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I keep wanting to make a post of cute/uplifting links, and then…the world keeps happening. December 13, 2016

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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Ceasefire deal in Aleppo to let the civilians evacuate. Now we have to hope like hell that it holds.

Shortlist of charities providing refugee/humanitarian aid in Syria. Also good choices: the Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders.

Trump’s grandfather was banished from Bavaria by royal decree, for skipping out on mandatory military service. Smart people. Why couldn’t we have done that?

World Weather Attribution: connecting the dots between climate events and human actions.

I wish I could tell you that when I first saw those requirements they bothered me. I wish I could tell you that it felt wrong to code something that was basically designed to trick young girls. But the truth is, I didn’t think much of it at the time. I had a job to do, and I did it.”

The students displayed a ‘stunning and dismaying consistency’ in their responses, the researchers wrote, getting duped again and again. They weren’t looking for high-level analysis of data but just a ‘reasonable bar’ of, for instance, telling fake accounts from real ones, activist groups from neutral sources and ads from articles.”

The more people who search for information about Jews, the more people will see links to hate sites, and the more they click on those links (very few people click on to the second page of results) the more traffic the sites will get, the more links they will accrue and the more authoritative they will appear. This is an entirely circular knowledge economy that has only one outcome: an amplification of the message. Jews are evil. Women are evil. Islam must be destroyed. Hitler was one of the good guys.”

Save The Food leads with the dismaying statistic “40% of food in America is wasted” — but then focuses on ways you can avoid food waste in your kitchen at home. Most of the waste is coming from restaurants and supermarkets! Fixing that is going to take laws. Tell us which senators to call, not how to cook our slightly-wilted celery.

One good note to end this on:

“The unemployment rate in the city of Seattle – the tip of the spear when it comes to minimum wage experiments – has now hit a new cycle low of 3.4%, as the city continues to thrive. I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point. The doomsayers were wrong. The sky has not fallen. The restaurant business, by all accounts, is booming.”

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Trump’s impressive bankruptcies, Cruz’s femdom Hillary fanvids July 2, 2016

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“What’s especially impressive about this is that despite not bothering with typical business expenses like “paying people who do work for you,” [Trump] still managed to go bankrupt running a business that involves customers giving you their money in exchange for nothing.

“Remember 2008, when the markets went from thinking housing debt was low-risk to thinking it was high-risk, and a global financial crisis was the result? [Trump’s economic plan] would be like that, but much worse — US government debt is the very foundation of low-risk investments.”

(On the very low chance that the mangled apricot hellbeast wins, the good news is, Cape Breton wants people.)

“This may not be surprising to anyone, but there is not a single county in the United States in which a minimum wage earner can support a family. Not one.”

The US nuclear weapons force still uses a 1970s-era computer system and 8-inch floppy disks, a government report has revealed.”

A Ted Cruz ad featuring a formidable Hillary Clinton silencing male advisors with a single disapproving flick of her eyebrows while Huma Abedin stalks the room like a tigress. I have confidence in this team.

Good people doing good things November 7, 2014

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“Voters have approved a ballot question that supporters say will give Massachusetts the nation’s strongest requirement for providing paid sick time to workers.” Go state!

“You can see the effect Abbott’s civil disobedience is already having on the Fort Lauderdale police officers. The first time they stopped him from feeding people and took a 90-year-old man away in a police car. Those officers weren’t inclined to do that again, so now they’re just filming from a distance. Why? Because it’s a stupid, unjust law, and enforcing it made them feel stupid and unjust.

“Then she placed the stone on a shelf in the kitchen, and it stayed there as a permanent reminder of the promise she had made to herself at that moment: never violence!” Astrid Lindgren, everybody.

Gorgeous fantasy photographs of adorable tiny girl (maybe 3?). The blurb is all “look how amazing and inspirational this is, she only has one hand” and utterly fails to mention “look how pretty this is, in some of these she has wings.” (Normal!AU Megan Wallaby, y/y?)

[Video] The latest in bionic limbs: a talk presented by a double amputee walking around stage, and ended with a performance by a dancer who lost her leg a year before.

