Tweets for October 20th 2013
If you are in for the high jump, either jump higher than any one else, or manage somehow to pretend that you have done so. If you want to succeed at whist, either be a good whist-player, or play with marked cards. You may want a book about jumping; you may want a book about whist; you may want a book about cheating at whist. But you cannot want a book about Success.
Kottke is right to point out Chesterton wrote the last time social class inequality was as high as it is today. Like then, nowadays there’s a flood of literature about Attaining Success (a.k.a. Entrepreneurship), books but also blogs, podcasts both daily and weekly in audio and video formats, along with the acompanying conferences, workshops, incubators, seminars, meetings, camps, reality television and the odd TED talk, in both ‘real TED’ and totally unaccountable (eg. TEDx) versions. The artistic-minded can also expect a similar plethora of writings and speeches about Creativity. Success does seem to belong to the quacks writing about it, most of whom aren’t as articulate as a Malcolm Gladwell and provide nothing better than garden-variety homeopathy evangelists.
At any rate, literature about Success (and Creativity) does provide one with a good heuristic on spotting a phony. Just look at his or hers’ bookshelf or browsing/sharing preferences. As Chesterton points out, a lack of ‘technical’ literature (on the game of whist, on design, on computer programming, on writing, &etc.) is the mark of the mediocre.
Tweets for August 22nd 2013
Ethics and Power in the Long War – Eleanor Saitta (Dymaxion) | NoisySquare Blog https://noisysquare.com/ethics-and-power-in-the-long-war-eleanor-saitta-dymaxion/ Instapaper Aug 22nd, 7pm
Tweets for August 19th 2013
Tweets for March 28th 2013
Many think technology is what is reshaping society. I think it is class struggle — business.time.com/2013/03/25/marxs-revenge-how-class-strug... #the_long_depression Mar 28th, 2am
Pyramid schemes are so 2000s, but The Verge's investigation on Herbalife is worth reading — www.theverge.com/2013/3/27/4099100/income-at-home-herbalif... #crime #business Mar 28th, 2am
“Occupy Es.col.a — You Can’t Evict an Idea” by Gui Castro Felga.
Today is a bad day to be a citizen of Porto. Heavily armed police forces forcefully evicted Es.col.a (‘School’), a previously abandoned and derelict midtown elementary school that for the last year has been successfully occupied and served as an impromptu community center for the Fontinha neighbourhood, in an old and impoverished part of Porto. Truth be told, I only visited once, and ended up spending a pleasant afternoon in the schoolyard, helping with the sorting and testing of old computers that had been donated, so that a public computer center could be set up. I did enjoy thinking such a thing could exist and work out.
City officials, of course, always maintained such an occupation was illegal, even going as far as making the absurd claim the school was “private City property”. In fact, the legality of the occupation is highly contentious, as it is public property (so it’s not the same as occupying one’s house, at all), and what’s intolerable is City Hall’s claim, which is, in my humble opinion, such a serious misinterpretation of what ‘City property’ means that it should be grounds for immediate resignation (if our beancounter of a president Rui Rio and their lot had any shame, that is). The truth is, City Hall — for eleven years in the hands of right-wing conservatives — just can’t allow a successful community occupation to exist. They just couldn’t handle the recent good press about Es.col.a, as the whole concept of communities making stuff is against the Coalition’s political dogma. They’ll rather leave the School unoccupied and falling to pieces for decades — something certainy speeded up by today’s wanton destruction perpertrated by the police and city firemen (a flourish of Farenheit 451 WTF-ness). Or perhaps they’ll open it once a year, allowing Time Out Magazine or some other brand to throw a lavish party there without having to clean up afterwards — and for that, there will be talk of ‘innovation’ and ‘entrepeneurship’, the same vocabulary so throughly denied whenever poorer people are in charge.
In a decent democracy, City Hall, Police and Fire Brigade officials would resign or be impeached because of their willing destruction of public property. In a liberal kleptocracy, empoverished people who see their safety nets sacrificed every day in the altars of Free Market just try to set themselves on fire.
