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16 September 2013 @ 08:20 pm
Always more data - 1 Sept - 16 Sept 02013  
Shall we begin?

Here at the top, [personal profile] trascendenza beautifully articulates the cycle of suck that can happen around wanting comments and leaving comments on sites that do not offer kudos features. Because we do want responses, but not so much that we appear to be asking for them. Which actually inspires me to go write a post somewhere about how much that tracks to Expected Female Behaviour in U.S. Society. Anyway, the follow-up post lays out a template for how to express your desired commenting culture, as well as an invitation to talk more about the subjects at hand. I'll be snagging that wholesale and generating one of my own, I think, since those anxieties discussed are definitely my anxieties about comments.

To foster good volunteers and employees in your organization, inspire and support them them to confidence. Only those who have the confidence to fail will obtain the competence to succeed.

Windows 8 allows for Microsoft to remotely control and give access to any computer running the platform, which also means PRISM and the NSA can spy on you without your knowledge or consent. That is, when they aren't waiting for you to leave the country so they can search all your things without a warrant on re-entry because you are associated with Chelsea Manning.

Out in the world, The Syrian Electronic Army, perpetrators of high-profile hacking attacks on Western journalism outfits, continued to deny that they had in turn been hacked in April, despite large amounts of data that is supposedly related to their servers being dumped onto a Tor site. They would continue to deny it, even if it were true, of course, because part of the mystique from being an uberleet hacking group is that you don't get hacked yourself.

Speaking of Syria, the United States government is gearing up to strike in Syria, before the weapons inspectors from the United Nations finish and publish their findings, because they are certain that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons. That sounds familiar to our United States audience, and if they remember, the result of that conflict sucked. The United States populace does remember, and don't want bigger conflict. In the United Kingdom, the hawkish Prime Minister had a vote for intervention in Syria go against him. Unfortunately, the neoconservative element in the government is pushing all the harder for a strong intervention. It looked like the President was ready to go it alone, and then President Obama chose to ask the advice of the Congress, allowing legislators to exercise their constitutional privilege.

And that's when things got weird. To properly convey the strength of the weird, the exchange that occurred will be transcribed in LOLSpeak.

Secretary Kerry: Mebbe if Syria gives up wepuns, we no rain Ceiling Cat's fire upon dem.
Russia: O hai. R U srs? We gets Syria to does this.
United States: O RLY?
Syria: YA RLY.
United States: Okay. U haz small tiem to does this b4 Ceiling Cat fire rains neway, kthxbai.

Seriously. Now it remains to see whether the proposals can be enforced, or whether or not the United States decides to strike anyway.

in addition to raiding a prominent gay rights activist's apartment, Russian authorities are encouraging neighbours to report suspected gay and lesbian people and their supporters to the police, based on their new laws criminalizing a pro-gay viewpoint. Canada may be a refugee stop for those looking to get away, as the immigration minister of the country has indicated favorable looks for refugees fleeing the Russian law.

Doctors Without Borders is leaving Somalia because of attacks against personnel and the generally poor security situation in the country. And they're the people that go places others won't.

Facing the knowledge that there aren't enough doctors nor equipment to take care of their poorest citizens, Brazil has hired 4,000 doctors from Cuba to work there.

The United Kingdom appears to have a very xeno-unfriendly current going on at the moment - advertisements from the Home Office encourage immigrants to consider going "home", meaning back to their country of origin and questions about new policies requiring a very high salary or bankroll for immigrants wishing to bring their families into the UK.

The effects of the financial crisis are still being felt in Spain, with more than half of young people in the country unemployed.

Sir David Frost, most famously known for an interview with Richard M. Nixon after his resignation from the White House, joins the Dead Pool Reporters' Contingent at 74 years of age.

Governor Ultrasound's attempt to claim ignorance in relation to the obscenely large amount of gifts he received blew up in his face with new evidence suggesting he was fully aware of the gifts and what was expected in return.