“It’s not that Gus doesn’t understand Siri’s not human. He does — intellectually. But like many autistic people I know, Gus feels that inanimate objects, while maybe not possessing souls, are worthy of our consideration. […] So how much more worthy of his care and affection is Siri, with her soothing voice, puckish humor and capacity for talking about whatever Gus’s current obsession is for hour after hour after bleeding hour?” A like story about a kid & a voice app.

Dyslexia fonts, Native American names, irregular words preserved, DNA word preservation October 15, 2013

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“Although Dyslexie is not the first font out there to help aid dyslexics, it has received much fanfare from sufferers thus far, including participants from the aforementioned University of Twente study, who commented that the font allowed them to read with improved accuracy, and for a longer time before tiring.

The locations that generate the most hateful tweets across the US, broken down by various slurs, mostly racist and homophobic.

“We get a lot of questions about the meaning of Native American names found on the Internet, so here is a list of many of them and what (if anything) they really mean.” Beautiful etymology research all over this page.

There are some old words, however, that are nearly obsolete, but we still recognize because they were lucky enough to get stuck in set phrases that have lasted across the centuries.” My favorite: “wend” used to have the past tense of “went”, and its synonym “go” used to have the past tense of, basically, “goed”, and instead of dropping one regular verb but keeping the other, English created a totally irregular frankenverb by keeping half of each.

“A team of scientists has produced a truly concise anthology of verse by encoding all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets in DNA. The researchers say that their technique could easily be scaled up to store all of the data in the world.”

Related: “[This method should] be easily capable of swallowing the roughly 3 zettabytes (a zettabyte is one billion trillion or 10^21 bytes) of digital data thought presently to exist in the world and still have room for plenty more. It would do so with a density of around 2.2 petabytes (10^15) per gram; enough, in other words, to fit all the world’s digital information into the back of a lorry.

Science & technology: the cool, the useful, and the awesome November 13, 2012

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A brief history of the Digital Public Library of America project, including its growth out of the fears and flaws involved in Google Books.

Falsehoods programmers believe about time, which can screw up your programs in new and exciting ways.

What motivates humans to do more, better work? Money? Only up to a point. Once you’re making enough to live on, earning more can actually drag your performance down. Feeling that you’re mastering new skills and doing meaningful work is much more important.

Case in point: “What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they’ll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware.

Straightforward study on gender bias among scientists: “On a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being highest, professors gave John an average score of 4 for competence and Jennifer 3.3. John was also seen more favorably as someone they might hire for their laboratories or would be willing to mentor. The average starting salary offered to Jennifer was $26,508. To John it was $30,328.” On the plus side, the Onion sheds light on a foolproof way for women to achieve equal pay

Cecelia Payne: the astronomer who figured out that the Sun is mostly hydrogen (as opposed to the conventional wisdom of her time, “made up of basically the same stuff as Earth”), after discovering the whole process of reading stars’ compositions from studying their spectral lines. Born in 1900. Did all this work as part of her Ph.D., earned in 1925. Served at Harvard in the functional capacity of a professor, even though she wasn’t formally recognized as such until 1956.

Look at your planet. Now back to me. This planet is now diamonds. (55 Cancri e is about twice the diameter (?) of Earth, eight times the mass, with 18-hour years and a composition of approximately 1/3 pure diamond.)

Historical same-sex weddings, fantasy female armor, texting in West African languages, and more January 7, 2012

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How to talk about gender with first graders in a way that gets them thinking and not bullying.

Musings on fantasy armor versus female figures, as crafted by someone who actually makes armor.

A history of Chicago’s underground abortion services in the years before Roe v. Wade.

A cryptographer takes a closer look at Biblical Greek and inadvertently discovers that Paul’s only clear condemnation of homosexuality…was a mistranslation.

Debunking the myth that pre-colonial Africa had no homosexuality. With research!

The tensions faced by a mixed-race family.

How do you keep a language from dying out? Make it available to text in, as is being done with the Mande family of West African languages and hopefully plenty more to come.

Next time someone tells you they support traditional marriage, send them this link: records of Christian same-sex weddings from the 300s through the 1600s.