5 August 2015

Defining race

Abstracted from a Google+ discussion: Technically, race refers to physical characteristics only. When people talk about race, they usually (pedantically speaking) mean ethnicity. Ethnicity includes physical racial characteristics, but also incorporates culture, nationality, language, religion, and so on. But if you’re not being a pedantic ass, you’ll use ‘race’ in its everyday sense as meaning ethnicity. With that out of the way, here’s the key part: What defines you as white (or black or Asian or…) is whether you can pass as that thing. ... Read more

4 August 2015

Google’s social failures, and how they could still win

Ars Technica has an article about Google’s failure in social, which ignores the toxic nymwars but is otherwise very insightful. I use Google+ and Gmail. I have an Android phone. I’m subscribed to Google Music All Access (because it works in a Linux browser and pays artists the most). I’m signed up to get Google Fiber. I’m not anti-Google at all, yet it seems like they keep trying to drive me away. ... Read more

4 August 2015

ECHELON confirmed

Ever since legendary British investigative journalist Duncan Campbell told the world in a 1988 magazine article about ECHELON — a massive, automated surveillance dragnet that indiscriminately intercepted phone and Internet data from communications satellites — Western intelligence officials have refused to acknowledge that it existed. […] As Campbell writes today, in a first-person article in The Intercept, the archive of top-secret documents provided to journalists by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden contains a stunning 2005 document that not only confirms ECHELON’s existence as “a system targeting communications satellites”– it shows how the program was kept an official secret for so long. ... Read more

18 July 2015

A brief rant

Every now and again I read something so monumentally clueless from someone apparently intelligent that I find myself asking “Are you fucking kidding me?” For example, today brings David Brooks writing to Ta-Nehesi Coates. « In your anger at the tone of innocence some people adopt to describe the American dream, you reject the dream itself as flimflam. But a dream sullied is not a lie. The American dream of equal opportunity, social mobility and ever more perfect democracy cherishes the future more than the past. ... Read more

16 July 2015

Sugar and historical incidence of gout and arthritis

So, today I learned that gout and rheumatoid arthritis were diseases that barely existed in Europe — until sugar consumption became widespread. « The evidence arguing for sugar or fructose as the primary cause of gout is two-fold. First, the distribution of gout in western populations has paralleled the availability of sugar for centuries, and not all refined carbohydrates in this case. It was in the mid-17th century, that gout went from being exclusively a disease of the rich and the nobility to spread downward and outward through British society, reaching near epidemic proportions by the 18th century. ... Read more

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