Tag: Politics

2017-08-01 Instapaper Highlights

Giving the iPad a full-time job

The iPhone changed my life in countless ways, but its greatest long-term effect has been the dulling of my introspective and creative faculties.

Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch

American men, in an attempt to avoid any possible hint of committing unwanted sexual touch, are foregoing gentle platonic touch in their lives.

While babies and toddlers are held, cuddled, and encouraged to practice gentle touch during their first years of their lives, that contact often drops off for boys when they cease to be toddlers. Boys are encouraged to “shake it off” and “be tough” when they are hurt. Along with the introduction of this “get tough” narrative, boys find that their options for gentle platonic touch simply fade away. Mothers and fathers often back off from holding or cuddling their young boys. Boys who seek physical holding as comfort when hurt are stigmatized as cry babies.

By the time they are approaching puberty, many boys have learned to touch only in aggressive ways through rough housing or team sports. And if they do seek gentle touch in their lives, it is expected to take place in the exclusive and highly sexualized context of dating. This puts massive amounts of pressure on young girls; young girls who are unlikely to be able to shoulder such a burden. Because of the lack of alternative outlets for touch, the touch depravation faced by young boys who are unable to find a girlfriend is overwhelming. And what about boys who are gay? In a nutshell, we leave children in their early teens to undo a lifetime of touch aversion and physical isolation. The emotional impact of coming of age in our touch-averse, homophobic culture is terribly damaging. It’s no wonder our young people face a epidemic of sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy, rape, drug and alcohol abuse.

As much as gay men have faced the brunt of homophobic violence, straight men have been banished to a desert of physical isolation by these same homophobic fanatics who police lesbians and gays in our society.

When we collectively normalize gay life and relationships, my son, whatever his sexual orientation turns out to be, will be free to express platonic affection for others, be they men or women, in any way he sees fit. The rabid homophobes who have preached hate in America for far too long will finally be silenced, and men will be free to reach out and touch each other without fear of being labeled as somehow less of a man.

This site is “taking the edge off rant mode” by making readers pass a quiz before commenting

The team at NRKbeta attributes the civil tenor of its comments to a feature it introduced last month. On some stories, potential commenters are now required to answer three basic multiple-choice questions about the article before they’re allowed to post a comment. (For instance, in the digital surveillance story: “What does DGF stand for?”)

The goal is to ensure that the commenters have actually read the story before they discuss it.

Why Blue States Should Exit Red America

Go ahead, keep on voting against your own economic interests to satisfy your need to control other people’s bodies, sex lives, and recreational habits. We’ll be creating cities and states that will defend gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and sensible gun control against your intrusive federal judiciary.

‘Get Out’ Sprung From An Effort To Master Fear, Says Director Jordan Peele

Peele wanted the audience, regardless of race, to see the subtle racism through Chris’ eyes. “It was very important to me to just get the entire audience in touch in some way with the fears inherent [in] being black in this country,” Peele says. “Part of being black in this country, and I presume being any minority, is constantly being told that … we’re seeing racism where there just isn’t racism.”

Winamp’s woes: How the greatest MP3 player undid itself

While Nullsoft seemed to play second fiddle to Spinner, all the companies in AOL’s own “Interactive Properties” group (including ICQ, MapQuest, and others) collectively played second fiddle to AOL’s traditional bread-and-butter moneymaker: “the Service.” According to AOL’s own June 30, 2000 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, its legacy Internet access service had 23.2 million users, compared to Winamp with its 25 million users. At the time, the Service made a huge amount of money, and AOL wanted to promote it heavily to a crowd with limited use for it.

[Alien intelligence: the extraordinary minds of octopuses and other cephalopods](


Godfrey-Smith charts his path through philosophical problems as guided by cephalopods – in one case quite literally, when he recounts an octopus taking his collaborator by hand on a 10-minute tour to its den, “as if he were being led across the sea floor by a very small eight-legged child”.

Octopuses are pretty good at sophisticated kinds of learning, but how good it’s hard to say, in part because they’re so hard to experiment on. You get a small amount of animals in the lab and some of them refuse to do anything you want them to do – they’re just too unruly.

