Shrodinger’s Cat


A refresher: “Schrödinger’s cat is a famous hypothetical experiment designed to point out a flaw in the Copenhagen interpretation of superposition as it applies to quantum theory. … According to quantum law under the Copenhagen interpretation, the cat will be both dead and alive until someone looks in the box.”

Not to be confused with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle which states that it is impossible to know simultaneously the exact position and momentum of a particle. That is, the more exactly the position is determined, the less known the momentum, and vice versa.

What’s the story with CBD?

The Sad News About CBD Cupcakes
Cannabidiol-infused foods won’t get you high, probably won’t cure your anxiety, and are very likely illegal. On the plus side, they still taste good.

via The Atlantic by Amand Mull – Jan. 15, 2019

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As I stood at the window of a Weed World Candies truck on Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue last week, a gray-haired man I didn’t know tapped me on my shoulder. “It doesn’t work,” he said, motioning at the truck, which sells candies laced with cannabis- or a hemp-derived compound called cannabidiol.

“I didn’t ask you,” I responded, turning back to the window. “It doesn’t work,” he reiterated, louder, as though it was easier to believe that he had been misheard rather than dismissed.

We went back and forth like that for several rounds, yelling at each other in 30-degree weather in front of an RV wrapped in marijuana-leaf graphics and blasting Bob Marley music. Finally, he stopped trying to enlighten me and shuffled off to let me buy my lollies in peace. As I tore into my new treats, I realized the whole thing had been a scene from the internet’s dominant cannabidiol discourse come to life: Some money had been spent and some opinions had been said, but no one had gained any information.

Cannabidiol—more commonly abbreviated as CBD—isn’t psychoactive and, apparently to the man’s disappointment, won’t get you high. Instead, many people report that consuming it makes them feel less anxious, helps them sleep, or eases joint pain. Over the past two years, CBD in the form of oils and supplements has become widely distributed across the United States, even in places with no level of cannabis legalization. Now the trend’s new frontier is food. My first clue that it had hit some kind of critical mass was seeing a local restaurant put a sign out front announcing the debut of CBD empanadas. From design-oriented Instagram seltzer to your local pizza place, brands and restaurants want you to order some CBD and eat your feelings.
Continue reading What’s the story with CBD?

How to steal $35 billion…

CFPB Report: Typical Overdraft Situation Is Comparable To Small-Dollar Loan With 17,000% Interest Rate

If you’re one of the hundreds of millions of consumers who use a debit card you’ve likely found yourself on the receiving end of an overdraft fee when your account balance just wasn’t quite enough to make a desired purchase. While consumers might not necessarily question the occasional overdraft fee, a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau puts the fees into a disconcerting perspective.

According to the report [PDF], a majority of the $32 billion in annual debit card overdraft fees are incurred for transactions of $24 or less, and the majority of those overdrafts are repaid in three days. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Wrong. The CFPB did the math and if a consumer borrowed $24 for three days and paid the average overdraft fee of $34, that would mean their “loan” comes with an interest rate of 17,000%.

That seems outrageous. But we’re not done. Consider the fact that consumers are twice as likely to use their debit cards as their credit cards and that the average debit card holder uses their card 17 times each month, giving ample opportunity to run up those overdraft fees.

In fact, the report found that more than half of consumer checking account income is from overdraft fees – often the costliest of all banking fees. That’s a problem the CFPB is looking to tackle as it works on creating necessary consumer protections for overdraft and related services.

“Overdraft fees should not be ‘gotchas’ when people use their debit cards,” CFPB director Richard Cordray says. “We need to determine whether current overdraft practices are causing the kind of consumer harm that the federal consumer protection laws are designed to prevent.” Continue reading How to steal $35 billion…

No, it’s not just you that thinks of him that way

Halfway through Donald Trump’s term in the Oval Office, The Atlantic has cataloged 50 norm-shattering moments from his presidency, analyzed by 50 Atlantic writers and contributors. This project, titled Unthinkable, ranks the incidents—from the outlandish to the dangerous—that would have been considered improbable during any prior administration, of either party.

Below is an introduction from The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg.

