Tuesday, 19 September

16:00 EDT

Unwanted ads on Breitbart lead to massive click fraud revelations, Uber claims [Ars Technica]

Enlarge (credit: Bloomberg / Getty Images News)

Uber has sued an advertising firm, Fetch Media, over allegations that the British firm and its Japanese parent company, Dentsu, fraudulently billed Uber tens of millions of dollars for various fake online ads.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday afternoon in federal court in San Francisco, Uber first realized that something was wrong when, earlier this year, the company began receiving complaints that its ads were appearing on Breitbart, a well-known conservative news website. Uber had specifically requested that its ads not appear on Breitbart at all.

However, when Uber looked into the matter, "the publisher-reported name of the websites and mobile applications where Uber advertisements supposedly appeared did not match the actual URL accessed. For example, one publisher retained by Fetch reported clicks on Uber ads as coming from placements such as 'Magic_Puzzles' and 'Snooker_Champion.'"

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Setback for group seeking “hockey stick” climate scientists’ e-mails [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / The gloves came off long ago. (credit: John McArthur)

Those prone to rejecting the conclusions of climate science sometimes fixate on weird things. For years, there has been a concerted effort to prove that a specific paleoclimate record—often referred to as “the hockey stick” because of the sharp rise at the end—was somehow fraudulent. It doesn't seem to matter that many other researchers have replicated and advanced those findings. These people seem to feel that all of climate science would come crashing down if you could just dig up a golden e-mail that reveals a dastardly scheme.

The original record was partly the work of Michael E. Mann, now at Penn State, and he has been hounded ever since. There have been a number of attempts to get universities to turn over his e-mails over the years. But last year, an effort targeting one of Mann’s colleagues in Arizona seemed to have finally found success.

A group called the Energy and Environment (E&E) Legal Institute had turned from Mann and instead focused on Malcom Hughes and James Overpeck at the University of Arizona. E&E Legal filed a broad Freedom of Information Act request in 2011, trying to obtain 10 years’ worth of their e-mails with fellow researchers. When the university rejected the request based on legal protections for the data and communications of researchers, E&E Legal sued in 2013. Two years later, the court decided in favor of the University of Arizona.

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In a 'Plot Twist', Wikileaks Releases Documents It Claims Detail Russia Mass Surveillance Apparatus [Slashdot]

WikiLeaks, believed by many to be a Kremlin front, surprised some observers Tuesday morning (Snowden called it a "plot twist") when it released documents linking a Russian tech company with access to thousands of citizens' telephone and internet communications with Moscow. From a report: Writing a summary of the cache of mostly Russian-language documents, Wikileaks claims they show how a long-established Russian company which supplies software to telcos is also installing infrastructure, under state mandate, that enables Russian state agencies to tap into, search and spy on citizens' digital activity -- suggesting a similar state-funded mass surveillance program to the one utilized by the U.S.'s NSA or by GCHQ in the U.K. (both of which were detailed in the 2013 Snowden disclosures). The documents which Wikileaks has published (there are just 34 "base documents" in this leak) relate to a St. Petersburg-based company, called Peter-Service, which it claims is a contractor for Russian state surveillance. The company was set up in 1992 to provide billing solutions before going on to become a major supplier of software to the mobile telecoms industry.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Powerful Earthquake Shakes Mexico On 32nd Anniversary Of Deadly Temblor [News : NPR]

A woman reacts to a real earthquake in Mexico City on Tuesday, just as an earthquake drill was being held in the capital.

The magnitude 7.1 quake Tuesday roiled Mexico City, rattling buildings and prompting people to flee into the streets. The quake arrived 32 years to the day after another catastrophe killed thousands.

(Image credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Women's Roles In Gangs [News : NPR]


One teenager reveals how the possibility of power drew her in.

(Image credit: Jamie Hibdon/WBEZ)

Latest GOP Effort To Replace Obamacare Could End Health Care For Millions [News : NPR]

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, and Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, listen during a health reform news conference on Capitol Hill last week.

Republicans are taking one last shot at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But the new plan isn't much different than the last one that failed.

(Image credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Walt Disney reviews work-in-progress "Pirates of the Caribbean" [Boing Boing]

Walt Disney shows off a ride in production, "Pirates of the Caribbean" to Miss Disneyland-Tencennial.

It is amazing to see my favorite ride at Disneyland at this point in its life. During my first visit, my grandmother lost her wig on the second sharp waterfall drop. My father had to fish it out. Cemented my love of that ride forever.

Sadly, Walt seems a little condescending.

Alabama Senate leading candidate Roy Moore refers to Native Americans and Asians as "reds and yellows" [Boing Boing]

Wow. One of Alabama's Senate candidates, Roy Moore, refers to Native Americans as "reds" and Asians as "yellows." He is competing with – and leading – Sen. Luther Strange in the GOP Senate runoff next week.

In a speech on Sunday, he said, "We were torn apart in the Civil War — brother against brother, North against South, party against party. What changed?

Now we got blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

Oh shit. This is the same crackpot who told CNN last week that 9/11 was probably God's way of punishing non-believers.

According to The Hill:

Moore's campaign told The Hill the remarks were taken out of context. "'Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world,'" the campaign said in a statement, in an apparent reference to the religious song "Jesus Loves the Little Children."

"This is the gospel. If we take it seriously, America can once again be united as one nation under God."

Moore leads Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in all recent public polling of the runoff. The winner of that contest will advance to the general election and be expected to beat a Democrat to serve out the rest of Attorney General Jeff Sessions's term.

Nature did not intend that you put those colors there! [Pharyngula]

Oh, my. Some researchers have discovered that pigments in tattoo inks can, over the years, wander out of the tattoo into places like lymph nodes. They have not, however, identified any danger or harm from this phenomenon. All I can muster is a weary, “So?”. This shouldn’t be at all surprising.

Next up: scientists will discover that the skin texture under your tattoo will change with age, that the shape of your body can distort the shape of your tattoos, and most horrifyingly, that people with tattoos have pigmented inks permanently discoloring their skin!

