of the nomination. We were credentialed bloggers at the event and Alan Chin photographed it for the Bag. (His are the black-and-white entries.) Back to this recent photo, though, taken on September 27, 2014, and uploaded on December 29th. What brought everything back to me is the consistent story line. We have the President’s better half, eternally connected. And then, you have the President and that sense that he’s got it in him to do something magical. (photo: Lawrence Jackson/White House. caption: Lawrence Jackson captured the First Lady backstage watching the President deliver remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 44th Annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.) What’s Wrong With This Picture. No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) (Peter Watts) / 2015-01-22 03:42 A snapshot of the past work week: Research, 5.6 hours. Interviews & columns, 1.4 hours. Blog and website, 3.8h (update: 4.5). Critiquing, 4 hours. Writing (nonfiction— I’ll tell you about it if it doesn’t get rejected), 18.7h. Writing (fiction), 0 hours. Office work, mainly emails: 12.6 hours. That’s a pretty-typical 46-hour work week, not counting 3.0 hours spent surfing porn (which is an underestimate overall, but 3.0 during the nine-to-five window anyway). Office work— finances, mailings, trying to figure out why I haven’t been paid for Firefall, but mostly e-mails— devours more time than anything else except actual writing-for-money, and it weighs in at two-thirds of that far-more-respectable activity. 12.6 hours on e-mails. Two work days, with lunch breaks. If you look closely, you might see something else conspicuous in its absence: there’s no field for “genre reading”. I don’t mean science reading, or reading to research my own stupid books, or reading under a deadline because someone leaned on me for a blurb. I mean reading for actual goddamn pleasure and enlightenment. Reading to see what tricks my friends and colleagues and role models are up to these days. My writing has grown too inbred even though I’m surrounded by inspiration, whole bookshelves full of novels and stories acquired over the years but never read because some new bit of research was lighting up the feeds, or the column was due, or I’d already skipped running once this week and the plumpness was ratcheting up. That kind of reading. Because it doesn’t just shame me that the only novel I’ve read since the summer was The Martian: it diminishes me too, because I’m losing touch with the rest of the field. I’ve been losing touch for years. I really need to make a change, and I need to do that before I dive into Intelligent Design. In the meantime, I watch a lot of TV. * I blame you for that, actually. All of you. The people who insisted I shouldn’t have given up on “Agents of SHIELD” after three episodes, because it got really good just thirteen episodes later. Those who admit that sure, “Person of Interest” is formulaic and derivative and badly acted for the first couple of seasons, but if I just hang in there I’ll be treated to a first-rate, intellectually-challenging epic about bootstrapping AI. I blame you all, because my self-esteem issues make me very susceptible to peer pressure, and I’d much rather lay that responsibility on society than on me. So I’m catching up on SHIELD and sure enough, it gets pretty good around the end of the first season before re-mediocrifying into the second. The BUG and I continue to plow through “Person of Interest”, waiting for some Person therein to become Interesting (when is that going to happen, by the way, and dear God why couldn’t it happen sooner?). “12 Monkeys” started off better than expected, and maintained that high bar right up until the second episode when we were shown a modern mental institution in which a patient— committed for presumably slashing a roomful of throats— is allowed to wander the halls with a scalpel, visiting and threatening other patients who are tied to their beds. Also an institution in which any inmate can apparently make it down into the basement sub-levels (and hence outside) if they’re at least sane enough to open an unlocked door with “This Way to Freedom” stenciled above the knob. The return of “Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” and “Orphan Black” all seem so far away, as distant as any star. Thank God Archer’s back, at least. * So this is the plan: allocate specific amounts to time for specific activities. Those emails that devour your whole day if you let them, then devour the next with replies to your replies? One hour, every morning. The blog, which all the Winds agree must be fed new material at least three times weekly to stave off being trampled in the Darwinian meatgrinder of the Midlist Tubthumpathon? One. Hour. Per. Day. Five per week. If an hour isn’t enough time to keep the emails in check— if they burst Thunderbird at the seams and spill pixels all over my desk— I’ll triage and amputate. (Some folks will have to make peace with the fact that I won’t always get back to them, and when I do I may not have had a chance to read the 50-page pdf on the lachrymal-gland secretions of Bonaparte’s Gulls they sent me.) If a blog post isn’t complete after an hour (and it never will be), I’ll just stop and pick it up the next day, and hope that by the time I finish the fucking thing it won’t be an antique. Most importantly, I am going to read again. I am going to make the time. I am going to devote one day a week to Morgan and Miéville and Martel and a bunch of other authors whose names don’t even begin with M. I will force my gut to accept that pleasure does not equal unimportance. Henceforth, the mere fact that I enjoy reading will not give “enjoyable reading” the automatic short straw every time a deadline demands I chuck some lesser priority overboard. This is research, dammit. It will make me a better writer even if I don’t find it completely onerous. Of course, in some ways this isn’t much of a change. My correspondence with many of you has been sporadic for years. Unanswered emails from 2010 still sit in my In box— you can never have too many unfinished tasks hanging over you, right?— but it’s been a long time since I entertained serious hopes of answering them. I’ve got several blog posts lying around in various states of completion— movie reviews, thoughts on time travel in popular culture (go see Predestination, by the way), little self-back-pats about vaguely βehemoth-like sulfur-munchers turning up under the Juan de Fuca Ridge, or hints of large potentially Big-Benian objects lurking undiscovered in the outer reaches of the solar system. (I’ve also been working on a strategy to reduce the number of unarmed civilians killed by police through the implementation of a randomized tit-for-two-tats strategy of retributive cop-shooting, but I’m still trying to figure out if it’s possible to present such a thesis without being childishly naïve on the one hand or a reactionary asshole on the other.) When it comes to blog posts, the whole hour-a-day law seems great at producing fragments, but not so hot when it comes to finished product. Hell, I’ve had to go way over today’s hour just to get this fucking thing out the door. Still, there’s something to be said for formalizing the approach. I’d actually planned on doing that before now— hell, I’d be long-since finished The Steel Remains if I’d booted the new schedule up on January 1 as originally planned. But you know. Things got in the way. No longer. I will read more. I will write more. I will be a receptionist a lot less. Starting now, next week at the latest. Just as soon as I get my In-box down below thirty. Anybody know when “Hannibal” returns? Anonymous programmers can be identified by analyzing coding style Freedom to Tinker (aylin) / 2015-01-22 01:42 Every programmer learns to code in a unique way which results in distinguishing “fingerprints” in coding style. These fingerprints can be used to compare the source code of known programmers with an anonymous piece of source code to find out which one of the known programmers authored the anonymous code. This method can aid in […] “Helping the Poor in Education: The Power of a Simple Nudge” (New York Times, January 17, 2015) is a representative of a genre of literature that was common at the American Economic Association conference that I attended. Economists, who get paid to teach at colleges, experiment with ways to get more young people from poorer-than-average families to become customers of colleges. Nobody seems to question whether this might be biased and/or misleading advice. As noted in a previous posting, the return on investment (of time and money) in many degree programs is zero or negative. That’s in a best-case scenario where the students actually graduate, which is not a typical outcome for a person who has been dragged into college. When experimenters provide students with advice regarding college they don’t share comparisons regarding other careers. They don’t tell people who indicate an interest in majoring in art history, for example, that the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that museum curators have a lower median pay that plumbers or electricians. Nor do they disclose that a California state prison guard earns more than a typical Harvard graduate (WSJ). Nor do they explain that a firefighter can work two 24-hour shifts per week and earn more, especially considering the value of a defined benefit pension, than a typical college graduate imprisoned in a cubicle farm every weekday (see LA Weekly for how$200,000 per year is the average total comp for a Los Angeles Fire Department worker). Certainly they don’t explain that meeting a physician in a bar and having a one-night sexual encounter will pay better than college followed by work (state-dependent, but New York (see Liza Ghorbani), California, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Montana, and Wyoming are good starting points) and that earning a college degree may reduce the profitability of children in states that use an “income shares” model for calculating child support (since a judge can impute income to a non-working college graduate at a higher level than would be imputed to a non-working high school graduate). Nor do they provide any encouragement to young people to attend colleges that employ fewer professors per student. For example, you could argue that for a lot of young Americans, assuming that they had moral objections to earning 100 percent of household revenue from children produced out of wedlock, the economically optimum strategy would be to work weekdays 9-5 from age 18-22 while spending evenings earning a Bachelor’s degree at the online Western Governor’s University. WGU employs 2,000 faculty members to serve about 54,000 students, a 1:27 ratio.  This compares to an average liberal arts college ratio of 1:11.6 (US News), Harvard’s 1:7 ratio, and a national average for all schools of about 1:15 (collegefactual.com). None of the studies that I have seen from academic economists have them experimenting with telling young people about a way to earn a college degree, without losing four years of income and four years of work experience, that would result in fewer jobs for academic economists.

The three areas that I know best are aviation, photography, and IT/software engineering. Absent getting an Ivy League degree it is hard for me to imagine how a young person wouldn’t be better off working in the field for four years while earning an online degree at night. A Harvard graduate with 40 hours and a Private certificate is not going to get hired by an airline and, due to Harvard often requiring students to take a gap year, this person is 23 years old. The 18-year-old who starts flight training will be an instructor by 19 and a regional airline pilot by age 22, right around the time the WGU degree is being mailed (e-mailed?) out. A WGU graduate who has been an apprentice for four years in a commercial photo studio is in a much better position to get work as a photographer than someone fresh out of a traditional offline university, both in terms of skills and connections. A WGU graduate, age 22, who has four years of work experience, with references from employers who say “this person showed up on time every day and kept the systems running” is a much lower risk hire than a fresh CS grad from a 2nd- or 3rd-tier college.

Happy Birthday in Biaviian?
Language Log (Kai von Fintel) / 2015-01-21 23:42

As a mid-week diversion, let us put this to you. Language Log has been contacted by a producer for the Howard Stern show to provide an expert opinion on a purported song of alien provenance. Here's a recording:

What you are hearing is another Sirius XM radio host, Riley Martin, performing what he says is a traditional birthday song of the Biaviian aliens, who he says abducted him. Steve Nowicki from the Howard Stern show asked for a linguist who could “decipher the lyrics”. The Language Log team is stumped. Perhaps our readers can help out.

Mark Liberman, at the water cooler, pointed out that the phonetics are pretty straight American English, though maybe Riley Martin is just performing alienese with an American accent. Maybe some Language Log reader will recognize this as a mispronounced rendition of a traditional Cherokee lullaby, or something. So, have at it (but please be civil!).

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Happy Birthday in Biaviian?
Language Log (Kai von Fintel) / 2015-01-21 19:42

As a mid-week diversion, let us put this to you. Language Log has been contacted by a producer for the Howard Stern show to provide an expert opinion on a purported song of alien provenance. Here's a recording:

What you are hearing is another Sirius XM radio host, Riley Martin, performing what he says is a traditional birthday song of the Biaviian aliens, who he says abducted him. Steve Nowicki from the Howard Stern show asked for a linguist who could “decipher the lyrics”. The Language Log team is stumped. Perhaps our readers can help out.

Mark Liberman, at the water cooler, pointed out that the phonetics are pretty straight American English, though maybe Riley Martin is just performing alienese with an American accent. Maybe some Language Log reader will recognize this as a mispronounced rendition of a traditional Cherokee lullaby, or something. So, have at it (but please be civil!).

Cantonese input methods
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2015-01-21 19:42

Despite the efforts of the central government to clamp down on and diminish the role of Cantonese in education and in public life generally, the language has been experiencing a heady resurgence, especially in connection with the prolonged Umbrella Movement last fall.

"Cantonese resurgent" (12/11/12)

"Cantonese protest slogans" (10/26/14), etc.

Of course, if you write by hand, you're not constrained by electronic fonts, but can use any special characters you wish.  But if you want to enter Cantonese into electronic devices, then you are subject to various constraints, including your own ability to interface with the software.  From what I've personally witnessed and from what my informants tell me, people rely on one or more of the following methods to input Cantonese, usually in combination:

Hanyu Pinyin (the official romanization of the PRC)

Jyutping (romanization developed by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong and favored by linguists, but not official)

Yale (widely used for teaching Cantonese) or other romanization

Touch pads (finger tracing / writing) — often users switch to this only when they have to write a Cantonese character that is not in normal fonts

And, believe it or not, English!  Many of my HK friends use English (words) — at least part of the time — to input Cantonese.  For example, if you type in "umbrella", you can select from saan3 傘, jyu5saan3 雨傘, or ze1 遮.

Bob Bauer polled the 14 students in his class at the University of Hong Kong on what input methods they use for Chinese characters.  Here are the results:

 Method Computer Other devices 速成 ("rapid") [modified form of Tsang-chieh] 6 4 倉頡 (Tsang-chieh) 3 2 拼音 (pinyin) 3 3 筆 劃 (strokes) 0 8 *iPhone 手指 (finger) (1) 1 諸音符號 (bopomofo) 1 0 PenPower (relies on scanning) 1 0

*This student said she indirectly input Chinese characters into her computer with her iPhone which automatically emailed to her computer the Chinese texts she had written on the iPhone with her finger.

As a friend from Hong Kong puts it:

…people use all kinds of methods (倉頡 [Tsang-chieh]、速成 ["rapid"]、粵語拼音 [romanization for Cantonese]、漢語拼音 [Hanyu Pinyin]、九方 [Q9]).  I guess it depends on the age of the person?  A lot of the pre-1997 generation use touch pads (finger writing), this is because they don't know any other writing systems without exerting a lot of effort in learning.

As another friend put it, for "casual, brief" writing of actual Cantonese (as opposed to "Chinese"), people will often rely on writing on a touch pad with one's finger, but that doesn't seem to be much favored for longer and more "formal" (i.e., "Chinese" [zung1man4 中文]) texts.

Up to now, the situation has been fairly messy and complicated, for most people often involving reliance on multiple methods, because of the following reasons:

1. lack of an official Cantonese romanization that is taught in the schools to all students

2. an abundance of special characters for writing Cantonese that are not in usual fonts (to write Cantonese, you need a thousand or more of them)

3. strong discouragement of students from writing Cantonese by teachers and educational authorities, hence lack of familiarity with writing Cantonese and the failure to sanction input methods for Cantonese in schools and universities

4. minimal commitment of software companies to develop input methods designed especially for Cantonese (as opposed to zung1man4 中文 ["written Chinese"])

The good news is that Google recently introduced a powerful method for inputting Cantonese that is succinctly described in this short video.  Even if your spelling is not perfect, the system is "intelligent" enough to guess at what you're trying to type.  I suspect that, with the advent of Google's Cantonese input method, people will be further encouraged to write in Cantonese, since the burden of switching from one imperfect system to another will be obviated.

For many additional posts on Cantonese and related issues, see here.

[Hat tip James Dew; thanks to Bob Bauer, Mandy Chan, Dehuai Yao, and Norman Leung]

Presidential pronouns: This time it's Ron Fournier
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2015-01-21 19:42

Ron Fournier, "Is Obama More Interested in Progress or Politics?", National Journal, 1/20/2015:

Count how many times Obama uses the words "I," "me," and "my." Compare that number to how often he says, "You," "we," "our." If the first number is greater than the second, Obama has failed.

This leads naturally to a different question: "Is Ron Fournier More Interested in Analysis or in Bullshit?" (where I mean "bullshit" in the technical philosophical sense, of course).

If Ron Fournier had spent a minute or two looking into the facts of the matter, he would have discovered these plots, presented in "The evolution of SOTU pronouns", 1/28/2014:

They show that

• ALL presidents since WWII have used substantially more first-person-plural pronouns than first-person-singular pronouns in the SOTU messages;
• Adding second-person pronouns makes the disproportion even larger;
• Obama is pretty much in the middle of the pack on all the relevant measures.

He would also have found this table, in a blog post by Eric Ostermeier, "Obama's SOTU: Uniting the Country…through Pronouns?", 1/31/2011:

I'm therefore willing to place a substantial wager with Ron Fournier as to the outcome of his pronoun count. But I'm betting that he won't take the bet, because his column exemplifies Harry Frankfurt's analysis of "the bullshitter":

Both he and the liar represent themselves falsely as endeavoring to communicate the truth. The success of each depends upon deceiving us about that. But the fact about himself that the liar hides is that he is attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality; we are not to know that he wants us to believe something he supposes to be false. The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor to conceal it. This does not mean that his speech is anarchically impulsive, but that the motive guiding and controlling it is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are.

By suggesting that tonight's SOTU address might conceivably fail that pronoun-ratio test (because Obama, as Everyone Knows, is the greatest narcissist blah blah), Mr. Fournier is reprising a sub-theme of the Great Obama Pronoun Fantasy, variants of which seem to draw pundits like flies to rotting meat. An earlier version of the we-me sub-meme was promoted a few years ago by Stanley Fish, discussed in "Inaugural pronouns", 6/8/2009, where I offered this table:

 1st singular 1st plural 1stPlural/1stSingular ratio WJ Clinton 1 (1993) 0.93% 7.70% 6.1 WJ Clinton 2 (1997) 0.37% 6.10% 16.5 GW Bush 1 (2001) 0.94% 6.96% 7.4 GW Bush 2 (2005) 0.48% 4.41% 9.2 BH Obama 1 (2009) 0.21% 6.48% 31.2

For those with a perverse interest in our more distinguished purveyors of Bos taurus feces, here some other posts on similar topics:

"Fact-checking George F. Will", 6/7/2009
"Obama's Imperial 'I': Spreading the meme", 6/8/2009
"Inaugural pronouns", 6/8/2009
"Royal baloney", 6/9/2009
"Another pack member heard from", 6/9/2009
"I again", 7/13/2009
"'I' is a camera", 7/18/2009
"What is 'I' saying?", 8/9/2009
"Open fraud as Op-Ed discourse", 7/10/2010
""A sociopath and narcissist and manipulator"", 8/9/2010
"Fact-checking George F. Will, one more time", 10/6/2009
"Presidential pronouns, one more time", 5/22/2011
"Two more pundits who don't count", 6/21/2011
"Another pundit who can't (or won't) count", 6/23/2011
"Republican self-referentiality", 6/27/2011
"A meme in hibernation", 3/31/2012
"Another lie from George Will", 5/7/2012
"Obama pronouns again", 10/31/2012
"First Person Singular, Redemption Plea Edition", 1/11/2014
"Another casual lie from Charles Krauthammer", 9/16/2014
"Colbert on Krauthammer", 9/24/2014
"Buzzfeed linguistics, presidential pronouns, and narcissism revisited", 10/21/2014

Update — the "remarks as prepared for delivery" version of the speech pretty closely matches the pronoun rates of Obama's previous SOTUs: in 6567 words, there are

• 97 first-person singular pronouns, for a rate of 1.48%;
• 34 second-person pronouns, for a rate of 0.52%;
• 312 first-person plural pronouns, for a rate of 4.75%.

More specifically:

 I 71 me 9 my 16 mine 1 we 175 us 28 our 108 ours 1 you 25 your 9

So Fournier's bizarrely careless enumeration (I, me, my vs. you, we, our) adds up as

71+9+16 = 96 = 1.46%
25+175+108 = 308 = 4.96%

…and so by Fournier's metric, Obama succeeds by a factor of 308/96 = 3.2 to 1.

