Excerpt from this story from Treehugger:
Treehugger has long had an interest in rainwater harvesting, porous paving, and stormwater gardens. By rethinking our built environment, we can create opportunities for water to seep into the ground during extreme rainwater events—and often sequester carbon and promote biodiversity in the process too.
What the Depave Movement does, however, is it takes these individual water management strategies and deploys them through a lens of community building and social justice. Because just like air pollution, the urban heat island effect, and other environmental ills, the impact of flooding and toxic groundwater pollution is rarely shared equally.
Depave—one of the community groups that is pioneering this movement—is focused on reclaiming over-paved spaces in Portland, Oregon. Bringing together staff and volunteers for what it describes as “constructive destruction”, the organization partners with host sites each year to demolish un- or under-used pavement, and instead design, fund, and install a range of permeable community spaces that include play-scapes, parks, and community gardens.
According to their 2019 Impact Report, the group has depaved over 220,000 square feet over the past 12 years, collecting stormwater runoff from over 500,000 square feet of adjacent impervious areas. All together, their work has reduced annual stormwater runoff by a whopping 15,840,000 gallons. And while this group focuses its efforts in the Pacific Northwest, it has also published a free guidebook—called “How to Depave: The Guide to Freeing Your Soil“—which is intended to provide insights for others who are setting out on this journey.
“Coloniality, therefore, names the various colonial-like power relations existing today in those zones that experienced direct colonialism. The concept of coloniality was introduced by the Peruvian sociologist Aníbal Quijano and was further elaborated by the Argentinean decolonial semiotician Walter D. Mignolo and others such as Nelson Maldonado-Torres. In “Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality,” Quijano identiﬁed four key levers of coloniality: control of the economy, control of authority, control of gender and sexuality, and control of knowledge and subjectivity (173). Mignolo emphasized “colonial difference” as a central leitmotif of coloniality. Coloniality is a name for the “darker side” of modernity that needs to be unmasked because it exists as “an embedded logic that enforces control, domination, and exploitation disguised in the language of salvation, progress, modernization, and being good for everyone” (The Idea of Latin America 6).”
— Discourses of Decolonization/Decoloniality, Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni (see full citation of references in the linked article)
In Ocado’s grocery warehouses, thousands of mechanical boxes move on the Hive. Are they all individual robots? Or is this one giant hive mind?
When Mitch Kapor articulated the principle that “architecture is politics” at the founding of EFF, he was charging technologists with the moral duty to contemplate the kinds of social interactions their technological decisions would facilitate — and prohibit.
At question was nothing less than the character of the networked society. Would the vast, pluripotent, general purpose, interconnected network serve as a glorified video-on-demand service, the world’s greatest pornography distribution system, a giant high-tech mall?
Or could it be a public square, and if so, who would have the loudest voices in that square, who would be excluded from it, who will set its rules, and how will they be enforced?
As with its technical architecture, the political architecture of the net is a stack, encompassing everything from antitrust enforcement to spectrum allocation, protocol design to search-and-seizure laws, standards to top-level domain governance.
Among those many considerations is the absolutely vital question of service delivery itself. What kinds of wires or radio waves will carry your packets, who will own them, and how will they be configured?
For decades, a quiet war has been fought on this front, with two sides: the side that sees internet users as “mouse potatoes,” destined to passively absorb information feeds compiled by their betters; and the “netizen” side that envisions a truly participatory network design.
This deep division has been with us since the internet’s prehistory, at least since the fight over Usenet’s alt.* hierarchy, flaring up again during the P2P wars, with ISPs insisting that users were violating their “agreements” by running “servers.”
Above all, this fight was waged in the deployment of home internet service. The decision turn the already-monopolistic cable and phone operators into ISPs cast a long shadow. Both of these industries think of their customers as passive information consumers, not participants.
As an entertainment exec in William Gibson’s 1992 novel Idoru describes her audience: “Best visualized as a vicious, lazy, profoundly ignorant, perpetually hungry organism craving the warm god-flesh of the anointed. Personally I like to imagine something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It’s covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth…no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote. Or by voting in presidential elections.”
Contrast this with the other cyberpunk archetype, the console cowboy who doesn’t merely surf the digital, but steers it — the active participant in the technological/media environment who is more than a recipient of others’ crafted messages.
For a long time, Big Tech and Big Telco tried to have it both ways. AT&T promoted teleconferencing and remote family life conducted by videophones in its 1993 “You Will” marketing campaign. Youtube exhorted you to “broadcast yourself.”
But AT&T also set data-caps, kicked users off for running servers, and engaged in every legal, semi-legal and outright illegal tactic imaginable to block high-speed fiber networks.
Youtube, meanwhile, blocked interoperability, leveraged vertical integration with Google search to exclude and starve competitors, and conspired with Big Content to create a “content moderation” system that’s two parts Kafka, one part Keystone Kops.
While the questions raised by broad participation in networked society are thorny and complex, one question actually has a very simple and factual answer: “How should we connect our homes to the internet?” The answer: “Fiber.”
There is no wireless that can substitute for fiber. Wireless — 5G, Starlink, whatever — shares the same spectrum. We can make spectrum use more efficient (by tightly transmitting the wireless signals so they don’t interfere), but physics sets hard limits on wireless speeds.
