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25 Oct 16:22

Saudi Arabia Proves That Oil Is Power

by Robert Rapier, Contributor
The killing of Saudi Arabian dissident Jamal Khashoggi - and the debate over what to do about it - provides a stark reminder of the economic power wielded by Saudi Arabia.
24 Oct 23:01

Civility vs. Decency

by Jenn Boggs


A spokesperson for a divisive president is turned away from a restaurant. That president delights in dog-whistle insults that fall just short of outright ethnic slurs—usually. A white woman calls the police on a black child selling water on a city street on a beastly hot day. A patron who hasn’t been turned away from a restaurant leaves a note for the server, who bears an Arabic name, saying, “We don’t tip terrorist [sic].”

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Updated Date

Thursday, October 4, 2018 - 16:30

Illustration by Lauren Simkin BerkeA spokesperson for a divisive president is turned away from a restaurant. That president delights in dog-whistle insults that fall just short of outright ethnic slurs—usually. A white woman calls the police on a black child selling water on a city street on a beastly hot day. A patron who hasn’t been turned away from a restaurant leaves a note for the server, who bears an Arabic name, saying, “We don’t tip terrorist [sic].”

We live in bitter, angry times, with a hall-of-funhouse-mirrors quality to them: Call a racist a racist, and that person will be hurt because you have used an injurious term. Call someone you disagree with a derogatory term, on the other hand, and you might earn a few likes on Facebook. Lose a job here, gain a pardon there: In this swirl of flying invective and free-floating rage, we’re barely talking to one another except to shout.

All this speaks to a crisis of civility, which is to say, a species of etiquette: As a civil person, I may despise the beliefs you hold, but I won’t shout, “You lie!” across a crowded auditorium. I may not like the way you look, but I’ll reserve my comments for interior monologue. Believe what you want to, the thinking goes, but be polite about how you express it in public; advocate separating children from parents at the border or argue for the virtues of the Confederacy with all your might, but mind your manners as you do so and you will have satisfied the all-too-frequently heard plea for civil behavior, no matter how ugly the message.

One can have heart and mind full of venom and still be civil; decency need not enter the picture. Like civility, the latter term speaks to propriety of conduct. Unlike civility, it carries an element of essential soulcraft to it: It goes deeper, into character more than manners. A civil person may be a scoundrel, a decent person never so; a civil person may be a racist, a decent person not; and so forth. Decency gauges the inherent rightness or wrongness of a thought or action, while civility is largely agnostic on such matters. When Joseph Nye Welch beseeched Joseph McCarthy, in a famous moment in American political history, “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” he was asking the Wisconsin senator for more than showing a little decorum.

Does one precede the other? And which is to be preferred? If you’re looking for no one to be offended, then civility is a desideratum, to be sure. But, observes the philosopher Avishai Margalit, decency is really what we should be after: “A decent society,” he writes, “is one whose institutions do not humiliate people.” A decent society is fair and constructive, a civil one merely polite. Given the war on the social contract and the supremacy of the zero-sum game, of course, we should be grateful to take what we can get, but there’s a world to win—with the utmost courtesy, of course.


Gregory McNamee Topics: Conduct society racism character call to action courtesy Fine Distinctions




Fall 2018

20 Aug 17:52

N.K. Jemisin Wins Her 3rd Consecutive Hugo Award For Best Novel

by Princess Weekes

Stone Sky

Last night was the Hugo awards and the Beyoncé of science fiction,  N.K. Jemisin, won her third Hugo in a row for the final book in her Broken Earth Trilogy The Stone Sky. It was not only a big night for Jemisin, but for female authors in general at the Hugo Awards. Most of the winners of the evening were women and some were women of color, including Ohkay Owingeh /Black author, Rebecca Roanhorse, Asian-American author Marjorie M. Liu, and Japanese illustrator Sana Takeda.

Best Novel

  • The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
  • The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi (Tor)
  • New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
  • Provenance, by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
  • Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty (Orbit)

Best Novella

  • All Systems Red, by Martha Wells ( Publishing)
  • “And Then There Were (N-One),” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny, March/April 2017)
  • Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor ( Publishing)
  • The Black Tides of Heaven, by JY Yang ( Publishing)
  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire ( Publishing)
  • River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey ( Publishing)

Best Novelette

  • “The Secret Life of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017)
  • “Children of Thorns, Children of Water,” by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny, July-August 2017)
  • “Extracurricular Activities,” by Yoon Ha Lee (, February 15, 2017)
  • “A Series of Steaks,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld, January 2017)
  • “Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time,” by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny, May/June 2017)
  • “Wind Will Rove,” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s, September/October 2017)

Best Short Story

  • “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™,” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex, August 2017)
  • “Carnival Nine,” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, May 2017)
  • “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand,” by Fran Wilde (Uncanny, September 2017)
  • “Fandom for Robots,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny, September/October 2017)
  • “The Martian Obelisk,” by Linda Nagata (, July 19, 2017)
  • “Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon, (Uncanny, May/June 2017)

Best Related Work

  • No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate, by Zoe Quinn (PublicAffairs)
  • Iain M. Banks (Modern Masters of Science Fiction), by Paul Kincaid (University of Illinois Press)
  • A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison, by Nat Segaloff (NESFA Press)
  • Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Sleeping with Monsters: Readings and Reactions in Science Fiction and Fantasy, by Liz Bourke (Aqueduct Press)

Best Graphic Story

  • Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood, written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
  • Black Bolt, Volume 1: Hard Time, written by Saladin Ahmed, illustrated by Christian Ward, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Marvel)
  • Bitch Planet, Volume 2: President Bitch, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro and Taki Soma, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)
  • My Favorite Thing is Monsters, written and illustrated by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
  • Paper Girls, Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image Comics)
  • Saga, Volume 7, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

  • Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins (DC Films / Warner Brothers)
  • Blade Runner 2049, written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Alcon Entertainment / Bud Yorkin Productions / Torridon Films / Columbia Pictures)
  • Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele (Blumhouse Productions / Monkeypaw Productions / QC Entertainment)
  • The Shape of Water, written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, directed by Guillermo del Toro (TSG Entertainment / Double Dare You / Fox Searchlight Pictures)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson (Lucasfilm, Ltd.)
  • Thor: Ragnarok, written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost; directed by Taika Waititi (Marvel Studios)

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form

  • The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem,” written by Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, directed by Dean Holland (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television)
  • Black Mirror: “USS Callister,” written by William Bridges and Charlie Brooker, directed by Toby Haynes (House of Tomorrow)
  • “The Deep” [song], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)
  • Doctor Who: “Twice Upon a Time,” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Cymru Wales)
  • The Good Place: “Michael’s Gambit,” written and directed by Michael Schur (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television)
  • Star Trek: Discovery: “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” written by Aron Eli Coleite & Jesse Alexander, directed by David M. Barrett (CBS Television Studios)

Best Editor – Short Form

  • Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Lee Harris
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Sheila Williams

