Brian Feeney
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New Admin, New WhiteHouse.gov

The White House has a new website. It's lovely. Perhaps the most wonderful feature is its Briefing Room, a blog publishing all the press releases and important documents coming from the Biden Administration. So far, there is the full text of his Inaugural Address. The entire text of the Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. The official request for rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement.

And there is an RSS feed.

This is what transparency should look like. I'm excited to follow what will get done these next four years. During the Obama era, I was young and didn't pay attention. With Trump, the horrors were inescapable. Let's hope good things will now be accomplished day to day, week to week.

January 21, 2021

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On Trump's Attack on Capitol Hill

Ezra Klein has moved from Vox to the NYT as an editorialist, and his first column is worth reading:

They stormed the Capitol, attacked police officers, shattered doors and barriers, looted congressional offices. One woman was shot in the mayhem and died

If their actions looked like lunacy to you, imagine it from their perspective, from within the epistemic structure in which they live. The president of the United States told them the election had been stolen by the Democratic Party, that they were being denied power and representation they had rightfully won. “I know your pain,” he said, in his video from the White house lawn later on Wednesday. “I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it.” More than a dozen Republican senators, more than 100 Republican House members, and countless conservative media figures had backed Trump’s claims.

If the self-styled revolutionaries were lawless, that was because their leaders told them that the law had already been broken, and in the most profound, irreversible way.

What happened yesterday was the wildest political disgrace I've lived through. Donald Trump incited his mob to terrorize everyone inside the Capitol building, including Senators and Congressman. Our highest levels of government was violently vandalized. The domestic terrorists carried Confederate flags among the Trump banners. Some of those inside were known neo-Nazis. This is the American carnage Trump declared on his own inauguration day four years ago. Terror, smoke, broken glass, and death.

On top of it all, there is a suspicion that the poor security defending the congressional leaders inside was a planned failure. A month ago, Trump removed a number of top officials in the Department of Defense and replaced them with inappropriate lackeys. Trump's Attorney General, Bill Bar, made a surprise announcement he was stepping down early, making his slithery exit before Christmas. It's a conspiracy theory to claim that everything which happened yesterday was premeditated. It's not a stretch, however, to say that this is exactly what Trump wanted. It's a final fuck you to the people of America who rejected him, who never accepted him into polite society. He really does now wish to see everything burned down behind him.

The terrorists had been inside the Capitol for more than two hours. It was long passed time to call in the National Guard and other security forces, yet Trump declined. It was Pence, who had been scurried out of the Senate chamber to safety along with everyone else, that finally made the call to retake control over the building. Trump was ensconced inside the White House, watching television, doing nothing.

Trump should not be allowed to remain President another second longer. He has less than two weeks left in his term, but that shouldn't be allowed to play out. Impeach or invoke the 25th Amendment. It should have happened after his first week in office, but it might as well happen in his last.

January 07, 2021

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Links for 12/17/2020

  • Photo essay by Alec Soth on the inequality in Chicago.
  • I was mesmerized watching this video of paper marbling craftsmen working in the 1960s.
  • CHAI is the best newish band I've heard this year. Start by listening to absolutely everything they've released. Read this Pitchfork interview if you need further convincing.
  • I'm excited to see what happens with Glass, "A community of photographers, amateur and professional alike." Currently awaiting my invite.
  • A new code editor from Panic, looks promising.
  • The WSJ has a great explainer for antifa. This is useful if someone you know has been misled by Fox or other disinfo networks.
  • Neural Networks Create a Disturbing Record of Natural History in AI-Generated Illustrations by Sofia Crespo
  • These images of natural history illustrations have been created by neural network AIs and they're beautiful.
  • Why Chrome Is Bad. I wish I could delete this browser for good, but I need it for work. :/
  • I love Wayne White's word paintings. Would absolutely love to do this Fanfuckingtastic puzzle someday.

December 17, 2020

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CSS-Only Masonry Layout

Once this is added to enough browsers, I'll be one of the first to implement it! I have a masonry layout for my portfolio using jquery, but there's a bug with it. Often, the images all load scrunched up at the top. I've made adjustments which fix it, but only for a while, and then it starts happening again. Can't wait for this alignment to be possible with a single line in my CSS.

December 04, 2020

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Cult of Ignorance

John posted this Isaac Asimov quote on Daring Fireball, and it's worth sharing further:

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”

The current state of this country leads one to assume a quote like this is a partisan attack. It's not. But it does accurately describe the position a troubling number of Americans have taken.

November 30, 2020

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Door to the Unknown

“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.”
— Rebecca Solnit

(via Tina)

September 28, 2020

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Anti Anti-Heroes

As I've walked deeper into my fandom of Marvel comics, I've stayed cognizant of why: pure escapism. The comics aren't just a trip into science fiction and fantasy, but also into the minds of people living in the 1960s and dreaming of future possibilities. They invent dystopias as often as utopias. Aliens invade Earth nearly every month. Strange villains appear from the weirdest corners of the planet. Threats jump from other dimensions or even different time streams. For the last four years, the real world has been hellish, making these comic baddies truly comical.

What I find reassuring in the comics is the insistence that science and invention will always save us. Society-saving devices or machinery are often devised and constructed within minutes of someone running into a lab. Absurd, but inspiring nonetheless. Scientists and inventors are heroes just as much as brawny super-powered people. Most of the original super-heroes were in fact also inventors, doctors, or scientists themselves: Hulk/Banner, Iron Man/Stark, Spider-Man/Parker, Mr. Fantastic/Richards, Ant-Man/Pym, or Thor/Blake. Sixty years ago, the most educated Americans held positions of esteem and honor in our country. It made sense to pair intelligence with science with heroism.