Each strand of wire in a wired network, by contrast, is its own pocket universe, insulated from the next wire, with its own smaller, but exclusive, electromagnetic spectrum to use without interfering with any other wire on the other side of its insulation.
<img src=”https://craphound.com/images/broadband_comparison.jpeg“ alt=”EFF’s broadband comparison chart, showing the maximum speeds of 4G (100mb), DSL (170mb), 5G (10gb), cable (50gb) and fiber (100tb).”>
But copper wire also has hard limits that are set by physics. The fastest theoretical copper data throughput is an infinitesimal fraction of the fastest fiber speeds. Fiber is millions-to-hundreds-of-millions times faster than copper.
We should never run copper under another city street or along another pole. Any savings from maintaining 20th century network infrastructure will be eradicated by the cost of having to do twice the work to replace it with 21st century fiber in the foreseeable future.
Trying to wring performance gains out of copper in the age of fiber is like trying to improve the design of whale-oil lamps to stave off the expense of electrification. Sure, you don’t want anyone sitting in the dark but even the very best whale-oil lamp is already obsolete.
But besides future-proofing, there’s another reason to demand fiber over copper or wireless: symmetry. Our copper and (especially) wireless infrastructure is optimized for sending data to end-points, not getting data back. It’s mouse-potato broadband.
(this is especially true of any satellite broadband, which typically relies upon copper lines for its “return path,” and even when it doesn’t, has much slower uplinks that downlinks)
By contrast, fiber tends to be symmetrical — providing the same download and upload speeds. It is participatory broadband, suited for a world of distance ed, remote work, telemedicine, and cultural and political participation for all.
Fiber is so obviously better than copper or wireless that America paltry fiber rollouts needed to be engineered — they never would have happened on their own. The most critical piece of anti-fiber engineering is US regulators’ definition of broadband itself.
Since the dawn FCC interest in universal broadband, it adopted a technical definition of broadband that is asymmetrical, with far lower upload than download speeds. Despite lockdown and broadband-only connections to the outside world, Congress is set to continue this.
The latest iteration of the Democrats’ broadband bill defines “broadband” as any connection that is 100mb up and 20mb down (“100/20”). Both of these speeds paltry to the point of uselessness, but the upload speed is genuinely terrible.
US broadband usage has grown 21%/year since the 1980s. 100/20 broadband is inadequate for today’s applications — let alone tomorrow’s (by contrast, fiber is fast enough to last through the entire 21st century’s projected broadband demand and beyond, well into the 2100s).
Any wireless applications will also depend on fiber — your 5G devices have to be connected to something, and if that something is copper, your wireless speeds will never exceed copper’s maximum speeds. Innovation in spectrum management requires fiber — it doesn’t obviate it.
Today, the highest growth in broadband demand is in uploads, not downloads. People need fast uploads speeds to videoconference, to stream their games, to do remote work. The only way a 100/20 copper network’s upload speeds can be improved is by connecting it with fiber.
Every dollar spent on copper rollout is a dollar we’ll forfeit in a few years. It’s true that cable monopolists will wring a few billions out of us if we keep making do with their old copper, but upgrading copper just makes the inevitable fiber transition costlier.
China is nearing its goal of connecting 1 billion people to fiber. In America, millions are stuck with copper infrastructure literally consisting of century-old wires wrapped in newspaper, dipped in tar, and draped over tree-banches.
Indeed, when it comes to America, monopoly carriers are slowing upload speeds — take Altice, the US’s fourth-largest ISP, which slashed its upload speeds by 89% “in line with competitors’ offerings.”
America desperately needs a high-fiber diet:
But it has a major blockage: the American right, who have conducted history’s greatest self-own by carrying water for telecoms monopolists, blocking municipal fiber:
It’s darkly funny to see the people who demanded that “government stay out of my internet” now rail against monopoly social media’s censorship, given that a government ISP would be bound by the First Amendment, unlike Facebook or Twitter.
Luckily, Congress isn’t the only place where this debate is taking place. In California, Governor Newsom has unveiled an ambitious plan to connect every city and town to blazing-fast fiber, then help cities and counties get it to every home.
In tech circles, we use the term “read-only” to refer to blowhards who won’t let you get a word-in edgewise (this being one of the more prominent and unfortunate technical archetypes).
The “consumer” envisioned by asymmetrical broadband futures is write*-only — someone designed to have other peoples’ ideas crammed into their eyeballs, for their passive absorption. A consumer, not a citizen.
As Gibson put it, it’s a person who “can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote.”
Cyberpunk is a warning, not a suggestion.
My good friend, colleague, and collaborator Dr Sander Hölsgens has just published a book ‘Skateboarding in Seoul’ based on his long term ethnographic research in South Korea. This new tome is available to purchase from the University of Groningen Press.