Best Editor – Long Form

  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Joe Monti
  • Diana M. Pho
  • Devi Pillai
  • Miriam Weinberg
  • Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Artist

  • Sana Takeda
  • Galen Dara
  • Kathleen Jennings
  • Bastien Lecouffe Deharme
  • Victo Ngai
  • John Picacio

Best Semiprozine

  • Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Julia Rios; podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
  • The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James
  • Escape Pod, edited by Mur Lafferty, S.B. Divya, and Norm Sherman, with assistant editor Benjamin C. Kinney
  • Fireside Magazine, edited by Brian White and Julia Rios; managing editor Elsa Sjunneson-Henry; special feature editor Mikki Kendall; publisher & art director Pablo Defendini
  • Strange Horizons, edited by Kate Dollarhyde, Gautam Bhatia, A.J. Odasso, Lila Garrott, Heather McDougal, Ciro Faienza, Tahlia Day, Vanessa Rose Phin, and the Strange Horizons staff

Best Fanzine

  • File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
  • Galactic Journey, edited by Gideon Marcus
  • Journey Planet, edited by Team Journey Planet
  • nerds of a feather, flock together, edited by The G, Vance Kotrla, and Joe Sherry
  • Rocket Stack Rank, edited by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong
  • SF Bluestocking, edited by Bridget McKinney

Best Fancast

  • Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace
  • The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • Fangirl Happy Hour, presented by Ana Grilo and Renay Williams
  • Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce and Tansy Rayner Roberts; produced by Andrew Finch
  • Sword and Laser, presented by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt
  • Verity!, presented by Deborah Stanish, Erika Ensign, Katrina Griffiths, L.M. Myles, Lynne M. Thomas, and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Best Fan Writer

  • Sarah Gailey
  • Camestros Felapton
  • Mike Glyer
  • Foz Meadows
  • Charles Payseur
  • Bogi Takács

Best Fan Artist

  • Geneva Benton
  • Grace P. Fong
  • Maya Hahto
  • Likhain (M. Sereno)
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles

Best Series

  • World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Harper Voyager / Spectrum Literary Agency)
  • The Books of the Raksura, by Martha Wells (Night Shade)
  • The Divine Cities, by Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway)
  • InCryptid, by Seanan McGuire (DAW)
  • The Memoirs of Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan (Tor US / Titan UK)
  • The Stormlight Archive, by Brandon Sanderson (Tor US / Gollancz UK)

In recent years, the science fiction awards have been working to be more inclusive, and this year’s finalists and winners show just how far we have come in recognizing the accomplishments of a diversity of people in working in that genre. It is hard to believe that in 2016 Jemisin became the first African-America author to win the Hugo for Best Novel and has now become the first person to win it three years in a row in that category.

It’s a beautiful reminder that despite all the things going wrong, that progress is happening.

(via Tor, image: Orbit)

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20 Aug 17:52

Here's the funniest, most scathing, most informative and most useful talk on AI and security

by Cory Doctorow

James Mickens (previously) has a well-deserved reputation for being the information security world's funniest speaker, and if that were all he did, he would still be worth listening to. (more…)

08 Aug 19:07

Our Disruptive Media Startup is Taking On Massive Debt to Meet the Needs of an Audience That Does Not Exist


In the headwinds of today’s online economy, digital media companies are feeling the pinch of shrinking viewership, saturated markets, and debt-heavy, bloated parent companies. In this era of uncertainty, we believe the market is ripe for a disruptive media group that asks: What if there was a company that did more of the same, but more so? A company that doesn’t dwell on the baggage of past lessons, and stares straight into the blinding light of the future. It’s time to meet a new kind of digital media startup.

We call ourselves YouthBlade Media. We decided this is a name that strikes the perfect balance of rebellious excitement and inoffensive vagueness that will help us reward our shareholders before this rocket ship goes Columbia, if you know what we mean. But if you think our media disruptiveness ends at our name, then you’re in for a rude surprise.

We’re hiring and firing writers at an incredibly disruptive rate. We feel this better positions us to compete with the generation of writers whose careers we’ve kneecapped.

We’ve spared no expense recruiting prestige essayists from the New York Times, The Washington Post, and, due to a miscommunication with our recruiter, These writers will help us establish a name and reputation, and, until we figure out a site they can write on, we say their $400,000-a-year salaries are well worth the investment.

As for the rest of our writers, we’re cutting back on the needless excesses that hobble larger, more successful companies. Our average staffers, or ‘pawns’ as we affectionately like to call them, will earn a competitive-but-sensible annual salary of $18,000, plus generous health benefits composed of one lime per week to prevent scurvy.

Certainly, some writers may balk at being required to commute from a homeless camp to our offices in the New York Financial District, but they’re only showing how uncommitted they are to our revolutionary mission.

What is our mission? Our mission draws from a range of inspirations: South American Air Traffic Control, The Tower of Babel, even Vice. In short, our mission is to unite a diverse group of readership under an umbrella of groundbreaking websites to stake a cultural claim in the digital age.

Wow, that actually sounded pretty good! We should really write that down somewhere.

We’re in debt, and expanding rapidly: We may be 200 billion dollars in the hole on this thing, but assuming we reach our modest goal of becoming the largest media company on earth, we should be profitable as early as 2044.

Our incoming class of interns is the coolest, most well-qualified1 and diverse2 group of our executives’ nephews our company has ever seen.

Every day that passes, we only become more disruptive!

Our average reader is an 18-24-year-old Russian hacker making over $200,000 a year that we pay him to boost our traffic numbers!

Our web properties are incredibly woke, but also unafraid of being politically incorrect!

Our clickbait sites are expanding into hard-hitting news! Our respected news teams will write lists of skateboarding fails!

We’re going to kill God and write a blog about it!

Ultimately, we’re a simple startup, with a revolutionarily simple business model: Borrow, spend, and pray. And if that doesn’t sound rebellious enough to pique your interest, we hope the slogan we spent millions of dollars on focus-grouping will:

We’re YouthBlade Media. Check Us Out.

- - -

1 As our first group of interns, they are also our least qualified, if you want to be a drag about it.

2 See above.

08 Aug 18:11

5 unspoken rules of being a manager that no one tells you about

by Mollie Lombardi and Terra Vicario

You’ll be on the receiving end of more information than you want. Use that privilege wisely.

After many hours of hard work, your employer made you a manager. For the first time in your life, you have several employees reporting to you. You’re excited to make your mark and take your career to the next level. And you should be–your company has recognized that you have leadership potential, and they’re giving you an opportunity to shine.

