Way to Go, Ireland

May. 23rd, 2015 11:22 am
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

They’re still doing the counting but everyone knows how it’s going to go: Ireland is going to have marriage equality, and be the first country to have it via popular vote. And to be clear, it looks like the vote isn’t going to be close; it’ll be on the order of 2:1 saying “yes.” That’s a lovely thing, it is.

Some of my forebears are Irish, so I feel it is all right for me to feel some pride in Ireland and its people making this call for equality. If I drank, I would raise a pint of Guinness to them. I may do that anyway, and then give the pint over to Krissy, who will take it from there.

In any event. Well done, Ireland. Well done indeed.

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Posted by John Scalzi

I’ve been asked a few times if I plan to write any reviews of the Hugo nominees this year after I’ve read them. The answer: No, I don’t. One, if you look at my general modus operandi around Hugos, I don’t ever really comment on what I think of the merits of the individual nominees* until after the voting window has closed. Two, this year, this policy seems even more advisable as there are excitable people who would point out any reviews on my part as scale-tipping, regardless of what the review said. Three, as a general rule, in public, I try not to say negative things about the work of other writers. I will make exceptions from time to time. But generally, I avoid it.

Note well that I have not been shy about expressing my opinion regarding certain Puppies and their actions in creating the slates and pushing them onto the ballots. My opinions of them regarding these actions should be considered independent of what I might think of their nominations, to the extent that any of them are on the ballot. Even assholes are capable of noteworthy work, generally speaking.

If you are looking for reviews, there are many online, so you will not lack for them. And as ever, what I encourage you to do is read the work yourself and make your own mind. Here I will offer up one pro tip: It’s perfectly allowed to stop reading the work before the end, if you already realize there’s no way you’re going to give it the award. I never feel obliged to finish a story or novel once I realize it’s not working for me. Note I was like that long before I ever got nominated for awards, or started reading works to give them awards. I’ve always been a mercenary reader.

But, yeah. If you were expecting me to snark anything on the ballot here on Whatever, you’re going to be disappointed. Sorry.

* I’ll note that there are some things on the Hugo ballot this year that I was on record praising before they made the ballot, most notably The Goblin Emperor. Obviously I stand by previous praise, and would equally note that if you are voting for the Hugos this year you should read it yourself, along with the other nominees in the category, and then go with your own decision as to which of the nominees deserves the award.

Interesting Links for 23-05-2015

May. 23rd, 2015 12:00 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker


May. 23rd, 2015 06:22 am
supergee: (rocket coyote)
[personal profile] supergee
Jeb Bush wants us to believe he is a sad, rather than rabid, Republican. The Duggar family treats "The Marching Morons" as a battle plan. The Hucker excuses one of his followers (Josh Duggar) because he didn't do anything really icky like same-sex marriage. Charles Pierce laughs at them all (and hopes his ancestral land will do the right thing).
[syndicated profile] slashdot_feed

Posted by timothy

schwit1 writes: The first rule of "Project Bookend" is that you don't talk about "Project Bookend." In retrospect, maybe the first rule should have been "you don't accidentally e-mail 'Project Bookend' to a news agency," because as the Guardian reports, one of its editors opened his inbox and was surprised to find a message from the BOE's Head of Press Jeremy Harrison outlining the UK financial market equivalent of the Manhattan project. Project Bookend is a secret (or 'was' a secret) initiative undertaken by the BOE to study what the fallout might be from a potential 'Brexit', but if anyone asked what Sir Jon Cunliffe and a few senior staffers were up to, they were instructed to say that they were busy investigating "a broad range of European economic issues." And if you haven't heard the term before, "Brexit" refers to the possibility of Britain leaving the EU -- one of the possible outcomes of an upcoming referendum.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "The Doctoral Dilemma" - originally published 5/22/2015

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

andrewducker: (Winning with emotion)
[personal profile] andrewducker


Automatically translated description:
Trailer carried on the occasion of my 5th year diploma Créapole ESDI.
5 months of intensive production alone in my cabin.
Project: 2D full-length animation film’s trailer (adventure/ science fiction).
Pitch: A young boy who lives in a village on a giant tree, fall in the depth of the forest where he meets two strange natives who will help him to go back home.
Inspirations: Hayao Miyazaki, Jean Giraud, Syd Mead.
[syndicated profile] torrentfreak_feed

Posted by Andy

pirate bay flagFollowing a complaint from Swedish anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån, in November 2011 police carried out raids in two locations against private torrent site TTi, aka The Internationals.

