James Reads


Day of May 30th, 2020

  • The Inner Life of American Communism

    The communist stands at the crossroads of two ideas: one ancient, one modern. The ancient idea is that human beings are political animals. Our disposition is so public, our orientation so outward, we cannot be thought of apart from the polity.

    Read at 02:16 pm, May 30th

  • Why failing to reopen Purdue University this fall would be an unacceptable breach of duty

    Mitch Daniels, a Post contributing columnist, is president of Purdue University and a former governor of Indiana. On Feb. 1, watching the outbreak of a new virus in China, our university suspended travel to that country. On Feb.

    Read at 01:40 pm, May 30th

Day of May 29th, 2020

  • How to respond to “riots never solve anything!” – So Let's Talk About_____.

    A quick roundup of things to say to Saltine Americans clutching their pearls over rioting and looting: 1) “Rioting never solves anything!” This country was founded on rioting (and looting). The colonists didn’t politely ask to be independent — they started a war. Gays threw a brick. Black people rioted all over this country. Please let go of that falsehood and pick up a history book. 2) “Rioting just gives people a reason not to support your cause.” Only if you equate property damage to human lives, and in that case, were you really supporting our cause anyway? If all it takes is people stealing from Target for you to say “well…now I don’t care about dead Black people” then why are we even speaking? 3) “The rioters are criminals and they don’t even care about police brutality stuff.” There are criminals among us in every group, whether peaceful or violent, but the reasons riots break out are varied and complicated. Look at the pictures of Minneapolis before anyone ever threw a rock or started a fire or stole anything — the police firing rubber bullets and cans of tear gas into crowds of people who WERE peacefully protesting. What do you do when you’re frustrated and upset and no one is listening to you? Better yet, what do you do when they’re not only refusing to listen but actively trying to cause you physical harm to shut you up? Do you go home, stand there peacefully, or get mad and try to hurt them back? Does it really matter who you hurt at that point? Would you try to hurt someone in full tactical gear holding a weapon or would you try to hurt something like a multi-billion dollar business with insurance that probably contributed to the decimation of Mom & Pops in your community? Do you want to actually DIE in that moment or are you just upset and frustrated and at your breaking point and you want to smash something? 4) “Being frustrated is no reason to be violent.” Everybody reacts to stress differently. I have no desire to riot. That’s not how my frustration at the world takes root. It doesn’t manifest itself as a roiling mass of energy that needs to be released, but I can understand how it could in others. Look at the situation. — We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and many of the people on the front lines (making sure YOU can be comfortable at home) are Black people risking their lives for minimum wage, dealing with entitled white folks every single day. — The virus itself is affecting Black people to a higher degree because we’re denied access to health services and we’re forced to WORK during it. — Even in the middle of a pandemic when most of the country sat at home for weeks, civilians being murdered by police did not see a downward turn AT ALL. We’re on track for the same number of deaths we saw last year. — All week, every day, a new video of Racism in America. From white women using the police as their personal security service to elderly women being tackled by cops with guns drawn to another Black man who can’t breathe, murdered by a cop who should’ve been fired a long time ago. How do you feel about your country when people who look like you have to work through a pandemic, are dying in larger numbers from the disease, have the police called on them over a dog leash, are told they’re trespassing on property they pay rent for, are brutalized by armies of cops, and are killed in broad daylight for the crime of jogging? How do you feel? How would you react? Regardless of how you would react, how can you tell someone else how they should? People are ANGRY. They have a right to be angry. And I can’t tell someone else how their anger should manifest. Because they are grown and TARGET HAS INSURANCE! I promise you Target will be just fine! 5) “Attacking an elderly disabled woman is a step too far!” That woman is 30, she can walk just fine, and she went to Target armed with a knife to stab Black people. That’s why WHITE PEOPLE unloaded a fire extinguiser at her — because she was a violent maniac. On one side, people stole stuff from a big box retailer. On the other, someone STABBED PEOPLE UNPROVOKED, and yet your concern is whether anybody successfully stole a TV? 6) “There are better ways…” Keep working on those better ways. Don’t let the riots stop you. Fight for criminal justice reform, fight for income inequality, fight for universal healthcare, fight for free education, fight for higher taxes on the 1% — fight for all those things that would make rioting less likely. And while you’re fighting the long, slow war toward Black people having a fair shot in this country, the same war we’ve been fighting for hundreds of years, there will be times when some people directly affected by the war see your actions as futile and they just wanna break some stuff. Clutch your pearls less and speed up the war if you’re so offended by property damage. Like this: Like Loading... Related Source: How to respond to “riots never solve anything!” – So Let’s Talk About_____.

    Read at 11:14 pm, May 29th

  • A Guide to the Responsive Images Syntax in HTML | CSS-Tricks

    This guide is about the HTML syntax for responsive images (and a little bit of CSS for good measure). The responsive images syntax is about serving one image from multiple options based on rules and circumstances. There are two forms of responsive images, and they’re for two different things: If your only goal is… Increased Performance Then what you need is… <img srcset="" src="" alt="" > There is a lot of performance gain to be had by using responsive images. Image weight has a huge impact on pages’ overall performance, and responsive images are one of the best things that you can do to cut image weight. Imagine the browser being able to choose between a 300×300 image or a 600×600. If the browser only needs the 300×300, that’s potentially a 4× bytes-over-the-wire savings! Savings generally go up as the display resolution and viewport size go down; on the smallest screens, a couple of case studies have shown byte savings of 70–90%. If you also need… Design Control Then what you need is… <picture> <source srcset="" media=""> <source srcset="" media=""> <img src="" alt=""> </picture> Another perfectly legit goal with responsive images is not just to serve different sizes of the same image, but to serve different images. For example, cropping an image differently depending on the size of the screen and differences in the layout. This is referred to as “art direction.” The <picture> element is also used for fallback image types and any other sort of media query switching (e.g. different images for dark mode). You get greater control of what browsers display. There is a lot to talk about here, so let’s go through both syntaxes, all of the related attributes and values, and talk about a few related subjects along the way, like tooling and browsers. Using srcset The <img srcset="" src="" alt=""> syntax is for serving differently-sized versions of the same image. You could try to serve entirely different images using this syntax, but browsers assume that everything in a srcset is visually-identical and will choose whichever size they think is best, in impossible-for-you-to-predict ways. So I wouldn’t reccomend it. Perhaps the easiest-possible responsive images syntax is adding a srcset attribute with x descriptors on the images to label them for use on displays with different pixel-densities. <img alt="A baby smiling with a yellow headband." src="baby-lowres.jpg" srcset="baby-highres.jpg 2x" > Here, we’ve made the default (the src) the “low res” (1×) copy of the image. Defaulting to the smallest/fastest resources is usually the smart choice. We also provide a 2× version. If the browser knows it is on a higher pixel-density display (the 2x part), it will use that image instead. Demo <img alt="A baby smiling with a yellow headband." src="baby-lowres.jpg" srcset=" baby-high-1.jpg 1.5x, baby-high-2.jpg 2x, baby-high-3.jpg 3x, baby-high-4.jpg 4x, baby-high-5.jpg 100x " > You can do as many pixel-density variants as you like. While this is cool and useful, x descriptors only account for a small percentage of responsive images usage. Why? They only let browsers adapt based on one thing: display pixel-density. A lot of times, though, our responsive images are on responsive layouts, and the image’s layout size is shrinking and stretching right along with the viewport. In those situations, the browser needs to make decisions based on two things: the pixel-density of the screen, and the layout size of the image. That’s where w descriptors and the sizes attribute come in, which we’ll look at in the next section. Using srcset / w + sizes This is the good stuff. This accounts for around 85% of responsive images usage on the web. We’re still serving the same image at multiple sizes, only we’re giving the browser more information so that it can adapt based on both pixel-density and layout size. <img alt="A baby smiling with a yellow headband." srcset=" baby-s.jpg 300w, baby-m.jpg 600w, baby-l.jpg 1200w, baby-xl.jpg 2000w " sizes="70vmin" > We’re still providing multiple copies of the same image and letting the browser pick the most appropriate one. But instead of labeling them with a pixel density (x) we’re labelling them with their resource width, using w descriptors. So if baby-s.jpg is 300×450, we label it as 300w. Using srcset with width (w) descriptors like this means that it will need to be paired with the sizes attribute so that the browser will know how large of a space the image will be displaying in. Without this information, browsers can’t make smart choices. Demo Creating accurate sizes Creating sizes attributes can get tricky. The sizes attribute describes the width that the image will display within the layout of your specific site, meaning it is closely tied to your CSS. The width that images render at is layout-dependent rather than just viewport dependent! Let’s take a look at a fairly simple layout with three breakpoints. Here’s a video demonstrating this: Demo The breakpoints are expressed with media queries in CSS: body { margin: 2rem; font: 500 125% system-ui, sans-serif; } .page-wrap { display: grid; gap: 1rem; grid-template-columns: 1fr 200px; grid-template-areas: "header header" "main aside" "footer footer"; } @media (max-width: 700px) { .page-wrap { grid-template-columns: 100%; grid-template-areas: "header" "main" "aside" "footer"; } } @media (max-width: 500px) { body { margin: 0; } } The image is sized differently at each breakpoint. Here’s a breakdown of all of the bits and pieces that affect the image’s layout width at the largest breakpoint (when the viewport is wider than 700px): The image is as wide as 100vw minus all that explicitly sized margin, padding, column widths, and gap. At the largest size: there is 9rem of explicit spacing, so the image is calc(100vw - 9rem - 200px) wide. If that column used a fr unit instead of 200px, we’d kinda be screwed here. At the medium size: the sidebar is dropped below, so there is less spacing to consider. Still, we can do calc(100vw - 6rem) to account for the margins and padding. At the smallest size: the body margin is removed, so just calc(100vw - 2rem) will do the trick. Phew! To be honest, I found that a little challenging to think out, and made a bunch of mistakes as I was creating this. In the end, I had this: <img ... sizes=" (max-width: 500px) calc(100vw - 2rem), (max-width: 700px) calc(100vw - 6rem), calc(100vw - 9rem - 200px) " /> A sizes attribute that gives the browser the width of the image across all three breakpoints, factoring in the layout grid, and all of the surrounding gap, margin, and padding that end up impacting the image’s width. Now wait! Drumroll! 🥁🥁🥁That’s still wrong. I don’t understand why exactly, because to me that looks like it 100% describes what is happening in the CSS layout. But it’s wrong because Martin Auswöger’s RespImageLint says so. Running that tool over the isolated demo reports no problems except the fact that the sizes attribute is wrong for some viewport sizes, and should be: <img ... sizes=" (min-width: 2420px) 2000px, (min-width: 720px) calc(94.76vw - 274px), (min-width: 520px) calc(100vw - 96px), calc(100vw - 32px) " > I don’t know how that’s calculated and it’s entirely unmaintainable by hand, but, it’s accurate. Martin’s tool programmatically resizes the page a bunch and writes out a sizes attribute that describes the actual, observed width of the image over a wide range of viewport sizes. It’s computers, doing math, so it’s right. So, if you want a super-accurate sizes attribute, I’d recommend just putting a wrong one on at first, running this tool, and copying out the correct one. For an even deeper dive into all this, check out Eric Portis’ w descriptors and sizes: Under the hood. Being more chill about sizes Another option is use the Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Method™ of sizes (or, in other words, close counts). This comes highly suggested. For example, sizes="96vw" says, “This image is going to be pretty big on the page — almost the full width — but there will always be a little padding around the edges, so not quite. Or sizes="(min-width: 1000px) 33vw, 96vw" says, “This image is in a three-column layout on large screens and close to full-width otherwise.” Practicality-wise, this can be a sane solution. You might find that some automated responsive image solutions, which have no way of knowing your layout, make a guess — something like sizes="(max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px". This is just saying, “Hey we don’t really know much about this layout, but we’re gonna take a stab and say, worst case, the image is full-width, and let’s hope it never renders larger than 1000px”. Abstracting sizes I’m sure you can imagine how easy it is to not only get sizes wrong, but also have it become wrong over time as layouts change on your site. It may be smart for you to abstract it using a templating language or content filter so that you can change the value across all of your images more easily. I’m essentially talking about setting a sizes value in a variable once, and using that variable in a bunch of different <img> elements across your site. Native HTML doesn’t offer that, but any back end language does; for instance, PHP constants, Rails config variables, the React context API used for a global state variable, or variables within a templating language like Liquid can all be used to abstract sizes. <?php // Somewhere global $my_sizes = ""; ?> <img srcset="" src="" alt="" sizes="<?php echo $my_sizes; ?>" /> “Browser’s choice” Now that we have a sizes attribute in place, the browser knows what size (or close to it) the image will render at and can work its magic. That is, it can do some math that factors in the pixel density of the screen, and the size that the image will render at, then pick the most appropriately-sized image. The math is fairly straightforward at first. Say you’re about to show an image that is 40vw wide on a viewport that is 1200px wide, on a 2x pixel-density screen. The perfect image would be 960 pixels wide, so the browser is going to look for the closest thing it’s got. The browser will always calculate a target size that it would prefer based on the viewport and pixel-density situations, and what it knows from sizes, and compare that target to what it’s got to pick from in srcset. How browsers do the picking, though, can get a little weird. A browser might factor more things into this equation if it chooses to. For example, it could consider the user’s current network speeds, or whether or not the user has flipped on some sort of “data saver” preference. I’m not sure if any browsers actually do this sort of thing, but they are free to if they wish as that’s how the spec was written. What some browsers sometimes choose to do is pull from cache. If the math shows they should be using a 300px image, but they already have a 600px in local cache, they will just use that. Smart. Room for this sort of thing is a strength of the srcset/sizes syntax. It’s also why you always use different sizes of the same image, within srcset: you’ve got no way to know which image is going to be selected. It’s the browser’s choice. This is weird. Doesn’t the browser already know this stuff? You might be thinking, “Uhm why do I have to tell the browser how big the image will render, doesn’t it know that?” Well, it does, but only after it’s downloaded your HTML and CSS and laid everything out. The sizes attribute is about speed. It gives the browser enough information to make a smart choice as soon as it sees your <img>. <img data-sizes="auto" data-srcset=" responsive-image1.jpg 300w, responsive-image2.jpg 600w, responsive-image3.jpg 900w" class="lazyload" /> Now you might be thinking, “But what about lazy-loaded images?” (as in, by the time a lazy-loaded image is requested, layout’s already been done and the browser already knows the image’s render size). Well, good thinking! Alexander Farkas’ lazysizes library writes out sizes attributes automatically on lazyload, and there’s an ongoing discussion about how to do auto-sizes for lazy-loaded images, natively. sizes can be bigger than the viewport Quick note on sizes. Say you have an effect on your site so that an image “zooms in” when it’s clicked. Maybe it expands to fill the whole viewport, or maybe it zooms even more, so that you can see more detail. In the past, we might have had to swap out the src on click in order to switch to a higher-res version. But now, assuming a higher-res source is already in the srcset, you can just change the sizes attribute to something huge, like 200vw or 300vw, and the browser should download the super-high-res source automatically for you. Here’s an article by Scott Jehl on this technique. ↩️ Back to top Using <picture> Hopefully, we’ve beaten it into the ground that <img srcset="" sizes="" alt=""> is for serving differently-sized versions of the same image. The <picture> syntax can do that too, but the difference here is that the browser must respect the rules that you set. That’s useful when you want to change more than just the resolution of the loaded image to fit the user’s situation. This intentional changing of the image is usually called “art direction.” Art Direction <picture> <source srcset="baby-zoomed-out.jpg" media="(min-width: 1000px)" /> <source srcset="baby.jpg" media="(min-width: 600px)" /> <img src="baby-zoomed-in.jpg" alt="Baby Sleeping" /> </picture> This code block is an example of what it might look like to have three stages of an “art directed” image. On large screens, show a zoomed-out photo. On medium screens, show that same photo, zoomed in a bit. On small screens, zoom in even more. The browser must respect our media queries and will swap images at our exact breakpoints. That way, we can be absolutely sure that nobody on a small screen will see a tiny, zoomed-out image, which might not have the same impact as one of the zoomed-in versions. Here’s a demo, written in Pug to abstract out some of the repetitive nature of <picture>. Art direction can do a lot more than just cropping Although cropping and zooming like this is the most common form of art direction by far, you can do a lot more with it. For instance, you can: Sky’s the limit, really. Combining source and srcset Because <source> also uses the srcset syntax, they can be combined. This means that you can still reap the performance benefits of srcset even while swapping out visually-different images with <source>. It gets pretty verbose though! <picture> <source srcset=" baby-zoomed-out-2x.jpg 2x, baby-zoomed-out.jpg " media="(min-width: 1000px)" /> <source srcset=" baby-2x.jpg 2x, baby.jpg " media="(min-width: 600px)" /> <img srcset=" baby-zoomed-out-2x.jpg 2x " src="baby-zoomed-out.jpg" alt="Baby Sleeping" /> </picture> The more variations you create and the more resized versions you create per variation, the more verbose this code has to get. Fallbacks for modern image formats The <picture> element is uniquely suited to being able to handle “fallbacks.” That is, images in cutting-edge formats that not all browsers might be able to handle, with alternative formats for browsers that can’t load the preferred, fancy one. For example, let’s say you want to use an image in the WebP format. It’s a pretty great image format, often being the most performant choice, and it’s supported everywhere that the <picture> element is, except Safari. You can handle that situation yourself, like: <picture> <source srcset="party.webp"> <img src="party.jpg" alt="A huge party with cakes."> </picture> This succeeds in serving a WebP image to browsers that support it, and falls back to a JPEG image, which is definitely supported by all browsers. Here’s an example of a photograph (of me) at the exact same size where the WebP version is about 10% (!!!) of the size of the JPEG. How do you create a WebP image? Well, it’s more of a pain in the butt than you’d like it to be, that’s for sure. There are online converters, command line tools, and some modern design software, like Sketch, helps you export in that format. My preference is to use an image hosting CDN service that automatically sends images in the perfect format for the requesting browser, which makes all this unnecessary (because you can just use img/srcset). WebP isn’t the only player like this. Safari doesn’t support WebP, but does support a format called JPG 2000 which has some advantages over JPEG. Internet Explorer 11 happens to support an image format called JPEG-XR which has different advantages. So to hit all three, that could look like: <picture> <source srcset="/images/cereal-box.webp" type="image/webp" /> <source srcset="/images/cereal-box.jp2" type="image/jp2" /> <img src="/images/cereal-box.jxr" type="image/vnd.ms-photo" /> </picture> This syntax (borrowed form a blog post by Josh Comeau) supports all three of the “next-gen” image formats in one go. IE 11 doesn’t support the <picture> syntax, but it doesn’t matter because it will get the <img> fallback which is in the JPEG-XR format it understands. Estelle Weyl also covered this idea in a 2016 blog post on image optimization. ↩️ Back to top Where do you get the differently-sized images? You can make them yourself. Heck, even the free Preview app on my Mac can resize an image and “Save As.” The Mac Preview app resizing an image, which is something that literally any image editing application (including Photoshop, Affinity Designer, Acorn, etc.) can also do. Plus, they often help by exporting the variations all at once. But that’s work. It’s more likely that the creation of variations of these images is automated somehow (see the section below) or you use a service that allows you to create variations just by manipulating the URL to the image. That’s a super common feature of any image hosting/image CDN service. To name a few: Not only do these services offer on-the-fly image resizing, they also often offer additional stuff, like cropping, filtering, adding text, and all kinds of useful features, not to mention serving assets efficiently from a CDN and automatically in next-gen formats. That makes them a really strong choice for just about any website, I’d say. Here’s Glen Maddern in a really great screencast talking about how useful Image CDNs can be: Design software is booming more aware that we often need multiple copies of images. The exporting interface from Figma is pretty nice, where any given selection can be exported. It allows multiple exports at once (in different sizes and formats) and remembers what you dod the last time you exported. Exporting in Figma Automated responsive images The syntax of responsive images is complex to the point that doing it by hand is often out of the question. I’d highly recommend automating and abstracting as much of this away as possible. Fortunately, a lot of tooling that helps you build websites knows this and includes some sort of support for it. I think that’s great because that’s what software should be doing for us, particularly when it is something that is entirely programmatic and can be done better by code than by humans. Here are some examples… Cloudinary has this responsive breakpoints tool including an API for generating the perfect breakpoints. WordPress generates multiple versions of images and outputs in the responsive images syntax by default. Gatsby has a grab-bag of plugins for transforming and implementing images on your site. You ultimately implement them with gatsby-image, which is a whole fancy thing for implementing responsive images and other image loading optimizations. Speaking of React, it has component abstractions like “An Almost Ideal React Image Component” that also does cool stuff. Nicolas Hoizey’s Images Responsiver Node module (and it’s Eleventy plugin) makes a ton of smart markup choices for you, and pairs nicely with a CDN that can handle the on-the-fly resizing bits. These are just a few examples! Literally anything you can do to make this process easier or automatic is worth doing. Here’s me inspecting an image in a WordPress blog post and seeing a beefy srcset with a healthy amount of pre-generated size options and a sizes attribute tailored to this theme. A landing page for gatsby-image explaining all of the additional image loading stuff it can do. I’m sure there are many more CMSs and other software products that help automate away the complexities of creating the responsive images syntax. While I love that all this syntax exists, I find it all entirely too cumbersome to author by hand. Still, I think it’s worth knowing all this syntax so that we can build our own abstractions, or check in on the abstractions we’re using to make sure they are doing things correctly. Related concepts The object-fit property in CSS controls how an image will behave in its own box. For example, an image will normally “squish” if you change the dimensions to something different than its natural aspect ratio, but object-fit can be used to crop it or contain it instead. The object-position property in CSS allows you to nudge an image around within its box. What about responsive images in CSS with background images? We’ve covered exactly this before. The trick is to use @media queries to change the background-image source. For example: .img { background-image: url(small.jpg); } @media (min-width: 468px), (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (min-resolution: 192dpi) { .img { background-image: url(large.jpg); } } With this CSS syntax, depending on the browser conditions, the browser will only download one of the two images, which achieves the same performance goal that the responsive images syntax in HTML does. If it helps, think of the above as the CSS equivalent of the <picture> syntax: the browser must follow your rules and display what matches. If you’re looking to let the browser choose the best option, like srcset/sizes, but in CSS, the solution is ultimately going to be the image-set() function. There’s two problems with image-set(), today, though: Support for it isn’t there yet. Safari’s implementation leads the pack, but image-set() has been prefixed in Chrome for eight years, and it’s not there at all in Firefox. Even the spec itself seems behind the times. For example, it only supports x descriptors (no w, yet). Best to just use media queries for now. Do you need to polyfill? I’m pretty meh on pollyfilling any of this right this moment. There is a great polyfill though, called Picturefill, which will buy you full IE 9-11 support if you need that. Remember, though, that none of this stuff breaks to the point of not displaying any image at all in non-supporting browsers, assuming you have an <img src="" alt=""> in there somewhere. If you make the (fairly safe) assumption that IE 11 is running on a low-pixel-density desktop display, you can make your image sources reflect that by default and build out from there. Other important image considerations Optimizing quality: The point of responsive images is loading the smallest, most impactful resource that you can. You can’t achieve that without effectively compressing your image. You’re aiming for a “sweet spot” for every image, between looking good and being light. I like to let image hosting services solve this problem for me, but Etsy has a really great writeup of what they’ve been able to accomplish with infrastructure that they built themselves. Serving from CDNs: Speaking of image hosting services, speed comes in many forms. Fast servers that are geographically close to the user are an important speed factor as well. Caching: What’s better than loading less data over the network? Loading no data at all! That’s what HTTP caching is for. Using the Cache-Control header, you can tell the browser to hang on to images so that if the same image is needed again, the browser doesn’t have to go over the network to get it, which is a massive performance boost for repeat viewings. Lazy loading: This is another way to avoid loading images entirely. Lazy loading means waiting to download an image until it is in or near the viewport. So, for example, an image way far down the page won’t load if the user never scrolls there. Other good resources (That I haven’t linked up in the post already!) Browser Support This is for srcset/sizes, but it’s the same for <picture>. Desktop Chrome Firefox IE Edge Safari 38 38 No 16 9 Mobile / Tablet Android Chrome Android Firefox Android iOS Safari 81 68 81 9.0-9.2 Source: A Guide to the Responsive Images Syntax in HTML | CSS-Tricks