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08 Aug 18:07

Right-wing Brazilian presidential candidate picks dictatorship-loving general as a running mate

by Seamus Bellamy

Remember last week when we told you that there was some jibba-jabba about the possibility of Brazil sliding back into being a military dictatorship? According to Reuters, far-right leaning presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, has named a retired general as his running mate in the nation’s upcoming elections. Here’s the shit-and-giggle part: the general in question is Antonio Hamilton Mourão. He’s the same fella that told the media that there was a possibility of there being a military coup if the Brazilian government didn’t get its shit together. From Reuters:
Bolsonaro, running as a candidate for the small Social Liberty Party (PSL), has pegged much of his candidacy on controversial remarks, whether defending of the past military dictatorship or suggesting acts of violence against homosexuals. In an interview last year with Reuters, the candidate for the Social Liberty Party (PSL) played down Mourão’s remarks. “It was just a warning. Nobody wants to seize power that way,” Bolsonaro said. “Maybe we could have a military man winning in 2018, but through elections.” Bolsonaro had struggled to find a running mate as other parties tried to distance themselves from his controversial comments. Other proposed vice presidential candidates - including another general, an astronaut and a sitting senator - ultimately fell through.
Encouraging acts of violence against homosexuals and propping up the deeds of a past dictatorship. I can’t imagine why Bolsonaro was having problems finding a running mate. Unfortunately, as we’ve learned over the past few years, having no moral compass or compassion for minorities won’t stop a dangerous bully or a dictator from coming to power during an election year. Image via Wikipedia
06 Aug 22:01

Complex Numbers

I'm trying to prove that mathematics forms a meta-abelian group, which would finally confirm my suspicions that algebreic geometry and geometric algebra are the same thing.
06 Aug 21:19

Disaster Movie

Really, they'd be rushing around collecting revisions to go into the next scheduled quarterly public data update, not publishing them immediately, but you have to embellish things a little for Hollywood.
06 Aug 20:54

High Speed Internet Is Causing Widespread Sleep Deprivation, Study Finds

by msmash
A study, published Friday in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization and funded by the European Research Council, suggests that high speed internet access is causing people to lose up to 25 minutes of sleep per night compared to those without high speed internet. From a report: It's the first study to causally link broadband access to sleep deprivation. The so-called "digitalization of the bedroom," defined by our inability to part with our phones/laptops/televisions before bed, has already been linked to various sleep disorders. [...] As the researchers found, high speed internet access "promotes excessive electronic media use," which has already been shown to have detrimental effects on sleep duration and quality. The effects of high speed internet access were particularly noticeable in younger age demographics.

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06 Aug 20:01

Beyoncé’s Vogue Interview Carries an Important Message About the History of Rape and Miscegenation in America

by Princess Weekes

Beyonce performs as she is pregnant with twins during the 59th Annual Grammy music Awards on February 12, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. / AFP / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)

Beyoncé’s September Vogue cover was already highly anticipated because, duh, it’s Beyoncé, but also because she used her platform to give a 23-year-old black photographer an opportunity.

Beyond the cover, you can find stories from the Queen of Pop Music about her relationship with her body (including her FUPA) and creating opportunities for black artists coming up after her: “Imagine if someone hadn’t given a chance to the brilliant women who came before me: Josephine Baker, Nina Simone, Eartha Kitt, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, and the list goes on. They opened the doors for me, and I pray that I’m doing all I can to open doors for the next generation of talents.”

Her interview is just filled with insight and really allows you to understand that, whether you like Beyoncé or not, she is aware of her place in music history and how that has impacted the world and herself as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and human being.

However, one of the more important parts of the article comes when she talks about her heritage and finding out her ancestry: “I researched my ancestry recently and learned that I come from a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave. I had to process that revelation over time. I questioned what it meant and tried to put it into perspective,” she says.

The language Beyoncé uses is important, because while it may be part of her process of understanding where she comes from, it’s important to call things what they are, and a relationship between a white slave owner and a black slave is rape. It will always be rape because there is no consent in captivity. However, what Beyoncé is talking about is something that shows up often in narratives known as miscegenation fiction.

I spoke about miscegenation fiction before when I wrote about the author Frances Harper for my Black History Month series, but as a recap:

Miscegenation fiction was a popular type of fiction that was about the “forbidden relationships” between non-white people (mostly black, sometimes Native peoples) and white people. Lydia Maria Child was an abolitionist writer who used this genre frequently to explore the myths of white supremacy through stories of beautiful mixed-race people and white people. While nowadays we understand that this is problematic due to colorism, during slavery, this was used to show that if black people were so inferior to white people, then why were the offspring of those “relationships” capable of being accepted as attractive and intelligent?

The most common of these “tragic mulatto” tales would be a mixed-race woman falls in love with a white man, they are married “in the eyes of God,” a.k.a. bullshit because, in those days, you couldn’t marry a non-white person legally. They would have children who usually don’t grow up knowing they are mixed race, and eventually, the white father would die or marry a rich white woman, and the black family members would be sent back into slavery to probably die tragically. You see this in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Clotel, and many of Child’s own works.

Frances Harper wrote a novel called Iola Leroy, which was about a light-skinned mixed-race woman married (semi-legally) to a white plantation owner because the slave passed enough for white to get by. It’s important to note that anti-miscegenation laws in this country existed to (a) uphold white supremacy and (b) to allow white men to forsake responsibility for their mixed-raced children. By 1776, seven out of the original 13 colonies had banned miscegenation, and as the country expanded in slave-owning states those same laws continued to be enacted.

In 1912, Georgia’s Democratic Senator Seaborn Anderson Roddenbery (what a name) tried to add an anti-miscegenation law into the United States Constitution in response to mixed race marriages, like those of the first-African-American world heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, being married to white women. Before Congress he made the following statement:

Intermarriage between whites and blacks is repulsive and averse to every sentiment of pure American spirit. It is abhorrent and repugnant to the very principles of Saxon government. It is subversive of social peace. It is destructive of moral supremacy, and ultimately this slavery of white women to black beasts will bring this nation a conflict as fatal as ever reddened the soil of Virginia or crimsoned the mountain paths of Pennsylvania.

I’m sure he was really moved by Birth of a Nation when it came out.

It’s this culture—one where black and brown women could be raped with zero legal protection—that many African-American and women within the black diaspora are born into. It is this legacy of pain and rape that is part of our legacy, sometimes down to the last names many of us have. Even men who “married” slaves could only keep that illusion if no one knew the truth and no one came to claim the property that belonged to the master’s family. That is not love.

What popped into my mind after reading this, after Iola Leroy, was Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, which very much goes into this legacy of rape and brutality through the narrator, Dana, who goes back in time to see her ancestors’ relationship: one a slave owner (Rufus), one a slave (Alice), who is eventually driven to take her own life in order to finally escape rape and torment.

Throughout the story, Rufus allows himself to believe that the brutality is love because he believes there would be genuine shame in actually loving Alice and respecting her.

I said nothing. I was beginning to realize that he loved the woman—to her misfortune. There was no shame in raping a black woman, but there could be shame in loving one.

“I didn’t want to just drag her off into the bushes,” said Rufus. “I never wanted it to be like that. But she kept saying no. I could have had her in the bushes years ago if that was all I wanted.”

The entire interview is a powerful, and this part no less a reminder of the brokenness of the black family and trauma that permeates through that heritage, even to this day. However, Beyoncé does have this sliver of hope within that knowledge:

“I come from a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust. Only when I saw that clearly was I able to resolve those conflicts in my own relationship. Connecting to the past and knowing our history makes us both bruised and beautiful.”

