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On Language

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Credit: Pixabay / Alexas_Fotos

I've encountered a lot of words that I would sooner not, working in tech. I have found the word whore in a design document, had colleagues who refer to women as "bitches". I've been called – as most women have – abrasive, or more bluntly, a "c***". I have been told, again and again, that I'm unqualified, asked, in ways too myriad to enumerate, if I am really technical, demanded to prove it again, and again.

I've endured lengthy explanations from men about how the singular they is grammatically correct, and how "guys" is in fact gender neutral like I give a fuck. Like I have any fucks left to give.

"Guys" is not gender neutral. It is not gender neutral because it is literally not gender neutral because in English grammar singular male made plural is plural male. But it is not gender neutral because when (most) men hear it they hear "you" and when (some) women hear it, they hear "not you".

When I entered tech I fought to be included but to my shame, I am now prepared to accept an environment that is at least not actively diminishing. It would be nice to do better, but the reality is that few of us get to and never all the time.

I would like to never be called a "c***" again. I could do without being called "abrasive" either. I doubt that people – men – will ever stop referring to a group I am a part of as a "guys". I don't write "a group including me" there, deliberately, because at that point I won't be included. I will remember that word is almost accurate, and I will feel alone.

There are men who think that being considerate of their language, getting feedback on it, is too unreasonable, too unfair. Perhaps because they don't know, haven't experienced, the deep unfairness of low level exclusion, of impossible expectations, and being called words so offensive you can't bring yourself to repeat them.

The language we use reflects the world we expect and experience. If telling ourselves "I feel excited" helps with anxiety and positive self talk boosts self esteem it makes sense that a foundational part of being an inclusive person, building an inclusive culture is using inclusive language.

I worked at a place where someone else did all the work around language. It was such a relief to watch an automated bot correct an occasional slip up, and refreshing and encouraging to see a male colleague educate a new contractor who triggered it repeatedly.Then we got a new boss, and he kept saying "guys". And he hired some "guys" who also kept saying "guys". And I would look around the room, realise I was the only woman, and feel alone. Appreciate, really, for the first time, all the months where that hadn't be my experience. The period when I was included, as opposed to not actively diminished.

The language changed again, as they started to talk about women like women were inherently broken, discuss this idea of an application that would somehow "fix" women and our inability to communicate. It was laughable, when this is an industry where yes, all women know each other – and we talk about you. But also harmful, because when men talk about women like that in general, how are you possibly supposed to believe that they have professional respect for you in particular.

The idea went nowhere, and the company shut down. And now all that remains are the memories – of when someone else did that work, and I didn't have to.

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2 days ago
I notice myself using 'guys' sometimes, I'm embarrassed to say. And that is something I need to work on.
2 days ago
I work consciously to say 'folks' and if that's wrong I'll find something else
2 days ago
I also use "guys" occasionally out of habit, though I try not to do so. One thing that confused me in this piece was this: "I've endured lengthy explanations from men about how the singular they is grammatically correct". It's my understanding that while "they" used to be incorrect to use as a singular pronoun, it's now acceptable and even preferable to saying "he or she" or something similar if you don't know someone's gender (especially since there are also people who identify as neither a "he" or a "she"). Maybe I'm reading that phrase wrong?
2 days ago
I was a bit confused by that sentence as well. I think it might just be a typo and the author was talking about how some men gave her explanations of how 'they' was *in*correct and that 'guys' was really gender neutral. Or it may just be a reflection of frustration at being lectured by grammar pedants.
2 days ago
I've worked hard to change reflexive use of "guys" to "y'all" and I'm almost there.
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Thom Holwerda: ‘Android Is a Dead End’


Thom Holwerda, writing for OSNews:

Android in its current form suffers from several key architectural problems - it’s not nearly as resource-efficient as, say, iOS, has consistent update problems, and despite hefty hardware, still suffers from the occasional performance problems, among other things - that Google clearly hasn’t been able to solve. It feels like Android is in limbo, waiting for something, as if Google is working on something else that will eventually succeed Android.

Is that something Fuchsia? Is Project Treble part of the plan, to make it easier for Google to eventually replace Android’s Linux base with something else? If Android as it exists today was salvageable, why are some of the world’s greatest operating systems engineers employed by Google not working on Android, but on Fuchsia? If Fuchsia is just a research operating system, why did its developers recently add actual wallpapers to the repository? Why does every design choice for Fuchsia seem specifically designed for and targeted at solving Android’s core problems?