    Read at 02:13 pm, May 29th

  • Shaun King Keeps Raising Money and Questions About Where It Goes

    When Shaun King and progressive journalist Benjamin Dixon launched an ambitious multimedia reboot of Frederick Douglass’ abolitionist newspaper, The North Star, last February, it was celebrated across social media by prominent voices, including Susan Sarandon, Michael Eric Dyson, and Megan Mullally. A month later, the company boasted on Twitter that it already had “multiple angel investors” and more than 30,000 subscribers contributing $5 per month for students and $10 a month and up for the general public.  Subscribers at the highest giving levels, according to one former employee I spoke with, included Sigourney Weaver, Brené Brown, and black billionaire philanthropist Robert Smith, who gave a healthy $10,000 a month. If every single subscriber gave at the lowest $5 a month “student plan” level, subscriber revenue totaled more than $125,000 monthly, or $1.5 million a year, per figures tweeted by both King and The North Star.  “Remember—this is not just the cost of membership—we are going to be building multiple studios and offices and will be hiring nearly 50 world class journalists and staffers for The North Star,” King wrote in a fundraising letter last November. “We are going to be launching a full news website, an iPhone & Android app, four brand new podcasts, online video news broadcasts, and so much more. We are building The North Star together.” But 14 months after launching, almost none of what King promised to build has appeared and the site has struggled with issues that alienated many subscribers. The headquarters and television studio was quietly shuttered last summer, and all Atlanta-based staffers laid off. The mobile app disappeared for over a year, and the “full news site” displays branded The North Star apparel for sale alongside relatively scant original journalism.  King told me in an extensive email exchange for this story in early April that The North Star’s stumbles, including the dearth of deliverables promised, can be chalked up to the same overzealousness that has been the downfall of his other projects—the result of his tendency to take on too much, too soon. “When we launched The North Star, virtually every advisor I had insisted that we should not do written articles, podcasts, and video news at the same time,” King wrote. “I just knew we could do it. They were right.” But seven former employees of The North Star—three of whom spoke anonymously out of fear of reprisal by King, and six of whom were told they had to sign nondisclosure agreements to receive severances—said the issue was less King’s over-ambition than his absenteeism, insistence on absolute control, and radical incompetence. They said he had little interest in feedback from staffers he had ostensibly brought on for their lengthy résumés and media experience, despite his own lack of the same. Two iterations of broadcast news shows were scrapped, and their staffs and hosts fired, before they ever aired, and Dixon was pushed out even as money poured in and the site remained underpopulated.  It’s well documented that King—one of Bernie Sanders’ most prominent surrogates in both 2016 and 2020—has used his social-media platforms to garner national headlines for stories of racial injustice that would likely have otherwise been neglected or ignored. The outrage and media attention that followed King’s sharing of graphic and horrific footage of Ahmaud Arbery, a young black man, being gunned down in February by two white men, was the catalyst for Georgia law enforcement to finally arrest the killers. In 2017, King successfully crowdsourced the identities of at least two of the white racists who brutally assaulted DeAndre Harris during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  As those headlines have raised his profile, King has continued to raise money, including through a Patreon fundraising campaign launched this April—again requesting $5 per month from students, $10 and up from general public subscribers—to turn The Breakdown podcast into a “daily video news broadcast.” Critical observers were quick to point out that King’s earlier fundraising letters for The North Star had also promised subscription fees would underwrite “daily online video news broadcasts.” In the letter announcing the relaunch, King explicitly asked contributors to the original The North Star fundraiser to also become monthly paying subscribers to a live broadcast version of a podcast that’s part of The North Star, a project that was already funded, per King’s own tweets, in February 2019. “Before we announce this to the public,” King wrote in the email, “we want the original Breakdown Crew to join us.”  The announcement of the new crowdfunding campaign revived rumors that have swirled on social media since it first launched that The North Star is more of a money-making maneuver than the “fully independent, unbought, unbossed media company focused on freedom” King had promised.  It has also fueled long-standing accusations—primarily lodged by black women and queer folks, nearly all of whom are his former co-organizers, colleagues, employees, and supporters—that King has inflated, mismanaged, or failed to account for funds he’s raised for various social-justice causes.  While it should be noted that no criminal or civil charges have ever been filed against King, the story—in the words of former employees of The North Star—was one of “self sabotage” by him, and “really shady fucking business” with “a liar & a fraud.” ‘Questions That Remain Unanswered’ The #ShaunKingLetMeDown hashtag, a recurring Twitter trending topic, is often used to tag threads that enumerate the issues with the many projects King has launched, fundraised for, then abruptly shut down before completion. The list includes a 2011 fundraiser to climb mountains, abandoned four days into training, per King’s own book; a 2014 fundraiser for King’s Life Goals University; and a crowdsourced fund paying for tips leading to the identification of neo-Nazis.  Members of Justice Together, the anti-police-brutality group King pulled the plug on in 2015, posted an open letter accusing him of gross mismanagement. Days later, members of another group he formed co-signed their own open letter making similar accusations. In 2019, a broad coalition of activists from organizations, including Black Lives Matter, Socialist Party USA, Ferguson Response Network, and Veterans of Foreign Wars, signed a post tagged #SitDownShaun stating that “in the past 4 years, King has launched several efforts, all of which failed or faded away without explanation… Each of these efforts had substantial monetary investment from both community and donors with questions that remain unanswered to this day.”  Last year, King responded to the sustained calls for greater transparency around his personal finances and fundraising totals by issuing a 72-page report compiled by an “expert review panel” made up of seven people with close business and personal ties to him that he says details “every penny” he has raised for social-justice causes dating back to 2014, a figure he puts at $34.5 million.  “It’s hard to quantify or put a dollar value on what they've done, but I do so without hesitation.” — Shaun King But most of that money, $20.8 million, is based on a 2018 fundraiser created by Charlotte and Dave Willner to benefit the immigrant advocacy group RAICES. While King promoted the fundraiser to his followers via social media, “it’s definitively false that any boosting he did was responsible for the amount of money that was raised,” Dave Willner told me. “We tracked growth pretty carefully—I was graphing it, in some cases, minute by minute. We have all the data. This isn’t my opinion. It definitely wasn’t him.” “We had 22 volunteers in our living room at one point,” Charlotte Willner told me. “Shaun was not one of them... Any one person taking credit for it is antithetical to what we were trying to do.” Asked about the Willners’ claims, King writes, “To this day, multiple staff members from RAICES have full unfiltered access to my Twitter and Facebook pages. They are my close friends. And they have used my pages hundreds of times to amplify countless fundraisers, petitions, news stories, and more. They have had access for several years now and use my pages almost daily. It’s hard to quantify or put a dollar value on what they’ve done, but I do so without hesitation.”  This is, essentially, a reiteration of King’s response to questions raised by activist DeRay McKesson. But however close King is to RAICES employees, the fundraiser he claims credit for, the largest in Facebook’s history to that point, wasn’t launched by the organization or its staffers but by the Willners on their behalf. When I pointed this out and again asked for comment, King did not respond.  King also did not respond to my question about the report’s omission of a $17,500 grant to Justice Together, the anti-police-brutality organization he disbanded in 2015. King cited the grant in this Facebook post from 2015 and in emails he sent to Justice Together board members the same year. The money is further confirmed by a 2015 IRS filing from the Proteus Fund, the grant-giving organization.  (King noted in a Medium post that he never filed taxes for Justice Together “because every dollar that was given online was returned.” The IRS revoked its tax-exempt status in 2018, three years after the organization had been dissolved by King.) King’s auditors wrote that when he abruptly and unilaterally shuttered Justice Together in 2015, he “refunded 100% of the donations made.” But a representative from the Proteus Fund, which provided the $17,500 grant, told me that King never returned that money. Nor did he submit the mandated report explaining how the funds were used to support justice work. King did not respond to a question about that disparity. Also omitted from the report is a $10,000 donation made to Justice Together by David Heinemeier Hansson, a former member of the organization’s board, which he told me “had no resemblance to any legitimate board in terms of responsibilities and insight.” Hansson resigned from the organization in November 2015. “I would want to know where it went,” Hansson says. “Shaun promised me accounts on spending. Never arrived. I just chalked it up to, ‘OK, well I’m just not going to get involved in any more of that with him.’ That doesn’t mean the causes that he’s pushing aren’t worthy of support. It’s just that maybe he shouldn’t be the one collecting or holding the piggy bank.” King did not respond to a question about the missing $10,000; in 2019, he wrote that Justice Together was “an experimental idea, launched in good faith, that I simply could not effectively manage. I privately owned this failure and I publicly own the failure today.” “The lessons that I learned from those early failures in 2014 & 2015 are the very things that make the work I do now at Real Justice, at The North Star, at The Action PAC, and with our Flip the Senate campaign so effective.” According to the auditors he selected to go through his finances, King received “absolutely no compensation, directly or indirectly, from the tens of millions of dollars that he has helped to raise for families in crisis during this five year period of our review,” with the exception of “a modest income of $4,166 per month” from his work with Real Justice PAC. They also write that they “reviewed Shaun’s full tax returns filed jointly with his spouse” for a time period including 2013—though tax filings for that year are inexplicably omitted from their report. “The inconsistencies and lies become really clear. It just doesn’t add up. ” — DeRay Mckesson But an IRS filing from that same year for HopeMob, the crowdfunding site that King established in 2012, shows that he was paid more than $160,000 for tax year 2013 as CEO of the organization, nearly 40 percent of the funds it raised that year. King did not respond to questions about the discrepancy between IRS documents and his previous statement that he was paid that money “over a period of a few years.”  King promoted the release of the report across social media, including with paid ads on Facebook. When McKesson accused King of using money from Real Justice PAC and Action PAC—funds that “are supposed to be going to support electing prosecutors across the country and fighting racism, respectively”—to pay for his self-promotion, King denied the charge in a lengthy Medium article.  “It was $3 and was done so in error,” King wrote. “It was stopped immediately when it was discovered. It was reimbursed immediately.”  But according to Facebook’s Page Transparency summaries, which provide totals for ad expenditures, that’s not accurate. In fact, the site shows there were three different ad buys—two paid for by King’s Real Justice PAC and one by his Action PAC—totaling a minimum of $1,300. Those are relatively small ad expenditures, which is why it seems odd that King would choose not only to address them at all, but also to offer a rebuttal that’s so easily undercut by discoverable evidence. King did not respond to a question about the discrepancy. “When people actually engage with the facts and ask questions instead of defending past support of Shaun, the inconsistencies and lies become really clear. It just doesn’t add up,” McKesson wrote me. “In organizing, it’s critical that we model the type of community we aim to build—one fundamentally rooted in reducing, not increasing, harm. That means not allowing people to exploit crises by repeatedly promising to do things and then not following through.” As King has used his expansive platform to bring attention to racist violence overlooked by mainstream outlets, he has also been accused of turning his following—more than 4.5 million followers across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram—against his detractors, and of retaliating most harshly and publicly against those without the means or resources to fight back.  That charge gained deeper traction last year when King issued lawsuit threats against two young, black and queer activists who’d tweeted skeptically about his fundraising. After critics, primarily on black Twitter and in black media outlets, called out his threats, issued after the activists had already deleted their tweets, King penned and posted a lengthy apology.  The previous year, King made headlines when he misidentified the killer of Jazmine Barnes—a 7-year-old black girl murdered in what initially appeared to be a racist drive-by shooting—in a tweet that went viral. While King eventually erased the message, the man’s family told a news outlet that violent threats poured in even after two different suspects were arrested. The man King wrongly identified reportedly committed suicide in his cell several months later, after he had been jailed on unrelated charges. As of this writing, King has not publicly apologized for or retracted his claim about the killer’s identity.  “If this was something that had happened with right-wingers, everybody would be pointing and trying to figure out how to get some type of accountability.” — Anoa Changa As a high-profile Bernie Sanders surrogate this year, a role he also played in 2016, King came under fire for repeatedly propagating messages of questionable authenticity and reliability. Rachel Maddow took to Twitter to discredit a Super Tuesday tweet from King claiming that the MSNBC host had reported “multiple ‘senior officials’ within the Democratic Party are interfering with the primaries to stop” Sanders’ campaign.” (“No,” Maddow responded tersely. “I didn’t report any such thing.”) A month later, after King pointedly asked Sen. Brian Schatz—a co-sponsor of Sanders’ Medicare for All Act of 2019 Senate bill—if he supported the proposition, the legislator sent a curt reply: “I don’t know why you are tweeting this like some sort of gotcha but I am a cosponsor of the bill.”  Anoa Changa, a lawyer, progressive podcaster, and grassroots organizer for Sanders’ 2016 campaign, provided pro bono legal guidance to one of the activists King threatened to sue. Changa says that upon learning King was again being considered for a 2020 surrogate role, she shared concerns with Winnie Wong, the campaign’s senior political adviser.  “Having someone drift their way so high up is deeply disconcerting, particularly with his history of turning on activists,” Changa told me. “Just because people have had what appear to be good results doesn’t mean that we still shouldn’t question the method they used to get there, particularly in this moment, when we have issues with disinformation and making sure we’re getting good content. If this was something that had happened with right-wingers, everybody would be pointing and trying to figure out how to get some type of accountability.” But the controversies surrounding King have done little to diminish his status among high-profile admirers. Last year, he was honored with an award at Rihanna’s Diamond Ball. His Real Justice PAC is supported in part by Cari Tuna, the wife of Dustin Moskovitz, one of Facebook’s three co-founders whose names most people don’t know. At Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign kickoff event in Brooklyn, King delivered the keynote. And his most recent book, Make Change, features a foreword by Sanders, as well as glowing blurbs from Rep. Rashida Tlaib, music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, and soccer star Megan Rapinoe.  “He has a lot of black celebrities on board who aren’t particularly dialed into the activist community, but when money is needed, they’re more than happy to throw money at a problem. That’s fantastic. I’m not asking that much from Rihanna—she’s a busy woman and I’m glad so many black celebrities are willing to put their money where their mouths are,” Imani Gandy, an attorney and journalist who has been one of King’s most vocal critics on social media, told me.  “But there are also white liberals who want someone or something they can give their money to (as if that) washes away all of your sins, and absolves you of any requirements to do any self-reflection, to do anything that would make you understand that you need to be helping people at a grassroots level, not just giving money to one guy who you probably never really researched. He makes white folk feel safe because he doesn’t ask anything of them besides giving money—he sells wokeness to white people.” King has consistently said that he has “never received, held, touched, managed, or even had access to any money I’ve ever raised,” often pointing to outsize ambitions that overwhelmed his administrative capabilities, as when he told The Daily Beast in 2015 that his accusers “need to understand that failure is not fraud.” (As someone who never finished a book project that friends crowdfunded 10 years ago, I understand the general sentiment.)  “There are levels of conflict built into what he is doing. There’s this lack of accountability for these well-funded projects that don’t necessarily deliver,” says Changa. “Startups are hard. Most of us, though, do not get to do multiple startups, and fail, and mismanage money, or screw people over, and keep doing it, and then get national platforms for presidential candidates. But because it’s someone who’s the white liberal favorite, it’s a completely different story.” ‘I Would Never Have Done It the Way We Did It’ As of this writing, The North Star website features the two podcasts starring King, branded apparel for sale, and scant original journalism. The outlet’s four most-read articles, according to its homepage—Jersey City shooting Suspect Linked to Black Hebrew Israelite movement, Banking While Black: Former NFL Player and Bank Employee Expose Racism At JPMorgan, Immigration Rights Group Sues ICE to Restore Immigrant Hotline, Soccer is Plagued By Racism All Over the World, and Brazil Is No Exception—were all published last December. Despite King’s promotion of the site and the money it’s raised, a Google search for “north star” shows it at the bottom of the second page of results, behind nearly a dozen articles about the star Polaris and results for the North Star Fund, “a social-justice fund that supports grassroots organizing led by communities of color,” the North Star Group, a financial-planning company, and North Star Teens, “an alternative to school where teens learn in the way that suits them best.” “Straight [out] of the gate, we quickly learned that it was too much for our new staff, in multiple states, to manage,” King emailed. “Again, almost every advisor we had told our team not to start out the company with an office in multiple states. We did it anyway. They strongly advised us to not do that until our company was a few years old. They were right. It was just too hard to manage… We’ve now written nearly 2,000 articles from dozens of writers in our first year, and have had a lot of success with our podcasts, but if I could do it all over again, I would never have done it the way we did it. We should have started with just one division, nailed it, like completely nailed it, and grew from there.” King’s co-founder Benjamin Dixon, according to multiple former employees, was sincerely committed to The North Star’s progressive political vision far beyond the clicks and likes it might garner. In fact, Dixon had envisioned the “blueprint” for The North Star years before the company was launched, but lacked the name recognition and capital to make the project happen. “People don’t want to fund us the same way. We’re not pulling down Chapo Trap House money,” Changa, who was brought on as a consultant on the news broadcast that never happened, told me. “In the scope of independent leftist media, you see things like The Majority Report, or Dave Pakman or Thom Hartmann. It’s very white and it’s very male. We saw a real need for black progressives to have good conversations about political issues in context. This was something for years that Ben had been trying to get off the ground. And finally, he had developed a relationship with Shaun.”  