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A soldier plays piano in ruined school during a war, behind him is a photo of Tito, Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992.
mixing noise music with tech talk, otherwise hard to handle… really enjoying my bandcamp add-on volume fader… morning lecture “How does the Internet work?” - An explanation of Inter-Net and everyday #35c3 https://t.co/55Jji7E3LR— AG.Føɍɇvøɍ : ρѻﻉtﻉ§§ (@poemproducer) December 29, 2018
Always design software with abusive exes in mind https://t.co/lZwDCZ9Ocx— Danielle Leong (@tsunamino) December 28, 2018
Enter your street address or ZIP code into the map’s search bar to discover whose traditional territory your home was built on. https://t.co/CLJVrb8VAw— Atlas Obscura (@atlasobscura) December 28, 2018
https://t.co/MLm1HyUs5v— Dan Kaminsky (@dakami) December 28, 2018
“I’ve been trying to figure out why the removal of the headphone port bugs me more than other ports…and I think it’s because the headphone port almost always only made me happy.”
It feels a lot different now, working in technology. This is what changed
finally close to getting this drum track sounding like this pic.twitter.com/pexoSlkfsp— Lee Gamble (@GambleLee) December 27, 2018
Post-capitalism challenge is to invent a way to do 3 things at once:— Venkatesh Rao (@vgr) December 25, 2018
a) keep pace of economic life as fast as it needs to be via consumption automation
b) use the automation to make it sustainable environmentally
c) decouple pace of human life from pace of economic engines
Similar to Chemistry making Alchemy rigorous, Divination could be resurrected as a discipline but take on a highly scientific approach, as a degree combining history and CS+stats in equal measure. As a bonus, if you do a PhD you become a certified Oracle :)— Andrej Karpathy (@karpathy) December 23, 2018
Maybe there was no Gatwick Airport.— Justin Pickard (@justinpickard) December 23, 2018
‘Sumerian star map from Nineveh’— Sardonicus (@RealSardonicus) December 21, 2018
3000 BC pic.twitter.com/fUVGvRb5Op
This artwork sold for 1 milli satoshi ( $0.000000037 ) via a #bitcoin lightning payment and set a record of being the cheapest piece of art ever sold. Congrats to the artist @cryptograffiti! 🎨🖌️👨🎨⚡ #LightningNetwork pic.twitter.com/lGfuC8MKGA— A v B ⚡ (@ArminVanBitcoin) December 21, 2018
Always-already Great Weirding— Venkatesh Rao (@vgr) December 21, 2018
“This is broken”
“This is how it’s supposed to work”
“This is a terrible bug”
“It’s actually a feature!”
“This is a crisis!”
“This has been the plan all along”
“This isn’t normal”
“Actually it’s always been this way, you just didn’t notice.”
Amoeba finds solution to Travelling Sales Man problem by parasitism of human cortex and analyzing neuro-chemical space-time distributions throughout the brain :P https://t.co/tx8miyzB8h— Paul Prudence (@MrPrudence) December 21, 2018
Victor Delhez - Scherzo in Gold, 1948.
This brilliant parody on the concept of the “Golden Number” depicts a professor with the skull of a parrot and five students. Artwork is constructed around several pentagrams.
