Newsletter #152: Who Is Spying On These Protests?

Hello Recompilers,

Last week I scaled the side of my house to put up a new antenna, and my rural internet is all the richer for it. Now it’s even easier to doomscroll my way through the slow apocalypse!

If you haven’t yet, check out Recompiler’s Reasons and Strategies for Avoiding Obsolete Terms, which lays out exactly why and how to replace “master/slave” in programming with “primary/replica,” written by Erin Grace. It’s an excerpt from the book The Responsible Communication Style Guide Supplement on Python.


Tech isn’t neutral, of course. It’s built with intentions, or prejudices, in mind. But it’s still being used by both (all?) sides of the current uprising in the states. A tech company released a “demographics report” on 17,000 protestors they tracked surreptitiously, with no accountability about whom they might sell that information to. And Arizona cops used drones to target protestors for arrest. On the other hand, activists are beaming free wifi to protestors at the NYC city hall occupation. Even more promising, SeaGlass is a system designed to track IMSI-catchers (the notorious “stingrays” used by police to intercept phone data) and its developers are working with ridesharing drivers to better map out police surveillance.

In the US, the measly protections and handouts given to people to help them stay at home during the pandemic are starting to run out even as COVID continues to ramp up. An eviction wave looms, unemployment benefits are ending, and ISPs are reinstating the data caps they dropped to help people stay sheltered. Oh, and, proving the US not only doesn’t know how to handle a pandemic, but is also run by selfish monsters, the US has bought up the world’s supply of remdesivir, a life-saving drug for those with COVID.


Worst Year Ever Talks Antifa With a Lawyer
Maybe, like me, you got a little bit worried when the President of the largest military force in the world declared “antifa” a domestic terrorist group. Can he do that? I mean, yes, he can say that, because he can say anything he wants. It’s not legally binding, but that doesn’t always matter. Host Robert Evans talks to the amazingly talented movement lawyer Moira Meltzer-Cohen about exactly what the announcement does and doesn’t mean.

Conference Talk of the Week:

This talk is part of our “Favorite Talks” YouTube Playlist. Check it out and subscribe! 

Decoding bias and narrative in competitive video games

Kim-Adeline Miguel talks at PyCon 2020 about her work using python to understand the bias in coverage of Overwatch.


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This newsletter compiled by Margaret Killjoy (@magpiekilljoy). Margaret is an author, activist, and musician based in Appalachia. Her most recent book series is the Danielle Cain novella series, which starts with The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion.

Image by Mike Shaheen (CC BY 2.0)