Importantly it is also available as a free ebook in PDF and Epub format to download. This open access publication is an important contribution to skateboarding scholarship, expanding a crucial focus on Asian skateboarding. Sander is an important figure in skateboard academia and one of the masterminds behind the Pushing Boarders academic conferences.
by Eikoh Hosoe / 細江英公
Kamaitachi #40 / 鎌鼬 (1965)
Bernard Schultze (1915-2005) — Lynth (wire, wood, textiles, plastic mass and oil on canvas, 1960)
After meeting Tenzing Rigdol one of the things that I took away from him is how a simple concept like physical dirt can have so much meaning to many people. I found that the value of thing is up to the person. to the point where dirt can have so much then just dirt.
Tenzing Rigdol — My World is in Your Blind Spot (silk brocade and scripture on canvas, 2014)
Tihamér Gyarmathy (1915-2005) — Celestial Bodies in Orbits (oil on fibreboard, 1970)
Bernard Schultze (1915-2005) — Migof with a Destroyed Wing (mannequin, reworked with oil, wire, plaster, textiles, 1971)
Nida, Lithuania, 1972 - by Audryus Zavadskis (1945 - 2019), Lithuanian
We are Rest In Pieces. An educational and inspirational institute specialising in the time honoured skill of preserving and presenting fascinating natural specimens.
Body of Thought 1987-1988
“Cyberspace, not so long ago, was a specific elsewhere, one we visited periodically, peering into it from the familiar physical world. Now cyberspace has everted. Turned itself inside out. Colonized the physical. Making Google a central and evolving structural unit not only of the architecture of cyberspace, but of the world. This is the sort of thing that empires and nation-states did, before. But empires and nation-states weren’t organs of global human perception. They had their many eyes, certainly, but they didn’t constitute a single multiplex eye for the entire human species.”
— William Gibson, Google’s Earth, The New York Times, August 31, 2010
INSIDE ISSUE 33 // “Super A makes us feel a whole new way about the cartoons of our childhood. They were once a second home, but adulthood tells us that life is not so episodic, never everlasting. We can never change our own channels; we only live one storyline, and it will not end when we defeat the dragon or fall in love. This is not to say that cartoons are the cause of all our problems; rather, they reveal the disparity between the two worlds. Perhaps if we become a little more tuned in to our own reality, we will be better prepared to live within it.” Read about @mr.super_a in Issue 33 of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine. Get your copy at https://ift.tt/IUsDuk [link in our profile] …
posted on Instagram - https://instagr.am/p/CP1D6iDBk-6/
Hisashi Saito, 1980
Mythologica - illustrations by Victoria Topping
Dome installed over a new antenna at the Svalbard Satellite Station (photographer: Anna Filipova)
SvalSat, as the station is known, is a crucial, behind-the-scenes workhorse supporting scientific research. Located just outside the town of Longyearbyen in the Svalbard Archipelago, it is 800 miles from the North Pole, making it the northernmost satellite station in the world.
“Fork Hands” (2021)
THIS IS FINE
Cecil Thomas Madigan, ice mask, the meteorologist with Australian Douglas Mawson’s expedition of 1911-14, build up caused while he was returning to the base hut during a blizzard.
Ultimate programming tool via @linear_pcm0153 on Twitter.
An art collective that has embodied the cutting-edge aesthetics of electronic music since its inception in the 1990s. The punk release group expanded the possibilities of music and changed history. Attitude, which continues to hack preconceived ideas, continues to have a great influence on many artists to this day.
Pavillion Of The Enlightened in Bangkok
i was reading about the myth of prometheus today when the phrase “new liver, same eagles” popped into my mind, so i’m keeping that in mind for the next time someone asks me how it’s going
Thank you to everyone who found the original for us! Here it is!
Ancient mountain Aras cypress at Tandooreh National Park, Iran (B&W)
Photo: Ali Pezhouhi
“Think of art and philosophy as long conversations in which participants come and go, some joining in at the end, others at the beginning, others coming late but insisting on learning what was said earlier, while others intervene without a good sense of whats going on. Or compare art and philosophy to martial arts: the unity of the field is the unity of the teaching lineage. It is real human relationships — student to teacher to teacher’s teacher to teacher’s teacher’s teacher, and so on.”
— Noë, Alva. Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2015.
“The syringe is effectively a container — you can fill it with anything you want from insulin to unicorns“
The Instagram ads Facebook won’t show you
Facebook’s own tools have the potential to divulge what is otherwise unseen. It’s already possible to catch fragments of these truths in the ads you’re shown; they are glimmers that reflect the world of a surveilling stranger who knows you. We wanted to use those same tools to directly highlight how most technology works. We wanted to buy some Instagram ads.
Facebook is more than willing to sell visibility into people’s lives, unless it’s to tell people about how their data is being used. Being transparent about how ads use people’s data is apparently enough to get banned; in Facebook’s world, the only acceptable usage is to hide what you’re doing from your audience.So, here are some examples of the targeted ads that you’ll never see on Instagram. Yours would have been so you.
“Three taps, three times. This is part of professional skateboarder Andrew Reynolds’ ritual when trying to offset his anxiety before he performs a trick. He refers to this as ‘the madness…The madness might be best understood as a superstition, a tactic of edgework to assert some control over the chaos of attempting to jump a four-foot- high and 16-foot-wide set of stairs on a precariously wheeled wooden board. But in some ways rituals are superstitions, they must be performed at certain times and follow specific procedures in order for them to be valid. Rites are performed to allay our anxieties about specific life events both big and small.”
