friday linked list: decency in the age of Trump, default privacy settings, algorithms surprising us

The Antidote to Trump Is Decency – I more or less agree with this. Yeah, it’s tempting to turn ugly and call Trump and his cohorts nasty names, but I don’t think it helps the cause.

Hands off my data! 15 default privacy settings you should change right now – this is a really helpful guide for privacy on Facebook, Google, etc. It’s quick to check these and make changes if you want!

The Places in the U.S. Where Disaster Strikes Again and Again – nice visualization.  Ouch, Gulf Coast 😦

When algorithms surprise us – funny examples, still kinda scary though.

How Watermelons Became a Racist Trope – I knew this was a thing, but didn’t realize the reasons why. (also the author is a doctoral candidate at Rice!)

Texas Hospitals Are Adopting New Routines To Curb Maternal Deaths – I remember reading (but can’t find) a study about how bad maternal death rates are in the US. This is a step in the right direction; apparently California cut their death rates in half in just four years of using new protocols!

The American Revolution’s Greatest Leader Was Openly Gay – whaaaat how have I not heard of this? Happy Pride, everyone! (thanks Emily!)

Mister Rogers fixed old shows if he felt they were wrong – that is really sweet. I was kinda interested in seeing Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and this makes me really want to…

‘Sherlock’ Star Benedict Cumberbatch Saves Cyclist From Muggers – this sounds fake but apparently it’s real!

A Classical Math Problem Gets Pulled Into the Modern World – yay math! (although the article is a little overblown…)

friday linked list: Medicare for All and “going big”, fact-checking tools, antibiotics for infants in Africa

How to Win Medicare for All – In general, I’m a pragmatist and am very happy to give up on the big ambitious goal to make incremental progress. However in some cases I think “going big” makes more sense – for example, Social Security is a fairly simple program that people understand, and it’s quite popular. I’m starting to think Medicare for all is the right way to go instead of incrementally expanding the ACA. (thanks David!)

How to ensure everyone a guaranteed basic income – speaking of going big! See also Q&A on the Democrats’ big idea: A job creation program for another way to go big.

New evidence shows that our anti-poverty programs, especially Social Security, work well – they work!

We Should Put Fact-Checking Tools In the Core Browser – this is a good idea!

Infant Deaths Fall Sharply in Africa With Routine Antibiotics – this is a pretty great discovery made possible by the Gates Foundation!

Alleged ‘gay panic defense’ in Texas murder trial stuns advocates – 10 years probation?? Ugh, this is sickening. (thanks Stephen!)

Palantir Knows Everything About You – this seems…not great.

Michael Hayden: The End of Intelligence – scary op-ed by the former director of the CIA (and NSA)

How Windmills as Wide as Jumbo Jets Are Making Clean Energy Mainstream – neato! Those are indeed big windmills.

OLPC’s $100 laptop was going to change the world — then it all went wrong – I remember seeing these around! (thanks Barbara!)

An interview with Sam Hammond: Free markets require robust social insurance – interesting! (thanks David!)

Shaq Appears To Have An Insane Method For Saving Money On Gasoline – hahahahaha

The Entire Economy Is MoviePass Now. Enjoy It While You Can. – yeah, starting to get that bubbly feeling…

birthday linked list: understanding how addiction works, taxes, walking

People are dying because we misunderstand how those with addiction think – I found this to be helpful, as this is me:

Most of us have been trained to use more forgiving language when talking about addiction. We call it a disease. We say that people with addiction should be helped, not blamed. But deep down, many of us still have trouble avoiding the thought that they could stop using if they just tried harder.

This article is a helpful counterpoint, and a reminder that “just say no” is not a very helpful piece of advice. (thanks David!)

100 years of tax brackets, in one chart – this is both a rebuttal to “taxes are so complicated because of all of the brackets” and a really cool chart! (thanks David!)

How Bill Russell stopped Charles Barkley from complaining about taxes – I honestly like Charles Barkley a lot.

Citigroup CEO explains why tax cuts outweigh Trump tweets – the GOP tax bill was a huge giveaway to large companies, and they know it 😦

The Myth of the Criminal Immigrant – I hesitate to even share stuff like this because I doubt looking at facts will change anyone’s mind. But for the record, here are some facts!

Those 2-Minute Walk Breaks? They Add Up – walk walk walk!

The best parts of Comey’s book have nothing to do with Trump – lawyers get a bad rap, sometimes deservedly so, but they’ve been very important in restraining the executive branch of government. (thanks David!)

Be careful what you copy: Invisibly inserting usernames into text with Zero-Width Characters – clever, but daaaaang this is why we can’t have nice things. (it even works if you copy/paste to Notepad and then copy from there :-/ )

Obamacare’s Very Stable Genius – maybe Obamacare will be OK after all… (thanks David!)