It’s perhaps the biggest paradox presented by an animal that has no shortage of contradictions: “A really big brain and a really short life.” From an evolutionary perspective, Godfrey-Smith explains, it does not give a good return on investment. “It’s a bit like spending a vast amount of money to do a PhD, and then you’ve got two years to make use of it … the accounting is really weird.”

Back to the smartphone experience of 2006

It’s fascinating to have this kind of throwback experience and be reminded of the sheer magnitude of the iPhone’s impact right thereafter and from that point onward. I had to spend a couple of days with a previous concept of smartphone to fully realise the amount of details, user interface and user interaction paradigms we take for granted today.

The Story Behind the World’s Most Famous Desktop Background

But the artist duo Goldin+Senneby, who spent months researching the photograph for a 2006 work, said that the Microsoft branding team “wanted an image with ‘more grounding’ than the images of skies they had used in Windows 95. Also, the green grass and the blue sky fit perfectly with the two main colors in the branding scheme.”

Hold thy tongue (and loosen thy pen)

We focus so much on our notebooks as traps for capturing those rare, beautiful ideas that visit us, but notebooks are also amazing cages for detaining what is inside of us that wants so desperately to escape. To write down your rawest thoughts in a notebook is like putting a wild, unknown beast into a holding cell for further observation. Here, you can safely discover what the beast is and figure out what to do with it. Sometimes the beast needs indefinite incarceration, sometimes it needs rehabilitation, sometimes it’s ready for release into the wild, and sometimes it just needs to be put down. But to let it escape at whim is rarely a good idea.

“Hold thy tongue. Loosen thy pen”

Little girls can grow up to be President

My wife and I watched Bill Clinton’s speech last night at the DNC. We watched on CSPAN (which you can watch free at CSPAN.org). They carried all of the speeches with none of the commentary. It was refreshing to watch people speak without a commentary track added. I was tired of the Crooked Hillary rhetoric. I was tired of the talk of emails. I was tired of hearing everyone tell me what I should think about Hillary. It was time to hear what her spouse said about her (and what she has to say for herself on Thursday). Bill painted a portrait of his wife as a hard-working, child crusading, relentless agent of change across decades, state and international borders.

In her capacity as litigator and legislator, she has worked for people. She has started programs and organizations which still exist today. Hillary is being painted as a one-dimensional caricature by her opponent. It’s easy to vote and rail against her that way. She’s crooked. She didn’t make perfect choices. She used a private email server.

If you’ve ever worked in and around Government IT, a private server might be a better way to go than the endless parade of contractors running government IT. And even though her email usage is given the spotlight, there are plenty of government workers using Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail/other private email services for their Government email. But they’re not running for President so it’s not brought to light.

Last night, Bill made a pitch for his wife for President. Which alone, is notable. She is the first woman to ever be nominated for President by a major party. She may well be our first female President come November. That’s historic.

My wife offered a perspective I can never have last night. She said how important it was for girls. Girls are told you can do anything. You can be President. Until now, that was a nice fairy tale. But now it could be real. Little girls can grow up to be President.

Bill Clinton’s speech sold Hillary’s legacy with a speech only he could deliver – Vox

The pitch is simple: Bill and Hillary Clinton understand that there are big regions of this country that are suffering from big problems. And while Trump is offering pleasantly easy and pleasantly vague solutions to those problems, you probably know deep in your heart that big problems are harder and more complicated than that. Actually doing the work of fixing them is hard. And Hillary Clinton is ready to do some hard work on them.

After all, it’s what she’s been doing for decades.

A friend asked,

Do the ends justify the means with how the DNC and HRC worked together? Is this how we wanted the young generation to see how it works? Get out, phone bank, work hard, vote, and you to can belong to an organization that favors one candidate over another…. even though it was to be a race?

I don’t want Trump, and if Hillary had gotten the nod without all that has come out, I also wouldn’t have batted an eye. But what precedent has been set for the future?

This was my response.