To some the shortest is Saroyan’s four-legged ’m’ to others it’s Gillilan’s ‘Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes’, We know the longest is the Mahabharata - 'Whatever is here, is found elsewhere. But what is not here, is nowhere else’ #solstice— Paul Prudence (@MrPrudence) December 21, 2018
by ▏ (via https://flic.kr/p/2dCgyBj )
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Stuck in one of the first flight’s trying desperately to land in Gatwick whilst it’s fuel was running out made the fragility of our infrastructure so much more evident. Everything is connected to everything else, no technology exists in isolation. Certainly not a consumer drone.— Anab Jain (@anabjain) December 21, 2018
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Interesting hints towards a praxis of “Life Centered Design” - expressed by Martina Huynh. pic.twitter.com/A6n9nOiDOI— samim (@samim) December 20, 2018
Just updating some slides. pic.twitter.com/MHBHq7LRVN— Sjef van Gaalen (@thesjef) December 20, 2018
By training neural networks with images of real fingerprints, researchers developed a way to generate fake fingerprints that can not only dupe smartphones, but successfully masquerade as prints from numerous different people https://t.co/ixN4NZUDzJ— WIRED (@WIRED) December 20, 2018
Aristeidis Apostolopoulos- Myanmar
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JOSEF BREITENBACH (1896 - 1984)
Coffee Bean and Odor, ca. 1945
[coffee bean in swirling pale pattern in “galaxy”-like dark field]
Gelatin silver print
Thicket Details 063 by noahbw (via https://flic.kr/p/2cesz9i )
To start this off, I’m pretty sure this post is going to be flagged because I’m using 1 image that I know gets flagged on its own. I do wonder what score this post is going to get though. (Update: this post scores 0.07455623894929886, aka exactly the same as the image below on its own.)
The following image got sourced from @coeurdastronaute http://coeurdastronaute.tumblr.com/post/179394494479/essays-in-existentialism-ice-and-fire-ii
Quick recap if you’ve missed my previous technical musings on the content of flagging and explicit content:
- For each post, tumblr keeps check of a number of variables. One of these is the NSFW score for each post. The score is a value between 0 and 1, and predicts how likely it is that the post is NSFW. for example 0.048 means it has 4.8% probability of being NSFW. In case you wonder, yes that’s enough to get flagged.
- Other variables that are stored on the post are checks if a post is NSFW (yes or no), if a post is NSFW based on the score (yes or no; I’m not sure what the exact difference is, as I’ve only seen them both being no or both being yes), the classification of the post, and here it’s getting interesting, because a classification of ‘explicit’ means it gets flagged, and ‘clean’ means it won’t get flagged. Easy as that.
Very early this morning I wrote a small tool that lets you see the score and the other variables for the last 10 posts of any user. Instructions are meagre, but the tool is located here.
The above story by Coeur got the following scores:
post type: text
is NSFW based on score: false
is NSFW: false
As you can see, the score for the post was 0.077…, otherwise known as 7.7% probability that the post is/might contain NSFW content. I did some more testing. First, I copied all the text of the fic, and put it in a new post and had it tested. The score was 0, and classification “clean”. So the text was not the problem. Next I posted the image as both a text post and a photo post for comparison. Both returned the same result: not NSFW, classification explicit and a score of 0.074…
The next step was do a comparison of image moderation tools. I’ve prior experience with Microsoft’s cognitive API, in fact I’ve used it to create a porn blog blocker that would screen new followers and block them if they were a suspected porn blog (unless I was already following them). Here are the scores for several major image moderation providers:
Google Cloud Vision:
Amazon Rekognition failed to find anything in the image that could be suggestive or explicit adult. Since there was nothing found, there weren’t confidence scores given either.
The last one I tested is far less known: it is called open_nsfw and was actually created by Oath/Yahoo itself, which based on the scores above makes it the most probable to be in use at Tumblr. There is a lot of information not known about it, but here’s a description with references to the paper. I downloaded the model that they released, didn’t fine tune it, and ran it over the above image: NSFW score: 0.02013823203742504
So in conclusion, I have absolutely no clue how Tumblr is able to come up with a score of 0.077 for this image, if the highest score found by other content moderation providers is at 3.7%, barely half of the score tumblr gives it. And that’s not even the actual problem, because this just brings me to the next part.
As I mentioned before, each post gets a couple variable flags for content, including “is_nsfw_based_on_score”. The interesting part here is that this flag appears to only be true, or “yes” if you prefer, when the score is above 0.98. So even when the moderation is 97% certain the image is NSFW, it won’t be flagged as NSFW. However, if your post is only having a score of 0.048… the lowest I’ve seen so far, equaling to 4.8% probability of it being NSFW, it will be flagged as explicit. Keep in mind that the Yahoo paper had the following paragraph:
Our general purpose Caffe deep neural network model (Github code) takes an image as input and outputs a probability (i.e a score between 0-1) which can be used to detect and filter NSFW images. Developers can use this score to filter images below a certain suitable threshold based on a ROC curve for specific use-cases, or use this signal to rank images in search results.