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6 days ago
A platform with the majority of market share is not a dead end. Like all systems, it will eventually be replaced by something else. By that point, the 'something else' will likely be mostly backwards compatible and mostly better.

At the end of the day, there is room enough on the world for both Android and iOS to be great successes. Android is the OS for most phones on the planet which is a huge achievement. iOS is the foundation of a highly profitable line of high end phones which is also a huge achievement.

Apple made a conscious decision to pursue markup over market share. Google has made a conscious decision to pursue market share over markup. Each has achieved their goals.
6 days ago
Did you read the article? It literally said that android will be replaced by another android that is all new under the hood.
6 days ago
I didn't read the original article. That sounds correct to me. Although, this is probably equally true for iOS, Windows, or any other OS. It is just that those systems are more closed and so we have less visibility into how they change under the hood. The revisions and changes between iOS 6 and iOS 7 were huge. But this didn't mean that iOS was a dead end back then.
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We Are Saved By Feelings Alone

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The problem with many Christians is that salvation is understood to be fundamentally about feelings.

Our predicament--sin and the judgment of a righteous God--starts with an invisible problem in an invisible space with an invisible person.

And the solution--accepting Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior--is an invisible act that triggers an invisible transaction in an invisible space with the invisible person.

The entire thing, problem and solution, is totally invisible.

Salvation, commonly understood, has no material aspect, no political, social, economic, ecological, behavioral or moral signifiers. Salvation is wholly invisible.

Consequently, salvation can only be tracked through feelings. Feelings are your spiritual GPS. You track where you are in the invisible space by monitoring your psychology.

This is one of the reasons Christian worship has gravitated toward creating a "worship high." Given that Christianity has been reduced to feelings, worship and preaching is judged by its effectiveness in creating powerful feelings.

To be clear, I don't want to dismiss the importance of emotions in spirituality. Joy, peace, wonder, and gratitude are all hugely important. But love, generosity, hospitality, kindness and peace-making are behaviors. My concern here is the feeling/action divorce which allows many Christians to feel loved but who aren't very loving.

A Christian who doesn't love isn't much of a Christian, but far too many Christians don't seem to care, so long as they feel loved by God. If they have the feelings, they count themselves a Christian.

If the great dichotomy used to be Faith vs. Works I think it's now been supplanted by Feelings vs. Actions.

Instead of sola fide, the mantra for modern Christianity has become sola affectio.

We are saved by feelings alone.
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9 days ago
This article is spot on. Feelings cannot make you virtuous or saved. They are just the story you tell yourself, not who you really are. You are what you do. Trying to hold a distance between our actions and the 'real person' is what abusive spouses, internet trolls, and evildoers of all stripes do. A wifebeater doesn't get very far by weeping in court about how much love is in his heart. Faith, virtue, and goodness are not states that can be felt.
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Is Decentralized Storage Sustainable?

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There are many reasons to dislike centralized storage services. They include business risk, as we see in le petit musée des projets Google abandonnés, monoculture vulnerability and rent extraction. There is thus naturally a lot of enthusiasm for decentralized storage systems, such as MaidSafe, DAT and IPFS. In 2013 I wrote about one of their advantages in Moving vs. Copying. Among the enthusiasts is Lambert Heller. Since I posted Blockchain as the Infrastructure for Science, Heller and I have been talking past each other. Heller is talking technology; I have some problems with the technology but they aren't that important. My main problem is an economic one that applies to decentralized storage irrespective of the details of the technology.

Below the fold is an attempt to clarify my argument. It is a re-statement of part of the argument in my 2014 post Economies of Scale in Peer-to-Peer Networks, specifically in the context of decentralized storage networks.

To make my argument I use a model of decentralized storage that abstracts away the details of the technology. The goal is a network with a large number of peers each providing storage services. This network is:
  • decentralized in the sense that no single entity, or small group of entities, controls the network (the peers are independently owned and operated), and
  • sustainable, in that the peers do not lose financially by providing storage services to the network.
I argue that this network is economically unstable and will, over time, become centralized. This argument is based on work from the 80s by the economist W. Brian Arthur1.

