Serious Business for serious business white people.

Like many Americans, I learned that there was no point in giving AIDS drugs to Africans because they didn’t have watches from The West Wing, and therefore Africans can’t tell what time it is and take their ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy) drugs appropriately. A waste of our generous help!

That idea was racist and ignorant when it aired, it was racist and conniving when the incident it was based on happened, and viewing it now is jaw dropping. It was so seductively shot, so convincing in its presentation, that I kind of believed it for a moment, even though I knew


Nah I’m kidding. But the title is true — why?

Infosec had a hilarious near-universal melt-down when a business school’s IT prof, Allen Gwinn, somehow got a security opinion piece published in an inside-the-beltway political blog. Ok I guess? It was… not wholly accurate.

Well, someone’s gotta take this one on — and really, who better to comment than a twice-canceled social pariah former-tech-journalist-slash-former-mediocre-sysadmin on what really causes breaches?

Breaches and bugs are not an inevitable part of everything complicated thing we make — no one has yet taken over a Mars rover for a joyride, or used the ISS to mine Bitcoin. But there’s a reason that when I…


In 1993, I gave a friend a hug, after she described being pulled out of her car by police and beaten on the side of the road. The sex on her driver’s license didn’t match her gender, and that was all it took. As she told the story, they hadn’t given a reason, they just beat her for being her. But it was ok, she told a room of us in my college’s Pride club. It felt like a rite of passage, because it happened to all the trans people she knew. …


This is Absolutely True, All Leading Scientists Agree

It will continue to evolve.

No really, it will definitely keep evolving. But what does that mean in a practical sense, and why should you care about this evolution?

If you want to understand why the pandemic happened and what’s going to happen in the future, you have to start with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection — there’s no way around it. Everything that’s happened — and everything that will — is largely predictable, if you think of it in terms of evolution. This isn’t a philosophical argument, it’s down to the brass tacks of how the virus…


If someone else breathes the virus out, and you breathe it in, you will get Covid-19.

Also if there’s a lot of virus around, and you don’t breathe it in, you might still get it from your eyes. This is because your tear ducts connect to the back of your nose. If you touch something completely covered in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you could catch Covid-19.

That’s pretty much all the ways you can catch Covid-19.

If, for any reason, there is enough virus in the air in front of you…


“Beyond the age of information, there is the age of choices.”

― Charles Eames

Back in the early 2000s, I wrote a blog post (sadly now lost to the entropy of the web) asking when video games would have their Alan Moore moment. By this I meant the moment when video games would stop being low culture and pure entertainment and entered the realm of Capital L Literature, like comic books had two decades before. By the 1980s the comic book had evolved from “rotting kids’ brains” to Works of Literature, with titles like Moore’s V for Vendetta and Watchmen.


Pandemic words and thieving scientists

There’s a lot of correcting terminology in the media and social media these days, it’s something of an epidemic. Most of it should stop, because it’s silly, it won’t work, and it shouldn’t work. Let’s take one I’ve seen a lot of people having feelings about: the word endemic. Or rather, the at least four words, endemic. The question we’re asking is about our future, after this immediate crisis is over.

Will Covid become endemic? The short answer is probably yes, for most values of endemic. Right now, epidemiologists are reaching for their guns, but I’m not trying to tell…


The Hardest Problem of The Aftertimes

SARS-CoV-2

I finally lost it when someone asked me about the new variants. Friends and acquaintances who relied over the last year on my research and knowledge asked me what it meant, and how dangerous it was, to have these new more transmissible and/or deadly strains circulating just when we’d hoped the vaccines would soon end the pandemic. “It means nothing,” I told them, “Everything will be fine, because masks, social distance, hand washing, and common sense still work just as well against these versions of the virus.”

Of course, the variants do mean something. Variants are just what happens when…


Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House

What happened to the capitol was terrible and scary, and had many elements I recognized from my work with protests and angry crowds in America and around the world. I’m not going to say it wasn’t tough, but I can say from experience it wasn’t rare. It just happened to people who believe they shouldn’t be subject to the kind of trauma that afflicts the rest of us. It happened to people who understand themselves to be the elites, America’s patricians.

Afterwards, Congress bathed itself in righteous self-pity, while displaying a disturbing lack of self-awareness. The whole impeachment is a…


If you’re looking for rules to follow in a pandemic, then the first rule is this: Information will change, be ready to change with it. In a world where most of humanity’s pain is self-inflicted, not knowing how the virus works has been one of the hardest things for many people, including many governments, to come to terms with.

Peek-a-boo

Be Flexible

In this age of technology and wonders, we’re used to right answers, even when people don’t make the right decisions. But in the middle of a crisis like this, often there aren’t any right answers, or they emerge slowly and stay…

Quinn Norton

A journalist, essayist, and sometimes photographer of Technology, Science, Hackers, Internets, and Civil Unrest.

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