Update #2 — Applying the same scripts to Senator Joni Ernst's SOTU rebuttal, we get 1245 words with 22 first-person singular pronouns (1.77%), 19 second-person pronouns (1.53%), and 55 first-person plural pronouns (4.42%). In terms of Fourier's careless enumeration, we have

I+me+my = 14+4+4 = 22 = 1.77%
you+we+our = 14+25+14 = 53 = 4.265

So Senator Ernst also "succeeds" by Fournier's (meaningless) metric, though not as strongly as President Obama did:

53/22 = 2.41
308/96 = 3.21

Seasonal platters will be in our future
Clover Food Lab (lucia) / 2015-01-21 17:42

After lots and lots of requests we started playing around with platters made of the seasonal sandwich ingredients.

A couple things we realized:

-The platters should come with a grain salad and a bean salad

-The sauce should come on the side

We tested our first versions at the Food Dev meeting, and we’ll be experimenting with them further over the next few weeks.

The post Seasonal platters will be in our future appeared first on Clover Food Lab.

Venezuelan Plantain Sandwich testing Wednesday 1/21 at CloverKND
Clover Food Lab (lucia) / 2015-01-21 17:42

Andrea from Valley Malt sold us a ton of dried black beans grown in Western Mass, and Chris challenged us to come up with a sandwich that would use them.

Enzo came to Food Dev with an idea for a plantain sandwich. We went through two versions and we’re now ready to test it on you all. Come by CloverKND at lunch on Wednesday for the first taste of the plantain sandwich!

-Black bean spread with green pepper, garlic, onions, cilantro, and jalapeño.
-Venezuelan slaw with carrots, beets, and red cabbage
-Cilantro- lime-mayo dressing
-Fried plantains

The post Venezuelan Plantain Sandwich testing Wednesday 1/21 at CloverKND appeared first on Clover Food Lab.

Presidential pronouns: This time it's Ron Fournier
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2015-01-21 15:42

Ron Fournier, "Is Obama More Interested in Progress or Politics?", National Journal, 1/20/2015:

Count how many times Obama uses the words "I," "me," and "my." Compare that number to how often he says, "You," "we," "our." If the first number is greater than the second, Obama has failed.

This leads naturally to a different question: "Is Ron Fournier More Interested in Analysis or in Bullshit?" (where I mean "bullshit" in the technical philosophical sense, of course).

If Ron Fournier had spent a minute or two looking into the facts of the matter, he would have discovered these plots, presented in "The evolution of SOTU pronouns", 1/28/2014:

They show that

• ALL presidents since WWII have used substantially more first-person-plural pronouns than first-person-singular pronouns in the SOTU messages;
• Adding second-person pronouns makes the disproportion even larger;
• Obama is pretty much in the middle of the pack on all the relevant measures.

He would also have found this table, in a blog post by Eric Ostermeier, "Obama's SOTU: Uniting the Country…through Pronouns?", 1/31/2011:

I'm therefore willing to place a substantial wager with Ron Fournier as to the outcome of his pronoun count. But I'm betting that he won't take the bet, because his column exemplifies Harry Frankfurt's analysis of "the bullshitter":

Both he and the liar represent themselves falsely as endeavoring to communicate the truth. The success of each depends upon deceiving us about that. But the fact about himself that the liar hides is that he is attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality; we are not to know that he wants us to believe something he supposes to be false. The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor to conceal it. This does not mean that his speech is anarchically impulsive, but that the motive guiding and controlling it is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are.

By suggesting that tonight's SOTU address might conceivably fail that pronoun-ratio test (because Obama, as Everyone Knows, is the greatest narcissist blah blah), Mr. Fournier is reprising a sub-theme of the Great Obama Pronoun Fantasy, variants of which seem to draw pundits like flies to rotting meat. An earlier version of the we-me sub-meme was promoted a few years ago by Stanley Fish, discussed in "Inaugural pronouns", 6/8/2009, where I offered this table:

 1st singular 1st plural 1stPlural/1stSingular ratio WJ Clinton 1 (1993) 0.93% 7.70% 6.1 WJ Clinton 2 (1997) 0.37% 6.10% 16.5 GW Bush 1 (2001) 0.94% 6.96% 7.4 GW Bush 2 (2005) 0.48% 4.41% 9.2 BH Obama 1 (2009) 0.21% 6.48% 31.2

For those with a perverse interest in our more distinguished purveyors of Bos taurus feces, here some other posts on similar topics:

"Fact-checking George F. Will", 6/7/2009
"Obama's Imperial 'I': Spreading the meme", 6/8/2009
"Inaugural pronouns", 6/8/2009
"Royal baloney", 6/9/2009
"Another pack member heard from", 6/9/2009
"I again", 7/13/2009
"'I' is a camera", 7/18/2009
"What is 'I' saying?", 8/9/2009
"Open fraud as Op-Ed discourse", 7/10/2010
""A sociopath and narcissist and manipulator"", 8/9/2010
"Fact-checking George F. Will, one more time", 10/6/2009
"Presidential pronouns, one more time", 5/22/2011
"Two more pundits who don't count", 6/21/2011
"Another pundit who can't (or won't) count", 6/23/2011
"Republican self-referentiality", 6/27/2011
"A meme in hibernation", 3/31/2012
"Another lie from George Will", 5/7/2012
"Obama pronouns again", 10/31/2012
"First Person Singular, Redemption Plea Edition", 1/11/2014
"Another casual lie from Charles Krauthammer", 9/16/2014
"Colbert on Krauthammer", 9/24/2014
"Buzzfeed linguistics, presidential pronouns, and narcissism revisited", 10/21/2014

Update — the "remarks as prepared for delivery" version of the speech pretty closely matches the pronoun rates of Obama's previous SOTUs: in 6567 words, there are

• 97 first-person singular pronouns, for a rate of 1.48%;
• 34 second-person pronouns, for a rate of 0.52%;
• 312 first-person plural pronouns, for a rate of 4.75%.

More specifically:

 I 71 me 9 my 16 mine 1 we 175 us 28 our 108 ours 1 you 25 your 9

So Fournier's bizarrely careless enumeration (I, me, my vs. you, we, our) adds up as

71+9+16 = 96 = 1.46%
25+175+108 = 308 = 4.96%

…and so by Fournier's metric, Obama succeeds by a factor of 308/96 = 3.2 to 1.

Update #2 — Applying the same scripts to Senator Joni Ernst's SOTU rebuttal, we get 1245 words with 22 first-person singular pronouns (1.77%), 19 second-person pronouns (1.53%), and 55 first-person plural pronouns (4.42%). In terms of Fourier's careless enumeration, we have

I+me+my = 14+4+4 = 22 = 1.77%
you+we+our = 14+25+14 = 53 = 4.265

So Senator Ernst also "succeeds" by Fournier's (meaningless) metric, though not as strongly as President Obama did:

53/22 = 2.41
308/96 = 3.21

Bayhem sublime
Russell Davies (russell davies) / 2015-01-21 15:42

William Davies has written a fascinating piece about our relationship to 'Big Data':

"Common to both the charismatic leader and smart technology is their ability to evoke what Immanuel Kant described as the “sublime,” which, he argued, arises as a result of human cognition being utterly overwhelmed by an aesthetic experience. First we cower in terror, but then we quickly realise that everything is still okay. The discovert that the individual can survive, in spite of being overpowered, brings intense pleasure."

He also quotes

"...historian Julian Stallabrass in “What’s in a Face? Blankness and Significance in Contemporary Art Photography,” a 2007 article on photographic portraiture. Noting a trend towards blank, expressionless but technically awe-inspiring photographs of human subjects, manifest in the work of Rineke Dijkstra among others, Stallabrass argues that:

subjective, creative choice has been subsumed in favour of greater resolution and bit depth, a measurable increase in the quantity of data. The manifest display of very large amounts of data in such images may be related to a broader trend in contemporary art to exploit the effect of the ‘data sublime’. In providing the viewer with the impression and spectacle of a chaotically complex and immensely large configuration of data, these photographs act much as renditions of mountain scenes and stormy seas did on nineteenth-century urban viewers."

I know this makes me appear terribly crass but that instantly struck me as a tremendous explanation of the appeal of Bayhem:

That's what a Michael Bay film is : "human cognition being utterly overwhelmed by an aesthetic experience"

Alex Leavitt's GDC talk on Twitch Plays Pokemon

accessible analysis of the crowd-based gameplay phenomenon

Pitchfork's conversation with Bjork

don't miss the last part on female authorship and credit

Why voluntary guidelines for marketing to kids can’t work
Food Politics (Marion) / 2015-01-21 15:42

Some of the reaction to yesterday’s post commenting on guidelines for voluntary restrictions on marketing to kids focused on political realities.  Given that our current Congress is highly unlikely to enact mandatory guidelines, improving voluntary guidelines is the best we can do.

Maybe, but some members of Congress are willing to take action.

Take a look at Buzz Kill, a report on the marketing of highly caffeinated energy drinks by the staff of Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) in coordination with the staff of Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

Concerned about the effects of these drinks on the health of America’s youth, the Senators held hearings and sent a questionnaire to the 16 major companies that make these drinks “to assess the extent to which the energy drink industry as a whole will commit to voluntary measures that will better protect young consumers and prevent misuse.”

Buzz Kill summarizes what they learned from the 12 companies that responded.

• Only 4 of the 12 companies said they would not market to youth under age 18 (these companies constitute 90% of the market).
• Only one company committed to all specific measures: labeling products as not intended for youth under age 18, restricting advertising buys to media where no more than 35 percent of the audience is under age 18, restricting social media access for youth under age 18, and avoiding featuring youth under age 18 in energy drink marketing campaigns.
• All but one of the responding companies said they would not market, sample, or sell their products in K-12 school settings, but 2 companies used equivocal language.
• 6 of 10 companies said they were willing to report adverse advents; 3 of 10 said they would do so under specified conditions, and 1 refused to report.
• 3 companies that belong to the American Beverage Association, which says its members are committed not to market caffeinated energy drinks as sports drinks, do so.
• Most of the 12 companies label caffeine content on their products, and say they will not promote rapid or excessive consumption or the mixing of energy drinks with drugs or alcohol.
• 4 of the 12 companies (representing 90% of the market) refuse to commit to protecting adolescents from targeted marketing campaigns.

Summary: the companies that own 90% of the energy drink market are largely unwilling to do much to stop marketing their products to kids under age 18.

Buzz Kill comes with recommendations.  Here’s the first:

To protect youth, all energy drink manufacturers should cease marketing of energy drink products to children and teens under the age of 18 and sales of these products in K-12 school settings. Companies should engage with distributers and other third-party entities to ensure all contractual partners are bound by this commitment. Additionally, companies should put in place social media and online restrictions, and cease online appeals and marketing to children and teens.

It also comes with an ask: write a letter to the companies asking for stronger voluntary commitments.

It says nothing about regulation.  But Buzz Kill provides plenty of evidence that nothing short of regulation will get these companies to stop such practices.

The Europeans are regulating energy drinks.  We can too.

Moot retires from 4chan

the untold story: Greg Knauss built the whole thing

Obama’s State of the Union Speech
Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2015-01-21 10:42

Working through the transcript of Obama speech

Obama wants to do the opposite of what Gregory Clark would suggest for building a strong tax base in the long run: tax incentives for less-successful-than-average Americans to have more children (“for every middle-class and low-income family … a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.”) “Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave.” Since employers have a constant amount that they can or will pay in wages, this means that in the long run healthy people will be paid relatively less and sick people, or those with sick relatives and children, will be paid relatively more. “over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.” The Census Bureau says that in the same period of time the population has grown by 12 million people… (BLS shows that the number of workers is just barely larger today compared to January 2008, when the population of the U.S. was smaller; I’m wondering if this “11 million new jobs” figure fails to include a subtraction for jobs eliminated.) “Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. And more Americans finish college than ever before.” — it is not worth investigating whether those degrees have any correlation with learning or capability. “health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years.” – - when you spend more than any other country in the world it is hard to keep outdistancing the competition for who can build the biggest bonfire of cash. “Basic childcare for Jack and Henry costs more than their mortgage, and almost as much as a year at the University of Minnesota.” — because there are so few American workers who have the skills and responsibility required of a babysitter, day care centers have to pay big salaries to attract the competent and must pass these costs along to consumers. (Also we piled regulations onto those day care centers and those costs must be added too.) “nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work.” — i.e., we need a planned economy. “So to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.” — Obama himself will do the planning because he knows better than private business managers what a productive employee looks like. “Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined. ” — we are a dwarf among midgets. “21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas.” — now Obama will plan the world economy too. “21st century businesses will rely on American science, technology, research and development.” — we will export Google Glass to Africa. “Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes.” — Nixon declared war on cancer 44 years ago. This new war is going to work out better. “We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small – by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies.” — We support Ukrainian democracy in any territory that Russia doesn’t feel like annexing. “No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids.” — the North Koreans want to be our friends on Facebook so that they can see what our kids look like (Snopes). “I’m not a scientist” … which is why I am going to be making$200 million giving speeches starting in 2016 instead of making $81,480 per year like a PhD Biochemist (BLS). “As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice … Since I’ve been President, we’ve worked responsibly to cut the population of GTMO in half.” — because if something is unjust we should do it only half the time. “I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information.” — because many cyber-attacks are targeted at kindergarteners and the only way to keep children’s information safe is to give the federal government more power. “A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other” … but let’s make the rich demons pay with some new taxes (“And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth.”) “We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree … that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.” — men aren’t entitled to health care if they fall between the Medicaid and Obamacare cracks. “no one benefits when a hardworking [immigrant] mom is taken from her child” — but the Federal government will encourage states to provide financial incentives for mothers and their lawyers to take fathers away from children. “surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it’s being denied to too many” — and we all know that it is racist white Southern Republicans who are doing the denying… At Loggerheads: Obama’s Next-to-Last SOTU BAGnewsNotes (Michael Shaw) / 2015-01-21 09:42 So much for reaching across the aisle. With Pete snapping in the background, this shot of the protocol and security detail captured the feeling last night — of a chamber at loggerheads. Obama — who, for so many years, was all about bipartisanship (1, 2) — was (apologies to John Lennon) still paying lip service. And how old and tired was that “not blue state or red state, but purple state” meme with those ties? Thus, after the mid-term debacle, the left half or more of the chamber had a red wall on display. Not to mention, the thousand yard stares. Just as futile, Obama went back to the well still imagining a national conversation about race. In the White House split screen, like a ‘08 deja vu, his own experience was recalled once again as potential catalyst. As telling (especially two days after MLK Day) was the appeal for — and acknowledgement of a still, ongoing battle over voting rights. After his comment about having no more campaigns was met by frivolity, Obama’s off-the-cuff smack down was understandable. Regarding this Twitpic that made the rounds, it was informed as much by the racial tension in the country, be it from terror hysteria, immigration panic or police violence, as Obama’s course over the past six years of seeking consensus rather than sticking to his newly-embraced progressive principles. Finally, Bag’s most popular tweet last night was: “ABC has a Liz Warren cam.” Of course, Warren was easy to find (and might continue to be as ‘16 approaches) because of her lack of conflict surround those same ideals. Aside from the government’s fundamental disconnect and the ideological tectonics, these two issues were important to note. I can’t say it’s going to make a dent, but Obama — as the White House again broadcast its own Powerpoint SOTU — put some punctuation on climate change. And then, marriage equality came in for some recognition too, Obama professing love is love … in 36 states. Retiring Python as a Teaching Language Programming in the 21st Century (James Hague) / 2015-01-21 09:42 For the last ten years, my standard advice to someone looking for a programming language to teach beginners has been start with Python. And now I'm changing that recommendation. Python is still a fine language. It lets you focus on problem solving and not the architectural stuff that experienced developers, who've forgotten what it's like to an absolute beginner, think is important. The language itself melts into the background, so lessons aren't explanations of features and philosophies, but about how to generate musical scales in any key, computing distances around a running track based on the lane you're in, or writing an automated player for poker or Yahtzee. Then one day a student will innocently ask "Instead of running the poker simulator from the command line, how can I put it in a window with a button to deal the next hand?" This is a tough question in a difficult-to-explain way. It leads to looking at the various GUI toolkits for Python. Turns out that Guido does the same thing every few years, re-evaluating if TkInter is the right choice for IDLE, the supplied IDE. For now, TkInter it is. A week later, another question: "How can I write a simple game, one with graphics?" Again, time to do some exploration into what's out there. Pyglet looks promising, but it hasn't been updated since July 2012. There are some focused libraries that don't try to do everything, like SplatGL, but it's pretty new and there aren't many examples. PyGame appears popular, and there's even a book, so okay let's start teaching how to use PyGame. A month later, more questions: "How can I give this game I made to my friend? Even better, is there a way can I put this on my phone so I can show it to kids at school without them having to install it?" Um. All of these questions have put me off of Python as a teaching language. While there's rigor in learning how to code in an old-school way--files of algorithmic scripts that generate monochromatic textual output in a terminal window--you have to recognize the isolation that comes with it and how far away this is from what people want to make. Yes, you can find add-on packages for just about anything, but which ones have been through the sweat and swearing of serious projects, and which are well-intentioned today but unsupported tomorrow? The rise of non-desktop platforms complicates matters, and I can sympathize. My goal in learning Erlang was to get away from C and C++ and shift my thinking to a higher level. I proved that I could use Erlang and a purely functional style to work in the domain that everyone is most scared of: games. Then the iPhone came out and that was that. Erlang wasn't an option. It's with all of this in mind that my recommended language for teaching beginners is now Javascript. I know, I know, it's quirky and sometimes outright weird, but overall it's decent and modern enough. More importantly it's sitting on top of an unprecedentedly ubiquitous cross-platform toolkit for layout, typography, and rendering. Want to display UI elements, images, or text? Use HTML directly. Want to do graphics or animation? Use canvas. I expect some horrified reactions to this change of thinking, at least to the slight degree that one can apply horrified to a choice of programming language. Those reactions should have nothing to do with the shortcomings of Javascript. They should be because I dismissed so many other languages without considering their features, type systems, or syntaxes, simply because they aren't natively supported by modern web browsers. Video it was a strange time in my life / 2015-01-21 07:42 What’s the probability that an n-digit palindrome chosen at random is divisible by 11? God plays dice (Michael Lugo) / 2015-01-21 03:42 James Tanton asked in a tweet: what’s the probability that an n-digit palindrome chosen at random is divisible by 11? This depends heavily on$n$. In particular, if$n$is even, the probability is 1. We can notice that$11, 1001, 100001, \cdots$are each multiples of 11 (these are$11 \times 1, 11 \times 91, 11 \times 9091, \cdots$) and write a palindrome as a sum of multiples of these. For example $52744275 = 5 \times 10000001 + 2 \times 10 \times 100001 + 7 \times 100 \times 1001 + 4 \times 1000 \times 11$ is a multiple of 11. Let’s also consider the case where the digit count is odd. This is a bit trickier, and Mike Lawler (https://mikesmathpage.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/a-nice-divisibility-rule-problem-from-james-tanton/) and his younger son worked out that out of the 900 palindromes with five digits, 82 are divisible by 11.. In the three-digit case it’s not hard to find the full list of palindromes divisible by 11, and there are eight of them, from a total of 90. they’re 121, 242, 363, 484, 616, 737, 858, 969. There’s an obvious pattern here – consecutive elements of the list differ by 121, except when they don’t (going from 484 to 616). So let’s go back to the notation and say we’re consider an $n$-digit palindrome where $n = 2k+1$. We want to iterate over possible “first halves” of the palindrome and figure out what the middle digit should be: we’re answering questions like “what five-digit palindrome starting with 28 is divisible by 11?” There is at most one $(2k+1)$-digit palindrome with any first $k$-digit number which is divisible by 11. Consider the numbers $28082, 28182, \ldots, 28982.$ Each of these differs by 100 from the last one, which is one more than a multiple of 11, so when we reduce mod 11 we get $k, k+1, \ldots, k+9$ which are all different. Unless 28082 happens to be one more than a multiple of 11, one of these is a multiple of 11. As it turns out, 28082 is one {\it less} than a multiple of 11, and 28182 is a multiple of 11: $28182 = 11 \times 2562$. So there is either zero or one palindrome of each of the forms $10x01, 11x11, 12x21, \ldots, 99x99$. When is there no such palindrome? Observe that, for example, $12000 - 21 = (10000 + 2000) - (20 + 1) = (10000 - 1) + 10 \times 2 \times (100 - 1)$$
and so 12000 and 21 differ by a multiple of 11. So $12x21$ and $24x00$ are congruent mod 11. To get $24x00$ to be a multiple of 11 we need $24x$ (that is, $240 + x$) to be a multiple of 11 – so we take $x = 2$. Indeed, $12221$ is a multiple of 11, with $12221 = 11 \times 1111$.