(via Vogue, image:VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)

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06 Aug 18:10

Can We Decentralize the Web?

by EditorDavid
This week the Internet Archive hosted an amazing Decentralized Web Summit, which united the makers who want to build a web "that's locked open for good." [Watch the videos here.] Vint Cerf was there, as was the technical product development leader for Microsoft's own decentralized identity efforts, several companies building the so-called punk rock Internet, "along with a handful of venture capitalists looking for opportunities." One talk even included Mike Judge, the creator of HBO's Silicon Valley, which recently included the decentralized web in its ongoing storyline. Computing highlighted remarks by Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, and Mitchell Baker, the chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation. The ideology of the web's early pioneers, according to Baker, was free software and open source. "Money was considered evil," she said. So when companies came in to commercialize the internet, the original architects were unprepared. "Advertising is the internet's original sin," Kahle told the packed room. "Advertising is winner-take-all, and that's how we've ended up with centralization and monopolies." At the conference, attendees presented utopian visions of how the future of the internet could look. Civil, a new media startup, proposed crowd-supported journalism using cryptocurrency micro-payments. Mastodon, a decentralized and encrypted social network, was commonly referenced as an alternative to Twitter. As Facebook and Google continue to monopolize the digital advertising ecosystem -- recent estimates say that the two companies control over 70% of digital advertising spending globally -- the promise of a decentralized web, free from the shackles of advertiser demands is fun to imagine. Tristan Harris, who leads the Center for Humane Technology, "just hopes the pioneers of the new internet turn around to face the potential negative externalities of their products before it's too late," arguing that "If we decentralize the systems we already have without an honest recognition of the social harms that are being created -- mental health [issues], loneliness, addiction, polarization, conspiracy theories... then we've decentralized social harms and we can't even track them." But Tim Berners-Lee "remains hopeful". "There's massive public awareness of the effects of social networks and the unintended consequences," he told Computing. "There's a huge backlash from people wanting to control their own data"... Meanwhile, there's the rise of "companies which respect user privacy and do not do anything at all with user data" (he namechecks social network MeWe to which he acts as an advisor), open-source collaborations like the data portability project (DTP) led by tech giants, and his own project Solid which is "turning from an experiment into a platform and the start of a movement". "These are exciting times," said Berners-Lee.

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06 Aug 17:55

New Alexa Skill Plays Fake Stupid Arguments To Scare Off Burglars

by EditorDavid
TechCrunch reports on a new Alexa skill called "Away Mode". Instead of lights and noises, you can keep your home safe from unwanted visitors by playing lengthy audio tracks that sound like real -- and completely ridiculous -- conversations. When you launch Away Mode, Alexa will play one of seven audio tracks penned by comedy writers from SNL, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and UCB... These include gems like "Couple Has Breakup While Also Trying to Watch TV," "Two Average Guys Brainstorm What's Unique About Themselves So They Can Start a Podcast About It," "Emergency PTA Meeting To Discuss Memes, Fidget Spinners, and Other Teen Fads," and more. There are conversations from a book club where no one discusses the book, a mom walking her daughter through IKEA assembly over the phone, a stay-at-home mom losing her s***, and argument over a board game.... After enabling the skill on your Alexa device, you can cycle through the various conversations by saying "Next"... The tracks themselves are around an hour or so long... There are other "burglar deterrent" skills for Alexa if you're interested in the general concept, like that play fake house alarms or sound like guard dogs. But Away Mode is just a little more fun. It's the brainchild of San Francisco-based Hippo Insurance, whose brand manager hopes to get people thinking about home security (though she says it isn't meant to be a serious security tool). Yet, "Theoretically it's a good idea," adds former California police chief Jim Bueermann (now the head of the nonprofit Police Foundation). "If this thing mimics real conversation, it's much more likely to trick the burglar into believing somebody is home." In one fake argument, a board game player shouts "Hand me the rulebook! The other rulebook! That's the rules reference.... No, it's in the learn-to-play guide. That's the quick reference!"

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06 Aug 17:53

'Why Liberal Arts and the Humanities Are as Important as Engineering'

by msmash
Engineering professor Vivek Wadha writes: A technological shift is in progress that will change the rules of innovation. A broad range of technologies, such as computing, artificial intelligence, digital medicine, robotics and synthetic biology, are advancing exponentially and converging, making amazing things possible. With the convergence of medicine, artificial intelligence and sensors, we can create digital doctors that monitor our health and help us prevent disease; with the advances in genomics and gene editing, we have the ability to create plants that are drought resistant and that feed the planet; with robots powered by artificial intelligence, we can build digital companions for the elderly. Nanomaterial advances are enabling a new generation of solar and storage technologies that will make energy affordable and available to all. Creating solutions such as these requires a knowledge of fields such as biology, education, health sciences and human behavior. Tackling today's biggest social and technological challenges requires the ability to think critically about their human context, which is something that humanities graduates happen to be best trained to do. An engineering degree is very valuable, but the sense of empathy that comes from music, arts, literature and psychology provides a big advantage in design. A history major who has studied the Enlightenment or the rise and fall of the Roman Empire gains an insight into the human elements of technology and the importance of its usability. A psychologist is more likely to know how to motivate people and to understand what users want than is an engineer who has only worked in the technology trenches. A musician or artist is king in a world in which you can 3D-print anything that you can imagine.

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06 Aug 17:52

I finally achieved inbox zero, and it totally changed how I work

by Stephanie Vozza

“One day I did something drastic. I deleted or moved all 457 of the messages that were sitting in my inbox. It was liberating.”

The average person sends and receives about 235 emails a day and spends between 2.5 and 4.1 hours a day in their inboxes, depending on which study you believe. Either way, that’s a lot of time—and what do you do with all those messages?

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21 Jul 20:07

Homestar Runner's Trogdor Is Coming to Burninate Board Game Night

by Andrew Liszewski

The Brothers Chaps’ Homestar Runner cartoons are one of the few good things to ever come from this internet thing. It introduced the world to countless quotable characters, but few became as immediately popular as the S-shaped, one-armed, flying, burninating dragon called Trogdor, who’s now starring in his very own…


21 Jul 20:06

The 'Ada Lace' Books Will Get Girls Interested in STEM

by Geek's Guide to the Galaxy
Emily Calandrelli's children's books weave in science throughout.
21 Jul 18:42

