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Casey Artner
Works at La Clinica
Attended Southern Oregon University
Lives in Medford, OR
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Casey Artner

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This article interests me most for what it misses. 

The body of this article -- which is well-written and worth reading, if you care about the subject -- is about how it's suddenly become evident that Trump's loudly touted and not particularly covert brand of racism, isolationism, and xenophobia isn't just harmless and funny, after two of his followers beat a homeless man into the hospital for being Latino and then praised Trump's speeches while they were being arrested. 

But the interesting thing they miss is hidden in plain sight, right in the headline. For Trump to have stopped being funny, he had to have been funny in the first place. And that joke only ever worked for people with a certain kind of privilege.

Donald Trump has never been subtle about his views. While his hair and his general egomania may be clownish, he was always showing these things off while preaching about how we need to crack down on Latinos, Blacks, immigrants, the Chinese, whoever he's on about on any particular day. He was doing this while calling for mass deportations of tens of millions of people, closing borders, engaging in ludicrously heavy-handed "negotiations" with other countries, and so on. And this has been working: Trump's popularity is because there are people who wonder, "well, why not?" and there is someone out there advocating solutions which sound (a) simple, (b) brutal, and (c) based on beating up people whom they don't see as part of their own society, from whom they can simply "take back" their power. (Although, as these other groups never actually had any such power, what's really meant here is "take")

It is only possible to see that as a joke if you have never had a reason to fear ethnic violence. But the US has just as long and bloody a history of ethnic violence as it has a history. Nothing Trump is suggesting is new; you could have heard it 150 years ago from the Know-Nothing Party, or 100 years ago from the more political branches of the Klan, or 50 years ago from the John Birch Society, each with their own variants.

Nor is it a coincidence that Trump is having these successes in the midst of Black Lives Matter, or in the aftermath of GamerGate; there are powerful movements afoot in our society where groups that were previously excluded are demanding their fair share of the floor, and powerful counter-movements of people who suddenly feel that the one thing they had of their own -- complete dominance of some spaces -- is suddenly being taken away. Trump is a natural mouthpiece for these groups, and he's quite good at it.

(There's some question about whether Trump came out openly in support of GamerGate a few weeks ago, or whether this was just a rogue autoresponder that he let stand, but I would by no means be surprised if he were to say something about it at some point; the complaints of GamerGate align surprisingly well with his rhetoric)

And anyone who watches these issues knows that there is profound violence immediately on deck in all of them. GamerGate was awash in death threats, and a few actual attempts. Black Lives Matter was born in the wake of shootings, and the rate of violence by whites (and especially police) against black youth in this country has hardly decreased. 

You can see another version of this in the part of the Republican press which is highly anti-Trump, not least because Trump is completely disconnected from the party's main political organs. Consider this article by Ben Domenech from The Federalist, which is quite far to the right but unconnected with Trump: http://thefederalist.com/2015/08/21/are-republicans-for-freedom-or-white-identity-politics/ The essential meat of the article is that the party has underestimated Trump's appeal, and in order to curb his lunatic candidacy, the Republican Party should find a better way to express his ideas and so pull his followers back into the mainstream.

And what are these ideas? "White identity politics." Note that the article does not fear that these become part of the Republican platform; it fears that they will become such a large part that they overwhelm the rest of the platform, and so these need to be addressed in a careful way. But there's nothing wrong with pulling them in, Domenech says: "'Identity politics for white people' is not the same thing as 'racism,' nor are the people who advocate for it necessarily racist."

Pro tip: "identity politics based on racial categories" is actually the dictionary definition of racism, and "identity politics for white people" is the prototype example of the category. Domenech's article isn't about rejecting Trump's racism: it's about finding more socially acceptable ways to express it, so that it can be folded into the party mainstream without taking it over.

For those wondering about Trump from the outside, I can give a simple explanation of his politics: Trump is a classical European far-right party leader. This is why he seems a bit exotic by recent American standards: especially since the 1980's, the American far right has been dominated by the "theological" far right, a very distinctly American political movement which focuses on making the country explicitly into a Fundamentalist Christian country. Trump, although he speaks to a similar (and overlapping) group of people, isn't talking about religion at all; instead, you'll find his politics very similar to that of European far-right politicians, of the sort who like to put "National" in their party names.

On the European spectrum, Trump falls somewhat to the right of Jean-Marie le Pen, perhaps a shade left of the Golden Dawn, and somewhat more populist than Jobbik. If we were running in a parliamentary, rather than presidential, system, he would currently be at the head of a far-right party that was polling in the high teens, and press coverage would be worried about how many seats he would get and whether he would be able to force a coalition to join him. In the US system, he's instead at the head of a far-right wing of a party, and the question is whether he will be able to force the party to adopt his policies wholesale to avoid electoral defeat next year.

So that's the secret thing which this headline hides: Trump was only ever funny if you had never had a reason to be aware of, or to fear, ethnic or sexual violence tacitly supported by the state. 

