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Links: April 2016

Police Body Cameras: What Do You See?

“People are expecting more of body cameras than the technology will deliver,” Professor Stoughton said. “They expect it to be a broad solution for the problem of police-community relations, when in fact it’s just a tool, and like any tool, there’s a limited value to what it can do.”

Inside Operation Trump, the Most Unorthodox Campaign in Political History

Politics require some amount of cynicism and hubris. Trump has these in spades, yet he’s still called an “outsider.”

“I don’t spend much money,” he told me. “In New Hampshire, I spent $2 million” — actually $3.7 million — “Bush spent $48 million” — actually $36.1 million — “I came in first in a landslide, he came in sixth” — actually fourth. “Who do you want as your president?”

A confluence of factors created the conditions for this election and Trump’s surprising success in it: the turbulence of economic change, anxiety about terrorism, the rise of social media, Obama-inspired racism, Hillary-inspired misogyny, resistance to all manner of social change; the list can go on and on. But one factor that’s been particularly crucial to Trump’s rise may be the way that reality television, cable news, and talk radio have shaped the culture’s sense of “reality” — in other words, its relationship to truth. If Ronald Reagan showed us that Hollywood was good training for politics, Trump is proving that the performance skills one learns in the more modern entertainment arenas are even more useful. Talk and reality shows are improvised operations, mastered by larger-than-life personalities expert at distorting and provoking, shifting and commandeering attention.

The other phenomenon is that everyone is assumed to be playing a role at some level, so it’s hard to tell what is real and what is just for attention. Trump has already started using this as a strategy to help him try to pivot to the general election. Those terrible things he said about and to women while playing himself on The Apprentice? Oh, he was just in character. He was playing “himself,” not being himself. The way he acted so unpresidentially in the primary? Oh, that was just to break out of the pack of all those pesky other candidates with some good ol’ provocation. And aren’t you glad? Because now that the field is almost clear, he can start to be presidential.

But I suspect Trump will have a hard time pivoting — not because of what he has said in the past, but because this is the script he knows best. He has been cultivating the character of “Donald Trump” for decades now, and it seems apparent that he can’t turn it off. Back at Trump Tower, it was striking how often he kept going back to the well of The Apprentice, unprompted.

BABYMETAL Makes Their U.S. Television Debut

I always want to dismiss Baby Metal as having an appeal limited to bizarre novelty, but I can’t. They make me smile.

ProPublica 3.0

We made a new ProPublica iOS app! If you like your investigative journalism on the go, you should get it.

Managing Typography on Large Apps

It’s now my opinion that headings should be a purely semantic decision, and have no stylistic information applied to them at all. Complete decoupling of the semantic and the stylistic—your level of heading should have no influence on how that heading looks.


Something I’ve been implementing is a much more simplified default set of headings which cover our semantic use cases, and all other font sizes and styles are introduced through a suite of classes.

This means that there are now only two default font-sizes in our project: our body copy, and our six headings (which are all identical).

The McGill brothers raise the stakes in their professional cold war

I’m loving this season of Better Call Saul, and Donna Bowman’s analysis and commentary throughout the series has been terrific.

CEOs, like coaches punting on fourth down, would rather avoid the criticism that comes with bucking conventional wisdom than actually succeed.

Greenpoint Heavy: Five Years of Metal Worship at Saint Vitus

Big congrats to the Saint Vitus Bar crew on their fifth anniversary! They’ve created a truly special place.

The Absurd Primacy of the Automobile in American Life

Whenever a gun lover talks about how cars kill more people than guns, I’m like, “Yep, let’s get rid of cars too.”

In almost every way imaginable, the car, as it is deployed and used today, is insane.

The numbers are so huge they are not easily grasped, and so are perhaps best understood by a simple comparison: If U.S. roads were a war zone, they would be the most dangerous battlefield the American military has ever encountered.

I remember thinking that this would be a pretty harmless easter egg, that no one would really use it, but I was very wrong.

The Enduring Mystery Of ‘Jawn’, Philadelphia’s All-Purpose Noun

For fans of Philly and/or linguistics, here’s an engrossing dissection of the world’s most versatile regional slang.

