July 15th, 2017

Speaking truth to power--and that ain't all


Gretchen Rachel Hammond was suspended as a reporter for the Windy City Times after the journalist broke a story about women carrying rainbow flags emblazoned with the Star of David being asked by Chicago Dyke March organizers to leave a rally following the march (previously). This isn't the first time this year Hammond has been the subject, rather than the author, of a Chicago news story. In January, she sued the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Hammond, a former fund-raiser for the victim advocacy group, charged that SNAP exploited victims of sexual abuse by clergy in return for financial kickbacks from attorneys. In the months following the filing of the suit, both the founder/president and executive director of the Chicago-based organization resigned.

Hammond's involvement with the Windy City Times has moved beyond the pages of the publication several times in her career. She covered a case in which a transgender woman was held for almost for years in the maximum security male division of the Cook County Jail. Supporters of Eisha Love credited Hammond's reporting in helping to secure a plea deal that allowed her to be released for "time served" after pleading guilty to a single count of battery.

The journalist was inspired by another reporter's story to donate her kidney to LV Jodan, a reader of the Windy City Times and one of the first Chicago women to wed her partner after marriage equality became legal.

Essential breaks and beats and drum'n'bass from Calibre and Mura Masa


If you're a fan of drum and bass and other beat-driven music, the past two BBC Essential Mixes have been gems. Last week saw the relative up-and-comer Alex Crossan, aka Mura Masa, blend vintage jungle sounds with a range of modern styles (BBC, MixesDB, Global DJ Mix), from Thom Yorke to MF Doom. The week prior, Dominick Martin, aka Calibre, spun two hours in the studio, oscillating between drum'n'bass and more ambient soundscapes (BBC, MixesDB, Global DJ Mix), weaving in a bit of Charles Bukowski to set the mood. Where Mura Masa presented in advance of his new self-titled album (streaming via Spotify embedded), Calibre has a dozen albums to date, with his newest, The Deep (official track samples on YouTube), released this past March. More music and musing below the break.

Mura Masa's new record is "brimming with nowness," with "dancehall-lite tones of [the] slightly problematic ... tropical house," though "Mura Masa manages to miraculously transcend its generic core" (Guardian), and his production is paired with A$AP Rocky, Charli XCX, Jamie Lidell, A.K. Paul and Damon Albarn. Contrary to most reviews calling that album his debut, this is actually his second. His first, Soundtrack to a Death (Bandcamp), was released in 2014 on the JAKARTA label. "Soundtrack" has a lot of the same mellow "tropical" dance/house vibes as his new album, but without the bevy of guest artists found on his new album. And some of his new album features older tracks, like the A$AP Rocky-featuring remix (official video) of the stunning Lovesick (Fuck) (official audio), which came out in 2015 on the Someday Somewhere EP (Bandcamp). As seen on Discogs Crossan also has a few more singles out as Mura Masa, plus official videos on YouTube.

Calibre, on the other hand, is an older name on the drum'n'bass scene, with 12 albums (and a ton of singles and EPs) to his name. The Signature Recordings founder has championed a unique brand of future Funk and syncopated Soul that has left an indelible imprint on the Drum & Bass landscape forever (The Sound Advice). But with his prior album, Grow (sample of tracks on Soundcloud), Martin ditched his usual drum & bass fare, but it's still full of high tempos, low-end menace and bluesy atmospheres, touching on deep house and dubstep, if you're looking to pin down a genre or two. Flip back to the prior record, Spill ("full album mix" by a fan, on YouTube), very much so Calibre and a bit more feel-good in comparison to previous albums (DNB Dose). Calibre and Signature Recordings haven't posted any videos to YouTube, but there are track samples there (and a copy of his recent Essential Mix, fwiw).

Make and share your own Mega Man levels!


The just-released (and unfortunately Windows-only) Mega Maker allows players to use a simple interface to build and share Mega Man levels using selected assets from the original games. There's a trailer here and you might want to read this interview with the creator about his process, comparisons to Mario Maker, and why he's not concerned about the possibility of a DMCA takedown.

I'm definitely hoping to see some folks posting their level IDs here.

Maryam Mirzakhani, 1977-2017


Mathematician Maryam Mirzhakhani, known for her exceptional contributions in dynamics, hyperbolic geometry, and the theory of Riemann surfaces (e.g. this collection of papers and the results here (all pdf)), as well as for being the first woman to win the Fields Medal, often described as the "Nobel Prize of mathematics", has died of cancer, aged 40. One can find her work here.

