How Wikipedia can become a no-asshole-zone

Sumana writes, "I gave the opening keynote address at Wiki Conference USA last weekend, and told Wikipedians what needs to change to make the site friendlier and more hospitable. I mixed in wisdom from John Scalzi, XKCD, Hacker School, and the Ada Initiative. The transcript and a thirty-minute audio recording (Ogg) are now up."

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Kickstarting a kids' picture book about girls and science by Zack "SMBC" Smith

Zach Weinersmith, creator of the wonderful Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and the Kickstarter-record-busting Trial of the Clone choose-your-own-adventure is unstoppable: he's kickstarting Augie and the Green Knight: A Children's Adventure Book , a girl-positive kids' picture book about science. $25 gets you the book and the ebook (I bought in!).

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Women who'd never seen their vulvas given a mirror and a modesty screen

Women who'd never seen their vulvas were offered a modesty screen and a hand mirror and given the chance to have a peek. They liked what they saw, and were sweetly affirmed by it. (via Dan Hon)

Transgender tipping point: Laverne Cox on the cover of TIME

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This TIME cover story, the first to feature a transgender person, is a very big deal. Not just for trans folks, but for all of us.

As the headline suggests, it's a tipping point in the acceptance of gender diversity, and respect for all human beings.

Also Laverne Cox is awesome and talented and an amazing activist and looks totally fabulous.

Here's a TIME video interview.

If you haven't already watched 'Orange is the New Black,' get on it with Season 1.

Portraits of asexual people

Worth checking out: this photojournalism project about people who identify as asexual.

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Feminism and tech: an overdue and welcome manifesto


Alan writes, "A group of nine women involved in the tech industry have posted a manifesto listing some of the awful sexist things that have happened in tech during the past few months. The women frame this as a simple statement: 'we really just want to work on what we love.' But the reality of the industry and the societies in which we do our tech work make this far from simple."

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Jo Walton's "My Real Children": infinitely wise, sad and uplifting novel

An ambitious and nuanced story that left Cory Doctorow in tears, the new novel from award-winner Jo Walton is about an elderly woman who remembers two lives.

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Kickstarting Codemancer, a game to teach programming to kids (especially girls)

Codemancer: A Fantasy Game that Teaches the Magic of Code is a fully funded kickstarter to produce an educational game to teach programming to kids, especially girls. Players solve programming challenges to advance through the game, and there's a course for translating your Codemancer skills to coding in python. The developer, Robert Lockhart, has created and shipped games before, which bodes well for this one's eventual release.

$20 gets you the game for Windows, Macos, Ipad and Android.

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Tor: network security for domestic abuse survivors


Michael from Beta Boston writes, "The privacy protections offered by tools like Tor aren't just for journalists and spies; they're important for everyone. Almost every modern abusive relationship has a digital component, from cyberstalking to hacking phones, emails, and social media accounts, but women's shelters increasingly have found themselves on the defensive, ill-equipped to manage and protect their clients from increasingly sophisticated threats. Recently the Tor Project stepped in to help change that, and we took a long look at the work cut out for them."

This is an important point: when you make it so that no one can keep secrets from the state and its enforcement arm, you also make it so that no one can keep secrets from crooks, thugs, stalkers, and every other kind of bad guy.

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The Shop: Toronto's new inclusive makerspace

Toronto's great wealth of makerspaces continues to grow: now there's The Shop, an "all-inclusive makerspace with a focus on woodworking, metal and ceramics."

They offer members access to well-stocked workshops with metal/woodworking tools and ceramics equipment; and they run regular classes on making various useful and lovely things at all levels of mastery, and they have a retail shop where makers can sell their creations.

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Mayor Rob Ford recording: drunken, sexist, racist, homophobic, abusive rant


The recording of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack (again) isn't the only recording to emerge of the mayor; he was also recorded making drunken, racist, homophobic, misogynist remarks at a bar where he was also abusive to the bartender and said rather revolting things about his wife.

Of note in the recording was the mayor's vulgar remarks about Karen Stintz, one of his electoral rivals. Ford previously called another female political rival a liar after she accused him of drunkenly grabbing her ass and propositioning her at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee.

In other news, the mayor also allegedly participated in an all-night, coke-fuelled drunken sex party at a nightclub where he vomited in the toilets in between verbally jousting with Justin Bieber and entertaining a group of "party girls" with his entourage.

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Genderswapped Boba Fett cosplayer


A cosplayer at C2E2 stops and poses in her elegant, gender-swapped Boba Fett getup. She's the kind of bounty hunter our galaxy needs!

The Great Pit of Carkoon has been good to you, Ms. Fett. #StarWars #C2E2

(Image: theapexfan)

(via Neatorama)

Spyware increasingly a part of domestic violence

Australian Simon Gittany murdered his girlfriend, Lisa Harnum, after an abusive relationship that involved his surveillance of her electronic communications using off-the-shelf spyware marketed for purposes ranging from keeping your kids safe to spotting dishonest employees. As Rachel Olding writes in The Age, surveillance technology is increasingly a factor in domestic violence, offering abusive partners new, thoroughgoing ways of invading their spouses' privacy and controlling them.

The spyware industry relies upon computers -- laptops, mobile devices, and soon, cars and TVs and thermostats -- being insecure. In this, it has the same goals as the NSA and GCHQ, whose BULLRUN/EDGEHILL program sought to weaken the security of widely used operating systems, algorithms and programs. Every weakness created at taxpayer expense was a weakness that spyware vendors could exploit for their products.

Likewise, the entertainment industry wants devices that are capable of running code that users can't terminate or inspect, so that they can stop you from killing the programs that stop you from saving Netflix streams, running unapproved apps, or hooking unapproved devices to your cable box.

And Ratters, the creeps who hijack peoples' webcams in order to spy on them and blackmail them into sexual performances, also want computers that can run code that users can't stop. And so do identity thieves, who want to run keyloggers on your computer to get your banking passwords. And so do cops, who want new powers to insert malware into criminals' computers.

There are a lot of ways to slice the political spectrum -- left/right, authoritarian/anti-authoritarian, centralist/decentralist. But increasingly, the 21st century is being defined by the split between people who think your computer should do what you tell it, and people who think that you can't be trusted to control your own computer, and so they should be able to run code on it against your will, without your knowledge, and to your detriment.

Pick a side.

Spyware's role in domestic violence [Rachel Olding/The Age]

(via Geek Feminism)

UK Sunday paper won't review books marketed "to exclude either sex"


Writing under the rallying cry "Gender-specific books demean all our children," Katy Guest announces that the Independent on Sunday -- one of the UK's great weekend papers -- will no longer review any books that are marketed to "exclude either sex." It's tied to the Let Toys Be Toys/Let Books Be Books campaign, which petitions companies to stop tying their products to specific gender-identities. Guest characterises the segregation of products by gender as a means of "convincing children that boys and girls can’t play with each other's stuff, is forcing parents to buy twice as much stuff."

I remember being surprised when someone told me that Little Brother was a "boy book." Yes, its protagonist is a boy, but every protagonist has to have some kind of gender identity, and it's a weird world when we're only allowed to read fiction in which the lead character has the same gender identity as us. I once co-wrote a novella whose major characters are galaxy-spanning AI hiveminds -- it would have a rather small audience by that standard.

Good on the Independent on Sunday for this!

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Julia Gillard's epic anti-sexist Parliamentary speech set to music

In this video, Australian Voices, a choral group, sets former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's epic anti-misogynist Parliamentary speech to music, doing a rather beautiful job of it.

"Not Now, Not Ever!" (Gillard Misogyny Speech) (Thanks, Karen!)