But consider, for example, the number $27x72$. This is congruent to $54x00$ mod 11, and is a multiple of 11 if and only if $54x$ is – but none of $540, 541, \ldots, 549$ are divisible by 11. Working backwards, this can be traced back to the fact that $27 \equiv 5 \pmod 11$.

So the five-digit palindromes divisible by 11 are in one-to-one correspondence with the integers in $10, 11, \ldots, 99$ which are not congruent to 5 mod 11 — of which there are $90 - 8 = 82$. This generalizes to $(4k+1)$-digit palindromes: there are 8182 nine-digit palindromes divisible by 11 (out of 90000 nine-digit palindromes), 818182 thirteen-digit palindromes (out of , and so on. These look an awful lot like the decimal expansion of $9/11$, and in fact

For palindromes with three, seven, eleven, … digits the arithmetic works out a bit differently – but the final result can be expressed in this form: the number of $(2k+1)$-digit palindromes divisible by 11 is the closest integer to $(9 \times 10^k)/11$. The probability that Tanton asked for is almost exactly 1/11 — the same as the probability that a random integer is divisible by $1/11$. The fact that the palindrome constraint has no effect is… obvious? Totally surprising. To be honest I don’t know.

Open interviews for Assistant Managers: Wednesdays, 5pm-8pm
Clover Food Lab (Megan) / 2015-01-21 03:42

Megan here. It’s hard to believe, but in 2015 we’ll double in size. I’m focusing on hiring amazing assistant managers who might one day grow into general managers and run their own Clover one day. Sean suggested we hold open interviews, and we’re going to see how it goes. We’re looking for folks who love food and hard work, and have at 1-3 years experience in a manager or assistant manager role at a restaurant.

Starting tomorrow, every Wednesday from 5-7pm at CloverHSQ (7 Holyoke Street, Cambridge), we’ll be hosting open interviews for assistant managers. If you’d like to participate in these open interviews:

1.) Fill out the following application:https://cloverfoodlab.wufoo.com/forms/zmjw1ct0rihvw5/

2.) Come to CloverHSQ (7 Holyoke) any Wednesday from 5pm-7pm.

The post Open interviews for Assistant Managers: Wednesdays, 5pm-8pm appeared first on Clover Food Lab.

Feministe (tigtog) / 2015-01-21 00:42

Requested in the Open Thread: a thread just for discussing this years State Of The Union speech.

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Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday
Feministe (Jill) / 2015-01-21 00:42

Promote yourself.

Netiquette reminders:

• Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
• we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
• extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.

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Good Question: Respecting Women
Feministe (tigtog) / 2015-01-21 00:42

What are we generally thinking of when we say ‘Respect Women’?

i.e. are we simply asking for the status quo to stop acting as if women must earn basic human rights, or are we selfishly demanding special female rights (with chivalry sprinkles on top)? Because it sure seems like some people think feminists are asking for one thing while other people are damn sure they’re hearing feminists demand the other thing.

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Hermione Granger and the Giving of No Fucks
Feministe (Caperton) / 2015-01-21 00:42

It’s Friday, and it’s been a rough week, and it’s been an even rougher two weeks, and more or less the entire world deserves better than it’s been getting, and here’s what the Harry Potter series would look like if Hermione were the main character.

“Do you know who that is? That’s Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived.”

“It’s funny you should say that, because I’m Hermione Granger, The Girl Who Gave Literally Zero Fucks.”

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Open Thread with Unsure Pine Marten
Feministe (tigtog) / 2015-01-21 00:42

This pine marten, not too sure about the snow at the British Wildlife Centre, features for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

Pine Marten – not sure about the snow | uploaded to Flick by Chris Parker (CC BY-ND 2.0)

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?

* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

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The Cosby jokes at the Golden Globes
Feministe (Caperton) / 2015-01-21 00:42

[Content note for rape]

During their opening monologue at the Golden Globes last night, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler went there: They went straight in with a series of very direct jokes about the rape allegations against Bill Cosby.

The video is online; the transcript is below.

AMY POEHLER. In Into the Woods, Cinderella runs from her prince, Rapunzel is thrown from a tower for her prince, and Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Billy Cosby.

[Gasps and laughter from the crowd]

TINA FEY. You know, actually, I don’t know if you guys saw this on the news today, but Bill Cosby has finally spoken out about the allegations against him. Cosby admitted to a reporter, [dropping her voice in a pretty lousy impersonation of Billy Cosby] “I put the pills in the people.” [More laughter from the crowd] The people did not want the pills in them.”

AP. No, Tina, that — hey…

TF. What?

AP [shaking her head]. That’s not right. That’s not right. It’s more like, [in a somewhat more accurate Cosby impersonation] “I got the pills in my bathrobe and I put ‘em in the people.”

[Crowd laughter]

TF. You’re right. It’s gotta be, like, [again with the Cosby] “I put the pills in the hoagies.”

AP. Yeah. That’s it. That’s fair.

TF. That seems fair.

When a rape joke is at the expense of the alleged* rapist, and not the victims, is it okay? Or if not okay, at least better? Is making a joke about a rapist automatically making light of rape? Would his victims (who now number, I believe, 24) hear this joke and feel dismissed or affirmed?

What’s strong about this joke is the boldness in asserting This fucker did this. He drugged these women. It wasn’t a comment on rape accusations — it was a comment on rape. And maybe I’m just reading things into this — maybe I just don’t want to believe that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler really think that this whole thing is legitimately fodder for jokes — but I’m also getting a sense that they were going for the gasps more than the laughs, taking an opportunity to say, Here’s your guy, Hollywood.

I’d say my own reaction was much like Jessica Chastain’s as shown in the crowd reaction shot — hand-over-the-open-mouth, half-laugh, half-cringe, additional half-surprise that they went there. And at the same time, impressed — impressed that on national TV, at one of Hollywood’s favorite self-congratulatory events, they came out and said, in essence, Fuck this guy. I just hope it wasn’t at the expense of his victims, or any others. But then, I’m a humorless feminist.

*CYA

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Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday
Feministe (Jill) / 2015-01-21 00:42

Promote yourself.

Netiquette reminders:

• Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
• we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
• extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.

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Feministe (tigtog) / 2015-01-21 00:42

A fluffy bunny jumping a hurdle as part of an obstacle race features for this week’s Open Thread. I felt the need for fluff. Please link to more fluffy stuff as you natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

By sv:User:Wikkie (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?

* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

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Cantonese input methods
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2015-01-20 23:42

Despite the efforts of the central government to clamp down on and diminish the role of Cantonese in education and in public life generally, the language has been experiencing a heady resurgence, especially in connection with the prolonged Umbrella Movement last fall.

"Cantonese resurgent" (12/11/12)

"Cantonese protest slogans" (10/26/14), etc.

Of course, if you write by hand, you're not constrained by electronic fonts, but can use any special characters you wish.  But if you want to enter Cantonese into electronic devices, then you are subject to various constraints, including your own ability to interface with the software.  From what I've personally witnessed and from what my informants tell me, people rely on one or more of the following methods to input Cantonese, usually in combination:

Hanyu Pinyin (the official romanization of the PRC)

Jyutping (romanization developed by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong and favored by linguists, but not official)

Yale (widely used for teaching Cantonese) or other romanization

Touch pads (finger tracing / writing) — often users switch to this only when they have to write a Cantonese character that is not in normal fonts

And, believe it or not, English!  Many of my HK friends use English (words) — at least part of the time — to input Cantonese.  For example, if you type in "umbrella", you can select from saan3 傘, jyu5saan3 雨傘, or ze1 遮.

Bob Bauer polled the 14 students in his class at the University of Hong Kong on what input methods they use for Chinese characters.  Here are the results:

 Method Computer Other devices 速成 ("rapid") [modified form of Tsang-chieh] 6 4 倉頡 (Tsang-chieh) 3 2 拼音 (pinyin) 3 3 筆 劃 (strokes) 0 8 *iPhone 手指 (finger) (1) 1 諸音符號 (bopomofo) 1 0 PenPower (relies on scanning) 1 0

*This student said she indirectly input Chinese characters into her computer with her iPhone which automatically emailed to her computer the Chinese texts she had written on the iPhone with her finger.

As a friend from Hong Kong puts it:

…people use all kinds of methods (倉頡 [Tsang-chieh]、速成 ["rapid"]、粵語拼音 [romanization for Cantonese]、漢語拼音 [Hanyu Pinyin]、九方 [Q9]).  I guess it depends on the age of the person?  A lot of the pre-1997 generation use touch pads (finger writing), this is because they don't know any other writing systems without exerting a lot of effort in learning.

As another friend put it, for "casual, brief" writing of actual Cantonese (as opposed to "Chinese"), people will often rely on writing on a touch pad with one's finger, but that doesn't seem to be much favored for longer and more "formal" (i.e., "Chinese" [zung1man4 中文]) texts.

Up to now, the situation has been fairly messy and complicated, for most people often involving reliance on multiple methods, because of the following reasons:

1. lack of an official Cantonese romanization that is taught in the schools to all students

2. an abundance of special characters for writing Cantonese that are not in usual fonts (to write Cantonese, you need a thousand or more of them)

3. strong discouragement of students from writing Cantonese by teachers and educational authorities, hence lack of familiarity with writing Cantonese and the failure to sanction input methods for Cantonese in schools and universities

4. minimal commitment of software companies to develop input methods designed especially for Cantonese (as opposed to zung1man4 中文 ["written Chinese"])

The good news is that Google recently introduced a powerful method for inputting Cantonese that is succinctly described in this short video.  Even if your spelling is not perfect, the system is "intelligent" enough to guess at what you're trying to type.  I suspect that, with the advent of Google's Cantonese input method, people will be further encouraged to write in Cantonese, since the burden of switching from one imperfect system to another will be obviated.

For many additional posts on Cantonese and related issues, see here.

[Hat tip James Dew; thanks to Bob Bauer, Mandy Chan, Dehuai Yao, and Norman Leung]

Presidential pronouns: This time it's Ron Fournier
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2015-01-20 23:42

Ron Fournier, "Is Obama More Interested in Progress or Politics?", National Journal, 1/20/2015:

Count how many times Obama uses the words "I," "me," and "my." Compare that number to how often he says, "You," "we," "our." If the first number is greater than the second, Obama has failed.

This leads naturally to a different question: "Is Ron Fournier More Interested in Analysis or in Bullshit?" (where I mean "bullshit" in the technical philosophical sense, of course).

If Ron Fournier had spent a minute or two looking into the facts of the matter, he would have discovered these plots, presented in "The evolution of SOTU pronouns", 1/28/2014:

They show that

• ALL presidents since WWII have used substantially more first-person-plural pronouns than first-person-singular pronouns in the SOTU messages;
• Adding second-person pronouns makes the disproportion even larger;
• Obama is pretty much in the middle of the pack on all the relevant measures.

He would also have found this table, in a blog post by Eric Ostermeier, "Obama's SOTU: Uniting the Country…through Pronouns?", 1/31/2011:

I'm therefore willing to place a substantial wager with Ron Fournier as to the outcome of his pronoun count. But I'm betting that he won't take the bet, because his column exemplifies Harry Frankfurt's analysis of "the bullshitter":

Both he and the liar represent themselves falsely as endeavoring to communicate the truth. The success of each depends upon deceiving us about that. But the fact about himself that the liar hides is that he is attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality; we are not to know that he wants us to believe something he supposes to be false. The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor to conceal it. This does not mean that his speech is anarchically impulsive, but that the motive guiding and controlling it is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are.

By suggesting that tonight's SOTU address might conceivably fail that pronoun-ratio test (because Obama, as Everyone Knows, is the greatest narcissist blah blah), Mr. Fournier is reprising a sub-theme of the Great Obama Pronoun Fantasy, variants of which seem to draw pundits like flies to rotting meat. An earlier version of the we-me sub-meme was promoted a few years ago by Stanley Fish, discussed in "Inaugural pronouns", 6/8/2009, where I offered this table:

 1st singular 1st plural 1stPlural/1stSingular ratio WJ Clinton 1 (1993) 0.93% 7.70% 6.1 WJ Clinton 2 (1997) 0.37% 6.10% 16.5 GW Bush 1 (2001) 0.94% 6.96% 7.4 GW Bush 2 (2005) 0.48% 4.41% 9.2 BH Obama 1 (2009) 0.21% 6.48% 31.2

For those with a perverse interest in our more distinguished purveyors of Bos taurus feces, here some other posts on similar topics:

"Fact-checking George F. Will", 6/7/2009
"Obama's Imperial 'I': Spreading the meme", 6/8/2009
"Inaugural pronouns", 6/8/2009
"Royal baloney", 6/9/2009
"Another pack member heard from", 6/9/2009
"I again", 7/13/2009
"'I' is a camera", 7/18/2009
"What is 'I' saying?", 8/9/2009
"Open fraud as Op-Ed discourse", 7/10/2010
""A sociopath and narcissist and manipulator"", 8/9/2010
"Fact-checking George F. Will, one more time", 10/6/2009
"Presidential pronouns, one more time", 5/22/2011
"Two more pundits who don't count", 6/21/2011
"Another pundit who can't (or won't) count", 6/23/2011
"Republican self-referentiality", 6/27/2011
"A meme in hibernation", 3/31/2012
"Another lie from George Will", 5/7/2012
"Obama pronouns again", 10/31/2012
"First Person Singular, Redemption Plea Edition", 1/11/2014
"Another casual lie from Charles Krauthammer", 9/16/2014
"Colbert on Krauthammer", 9/24/2014
"Buzzfeed linguistics, presidential pronouns, and narcissism revisited", 10/21/2014

Update — the "remarks as prepared for delivery" version of the speech pretty closely matches the pronoun rates of Obama's previous SOTUs: in 6567 words, there are

• 97 first-person singular pronouns, for a rate of 1.48%;
• 34 second-person pronouns, for a rate of 0.52%;
• 312 first-person plural pronouns, for a rate of 4.75%.

More specifically:

 I 71 me 9 my 16 mine 1 we 175 us 28 our 108 ours 1 you 25 your 9

So Fournier's bizarrely careless enumeration (I, me, my vs. you, we, our) adds up as

71+9+16 = 96 = 1.46%
25+175+108 = 308 = 4.96%

…and so by Fournier's metric, Obama succeeds by a factor of 308/96 = 3.2 to 1.

Private / public
Russell Davies (russell davies) / 2015-01-20 23:42

We went to the World Snooker at the weekend. Was good. You could rent these little radios to listen to the whispering-in-the-background bit of the TV commentary, so you can hear what's going on but not disturb the play.

So you get this strange dynamic where some of the people there are connected by a secret audio channel, some people are in on a secret joke and some aren't.

For instance, while one of the players was lining up a shot someone in the crowd sneezed, and one of the commentators, in the ears of about a third of the people, said 'bless you' and a bunch of people did a little giggle. So, if you didn't have earphones, you'd have heard - sneeze, pause, giggle. With slightly strange timing. And every now and then, there'd be a joke on the commentary and a bunch of people would laugh and the players would wonder what was going on.