Please. Education is not a horserace. [Pharyngula]

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t use the classroom to proselytize atheism. I have a job to do, and that is to help the students learn biology, and that’s all I care about — that they graduate after a few years and understand the concepts and can apply them, and if can do that while believing in Jesus or Allah, that’s just fine.

There’s another thing I don’t do, and that is penalize them for their health or situation. You’ve got clinical depression or your grandmother died or you had a nasty break-up with your romantic friend? I’ll make what accommodations I can, because I want you to get through all of that and learn biology. That’s all I can judge you on, is your mastery of the material, but I will welcome any changes that can help you out.

But all too often I run into non-academics (and sometimes even academics) who don’t understand this basic idea, that we’re supposed to help our students learn. So someone like Margaret Wente can write drivel like “Why treat university students like fragile flowers?”

The first answer is that we don’t. We have standards that have to be met in order to pass a course, and they’re not “be free of mental health concerns” or “have a stable family life” or “be rich enough that you don’t have to work part-time”. If you have an illness that makes mastering the course material difficult for you, that doesn’t mean you get a free pass; it means you should talk to me and I’ll do what I can to give you the opportunity to learn it in spite of your handicap. My job is to make all the flowers blossom, not to make half of them wither if they need a little extra watering.

However, there are things that Wente objects to.

Today, any proper university has registered therapy dogs to cheer you up. If exams have you down, drop in for a lick and a cuddle and you’ll feel better in no time. And if you’re too depressed because of Grandma, no problem. The disability office will provide you with a private room and extra time to write your final. Your professor never even needs to know.

Today, colleges and universities are highly concerned with the mental well-being of their students. Student distress, we’re told, is at an all-time high. It’s the pressure. The competition. Social media. Career anxiety. Long commutes. Money worries. Cyberbullying.

Therapy dogs are bad? Why? I want a therapy puppy to visit when grading gets me down! I suspect students learn better when they’re less stressed. All I care about, remember, is student learning.

I have students who take their exams at our office of student learning. We have students with agoraphobia, with test anxiety, who are easily distracted, who have language issues and need extra time. Why shouldn’t they get an environment that reduces those concerns and allows them to demonstrate their knowledge better? Why does Margaret Wente think learning has to be a stress test?

Meanwhile, the definition of “disability” – originally used for physical issues – has expanded beyond recognition. Now, it includes not only learning disabilities, but all manner of mental, social and cognitive disorders – anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD, PTSD and the like. These may also require special accommodation. As a consequence, universities now routinely give students extra time to write exams and finish assignments. But not all professors are happy about this. But it’s not up to them any more – it’s up to the ever-expanding disability bureaucracy.

Wait. So we should accommodate ex-military students, for instance, who’ve had an arm blown off, because that’s a visible injury, but students with bodies intact but suffering from PTSD don’t count? Why? If my university provides the resources to reduce anxiety for anxiety-prone students, why shouldn’t we take advantage of it? It’s not as if anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD, or PTSD make you stupid and incapable of learning cell biology or genetics; it means there are extra hurdles for you to overcome, and hey, if we can clear away the barriers to learning, I’m all for it.

But they get extra benefits, like more time to work on an exam, and that’s not fair! It’s also not fair to be afflicted depression or migraines or PTSD. We’re not demanding that every student be equally traumatized to create a level playing field, you know. The mistake is to think of education as a game where there are winners and losers rather than an experience in which we try to make sure every single student comes out at the end with more knowledge. It’s not a competition.

Wente finds someone who shares her barbaric attitudes.

Bruce Pardy, a law professor at Queen’s University, thinks the accommodation industry has gone too far. Giving someone with mental-health problems extra time to write an exam doesn’t level the playing field, he says. It simply tilts the playing field against everybody else. As he wrote recently: “The purpose of exams and assignments is not merely to test knowledge, comprehension, and analytical ability but to do so under conditions that require poise, organization, forward planning, and grace under pressure.” He says it’s like letting someone with a limp start at the 20-metre mark in a 100-metre race. The results are meaningless.

Stop with the “playing field” bullshit already! It’s not a race. It’s not a contest. I’m not trying to determine who “wins” in my cell biology class. I do test “knowledge, comprehension, and analytical ability”, because I want the students to be prepared for the next course in the sequence, or for graduate/professional school, or the workplace.

If you want to demand grace under pressure, though, I can cover that. I’ve got students who are working two jobs to pay for college. I’ve got students from broken homes. I’ve got students who were poorly served by their high schools who are working twice as hard to catch up. If we must analogize it to a race, these are students who start 20-meters behind the other students, and Pardy is complaining that we are trying to help them get to the starting line before the starting gun. We’re still going to insist that they make it to the finish line to get credit, and we even evaluate them on their performance. To decide a priori that the person with the limp can do nothing to get around the meaninglessness of their efforts is heartless and wrong.

I have no idea who Wente is, but I’m going to guess she’s conservative, and the Canadian version of a Republican. The callous disregard for others’ situation, the lack of empathy, and the inability to imagine the utility of helping all to succeed, rather than just the “winners”, is a giveaway.

I’m sure that went over well [Pharyngula]

Donald Trump spoke at the UN, and threatened to murder 25 million people if he doesn’t get his way.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea unless Pyongyang backs down from its nuclear challenge, mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.

Benjamin Netanyahu liked it.

It is well past time to depose this madman.

Where is Pizza Most Expensive (and Cheapest) in America? [Priceonomics Blog]

Ranking the cities and states where pizza is most expensive and prevalent.

Busting Stereotypes [Latest Articles]

A sign at the Standing Rock protest against the North Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Joe Brusky (Creative Commons). 

Editor’s Note: We are republishing this story in honor of Indigenous People’s Day, which is September 22. Please click here to read more of our coverage about Native Americans.