King’s fundraising helped provide money for those ambitions. The crowdfunding phase was followed by the build-out of The North Star’s Atlanta studio and hub. Early iterations of The North Star site included video of the soundstage being constructed alongside the boast, “We purchased and completely renovated our own television studio so that we could broadcast the news to you daily.” But King, according to one former employee I spoke with who was familiar with The North Star’s back end, unilaterally made decisions on things he knew little about. “He doesn’t offer explanations,” the staffer told me. “Just generally, he makes a decision and then everybody scrambles to fix it.” “At that point, we no longer trusted the authenticity of this effort.” — A former employee of The North Star The website was besieged with problems from the very beginning. In November 2018, while the project was still crowdfunding before its official site launch, King sent a fundraising letter implying that dark forces were already trying to take it down, writing, “we’ve been under attack all day, with hackers deliberately crashing the website with DDOS attacks 4 different times… Clearly people know what we’re building is going to make a major impact.” But according to two people familiar with the site’s back end and the issues that plagued it, there were no significant outside attacks. The problem was the site’s shoddy construction.  Along with a host of smaller issues, like having no way for members to reset their own password, members were sometimes double-charged, undercharged, or not charged at all—issues requiring constant fixes, one former employee said. According to that same staffer, there was no terms-and-conditions form, a serious problem for a company that collects money from people via credit card. King did not respond when I asked him about this. When beta testing of The North Star app ended last April, King—the liaison between the company’s IT contractors and its internal support staff—neglected to inform both and its subscriber base and his own employees, who then had to respond to complaints from confused supporters. For more than a year, there was no app for The North Star, which had been one of the key pieces of collateral promised during the fundraising stage. King told me in early April that new versions of both an iPhone and Android app were "awaiting approval in each App Store.” The North Star app finally became available in late May. About a month after the beta version of the app was pulled, a back-end problem led to many subscribers being undercharged or not charged at all. Once the error was caught, King was advised by support staff not to charge those subscribers before sending out an email asking explicit permission. There were reasons for that: to avoid opening The North Star to legal hazard—since members had, technically, not agreed to any terms and conditions—and to avoid blindsiding members who might be financially unprepared for a random charge on a date they hadn’t planned for. “I was somewhat invested in the membership, our community, because I’d been communicating with them, and hearing people’s stories,” a former employee told me. “Like, ‘I’m a student, I don’t have much, but I want to support this cause.’ Or one member who had to cancel because their house burned down, and they moved into a new house and a couple of months later they rejoined. I wanted to protect The North Star, but I also felt like it was my responsibility to care for their memberships.” Just after 4 p.m. on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend 2019, against the advice of his staff—and without their knowledge, the employee says—King sent a mass email from the support-staff account informing members they would be charged, according to one former employee. Among the recipients were roughly 1,000 people who had already canceled their The North Star memberships. When angry complaints broadsided support staffers on their way out the door for the long weekend (“Some of them were cussing,” the employee recalls), the employee pleaded with King to send an email countering the first letter, and promising that support staff would be in touch with members to get permission first.  King sent an apologetic follow-up email from his “personal” account, writing, “our team just sent out the below email about our brand new payment processing system… but I wanted to write to you to let you know that I’ve asked the team to hold off on any charges for missed payments until we confirm that you directly approved the missed charge. Again, no charges will be made without your expressed permission.” Support staffers felt like King had thrown them under the bus, but felt the decision to hold off was a minor victory. Less than a week later, without any warning, King went ahead and charged those member accounts.  “At that point,” the employee told me, “we no longer trusted the authenticity of this effort.” Asked about the incident, King wrote, “Last May our company transitioned from one payment processing company to another. It was an amazingly difficult and clunky migration process. I consulted a number of experts in the field on how to best do it—including best practices in the space. When we realized that some customers were not charged for their monthly fees, we made those charges as soon as we could. Again, our small company lives month to month without outside investors. Our only income at that time was our monthly fees.” ‘Be Your Best Black Self’ In December 2018, Rebecca Azor and Valeria Sistrunk were hired to anchor The North Star’s video news show, The North Star Today. For eight weeks pre-launch, under Dixon’s direction, they shot mock episodes of the broadcast that were then sent to New York for review by King, who they say never visited the Atlanta studio during their employment. Azor says that while Dixon “was doing six jobs,” King—despite his inexpertise in broadcasting—merely sent highly critical, vague, and dismissive critiques of their work through his co-founder, rarely communicating with the anchors directly or responding to their questions. Both say King demanded changes that differed by the day, requesting output far beyond the budget and capabilities of a small, understaffed, scrappy startup. “I guess what was really frustrating to me was that Shaun had a lot of unrealistic expectations,” Sistrunk, a former news anchor, told me. “He had this skeleton crew but wanted to make this huge cable network show. No one could reason with him or explain to him that his expectations were too high. It was almost like self-sabotage.” “He sent us an email, and he said, ‘I don’t know, you guys [are] not being true to yourself. Just remember to be your best black self,’” Azor told me, noting that she saw the message as a request to be a stereotypically “blacker” version of themselves. “We all found it offensive. At the end of the day, my codes switch all day. I can go from here to there. When I do my job, I do my job. Period. But now you’re telling me to be my best black self? What does that mean? I’m like, ‘Please don’t. You’re projecting. We’re black. Stop.’”  I asked King what he meant in his message, which included the line, “Be your best, of course, but be your best Black self.” King responded, “I had a few conversations with our staff about how being Black in white dominated, white owned, white managed media spaces often means that being ‘professional’ means leaving multiple elements of your Blackness and culture at the door. In that email, and over the past year, I’ve continued to communicate to our staff, which is 95% Black and Latino, and 65% women, that we don’t have to do that at The North Star. We can speak with our language, with our vocabulary, that we can use our stories and illustrations, that we can speak with our full range of emotions, from anger to joy, and do so without hesitation.” Azor and Sistrunk were fired in January 2019, before The North Star even launched. The second iteration of the daily news show, co-hosted by Dixon and local Atlanta news figure JaQuitta Williams, began test shoots just after the site went live. A new group of production staffers were brought in. Aisha Westbrook, one of those new employees, says King’s absence, along with poor communication and disregard for feedback, created an atmosphere of “confusion.” Another former employee told me that after King launched his podcast in April, much of his attention was diverted from The North Star to his solo production.  “Everybody believed in what we were trying to do,” Westbrook told me. “I think if Shaun would have been down there, would have been present, I think it would have been a lot more effective as far as being able to pick out what it is that he was wanting to be seen and what kind of stories [he] wanted to be told and the actual look and feel of the show.” At least as late as June 2019, The North Star site falsely included the message, “Our first television broadcast in our new studio is later today!” Instead, the second version of the news show and a planned docuseries were scrapped before they ever aired, and most of the associated staffers laid off.  Several ex-employees told me that during this period, Dixon was ousted by King and muzzled with an NDA as part of the settlement deal. (Dixon declined to comment for this article aside from briefly citing “creative differences” for his exit, and King did not respond to a question about the terms of his departure.)  Greg R. Jackson, who survived that cut, says that in the summer of 2019, The North Star flew him and one other production staffer to New York. The two were tasked with creating a camera setup in King’s podcast studio that would allow The North Star CEO to single-handedly record his podcast being made. This new program concept—a broadcast version of King’s podcast, The Breakdown—is essentially the project King is currently fundraising for. Within three months of Jackson’s return to Atlanta, he and Westbrook would both be laid off, just days before they say their health-care benefits were due to kick in. Like all but one of The North Star employees I spoke to, they told me they were informed that severance packages were contingent upon signing NDAs. “There are a lot of people that are culture vultures who say that they’re doing stuff for the betterment of people. But really, this is just how you pay your bills.” — Aisha Westbrook “It was just a little strange. We had just finished the paperwork to get our medical benefits, literally maybe that Friday, before we got laid off,” Jackson told me. “After I got laid off, I was instructed that we could get some extra pay if we signed some papers, and I declined that because I felt like, ‘Why should I sign some papers for $2,000 or whatever it was for my freedom of speech? What are you trying to hide?’ I have nothing negative to say about [King] as a person, but the way he handled business was a little odd to me.” “It’s just a whole bunch of really shady fucking business, is what that felt like,” another former staffer told me. “I was promised health care and I never received health insurance. I started asking, ‘Listen, when is this going to happen? Are you going to reimburse me for the cost of having to get my own health insurance?’ I think I was the only person who got any money for health-care costs, after advocating for months.” King rejected any link between layoffs and health-care benefits, writing, “One didn’t have anything to do with the other. We have more people covered under our health insurance plans, 100% of our staff, than we ever have in the 1 year history of our young company. In fact, any time we’ve let an employee go, we’ve offered at least 1 month of severance and have covered health insurance for up to 3 additional months for several employees that we let go. Every employee of The North Star has the full cost of their health insurance paid for them, and their families. We also have a robust paid sick leave policy, vacation day policy, mental-health day policy, and more.” King did not respond when I asked if severance packages were contingent upon signing NDAs. “There are a lot of people that are culture vultures who say that they’re doing stuff for the betterment of people,” Westbrook told me when we talked. “But really, this is just how you pay your bills.” ‘Just Funding His Ego at This Point’ According to Azor, when rumors surfaced a month after launch that The North Star was in trouble and there had already been layoffs, King flew to the Atlanta offices for a rare visit and staged this photo with remaining employees. The same day, The North Star Twitter account sent a message calling the reports “fabrications” and stating, “Because of the generous support of nearly 30,000+ members & the backing of multiple angel investors — @TheNorthStar has cash reserves to fund our operation deep into 2020.” But about four months after that, the rest of the Atlanta staff was laid off without warning and the offices closed. A number of employees told me the cuts were particularly surprising since staffers had been told the company was gearing up for a new membership push, just as King tells potential subscribers in this fundraising video that remained on The North Star site until late November, long after the Atlanta offices were closed.  “It was our single biggest expense, both monthly and total cost,” King wrote me about the Atlanta office, “and we had to make a tough decision to close it. I don’t think we could’ve survived another month had we not done so.” King continued, “When we launched The North Star we did so without $1 in start up funding or any loans or credit cards. That sounds noble. It is noble. But ultimately we struggled to build the systems, structures, infrastructure, teams, staff to manage three separate divisions of articles, podcasts, and video in year 1. It almost killed the company to try to do it.” “I wish him the best, but I’d never be led astray by somebody’s social media following ever again.” — Greg R. Jackson But just four months prior to the shutdown of operations in Atlanta, King had tweeted that the company had “over 28,000+ founding members” signed to monthly subscriptions of $5 per month for students and $10 and up for the general public, though a former employee told me the majority of subscribers paid “at least $10 a month.” At the very minimum, 28,000 student members would mean that The North Star was bringing in $140,000 a month for a company with just “22 full-time staff members” per King’s own tweet—rather than the “50 world-class journalists and staffers” promised during fundraising. In April, King emailed me that current membership levels are now at “about 12,000,” and that the “average member is now [contributing] at the $5 level” per month. That conflicts with information on The North Star website, which still touts “over 25,000 members,” as well as a fundraiser letter King sent just two weeks prior to his correspondence with me, in which he stated that “our average member gives at the $25 a month level.” If what King said in the email to me is accurate, that would mean that The North Star is pulling in at least $60,000 a month. If what he said in the fundraising letter is accurate, that would mean that The North Star is pulling in $625,000 a month.  The company now employs just 14 employees, King wrote me. One of those employees appears to be King’s wife, Rai King, whom The North Star site at different times has variously identified as the company’s chief operating officer and as its operations manager.  “He seems to be a genuine guy and all that stuff, but you go off of how people treat you, not what they say or how it looks on IG, because I could paint myself as a beautiful human being on IG, too,” Jackson told me. “You know what it all boils down to? How did you handle the people that gave you their all? I wish him the best, but I’d never be led astray by somebody’s social-media following and all that stuff ever again.” “Shaun and the word ‘accountability’ should never appear in the same sentence,” The North Star’s former editor in chief, Keisha N. Blain—who one former employee told me was King’s staunchest ally at the company—wrote in a tweet thread. “So many people warned me about him and I didn’t listen. But I learned through experience—not rumours or innuendos but real life experience with a liar & a fraud.”  Blain went on to write that she was “thinking of financial matters when I wrote the tweet (since he has always framed them as rumours and not facts),” and added that there “is nothing to celebrate about my collaboration with Shaun and The North Star. It was a f*cked up situation from beginning to end. And there’s a lot I simply cannot say because I signed an NDA. I am just owning my shit and trying to do better and move forward. That’s all.” Blain declined to comment for this article, citing the aforementioned NDA, but wrote, “I will simply confirm that I am no longer associated with The North Star and deeply regret my previous collaboration with Shaun King.” King did not respond to questions about her departure. Two former Atlanta employees I spoke with expressed astonishment that King’s new fundraising announcement includes the boast that “we have not had to let a single employee go or even reduce their hours,” which he may have meant as a reference to the coronavirus pandemic. Subscription dollars, King’s letter promises potential donors, will “allow us to keep our staff, and even hire new staff that have been fired from other companies over this past month.”  “Shaun is outright lying when he says he hasn’t fired anyone,” Azor wrote me. “He’s gone through three different teams in a single year, and I can guarantee you that not a single person who worked for him at The North Star has a positive thing to say about him as a leader, activist, or businessman. Now he’s fundraising yet again for something he promised to deliver years ago. Shaun is really just funding his ego at this point.” ‘A Missed Opportunity’ In addition to his new Patreon—which currently has more than 2,200 subscribers—and weekly live broadcast, King announced his COVID-19 Help Squad in mid-March. Wary skeptics and critics tweeted their suspicions that the project was a scam, warning off potential supporters.  King has countered those accusations via social media, tweeting that he has no coronavirus fundraiser, and the COVID-19 Help Squad has not directly solicited donations. But a March fundraising letter for King’s Action PAC noted its goal was to “raise $28,000 in the next five days” partly to aid “people in need due to COVID-19.” King did not respond to a question about the Action PAC’s fundraising call, and how that related to the Help Squad. Two months after its launch, King’s COVID-19 Help Squad has just under 400 Twitter followers, and cautionary reviews on its Facebook page explain the 2.1 rating. But on Instagram, the project has amassed more than 30,000 followers, pointing to the enduring power of King’s platform, despite all critiques.  “You’re naming something after Frederick Douglass’s The North Star—that’s the pinnacle,” Changa told me. “There’s something so insidious about just taking the legacy of movement journalism. When we really look back at Ida B. Wells, at Frederick Douglass, The Chicago Defender, The Amsterdam News, we have so much history and excellence in this lane, and we’re so lacking in political discourse and commentary through this particular progressive lens that is centered around blackness. And this was such a missed opportunity.” In an Instagram video posted in early May about his work drawing attention to Arbery’s murder, King said that people questioning his integrity “stresses out the families of the victims [he] fights for.”  In his written comment posted with that video, King stated that “I DO NOT TAKE A SALARY” at Action PAC. “I make money to feed my family in four primary ways. 1) from the media company I founded 2) from the books I write 3) speaking engagements and 4) consulting work.” He continued, “I have never received a penny I’ve raised for families or causes. To say I have is an outright and unfounded lie.  “Please know that I answer these charges not for the haters, but for you to know & understand the amount of thought and effort that goes into this work. The Action PACs filings are PUBLIC.” Source: Shaun King Keeps Raising Money and Questions About Where It Goes

