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Links: January 2016

The Website Obesity Crisis

Everything we do to make it harder to create a website or edit a web page, and harder to learn to code by viewing source, promotes that consumerist vision of the web.

The 2015 ProPublica Year in Visual Storytelling

A nice roundup of ProPublica’s more visually and interactively rich stories from the past year.

Animated homage to The Wire

When I hear Blind Boys of Alabama’s cover of “Way Down in the Hole” (The Wire, Season 1), I see Bubbles singing it.

ProPublica Launches the Dark Web’s First Major News Site

…sites like ProPublica and Securedrop using hidden services shows that these things aren’t just for criminals.

Paul Graham is Still Asking to be Eaten

But what the market deems valuable is not necessarily aligned with what is ultimately good for us as a society or even what we want.

Because that’s where this stupid game gets you. You end up going to absurd lengths to rationalize mediocre ideas because they happen to make tons of money instead of questioning the legitimacy of a system that confers so much value on to stupid things.

This is a bizarre way of saying that the only thing keeping people poor is their inability to capitalize on their future obsolescence.

Let’s End the False War Between Free Speech and Hate Speech

Looking forward to seeing what comes of this collaborative approach to ending online harassment. #hackharassment

‘Star Wars,’ and How a Force Helps the Federal Reserve

The Force Awakens is the most successful film ever after < 1 month? Is that inflation-adjusted? No. No, it is not.

How Powerball Works

Who are some notable past Powerball winners?

Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Cuban.

The Heroine’s Journey

A great read from Jessica Spengler about her childhood and beyond as a Star Wars fan.

I went to a Trump rally in my hijab. His supporters aren’t just racist caricatures

A Muslim woman’s rational takeaways from attending a Trump rally.

The Letterboxd Year in Review: 2015

Pretty thrilled to see my It Follows review excerpted in Letterboxd’s 2015 Year in Review!

Dead Certainty

The point of being scrupulous about your means is to help insure accurate ends, whether you are trying to convict a man or exonerate him. [Making a Murderer directors] Ricciardi and Demos instead stack the deck to support their case for Avery, and, as a result, wind up mirroring the entity that they are trying to discredit.

However broken the rules that govern our real courts, the court of last resort is bound by no rules at all.

The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene

This amazing woman solved her own genetic mystery that stumped doctors, and saved some lives along the way.

Campaign Donations Reflect the Sharp Split in Congress Among Republicans

How donor disparities intensify Congressional Republican dysfunction: “Sometimes self-interest can trump ideology.”

The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972–1983

Good Kraftwerkian fun. Probably fake backstory.

Letter of Recommendation: Sleep, ‘Dopesmoker’

Because I’m overeducated and insecure, I package my banal observations in semantic finery, so I feel a kinship with lines like “Earthling inserts to chalice the green cutchie/Groundation soul finds trust upon smoking hose,” which is a fancy way of saying “a guy smokes some weed.” The thesis of Dopesmoker may boil down to “smoke dope,” but first-time listeners should be forgiven for wondering if it’s actually an anthropological study of Qedarite tribes in the pre-Christian Sinai Peninsula.

The essence of heavy metal is discipline in service of the preposterous. At its best, the genre solemnizes the impulses of adolescence.

Why Are Americans Ignoring Trevor Noah?

I know Trevor Noah’s Daily Show will take time to develop, but my patience is starting to feel like apologism.

On Trevor Noah’s Daily Show, outrages are an occasion for bemused laughter, not righteously funny indignation.

Noah’s problem is not that he makes bad jokes but that he doesn’t take more chances to make great ones. All bloodless finesse, he never goes for the jugular.

Even when talking about something as outrageous as what happened in Flint, Noah tends to seem remote and jokey, rather than genuinely curious.

Stewart could be self-righteous and defensive and smug. But he was a masterful modulator of tone, mirroring the emotional mood of his viewers, evincing anger when appropriate but also empathy and exasperation and joy. Noah hasn’t yet learned to display this kind of range. Being required to prematurely mimic it forces him to play audience proxy, poorly.

Not so long ago, we would have learned of these bizarre happenings and thought, “I can’t wait to see what The Daily Show has to say about this.” Now, it’s only likely to have the eighth-best joke on the subject. You still may laugh, but an inessential Daily Show is a real loss.

Devils, Deals and the DEA

I finally gave this a proper read, and it is wall-to-wall insanity.

What Errol Morris Thinks of Making a Murderer

Reminder: Errol Morris will save us all.

Kidnapping attempt suspect’s sketch released

Um, hey. Just FYI, this guy is not me.