Not a big thing but an odd dynamic that you could probably work up into a reckon on Medium about social networks. Or maybe it's one for the analogy library

Linkspams on a plane (20 January 2015)
Geek Feminism Blog (spam-spam) / 2015-01-20 22:42

• Gamergate Target Zoe Quinn Launches Anti-Harassment Support Network | Wired: “Co-founded by Quinn and fellow game developer Alex Lifschitz, the Crash Override network provides advice, resources, and support from survivors with personal experience to those facing harassment. The network, which officially launched Friday, also offers access to “experts in information security, whitehat hacking, PR, law enforcement, legal, threat monitoring and counseling.””
• Beautiful Illustrations Empowering All Women Part 2 | GeekXGirls: “Artist Carol Rossetti created these beautiful reminders for all women, and now we’ve even got some geek specific ones relating to cosplay harassment and the “fake gamer girl” witchhunt.”
• Belief that some fields require ‘brilliance’ may keep women out | Science/AAAS | News: “The authors suggest that faculty members and graduate student instructors convey their attitudes to undergraduates, who internalize them before making career decisions. Given the prevailing societal view that fewer women than men have special intellectual abilities, they speculate, female students may feel discouraged from pursuing advanced degrees in fields that consider brilliance crucial. Male students, on the other hand, will not experience this same feedback, leading to a gender disparity in the discipline.”
• Representation of women and the genius myth | mathbabe: “If you think about it, it’s actually a pretty reasonable roadmap for how to attract a more diverse group of people to mathematics or other subjects. You just need to create an environment of learning that emphasizes practice over genius. Actively dispel the genius myth.”
• On Tone Policing Linus Torvalds, or…| Many machines on Ix. : “What Linus undoubtedly sees as some sort of confident swagger in the way he writes, he comes across as acting like a child.  ”I care about the technology,” he told Ars Technica. But when he talks about other people’s work, the technical details are buried under a thick layer of lazy rhetorical flourishes that just Linus trying to show off… It’s the bluster of a bully, someone who can’t or won’t discuss a disagreement on equal terms, because he think he doesn’t have to.”
• My boyfriend in Dragon Age: Inquisition broke my heart when he told me he was gay | Technology | The Guardian: “Consent is sexy. Consent is cool. Consent is a very important thing, for women and men, and now it’s in big blockbuster video games. Dragon Age: Inquisition is easily the most personal, well-designed relationship system I’ve ever seen – and if we learn anything at all from the media we consume, then our awkward, virtual sexual encounters in games like this could maybe shape us all into better, more respectful people.”
• How crowdfunding helps haters profit from harassment | Boing Boing: [CW: misogynist speech highlighted in header image, harassment] “Crowdfunding services have the duty not only to be aware of who they are doing business with, but also to care when their rules are flaunted. If they don’t, ruining a woman’s life will remain gainful self-employment for these professional victimizers.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Oxfam report on rich bastards
Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2015-01-20 21:42

The New York Times ran a story on Oxfam’s “warning about deepening global inequality”. It seems that 80 rich bastards have $1.9 trillion, “nearly the same amount shared by the 3.5 billion people who occupy the bottom half of the world’s income scale.” Could this be right? The most valuable capital on the planet is human capital–the ability of people to produce stuff. The gross world product (GWP) is currently at about$75 trillion in nominal dollars (assuming that is also the unit for the $1.9 trillion). So if these 80 rich people wanted to be generous they could fund a 10-day vacation for everyone on the planet who is currently working. Ergo they are certainly rich but aren’t 3.5 billion people way richer if you factor in their ability to produce stuff? Can Paris recover its association with casual romance? Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2015-01-20 21:42 The attacks in Paris on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket were a lot more like Team America than the usual Air France poster. In working on the Indiana chapter for our book on family law nationwide we encountered the old image of Paris: Can the mother [of the child of a casual encounter] wait until the child is 19 and then file a lawsuit for child support retroactive to the birth? “She can actually wait until the child is two years past 19,” said [our interviewee]. He sent us a case that his partner handled, In the Matter of the Paternity of A.J.R., 702 N.E. 2nd 355 (1998). As in some other states, much regarding money flows between unmarried parents is not public. This appeals court case uses initials to refer to the litigants. The mother was a 33-year-old graduate student and the father was a 23-year-old undergrad who “engaged in sexual intercourse with each other during their [1983] stay in Paris.” [emphasis added] The father went to graduate school (with no taxable income) and then worked as a research fellow at low wages while the mother became a professor at the University of Minnesota. Just as the father was completing his professional training, in 1995, the mother began pressing the father for support for the 11-year-old girl. The girl was 14 when the trial court finally ordered to pay$6,760 per year in child support going forward plus $21,710 in retroactive support (starting two years prior to the mother’s filing of the lawsuit). The father was also ordered to pay for the mother’s “prenatal, delivery, and post delivery medical services,” plus interest going back to 1983. The mother had been on sabbatical in West Africa just after starting her lawsuit and the father was ordered to pay for her trip back to England for blood testing. The father was finally ordered to pay for 100 percent of the mother’s legal fees. The total amount of the order would have been roughly$100,000 in 2015 dollars.

The appeals court trimmed back some of the mother’s gains at trial, noting that the father had only recently begun earning a professor’s salary at the time of the lawsuit and therefore it was unfair to use that salary for calculating retroactive support. The appeals court also noted that the mother should pay her own legal fees because she earned slightly more than the father, had been working at a professor’s salary for 10 additional years, and did not have two additional children at home to support as did the father.

Our take-away from the appellate case: Don’t drink too much Champagne when you’re in Paris! And child support is retroactive to two years before a case is filed. [Unlike some other states where a mother can wait until a child is an adult and still collect full child support back to the child's birth (actually more than full since judicial interest tends to be a higher rate than market interest) from a father who had been unaware of the child's existence.]

Of course, the academics-turned-litigants came back to reality after they got back home from Paris but presumably they enjoyed a romantic time when visiting.

What do readers think? Is Paris’s image as a place for a romantic weekend seriously damaged by the recent shootings?

Why was AirAsia climbing at 6000 feet per minute?
Philip Greenspun's Weblog (philg) / 2015-01-20 21:42

Friends have been emailing to ask why AirAsia 8501 was climbing at 6000 feet minute (BBC News) before crashing. The transport minister said “No passenger or fighter jet would attempt to climb so fast.” What is missing from these articles is that an American thunderstorm can generate updrafts of 4000 to 5000 feet per minute (see this meteorologist’s presentation to an FAA group). A tropical thunderstorm has even more energy and could presumably generate the full 6000′ climb rate even without any pilot action. Of course, it is also possible that the pilots were trying to out-climb the cloud and the rate of climb was a combination of updraft and pilot action. This is suggested by the subhead: “climbed too fast before stalling.” An aerodynamic stall occurs when a pilot pulls the nose up too high relative to the airstream in an attempt to climb, thus creating an “angle of attack” greater than about 16 degrees. This is what happened to Air France 447 (note that the pilots in that incident could have saved the airplane during the first minute or so simply by pushing the stick forward).

You might ask has anything like this ever happened to me? The answer is “sort of”. I once departed Teterboro, New Jersey, which is in some of the world’s busiest airspace and therefore a place in which ATC instructions need to be followed precisely to avoid the risk of collision. I was flying a Cirrus SR20, which doesn’t have the onboard weather radar of a jet. There were some scattered cells of rain in the area and ATC vectored me directly into one. Soon the Cirrus was climbing at 2000 feet per minute, despite having cruise power and pitch angle selected. I pulled the power back and pushed the nose down for a 1500 fpm descent, concentrating on keeping the wings level in the turbulence and the airspeed moderate so as to keep the stress on the airframe low (going fast in turbulence can cause things to bend or crack). The result was a net 500 fpm climb and I told ATC that I was unable to maintain my assigned altitude. Eventually the plane came out the other side and we were never at risk, but it was a sobering reminder that while the pilot has near-complete control of aircraft attitude that is not the same thing as having complete control of the aircraft’s position in the sky. Note that this was in the winter during an unusually warm spell and none of the clouds would have qualified as a true thunderstorm. The AirAsia pilots had a much more capable airplane but also much more challenging and violent weather.

Do a web search for “thunderstorm updraft airplane” and you’ll find a lot of sobering articles on the subject.

Related:

Open interviews for Assistant Managers: Wednesdays, 5pm-8pm
Clover Food Lab (Megan) / 2015-01-20 20:42

We’re growing fast. It’s hard to believe, but in 2015 we’ll double in size. To be our best, we need amazing assistant managers who might one day grow into general managers and run their own Clover one day. Sean suggested we hold open interviews, and we’re going to see how it goes. We’re looking for folks who love food and hard work, and have at 1-3 years experience in a manager or assistant manager role at a restaurant.

Starting tomorrow, every Wednesday from 5-7pm at CloverHSQ (7 Holyoke Street, Cambridge), we’ll be hosting open interviews for assistant managers. If you’d like to participate in these open interviews:

1.) Fill out the following application:https://cloverfoodlab.wufoo.com/forms/zmjw1ct0rihvw5/

2.) Come to CloverHSQ (7 Holyoke) any Wednesday from 5pm-7pm.

The post Open interviews for Assistant Managers: Wednesdays, 5pm-8pm appeared first on Clover Food Lab.

3pm special: thick potato chips
Clover Food Lab (lucia) / 2015-01-20 20:42

We’re going to be selling Clover food during the intermissions of Hasty Pudding shows this year. It’s one of a bunch of really cool collaborations we’re doing with Hasty Pudding this year.

Chris brought these potato chips as an idea and we tinkered with the recipe until we got something we loved. We’re featuring them at 3pm at all locations for the next 2-3 days.

The post 3pm special: thick potato chips appeared first on Clover Food Lab.

They were the first.
Clover Food Lab (lucia) / 2015-01-20 20:42

Back when Ayr and Rolando were first figuring out coffee, they turned to Barrington Coffee. They tasted water with them, compared filters, learned everything there was to know about various types of roasts, and asked a lot of questions. Should we do espresso? French press? Pour-over? How would we source coffee? What type of coffee would customers love? Barth of Barrington Roasters provided tons of information, sometimes more than you’d ever want to know.

They settled on Casa Ruiz, a beautiful Panamanian coffee from Barrington Roasters, and featured it for several years. That was me back in 2010 at the Dewey truck doing a tasting with Barrington.

We’re thrilled to welcome Barrington back at all our locations. We’re featuring their Barreiro, a really beautiful coffee grown in Brazil. And we’re hitting our Brookline, Boston, and Cambridge locations with coffee and donuts events. There are 20 spots for each event, so sign up now!

The post They were the first. appeared first on Clover Food Lab.

Cantonese input methods
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2015-01-20 19:42

Despite the efforts of the central government to clamp down on and diminish the role of Cantonese in education and in public life generally, the language has been experiencing a heady resurgence, especially in connection with the prolonged Umbrella Movement last fall.

"Cantonese resurgent" (12/11/12)

"Cantonese protest slogans" (10/26/14), etc.

Of course, if you write by hand, you're not constrained by electronic fonts, but can use any special characters you wish.  But if you want to enter Cantonese into electronic devices, then you are subject to various constraints, including your own ability to interface with the software.  From what I've personally witnessed and from what my informants tell me, people rely on one or more of the following methods to input Cantonese, usually in combination:

Hanyu Pinyin (the official romanization of the PRC)

Jyutping (romanization developed by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong and favored by linguists, but not official)

Yale (widely used for teaching Cantonese) or other romanization

Touch pads (finger tracing / writing) — often users switch to this only when they have to write a Cantonese character that is not in normal fonts

And, believe it or not, English!  Many of my HK friends use English (words) — at least part of the time — to input Cantonese.  For example, if you type in "umbrella", you can select from saan3 傘, jyu5saan3 雨傘, or ze1 遮.

Bob Bauer polled the 14 students in his class at the University of Hong Kong on what input methods they use for Chinese characters.  Here are the results:

Method                      Computer                     Other Devices

6                                             4

*iPhone 手指 (finger):      (1)                                            1

PenPower (relies heavily on scanning):

1                                              0

—-

*This student said she indirectly input Chinese characters into her computer with her iPhone which automatically emailed to her computer the Chinese texts she had written on the iPhone with her finger.

As a friend from Hong Kong puts it:

…people use all kinds of methods (倉頡 [Tsang-chieh]、速成 ["rapid"]、粵語拼音 [romanization for Cantonese]、漢語拼音 [Hanyu Pinyin]、九方 [Q9]).  I guess it depends on the age of the person?  A lot of the pre-1997 generation use touch pads (finger writing), this is because they don't know any other writing systems without exerting a lot of effort in learning.

As another friend put it, for "casual, brief" writing of actual Cantonese (as opposed to "Chinese"), people will often rely on writing on a touch pad with one's finger, but that doesn't seem to be much favored for longer and more "formal" (i.e., "Chinese" [zung1man4 中文]) texts.

Up to now, the situation has been fairly messy and complicated, for most people often involving reliance on multiple methods, because of the following reasons:

1. lack of an official Cantonese romanization that is taught in the schools to all students

2. an abundance of special characters for writing Cantonese that are not in usual fonts (to write Cantonese, you need a thousand or more of them)

3. strong discouragement of students from writing Cantonese by teachers and educational authorities, hence lack of familiarity with writing Cantonese and the failure to sanction input methods for Cantonese in schools and universities

4. minimal commitment of software companies to develop input methods designed especially for Cantonese (as opposed to zung1man4 中文 ["written Chinese"])

The good news is that Google recently introduced a powerful method for inputting Cantonese that is succinctly described in this short video.  Even if your spelling is not perfect, the system is "intelligent" enough to guess at what you're trying to type.  I suspect that, with the advent of Google's Cantonese input method, people will be further encouraged to write in Cantonese, since the burden of switching from one imperfect system to another will be obviated.

For many additional posts on Cantonese and related issues, see here.

[Hat tip James Dew; thanks to Bob Bauer, Mandy Chan, Dehuai Yao, and Norman Leung]

Packaging changes in lirc 0.9.2
Arch Linux: Recent news updates (Lukas Fleischer) / 2015-01-20 19:42

For consistency with upstream naming, the lirc-utils package was renamed to lirc. The wpc8769l kernel drivers were dropped and can be obtained by installing lirc-wpc8769l from the AUR.

Note that 0.9.2 is a major release and comes along with several upstream and packaging changes. In particular, the irexec.service systemd unit was removed. Please edit and copy the template /usr/share/lirc/contrib/irexec.service if you want to keep using that service.

→ What Doesn’t Seem Like Work?
Marco.org / 2015-01-20 18:42

Paul Graham:

If something that seems like work to other people doesn’t seem like work to you, that’s something you’re well suited for.

Product team on the grow
From decklin's contacts (graysky.) / 2015-01-20 15:42

graysky. posted a photo:

via Instagram ift.tt/1yGGFbl

So this is happening. See yall tonightly on @thenightlyshow !! #keepit100
From decklin's contacts (baratunde) / 2015-01-20 15:42

baratunde posted a photo:

Brands Exploiting MLK Day: Not Just the Most Horrible Offenders, But Why
BAGnewsNotes (Michael Shaw) / 2015-01-20 15:42

A number of advertising and branding sites called out corporate tweets in poor taste on Martin Luther King day (123). In general though, these posts didn’t go far enough in categorizing the type and degree of the offending message or elaborating why. Focusing on tweets that were visual or hinged on visual language, I’ve identified those that substantially or completely co-opted MLK into the brand, and in some instances, were overtly racist.

As much as everyone loves crayons and the image does connote a human rainbow, the path of “inspiration” here does not begin and end with the man but, in a visually seductive and a shallow and mercantile way, leads the eye (in a mindless way) to the goods.  Also, if you want to really get down to it, it ain’t all that black and brown as much as its another example of how King’s message has been homogenized. If children draw in color, the photo is more a sad and ironic reminder that people today hardly dream about racial equality.

And then, don’t you love the ratio of white crayons to colored crayons?

If this tweet channels black goals and higher aspirations into base commercial interests (fulfillment is a burger or a new TV set), the idealization of an office product is at least more utilitarian. To the extent King’s message was economic though, it reduces the the larger aspirations of African-Americans to pushing paper clips.

With drugs being a significant part of the poverty and inequality equation (with kids also looking to the cheapest over-the-counter medication for social pain relief), how offensive this brand would equate King’s dream with self-medication.

What’s notable here is how such a tasteful and sophisticated brand can also rip “the King brand.” Who would consciously realize, by the way, that Saks might be absorbing the luster of King’s dream of racial justice into its own signature black and white. The exploitation is also in the typography.

It’s not that the fonts are exactly the same or even that close. Turning King’s most famous and inspiration quote into a classy typographic display, however, not only turns King into Saks’s stylish cousin but, audaciously, lends the sense of King speaking for Saks in the richest and most elite language.

What’s wrong with the Seattle Seahawks tweet that was subsequently deleted yesterday? It’s not just the exploitation of King’s famous phrase to illustrate the team’s momentous comeback in the NFC Championship game. It’s also the sports industrial complex — further stereotyping blacks as athletes and actors — co-oping faith, heart and sacrifice as the vehicle and price of entertainment, not social justice.

The Business Insider post didn’t point this out, and its possible PETA’s shock value tactics might have something to do with it, but the way the phrase is composed, one reading equates blacks with tortured animals. (The connection comes from the “&” following the reference to King also referring to King’s descendants and followers who continue to fight abuse.) With protests against police violence and the gunning down of black citizens very much in the news now, this is beyond offensive.

I don’t have to tell you how nauseating this is, the Marines MARSOC, or special ops and counter-terrorism arm, “honoring” “King weekend” (not the man himself, you’ll notice) with the image of not just a lone shooter, but a state sniper. (Yes, this tweet was deleted too, followed by an apology.) Besides conjuring King’s assassination, though, the ad infers that the threat to your life and your safety (especially two weeks after the Paris shootings) is coming from blacks or black Muslims. (The braided curtains, the hanging fabric and the cross-hatch pattern on the opposite wall does give this a feeling of the Islamic world.)

Of course — with the use of extreme force and the militarization of local police forces being the catalyst for the racial protests roiling the country today — how ironic the message here is to rest assured, keep those guns in your night tables, and  let the Marine commandos handle it. (And what about the irony here of the spade logo?)

Not to completely leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, this hamburger chain goes completely the other way. The White Castle tweet actually does a number on the white-dominated, grid-locked, polarized and bought-off Washington in the brand’s favor while dignifying King’s aura and memory in the process. Simply, the satire has to do with framing Washington and Congress as a “White Castle” and so much of what King’s dream is up against. Touché.

(credit: Marine Tweet – via Uproxx.com via Business Insider)

After Brooklyn Execution, Has Media Sympathy Shifted Pro-Police?
BAGnewsNotes (Michael Shaw) / 2015-01-20 15:42

With all the controversy over police violence, many have looked toward the videotaping of police activity as a practical deterrent, or at least, an important tool for accountability. A police shooting in Montana and the subsequent use of that video, however, not only raises disturbing questions but opens a Pandora’s Box of new concerns over how and how much these videos can be selectively edited and distributed as propaganda … and how much the media can collude with the state to distribute these versions. It also raise the question whether the recent execution of two officers in Brooklyn by a disturbed African-American man with a long criminal record, intent on avenging the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, among others, has shifted media coverage more empathetically toward the police.

The gist of the story has to do with a police shooting in Billings in April 2014. That night, a camera mounted on the police dashboard captured officer Grant Morrison killing an unarmed Richard Ramirez in the back of a car when Ramirez failed to raise his arms to Morrison’s satisfaction. After the shooting and shortly after his partner took over and other officers arrived, Morrison broke down crying, also captured on the video.

Because Montana requires an inquest in the case of a police shooting, Morrison had to appear to defend his actions. As you might expect, the video was also introduced.

If you thought that the inquest jury would have simply seen this 4:26 minute version that LiveLeak posted of the shooting only, however, you’d be 100% wrong. Instead, what they saw was a version that showed the shooting and then segued to Morrison sobbing, declaring how he thought the suspect was going to pull a gun on him, followed by a period of agonizing and regretfully holding his head in his hands. (The year before, Morrison shot and killed another unarmed civilian following a routine traffic stop. Though it occurred off camera, it was videoed too and sounds eerily similar.)

By virtue of the edits they chose to release to the media, the police turned the playback into grief and remorse propaganda. One version I saw at NBC, is 3:36 long. Of that 3:36, the engagement with the suspects and the shooting lasts a minute-and-a-half as compared to the “officer remorse and crying” portion appended onto it that runs two minutes long. There are various clips on YouTube. Most prevalent is this one published by the Billings Gazette, of video from a squad car that responded to the scene. It’s 6:52 long and none of it shows the shooting, just Morrison’s reaction, including a long stretch of hyperventilating on the ground before the sobbing and soul-searching begins. The following clip from Mashable is 2:41 long and just shows the crying segment.

You’ll notice that two of the five photos from the AP article show the hearing room watching the segment of the video in which Officer Grant Morrison is crying by the train tracks.

Not only does the “crying” version of the video prejudice the events and the perception of the jury which, yes, ended up acquitting the officer in less than an hour, I should mention another curious amendment of the video. In many of the media versions, including NBC linked above, or the local KTVQ station in Billings, for example, they censors Morrison swearing. Every time the screaming and gun-brandishing Morrison swears (and and he doesn’t hold back as he’s yelling at Ramirez and the other occupants of the car), the edit bleeps the words out. Now think about that for a moment. How odd is it that, in releasing this video of an unaggravated killing, that editors would take the liberty to censor the indelicacy of the policeman’s obscenity-laced language? Is there no greater blasphemy — with some kind of indelicacy in mind — by deleting him shouting fucking-this or fucking-that eight or nine times?