    Read at 01:17 pm, May 29th

  • bellingcat - The Boogaloo Movement Is Not What You Think - bellingcat

    On May 26th, crowds gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to protest the death of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of the city’s police department. Floyd was black. Many of the protesters were people of color.  The department fired four policemen that same day, after footage emerged appearing to show Floyd being strangled by a white officer; the video shows him placing his knee on Floyd, cutting off his air supply. Firing these officers was not enough to defuse anger in the city where less than four years previously, a police officer shot a black man, Philando Castile, dead at a traffic stop after Castile informed him he had a legally purchased firearm.   On the internet, meanwhile, a largely white, and far right movement publicly contended over what risks its members should take to support a black man killed by police.  On the Facebook page, Big Igloo Bois, which at the time of writing had 30,637 followers, an administrator wrote of the protests, “If there was ever a time for bois to stand in solidarity with ALL free men and women in this country, it is now”.  They added, “This is not a race issue. For far too long we have allowed them to murder us in our homes, and in the streets. We need to stand with the people of Minneapolis. We need to support them in this protest against a system that allows police brutality to go unchecked.”  One commenter added, “I’m looking for fellow Minneapolis residents to join me in forming a private, Constitutionally-authorized militia to protect people from the MPD, which has killed too many people within the last two years.” These exchanges offer a window into an extremely online update of the militia movement, which is gearing up for the northern summer. The “Boogaloo Bois” expect, even hope, that the warmer weather will bring armed confrontations with law enforcement, and will build momentum towards a new civil war in the United States.   Mostly, they’re not even hiding it. And for the last several months, their platform of choice has been Facebook.  Like many other novel extremist movements, the loose network of pro-gun shitposters trace their origins to 4chan. What coherence the movement has comes from their reverence for their newly-minted martyrs and a constellation of in-jokes and memes Above all, though, the movement has gained momentum over the last two years by organising on the world’s most popular social network. At the time of writing, that network’s parent company had added just over $150 billion to its market cap since Boogaloo-friendly anti-lockdown protests began organizing there in mid April. The valuation of the company at $662.8 billion on May 26th beat out it’s previous high of $620.8 billion, set on the same day, January 20th, that the Boogaloo movement made its high profile public debut at Second Amendment protests in Virginia.  For now, Facebook chooses to allow the Boogaloo movement to flourish on their platform.  Open source materials suggest that, for now, the apocalyptic, anti-government politics of the “Boogaloo Bois” are not monolithically racist/neo-Nazi. As we have observed, some members rail against police shootings of African Americans, and praise black nationalist self defense groups. But the materials also demonstrate that however irony-drenched it may appear to be, this is a movement actively preparing for armed confrontation with law enforcement, and anyone else who would restrict their expansive understanding of the right to bear arms. In a divided, destabilized post-coronavirus landscape, they could well contribute to widespread violence in the streets of American cities. Mainstreaming Civil War: From /k/ To Facebook In recent weeks, the term “Boogaloo” has gone mainstream after months of growing popularity in online far-right communities. Nationwide anti-lockdown protests have provided an opportunity for right-wing militias to rally, armed, in public.  Much has been written about the “astroturfing” behind the initial rallies, particularly the first Lansing, Michigan rally. It is certainly true that mainstream conservative personalities and organizations have helped fuel this growing movement. Dark money, however, is not what turned “Boogaloo” into a household term. It was 4chan that gave it its start. Now, above all, it is Facebook that’s helping it along. The white supremacist upsurge in the last half-decade has been repeatedly linked (including in Bellingcat analyses) to the intensely racist, misogynist, and queerphobic culture that characterised /pol/ boards on 8chan and 4chan.  The Boogaloo subculture’s origins also can be traced in part to 4chan, but to a different board, /k/, which is devoted to weapons.  In recent posts on the board, /k/’s users discuss all manner of weapons from knives to fighter jets. Their overwhelming focus is on firearms.  Posters frequently post about unusual weapons, hunting military equipment, military history, or ongoing wars. Frequently, posts center on users’ own firearms and tactical gear, or asking advice about future purchases. /k/ is hardly a bastion of sweetness and light (like all 4chan boards, it is littered with every imaginable slur), but unlike /pol/, militant white nationalism is not the default ideological position.  Although gun owners tend to lean right, the board explicitly discourages any political discussion. A “sticky” post at the top of the forum, made in October 2015, just as the “alt right” culture born on /pol/ was turbocharging the Trump campaign, warns that discussions of politics (even gun control) are unwelcome. All of this has given the movement that grew out of /k/ a somewhat different cast than the “alt right” and the movements that survived its implosion after the Unite the Right rally in 2017.  There are many racist remarks, and doubtless many racist users on /k/, but race war is not the overriding obsession that it is on /pol/.  While neo-nazis like failed congressional candidate Paul Nehlen have long used the word “Boogaloo” on Telegram channels, or extremist-tolerating platforms like gab or bitchute, these actors seem distinct from the the movement that arose from /k/. First of all, the Boogaloo meme that crystallised as an “irl” movement of heavily armed protesters started with the phrase, “Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo”, patterned on the title of the 1984 sequel to the breakdance cash-in film, “Breakin’.” Internet users for some time used “Electric Boogaloo” as a jokey appendage in a whole range of contexts, including the possibility of civil war.  4chan does not retain an archive of posts, and the best currently available third party archives only reach back to a time when the board was already 8 years old, but the Reddit scraper and archiver desuarchive shows that the phrase was in use on /k/ at least as early as 2012. There is scattered extant use of the phrase in unrelated contexts online before this date, and pushshift.io has preserved uses on Reddit beginning in 2014. Pushshift’s data visualization facility shows that since 2018, the frequency of the use of the phrase has increased dramatically. As best we can determine, /k/ appears to be where the term was first regularly used to speculate about armed civil conflict in the United States. Fantasizing about the Boogaloo, as it were, arose from years of apocalyptic discussions on the board about what would happen “WTSHTF” (a prepper acronym for “when the shit hits the fan”). Along with weapons, /k/ posters are inclined to survivalism — the board’s free-standing introduction page includes instructions for woodland survival techniques along with basic information about buying and using guns (the title of the introduction, “a magical place”, is the quasi-ironic pet name users give to the entire board).  Some /k/ posters believe the Boogaloo meme was essentially co-opted by more mainstream chunks of the Internet: reddit, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Such accusations of “normie” cooptation or theft is common in message board culture. Later, however, many of the /k/ users who were most sanguine about the prospect of violent social collapse took themselves from the margins of the online world to the Internet’s most powerful platform.  Mainstreaming Boogaloo On Facebook  Increasingly, from early 2018 onward, people identifying themselves as /k/ users began migrating their discussions to Facebook. This move coincided with a continuing wave of contentious street demonstrations, open-carry protests, extremist violence, and political instability that has characterized the Trump era. The self-identification of these groups came in the form of callbacks to the board in group titles.  Bellingcat searches reveal dozens of groups and pages currently on Facebook, with names like “Patrioti/k/ Boogaloo Bois”, “The /K/oronavirus: Electric Boogaloo”, “The /K/ombatant”, and “Carolina /K/ommando” — reference /k/ in their title. Most post ironic /k/-friendly memes on a few repeating topics: guns, civil war and social collapse, and, oftentimes, violent conflict with law enforcement officers.    Researchers have repeatedly drawn attention to Facebook’s role in radicalizing extremist actors, and the consequences of allowing extremists to organize freely on the platform, to little practical avail. Recent reporting indicates that the company’s senior management have long understood its role in promoting extremism, but have elected not to act for fear of alienating conservative sensibilities, especially in the U.S.  Research by the Tech Transparency Project shows that there were at least 125 Facebook groups devoted to the boogaloo by April 22nd, 2020. The real number has increased significantly since then, although determining an exact number is all but impossible due to the rapid evolution of the subculture. One example of this is how “Boogaloo,” itself a euphemism, has been further disguised with the use of soundalike terms like “big luau” and “big igloo”. We’ve traced back its earliest use to November of 2019, so far. We see one example of this on the Firearms Unknown Facebook page (motto: because the RedCoats aren’t going to shoot themselves). It has 28,060 followers: By this point, Hawaiian shirts (a sartorial necessity at any big luau) had already become a way for individuals to signify their anticipation of the coming civil war. Activists at the Richmond gun rights rally on January 20, 2020, were spotted wearing Hawaiian shirts and full combat gear.  Since then, Hawaiian shirts paired with guns have been a common sight at anti-lockdown protests, with members of existing radical right or “patriot movement” organizations using the garments to signal their affiliation with the Boogaloo movement.  Ahead of an April 19th anti-lockdown rally at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, Washington Three Percenters president, Matt Marshall, urged Facebook followers to wear Hawaiian shirts. Getty photographer, Karen Ducey, captured a widely published photograph on the day showing that Marshall had heeded his own advice. Boogaloo Entryism  The January 20, 2020 rally in Richmond, Virginia was a mass protest against firearms restrictions proposed by governor Ralph Northam. It drew right-wing and pro-gun activists from around the country. It also served as the Boogaloo movement’s first significant moment in the mass media spotlight. That day, Tess Owen from Vice spotted a group of protesters associated with a Boogaloo-adjacent Facebook group called Patriot Wave. The original Patriot Wave group has since been banned, but mhtml archives captured on January 20 show that it was very active on the day, posting news, videos, and user submitted photos of the rally. Group members also responded to reporters in real time.  One member of Patriot Wave who had a fleeting brush with mainstream prominence that day was a hefty man wearing a skull mask, who appeared in several news reports. This was celebrated within the movement’s forums. Skull-print balaclavas, such as the one worn by said hefty man, are associated with neo-Nazi extremist groups like Atomwaffen and The Base, which embrace a “siege culture” influenced by the writings of American Neonazi James Mason. The man in question also sported a plate carrier with a /k/ patch sewn on it. He was featured in many news stories and social media posts. “Big siege”, as he christened himself on his Twitter account, briefly became the face of the movement. His outfit combined references to neo-Nazism with high-powered weapons and internet-poisoned irony. A hastily created Twitter account tried to cash in on the limelight dished out racial slurs, referenced the neo-Nazi numerical code “1488”, and featured a picture of the pseudonymous protester alongside another man who was wearing Nazi regalia.  Armed men embracing a similar set of subcultural reference points began showing up at more public protests. On January 31, a group of armed men, some in Hawaiian shirts, others in face masks and the German “flecktarn” camouflage favored by modern neonazi groups, entered the Kentucky state house.  These incidents set the pattern for a series of heavily armed protests throughout the first half of 2020, many of which were combined with anti-lockdown protests which had erupted in response to social distancing measures prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As boogaloo imagery has evolved, explicitly fascist imagery and ideas have made further inroads. This kind of signaling is often missed by the mainstream media.  For example, an individual at the April 15th Lansing protest was photographed by freelance photographer, Jeff Kowalsky: ABC News fleetingly reported on the presence of the Michigan Liberty Militia, quoting their leader, Phil Robinson under the assumed name of Phil Odinson: Yet like most outlets, ABC News missed the significance of other men wearing Hawaiian shirts, and, in at least this case, a skull mask balaclava complete with a clown nose.  While the Hawaiian shirt referenced “the boog”, and the skull mask referenced siege culture, the nose was very likely a nod to the “clown world” meme.  The “clown world” meme signals the idea that pluralistic, multicultural liberal democracies are both inherently ridiculous and doomed to failure. It is common currency among racist movements, and is a more pessimistic, or “blackpilled”  variation on the “pepe” memes which were exchanged so freely during the heyday of the alt right.  It signifies a rejection of the “movementarian” approach of pre-Charlottesville white nationalists, and the belief that there is no political solution to what many accelerationist groups see as the interminable decline of western democracies. It’s used, for example, in the profile picture of the  “Third Position Army” Telegram channel, an explicitly neo-Nazi group with more than 2,000 members: Recent reporting has touched on the fact that explicitly far-right and even neo-Nazi groups are attempting to co-opt both the anti-lockdown protests and the broader Boogaloo movement. On May 17, 2020, the Economist published an article about how the far right had been “energized” by these protests.  This analysis is not wholly inaccurate, but it too misses a critical dimension of what is happening in the movement’s hubs on Facebook. Weeks spent inside a network of Boogaloo Facebook groups have revealed a much more complex picture. This screengrab is from the Virginia Knights Facebook group, which has 5,874 followers and appears to be one of the larger Boogaloo-focused groups in that state: Interestingly enough, that same page includes a mix of both racially inclusive and racist rhetoric. For example: “Vote from the rooftops” has become a general right wing meme for resisting unwanted electoral results by shooting people. The meme’s origin is footage of Korean-American shop owners who shot at alleged looters during the 1992 L.A. Riots.  Since 2011, when the L.A. Times ran a story focusing on these businesspeople, “roof Koreans” have been a favorite meme in pro-gun and far right circles. Their use of the footage foregrounds armed racial conflict — the people shot from the rooftops are assumed to be black. The comments on this post included yet more racism, in the form of a series of anti-Muslim memes all posted by the same user: Reaction to these posts was not universal, with a fairly even mix of commenters opposing “Auburndale Red”’s racism. The point here is not that the Boogaloo movement is wholly or authentically anti-racist, but that there appears to be a very active struggle within some parts of this movement as to whether or not their dreamed-of uprising will be based in bigotry.  The original image above is a post on /k/. While /k/ hosts more than its fair share of homophobia and racism, this story of an NRA certified instructor building a business based on teaching armed self-defense to LGBT people was very well-received. The /k/-affiliated Facebook group that originally shared it, The /k/ult of Monika, has 16,977 followers.  From what we can tell, /k/ appears to be the most influential force in shaping the culture of the boogaloo movement, both on Facebook and in open carry protests.  Facebook has been extremely permissive of Boogaloo groups, on the whole. But these and other related militia groups are occasionally given short-term or permanent bans. Small-time Internet entrepreneurs have proven very eager to capitalize on the crumbs left by Zuckerberg’s network. The Boogaloo Bubble  The American Militia movement has existed for decades, and enjoyed a previous upsurge in the 1990s, until domestic terrorism, evolving law enforcement strategies, and shifting political winds diminished its popularity.  Far right groups have always sought technological solutions to their exclusion from mainstream media. The social media era has been a two-edged sword for the movement: sites like Facebook offer an ideal organizing platform, with an unparalleled reach, but also one that can be taken away at any moment.  In January 2016, Chad Embrey, a web designer and entrepreneur, registered the domain MyMilitia.com. WhoIs records show that at or around the same time he registered a number of other domains referencing the militia movement in general (like militianetwork.com) or specific groups like the Three Percenters (like iiiers.com, iiiers.info, and 111ers.com). These registrations were in keeping with his repeatedly stated intention to create a Facebook-like site for the militia.  Embrey had previously created and sold niche lifestyle sites related to trucks. He had subsequently been involved in gun trading groups on Facebook. In 2017, Facebook began banning these groups in one of its periodic crackdowns on problematic material.  In a 2017 PDF “manifesto”, uploaded to the mymilitia.com, Embrey writes about how he had made “multiple successful ventures into online niche communities over the last 10 years”, until “Facebook infringed onto our rights as American’s and deleted all the firearms and ammo buy sell and trade groups. Knowing how integrated this social network was into the vast majority of peoples everyday life. We began to fear for the patriot and militia groups who also use the site for related communications”. [Embrey’s original spelling and grammar preserved here] A previous version of the manifesto reads more like a sales pitch, and lists an additional site, “Militia Network”, which has since disappeared. It also lists dozens of gun-trading groups on the Facebook-like website, MeWe, which has been heavily promoted in recent months as a fallback for those banned from Facebook.  