Maryam Mirzakhani, 1977-2017


Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, known for her exceptional contributions in dynamics, hyperbolic geometry, and the theory of Riemann surfaces (e.g. this collection of papers and the results here (all pdf)), as well as for being the first woman to win the Fields Medal, often described as the "Nobel Prize of mathematics", has died of cancer, aged 40. One can find her work here.

"I am slowly backing away from this game I love."


If You Hear Someone Getting Harassed In An Online Game, Don't Stay Silent by Cecilia D'Anastasio [Kotaku]
"I think we'd do better with a healer," I suggested to my Overwatch team earlier this week. We were in the spawn room defending the Temple of Anubis and, without a healer, we would quickly forfeit the objective. Not even the slightest pause passed before a teammate told me that, instead, "What we need is another man."
This frustrating incident was sandwiched between two other matches, and in each, a teammate had snarked on my gender after I had attempted to strategize through voice chat. Earlier, I was referred to as "that fuckin' bitch" when I asked whether we felt good about our team composition. And, in the spawn room of Horizon Lunar Colony later that night, after wishing my team good luck, I was asked: "Can you play? I just want to know. I'm so curious. Do you know how to play Overwatch?" On no occasion did any other player on these six-person teams say anything about it.

"Of course, Brandless is a brand"


At 4 days old, Brandless sells household products in minimalist packaging online for $3 or less. It has industry veterans at the helm who see the opportunity to disrupt the market and $50 million from willing investors. How do you brand "brandless"? You start by trademarking a white box listing its descriptors like organic, non-GMO, no added sugar, no artificial preservatives, and gluten free.

Meanwhile, for those looking for a hot take: Jezebel asks "Why Does This No-Brand Brand Creep Me Out So Much?"

"...we're correcting you. XOXO Science."


Dr. Jen Gunter is an MD who is a board-certified OB/GYN and also an active blogger. She recently took on Gwenyth Paltrow's Goop empire in a blog post where she examined a number of its fraudulent medical claims, citing concern for how, when taken seriously, these claims can negatively affect her patients. In a follow-up post, Gunter has called their response to her science-based criticism "a mansplaining, misogynistic hit job."

From Gunter's response to GOOP's criticism:

The editors at GOOP find me "strangely confident" in my "assertion that putting a crystal in your vagina for pelvic-floor strengthening exercises would put you in danger of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome—even though there is no study/case/report which links the two." I am not strangely confident about vaginal health, I am appropriately confident because I am the expert. I did 4 years of medical school, a 5 year OB/GYN residency, a 1 year fellowship in infectious diseases, I am board certified in OB/GYN in 2 countries, I am board certified by the American Board of Pain Medicine and the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Pain Medicine and I am appropriately styled Dr. Jen Gunter MD, FRCS(C), FACOG, DABPM, ABPM (pain). A woman with no medical training who tells women to walk around with a jade egg in their vaginas all day, a jade egg that they can recharge with the energy of the moon no less, is the strangely confident one.

"This stuff matters. We need less goopy nonsense and more fearless, blunt and science-informed debunkers such as Dr. Gunter."

Dr. Jen Gunter, previously.

The problem of race in interracial porn


Glamour magazine asks: Does Mainstream Porn have a Race Problem?
Other excellent articles: The Anti-Blackness of Interracial Porn: "Interracial porn is a present day articulation of miscegenation/antimiscegenation." Pornography and Race: "[Pornographic] films... trade in the long-standing racist myth that black men are more animalistic, sexually violent and less evolved than white men. " Why Are Whites Always the Bottom in Interracial Porn?: "The buyer is white, and he doesn't want to see it. He wants the Mandingo experience: a forceful submission to a hypersexual, superaggressive, hung-like-the-Florida-Panhandle street thug." An Open Letter To Gay Porn Studios About Interracial Videos: "The pressure for a black man to perform as the insatiable 'mandingo' top is a tired and unimaginative stereotype that does not reflect real life."

nsfw text, obviously. Borderline-nsfw images.

Images of classical Chinese artworks


The English-language website of Taiwan's National Palace Museum has over two thousand images available from its archive in high quality scans. You can search by keyword or browse by dynasty and category. For instance, you can take a look at Ming-era paintings, Song-era jade craftworks or Ch'ing-era ceramics. You can also download images from recent expeditions. If you haven't had your fill, you can then browse the museum's Chinese language websites for painting and antiquities, which have a combined 70 thousand images. If you don't know Chinese and want to use the search function, Google Translate might be of some help.