A Real-Time Website Privacy Inspector
Who is peeking over your shoulder while you work, watch videos, learn, explore, and shop on the internet? Enter the address of any website, and Blacklight will scan it and reveal the specific user-tracking technologies on the site—and who’s getting your data. You may be surprised at what you learn.
A spreadsheet of information and ideas.
Things to listen to, Things to read, Things to watch, Things to do, Things for mental health, Things to cook, Things to think, Things for kids, Things to be grateful for, Tips for Finances, Places to donate
PublicAlerts sends emergency alerts via text, email, or voice message. It's a *free service for anyone who lives, works, or visits the Portland-Vancouver Region. Personal information is kept secure and private. (*Message and data rates may apply depending on your provider and phone services.)
Today, you are an Astronaut. You are floating in inner space 100 miles above the surface of Earth. You peer through your window and this is what you see. You are people watching. These are fleeting moments.
These videos come from YouTube. They were uploaded in the last week and have titles like DSC 1234 and IMG 4321. They have almost zero previous views. They are unnamed, unedited, and unseen (by anyone but you).
Astronaut starts when you press GO. The video switches periodically. Click the button below the video to prevent the video from switching.
1940s NYC | Street photos of every building in New York City in 1939/1940
Between 1939 and 1941, the Works Progress Administration collaborated with the New York City Tax Department to collect photographs of every building in the five boroughs of New York City. In 2018, the NYC Municipal Archives completed the digitization and tagging of these photos. This website places them on a map. Zoom in! Every dot is a photo.
A calculator for how risky an activity is during COVID.
We reviewed published research about COVID, and used it to make rough estimates about the risk level of various activities in microCOVIDs. 1 microCOVID is a one-in-a-million chance of getting COVID.
We hope you’ll use this tool to build your intuition about the comparative risk of different activities and as a harm-reduction tool to make safer choices.
Play around with the calculator! Change the variables and see how they affect the total.
Important: In this tool we state our best estimate based on available evidence, even when that evidence is not conclusive. We have read a lot of experts' research, but we are not ourselves experts in this topic. This work has not been scientifically peer-reviewed. There is still a lot of uncertainty about COVID. Do not rely on this tool for medical advice. Please continue to follow government guidance.
Heather Arndt Anderson: The Life and Death of Pizza and Pipes (Taste)
Organ Grinder Pizza, in Portland, Oregon, was the first to serve me pizza that wasn’t a frozen Totino’s. Its most memorable menu item was a hamburger-topped taco pizza called the Percussion, to be exact, and it was served under the twinkling light of disco balls, to the euphony of live organ music. Seated on a platform in the middle of the dining room sat a gleaming, gilded organ played by the Liberace du jour, accompanied by a mechanical monkey playing the cymbals. The organ was a four-manual Wurlitzer with 51 ranks and nearly 4,000 pipes. There were arcade games in the back of the restaurant, and gilding the lily was a hurdy-gurdy player stealing kisses from a real live capuchin monkey named Pizza Pete, who jumped around the dining room, tipping his hat to the audience members and shaking them down for cash with his little tin cup.
Because of the crowd-friendliness of their primary offering, pizza parlors are generally a louder type of restaurant. There’s typically one large dining room, which lends itself well to the unsubtlety of a pipe organ. In 1962 (four years after opening), Ye Olde Pizza Joynt in Hayward, California, was the first to put the two together. This coincided neatly with the birth of dinner theater, which picked up momentum in the 1960s and ’70s. In the mid-1970s, the pizza-and-pipes trend spread like fireweed; by the 1980s, there were close to 150 organ-boosted pizzerias in North America.
Organists played everything from the predictable “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” and the jaunty ragtime stylings of Scott Joplin to thunderous renditions of “Pinball Wizard” and “Tubular Bells” (better known as the Exorcist theme). Star Wars medleys were likewise in heavy rotation; the colorful mixtures in a tutti-heavy “Cantina Band” were always met with rapt enthusiasm. These pizzerias were so acutely popular that some of the organists even cut albums, which were sold in the restaurants.
Pareidolia, face detection on grains of sand, installation, Driessens & Verstappen, 2019
In the artwork Pareidolia* facial detection is applied to grains of sand. A fully automated robot search engine examines the grains of sand in situ. When the machine finds a face in one of the grains, the portrait is photographed and displayed on a large screen.
Pareidolia was developed for Sea Art on the isle of Texel, commissioned by SEA - Science Encounters Art. The production was supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL. Photo Heleen Vink, SEA Art, church De Burght, Den Burg, Texel, 2019
whentheycamedown is a project documenting the removal of statues representing white supremacy, oppression, genocide, colonialism, and racism throughout the world. This is a collaborative effort started by Emily Gorcenski, although the intention of the project is to open source contribution in the style of open knowledge.
