Seeing White   ◆

From the Scene on Radio podcast, a 14-part series on “whiteness”:

Just what is going on with white people? Police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists. The renewed embrace of raw, undisguised white-identity politics. Unending racial inequity in schools, housing, criminal justice, and hiring. Some of this feels new, but in truth it’s an old story.

Why? Where did the notion of “whiteness” come from? What does it mean? What is whiteness for?

Fourteen utterly compelling episodes. A must listen, regardless of your “race”.

T La Rock, the Man Who Forgot He Was a Rap Legend   ◆

Gorgeously written story in GQ.

T La Rock was one of the pioneers of hip-hop, an old-school legend sampled by Public Enemy and Nas. But after a brutal attack put him in a nursing home, he had to fight to recover his identity, starting with the fact that he’d ever been a rapper at all.

The embedded music brought back memories of my youth in New York.

The Tragic, Forgotten History of Black Military Veterans   ◆

The New Yorker:

“We do so much in this country to celebrate and honor folks who risk their lives on the battlefield,” Stevenson told me recently. “But we don’t remember that black veterans were more likely to be attacked for their service than honored for it.” To be a soldier is to receive training in weapons, in organizations, in tactics: the skills of self-assertion. It is also to lay claim to the reverence that America sets aside for its former warriors. For these reasons, the return home of black soldiers after war has infuriated and terrified white America, setting the stage for reactionary aggression.”.

How a Decision Journal Changed the Way I make Decisions   ◆

A decision journal helps you collect accurate and honest feedback on what you were thinking as you made various decisions. This feedback also helps you see when you were lucky. Sometimes things work out for very different reasons than we thought they would. The key to understanding the limits to our knowledge (see circle of competence) is to check the results of our decisions against what we thought was going to happen and why we thought it was going to happen. That feedback loop is incredibly powerful because our minds won’t provide it by themselves.

Spy Circles Suggest Kremlin Is Behind Dozens of Fake Trump Sex Tapes   ◆

Observer:

To sum up, the idea that President Trump has been caught on tape doing something sordid is inherently in the realm of the possible. But has he been? Here’s where things get tricky, fast. I’ve investigated this issue for the past couple years. I’ve talked to dozens of well-placed sources (many of them longtime spy-friends), and I can share with you some basic conclusions.

To be clear: having fake sex tapes can only be an issue if there’s reason to believe their are real sex tapes too.

I Miss Barack Obama   ◆

David Brooks, writing for the New York Times one year ago:

[…] it feels as if there’s been a decline in behavioral standards across the board. Many of the traits of character and leadership that Obama possesses, and that maybe we have taken too much for granted, have suddenly gone missing or are in short supply.

That was about the campaign, and the decline seems to have continued its downward trend since the election.

Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss, and that I suspect we will all miss a bit, regardless of who replaces him.

It’s safe to say that none of those adjectives will ever be used to describe the current White House occupant, without a negation in front.

Three is two, two is one, one is zero

You’ve probably heard the saying that “three is two, two is one, one is zero” in the context of survival strategies.

I use it in the context of data backups.

In my usage, if you have one copy of some data (a picture, a PDF, a document), you might as well have zero copies of that data: If it’s deleted or corrupted, you’re hosed.

If you have a backup, you have two copies of your data. But under the same principle, one backup means zero backups, if that backup goes south on you.

You want multiple copies of your data, and that means multiple backups. Where those backups are also makes a difference. There’s no point in having multiple backups if they’re all in the house that catches fire or is flooded, so having a remote backup is crucial.

I use a three level backup strategy that gives me some piece of mind. This might be overkill for some, but sometimes I feel it’s still not enough.

Most of my working data resides on my Apple 5K iMac. I have the following backups:

  1. Local, to an Apple AirPort Time Capsule. This creates hourly backups to a drive inside the house. It’s my first line of defense against stupidity. If I accidentally delete a file, I have a recent copy I can get to quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
  2. Local, to a Drobo 5D, using Cronosync to copy data daily. It’s meant as a redundant local backup in case something goes wrong with my Time Capsule.
  3. Offsite, to Backblaze. A remote copy is a requirement in case of physical damage to your local backups (such as fire, flood or theft).
  4. Off-site, to Dropbox for most (though not all) of my data. I limit this to “active” files due to storage limits with Dropbox (1 TB for $99/year for individuals). It’s technically not a backup because these are working files, but Dropbox keeps copies of any changed or deleted files for 30 days.

This gives me up to five copies of my data: the original, and four backups: two local, two remote.

(I actually have more than that, because I currently copy some of my Drobo 5D backups to a second Drobo, and some data gets synced to my computer at work, which itself has multiple backups,… but that’s too complicated to get into in any detail.)

The other piece of course is to test your backups.

For me this means occasionally trying to recover files from Time Machine on my Mac, opening files on my Drobo, and restoring files from Backblaze. There’s no point in having all these backups if I can’t actually get my data back.

Why do I have so many backups? Because I’ve lost data in the past, and I expect I’ll lose data in the future. Plus data recovery is expensive, and backups are cheap by comparison.

And they’ve saved my bacon before.

I can’t preach this any more loudly:
* Backup Your Data
* Test Your Backups

You can start slow. Backblaze is easiest because its inexpensive, unlimited, off-site, and automatic. Even Dropbox is better than nothing.

Just start.

New York Times 1992 Book Review of The Men Who Pulled the Triggers   ◆

The phrase “Ordinary Americans” in the aforelinked piece struck me as familiar, in the context of the Holocaust.

A brief search suggested why: a book titled Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland.

Walter Reich wrote in a 1992 New York Times Book Review:

We know a lot about how the Germans carried out the Holocaust. We know much less about how they felt and what they thought as they did it, how they were affected by what they did, and what made it possible for them to do it. In fact, we know remarkably little about the ordinary Germans who made the Holocaust happen — not the desk murderers in Berlin, not the Eichmanns and Heydrichs, and not Hitler and Himmler, but the tens of thousands of conscripted soldiers and policemen from all walks of life, many of them middle-aged, who rounded up millions of Jews and methodically shot them, one by one, in forests, ravines and ditches, or stuffed them, one by one, into cattle cars and guarded those cars on their way to the gas chambers.

We’re no where near rounding up millions of anyone and killing them, but this is incremental. Again, from the review:

The Jews were presented not only as evil and dangerous but also, in some way, as responsible for the bombing deaths of German women and children. Another factor was the process of dehumanization: abetted by Nazi racial theories that were embraced by policemen who preferred not to see themselves as killers, Jews were seen as less than people, as creatures who could be killed without the qualms that would be provoked in them were they to kill fellow Germans or even Slavs.

Evil and dangerous. Responsible for deaths. Dehumanization. Less than.

Sound familiar?

From the review, one more time:

CLEARLY, ordinary human beings are capable of following orders of the most terrible kinds. What stands between civilization and genocide is the respect for the rights and lives of all human beings that societies must struggle to protect. Nazi Germany provided the context, ideological as well as psychological, that allowed the policemen’s actions to happen. Only political systems that recognize the worst possibilities in human nature, but that fashion societies that reward the best, can guard the lives and dignity of all their citizens.

Ordinary Americans, whether in positions of authority or not, must recognize their role in how other human beings are treated.

Handcuffing a five-year-old child or a 65-year-old woman, or denying people food and bathrooms, does not protect this country. It only dehumanizes us all.