The Rise of the Privileged Poor. It’s easy to dismiss some guy on TV complaining about being poor because he lives on a PhD grant as a pretentious, insensitive ignoramus (the powers know well who to pick to be on the news). Still, one can’t ignore the mental, emotional toll of perceived poverty — people get sick, shy away from relationships, postpone raising a family, in a word: people are hurting. Some should mind their complaints and how they might come across to others (there are certainly some to whom the ‘privileged poor’ sound as monstrous as the ultra-rich complaining about infinitesimal amounts of tax), but that doesn’t mean many complaints are any less real or legitimate. Those who tell the poor (either the ‘privileged’ with their Media Studies degrees, or the proletarian with family histories of unemployment and industrial decay) that they did this to themselves via lack of willpower and poor life choices (eg. ‘following their dreams’) are either deluded into thinking they actually achieved something for themselves alone, or are mechanized monsters who fail to appreciate their luck. ···
Peter Norvig on learning to program — in ten years. Expertise takes time, which is why it is unfortunate that time to develop expertise is so thoroughly unprotected in academia here (the mission of which should be precisely the opposite), as grad students often must go from zero to SWOT analyses and business plans in a semester. Everybody wants geniuses, nobody wants to ‘grow’ them, and then they’ll blame you for not being one (see above). ···
A transcript of a talk in which Clay Shirky explains why groups are their own worst enemies. Worth a read as Shirky deftly demonstrates groups can’t survive long without a set of regulations and moderation. ···
A Slate article about the sudden internet-disappearance of the programmer just known as _why. After the article mentions _why’s handle might be an Ayn Rand reference, it’s tempting to speculate his exile was an attempt to act the libertarian fantasy of letting the world going to hell after the ‘geniuses’ leave (or a critique thereof, I’d rather think). The results couldn’t have been more endearing, though: the Ruby developers’ community is fine, and _why’s multiple projects have been restored, debugged and made better. (Despite only having a very rudimentary knowledge of Ruby, I’ve recommended _why’s whimsical work here in the past, eg. Shoes, which seems like a good and fun GUI toolkit to dive into). ···
David Bordwell on ‘Pandora’s digital box’ and the sobering reality of digital preservation. ···
London’s Overthrow by China Miéville. A sprawling essay about the London zeitgeist, and the ongoing apocalypse of its citizens not being able to afford it. Parts of the essay can surely be applied to other cities. ···
High-definition video files of stock 35mm footage. Might come very handy for some projects. ···
Metafilter’s Year in Writing has given me much to read in the past and coming weeks… ···
Our Unpaid, Shadow Work: you know that last time you bought a ticket online? Or yesterday when you filled your car with gasoline yourself? Or when you went to the supermarket and scanned your own groceries’ barcodes? You are doing someone else’s job, for free. Sure, you get cheaper tickets, gasoline or groceries because of that (do you really?), but that’s no way to run a proper economy. ···
Makimizing shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. This is a headline on Forbes!, not The Communist Workers’ Union Monthly or something like that. ···
Two interesting articles about fighting cognitive biases and other kinds of self-delusion: Steven Pinker would ban the idealization of the past if he happened to rule the world, while Freeman Dyson reviews Daniel Kahneman’s statistical approach to psychology. ···
Umberto Eco’s guide to identifying fascists, written in 1995, makes the future look rather bleak. ···
Roger Ebert tells us why movie revenue is falling. I’d say what’s surprising is that movie revenue is holding so well, at least here in Portugal. Mini-rant: Even though I’m rather able to concentrate when I go to the movies and cope rather well with other patrons’ poor civics, I find it anoying that going to the movies means quite often driving to a shopping mall in the suburbs, eating overpriced mall food, standing in line for too long to buy tickets, etecetra, the alternative being a couple of inner-city theatres that offer nothing else but waiting out in the cold, or an extremely overpriced and unconfortable bar. Please make the theatres places where people would actually enjoy hanging out, else they’ll be downloading movies off the internet and watching them at home — not because it’s cheaper but because it is better. ···
Peyton’s Place: An interesting essay about what it’s like to lend one’s house to a TV series’ production. It didn’t go well. ···
KidsRuby seems like an interesting tool to teach programming. And not just to kids. Similar tools using Ruby (which, from my very shallow knowledge of it, really seems the general-purpose language with the simplest syntax) include Hackety Hack and the very cool Shoes. ···
The Internet as Hyperbole — A Critical Exhamination of Adoption Rates by Gisle Hannemyr is a paper with compelling arguments against the popular perception that people adopted the Internet much faster than other new communication technologies such as radio or television. The demonstration much ICT policy is based on a meme-ified anedocte makes this a compelling read. ···
Charlie Stross writes about the existential quagmire of the ultra-rich, the ways most of us are richer than the ultra-rich of past generations, and the ways the ultra-rich are not rich at all. ···
George Monbiot on how the elites became destroyers of wealth. Much is made clear by xkcd’s crushing, epic Money infographic. ···
A short guide to lazy EU journalism. Granted, as even though I consider myself a literate European I do have a lot of trouble understanding how the EU institutions work. These lazy journalists won’t help. Please do your job already! ···
It appears a Russian filmmaker called Ilya Khrzhanovsky took over a large part from the Ukrainian city of Kharkov and turned it into a 24/7 film set. And that has been going on for five years. Almost resembles a real-life Synecdoche, New York. ···
Stu Maschwitz’s totally inconclusive guide to choosing a pro video camera. We live in a glorious era of wonderful and affordable imaging technology, but in a depressing age of nitpicky trade-offs and difficult choices. ···