In an October 2016 editorial, The Atlantic wrote of Donald Trump: “He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar.” We argued that Trump “expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself.” Trump, we also noted, “is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.”

In retrospect, we may be guilty of understatement.

There was a hope, in the bewildering days following the 2016 election, that the office would temper the man—that Trump, in short, would change.

He has not changed.

This week marks the midway point of Trump’s term. Like many Americans, we sometimes find the velocity of chaos unmanageable. We find it hard to believe, for example, that we are engaged in a serious debate about whether the president of the United States is a Russian-intelligence asset. So we decided to pause for a moment and analyze 50 of the most improbable, norm-bending, and destructive incidents of this presidency to date.

Our 2016 editorial was a repudiation of Donald Trump’s character as much as it was an endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. It was not meant to be partisan. The Atlantic’s founders promised their readers that we would be “of no party or clique.” This remains a core governing principle of the magazine today. What follows is a catalog of incidents, ranked—highly subjectively!—according to both their outlandishness and their importance. In most any previous presidency, Democratic or Republican, each moment on this list would have been unthinkable.


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Why do liberals think trump supporters are stupid

by Adam-Troy Castro

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Another anguished post from a Trump supporter: “Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?”

The serious answer.

Sigh; we do sometimes fall into that rhetorical trap, out of frustration, but if we were to be 100% honest with you we would admit that we find quite a few people on our own side stupid as well, mostly people who have boiled all the complicated issues into slogans and really don’t comprehend what they’re saying. I think you guys probably look at the dumber of your compatriots and think, “Jesus, this guy’s barely rubbing his brain cells together, but at least he can wave a sign.”

No, this is what we really think about Trump supporters, the rich, the poor, the malignant and the innocently well-meaning, the ones who think and the ones who don’t.

That when you saw a man who had owned a fraudulent University, intent on scamming poor people, you thought “Fine.”

That when you saw a man who had made it his business practice to stiff his creditors, you said, “Okay.”

That when you heard him proudly brag about his own history of sexual abuse, you said, “No problem.”

That when he made up stories about seeing Muslim-Americans in the thousands cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center, you said, “Not an issue.”

That when you saw him brag that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and you wouldn’t care, you chirped, “He sure knows me.”

That when you heard him illustrate his own character by telling that cute story about the elderly guest bleeding on the floor at his country club, the story about how he turned his back and how it was all an imposition on him, you said, “That’s cool!”

That when you saw him mock the disabled, you thought it was the funniest thing you ever saw.

That when you heard him brag that he doesn’t read books, you said, “Well, who has time?”

That when the Central Park Five were compensated as innocent men convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, and he angrily said that they should still be in prison, you said, “That makes sense.”

That when you heard him tell his supporters to beat up protesters and that he would hire attorneys, you thought, “Yes!”

That when you heard him tell one rally to confiscate a man’s coat before throwing him out into the freezing cold, you said, “What a great guy!”

That you have watched the parade of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with whom he curries favor, while refusing to condemn outright Nazis, and you have said, “Thumbs up!”

That you hear him unable to talk to foreign dignitaries without insulting their countries and demanding that they praise his electoral win, you said, “That’s the way I want my President to be.”

That you have watched him remove expertise from all layers of government in favor of people who make money off of eliminating protections in the industries they’re supposed to be regulating and you have said, “What a genius!”

That you have heard him continue to profit from his businesses, in part by leveraging his position as President, to the point of overcharging the Secret Service for space in the properties he owns, and you have said, “That’s smart!”

That you have heard him say that it was difficult to help Puerto Rico because it was the middle of water and you have said, “That makes sense.”

That you have seen him start fights with every country from Canada to New Zealand while praising Russia and quote, “falling in love” with the dictator of North Korea, and you have said, “That’s statesmanship!”

That you have witnessed all the thousand and one other manifestations of corruption and low moral character and outright animalistic rudeness and contempt for you, the working American voter, and you still show up grinning and wearing your MAGA hats and threatening to beat up anybody who says otherwise.

What you don’t get, Trump supporters in 2018, is that succumbing to frustration and thinking of you as stupid may be wrong and unhelpful, but it’s also…hear me…charitable.

Because if you’re NOT stupid, we must turn to other explanations, and most of them are *less* flattering.