Let us start by supposing that such a decentralized storage network has, by magic, been created:
  • It consists of a large number of peers, initially all providing the same amount of storage resource to the network.
  • Users submit data to be stored to the network, not to individual peers. The network uses erasure coding to divide the data into shards and peers store shards.
  • Each peer incurs costs to supply this resource, in the form of hardware, bandwidth, power, cooling, space and staff time.
  • The network has no central organization which could contract with the peers to supply their resource. Instead, it rewards the peers in proportion to the resource they supply by a token, such as a crypto-currency, that the peers can convert into cash to cover their costs.
  • The users of the network rent space in the network by buying tokens for cash on an exchange, setting a market price at which peers can sell their tokens for cash. This market price sets the $/TB/month rent that users must pay, and that peers receive as income. It also ensure that users do not know which peers store their data.
Although the income each peer receives per unit of storage is the same, as set by the market, their costs differ. One might be in Silicon Valley, where space, power and staff time are expensive. Another might be in China, where all these inputs are cheap. So providing resources to the network is more profitable in China than in Silicon Valley.

Suppose the demand for storage is increasing. That demand will preferentially supplied from China, where the capital invested in adding capacity can earn a greater reward. Thus peers in China will add capacity faster than those in Silicon Valley and will enjoy not merely a lower cost base because of location, but also a lower cost base from economies of scale. This will increase the cost differential driving the peers to China, and create a feedback process.

Competition among the peers and decreasing hardware costs will drive down the  $/TB/month rent to levels that are uneconomic for Silicon Valley peers, concentrating the storage resource in China (as we see with Bitcoin miners).

Lets assume that all the peers in China share the same low cost base. But some will have responded to the increase in demand before others. They will have better economies of scale than the laggards, so they will in turn grow at the laggards' expense. Growth may be by increasing the capacity of existing peers, or adding peers controlled by the entity with the economies of scale.

The result of this process is a network in which the aggregate storage resource is overwhelmingly controlled by a small number of entities, controlling large numbers of large peers in China. These are the ones which started with a cost base advantage and moved quickly to respond to demand. The network is no longer decentralized, and will suffer from the problems of centralized storage outlined above.

This should not be a surprise. We see the same winner-take-all behavior in most technology markets. We see this behavior in the Bitcoin network.

I believe it is up to the enthusiasts to explain why this model does not apply to their favorite decentralized storage technology, and thus why it won't become centralized. Or, alternatively, why they aren't worried that their decentralized storage network isn't actually decentralized after all.


  1. Arthur, W. Brian. Competing technologies and lock-in by historical small events: the dynamics of allocation under increasing returns. Center for Economic Policy Research, Stanford University, 1985. in Arthur, W. Brian. Increasing Returns and Path Dependence in the Economy, Michigan University Press, 1994.
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12 days ago
I'm somewhat torn about this article.

On the one hand, it is an interesting analysis and it provides important lessons for protocol design. Namely that the desired properties of your protocol have to be explicitly written in and you can't assume that they will apply especially when key decisions are made outside of the protocol itself.

But on the other hand, the article makes a very specific set of assumptions and then demonstrates that these assumptions lead to a centralized infrastructure. But the assumptions are not generally applicable. It is not generally the case, for example, that there are infinitely increasing economies of scale. Usually the other principle of economics, decreasing marginal utility, is also at play. And in fact, the protocol as described by the author already seems to have a mechanism in place to provide diminishing marginal returns.

Suppose that the network is growing like the article claims with larger capacity coming online while usage increases. Let's say utilization is N%. When a user buys a token and uses it to take a piece of available space, which peers are chosen? If you assume that peers with lots of available space are given more weight (or uniformly choosing among all blocks of storage without regard to their peer), then it is true that there is no built-in penalty for large-scale peers. But if you uniformly choose among peers with available blocks instead, then larger-scale peers will see that their utilization is less than their capacity. A peer with only 1 block of storage will have a good chance of having 100% utilization. Each block you add has a marginally smaller chance of being utilized by the network. And so peers who are larger scale will have smaller marginal revenue for each block of storage that they add compared to small-scale peers. A peer that is not at or near its maximum utilization will gain no benefit from additional storage until the utilization of the whole network increases.

So, while I agree with the general point, I don't think the specific case made is strong. And I don't think it can be generalized.