MyMilitia users are able to create pages for their specific militias, and a number of these groups have coordinated to attend anti-lockdown protests. One of the most popular threads on the site is a discussion titled: Are We Being Lured Into Civil War? While the discussion begins on the premise that this would be a bad thing, the original poster (a site administrator) quickly states that an “armed conflict” would be “desirable” if it happens soon: Other users are quick to chime in with their support: Elsewhere on MyMilitia, users post links to manifestos, like this pdf titled “Resistance to Tyranny.” Its opening argument is that “tyranny” was the leading killer of the 20th century. The manifesto discusses the morality of declaring war on your own government and makes the case that because dictatorships always start as slippery slopes, you have to assume all gun control is the precursor to tyranny. Thus any gun control justifies violent resistance: The point here is that whenever a government attempts to disarm its citizens, a prima facie case exists that Just Cause is satisfied. The experience of genocide in the Twentieth Century, outlined above, is adequate justification for citizens faced with disarmament to ask, “Just what are you planning to do to us that you’re so eager to disarm us first?” The same logic is evident across dozens of Boogaloo-focused Facebook groups. Users regularly discuss perceived tyrannical gun control legislation and see it as an acceptable pretext to violent resistance. MyMilitia users spend time talking about the nuts and bolts of what that resistance will look like. Posts are peppered with links to PDFs of military manuals, instructions for zeroing rifles, guides to weapons caching, as well as briefs for military public relations officers and ham radio operators. MeWe is seen as a more secure redoubt for Facebook refugees by people like Corey Wilkes, admin of the NWGA (Northwest Georgia) Icehouse Hoedown Facebook page, a closed group with 208 members.  The term “icehouse” is yet another synonym for the term boogaloo, descended from the “Big Igloo” variation. Wilkes’s bet is that if Facebook censors were to crack down on “big igloo,” they may miss “icehouse.” While Facebook has not yet purged the Icehouse Hoedown group, Wilkes uses MeWe as a back-up social network, and as a place where he can post more sensitive information. This includes information such as his announcement about a radio training session for members of his militia: Wilkes feels secure enough on MeWe to cheekily suggest how his militia members might jam police and emergency radio frequencies: Yet posts on MeWe get only a fraction of the engagement as posts on Facebook. Alexa traffic rankings suggest that Facebook is the fifth most trafficked site on the World Wide Web, while as at May 26th, MeWe was ranked 5358th. MyMilitia, meanwhile, was ranked 714,722nd and falling.  That being said, individuals and organizations that are most influential in emerging far right movements do appear to travel between platforms regularly. Josh Ellis, who now runs MyMilitia.com, is also the founder of a network of “American Revolution 2.0” Facebook pages, aimed at organizing anti-lockdown protests in multiple cities.  Such cross-platform influence can only be translated into a mass movement with the acquiescence of Facebook.  To see how, we can look at the legacy of the  most prominent MyMilitia user, the late Duncan Lemp. The Martyrs At around 4:30 AM on March 12, 2020, a Montgomery County, Maryland SWAT team executed a no-knock raid on the family home of 21-year-old Duncan Socrates Lemp. He was suspected of owning firearms that he was not allowed to legally possess due to a juvenile criminal record. The Maryland police claim Lemp “confronted” them while armed, and that he had boobytrapped his door with a shotgun shell. Lemp’s family claims that he was shot dead while sleeping with his girlfriend, who was wounded in the raid.  What happened during that early morning raid remains bitterly contested, and is beyond the scope of this article. What is undeniable is that Duncan Lemp has become the pre-eminent martyr of the nascent Boogaloo movement. His name and face are constantly referenced, as in this post from the Virginia Knights Facebook group, which claims him as a former member: Boogaloo bois regularly compare Lemp with black Americans who were shot dead by police officers. In fact, a growing subset of Boogaloo believers see men like Ahmaud Arbery and Eric Garner as fundamentally the same sort of victims as Duncan Lemp, Vicki and Samuel Weaver (who died at Ruby Ridge), and LaVoy Finicum (who was shot dead by Oregon State Police during the 2016 Malheur stand-off). This meme is commonly shared: Naturally, this sentiment is not universally held within the far right Boogaloo movement. In this conversation about the death of Ahmaud Arbery, one user posts the above meme while another scoffs that Arbery’s death is only newsworthy because of how “rare” it is when a white person kills a black person. Another complains: “We’re supposed to care because the guy on the left was black. Do they care that most black murder victims are murdered by blacks? Nope!” A willingness to view Duncan Lemp as a victim along the same lines as men like Eric Garner is one of the fissures that runs through the boogaloo community. More conservative groups, like NWGA Icehouse Hoedown, tend to be suspicious of any black victims of police violence. In this thread, admin Corey Wilkes is furious that members of another group compared Duncan Lemp to Sean Reed, who was recently killed by Indianapolis Police while streaming on Facebook Live: Regardless of how Boogaloo movement members feel about non-white victims of police violence, Duncan Lemp seems to be universally regarded as a martyr. Variations of the phrase “His name was Duncan Lemp” are commonly repeated in memes and as comments on posts. The “We Are Duncan Lemp” Facebook group (546 members) is one of the most openly insurrectionary groups we’ve come across, filled with Patriot Wave memes urging revolution: There are also constant exhortations to violence against police:  There is also bizarre, quasi-religious apocalyptic art next to essays on the value of “iron discipline” and self-denial in order to turn oneself into a vessel to “grow the strength of a renewed people, the bearer of a future generation of nobility and freedom.” With a few Swastikas thrown in, the whole thing wouldn’t look out of place in a neo-Nazi Telegram channel: The symbols on the above figure’s face are Nordic runes. The exact same runes have been used as the symbols for the National Alliance (a defunct U.S. neo-Nazi group) and the Nordic Resistance Movement (a Swedish neo-Nazi group). Some parts of this movement are not wholly comprised of avowed racists, but neo-Nazis clearly see the “Boogaloo Bois” as a fertile recruiting ground, and the broader movement has shown itself ill-equipped to drive out the Nazis. Duncan Lemp was the Boogaloo movement’s first martyr, but he was never going to be its last. On May 13, 2020 a 47-year-old Schleicher County, Texas man named Donny Leeks started putting out a series of increasingly unhinged Facebook live videos. Wearing full tactical gear, Leeks complained that: “…you have a tyrannical government that sees fit to spread fear, virus nonsense and tyrannical edicts among the people.” Precisely what happened is unclear, but prior to filming these rants Leeks appears to have fired his rifle at his neighbors, which prompted the police to encircle his rural home and begin a standoff. During this, Mr. Leeks continued to post Facebook live videos, complaining about a recent Congressional vote to extend the powers of the Patriot Act.  “I have asked and asked and asked, when we were gonna a leader to stand up, to stand up and fight against this stuff. I didn’t want to be the one who has to do it. But it looks like I’m going to have to do it by myself. And that’s OK. I’m OK with God. God’s on my side. God knows I’m right.” At one point, Leeks even fired at what he said was a drone. He grew tearful in places, exclaiming, “…I don’t like cops because they’ve mistreated me for so many years…” He also called for “back-up,” presumably from his followers watching the video.  No one came to his aid, and Donny Leeks was killed after firing at officers on May 14th. Clips from his (now removed) Facebook live videos have circulated among various Boogaloo groups ever since. Here we see members of the Carolina /K/ommando group (2,261 followers) commenting on one compilation of Mr. Leeks’s videos. A man who goes by Neptune, the admin of the group, posits that Leeks was assassinated, perhaps “baited” into shouldering his rifle to assess “the threat” so law enforcement could justify killing him. One of Neptune’s followers refers to Leeks as both a “sacrifice” and the victim of murder. Neptune is typical of the anti-state, Libertarian wing of the Boogaloo movement. He is NOT a fan or supporter of President Trump, unlike many in the more traditionally conservative Boogaloo groups (or sites like MyMilitia): Neptune has another Facebook page with 1796 followers, “The Waco Draco.” Scrolling through it makes it clear that his primary motivating factor is not a specific political ideology. He states that he is anti-communist and fears a power grab from the government as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. More than any other single thing, Neptune appears to desire an armed confrontation with law enforcement: What Next? If there is a single common thread that unites the galaxy of Boogaloo Facebook groups, it is a desire to fight it out with the government. More specifically, members envision violent confrontations with local police and the “alphabet bois” in federal law enforcement agencies.  Red Flag laws and gun confiscation are frequently cited as grounds for a hypothetical insurrection. This post is from KenTen [Redacted], a closed Georgia-based Boogaloo Facebook group with 139 members: Above, we see screengrabs of messages from one individual, Rick O’Shea, who claims the police are about to confiscate his firearms. There are calls for members to gather in his defense. One writes, “It begins.” Similar conversations were had on Facebook after the arrest of Bradley Bunn. Bunn, 53, is a Loveland, Colorado man who previously attended a March 12th meeting of the Colorado House Judiciary Committee to speak in opposition to the state’s new Red Flag law. He told the committee: “Repeal this. It is treason to disarm the American populace. Repeal it, please. I’m asking nicely.”  They did not. Bradley Bunn then circulated a manifesto that called for “armed defiance against tyrants”. He also started producing pipe bombs, for which he was arrested by the FBI. Bunn’s manifesto went viral with his local militia community. In the wake of his arrest, members of the Allegheny Rescue Co. Facebook group (6,202 followers) began to brainstorm about how to stop future arrests. The chief suggestion that evolves is to put as many armed civilians in between the police and their target as possible: The messaging app Discord is suggested as an alternate place to gather and coordinate, as is the encrypterd chat app, Signal. Members talk about forming “dedicated regiments” and “strike teams” for the future. This may all be hot air. When it comes to evaluating the danger of this movement, one of the chief difficulties is in determining how seriously to take the constant threats of violence. Some members of these groups seem to realize this: The idea that a single event will trigger the Boogaloo is a binding myth for this movement, but civil wars are often complicated and unpredictable. Nevertheless, many rallies and armed protests are scheduled for the summer. Familiar pro-Trump, militia, and Patriot Movement groups are likely to be joined by a new crop of heavily armed and colorfully dressed “Boogaloo Bois” who are convinced that civil war is a foregone conclusion, and who have been goading one another towards armed confrontations with law enforcement.  In a United States made even more unstable by a contentious presidential election season, and the social and epidemiological effects of COVID-19, every protest or street battle and its aftermath will carry the potential for serious acts of violence. As protests over the death of George Floyd heated up in Minneapolis on May 26th, members of Boogaloo groups across Facebook considered it a call to arms. Memes were churned up that day, adding George to the movement’s list of martyrs: One member of the Big Igloo Bois Facebook group showed up at the protests, bearing a Boogaloo flag and, he claimed 15 other bois. Reports indicate he was wounded with a rubber bullet during the protest.  Meanwhile, other Boogaloo supporters online expressed their desire to travel to Minneapolis and start the civil war now: As of publication time, it is impossible to say how the protests in Minneapolis will resolve. But on Independence Day, July 4th, Second Amendment rallies are being planned in numerous states, many of which permit “open carry” armed protests. This Facebook event invitation for a 2nd Amendment rally in Virginia’s capital is just one example. More than 2,000 people have already registered to attend.  Some activists have talked about a Million Person Open Carry March, set to take place in every state capital on that day. This plan, if it was ever feasible, seems to have been disrupted by Facebook suspending a number of anti-lockdown groups, including American Revolution 2.0.  Still, the Facebook event for the Kansas state march has more than 1.1k members and other rallies continue to be planned. Dozens of anti-lockdown groups operate more or less openly alongside scores of boogaloo groups and pages. Hundreds of Americans have already marched in their state capitals bearing guns over the last few weeks. Most of these marches were planned and organized on Facebook. On May 1, 2020, Facebook and Instagram both updated their “violence and incitement” policy to ban the use of “boogaloo terms” when they occur alongside images or statements depicting or urging armed violence. Our research suggests that this policy has done virtually nothing to curb either the growth of this movement or reduce the violence of its rhetoric. Every new Boogaloo page and group we found led us to new related pages and “liked” pages, each either organizing people for direct armed action or agitating them to anticipate violence.  The world’s largest social network remains a hospitable place for would-be insurrectionists. We now know that Facebook has buried evidence that its platform facilitates the growth of extremism, due to a fear that combatting this would be seen as anti-conservative bias. It is not yet possible to say if the movement that has been nurtured on that platform will ever play a part in an American civil war. But every day, tens of thousands of heavily armed people log on to repeat their hope that it will. Source: bellingcat – The Boogaloo Movement Is Not What You Think – bellingcat

    Read at 04:16 am, May 29th

Day of May 28th, 2020

  • Dem lawmaker goes on epic rant after GOP colleague admits hiding positive coronavirus test

    A Pennsylvania Democratic lawmaker joined colleagues on his side of the aisle in lambasting a Republican lawmaker for keeping them in the dark about testing positive for the coronavirus. Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, delivered an epic Facebook Live rant on Wednesday about the exclusion, saying state House Republicans called for in-person committee meetings to argue that business sectors were safe to reopen even as they knew they had been exposed to the virus. "Every single day of this crisis this State Government Committee in Pennsylvania has met so that their members could line up one after one after one and explain that it was safe to go back to work," he said. "During that time period they were testing positive. They were notifying one another. And they didn’t notify us." "I never ever, ever knew that the Republican leadership of this state would put so many of us at risk for partisanship to cover up a lie," he said during the nearly 12-minute tirade. "And that lie is that we're all safe from COVID." Rep. Andrew Lewis, R-Dauphin, said in a Facebook Live address Wednesday night, hours after he publicly announced he had tested positive, that he informed as few people as possible about contracting the coronavirus because he wanted to protect the privacy of those around him and because he was only in close quarters with a handful of house colleagues. "It’s mostly a ghost town here," he said of the state Capitol in Harrisburg. "I only interacted with a couple of people. I did what I needed to do to protect their privacy. They’ve had time to get their test and all those things." The representative said he's not aware of anyone who was around him testing positive. After feeling ill May 16, he said he self-isolated, tested positive on May 20 then and informed health officials as well as a few people who might have been around him when he was last at the Capitol on May 14. Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings. Those people he informed self-isolated and, in some cases, got tested with none turning up positive as far as he knows, Lewis said. He said he wore a mask when he was at the Capitol. The lawmaker said he had a mild case and recovered quickly before waiting 10 days to announce his experience publicly. “Out of respect for my family, and those who I may have exposed, I chose to keep my positive case private," he said in a statement. The number of people who have died in the U.S. as a result of the virus crossed the 100,000 mark on Wednesday, including over 5,200 deaths in Pennsylvania. The state house Democratic Caucus accused Lewis and at least some of the Republican colleagues who knew about his status of keeping colleagues in the dark. "While we are pleased to learn that this House member seems to have recovered, it is simply unacceptable that some House Republicans knew about this for more than a week and sat on that knowledge," Democratic Leader Frank Dermody of Allegheny said in a statement Wednesday night. He said there had been multiple meetings in May in which some Republicans who might have had contact with Lewis attended without masks and they made a point of their distaste for personal protective equipment. "This attitude shows a fundamental lack of respect for fellow lawmakers," Dermody said. Sims said the state attorney general needs to investigate how the notification was handled. He also called on Speaker of the House Mike Turzai to resign. Any representative who knew about Lewis' case and didn't inform colleagues "needs to be investigated by the attorney general and I think that they need to be prosecuted." Rep. Kevin J. Boyle, D-Philadelphia, said on Twitter that the State Government Committee he chairs has met 12 times in the last two months. "Not informing anyone there is a #Covid_19 positive member with multiple GOP members in quarantine should be criminal," he said. Some Republicans defended Lewis and accused Democrats of being too sensitive about the matter. Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon, said on Twitter, "Lefties whine because I self-quarantined but didn't get tested after possible COVID 'contact.' Confirmed by my doc: No reason for testing, even if I could get tested without symptoms. I feel like a million bucks!" The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that in workplace environments "employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)." Lewis said his views on reopening the state during the pandemic have not changed. "I firmly believe it is time to safely reopen Pennsylvania," he said. Dennis Romero Dennis Romero writes for NBC News and is based in Los Angeles. Source: Dem lawmaker goes on epic rant after GOP colleague admits hiding positive coronavirus test

