Blog Articles 146–150

Odo on materialism

I’ll never understand this obsession with accumulating material wealth. You spend your entire life plotting and scheming to acquire more and more possessions until your living areas are bursting with useless junk. Then you die, your relatives sell everything and start the cycle all over again.

— Odo, in DS9: Q-Less.



A scholar at my rank but in a different field asked me about my research. I told him I had recently published an article on a political controversy. He explained to me that the really crucial aspect of that controversy was issue X which, yes, was the topic of the article I had just described.

One example of many collected on a new tumblog of the recently (to my knowledge) named phenomenon of “mansplaining”. The core nature and problem of mansplaining is best articulated by Rebecca Solnit in Men Explain Things to Me.

Go read it. I’ll still be here.

Dark Social — invisible sharing and web traffic

A link to share!

Interesting piece at The Atlantic on web analytics that attempt to account for sharing of links in what the author dubs “dark social”, the various technologies like e-mail, IM, etc. that we still use to share links to each other. Analytics suggest that it dominates even Facebook as a traffic driver.

The article uses Chartbeat metrics, which attribute direct deep page visits to social. Now, there are things unaccounted for that decrease the numbers somewhat. Browsers with referrers off will look like direct social, though that can be mitigated with cookies. Links from SSL search, Twitter, etc. will also look direct by default; I don’t know if they have some way to compensate for that.

But it’s still interesting.

Living under Drones

If I am walking in the market, I have this fear that maybe the person walking next to me is going to be a target of the drone. If I’m shopping, I’m really careful and scared. If I’m standing on the road and there is a car parked next to me, I never know if that is going to be the target. Maybe they will target the car in front of me or behind me. Even in mosques, if we’re praying, we’re worried that maybe one person who is standing with us praying is wanted. So, wherever we are, we have this fear of drones.

From Living under Drones, an account of the impact US drone strikes are having on civilian life in the Pakistani Federally Administered Tribal Area. Read it. All of it.

One of the things that struck me most is the severe impact on civic life and education. The report describes three attacks in particular; the first, on March 17, 2011, was a strike on a jirga, a meeting of elders and community members to resolve disputes and make decisions regarding community affairs. This meeting was to settle a dispute regarding a nearby mine. The community was doing what it does — gathering together to settle the matter peacefully and avoid greater unrest and difficulties in the area — and the US bombed them, killing 42 and wounding 14 more. Among the dead were all the elders gathered for the meeting.

Theoretically, the US is wanting to promote peace and democracy in Pakistan (and Afghanistan). How does bombing peaceful civic meetings and judicial processes do anything but directly undermine such goals?