Why I’m in favour of online anonymity

A while back I was startled while researching someone in a work context, to come across a bunch of NSFW self-portraits shed posted online under her real name. She was mid-career in compliance-related roles at big, traditional companies, and the photos raised questions for me about her judgement and honestly her competency. Didnt she realise the images were public? Hadnt she ever thought about what could happen when somebody a colleague, a boss randomly googled her? Was she making a considered decision, or just being clueless?

I was surprised because nowadays, that lack of caution is so rare. Thats partly because people have gotten a little more sophisticated about privacy controls, but mostly I think weve just given up. We cant be confident our stuff is private today or will stay private tomorrow if we didnt know that already, we know it now from The Fappening and the Guardians uncovering that Whisper tracks its users.

And so I think that most people, most of the time, have decided to just assume everything we do online is public, and to conduct ourselves accordingly. Its a rational decision thats resulted in a tone and style we all recognize: were cheerful about work, supportive of friends, proud of family; weve got unobjectionable hobbies and we like stuff like vacations and pie. Promotions and babies and parties yes, layoffs and illnesses and setbacks not so much.

Secret, the app that was super-hot last winter, was briefly an exception. People talked on Secret about bad sex, imposter syndrome, depression and ADD, their ageing parents, embarrassments at work. You may remember the engineer who posted that he felt like a loser because he, seemingly alone in Silicon Valley, was barely scraping by financially. It was vulnerable and raw and awesome.

But I ended up uninstalling it pretty fast, after one too many humble-brags showed up in my feed. (The final straw was a guy boasting about how hed bought a new iPad for a kid at the airport, after watching her mom get mad at her for dropping and breaking theirs. Blah.) I couldnt bear seeing people diligently polishing up their self-presentation as confident and fun and generous and successful, on a service whose whole point was to enable risk-free vulnerability.

Reverse-engineering user behaviour on Secret, it read to me like people were hedging their bets. Secret users seemed to be operating (maybe without even thinking much about it) on the assumption that one day, due to a data breach or change in privacy policy or sale of the company, their activity on Secret might be available, linked to them, to their friends or insurance provider or boss or mom or bank. They didnt trust their activity was permanently private, and so they acted as though it wasnt.

That feeling of always being potentially in a spotlight leads us to relentlessly curate how we self-present online. And that is bad for us.

Its bad for individuals because we run the risk of comparing our own insides to other peoples outsides, which makes us feel crappy and sets us up to make decisions based on flawed assumptions. Brene Brown: If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief. Erving Goffman: To the degree that the individual maintains a show before others that he himself does not believe, he can come to experience a special kind of alienation from self and a special kind of wariness of others.

Its bad for society because it makes people feel alienated and disconnected from each other, and also because it has the effect of encouraging normativity. If we all self-monitor to hide our rough edges, our unpopular opinions, our anxieties and ugly truths, were participating in the narrowing of whats socially acceptable. We make it less okay to be weird, flawed, different, wrong. Which sucks for young people, who deserve to get to freely make the stupid mistakes of youth. It sucks for people whove been abused or poor or sick, and who shouldnt have to hide or minimize those experiences. And it sucks for anybody with an opinion or characteristic or interest that is in any way unconventional. (Yes that is all of us.)

Anonymity was one of the great things about the early internet, and although we benefit enormously from the ability today to quickly find and research and understand each other, as individuals we also need private spaces. We need, when we want to, for our own reasons, to get to be predictably, safely, unbreakably anonymous/pseudonymous, online. Thats why I use Tor and other FLOSS services that support anonymity, and its why I avoid the closed-source, commercially-motivated ones. I trust Tor, like a lot of people do, because it has a track record of successful privacy protection, and because its radically transparent in the same way, and presumably for the same reasons, that Wikipedia is.

Ive got nothing to hide (and oh how I hate that I feel like I need to type out that sentence), but I value my privacy, and I want to support anonymity being understood as normal rather than perverse or suspect. So Im increasingly using tools like Tor, ChatSecure, TextSecure, RiseUp, and DuckDuckGo. Ive been talking about this with friends for a while and some have been asking me how to get started with Tor, and especially how to use it to access the deep web. Im working on a post about that with luck Ill get it done published within the next few weeks.

Filed under: Social Movements

Fécamp, France

Do you recognize these bottles?