LambdaMOO, MUDs, and 'When the Internet Was Young'

by EditorDavid
Slashdot reader travers_r shares "a peek into the early days of internet culture and multiplayer gaming." (Apparently this MOO has been running continuously for 28 years.) "From the looks of it, squatters run it now..." LambdaMOO was different from the earliest MUDs, which were Tolkienesque fantasies -- hack-and-slash games for Dungeons & Dragons types with computer access, mostly college students. LambdaMOO was one of the first social MUDs, where people convened largely to play-act society, and what might have been "one of the first MUDs to be run by an adult," [co-creator Pavel] Curtis believes... Everybody comes through the Coat Closet the first time they visit LambdaMOO, entering the Living Room through a curtain of clothes, like children into Narnia. In between the textual rooms and objects they explore, there's a faster-moving flow of words, the coursing real-time chatter of LambdaMOO's other users. This is a Multi-User Domain: a chatroom and a world at once, a place where telling takes the place of being... [I]t's nearly impossible to describe to a modern computer user what that means, because although MUDs once made up 10 percent of internet traffic, their dominance was obliterated by the arrival of the visual, hyperlinked, page-based Web. To anyone weaned on images and clicked connections, every explanation sounds batty: A MUD is a text-based virtual reality. A MUD is a chatroom built by talking. A MUD is Dungeons & Dragons all around the world. A MUD is a map made of words. The science fiction writer Philip K. Dick once defined reality as "that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away," and in that sense a MUD is a real place. But a MUD is also nothing more than a window of text, scrolling along as users describe and inhabit a place from words. Undark titled their piece "a mansion filled with hidden worlds: when the internet was young," describing the mansion's halls as "really just a string of code, where people once lived, and still do, in some way or another, as someone must, until the server winks out." I logged in a few times in 1997, so I'm probably in there too... The article describes reading a Usenet newsgroup about MUDs back in 1990. "Approximately half of the contributors thought it was a game; the other half vehemently and heatedly disagreed." Does all this bring back memories for any Slashdot readers?

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29 Jun 17:00

Conservation of Threat

by Bruce Schneier

Here's some interesting research about how we perceive threats. Basically, as the environment becomes safer we basically manufacture new threats. From an essay about the research:

To study how concepts change when they become less common, we brought volunteers into our laboratory and gave them a simple task ­-- to look at a series of computer-generated faces and decide which ones seem "threatening." The faces had been carefully designed by researchers to range from very intimidating to very harmless.

As we showed people fewer and fewer threatening faces over time, we found that they expanded their definition of "threatening" to include a wider range of faces. In other words, when they ran out of threatening faces to find, they started calling faces threatening that they used to call harmless. Rather than being a consistent category, what people considered "threats" depended on how many threats they had seen lately.

This has a lot of implications in security systems where humans have to make judgments about threat and risk: TSA agents, police noticing "suspicious" activities, "see something say something" campaigns, and so on.

The academic paper.

23 May 23:34

The Computer History Museum just published the sourcecode for Eudora

by Cory Doctorow

Eudora -- first released in 1988 -- was the first industrial-strength email client designed to run on personal computers like IBM PC and the Macintosh; though there are still die-hard users of the program, the last version was published in 2016. (more…)

23 May 23:29

Trump Can't Block Critics on Twitter. What Does This Mean For Free Speech?

by Issie Lapowsky
Here's how the decision impacts the future of the First Amendment online.
23 May 22:08

Today In “Please Stop Blaming Women for Men’s Behavior” News: Ariana Grande Shuts It Down

by Vivian Kane

ariana grande, twet, mac miller, breakup, blaming women, toxic masculinity

It seems like no matter what a man does, people will find a way to blame his behavior on a woman. Everything from school shootings and serial killers to football players not footballing well enough–it’s just a quick hop and a step to finding a woman to fault.  That’s what some dude was doing when he tweeted about rapper/producer Mac Miller’s recent car crash and DUI. As this guy saw it, Miller’s not to blame for his actions. Nope, this rando blames Ariana Grande for breaking up with him recently.

It’s bad enough to blame Grande’s choice to end a relationship for her ex’s destructive behavior, but the implication here is that Miller somehow earned and deserved Grande’s affection by writing songs about her. That sort of entitlement is dehumanizing and incredibly creepy.

Ariana Grande responded to the tweet directly:

“How absurd that you minimize female self-respect and self-worth by saying someone should stay in a toxic relationship because he wrote an album about them,” she writes, clarifying that really only one song on the album was about her–NOT THAT THAT MATTERS. As she writes, “I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they need to be. I have cared for him and tried to support his sobriety & prayed for his balance for years (and always will of course) but shaming / blaming women for a man’s inability to keep his shit together is a very major problem. Let’s please stop doing that.”

After Grande’s shut down what was happening with total firmness but no scorn or cruelty, the guy replied with an apology.

When it comes to talking on the internet about misogyny, those conversations usually only escalate. It’s heartening to see a man willing to listen to a woman he’s demeaned and respond with such open regret.

In terms of Twitter conversations, this was unusually productive.

(image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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23 May 21:42

"Hyperspace" shows how science can inform science fiction

by Baraka Kaseko and Marah Eakin on AUX, shared by Baraka Kaseko to The A.V. Club

Welcome back to Pop Lexicon, The A.V. Club’s series with Kory Stamper, Merriam-Webster lexicographer and editor, where she reveals the origins of America’s favorite colloquialisms. Today, Kory explains how not only can science can inform science fiction, but science fiction can influence scientific discovery, starting…


23 May 21:42

A hard look at the wastefulness of "proof of work," the idea at the core of the blockchain

by Cory Doctorow

David Gerard is a technically minded, sharp-witted, scathing critic of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies; his criticism is long, comprehensive and multipartite, but of particular interest is is critique of "proof of work" (an idea that is central to the blockchain, but which many cryptographers are skeptical of). (more…)

23 May 21:19

Women Leaders: 3 Ways to Break Through the Glass Ceiling – Without Getting Cut

by Contributor

glass ceiling business woman

Sponsored by Landmark Sign Company:

No, it’s not emblazoned on big, bold office lobby signs for everyone to see, but women in leadership roles — or who aspire toward an elevated position and platform — know exactly what it feels like to crash into the glass ceiling. It’s a mixture of shock, awe, humiliation, exasperation, and of course, wholly justified anger at what has been, is now, and always will be a completely unfair and unjustifiable barrier to professional and personal...

Read the whole entry... »

22 May 17:28

Discover David Lynch’s Bizarre & Minimalist Comic Strip, The Angriest Dog in the World (1983-1992)

by Colin Marshall

Most David Lynch fans discover him through his films. But those of us who read alternative weekly newspapers in their 1980s and 90s heyday may well have first encountered his work in another medium entirely: the comic strip. Like many of the best-known examples of the form, Lynch's comic strip stars an animal, specifically a dog, but a dog "so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis." That text, which prepared readers for a reading experience some way from Marmaduke, introduced each and every edition of The Angriest Dog in the World, which ran between 1983 and 1992.

During that entire time, the strip's artwork never changed either: four panels in which the titular dog strains against a rope staked down in a suburban backyard, in the last of which night has fallen. The sole variation came in the word bubbles that occasionally emerged from the window of the house, presumably representing the voice of the dog's owners.

You can see a few examples at Lynchnet and also on this blog. "If everything is real... then nothing is real as well," it says one week. On another: "It must be clear to even the non-mathematician that the things in this world just don't add up to beans." Or, in a nod to the region of The Angriest Dog in the World's home paper the LA Reader: "Bill... who is this San Andreas? I can't believe it's all his fault."