It was always going to be Hillary. Bernie made a good run but he was an outsider from the get-go. I voted for him in the Primary, but not enough other people did.

If he had the popular vote, he would have won. But he didn’t. It’s disappointing but he didn’t. Instead we’re left with a woman who has also worked for decades to make people’s lives better. Who had championed children’s issues and safety.

Sure, she has some black marks on her record. No one working in the public eye this long doesn’t.

If you don’t believe this goes on behind the scenes of every campaign you’re deluding yourself.

If the RNC’s emails were leaked, I’m sure you’d see the same things, all trying to figure out how to stop Trump. But he had the popular vote.

You can’t say the DNC worked against Sanders and stopped him meanwhile Trump was steamrolling the RNC, GOP and every pundit in the land. He was unstoppable. Not because of collusion or insider knowledge, but because he got the most votes. And in the end, Bernie, as much as I was pulling for him, did not.

In Maryland alone, Clinton won by 251,972 votes.

Young people may have gotten out and organized, but older people still vote and vote more consistently.

If young people want to make their voices heard, they need to get out and vote and vote in huge numbers. The Millennial Generation rivals the Greatest Generation in size.

If they want to have their way, they need to vote. But young people don’t vote as often and as consistently as older people. And when the older people vote, they win.

Same way that large turnouts favor the Democrats where smaller turnouts favor Republicans. Which is why I’m scared that young people and Bernie supporters are threatening not to vote this November. Or vote for a third-party (Stein or Johnson) which is a great protest vote.

But we’ll end up like we did in 2000 with the Democrat vote split and Trump will ride his tidal wave to victory.

And then where will we be? North Carolina has passed some abhorrent legislation. Mike Pence has done the same thing. Including trying to jail same-sex couples for applying for a marriage license.

If you’re mad about Bernie, then show up to the polls and give the Democrats the majority party in Congress. Give Bernie real power to make lasting change by putting him and his party back in charge!

If Hillary wins, don’t think she’s going to leave him behind. She wants to make lives better for people in this country. She’s going to work with him. That’s the person she is. That’s the kind of President she will be. That’s what I am voting for.

Scaring the piss out of people

Rolling Stone has a great post about Why Conservatives Increasingly Care Where You Pee. In short, this law (and the others like it in other states) have nothing to do with protecting people and everything to do with fear. The Republican party has gotten very good at scaring their constituents into action. Emphasis is mine:

It’s troubling that bathroom bills could be used in a naked ploy to dominate downticket races in this election, as it further demonstrates that American conservatives have perfected the art of striking fear into worried audiences. All it takes is the suggestion of danger to create a highly reactive response that could restrict trans rights even as the community makes its way into the daylight.

And that issue of safety of trans men preying on little girls in the bathroom. It hasn’t happened. But trans people are the targets of harassment.

To date, there have been no cases in which a transgender person has committed assault in a bathroom — but 70 percent of trans people have experienced harassment and assault when trying to pee.

Good job opening up an already misunderstood, harassed segment of society up to more harassment. Honestly now, how you even intend on enforcing this law? For the party of small government, it seems they’re awful curious about what’s in our pants.

Domain Names for America 2016

It’s important to run a smart digital campaign for President. Following Ian Patrick Hines online provides me a glimpse into the world of political strategy, design and campaign tools. Seriously, follow him on Twitter.

The election for President is not until November 2016. But some reason, the summer of 2015 is the time to announce a run for presidency. From my ignorance into the subject, it seems like that would just give your opponents over a year to find every single misstep you make or have made in your life.

Instead of waiting until later this year, or even early next, now is the time to place a gigantic microscope over the head of you and your families. I don’t get it. But sure enough, we’ve not been disappointed so far.

While I do not follow the campaigns yet, because I won’t start caring about the election until about midway through 2016 when the field thins and we have an idea of who the real front-runners are going to be.

