“It’s a form of piracy capitalism. They rush into people’s countries, they take the money out, and they dump it in some port of convenience. That’s not a business in any traditional sense. It’s an ugly return to a form of exploitative capitalism that we had a century ago and we decided as a society to move on from.”—My week as an Amazon insider (via iamdanw)
“Sanjuro’s grisly ambitions go beyond raising the funds to bankroll a few political killings. He believes that if Assassination Market can persist and gain enough users, it will eventually enable the assassinations of enough politicians that no one would dare to hold office. He says he intends Assassination Market to destroy “all governments, everywhere.”—
“If you care about being smart and having an analysis that trumps the others, it’s safer to be cynical about attempts to create social change, and to list all the logical reasons such efforts will likely fail—to always bet on the status quo maintaining its grip. Activism requires a kind of willed hopefulness, a readiness to bash your head against a wall so that it may crumble or crack, even if you know all the arguments that what you’re doing is probably doomed.”—From the Ashes of Occupy: On Failing Better and Erasing Debts | Hazlitt | Random House of Canada (via iamdanw)
“Iceland’s – strangely unreported – decision to write down mortgage debt for its citizens, undermines that notion. A rejection of traditional systems of credit and money as a response to austerity, such as in the barter markets of Volos in Greece and Turin in Italy undermines that notion. The Rolling Jubilee project undermines that notion in a significant way, by asking the sizzling question: “If a corporation is prepared to accept five cents on the dollar in exchange for our debts, if that is our debt’s open market value, how much do we really owe?”—Occupy Wall Street’s debt buying strikes at the heart of capitalism (via kenyatta)
“People who live in fear feel compelled to remain in control. They attempt to control themselves and they attempt to control their world. Often despite their best intentions, this spills over into efforts to control others. Life beyond control is unimaginable, even though their efforts at control have only very limited success. Fear also blocks responsiveness to others. The fearful person may appear deeply loving, but fear always interferes with the impulse toward love. Energy invested in maintaining safety and comfort always depletes energy available for love of others.”—Something to Ponder
In Occupy the Cloud, I wanted to draw attention to spatial censorship, particularly in London where we’ve had a different experience of Occupy. When the city of London found out where Occupy London was going to set up, the government physically filled the intended space with metal barriers. They didn’t just bring the police force; they filled the space with actual stuff so as to make it impossible to camp out there. The UK government also just criminalized squatting, which was previously possible under common law. There used to be a potential for negotiation but now it’s simply criminalized.
Online there is also an increasing restriction of potential public spaces. The Internet bohemian dream of freedom has totally collapsed in the face of government surveillance and corporate activity. The whole space is being controlled and monetized. “The Cloud,” a marketing term intended to make Internet storage seem fluffy and easygoing, is in fact very closed and highly politicized. What we’ve learned in physical space we must bring back online to reassert the Internet as a commons. The idea is to extend digital modes of protest; data centers have physical locations and infrastructures that we could occupy.
My youngest brother has a lot of allergies. No, a lot of allergies. They’ve gotten a little better with age and medication, but time was, even smelling milk or eggs or walnuts or cherries or any of a dozen other things would land him in intensive care. I’d come home from school and oops, there’d be a note on the table saying my family was at the hospital again.
People didn’t understand that. Still don’t. “Milk allergy? Oh, you must mean lactose intolerance. There are pills for that now, here, have a cupcake — “ and then it’s another emergency shot of epinephrine to the leg.
So I don’t have much tolerance for people who say, “Here, put this in your mouth. I know better than you what goes in it.”
“No, I meant late capitalism is a pyramid racket on a global scale, the kind of pyramid you do human sacrifices up on top of, meantime getting the suckers to believe it’s all gonna go on forever.”—Thomas Pynchon - Bleeding Edge, page 163 (via buffleheadcabin)
You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)
And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.
But has the permanent crisis become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Economic analyst Eric Garland notes that since 2008, executive compensation has steadily risen, but the myth of hard times is peddled to both frighten and lure a permanent supply of unpaid, precarious labour.