Ritualised Play, Skateboarding and Religion (2020, p.179) I share this passage from my book in response toa thread unfolding on the SLAP message board right now. It is all about the curious superstitions that skateboarders have when they skate particular spots. A quick read of them points to some rather ritualised behaviour. It is far from the first thread on SLAP to deal with skateboarding superstitions, there are actually quite a few (here,and here, andhere) . This one grew out of a thread about anxieties inwearing red while skateboarding. Partly this is superficial fun, but it is also curious to learn fo the range of superstitions that people attach to their skateboarding. These acts correspond to a type of significance many would not necessarily attribute to skateboarding. What they do highlight is that skateboarding is a type of serious play, and that play might simply be one of the most important things that we, as humans, do. More on this from my chapter…
The skateboard is like a divine object that can connect an individual to conceptions of existence greater than themselves. Borden develops this from the work of Henri Lefebvre (2008, p. 118), who claims that ‘toys and games are former magical objects and rituals.’ … In our final exploration of play we come to understand how skateboarders see themselves as having access to a special, magical realm of life. In performing ritual some skateboarders consider themselves enlightened, different from the blinkered ‘muggles’ ignorant of their toy, the true essence of the city, the nearness of freedom and fraternity, and of course the enduring rewards of play. To close off this short post I include The Vice video in which Andrew Reynolds talks about his ‘Madness’ the superstitious-OCD like-ritual that permeates his skateboarding. (viaeverydayhybridity)
Ritualised Play, Skateboarding and Religion (2020, p.179)
I share this passage from my book in response toa thread unfolding on the SLAP message board right now. It is all about the curious superstitions that skateboarders have when they skate particular spots. A quick read of them points to some rather ritualised behaviour. It is far from the first thread on SLAP to deal with skateboarding superstitions, there are actually quite a few (here,and here, andhere) . This one grew out of a thread about anxieties inwearing red while skateboarding.
Partly this is superficial fun, but it is also curious to learn fo the range of superstitions that people attach to their skateboarding. These acts correspond to a type of significance many would not necessarily attribute to skateboarding. What they do highlight is that skateboarding is a type of serious play, and that play might simply be one of the most important things that we, as humans, do. More on this from my chapter…
The skateboard is like a divine object that can connect an individual to conceptions of existence greater than themselves. Borden develops this from the work of Henri Lefebvre (2008, p. 118), who claims that ‘toys and games are former magical objects and rituals.’ … In our final exploration of play we come to understand how skateboarders see themselves as having access to a special, magical realm of life. In performing ritual some skateboarders consider themselves enlightened, different from the blinkered ‘muggles’ ignorant of their toy, the true essence of the city, the nearness of freedom and fraternity, and of course the enduring rewards of play.
To close off this short post I include The Vice video in which Andrew Reynolds talks about his ‘Madness’ the superstitious-OCD like-ritual that permeates his skateboarding.
It is still better to speak only in riddles, allusions, hints, parables. Even if asked to clarify a few points. Even if people plead that they just don’t understand. After all, they never have understood. So why not double the misprision to the limits of exasperation? Until the ear tunes into another music, the voice starts to sing again, the very gaze stops squinting over the signs of auto-representation, and reproduction no longer inevitably amounts to the same and returns to the same forms, with minor variations.
Luce Irigaray, Speculum of the Other Woman (1985), p, 143
Rudolph Valentino. Douglas Fairbanks. Sessue Hayakawa. What do these men have in common? All reigned as dashing matinee idols during the silent era. But while Valentino and Fairbanks usually won the girl’s heart by the end, Hayakawa’s Japanese heritage almost always prevented him from doing the same; in fact, he became the first Asian actor to achieve stardom in Hollywood – and he did so while playing the villain.
I first witnessed Hayakawa’s star power in Cecil B. DeMille’s THE CHEAT (‘15). The ferocity of his actions on screen, and—I’ll admit it—his devastatingly good looks, stunned and entranced me. Not recognizing his name, I decided to investigate and was quickly intrigued by Hayakawa’s life and career in Hollywood.
Born in Japan in 1886, Hayakawa’s journey took him to the United States, where he made his film debut in 1914. (Though many sources—including Hayakawa himself—claim he moved to the U.S. to study at the University of Chicago, the school has no records showing he attended.) The following year, his role as a wealthy businessman in THE CHEAT propelled him to fame, albeit in an unusual way. In the movie, Hayakawa loans a socialite (Fannie Ward) $10,000… in exchange for sex. When she repays the money and tries to back out of the physical part of their deal, he refuses, and, in a shocking scene, literally brands her as his property.
Caucasian women went wild over Hayakawa’s performance. Stephen Gong, Executive Director of the Center for Asian American Media, noted the widely-cited reasoning for that in a 2008 interview: “The idea of the rape fantasy, forbidden fruit, all those taboos of race and sex – it made him a movie star.” However, THE CHEAT and the striking reaction Hayakawa’s understated style and brazen brutality elicited was fraught with the racial prejudices and sexual mores of the time, and the film didn’t fare well with everyone. Japanese moviegoers and publications in America decried Hayakawa for taking on a villainous role that adversely affected how they were viewed and treated. Indeed, in his 1960 book Zen Showed Me the Way, Hayakawa recalled, “I was indignantly accused of casting a slur on my nationality,” something other Asian actors, like Anna May Wong, were charged with too, even though Hollywood rarely offered them non-stereotypical parts.