    Read at 09:45 pm, May 28th

  • Donald Trump’s new executive order will start a messy fight over Section 230 - The Verge

    A new executive order would pare back crucial portions of Section 230 Today, President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order that would give the government huge new powers over the internet. As reported yesterday by The Washington Post, Trump will order the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission to roll back the liability protections enjoyed by tech companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. It’s a hugely ambitious proposal, arguably the biggest single attempt to regulate internet platforms, and for better or worse, it signals the beginning of an all-out war between Trump and any platform that tries to fact-check him. As Trump ominously put it on Twitter, “This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!” Sometimes called the most important law on the internet, Section 230 exempts companies from most liability for speech on their platform and gives them broad discretion in how they moderate speech. In concrete terms, it means you can’t sue Twitter for banning or not banning a particular account — although lots of people have tried. Today’s order appears to be the same executive order that was rumored back in August 2019, provoking this memorable tweet from an FCC commissioner. The basic idea is for complaints about bias to be fielded by the FTC (usually in charge of consumer protection). If a company is found to be removing or suppressing content unfairly, the executive order deputizes the FCC (usually in charge of telecom infrastructure) to rule on whether it no longer qualifies for the “good faith” provision of Section 230. In essence, the FCC will now decide whether tech platforms are allowed to have the legal protections that form the basis of their business models. The idea was met with intense skepticism at the time, and many believed it had been shelved as a result. But after Trump’s fact-checking fight with Twitter, it appears to be back on the table. A leaked draft of the order is circulating online, and it lays out the basis of how and why companies should have their 230 protections revoked, and how the FCC should litigate that process. Section 230 has been controversial for years now, and many in Congress see rolling it back as the best option for reining in tech companies. But doing so without Congress and tasking an increasingly hands-off FCC with the monumental task of litigating would be a major change in the role of government in the everyday business of the internet. There are huge legal problems with all of this. The biggest one is the First Amendment, which prevents the US government from limiting private speech. Telling Twitter how and when it can moderate is going to look an awful lot like limiting the company’s private speech — particularly when the inciting incident was about adding content rather than blocking it. In practical terms, it means that there is certain to be a court challenge alleging that the order is unconstitutional, which will hamstring any attempted action by the FCC. That’s not the only legal problem, although I’m not sure we have room to run through all of them here. It’s not clear that the FCC has the authority to do any of this on the basis of an executive order. It’s really not clear that you can change 230 (which is part of a law, let’s remember) without congressional approval. And even if you could, all the usual concerns about changing 230 still apply. This wouldn’t just hit Twitter. The FCC would suddenly be in charge of YouTube, Craigslist, and every comments section on the internet. But asking what would happen if this gets implemented is almost beside the point. As we noted yesterday, Trump wants to pick a fight with Big Tech more than he wants to set policy. (Twitter isn’t exactly Big Tech, but that’s all the better; bullies never like to pick on someone their own size.) Today, Trump is starting that fight in earnest, and it’s one with huge implications for every company on the internet right now. As the president looks to distract from the ongoing public health crisis, he’s ready to turn the next six months into an intimidation campaign against anyone who tries to limit what his campaign can say and how flagrantly they can say it. The big question is how much backbone platform companies will show in response. Source: Donald Trump’s new executive order will start a messy fight over Section 230 – The Verge

    Read at 09:21 pm, May 28th

  • A first look at records and tuples in JavaScript

    In this blog post, we take a first look at the ECMAScript proposal “Record & Tuple” (by Robin Ricard and Rick Button). This proposal adds two kinds of compound primitive values to JavaScript:

    Read at 01:17 pm, May 28th

  • Realizing Equity

    Early in your poker career, you learned about pot odds and equity. You probably heard or read somewhere that when faced with a bet, you should decide whether to call by estimating your hand’s equity—by counting outs, perhaps—and comparing it to your pot odds.

    Read at 01:12 pm, May 28th

  • The Pandemic Is the Time to Resurrect the Public University

    Since the coronavirus pandemic reached the East Coast, at least twenty-three students, faculty, and staff of the City University of New York have died.

    Read at 01:06 pm, May 28th

Day of May 27th, 2020

  • To lead, you have to follow.

    Years ago, the company I was working with hired a new Director of Engineering, and the CTO was talking about why the new Director was an amazing hire. The new Director’s clinching accomplishment? The best ever explanation of the distinction between leadership and management.

    Read at 03:45 am, May 28th

  • Using Structured Data to Enhance Search Engine Optimization | CSS-Tricks

    SEO is often considered the snake oil of the web. How many times have you scrolled through attention-grabbing headlines on know how to improve your SEO? Everyone and their uncle seems to have some “magic” cure to land high in search results and turn impressions into conversions. Sifting through so much noise on the topic can cause us to miss true gems that might be right under our nose. We’re going to look at one such gem in this article: structured data. There’s a checklist of SEO must-haves that we know are needed when working on a site. It includes things like a strong <title>, a long list of <meta> tags, and using descriptive alt tags on images (which is a double win for accessibility). Running a cursory check on any site using Lighthouse will flag up turn up even more tips and best practices to squeeze the most SEO out of the content. Search engines are getting smarter, however, and starting to move past the algorithmic scraping techniques of yesteryear. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are all known to be investing a considerable amount in machine learning, and with that, they need clean data to feed their search AI.  That’s where the the concept of schemas comes into play. In fact, it’s funding from Google and Microsoft — along with Yahoo and Yandex — that led to the establishment of schema.org, a website and community to push their format — more commonly referred to as structured data —forward so that they and other search engines can help surface content in more useful and engaging ways. So, what is structured data? Structured data describes the content of digital documents (i.e. websites, emails, etc). It’s used all over the web and, much like <meta> tags, is an invisible layer of information that search engines use to read the content. Structured data comes in three flavors: Microdata, RDFa and JSON-LD. Microdata and RDF are both injected directly into the HTML elements of a document, peppering each relevant element of a page with machine readable pointers. For example, an example of using Microdata attributes on a product, taken straight from the schema.org docs: <div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Product"> <span itemprop="name">Kenmore White 17" Microwave</span> <img itemprop="image" src="kenmore-microwave-17in.jpg" alt='Kenmore 17" Microwave' /> <div itemprop="aggregateRating" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/AggregateRating"> Rated <span itemprop="ratingValue">3.5</span>/5 based on <span itemprop="reviewCount">11</span> customer reviews </div> <div itemprop="offers" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Offer"> <!--price is 1000, a number, with locale-specific thousands separator and decimal mark, and the $ character is marked up with the machine-readable code "USD" --> <span itemprop="priceCurrency" content="USD"> #60;/span><span itemprop="price" content="1000.00">1,000.00</span> <link itemprop="availability" href="http://schema.org/InStock" />In stock </div> Product description: <span itemprop="description">0.7 cubic feet countertop microwave. Has six preset cooking categories and convenience features like Add-A-Minute and Child Lock.</span> Customer reviews: <div itemprop="review" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Review"> <span itemprop="name">Not a happy camper</span> - by <span itemprop="author">Ellie</span>, <meta itemprop="datePublished" content="2011-04-01">April 1, 2011 <div itemprop="reviewRating" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Rating"> <meta itemprop="worstRating" content = "1"> <span itemprop="ratingValue">1</span>/ <span itemprop="bestRating">5</span>stars </div> <span itemprop="description">The lamp burned out and now I have to replace it. </span> </div> <div itemprop="review" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Review"> <span itemprop="name">Value purchase</span> - by <span itemprop="author">Lucas</span>, <meta itemprop="datePublished" content="2011-03-25">March 25, 2011 <div itemprop="reviewRating" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Rating"> <meta itemprop="worstRating" content = "1"/> <span itemprop="ratingValue">4</span>/ <span itemprop="bestRating">5</span>stars </div> <span itemprop="description">Great microwave for the price. It is small and fits in my apartment.</span> </div> <!-- etc. --> </div> If that seems like bloated markup, it kinda is. But it’s certainly beneficial if you prefer to consolidate all of your data in one place. JSON-LD, on the other hand, usually sits in a <script> tag and describes the same properties in a single block of data. Again, from the docs: <script type="application/ld+json"> {   "@context": "http://schema.org",   "@type": "Product",   "aggregateRating": {     "@type": "AggregateRating",     "ratingValue": "3.5",     "reviewCount": "11"   },   "description": "0.7 cubic feet countertop microwave. Has six preset cooking categories and convenience features like Add-A-Minute and Child Lock.",   "name": "Kenmore White 17" Microwave",   "image": "kenmore-microwave-17in.jpg",   "offers": {     "@type": "Offer",     "availability": "http://schema.org/InStock",     "price": "55.00",     "priceCurrency": "USD"   },   "review": [     {       "@type": "Review",       "author": "Ellie",       "datePublished": "2011-04-01",       "description": "The lamp burned out and now I have to replace it.",       "name": "Not a happy camper",       "reviewRating": {         "@type": "Rating",         "bestRating": "5",         "ratingValue": "1",         "worstRating": "1"       }     },     {       "@type": "Review",       "author": "Lucas",       "datePublished": "2011-03-25",       "description": "Great microwave for the price. It is small and fits in my apartment.",       "name": "Value purchase",       "reviewRating": {         "@type": "Rating",         "bestRating": "5",         "ratingValue": "4",         "worstRating": "1"       }     }   ] } </script> This is my personal preference, as it is treated as a little external instruction manual for your content, much like JavaScript for scripts, and CSS for your styles, all happily self-contained. JSON-LD can become essential for certain types of schema, where the content of the page is different from the content of the structured data (for example, check out the speakable property, currently in beta). A welcome introduction to the implementation of JSON-LD on the web is Google’s allowance of fetching structured data from an external source, rather than forcing inline scripting, which was previously frustratingly impossible. This can be done either by the developer, or in Google Tag Manager. What structured data means to you Beyond making life easier for search engine crawlers to read your pages? Two words: Rich snippets. Rich snippets are highly visual modules that tend to sit at the top of the search engine, in what is sometimes termed as “Position 0” in the results — displayed above the first search result. Here’s an example of a simple search for “blueberry pie” in Google as an example: Check out those three recipes up top — and that content in the right column — showing up before the list of results using details from structured data. Even the first result is a rich snippet! As you can see, using structured data is your ticket to get into a rich snippet on a search results page. And, not to spur FOMO or anything, but any site not showing up in a rich snippet is already at risk of dropping into “below the fold” territory. Notice how the second organic result barely makes the cut. Fear not, dear developers! Adding and testing structured data to a website is aq simple and relatively painless process. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be adding it to every possible location you can imagine, even emails. It is worth noting that structured data is not the only way to get into rich snippets. Search engines can sometimes determine enough from your HTML to display some snippets, but utilizing it will push the odds in your favor. Plus, using structured data puts the power of how your content is displayed in your hands, rather than letting Google or the like determine it for you. Types of structured data Structured data is more than recipes. Here’s a full list of the types of structured data Google supports. (Spoiler alert: it’s almost any kind of content.) Article Book (limited support) Breadcrumb Carousel Course COVID-19 announcements (beta) Critic review (limited support) Dataset Employer aggregate rating Estimated salary Event Fact check FAQ How-to Image license metadata (beta) Job posting Local business Logo Movie Product Q&A Recipe Review snippet Sitelinks searchbox Software app Speakable (beta) Subscription and paywalled content Video Yep, lots of options here! But with those come lots of opportunity to enhance a site’s content and leverage these search engine features. Using structured data The easiest way to find the right structured data for your project is to look through Google’s search catalogue. Advanced users may like to browse what’s on schema.org, but I’ll warn you that it is a scary rabbit hole to crawl through. Let’s start with a fairly simple example: the Logo logo data type. It’s simple because all we really need is a website URL and the source URL for an image, along with some basic details to help search engine’s know they are looking at a logo. Here’s our JSON-LD: <script type="application/ld+json">   {     "@context": "https://schema.org",     "@type": "Organization",     "name": "Example",     "url": "http://www.example.com",     "logo": "http://www.example.com/images/logo.png"   } </script> First off, we have the <script> tag itself, telling search engines that it’s about to consume some JSON-LD. From there, we have five properties: @context: This is included on all structured data objects, no matter what type it is. It’s what tells search engines that the JSON-LD contains data that is defined by schema.org specifications. @type: This is the reference type for the object. It’s used to identify what type of content we’re working with. In this case, it’s “Organization” which has a whole bunch of sub-properties that follow. name: This is the sub-property that contains the organization’s name. url: This is the sub-property that contains the organization’s web address. logo: This is the sub-property that contains the file path for the organization’s logo image file. For Google to consider this, it must be at least 112⨉112px and in JPG, PNG, or GIF format. Sorry, no SVG at the moment. A page can have multiple structured data types. That means it’s possible to mix and match content. Testing structured data See, dropping structured data into a page isn’t that tough, right? Once we have it, though, we should probably check to see if it actually works. Google, Bing, and Yandex (login required) all have testing tools available. Google even has one specifically for validating structured data in email. In most cases, simply drop in the website URL and the tool will spin up a test and show which object it recognizes, the properties it sees, and any errors or warning to look into. Google’s structured data testing tool fetches the markup and displays the information it recognizes. The next step is to confirm that the structured data is accessible on your live site through Google Search Console. You may need to set up an account and verify your site in order to use a particular search engine’s console, but checking data is — yet again — as simple as dropping in a site URL and using the inspection tools to check that the site is indeed live and sending data when it is accessed by the search engine. If the structured data is implemented correctly, it will display. In Google’s case, it’s located in the “Enhancements” section with a big ol’ checkmark next to it. Notice the “Logo” that is detected at the end — it works! But wait! I did all that and nothing’s happening… what gives? As with all search engine optimizations, there are no guarantees or time scales, when it comes to how or when structured data is used. It might take a good while before rich snippets take hold for your content — days, weeks, or even months! I know, it stinks to be left in the dark like that. It is unfortunately a waiting game. Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of what structured data is and how it can be used to leverage features that search engines have made to spotlight content has it. There’s absolutely no shortage of advice, tips, and tricks for helping optimize a site for search engines. While so much of it is concerned with what’s contained in the <head> or how content is written, there are practical things that developers can do to make an impact. Structured data is definitely one of those things and worth exploring to get the most value from content. The world is your oyster with structured data. And, sure, while search engine only support a selection of the schema.org vocabulary, they are constantly evolving and extending that support. Why not start small by adding structured data to an email link in a newsletter? Or perhaps you’re into trying something different, like defining a sitelinks search box (which is very meta but very cool). Or, hey, add a recipe for Pinterest. Blueberry pie, anyone?  Source: Using Structured Data to Enhance Search Engine Optimization | CSS-Tricks

    Read at 08:40 pm, May 27th

  • America’s Patchwork Pandemic Is Fraying Even Further

    The coronavirus is coursing through different parts of the U.S. in different ways, making the crisis harder to predict, control, or understand. There was supposed to be a peak. But the stark turning point, when the number of daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

    Read at 04:27 am, May 27th

  • Quarantine Fatigue Is Real

    In the earliest years of the HIV epidemic, confusion and fear reigned. AIDS was still known as the “gay plague.” To the extent that gay men received any health advice at all, it was to avoid sex.

    Read at 04:06 am, May 27th

Day of May 26th, 2020

  • npm v7 Series - Arborist Deep Dive

    @npmcli/arborist is the dependency tree manager for npm, new in npm v7. It provides facilities for doing nearly everything that npm does with package trees, and fully replaces large parts of the npm CLI codebase.

    Read at 03:47 am, May 27th

  • Archana Kamath

    Hello! What's your background and what do you do? My name is Archana Kamath and I am a Senior Engineering Manager, leading the Software Network Engineering group at DigitalOcean. I have been with Digital Ocean since March 2018.

    Read at 03:29 am, May 27th

  • Deque Introduces Automated Source Code Accessibility Checker

    HERNDON, VA – May 5, 2020  – Deque Systems, a leading software company specializing in digital accessibility, today introduced axe Linter, an automated GitHub-based app which checks source code for common accessibility issues, automatically finding and suggesting fixes.

    Read at 03:23 am, May 27th

  • The Small Blind is not Small Potatoes

    No one, and I mean no one, hates the small blind more than my friend and world renowned poker author Tommy Angelo. He’s written tons on the subject. My favorite article of his on it is called How To Play The Small Blind.

    Read at 03:22 am, May 27th

  • Little sense of shared grief as virus deaths near 100,000

    By , Eli Stokols WASHINGTON — For months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the nation ached together in televised memorials, joining in a collective catharsis of uniformed salutes, bagpiped dirges and President George W. Bush declaring a national day of mourning and remembrance.