I know that it got pretty technical there, but what they’re saying is that the score on itself is just as-is: a score, a probability. Tumblr’s implementation of the flagging of content however appears to have all content with a score higher than 0 as flagged. I’m not sure if any of you have seen the post about deep learning and unexpected results recently (http://psychopathic-bandaid.tumblr.com/post/180751390174/squiddity3-rubitrightintomyeyes), but tumblr managed to one-up this entire post with the new flagging: Tumblr doesn’t set a threshold, they just decide that if their content moderation says that a post could potentially have a more than 0% chance that content is NSFW, it will flag the post, and that’s it.
Machine learning 101: Even if you’ve created a model that is working pretty decent, you’ve to figure out how to use it. As for tumblr, your model might work decently, the way you use it does not. If content is 90% likely to be NSFW, please flag it as such. If it does not even reach the 30% yeah it’s likely not going to be explicit.
Actual example of a post captioned “caught giving daddy a blowjob”, featuring a single image of a topless woman holding a man’s penis in her hand, the man just wearing a tshirt and socks and that’s it. I got this from an old log file, old meaning September this year, so before the flagging got introduced. As a result I only have the score and NSFW values. The score for this post was 0.92, otherwise known as 92% probability that the post has/is NSFW content. The conclusion with the “is_nsfw” and “is_nsfw_based_on_score” flags was that it was not NSFW. I’ve seen other posts with a score of 0.99 and 1.0 finally getting flagged as NSFW, however, I haven’t seen a single post with a score below 0.98 being marked as NSFW.
Thus concludes this long overview on tumblr’s new flagging system.
@staff Watch and learn
Okay Tumblr, here’s a quick way to see if the last 10 posts of any user have been flagged, and if so, why. If it was for the post being adult content, the NSFW score of a post will be above 0.99 give or take, also known as 99% chance of being NSFW. Below 0.97 is somehow not NSFW, but might still flag a post. If a post gets flagged, the “classification” gets put at “explicit”, otherwise at “clean”. There might be a third option but I haven’t seen that one yet.
The code is ugly, but it’s nearly 5 am and I should get some sleep :P
- Install tampermonkey
- Copy this script and paste it as new script
- Go to https://www.tumblr.com/dashboard and make sure you’re logged in.
- Wait for the page to fully load, type in the blog you want to search for in the search bar and pres the “check flagging scores” button next to the home button. Make sure not to press enter as that will do a search. This was simply the quickest way to code this…
- The score with info will appear in the browser console (if you have xkit enabled after a ton of xkit logging messages)
Screenshots, to show how it actually works :P
My delight on a shining night (Still) by STML (via https://flic.kr/p/2dDdf7n )
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1226 by sotblindLamp (via https://flic.kr/p/2aT1uGs )
Komatsu Bloodletting by Baipin (via https://flic.kr/p/2dE7Rrr )
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You live in a society whose every production industry is based around a government-subsidized chemical feedstock.— 🌽🌽🌽 CORN FACTS 🌽🌽🌽 (@SwiftOnSecurity) December 18, 2018
Corn is not a _food_.
Corn is a _platform_.
Corn is a platform with both limitless purposes, and one purpose:— Dr Sarah Taber (@SarahTaber_bww) December 18, 2018
to turn rural land into a dependable & infinitely fungible financial asset. https://t.co/Vc9sOuVFqa
“The Future was better protected than the Past” —La Jetée (1962)
It seems like people are into MASS EXTINCTIONS these days and I wrote a book on them so here’s a 2-Part ⚡️MEGATHREAD⚡️ on the worst things that have ever happened pic.twitter.com/MVVts9RgPJ— Peter🌋Brannen (@PeterBrannen1) December 14, 2018
back and forth between minimalism and maximalism— AG.Føɍɇvøɍ : ρѻﻉtﻉ§§ (@poemproducer) December 17, 2018
Desert Lands 001 by noahbw (via https://flic.kr/p/2ccgqrc )
untitled by im nothing in particular (via https://flic.kr/p/PRmZki )
corollary: “skin in the game can always be added if necessary.”— Steven Wittens (@unconed) December 17, 2018
“Every problem is a trolley problem if you’re brave enough.”@maradydd— Queen of Meme (@SarahMPottratz) December 17, 2018
This is truly incredible.