"At some point David Lynch called up the editor at the time, James Vowell, and said, ‘Hi, I'd like to do a comic strip for you,’" says former Reader editor Richard Gehr as quoted by John F. Kelly at Spooky Comics. Every week thereafter, Lynch would phone the Reader to dictate the text of the latest strip. "We would give it to somebody in the production department and they would White Out the panels from the week before and write in a new, quote/unquote… gag.” The clip from The Incredibly Strange Film Show's 1990 episode on Lynch above shows the evolution of the process: someone, one of Lynch's assistants or perhaps Lynch himself, would regularly slip under the Reader's office door an envelope containing word balloons written and ready to paste into the strip. (Dangerous Minds finds an interview where Vowell describes another production method altogether, involving wax paper.)

Lynch came up with the words, but what about the images? "I assume he drew the first iteration," says Gehr as quoted by Kelly. "I don’t even know if the second and third [panels] were hand drawn. Those could have been mimeographed too or something." The style does bear a resemblance to that of the town map Lynch drew to pitch Twin Peaks to ABC. The attentive fan can also find a host of other connections between The Angriest Dog in the World and Lynch's other work. That factory in the background, for instance, looks like a place he'd photograph, or even a setting of Eraserhead, during whose frustrating years-long shoot he came up with the strip's concept in the first place. "I had tremendous anger," says Lynch in David Breskin's book Inner Views. "And I think when I began meditating, one of the first things that left was a great chunk of that." If only the Angriest Dog in the World could have found it in himself to do the same.

via Dangerous Minds

Related Content:

David Lynch Draws a Map of Twin Peaks (to Help Pitch the Show to ABC)

The Paintings of Filmmaker/Visual Artist David Lynch

David Lynch’s Photographs of Old Factories

“The Art of David Lynch”— How Rene Magritte, Edward Hopper & Francis Bacon Influenced David Lynch’s Cinematic Vision

David Lynch’s New ‘Crazy Clown Time’ Video: Intense Psychotic Backyard Craziness (NSFW)

The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Revisit 1980s Documentaries on David Lynch, John Waters, Alejandro Jodorowsky & Other Filmmakers

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Discover David Lynch’s Bizarre & Minimalist Comic Strip, <i>The Angriest Dog in the World</i> (1983-1992) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

22 May 17:28

Neil Cicierega presents the official nightmares of all 50 states

by Randall Colburn on News, shared by Randall Colburn to The A.V. Club

Neil Cicierega writes songs, makes video games, and routinely epitomizes everything wonderful and baffling about what the youngs think is funny these days. His latest effort is a straight-faced video in which he shares the official nightmare of each state in the U.S.A., and, refreshingly, none of them involve the…


22 May 17:27

Excerpts from McSweeney’s Quarterly: Four Institutional Monologues


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Today we’re happy to share a story by our friend George Saunders, which originally ran in McSweeney’s 4.

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DATE: Apr 6
TO: Staff
FROM: Todd Birnie
RE: March Performance Stats

I would not like to characterize this as a plea, but it may start to sound like one (!) The fact is, we have a job to do, we have tacitly agreed to do it (did you cash your last paycheck, I know I did, ha ha ha). We have also—to go a step further here—agreed to do the job well. Now we all know that one way to do a job poorly is to be negative about it. Say we need to clean a shelf. Let’s use that example. lf we spend the hour before the shelf-cleaning talking down the process of cleaning the shelf, complaining about it, dreading it, investigating the moral niceties of cleaning that shelf, whatever, then what happens is, we make the process of cleaning that shelf more difficult than it really is. We all know very well that that "shelf” is going to be cleaned, given the current climate, either by you or by the guy who replaces you and gets your paycheck, so the questions boil down to: Do I want to clean it happy or do I want to clean it sad? Which would be more effective? For me? Which would accomplish my purpose more efficiently? What is my purpose? To get paid. How do I accomplish that purpose most efficiently? I clean that shelf well and I clean it quickly. And what mental state helps me clean that shelf well and quickly? Is the answer: Negative? A negative mental state? You know very well that it is not. So the point of this memo is: Positive. The positive mental state will help you clean that shelf well and quickly, and thus accomplish your purpose of getting paid.

What am I saying? Am I saying whistle while you work? Maybe I am. Let us consider lifting a heavy dead carcass such as a whale. (Forgive the shelf/whale thing, we have just come back from our place on Reston Island, where there were 1) a lot of dirty shelves and 2) yes, believe it or not, an actual dead rotting whale, which Timmy and Vance and I got involved with in terms of the clean-up.) So say you are charged with, you and some of your colleagues, lifting a heavy dead whale carcass on to a flatbed. Now we all know that is hard. And what would be harder is, doing that with a negative attitude. What we found, Timmy and Vance and I, is that even with only a neutral attitude, you are talking a very hard task. We tried to lift that whale, while we were just feeling neutral, Timmy and Vance and I, with a dozen or so other folks, and it was a no-go, that whale wouldn’t budge, until suddenly one fellow, a former Marine, said what we needed was some mind over matter and gathered us in a little circle, and we had a sort of a chant. We got “psyched up.” We knew, to extend my above analogy, that we had a job to do, and we got sort of excited about that, and decided to do it with a positive attitude, and I have to tell you, there was something to that, it was fun, fun when that whale rose into the air, helped by us and some big straps that Marine had in his van, and I have to say that lifting that dead rotting whale on to that flatbed with that group of total strangers was the high point of our trip.

So what am I saying? I am saying (and saying it fervently, because it is important): let’s try, if we can, to minimize the grumbling and self-doubt regarding the tasks we must sometimes do around here that maybe aren’t on the surface all that pleasant. I’m saying let’s try not to dissect every single thing we do in terms of ultimate good/bad/indifferent in terms of morals. The time for that is long past. I hope that each of us had that conversation with ourselves nearly a year ago, when this whole thing started. We have embarked on a path, and having embarked on that path, for the best of reasons (as we decided a year ago) wouldn’t it be kind of suicidal to let our progress down that path be impeded by neurotic second-guessing? Have any of you ever swung a sledgehammer? I know that some of you have. I know some of you did when we took out Rick’s patio. Isn’t it fun when you don’t hold back, but just pound down and down, letting gravity help you? Fellows, what I’m saying is, let gravity help you here, in our workplace situation: pound down, give into natural feelings that I have seen from time to time produce so much great energy in so many of you, in terms of executing your given tasks with vigor and without second-guessing and neurotic thoughts. Remember that record breaking week Andy had back in October, when he doubled his usual number of units? Regardless of all else, forgetting for the moment all the namby-pamby thoughts of right/wrong etc etc, wasn’t that something to see? In and of itself? I think that, if we each look deep down inside of ourselves, weren’t we each a little envious? God he was really pounding down and you could see the energetic joy on his face each time he rushed by us to get additional clean-up towels. And we were all just standing there like, wow, Andy, what’s gotten into you? And no one can argue with his numbers. They are there in the Break Room for all to see, towering about the rest of our numbers, and though Andy has failed to duplicate those numbers in the months since October, 1) no one blames him for that, those were miraculous numbers and 2) I believe that even if Andy never again duplicates those numbers, he must still, somewhere in his heart, secretly treasure up the memory of that magnificent energy flowing out of him in that memorable October. I do not honestly think Andy could’ve had such an October if he had been coddling himself or entertaining any doubtful neurotic thoughts or second-guessing tendencies, do you? I don’t. Andy looked totally focused, totally outside himself, you could see it on his face, maybe because of the new baby? (If so, Janice should have a new baby every week, ha ha).

