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Laura Fingal-Surma
Urbanist. Building enthusiast. Tech junkie.
Urbanist. Building enthusiast. Tech junkie.

Laura's posts

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Pretty autoawesome of the Aulani from a 2013 trip to Oahu.

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Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's #halloweenify .

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It's come to my attention that I haven't yet made a public statement specifically about #GamerGate. But as it's come up in a few threads, at this point, I think it's about time that I made my position on this matter absolutely clear.

"GamerGate" is a lie from beginning to end. It has exactly three parts to it: it has its core, which is and has been from the very first day about allowing and preserving a "gamer culture" which is actively hostile to women (among others), and preserving it by means of threats, harassment, and violence towards anyone who ever suggests that it should be otherwise.

It has its bullshit layer, which is that it is about ethics in journalism. If it were about ethics in journalism, then you would see people talking about actual ethical questions in journalism, and you would have seen it from the beginning. But from its first days, its only ties to this notion were the use of bizarre (and provably false) accusations from Zoe Quinn's ex-boyfriend to accuse game journalists of being in a cabal to destroy the "gamer culture" of its core layer, and one listserv thread (as covered on where professional journalists did, indeed, have a serious discussion about journalistic ethics: about whether the newsworthiness of this blog post outweighed the potential harm to its subjects. But rather than portray this as journalists doing what ethical journalists do, Milo Yiannopoulos instead portrayed this as a conspiracy by journalists to support the Secret Feminist Cabal. That is, his article itself was bollocks from beginning to end, as has been the entire argument.

And it has its fellow-travelers, people who either actually believe the bullshit layer or do so vocally and disingenuously in order to confuse others and add a shroud of legitimacy.

How do I know that this is true, and that there is not a legitimate discourse mixed in with the violence and so on? That I am not unfairly tarring all of GamerGate's proponents with the same brush?

It's really simple. I have not once seen a proponent of GamerGate actually distance themselves from the hatred and violence, or excoriate it, or say that it is fundamentally wrong and that they do not agree with either its means or its ends.

What I have seen is lots of people coming up with ways in which they, too, are being harassed, and so claiming a false equivalency. I got to watch an excellent example of this on one of my own threads earlier today; there, one of its proponents argued that the movement being called a bunch of scum (as it had been by someone else) is a form of harassment, and perfect evidence of how “there are trolls on both sides.” Yet he elides the difference between that and people being chased out of their homes, people waking up every day to death threats, to real and meaningful impact on people's lives. This is not a serious argument: it is an attempt to lie and to confuse the issue.

The other argument I have kept hearing is “I never distance myself from acts I have never associated myself with.” That is, people claim that they are under no obligation to distance themselves from the acts of the rest of GamerGate, even while they hoist its banner. Sorry: when a movement is known, first and foremost, for its violence, then to associate yourself with it does associate you with its acts. You cannot say “I support al-Qaeda. They’re really about the US military presence in Saudi Arabia,” or “Hey, the KKK has done a lot of great community service work,” and not thereby associate yourself with everything those organizations are really known for. Sorry; you lie down with pigs, you’ll get covered in mud. You keep doing that, and people will have every reason to assume that you like it.

The fact is that there is no meaningful way to "recapture" the GamerGate tag for anything honest, both because it was never tied to that in the first place, and because it has become far too polluted to do so. If someone actually feels like having a conversation about ethics in journalism, they should by all means do so -- depending on what they say, I may even support them in this. But they should not do so in the company of villains, because that simply obscures any real discussion they might want to have with filth.

This is not behavior worthy of human beings. It is vile, it is violent, and if there is anything legitimate at all inside GamerGate, it needs to get its ass out of there right now and clearly separate itself from the bloodthirsty mob. Because right now, anyone who walks around with that label is painting themselves as being open supporters of it, and anyone who supports that is someone that I wouldn't piss on if they were on fire.

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Here's a detailed report of the origin and meaning of the new hashtag #YesAllWomen that has gained currency:

"In response to the perpetual “Not All Men [are mysogynist]” crowd, Twitter user @gildedspine created a hashtag response: #YesAllWomen. Because it honestly doesn’t matter if all men are misogynistic–and everyone I’ve ever encountered is aware that they aren’t. What matters is that all women are oppressed by misogyny. And insisting that every discussion of misogyny come with a disclaimer of “Not all men,” is a derailing tactic. Not all men have to hate women for all women to be oppressed by men. And men who honestly care about women will recognize that the oppression will never end if we can’t have honest conversations about that."

I truly cannot believe what just happened. I needed to find the photo record of an approved hardwood floor finish sample. I knew it was dated some time in the last year, but I easily take 10,000 photos per year, so after failing to narrow the search down in a couple of different ways, I prepared to manually look through my photos in reverse order until I found it. As a last resort and expecting no results, I tried the word "wood" in the Google+ Photos search bar and holy crap there was the photo I needed in the first 50 results! Technology is making life better and better every day. ‪#excitedforthefuture

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This sweet story perfectly caps off the weekend of relaxation with our dogs. (Kindly overlook grammatical errors.)