It is essential to acknowledge the diversity among Indigenous women in the United States. They are citizens of hundreds of distinctive Native nations that have particular cultural practices, languages, and precolonial histories, as well as experiences under US colonialism. Some live in reduced portions of their nations’ original territories on reservations, some live on reservations to which their ancestors were moved (most of the Indigenous peoples from east of the Mississippi were forcibly removed to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma), and many live in cities (about half of the Native population lives and works in urban areas). As Choctaw scholar Devon Abbott Mihesuah writes: “There is no one voice among Natives because there is no such thing as the culturally and racially monolithic Native woman.”  And there never has been.

That is exactly the problem. Although the stereotypes have changed over time, they are nearly always monolithic, as if Native Americans are a racial or ethnic group. Centuries of British and US domination of Native nations produced the binary of the “Indian princess” and the “squaw,” which purports to describe both Native women’s bodies and their status. The counterparts for male Natives are the romanticized “warrior” and the degraded “savage.”

The mythical “Indian princess” is a common stereotype. Sacajawea and other Native women scouts, albeit not categorized as “princess,” are portrayed as compliant and helpful to US government spies, such as Lewis and Clark, and to fur traders and explorers. Often Indian princesses are portrayed as daughters of tribal chiefs. Scholars have stated that the myth of Pocahontas helps to perpetuate white Eurocentric values because she leaves her tribe and becomes a Christian, and this insinuates that Christianity is better than traditional Indigenous religion. Thus, the myth of Pocahontas becomes a method of promoting Eurocentric values and norms and a tool of colonialism.

Of course, Pocahontas was the first “Indian princess,” and that mythologized figure persists in Disney films and other Hollywood movies. Conjured by many Euro-American women as an original ancestor, Pocahontas is always portrayed as beautiful and depicted as having lighter skin and being more European looking than other Native people and a having a petite but shapely body. This sometimes borders on child pornography, given that the historical Pocahontas was a child when she met John Smith.

On the other side of the binary, the usage of “squaw” has fallen into disrepute with the rise of multiculturalism, but it is still ubiquitous in Hollywood westerns as well as historical documents. There are also still around a thousand official place names in the United States in which the term is used. Further, it remains an active stereotype of traditional Native women even when the term itself is not used. In literature, movies, and histories we see images of a drudge, a sort of beast of burden, a very dark, silent figure who is doing all the heavy lifting in Indigenous settings, with the males either engaged in warfare or lazing around while women do the work or follow a distance behind the men.

Both the Indian princess and the squaw constitute racist stereotypes of Indigenous women meant to render whites superior and help perpetuate white patriarchal European values. The precolonial roles and status of women varied among the hundreds of societies of North America, depending on whether the particular nation was agriculturally based (the majority), reliant on seafaring and fishing, transhumant, or harvesters of wild rice, acorns, berries, nuts, and other wild foods. The roles of Haudenosaunee, Cherokee, and Muskogee women of the eastern half of North America into Canada, women of the Pueblo and Hopi city-states, and Navajo women in what is now the US Southwest have been much researched and found to be remarkable when compared with women’s roles in western Europe on the eve of Columbus’s infamous appearance in the Americas. In these agricultural societies, women were the creators of seeds and hybrids, and they planted the crops. Men participated in tending and harvesting. Each of these nations had divergent forms of governance, but their economic bases in food production (corn, beans, and squash of many varieties and colors) were similar, as were their communal social relations. Pueblo women were also the architects and builders, while men were stonecutters and weavers. These were matrilineal societies in which women controlled directly or ceremonially the equitable distribution of land use and food.

Women’s roles in governance varied but were probably strongest among the Haudenosaunee (the federation of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations). Certain female lineages controlled the choice of male representatives for their clans in governing councils. Men were the representatives, but the women who chose them had the right to speak in the council, and when the chosen male representative was too young or inexperienced to be effective, one of the women might participate in council on his behalf. Haudenosaunee clan mothers held the power to recall unsatisfactory representatives. Charles C. Mann, author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, calls this governance structure “a feminist dream.”

That dream of freedom, solidarity, and equity that was the lodestone of precolonial North America was trampled on by Spanish, French, and British explorers, gold seekers, and oppressive colonial regimes, but only the British had developed the institutions of settler-colonialism before planting colonies in North America. They had developed these methods and practices in the conquest and subjugation of the Irish, pushing small farmers off their lands to be replaced by commercially oriented settlers, both Anglo and Scots. British fencing of the commons to develop capitalistic sheep production and textile mills deprived communities of the wood, streams, and wildlife they depended on. A large, disgruntled, landless, and jobless population was persuaded to take the arduous one-way journey to British outposts on the Atlantic Coast of North America. This then was the start of British colonialism in North America, then New Zealand and Australia: exporting their surplus people, including convicts, with promises of land and wealth if they could wrest it from the deeply rooted Indigenous civilizations already there. They brought with them the patriarchal culture developed under Roman and Christian laws and practices, a level of subordination of women unknown in North America but inherent to the culture of conquest and settlement, which was based on violence and violation of Native women.

Indigenous women have continued to bear the brunt of colonial violence, specifically sexual violence, both within families and by settler predators, and, increasingly, sex traffickers. Incidence of rape on reservations has long been astronomical. The colonialist US restrictions on Indigenous policing authority on reservations—yet another legacy of the doctrine of discovery and the impairment of Indigenous sovereignty—opens the door to perpetrators of sexual violence who know there will be no consequences for their actions.6 Under the US colonial system, jurisdiction for crimes committed on Native lands falls to federal authorities, because Native justice can be applied only to reservation residents, and then only for misdemeanors.

One in three Native American women has been raped or experienced attempted rape, and the rate of sexual assault on Native American women is more than twice the national average. For five years after publication of a scathing 2007 report by Amnesty International, Native American and women’s organizations, including the National Organization for Women (NOW),lobbied Congress to add a new section to the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) addressing the special situation of Native American women living on reservations. The added provision would give Native nations’ courts the jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute non-Native men who enter reservations and commit rape. At the end of 2012, the Republican-dominated US Congress denied reauthorization of the VAWA because it included the provision. In March 2013, however, that opposition was overcome, and President Barack Obama signed the amended act back into law, although it has limited effect.

