The Sunday Post for March 31, 2019

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.

Airbnb Has a Hidden-Camera Problem

Like Uber, like Lyft, like other gig economy “innovations,” Air BNB succeeds by slapping a brand and a professional veneer across a personal exchange — in this case, what we used to describe as “crashing with a friend,” except the friend doesn’t know you and is renting you a bit of their home, for a bit of time, with a bit of wariness on both sides.

Putting your suitcase down in a stranger’s home is a bit of an intrusion, even if one we’ve bought and paid for. Are we really surprised when those strangers intrude right back?

Alfie Day told me he found a camera in his rental’s living room while he and his girlfriend were visiting his brother in Bulgaria. Day works in IT, so he performed an Nmap scan to learn more about the devices in the home. He discovered that the host had installed a type of camera that could be remotely controlled to pan, tilt, and zoom in on anything it sees. The expanded field of view meant that while the camera was in the living room, it could discreetly follow guests from room to room. The scan also revealed that the camera had a high-capacity storage system that lets users share very large files quickly across the same network.
Confronting racism is not about the needs and feelings of white people

White people: Shhhhhh. Stop talking. Listen. Ijeoma Oluo has something important to say. Also, just shhhhh.

Every time I stand in front of an audience to address racial oppression in America, I know that I am facing a lot of white people who are in the room to feel less bad about racial discrimination and violence in the news, to score points, to let everyone know that they are not like the others, to make black friends. I know that I am speaking to a lot of white people who are certain they are not the problem because they are there.
Writing Sex for Money is Hard F*cking Work

Sandra Newman supports her novel-writing habit with a somewhat different application of her skills.

As everyone knows, when you’re not in the mood for it, porn is gross. After the first few hours, it was also unendurably boring. Nonetheless it made me horny, in a downtrodden, creepy way. I was disgusted and horny and disgusted by my horniness. I was hornily falling asleep in my chair. I was hornily staring out the window and hornily wondering how I got to this point.
Unfeeling Malice

Michele Pridmore-Brown reviews Aspberger’s Children, by Edith Scheffer, which explores the influence of Nazi ideology on current understanding of “normal” neural function. This is a horror story (Asberger sent so many nonconforming children, especially girls, to their deaths) but also a story about the impurity of science and a case study of how benevolence becomes the rouge on evil’s cheek.

None of this is where Sheffer started. Her initial interest was visceral and personal. She came to the subject thinking quite simply to honour Asperger. Her son, like an ever increasing number of boys in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. Asperger, Sheffer assumed, was an early proponent of neurodiversity, someone who promulgated multiple ways of inhabiting the world.

What she found in the archives was far more complicated.