If you've ever had to be aware of that before, Trump was never a joke.

h/t to +Lauren Weinstein for pointing out the Federalist article.
Win or lose, Trump's campaign threatens to unleash the Great American Stupid
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A job that I never knew existed: "Metaphor Designer." Here's an essay by someone who does this for a living, about what the job is, how it's done, and why it's important. A good metaphor, as he points out, not only communicates an idea better, but opens up new ways of thinking about a problem. He gives the example of a consultant who was working with a paintbrush manufacturer in the 1960's, as they were trying to figure out why a new brush design wasn't applying paint smoothly. The key insight came in the form of a metaphor: "A paintbrush is a kind of pump!"

While this might seem a little facile, it's actually quite key to how many designs happen. For example, a few years ago I found myself tasked with designing a planet-scale data storage and serving system. A key step was visualizing each datacenter as a seaport, with shipping lanes connecting them in a tree; each local data storage subsystem as a kind of warehouse; and giant armies of screaming customers around the world, each trying to send and receive data. By recasting the problem in terms of shipping logistics, it suddenly became clear how to organize and schedule data transfer (not trivial because storage capacities have grown 100 times faster than transfer capacities over the past few years), and that in turn led to several fundamental design approaches that made handling of data at hitherto-unconceived scales suddenly quite feasible. 

(If you send attachments on GMail or store photos on Google, incidentally, that system is what holds your data)

But hidden in the description above was a second conscious choice of phrasing: "planet-scale storage." I coined the phrase and started getting people at the company to use it when it became clear that our storage systems lived in tiers (disk-, machine-, datacenter-, planet-scale), but also because the term conjures very different emotional responses from, say, "global storage." The latter has an implication of being the largest scale possible; "planet-scale" carries the subtle implication that the next project may well involve the Solar System. Oddly, that change of phrasing changes the way people think about things: it makes them approach problems knowing that there will be something bigger that they will have to ultimately deal with, and that causes people to make systematically better engineering decisions.

Erard isn't an engineer, and in fact most of the people for whom he designs metaphors do something very different: social welfare organizations. These showcase other aspects of the power of metaphor: not simply framing the way we think about problems, but the way we place them into the wider context of the world. 

It also highlights subtle ways in which metaphors can be effective but trigger the wrong additional thoughts: for example, when working on a project to improve childhood resilience, they found a very powerful metaphor of children as orchids and dandelions. Some children are like orchids, thriving beautifully only under a narrow set of circumstances, while others are like dandelions, doing well nearly no matter what. What this ran into, though, was a cultural value that preferred the fragile and the rare (which in turn comes from the fact that the fragile can only be maintained in delicate circumstances, and so is restricted to the nobility): people saw the metaphor, understood it, and didn't see any value in making more dandelions.

This is why metaphor design requires careful testing. (I would have been a terrible test case for this; if you ask me if I'd rather make a dandelion or an orchid, my immediate answer would be that I'd far rather make something robust, and fragility is a pain in the ass, not a virtue, something you do only when there's no other choice. But then again, I'm an engineer)
The metaphor designer isn’t trying to make something beautiful. She wants to change your view on things. Here’s how
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Google I/O 2013 this week. Excited! #wwdc
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Casey Artner

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This is something that sort of mystifies me about the talk about Carly Fiorina as a candidate. It's always considered a bad sign when a candidate couldn't win their "home district" -- and in her home district of Silicon Valley, I would put long odds against her in either a primary or a general election. The problem is that she does have a well-known record, and it's not a good one. I don't think I've ever heard anyone, investors or employees, say anything particularly nice about her tenure as CEO of HP; she's famous in the Valley mostly for destroying the company's culture, and among investors for presiding over the massive decline of the company's fortunes. 

This is not a record you want to run on.
Mrs. Fiorina is rising in the polls as she runs for the Republican candidacy on the strength of her track record as a businesswoman. The trouble is, it’s not a good record.
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More coastline porn, courtesy of Oregon.
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Have him in circles
956 people
‫ضياء الرفاعي‬‎'s profile photo
Paul Hunter's profile photo
วสันต์ คะเนนอก (ตั้ม)'s profile photo
prashanth acharya m's profile photo
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Education
  • Southern Oregon University
    BS Computer Science, Minor in Philosophy, 2012
  • South Medford High School
    2004
  • Oregon Institute of Technology
    Hardware & Software Engineering Technology
  • AI-Class.com, Stanford Online
    Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, 2011 - 2011
    Top 5% of class.
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Male
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Single
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Bragging rights
Successfully had peanut-sized parathyroid tumor removed Oct 2013! Wooo!
Work
Occupation
Software!
Skills
Critical Thought, Android, C/#/++, Go Language, SQL, MFC, Patching Systems, SharePoint
Employment
  • La Clinica
    Data Analyst, 2015 - present
  • Ground Control Southern Oregon
    Computer Tech, 2009 - 2015
  • Harry & David IT
    SharePoint/.NET Intern, 2008 - 2008
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Currently
Medford, OR
Previously
Central Point, OR - Klamath Falls, OR - Canoga Park, CA
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Great food. Great service.
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