Another difficulty for Indigenous people in general in the United States, but especially for the women, Lenape scholar Joanne Barker points out, is the demand for demonstrable Native authenticity—which really means to appear and act in a particular prescribed manner. This demand on women within Indigenous communities is not only emotionally painful but also

creates social inequalities and injustices associated with the US patriarchal order of racism, sexism, homophobia, and fundamentalism. Barker sees that overcoming internal colonization is critical to achieving decolonization and self-determination. Native women scholars like Barker are in the forefront of exposing these issues and seeking resolutions.

In her book Indigenous American Women: Decolonization, Empowerment, Activism, Devon Abbott Mihesuah describes and analyzes the various ways that many non-Indigenous and some Indigenous men and women, even sophisticated academics, view Native women. In so doing, she exposes the damages wrought by colonialism and male supremacy as they limit the full involvement of Native women in higher education and prevent them from realizing traditional Indigenous roles. Centuries of imposed colonialism and Christianity also manifest in patriarchal practices within Native communities, changing the relations between women and men, with the resulting sexual violence outlined above. Other results that Mihesuah points to are severe income gaps and internal factionalism, which fall heaviest on women and families, producing self-degradation when women are not able to carry out their traditional responsibilities. However, Mihesuah finds positive changes that Indigenous women are making in their lives, relationships, and professional advancement. This is in part rooted in the key role that Native women have played in the past forty years of resurgent Native resistance.

This resurgence arose after the 1953 congressional resolution to terminate the treaty-based legal existence of all Native nations, an attempt to carry out a bloodless genocide to complete the violent genocidal US Army and settler militia campaigns of the nineteenth century. Termination was to proceed accompanied by a vigorous relocation program. Younger Natives would voluntarily abandon reservations and relocate to designated urban areas, with some initial expenses paid. This, the US ruling class believed, would make forced dispersal unnecessary. Immediately Native people began to organize, and some looked into possible redress through the United Nations.

In 1961 young relocated Natives, along with some who had not left the reservations, formed themselves into the intertribal National Indian Youth Council (NIYC), based in Albuquerque, with Mohawk intellectual Shirley Hill Witt playing a central role in building the organization nationally and Navajo artist Gloria Emerson doing so in the Southwest.10 At the same time, workshops were organized that brought together equal numbers of young Native women and men. In 1964, NIYC organized support for the ongoing Native movement to protect treaty-guaranteed fishing rights of the Swinomish, Nisqually, Yakama, Puyallup, Stilaguamish, and other Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, in which the leadership included the extraordinary Ramona Bennett and Janet McCloud.

While local actions multiplied in Native communities and nations during the 1960s, the spectacular November 1969 seizure and following eighteen-month occupation of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay grabbed wide media attention. Native American students and community members living in the Bay Area initiated an alliance known as Indians of All Tribes. They built a thriving village on the island that drew Native pilgrimages from all over the continent, radicalizing thousands, especially Native youth. Indigenous women leaders were particularly impressive, among them LaNada (Means) War Jack, Madonna (Gilbert) Thunderhawk, Reyna Ramirez, Aileen Cottier, and many others who have continued organizing and serving as role models into the twenty-first century.

Three years later, in 1973, hundreds of militarized FBI and other federal and state agencies surrounded Wounded Knee, a hamlet on the Lakota Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, and so began a two-and-a-half-month siege against the American Indian Movement (AIM) protesters at the 1890 massacre site. Wounded Knee was made up of little more than a trading. 

post, a Catholic church, and the mass grave of the hundreds of Lakotas slaughtered by the US Seventh Cavalry in 1890. During the 1973 siege, armed personnel carriers, Huey helicopters, and military snipers surrounded the site, while supply teams of mostly Lakota women made their way through the military lines and back out again through dark of night. Again, as at Alcatraz, Lakota leader Madonna Thunderhawk was prominent, as were dozens of other women of all ages, both inside and outside the besieged compound, who organized support systems around the country.

As important as women organizers and activists to reconstructing Indigenous cultures and governance are the several generations of Native women scholars, writers, and poets (who themselves are also community activists). Seneca scholar Mishuana Goeman observes of them: “Rather than stand on the periphery, Native women are at the center of how our nations, both tribal and nontribal, have been imagined.”

This essay is an excerpt from All the Real Indians Died Off: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Beacon Press, 2016).

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. She has been active in the international Indigenous movement for more than four decades and is known for her lifelong commitment to national and international social justice issues. After receiving her PhD in history at the University of California at Los Angeles, she taught in the newly established Native American Studies Program at California State University, Hayward, and helped found the Departments of Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indigenous peoples of the Americas, held at the United Nations’ headquarters in Geneva. Dunbar-Ortiz is the author or editor of seven other books, including Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico. Her most recent book, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Beacon Press, 2014) was the 2015 Recipient of the American Book Award and the winner of the 2015 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature.   She lives in San Francisco.

Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes) is an award-winning journalist and columnist at Indian Country Today Media Network. A writer and researcher in Indigenous studies, she is currently a research associate and associate scholar at the Center for World Indigenous Studies. She lives in San Clemente, CA.

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Orgasming To Liberation [Latest Articles]

Book Reviews{ Duke University Press Books }
Released: September 08, 2017

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This article appears in our 2017 Fall issue, Facts. Subscribe today!

Reading Lynn Comella’s Vibrator Nation: How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed the Business of Pleasure summoned memories of buying my first vibrator. After a sex educator showed my college sexuality workshop dildos, butt plugs, and lube, we visited a shop she recommended, where the sales clerk declared that the G-spot massager I bought may lead to female ejaculation. These were the first sex talks I received that focused on pleasure instead of warnings. Seeing sex as a source of enjoyment rather than harm made me more comfortable in my body. 

