A Slack bot to alert about missing children

A Slack bot to alert about missing children

Slack screenshot of MissingKidsBot

Slack screenshot of MissingKidsBot

From the product page of MissingKidsBot, built by David Markovich and Daniel Doubrovkine:

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States — that’s roughly 2,000 per day.

This is a really great idea, and something everyone with a Slack group should consider adding. However small the chances are that you’ll ever see something that might help with one of these alerts, a child’s life will always be worth it.

Nerds can look at the code over on Github. And those of you who don’t use Slack should keep an eye out for MissingKidsBot on Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp.

Apple users targeted in first known Mac ransomware campaign

Apple users targeted in first known Mac ransomware campaign

Jim Finkle reports for Reuters:

Hackers infected Macs through a tainted copy of a popular program known as Transmission, which is used to transfer data through the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing network, Palo Alto said on a blog posted on Sunday afternoon.

The cynical part of me wonders whether this is a clever move by one or more media companies to discourage the use of BitTorrent clients.

I know, maybe I need to order a tin-foil hat. But when even Kanye is pirating stuff it’s really time to bust out some innovative new tactics.

The perils of marriage equality

The perils of marriage equality

Professor Kimberly Mutcherson of Rutgers Law School writes at Concurring Opinions about Professor Katherine Franke’s recent book ‘Wedlocked: the Perils of Marriage Equality’:

We do not want to reinforce familial hierarchies by forcing people into specific family arrangements in order to warrant recognition (2 parents only), nor do we want to fetishize outsider families such that those who do not fit that model are denigrated for their choices (i.e., the adoptive parents who choose a closed adoption or the birth mother who opts for such an adoption thus perhaps not being queer enough in their choices). In thinking about the ways in which reproductive justice calls for us to respect the right to have a child, not have a child, or parent that child in a safe and healthy environment, the upshot for me is that the reproductive justice paradigm does not demand that outsider families conform to some particular form in order to help dismantle hierarchy.

I have thought about this concern since undergrad, where postcolonial literature, feminism and even semiotics courses touched on the nature of othering as an active verb, something done to a group of people. I was lucky enough to take a course in law school called Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and the Law with Professor Leonore F. Carpenter which expanded my understanding and interest in the dynamics of queer identity, family and legal frameworks.

The specific concern with which I’ve been preoccupied since then is that there is a danger in radical acceptance or the success of various equality movements. The danger I see is in achieving a nominal or “seat at the table” equality that normalizes othered groups to the frameworks of the groups that have historically done the othering.

One infuriating example of how I think about this stuff is the so-called equality of separate-but-equal, which of course was not equality at all. In the case of race, equality is not allowing non-white people to do all the stuff white people are allowed to do, but allowing non-white people to do whatever it is non-white people want to do, which is really what has always been allowed to white Americans.

I see Professors Franke and Mutcherson making a similar point about the danger of seeing marriage equality as squeezing queer couples and families into 1) heteronormative cis-gendered and/or culturally/racially segregated family models or 2) altogether new models, sometimes developed by hand-wavingly obnoxious if well-intentioned hetero-cis folks. Maybe I’m mistaken, but the overall approach as I see it being explained by these two scholars is essentially to stop putting up new roads and signs for queer families and just get the hell out of the way.

Read Mutcherson’s entire post, it’s worth it. And I’ve added “Wedlocked’ to my Kindle wishlist, which is growing faster than I can keep up.

Re: Dumb conspiracy theories on Scalia’s death

Enough with the conspiracy theories about Justice Scalia’s death

I read this earlier today:

“As a former homicide commander, I am stunned that no autopsy was ordered for Justice Scalia,” William O. Ritchie wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday, according to reports. After seeking to cast doubt on the conclusion of the deputy U.S. marshals who responded to a call from the ranch, he added, “My gut tells me there is something fishy going on in Texas.”

My gut tells me there is some fishing for attention going on in the head of the former D.C. police officer who said that.

Why?

Let’s consider this:

  1. Why?
  2. Why??
  3. Why???

Was it a Liberal conspiracy to get President Obama one more lasting decision about the future of United States legal policy?

Was it a “Conservative” conspiracy to give Congressional Republicans and presidential candidates something “meaningful” to “stand up” to Obama about?

Was it Ancient Aliens?

There was no autopsy, they say! There was a pillow above his head, they say! The President was told long before anyone else, they say (as if the President doesn’t get most of the news before everyone else…)!

Conspiracy theorists demand: “What is your proof Scalia wasn’t murdered?”

These stupid theories remind me of one of the frequent arguments levied against atheists: “What is your proof that there is no god??”

Who proved god exists in the first place?

Pillows

Many articles note the ranch owner who found Scalia said there was a pillow above his head, and many conspiracy theorists point to this as suspicious. I sleep with a pillow over my head every night, and another one underneath it, using the two to drown out the sounds of an increasingly conspiratorial world so I can maintain my slumber all night long.

No conspiracy. Just a light sleeper.

Politics aside

I disagreed with much of Justice Scalia’s Supreme Court jurisprudence but his presence on the Court was invaluable to the development of United States law and the debates from which it springs.

He articulated his positions in such a way that I (almost always) respected them, even when I found it hard to believe someone so intelligent was seriously asserting them. He was rarely conclusory, giving reasons for his views, and whether you agreed with those reasons or not, that’s more than most politicians (and lawyers) usually do.

His death is a loss, but there are few more certain paths to some sort of immortality than thirty years on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Photo: Then-nominee Antonin Scalia, right, with President Ronald Reagan in 1986, via Wikipedia

Retiring founder wants $1M for his SCOTUS audio archive

Retiring founder wants $1M for his SCOTUS audio archive

Oyez is a robust archive of audio recordings and other information spanning much of the history of the Supreme Court of the United States. Its founder Chicago-Kent College of Law Professor Jerry Goldman is looking for a buyer as he nears retirement. Jess Bravin reports at the Wall Street Journal:

The sticking point, however, isn’t the annual budget; Harvard Law School, for one, has offered to pick up the operating cost. But Mr. Goldman also wants to be paid for the sweat he’s put into his baby–or at least the intellectual property it represents—something he estimates is worth well over $1 million.

Here comes an entitled opinion right here: A decision to somehow “close down” Oyez if no one is willing to put up six or seven figures for it would be morally bankrupt and stain Professor Goldman’s otherwise admirable legacy.

No Rey, No Way

LucasFilm to toy vendors: No Rey

Michael Boehm at Sweatpants and Coffee:

The insider, who was at those meetings, described how initial versions of many of the products presented to Lucasfilm featured Rey prominently. At first, discussions were positive, but as the meetings wore on, one or more individuals raised concerns about the presence of female characters in the Star Wars products. Eventually, the product vendors were specifically directed to exclude the Rey character from all Star Wars-related merchandise, said the insider.

I want to be infuriated and surprised by this revelation, but I’m just infuriated.

U.S. DOT paving way for self-driving cars (and a Klingons aside)

U.S. DOT paving way for self-driving cars

Chris Ziegler reports at The Verge:

DOT and NHTSA will develop the new tools necessary for this new era of vehicle safety and mobility, and will seek new authorities when they are necessary to ensure that fully autonomous vehicles, including those designed without a human driver in mind, are deployable in large numbers when demonstrated to provide an equivalent or higher level of safety than is now available.

This is far more progressive than I expected the federal government to be on the autonomous transportation vehicle front, primarily for safety reasons. It’s good news.

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