Remember Rosetta? That comet-chasing European Space Agency (ESA) probe that deployed (and accidentally bounced) its lander Philae on the surface of Comet 67P? This GIF is made up of images Rosetta beamed back to Earth, which have been freely available online for a while. But it took Twitter user landru79 processing and assembling them into this short, looped clip to reveal the drama they contained.
<Cornish place name> <body part> <symptom> <description> #viruscraft— Dave Griffiths (FoAM Kernow) (@nebogeo) December 13, 2018
Mine shafts and tunnels are seen as “the perfect environment” for growing food such as vegetables and herbs.
The initiative is seen as a way of providing large-scale crop production for a growing global population.
Advocates say subterranean farms could yield up to ten times as much as farms above ground.
President of the World Society of Sustainable Energy Technology, Prof Saffa Riffat, believes the scheme would be a cost-effective way of meeting the growing need for food.
It could also breathe new life into many mines that have been closed since the decline of the UK coal industry in the late 1980s and offer a cheaper alternative to vertical farming in giant greenhouses.
Blackwater rivers, like the Suwannee River in Florida, carry waters so laden with organic material that they’re dyed a deep, dark brown. For the Suwannee, most of this material comes from the rich peat deposits of the Okefenokee Swamp that lies upstream. As vegetation in the swamp decays, tannins from the plants dissolve into the water, giving it its distinctive color, which the river maintains along its full 400-kilometer journey to the Gulf of Mexico. The dark waters of the river act as a tracer, revealing how the fresh river water mixes with the ocean in the enhanced-color satellite image above. It’s amazing to see how far the river’s influence spreads before delicate wisps of color pierce the darkness. (Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey; via NASA Earth Observatory)
It started when Tumblr flagged one of my retrospective posts (a five year old post about the right of British schoolkids to opt out of fingerprinting) as porn.
So I made another post, making fun of the pornbot’s shitty judgment. It got flagged.
Undaunted, I made another post complaining about the pornbot’s shitty judgment about its own shitty judgment. Guess what happened?
Naturally, I couldn’t let that slide. YOU WON’T EVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!
Who says you can’t win an argument with a computer?
#endoftheyear update crawling the archive for back catalogue w/ some goodies in there. upcoming farmersmanual “singles” compiled into one package, long lost “calimba de luna” EP on constar from 1997 https://t.co/0fKHhVhfay— Farmers Manual (@farmersmanual_) December 10, 2018
NEXT STOP: DESTITUTION
Published on Lundi matin,Dec 3, 2018
Translated by Ill Will Editions
Contrary to all that we’re hearing, the real mystery is not that we revolted, but the fact that we didn’t do it sooner. What’s abnormal is not what we’re doing now, but all that we’ve put up with until now. Who can deny the bankruptcy of the system, from every angle? Who still wants to be shook down, robbed, and left precarious for nothing? Will anyone weep as the wealthy avenues of the 16th arrondissement are plundered by the poor, and the bourgeois watch their gleaming SUV’s go up in flames? As for Macron, he can stop complaining; it was he who asked us to come to him. A state can’t keep legitimating itself by reference to the corpse of a “glorious revolution” and then denounce the rioters as soon as a revolution gets going.