This project takes the stance that the removal of statues represents an important and inextricable part of the history of the people, groups, and moments that those statues represent. Removing of statues, renaming of parks, and similar actions is not an act of erasing history, but an act of adding to history by capturing the spirit, beliefs, motivations, and actions of the people who lived during the times those statues stood. It is the goal of this project to document the people who aimed to remove the monuments more than the people represented by the monuments. The project seeks to document the history of the activists, their efforts to remove statues through proper and improper channels, and the history of the people oppressed by those who the statues represent.
Since the events in Charlottesville on August 11-12, 2017, a number of far-right fascists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis have caught charges for violent crimes. These crimes range from misdemeanors to serious felonies, from state charges to federal charges, and possible penalties can include life in prison or even death.
Tracking these cases has given anti-fascist and anti-extremist researchers a wealth of information regarding the organizing methods, networks, and objectives of these groups. Tracking all of these cases, however, can be hard. So here is a resource that should hopefully compile that information for future work. Fascists are never on the side of truth, so sunlight can be a powerful tool to disrupt their organizing. It is with high hopes that this information is used to save lives. This is not an endorsement of the police, of state violence, or of state intervention. This is simply a repository of the most accurate possible information, culled from public records, newspapers, and court hearings.
State of Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife: Native Species Backgrounds for Phones, Desktops, and Meetings
When you can’t experience the forest in person, try connecting with Hawai‘i’s native species by bringing them into your digital lifestyle. With downloadable backgrounds, you can decorate your smartphone or your computer desktop. With our virtual meeting backgrounds you can invite a pueo or a hapu‘u fern to join you on your next video conference call.
Blair Stenvick: Portland Police Say They're Needed to Prevent Gun Violence. Experts Disagree. (Portland Mercury)
Portland met a dire record last month: With 15 homicides over a 31-day period, July contained the highest number of homicides the city had recorded in a single month for over 30 years. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) also reported 99 shootings in July—about three times the number of shootings recorded in July 2019.
The jump in shootings and homicides came shortly after Mayor Ted Wheeler disbanded PPB’s Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT), a group of officers focused on investigating all instances of gun violence in Portland. The unit had faced scrutiny from Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and other police reform advocates for years for disproportionately pulling over Black drivers and keeping a list of suspected “criminal gang affiliates” that allowed police to surveil young men of color. Wheeler, who also serves as Portland’s police commissioner, decided to disband the unit in June, amid ongoing mass protests against police brutality and racial injustice in Portland.
Mark Leymon, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Portland State University (PSU), told the Mercury that there’s “absolutely no evidence” that the recent disbanding of GVRT contributed to July’s numbers. When asked what the likely cause was, Leymon cautioned it’s “too early to tell” whether July’s numbers qualify as a sustained spike in violent crime.But, he said, “The single most predictive measure of criminal activity is the economy.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused record unemployment numbers in Oregon—and as Brian Renauer, the director of PSU’s Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute, pointed out, economic anxiety was “already there” for Portlanders who never recovered from the 2008 Great Recession.
“It was already impacting certain areas and geographies of the city for a number of years,” Renauer said. “There are places and families that have never recovered from a prior economic crisis.”
Heaped on top of economic anxiety is the stress and trauma caused by simply living through an unprecedented pandemic, Leymon said. Leymon used an analogy of a glass of water, explaining that each person has “an emotional glass that can handle a certain amount of emotion.” Many people’s glass is already nearly full because of the pandemic, meaning it doesn’t take much for them to tip over and resort to violence.
“Our emotional stress glass has water in it up to a certain base, so it’s very easy to spill over,” he said. “The spillover is when criminal activity happens… People are more likely to snap or make poor decisions when they’re stressed.”
In addition to citing the dissolution of the GVRT, PPB officials have blamed the protests against police brutality as contributing to the spike in shootings. At a recent press conference, Lovell called the protests a “drain on resources” that kept police from focusing on crime prevention and response.
Leymon calls that reasoning “disingenuous.”
“They like to say that every day—that police are out there preventing crime,” he said. “But police don’t prevent crime, especially in Portland. Portland’s policing system is a responsive system…They’re not really doing any proactive work, they’re just there in the neighborhood. The most they can do is be a deterrent, and deterrents just aren’t very effective.”
However, Leymon said there may be an indirect link between protests and an increase in violent crime.
“You could argue that the current protests are societal stress, so that increases criminal activity,” he said. “There’s probably some truth to that. But... people of color and other marginalized communities have been feeling that stress for [hundreds of years]. It isn’t like the stress those people feel hasn’t been existing prior to the protests. It’s just, suddenly, a bunch of white people have noticed.”