One more nit is the tossed off one-liner that we see "the same winner-take-all behaviour in most tech markets". This is completely false. While some tech markets have had winner-take-all results, almost none of them follow the pattern laid out in this analysis. It is not the case, for example, that there was a paid search market where people paid for every query and that Google managed to use economies of scale in order to reduce costs and bid down its competition. If the hypothetical storage market becomes winner-take-all, then it is not because it is 'tech'. It is because the particular assumptions he makes about the particular market/protocol hold true.
12 days ago
The most important point to me was about making sure you have an enforcement mechanism for key properties. I agree that it's probably an over-simplification – e.g. the geographic storage cost differential is certainly true but it seems extremely unlikely that there'd be a single winner ahead on every metric for all time — it seems far more likely that you'd have considerable competition based on local variance on the various cost components (e.g. maybe Iceland has high labor costs but the cooling + cheap geothermal power make up for that; China's cheap labor and power are already becoming less so)
12 days ago
This is also my ongoing love/hate with DSHR's writings — he's very smart, focuses on some key issues, but has this tendency to over-simplify. Awhile back he had a bit about how cloud storage was never competitive at scale which assumed that any organization would have the budget and political backing to assemble an AWS/Google-class storage team, which is certainly not a given as much as I'd like it to be
12 days ago
Yes. I definitely agree with the enforcement mechanism. If you want X to be distributed, then picking distributed X must be part of your protocol. This is one of the (many) fundamental design flaws of BitCoin. It seems to have fallen into pretty much the exact trap that the author lays out. Something that was supposed to be distributed turns out to be pretty centralized because there were no enforcement mechanisms.
12 days ago
Definitely – I'm going going to make a point of thinking long about that on future designs
11 days ago
How do you stop someone with lots of available space from creating multiple peers (ie. pretend to be lots of people each with a small amount of space)?
11 days ago
I thought about this a bit, but I'm not sure of the answer. I agree that it would be crucial to solve this. For any distributed service, there needs to be some way to assure that it is actually distributed. The two main options seem to be either by verifying peers via legal/social means (peers are publicly known entities with some way to prove their location/identity), or to start looking at the literature on preventing sibyl attacks. In a real system, you'd want verified information about peers in any case. If all my peers happen to be in California and there is an earthquake then there would be data loss. So you'd want to prevent that kind of situation from cropping up.
6 days ago
If (contra DSHR) the supply side of the network doesn't centralize too much, I think you could design the peer selection and auditing parts of the protocol to probabilistically demonstrate many kinds of redundancy without peers having to identify themselves. A well designed protocol would let users broadcast their service level preferences and reallocate resources accordingly. So stronger guarantees (e.g. more uncorrelated peers passing back more frequent Merkle tree proofs that they're actually storing your file) would cost more per stored byte. Amen re: limits to economies of scale. Dumb file storage is a uniquely poor candidate for a specialization race on the scale of what happened with ASICs in Bitcoin's proof-of-work. A decade ago people like me were way too excited about decentralized everything without really understanding social defaults or economies of scale, but now I think analysts are mindlessly applying Aggregation Theory to too many cases.
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A Khmerican Tale

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—

It’s early Friday evening in Phnom Penh, and the heavy rain pounds the pavement. Motorbikes whizz through the narrow streets near the city’s Russian Market, a trendy bazaar that earned its name when it was the go-to destination of Soviet expats during the 1980s. Aside from the commuters in cheap plastic ponchos trying to shield themselves from the onslaught of tropical rain, the small, residential side streets are quiet.

But even in this serene environment, as the work week winds down and the night revelers prepare for their frolics, the sound of hip-hop pours out of the open doors of Cool Lounge while patrons sit nursing their pints. Equipped with a sound system, a recording studio, and walls covered in graffiti and an airbrushed mural, the bar provides a welcoming slice of America for people who are no longer welcome in America itself.

Cool Lounge was opened by one of the almost 600 Cambodian refugees who have been deported from the United States since the country signed a memorandum of understanding with Cambodia in 2002, with an average of 35 people deported each year. From then until October 2016, when the Cambodian government informed the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh that it would not accept more deportees until it had a chance to review the issue, the treaty allowed Washington to repatriate Cambodians who had committed a crime and had not already applied for U.S. citizenship. People could be forcibly repatriated, even for misdemeanors and even if they were married to a U.S. citizen. After deportation, they were forbidden from ever returning to the United States.