They are Bénédictine a herbal liqueur made exclusively in Palais Bénédictine of Fécamp. Said to contain 27 herbs and spices, using a secret recipe guarded through generations, it is the sole reason we made a detour to the coastal town of Normandy.

At first sight, the palace has an elaborate and highly decorative exterior.

As for its interiors, we never had the opportunity to find out. Because Palais Bénédictine has a tricky opening hour. From 10th Feb to 31st March, its morning hours are 10:30 am 12:30 pm. Except that, the last admission is really one hour earlier. Long story short, we arrived at the door 11:30 am, just in time to miss it.

Before leaving Fécamp, we drove up to Cap Fagnet. With its wind farm,


and a panoramic view of Côte dAlbâtre, it is the highest point on the Alabaster coast.



Theres also a lovely little chapel Notre-Dame du Salut. An old gentlemen who happened to be passing by kindly let us in and turned the lights on. The outside walls are made of seashells, and the inside adorned with nautical motif.

On our way back to the car, we encountered a lone ewe who had just given birth.


We observed in silence as she circled around her newborn licking him encouraging him to get up. We hoped the little one could make it.


After a picnic lunch overlooking the coast, we returned to Palais Bénédictine in hopes that the museum store might still be open. I had my eyes set on these Bénédictine-filled chocolate to take home. Plus now that we had food in the stomach, we were set to do some Bénédictine tasting.


Sadly by then, the store was also closed. So no booze for us period


So with a bleeding heart, we left Fécamp acknowledging the fact that, the Bénédictine was just NOT meant to be.

Palais BénédictineAddress: 110 Rue Alexandre le Grand, 76400 Fécamp, FrancePhone: +33 2 35 10 26 10Webpage: http://www.benedictinedom.com/global/en/home.aspx

***The REALLY IMPORTANT Opening times 2017

10th Feb to 31st March: 10:30 am 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm

1st Apr to 7th July: 10:00 am 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm 6:30 pm

8th July to 3rd Sept: 10:00 am 6:45 pm non-stop(ticket office closes at 6:00 pm)

4th Sept to 5th Nov: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm – 6:30 pm

6th Nov to 15th Dec: morning (contact us) and 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

16th Dec to 7th Jan 2018: 10:30 am – 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm –5:30 pm

***Morning and Afternoon: the last admission is one hour earlierand the shop closing time is 30 minutes later

Tea Room and Shop:10:00 am – 7:00 pm non-stop: week-ends in May, June and September.

Closing Days: 1st May, 25th December and 1st January.

Carnal Delights in Cuba

A friend celebrated his 40th birthday a few days ago and invited his closest amigos for a party – one of those blow outs with a guy posted at the door to keep out crashers, a DJ spinning cool sets, and the liquor flowing ‘a full’ as we say. The type of party Cubans call ‘tirando la casa por la ventana.’ When I asked another friend, formally invited, if he was going he said: “yeah, I’ll be there. But it’s bound to be a fiesta de chorizo.” It took me a moment to get what he meant – that the male to female ratio at the party was going to be grossly imbalanced, there would be 10 guys for every woman. It would be, in Cuban argot, ‘a sausage party.’

Later that same day, another friend was telling a tale about a recent liaison, saying it was a ‘palo de cebolla.’ For those around the table who didn’t understand, we explained that an ‘onion shag’ is when the girl has a killer body but a face only a mother could love: you lift her dress above her head, tie a knot, and get down to business, her ugly face hidden from sight. Sausage parties and onion lays got me to thinking about Cuban diversions, including sex, and how so many of the terms and phrases involve food. There’s a certain logic going on here since eating and screwing, food and partying share many of the same senses, are sensuous and fulfilling in equal measure (when done/cooked right).

As the wheels turned, I began recalling all sorts of expressions that mix the bedroom and the kitchen. For example, it’s hard to miss the double entendre in Los Van Van’s popular song ‘don’t bother knocking, the black guy is cooking.’ I started picking the brains of friends and away we went. The most obvious is the classic ‘papaya.’ When you’re in Havana and crave this juicy, coral-colored fruit, you best ask your produce purveyor for ‘fruta bomba’ – because here, papaya means pussy. I remember once a group of tourists invited me to eat at La Guarida, Havana’s most famous and in-demand restaurant and laughing out loud as we perused the dessert menu. The chef’s suggestion was ‘papaya pie’ and I explained to the table of yumas (yes, I used to sing for my supper, but no longer) that it was obvious they put it on the menu just to hear foreigners order ‘pussy pie.’