More shitzle on Manafort & The Russian Connection

The new Russia revelations are more consequential than Trump’s newsless immigration speech

The spectacular rise and fall of Paul Manafort   by James Hohmann in the WaPo Daily 202 – Jan 9th, 2019

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THE BIG IDEA: President Trump showed last night why he waited two years to address the country from the Oval Office in prime time. The format doesn’t suit him. He feeds off the energy of crowds and excels at being improvisational. He sounded stilted as he squinted to read unmemorable remarks from a teleprompter. Sitting behind the Resolute Desk, boxed in by a tight camera shot, made him look smaller than he does when he stands behind a podium with the presidential seal, recorded by a wide-angle lens.

The former reality TV star, a consummate showman, didn’t convey his usual passion. This might be why he just didn’t seem that into it: “In an off-the-record lunch with television anchors hours before the address, he made clear in blunt terms that he was not inclined to give the speech or go to Texas [tomorrow], but was talked into it by advisers,” the New York Times’s Peter Baker reports. “‘It’s not going to change a damn thing, but I’m still doing it,’ Mr. Trump said of the border visit. … The trip was merely a photo opportunity, he said. ‘But,’ he added, gesturing at his communications aides Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, ‘these people behind you say it’s worth it.’”

Moreover, Trump made no real news from the bully pulpit. He did not declare a “national emergency,” something he continues to seriously consider, and he didn’t dangle any kind of deal that could get him his border wall in exchange for, say, protecting the “dreamers.” If anything, the Kabuki Theater only pushed the two parties further apart.

The more consequential story coming out of Tuesday was the result of a flub by Paul Manafort’s defense team. It accidentally revealed, because of botched redactions, that the former Trump campaign chairman allegedly shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence. Manafort’s attorneys were responding to allegations by special counsel Bob Mueller that the former Trump campaign chairman lied repeatedly to prosecutors after agreeing to cooperate. Continue reading More shitzle on Manafort & The Russian Connection

Danger to our democratic republic in Trump’s TV address: Jan 8th, 2019

Prior to the televised address:

An overview of the potential hazards of invoking a “National Emergency”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/07/us/politics/trump-national-emergency.html

 

An in-depth analysis of all the major abridgments to traditional law and practice which an NE would permit:

https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/emergency-powers

 

So what could go wrong?

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/national-emergency-trump-authoritarian-powers.html

 

Photo below is of the “Bonus Army” march on Washington, D.C. – Summer 1932 which has a relationship to the NE.

Following the address:

Trump attempted to make his case, but it came off poorly, he even had difficulty reading off a teleprompter! The only positive was he did not invoke a National Emergency, although he did hint that he was considering implementing it.

He tried to conflate “border security” with “border wall” attempting to assert they are one and the same, when it’s clear they are not. Then he got to the “emotional load” which has been used for decades in the “Law and Order” arguments, wherein he asks how listeners would react to a loved one being murdered by “an illegal alien”. He provided inaccurate and purposefully misleading numbers, and attempted to pin the blame for the shutdown on Democrats. He utterly failed to convince a  panel of child welfare professionals of any sincerity in his statements about being “one” with the concepts of humanitarian treatment of those seeking asylum. Instead, he tried to assert that all such individuals were drug dealers, murderers, rapists, (always with him is this interest), and those wanting to damage America. The worst part was the follow up on CBSN, where roughly 80% of surveyed Democrats say they are opposed to “the Wall”, and an equal percentage of Republicans support it. Clearly this polarization is exactly what our national adversaries are happy to see develop since it takes reason, utility, compromise, and collaboration off the table and replaces it with tribal instincts and extreme policies.

Researchers at public universities are developing new ways of shutting down our capacity for independent thought.

The Mind Hackers

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:02 AM PST by George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 31st December 2018

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To what extent do we decide? We tell ourselves we choose our own life course, but is this ever true? If you or I had lived 500 years ago, our worldview, and the decisions we made as a result, would have been utterly different. Our minds are shaped by our social environment, in particular, the belief systems projected by those in power: monarchs, aristocrats and theologians then; corporations, billionaires and the media today.

