👓 The Incredible Shrinking Sears | New York Times

Read The Incredible Shrinking Sears by Julie Creswell (nytimes.com)
How a financial wizard took over a giant of American retailing, and presided over its epic decline.

One has to wonder why shareholders aren’t going berserk over what’s happening to their value here. Even a small multi-million dollar settlement seems insignificant to the overall value they seem to have lost, even in a market space that would seemingly be shrinking. Someone somewhere isn’t minding the store like they should and it feels like some self- and double-dealing is going on.

👓 Opinion | Sears Didn’t ‘Die.’ Vulture Capitalists Killed It. | Huffington Post

Read Opinion | Sears Didn't 'Die.' Vulture Capitalists Killed It. (HuffPost)
Bankruptcy wasn't inevitable. It was Wall Street's business strategy.

👓 Thread by @louishyman: “In my history of consumption class, I teach about , but what most people don’t know is just how radical the catalogue was in the era o […]” #Sears #Jim #twitterstorians #thread

Read Thread by @louishyman: "In my history of consumption class, I teach about , but what most people don't know is just how radical the catalogue was in the era o […]" #Jim #twitterstorians (threadreaderapp.com)
In my history of consumption class, I teach about #Sears, but what most people don't know is just how radical the catalogue was in the era of #Jim Crow. #twitterstorians
Every time a black southerner went to the local store they were confronted with forced deference to white customers who would be served first.
And the store would be filled with racist caricatures of black people in an effort to sell to white people.
The stores were not self-service, so the black customers would have to wait. And then would have to ask the proprietor to give them goods (often on credit because...sharecropping). The landlord often owned the store. In every way shopping reinforced hierarchy. Until #Sears
The catalog undid the power of the storekeeper, and by extension the landlord. Black families could buy without asking permission. Without waiting. Without being watched. With national (cheap) prices!
Southern storekeepers fought back. They organized catalogue bonfires in the street.
These general stores often doubled as post offices. The owners would refuse to sell stamps to black people, or money orders, to use the catalogue services.
Happened enough that sears instructed customers to evade the postmaster and directly speak to the mail carrier: “just give the letter and the money to the mail carrier and he will get the money order at the post office and mail it in the letter for you.”
In an attempt to undermine #Sears, rumors spread that Sears was black (to get white customers to stop buying from him). Sold by mail “these fellows could not afford to show their faces as retailers” Sears, in turn, published photos to “prove” he was white.
These rumors didn’t affect sales but show how race and commerce connected in the countryside. And how dangerous it was to the local order, to white supremacy, to have national markets.
So as we think about #Sears today, let's think about how retail is not just about buying things, but part of a larger system of power. Every act of power contains the opportunity, and the means, for resistance.
Wow. So much response! If you would like to know more about the larger history of Sears and resisting white supremacy, check out this video from our series on the history of capitalism. #thread. Also #JohnHenry and #webDubois.
You *may* have noticed that race and capitalism were not just problems in the 19th century. As I write about, African-Americans have always had a less equal access to the market, whether as consumers or as workers. For more: amazon.com/Temp-American-…

👓 Robert Lowth | Wikipedia

Read Robert Lowth (Wikipedia)
Robert Lowth FRS (/laʊð/; 27 November 1710 – 3 November 1787) was a Bishop of the Church of England, Oxford Professor of Poetry and the author of one of the most influential textbooks of English grammar.

An interesting character with an outsize influence on modern English grammar. Dave Harris is sure to appreciate this.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Lowth seems to have been the first modern Bible scholar to notice or draw attention to the poetic structure of the Psalms and much of the prophetic literature of the Old Testament.  

October 16, 2018 at 10:55AM

Lowth’s grammar is the source of many of the prescriptive shibboleths that are studied in schools,  

October 16, 2018 at 10:56AM

His most famous contribution to the study of grammar may have been his tentative suggestion that sentences ending with a preposition—such as “what did you ask for?”—are inappropriate in formal writing.  