Terms and turns of phrase for the sex act (and fluids), are almost always referring to foodstuffs. Semen is called ‘leche’ (milk) or – as I’ve just learned, writing this post – sometimes as ‘lágrimas de chorizo’ (sausage tears). When you haven’t been laid in a while, you have ‘queso’ (cheese). It’s a veritable charcuterie around here, I tell ya. Talking to my next door neighbor the other day, I learned another relevant sex act phrase when he told me he was going to ‘jamar una heva’ (devour a chick). No matter that he’s married. A quickie, meanwhile, is known as a ‘palo de conejo,’ rabbit being a popular protein in these parts. There are also derogatory terms that I refuse to use including ‘tortillera’ (egg scrambler), loosely translated as ‘dyke.’

When I have questions like these, I go to the experts. In this case, I consulted Alfredo, a street-smart Casanova and all around good guy. Seems Alfredo is a breast man for all the terms he rattled off the top of his head for different kinds of tits (he also provided illustrations): bananas (with nipples pointing skyward); fried eggs (with large aureoles); and orange piths (saggy and sucked nearly dry). He also provided tons of food-related terms for penises: banana dicks curve up, cucumbers are a catch-all phrase for the male member, and my favorite ‘pene de Pelly.’ For those of you who have never gone searching for food here at midnight, been to a baseball game, or ventured to a Ditu, you probably don’t know Pelly, but it’s our Cheese Doodle. Garlic flavored. You can imagine the rest.

I’m sure there are many more; if you have a favorite, please do drop a line – I’m always anxious to broaden my vocabulary. Regular readers of Here is Havana know I’m a huge fan of Cuban slang and sayings (dichos). One of my recent acquisitions makes an apt close to this post: ‘come pan para no comer más pinga.’ This is a handy phrase for whenever a Cuban is being a douchebag – you only have to say ‘come pan;’ they’ll fill in the blank.

Now SmugMug’s European subscribers with Basic and Power accounts have an incredible new local colour lab for all their print needs. With our new partner, SmugMug brings you easy ordering and a whole new set of print products. Plus, European photographers and photography lovers will enjoy a big drop in shipping costs. With this decrease also comes less time in transit, and we doubt anyone will be upset about getting their prints faster.

We understand the joy of seeing your images printed large or small and reliving those events when you see them. Nothing compares with leafing through a batch of fresh photo prints from a recent holiday or finally hanging that epic sunrise photo from your favorite pre-dawn hike with friends. We know that feeling you get when you memorialise special moments forever on prints or keepsakes — your wedding, your child’s first step or smile, graduation, birthdays, family photos.

If you can’t tell already, we’re bursting at the seams with excitement about all the awesome products available to you. Check out five of our favourites below:

PrintsPaper prints are still some of the most popular ways to save and share your photos. From a stack of 4×6 photos from your family’s last holiday to huge, framable prints of your favourite landscapes, our new, local colour lab allows us to offer you a variety of sizes so you can always find the perfect print for every occasion.

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To start taking advantage of your new local print lab, login to your SmugMug account, select the photo you want to print and click the green BUY button. You will automatically see the appropriate product selection for the nearest lab. Easy as can be.

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SmugMuggers in Europe are getting a big print lab upgrade. was originally published in SmugMug on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Southern Colorado Plateau has dried 17 percent since 1985

New study projects impacts for worlds drylands

Hikers enjoying the view at Colorado National Monument, near Grand Junction. Researchers say recreation economies in the worlds drier zones are likely to take a big hit from global warming in the next few decades. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Global warming is bad enough on its own for the worlds drylands, but when you add in the impacts of population growth, development and the increasing demand for water, the future looks downright grim.

The end result will be conditions that are detrimental to the recreation economy, wildlife habitat, water availability and other resources in hyper-arid landscapes, according to a recent paper published in Ecosphere. Drylands are of concern because broad-scale changes in these systems have the potential to affect 36 percent of the world’s human population.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and Northern Arizona University recently tried to quantify the impacts with a regional study covering the Colorado Plateau, spanning parts of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. They examined the combined effects of climate change and human land use—agriculture, recreation, energy development, mining and population growth—on a range of ecosystem functions and landscape attributes.

“Our approach offers a relatively simple method for scenario development that could be applied to a wide range of change agents, ecosystem services and regions,” said lead author Stella Copeland, NAU Merriam-Powell Center post-doctoral scholar. “Tools such as these can be used to inform natural resource planning and management efforts in the United States and elsewhere.”

