The Thursday Ten

Some of these are older links I’d forgotten to share before. Also, the Vincent van Gogh link is very long, but fascinating. There are also some pretty great links, like the one about cats and then there’s that one about Thor’s hammer.

  • NCIS: Provence: The Van Gogh: Mystery For many decades, suicide was the unquestioned final chapter of Vincent van Gogh’s legend. But in their 2011 book, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographers Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith offered a far more plausible scenario—that Van Gogh was killed—only to find themselves under attack. Now, with the help of a leading forensic expert, the authors take their case a step further. (Vanity Fair)
  • Why Banksy Is (Probably) a Woman: The world’s foremost street artist is a social justice warrior and a viral media master. She could be anyone. (City Lab) Note: Aside from a failure to understand what graffiti (street writing) is (it is not catcalling, fyi), this article is interesting. I wouldn’t call it good, but the author makes a decent argument for Banksy’s gender.
  • William Gibson: I never imagined Facebook The brilliant science-fiction novelist who imagined the Web tells Salon how writers missed social media’s rise (Salon) Note: My favorite article of the week because William Gibson. If you don’t understand … you don’t know me very well.
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Thursday Ten (makes a comeback)

Yes, I’m back! With more depressing articles for your weekend. Please don’t hate me too much. This week there’s an article that will make you cry, another that will make you angry and one that will make you wonder what the world has come to. But, if you make it to the end, there’s some fun and interesting things waiting for you.

  • EXPOSED After an accidental needle stab, a doctor’s Ebola watch begins (Washington Post)
  • On Kindness: My mother is sick. (Matter/Medium) This is a phenomenal and heartbreaking read.
  • The Art of Not Working at Work At first, the ability to check email, read ESPN, or browse Zappos while on the job may feel like a luxury. But in time, many crave more meaningful—and more demanding—responsibilities. (The Atlantic)
  • The greatest story Reddit ever told (Kernal/Daily Dot) Note: I’m not a fan of Reddit at all, I rarely ever visit there, but this story is fascinating and, strangely, heartwarming.

Bonus:

  • The Internet Arcade: The Internet Arcade is a web-based library of arcade (coin-operated) video games from the 1970s through to the 1990s, emulated in JSMAME, part of the JSMESS software package. Containing hundreds of games ranging through many different genres and styles, the Arcade provides research, comparison, and entertainment in the realm of the Video Game Arcade. (Internet Archive)
  • These Secret Cold War Radio Stations Are Still Broadcasting: In the early days of espionage, long before the advent of burner phones, satcoms, and other modern-day spy gadgets, getting word to field agents—especially those working behind the Iron Curtain—proved a dangerous game with global consequences should the agent’s cover be blown. But that’s where number stations, and their uncrackable radio codes, come in. (Gizmodo)

Thursday Ten

A little bit of a mix of links today.

Mourning Excalibur, the Ebola Dog: Are we all quite mad here in the developed world?  A petition to save Excalibur, the pet dog of a Spanish nursing assistant who has contracted Ebola, received more than 370,000 signatures before the animal was sedated and killed as a precautionary measure this evening. As his corpse was taken away in a van for incineration, a crowd of activists who had clashed with police during the day were reportedly shouting: “murderers!” (Bloomberg)

 ‘I Couldn’t Smell, and Then I Died’ A fading ability to identify scents is a sign that life’s end may be near. (The Atlantic)

Popular on Amazon: Wildly misleading self-published books about Ebola, by random people without medical degrees In the past 90 days, some 84 people have self-published Ebola e-books on Amazon, almost half of them in the past month alone. Many of them are popular, crawling their way up the bestsellers’ list to sit atop categories, such as health and medicine. Many of them are well-reviewed by their readers, who vow to buy Hazmat suits or start vitamins based on what they’ve read. And many of the books — almost all of them, in fact — contain information that’s either wildly misleading or flat-out wrong. (Washington Post) Note: I’m sorry if you all hate yourselves now, I know I do.