But it would seem to me that buying up the major top-level

  • TedCruz.com leads to a page that says:


  • TedCruzforAmerica.com takes you directly for Healthcare.gov
  • CarlyFiorina.org leads to a page listing how many people she laid off while at HP. There is a 🙁 face for every person. There are 30,000 frowns with the following below it:

    That’s 30,000 people she laid off. People with families. And what does she say she would have done differently?
    “I would have done them all faster.”
    —Carly Fiorina

I’m sure these won’t be the first domain-related hijinx of the election season. Remember, when you’re considering a run for President, at least spend the money on the major top-level domains.

Photo credit Jamie King

Osama bin Laden is dead

Osama Bin Laden is dead

It’s been nearly a decade since the attacks on American soil that toppled the Twin Towers, smashed the Pentagon and who knows what else if the brave citizens high above Pennsylvania had not acted when and how they did.

Tonight, in a way brings some closure to this event. To the hunt for the mastermind behind these attacks and many others abroad. Osama bin Laden is dead. I learned about it on Twitter as it exploded with the impending news. Facebook soon followed suit. I switched on CNN after three separate streams failed to offer the President’s words. Not realizing he had not made them yet, we stuck around for the talking heads to rehash their speculation until President Obama strode to the mic and spoke to us. As a nation, as a single family, as a country.

Tonight, just as in that dark morning when I was woken up by my college roommate yelling at me to turn on the TV because planes were being flown into buildings. I will remember this night for many years to come. I will remember nearly falling asleep. Laying in bed, watching Daria and randomly checking Twitter. Seeing the news, I jolted awake and wide-eyed even at this late hour. Even now, it is 12:40 in the morning and CNN is showing the President’s words again and I can’t help but sit up, take notice, and listen intently once more.

He reminded us we are not at war with Islam. We are not at war with a religion. We are at war with those who acted against us in violence and murderous intent. I could not be prouder of our President on this night with his reasoned, level-headed words. His speech writers are brilliant and write as well as Obama speaks.

I just found out that Obama wrote the speech he gave tonight. This adds even more power and brilliance to his words.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Adam_Jacobi/status/64902732523376641″]

The High Cost of War

As I watch students, tourists and local residents fill the streets of Pennsylvania Avenue and the similar gatherings in New York City at Ground Zero and Times Square I can’t help but think is this really called for? I am as happy as the next guy that someone who planned such terror against human beings all over the world is gone.

A little perspective from GreaterThanLapsed,

About 20,000 deaths have been US military and civilians (less than 6,000 military, and around 15,000 civilians).

Around 1 million deaths in Iraq, with a minimum of 62,570 civilians killed.

Tens of thousands of deaths in Afghanistan, again with high civilian casualties.

Just to make sure people have a bit of perspective on exactly what it is that we have done in the name of “fighting the terrorists.”

We have paid a very high human price to fight this war. Locating and killing Osama bin Laden is a victory in a battle but the larger war still rages on. Surely we have cut off a major head of the hydra but just as there were evil men before bin Laden, there will be many more to come after him.

Backlash and fallout

Tonight, we are seeing all the news outlets showing the celebrations around the country. However, I worry about what’s going to happen in the long run. Surely those members of Al Qaeda and other terrorists groups are not going to sit back and say, “Well, you got us. Good show. We’re done now.” There are going to be more attacks. In light of the events tonight, there is going to be a reaction to this action.

As much happiness as there is in the air tonight, I am reserving my cheers for another day, a week a month. I don’t want our American arrogance to get us right back into the cross hairs of another terrible attack. We were only hit once. Even if our country at home remains safe, there are still military bases and troops abroad. There are embassies in countless countries. There are Americans living abroad, students studying abroad and American tourists. There are many targets for attacks of terror. That is, after all, the point of terror.

Terrorism is meant to inspire fear and hurt both in the flesh and in the minds of those targeted. Even if there are no further attacks directly following the killing of bin Laden, there may be more things to come. Fighting against terrorism is not a one and done fight. It is and will remain an ongoing struggle.

Jeffrey Goldberg raises a good point:

One more thought: Television-based analysts are already asking if the killing of Bin Laden will provoke revenge attacks by al Qaeda. Is there a stupider question in the world? The implication, of course, is that now, al Qaeda will truly be pissed off at the U.S. Unlike in 2001, when al Qaeda was only marginally angry at the U.S.