October 16, 2018 at 10:56AM

👓 Friction-Free Racism by Chris Gilliard | Real Life

Read Friction-Free Racism by Chris Gilliard (Real Life)
Surveillance capitalism turns a profit by making people more comfortable with discrimination

Facebook’s use of “ethnic affinity” as a proxy for race is a prime example. The platform’s interface does not offer users a way to self-identify according to race, but advertisers can nonetheless target people based on Facebook’s ascription of an “affinity” along racial lines. In other words. race is deployed as an externally assigned category for purposes of commercial exploitation and social control, not part of self-generated identity for reasons of personal expression. The ability to define one’s self and tell one’s own stories is central to being human and how one relates to others; platforms’ ascribing identity through data undermines both.  

October 15, 2018 at 09:34PM

👓 The Man Who Broke Politics | The Atlantic

Read The Man Who Broke Politics (The Atlantic)
Newt Gingrich turned partisan battles into bloodsport, wrecked Congress, and paved the way for Trump's rise. Now he's reveling in his achievements.

An interesting look back at the history, and it seems a bit surprising to me because Gingrich has always seemed so calm, reasonable and staid in his television appearances. Apparently he wasn’t quite so behind the scenes.

What I find false in some of his assumptions however is that while his idea about killing or being killed from an evolutionary standpoint is broadly true, humans have been able to do so much more by possessing logic and civility than the base “animals” he apparently idolizes. His premise has brought down our democratic structures and is causing us to devolve backwards instead of forwards–both within the larger animalistic structure he proposes as well as among our fellow people of the world. While Americans are infighting among ourselves, we’re losing ground to other countries who are rapidly catching up to us.

Somehow I feel like Gingrich is missing a chunk of modern history and the value of a Western liberal democracy, by which I’m talking about the philosophical version of liberal, and not his version of liberal meaning Democrat or “enemy.”

While he may think the Republicans are “winning” presently, what is generally happening is that a larger rift is opening up within the democracy and the two sides which really aren’t very apart are moving even further apart, particularly in their fighting. As a result, we’re spending far more time and energy fighting each other rather than competing against countries externally. From a game theoretic perspective each side fights harder in opposite directions, but the equilibrium point doesn’t really move very much for all the extra effort. Meanwhile, we’re exhausting our resources (and general happiness) which we could be employing to better ourselves, and particularly with respect to all the external factors (foreign powers, climate change, etc.) we should be working against.

He can continue to look at things from the Nixonian “man in the arena” perspective of his youth, but I would submit he should be looking at it from the wider “person in the world” perspective we’re all operating in in this millennia.

👓 Monday, October 15, 2018 | Scripting News

Read Scripting News: Monday, October 15, 2018 (Scripting News)
I haven't listened to Exile on Main St in too long. # Why didn’t Elizabeth Warren hold on to the results of her study until Trump raised the issue again? Raising it herself just before the midterms seems like the most disadvantageous timing. Imagine if Trump re-stated his offer of $1 million, then she could release the study. Bonk. Wasted opportunity?#

👓 Learning How to Learn Math | Math3ma | Tai-Danae Bradley

Read Learning How to Learn Math by Tai-Danae BradleyTai-Danae Bradley (math3ma.com)
Once upon a time, while in college, I decided to take my first intro-to-proofs class. I was so excited. "This is it!" I thought, "now I get to learn how to think like a mathematician." You see, for the longest time, my mathematical upbringing was very... not mathematical. As a student in high school and well into college, I was very good at being a robot. Memorize this formula? No problem. Plug in these numbers? You got it. Think critically and deeply about the ideas being conveyed by the mathematics? Nope. It wasn't because I didn't want to think deeply. I just wasn't aware there was anything to think about. I thought math was the art of symbol-manipulation and speedy arithmetic computations. I'm not good at either of those things, and I never understood why people did them anyway. But I was excellent at following directions. So when teachers would say "Do this computation," I would do it, and I would do it well. I just didn't know what I was doing. By the time I signed up for that intro-to-proofs class, though, I was fully aware of the robot-symptoms and their harmful side effects. By then, I knew that math not just fancy hieroglyphics and that even people who aren't super-computers can still be mathematicians because—would you believe it?—"mathematician" is not synonymous with "human calculator." There are even—get this—ideas in mathematics, which is something I could relate to. ("I know how to have ideas," I surmised one day, "so maybe I can do math, too!") One of my instructors in college was instrumental in helping to rid me of robot-syndrome. One day he told me, "To fully understand a piece of mathematics, you have to grapple with it. You have to work hard to fully understand every aspect of it." Then he pulled out his cell phone, started rotating it about, and said, "It's like this phone. If you want to understand everything about it, you have to analyze it from all angles. You have to know where each button is, where each ridge is, where each port is. You have to open it up and see how it the circuitry works. You have to study it—really study it—to develop a deep understanding." "And that" he went on to say, "is what studying math is like."