But most deportees had never seen Cambodia before their arrival. Most were born in refugee camps in Thailand after their parents escaped the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime and the wars of the 1970s. After moving to the United States as young children, they were deported decades later. Having grown up in the United States, they are fully ensconced in American culture. Upon arrival in Cambodia, they were given “naturalization certificates,” which grant them Cambodian citizenship. But the U.S. is the only home they’ve ever known, and many didn’t speak the local Khmer language before arrival. Thrust into a new country without friends, family, or resources, some deportees chose to band together in search of community and support.

Eventually, Cool Lounge emerged as a spot for them to congregate, a place where they can meet to listen to music, relax in an atmosphere that feels familiar, and talk about the politics and policies that play with their fates.

“A lot of people don’t like it here, a lot of people want to go back. It’s hard when you don’t have your family, which is why we try to have each other’s backs and give each other hope,” explains Sophea Phea, a deportee who arrived in Cambodia from California in 2011. “When you hang out you build trust.”

Phea is an active member of One Love Cambodia, the local branch of a Philadelphia-based movement that lobbies to stop the deportations and allow deportees to return to the United States to visit their families. So far, it’s had some success. The group met with members of Cambodia’s government and explained their situation. Shortly thereafter, the government issued a letter to the U.S. embassy halting deportations until further review. Twenty-eight deportees, whose travel documents were issued before the change, were deported from the U.S. to Cambodia in 2017, but for now, no one else will be deported.

The government set up an interministerial task force to review the repatriation agreement, but it’s unclear when a revised treaty will be proposed. Meanwhile, obtaining the right to return will depend on convincing the U.S. government, a trickier feat with President Donald Trump in office, given his views on immigration.

Members of One Love Cambodia with a local parliamentarian. Sophea is third from left. Photo courtesy of Wicced (second from left).

Still, One Love Cambodia is determined to continue lobbying. The group held a demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy to mark this Fourth of July. In an effort to support a deportee-run business, One Love Cambodia started hosting its meetings at Cool Lounge.

The bar opened in the Russian Market neighborhood around a year ago but didn’t host its grand opening until April this year. Russian Market is an up-and-coming part of Cambodia’s capital that foreign expats jokingly nicknamed “the Brooklyn of Phnom Penh” because of its hipster vibe. Except for the busy market, where shoppers can buy everything from Cambodian silk to discounted designer clothes, the neighborhood was mostly residential until recently. But the last year has seen an influx of new business, with trendy bars and new restaurants opening almost every week. The neighborhood even boasts a CrossFit studio with a coffee shop attached and a new vegan health-food restaurant. Amid the bustle of shoppers and café-goers, Cool Lounge is nestled into a quiet side street lined with motorbikes. It almost looks like any other small, unassuming bar, with turquoise walls, black leather barstools, and low wooden tables where patrons can sit in pairs. But the music and murals give away its cultural origins.

“We have community meetings here. We support Cool Lounge, and they support us by giving us the space. It is a safe place,” Phea tells me as we watch the heavy June rainfall from inside the warm safety of the bar. “I go to Cool Lounge even if I’m not having drinks, I just go hang out. I chill, joke around, talk about whatever.”

Born in a refugee camp in Thailand in 1982, Phea moved to the United States just one year later. Her family settled in a predominantly Khmer community in Long Beach, California. Today, her voice has a soft California lilt.

Phea was a permanent resident of the United States before her deportation but never saw the need to apply for citizenship.

“I was raised there, I learned how to speak there,” she says. “My culture is American, of course I’m American, just without the paper. I work, I pay taxes, what do I need U.S. citizenship for? I didn’t think it was important.”

Can I at least call my mom and stepdad and tell them that I’m going to Cambodia?

But when Phea was 22 she was sentenced to two years in prison for $3,000 worth of credit card fraud. She remembers it as a confusing time. She was young, had just given birth to her son, and she was struggling. But after completing her sentence she was determined to turn her life around.

“I got out of prison thinking that I was going to leave all of that behind and do good, be with my family,” she says.

She enrolled in college, got a job, and helped take care of her ailing mother. She also worked to build a relationship with her young son. Before she knew it, four years had gone by. But then one morning Immigration and Customs Enforcement came knocking on the door. She was detained and brought straight to the airport.