“You’re only 28. Or 33,” he writes, mocking the corporate pitch. “You have a long career ahead of you. You can get paid later! After all, we don’t have budget for interns this year. We used that money to increase executive pay at a rate five times greater than the cost of living. Because the economy is terrible right now! And we’re at all-time record highs of corporate cash reserves and profits. But it’s terrible!”
Maybe what’s practiced in the USA isn’t capitalism at all. It seems to be a toxic admixture of capitalism for the poor, who are ruthlessly whittled down, in brutal Darwinian contests; and socialism for the rich, for whom there appears to be no limit to bailouts, subsidies, and privileges. It’s a lethal cocktail of cronyism for the powerful; and endless struggle for the powerless. It’s neither fish nor fowl; but a chimera.
So what is this system that is faltering, precisely, if it’s not quite capitalism?
I’d call it “growthism.” It’s not just a system or a set of institutions. It’s a mindset; an ideology; a set of cherished beliefs. And one that’s hardened into dogma. A dogma which is palpably failing; but can’t be dislodged—because it’s become an article of faith, the central belief of a cult, whose priests and acolytes threaten mysterious, terrible, divine revenge whenever their authority is questioned.
Council backed Minority Report style ad boards have hit Manchester City Centre streets. When the MiGuide wayfinder scheme was announced it was revealed that “Facial recognition technology built into the screens will enable advertisers to target ads based on the age and gender of users”.
Far from finding this creepy, council boss Richard Leese said “these interactive screens are intelligent tools on our streets” as if a new invasion of our privacy was something to be proud of.
It is beyond belief that Manchester Labour are prepared to pay for services with gender based advertising. This really puts our city back, not forward as Councillor Leese seems to think.
The claim is that they are cost neutral. They do have a cost. It’s your privacy.
“If you suffer in the proper way - silently, or with proclaimed fealty to institutions - then you are a hard worker “paying your dues”. If you suffer in a way that shows your pain, that breaks your silence, then you are a complainer - and you are said to deserve your fate.”—Surviving the post-employment economy - Al Jazeera English (via iamdanw)
WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?
Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.
Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.
Matt Jones says goodbye to something he helped create:
"I still stand by a lot of the principles that we as a team tried to follow. Don’t build a website, build a part of the web. Be polite, playful and pertinent. Use copy as UI as well as possible. And perhaps most importantly in the last few weeks: always let the user leave – easily and gracefully, with all of their data."
So basically, Ronald Reagan set up hospital emergency rooms as socialized healthcare, and then…
…didn’t fund them.
It’s an unfunded mandate.
So it’s illegal to let patients die on your doorstep. A step forward in society (Reagan at the time said it allied with American’s Christian principles and his own). But the Republicans of the time never paid for it. They kicked that particular can down the road.
As a result, hospitals saw emergency room visits drastically increase. Insurance companies, because many of the uninsured used emergency rooms as care (to which they’re legally allowed, it’s how to collect the payment later that’s in issue), try to refuse to pay for the increase. Hospitals got clever at burying costs into healthy patient’s procedures, or anywhere else.
The system gets distorted.
So we already have socialized healthcare, it’s just that the hospitals, the government, and the insurance companies are all putting their fingers on their noses and saying ‘not it!’ due to that single fact: the 1986 bill was an unfunded mandate.