In one location police targeted site owner Joel Larsson. In another, Patrik Lagerman, boss of web-hosting firm PatrikWeb, the company providing hosting for the torrent site.

The case against Larsson centered around the unlawful distribution of copyrighted video content by his site’s users. Lagerman was accused of aiding that infringement after he refused to take the site down following a request (not backed by a court order) from Antipiratbyrån.

The case dragged on for more than three and a half years but concluded earlier this month. The judgment was handed down yesterday and its one of mixed fortunes.

Larsson previously admitted to being the operator of TTi and also the person who accepted donations from site members, an amount equivalent to around US$12,000. He also insisted that he never controlled the content shared by his site’s users.

In its judgment, however, the court noted that files found on a confiscated PC revealed details of meetings with site staff indicating that Larsson fully understood that the site was involved in the exchange of infringing content.

The Court found Larsson guilty of copyright infringement and sentenced him to 90 hours community service. If prison had been suggested by the prosecutor he would have served three months.

The Court also seized several servers connected with the site but rejected a prosecution claim for the forfeiture of $12,000 in site donations after it was determined Larsson spent the same amount keeping the site running.

For Patrik Lagerman, the site’s host, things went much better. Despite finding that Lagerman had indeed been involved in the site’s operations by providing hosting and infrastructure, he was deemed not negligent for his refusal to take down the site without a court order. He was acquitted on all charges.

Commenting on the judgment, Sara Lindbäck at Rights Alliance told TorrentFreak that getting a conviction was the important thing in this case.

“The person responsible for the illegal service was found guilty. That is the important part in the ruling. The illegal services are causing tremendous damages to the rights holders,” Lindbäck said.

“In this case the person had also received substantial amounts in donations, in other words receiving money for content that somebody else has created.”

Speaking on Lagerman’s acquittal, Lindbäck acknowledged that the situation had been less straightforward.

“Regarding the hosting provider, the court did not find him responsible for copyright infringement. The legal aspects to the responsibility for hosting providers is of course interesting legally. We will now analyze the ruling further and see what consequences it can have in the future.”

Rights Alliance did not reveal whether it intends to appeal, but considering the amount of time already passed since the arrests in 2011, that seems unlikely.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

Irritable Gestures

May. 23rd, 2015 08:56 am
[syndicated profile] crooked_timber_feed

Posted by Belle Waring

I have been a little loath to write this because Freddie deBoer already has a huge beef with our blog for some reason (I’m mean to Jonathan Chait?), but…

Freddie deBoer recently wrote a post denouncing the less-hinged supporters of the proposed TPP, one of whom saw fit to compare Obama’s critics on this issue to the lynchers of Emmet Till. This was obviously an awful thing for Dem politico Allen Brauer to say, and most readers here probably regard both this and the TPP with unified disgust, putting us in agreement with deBoer. Allen Brauer fired back at his critics by high-mindedly calling them “dude-bros and manarchists” and saying he was wrecked after a “tsunami of white tears.” DeBoer correctly calls this bullshit:

Allan Brauer, I would argue, is today’s progressive internet in its purest form. He’s someone who’s learned all of the lessons of how we do things too well…. Do we still have the capacity, as a political and intellectual movement, to argue in a way that’s not entirely based on associating with race or gender in a totally vague, unaccountable, and reductive way?

Solid enough. But—

The stakes are much lower in our cultural writing, but the problem is largely the same: tired, rote arguments and magic words, treated as cutting rebuttals no matter how lazy and uninspired. You use magic words in your work, and no matter how good or bad it is, you’ll get credit for it. And if people criticize you, you just use the magic words against them, too.