Meet the Hong Kong Cop Who Has Joined His City’s Protesters: I met John on Tuesday in Mong Kok, the shopping district of Kowloon where the previous night a man had driven a Mercedes-Benz through a crowd of protestors, fueling rumors that hired thugs were trying to cause trouble for the Occupy Central movement. John, who was carrying a backpack with a yellow ribbon pinned to the strap, told me there had also been reports of cars filled with weapons parked nearby. I asked how he knew so much, and he surreptitiously pulled a card out of his pocket: a police ID.  (The New Republic)

The U.S. media will believe anything on North Korea: some perspective from a long-time Asia hand (Tim Shorrock)

The Thugs of Mainland China: Last Friday, as the Occupy Central protests convulsed Hong Kong, James Bang, a twenty-eight-year-old digital-strategy consultant, found himself holding down the front line in the district of Mong Kok, his arms linked with other young protesters as they fended off surging groups of attackers. The assailants shoved the protesters, spat in their faces, and shouted, “Motherfuckers!” and “Go home!” Their accents signalled to Bang that they were from Guangdong, across the border, and they wore bags slung across their chests, a style common in mainland China. He was convinced that they weren’t locals. “Hong Kong people don’t spit on Hong Kong people,” he told me over Skype. “In Hong Kong, they spit on the roads.” (New Yorker)

Fond Memories Of Ebola Victim Eric Duncan, Anger Over His Death: He liked to joke around with his neighbors. And he always gave them a helping hand. The neighbors that Thomas Eric Duncan’s generous spirit is what cost him his life. (NPR)

Hope Solo abuse allegation can’t be ignored: Our league can no longer turn a blind eye to the allegations that Solo assaulted two family members. (USA Today)

 The Story Of A 12-Year-Old Norwegian Bride Brings Attention To A Global Issue: Child-aid organization Plan Norway uses a local face to raise awareness around the global issue of child brides. (Fast Company/Co.Create)

Adobe’s e-book reader sends your reading logs back to Adobe—in plain text: Digital Editions even tracks which pages you’ve read. It might break a New Jersey Law. (Ars Technica) Note: This has been making the rounds, but I haven’t shared it yet. FYI, Amazon does the same thing — and don’t blame the libraries, we had no idea this was going on.

Bonus Links:

Navigating All the Fringe Beliefs in LA: If you want to make friends in LA, one of the first things you must learn to do is to socialize with crazy people. Or rather, to socialize with otherwise sane people who will wait until several hours into a casual conversation to nonchalantly reveal a belief in elves, or telepathy, or the Hollow Earth. (The Bold Italic) Note: This is here to make you laugh, hopefully it did it’s job.

What It’s like to Fly the $23,000 Singapore Airlines Suites Class, the world’s best airline experience, from Singapore to New York:  In 2008, Singapore Airlines introduced their Suites Class, the most luxurious class of flying that is commercially available.  The Suites were exclusive to their flagship Airbus A380, and they go beyond flat beds by offering enclosed private cabins with sliding doors that cocoon you in your own little lap of luxury. The interior was designed by French luxury yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste and comes along with a plush soft leather armchair hand-stitched by the Italian master craftsmen Poltrona Frau. Perhaps most well-known of all, Singapore Airlines became the first and only commercial airline with a double bed in the sky. (Medium)

Thrusday Ten

There’s a lot of Ebola stuff on here, sorry about that.

  • What If You Just Don’t Know If You Want Kids? Many women are certain they want kids someday. A smaller number are positive they don’t. But there’s another group that isn’t the subject of many hand-wringing studies or best-selling books: the ambivalent. The ones who vacillate between “I don’t feel compelled to have children” and “What if I regret not having had children?” (New York Magazine)
  • Hell in the Hot Zone: As the Ebola epidemic rages, two questions have emerged: How did the deadly virus escape detection for three months? And why has a massive international effort failed to contain it? Traveling to Meliandou, a remote Guinean village and the likely home of Patient Zero, Jeffrey E. Stern tracks the virus’s path—and the psychological contagion that is still feeding the worst Ebola outbreak in history. (Vanity Fair)
  • Why Don’t We Treat Teeth Like the Rest of Our Bodies? Dental care is excluded from most insurance plans for a bizarre and antiquated reason, and millions of people suffer as a result. (Atlantic) Note: I do go to the dentist regularly, but it took me a long time before I did. Thanks, mom and dad, for convincing me to go.
  • Forget GMOs. The Future of Food Is Data—Mountains of It: Inside a squat building on San Francisco’s 10th Street, packed into a space that looks a lot like a high school chem lab, Hampton Creek is redesigning the food you eat. Mixing and matching proteins found in the world’s plants, the tiny startup already has created a reasonable facsimile of the chicken egg—an imitation of the morning staple that’s significantly cheaper, safer, and possibly healthier than the real thing—and now it’s working to overhaul other foods in much the same way. (Wired)