However, sex toys weren’t always instruments for empowerment. Based on her time working at Babeland, her research as a gender and sexuality studies professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and interviews with more than 80 members of the industry, Comella traces their journey from seedy roadside stores to friendly feminist boutiques. Beyond filling people’s bedside drawers, sex toys got people talking about sex—and changed how they talked about it. From pegging to clitoral stimulation, the practices taught by these sexperts expanded people’s perspectives on relationships along with their bedroom repertoires. 

Dense with historical background and quotes from gender theorists, Vibrator Nation is not light beach reading, nor should it be. Its highlights are Comella’s examinations of cultural ideas that shaped and were shaped by the adult industry, including two delightful definitions of “queering”: former Good Vibrations education director Charlie Glickman’s “pushing past limits that really don’t need to be there” and product and purchasing manager Coyote Days’s “breaking open boxes.”

But too often, the narrative loses sight of what’s at stake: our sense of safety and power in bodies constantly devalued. The story rarely strays outside sex-shop walls. Comella’s analysis also falls short when examining feminist retailers’ definition of “woman.” She acknowledges that it favors rich, white, straight, cis women with vanilla tastes, but fails to illustrate how such exclusion is accomplished. Though the gender studies nerd in me ate this book up, the feminist in me was left hungry for more. 

by Suzannah Weiss
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This article was published in Facts Issue #76 | Fall 2017

Google’s Pixel 2 will come in new ‘kinda blue’ color [The Verge - All Posts]

On the heels of a number of other Google leaks that Droid Life published this afternoon, we now have a clear look at the forthcoming Pixel 2. The follow-up to last year’s Google Pixel (the smaller of the two Google phones), which is being announced on October 4th, will come in three colors: kinda blue, just black, and clearly white. Droid Life says to expect roughly the same kind of pricing structure as last year’s Pixel. That means a 64GB option for $649, and a 128GB option for $749 — $200 less than the reported Pixel 2 XL pricing.

Like last year’s Pixels, the Pixel 2 will be made by HTC (which Google is reportedly considering buying). The Pixel 2 XL, however, is reportedly being manufactured by LG. Exactly how big a difference that...

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Three at-risk species are now protected under the Endangered Species Act [The Verge - All Posts]

Three new species have been added to the endangered species list: Arizona’s Sonoyta mud turtle, the Hawaiian bird ‘i’iwi, and a fish called the pearl darter that’s found in the Southeastern US. This means certain federal protections will be put in place to keep the animals from going extinct.

The three join over 150 other species that have been protected as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act through the years. Eleven more species are currently being considered for protection, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. A decision is expected by the end of the year.

The Endangered Species Act was passed by Congress in 1973 to boost the conservation of threatened and endangered animals and plants. When a...

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Proterra’s big electric bus can go 1,102 miles on one charge [The Verge - All Posts]

With cities and countries about to put bans on internal combustion engines in the next couple of decades, electric bus technology needs to advance. Proterra thinks it just proved it’s already there.

On Tuesday, the California-based company said its Catalyst E2 Max went 1,102.2 miles on a single charge, a world record for the longest distance traveled by an electric vehicle without recharging. The test was performed at Navistar’s proving grounds in Indiana, and the results were confirmed by that company.

“For our heavy-duty electric bus to break the previous world record of 1,013.76 miles — which was set by a light-duty passenger EV 46 times lighter than the Catalyst E2 max — is a major feat,” Matt Horton, Proterra’s chief commercial...

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Google's next Daydream VR headsets will reportedly come in three colors [The Verge - All Posts]

Google's hardware event on October 4th will likely involve updates to the company's Pixel phone and, according to Droid-Life, the Daydream VR headsets. We don't have details on the headsets' new specs, but Droid-Life says we can expect three new colors — charcoal, fog, and coral — and a price bump. They'll be priced at $99, compared to $79 last year.

The build of the headsets looks slightly better, judging off the leaked photo. They might even incorporate a new material; Droid-Life speculates that they might be made of nylon as opposed to the prior jersey fabric. As for the price bump, we expect Google's partners to release more expensive third-party Daydream headsets, meaning the company isn't trying to capture the low-end market and...

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Google Pixel 2 XL will reportedly cost $849 for 64GB, $949 for 128GB [The Verge - All Posts]

Google plans to announce full details on its next Pixel smartphones — the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL — at an event on October 4th. As that date moves closer, Droid Life has today published new images of the larger, LG-made device. The Pixel 2 XL will come in two color options at launch: there’s a black version, which is reminiscent of the original, and a new white/black combo that has a black rear glass pane. It’s certainly a unique look, and the power button on the white model is colored orange. That doesn’t look to be true of the black unit. Hopefully the front of the device will be black in both cases to better blend with that all-screen display.

Droid Life reports that the Pixel 2 XL will start at $849 for 64GB of storage and bump up to...

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Tinder Gold gave me 3,000 more date options than I could deal with [The Verge - All Posts]

When Tinder released its upgraded, pay-for-perks version to iOS users, it was an immediate success. Tinder Gold shot to the number one spot in the top-grossing iOS apps within a single day; even today, more than two weeks later, it’s only dropped to number two. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people want to skip swiping on one face at a time and jump straight into a pool of potential suitors. Also unsurprisingly, I am one of those people.

My initial reaction to Tinder Gold hovered somewhere between “hell yeah lemme get in there” and “Tinder as we know it is over.” Regular Tinder is a game you play with others to see if they’ll like you back. By removing that stipulation of one swipe at a time, Tinder isn’t just watering itself down. It’s...

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15:00 EDT

Man who made “Pepe” wants his frog back, and he’ll use copyright to get it [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / A man holds a sign of Pepe the frog, an alt-right icon, during a rally in Berkeley, California in April 2017. (credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Matt Furie created the cartoon character Pepe the Frog in 2005 as a kind of peaceful stoner animal for his comic "Boys Club." By 2008, the frog had become a meme at 4chan. In the 2016 election cycle, though, Pepe became something completely different—an ever-meme of the alt-right. The Anti-Defamation League characterizes Pepe as a hate symbol and has catalogued some of the most viciously racist and anti-semitic examples.