DeBoer goes on to complain this listicle on The Toast is terrible. It is indeed not hilarious, but I think it’s indicative of mediocre humour rather than emblematic of internet progressives’ inability to think seriously about politics. And it’s not by Mallory Ortberg, so I have trouble seeing why deBoer immediately went here, of all places [he doesn’t mis-ascribe authorship; he’s just linking the two ideas]:

Mallory Ortberg has carved out a really unique voice and place online, but she seems like a victim of her own success. She’s in a “Radiohead recording themselves farting into a paper bag” rut: her fans will call anything she does a work of genius no matter what, in part because they think doing so is somehow a meaningful political act, so there’s little incentive to branch out. I want her to do new, challenging things, just as a fan of her good work. It would be really amazing if The Toast would try to get its own readership to confront themselves politically rather than to see all political engagement as a way to identify who they’re better than. I’d like to see her get out of the very comfortable comfort zone that she has (to her credit) built for herself. But simply identifying work of Ortberg’s that I find better or worse feels like violating some sacred internet compact about Those Who Are Not to be Criticized.

Wringing your hands over Mallory Ortberg because you’re concerned she’s not growing as a writer is…bizarre. Like most authors she has her better and worse pieces, but she is hands down one of the smartest and funniest authors we have around at the moment. And unfortunately I couldn’t help but think of the last time Freddie de Boer was worried about whether women being funny on the internet is destroying progressive politics. Because five years ago the problem was that Sady Doyle was unserious. You should read Doyle’s post in its entirety.

You guys, Tiger Beatdown is a blog. And, on this blog, we have a comment section! Sometimes the comment section is pretty interesting. And sometimes, the comment section gives us some shit like this! From “Freddie”
“I would ordinarily never, ever do this self-linking deal, but this post kind of compels it.


Look, I have to tell you: your whole enterprise here, the whole long and short of it, appears to be an edifice designed to give you a platform that paws at discourse while denying the possibility of you ever getting called on anything. I mean the whole apparatus of the place. It’s like this constant recursion of LOLspeak/serious speak/LOLspeak, this Russian dolls style thing you’re so enamored with. It’s just a mechanism to introduce a self-limiting aspect on what you want to say; you want to be heard and to be taken seriously, but you want the out to be able to say that you were just goofing. Well, goof away, it’s the Internet, and it’s your dime, but understand that you are denying intellectual rigor when you do so.

This is your space, your place of power, and you can define it any particular way you choose. I am not particularly impressed with this post or the assumptions that undergird it, but mostly I am unimpressed with your defense mechanisms. Say what you have to say. I do, I have, and I will.”


It didn’t miss my attention, Freddie, that the jokes you specifically took exception to were about creepy dudes pretending to be feminist to get laid. Or, that you took exception to them because they made you think that the two feminists who made the jokes, Amanda Hess and I, might not sleep with you even though you are totes feminist and stuff:

“I guess what I’m saying is that I am thinking about that date that Amanda and Sady are talking about. If I went on that date, with either or them, they would indeed find themselves on a date with a feminist. But as I am a feminist whose feminism is not a product of feeling obliged to any particular women or to some vague category called “women,” but rather to the principles of equality and human liberation which inform and support feminism, they are unlikely to find me the kind of feminist whose feminism is guaranteed or even likely to please or flatter them. What I wonder is, what if their questions reveal a man who is a feminist that has ideas about feminism that differs from theirs? And what if that feminist man isn’t inclined to back down from his position in an attempt to please them?”

There are a few answers to this question, Freddie. The first is that I am never, ever, EVER going to fuck you, and Amanda has had a boyfriend for approximately forever as I understand it, and I have a boyfriend TOO but would STILL avoid fucking you were that not the case, so you REALLY don’t need to worry about how this theoretical feminist date of ours might go. It would always end with you not getting fucked, is the answer.

