A recent discussion on HackerNews about the Bitwarden funding round included something which I found a very compelling idea and have been thinking about it for the past two days. The idea was a nonprofit that managed and provided privacy and security tools. I find this compelling because it would, ostensibly, remove the slippery capitalistic slope and hopefully ensure a service users could trust.
The closest example I know of is Mozilla, makers of the Firefox browser (my browser of choice.) And they do provide a number of tools in this realm such as password management (though, only through the Firefox browser) as well as email protection (when you don't want to give your real email, they provide a redirection) and even a VPN tool.
My first bit of criticism is that with few exceptions, these tools funnel through Firefox and are not standalone offerings. Which, in the larger scope, is a minor thing as more and more computer-based activities become online-based driven through the web browser. The biggest pain point, and the reason I don't use Firefox's built in password manager, is that I also utilize it for credentials which I need outside of the browser. So, for example, I have Bitwarden's desktop client installed on my mobile phone and laptop.
My other criticism of them (in the vein of this discussion, admittedly I do not know enough to know if this is really a problem.) Organizationally, they utilize a corporation within their nonprofit structure. There is a very good chance that there is a sound reason for this that has to do with taxes or benefits, etc. though for people like myself it seems like a way to just make more money without the restrictions of a nonprofit. A cursory Google search says the top reason is to "separate activities from the parent company," which I interpret as being: "So we can make more money."
My resistance, and the entire reason a nonprofit seems interesting, is that it removes the capitalistic incentives for the company and lets it focus on the moral incentives. The downside being the criticism which I saw in the HN conversation, this is a demotivator for employees. If they joined it as a 'startup' then they have financial motivations which likely are being rewarded by the Bitwarden VC funding round, for example.
Perhaps this entire idea is pipe dream, but I find it an enticing one. I'd love to start this sort of nonprofit and try to develop it into a sustainable for-good enterprise.
"Monumental Diplomacy" - North Korea's role in world monuments and their ties to Namibia
I have not finished it yet as my commute is blessedly shorter than a single episode of the 99% Invisible, but I am finding this episode to be quite fascinating. I had no idea that North Korea is a major player in the world monument and architecture scene, especially in Africa. And it started before they became the hermetic nation of today (or, at least, in the earliest days of the nation's independence.) Also, the episode has been a good dip into the history of Namibia and how it relates to colonialism and South Africa's apartheid. I had no idea Namibia had once been a German colony in Africa.
Edit: Finished this episode this afternoon and it is excellent. It definitely starts hitting on some of the more interesting and politically angled directions North Korea's design team takes, as well as hammering on the slavish life these workers live while acknowledging the artists who create the monuments etc. are comparatively well taken care of. In addition they don't miss the chance to point out the existence of Mount Rushmore in our own bit of propogandist monuments.
"Stop using 'Latinx' if you really want to be inclusive"
In July 2022, Argentina and Spain released public statements banning the use of Latinx, or any gender-neutral variant. Both governments reasoned that these new terms are violations of the rules of the Spanish language.
Latinx is used as an individual identity for those who are gender-nonconforming, and it can also describe an entire population without using “Latinos,” which is currently the default in Spanish for a group of men and women.
Many academics might feel compelled to continue to use Latinx because they fought hard to have it recognized by their institutions or have already published the term in an academic journal. But there is a much better gender-inclusive alternative, one that's been largely overlooked by the U.S. academic community and is already being used in Spanish-speaking parts of Latin America, especially among young social activists in those countries.
It's "Latine" – pronounced "lah-teen-eh" – and it's far more adaptable to the Spanish language. It can be implemented as articles – "les" instead of "los" or "las," the words for "the." When it comes to pronouns, "elle" can become a singular form of "they" and used in place of the masculine "él" or feminine "ella," which translate to "he" and "she." It can also be readily applied to most nationalities, such as "Mexicane" or "Argentine."
"Trump presented his Russia hoax theory to a court. It went poorly."
The opening to this article is so good:
One of the hallmarks of Donald Trump's tenure in American politics has been the extent to which he remained cocooned in his own world.
As president, that was often literal: He moved from the White House to his properties to tightly controlled events and to boisterous political rallies, rarely coming across critics or skeptics. It was also true of his presence in the public conversation. He had his Twitter universe and his Fox News conversations and he was content. Outsiders would peek in and report on what he was doing and saying and how it was received, but with a Star-Trek like result: There was no observable impact on the universe being watched.
It was a rhetorical terrarium, self-contained and self-sufficient. An ecosystem where nonsense thrived and spread, where false accusations competed Darwinistically for dominance. So his vague dismissals of the Russia investigation as a hoax in early 2017 had, by 2021, become complicated organisms, vines stretching and intertwining throughout the pro-Trump media universe.
And the finishing, while not as strong as the opening is quite good as well:
The judge made very clear that he understood Trump's suit for what it obviously is.
"At its core, the problem with Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is that Plaintiff is not attempting to seek redress for any legal harm ... instead, he is seeking to flaunt a two-hundred-page political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him, and this Court is not the appropriate forum," he wrote.
The appropriate forum is cable news or Truth Social. You can't simply pluck a mushroom off a rotting log and transplant it onto a table and expect it to thrive. It needs the right environment, one in which credulity and fealty are abundant.
The real world is simply too inhospitable.
The US marked its 1,000,000th organ transplant today
The history of Tresigallo Italy
Add this one to the list of places I want to visit and dive into the history of.
In the 1930s, the Italian village of Tresigallo was the site of an extraordinary experiment. Wide avenues, tall buildings, grand squares, stadiums, hotels, restaurants, sanatoriums, gyms, and factories were constructed, transforming this impoverished village of 500 inhabitants into a “utopian city” which could be replicated across Fascist Italy.
But these weren’t just hastily built prefab structures; they were works of astonishing beauty, blending the metaphysical dreamscapes of Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico with the latest trends in modernism to create an urban environment quite unlike anywhere else.
I am tempted to excerpt much of the article simply out of fascination with it. Just go read it. You'll find it interesting as well. I did a quick search and it seems no full book has been written about this city's history, which is a shame - it seems ripe for some infotainment beyond this article.
Got my the new Booster
My 2nd booster, the newly approved Pfizer one. Six hours after taking it I feel exhausted. It might have been the rough week at work, or it might be the shot. We'll see how I feel in the morning.
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