The state elections board of North Carolina reversed a county board decision claiming a student at a historically black college was ineligible to run for the city council where the campus was located. Considering the qualifications to run for the position were the same as those to vote, and the SCOTUS was unambiguous about the rights of students to vote where they go to college, the state board likely saved themselves significant headaches and legal costs by reversing the county board decision.

PostSecret posted a postcard that appeared to be confessing to a murder, postmarked 200X. When pressed about the matter, the founder of PostSecret mostly dismissed the concerns, asking for Reditt users to try and find the location referenced, and said it was a good reminder for women that their intimate acquaintances are statistically more dangerous than strangers. Unsurprisingly, actual women took him to task for victim blaming and for not turning over the secret to the police when it arrived. And for his flurble-wurble free speech defense of why he didn't. Considering where United States society draws boundaries for women (far inside where they can react to keep themselves safe), this is an understandable flurble-wurble, but not one anywhere near acceptable. It's still not okay to value women less, especially when it's possible a woman was killed.

The accusation that any group is taking offense at everything is generally a reliable indicator that said group is trying to accomplish something that will raise the level of the discourse or make something better. Depending on whether you're in favor of making things better or in maintaining the status quo, you'll see the offense-taking as building or whining. It's not a new phenomenon - the plight of the first African-American flight attendants or the Penn State faculty fighting back against their overbearing wellness penalty are also related to this idea. Here are some extra ways of fighting obesity-shaming wellness programs, and a more specific way of subverting the Penn State system specifically.

The radiation levels around the Fukushima nuclear disaster were 18 times higher than expected and reported earlier. This is not good.

The Minnesota Orchestra believes new facilities and a lower-paid orchestra will result in excellent playing and lots of people. As the Miami Marlins (or the Detroit Tigers for much of the 80s and 90s) could tell you, keeping the payroll down doesn't draw new people in, because the product isn't good enough.

Defeating Kindle DRM using Legos and a web camera. Don't know how handy that will have to be, but that's because I'm pleasantly surprised, by which I mean horrified, by the way that a lazy...employee choose to simply replace all instances of the word Kindle in a copy of War And Peace with the word nook, neglecting to notice that the verb kindle is used in several passages throughout the book.

Apple unveiled a new iPhone that will scan a user's fingerprint and use it as an unlock code. Thing is, a fingerprint scanner to unlock a phone may not prevent you from self-incrimination if law enforcement wants to force you to unlock your phone.

PZ Myers asks us to think about post-modernism as an effective way of reminding ourselves that bias is present in many of the things we assume to be objective facts, rather than as some sort of Grand Unified Philosophical Theory.

Flags Are Not Languages, a site dedicated to pointing out that using national flags as shorthand for language options is much more problematic than the average designer thinks.

After stating that fat people are tortured by their very fatness because of the unhealthy obsession with thinness in Western society, confirming that medical professionals buy into this unhealthy obsession, despite not having a valid medical reason to do so, there is then an inappropriate apples-to-oranges comparison between fatness and smoking, and the conclusion is that somehow, it's entirely appropriate and beneficial to fat people to have others, and especially medical personnel, fat-shame them. Because DEATHFATS, apparently, even though earlier on, it was already pointed out that medical professionals and society have prejudices against fatness that don't line up with reality. Someone did not think their conclusion through, and there wasn't an editor that caught it, either.

Time is vast, so much so that even trying to contain it in timelines quickly exceeds a scale that can be conceived of easily by humans. Even if numbers and counting may be one of our fundamental abilities.

Axial tilt is not just the reason for the season, it apparently also helps with nitrogen fixing on the ocean by cycling nitrogen-poor, phosphorus-rich water to the surface, which spurs the cyanobacteria to do their thing.

Last for tonight, The story of cats and the people they claim, the Isaac Asimov of 1964 speculating about the World's Fair of 2014, where he is right about some things, although not in their present form, and sadly optimistic about others, and the life-size Enterprise that almost came to Las Vegas.

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