Oh FFS with the imaginary date. I am transitively embarrassed on his behalf. Now, in continuing here I am quoting a comment from deBoer, and as I have said a ton of dumb stuff on the internet in comments before (really, so much dumb stuff), I appreciate that this could be unfair, but I don’t think it’s out of line or that he would disavow it.

So, in other words, you aren’t capable of defending your ideas, and so you freak out when someone calls you out on some of them. That’s cool– like I said, your dime. But make no mistake, the fact that you are so incapable of actually engaging rationally– that you post with such obvious insecurity, emotionalism, and spite, rather than anything resembling a coherent argument– that, ultimately, undermines what you will accomplish for feminism.

Now– from my angle, what you could do is actually engage your self-critical process and become a better advocate for your ideas. Or you can censor, and flip out, and continue to police your space against any kind of constructive criticism. Meanwhile, I will engage in the ethical project of my life, which is the project of liberation, a project which I do not and will not ever ask for anyone’s permission to undertake.

Let this comment stand as is, please, if you value free expression.


All of deBoer’s other comments were redacted to [BONERS], which was possibly unfair but assuredly hilarious, and an appropriate response to the drama of “if you value free expression.” Let’s think about this a little. What did Freddie deBoer have to say to feminists who make jokes on the internet? That they are not intellectually rigorous, that they are insecure, emotional and spiteful, that they are incapable of defending feminism with rational arguments, that they “flip out” when confronted with logic, that they “censor” people when they don’t want to deal with anything other than the false flattery of servile male feminists, etc. etc. etc. These are the most tedious sexist criticisms ever. I’m sorry, but they are—insultingly so.

DeBoer is making a larger point which, if it were not so hideously sexist, would have some merit. Recursive LOLspeak and self-critical whiteness can be an idle diversion for minds that would be more profitably engaged in political activism. Frothing oneself to a lather about the latest outrage is counterproductive if it only redirects energy away from real issues. OK! These are, in principle, valid criticisms of the internet progressive milieu. HOWEVER: a) this goes awry when the complaint is a sexist one that codes the lamentable unseriousness as female b) the criticism itself can and has become an irritable gesture, quite entirely another matryoshka doll inside the online feminist one! The pose of the Orwell-like contrarian who calls people to action with high-minded seriousness is…also a pose! If you are mcmanus-sensei, you call for burning shit down at every opportunity and lament the trifling concerns of others. Then you accuse people of harbouring a desire for fascist conformity because they like monumental architecture. You didn’t see that coming, did you? No? That’s because mcmanus-sensei is a better troll than deBoer, who has a limited range. Every day Freddie deBoer turns his face to serious issues, and every day the paltry concerns of feminists online blast him like an ill-wind of dick-jokes, a Boreas enjoining him to drink a tall, cold glass of STFU, which batters his doughty vessel but cannot prevent him from steering on, tacking back and forth in the direction of personal liberation, which project he needs no woman’s approval to undertake [swelling strings and snapping pennants].

What I guess I’m saying is, if your complaints about online unseriousness have lead you to criticize Sady Doyle and Mallory Ortberg in particular, something has gone wrong. The most accomplished, hilarious feminists don’t need condescension on how they are Doing It Wrong from their purported allies. (Needless to say it’s perfectly fine to criticize either writer, but not in a sexist way.) I had been inclined to let the [BONERS] episode go on the grounds that it was five years ago, and Freddie deBoer is a genuinely smart guy who sometimes writes interesting things, but this concern-trollery about how Ortberg’s not getting challenged enough has raised my ire. Casting the unserious aspects of modern leftism as uniquely and pathologically feminine is bullshit.

Friday Links

May. 22nd, 2015 09:16 am
[syndicated profile] muslimahmedia_feed

Posted by samya

A Michigan native becomes the first Muslim American to compete on the popular cooking show, MasterChef, in its sixth season. For her, the hardest thing was neither the cooking nor the competition; it was being away from home. Tsolin Nalbantian writes on hoodies, hijabs, and belonging in the Netherlands. She discusses an incident that exposed [Read More...]

