From the world pool: September 15, 2018

Slightly nervous-looking deer
I’m not quite certain this is going to work….

My computer has been in the shop for a week and a half, so I’m putting this together on my iPad. It doesn’t have all the same tools, so apologies if the formatting is screwy.

Socio-political commentary

US politics

Nike is Evil. Colin Kaepernick is a Hero Who Deserves Their Endorsement. Both Of These Things Can Be True At The Same Time.

Nike knows what they are doing. They have crunched the numbers and they know exactly what the fuck they are doing. As a corporation, Nike will always follow the money. That is the one thing they are obligated to do, to maximise profits for their shareholders. They have no values, and no morals. They are as dependent on profit as a sunflower is on the path of the sun through the sky. They will tilt whichever way the rays of profit dictate, and they will use often cynical and manipulative methods in order to achieve this. … But there’s a layer of nuance to Nike’s dealing with Kaepernick. In deciding to throw their weight behind him, the corporation has signaled subtly that it knows which way the winds are blowing. It may be doing it for the wrong reasons, but it’s as clear as a beacon upon a mountaintop: The old world’s days are numbered.

Only A Game: Veterans Speak Out Against The Militarization Of Sports

Canadian politics

Electoral Reform

Media

Decentralisation: the next big step for the world wide web

The story that broke earlier last month that Google would again cooperate with Chinese authorities to run a censored version of its search engine, something the tech giant has neither confirmed nor denied, had ironic timing. The same day, a group of 800 web builders and others – among them Tim Berners-Lee, who created the world wide web – were meeting in San Francisco to discuss a grand idea to circumvent internet gatekeepers like Google and Facebook. The event they had gathered for was the Decentralised Web Summit, held from 31 July to 2 August, and hosted by the Internet Archive. The proponents of the so-called decentralised web – or DWeb – want a new, better web where the entire planet’s population can communicate without having to rely on big companies that amass our data for profit and make it easier for governments to conduct surveillance. And its proponents have got projects and apps that are beginning to function, funding that is flowing and social momentum behind them.

Verizon throttled fire department’s “unlimited” data during Calif. wildfire Verizon says it was a customer service error. Uh huh.

“Verizon representatives confirmed the throttling, but rather than restoring us to an essential data transfer speed, they indicated that County Fire would have to switch to a new data plan at more than twice the cost, and they would only remove throttling after we contacted the Department that handles billing and switched to the new data plan,” Bowden wrote.

Because the throttling continued until the department was able to upgrade its subscription, “County Fire personnel were forced to use other agencies’ Internet Service Providers and their own personal devices to provide the necessary connectivity and data transfer capability required by OES 5262,” Bowden wrote.

Facebook Fueled Anti-Refugee Attacks in Germany, New Research Suggests

Their reams of data converged on a breathtaking statistic: Wherever per-person Facebook use rose to one standard deviation above the national average, attacks on refugees increased by about 50 percent.

Racism and Civil Rights

How white women use strategic tears to silence women of colour

As I look back over my adult life a pattern emerges. Often, when I have attempted to speak to or confront a white woman about something she has said or done that has impacted me adversely, I am met with tearful denials and indignant accusations that I am hurting her. My confidence diminished and second-guessing myself, I either flare up in frustration at not being heard (which only seems to prove her point) or I back down immediately, apologising and consoling the very person causing me harm.

Indigenous Issues

New dictionary published for Indigenous Vancouver Island language

Capitalism

The real Goldfinger: the London banker who broke the world

The very rich getting very much richer is now part of life, like the procession of the seasons. But we should be extremely concerned: their increased wealth gives them ever-greater control of our politics and of our media. Countries that were once democracies are becoming plutocracies; plutocracies are becoming oligarchies; oligarchies are becoming kleptocracies.

Things were not always this way. In the years after the second world war, the trend was in the opposite direction: the poor were getting richer; we were all getting more equal. To understand how and why that changed, we need to go back to the dying days of the conflict, to a resort in New Hampshire, where a group of economists set out to secure humanity’s future.

This is the story of how their dream failed and how a London banker’s bright idea broke the world.

Labour

Amazon’s ‘worker cage’ has been dropped, but its staff are not free

The company doesn’t need a robotic cage for workers – it already has one of the most all-pervasive control systems in history. In its huge warehouses, workers carry hand-held computers that control their movements. A wristband patented by the company (but which is not yet in use) can direct the movement of workers’ hands using “haptic feedback”.

I read this and thought, it’s not that they plan to replace people with robots; it’s that they already see people as robots.