"When I was in my early twenties my dad, whom I adored, died. He was a wonderful man, gentle and affectionate and brave. He (like me) loved animals and they loved him just as much. My Mom's crossbred Yorkshire terrier, Amber, in particular thought the sun rose and set on my Dad.  

"In our grief when Dad died, we didn't give much thought to whether the animals were also mourning. We carried on loving them and gave them no less attention than they'd always had. They seemed to transfer their devotion to me but were family dogs and life went on, much emptier than before.

"After about a year, I found a tracksuit that my dad used to wear regularly around the house in the evenings. It was chilly and I liked the thought of wearing something of his so I put it on and went to show my Mom. As I walked into the living room Amber hopped off the chair and came to me, she sniffed my leg and then literally started to scream. She yelped and jumped and howled and ran around me repeatedly.

"My mom and I realised what it was simultaneously... the tracksuit had not been washed since the last time my dad had worn it. Amber remembered my dad.  We both cried and cried to see the little dog's reaction to the scent off that tracksuit."

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The drone age has started: This is the coolest thing I've EVER gotten.

Introducing the DJI Phanton 2 Vision Plus. Here is DJI's intro video. My own video with +Eric Cheng, director of photography at DJI, is up at (along with a first video I did).

What is this? A drone with a video camera built in (also does stills). Does 1080p HD video with a built in steady cam.

Wow. So easy to fly and steady. More coming shortly. Costs $1,299.

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"...they gave elementary school children either a blue T-shirt or a red T-shirt to wear throughout the school day for six weeks.

"Teachers treated those color groups in the same ways they would use gender. Teachers said, “Good morning, blue and red kids!,” “Let’s line up blue, red, blue, red.” Kids had their names on either a red or blue bulletin board and had either a red or blue name card on their desk. But again, teachers had to treat both groups equally and not allow them to compete with one another. They simply “used” color in the same way many teachers “use gender.”

"After only four weeks, children formed stereotypes about their color groups. They liked their own group better than the other group. Red-shirted children would say, “Those blue-shirt kids are not as smart as the red-shirt kids.” Just like they do with gender, they said that “all blue kids” act one way and “no red kids” act another way (this differed based on which group they were in). They began to segregate themselves, playing with kids from their own color group more than with those from the other group.

"They were also more willing to help kids in their own color groups. Children walked into a classroom in which we had staged two partially completed puzzles. We had surreptitiously draped a red shirt across one puzzle and a blue shirt across the other. When given the option, children were more likely to help out the child they thought was in their group.

"In all of these studies, there was always a very important control group—in addition to the group of students who wore colored T-shirts, there were classes in which the teacher who didn’t talk about the color groups. She didn’t sort by color or use the color grouping to label each child. In other words, it was like being in a class of boys and girls where the teacher doesn’t mention or sort by gender; she simply treated them like individuals. In these classes, children didn’t form stereotypes and biased attitudes about groups. If the adults ignored the groups, even when there were very visible differences, children ignored the groups too. [...]

"... it seems that children pay attention to the groups that adults treat as important. When we repeatedly say, “Look at those girls playing!” or “Who is that boy with the blue hat?,” children assume that being a boy or girl must be a really important feature about that person. In fact, it must the single most important feature of that person. Otherwise, why would we point it out all the time?

"If children see a difference, they look to experts in the world (us grown-ups) to see if the difference is important or not. Don’t forget that they see plenty of differences in people. For example, they see differences in hair color. We come in brown hair, black hair, blond hair, red hair, and gray hair. But no adult ever labels this visible category, saying “Look at that brown hair kid.” “Okay, all the brown-haired kids and black-haired kids over here. All the red- and blond-haired kids over there.” Children ultimately learn to ignore these as meaningful categories, but they still notice they exist. If I ask someone’s hair color, a child can tell me. It just isn’t a meaningful category. They don’t develop attitudes about what it means to have red hair or brown hair (even the occasional blond joke isn’t constant enough for children to notice).

"But with gender, children notice the difference and adults make it meaningful. Children see the category. We made sure of that with our pink or blue shirts. Also, the experts in the world, their parents, always label the category. We put a figurative flashing neon arrow on gender and say “Pay Attention! Important Information Here!” And guess what, they pay attention."

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Coolest part: "Ok Google, open garage."
Sharing what’s up our sleeve: Android coming to wearables

Today we’re excited to extend Android to wearables. And we’re starting with the most familiar wearable—watches. We’re already working with several consumer electronics manufacturers, including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung; chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm; and fashion brands like the Fossil Group to bring you watches powered by Android Wear later this year. If you’re a developer, check out to download a Developer Preview so you can tailor your existing app notifications for watches powered by Android Wear. Look out for more developer resources and APIs coming soon.

Check out our blog post to learn more:
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