Audio aside, the story is just as disturbing for the way the media ate up the propaganda. The degree of reception by news outlets, and their effective collusion with the state, is what maximizes and reinforces the conditions for playing with reality. Tragically but not surprisingly at all, the crying clip not only made the rounds nationally in traditional media and political sites, it did so because the buzz and click-bait happy news sites took the bait completely, enamoring themselves and their audience with the story and live scene of a cop who emotionally went to pieces after this “terribly unfortunate” thing he’d just done.

Even more troubling were those sites and programs — not just this CBS “Crimesider” post that, like those MSNBC shows scoring rating off the dramatization and fetishization of crime — that showed absolutely nothing of the shooting except for video of the policeman crying.

With the exoneration of Officer Morrison overlapping the backlash by the NYPD directed toward Mayor de Blasio over allegedly over-sympathizing with anti-police protesters, we have a poster example here of a serious problem with video and police accountability. It’s called over-sharing.

By the way, happy Martin Luther King day.

(photo 1: AP. photos 2 & 3: Matthew Brown/AP. caption: Police video footage of the April 2014 shooting of Richard Ramirez by Billings Police Officer Grant Morrison is shown to a seven-person jury, not pictured, in Billings, Mont. on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. The unarmed man killed by the police officer during a traffic stop was told repeatedly to raise his hands before the officer shot him three times, according to video footage. The jury will decide if the shooting was justified as part of a mandatory inquest into the shooting.)

The Crummy.com Review of Things 2014
News You Can Bruise / 2015-01-20 15:42

Another year, another blog post summing it up. Here's 2013. And here's 2014:

Creations

2014's big project was The Minecraft Archive project, which led into The Minecraft Geologic Survey, which led into the Reef series and two huge bots. I'm planning on doing a refresh of the data this year to get maps created in 2014--hopefully it'll be easier the second time.

I also finished Situation Normal, edited it and have now sent it out to editors and agents. I'm cautiously optimistic. I finished two short stories, "The Process Repeats" and "The Barrel of Yuks Rule", and like many of my stories they're a rewrite away from being sellable and who knows when I'll get the time.

I gave a talk on bots at Foolscap and a talk on improving Project Gutenberg metadata at Books in Browsers. That ties into my job at NYPL. I had a full-time job for most of this year, for the first time in a while, and 2015 is the year you'll get to use what I'm making.

Subcategory: Bots. You won't believe how many autonomous agents I created in 2014! I'm not even going to show you all of them, only the ones I'm really proud of. I'm going to order them by how much I like them, but I'll also include their current Twitter follower count--the only measurement that really matters in this post-apocalyptic world.

My secret goal for 2014 was to have a bot whose follower count was greater than my own. Minecraft Signs (probably my favorite bot of all time) came close but didn't quite make it.

I also created a bot that's so annoying I didn't release it. Maybe this year.

Film

I scaled back my film watching versus 2013, but still saw about fifty features. Here's my 2014 must-watch list. As always, only films I saw for the first time are eligible for this prestigeless nonor.

1. Pom Poko (1994)
2. Alien (1979)
3. My Love Has Been Burning (1949)
4. Seven Chances (1925)
5. A Town Called Panic (2009)
6. Alphaville (1965)
7. Frozen (2013)
8. The King of Comedy (1982)
9. Playtime (1967)
10. The Women (1939)

These are more or less the films I would watch again (a very high bar to clear), although The King of Comedy should be watched once and only once. I'm kind of surprised that Playtime got on here since I wasn't wild about it, but I really can see how it'll be better the second time.

The runners-up: films I recommend, but will probably not see again, and if you're like "aah, it's three hours long" or "aah, David Bowie alien penis", I'll understand:

1. Solaris (1972)
2. The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
4. Queen Christina (1933)
5. Paprika (2006)

Literature

Didn't read a lot of books this year, but I made them count. The Crummy.com Books of the Year are Dispatches, Michael Herr's Vietnam reporting memoir, and Phil Lapsley's phone-phreak history Exploding the Phone, which covers about the same time period. Both awesome.

Sumana and I selected Kim Stanley Robinson's "The Lucky Strike" for a Strange Horizons reprint. It's a great story.

Audio

Since I started commuting again it was a decent year for discovering new podcasts. Sumana and I love Just One More Thing, a deep-dive Columbo podcast. I also really like Omega Tau, a podcast that will do a two-part series on shipping container logistics, or a five-parter on the hardware and operation of the space shuttle. Honorable mention to the guilty pleasure-ish Laser Time, which is more or less random nostalgia but which brings out a lot of interesting deep cuts.

Games

Didn't play a lot of video games because a) Minecraft Archive Project took up all the time I used to spend playing Minecraft, and b) my desktop developed a weird problem where it abruptly powers off if I stress it too much, e.g. by playing a modern computer game. I should really address this problem, but I have not, because it does prevent me from spending too much time on games.

Played a lot of board games with friends as usual. The Crummy.com Board Game of the Year is 2014's The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, a building game that captures the true thrill of interior design. Runner-up: Hanabi, the cooperative game that magically turns passive-agressiveness into an asset that benefits all. Dishonorable mention to 1989's Sniglets, a party game where having fun requires not that you disregard the scoring system (a common thing for party games) but that you deliberately play to lose.

That reminds me, I should have mentioned in 2014's review of 2013 that Encore is a party game from 1989 that's really, really good. You have to have the right group though.

That's it! How we doin' in 2015? I'm getting a lot done. In fact I just wrote this big blog post talking about the best of 2014... oh, but you're probably not interested. See ya!

Filtered for pictures and what's OK
Interconnected (Matt Webb) / 2015-01-20 15:42

### 1.

The decision to remove Grand Theft Auto 5 from the shelves of Target and K-Mart stores in Australia caused quite the reaction, especially in the American gaming press.

The move was discussed, argued over and written about, but the act itself took place in Australia, and reflects Australian culture and history.

Grand Theft Auto 5, Australian culture, and how the American press misses the point.

What comes across in this article - through a number of examples - is that, in Australia, debate is not polarised, but We're more likely to participate in public debates about [speech and art], more likely to feel heard and have more faith in judging it.

Public discussion of what's OK.

### 2.

A neat flow diagram of the various publicly funded research projects that fed into the iPhone.

### 3.

Gorgeous pictures of 3D fractals.

### 4.

Beautiful Instagrams through aeroplane cockpit windows, but... But taking photos, or using most any electronic device, while piloting a commercial aircraft is prohibited by American and European regulators.

And:

Some also appear to be flouting even stricter regulations for takeoff and landing, when not even idle conversation is allowed in the cockpit.

But my goodness the photos are beautiful.

That question of what's OK... how do we decide... when do individuals break the rules and when don't they... how do enough individuals break the rules and go "this is the sublime, this is what being human is about" and then as society we figure out that we choose the rules, and we have to find ways of making it safe to take photos from cockpit windows and share them?

Whatever, they're only Instagrams. But pretty ones.

How do we choose what's OK?

Presidential pronouns: This time it's Ron Fournier
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2015-01-20 15:42

Ron Fournier, "Is Obama More Interested in Progress or Politics?", National Journal, 1/20/2015:

Count how many times Obama uses the words "I," "me," and "my." Compare that number to how often he says, "You," "we," "our." If the first number is greater than the second, Obama has failed.

This leads naturally to a different question: "Is Ron Fournier More Interested in Analysis or in Bullshit?" (where I mean "bullshit" in the technical philosophical sense, of course).

If Ron Fournier had spent a minute or two looking into the facts of the matter, he would have discovered these plots, presented in "The evolution of SOTU pronouns", 1/28/2014:

They show that

• ALL presidents since WWII have used substantially more first-person-plural pronouns than first-person-singular pronouns in the SOTU messages;
• Adding second-person pronouns makes the disproportion even larger;
• Obama is pretty much in the middle of the pack on all the relevant measures.

He would also have found this table, in a blog post by Eric Ostermeier, "Obama's SOTU: Uniting the Country…through Pronouns?", 1/31/2011:

I'm therefore willing to place a substantial wager with Ron Fournier as to the outcome of his pronoun count. But I'm betting that he won't take the bet, because his column exemplifies Harry Frankfurt's analysis of "the bullshitter":

Both he and the liar represent themselves falsely as endeavoring to communicate the truth. The success of each depends upon deceiving us about that. But the fact about himself that the liar hides is that he is attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality; we are not to know that he wants us to believe something he supposes to be false. The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor to conceal it. This does not mean that his speech is anarchically impulsive, but that the motive guiding and controlling it is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are.

Mr. Fournier is reprising a sub-theme of the Great Obama Pronoun Fantasy, variants of which seem to draw pundits like flies to rotting meat. An earlier version of the we-me sub-meme was promoted a few years ago by Stanley Fish, discussed in "Inaugural pronouns", 6/8/2009, where I offered this table:

 1st singular 1st plural 1stPlural/1stSingular ratio WJ Clinton 1 (1993) 0.93% 7.70% 6.1 WJ Clinton 2 (1997) 0.37% 6.10% 16.5 GW Bush 1 (2001) 0.94% 6.96% 7.4 GW Bush 2 (2005) 0.48% 4.41% 9.2 BH Obama 1 (2009) 0.21% 6.48% 31.2

For those with a perverse interest in our more distinguished purveyors of Bos taurus feces, here some other posts on similar topics:

"Fact-checking George F. Will", 6/7/2009
"Obama's Imperial 'I': Spreading the meme", 6/8/2009
"Inaugural pronouns", 6/8/2009
"Royal baloney", 6/9/2009
"Another pack member heard from", 6/9/2009
"I again", 7/13/2009
"'I' is a camera", 7/18/2009
"What is 'I' saying?", 8/9/2009
"Open fraud as Op-Ed discourse", 7/10/2010
""A sociopath and narcissist and manipulator"", 8/9/2010
"Fact-checking George F. Will, one more time", 10/6/2009
"Presidential pronouns, one more time", 5/22/2011
"Two more pundits who don't count", 6/21/2011
"Another pundit who can't (or won't) count", 6/23/2011
"Republican self-referentiality", 6/27/2011
"A meme in hibernation", 3/31/2012
"Another lie from George Will", 5/7/2012
"Obama pronouns again", 10/31/2012
"First Person Singular, Redemption Plea Edition", 1/11/2014
"Another casual lie from Charles Krauthammer", 9/16/2014
"Colbert on Krauthammer", 9/24/2014
"Buzzfeed linguistics, presidential pronouns, and narcissism revisited", 10/21/2014

A [class.] zoo
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2015-01-20 15:42

In English, if we want to say something about a place where a lot of different kinds of animals are kept for viewing by the public, we just refer to it as "a zoo".  Ditto for other quantifiable or specifiable nouns.  But in Chinese, you usually have to put a measure word [m.w.] or classifier [class.] between the quantifier or demonstrative and the noun.  (In this post, I won't go into the subtle distinction between measure word and classifier.)

yī + class. + dòngwùyuán 动物园 ("zoo")

But what classifier / measure word should we use with dòngwùyuán 动物园 ("zoo")?  Here are the google hits for various possibilities, followed by the meaning of the measure word / classifier, which should not be translated when you render a text into English, otherwise you will be producing Chinglish):

yī chǎng dòngwùyuán 一场动物园 553,000 ("broad, flat, open space / place")
yī suǒ dòngwùyuán 一所动物园 231,000 ("place; spot; location")
yī gè dòngwùyuán 一个动物园 158,000 ("piece")
yī jiā dòngwùyuán 一家动物园 115,000 ("home")
yī zuò dòngwùyuán 一座动物园 24,200 ("seat; base; pedestal")

Taking into account that some of these are false hits (e.g., when the measure word is separated from the noun by punctuation), this gives us a rough idea of people's preferences in writing.  My impression, however, is that in casual speech people would generally resort to the all purpose yī gè 一个, and that to use one of the others would sound pretentious.

A good dictionary, such as ABC, will specify which m.w. / class. goes with which noun (ABC gives zuò 座 for dòngwùyuán 动物园), and sticklers will try to use the right one.  It seems to me, however, that more and more people tend to use the general or default gè 个 / 個 for many nouns that in the past would have merited their own special classifier.  When I started learning Mandarin, I prided myself in knowing dozens of classifiers and measure words and which nouns to use them with.  Forty or more years ago back in Taiwan, people would praise me for using the correct m.w. / class.  But as the decades passed, and especially when I went to the mainland, even my friends started to give me amused looks when I pulled out an obscure m.w. / class. in speech, as though I were trying too hard or showing off.  The effect was similar to that elicited by the overuse of chéngyǔ 成语 ("set phrases", aka "idioms").  Forty-five years ago when I peppered my speech with them I was praised, but now if I use too many, I will receive bemused stares as though I were being peculiar or pedantic.

Despite what the google numbers tell us, I'd wager that, if you say yī zuò dòngwùyuán 一座动物园 on the mainland, people will think you're a bit weird, though in Taiwan people might well be impressed by your erudition.  Since I haven't used zuò 座 very much in recent years, I wouldn't want to attempt to list all the nouns with which it can be used, though I do remember that I was taught to use it for banks, thus yīzuò yínháng 一座银行 ("a bank"), which garners 43,800 ghits.  I wonder if that's what they teach students to say on the mainland.

APPENDIX (for specialists and advanced learners)

Context makes a great difference.  If we insert adjectives or adjectival phrases between the classifier and dòngwùyuán 动物园, the search results come out quite differently:

m.w. + xīn de 新的 ("new") + dòngwùyuán 动物园 ("zoo")

m.w. + hěn dà de 很大的 ("big") + dòngwùyuán 动物园 ("zoo")

m.w. + shìjiè jí de 世界级的 ("world class") + dòngwùyuán 动物园 ("zoo")

We also need to take into account the fact that the search results include many strings in which dòngwùyuán 动物园 is modifying another noun (or noun phrase) that happens to use, for example, chǎng 场 as its measure word. Here are some of the strings returned in the Google search results:

yī chǎng dòngwùyuán èmèng 一场动物园噩梦 ("a nightmare about a zoo")
yī chǎng dòngwùyuán sàichē bǐsài 一场动物园赛车比赛 ("a zoo race")
yī chǎng dòngwùyuán fēngbào 一场动物园风暴 ("a zoo storm")
yī chǎng dòngwùyuán dàzhàn 一场动物园大战 ("a zoo war")
yī chǎng dòngwùyuán biǎoyǎn 一场动物园表演 ("a zoo show")

In these cases, we need to be thinking about why chǎng 场 was chosen as the measure word for "nightmare", "race", "storm", "war", and "show", not for "zoo".

[Hat tip Rachel Kronick; thanks to Mark Liberman, Gene Buckley, Matthew Trueman, Bob Sanders, Zheng-sheng Zhang, and John Rohsenow]

Why definiteness is decreasing, part 3
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2015-01-20 15:42

Ten days ago, I documented a striking 20th-century decrease in the frequency of the definite article the ("Decreasing definiteness", 1/8/2015) — from about 6.6% to about 5.4% in the Corpus of Historical American English; from about 6.4% to 5.2% in the Google Books ngram indices; and from about 9.3% to about 4.7% in U.S. presidents' State of the Union messages.

In "Why definiteness is decreasing, part 1", I suggested that it might be connected to an overall decrease in the formality of published English, starting with the observation that in contemporary English, the frequency of the varies by a large factor between very formal material (6.42% in the "Academic" genre of the Corpus of American English) and conversational speech (2.47% in the Fisher corpus).

In  "Why definiteness is decreasing, part 2", I noted that both in a collection of Facebook posts and in Fisher conversational speech transcripts, older people use the more often than younger people, and men use the more often than women; and I wondered whether this is a stable life-cycle and gender-identity difference, or the result of a change in progress. (Or both…)

Today, I want to discuss a third idea about the decreasing frequency of the, suggested to me by Jamie Pennebaker.

Jamie points to the fact that the frequency of 's-genitives has been increasing relative to of-genitives. This is relevant because 's-genitives fill the determiner position in noun phrases, thus displacing some instances of the:  "Russia's government" vs. "the government of Russia".

We know that over the course of the 20th century, 's-genitives definitely increased relative to of-genitives — for documentation, see "The genitive of lifeless things", 10/11/2009, and "Mechanisms for gradual language change", 2/9/2014.

This can't be the whole story.  Thus in COHA, 's increased in frequency from about 0.51% in 1900 to about 0.98% in 2000, for an extra 47 instances per 10,000. But the decreased in frequency from 6.53% in 1900 to 5.37% in 2000, for a loss of 116 instances per 10,000.

And the numerical disproportion is greater than than that. Only about 60% of 's instances in the 2000 text sample are genitives — the other 40% are contractions of is or has. This reduces the potential contribution from 47 to about 28 per 10,000, and so I conclude that at most about a quarter of the's decline — 28 out of 116 instances per 10,000 words — might be due to 's's rise.

And not all of the new 's-genitives are plausible replacements for of-genitives or other phrases with determiner the.

But still…

Jamie also reminds me that there's good evidence for stable gender and life-cycle effects in usage (e.g. James Pennebaker and Lori Stone, "Words of Wisdom: Language Use Over the Life Span", Journal of personality and social psychology 2003).

Entitled: Zombie chain shift
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2015-01-20 15:42

Where do zombies come from? As Wikipedia tells us, it all started with evil Haitian sorcerers using necromancy to create undead slaves. But then, Hollywood invented contagious zombification, originally attributed to radioactive contamination from Venus, but more recently understood to be due to human zombism virus (HZV).

As for zombie rules, all that we really know, in most cases, is where they don't come from. They're not based on observations of language use, even of formal writing by elite authors. Nor are they based on usage advice from knowledgeable authorities. Rather, these mutations in the meme pool seem to pop up spontaneously from time to time, in ordinary literate people who are heavily invested in the idea that some aspects of common usage are ignorant mistakes. Like sexual selection in genetics, prestige-based cultural selection can favor arbitrary and even maladaptive traits, and therefore zombie ideas like "no initial conjunctions", "no final prepositions", and "no split verbs" can spread through an intimidated population for no apparent reason at all.

But still, it's natural to want an explanation, even for weird pseudo-elitist fashion epidemics. So at the risk of post-hoc rationalization, I'll offer a theory about the origins of one zombie rule which came to my attention recently, the "titled not entitled" prescription.

Our story opens with a book review — Jeb Lund, "Marco Rubio's new book is full of the word 'innovation' and no actual policy innovations", The Guardian 1/13/2015 — which ends this way:

Marco Rubio’s book is a work of surpassing laziness, possessed of the aimless, discursive prose of someone remembering what his original point was after concluding a digression he suddenly remembered he wanted to make. Its appeals and concessions to fact and its airy handwaving rationalizations of them read like the weightless ad-libs of someone reaching for anything to win an argument on a subject about which he studied little. It is the equivalent of someone taking his seminar class improvisations from all those mornings when professors called on him after he didn’t do the reading, then converting them to one massive, incoherent year-end term paper for all his classes. Rubio will pass, just so his professors can be rid of him. But he will not be class president.