Humans, the supremely social mammals, are ethical and intellectual sponges. We unconsciously absorb, for good or ill, the influences that surround us. Indeed, the very notion that we might form our own minds is a received idea that would have been quite alien to most people five centuries ago. This is not to suggest we have no capacity for independent thought. But to exercise it, we must – consciously and with great effort – swim against the social current that sweeps us along, mostly without our knowledge.

Surely, though, even if we are broadly shaped by the social environment, we control the small decisions we make? Sometimes. Perhaps. But here too we are subject to constant influence, some of which we see, much of which we don’t. A major industry seeks to decide on our behalf. Its techniques become more sophisticated every year, drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology. It is called advertising.

Every month, new books on the subject are published with titles like “The Persuasion Code: how neuromarketing can help you persuade anyone, anywhere, anytime”. While many are doubtless overhyped, they describe a discipline that is rapidly closing in on our minds, making independent thought ever harder. More sophisticated advertising meshes with digital technologies designed to eliminate agency.

Earlier this year, the child psychologist Richard Freed explained how new psychological research has been used to develop social media, computer games and phones with genuinely addictive qualities. He quoted a technologist who boasts, with apparent justification, “We have the ability to twiddle some knobs in a machine learning dashboard we build, and around the world hundreds of thousands of people are going to quietly change their behavior in ways that, unbeknownst to them, feel second-nature but are really by design.”

The purpose of this brain hacking is to create more effective platforms for advertising. But the effort is wasted if we retain our ability to resist it. This is why Facebook, according to a leaked report it sent to an advertiser, developed tools to determine when teenagers using its network feel insecure, worthless or stressed. These appear to be the optimum moments for hitting them with a micro-targeted promotion. (Facebook denies that it offered “tools to target people based on their emotional state”.)

We can expect commercial enterprises to attempt whatever ruses they can pull off. It is up to society, represented by government, to stop them, through the kind of regulation that has so far been lacking. But what puzzles and disgusts me even more than this failure is the willingness of universities to host research that helps advertisers hack our minds. The Enlightenment ideal, which all universities claim to endorse, is that everyone should think for themselves. So why do they run departments in which researchers explore new means of blocking this capacity?

I ask because, while considering the frenzy of consumerism that rises beyond its usual planet-trashing levels at this time of year, I stumbled across a paper that astonished me. It was written by academics at public universities in the Netherlands and the US. Their purpose seemed to me starkly at odds with the public interest. They sought to identify “the different ways in which consumers resist advertising, and the tactics that can be used to counter or avoid such resistance.” Continue reading Researchers at public universities are developing new ways of shutting down our capacity for independent thought.

What do “mad hatters” and thermometers have in common?

History Of Mercury Use in Products and Processes

By Ellen Czaika and Bethanie Edwards

In preparing this blog post, we used information from Brooks’s 2012 chapter in Mercury in the Environment and Nriagu’s 1979 The Biogeochemistry of Mercury in the Environment, unless otherwise noted.

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As with most elements, there is a fixed amount of mercury on the planet. This mercury cycles through the deep earth, the atmosphere, the terrestrial reservoir, and various water bodies on timescales that vary from less than a year to tens of thousands of years. Toxicity aside, mercury has many chemical properties that make it useful to humans. Thus, there is evidence that mercury has been utilized throughout antiquity. A human skeleton dating from 5000BCE was found covered in Vermillion, also known as cinnabar (HgS). Another historic example of mercury use was found in a 15th century BCE Egyptian tomb ceremonial cup.

Humans have been mining mercury ore from the deep earth (the “lithosphere”) since at least the Roman times. The Romans operated a mercury mine in Spain with prisoner and slave labor. They used mercury as a pigment in their paint; mercury-containing paint has been found in Roman homes buried by the volcanic ash of Mount Vesuvius in 79CE. The use of mercury in paint has continued into the modern area, although in recent history, mercury was added as a fungicide rather than for its chromatic properties. It wasn’t until 1991 that the use of mercury in paint was phased out in the US. Continue reading What do “mad hatters” and thermometers have in common?