Now Furie wants his comic frog back. After years of letting it slide, Furie has lawyered up and sent demand letters to several alt-right personalities, including white supremacist Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and the subreddit "The_Donald."

Last month, Furie took legal action against a man in Texas who created an Islamophobic version of Pepe for a children's book. That matter reached a settlement. Now, Furie's lawyers have spoken to Vice about his determination to reclaim ownership of the image and the demand letters they have sent out.

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iOS 11 is now available for download on supported devices [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / iOS 11, which will ship with the iPhone 8, has a renovated app store.

As expected, Apple has begun rolling iOS 11 out to iPhones and iPads today in most regions. You can probably download it right now, and, if not, you’ll be able to fetch it very shortly.

Devices as far back as the iPhone 5S, the iPad Air, and the iPad mini 2 can update to iOS 11. But the iPhone 5 and 5C, as well as the fourth generation iPad and the very first iPad mini, are not supported by iOS 11.

Ars tested iOS 11 on an iPhone 5S and found that the device predictably ran a bit slower than it did on iOS 10, but it’s not necessarily deal-breaking. For example, launching, force-quitting, and re-launching Apple’s Mail app took 0.4 seconds longer in iOS 11.

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Searching for the “hidden motion” to unlock the Switch’s NES emulator [Ars Technica]


This weekend, Switch owners learned their consoles are apparently holding a hidden copy of the NES game Golf, along with a built-in NES emulator designed to run it. But Switch hacker yellows8 and others who have been able to run that emulator say they've only been able to do so via "unofficial" methods that let them run jailbroken Switch binaries independently.

Now that the emulator is widely known to exist, a few diehards and hackers are engaged in an obsessive quest to discover if there's an "official" way to launch that emulator on stock hardware. While that quest hasn't borne fruit yet, the search itself is a fascinating look into the subculture of console hacking and the fast-moving world of rumor and conspiracy theory that often surrounds it.

The Setery mystery

Surprisingly enough, yellows8 probably wasn't the first person to launch NES Golf on the Switch. That title likely goes to Setery, a user on the GBATemp console hacking forums who posted about the game mysteriously appearing on his system back on July 22. As Setery tells it:

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Internet Is Having a Midlife Crisis [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader shares a report: The rise of cyber-bullying and monopolistic business practices has damaged trust in the internet, pioneering entrepreneur Baroness Lane-Fox has told the BBC. The Lastminute.com founder also called for a "shared set of principles" to make the web happier and safer. She said the internet had done much good over the last 30 years. But she said too many people had missed out on the benefits and it was time to "take a step back". "The web has become embedded in our lives over the last three decades but I think it's reached an inflexion point, or a sort of midlife crisis," she told Radio 4's Today programme. Baroness Lane-Fox co-founded travel booking site Lastminute.com in 1998 before going on to sell the firm for 577m pound seven years later. She described the early days of the internet as being "full of energy and excitement," and akin to the "wild West". "There was this feeling that suddenly, with this access to this new technology, you could start a business from anywhere," she said. However, she said that while technology had become a hugely important sector of the UK economy, it had not fulfilled its early potential.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Cities Are Competing to Give Amazon the 'Mother of All Civic Giveaways' [Slashdot]

Louise Matsakis, reporting for Motherboard: Amazon announced earlier this month that it was looking to build a second headquarters outside Seattle, where more than 40,000 of the company's more than 380,000 employees currently work. The tech giant is searching for a locale with at least a million people, a diverse population, and excellent schools, among other qualifications. It gave municipalities six weeks -- until October 19 -- to submit a proposal to be chosen. Local governments in more than 100 American and Canadian cities, including places like San Diego, Chicago, Dallas, and Detroit, quickly scrambled to outline why they should be home to Amazon's new corporate office, which is expected to employ up to 50,000 workers. The mayor of Washington D.C., Muriel Bowser, even made a scripted video for Amazon explaining why the capital should be picked. It featured an Echo, Amazon's smart speaker. But experts who have studied Amazon's business practices say having one of the most tax-allergic corporations in the world come to your hometown might not actually be a good thing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Could The Trump Presidency Lead To An Era Of Democratic Renewal? [News : NPR]

Journalists E.J. Dionne and Norm Ornstein say that a new wave of political activism springs from the fact that Trump is unfit for office. Their new book (with Thomas Mann) is One Nation After Trump.

Once A Contender, Angela Merkel's Main Rival Stumbles As Election Approaches [News : NPR]

Martin Schulz, former president of the European Parliament, speaks during an campaign event in Potsdam, eastern Germany, on Sept. 15. He is Chancellor Angela Merkel

Martin Schulz's main handicap is that his party spent 8 of the last 12 years in coalition with the German chancellor's party, and their policies are barely distinguishable from each other.

(Image credit: Steffi Loos/AFP/Getty Images)

Days After Police Shooting, 3 Arrested Amid Violence At Georgia Tech Vigil [News : NPR]

A burned-out Georgia Tech police vehicle sits on a truck outside a police station on the Atlanta campus on Monday night. The car was set ablaze during a protest over a deadly police shooting of a Georgia Tech student Saturday.

By Monday's end, three people had been arrested and two officers were recovering from minor injuries. The unrest comes after an LGBTQ campus leader was shot and killed in a confrontation with police.

(Image credit: Kevin D. Liles/AP)

Fraternity Members' Defamation Case Against 'Rolling Stone' Can Proceed, Court Says [News : NPR]

Three University of Virginia graduates have won the right to sue Rolling Stone magazine for defamation over a now-retracted article alleging that members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity perpetrated a horrific gang rape.

A U.S. appeals court says three members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity have a plausible case that they were implicated in a now-retracted story about an alleged gang rape at U.Va.

(Image credit: Jay Paul/Getty Images)

Some Russians Fired Up Over New Kalashnikov Monument [News : NPR]

A new monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, creator of the AK-47, is unveiled during a ceremony Tuesday in Moscow.

The inventor of the AK-47 was memorialized with a 30-foot-tall bronze statue in Moscow, but not everyone in Russia's capital city was pleased with the tribute.