The Hidden Economics of Porn

It starts with how pornography is keyworded. So, people put in search terms, but those search terms aren’t all that original, really. Because where do we learn the search words that we’re looking for? It’s sort of a chicken-and-egg problem. And so porn gets keyworded in very stereotyped, often sexist, often racist ways, and also just with a narrow-minded view of sexuality.

If you are interested in something like double oral, and you put that into a browser, you’re going to get two women giving one guy a blowjob. If you put “double oral” into a browser you’re not likely to get two men or two people giving a woman oral sex. That’s just not how it’s keyworded. That then feeds into what the industry decides to make more of.

Will emoji become a new language?

This is a key point about language use: rarely is natural language ever limited to speech alone. When we are speaking, we constantly use gestures to illustrate what we mean. For this reason, linguists say that language is “multi-modal”. Writing takes away that extra non-verbal information, but emoji may allow us to re-incorporate it into our text.

‘Captain America,’ ‘Batman v Superman’ Reviews Ignite Nutty Fan Conspiracy Furor (Commentary)

Can we please make the internet read-only for people who fail to pass a basic aptitude test?

Australia-style gun control CAN happen here

The NRA seems to believe guns are people, and Australia’s 1996 National Firearms Agreement was genocide. (Oddly, this NRA ad preceded a NSFW compilation of threatening phone calls a protester received from Trump supporters.)

Should we scrap benefits and pay everyone £100 a week whether they work or not?

there have been UBI-type policies and experiments in India and Brazil. These have suggested that, contrary to modern stereotypes about “welfare” sapping people’s initiative, a basic income might actually increase people’s appetite for work, by adding to their sense of stability, and making things such as childcare and transport more accessible.

If, as he says, “we are at the beginning of the time where machines will do a lot of the things humans have traditionally done”, how do you avoid “a massive bifurcation of society into those who have wealth and those who don’t”?

For the UK Labour party, the concept of a basic income raises a painful question: how can you carry on styling yourself as the party of workers when traditional work is disappearing fast?

He says he also has concerns about interpretations of the idea from some parts of the political left. “UBI has to be universal: it has to apply to everybody,” he says. “It’s problematic for some people that it includes the rich as well, but universal benefits have a political power that means-tested benefits don’t. It has to be unconditional. It can’t be means-tested. Everybody gets it, no matter what.

“The technology we’re talking about today is really touching on areas that we thought were always going to be the preserve of humans: non-routine tasks, things like driving a car – but then also the automation of basic social interaction, like call-centre work, customer service work and all that kind of stuff,” says Srnicek. “A lot of jobs are going to be taken, possibly at a very rapid pace. That means that, even if it doesn’t lead to mass unemployment, automation leads to a massive shift in the labour market, and people having to find new jobs and new skills.”

It also gets you into a sense of contributing to your community, cleaning up the beach, visiting an elderly friend who might be lonely. There’s a whole freedom and liberation that it gives you, and I think it takes you into really deep questions about whether we really exist simply to spend a third of our lives working for someone else.”

ProPublica Wins Third Pulitzer Prize for ‘An Unbelievable Story of Rape’

I’m pretty stoked to have worked on a Pulitzer Prize-winning story! Huge congrats to T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong! Huge congrats also to Pulitzer finalists Abrahm Lustgarten, Al Shaw, Jeff Larson, Naveena Sadasivam and David Sleight!

Swallowing the Red Pill: a journey to the heart of modern misogyny

The quantity of locker-room talk is inversely proportional to familiarity with women.

if you have a working dick and a working soul, you’d better get used to living with contradictions.

It is exactly this capacity for contradiction that the boys of The Red Pill lack so utterly. Their humourlessness is impressive, given that they mostly post comments about the minutiae of sexual dynamics, which is the substance of almost all comedy.

Throughout Ghomeshi’s trial, as his lawyer Marie Heinen ripped apart the accusers, I found myself recalling a line from Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, set during the halcyon years when America’s biggest problem was the president’s joint taste for cigars and interns.