The situation is simple: the people want the fall of the system. But the system intends to keep going. It is this that defines the situation as insurrectional, as even the police openly admit. On their side, the people have the numbers, as well as their courage, joy, intelligence, and naivety. On the other side, the system has its army, its police, its media, and the deception and fear of the bourgeois. Since the 17th of November, the people have had recourse to two complementary levers: economic blockades, and the Saturday assaults on the government districts. These are each complementary, since the economy is the reality of the system, while the government provides its symbolic representation. To truly destitute them both, it is necessary to attack them both. This goes for Paris no less than the rest of the territory: to burn a prefecture and to storm the Elysée are a single and sole gesture. Every Saturday since the 17th of November, people in Paris have been magnetically focused on the same goal: storming the enclaves of government [ marcher sur le reduit governmental]. From one week to the next, the only difference lies in (1) the increasing scale of the police apparatus set up in order to prevent it, and (2) the experience accumulated through the previous weekend’s failure. If there are a lot more people with swimming goggles and gas masks this Saturday, it’s not because “organized groups of rioters” have “infiltrated the demonstration.” Rather, it’s because people were gassed extensively the week before, and they drew the same conclusion any sensible person would: better come equipped the next time. And anyway, we’re not talking about demonstrations, but an uprising.
If tens of thousands of people invaded the Tuileries-Saint Lazare-Étoile-Trocadero zone, it was not because of a strategy of harassment that had been decided upon by a handful of small groups. It was a result of the diffuse tactical intelligence possessed by people who had been prevented from achieving their objective by the police apparatus. To criminalize the “ultra-leftists” for attempting to foment an uprising won’t fool anyone: if the ultra-leftists knew how to hijack construction machines and use them to charge the police or destroy a tollbooth, we would have heard about it; if they were so massive in scale, so disarming and brave, we would know that too. The fact is, with its essentially identitarian concerns, the so-called “ultra-left” has been deeply embarrassed by the impurity of the movement of Yellow Vests, plagued by a bourgeois fear of compromising itself by mingling with a crowd that doesn’t belong anywhere within its own categories. As for the “ultra-right”, it is sandwiched between its means and its supposed ends: they sew disorder under the pretext of an attachment to order, they attack the National Police all the while declaring their devotion to the Law and the Nation, they want to behead the republican monarch out of love of a non-existent King. On these points, we will leave the Ministry of the Interior to its absurd rambling. It is not the radicals who are making the movement, it is the movement that is radicalizing people. Does anyone really believe that our government would consider declaring a state of emergency over a handful of ultras?
Those who make an insurrection halfway only dig their own graves. At the point we are at now, and given the contemporary means of repression, we have two choices: either we overthrow the system, or we let it crush us. It would be a grave mistake to underestimate this government’s level of radicalization. Anyone who attempts to mediate between the people and the government over the coming days is destined to be torn apart: none of us want to be represented, we’re all old enough to express ourselves, and to discern who is trying to cajole or recuperate us. And if the government ends up taking a step backwards, this will only prove that we were right to do what we did, that our methods were sound.
This week will therefore be decisive: either we will manage, in ever-greater numbers, to halt the economic machine by blocking its ports, refineries, railway stations, logistics centers, etc., and by really taking-over the governmental enclaves and police stations next Saturday, or we’ve lost. The climate march next weekend has no reason not to join us in the street. After all, its purpose is make clear that those who have led us to the current brink of disaster cannot be counted on to get us out of it. We’re one step away from the breakdown of the governmental machine. Either we will succeed in diverting the course of things over the coming months, or else the foreseeable apocalypse will find itself accompanied by a securitarian backlash the depth and scale of which can already be glimpsed on social media.
The question is as follows: what does it concretely mean to destitute the system in practice? Obviously, it cannot mean electing new representatives, since the bankruptcy of the current regime issues precisely from the bankruptcy of its representative system. To destitute the system means to take over locally, canton by canton, the material and symbolic organization of life. It is precisely the current organization of life that is today in question, that is itself the catastrophe. We must not fear the unknown: we have never seen millions of people allow themselves to die of hunger. Just as we are perfectly capable of organizing ourselves horizontally to set up blockades, we have the capacity to organize ourselves to relaunch a more sensible organization of existence. As revolt is organized locally, so it is at the local level that our solutions will be found. The “national" level is only ever the echo that issues from local initiatives.