“When wealth is passed off as merit, bad luck is seen as bad character. This is how ideologues justify punishing the sick and the poor. But poverty is neither a crime nor a character flaw. Stigmatise those who let people die, not those who struggle to live.”—Sarah Kendzior, A government shutdown, a social breakdown (via randomactsofchaos)
“In theory it is possible to release an extremely resilient and resistant BIOS level piece of malware. It also would only ever infect one specific machine ever, period. It also would not be even remotely capable of escaping detection using basic diagnostic techniques. Not even advanced security techniques; just basic BIOS diagnostics. Anyone who can follow a guide on updating the Intel RSTe OROM (about half the Internet) could compare dumps and instantly spot it.”—The badBIOS Analysis Is Wrong. at RootWyrm’s Corner
“[W]hile the South actively oppressed its nonwhite population, Americans in most of the rest of the country chose not to even tolerate their presence, and actively engaged in an ongoing campaign of eliminationist violence to drive them out, forcing them to cluster in large urban areas for their own self-protection and survival.”—Orcinus: Eliminationism in America: VII
“In the 1980s a team associated with Prof. William Wolf at University of Colorado-Boulder were experimenting with all-optical computers and needed memory that was fast enough to keep up with the optical switches of the processing unit. Their solution was to bounce a laser beam off the corner reflector that had been left on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts, and encode the memory as pulses on the laser beam. With light taking around 2.5 seconds for a round trip to the Moon, and using terahertz pulse rates, the beam had a capacity of several trillion bits. This made it both the longest delay line and the highest capacity memory of any sort available at the time, although of course the apparatus only worked when the Moon was above the horizon.”—
“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who rest assured are not dumb and are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible psychological reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV Spring Break on Primary Day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”—David Foster Wallace, Rolling Stone, April 13, 2000 (via alexlikestowrite)
“There has been in our culture, in the past decade in particular, a group of reasonably smart people who hired incredibly smart people – mathematicians mostly – to design algorithms that exploit time/space phenomena such as latency to vacuum insane amounts of money out of the economy, for doing absolutely nothing except exploit systemic flaws in the digitised financial world. We’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, simply for hiring bright grad students, hurling some cash and some lap dances at them, then hitting the return key and making a billion dollars in a wink of an eye.”—Douglas Coupland: World War $ (via azspot)
Om Malik: “[O]n this Web 2.0 highway, there are three exits: Microsoft, Yahoo and Google.”
That’s a clever soundbite, and perhaps it’s true from the venture capitalist’s point of view, but I think it misses something fundamental: That the real attraction of the new web platform is that components don’t have to be rolled up into one big monolith anymore to integrate well with each other.
We’re entering into a world where lots of little, independent component providers will be able to coexist and thrive alongside the platform vendors. Why? The platform vendors no longer have such a chokehold on distribution
“It’s hard for me to even remember the last time I was in a library.
[I]t’s impossible to see a world where we keep libraries open simply to pretend they still serve a purpose for which they no longer serve.”—
I’ve had library cards for all the cities I’ve lived in (and a couple I didn’t really live in)—Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra (Los Angeles County), Huntington Beach, San Diego, San Francisco—and visited all those libraries more than once. I’ve never seen one not busy. Varying degrees of crowded, depending on the time of day, but never not busy. They just opened a massive new library in San Diego; it’s hardly been deserted. WTF!
I took two and a half years to get a San Francisco public library card, but I wish I had earlier. Sure, they have books, and I use them to catch up with printed comics (Fraction’s Hawkeye is great), but that’s not why I evangelise it.
No, the reason I do that are the ten ebooks you can rent at a time (with no risk of late fees), and the JSTOR and OED access (amongst many other databases, including newspaper archives and other academic search engines).
That’s just the selfish stuff for me, a rich white guy. I also recognise the space libraries give to parents who can’t afford new books for their kids all the time; those whose neighbourhoods don’t have bookshops; the jobless using them for access to computers (a huge part of public library usage these day); and those who can just use them as a rare uncommercial space in the US.
Libraries. Use them, and promote them, before we lose them.
I’m getting married in a library, two weeks from this Sunday. Because libraries are sacred territory. They embody the public record of humanity’s attempt to rise up and be something greater than a chattering shaved ape, preserved and accessible to all citizens.
All citizens. Not those who can afford it.
If preening, over-privileged, short-sighted fuckstains like M.G. Siegler want to sneer at that, then let them.
Meanwhile, support your local library. There are people less fortunate who rely on them. And our society is full of mean, shitty people who will laugh and make a quip on twitter if the libraries close.
Russell Brand, the actor and comedian, guest edited the latest issue of the New Stateman. In a piece from that issue, Brand details his political philosophy and asks if a utopian revolution is possible.