(Image credit: Pavel Golovkin/AP)

Great deal on 150 pack of 10-inch cable zip-ties: $6.36 [Boing Boing]

I just bought this 150-pack of 10-inch cable zip-ties for $6.36 on Amazon. The deal lasts a few more hours.

Dead man sat in truck for 8 months in airport parking lot before someone found him [Boing Boing]

A dead body sat in a pickup truck for eight months in a parking lot at the Kansas City International Airport before someone discovered it. 53-year-old Randy Potter disappeared January 17, and had parked at the airport that same day. When his family contacted the airport police to report their missing relative and to see if his truck was still in the parking lot, the police said if it was, they would find it. Astonishingly, they somehow missed it.

It wasn't until someone reported a bad odor that the body was spotted inside the truck. Apparently, according to police, Potter had committed suicide, but no other details were released.

According to Time:

The truck's windows are tinted, but are light enough to allow anyone to see inside. When an airport police officer found the body, it was covered up by a blanket, according to a police report. "No one should go through what we went through," said Potter's wife, Carolina. "We should not have gone through eight months agonizing, speculating."

Potter's truck had been listed in the missing person flyers circulated by Lenexa police. The family had visited the airport early on.

Kansas City spokesman Chris Hernandez said city officials were gathering facts to determine how Potter's body remained in the lot as long as it did. The economy lot where Potter's body was found is one of three lots situated about 2 ½ miles (4 kilometers) north of the airport terminals. Shuttles carry travelers from the lot to the terminals.

The airport has over 25,000 parking spaces, and clearly needs a better way of managing them.

Image: Dean Hochman

The host of Facebook’s Make Up or Break Up sees no problem with handing your love life over to the crowd [The Verge - All Posts]

“Every couple has a breaking point,” the trailer for Make Up or Break Up states, as fact. “Thankfully, all of Facebook is here to help.”

One of Facebook’s first forays into commissioned original content for its new Watch tab, the show is live and controlled by hashtags. In each episode, which runs around 20 minutes, a couple with a serious relationship problem lays it all out for a live studio audience and thousands of remote commenters, and asks, “Should we make up or break up?” Viewers vote in the comments — #makeup or #breakup — and the couple is supposed to take the final tally of these votes as an unshakeable verdict.

The show’s host, popular sex and relationship advice YouTuber Shan Boodram, calls this the “wisdom of the crowd,”...

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Indiegogo shuts down Frank phone campaign [The Verge - All Posts]

Indiegogo has shut down the Frank phone campaign only a couple weeks after it went live, citing "a violation of [Indiegogo's] Terms of Use." Oh, the Frank phone. It had a short but controversial life.

The creators of the Android device marketed it as a smartphone market disruptor. They were attempting to subvert phone manufacturers by bringing an affordable phone to North America without any carrier bloatware, yet with specs people would want. Android Police disparaged the phone when it launched, essentially saying it was a scam as you can find a nearly identical version on Alibaba. This makes sense given that the team partnered with a manufacturer they found on the site, but this also technically made the phone a commodity. That's...

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US Navy submarines are getting Xbox 360 controllers to control their periscopes [The Verge - All Posts]

The US Navy is beginning to use Xbox 360 controllers to operate the periscopes on submarines, according to The Virginian-Pilot. The first submarine to get the new controller will be the USS Colorado, which goes into active duty in November. The Xbox controllers will later be added to other Virginia-class submarines.

Virginia-class submarines are getting the Xbox controller added to their integrated imaging systems, which will replace a complex-looking, helicopter-style control stick. These submarines are less expensive and more modern versions of the Seawolf-class submarines, which were commissioned in the late 1990s.

The innovation comes as the Navy’s response to feedback given by junior officers and sailors who said that the controls...

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Google's miniature Home leaks ahead of Pixel event [The Verge - All Posts]

Google is reportedly working on a smaller version of its Home smart speaker, the Home Mini, and it appears to have just leaked out ahead of the company’s October 4th event, via Droid Life, which discovered the upcoming product.

The Home Mini seems like an obvious alternative to Amazon’s Echo Dot, serving as a smaller, cheaper version of Google’s Home smart speaker much in the same way the Echo Dot does for the full-size Echo. According to Droid Life, the Home Mini will cost $49 (compared to the Home’s $129) and come in three colors at launch: charcoal (black), chalk (gray) and coral (uh, coral).

Image: Droid Life

Like the larger Google Home, the Home Mini will also feature Google Assistant and serve as a hub for...

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Tim Cook: $999 is a ‘value price’ for iPhone X [The Verge - All Posts]

The iPhone X has been getting a lot attention since it was announced last week with its eye-watering starting price. However, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook during a segment on Good Morning America, the iPhone X’s $999 cost is a “value price” for the technology it offers (via 9to5Mac.)

The comment came in response to a viewer-submitted question (around the 6:11 mark in the video) asking if Cook thought the price tag of the iPhone X was out of reach for the average American.

Cook’s answer mostly dodges that issue, and instead focuses on the fact that few people actually buy their phones outright, thanks to the plethora of installment, trade-in, and carrier-offered deals that might make the iPhone X more affordable.

“Well, it’s a value...

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T-Mobile increases unlimited data cap from 32GB to 50GB [The Verge - All Posts]

T-Mobile just announced that it’s increasing its soft cap for unlimited data plans from 32GB to 50GB, a move that continues to put it far ahead of competitors. In comparison, Verizon and AT&T have 22GB caps, while Sprint’s is 23GB.

If you’re new to modern unlimited data plans, you may be wondering why a plan that purports to be “unlimited” would still have a data cap at all. The answer is that, while technically data is unlimited, carriers include soft caps. Once you’ve used up your quota, your data is de-prioritized to slower speeds if the network is in high demand.

As T-Mobile points out, the vast majority of users won’t actually manage to burn through all 50GB of data in a month. But for those who may have found themselves feeling...