Demonstrating the ubiquity of grade inflation, Anna Marie Cox tweeted this review as "Rubio's A- term paper":

And Dan Drezner retweeted, and then Ross Douthat responded to both with "Quite a kicker for a review that could have been entitled "I Think Rubio's Book Isn't Good Because I'm a Liberal":

At that point, a bunch of (liberal?) peevers piled on, with complaints about Douthat's used of entitled:

Now, this complaint is so wrong that I used it several years ago as the poster child for prescriptivist poppycock ("Why are so many linguistic corrections incorrect", 3/3/2007):

William Safire closed out 2006 with a column entitled "Incorrections", in which he defines incorrection as "a correction that is itself incorrect".It's hard not to be affected by incorrections. Thus whenever I use entitled as I did in the previous paragraph, it reminds me of a friend who feels that the only legitimate sense of entitled is "having a rightful claim (to)". When she first incorrected me on this point, I thought that she might be right — maybe this is one of those malaprop-like substitutions that we all discover from time to time in our own version of English. But a quick check of news archives showed that entitled meaning "titled" is widespread. And the OED gives with citations from Chaucer forward, e.g.

c1381 CHAUCER Parl. Foules 30 This booke..Entitled was right thus..Tullius of the dreame of Scipion.
1888 H. MORLEY Eng. Writers III. 179 A book entitled ‘De Nugis Curialium’.

It's true that in some contexts, the "rightful claim" sense is much commoner these days — it's more than 10-to-1 in the recent New York Times, for example — but I don't think that my friend generalized incorrectly from her experience. Instead, I bet that a teacher or parent once incorrected her on the same point. And the entry in MWCDEU says:

Sources as diverse as Emily Post 1927 and Bremner 1980 have expressed disapproval of using entitled to mean "titled." However, this well-established usage has been common for over 500 years and is the older of the two senses.

So I concluded my friend's objection was an incorrection, and I can continue with a clear conscience to use entitled to mean "titled" — though now I know that some people will disapprove. But how often can an eager-to-please youth resist an incorrection from a confident and respected elder?

But how did the idea arise that entitled shouldn't be used to name the title of a book or article?  One clue can be found in the time course of usage between 1900 and 2000. Here the Google Books ngram viewer and the New York Times archive show a similar pattern:

In the sequence "book (en)titled", as a proxy for all the phrases such as book/article/movie/play/piece/song etc., titled is hardly used at all before 1920, starts to rise in a significant way around 1940, and rises more rapidly after 1960. The COHA corpus shows a similar pattern — but the specific sequences "books titled" and "books entitled" are quite rare in that collection, so I've expanded the search to the pattern [n*] titled and [n*] entitled, where [n*] means "NOUN". This patterns finds some cases with the wrong meaning, like "seniors entitled to", but the results are roughly what we want, with the difference that titled now gets up to about 56% mind-share, as opposed to 24% (GNG) and 17% (NYT).

Why this change? There's a clue in a post from a couple of years ago about changes in the frequency and the connotations of entitlement ("Entitlement", 10/6/2012).  Although the core sense of entitle (as "to furnish a person with a rightful claim to a possession, privilege, designation, mode of treatment, etc.") has been around since the 16th century, the nominalization entitlement was rare until recently:

Entitlement may have been applied to depression-era government programs like social security, and it certainly was applied to post-WWII G.I. Bill benefits, and to 1960s Great Society programs. Also in the 1960s, psychoanalysts began using entitled and entitlement with strongly negative connotations, as in the term of art "narcissistic entitlement".  (See the 2012 post for examples.)

So I hypothesize that as the word entitled grew more strongly associated with these emergent (and often negatively-evaluated) senses, some unconscious pressure arose to avoid using it in the traditional "book/song/play/movie/… entitled whatever" frame. This same conflict made people more susceptible to inventing or accepting a zombie rule elevating that reluctance to the status of a Law of Usage.

If this idea is true, it would be a kind of Zombie chain shift.

Here are the counts from the NYT archive, which I list because it takes 18 queries to get them:

 Time Period "book titled" "book entitled" % titled 1851-1869 1 2401 0.04% 1870-1889 0 3116 0.00% 1890-1909 3 6803 0.04% 1910-1929 6 6884 0.09% 1930-1949 96 6690 1.41% 1950-1969 265 5120 4.92% 1970-1989 382 5310 6.71% 1990-2009 637 3083 17.12% 2010-2014 231 863 21.12%

As evidence that the NYT is indeed a lagging indicator of this particular stylistic shift, here's a table of results from LexisNexis newspaper search for "a/an ___ (en)titled". (The columns headed "en-" are instances of e.g. "a book entitled", spelled that way to make the table fit in the available space.)

"book" "article" "film" "movie"
en- titled %titled en- titled %titled en- titled %titled en- titled %titled
1980-1989 650 479 42.4% 419 236 36.0% 51 61 54.5% 20 52 72.2%
1990-1999 2107 2194 51.0% 1251 917 42.4% 154 166 51.9% 63 141 69.1%
2000-2004 1891 1949 50.8% 921 856 48.2% 175 156 47.1% 56 147 72.4%
2005-2007 1598 2398 60.0% 1134 1921 62.9% 132 153 53.7% 56 173 75.5%
2008-2010 2052 2707 56.9% 1249 1334 51.6% 220 331 60.1% 45 243 84.4%
2011-2012 1468 2572 63.7% 1004 1326 56.9% 143 384 72.9% 40 249 84.6%
2013-2014 1551 2825 64.6% 1058 1611 60.4% 152 605 79.9% 42 329 88.7%

These numbers suggest that "titled" has been winning, but the rate of change is fairly slow; and that the COHA estimate of 60-65% for the current overall level in published material is about right.

SERE
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2015-01-20 15:42

Michael Kaan writes:

I was looking up information on the SERE program after watching Zero Dark Thirty, and noticed the odd patch the program has for its insignia:

In the United States, SERE is an acronym for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. In the United Kingdom, SERE is an acronym for Survive, Evade, Resist and Extract.

Michael continues:

Of interest is the use of 虎. The article says it "alludes to the Here be dragons/tigers legend found on early maps", but on looking that up I see the standard cartography terms were either dragones or leones, and no tigers mentioned (aside from a Ray Bradbury story).

More interesting to me is the sundering of the character. I was wondering if these represent the semantophore and phonophore of hu, or if it's arbitrary. I looked up the character in Wiktionary but had no luck.

From the very beginning, hǔ 虎 ("tiger") has been a unified character.  It does not consist of a semantic and a phonetic component.  Originally, on the oracle bones, it depicted the form of a tiger.

There are only 8 strokes in this character (you can see them being written sequentially here), but for some reason it seems to be difficult for neophytes to write properly.  The splayed out form on the patch is similar to many specimens I have seen in the homework of beginning students of Chinese and of tattoo artists who don't know Chinese.

In Mandarin, if you want to say the word for "tiger", you don't just use hǔ 虎 by itself, you have to say lǎohǔ 老虎 (lit., "old tiger"), unless you use hǔ 虎 in combination with another suitable morpheme, e.g., hǔjiàng 虎將 ("tiger-like general; brave / fierce general").

Tweet Chinese Fired
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2015-01-20 15:42

Jose Pagliery and Frank Pallotta, "Hacked news companies tweet Chinese fired on U.S. warship", CNN 1/16/2015:

[h/t Dmitri Ostrovsky]

Social change
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2015-01-20 15:42

Almost eleven years ago ("Texting", 3/8/2004), I wrote:

I've visited Japan a couple of times before, most recently about a decade ago. One thing that's changed since my last visit is texting. Most younger people in Japan now seem to spend a lot of time sending and reading text messages on their cell phones.

This morning, I took the train from Meguro (near my hotel) to Ookayama (near Tokyo Institute of Technology). My car had about 60 people in it. Of these, 12 were busy texting. Among the other younger-looking people in the group, five were sleeping, and one was reading an English workbook. All of the other riders seemed to be older. […]

I don't think that I've even seen anyone texting in the U.S.

Following up a day later ("More on meiru",3/9/2004), I reported some of the then-current theories about why the U.S. was so different:

Discussions over lunch today in the TITech cafeteria clarified some things about Japanese cell phone text messages. […]

Japanese cell-phone text messages are always sent as email, and are fully integrated into the regular email system. That's why the same word meiru is used for both. Cell phones are not used for instant messaging, and in fact (at least among my consultants) instant messaging is not much used at all. […]

As for why Japanese people in general use cell phone meiru so much, there was agreement that it is considered rude to talk on the phone (cell or otherwise) in the hearing of others, and that talking on a cell phone in a public place would be especially impolite. It was also agreed that cell phone messaging is very cheap, almost free, whereas cell phone talk minutes are relatively expensive. Finally, cell phone message is done with one hand, and so can be done while standing on a train or on a platform or bus stop, where a laptop computer could not be used. Given that long commutes on crowded vehicles are the norm — one of my friends said that he has a short commute, only one hour each way — this certainly motivates a one-handed solution, whether for comunication or for web information access or for gaming.

My understanding of the situation in Europe is that the economics are different (SMS messages are far from free), and also that the cell phone messages are not normally integrated into the regular email system, but just go back and forth between cell phones, and that talking on cell phones in public is not any ruder than it is the U.S. So I'm somewhat puzzled about why text messaging by cell phone is so popular there.

Here is a weblog entry from textually.org that discusses differences between Japan and Europe, quoting other articles and blog entries — some (quoted) highlights:

– Pricing of SMS vs. mobile email is one major differentiator between Europe and Japan
— The Japanese message lengths are longer (in some cases, 1,000 characters)
— Some of Japanese are not familiar to PC. Cell phone is major way for mail and web.

And so far, this whole thing is not happening in the U.S. — because of pricing, availability and interoperability issues, and maybe cultural differences. Will the U.S. just suddenly catch up at some point? or go off in a different direction?

Four years later ("What's the difference?", 3/10/2008; "Texting efficiency", 7/8/2008), things had changed:

An article in today's NYT (Laura Holson, "Text Generation Gap: U R 2 Old (JK)", 3/9/2008) suggests anecdotally that cell-phone text messaging is surging among U.S. teens. My own recent anecdotal experience bears this out — a 12-year-old of my acquaintance much prefers text messaging to talking on the phone, even when it seems to me that a voice conversation would be quicker and more efficient.

But just a few years ago, the situation was completely different. Although texting was popular in Europe and Japan, the rate of use in the U.S. was roughly two orders of magnitude lower — and was mainly confined to online trading addicts getting stock price alerts, sports fanatics getting score updates, etc. See "No text please, we're American", The Economist, 4/3/2003; "Why text messaging is not popular in the US", textually.org, 4/4/2003. I also noted this difference in a few posts three years ago ("Texting", 3/8/2004; "More on meiru", 3/9/2004; "Texting, typing, speaking", 7/1/2004).

The explanations offered for the geographic difference, back then, included Japanese commuting habits and social conventions discouraging phone conversations in public; greater availability of networked computers to Americans; different voice, SMS and internet pricing structures between Europe and the U.S.; the fact that SMS "was originally defined as part of the GSM series of standards", while U.S. cell phone service is more diverse in terms of its underlying technology.

But in general, these things haven't changed (as far as I know). So why are U.S. adolescents suddenly texting up a storm? Is this a cultural change driven by purely cultural factors?

A year later, the comics were mocking adults who didn't know how to text ("How things have changed…", 11/21/2009). Some people offered plausible economic and technological explanations for the timing of the change, as in this comment from that 2009 post:

Two huge details that put North America far behind the rest of the world in text messaging:

1) Mobile/Landline number-ambiguity:
In most countries I've visited, residents can tell at a glance whether a phone number is mobile, versus landline. In N. America those numbers look alike, so that I can't know whether your number is mobile, and thus whether it will accept an SMS (a text message).

2) Late, late N. American SMS-interoperability:
In the UK, all the mobile operators could exchange SMS messages between their customers by 1999. For the US, the top 5 carriers didn't achieve interoperability until early 2002. Nextel and others joined in even later. And, yes, our delay was aggravated by our competing, incompatible network infrastructures.

As a result, for several years I could send you a text message, but only if I kept track of which numbers were mobile (this constraint still applies, but now my phonebook is dominated by mobile numbers), AND if I knew that we shared a carrier.

Those details pushed us behind by some years. Plus, our peculiar focus on prepaid plans means that the marginal cost to make a mobile call is almost always zero. Our texting-enabled community eventually reached critical mass, despite a late start and reduced financial incentive, but even a few years ago I only received texts from fellow techies and from European expats.

Two years after that, I was still unclear about the balance among technological, economic, and cultural factors in the process ("What caused the texting tsunami?", 6/6/2011). And now, in 2015, it's really past time for a serious survey and analysis of the history. (If I've missed it, please let me know!)

As yesterday's Zits comic illustrates, we've now reached the point where many young people (not only in the comics) regard the whole voice telephony deal as a quaint holdover from olden times, roughly like the way that telegrams were regarded in the 1950s.  No doubt there are already ten-year-olds who can't recall every having seen anyone talking on an old-fashioned wired telephone, never mind one with an actual dial. Will digital imitations of the telephone voice channel (8 kHz bandwidth, missing low frequencies, etc.) still be around in a decade?

More bon voyage
Language Log (Mark Liberman) / 2015-01-20 15:42

Perry C. writes:

I hope you've been well. I am an active reader of language log and often notice posts that point to odd phrases. On my way back to Penn, jetblue had a sign at LAX that read "have a more bon voyage." I'm not sure of the meaning that the sign (attached below) is trying to convey. Any explanation?

"Bon voyage" being French for "(have a) good trip", I guess that Jet Blue is wishing you a better-than-good trip, or at least implying that your trip will be better if you fly with them.

It follows from general principles of borrowed-phrase morphology, as well as from other considerations, that urging you to "have a boner voyage" would be inappropriate.

Education in Xinjiang
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2015-01-20 15:42

A government sponsored mural in Kashgar:

This is one in a series of 14 murals published in "The colourful propaganda of Xinjiang" (BBC News, 1/12/15).

I am particularly intrigued by the mural reproduced above because it depicts the Han notion of what education should be for Uyghurs. The fuming fellow dressed in black at bottom left represents an evil Muslim extremist / radical / terrorist / ideolog (a constant theme in most of the murals). He is upset that the mother in red is taking her child to a school — he would prefer that the child go to a madrasa for religious training.

On the positive side, what do we see? The mother dressed in yellow is leading her child through a gateway, on the arch of which is written the word x uéxí 学习 ("study; learn"). This is a word that we know well from "Good good study; day day up" (1/14/14) and other Language Log posts.

What is surprising is that the child's hand holds a card on which is written the letter "A" of the alphabet. Since Chinese is already represented by the xuéxí 学习 ("study; learn") on the arch, this probably stands for English, not pinyin. The Latin alphabet was formerly used to write Uyghur, but it was replaced by the Arabic alphabet in 1987.

This sends a powerful message that the government wants Uyghur children to learn Chinese and English rather than Uyghur written in the Arabic alphabet.

China flushes India
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2015-01-20 15:42

The following photograph of a Beijing shop sign was buried on my desktop for about five years (I think that it originally came to me from Ori Tavor):

Here's what it really says:

shùmǎ chōngyìn 数码冲印 ("digital printing")

What? How did they so badly mangle those two words that most people in China know the meaning of and use regularly?

Simple: they just looked up shùmǎ chōngyìn 数码冲印 on iCIBA and iCIBA told them it means "The numerical code flushes India". (N.B.: all the other main online translation services — Google Translate, Bing Translator, and Baidu Fanyi — get it right.)

But how did iCIBA (or whoever they got it from) come up with such an outlandish translation?

Simple, they just took the most common meanings for the four individual characters used to write the two words, instead of looking up the words:

shù 数 ("number; numerical")
mǎ 码 ("code")

chōng 冲 ("flush" — the word for "develop a photographic print" is chōngxǐ 冲洗 ["flush-wash"])

yìn 印 ("India" [first syllable of the Mandarin transcription "Yìndù 印度"]; original meaning is "seal; stamp; mark; impress; print" — used here only for its sound)

chōngyìn 冲印 is short for "develop and print"; now, with digital photography, it is no longer necessary to flush-wash film before printing, but the Chinese retain the old terminology for the new technology

Oh, the perils of ignoring words in favor of characters!

Language lesson
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2015-01-20 15:42

This is painful to watch, but here we go:

Here's a translation of the exchange between the teacher and the little girl:

Teacher: “Very well. Tell me… what lesson are we having today? What lesson did you come to? What lesson are we having today? Which?”

Girl whispers: “English.”

Teacher: “English! Very good. And in the English language, are there any pronouns? Yes, there are. Tell me please, what is this?”

Girl says: “I.”

Teacher: “What letter is this? Read. What letter is it? What is this? WHAT IS THIS?”

Girl: “You.”

Teacher: “You! Good job. Finally. And ‘you’ is what? Well? You is… (pause) You is ‘toy’ (Russian word for ‘you.’)”

Source: "Right After A Teacher Humiliated This Girl, She Gave Him A Lesson He’ll Never Forget" (Qpolitical, 1/8/15)

Expendables 3: World Series
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2015-01-20 15:42

Notice that the furigana ruby for 頂上決戦 (chōjō kessen ちょうじょうけっせん [“summit showdown”]) is ワールドシリーズ (wārudo shirīzu ["World Series”]).  One wonders what they mean by that in the context of this film.

In English language publicity for the film, I'm not aware of wording similar to junbi wa ī ka 準備はいいか？ ("Are you ready?") or chōjō kessen 頂上決戦 ("summit showdown”).  Furthermore, so far as I know, wārudo shirīzu ワールドシリーズ ("World Series”) isn't used in Japanese to refer to anything other than the major league baseball championship.

Lest you be led to believe from its prominent position on the poster that wārudo shirīzu ワールドシリーズ ("World Series”) is the Japanese title of the film, note that the actual title of the film is given in katakana just beneath the dramatic sloping line of heroes, followed by wārudo misshon ワールドミッション ("world mission"), which is the subtitle for Expendables 3.  Perhaps the "world" here stimulated the copywriters to come up with the "World Series" furigana annotation for chōjō kessen 頂上決戦 ("summit showdown”).  After all, this is the final battle, the battle to end all battles, isn't it?

In a quick scan of the Google images for Expendables 3, I came across this curious takeoff:

Somebody else was thinking along the same lines as the Japanese copywriters.

Junbi wa ī ka 準備はいいか？ ("Are you ready?") and chōjō kessen 頂上決戦 ("summit showdown”) are advertising slogans (kyatchikopī キャッチコピー ["catch-copy"] in Japanese) for this movie.  On Japanese movie posters, there are often phrases or words that represent a movie.  Such kyatchikopī キャッチコピー ("catch-copy") is added even when the original posters for foreign films are made without them.  Sometimes these phrases and words function as crucial features of successful advertisements for indigenous Japaese productions.  One of the major examples is a series of slogans made by Itoi Shigesato 糸井重里 for animations of the Studio Ghibli (Miyazaki Hayao's studio).

[Hat tip Chris Pickel; thanks to Miki Morita and Hiroko Sherry]

Zhou Youguang, 109 and going strong
Language Log (Victor Mair) / 2015-01-20 15:42

A year ago, I wrote "Zhou Youguang, Father of Pinyin" (1/14/14) to celebrate Zhou xiansheng's 108th birthday and his many accomplishments in language reform and applied linguistics.  Included in that post were a portrait of ZYG in his study and numerous links concerning the man and his works.