    Read at 03:11 am, May 27th

  • What (not) to Prefetch/Prerender

    This post outlines a number of edge-cases we have encountered while developing <link rel=prefetch> libraries like Quicklink. We believe most of these edge-cases apply equally to efforts leveraging <link rel=prerender> or "prefetching" from script. In Summary:

    Read at 03:04 am, May 27th

  • Bill Requiring City To Provide Single Hotel Rooms To Homeless Is "Reckless," Department of Social Services Says

    After photos surfaced earlier this week of people sleeping in a crowded stairway at a Manhattan congregate homeless shelter, local officials are sparring with the city Department of Social Services over providing single hotel rooms to homeless adults during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Read at 03:01 am, May 27th

  • ‘How Could the CDC Make That Mistake?’

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conflating the results of two different types of coronavirus tests, distorting several important metrics and providing the country with an inaccurate picture of the state of the pandemic.

    Read at 02:58 am, May 27th

  • Maybe you don’t need that SPA

    There’s an article by Tom MacWright that’s been gaining some attention in the twitter-verse: Second-guessing the modern web. I’d recommend reading it if you haven’t already, but I’ll give a brief summary so you have some context for the remainder of this article:

    Read at 02:52 am, May 27th

  • “The Modern Web”

    Tom MacWrite: Second-guessing the modern web Rich Harris: In defense of the modern web

    Read at 02:52 am, May 27th

  • In defense of the modern web

    I expect I'll annoy everyone with this post: the anti-JavaScript crusaders, justly aghast at how much of the stuff we slather onto modern websites; the people arguing the web is a broken platform for interactive applications anyway and we should start over; React users; the old guard with their arti

    Read at 02:51 am, May 27th

  • Second-guessing the modern web

    The emerging norm for web development is to build a React single-page application, with server rendering. The two key elements of this architecture are something like: This idea has really swept the internet.

    Read at 02:43 am, May 27th

  • From a Miami condo to the Venezuelan coast, how a plan to ‘capture’ Maduro went rogue

    Inside a glittering Miami high-rise, representatives of the Venezuelan opposition sat in a room adorned with samurai swords and listened to a pitch. They had been appointed by opposition leader Juan Guaidó to explore all options in their U.S.

    Read at 02:36 am, May 27th

  • Coronavirus conspiracy theories are frustrating ER doctors

    At the end of another long shift treating coronavirus patients, Dr. Hadi Halazun opened his Facebook page to find a man insisting to him that "no one's dying" and that the coronavirus is "fake news" drummed up by the news media.

    Read at 02:23 am, May 27th

  • School Work and Surveillance

    I was a guest speaker in the MA in Elearning class at Cork Institute of Technology this morning. Thanks very much to Gearóid Ó Súilleabháin for the invitation. Here's a bit of what I said... Thank you for inviting me to speak to your class today.

    Read at 02:17 am, May 27th

  • Amy Cooper’s 911 call is part of a pattern of calls on black people - Vox

    She is just the latest in a long line of white people calling the police on black Americans. Christian Cooper was bird-watching in New York’s Central Park on Monday when he saw a woman with an unleashed dog. Leashes are required in the Ramble, the part of the park where the two were walking. “That’s important to us birders because we know that dogs won’t be off leash at all and we can go there to see the ground-dwelling birds,” Cooper told CNN. So Cooper decided to say something. What happened next was captured in a video that’s now been seen by millions of Americans. The woman, Amy Cooper, refused to put her dog on a leash or move to another area. So Christian took out some dog treats he carries for situations like this. At that point, according to Christian, she began to panic — and he started filming. In the video, posted to Facebook and shared thousands of times, Amy approaches Christian, potentially violating social distancing guidelines. Then she threatens to call the police, saying, “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” Finally, she actually calls the authorities, saying that an “African American” man “is recording me and threatening me and my dog.” Cooper says very little on the video, and certainly nothing threatening. Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm — Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020 When police arrived, both Christian and Amy had already left the park. And after the video went viral, Amy issued an apology and was fired from her job. But for many, the incident is a reminder of larger ills in American society: the willingness of white people to call the police on black people, and the epidemic of violence against black Americans by both police and white civilians, including the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. “We live in an era with things like Ahmaud Arbery, where black men are seen as targets,” Christian Cooper told CNN. “This woman thought she could exploit that to her advantage, and I wasn’t having it.” Amy Cooper called the police after a dispute about her dog Christian Cooper told CNN he was “pretty calm” when he asked Amy Cooper to abide by the park’s leash rules. But Amy claims he was screaming at her. “He was running in an open field,” she told CNN. “He came out of the bush.” When she refused to leash her dog, he says he told her, “if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it.” He meant he was going to film her, but Amy says, “I didn’t know what that meant. When you’re alone in a wooded area, that’s absolutely terrifying, right?” She now claims that fear is the reason she decided to call the police. “I think I was just scared,” she told CNN. “When you’re alone in the Ramble, you don’t know what’s happening. It’s not excusable, it’s not defensible.” Amy also says she wants to “publicly apologize to everyone.” “I’m not a racist,” she told CNN. “I did not mean to harm that man in any way.” Amy also told CNN that her “entire life is being destroyed right now” — after calls on social media for her employer to fire her, she has been let go by Franklin Templeton, the investment company where she worked. “Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately,” the company said on Twitter. “We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.” Amy Cooper has also surrendered her dog to the shelter where she adopted him, after some people noted that she appeared to be choking him with his collar in the video. “The dog is now in our rescue’s care and he is safe and in good health,” shelter staff said in a Facebook post, according to CNN. The incident was part of a long history of white people calling the police on black Americans In this particular case, no arrests were made and Christian was not physically harmed. But there’s a long history of such 911 calls by white people resulting in arrests, interrogation, and violence against black people. This dangerous pattern received greater national attention in 2018 when two black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks while doing nothing more than waiting for a business partner to arrive. Soon after, a white Oakland woman became the subject of countless “BBQ Becky” memes after she called the police on a black family who were barbecuing in a park — the family were detained and questioned for an hour. Also in 2018, Chikesia Clemons was arrested and thrown to the ground by police at an Alabama Waffle House after restaurant staff called over a dispute with the bill. The officers exposed Clemons’ breasts and threatened to break her arm. As P.R. Lockhart wrote at Vox in 2018, “if ‘shopping while black’ and ‘driving while black’ have been long used to describe a tendency for people and police to treat black people with suspicion, recent incidents have provided an increasing number of scenarios to add to the list.” Indeed, black bird-watchers have long spoken out about the dangers of “birding while black.” In a 2016 essay by that name, J. Drew Lanham wrote about encountering Confederate flags and KKK graffiti while out looking for birds, and having to give up a promising research project because a white supremacist group became active in the mountainous area he was supposed to study. “In remote places, fear has always accompanied binoculars, scopes, and field guides as baggage,” he wrote. Many in the birding community have voiced support for Christian Cooper since the incident became public. “Black Americans often face terrible daily dangers in outdoor spaces, where they are subjected to unwarranted suspicion, confrontation, and violence,” Rebeccah Sanders, senior vice president for state programs at the Audubon Society, said in a statement. “We are grateful Christian Cooper is safe. He takes great delight in sharing New York City’s birds with others and serves as a board member of the New York City Audubon Society, where he promotes conservation of New York City’s outdoor spaces and inclusion of all people.” For his part, Christian Cooper told the Washington Post, “I don’t think there’s an African American person in America who hasn’t experienced something like this at some point.” But, he said, “I don’t shy away from confronting the scofflaw when I see it. Otherwise, the park would be unusable — not just to us birders but to anybody who enjoys the beauty.” Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today. Source: Amy Cooper’s 911 call is part of a pattern of calls on black people – Vox

    Read at 11:04 pm, May 26th

  • How to handle loud neighbors when you're stuck at home—Brick Underground's best advice

    Are noisy New York City neighbors driving you crazy while you are quarantining? Maybe they're playing&nbsp;loud music—or you're hearing fighting or abuse and wondering how to deal with it?&nbsp; In NYC’s densely populated buildings, children are doing online school and some people are working from home and it's a struggle to concentrate. Many New Yorkers&nbsp;are stressed out&nbsp;or sick (or both) and unwanted noise exacerbates the situation.&nbsp;If you're struggling to stay sane over your neighbor's noise, you are not alone.&nbsp;Apartment listing website RentHop&nbsp;found a 23 percent increase in noise complaints&nbsp;the week after New York’s shutdown went into effect&nbsp;compared to the same week in 2019.&nbsp; The first tip is not to address a noise problem while it's happening. You're more likely to come off as hostile and use words you'll regret. It's a good idea to keep&nbsp;a record of the problem, and reach out to other neighbors who might be dealing with the same issues. You can also&nbsp;try to dampen the sound from inside your own apartment&nbsp;and involve the landlord or building management company if needed.&nbsp;For more suggestions to specific neighbor noise scenarios, read on. Editor's note: Click&nbsp;here&nbsp;for more of Brick Underground's&nbsp;coronavirus coverage. Start by trying to make peace with a noisy neighbor The most effective approach is to&nbsp;address&nbsp;your neighbor in a spirit of collaboration.&nbsp;One approach is to blame the noise on the building's thin walls,&nbsp;treating it as a building issue that is everyone's problem. Read: How to tackle asking a noisy neighbor—or landlord—to keep it down.&nbsp; Keep in mind that a landlord or owner is required to keep your apartment safe and livable at all times and excessive noise is one of the conditions they would have to address under the warranty of habitability.&nbsp;Find out more here:&nbsp;What is a warranty of habitability and why is it especially important during the pandemic? Troubleshooting noise and cooking odors with others in the building There's strength in numbers and if the noise is an issue throughout the building you will have a good chance of being able to address it. Getting together with neighbors can be done even in times of social distancing—read: I'm organizing my neighbors and negotiating with our landlord to pay half our rent. For more vertical etiquette tips, Brick Underground's Ms. Demeanor column has plenty&nbsp;of advice on how to tackle specific noise issues in NYC apartment buildings. The column has lots of creative solutions and is a reminder that when it comes to noise complaints, you are in good company. Start&nbsp;here:&nbsp;Dear Ms. Demeanor: My neighbors blast their television all night! How do I get them to lower the volume? Also: Dear Ms. Demeanor: The noise from our downstairs neighbor is making us miserable. What can we do?&nbsp;She also deals with cooking smells, another byproduct of the pandemic:&nbsp;Dear Ms. Demeanor: My neighbors' cooking stinks up the hallway. What can I do about it? Home improvement measures to dampen noise Find out if you can ask your neighbor to install more carpeting. Most rentals and co-ops insist&nbsp;80 percent of the floor has&nbsp;some kind of covering, either carpets or rugs. That's not to say it's easy to get your neighbor to comply. Read: Can I force my noisy neighbors to get more carpeting? For your own part, you can try improving your own insulation with rugs or drapes. Other options include pulling out some noise-canceling headphones&nbsp;or plugging in a white noise machine. For more tips&nbsp;read: Brick Underground’s best advice on how to deal with bad neighbors. Document and record the noise you're dealing with Documenting the issue is an important part of evaluating and addressing it.&nbsp;When it's a noise issue, you should also record the sound. Although this won't help in the moment, it gives you back some control and will be important in presenting your grievances either to your neighbor or landlord.&nbsp;Read: 8 ways to make peace with your neighbors. What to&nbsp;do if you are hearing domestic violence or abuse You may be hearing something&nbsp;more serious than just noise. Domestic violence is a major concern under New York's stay at home order, which can trap someone with their abuser. Here are some resources&nbsp;for domestic and gender-based violence survivors during the pandemic and&nbsp;domestic violence shelters are still open for intake. Read:&nbsp;I think I'm overhearing domestic violence next door. What should I do? If a neighbor threatens&nbsp;you—know that New York state law defines harassment as any conduct intended to annoy, threaten, intimidate, or alarm another person. If that sounds like your situation, there are steps you can take—including calling the police if you are ever physically in danger. Read: Is your neighbor harassing you? 4 steps to handle the problem. Also read:&nbsp;My downstairs neighbor harasses me for being gay—and my building just renewed his lease. (The neighbor moved out soon after the article published). What to do if you want&nbsp;to break&nbsp;your lease If you are&nbsp;weighing up whether to continue to live in your apartment you may be able to negotiate to end your lease early. Breaking your lease isn’t without risks so approach this with your landlord carefully and get legal help if necessary. You should also be aware there may be logistical challenges with moving—many buildings have banned moves for now. Read:&nbsp;What happens if your lease is up during the coronavirus pandemic?&nbsp;Also,&nbsp;I want to break my lease because of a noisy NYC neighbor. What are my options? Source: How to handle loud neighbors when you’re stuck at home—Brick Underground’s best advice

    Read at 06:35 pm, May 26th

  • Episode 314: Carlos in Cherokee

    Carlos Welch joins Andrew live in Cherokee, North Carolina to discuss the WSOP-Circuit and his new ride.

    Read at 03:58 pm, May 26th

  • Stealing Secrets from Developers using Websockets - Steve Stagg - Medium

    Web server is returning an unknown error There is an unknown connection issue between Cloudflare and the origin web server. As a result, the web page can not be displayed. Ray ID: 5998af2c0f4e0ce1 Your IP address: Error reference number: 520 Cloudflare Location: Newark Source: Stealing Secrets from Developers using Websockets – Steve Stagg – Medium

    Read at 03:56 pm, May 26th

  • Logical assignment · V8

    JavaScript supports a range of compound assignment operators that let programmers succinctly express a binary operation together with assignment. Currently, only mathematical or bitwise operations are supported. What has been missing is the ability to combine logical operations with assignment. Until now! JavaScript now supports logical assignment with the new operators &amp;&amp;=, ||=, and ??=. Logical assignment operators # Before we dive into the new operators, let’s have a refresher on the existing compound assignment operators. For instance, the meaning of lhs += rhs is roughly equivalent to lhs = lhs + rhs. This rough equivalence holds for all the existing operators @= where @ stands in for a binary operator like +, or |. It is worth noting this is, strictly speaking, only correct when lhs is a variable. For more complex left-hand sides in expressions like obj[computedPropertyName()] += rhs, the left-hand side is only evaluated once. Let’s now dive into the new operators. In contrast with the existing operators, lhs @= rhs does not roughly mean lhs = lhs @ rhs when @ is a logical operation: &amp;&amp;, ||, or ??. Short-circuit semantics # Unlike their mathematical and bitwise counterparts, logical assignments follow the short-circuiting behavior of their respective logical operations. They only perform an assignment if the logical operation would evaluate the right-hand side. At first this may seem confusing. Why not unconditionally assign to the left-hand side like in other compound assignments? There is a good practical reason for the difference. When combining logical operations with assignment, the assignment may cause a side-effect that should happen conditionally based on the result of that logical operation. Causing the side-effect unconditionally can negatively affect the performance or even correctness of the program. Let’s make this concrete with an example of two versions of a function that sets a default message in an element. In HTML, assigning to the .innerHTML property on an element is destructive. Inner children are deleted, and new children parsed from the newly assigned string are inserted. Even when the new string is the same as the old string, it causes both additional work and the inner elements to lose focus. For this practical reason of not causing unwanted side-effects, the semantics of logical assignment operators short-circuit the assignment. It may help to think about the symmetry with other compound assignment operators in the following way. Mathematical and bitwise operators are unconditional, and so the assignment is also unconditional. Logical operators are conditional, and so the assignment is also conditional. Logical assignment support # An experimental implementation of logical assignment is available in V8 v8.4 behind the --harmony-logical-assignment flag. Source: Logical assignment · V8

    Read at 01:22 pm, May 26th

  • 'Aggressive' Rats May Increase During Pandemic, C.D.C. Says - The New York Times

    “They’re simply turning on each other” after being deprived of food and waste generated by restaurants that have closed during the pandemic, an expert said. Whether in rural America or in urban areas, people who don’t ordinarily see rats might start noticing them.Credit...Damon Winter/The New York Times Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to “unusual or aggressive” rodent behavior, the agency said on its website on Thursday. “The rats are not becoming aggressive toward people, but toward each other,” Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist who has both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in rodent pest management, said on Sunday. “They’re simply turning on each other.” Dr. Corrigan said there are certain colonies of rats in New York that have depended on restaurants’ nightly trash for hundreds of generations, coming out of the sewers and alleys to ravage the bags left on the streets. With the shutdown, all of that went away, leaving rats hungry and desperate. Image Homeowners should measure the space below their doors because half an inch is enough for rats to get in, said Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist.Credit...Gerald Herbert/Associated Press Dr. Corrigan said pest control professionals in the city have sent him photos of rodent cannibalization and slaughter. “They are going to war with each other, eating each other’s young in some populations and battling each other for the food they can find,” Dr. Corrigan said. “But the rats that live and eat in residential blocks probably haven’t noticed a single bit of difference during the shutdown.” To keep hungry rodents at bay, the C.D.C. recommended sealing access to homes and businesses, removing debris, keeping garbage in tightly covered bins and removing pet and bird food from yards. Dr. Corrigan said the C.D.C.’s latest guidance should put homeowners on alert. Whether in rural America or in urban areas, people who don’t ordinarily see rats might start noticing them. “You’d be smart to ask yourself: How do I do my trash and does how I do it completely deny a wild animal?” he said. “And look at the base of your door. Get out a ruler to see if there’s a space below the door — half an inch will let them in.” Michael H. Parsons, a visiting research scholar at Fordham University studying how rats are migrating en masse from areas near closed restaurants, delis and arenas to new environments, said rats usually don’t travel far for food and water. This minimizes the risk of them being seen by people and predators, he said. But in recent weeks, pest control professionals have seen more rats venturing out during daytime hours and entering homes that had not previously seen rodent activity, Jim Fredericks, the chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association, said on Sunday. ====================================================== THIS IS A GENERATED TEMPLATE FILE. DO NOT EDIT. ====================================================== Updated May 20, 2020 How can I protect myself while flying? If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.) What are the symptoms of coronavirus? Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days. How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.? Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said. Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease? There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing. Should I wear a mask? The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing. What should I do if I feel sick? If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others. How can I help? Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities. Pipeline: 2020-02-05-styln-faq-coronavirus | May 24, 2020, 09:06PM | 7727a03d7aed67eae1e74a84b6c319d108532ab2 Suburban neighborhoods, often adjacent to shopping centers and other businesses, are also seeing new infestations, he said. Dr. Fredericks said there is no evidence that rats can be infected with Covid-19 or that they can spread it to humans. Still, they are a public health risk. Rats can transmit other diseases and a professional should be called if an infestation occurs, he said. Once the restaurants reopen, the rats will return to their reliable food sources. Dr. Fredericks said he does not expect the overall rat population to be significantly affected by the shutdowns. “They’re resilient,” he said. “Rats are good at being pests.” Source: ‘Aggressive’ Rats May Increase During Pandemic, C.D.C. Says – The New York Times