“I myself dreamed of a mammoth banner,” Roth wrote, “draped dadaistically like a Christo wrapping from one end of the White House to the other and bearing the legend A HUMAN BEING LIVES HERE.”

That phrase should have been draped over the Toronto courtroom. The accusers responded like human beings, so they forgot to tell things to the police. They forgot their Hotmail passwords. They communicated with each other and with Jian. One of them wrote: “You have beautiful hands.” They responded in a way consistent with the inconsistency of human sexuality, caught in the mess of desire and its justification.

Much has been written about how the Ghomeshi trial has revealed various aspects of our culture and society – the failures of the criminal justice system, or the reality of rape culture, or the impotence of fourth-wave feminism. The Ghomeshi trial has revealed nothing. It has only obscured.

Culture, insofar as it is popular, poses the same question over and over: how cool does a guy have to be before he can treat women like they’re nothing?

Hillary Clinton for President

Major change is ALWAYS incremental. Unless you want to have a REAL revolution, with shooting and stuff. You might. I do not.)

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.

Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

Rent is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel.

Interest payments, overwhelmingly, are a transfer of money from the poor to the rich.

Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk.

“Investment”, as Sayer notes, means two quite different things. One is the funding of productive and socially useful activities, the other is the purchase of existing assets to milk them for rent, interest, dividends and capital gains. Using the same word for different activities “camouflages the sources of wealth”, leading us to confuse wealth extraction with wealth creation.

Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.

How to Explain Mansplaining

Women self-censor, edit, apologize for speaking. Men expound.

both male and female listeners were quick to think these women were talking too much, too aggressively. In other words, men are rewarded for speaking, while women are punished.

If you took Princess Leia out of “Star Wars,” the total speaking time for female characters is 63 seconds out of the original trilogy’s 386 minutes.

Women use words to explore, men to explain.

But if you’re a man who wants to counter your manologue tendency, try this: When you hear yourself saying, “Now, to answer your question,” ask yourself whether there was a good reason you didn’t start at exactly that point.

Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and others – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

That time when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was being reliably boring and then Prince burned the fucking place down.

Prince, an Artist Who Defied Genre, Is Dead at 57

a sex symbol devoted to romance and pleasure, not power or machismo.

Prince Spent His Life Elevating and Mentoring Women

Paul Westerberg Remembers Prince: ‘I Can’t Think of Anyone Better’

I remember a little scuffle broke out in front of the stage one night and Prince said, “Stop fighting, you’ll mess up your clothes.”

CNN Tonight With Don Lemon Van Jones on Prince’s humanitarianism

[Prince] said, “I don’t need any more attention. But I can’t be in this world and see this much pain and suffering and not do something.”

A Rose by any Other Font: New Logo and Identity for Charlie Rose by Pentagram

D’Angelo ft. Princess: Sometimes It Snows in April

While His Guitar…

He is feeling it because everyone is feeling it and he is everyone.

Prince: Nothing Compared 2 Him

Prince was the artist in the Eighties who kept everybody guessing year to year what he’d try next, scrapping the formula he ruled the radio with last year to try something different, dropping a new art-damaged (yet chart-topping) manifesto each summer the way the Beatles and Bowie and Dylan used to do. He was one of the world’s biggest stars, yet he operated with the weirdness of a small-time cult artist.

He loved to do souped-up perved-out versions of other people’s music; he loved to steal in a way that made Bowie or the Stones or Stevie Wonder look like dabblers. And the remarkable thing was how he inspired other artists to rise to his challenge. The reason 1984 was the greatest pop radio summer ever was that everybody was trying to make their own Prince record, while Prince was already a year ahead of everyone else. So Van Halen hit Number One with “Jump,” knocking off the “Dirty Mind” synth hook, while Prince hit Number One with “Let’s Go Crazy,” where he tried to sound like Van Halen and beat them at their own moves.

For the rest of the Eighties, rock stars who looked washed up could score Number One hits with Prince cops — from Phil Collins’ “Sussudio” (hello, “1999”) to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” (hello, “When You Were Mine”).