Bonus:

Thurday Ten

Today’s bonus links aren’t as fun as previous weeks. Instead, we have an interesting (if with a happy ending) story about the impact of social media and how to follow Scotland’s historic independence referendum. A note that some of the main links might be triggering to victims of domestic violence/etc.

  • Ray Rice and His Rage: The sordid Ray Rice scandal has opened a much-needed dialogue about domestic violence. (New York Times)
  • ‘What is reality?’: A Q&A with the artist who used social media and Photoshop to fake an epic trip even her parents fell for (Washington Post)
  • Comment sections are poison: handle with care or remove them  Comments are often regarded as a right but they can do more harm than good. In the absence of strict moderation, we’d be much better off without them. (Guardian)
  • When You Can’t Afford Sleep: Many low-income workers get just four or five hours of rest each day. Research shows their bodies might never recover. (The Atlantic)
  • Should We All Take a Bit of Lithium? The idea of putting a mind-altering drug in the drinking water is the stuff of sci-fi, terrorist plots and totalitarian governments. Considering the outcry that occurred when putting fluoride in the water was first proposed, one can only imagine the furor that would ensue if such a thing were ever suggested.The debate, however, is moot. It’s a done deal. Mother Nature has already put a psychotropic drug in the drinking water, and that drug is lithium. Although this fact has been largely ignored for over half a century, it appears to have important medical implications. (New York Times)
  • Ticks and Cowboys:  A handful of federal agents stand between the U.S. and a devastating pest. (Modern Farmer)
  • Smartphones Are Used To Stalk, Control Domestic Abuse Victims: But there’s another kind of privacy concern that is a lot more intimate. You could call it Little Brother, though it’s really more like husbands and wives, lovers and exes who secretly watch their partners — from a distance. They are cyberstalking — using digital tools that are a lot cheaper than hiring a private detective. (NPR)

Bonus:

The Thursday Ten

I’ve decided to try something different. Instead of listing all the links I’ve read and thought were interesting, I’m going to limit it to just ten, with maybe a bonus link or two. This first week of September will be my first week attempting this. Feedback is always welcome.

Onto the links:

  • Pop culture’s newest apocalypse: Visions of a smartphone dystopia Two acclaimed new books show how our smartphone addiction is changing the way we think about the end of the world  (Salon) Note: I have read neither book, but the premises of both are similar to many a YA dystopia — though that’s not a bad thing. I do wish the author was familiar with other dystopian novels, though.
  • Hong Kong’s Democracy Dilemma: On Sunday the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress issued restrictive guidelines for the election of Hong Kong’s next chief executive in 2017. Shorn of its technical details, the proposal in effect gives Beijing the means to control who could run for the top office in Hong Kong: Voters would get to cast a ballot, but only for one of just a handful of candidates pre-selected by the Chinese government. (New York Times)
  • What’s missing in the Ebola fight in West Africa: If the Ebola epidemic devastating the countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had instead struck Washington, New York or Boston, there is no doubt that the health systems in place could contain and then eliminate the disease. (Washington Post)
  • Shenzhen trip report – visiting the world’s manufacturing ecosystem: Last year, a group of Media Lab students visited Shenzhen with, bunnie, an old friend and my hardware guru. He’s probably best known for hacking the Xbox, the chumby, an open source networked hardware appliance, and for helping so many people with their hardware, firmware and software designs. bunnie is “our man in Shenzhen” and understands the ecosystem of suppliers and factories in China better than anyone I know. (Joi Ito)
  • Death to the Gamer: Tainted by its misogyny and embrace of consumption as a way of life, gamer culture isn’t worth saving. (Jacobin)

Bonus links! Something a little more fun:

 

Links: 08/08-08/14

Bad news, y’all: everyone should change their passwords again. I know, I’ve told you to do this once, but it’s time to do it again. Now, moving on. Remember, last week, when I said I wanted to go see One Direction this weekend? I’m going! I’m excited.