Anyway, October is how Andy entered a sort of, at least in my mind, de facto Hall of Fame, and is pretty much henceforth excluded from any real close monitoring of his numbers, at least by me. No matter how disconsolate and sort of withdrawn he gets (and I think we’ve all noticed that he’s gotten pretty disconsolate and withdrawn since October), you will not find me closely monitoring his numbers, although as for others I cannot speak, others may be monitoring that troubling fall off in Andy’s numbers, although really I hope they’re not, that would not be so fair, and believe me, if I get wind of it, I will definitely let Andy know, and if Andy’s too depressed to hear me, I’ll call Janice at home.

And in terms of why is Andy so disconsolate? My guess is that he’s being neurotic, and second-guessing his actions of October—and wow, isn’t that a shame, isn’t that a no-win, for Andy to have completed that record-breaking October and now to sit around boo-hooing about it? Is anything being changed by that boohooing? Are the actions Andy did, in terms of the tasks I gave him to do in Room 6, being undone by his boo-hooing, are his numbers on the Break Room Wall miraculously scrolling downwards, are people suddenly walking out of Room 6 feeling perfectly okay again? Well we all know they are not. No one is walking out of Room 6 feeling perfectly okay. Even you guys, you who do what must be done in Room 6, don’t walk out feeling so super-great, I know that, I’ve certainly done some things in Room 6 that didn’t leave me feeling so wonderful, believe me, no one is trying to deny that Room 6 can be a bummer, it is very hard work that we do. But the people above us, who give us our assignments, seem to think chat the work we do in Room 6, in addition to being hard is also important, which I suspect is why they have begun watching our numbers so closely. And trust me, if you want Room 6 to be an even worse bummer than it already is, then mope about it before, after, and during, then it will really stink, plus, with all that moping, your numbers will go down even further, which guess what: They cannot do. I have been told in no uncertain terms, at the Sectional Meeting, that our numbers are not to go down any further. I said (and this took guts, believe me, given the atmosphere at Sectional): Look, my guys are tired, this is hard work we do, both physically and psychologically. And at that point, at Sectional, believe me, the silence was deafening. And I mean deafening. And the looks I got were not good. And I was reminded, in no uncertain terms, by Hugh Blanchert himself, that our numbers are not to go down. And I was asked to remind you — to remind us, all of us, myself included — that if we are unable to clean our assigned “shelf,” not only will someone else be brought in to clean that “shelf,” but we ourselves may find ourselves on that “shelf,” being that “shelf,” with someone else exerting themselves with good positive energy all over us. And at that time I think you can imagine how regretful you would feel, the regret would show in your faces, as we sometimes witness, in Room 6, that regret on the faces of the “shelves” as they are “cleaned,” so I am asking you, from the hip, to try your best and not end up a “shelf,” which we, your former colleagues, will have no choice but to clean clean clean using all our positive energy, without looking back, in Room 6.

This all was made clear to me at Sectional and now I am trying to make it clear to you.

Well I have gone on and on, but please come by my office, anybody who’s having doubts, doubts about what we do, and I will show you pictures of that incredible whale my sons and I lifted with our good positive energy. And of course this information, that is, the information that you are having doubts, and have come to see me in my office, will go no further than my office, although I am sure I do not even have to say that, to any of you, who have known me these many years.

All will be well and all will be well, etc etc,
Todd Birnie
Divisional Director

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IT IS PREFERABLE, our preliminary research has indicated, for some institutional space to be provided, such as corridor, hallway, etc, through which the group may habitually move. Our literature search indicated that a tiled area is preferable, in terms of preventing possible eventual damage to the walls and floors by the group moving through the space. The review of published literature also indicated that it is preferable that this area to move through (henceforth referred to, per Ellis et al., as the “Fenlen Space”) be non-linear in areal layout, that is, should include frequent turning options (i.e., side hallways or corners), to give the illusion of what Ellis terms “optional pathway choices.” Per Gasgrave, Heller et al., this non-linear areal layout, and the resulting apparent optional pathway choices, create a “Forward-Anticipating” mindset. Per Ellis et al., the Forward-Anticipating mindset (characterized by an Andrew-Brison Attribute Suite which includes “hope,” “resolve,” “determination,” and “sense of mission”) results in less damage to the Fenlen Space, as well as better general health for the Temporary Community, which in turn results in significantly lower clinic/medicinal costs.

Also in Ellis et al., the phrase “Forward-Anticipating Temporary Community” (FATC) is defined to designate a Temporary Community which, while moving through a given Fenlen Space, maintains NTEI (Negative Thought External Indicator) values below 3 per person/per hour. A “Non-Forward-Anticipating Temporary Community” (NFATC) is defined as one for which NTEI values are consistently above 3 per person/per hour. NTEIs are calculated using the Reilly Method, from raw data compiled by trained staff observing from inside what are termed “Amstel Booths,” one-way mirror locales situated at regular intervals along the Fenlen Space.

For the purposes of this cost proposal, four Amstel Booths have been costed, along with the necessary ventilation/electrical additions.

As part of our assessment, we performed a statistical analysis of the NTEIs for four distinct Fenlen Spaces, using a standard Student’s T-test, supplemented with the recently developed Anders-Kiley outlier correction model. Interestingly, the most important component of the Fenlen Space appeared to be what is referred to in the current literature as the Daley Realignment Device (ORD). The ORD allows for quick changes in the areal layout of the Fenlen Space during time periods during which the Temporary Community is moving through another, remote, portion of the Fenlen Space. The purpose of the ORD is to prolong what Elgin et al. term the “Belief Period” in the Fenlen Space; that is, the period during which the Temporary Community, moving through the recently realigned DRD, fails to recognize that the portion of the Fenlen Space being traversed by them has already in face been traversed by them. Rather, the altered areal layout leads to the conclusion that the portion of the Fenlen Space being traversed is an entirely unfamiliar and previously untraversed place, thus increasing the Temporary Community’s expectation that, in time, they will arrive at what Allison and Dewitt have termed the “Preferable Destination.” At some facilities, a brief oral presentation is made to the Temporary Community shortly before the Community enters the Fenlen Space, during which it is strongly implied or even directly stated that the Community will be traversing the Fenlen Space in order to reach the Preferable Destination, which is described in some detail, especially vis-a-vis improvements in terms of cold/heat considerations, food considerations, crowding/overcrowding considerations, and/or perceived menace considerations. An “apology” may be made for any regrettable past incidents. It may also be implied that the individuals responsible for these incidents have been dismissed etc etc. Such presentations have been found to be extremely beneficial, significantly minimizing NTEIGs and prolonging the Belief Period, and several researchers have mentioned the enthusiasm with which the Temporary Community typically enters the Fenlen Space following such a presentation.