Jeremy Stahl: Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups (Slate)
In describing the shooting of two protesters, Miskinis also declined to call it a homicide and instead referred to it by various euphemisms often used to describe killings by a police officer, which Rittenhouse is not. He said that the shooter “was involved in the use of firearms to resolve whatever conflict was in place” and that there was a “disturbance that led to the use of deadly force.”
Additionally, Miskinis refused to comment on the video of Blake’s shooting, but offered that there may have been a reasonable explanation for the man being shot seven times in the back, which has reportedly left him paralyzed and in critical condition. (The officer has been put on administrative leave and has not been fired or arrested.)
Miskinis’ views of the gathering of vigilante groups that reportedly led to the killing of two local men appears to be very much in line with those of his department. Before the shooting, officers in armored vehicles could be seen giving water to armed men gathered with the alleged shooter and telling them, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.” After the killings, the alleged shooter walked slowly past a series of police vehicles with his arms raised and was allowed to simply walk away. (It’s not yet clear what the officers knew about the shooting at the time, but the shots were audible in nearby footage.)
Melissa Blake: A Message to TikTok Parents Who Use My Face to Make Their Kids Cry (Refinery29)
The cruel New Teacher Challenge is a viral prank making its way through TikTok that uses disabled faces like mine as the punchline.
So far, TikTok hasn’t done much to combat this online hate. When people report accounts that have been using my photos in this challenge, they’ve received statements that TikTok has found no violation of the platform’s rules. It’s not just there. When I’ve reported Twitter accounts for posting photos of a blobfish to bully me, more often than not, Twitter says it doesn’t violate any rules either.
I want to be clear: I am violated. Every single time. Each photo, taunt, and cruel word is a clear violation of my dignity and my worth as a human being. And every time these platforms fail to take action, they’re sending the message that this bullying is okay. So many disabled people have become inured to our appearance being mocked. That’s not something we should ever have to get used to.
Shawn Swyx Wang: Cheatsheet for moving from Master to Main
For my own reference, and anyone else interested in moving primary git branch from master to main.
I'm not interested in discussing reasons to do this here, it has been rehashed thousands of times already.
Sam Levin: White supremacists and militias have infiltrated police across US, report says (The Guardian)
A former FBI agent has documented links between serving officers and racist militant activities in more than a dozen states
Michael German, a former FBI special agent who has written extensively on the ways that US law enforcement have failed to respond to far-right domestic terror threats, concludes that US law enforcement officials have been tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000, and hundreds of police officers have been caught posting racist and bigoted social media content.
Activists in Kenosha say police there have responded aggressively and violently to Black Lives Matter demonstrators, while doing little to stop armed white vigilantes. Supporting their claims is at least one video taken before the shooting that showed police tossing bottled water to what appeared to be armed civilians, including one who appeared to be the shooter, the AP noted: “We appreciate you being here,” an officer said on loudspeaker.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have directly identified white supremacists as the most lethal domestic terrorist threat in the country. According to German’s report, the FBI’s own internal documents have directly warned that the militia groups the agency is investigating often have “active links” to law enforcement.
And yet US agencies lack a national strategy to identify white supremacist police and root out this problem, German warned. Meanwhile, popular police reform efforts to address “implicit bias” have done nothing to confront explicit racism.
We, as a country, need to agree on something important: that the post office is not a business but a service every American directly benefits from, and therefore every American should pay into. In fact, it is difficult to imagine anything more deserving of tax dollars than a peaceful, civil service that binds every American together, promotes commerce, and serves as a link of last resort to vulnerable populations. Instead of feeding the good thing, we, as a country, have decided to starve it. Reversing this policy would require not just reversing a bad law, but admitting we were wrong about some very big ideas. That is what makes it so difficult, and also so important.
Aaron Gordon: Why Louis DeJoy's One Big Change to the USPS Backfired (Vice Motherboard)
DeJoy testified that his only big change at the post office was to order mail trucks to run on time. But that was never the problem to begin with.
"The truck leaving on time is a good thing if the mail is in it," one employee at a distribution facility told Motherboard. "But this is not the case." Under DeJoy, the USPS has accomplished its goal of spending less money—by delivering less mail.
But the most telling element of DeJoy's plan is that, despite his fondness for citing this report as the impetus for his disruptive changes, he did not follow the report's recommendations. There are two different "Recommendations" sections, and neither of them suggests a sudden mandate to run all truck trips on time. Instead, the report recommends a slate of extremely mundane bureaucratic tweaks to get the distribution facilities to run better, such as putting signs on or near the machines that clearly lay out mail processing schedules and truck departure times.