This week’s links consist of everything from the death of Robin Williams to racism to Ebola. But if you’re feeling a little down, skip to the end, where you’ll find articles about chemistry robots, Murakami novels, and some extraordinary pictures. Plus, of course, the Great Emu War.

Russian Hackers Probably Have Your Passwords. Now What?: Like many people, your first question is probably whether or not you were included in that dragnet. Hold Security, the Milwaukee-based security firm that uncovered the hack, says you can fork over $120 for an annual subscription to find out in the next 60 days if you were affected. The opportunistic move cast doubt on initial reports of the breach, but prominent cybersecurity experts have confirmed them to be accurate.  At this point, you should just assume you were hacked. (TechCrunch)

In Fatal Flash, Gaza Psychologist Switches Roles, Turning Into a Trauma Victim: Hassan al-Zeyada has spent decades counseling fellow residents of the Gaza Strip who experience psychological trauma. Now, as he prepares to aid his neighbors after a new round of combat and carnage, he has a challenging new patient: himself. (New York Times)

Kurdistan: The Best Hope for What is Left of Iraq: There must be urgency about this. Kurdistan is in clear and imminent danger. We surely don’t want to wait thirty years for a declassified CIA document that concedes that backing Kurdistan could have boosted stability but was flunked at great cost. (Rudaw)

Telling white people the criminal justice system is racist makes them like it more: A new study suggests that highlighting racism in the criminal justice system is not the answer, and in fact pushes white voters in the opposite direction. Even when whites believe the current laws are too harsh, they’re less likely to support changing the law if they’re reminded that the current prison population is disproportionately black. (Vox)

The real story behind “secret menus” is the key to hacking them: Ask a barista for a cotton candy Frappuccino, for example, and she’ll create this unofficial favorite by adding raspberry syrup to a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino, which is one of the company’s official offerings, an icy and sweet blended drink topped with whipped cream. Knowing how to ask for these twists, or “secret menu” items, is half the fun. (Quartz) Note: This is one of the things I’m not brave enough to do. Not that I’d even want to, if I was.

You can’t win a Twitter fight: I’ve had my fair share of Twitter spats and can confirm it’s an absolutely terrible venue for debate. Tone, nuance, context — all of that goes out the window. Even the most remotely controversial point is destined to be misconstrued. It’s notable that when these debates finally move to email — that is to say, out of the public realm — they become far more respectful and good-willed. (Politico)

Is Sunscreen A Lifesaver Or A Poison: As to whether I should be slathering my kid with sunscreen or not, the good news is that I’m not causing any damage by doing so, and I’m certainly sparing her the painful sunburns of my youth. On the other hand, it may be dangerous to be lulled into thinking that sun exposure is without risk when she wears sunscreen. Protective clothing, hats and shade may have as much — or more — of a direct role to play. Perhaps it’s time for another full-body bathing suit. (FiveThirtyEight)

Plot Thickens as 900 Writers Battle Amazon: Douglas Preston, who summers in this coastal hamlet, is a best-selling writer — or was, until Amazon decided to discourage readers from buying books from his publisher, Hachette, as a way of pressuring it into giving Amazon a better deal on e-books. So he wrote an open letter to his readers asking them to contact Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, demanding that Amazon stop using writers as hostages in its negotiations. (New York Times)

Timeline of China’s Social Media Crackdowns (Wall Street Journal) Note: I’ve occasionally considered signing up for a weibo account (I like a lot of Chinese/etc singers and actors), but the real name thing has always put me off.

Ebola in Africa and the U.S.: A Curation: That I am anti-Ebola panic — and especially anti-Ebola media scrum, which was disgraceful — does not mean I am not concerned about Ebola where it is authentically a problem, which is in the expanding epidemic in West Africa. It is a dreadful outbreak, it needs attention, and it says something ugly about us as a society that we only really noticed it when two Westerners were injured by it. But, again: The conditions that are pushing that epidemic along do not exist in the US. (Wired) Note: I haven’t read all of the links within this post, but her article itself is worth reading on it’s own.