Results included projections for aridity that provide context for other findings. Trend data from 1985 to 2014 show the southern and central parts of the Colorado Plateau drying at a higher rate than northerly areas. When declines in precipitation are compared to the average from 1985–2014, the increase in aridity was about 17 percent for the region as a whole.

The study examined four scenarios to estimate how climate change and overlapping land uses may influence ecosystem functions and landscape attributes. Although outcomes varied by scenario and characteristic, the recreation economy had the highest impacts for all scenarios; followed by vegetation and wildlife habitat and cultural and spiritual values; water availability; soil productivity; and cropland productivity.

The findings suggest that the recreation economy is vulnerable to negative impacts associated with the high degree of spatial overlap between areas of high recreation intensity, aridification, and petroleum and renewable energy development. Though some recreation areas such as national parks are largely protected from energy development, many of them are surrounded by public and private lands with high potential for energy development and other land uses.

“These results illustrate remarkably rapid growth in both recreation and energy development on the Colorado Plateau over the past few decades. The combined influences of these changes on natural resources and related recreational activity is unclear, especially in the context of increasing aridity,” said John Bradford, a USGS research ecologist and co-author of the study. “Higher intensity land use and warming is likely to lead to increased conflict and added complexity for resource managers.”

Charlotte Bronte ~ April 21, 1816


[I first posted this in 2009 here it is again, in celebration of Brontes birthday!]

Happy Birthday to Charlotte Bronte, born April 21, 1816 in Thornton, Yorkshire.

I just had the good fortune to finally visit Haworth and tour the Bronte Parsonage.  One of the special extras was the display of the various costumes worn in the latest BBC production of Wuthering Heights [but alas! no pictures allowed!]

I append here a few of my photographs of the Parsonage as well as several links for further reading






Main Street, Haworth

Main Street, Haworth

Further Reading:

The Bronte Blog, an excellent source for all things Bronte   various links to the e-texts, other web sites, a bibliography of sources, etc.The Bronte Parsonage Museum Bronte SocietyThe Bronte Family

Former Miss USA Deshauna Barber Talks Racism During Her Reign

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty

Deshauna Barber is opening up about the ugly side of being Miss USA.

When Deshauna became Miss USA in 2016, it was a quintessentially American moment. The soldier who hailed from Washington, D.C., was a vision in her golden gown topped by a glittering crown and an even brighter smile.

Unfortunately, some people couldnt handle her well-earned victory. Angry viewers immediately flooded the pageants social media to spew hate about her win, attempting to diminish her moment.

After winning the title, I had people say I was using the military card for my win, along with other hateful things, she shared in a piece she wrote for Refinery29.com.

Within a day, the pageants social media had completely scrubbed its various comments sections of most (if not all) of the negativity.

However, Deshauna revealed that she was still stunned by the amount of racism she faced during her reign.

While competing for Miss Universe, I had to deal with colorism internationally she wrote, explaining that some of her competitors believed they had an edge over her just based on her complexion. A lot of people in different countries considered me ugly because my skin is darker. The darker you are, the poorer you are — or whatever the case may be.

That mentality extended to disgruntled pageant fans who were far more hateful in their criticisms. It tainted what should have been one of the most incredible experiences of Deshaunas life.

Competing in Miss Universe and dealing with the fans of competitors in other countries got tough. I had no idea how much racism I would experience from an international standpoint, she explained. Theyd send me monkey emojis, and say that my skin looked like a poop emoji and tag me in photos with apes.

No matter how much it got to Deshauna, though, she always put her best face forward and kept the pain to herself. I didn’t speak about it, because I didnt want to deter anyone from competing, the former Miss USA admitted. You want to make it seem like everything is happy and hunky-dory, but there are a lot of very challenging moments.

But despite what some people in the world were saying about her, Deshauna didnt let their opinions to tear down her sense of self-worth and continued to hold her crown high.

I could have let the words of these people really get to me. When youre doing something that people arent used to, some people just wont like you, Deshauna explained. I can’t change who I am to make someone else comfortable.

She concluded, If they’re ignorant, then theyre ignorant. Theres nothing I can do to fix that.