It’s Not Technology That’s Disrupting Our Jobs

The history of labor shows that technology does not usually drive social change. On the contrary, social change is typically driven by decisions we make about how to organize our world. Only later does technology swoop in, accelerating and consolidating those changes.

This insight is crucial for anyone concerned about the insecurity and other shortcomings of the gig economy. For it reminds us that far from being an unavoidable consequence of technological progress, the nature of work always remains a matter of social choice. It is not a result of an algorithm; it is a collection of decisions by corporations and policymakers.

Environment

Seafood Fraud and Mislabelling Across Canada

Are forgotten crops the future of food?

This is the map that shows the rats that—well, seeing it is why I went digging and found the next article. I mean. What’s going on, Alberta?

On the front lines of humanity’s high-tech, global war on rats

The campaign has been largely successful, and half a century on, Albertans remain vigilant. Merrill’s rat patrol has a hotline, 310-RATS, where people can report possible sightings. The hotline gets hundreds of calls a year, mostly false alarms — misidentified muskrats or pocket gophers. When Albertans do spot a rat, they often act quickly, beating it to death with bats or shovels before calling it in. They even report their neighbors for keeping pet rats, or fancy rats, as exterminators call them. Rats are rats, and Alberta’s government gives them no quarter. Sometimes the owners have their rats flown out of the province, but generally, Merrill said, “We take care of them.”

Science and Technology

Joseph Stiglitz on artificial intelligence: ‘We’re going towards a more divided society’

Stiglitz poses a question that he suspects tech firms have faced internally. “Which is the easier way to make a buck: figuring out a better way to exploit somebody, or making a better product? With the new AI, it looks like the answer is finding a better way to exploit somebody.”

The virtual land selling for millions The more things change…

Health

What is vulvodynia

History

Kenya burial site shows community spirit of herders 5,000 years ago

Work by a team of US-based experts on a remote site near Lake Turkana in Kenya contradicts longstanding beliefs about the origins of the first civilisations. It suggests that early communities did not inevitably develop powerful elites or compete violently for scarce resources, but may have worked together to overcome challenges instead.

Art + Design + Writing

Writing

Start With the Map: David Mitchell on Imaginary Cartography

Scenes (or suites of scenes) need spaces to happen in. What those spaces look like, and what is in them, can determine how the action unfolds. They can even give you ideas for what unfolds. This is why mapmaking and stage-sketching can be necessary aspects of writing.

Are certain familiar narrative arcs inherently appealing? Kurt Vonnegut on story arcs.

The ancient poems that explain today

“In Search of Doors”: V.E. Schwab’s 2018 J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature

I write fantasy to make cracks in the foundation of a reader’s expectations, to challenge the solidity of their assumptions and beliefs.

Photography

Chinatown Pretty

Thought-Provoking

How Feelings Took Over the World

The cure for insomnia is to fall in love with sleep again

Sleep loss, then, is not simply a medical problem; it is also a critical spiritual challenge. Our epic struggles with accessing deep sleep are, fundamentally, struggles with accessing deeper aspects of ourselves. As wakists, we presume that who we are is limited to our waking-world identity. Essential parts of who we are, however, are obscured by the glare of waking life. And these become more visible at night – in the deep waters of sleep and dreams.

Yuval Noah Harari: the myth of freedom

But now the belief in “free will” suddenly becomes dangerous. If governments and corporations succeed in hacking the human animal, the easiest people to manipulate will be those who believe in free will.

I really have no idea how to categorize this one.

Honk for Amen: worship meets convenience at the Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church

Just cool

The Adventures of America’s Most Well-Traveled Bookstore

Collins named her venture Saint Rita’s not just for herself; Saint Rita of Cascia is the patron saint of impossible causes.

More on books: Collectors Treasury.

Cross-section time lapse of a kidney bean growing into a plant

Paul Barton brings his music — and a moment of peace — to rescued elephants

The nudists of the ocean So pretty!

The icy village where you must remove your appendix

Coaxing ritual for camels

The mystery of the lost Roman herb

The Clown Egg Register

The Indian Giant Squirrel Is Almost Too Beautiful To Be Real

No one’s home: Europe’s abandoned houses

The Crowbox I wonder if it would work with ravens?

Counter septarian structures. The question. The answer.

The travel guides that charted our world

The art and science of being on hold

Just for fun

Paul McCartney Joins James Corden for Carpool Karaoke The ending is the coolest part. The people in that pub got the surprise of their lives.

Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

You Gotta Believe

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