About Michael Brown’s murder:

Outrage in Ferguson after police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown: On August 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was killed by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, MO. Eyewitnesses to the shooting report that Brown was killed while attempting to surrender, but police say that Brown assaulted the officer before the shooting. (VOX)

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown and What Hashtag Activism Does Right: Social media protests have their limits, but one thing they’re very, very good at is grassroots media criticism. (Time) Note: For pictures from the hashtag, go here. These are powerful, thought-provoking photos.

Black Residents In Ferguson, Missouri, Are Stopped And Arrested Far More Than Whites:  But a higher percentage of white residents have contraband, according to a racial profiling report from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. (Buzzfeed)

Why Did Michael Brown Die in Ferguson?: Michael Brown didn’t die in the dark. He was eighteen years old, walking down a street in Ferguson, Missouri, from his apartment to his grandmother’s, at 2:15 on a bright Saturday afternoon. He was, for a young man, exactly where he should be—among other things, days away from his first college classes.  (New Yorker)

Social media posts from scene of Ferguson shooting (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Robin Williams, an Improvisational Genius, Forever Present in the Moment: Part of the shock of his death on Monday came from the fact that he had been on — ubiquitous, self-reinventing, insistently present — for so long. On Twitter, mourners dated themselves with memories of the first time they had noticed him.  (New York Times)

Suicide Rates Rise Sharply in U.S.: Suicide rates among middle-aged Americans have risen sharply in the past decade, prompting concern that a generation of baby boomers who have faced years of economic worry and easy access to prescription painkillers may be particularly vulnerable to self-inflicted harm.  (New York Times)

What’s Wrong With Comcast?: The story of a company that’s too big to function. (The Atlantic)

Privacy as a premium: Why it’s time to say goodbye to the free internet (The Next Web)

The female Pinterest engineer who pressed tech giants to air embarrassing diversity numbers: Before the recent wave of big technology companies releasing diversity data, there was a one-woman effort by Tracy Chou, a software engineer at the social bookmarking website Pinterest. She issued a call last fall for hard numbers showing how many women engineers worked at tech companies. (San Francisco Business Times)

In Defense of Passwords: They’re inconvenient and insecure, but the alternatives are worse. (Slate)

Blue Is For Boys, Pink Is For Girls: See Children Surrounded By Their Color-Coded Toys: A series of images from South Korean photographer JeongMee Yoon shows exactly how much things have changed today, after manufacturers and marketers made the arbitrary choice to assign pink to girls. For the last nine years, Yoon has been photographing toddlers surrounded by their “favorite” colors–little girls, dressed in pink, blending in with a sea of pink Hello Kitty and princess gear, and little boys in rooms filled with blue Lego and trains. (Fast Company/Co.Exist)

The Great Emu War: In which some large, flightless birds unwittingly foiled the Australian Army (Scientific American) Note: Who HASN’T heard of the Great Emu War???

‘I’m pretty terrified’: Scientists set to excavate ‘Natural trap cave’ where bones of tens of thousands of animals are piled at least 10 metres deep (National Post)

Organic synthesis: The robo-chemist: The race is on to build a machine that can synthesize any organic compound. It could transform chemistry. (Nature)

The 10 Best Haruki Murakami Book: My own favorites are chosen on a “gut” level; I liked these works because they awakened something in me as a reader, spoke to me about things that were already going on my mind, maybe only subconsciously. Some are powerfully entertaining, others just powerful. All seem to connect to an enduring thematic thread of identity, its construction and its preservation. (Publishers Weekly) Note: Of the ten, I’ve read 7. Of the three I haven’t read, the two earliest ones I have on ebook, but haven’t gotten to yet and #5 hasn’t been published in English in the US quite yet. Soon, though.

The Beautiful Junkyard Where Bolivia’s Trains Were Left to Rot: They’re rusted out, long ago stripped for useful parts. Covered in graffiti—some of it pretty good—they’re strangely beautiful relics of an industry left behind. (Wired)