We can no longer put up with the endless accountancy of this world. If the reign of the economy is the reign of misery, this is first of all because it is the reign of calculation. The beauty of our blockades, in the streets, and in all that we have been doing for three weeks— already a form of victory in itself—lies in our having stopped counting, the moment we began counting on each other. When the question is that of our common salvation, that of the legal property of the infrastructures of life becomes a mere detail. The difference between the people and those who govern is that the people aren’t a bunch of losers.
then again it is also true that flights account for a small fraction of climate gas emissions while individualizing guilt is a paralyzing control mechanism of neoliberal governmentality, operating to protect vested interests and prevent systemic revolt by making you eat yourself.— hugo reinert (@metaleptic) December 10, 2018
AI machine learning is the new faerie deals, you need to be very specific in how you word your parameters.— Jeannette Ng 吳志麗 (@jeannette_ng) December 9, 2018
‘It was a phase.’ ‘Being a whale?’ ‘Being human.’— m1k3y (@m1k3y) December 9, 2018
Vegemite circuitry! https://t.co/AyRRLU1i6T— Justin Warren (@jpwarren) December 8, 2018
Excerpt from this EcoWatch article:
The first continuous, multi-century study of surface melt from the Greenland ice sheet was published in Nature Wednesday, and the results are clear: the ice sheet is now melting at rates unseen within at least the last 350 years.
“Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet has gone into overdrive. As a result, Greenland melt is adding to sea level more than any time during the last three and a half centuries, if not thousands of years,” lead study author and Rowan University School of Earth & Environment glaciologist Luke Trusel said in a press release from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), one of the institutions involved in the research.
The researchers found that melting first increased on the ice sheet in the 1800s, when the Arctic began to warm as the process of industrialization started pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. However, it is only in recent decades that the melting has increased beyond the point of natural variability. There is now 50 percent more meltwater runoff entering the oceans from the sheet since the start of the industrial era, and 30 percent more since the 20th century.
“From a historical perspective, today’s melt rates are off the charts, and this study provides the evidence to prove this,” WHOI glaciologist and study author Sarah Das said.
The researchers were able to prove what many had sensed through observation by using a novel method, as the WHOI explained:
To determine how intensely Greenland ice has melted in past centuries, the research team used a drill the size of a traffic light pole to extract ice cores from the ice sheet itself and an adjacent coastal ice cap, at sites more than 6,000 feet above sea level. The scientists drilled at these elevations to ensure the cores would contain records of past melt intensity, allowing them to extend their records back into the 17th century. During warm summer days in Greenland, melting occurs across much of the ice sheet surface. At lower elevations, where melting is the most intense, meltwater runs off the ice sheet and contributes to sea level rise, but no record of the melt remains. At higher elevations, however, the summer meltwater quickly refreezes from contact with the below-freezing snowpack sitting underneath. This prevents it from escaping the ice sheet in the form of runoff. Instead, it forms distinct icy bands that stack up in layers of densely packed ice over time.
The research is in keeping with estimates that global sea levels will rise by eight to 12 inches by 2050, but University of Lincoln climate scientist Edward Hanna, who was not involved with the study, told InsideClimateNews that sea level rise projections might have to be increased if Greenland keeps melting.
“We can’t rule out that the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) sea level rise scenarios are too conservative,” Hanna said. “Greenland is a bit like a sleeping giant that is awakening. Who knows how it will respond to a couple of more degrees of warming? It could lose a lot of mass very quickly.”
Excerpt from this article in the New York Times Magazine:
When entomologists began noticing and investigating insect declines, they lamented the absence of solid information from the past in which to ground their experiences of the present. “We see a hundred of something, and we think we’re fine,” Wagner says, “but what if there were 100,000 two generations ago?” Rob Dunn, an ecologist at North Carolina State University who helped design the net experiment in Denmark, recently searched for studies showing the effect of pesticide spraying on the quantity of insects living in nearby forests. He was surprised to find that no such studies existed. “We ignored really basic questions,” he said. “It feels like we’ve dropped the ball in some giant collective way.”