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Twitter’s Popular Articles feature shows you the most shared stories in your network [The Verge - All Posts]

Twitter launched a news aggregation tool today that collects the most shared stories by people in your network. Twitter calls it Popular Articles, and it sounds, looks, and works a lot like Nuzzel, the no-frills, RSS-like link aggregator that launched back in 2014.

Nuzzel has been a huge hit among journalists and other news-hungry Twitter users because of how simple it is and how well it works. So, it felt like only a matter of time before Twitter either moved to acquire the company, as it did with TweetDeck way back in 2011, or developed its own version of Nuzzel’s core feature. Twitter confirmed to The Verge that the feature is now available globally for iOS and Android. The existence of the Popular Articles feature was first reported...

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iOS 11 is now available to download [The Verge - All Posts]

Today, Apple pushed out the final version of iOS 11, its latest mobile operating system release. Most iPhone and iPad units made in the last few years should be capable of downloading it now if you head over to the Settings panel and check for a software update under the General tab. For those who have been part of either the developer or public beta process, you’ll likely already have the finalized iOS 11 and shouldn’t need to do anything.

iOS 11, first unveiled in detail back at Apple’s WWDC in June, is the same incremental annual refresh we’ve come to expect from the company, but it hides some impressive complexity under the surface. Not only does it add some neat features to iOS for the first time, like ARKit capabilities for...

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Apple Music for Android updated with user profiles and voice support [The Verge - All Posts]

Apple is updating its Apple Music app for Android with new features that are also debuting on iOS 11 today. Social profiles are perhaps the biggest addition across Android, iOS, and desktop; now you can make an Apple Music user profile and have it publicly show friends what you’re listening to — just like Spotify.

But Apple is also continuing to put in some extra work to optimize Apple Music for the Android platform. This latest version also adds support for “OK Google” voice commands. So you can ask your Android smartphone to play a song, artist, or Beats 1 radio, and it will automatically open Apple Music and start streaming. A simple quick test of “OK Google, play Beats 1 in Apple Music” was successful for me.

There’s now a...

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You can now earn a degree in ‘self-driving cars’ courtesy of Lyft and Udacity [The Verge - All Posts]

Starting today, online teaching startup Udacity is opening registration for a new “Intro to Self-Driving Cars” course to anyone in the world with an internet connection. The four-month “nanodegree” class is $800 to enroll, but ride-hailing service Lyft is teaming up with Udacity to offer 400 scholarships specifically targeted at students from communities underrepresented in the tech world.

The only prerequisites for students interested in the intro class are some programming experience (e.g. C++, Python) and algebra. Graduates will be eligible to automatically enroll in Udacity's year-old Self-Driving Car or Robotics Nanodegree programs, which is more focused on providing students with the skills necessary to land a job in the...

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14:00 EDT

Ellen Pao writes something kind of interesting [Philip Greenspun's Weblog]

“This Is How Sexism Works in Silicon Valley My lawsuit failed. Others won’t.” is an excerpt from Ellen Pao’s Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, a book released today.

One part of the Ellen Pao lawsuit that never made sense to me was “Why would the Kleiner partners want to make themselves poorer by pushing out a high performing junior partner?”

The excerpt explains some of this. First, it seems that Pao was essentially hired as a secretary, not as an investor:

When I first got the three pages of specs for a chief-of-staff position at Kleiner Perkins in 2005, it was almost as if someone had copied my résumé. … John Doerr wanted his new chief of staff to “leverage his time,” which he valued at $200,000 per hour.

It was fun having sex with a married guy at work:

[Ajit Nazre and I] started seeing each other and had what eventually amounted to a short-lived, sporadic fling. It was fun bonding over work. Ajit told me the history of the firm and gave me the scoop on departed partners, and I felt like I was at last being let in on company secrets. Finally I had someone who was willing to talk about the dysfunction we saw in our workplace, and to be honest about how decisions were really made.

You know that you’re with a homophobe if your female partner objects to you having sex with other men:

During our first date in New York, he told me during hours of conversation that he had previously been with men, something I never had a problem with but which would later be used in the press as evidence that our marriage was a sham. We got engaged just six weeks after we met.

Here’s the most interesting part, though…

One secret of the venture-capital world is that many firms run on vote trading. A person might offer to vote in favor of investing in another partner’s investment so that partner will support his upcoming investment. Many firms, including Kleiner, also had a veto rule: Any one person could veto another member’s investment. No one ever exercised a veto while I was there, but fear of it motivated us to practice the California art of superficial collegiality, where everything seems tan and shiny on the outside but behind closed doors, people would trash your investment, block it, or send you on unending “rock fetches” — time-consuming, unproductive tasks to stall you until you gave up.

Venture capital’s underbelly of competitiveness exists in part because the more I invest, the less money for you, my partner, to make your investments. And we’re all trying to make as many investments as possible because chances are low that any one investment is going to be successful. Partners can increase their own odds by excluding all of your investments. And as a junior partner you faced another dilemma: Your investments could be poached by senior partners. You wanted to pitch your venture so it would be supported but not so much that it would be stolen. Once a senior partner laid claim to a venture you were driving, you were better off just keeping quiet.

In other words, it may be that Kleiner wasn’t a pure partnership and therefore Pao’s allegations might not have required each Kleiner partner to act against his or her self-interest. (Though, even in a state where a jury was willing to award $417 million to a woman who used talcum powder (USA Today), Pao’s lawyers couldn’t convince her jury.)

I’ll be interested to hear from readers who decide to invest in Ms. Pao’s book.



Stack Overflow Launches Salary Calculator For Developers [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader writes: Stack Overflow today launched Salary Calculator, a tool that lets developers check out typical salaries across the industry. The calculated results are based on five factors: location, education, years of professional coding experience, developer type, and technologies used professionally. Stack Overflow is releasing the tool because it believes developers should be empowered with more information around job searches, careers, and salary. The company noticed ads on Stack Overflow Jobs that include salary information get 75 percent more clicks than ads without salary information. Even in cases when the salary range is below average, the ads still get 60 percent more clicks.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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