Perhaps this is why there is currently no genuinely popular left-wing movement to counter Ukip, the EDL and the Tea Party; for an ideology that is defined by inclusiveness, socialism has become in practice quite exclusive. Plus a bit too serious, too much up its own fundament and not enough fun. The same could be said of the growing New Age spiritual movement, which could be a natural accompaniment to social progression. I’m a bit of a tree-hugging, Hindu-tattooed, veggie meditator myself but first and foremost I want to have a fucking laugh. When Ali G, who had joined protesters attempting to prevent a forest being felled to make way for a road, shouted across the barricade, “You may take our trees, but you’ll never take our freedom,” I identified more with Baron Cohen’s amoral trickster than the stern activist who aggressively admonished him: “This is serious, you cunt.”
A bit too fucking serious, actually. As John Cleese said, there is a tendency to confuse seriousness with solemnity. Serious causes can and must be approached with good humour, otherwise they’re boring and can’t compete with the Premier League and Grand Theft Auto. Social movements needn’t lack razzmatazz.
The right has all the advantages, just as the devil has all the best tunes. Conservatism appeals to our selfishness and fear, our desire and self-interest; they neatly nurture and then harvest the inherent and incubating individualism.
I imagine that neurologically the pathway travelled by a fearful or selfish impulse is more expedient and well travelled than the route of the altruistic pang. In simple terms of circuitry I suspect it is easier to connect these selfish inclinations.
This piece is filled with interesting and entertaining bits throughout, making it difficult to pick just one excerpt. Here’s another then:
We are still led by blithering chimps, in razor-sharp suits, with razor-sharp lines, pimped and crimped by spin doctors and speech-writers. Well-groomed ape-men, superficially altered by post-Clintonian trends.
We are mammals on a planet, who now face a struggle for survival if our species is to avoid expiry. We can’t be led by people who have never struggled, who are a dusty oak-brown echo of a system dreamed up by Whigs and old Dutch racists.
“Bret Victor spent years hanging around various design groups at Apple, he bemoaned, “…these brilliant designers could not make real things. They could only suggest. They would draw mockups in Photoshop… the designers could not produce anything that they could ship as-is. Instead, they were dependent on engineers to translate their ideas into lines of text. Even at Apple, a designer aristocracy like no other, there was always a subtle undercurrent of helplessness, and the timidity and hesitation that comes from not being self-reliant. It’s fashionable to rationalize this helplessness with talk of “complementary skill-sets” and other such bullshit. But the truth is: An author can write a book. A musician can compose a song, a [sic] animator can compose a short, a painter can compose a painting. But most [UI designers] cannot realize their own creations, and this breaks my heart.”—Photoshop is not a design tool. — Design/UX — Medium (via vanderwal)
“What ties those two seams together? The idea of techno-utopian spaces — new countries even — that could operate beyond the bureaucracy and inefficiency of government. It’s a decision that hinges on exiting the current system, as Srinivasan terms it from the realm of political science, instead of using one’s voice to reform from within, the very way Page and Brin decided to found their search giant instead of seek out ways in which the then-current tech titans could solve new problems.
Calling his radical-sounding proposal “Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Exit,” Srinivasan thinks that these limitless spaces, popularly postulated by Page at this year’s Google I/O, are already being created, thanks to technology and a desire to exit. Ultimately, the Stanford lecturer and co-founder of Counsyl, a genetics startup, thinks Silicon Valley could lead the charge in exiting en masse because, eventually, “they are going to try and blame the economy on Silicon Valley.”
"We didn’t securitize mortgages, order bailouts, start wars, or refuse to write movies or articles on this until too late," read one of Srinivasan’s slides on where the blame lies and what the real problems are that are holding technology back.”—
I could write a whole long post about how insanely fucked up this is. But if you don’t get it from those three paragraphs, there’s nothing I’ll be able to add to clarify it.
It’s remarkable the degree to which Silicon Valley-driven, startup-based technology culture reproduces the attitudes of Tea Party/evangelical anti-modern conservatism. Doctorow and Stross pointed out the perfect match between the Singularity and Left Behind with their coinage of Rapture of the Nerds.
And now this. These are truly the preppers of Silicon Valley. Or maybe The Citadel, the survivalist town being started in Idaho by a gun company is a better comparison… (via idfdz)