Yaasss Queen: Deshauna Barber Goes Natural For Miss USA Pageant

#BlackGirlMagic: Deshauna Barber, Army Officer Miss D.C., Takes Homes Miss USA Crown

9 Facts About Our New Smoking Hot Miss USA, Deshauna Barber

Please Help Me Find Cover Art For Miriam’s Well, My New Novel: Everyday Magic, Day 900

Im looking for art for the cover of my novel Miriams Well, coming out from Ice Cube Press when the clock strikes 2018. This 12-year-in-the-making novel is about biblical Miriam and her brothers Aaron and Moses, but its set in the U.S. and has Miriam wandering the spiritual, political, and cultural desert and lushness of this country for 40 years, starting her wandering in Peoples Park in 1969. I describe the book as somewhat like Forrest-Gump-Meets-The-Red-Tent. Im looking for original art to use that resonates with Miriam, her well (way of feeding people and keeping up their spirits during the long haul), wandering, seeking home, the kaleidoscope of family and life, or any related theme. Little caveat: aint nobody getting any advance on this book, so I dont have a budget for art, but I can pay the artist with extensive gratitude, a big pile of books, his/her/their profile at the end of the book, and other ways to share more about this wondrous artist. Thank you for your help! Below is a longer synopsis of the novel. If you know of any art – photography, painting, pastels, sculpture, quilting, etc. that might fit, please email me at carynmirriamgoldberg@gmail.com. Thanks for reading this far and considering what images would do the trick!

Miriams Well Synopsis

From a young age Miriam sees visions she cant cope with or stop. Growing up Jewish in Brooklyn with Aaron, her boy genius brother, her black father and white mother, she finds her place in the world best through singing and feeding people, much like her biblical namesake. That sense of belonging is shattered when, as a teenager, her worst nightmares come true. After her high-strung mother gives birth to a third child, Moses, who is more Miriams than her mothers, the family moves to Israel. Caught in a freak accident during the Six-Day War, Miriams father is killed, her mother disengages from the family, and Kansas relatives take Moses away from her. Shattered and lost, Miriam and Aaron return to their old house in Brooklyn, now owned by their aunt and uncle, to piece together their future. Miriam embarks upon an opposite journey than her career-driven brother Aaron as she takes to the open road.

For the next 40 years, Miriam wanders, yearning for home and meaning while dwelling in the edges of America. She feeds a giant house full of hippies in Berkeley, attends womens Black Panther meetings in Oakland, and sneaks into Wounded Knee during the 1973 occupation to cook for everyone. She sings to people at soup kitchens in Denver, homeless shelters in New York City, and a San Francisco hospice during the peak of the AIDS epidemic. She even bakes the Cuban bread the leaders of Key West throw at U.S. government officials when the city tries to secede from America in 1982.

Many of the places Miriam lives, first on her own, and later with her half-Lakota, half-Italian husband Joseph, and their daughter Laura, are geographically, politically or spiritually on the edge of America, from Mount Desert Island off the coast of Maine to the beaches of Key West to an extreme west Texas small town. She tries to salvage a relationship at an Idaho back-to-the-land commune, leads womens rituals at a feminist potato farm (Mrs. Potato Head) in Utah, and runs a cafe at an Alabama ecovillage. Working with the homeless or the hungry, at-risk L.A. Teenagers or overlooked New York City elders, Miriam reaches beyond the edges of her upbringing.

Miriam is continually plagued by her visions and driven by an unquenchable desire to save people while puzzling over what do with her own family. She helps a man search hospitals for his wife after the Oklahoma City bombing, rescues a a teen who overdosed during the Whittier-Narrows earthquake, runs toward the World Trade Center during 9/11, and feeds hundreds after Hurricane Katrina–all to the fury and fear of her family. Her many visits with Moses in western Kansas teach her that she cant rescue her autistic brother from his quiet life among evangelical Christians, but she can dwell with him there. She cant live the life her brother Aaron wants for her, but over decades, she helps him recover his own visions. She cant stop missing her father, but over time that deep yearning changes from overwhelming roar to dull ache. After decades of avoiding, blaming, and distancing from her mother, Miriam discovers Batty isnt who Miriam thought she was, and her family is intact in a mosaic she never could have imaged.

Much to her own surprise, Miriam finds home in a kaleidoscope of family and friends, healing in the middle of cancer, and peace in the thin places between the world lost and the new land on the other side of her wandering.

By: Camp and Save Big $$$

[] past week I wrote a guest post for a great site called How to Travel for Free (or pretty damm near it!). Here I gave a basic introduction on what you need to know to get camping in a safe and fun manner. []