Protein Mania – a long read article

Why we can’t get enough when we already eat too much.

via The Guardian – by  – 

Are you getting enough protein? The question provides its own answer: if you are worrying about the amount of protein in your diet, then you are almost certainly eating more than enough. This is the paradox of our new protein obsession. For many people, protein has become a kind of secular unction: it instantly anoints any food with an aura of health and goodness. On the menu at the gym where I go, a salad niçoise is now repackaged as “high-protein tuna”. It comes without the usual capers or olives – those are items that merely add flavour, and who needs that?

On Pinterest, the lifestyle-sharing site, you can now choose “protein” as one of your interests in life, along with “cute animals” and “inspirational quotes”. In 2017, there were 64m Google searches for “protein”. Anxiety about protein is one of the things that drives a person to drink a flask of vitamin-padded beige slurry and call it lunch.

You merely need to visit a western supermarket today to see that many people regard protein as some kind of universal elixir – one food companies are profitably adding to anything they can. “When the Box Says ‘Protein’, Shoppers Say ‘I’ll take it’” was the headline of a 2013 article in the Wall Street Journal. In addition to the ubiquitous protein balls, protein bars and protein shakes, you can now buy protein noodles, protein bagels, protein cookies and – wait for it – protein coffee. Even foods that are naturally high in protein such as cheese and yoghurt are sold in protein-boosted versions. Strangest of all might be “protein water” – clear, fruit-flavoured drinks laced with whey protein, as if ordinary water was insufficiently healthy. Continue reading Protein Mania – a long read article

Ethics & SCOTUS?

On December 18, we found out. While much of the country was preoccupied with the government budget shutdown, the 10th Circuit Judicial Council quietly issued its non-verdict in the matter, announcing:

  • that the original roster of 15 complaints had swollen to 83 complaints;
  • that the ethics complaints against Kavanaugh were “serious”; but
  • that the 10th Circuit Judicial Council had no jurisdiction to rule on them; and
  • that the complainants had a brief period to request a review.

In effect, they said, back to you, Chief Justice Roberts: it’s your problem, not ours.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., administers the Oath to Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh Getty Images)GETTY

The Elaborate Dance Of Pass-The-Buck

Here is the sequence of moves to date, which resemble a dance routine in a Gilbert & Sullivan musical comedy,

  • Before and after Kavanaugh’s nomination hearings, complaints initially came to Chief Circuit Judge Merrick Garland. Garland recused himself in the matter, since he himself had been nominated for the Supreme Court by President Obama but was denied even consideration by the Senate for purely political reasons.
  • The complaints then passed to Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson of the DC Circuit, who concluded that more than a dozen of the complaints were substantive enough to warrant investigation and she referred them to Chief Justice Roberts.
  • Chief Justice Roberts waited until Kavanaugh had been confirmed by the Senate and then requested the 10th Circuit “to exercise the powers of a judicial council with respect to the identified complaints.
  • The Chief Judge of the 10th Circuit duly formed a Judicial Council which has now declared that it has no such powers. Although the complaints are “serious,” it has decided it has no jurisdiction to rule on them, on the grounds that Kavanaugh is no longer a judge covered by the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act.
  • The 83 complainants were given 42 days to appeal the ruling, i.e. until January 30, 2019.
  • As any appeal will be heard by the same Tenth Circuit that has already declined jurisdiction, there is little prospect of any change in its ruling.
  • The 83 ethics complaints against Kavanaugh will likely soon be back in the lap of Chief Justice Roberts for him to review, act on, or pretend that judicial misconduct never happened and hope that the smell goes away.

The 10th Circuit Judicial Council didn’t totally ignore substance. It stated the obvious with its finding that “the allegations contained in the complaints are serious.” Continue reading Ethics & SCOTUS?

Welcome to 2019, where one feels compelled to brag about being normal

On an empty seat

2018 – The Year in Review

Here’s a public copy of the online article from ‘The Atlantic’ Magazine titled: The Atlantic’s Year In Review

In the unlikely event the link no longer works, a copy has been retained here in Flexible Reality

We’ve been here before…

On Donald Trump and How We Got Here

“When I find myself in times of trouble, I’m less interested in Mother Mary’s wisdom than I am in Joe Hill’s: Don’t mourn; organize.