“I was like, ‘Can I at least call my mom and stepdad and tell them that I’m going to Cambodia?’ ” she remembers. “All I had was a sweater and the clothes on my back.”

Phea’s mother didn’t have any family in Cambodia, but her stepfather did. She got in touch with his distant relatives and went to stay with them in their village. She had to learn how to wash her clothes by hand, use a squat toilet, and cook with firewood.

“I still did my taxes while I was here,” she admits, laughing.

Having grown up listening to her mother tell horror stories about the wars in Cambodia, she didn’t know what to expect. She was scared and alone, separated from her mother and her son.

“The first few years were a struggle. The feeling of being separated from your family is still fresh, so there was depression and I was angry,” she says. “I had to get rid of that loneliness.”

Eventually she got in touch with other deportees in Phnom Penh. Today, Phea works as a schoolteacher in the capital and is determined to help support the community of deportees in any way possible, especially through lobbying for their right to return home.

“We’re separated from families; this is against human rights. We went to the [U.S.] as little toddlers, we’d never been to Cambodia, we don’t belong here in a way,” Phea explains. “We are replicating what our parents felt when they were separated from their families by the Khmer Rouge. And we don’t know how our kids are going to turn out because this trauma is repeating itself.”

Kosal Khiev, a poet who discovered a talent for writing and words while serving a 14-year jail sentence in California, says he likes Cambodia but agrees that the right to return and visit family is important.

Born in a refugee camp in Thailand in 1980, Khiev is the youngest of seven children. When he was a year old, a woman in North Carolina sponsored his family’s move to the United States. The family made the long trip from Thailand through the Philippines and eventually settled in Santa Ana, California.

Kosal Khiev grew up in California. Photo courtesy of Kosal Khiev.

“It was the projects,” Khiev says. “There were mostly Cambodian refugees and Hispanics [living there].”

Refugee children often grow up in impoverished neighborhoods in America’s inner cities. Looking for a sense of belonging, some, like Khiev, get involved in gangs.

Growing up in California, Khiev had to fend for himself as his older siblings and parents worked to put food on the table and build a life in the United States. Searching for community, he joined the Tiny Rascal Gang, a predominantly Cambodian American street gang that formed in California in the 1980s.

“I remember wanting to be a part of something,” Khiev says. “There was this bond, this camaraderie. Knowing that someone has your back to the fullest, there is something powerful about that, you feel like you’re no longer alone, there is purpose.”

It wasn’t until five years into his jail sentence that he realized he wasn’t a U.S. citizen

But this feeling of belonging came with a price. At the age of 16, Khiev was involved in a shootout with rival gang members and, after being tried as an adult, went to prison for attempted murder.

It wasn’t until five years into his jail sentence that he realized he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. Many of the Cambodian refugee children never realized that they weren’t legally American.

“I was reading a magazine article about some guys who got deported after their term and I started thinking, Am I a freaking citizen? I don’t think I am,” he remembers.

The fact that he wasn’t a U.S. citizen became painfully clear when his jail sentence ended. As soon as Khiev signed his parole papers, ICE took him into custody. He was held by immigration for a year before he was deported to Cambodia in 2011. Nearly six years later, his relationship with the country is still complicated.

“Sometimes I feel like it’s home, and sometimes I feel like I’m not a part of this place at all,” he explains. “I miss a lot of things that are American.”

Airbrushed art outside the front door of Cool Lounge. Photo by: Cristina Maza

Khiev left three brothers, three sisters, 10 nephews, and six nieces in the United States. Occasionally members of his family will visit him in Cambodia, but he still worries that he is missing important years with his family. Two of his siblings are suffering from cancer.

“I feel helpless,” he says. “The only thing I can do is be good out here and not be a burden, not add any more worry or stress.”

Despite the hardship of being separated from his family, Khiev managed to turn his life around. In 2012, he represented Cambodia as a spoken-word poet during a performance at the London Olympic Games. He is now working on a screenplay and has aspirations of becoming a film director.

Some of this success he attributes to the bonds he built with the local community and other deportees. People leave the divide-and-conquer mentality of gang life back in the United States, he says. The Cool Lounge bar has become a useful resource for the deportees as they build community and work to feel at home in a strange land.

“Cool Lounge is a place where people can go and get information about the One Love Movement,” he says. “They’ve done a tremendous job of organizing the community and just being there for guys.”