“The Clock Is Ticking”: Inside the Worst U.S. Maritime Disaster in Decades – nicely researched look at the El Faro disaster. As a morbid fan of airplane crash investigations, part of it reminded me of this airplane crash in which time lag on weather reports was also a factor. (as in most of these situations, there’s a whole chain of events so it’s hard to say which was the one “cause”…)

An animated “music video” of similar satellite imagery – this is neat and oddly hypnotic. (and short!)

tuesday linked list: why making guns harder to get will save lives, not publishing hacked emails, big sugar

I would have been a school shooter if I could’ve gotten a gun – a few things:
  – What a brave thing to write this!
  – This is an excellent counterargument to “If a person wants a gun, they’ll find a way to get one”. This is a pretty true statement, but shootings can happen in the heat of the moment where if the perpetrator didn’t have access to a gun there would be time for people to cool off. Nearly two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides – surely some of these people would reconsider if it were harder to get a gun!

The case for not publishing hacked emails – this is a good case but it’s hard to see something like this happening.

Big Sugar Versus Your Body – yeah, sugar is bad. I’ve had some luck cutting down my soda intake, but I’m still bad about snacking. See also Why the British soda tax might work better than any of the soda taxes that came before which is encouraging companies to reduce the amount of sugar in their drinks!

Facebook Container Extension: Take control of how you’re being tracked – hey, this is cool! I think I already get a lot of this from Privacy Badger, but I installed it just the same.

Scott Kelly’s medical monitoring has spawned some horrific press coverage – indeed, I fell for this.

How We Reverse Engineered the Cuban “Sonic Weapon” Attack – neat!

– If you’re in the mood to read about early video games, check out The Game of Everything, Part 1: Making Civilization and MicroProse’s Simulation-Industrial Complex (or, The Ballad of Sid and Wild Bill). I found this part interesting:

On the heels of this, MicroProse’s first real exposure outside the Baltimore area, Stealey took to calling computer stores all over the country, posing as a customer looking for Hellcat Ace. When they said they didn’t carry it, he would berate them in no uncertain terms and announce that he’d be taking his business to a competitor who did carry the game. After doing this a few times to a single store, he’d call again as himself: “Hello, this is John Stealey. I’m from MicroProse. I’d like to sell you Hellcat Ace.” The hapless proprietor on the other end of the line would breathe a sign of relief, saying how “we’ve been getting all kinds of phone calls for that game.” And just like that, MicroProse would be in another shop.

I’ve seen stories like this around lots of tech startups these days – they’ll create “fake” users to make their site not look like a ghost town, etc. This sure seems unethical to me…

– Also video game-related, see Valley Forged: How One Man Made the Indie Video Game Sensation Stardew Valley. I haven’t played but some people seem really into it…

Spending Bill Protects Tipped Workers From Sharing With The Boss – yay!

This City Just Passed the First Bitcoin Mining Ban in the US – hey, my grandparents used to live in Plattsburgh! I didn’t realize it had such cheap power…

Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet – good long article from the New Yorker.

Reporter’s Notebook: The Tale Of Theranos And The Mysterious Fire Alarm – hah! It sounds like a conspiracy theory…but also likely true.

Every decision my kids made me make in one day – this is my future! (for me, one of the consequences of being tired is that I find it very hard to make decisions…)

friday linked list: DIY factchecking, being the casino, electricity demand in the US is flat!

It Can Take As Little As Thirty Seconds, Seriously – these days we should do some very simple fact-checking on stuff we’re sharing. Also related:

Be the casino: rules for winning at finance in an uncertain world – this is really good advice from Britton, a friend of mine who runs Seaborn Financial. If you’re looking for a financial advisor, check him out!

After rising for 100 years, electricity demand is flat. Utilities are freaking out. – wow, great news! From squinting at the graph it looks like demand has been relatively flat since 2010 even as GDP has been increasing.

State Lawmakers Want to Block Pornography at the Expense of Your Free Speech, Privacy, and Hard-Earned Cash – yikes, what? Very clever to title the bill the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act”…

We need new ways of treating depression – an interesting longish read about depression (thanks David!)

A Political Dispute Puts A Wrinkle In Time, Slowing Millions Of European Clocks – um, weird!

My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy. – aaaaa gender roles

Experts Say Electronic Voting Machines Aren’t Secure. So Travis County Is Designing Its Own. – hey, that’s my county! And my CS prof from Rice!

A Quiet Exodus: Why Blacks Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches – yikes :-/

China’s Censors Ban Winnie the Pooh and the Letter ‘N’ After Xi’s Power Grab – ugh, this whole thing is not good

How Inmates Play Tabletop RPGs in Prisons Where Dice Are Contraband – interesting! Lots of ingenuity there…

– The article here is fine but it has a correction at the bottom to end all corrections 🙂

new house monday linked list: 17776 revisited, “Get Out of Jail Free” cards, Larry Nassar

We moved into the new house, and between that and Vanessa being sick the last few weeks have been craaaaazy. So here’s a bunch of links!

