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Findings from around the Internet.

 

“turn it right back on once the city truck is out of sight”

July 17, 2014

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There are so many comments to make on this situation, so many angles to point out: i.e., Wall Street bankrupted Detroit in the first place, water should be (and actually is) free, unemployment is epidemic, inflation is out of control thereby draining the money people might have otherwise used to pay their water bills, etc.

But that’s not what I want to get at in this post.   No, I simply want to tell the people of Detroit–and everywhere else this kind of BS happens–you don’t have to put up with this.  All it takes is a wrench.  In some cases, not even that.

Go out to the street, open up the cover to your water main, and turn your water back on.  A wrench actually isn’t even the best tool to do this–I only suggest it because it is the type of tool most people likely already have on hand and can be a workable solution with a little ingenuity.

Read More | “Detroit: Got a Wrench? Turn Your Water Back On” | Liberty Road Media

 

“alternatives to Facebook and Android should be thriving right now”

July 14, 2014

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The Tower of David (and most free software) is what Bruno Latour would call a “Theater of Proof,” something that makes a persuasive argument through example. Your argument doesn’t necessarily have to appeal directly to morals, ethics, or some other abstract principle; you get past the “shoulds” and instead proudly display the “what can bes” of the matter. It is a kind of pragmatic, brass tacks debating style that I have come to really admire as I pursue a social science Ph.D. at an engineering school. And I know this practice is a fairly popular among open source developers and engineers because Biella Coleman (who I believe is the first to apply Latour’s concept to these communities), Chris Kelty, and others have witnessed similar styles of argument in their own research. I also know, having read these authors, that F/OSS communities really don’t want to pledge allegiance to any kind of spot on the political spectrum. I understand the tactical and rhetorical reasons for acting apolitical, (Google wouldn’t make up 98% of Mozilla’s income if the latter was avowedly and loudly anti-capitalist) but none of those justifications make it true. Every time a Fortune 500 company updates to the new version of Apache, the open source community demonstrates its politics.

It isn’t enough to say that software is a tool, and you can’t help it if you make a really useful tool and a corporation uses it to make a profit. The average person doesn’t have a use for complicated backend server software. They do need a social media network that isn’t out to exploit them for profit. The failure of the F/OSS community to come out with a polished, user-friendly, and user-run social media network, while Facebook run’s on open source server software is confounding. This arrangement turns inexcusable when those same people demand that other’s learn to code if they want to take full advantage of what F/OSS has to offer. At the very least, F/OSS usability and popular technological literacy should meet halfway.

Read More | “Open (Source) for Business” | D. A. Banks | Cyborgology

 

“eliminate all reasons from a decision, scrubbing away any kind of unwanted influence”

July 14, 2014

 

Like other swidden farmers, the Kantu’ would establish new farming sites ever year in which to grow rice and other crops. Unlike most other swidden farmers, the Kantu’ choose where to place these fields through a ritualised form of birdwatching. They believe that certain species of bird – the Scarlet-rumped Trogon, the Rufous Piculet, and five others – are the sons-in-law of God. The appearances of these birds guide the affairs of human beings. So, in order to select a site for cultivation, a Kantu’ farmer would walk through the forest until he spotted the right combination of omen birds. And there he would clear a field and plant his crops.

Dove figured that the birds must be serving as some kind of ecological indicator. Perhaps they gravitated toward good soil, or smaller trees, or some other useful characteristic of a swidden site. After all, the Kantu’ had been using bird augury for generations, and they hadn’t starved yet. The birds, Dove assumed, had to be telling the Kantu’something about the land. But neither he, nor any other anthropologist, had any notion of what that something was.

He followed Kantu’ augurers. He watched omen birds. He measured the size of each household’s harvest. And he became more and more confused. Kantu’ augury is so intricate, so dependent on slight alterations and is-the-bird-to-my-left-or-my-right contingencies that Dove soon found there was no discernible correlation at all between Piculets and Trogons and the success of a Kantu’ crop. The augurers he was shadowing, Dove told me, ‘looked more and more like people who were rolling dice’.

Read More | “How to choose?” | Michael Schulson | Aeon 

 

“injecting a Silicon Valley executive with a lethal dose of heroin”

July 11, 2014

People at the Santa Cruz Harbor thought Hayes’ death was caused by a suicidal overdose until the details of this case emerged.

Sailing instructor Max Murray said Hayes’ yacht was “a really big, nice boat. It’s a nice power boat. It was a very nice power boat.”

People at the harbor only knew the owner of the luxury yacht, “The Escape,” died onboard from an overdose last November. However on Tuesday the real story emerged.

Santa Cruz Police Dep. Chief Steve Clark said, “We eventually uncovered the video that was available.”

Police say they watched surveillance video of Hayes, the former senior director of Apple’s worldwide operations, as he was injected with heroin supplied and administered by Tichleman.

Hayes was working on “Google X” at the time of his death. Police say Tichelman never tried to help him or call 911.

Read More | “Santa Cruz Police: High Tech Mogul Murdered by Prostitute” | Alan Wang | ABC 7 News 

 

“What’s funnier than $37,115 for potato salad?”

July 8, 2014

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Potato salad…is humor-shaped and perfectly optimized. If it was ever whimsical it isn’t anymore—there is too much money, too much potential, tied up with this salad. But this foundation of whimsy has created circumstances in which more capital is equated with more humor, which is too horrible an idea to even joke about: It is a transcendence that is out of our control, a villain, an invader, an awakening of The Old Ones, a Dire Event, or at least a Portent. What’s funnier than $37,115 for potato salad? $47,115 for potato salad, ha ha. What’s funnier than $47,115? $100,000. With every new dollar it feels more urgent to a viewer that he attach his name and his dollars to the thing, which is now obscured entirely by noise—a fee for ensuring that you’re in on the joke.

It’s an investment compulsion, and the investment is a scam. (It’s fun to imagine all business opportunities as jokes: They are temporary and dependent entirely on context; they are taken advantage of at the expense of someone or something that is often neither aware nor present; they are—necessarily?—cruel; they inspire the same embarrassing urge for inclusion, and the same shameful regret upon misapprehension or exclusion. Jokes! Look around you: Isn’t it nice, that it’s all just jokes?). If the campaign keeps going, some people may start to claim that, at some specific level of investment, the joke is no longer funny. It will be too much—the money could be better used on another campaign, or in another context entirely. This will be true but it will have always been true. None of these people will be able to explain to you what exactly changed.

Read More | “The Potato Salad Kickstarter is the Science Fiction Villain We Deserve” | John Herrman | The Awl