Today I wish to honor my ageless friend for his indomitable courage and brilliant acumen in confronting China's social and political challenges as resolutely and rationally as he tackled China's language issues over sixty years ago.

Zhou xiansheng's mind is still sharp as a tack, and every day he sits at his little desk to write articles and books on the tiny Sharp typewriter that he helped design (the first workable electronic Chinese typewriter; pinyin inputting, of course, and using floppy disks for storage).  All of this is quite remarkable for a man who was born while the Manchus still ruled China.  Even more astonishing for a man of his great age, Zhou xiansheng is arguably the most outspoken proponent of democracy and freedom of speech in China at a moment when such topics have become increasingly dangerous to broach.

Happy Birthday, Zhou xiansheng!  May you continue to enlighten and inspire us with your good sense and bright spirit!

[Hat tip Brendan O'Kane]

Private / public
Russell Davies (russell davies) / 2015-01-20 15:42

We went to the Masters Snooker at the weekend. Was good. You could rent these little radios to listen to the whispering-in-the-background bit of the TV commentary, so you can hear what's going on but not disturb the play.

So you get this strange dynamic where some of the people there are connected by a secret audio channel, some people are in on a secret joke and some aren't.

For instance, while one of the players was lining up a shot someone in the crowd sneezed, and one of the commentators, in the ears of about a third of the people, said 'bless you' and a bunch of people did a little giggle. So, if you didn't have earphones, you'd have heard - sneeze, pause, giggle. With slightly strange timing. And every now and then, there'd be a joke on the commentary and a bunch of people would laugh and the players would wonder what was going on.

Not a big thing but an odd dynamic that you could probably work up into a reckon on Medium about social networks. Or maybe it's one for the analogy library

Slackbot Bot

every office needs one

pplkpr

Black Mirror-style art/tech project uses your physical responses to change your social activity

Matter on the Chaturbate community

mildly NSFW photos; a community with its own currency and cultural norms

The latest report on food marketing to kids: Healthy Eating Research
Food Politics (Marion) / 2015-01-20 15:42

Healthy Eating Research (HER), a group sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has just released a report on food marketing to kids, an issue brief with recommendations, and an Infographic summarizing the report’s major points.

The recommendations are aimed at the food industry’s voluntary guidelines for what and how junk foods can be marketed to kids.  These are famously weak and HER set out to tweak them to make the recommendations stronger.

This report provides an excellent summary of what’s wrong with marketing to kids.

But its recommendations are disappointing.  Here they are from the Infographic:

These are undoubtedly too small for you to read and, in any case, are written so tentatively—they do not use the word “should”—that they require translation.  Here’s mine:

Guidelines for food marketing should apply to:

• Kids age 14 or younger (not 11)
• Audiences containing 25% or more of kids under age 14 (not 35%)
• Both food products and brands (not just products).
• All marketing aimed at kids, everywhere kids are (not just TV or Internet)

These are tweakings of voluntary guidelines.

I don’t see the point.  If we really want the food industry to stop marketing unhealthy foods and drinks to kids, the guidelines can’t be voluntary and tweakings are unlikely to help.

Food marketing to kids is flat-out unethical and should stop.

The industry will never do this voluntarily.

That’s the issue such reports need to address.

Shapeshifter.
No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) (Peter Watts) / 2015-01-20 15:42

My most recently published story, a bit of neouromil  that appears in Neil Clarke’s cyborg anthology Upgraded, contains the following passage:

Monahan had inventoried Sabrie’s weak spots as if he’d been pulling the legs off a spider. …  Not into performance rage, doesn’t waste any capital getting bent out of shape over random acts of microaggression. Smart enough to save herself for the big stuff. Which is why she still gets to soapbox on the prime feeds while the rest of the rabies brigade fights for space on the public microblogs.

A couple of phrases— “performance rage”, “rabies brigade”— were consciously inspired by my 2012 dust-up with an online shapeshifter who, at that point in her career anyway, went by the names “AcrackedMoon” and “Requires Hate”. At the time I got a fair bit of blowback for my use of the phrase “rabid animal” to describe her; Cat Valente equated my use of that term with a death threat, slung against a woman who was, she told me, “vibrantly engaging” with the SFF community. (There is an irony to this; its magnitude will be old news to most of those assembled here today.)

RequiresHate and Me, Together Again.

Funny story.  The piece immediately preceding mine in that same anthology was penned by a bright new up-and-comer named Benjanun Sriduangkaew: lauded in progressive SF circles, Campbell Award nominee, by her own admission a newcomer to the field who hadn’t even dipped a toe into the genre prior to 2011. Bright of eye, bushy of tail, her biggest flaw seemed to be a disposition so sugary sweet it would rot your pancreas from thirty paces.

Turns out Benjanun Sriduangkaew and CrackedMoon/RequiresHate are the same person. So are Winterfox, pyrofennec, and Christ knows how many other online personae.

Benjanun-This-Week has been very busy over a number of years, wearing a number of guises. She has stalked, harassed, and threatened. Some of her actions have proven actionable, to the point that authorities are now apparently involved.  She drove at least one person to attempt suicide, has induced PTSD symptoms in a number of others. She has told people who disagree with her that they should be raped by dogs, dismembered, and/or have acid thrown in their faces. She habitually deleted these comments shortly after making them, then gaslighted her targets (fortunately there are archives, and screenshots).

She got caught last month— outed by an advocate in a self-declared act of damage control—  and has since “apologized”. Apparently all that prior nastiness was just youthful indiscretion during the thirteen years when she was nineteen, and is now ancient history.  She feels much better now. She’s learned a lot about love. So if you’ll just believe her good intentions and let her get on with her career, we can all let bygones be bygones.  Also I have some farmland to sell you on the Sea of Storms.

The initial outing raised a bit of a storm in its own right, but it was only the opening act. The curtain on the main event went up November 6, when engineer and author Laura J. Mixon posted a comprehensive report— amazingly comprehensive, given RH’s tendency to cover her own tracks— drawing together records from as many varied incarnations as we know of to date.  Mixon presents timelines, quotes, links, demographic breakdowns of RH’s targets. Bar graphs and pie charts and tables. It’s a trove, and it’s indispensable, and it contains a wealth of links to a variety of other sources. (For that reason, I’ll be relatively sparse with my own linkage in this post.  Just go to Mixon’s page and follow the spiderweb of cracks proliferating across the internet. If I make a claim here that isn’t link-supported, you’ll probably find the documentation over at Mixon’s place.)

Mixon offered her comments section as a safe place for people to speak about their own experiences with the Winterfox Colony Creature. My own case was cited a couple of times (as one of the few honest reflections of RH’s true nature, since she couldn’t employ her usual strategy of deleting her comments and then denying she’d ever made them). I haven’t posted there myself. Partly this is because Mixon wanted to maintain an environment free of angry epithets and name-calling, even when directed at RequiresHate, and I’m not in the mood to practice such charitable restraint. More importantly, though, I don’t think it’s really my place to speak there because I’m not one of RH’s victims. I was a minor target for a while, but only because I spoke out in defense of a colleague. RH didn’t even know who I was until I mentioned her on my own blog. I was, as they say, asking for it.

The blowback pissed me off, at the time. I readily admit that much.  It pissed me off to see Valente blatantly misrepresent what I’d said, it pissed me off to get a lecture on the  power imbalance between Powerful White Authors and Poor Vulnerable Fans in a world where five minutes with Google reveals my home address to any anonymous darling who wants to take a rusty meathook to my scrotum.  (Being called a racist by someone who publicly rhapsodizes about “killing all white people”, on the other hand, was just funny.) Caitlin will attest that I wasn’t very nice to be around sometimes.

Still, anger isn’t injury. I wasn’t victimized, wasn’t driven from the field. If the righteous outrage of RH’s minions cost me any sales, I didn’t notice it. On balance it may have even been a good thing; at the very least, episodes like that show you who your friends are. (Richard Morgan, for one: a truly honorable dude who dived into the muck and engaged RH on her own blog, something I never had the stomach for.)  (You also learn about the fair-weather opportunists in your life; turns out there were a few of those, too.)

I was targeted, but I wasn’t a primary target. And that’s the curious thing: not even Scott Bakker was a primary target, not when you came right down to it. What both of us probably were, it turns out, was camouflage. We privileged white dudes provided cover so that RequiresHate could go after her real victims: Minorities. People of Color. Aspiring writers. People who, to put not too fine a point on it, might be considered competitors of one Benjanun Sriduangkaew.

It is at this point one has to stand back and emit an appreciative whistle for the sheer sick sociopathic brilliance of Benjanun’s Long Con.

Go, if you haven’t already. Look at Mixon’s figures. See for yourself.  The fact that RH occasionally went after the Bakkers and Bacigalupis of the world let her claim that she was Speaking Truth To Power, but in fact People of Color were four times more likely to be targeted than us privileged white boys.  Four times more likely to be hounded across every social media site they appeared at over months, sometimes years. More likely to be told that they should have acid thrown in their faces, or raped by dogs, or have their hands cut off.  A lot more likely to be considered insufficiently Asian, or “white on the inside”.  (Although to be fair, arguing that Paolo Bacigalupi should be flayed, dismembered, immersed in acid, set alight, and forced to eat his own genitals goes to show that RH wasn’t exactly phoning in her assault on the big names, either).

Now go read the comments below the report (461 as I write this). Read the first-hand testimonials of people hounded relentlessly for the crime of liking a book that RH didn’t. Read about the blackmail and the death threats. Read the stories of those who left fandom entirely, abandoned their own authorial aspirations, dared not speak out for fear of catching the baleful Eye of a CrackedMoon. People who could barely even see the word “Requires” on a computer screen without feeling sick to their stomach.

It’s been suggested that if RH really is a sociopath, she can’t be held accountable for her behavior because it’s hardwired. This is factually wrong. Sociopaths are not compelled to do horrible things. They’re simply not constrained from doing those things by anything we’d recognize as a conscience. They can choose to hurt the innocent, or not to; the fundamental difference between them and us is, if they choose the former it won’t really bother them.

As I mentioned above, I caught some flack back in 2012 for referring to RH as a “rabid animal”. I intended it as a precise echo of the sort of invective RH was slinging at others for no good reason (in fact the very next sentence was “See what I did there,” followed by an explicit rumination on dehumanising terminology)— but in hindsight I do regret my use of the term. Rabies victims truly do have no choice; their foamy-mouthed aggression is compelled by their affliction. RH is clearly not in that camp. I apologize to all rabid animals for the comparison.

Anyway. The news has spread like Ebolaphobia. It’s on too many blogs to link to. It’s all over the Westeros boards.  It’s also being discussed behind the scenes, in online writers communities where the shell-shocked share their stories behind closed doors— because even now, they don’t feel safe speaking openly.

Requires Hate still has friends, you see. Her legions have thinned somewhat as former allies scramble to cover their asses but she still has supporters, even if they might not all describe themselves as such. Some grumble at ground level, some huddle all the way up in the hallowed halls of Tor.com (where apparently they helped to blacklist and exclude authors of whom RH disapproved). [Editorial clarification: it’s been pointed out that this might be construed as an indictment  of Tor.com as an entity entire. I’d like to make it super clear that I’m only talking about someone affiliated with Tor.com, not any kind of corporate policy.  I have no reason to believe that Tor.com blacklisted anyone; we’re talking a standard bad-apple scenario here. Again, check out Mixon’s post for details, and apologies if I wasn’t clear on that point.) The usual outgroup rhetoric continues, oddly oblivious to the recent stark evidence of where such groupthink leads; Mixon’s  analysis has even been questioned on the grounds that it was performed by a privileged white woman. Apologists still mill about, decapitated since RH went to ground but still sparking fitfully with the same reflex-arc clichés.

Some would have us draw a distinction between RH’s abuses and her “legitimate” literary critiques, as if somehow there might remain a kernel of edible corn buried in all the shit. They don’t seem bothered by the fact that said “reviews” were often based on publisher’s blurbs, or quotes mined and presented out of context; I guess they’re also cool with the fact that RH bragged openly about not having read the books she critiqued.  It’s increasingly evident that book reviews for their own sake were never part of the plan anyway; they were just another bile-delivery platform, another iteration of patterned abuse extending back years before she ever discovered the joys of hacking social-justice paradigms for fun and profit— repurposed, now, to take out the competition. Perhaps a valid insight did slip through every now and then; as they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Others opine that RH, wearing her saccharine new Benjanun costume, should continue to get her stories published based solely on their literary merit. (Let’s put aside for the moment that “merit” exists at least partly in relation to other work in the same field, a metric which might be compromised after said field has been burned to the ground in a campaign to eliminate potential competitors.) I’ll admit that there is sometimes a case to be made for separating the art from the artist.  This is not one of those times. This is not a case of a brilliant writer who happens to be an abusive shitstain in some unrelated aspect of their personal life; this is someone being an abusive shitstain as a deliberate strategy to further her writing career. Arguing that that career should be decoupled from past abuses is like catching the guy who stole your car, then letting him keep it because you like the way he drives.

Still others mourn the enablers, revile RH but sympathize with the eager minions she recruited in her campaign of abuse and intimidation. Not their fault, we’re told; RH merely hacked the progressive paradigm of “punching up”, turned it to evil instead of good. And after all, she made some good points.

I fell for this myself, briefly: back in 2012, when a couple of ‘crawl regulars ran the “some good points” argument up the flagpole. So I dialed back my rhetoric, asked you all to do the same, even tried to engage RH directly until she sprang the trap. But even I figured it out after a day or two, and I live in a nerdly bubble way over in the Science-is-Cool wing of the SFF mansion (which might be a problem; maybe I should get out more). I hardly ever stray across the quad to Social Commentary, where everyone’s presumably way more familiar with these moves.

“Punching up”? The premise, to me, seems corrupt at its heart. If someone walks into a pub and swings a crowbar at the first person they see, it doesn’t matter which one of them is a poor queer WoC and which is a rich straight white dude. It doesn’t matter whether the assailant is punching up, out, or down; they’ve got no claim to outrage if the target punches back. (Note this only applies if the targeting algorithm lights up indiscriminately, based solely on demographic profile. If you’re targeting the specific rich straight white dude who assaulted you the day before, I won’t get in your way.)

Apparently, RH was adept at positioning herself “below” pretty much anyone she wanted to punch. She’d deride a target as being white, and therefore privileged/punchable.  If the target turned out to be Asian, RH would redefine herself as “Asian-Asian” and her target as “white inside”. (I’m not joking. I know it sounds like I am. Read Mixon’s post.) It’s a fundamental weakness in the concept— you can always punch up if you win the race to the bottom— and I’m not sure how much sympathy I should have for people who fall for something like that. If you buy into the cult of some Nigerian Prince you met on the Internet, maybe you shouldn’t expect much support when you end up with egg on your face and a zero credibility balance— especially if you got that way by abusing people who didn’t deserve it, or by being complicit in their abuse.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve read endless lamentations about the sundering effect that Requires Hate has had on the “SFF community”. I wonder if there ever was such a thing; I don’t see a “community” so much as a bunch of squabbling tribes forced to share the same watering hole. That’s how she did it, for crying out loud: by exploiting those pre-existing fracture lines, by setting different tribes at each other’s throats.  If SFF were truly a community, would one sociopathic pissant have been able to wreak such havoc?

Blame Benjanun Sriduangkaew, by all means. She deserves it. But she didn’t do it alone. She’s not a sorcerer, she didn’t use any Jedi mind tricks to enlist her troops. They had a choice. Even those she tricked into confiding their vilest thoughts, then blackmailed by threatening to betray those confidences— she couldn’t take that power by force. She could only encourage them to give it to her. They chose fealty— either to a sociopathic troll, or to an ideology whose tires they really should have kicked a few more times before taking ownership.

So I have a question for the person who claimed to like RH’s reviews, only to jump onto the Garment-Rending bandwagon when the jig went up. I have something to ask the self-proclaimed progressive who chummed around with RH’s shock troops even while admitting— in private, with no one else around— that yes, maybe RH goes too far, but her friends follow me on twitter. I have a question for the outspoken social justice advocate who didn’t speak out when the lies spread across a site with their own name on the masthead, because they didn’t want to “fan the flames”. I’d like to ask all those self-proclaimed champions of the disenfranchised, all those defenders of up-punching, all those opportunists who are so busy now disavowing the whirlwind they helped sow:

Where were you, when RequiresHate called Cindy Pon a “stupid fuck” and a rape apologist? Where were you when she made Rachel Brown’s life a living hell? Where were you just last year, when she and her buddies went after a rape survivor for the crime of saying that recovery was a good thing?

Where were all you people?

Edmund Burke once said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. I think that begs a question.

If you do nothing, what makes you any fucking good?

Whitney Plantation: Memorial to those who were Enslaved
Feministe (EG) / 2015-01-20 14:42

Content note: slavery, racism

When I saw a news story about the Whitney Plantation, I was reminded of the conversation we had here about Ani DiFranco’s obnoxious and ill-conceived idea to have a retreat at a plantation, about how, if at all, a plantation could be used as a proper memorial to the black slaves on whose suffering such places depended upon. It seems that John Cummings has spent years in an effort to do just that. The website has not only pictures but links to various news articles about the restoration and Cummings’s decision to make this museum as a memorial/tribute to those who were enslaved.

From what I can tell, the museum’s admission and tours are free–no fees are listed on the website, and apparently Cummings’s is wealthy enough that he wouldn’t need to charge admission anyway. The articles are a little over-focused on the heroism of the white man in charge and not as much on the black scholars whose work inspired him and with whom he worked for my taste, but I’m guessing that’s not the museum’s fault.

What do you all think? Did Cummings do well? I was quite moved by many of the photographs, particularly those of the infants’ memorial and the wall dedicated to memorializing the slaves by name and I think that incorporating recordings of slaves’ own narratives of their lives was a vital step, to allow people so often silenced to speak for themselves. Apparently Cummings is also working with scholars to produce a database that would aid African-Americans in genealogy research. But I’ve been wrong before. I’m interested to hear the opinions of others here.

Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday
Feministe (Jill) / 2015-01-20 14:42

Promote yourself.

Netiquette reminders:

• Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
• we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
• extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.

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Good Question: Respecting Women
Feministe (tigtog) / 2015-01-20 14:42

What are we generally thinking of when we say ‘Respect Women’?

i.e. are we simply asking for the status quo to stop acting as if women must earn basic human rights, or are we selfishly demanding special female rights (with chivalry sprinkles on top)? Because it sure seems like some people think feminists are asking for one thing while other people are damn sure they’re hearing feminists demand the other thing.

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Hermione Granger and the Giving of No Fucks
Feministe (Caperton) / 2015-01-20 14:42

It’s Friday, and it’s been a rough week, and it’s been an even rougher two weeks, and more or less the entire world deserves better than it’s been getting, and here’s what the Harry Potter series would look like if Hermione were the main character.

“Do you know who that is? That’s Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived.”

“It’s funny you should say that, because I’m Hermione Granger, The Girl Who Gave Literally Zero Fucks.”

