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2019 Weekly Recap: Week 4

This week was wild! I had settled in for a nice week of getting some progress done on various work, extracurricular, and life things, and instead I ended up traveling to Köln on very short notice for half of the week. I really like Köln a lot, so I was happy to go. The city reminds me of Portland in a way, and I like working from my company’s office there. Because of that trip, I once again did not accomplish as much on personal tasks as I wanted. Alas.

I have been worried lately about the amount of work I’m taking on, like I am engaging in work to distract myself from other personal matters. That’s actually true, really. I feel like I am clearing through backlog, but the reality is I have so many things in the icebox that the progress I’m making is not immediately visible, and that can be frustrating.

To combat that, this weekend I gave myself permission to hang out with some friends. One thing that amazes me about Berlin is how social I can be here. In all the time I spent in Charlottesville, I always craved social connection. In Berlin, it feels like someone is always coming through town or there’s someone to meet up with. That’s maybe my favorite thing about this city, and finding a work-life balance has been more challenging than I’ve ever experienced in my life.

From time to time, I take a look at my favorite poem, Ulysses by Tennyson. Every time I read it, I see in it something new that is relevant to me. The end of the poem is so well known, the bits about moving earth and heaven. But it’s the rest of the poem that calls out to me in so many ways.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use! As tho’ to breathe were life!

There is so much more to life than staying alive, and though I came to Berlin to stay alive, I need to also give myself permission to thrive whilst I’m here. I am trying. Four weeks into 2019 and the rest of history was a hundred years ago.

What I’ve read

Allow me to take a moment to whine a bit. Most of what I discover I find on Twitter while using my phone. As a result, my workflow for this section is to use Twitter’s bookmark feature, which means I have to explicitly navigate to the mobile web version of Twitter while writing these posts. That’s not a huge barrier but it is an irritating break in the workflow. I head that Twitter is shipping Bookmarks to web soon, but good heavens can we hurry it up?

This is a great explainer on Locality-Sensitive Hashing, which is a way to more rapidly approximate a nearest-neighbors algorithm. The post is very clear, though quite mathematical, and if you don’t have a bit of computing knowledge it might be a bit slower to parse. The visualizations, however, are outstanding, and I aspire to be that good at visualization.

(my German is not so good and my grammar is terrible, but I will try a little.)

Dieser Magazinartikel ist auf deutsche, aber es ist sehr wichtiger. Wie in den USA, der Rechtsextremismus hat politischer Einfluss, aber ist ein Rassist ein Nazi auch?

Ob denn um Himmels willen mit Nazis auch AfD-Wähler gemeint seien? Schließlich seien es doch zu viele, als dass es sich bei ihnen allen um Nazis handeln könne. So ein Einwand ergibt natürlich nur Sinn, wenn ein wesentliches Merkmal des Rechtsextremismus darin besteht, dass er lediglich einer kleinen erlesenen Gruppe vorbehalten ist.

Translation:

Can all of the AFD voters really be Nazis? After all, there are too many for them to all be Nazis. This objection, of course, only makes sense if an essential feature of right-wing extremism is that it is reseved for a small, select group only.

This really nails it. After a lot of discourse after a journalist in Germany tweeted “Nazis raus” (Nazis out), the question has come up as to whether AFD voters could really be lumped together with Nazis. This is quite similar to what has happened in the US at a larger scale with Trump voters. Are all Trump voters racist? Are they all Nazis? I don’t know, but I do know this: every Trump voter and supporter voted for a racist who supports Nazis.

This article hits it out of the park in its second at-bat, too, when talking about the rise of neo-Nazis in Germany in the 1980s.

Man nannte sie Neonazis, weil man dachte, dass es sich um eine neu gegründete Bewegung handelt. Wie man heute weiß, stimmt das nicht wirklich. Zu den alten, überlebenden Nazis kamen neue Nazis dazu… Aus welchem Grund soll man ein kompliziertes Präfix mitsprechen, wenn es sich im Wesentlichen um das alte Denken handelt?

Translation:

They were called neo-Nazis, because it was presumed that they were a newly-formed movement. That’s not really true, as we know. The new Nazis were just added to the old. Why bother adding a complicated prefix, when it is really just the same old thinking?

This is exactly why I prefer to just say “Nazis” instead of “neo-Nazis.” Adding the prefix is mere sophistry, designed to do nothing but deflect from a damaging, hateful ideology. We should never engage Nazis on their terms.

What I’m reading

I made no progress with books this week :(.

The week ahead

This week I’m preparing for a conference (interal to my employer only), as well as getting a huge project out at work. I’m putting the finishing touches on a piece about the Proud Boys, and I intend to get some work done on First Vigil. My backlog there is growing faster than it’s shrinking, so I want to commit a night to work on it and organize. I need a strategy and a vision, and I’m moving closer to one.

I’ve got a post I’m working on about arguing while trans, and by gods I’m going to finish Chapter 2 of Axler if it kills me.

Selfie of the week

I'll be on an upcoming video talking about algorithmic bias!

Author

EG

Emily is a data scientist and activist. The opinions shared herein are her own.