I don't believe in utopias, but I do want to live in a world where doctors and climate scientists and NASA engineers are considered among our leading voices. It is intolerable living among Americans who sneer at and reject them. The QAnon nonsense is related to this rejection of truth and standard virtue. How do we get back to a time when our best and brightest are again revered? I'm not about to say that decades-old comics have the answer. Nor do I believe that the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are going to sway opinion in this way. But I do think we should work our way out of the era of the anti-hero. If we can start reforming our cultural role modals after those who unreservedly deserve it, we might have a better chance at a brighter future. Maybe Hank Pym's Ant-Man is actually exactly what we need right now.

September 18, 2020

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Never Ending Gorillaz

Damon Albarn talks about his new working process for Gorillaz tunes:

Did you realise you were creating a potential new business model?
“It was an opportunity to be more fluid, be able to change track, sidestep, do anything that you want to do and not get bogged down with one trope. React, evolve, react, evolve. And I suppose that now seems to be a good model! I’ve really enjoyed listening to the Song Machine album, it’s like listening to an entirely different entity. I’d just been concentrating on each episode so to hear it like that was a joy. But it also exists in these episodes, so it’s not tied to that, and every song will have been listened to a lot by the time the album comes out, so it doesn’t matter. That’s for people who like that and the other way is for people who like that.”

So will there be a Song Machine Season Two?
“Yeah. The first season is going well so there’ll probably be demand for a season two. And the lovely thing about it is, you don’t have to wait until it’s all finished to start rolling it out.”

So it could go on forever, like a TV show?
“Basically, yeah, that’s the idea. And the thing is, we can work with anyone. Maybe we’ll do a season where it’s just completely unknown people because I’d love that. In multiple languages, all over the world. It would be nice to distill all that into a Gorillaz project; disparate, obscure folk artists, somebody in Paraguay or Iceland, someone in South Korea… North Korea even. I don’t know how that would go down but hey, anything is possible now.”

This sounds amazing to me. We get about one new Albarn track a month as Gorillaz, and he will still likely put out one or two album-sized projects a year, as well. It's always been a great time to be an Albarn fan. It's even better these days.

September 17, 2020

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No Likes, No Worries

This website has no Likes, Faves, Reposts, or Comments. It's a refreshing way to post stuff online. When I open up the site, I don't want to see who liked what or how many kudos a post received. To me, "engagement" is distracting. It's also less honest than you might think. Once I realized how compelled I was to heart every Instagram post I saw from friends, I became less interested in doing so. I resented feeling shame for not "liking" posts from friends. So I left Instagram entirely. I had stopped using Facebook years before that.

I still feel bad for not clicking that heart icon when I do occasionally scroll through Instagram (via Safari). I still hate Instagram for making me feel that way.

I'm now treating this site as my own personal Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Anything I'd want to post there, I post here instead. And you don't have to like it! But I'm happy you're here. :)

September 09, 2020

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The Next Reconstruction

Just last week, I had been wondering what Adam Serwer had been up to. We hadn't seen anything from him in awhile. Now he's back with an excellent long read in this week's Atlantic: The Next Reconstruction. With characteristic talent, he frames our current elevated focus on racial justice inside a larger historical context.

Here is where we were in the early 20th century, says Serwer:

As the freedmen sought to secure their rights through state intervention—nondiscrimination laws in business and education, government jobs, and federal protection of voting rights—many Republicans recoiled. As the historian Heather Cox Richardson has written, these white Republicans began to see freedmen not as ideal free-laborers but as a corrupt labor interest, committed to securing through government largesse what they could not earn through hard work. “When the majority of the Southern African-Americans could not overcome the overwhelming obstacles in their path to economic security,” she wrote in The Death of Reconstruction, “Northerners saw their failure as a rejection of free-labor ideals, accused them of being deficient workers, and willingly read them out of American society.”

This is where we are now:

A majority of Americans have accepted the diagnosis of Black Lives Matter activists, even if they have yet to embrace their more radical remedies, such as defunding the police. For the moment, the surge in public support for Black Lives Matter appears to be an expression of approval for the movement’s most basic demand: that the police stop killing Black people. This request is so reasonable that only those committed to white supremacy regard it as outrageous. Large majorities of Americans support reforms such as requiring the use of body cameras, banning choke holds, mandating a national police-misconduct database, and curtailing qualified immunity, which shields officers from liability for violating people’s constitutional rights.

The progress is promising, but the failures glare brighter. Not nearly enough has changed. It can be argued that almost nothing has changed. Serwer then presents Biden as a flawed but suitable politician to lead us through to a more equitable America.

As for the Democrats’ presidential standard-bearer, Joe Biden has struck an ambitious note, invoking the legacy of Reconstructions past. “The history of this nation teaches us that in some of our darkest moments of despair, we’ve made some of our greatest progress,” Biden declared amid the Floyd protests in June. “The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth Amendments followed the Civil War. The greatest economic growth in world history grew out of the Great Depression. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of ’65 came on the tracks of Bull Connor’s vicious dogs … But it’s going to take more than talk. We had talk before; we had protest before. We’ve got to now vow to make this at least an era of action and reverse the systemic racism with long-overdue concrete changes.”

Hope. Be anti-racist. Support and dignity for every American.

September 08, 2020

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