The actor’s star ascended quickly; in fact, a 1917 theater advertisement marketed a “mammoth triple feature program,” placing Hayakawa on the same level of stardom as Charlie Chaplin and Western icon William S. Hart. After Hayakawa’s contract with Jesse Lasky ended in 1918, he formed Haworth Pictures Corporation, which gave him more power over his career and enabled him to undertake a wider variety of roles. Haworth churned out almost 20 films from 1918-1922, and at the helm, Hayakawa could funnel his creative talents through the entire filmmaking process; in addition to acting, he produced and wrote select features, and he’s also said to have contributed to Haworth productions’ design, editing and directing. Hayakawa often appeared alongside Caucasian actresses in these pictures, but even when he played the hero, miscegenation laws basically barred him from a blissful finale. A rare happy ending during this period came in THE DRAGON PAINTER (‘19), which Hayakawa co-starred in with his wife, Japanese actress Tsuru Aoki. Hayakawa’s studio proved so successful that he commanded an astounding $7,500 a week in 1920, the equivalent of almost $100,000 a century later.
But at the top of his game, Hayakawa left Hollywood. The reasons for his 1922 exit remain murky, but different sources credit business issues, mounting xenophobia/discrimination and more. In an odd statement from a 1957 Los Angeles Times interview, Hayakawa plainly stated he relocated because, “I met a treacherous man. He took out a $1,000,000 policy on my life. And I believe he tried to kill me to collect.”
Mysteries aside, the actor spent the next few decades working on stage and screen across Europe and Japan, settling for a while in France, where he resided during WWII. Though Hayakawa mostly remained abroad the rest of his life, he occasionally returned to America, including in 1931 to act in his first Hollywood talkie, DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON, and the late 1950s. During the latter period, he appeared in his most famous film, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (‘57), resulting in a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
While researching Hayakawa’s life, I uncovered a good amount of conflicting and/or unverified information, some even proliferated by the actor himself. Indeed, Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom author Daisuke Miyao has said, “I think the life of Hayakawa as a star was always a process of creating his own myth.” But a little bit of confabulation probably serves the enduring enigma of an enchanting matinee idol well, does it not?
From another article i read today 😭
he wasn’t even there to be a contestant he joined the crew as a CHINESE TEACHER but the directors noticed his good looks and begged him to compete. poor guy made it to the finals and if he had been one of the winners he would have been contractually forced to be in a boy band whether he wanted to or not
this is the closest any human being has ever come to actually being sold to One Direction
*I now own an NFT artwork on a blockchain; I haven’t managed or bothered to claim it, but in theory I own this
*Like most blockchain art it’s actually all about a blockchain, in this case the “hic et nunc” here-and-now NFT site
A giant poster of every ACME product, ever. 126 drawings of explosives, gadgets, rockets, and more!
I watched every Coyote and Roadrunner episode, then hand drew all 126 wacky gadgets, explosives, and items that appeared in the cartoons. This poster raised $105,000 on Kickstarter.
Tornado seeds! Giant magnets! Dynamite! Rocket powered roller skates! Anvils! Giant Rubber Bands! I spent over 100 hours illustrating, designing, and researching this one poster.
The fictional ACME Corporation appeared in nearly all 43 Coyote & Road Runner cartoons from 1949-1994. They make any product you can imagine. I’ve loved The ACME Corporation since I was a kid because they’re a true dream factory.
How amazing would it be if The ACME Corporation were real? That’s why I made this poster; to make our world a little crazier.
In 2008, I traveled to the world’s largest scientific data-centers for a Nature story. No matter whether the labs were devoted to internet archiving, the human genome, or the Higgs boson, they had two things in common: vast server farms, and XKCD.
Randall Munroe’s webcomic is so unabashedly geeky, so unafraid to be obscure or format-breaking, so affectionate and knowing about the triumphs and pitfalls of science that it is absolute catnip for scientists.
Last week, Munroe published strip #2456, “Types of scientific paper,” a 3x4 grid of thumbnails of journal articles with titles like, “We put a camera somewhere new” and “My colleague is wrong and I can finally prove it.”
Even by XKCD standards, this is heavy scientist-bait. The research community has risen to the challenge, flooding the net with remixes that are, if anything, even better than the original: works of microfictional genius to rival Hemingway’s “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Many of these have been collected on @bruces’ Tumblr blogs, and, taken as a body, they constitute an act of wry, insightful auto-ethnography - self-criticism wrapped in humor that tells a story.
