Categories
Justice Reading

Sunday Reads

For this week’s long reads, we explore the topics of racism against Chinese scientists, linguistics and race, applying democracy to climate change, the lockdown and public works (by Naomi Klein!), and California’s privacy ballot measure. Plus one recommended podcast. I hope you enjoy.

The U.S. Crackdown on Chinese American Researchers Endangers the Future of Science by Eileen Guo published in OneZero

“…the already strained relationship between the U.S. and China continued to deteriorate, worsening as the Obama era gave way to the Trump administration. Hundreds more Chinese American scientists have been scrutinized as a result. The U.S. maintains that it is doing so to protect against the threat of Chinese espionage, an argument it has maintained for decades. But a growing network of advocates and scientists fear that the FBI is targeting scientists based on racial discrimination, and that is not only destroying the livelihoods of Chinese American scientists but also damaging American science output as well.”

Why the term “BIPOC” is so complicated, explained by linguists by Constance Grady published in Vox

“There’s this anxiety over saying the wrong thing,” says deandre miles-hercules, a PhD linguistics student who focuses on sociocultural linguistic research on race, gender, and sexuality. “And so instead of maybe doing a little research, understanding the history and the different semantic valences of a particular term to decide for yourself, or to understand the appropriateness of a use in a particular context, people generally go, ‘Tell me the word, and I will use the word.’ They’re not interested in learning things about the history of the term, or the context in which it’s appropriate.”

Improving Democracy for the Future: Why Democracy Can Handle Climate Change by Daniel J. Fiorino published in E-International Relations

“Climate change is a complex challenge, the largest collective action problem in history, and a classic illustration of the concept of a wicked problem. It is distinctive in many ways: unlike most forms of air or water pollution, the effects are not immediately obvious; harms occur mostly in the future, with a perceived temporal mismatch of costs and benefits. There is good reason to believe, however, that democracies overall are more suited to handling climate change than their authoritarian counterparts.”

A group of men planting trees during a Civilian Conservation Corps project on the Nett Lake Reservation in Minnesota. Photo: MPI/Getty Images

How Not to Lose the Lockdown Generation by Naomi Klein published in The Intercept

“As in the 1930s, this generation is already being referred to as a “lost generation” — but compared to the Great Depression, almost nothing is being done to find them, certainly not at the governmental level in the U.S. There are no ambitious and creative programs being designed to offer steady income beyond expanded summer job programs, and nothing designed to arm them with useful skills for the Covid and climate change era. All Washington has offered is a temporary break on student loan repayments, set to expire this fall.”

Why EFF Doesn’t Support California Proposition 24 by Lee Tien, Adam Schwartz, and Hayley Tsukayama published by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

California voters need to read this article. This November, Californians will be called upon to vote on a ballot initiative called the California Privacy Rights Act, or Proposition 24. EFF does not support it; nor does EFF oppose it.

Podcast

Seen on Radio: Seeing White (14-part series)

Where did the notion of “whiteness” come from? What does it mean? What is whiteness for? Scene on Radio host and producer John Biewen took a deep dive into these questions, along with an array of leading scholars and regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, in this fourteen-part documentary series, released between February and August 2017. The series editor is Loretta Williams.

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Categories
Reading

Sunday Reads (2019-12-22)

Settle in for a few long reads of interest this week.

  1. Excellent piece on how we teach writing to students. I found it thoughtful and reflective. Good for anyone who teaches writing or uses writing in their classroom – Is Writing to Text the Only “High-Quality” Curriculum?
  2. A local (Ojai) piece on the ongoing journey of fires, dams, history and floods – Matilija Hot Springs to be leveled
  3. A deep discussion on mental health and Buddhism from a master. From 1975!? – Make Your Mind an Ocean
  4. This one is definitely making the rounds and I encourage everyone to take the time a read this investigative piece from The NY Times – Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy
  5. Another great investigative piece on where fascism lives both in America and internationally – Transnational White Terror: Exposing Atomwaffen And The Iron March Networks
  6. A short piece for those teaching mindfulness – Why Mindfulness And Trauma-Informed Teaching Don’t Always Go Together
Categories
Technology

Dropbox, Privacy, and TrueCrypt

I wrote about files in the cloud back in 2009, and in light of the recent attention Dropbox is getting about security, the time seemed ripe to revisit the topic. From a philosophical perspective, two articles, Innovative Consumption from the New Yorker and Why Privacy Matters Even If you have ‘Nothing to Hide’ in the Chronicle of Higher Education, provide a framework for cloud computing, technology, and privacy. It is clear that the convenience of the cloud, the ease of use and access are compelling, but at what cost?

I’m a technologist, and am probably more willing to push the boundaries more than others I know. I started using the then-start-up Mint to manage my finances long before it went mainstream and was purchased by Intuit. Likewise, I happily keep my files in the cloud so that I can easily access the material from any computer including all my mobile devices. It is efficient and effective.

First, let me say I love Dropbox and often recommend [use this link please] the service to all my friends and colleagues. Second, I do have an awareness of privacy and do attempt to take adequate steps to address this with the services I use. I also use a unique (and long) password for just about every site I use on the internet. Since I love Google too, I know that a ton of my data is out there for harvesting. For me, the most important thing to remember is that once content reaches the digital realm, especially how most people use it, we have to assume that it could be compromised at some point. If something is that important or private, don’t put it in the cloud without the appropriate security.

This is where my discourse switches from philosophy to reality. I have files on Dropbox that are of a highly personal nature. Financial and personnel records that should remain confidential. Yes, it is true that Dropbox encrypts my content, which is great, but they hold the keys. So what is the solution?

A product called TrueCrypt is an open source, on the fly, encryption solution. It’s reasonably easy to use and works with Dropbox. With TrueCrypt, I can create a virtual encrypted disk that can be stored on Dropbox and mounted on my computer when I need to use the content. The encrypted disk can be of any size I wish (within the confines of my Dropbox account size). The encrption is controlled by me and it uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cryptographic algorith that may be used by US federal departments and agencies to cryptographically protect sensitive information. TrueCrypt uses AES with 14 rounds and a 256-bit key (i.e., AES-256). Most likely it would take hundreds of years to crack this.

So, fear not. Use the cloud to store your files, have an automatic backup, and use TrueCrypt to protect the sensitive material.

What are your thoughts on privacy and use the cloud?

P.S. – I have recently attempted to use an older encrypted volume of mine and have forgotten my password. This is the downside of AES-256…I have to remember it or will never recover that content. I need to take that drug from Limitless because it’s in my brain somewhere!