– I went back and re-read/re-experienced 17776 and it is still amazing. If you haven’t read/experienced it, I’d encourage you to give it a shot! Its subtitle is “What football will look like in the future”, but if you like sci-fi at all you’ll probably like it. (it’s set in the year 17776)

I had re-read it a month or so after it was published and was a little disappointed, but some time away (and remembering it less well) helped me appreciate it more.

If you liked it, you should check out more of Jon Bois’s stuff. He mostly does videos, like Jeff Francoeur, my favorite worst baseball player and Randall Cunningham Seizes the Means of Production. There’s also a 17776: questions and answers post, and if you want more weird stuff here’s What the heck is a catch in the NFL, anyway? An explainer

“Get Out of Jail Free” Cards – this is real? Why is this a thing?

In Larry Nassar’s Case, a Single Voice Eventually Raised an Army – very brave of her to be the first non-anonymous person to speak out about Larry Nassar! See also her Op-Ed.

Exclusive: Inside the Corrosive Workplace Culture of the Dallas Mavericks – glad this is getting rooted out. Also, from the article:

While sources referred to the Mavericks office as a “locker room culture,” the team’s actual locker room was a refuge. Says one female former senior staffer: “I dealt with players all the time. I had hundreds of interactions with players and never once had an issue…they always knew how to treat people. Then I’d go to the office and it was this zoo, this complete shitshow. My anxiety would go down dealing with players; it would go up when I got to my desk.”


How to Maintain Friendships – this is good advice. I’m bad at a lot of these and I’m going to try to do better.

It’s Time to End the Scam of Flying Pets – sigh. Like the article says, there are definitely people that need this, but other people have ruined it.

In Baltimore, Brazen Officers Took Every Chance to Rob and Cheat – yiiikes

Here’s Why Texans Can’t Use That Google Selfie App To Find Their Fine Art Facsimile – wow, Texas is surprisingly forward-thinking about this!

Preventive Care Saves Money? Sorry, It’s Too Good to Be True – surprising, but it still improves quality of life, which is worth it!

The Teens Will Save Us – this is inspiring!

Trump and Russia Both Seek to Exacerbate the Same Political Divisions – ugh, this is depressing.

Americans Are Rising to This Historic Moment – …but maybe things will be OK?

Why I don’t use my real photo when messaging with customers on my website – because people are terrible, is why.

A Carnival cruise in the South Pacific descended into violent anarchy – um, yikes!

The Follower Factory – interesting look at bots on Twitter.

friday linked list: driving as a series of moral choices, fighting the attention crisis on your phone, lobbyists

How Would Jesus Drive? – A reminder that we make a ton of tiny moral decisions every day.

Take control of your phone (from Time Well Spent) – this is an interesting set of recommendations. I haven’t followed a lot of these but I’m trying to follow the spirit of them by being more thoughtful about jumping into my phone. One positive change that I’ve made is using Gmail’s Inbox app for my mail. I only get a notification on my phone if an email is deemed “important”, which is mostly emails from people I know (and about house stuff, these days…), and it automatically bundles low priority for me. It makes it easier for me to keep my inbox low and lowers my stress level because I’m not looking at notifications for emails I don’t care about all day. (thanks for the recommendation, Mary!)

I was a lobbyist for more than 6 years. I quit. My conscience couldn’t take it anymore. – so, this sounds pretty bad. But politicians of both parties begging for money, while unfortunate, is not hypocrisy; it’s a necessary part of getting elected to Congress. You can support campaign finance reform of some sort, but that doesn’t mean you have to unilaterally disarm to be moral!

A Radical New Scheme to Prevent Catastrophic Sea-Level Rise – I am seriously all for geoengineering projects like this. Technology got us into this climate change mess, technology can get us out of it!

What Putin Really Wants – very good (and long) Atlantic article.

What Serena Williams’s scary childbirth story says about medical treatment of black women – nothing good! In her case it was clearly an issue that she wasn’t taken seriously because she’s a woman and black. (since she’s both rich and famous…)

Physicians who refuse to accept Medicaid patients breach their contract with society – food for thought.

Uber’s Secret Tool for Keeping the Cops in the Dark – Uber doing something unethical? *drops monocle out of shock*

The diabolical genius of the baby advice industry – yeah, I didn’t even read that many baby books but there was still plenty of conflicting advice…

Why Mickey Mouse’s 1998 copyright extension probably won’t happen again – cool!

Sarah Silverman’s response to a sexist tweet is a much-needed ray of hope – wait, it’s not what you think! I mean, I don’t know what you think, so it’s possible it’s what you think. But probably not!

Guess Who’s Coming to ‘Peanuts’ – neat! This is something I’ve talked with David about for a while – if you go back and look at old “Will and Grace” episodes, for example, I’d imagine the gay characters look pretty stereotyped today. But for its time, having a gay character as the star of a primetime network show was a very big deal! (see Joe Biden on gay marriage: ‘Will and Grace’ helped educate America) So you do have to judge things in context.

The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed – this is…weird. Not sure how much value these people are adding?