“Types of Paper in Epidemiology and Public Health”
- We counted how many people have a disease, here are maps with poor countries in red
- We found that if you call your research ‘genetic epidemiology,’ then people are surprisingly OK with eugenics
“Types of History Paper”
- Stuff happened: a chronology 1910-1974
- They missed so much stuff, it’s honestly embarrassing 1910-1974
- I am so tired of stuff scholarship
- Wokeness is killing stuff scholarship! A senior scholar weighs in
“Types of Glaciology Paper”
- The ocean is doing a bunch of weird stuff to this glacier
- Why is it doing that: the wild physics
- Why is it doing that: now with machine learning
- We found a glacier that’s doing fine! Oh, wait, nevermind
“Types of Entomology Paper”
- This pesticide is completely safe, says one very restricted metric
- This pesticide will kill us all: extrapolation from irrelevant data
- 39,000 new parasitic wasps
“Types of Climate Science Paper.”
- Here’s a bad thing about climate change you hadn’t even thought about
- Did any of you guys take a statistics course?
- Things are definitely worse than we thought
- Things are definitely better than we thought
“Types of Quantum Computing Paper”
- Simulating our system with our system
- We’ve solved QC with our new scripting language
“Types of Remote Sensing Papers”
- We saw stuff on the ground from space
- We saw stuff on the ground better from space
- What’s that? Let me see if I can see it from space
- Have you tried neural networks though?
“Types of Building Energy Papers”
- Expensive material improves building efficiency
- Stop climate change by rebuilding all buildings this way
- Insulate all things
“Types of Housing Papers”
- Why tech workers deserve condos with better walk scores
- Design students’ yurts will end poverty
- Supportive housing costs less than boiling poor people in oil and it’s more efficient
- Elders have rebuilt enough equity for a new round of predatory lending
- Neighborhood gained wealth when rich people moved in
- This city ended homelessness (for left-handed veterans with cats)
I saved my favorite for last: “How a reporter sees types of science papers”
- This journal puts the full paper online
- I know this person responds to emails
- GIF-able video in the supporting information
- Fig 1 seems like it basically sums the whole thing up
- Scientist beef!
- I covered their last paper
“To understand art, I propose, we need to look at it against the background of technology. Artists make stuff, after all: pictures, sculptures, performances, songs. And art has always been bound up with manufacture and craft, with tinkering and artifice. Art, however, is not itself one of our technologies; art presupposes technology in something like the way irony presupposes straight talk. Technology — practices of making, the harnessing of knowledge for this purpose — is no contribution to art; it is its precondition.”
— Noë, Alva. Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2015.
“Or, as the psychologist James J. Gibson claims, seeing doesn’t happen in the eye-brain system, it happens in the eye-brain-head-body-ground-environment system. It is something we do, not something that happens inside us. And like everything we do, it depends on more than just what is going on at a time inside the skull.”
— Noë, Alva. Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2015.
Paco Pomet A Journey 2019
2.5b people in Earth’s 130 poorest countries have not been vaccinated. The 85 poorest countries won’t be vaccinated until 2023. The humanitarian cost is unforgivable - and self-defeating, as each infected person is a potential source of new strains.
How the actual fuck did this happen?
What happened to the early pledges by governments, the WHO, public health experts and leading research institutions to create global cooperation in vaccine development, eschewing patents and secrecy so that we could rescue our species?
That dream was smashed.
Many people helped create our vaccine apartheid, the single individual who did the most to get us here is Bill Gates, through his highly ideological “philanthropic” foundation, which exists to push his pitiless doctrine of unfettered monopoly.
It was Gates who sabotaged the WHO Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), replacing it with his failed ACT-Accelerator, a system of patents and secrecy and vast profits for the pharma industry, ornamented with nonbinding, failed promises of access for poor nations.
It was Gates who convinced Oxford to renege on its promise of patent-free access to its publicly funded vaccine research for the global south in favor of exclusive patent access for Astrazeneca.
When we hear ghoul sellouts like Howard Dean pushing the racist, genocidal lie that “patents don’t matter” because brown people in poor countries can’t make vaccines, we’re hearing Gates’s talking points:
Gates’s role in vaccine apartheid is laid out in exquisite detail in Alexander Zaitchik’s outstanding New Republic feature, which delves into Gates’s longstanding project to sideline democratic governments and cooperation in favor of monopoly tyranny.
This goes way, way back. I mean, *waaaay* back, all the way to 1976, when Gates wrote his infamous “Open Letter to Hobbyists,” decrying the dominant, cooperative mode of software development and calling its practitioners thieves.
Gates’s fortune depended on creating a software monopoly, and that monopoly required “intellectual property” protection. Gates has always been a monopolist, and so naturally, he loves IP (before “IP” was a common term, copyrights and patents were called “monopolies”).
Intellectual property is a very important part of the inequality story, the story of how we got to a world where billions of people are denied vaccines and where all people face new, more virulent strains as a result.
As UNCTAD chief economist Richard Kozul-Wright told Lynn Fries for GPE: “[IP allows companies] to grab a larger share of what has already been produced in the economy.”
It’s a means of extracting rents, not for doing things, but for OWNING things.
IP is key to tax avoidance: companies like Ikea transfer “IP” (the Ikea trademark) to a numbered company in a tax haven; each national Ikea subsidiary pays “licensing fees” for the trademark equal to 100% of their in-country profits, so they never earn a (taxable) cent.
The transformation of the world into a monopolized system of IP-heavy, rent-extracting, tax-dodging companies really kicked into gear after 1999, with the signing of the WTO agreement and its IP adjunct, the TRIPPS, and as Zaitchik details, Gates was instrumental there.