Strong on Terror

Throughout President Obama’s speech he reiterated it was his choice. It was hit call to make the hit. It was his decision and his action. The President has been criticized for not being strong on terror or the war. He made it very clear this was his decision and his action as the Commander-In-Chief.

President Obama made no mistake tonight this was his call to make. Sure, he did not actually drop from the helicopter to raid the compound and make the shot. No president does.

Tonight is Obama’s moment in the sun. Tonight Obama got to stand proud and tall and tell us he was successful in locating bin Laden. He was able to locate and eliminate him as a threat to humanity.

As much as I try to remain non-political, this has already been flung into the political ring. If the election season hasn’t started in earnest yet, I believe it has tonight. Obama has just silenced many of his critics (at least the ones that operate with any common sense).


President Obama is our president. He is a politician. This is a political issue and will reflect very, very positively on him come election time next year. Just as Donald Trump congratulated himself for dredging up Obama’s birth certificate, Obama struck a death-blow to the nay sayers with the announcement that the Armed Forces, under him accomplished what Bush could not. Say what you will about how Obama’s role is a relatively minor one. However, if Bush had accomplished this he’d be patting himself on the back for weeks to come.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how Fox news played the role they always do with a “typo” saying Obama had been killed. Yes, many news organizations throughout the night made the slip in speech or in text. Even as my wife and I discussed the events, we made the same slip. It is a simple verbal slip that’s easy enough to do which is why I give those who made the verbal gaffe more slack than the textual ones. B and S are not that close on the keyboard.

Now, in the light of day following the announcement, the real political spinning will commence.

How do I feel?

I am still wrestling with that question. On one hand, I feel there is a sense of closure to 9/11 that may offer some modicum of solace for the families of the victims.

However, as one survivor put it,

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/palafo/status/64917182995378176″]

There is no closure here. The addition of one more body does not bring back anyone who died on the ground or in the air on that day. It does not replace the missing mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, friend, co-worker, or neighbor. It does not replace the loss in our lives and our hearts.

Was this justice? Perhaps. Was it revenge? Most certainly. Do I think bin Laden got what he deserved? No, a shot to the head is a quick death. I would have preferred a trial. A sentence. Something where he could have felt an iota of the suffering he’s caused so many. I am not calling for an eye for an eye. As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” I do not wish blindness upon us all. I do wish there was some level of justice which could have been brought upon him that wasn’t a bullet. Suicide by cop taken to the next level.

I cannot cheer at this news. I giggled at the many jokes made last night on Twitter and made a few of my own. I was caught up on the collective moment as those around me in person and online. However, I could not cheer. I could not whoop and take to the streets. My wife and I sat in our beds, laptops in laps following the news as it was announced, waiting for the President to speak.

The moment he became visible we closed the lids and listened, speechless and wide-eyed. We wanted to take in every moment of his controlled and passionate speech.

From the spontaneous celebration in front of the White House last night and the worldwide reactions I’ve seen this morning reported from various places. I have to wonder how much of this was really worth it. We’ve given up so much in terms of freedoms and rights. We remove our shoes when flying. Liquids are now controlled substances in the air. Yet, we’ve done nothing to increase the safety of our train and subway systems.

I am sure threats were stopped before we, the people, even knew of them because that’s how it should be. The degree of security theater versus real security has to be questioned. If this is what winning feels like, the death of thousands of troops abroad, the revocation of personal freedoms at home, the trillions of dollars spent to fund the multiple wars started in the aftermath of 9/11. Have they done more harm than good? Are we any safer than we were nearly a decade ago?

I see people pointing to the lack of another attack on American soil as a resounding Yes We Are! But I’m not so sure. Is another attack even warranted? We are fighting terrorists. Their goal is terror. We sure had a frightened president for 8 years. We’ve been fed a continuous meal of fear for the past decade.

Is a Pyrrhic victory just as good as any other?