A nice little essay on mathematics for old and young alike–and particularly for those who think they don’t understand or “get” math. It’s ultimately not what you think it is, there’s something beautiful lurking underneath.

In fact, I might say that unless you can honestly describe mathematics as “beautiful”, you should read this essay and delve a bit deeper until you get the understanding that’s typically not taught in mathematics until far too late in most people’s academic lives.

👓 Who says neuroscientists don’t need more brains? Annotation with SciBot | Hypothesis

Read Who says neuroscientists don’t need more brains? Annotation with SciBot by Maryann Martone (web.hypothes.is/blog/)
You might think that neuroscientists already have enough brains, but apparently not. Over 100 neuroscientists attending the recent annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SFN), took part in an annotation challenge: modifying scientific papers to add simple references that automatically generate and attach Hypothesis annotations, filled with key related information. To sweeten the pot, our friends at Gigascience gave researchers who annotated their own papers their very own brain hats.

👓 All Those Books You’ve Bought but Haven’t Read? There’s a Word for That | New York Times

Read All Those Books You’ve Bought but Haven’t Read? There’s a Word for That by Kevin Mims (nytimes.com)
Most of us own books we’ve read and books we haven’t. Kevin Mims considers the importance of owning books we’ll never get around to finishing.

I had hoped for more here, but it’s just a recap of things I’ve read in either their original incarnations or via other resources.

👓 💬 Some IndieWeb WordPress tuning | Read Write Collect

Read Some IndieWeb WordPress tuning by Aaron DavisAaron Davis (Read Write Collect)
Great to see you tinkering Clint. Pretty sure the bridge to Facebook died with Cambridge Analytica. If you are looking for any ideas and inspiration, I highly recommend diving into Chris Aldrich’s research. There is always something there I feel I have overlooked.

👓 Riding the Locals’ Favorite: El Prieto, Altadena, California | Singletracks Mountain Bike News

Read Riding the Locals’ Favorite: El Prieto, Altadena, California by Greg Heil (Singletracks.com)
El Prieto has been hailed by many as one of the best singletrack rides in the Los Angeles area. After hearing such accolades, I just had to check it out! And let me tell you: the reputation is not unfounded. To start the ride, park at the lot and head past the upper yellow gate on the paved road. Af...

It’s been a few years since I’ve ridden this trail, and I remember the trail itself being excellent, but don’t remember the ride up being as nice as described here–at least not in the open fire roads during the high heat of the day.

👓 Free Speech in the Age of Algorithmic Megaphones | Wired

Read Free Speech in the Age of Algorithmic Megaphones (WIRED)
Researchers have long known that local actors—as well as Russia—use manipulative tactics to spread information online. With Facebook suspending a slew of domestic accounts, a difficult reckoning is upon us.

We need something in the digtial world that helps to put the brakes on gossip and falsehoods much the same way real life social networks tend to slow these things down. Online social networks that gamify and monopolize based on clicks using black box algorithms are destroying some of the fabric of our society.

Lies were able to go across the world before the truth had a chance to put on it’s breeches in the past, but it’s ability to do so now is even worse. We need to be able to figure out a way to flip the script.