For this part of the story, Zaitchik talks to Jamie Love, who was at the UN when NGOs like his were pushing to create vaccine and other pharma pools for the global south, while pharma companies handed out pamphlets bearing the Gates Foundation logo, smearing the plan.
Though the US delegation struggled for credibility, the combination of the Gates Foundation, and former US trade officials fronting for the global pharma industry managed to sideline the project, which was being driven by the demand for equitable access to AIDS drugs.
With Gates’s help, the WTO emerged as an IP enforcement powerhouse. Zaitchik cites Dylan Mohan Gray: “it took Washington 40 years to threaten apartheid South Africa with sanctions and less than four to threaten the post-apartheid Mandela government over AIDS drugs.”
Incredibly, the Gates Foundation used this to burnish its humanitarian image: they solicited donations from pharma companies and used them to subsidize AIDS drugs in the global south, a maneuver that let them seem like philanthropists.
When in reality, they had overseen a program to systematically deny the world’s poorest and most threatened people the right to make their own drugs, making them dependent on the whims of multinational corporate charity instead.
Sound familiar? Today, Gates runs around repeating the lie that poor people can’t make their own medicine, saying that patent exemptions won’t make a difference now - to the extent he’s right, the world *now* is the crucial one.
Having sabotaged the efforts by poor countries to engage in the kind of production ramp-up the rich world saw as vaccines were being developed, it may *now* be too late. “Because of my bad ideas *then*, it’s too late *now*.”
The connection between IP and elite philanthropy is deep and important. IP’s rent-seeking and tax-dodging has made poor countries beholden to offshore monopolists in health, agriculture and IT, and then starved them of taxes to build up domestic alternatives.
This, in turn, makes them dependent on “gifts” from the billionaires who arm-twisted them into IP treaties, forced them to pay rent on all domestic production, and then profit-shifted the funds out of the reach of their tax-collectors.
As Anand Giridharadas reminded us in his seminal “Winners Take All,” the core purpose of elite philanthropy has been the same since the robber-baron era: to burnish the reputations of monsters who take everything and give back crumbs.
Reading Jamie Love’s quotes in Zaitchik’s article reminded me of my own time working with Jamie and Knowledge Ecology International at WIPO in Geneva, when I was an NGO delegate to a global DRM treaty.
You see, at WIPO, the vast majority of NGOs aren’t human rights organizations or other public interest groups - they’re industry associations representing tech, entertainment, broadcast and pharma monopolists.
These guys - almost all guys - were just aghast when real NGOs started showing up for these meetings and were absolutely shameless in their sabotage of our efforts to balance their corporate lies (absolutely bald-faced lies were routinely entered into the debates).
How petty? Well, they had been accustomed to writing up “fact-sheets” for the day’s debate and handing them off to WIPO staffers working for the secretariat, who would photocopy them and set them out on literature tables for the national delegates.
So we started doing this too: we’d take careful notes on the day’s debates, convene with global experts to debunk industry association lies, get our Indymedia friends to translate them into six languages, and hand them off to the secretariat in the morning for copying.
So they got the secretariat - a former US textiles negotiator who made her bones helping create the conditions for slave labor in places like Bangladesh - to end the practice of photocopying papers for all NGOs.
Of course the industry bodies had cushy offices in Geneva, whereas we stayed in flophouses and youth hostels. They could ask their underlings to come in early and do their copying for them, whereas we had to take a bus to the all-night copy-shop to get our handouts copied.
Here’s where it gets super-weird: our handouts started to go missing. We’d set out our stacks of paper on the literature tables before the morning session and an hour later, they’d all be gone, but none of the delegates had managed to get a copy.
We found those missing handouts…in the garbage, behind potted plants and in the *toilets*.
And here’s the kicker: during the ensuing furore, the main response from the pharma lobbyists was to object to us calling ourselves “public interest NGOs.”
I’ll never forget this smarmy sociopath in his expensive suit, with his shit-eating grin, standing there saying, “Phamaceuticals serve the public interest, and our industry association is a nonprofit. We are a non-profit, public-interest NGO.”
It was a remarkable sight. 20 years later, their version of the public interest - the doctrine of Gates - has produced a multi-billion-person reservoir of the sick and vulnerable who are doomed to serve as factories for highly virulent variants.
This is a literally genocidal doctrine, and it threatens our very civilization. It’s a funny kind of non-profit, public interest move for an industry and its billionaire ideologue funders to have made.
But hey, at least no one’s “intellectual property” took a hit.
Ephraim Chambers - Table of Mechanicks, “Cyclopaedia, A Useful Dictionary of Arts and Sciences”, 1728.
AT ZWIRNER, RAY JOHNSON’S COLLAGES ARE ALSO THE VERY FLATTEST OF SCULPTURES
THE DAILY PICis “Untitled (Dear Shirley Temple, Geldzahler),” (1956-1992), from the big Ray Johnson survey at David Zwirner in New York.