OK Google

May. 23rd, 2015 08:47 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

A couple of days ago, I gave a talk at the Centre Cournot on the topic "Why Human Language Technology (almost) works" ("Pourquoi les technologies de la langue et du discours marchent enfin (ou presque)"), and for the introduction, I tried giving Google Now a few questions and instructions on my Android phone.

In case you're not familiar with this feature, you start it up by saying "OK Google", followed by the question you want it to answer or the instruction you want it to follow.

And since the starting-point of my talk was that HLT now actually works well enough to be useful, I was glad to see that my little experiment worked pretty well.

Here are the first few things I tried:

Question: "OK Google, what is the French word for 'dog'?"
Transcription: "what is the French word for dog?"
Answer (spoken as well as shown in text): "chien"

Question: "OK Google, what is 15 degrees centigrade in Fahrenheit?"
Transcription: "what is 15 degrees centigrade in Fahrenheit?"
Answer (spoken as well as shown in text): "15 degrees Celsius is 59 degrees Fahrenheit."

Question: "OK Google, What's the name of the student newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania?"
Transcription: "What's the name of the student newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania?"
Answer: A page of search links, with the Daily Pennsylvanian at the top.

Question: "OK Google, Note to self — buy paper towels."
Transcription: "note to self buy paper towels"


Question: "what is the URL of Language Log?"
Transcription: "what is the URL of language log"
Answer: A list of search results, topped by the Language Log Facebook page.

At this point, I began to worry that the "almost" qualifier of my title might be in danger, at least without introducing some background noise or simulating laryngitis, so I tried something weird. One of the few books that I brought with me to France was ggplot2 by Hadley Wickham, and it was sitting on the corner of my desk, so I asked

Question: "OK Google, when was Hadley Wickham's book ggplot2 published?"
Transcription: "when was Hadley Wickham zbook ggplot2 published"
Answer: Page of search results with the Amazon listing for ggplot2 at the top.

How they got zbook into their lexicon and language model is a mystery, but the whole thing still basically worked, even if getting to the answer required drilling down into the listing for the book. So going further into the improbable, I asked:

Question: "OK Google, what is the word for 'dog' in Hausa?"
Transcription: "what is the word for dog in hausa"
Answer: "Here is your translation:

In search of some more convincing failures, I turned to Google Translate. And there I confirmed my prior belief that pronouns and idiomatic fixed expressions sometimes remain a problem.

For example, in translating sentences from the Cournot Center's "Présentation" page, I found things like this:

Le Centre Cournot est une association soutenue par la Fondation Cournot, placée sous l’égide de la Fondation de France. Elle porte le nom du mathématicien et philosophe franc-comtois Augustin Cournot (1801-1877), reconnu de longue date comme un pionnier de la discipline économique.

The Cournot Centre is an association supported by the Cournot Foundation, under the aegis of the Fondation de France. It is named after the mathematician and philosopher Franche-Comte Augustin Cournot (1801-1877), long recognized as a pioneer of economic discipline.

The phrase "la discipline économique" ought to be "the discipline of economics", not "economic discipline", which sounds like another way of saying "balanced budgets" or the like.

Google Translate did correctly render elle as "it" rather than "she". But a bit later in the text, we get two instances of il referring to "le centre", where the first one is translated as "it" but the second one as "he":

Le Centre n’est pas un laboratoire de recherche, il n’est pas non plus un centre de réflexion. Il jouit de l’indépendance singulière d’un catalyseur.

The Centre is not a research laboratory, it is not a think tank. He enjoys the singular independence of a catalyst.

Finally, I tried the opening lines of a recent roman policier I've been reading, Yasmina Khadra's Le dingue au bistouri:

Il y a quatre choses que je déteste.
Un: qu'on boive dans mon verre.
Deux: qu'on se mouche dans un restaurant.
Trois: qu'on me pose un lapin.

There are four things I hate.
A: we drink in my glass.
Two: we will fly in a restaurant.
Three: I get asked a rabbit.