Should Building Ed Terry wish to supplement its DRD with such a pre-traversing oral presentation, Judson & Associates would be pleased to provide the necessary technical writing expertise, a service we have already provided successfully for nine facilities in the Northeast.

In any event, some sore of DRD is strongly recommended. In a study of a Fenlen Space located in Canton, New Jersey, a device which was not equipped with a DRD, it was reported that, toward the end of Day 1, the Temporary Community went, within a few hours, from a strong FATC (with very low NTEIs, ranging from 0-2 per person/per hour) to a very strong NFATC (with NTEIs as high as 9 per person/per hour). Perhaps the most striking finding of the Canton study was that, once the Temporary Community had devolved from an FATC co a NFATC (i.e., once the Belief Period had expired), NTEI values increased dramatically and catastrophically, until, according to one Amstel Booth observer, the NTEIs were occurring at a frequency that were “essentially impossible to tabulate,” resulting in the event being classified as “Chaotic” (on the Elliot Scale), after which the Fenlen Space had to be forcibly cleared of the Temporary Community. In other words, once the Temporary Community perceived the Fenlen Space as a repetitious traversing of the same physical space, morale eroded quickly and, per clinical data, could not be restored. Needless to say, the forcible clearing of a Fenlen Space involves substantial risk and expense, as does the related interruption to the smooth flow of facility operations.

In contrast, since a DRD was added to the Canton facility, no further Chaos Situations have occurred, with one exception, which was later seen to be related to a small fire that occurred within one of the Amstel Booths.

Currently available DRDs range from manually rearranged units (typically featuring wallboard panels with quick-release bolts, which are placed into a floor-embedded grid) to electronic, track-based units which offer a large, practically unlimited range of configurations and are typically integrated using the ChangeSpace computer software package. The design we have submitted for Building Ed Terry includes cost estimates for the economical Homeway DRD6 (wallboard-grid model) as well as the higher-end Casio 3288 DRD (track-based, computer-operated unit). For the Homeway unit, we have included approximate costs for the physical labor involved in the manual rearrangement of the DRD. For the purposes of this proposal, we have assumed seven rearrangements a clay, with four persons required for each rearrangement. This corresponds with a circumnavigation period of approximately three hours—that is, seven rearrangements a day, precluding the possibility that the Temporary Community would inadvertently encounter areal rearrangements in progress, which has been shown (in Percy et al.) to markedly decrease the belief period, for obvious reasons.

Judson & Associates firmly believes that the enclosed proposal more than meets the needs described in your Request for Proposal of January 9. Should you desire further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact either Jim Warner or myself. We look forward to hearing from you, and to working with you on this exciting and challenging project, and on other projects yet to come.

Sincerely, Mark Judson
President and CEO
Judson & Associates

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WE IN KNUCKLES herebuy request that those of you in Sorting refran from calling the Fat Scrap Box the Pizza Hut Box and refran from calling the Bone Scrap Box the Marshmallow Box and refran from calling the Misc. Scrap Box the Dog Food Box because we think that is insulting to our work and workplace in terms of why do you have to make fun of what we all of us do for a living as if it is shameful. Even though it is true that some of our offal might get used for pizza tapping and mashmallows and dog food we do not like it when you are saying those names in a sarcastic voice. Because new hires can be infected by these attitudes which are so negative and soon they will not be working their best but only laughing at your smartass dumb jokes, so in the future use the correct names (Fat Scrap and Bone Scrap and Misc. Scrap) for these boxes if you feel like you have to talk at all while working although also we in Knuckles suggest you just shut up and just work. For example when one of us in Knuckles throws a Knuckle but it misses the belt you do not have to call it a “skidder” or act like you are a announcer on a basketball show by saying whoa he missed the hole. And also you dont have to say Ouch whenever one of our throwed Knuckles goes too far and hits the wall, it is not like the Knuckle could feel that and say Ow, because it is dead dumbass, it cannot feel its leg part hitting the wall, so we know you are being sarcasmic. And we dont think this is funny because when we miss the belt or hit the wall what do we have to do is we have to put down our knives and go get it which takes time. And already we are tired without that extra walking. Because what we do takes real muscle and you can easily see us if you look huffing and breeching hard all day in the cold inside air, whereas you, although its true you are all hunched over, we never see you breeching hard and you dont even work with knives...

22 May 17:26

Theranos's corporate culture was a nightmare

by Rob Beschizza

John Carreyrou broke the story of Theranos' epic medical fraud. At Wired he now takes a sharp look at its dysfunctional corporate culture, excerpted from his new book on the corrupt Silicon Valley unicorn's spectacular downfall, Bad Blood [Amazon].

Not all of it was Elizabeth Holmes, either. COO Sunny Balwani was a quietly stupid office tyrant:

[Theranos'] device remained very much a work in progress. The list of its problems was lengthy.

The biggest problem of all was the dysfunctional corporate culture in which it was being developed. Holmes and Balwani regarded anyone who raised a concern or an objection as a cynic and a nay-sayer. Employees who persisted in doing so were usually marginalized or fired, while sycophants were promoted.

Employees were Balwani’s minions. He expected them to be at his disposal at all hours of the day or night and on weekends. He checked the security logs every morning to see when they badged in and out. Every evening, around 7:30, he made a flyby of the engineering department to make sure people were still at their desks working. With time, some employees grew less afraid of him and devised ways to manage him, as it dawned on them that they were dealing with an erratic man-child of limited intellect and an even more limited attention span.

Holmes, by contrast, was savvy yet unreasonable. And it got worse after high-ranking staff quit rather than be party to Theranos going public with its unreliable tech...

The resignations infuriated Holmes and Balwani. The following day, they summoned the staff for an all-hands meeting in the cafeteria. Copies of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho’s famous novel about an Andalusian shepherd boy who finds his destiny by going on a journey to Egypt, had been placed on every chair. Still visibly angry, Holmes told the gathered employees that she was building a religion. If there were any among them who didn’t believe, they should leave. Balwani put it more bluntly: Anyone not prepared to show complete devotion and unmitigated loyalty to the company should “get the fuck out.”

You look at all this and wonder at the legal event horizon, for corporate executives, beyond which nothing is truly forbidden. But then you realize that Theranos was a just billion-dollar version of Amy's Baking Company.

22 May 17:24

Stacey Cunningham: 4 things to know about the NYSE’s first woman president

by Melissa Locker

Fearless girl turned fearless leader.

For the first time in its 226-year history, the New York Stock Exchange has a woman president. Stacey Cunningham, who is currently the NYSE’s chief operating officer, will become the exchange’s 67th president as of Friday.

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