Wicced, another member of One Love Cambodia, is one of the guys building the community support network in Cool Lounge. Like both Khiev and Phea, he was born in a refugee camp in Thailand in the early 1980s. His family moved to the United States when he was 4 years old and settled in San Diego. It was there, at the age of 12, that he got involved in a gang called the Oriental Boys.

Most of the members were from Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. For Wicced, joining a gang allowed him to feel connected to his roots.

“I felt like I wanted to be with my people,” Wicced, who asked that his surname not be used, explains. “We were just hanging out, doing what kids do, cruising to the beaches, gang fights, and things like that … but we went fishing and camping. That’s what a gang was, it was a group of friends.”

Eventually, I.C.E. came for him

But there were also obvious risks. When he was 18, he got into a fight with a rival gang member for visiting a McDonald’s in the “wrong neighborhood.” Someone discharged a firearm, and he was blamed for it. He says he never fired the gun but that his public defender pressured him to sign a plea bargain and he went to jail.

Growing up, Wicced’s parents spoke little English and spent most of their time with other immigrants. He discovered that they hadn’t obtained citizenship for themselves or their children when the judge read his sentence.

“They said this sentence could lead to deportation,” he recalls. “And I was like, what? What are you talking about?”

After leaving prison, Wicced was able to lead a normal life in California for a little over a year. He enrolled in community college and worked at a resort. He spent time with his family and friends. But eventually, ICE came for him, too. He arrived in Cambodia in 2004.

“When I landed over here I was in shock,” he remembers. “I was like, what am I going to do? This place is hot, it’s so dusty, where do I get a Snickers bar around here?”

Traumatized and looking for support, he immediately reached out to other deportees.

He now works in marketing and hospitality and uses the Cool Lounge as a meeting spot to discuss the issues affecting his community.

Many of the patrons at Cool Lounge, deportees from Kentucky, Minnesota, and a handful of other U.S. states, greet each other like old friends. Everyone is a regular. As they sip the weak $1 beer ubiquitous in Cambodia, their American English mixes with the occasional word or phrase in Khmer. The rap music pours out of a nearby computer.

“We want to change the policy,” Wicced says. “The fact that you’re not allowed to be somewhere to see your family is unreal. What kind of a rule is that? Kids are losing their fathers and mothers. This is tearing families apart.”

The post A Khmerican Tale appeared first on Roads & Kingdoms.

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12 days ago
This is so insane to me. They are American in every way that matters. Minors who immigrate should be automatically granted citizenship.
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CNN, Doxing, And A Few Ways In Which We Are Full of Shit As A Political Culture

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Americans — not uniquely, but powerfully — wallow in political hypocrisy about online rhetoric.

We're not consistent in our arguments about when vivid political speech speech inspires, encourages, or promotes violence. We're quicker to accept that it does when used against our team and quicker to deny it when used on the other team.

We're not consistent in our moral judgments of ugly speech either. We tend to treat it as harmless venting or trolling or truth-telling if it's on our team and as a reflection of moral evil if it's on the other team.

We're not consistent in our arguments about whether online abuse and threats directed at people in the news are to be taken seriously or not. We tend to downplay them when employed against the other team and treat them as true threats when used against our team.

We're not consistent in our arguments about whether calling some individual out by name exposes them to danger. We tend to claim it does when the person supports our team and sneer at the issue when the person supports the other team.

We're not consistent in our treatment of the significance of behavior by obscure individuals. When some obscure person's online speech gets thrust into the limelight, we tend to treat it as fairly representative if they're on the other team and an obvious non-representative outlier if they are on our team.

We're hopelessly bad at applying consistent legal principles to evaluate whether speech is legally actionable depending on which team it comes from.

We're pretty inconsistent in our assessment of what social consequences should flow from ugly speech, with our views of proportionality, decency, and charity diverging widely depending on whether the person at issue is on our team or not.

So it can't be a shock that the reaction to CNN's story about a Redditor is a total shitstorm.

I think it's a legitimate story that the White House plumbs the depths of Reddit for content to post on Twitter. I think it's a legitimate story that the sort of people who post Trump-fluffing memes also post bigoted garbage — that this is the community that the White House looks to for inspiration. I think the existence and nature of sad people like this Redditor — someone who, at the most charitable interpretation, derives pleasure and meaning from pretending to be bigoted — is a legitimate and important story, especially in light of the White House's fondness for them. I think that it's a legitimate and sick-fascinating story to know what sort of person derives pleasure from posting a chart showing the pictures of CNN employees with stars next to the Jews. Does he have a job? A family? How does this hobby impact his life?