Finally, some support for my "almost"! The first two instances of on should be translated as "somebody", not "we"; on se mouche means "somebody blows their nose", not "we will fly"; and on me pose un lapin mean "somebody stands me up", not "I get asked a rabbit" (though "I get asked" for "on me pose" is a good try…).

And a final practical example: on my way out the door, planning to walk to the location of the talk, I asked

"OK Google, Navigate to Télécom Paris Tech"

with my best French pronunciation of the destination, and got the completely unhelpful transcription: "Navigate to telecom Perry tech".  (It seems that there is a "Perry Technical Institute" in Yakima, WA — and Google helpfully told me about all the possible air travel connections…)

But when I asked again with the normal English pronunciation of "Paris", the request worked, and landed me in Google maps navigation with an appropriate destination.


May. 23rd, 2015 08:27 am
sporky_rat: Torches outside the Bulgarian Communist Headquarters. (post from the ether)
[personal profile] sporky_rat
via http://ift.tt/1BhUJV4 at May 23, 2015 at 03:15AM:
sporky_rat: Torches outside the Bulgarian Communist Headquarters. (post from the ether)
[personal profile] sporky_rat
via http://ift.tt/1BhQQiW at May 23, 2015 at 02:30AM:


90% sure mcgonagall retired the day she sent out james sirius’ hogwarts letter because no fucking way she is teaching a boy named james sirius potter

#a boy named James Sirius Potter#whose mother was a Weasley#a boy who was a mixture of Potter Evans and Weasley#raised on stories of the Marauders and Fred and George#and his mother and father and their friends#a boy with a map an invisibility cloak and probably no sense of personal danger#yep sign me up for retirement

NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate

May. 23rd, 2015 06:39 am
[syndicated profile] slashdot_feed

Posted by timothy

New submitter Steven King writes with a link to The Daily Dot's report that the U.S. Senate has rejected the controversial USA Freedom Act, thus "all but guaranteeing that key provisions of the USA Patriot Act will expire"; had it passed, the bill would have allowed continued use of some mass data-collection practices, but with the addition of stronger oversight. From the article: The Senate failed to reach agreement on passage of the USA Freedom Act, a bill to reauthorize and reform Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which the government has used to conduct bulk surveillance of Americans' phone records. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, but Senate Democrats, who unified behind the bill, did not get enough Republican votes to assure passage. The linked piece also mentions that the EFF shifted its position on this bill, after a panel of Federal judges ruled that the Feds at the NSA had overstepped their bounds in collecting a seemingly unlimited trove of metadata relating to American citizen's phone calls.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

sporky_rat: Torches outside the Bulgarian Communist Headquarters. (post from the ether)
[personal profile] sporky_rat
via http://ift.tt/1cb1OQA at May 23, 2015 at 01:45AM:


when your child comes to you and says “this is something that makes me uncomfortable and unhappy and makes me not want to spend time with you” and you respond with a 20 minute speech that boils down to “deal with it because life sucks” you have no respect for your child and you need to change your parenting tactics

i made this a month ago and the worst thing about it is that so many people can relate
[syndicated profile] eff_feed

Tonight, the US Senate failed to move ahead with the USA Freedom Act, an NSA reform bill that would address phone record surveillance and FISA Court transparency and fairness. It also was unable to muster votes for a temporary reauthorization of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the section of law used to justify the mass phone records surveillance program. That’s good news: if the Senate stalemate continues, the mass surveillance of everyone’s phone records will simply expire on June 1.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act has been wrongly interpreted in secret by the government for years. We commend every Senator who voted against reauthorizing the unconstitutional surveillance of millions of law-abiding Americans.

In the wake of tonight’s vote, Congress must stop stalling and address the surveillance and secrecy abuses of our government.

The battle isn't over. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for another attempt to reauthorize Section 215 on Sunday May 31, only hours before the provision is set to expire.

EFF urges Congress to again reject Section 215 reauthorization, and then turn to addressing other surveillance abuses by the US government, including mass surveillance of the Internet, the secretive and one-sided FISA Court, and the problems of secrecy and over-classification that have created the environment that allowed such spying overreach to flourish.

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Tim Chevalier

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