I did a little write-up on the show for the weekend New York Times, stressing the pieces that Johnson mailed out to other creatives on the (gay) margins of the art world, and the work those mailings did as “social sculpture.” But I didn’t have room for something else that struck me when I was in the show: The sheer, determined materiality of all the so-called “collages” that Johnson never intended to mail.
I say “so called” because those pieces are closer to very flat sculptures than to what we mostly call collage, which normally tries to move away from being an object and toward a status as pure, almost immaterial image. Johnson’s pieces, on the contrary, are usually built up as shallow reliefs, stacked into being from various thicknesses of card that only happen to have found images glued on to them. If you removed the images, you’d still be left with some kind of artwork — something like a cardboard abstraction by Ben Nicholson, perhaps.
I think this materiality was partly important to Johnson just because he came of age — and very briefly hit it big — in a postwar era when art was much about the stuff it was made from. (His art’s connection to the conceptual gambits of Pop Art is much overrated.) But I think Johnson also chose to work in relief to make clear his creations’ status as artist-crafted objects, and to set them apart from mere image culture. By making objects that had such very clear markers as art, he was the more clearly marked as an artist. And that made his practice as a mailer into art as well, which I think is where he wanted it to live.
If his collages were close to being sculptures, then the social sculpture he derived from them was all the more clearly art. ( Artwork © Ray Johnson Estate, courtesy the Ray Johnson Estate)
For a full survey of past Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.
SPACETIME CONTINUUM / Glitch Black
Originally posted on July 30, 2018, and amassing nearly 45,000 notes, Tumblr randomly decided to remove this on January 11, 2021 for claiming it shows “real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples”. They are obviously wrong, so I’m uploading this again. Work on your algorithm, Tumblr.
“this is not a hall of shame. the intent is to awaken you to many of the peculiarities and weirdness of computers. hopefully, after reading these articles, you will have learned a lot and will embrace chaos.”
Blackle Mori (@suricrasia) - 2021
“In this way we appreciate that technology extends not only what we can do. It also extends what we are. Our minds bleed out of our heads, onto the paper, into the world. The philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers (of the University of Edinburgh and New York University, respectively) frame the issue this way: Where do you stop and where does the rest of the world begin? There doesn’t seem to be any principled reason to think the stuff going on inside our heads is privileged in comparison with the stuff we write on paper. Both are necessary for the kinds of thoughts we have, for the kinds of thinking and problems that interest us.”
— Noë, Alva. Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2015.
“Here’s the short and partial answer. There is an intimate link between technology and organized activities. Roughly, a tool (such as a hammer or a computer) is the hub of an organized activity. Technology is not mere stuff. It is the equipment with which we carry on our organized activities. Technologies organize us; properly understood, they are evolving patterns of organization.”
— Noë, Alva. Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2015.
Global greenhouse gas emissions by sector (2020)
Giasco Bertoli. 2 Clinton St. NYC April 5 1994 (the day Kurt Cobain died)
Eartheater by Micaiah Carter
Description from Inside Climate News:
The plummeting price of electricity from solar panels is one of the driving forces aiding the transition to clean energy.
Government policies and scientific innovation around the world have helped to reduce the average cost of utility-scale solar power by more than 80 percent since 2010, making it the least expensive power source in many, if not most, places.
Now the Department of Energy has set a target of reducing the cost by more than half again by 2030, to an unsubsidized average of 2 cents per kilowatt-hour. That cost, which takes into account the price of construction and operation, would have seemed like a fantasy not long ago.
By taking the least expensive power source and making it much cheaper, the government would shake the foundation of many energy debates and help to hasten the transition away from fossil fuels.
Mobs and crowds from THE SIMPSONS.
Mercator Projection vs The Size of Countries
The computer science maxim “garbage in, garbage out,” (GIGO) dates back at least as far as 1957. It’s an iron law of computing: no matter how powerful your data-processing system is, if you feed it low-quality data, you’ll get low-quality conclusions.
And of course, machine learning (AKA “AI”) (ugh) does not repeal GIGO. Far from it. ML systems that operate on garbage data produce garbage predictive models, which produce garbage conclusions at vast scale, coated with a veneer of algorithmic objectivity facewash.
The scale and credeibility of ML-derived GIGO presents huge risks to our society in domains as varied as the credit system, criminal justice, hiring, education - even whether your kids will be taken away by Child Protective Services.
To make this all worse, the vast data-sets used to train ML systems are in scarce supply, which leads multiple ML models to be trained on the same data, enshrining the defects of that data in all kinds of systems.
One of the most significant training datasets is Imagenet, a collection of 14m labeled images that jumpstarted the ML revolution in 2012. As Will Knight writes for Wired, Imagenet’s labels came from low-waged, undersupervised workers.
Imagenet is one of the data-sets examined in new research from MIT’s Curtis Northcutt,, who found that Imagenet and other comparable datasets have a typical error rate of about 6%.
This small margin of error has big consequences: first, because the errors aren’t evenly distributed, and instead cluster around the kinds of biases that labelers have (for example, labeling images of woman medical professionals with “nurse” and men with “doctor”).
And second, because the incorrect labels obscure relative performance differences between models. When one model does better than another, you can’t know if that’s because it is a better model, or because it’s less sensitive to incorrect labels.
Image: Seydelmann (modified)