Alex Zielinski: Wheeler Responds to Police Inaction During Saturday Brawl (Portland Mercury)
On Saturday night, a member of the public (who asked the Mercury to remain anonymous) sent an email to Wheeler, sharing their concerns about PPB's response to the daytime protest. The person wrote that officers' inaction was particularly upsetting to see when contrasted with PPB's routinely aggressive response to nightly demonstrations against police brutality.
An hour later, Wheeler responded.
"For days you’ve been telling me that PPB's response has been overbearing. So last night and tonight they tried something different, and you’re demanding more of a police presence? Do you see how there is a no-win situation here? What, specifically, would you expect them to do? Have 30 officers charge into a crowd of 300 people, many of them armed? Would you do that? Would you ask other people to do that? I’m not shading you, these are serious questions. What specifically would you do? I am honestly interested."
Staff have confirmed this email was sent by Wheeler. While the message was not meant to be a formal public statement, Wheeler's quick reaction offers a different story—one of frustration and genuine exhaustion surrounding the public's demands.
Boise Eliot Native Grove is transforming an unimproved right-of-way (full of invasive grasses, often used as a dumping ground) into a grove of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses, with native bee housing, paths, art, benches, and educational signage. The Grove is being created to support populations of native pollinators, insects, and birds, in partnership with local schools, businesses and community environmental organizations.
This is a visualization of the process behind @nyt_first_said.
Each day, a script scrapes new articles from nytimes.com. That text is tokenized, or split into words based on whitespace and punctuation.
Each word then must pass several criteria. Containing a number or special character is criteria for disqualification. To avoid proper nouns, all capitalized words are filtered.
The most important check is against the New York Time's archive search service. The archive goes back to 1851 and contains more than 13 million articles.
The paper publishes many thousands of words each day, but only a very few are firsts.
Ben Smith: How Zeynep Tufekci Keeps Getting the Big Things Right (NYT)
Many tech journalists, entranced by the internet-fueled movements sweeping the globe, were slow to spot the ways they might fail, or how social media could be used against them. Dr. Tufekci, though, had “seen movement after movement falter because of a lack of organizational depth and experience, of tools or culture for collective decision making, and strategic, long-term action,” she wrote in her 2017 book, “Twitter and Tear Gas.”
That is, the same social-media savvy that hastened their rise sometimes left them “unable to engage in the tactical and decision-making maneuvers all movements must master to survive,” she wrote.
That’s a lesson many social movements have learned since those days, and this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests locked in some immediate political gains.
An area where she might be ahead of the pack is the effects of social media on society. It’s a debate she views as worryingly binary, detached from plausible solutions, with journalists homing in on the personal morality of tech heads like Mark Zuckerberg as they assume the role of mall cops for the platforms they cover.
“The real question is not whether Zuck is doing what I like or not,” she said. “The real question is why he’s getting to decide what hate speech is.”
She also suggested that we may get it wrong when we focus on individuals — on chief executives, on social media activists like her. The probable answer to a media environment that amplifies false reports and hate speech, she believes, is the return of functional governments, along with the birth of a new framework, however imperfect, that will hold the digital platforms responsible for what they host.
Rebecca Ellis: Portland’s protests: 3 months in, no end in sight (OPB)
Mayor Ted Wheeler says the city is "considering all options” to end nightly clashes between police, protesters, but he lacks a clear plan.
The worst nights follow the same script: A large group takes to the streets calling for an end to police violence and systemic racism. A small fraction commits low-level crimes — often lighting small fires, graffiti-ing buildings and throwing fireworks or water bottles at officers. The police respond with force against the entire crowd.
Over the last month, demonstrators have been battered with batons as they left protests. Police have charged at crowds until they’re pushed deep into residential neighborhoods. Journalists have been shoved and arrested. Tear gas, while used more sparingly than in the early days of the protests, is threatened near nightly. And police regularly shut down protests by declaring them riots. That happened twice over the weekend, though police declined to intervene as far-right activists, some brandishing firearms, brawled with counter-protesters for hours on Saturday afternoon.
“They’ve tried everything from not showing up to preemptively dispersing crowds, and some of those strategies, in my opinion, have worked well. Others have not worked well,” he said. “My expectation is the police bureau will evolve, and as they see a need for change, they’ll change.”
There are serious questions, however, over whether the city’s police oversight agency, which many including the mayor have called toothless, will be able to sort through the mounting reports of police violence. The office has been flooded by complaints since protests began. The director says they’ve received more than a year’s worth of new work.
Meanwhile, Hardesty has proposed an entirely new accountability system, which voters will weigh in on in November. If passed, the ballot measure would scrap the review agency completely and create a system with more independence and new powers.