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Open Thread with Unsure Pine Marten
Feministe (tigtog) / 2015-01-20 14:42

This pine marten, not too sure about the snow at the British Wildlife Centre, features for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

Pine Marten – not sure about the snow | uploaded to Flick by Chris Parker (CC BY-ND 2.0)

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?

* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

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The Cosby jokes at the Golden Globes
Feministe (Caperton) / 2015-01-20 14:42

[Content note for rape]

During their opening monologue at the Golden Globes last night, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler went there: They went straight in with a series of very direct jokes about the rape allegations against Bill Cosby.

The video is online; the transcript is below.

AMY POEHLER. In Into the Woods, Cinderella runs from her prince, Rapunzel is thrown from a tower for her prince, and Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Billy Cosby.

[Gasps and laughter from the crowd]

TINA FEY. You know, actually, I don’t know if you guys saw this on the news today, but Bill Cosby has finally spoken out about the allegations against him. Cosby admitted to a reporter, [dropping her voice in a pretty lousy impersonation of Billy Cosby] “I put the pills in the people.” [More laughter from the crowd] The people did not want the pills in them.”

AP. No, Tina, that — hey…

TF. What?

AP [shaking her head]. That’s not right. That’s not right. It’s more like, [in a somewhat more accurate Cosby impersonation] “I got the pills in my bathrobe and I put ‘em in the people.”

[Crowd laughter]

TF. You’re right. It’s gotta be, like, [again with the Cosby] “I put the pills in the hoagies.”

AP. Yeah. That’s it. That’s fair.

TF. That seems fair.

When a rape joke is at the expense of the alleged* rapist, and not the victims, is it okay? Or if not okay, at least better? Is making a joke about a rapist automatically making light of rape? Would his victims (who now number, I believe, 24) hear this joke and feel dismissed or affirmed?

What’s strong about this joke is the boldness in asserting This fucker did this. He drugged these women. It wasn’t a comment on rape accusations — it was a comment on rape. And maybe I’m just reading things into this — maybe I just don’t want to believe that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler really think that this whole thing is legitimately fodder for jokes — but I’m also getting a sense that they were going for the gasps more than the laughs, taking an opportunity to say, Here’s your guy, Hollywood.

I’d say my own reaction was much like Jessica Chastain’s as shown in the crowd reaction shot — hand-over-the-open-mouth, half-laugh, half-cringe, additional half-surprise that they went there. And at the same time, impressed — impressed that on national TV, at one of Hollywood’s favorite self-congratulatory events, they came out and said, in essence, Fuck this guy. I just hope it wasn’t at the expense of his victims, or any others. But then, I’m a humorless feminist.

*CYA

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Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday
Feministe (Jill) / 2015-01-20 14:42

Promote yourself.

Netiquette reminders:

• Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
• we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
• extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.

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Feministe (tigtog) / 2015-01-20 14:42

A fluffy bunny jumping a hurdle as part of an obstacle race features for this week’s Open Thread. I felt the need for fluff. Please link to more fluffy stuff as you natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

By sv:User:Wikkie (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?

* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

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Get Me out of this Forest!: A Feminist Critique of Into the Woods
Feministe (Guest Blogger) / 2015-01-20 14:42

Guest Blogger Bio: Alex Ketchum is a PhD candidate in the Department of History of feminist restaurants in the United States and Canada during the 1970s and 1980s at McGill University. She has an MA in history with the Option in Women’s and Gender Studies, also from McGill, and a BA in Feminist, Gender and Sexual Diversity Studies from Wesleyan University. She is a regular writer and editor for The Historical Cooking Project.

Declared a “surprise hit,” Into the Woods has bested box office records for a Broadway-inspired movie, earning \$31 million its first weekend.  It has garnered three Golden Globe nominations and has a hot-selling soundtrack.  Audiences and critics alike appear enamored with director Rob Marshall’s cinematic adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s 1987 musical. However, no one seems to be talking about the misogyny within its plot.

In Sondheim and Jame Lapine’s screenplay a journey through the woods represents pursuing one’s wishes.  This modern twist on the Brothers Grimm classic fairy tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel, is woven together within an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family, and the witch who has put a curse on them.  Through the course of the plot, all of the characters venture into the woods to confront their desires. The general lesson of the story is to be careful what you wish for. However, going into the woods seems no different than the world in which we live—where women are punished more harshly for following their dreams.

Although all of the characters suffer for pursuing their desires, with one exception, when the female characters go for their goals they are either raped, molested, or killed whereas the punishment for the male characters is that they lose their women. Furthermore, the female characters are depicted as readily replaceable within the men’s lives so that their loss is made more temporary. Sondheim has, to use Gail Simone’s terminology, put the women in refrigerators. The death of the women serves to advance the male character’s moral development and acts as a stepping stone whereas their death serves as a warning to the other female characters and female audience members. In this way, women are discouraged more strongly for taking risks.

The women’s deaths are overwhelmingly sexualized. The giantess tramples the baker’s immediately after she experiments sexually with the prince in the woods: kissing him in the movie and having intercourse in the stage production.  In the film version, although the sexual violence is only alluded to, in the play the violation of Red Riding Hood is more explicit. The wolf sexually assaults her and then eats her. Though she is brought back to life, she is still temporarily killed, alongside her grandmother, for leaving the “normal path for girls.” It is unclear as to whether the witch dies or just disappears. Either way, this older woman is punished for trying to attain physical beauty with her spell. Rapunzel is crushed after escaping the tower to attempt an independent life in which she decides who her lover will be. While the Disney version, lets her ride off to an unknown future, Sondheim has publically remarked on his disgust at this choice, stating that the change is due to puritanical ethics. He made no comment about how Disney letting her live might have to due with the preponderance of violence against women in his screenplay.

The women’s deaths serve to make the men first suffer but then develop into better people. The Baker’s loss is that his wife dies. This change forces him to confront his fears about being a father, gain self confidence, and quickly return to his new child. Furthermore, he readily replaces his wife with Cinderella. Cinderella is the one female character in the play that doesn’t die or disappear. Sondheim seems to only spare her in order be the Baker’s helpmate and replacement mother. She forsook her dreams earlier in the play, wanting to return to the “proper” role for a woman as a homemaker and caregiver, rather than be an ambitious princess, so perhaps Sondheim felt that she only had to suffer to the lesser level of the male characters, by losing an important female figure in her life: her mother’s spirit within the tree that the giantess knocks over. Jack’s mother dies but her death is portrayed more as Jack’s loss than her own. She is not mourned as an individual but rather Sondheim’s score emphasizes how much more difficult Jack’s life with be without a mother. Jack does not have to mourn for long as the Baker and Cinderella serve as his replacement parents. Even the Lady Giant is killed for venturing into the woods as she seeks justice for her husband’s murder. Her murder also emboldens the Baker and Jack, helping them recover faster.

Sondheim and Lapine have chosen to inflict direct violence on the female characters and only punish the male characters with indirect suffering. Men thus, while warned to be careful what they wish for, are not punished to the degree as the women for following their dreams. Into the Woods tells men that their wishes might come at a cost, but women will likely lose everything, including their lives, for taking risks. Please, get me out of these woods!

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Venezuelan Plantain Sandwich testing Wednesday 1/20 at CloverKND
Clover Food Lab (lucia) / 2015-01-20 13:42

Andrea from Valley Malt sold us a ton of dried black beans grown in Western Mass, and Chris challenged us to come up with a sandwich that would use them.

Enzo came to Food Dev with an idea for a plantain sandwich. We went through two versions and we’re now ready to test it on you all. Come by CloverKND at lunch on Wednesday for the first taste of the plantain sandwich!

-Black bean spread with green pepper, garlic, onions, cilantro, and jalapeño.
-Venezuelan slaw with carrots, beets, and red cabbage
-Cilantro- lime-mayo dressing
-Fried plantains

The post Venezuelan Plantain Sandwich testing Wednesday 1/20 at CloverKND appeared first on Clover Food Lab.

→ Audio Hijack 3
Marco.org / 2015-01-20 13:42

Huge update to one of my favorite tools for audio nerds and producers. It’s amazing how much clunky hardware and complex software can be replaced with just this one app.

Don’t miss Jason Snell’s take as well.

→ The Shape of the App Store
Marco.org / 2015-01-20 13:42

Compelling analysis and correlation of App Store revenue data from Charles Perry, half of one of my favorite indie-developer podcasts:

I didn’t actually expect App Store revenue to obey the 80-20 rule. In fact, I expected it to be a much sharper curve, representing even greater disparity in the distribution of revenue than the 80-20 rule would suggest – maybe a 90-10 split, or even a 95-5 split. As it turns out, the revenue distribution curve of the App Store is even sharper than I imagined. …

Luckily, there’s a lot of money to be made in that long tail.

Had I known my data would help something like this, I would have released it sooner.

The great thing about estimates like this is that even if they’re only accurate within a wide error range, they’re most likely in the ballpark by enough to make the conclusions that matter: namely, that there’s a lot of money being made in the App Store, and a lot of opportunity for independent developers, that we’re not seeing on the top-25 lists.

Venezuelan Plantain Sandwich testing tomorrow @CloverKND Wednesday
Clover Food Lab (lucia) / 2015-01-20 06:42

Andrea from Valley Malt sold us a ton of dried black beans grown in Western Mass, and Chris challenged us to come up with a sandwich that would use them.

Enzo came to Food Dev with an idea for a plantain sandwich.

-Black bean spread with green pepper, garlic, onions, cilantro, and jalapeño.
-Venezuelan slaw with carrots, beets, and red cabbage
-Cilantro- lime-mayo dressing
-Fried plantains

We went through two versions and we’re now ready to test it on you all. Come by CloverKND at lunch on Wednesday for the first taste of the plantain sandwich!

The post Venezuelan Plantain Sandwich testing tomorrow @CloverKND Wednesday appeared first on Clover Food Lab.

→ The Shape of the App Store
Marco.org / 2015-01-20 03:42

Compelling analysis and correlation of App Store revenue data from Charles Perry, half of one of my favorite indie-developer podcasts:

I didn’t actually expect App Store revenue to obey the 80-20 rule. In fact, I expected it to be a much sharper curve, representing even greater disparity in the distribution of revenue than the 80-20 rule would suggest – maybe a 90-10 split, or even a 95-5 split. As it turns out, the revenue distribution curve of the App Store is even sharper than I imagined. …

Luckily, there’s a lot of money to be made in that long tail.

Had I know my data would help something like this, I would have released it sooner.

The great thing about estimates like this is that even if they’re only accurate within a wide error range, they’re most likely in the ballpark by enough to make the conclusions that matter: namely, that there’s a lot of money being made in the App Store, and a lot of opportunity for independent developers, that we’re not seeing on the top-25 lists.

Video
it was a strange time in my life / 2015-01-20 02:42

joshc posted a photo:

via Instagram ift.tt/1xOJobz

Internet freedom and the EFF’s anti-harassment statement
Geek Feminism Blog (Guest Blogger) / 2015-01-20 00:42

Today we’re featuring two separate guest posts about online harassment: Dr. Alice Marwick’s post about her research proposal for studying why men harass women online — with a link to a site where you can vote for this proposal to be funded! — and this one, taking a closer look at the EFF‘s recent anti-harassment statement.

This is a guest post from Jem Yoshioka, a writer and illustrator from New Zealand. She grew up on the internet, connecting with people all around the world who like to draw and write. She uses the internet constantly, like many other people on the planet. However, a part of loving something means knowing when it’s a bit broken, and the internet is definitely that. Jem’s illustration work is available online and you can follow her on Twitter.

I’d love to say that the statement EFF made on the 8th of January was anything but a disappointment, but it is. The fervent devotion to free speech over everything else ends up alienating me (and many others, I’m sure). Yes, I believe in the vital importance of freedom of the press and the freedom from being censored, prosecuted or incarcerated by governments based on the expression of thoughts. But I also believe that harmful and dangerous abusive behaviour by individuals and hate groups needs to be identified and actively stamped out. It needs to be the responsibility of us all, not just the people who find themselves targeted. This is the responsibility that we take on as members of a community. We’re watching people’s lives burn to the ground and the EFF brings a watering can filled with weak platitudes.

## The Internet isn’t built for everyone

Internet freedom. It sounds pretty good on paper. An open and uncapturable internet with truly utopian beliefs and ideals about equality. In our rosiest narratives, the internet is one of the most incredible and liberating human inventions in recent history, and it’s certainly changing how we all live our lives. However, this utopian internet — a place where we can all live, work, socialise and act harmoniously together — has never and most likely will never exist. This is because the internet is largely built with the same patriarchal, cis, white male structures that “real world” societies are built with. It’s built from the same essential building blocks, and those blocks’ stresses, cracks and faults continue to harm the same people.

The internet is designed by and for straight, white, cis dudes. If you look at any of the startups currently vying for your valuable time and attention, you will see numbers of far, far more men than women and almost every single one of them will be white. The higher up you go, the whiter and more male it gets. If you follow the money that’s funding these ventures, you’ll notice a lot of them bear a striking resemblance to each other and also to a tall glass of milk.

White, hetero, cis male privilege is unaware of itself, but this is in part because it’s unaware of everyone else. And if these people are building our infrastructure, then there’s an awful lot of essential tools they’re missing because of their ignorance.

The places these people build are becoming increasingly more essential to our businesses, our work and our social lives, whether we like it or not. The dominance of platforms like Twitter and Facebook is strongly influencing we all use the internet and who can safely use the internet. When push comes to shove, the system protects the people who designed it for their own use; but everyone else is constantly placed at risk both in their online activities and in their physical space.

## The thorny topic of harassment

Harassment was the hot-button word of 2014. It seemed like things reached some magical media tipping point and all of a sudden, women receiving rape and death threats online counted as proper “real world” news. But as many of us who are the targets (or potential targets) of this kind of harassment know, this behaviour isn’t something that’s just sprung up magically in the last year. It’s the festering muck that’s been lingering at the bottom of potentially every page, probably since the comment section was invented.

Being a woman on the internet is like playing with a ticking time bomb where you can’t see the timer. It could go off any second, or never, or in five years. It could go off because of something you said or someone else, or something completely unrelated to you. It could be because you like a hobby mostly boys like, or you’ve written that you’re fed up with inequality and sexism, or you’d just like a woman’s face to be on a bank note. It’s all stuff that it’s well within our rights as humans to discuss and have opinions about. But if you do so as a woman, you risk being hit with a harassment bomb.

When a harassment bomb detonates, it ruins lives. Private information is shared, companies boycotted, parents’ phone numbers called. Death threats are sent to conventions where victims plan to speak. Victims are blamed and accused of being “professional victims” all the while, the harassers push for their own financial and social profit.

It’s a constant struggle to write, share, and operate normally in the face of constant harassment. Not all of us are strong enough to stand against a tsunami of verbal and visual effluence day after day, and still manage time to build, construct, run, and manage a business. It’s exhausting even to witness from a safe distance, let alone live through. (Those that do manage, let me just say that I love you and everything you bring us, and your voice means the entire world to me. But I do wish you didn’t have to spend so much of your brilliance keeping your safety watertight.)

Since the targets of online harassment are most often marginalised people, this means we are losing voices. Targets are more likely to be women, of colour, trans, disabled, poor, or informally educated. Usually a mix of things because humans don’t tend to sit nicely in categorised boxes. Not everyone who faces this harassment can cut it, and they shouldn’t have to in order to do a simple thing like be active on the internet. We have no idea how many people have quit or won’t even start down this path because of harassment.

## What’s wrong with the EFF’s picture

The EFF as an organisation stands up for a lot of the same things that I want to stand up for. Removal of restrictive DRM, power to people instead of governments, critical looks at spying laws and tackling issues of security. But when it comes to matters that involve harassment or the internet’s own structural biases, they are comparatively quiet. Since harassment silences and self-censors so many of our most marginalised voices, I would assume that an organisation like the EFF would jump onto the issue with all guns blazing. They have commented in the past in small doses, but they often take a relatively conservative approach in order to protect the “real” issue of actual proper free speech.

I’d love to say that the statement EFF made on the 8th of January was anything but a disappointment, but it is. The fervent devotion to free speech over everything else ends up alienating me (and many others, I’m sure). Yes, I believe in the vital importance of freedom of the press and the freedom from being censored, prosecuted or incarcerated by governments based on the expression of thoughts. But I also believe that harmful and dangerous abusive behaviour by individuals and hate groups needs to be identified and actively stamped out. It needs to be the responsibility of us all, not just the people who find themselves targeted. This is the responsibility that we take on as members of a community. We’re watching people’s lives burn to the ground and the EFF brings a watering can filled with weak platitudes.

What we are seeing with online abuse can’t be mistaken for a disagreement of opinion. It’s not a couple of people having a swear-off or even just one person losing their cool at another. It’s constant, structured campaigns of active and malicious behaviour, much of it already illegal under existing law. I’m confused as to why it’d even be controversial to take a strong stand against it.

The EFF blames victims. The focus of their suggestions is on potential victims and users needing to learn self-protection, rather than addressing the very clear underlying systemic and cultural elements that allow harassment to flourish. They discount that many victims do already protect themselves — as much as online systems can possibly allow. Even with significant amounts of filtering, muting and blocking, their time and energy is being diverted from enjoying their time online to a constant battle for space and safety.

The EFF say that if only Twitter unlocked its API, third party creators could develop better tools to protect users. And yes, that’s a possibility. But for this possibility to be viable, someone needs to devote an awful lot of their time, skill and energy just to ensure a platform becomes marginally safer, which Twitter should be doing for its users in the first place.

Companies that profit from our data should be doing more to keep us as users safe. We should be able to have systems in place to protect us, built by full-time staff who are paid a living wage. We shouldn’t have to donate our own time to build such systems for ourselves, on top of whatever other work we need to do to keep ourselves and our families safe, fed, and sheltered. It’s your system that’s broken; you need to fix it. Pay someone to fix it. Put it in your business roadmaps. Hire people who know about this stuff. Stop building on top of the same structures that punish marginalised people.

It seems to be the EFF’s position that harassment needs to be condoned to some extent if we want free speech. If we get too tough on harassment, it’ll mostly end up getting used to punish free speech by governments instead of harassment at all. This idea that censorship trickles down is ridiculous, because marginalised people are already facing self-censorship of their work on a daily basis out of fear of harassment. It’s already happening, and we’re not being helped or protected except by each other.

The internet is white. The internet is male. Most of the internet speaks English. If you aren’t or don’t do these things, you are actively and continuously put under pressure to ensure conformity. If you continuously fail to conform, you are sent harassing messages, death and rape threats, and have your whole life twisted upside down for you and then blamed for it.

I love the internet. It’s my home. It’s where I’ve met most of my friends and how I keep connected with my family. It helps me to connect with new clients and keeps me informed of current events. It’s been a teacher, a friend, and my external memory component (effectively making me a cyborg). It improves my life in little and incalculable ways every day. However, the dark, hostile side can’t be ignored or tolerated. In order for the internet to be the best internet it can be, it needs to be better for everyone. We need to all be safe online, not just those of us who know how to protect ourselves or are lucky enough to never be targets. We need it to be a priority of the bigger fish, of our governments and of our advocacy organisations. We deserve to be safe.

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