    Read at 01:18 pm, May 26th

  • Donald Trump, the Most Unmanly President - The Atlantic

    Trump’s defenders could argue that he is just another male celebrity whose raw authenticity offends snooty elitists but appeals to the average Joe. The analogy here is someone like Howard Stern, who has known Trump for years and has been idolized by young men across America. Stern cavorted with porn stars, said shocking and racist things, and was, in his way, the living id of every maladjusted teenager. Whatever you think of Stern, however, he’s much more of a man, by any definition, than Trump. For one thing, Stern is often self-effacing in the extreme, which is both part of his act and a source of the charm he possesses. Stern routinely jokes about the inadequacy of his male endowment. Trump, however, went to pains to reassure the country—in the middle of a presidential primary debate—that his equipment has “no problem.” Stern knows how to take his lumps in public, while Trump is a wailing siren of complaints. More important, Stern is capable of introspection and has a certain amount of self-awareness, a quality important for any mature and healthy person. Stern, who once encouraged Trump’s antics, now seems concerned. He has suggested that Trump was traumatized by his childhood and his father. “He has trouble with empathy,” Stern told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “We know that. And I wish he'd go into psychotherapy. I'd be so proud of him if he did, and he would flourish.” (Stern endorsed Joe Biden in April.) Trump is never going to get therapy. But Stern’s observation opens the door to a better explanation of why—despite all of his whiny complaints, his pouty demeanor, and his mean-girl tweets—Trump’s working-class voters forgive him. Trump’s lack of masculinity is about maturity. He is not manly because he is not a man. He is a boy. To be a man is to be an adult, to willingly decide, as St. Paul wrote, to “put away childish things.” There’s a reason that Peter Pan is a story about a boy, and the syndrome named after it is about men. Not everyone grows up as they age. It should not be a surprise then, that Trump is a hero to a culture in which so many men are already trapped in perpetual adolescence. And especially for men who feel like life might have passed them by, whose fondest memories are rooted somewhere in their own personal Wonder Years from elementary school until high-school graduation, Trump is a walking permission slip to shrug off the responsibilities of manhood. The appeal to indulge in such hypocrisy must be enormous. Cheat on your wife? No problem. You can trade her in for a hot foreign model 20 years younger. Is being a father to your children too onerous a burden on your schedule? Let the mothers raise them. Money troubles? Everyone has them; just tell your father to write you another check. Upset that your town or your workplace has become more diverse? Get it off your chest: Rail about women and Mexicans and African Americans at will and dare anyone to contradict you. Source: Donald Trump, the Most Unmanly President – The Atlantic

    Read at 12:30 pm, May 26th

  • Today’s Javascript, from an outsider’s perspective | Lea Verou

    Post navigation #nav-above .entry-header Tweet Today I tried to help a friend who is a great computer scientist, but not a JS person use a JS module he found on Github. Since for the past 6 years my day job is doing usability research &amp; teaching at MIT, I couldn’t help but cringe at the slog that this was. Lo and behold, a pile of unnecessary error conditions, cryptic errors, and lack of proper feedback. And I don’t feel I did a good job communicating the frustration he went through in the one hour or so until he gave up. It went a bit like this… Note: Names of packages and people have been changed to protect their identity. I’ve also omitted a few issues he faced that were too specific to the package at hand. Some of the errors are reconstructed from memory, so let me know if I got anything wrong! John: Hey, I want to try out this algorithm I found on Github, it says to use import functionName from packageName and then call functionName(arguments). Seems simple enough! I don’t really need a UI, so I’m gonna use Node! Lea: Sure, Node seems appropriate for this! John runs npm install packageName --save as recommended by the package’s README John runs node index.js Node: Warning: To load an ES module, set "type": "module" in the package.json or use the .mjs extension. SyntaxError: Cannot use import statement outside a module John: But I don’t have a package.json… Lea: Run npm init, it will generate it for you! John runs npm init, goes through the wizard, adds type: "module" manually to the generated package.json. John runs node index.js Node: SyntaxError: Cannot use import statement outside a module Oddly, the error was thrown from an internal module of the project this time. WAT?! Lea: Ok, screw this, just run it in a browser, it’s an ES6 module and it’s just a pure JS algorithm that doesn’t use any Node APIs, it should work. John makes a simple index.html with a &lt;script type="module" src="index.js"&gt; John loads index.html in a browser Nothing in the console. Nada. Crickets. 🦗 Lea: Oh, you need to adjust your module path to import packageName. Node does special stuff to resolve based on node_modules, now you’re in a browser you need to specify an explicit path yourself. John looks, at his filesystem, but there was no node_modules directory. Lea: Oh, you ran npm install before you had a package.json, that’s probably it! Try it again! John runs npm install packageName --save again John: Oh yeah, there is a node_modules now! John desperately looks in node_modules to find the entry point John edits his index.js accordingly, reloads index.html Firefox: Incorrect MIME type: text/html Lea: Oh, you’re in file://! Dude, what are you doing these days without a localhost? Javascript is severely restricted in file:// today. John: But why do I… ok fine, I’m going to start a localhost. John starts localhost, visits his index.html under http://localhost:80 Firefox: Incorrect MIME type: text/html John: Sigh. Do I need to configure my localhost to serve JS files with a text/javascript MIME type? Lea: What? No! It knows this. Um… look at the Networks tab, I suspect it can’t find your module, so it’s returning an HTML page for the 404, then it complains because the MIME type of the error page is not text/javascript. Looks at node_modules again, corrects path. Turns out VS Code collapses folders with only 1 subfolder, which is why we hadn’t noticed. FWIW I do think this is a good usability improvement on VS Code’s behalf, it improves efficiency, but they need to make it more visible that this is what has happened. Firefox: SyntaxError: missing ) after formal parameters Lea: What? That’s coming from the package source, it’s not your fault. I don’t understand… can we look at this line? John clicks at line throwing the error Lea: Oh my goodness. This is not Javascript, it’s Typescript!! With a .js extension!! John: I just wanted to run one line of code to test this algorithm… 😭😭😭 John gives up. Concludes never to touch Node, npm, or ES6 modules with a barge pole. The End. Note that John is a computer scientist that knows a fair bit about the Web: He had Node &amp; npm installed, he knew what MIME types are, he could start a localhost when needed. What hope do actual novices have? .entry-content .entry-meta #post-2969 Post navigation #nav-below Source: Today’s Javascript, from an outsider’s perspective | Lea Verou

    Read at 12:28 pm, May 26th

Day of May 25th, 2020

  • CUNY, Corona, and Communism

    The coronavirus has hit CUNY, where I teach, hard: more than 20 deaths of students, faculty, and staff, and counting. Yet the impact of the virus on CUNY has received almost no press coverage at all.

    Read at 03:30 am, May 26th

  • The Cult of Elon Is Cracking

    Elon Musk has famously devoted fans. They can be found buying Tesla cars, watching SpaceX launches, and praising Musk on Twitter. To his fan base, Musk is a visionary, an idol, even a climate superhero.

    Read at 02:20 am, May 26th

  • How Kushner’s Volunteer Force Led a Fumbling Hunt for Medical Supplies

    This spring, as the United States faced a critical shortage of masks, gloves and other protective equipment to battle the coronavirus pandemic, a South Carolina physician reached out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency with an offer of help. Dr.

    Read at 08:48 pm, May 25th

  • Don’t Be Fooled by America’s Flattening Curve

    Here is America’s coronavirus curve: the number of newly reported cases each day. The curve has started declining moderately from the peak in early April. But that’s not the whole story. Separate the region around New York City and the picture becomes far less rosy.

    Read at 05:21 pm, May 25th

  • There Is Still No Plan

    We’re committed to keeping our readers informed.  We’ve removed our paywall from essential coronavirus news stories. Become a subscriber to support our journalists. Subscribe now. There is still no plan for the end of the coronavirus crisis, for all intents and purposes.

    Read at 05:19 pm, May 25th

  • Kill the Weak

    The internet was never a good place for hypochondriacs, but it is uniquely frightening right now. There’s an invisible murderer somewhere, maybe everywhere. Every twitch, every feeling, every ache, every pain, every sneeze, every skip of the heart might be a symptom.

    Read at 04:58 pm, May 25th

  • Eat the World

    I’ve been hooked on a game called hole.io lately. It’s not the kind of fun that it sounds like, but it is addictive. You play a hole in the ground swallowing plants and people and cars.

    Read at 04:54 pm, May 25th

  • UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

    Updated Britain is sleepwalking into another coronavirus blunder by failing to listen to global consensus and expert analysis with the release of the NHS COVID-19 contact-tracking app.

    Read at 03:34 pm, May 25th

  • Fauci: No scientific evidence the coronavirus was made in a Chinese lab

    Anthony “Tony” Fauci has become the scientific face of America’s COVID-19 response, and he says the best evidence shows the virus behind the pandemic was not made in a lab in China. Fauci, the director of the U.S.

    Read at 03:27 pm, May 25th

  • It is time for a new mantra: Go outside, but do not congregate

    After almost two months of being told to “stay at home,” it’s time for a new mantra. As provinces start easing the restrictions, allowing everything from haircuts to golf games to school openings, we need to loosen the shackles on individuals, too.

    Read at 03:18 pm, May 25th

  • The plan is to have no plan

    In this space I am parking my short description of the de facto plan the Trump government has for getting the United States out of the public health emergency caused by the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is my read on what the government’s guidance and actions amount to.

    Read at 03:13 pm, May 25th

  • Yes, Trump Has a Plan to Deal with COVID-19

    It’s just too monstrous for decent people to contemplate. While I realize Ezra Klein’s latest rhetorical trick is to act astonished when horrible people somehow end up doing horrible things, it becomes a real analytical stumbling block.

    Read at 03:00 pm, May 25th

  • Jeff Sessions snaps back after Trump tells Alabama not to trust him

    After Donald Trump told supporters in Alabama “do not trust” Jeff Sessions and backed his opponent for the Republican Senate nomination, the man Trump trusted to be his first attorney general did something rare: he snapped back.

    Read at 02:55 pm, May 25th

  • Why Won’t TV News Book Tara Reade?

    The stakes are high for the media in the case of a sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden. To hear more audio stories from publishers like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android.

    Read at 02:45 pm, May 25th

  • Admit It: You Are Willing to Let People Die to End the Shutdown

    The question is how many and how soon. In the pandemic, everyone is a moral relativist. CNN’s Jake Tapper was brutally direct in his question to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who recently lifted his state’s stay-at-home order, in favor of a gradual reopening of business.

    Read at 02:40 pm, May 25th

  • Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing

    Ed Yong and Ross Andersen will discuss the challenges of reporting on COVID-19 live at 2 p.m. ET, Thursday, May 7. Register for The Big Story EventCast here. On March 27, as the U.S.

    Read at 02:34 pm, May 25th

Day of May 24th, 2020

  • Why I'm skeptical about Reade's sexual assault claim against Biden: Ex-prosecutor

    A year ago, Tara Reade accused former Vice President Joe Biden of touching her shoulder and neck in a way that made her uncomfortable, when she worked for him as a staff assistant in 1993.

    Read at 03:02 am, May 25th

  • Execute Program

    Read at 02:48 am, May 25th

  • useEffect under the Hood

    The best way I have found to really have an accurate mental model of the programming abstractions I use whether compilers, promises or frameworks like react, it is to crack open the blackbox and understand the essential implementation details.

    Read at 02:45 am, May 25th

  • A former neighbor of Joe Biden's accuser Tara Reade has come forward to corroborate her sexual-assault account, saying Reade discussed the allegations in detail in the mid-1990s

    DOWS&P 500NASDAQ 100 In March, when a former aide to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden accused the candidate of sexually assaulting her in 1993, two people came forward to say that the woman, Tara Reade, had told them of the incident shortly after it allegedly occurred — her brother, Colli

    Read at 02:34 am, May 25th

  • U.S. deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to covid-19

    Sources: Overall death data comes from the National Center for Health Statistics, covid-19 death counts come from state health departments and are compiled by The Washington Post, and estimates for expected deaths come from Yale School of Public Health’s Modeling Unit.

    Read at 11:39 pm, May 24th

  • JS Party #106 : Mikeal schools us on ES Modules with Nick, Divya, KBall, and Mikeal

    Rollbar – We move fast and fix things because of Rollbar. Resolve errors in minutes. Deploy with confidence. Learn more at rollbar.com/changelog.

    Read at 09:51 pm, May 24th

  • Rendering Revealed for MADDD Equities’ 614-Unit Tower at 375 West 207th Street in Inwood - New York YIMBY

    375 West 207th Street Rendering via Maddd Equities Renderings have been revealed of 375 West 207th Street, also known as 3875 Ninth Avenue, a new mixed-use building in Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood. Developed by Maddd Equities and designed by Aufgang Architects, the tower will rise 30 stories and eventually house 614 units. According to the permits filed back in 2018, the 599,121-square-foot development will allocate 484,972 square feet to residential space and 61,664 square feet to commercial space, and include 122 enclosed parking spaces. It is unclear what, if any, amenities will be available to residents. The rendering depicts an orthodox grid of windows and a beige masonry curtain wall. The façade features alternating patterns in varying tones of brown. The first and second stories will house retail space, with frontage along both West 207th Street and Ninth Avenue. The only setback on the street-facing exterior is at the tenth floor of the podium, although others are seen on the northern and eastern elevations. The 20-story tower in same beige façade culminates in a flat parapet. 375 West 207th Street is located two blocks away from the 207th Street subway station, serviced by the 1 train, and four blocks from the 207th Street subway station, serviced by the A train. Subscribe&nbsp;to YIMBY’s daily e-mail Follow&nbsp;the YIMBYgram for real-time photo updates Like&nbsp;YIMBY on Facebook Follow&nbsp;YIMBY’s Twitter for the latest in YIMBYnews 375 West 207th Street Aufgang Architects Inwood Maddd Equities Mixed-Use . Source: Rendering Revealed for MADDD Equities’ 614-Unit Tower at 375 West 207th Street in Inwood – New York YIMBY

    Read at 06:32 pm, May 24th

  • Seattle’s Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead. New York’s Did Not

    The first diagnosis of the coronavirus in the United States occurred in mid-January, in a Seattle suburb not far from the hospital where Dr. Francis Riedo, an infectious-disease specialist, works.

    Read at 03:50 pm, May 24th

  • Web Performance Recipes With Puppeteer

    This guide has recipes for automating Web Performance measurement with Puppeteer. An accompanying GitHub repository for this write-up is also available.

    Read at 01:29 pm, May 24th

  • Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)

    How times change, and how quickly.  Only yesterday, it seems, the media were raking Bernie Sanders over the coals, while Wall Street fretted about what a Sanders presidency might do to the market. Now, Radio Silence, or something like that.

    Read at 01:23 pm, May 24th

  • Stop apologizing for bugs

    For the last year or so, I’ve made a conscious effort to stop apologizing for bugs in my code. Apologizing for bugs is very tempting. I used to do it a lot.

    Read at 01:17 pm, May 24th

  • A tale of two outbreaks: Upper Manhattan taking hardest COVID-19 hit in borough

    From the northernmost tip of Manhattan in Inwood down to East Harlem, communities across Upper Manhattan have suffered the most during the coronavirus outbreak, according to data from the city’s Health Department.

    Read at 01:03 pm, May 24th

  • The History of the Future

    Here are the transcript and slides of the talk I gave today at CUNY. Well, not at CUNY. The conference was called "Toward an Open Future," as I guess you might gather from my presentation. Thank you very much for inviting me to speak to you today.

    Read at 01:01 pm, May 24th

  • Opposed to Bailouts, but in This Case Willing to Take One

    Some conservative nonprofit groups are seeking financial help to weather the coronavirus crisis. Some liberal organizations are putting aside different qualms to make the same request.

    Read at 12:13 pm, May 24th

  • Auditing Campaigns: Bernie 2020 and the Future of DSA

    I like Andrew Sernatinger’s writing a lot. He is a very thoughtful writer, especially about DSA, and that contemplative care is a major benefit when the organization can get misdirected due to the skew of not-so-thoughtful social media.

    Read at 12:07 pm, May 24th