If entomologists lacked data, what they did have were some very worrying clues. Along with the impression that they were seeing fewer bugs in their own jars and nets while out doing experiments — a windshield phenomenon specific to the sorts of people who have bug jars and nets — there were documented downward slides of well-studied bugs, including various kinds of bees, moths, butterflies and beetles. In Britain, as many as 30 to 60 percent of species were found to have diminishing ranges. Larger trends were harder to pin down, though a 2014 review in Science tried to quantify these declines by synthesizing the findings of existing studies and found that a majority of monitored species were declining, on average by 45 percent.
Entomologists also knew that climate change and the overall degradation of global habitat are bad news for biodiversity in general, and that insects are dealing with the particular challenges posed by herbicides and pesticides, along with the effects of losing meadows, forests and even weedy patches to the relentless expansion of human spaces. There were studies of other, better-understood species that suggested that the insects associated with them might be declining, too. People who studied fish found that the fish had fewer mayflies to eat. Ornithologists kept finding that birds that rely on insects for food were in trouble: eight in 10 partridges gone from French farmlands; 50 and 80 percent drops, respectively, for nightingales and turtledoves. Half of all farmland birds in Europe disappeared in just three decades. At first, many scientists assumed the familiar culprit of habitat destruction was at work, but then they began to wonder if the birds might simply be starving. In Denmark, an ornithologist named Anders Tottrup was the one who came up with the idea of turning cars into insect trackers for the windshield-effect study after he noticed that rollers, little owls, Eurasian hobbies and bee-eaters — all birds that subsist on large insects such as beetles and dragonflies — had abruptly disappeared from the landscape.
Scientists have tried to calculate the benefits that insects provide simply by going about their business in large numbers. Trillions of bugs flitting from flower to flower pollinate some three-quarters of our food crops, a service worth as much as $500 billion every year. (This doesn’t count the 80 percent of wild flowering plants, the foundation blocks of life everywhere, that rely on insects for pollination.) If monetary calculations like that sound strange, consider the Maoxian Valley in China, where shortages of insect pollinators have led farmers to hire human workers, at a cost of up to $19 per worker per day, to replace bees. Each person covers five to 10 trees a day, pollinating apple blossoms by hand.
By eating and being eaten, insects turn plants into protein and power the growth of all the uncountable species — including freshwater fish and a majority of birds — that rely on them for food, not to mention all the creatures that eat those creatures. We worry about saving the grizzly bear, says the insect ecologist Scott Hoffman Black, but where is the grizzly without the bee that pollinates the berries it eats or the flies that sustain baby salmon? Where, for that matter, are we?
Remember when Malcolm Turnbull, the goddamned idiot who was briefly Prime Minister of Australia, was told that the laws of mathematics mean that there was no way to make a cryptography system that was weak enough that the cops could use to spy on bad guys, but strong enough that the bad guys couldn’t use it to spy on cops, and he said: “Well the laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that. The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.”
He added: “I’m not a cryptographer, but what we are seeking to do is to secure their assistance. They have to face up to their responsibility. They can’t just wash their hands of it and say it’s got nothing to do with them.”
Malcolm Turnbull lost his job, though not for saying this goddamned idiotic thing. This goddamned idiotic thing has continued to fester in Australian politics, until today, when the pustule ruptured and Parliament sat down and voted to make the laws of Australia prevail over the laws of mathematics.
Good luck with that.
Under the new rule, cops can get court orders that will require tech companies to backdoor their encryption, serve malware, or do whatever else it takes to decrypt subjects’ messages, even if those messages are so well encrypted that it would take more computational cycles than can be wrung out of all the matter in the universe to brute-force the key.
Bad guys, meanwhile, can just use free/open source software, or tools that are made by companies located outside of Australia, or tools that exist today without any backdoors, and never fear police interception.
Making this bill work would mean a raft of extreme measures: seizing and altering every general purpose computer in Australia; banning the importation of any computing device, including phones and laptops, into Australia; blocking Github and every other software distribution site at the national level, and more.