I also think that CNN has an absolutely protected First Amendment right to seek his name and publish it if they wish. The First Amendment should place strict limits on CNN's ability to use the power of the state (like discovery in a lawsuit) to unmask an anonymous person, and does. But CNN, and any private individual, has a right to figure it out on their own and talk about it, just like this creepy damaged human has a right to post the Jews-at-CNN chart in the first place.

But there's a difference between legal and moral approval. I defend the Redditor's right to post bigoted garbage but deplore him for doing so. And, under these circumstances, I personally think that it would not be proportional for CNN to use its power to name the person. A number of factors might change my view — it the guy was directing bigoted invective or threats at anyone instead of just posting it in a forum made up of similar losers, if the guy had a position of trust that required treating people equally (like, say, a public official or police officer or teacher), or if the dude was doing something like posting child porn or the sort of creepshots that took down Reddit super-troll Violentacrez.

CNN didn't publish his name. But CNN published this:

CNN is not publishing "HanA**holeSolo's" name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again. In addition, he said his statement could serve as an example to others not to do the same.
CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.

I found this alarming and ugly. CNN should publish the name or not publish the name. For CNN to tell him what he should or shouldn't say in the future, and threaten him that they will reveal his name in the future if they don't like his speech, does not make them sound like journalists. It makes them sound like avenging advocates, and lends substantial credibility to the argument that they pursued him because he posted a GIF about them. I don't know what they actually intended — they've denied intent to threaten and claim this was only to clarify that there was no agreement. If so, that could have been conveyed much less like a threat. However they meant it, this is reasonably interpreted as a warning that the Redditor must speak only as approved by CNN or suffer for it. That's grotesque. Legal, but grotesque.

The internet is, in human terms, very new. We still don't have coherent shared values about how we use it. Our views on ugly internet speech and the proper response to it are particularly confused. As I've argued for a while, the argument "you have to shut up so I can feel safe to speak" is not coherent. "There's absolutely nothing wrong with my speech but there's something wrong with you identifying me as the speaker" is not particularly coherent. "You are silencing free speech by criticizing it" is not coherent. "This speech is insignificant but it's wrong for you to highlight it" is not coherent. "People should be able to post graphics identifying all the Jews at CNN without anyone figuring out who they are and criticizing them by name" is not coherent. Troll visions of free speech — in which society works together harmoniously to ensure that they can post bigotry without any social consequence — is incoherent. (I also think trolls would hate that world if they got it, since their pleasure depends upon people being upset.)

As I said when I wrote semi-anonymously, I think people should be prepared to accept the social consequences of what they've written if someone is able to figure out who they are. But I also think we should consider whether to inflict social consequences when appropriate on people who breach the anonymity of others. Sometimes social consequences — even severe ones — may be appropriate. If some anon is sending death threats, I honestly have no problem with their name being published, whether or not their friends cry "it's just trolling." I'm also not terribly sympathetic to the proposition that I should be able to send abuse to people anonymously — you by the ticket, you take the ride. If someone officially charged with treating people equally posts things suggesting they do not, that seems like a correct time for naming them. Otherwise, though, I think we should talk about whether naming people who act like assholes is proportional or decent. And certainly we should talk about whether it's decent for a major network to threaten to name someone unless they speak acceptably.

None of this means I have to take seriously the hollow fury of everyone who rails at CNN, though.

Edited to add: The notion that it was execs and lawyers who inserted the threat is both comforting (because it means the journalists aren't as foolish or awful as I thought) and horrifying (because it means the execs and lawyers are morons indifferent to the harm they do to their journalists).

Copyright 2017 by the named Popehat author.
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17 days ago
It is appalling that comrade Trump posted the video. And it is also appalling that CNN posted this veiled threat at the author of the video. For the exact same reasons. Trump is a loser who always feels like he has to attack those beneath him even as president. CNN should be pushing back against the powerful bully, not emulating him.
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17 days ago
Remember it's in CNN's best interest for everything to be dramatic. What's good for CNN is bad for humanity; they are a festering pustule on the anus of the body politic.

Don't reward their trolling with attention.
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