There’s a sense in which Trump’s election is a surprise, similar to how we somehow seem to be continually surprised when easily predictable negative consequences of this way of life come to pass. So we’re surprised when bathing the world in insecticides somehow causes crashes in insect populations, when covering the world in endocrine disrupters somehow leads to the disruption of endocrine systems, when damming and dewatering rivers somehow kills the rivers, when murdering oceans somehow murders oceans, when colonialism somehow destroys the lives of the colonized, when capitalism somehow destroys communities and the natural word, when rape culture somehow leads to rape, and so on. And we’re surprised when a racist, woman-hating culture elects a racist man who hates women.

But there are also many senses in which the rise of Trump or someone very like him was entirely predictable.

An empire in decay leads to a desperate push to the fore of values manifested by Trump: woman-hatred, racism, the scapegoating of those who impede empire, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to maintain that empire, to “make America [Greece, Rome, Britain, China] great again.”

When those who have been able to exploit others with impunity find their way of life (and more to the point, the exploitation and entitlement upon which their way of life is based) crumbling, what do they do?

We’ve seen this before. Why did lynchings of African-Americans go up soon after the Civil War and the end of chattel slavery? Why did the KKK rise again in the 1910s and 1920s? What is the relationship between Germany’s economic collapse in the 1920s and the rise of Nazi fascism?

Nietzsche provides one answer: “One does not hate when one can despise.”

So long as one’s exploitation of others proceeds relatively smoothly, one can merely despise those one exploits (despise, from the root de-specere, meaning to look down upon). So long as I have unfettered access to the lives and labor of, say, African-Americans, everything is, from my perspective, A-Okay. But impinge in any way on my ability to exploit, and watch the lynchings begin. The same is true for my access to other so-called resources as well, whether these “resources” are “timber resources,” “fisheries resources,” cheap plastic crap from China, or sexual and reproductive access to women. So long as the rhetoric of superiority works to maintain the entitlement, hatred and direct physical force remain underground. But when that rhetoric begins to fail, force and hatred waits in the wings, ready to explode. Continue reading We’ve been here before…

Considering the end…

“At this point in the murder of the planet, there is I think really only one question worth asking: is the world a better place because you were born, and because of your life and because of what you do? That is very possible to do. Think about it: how did the world get to be so glorious and beautiful and fecund in the first place? By everyone living and dying. Salmon make forests better places by living and dying. So do redwood trees and lampreys and banana slugs. That’s how life works. So, the question that the world needs for us to live is: especially given that this culture is killing the planet, how do we individually and collectively make the world a better place by our lives and deaths.”

Originally published at the DGR News Service

The Ooops Factor

Note on the ‘Ooops Factor’:

The Facilitator in Chief is making the perfidy of this process obvious. The clerk who -acccidentally- gives you change for $10 instead of the $20 you gave her, or the ‘open box’ item with the missing component being sold as new, or the defect covered over with a sales sticker, or the politician who soft-pedals his support for anti-social legislation with a wink and a smile to his donors. These are the everyday versions of the ‘Ooops factor’…but there are much larger, much more insidious examples elsewhere as seen in the article below.

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The Age of Ooops

by DERRICK JENSEN  in Orion Magazine –  Mar. 2011

FOR AT LEAST FIFTEEN YEARS, I’ve been publicly arguing that this culture is functionally, inherently, systematically unjust and unsustainable, and that while legislative approaches can slightly mitigate some of the injustices or unsustainability, these approaches will never be anywhere near sufficient. Well, I was wrong. I recently undertook a thought experiment in which I challenged myself to imagine a piece of legislation that would solve the injustices and unsustainability of this culture.

Maybe I should back up a little bit. A central problem of this culture is a near-total lack of accountability on the part of perpetrators of violence on every level, from domestic violence and rape (only 6 percent of rapists spend even one night in jail) to government-sponsored torture and war crimes to massive crimes against the environment. A not-very-funny riddle should make my point. Q: What do you get when you cross two nation states, a large corporation, forty tons of poison, and at least eight thousand dead human beings? A: Retirement with full pay and benefits (Warren Anderson, CEO of Union Carbide). I’m not the only person who has noticed that those who are destroying the planet almost never pay any real costs themselves. What happened to Tony Hayward, CEO of British Petroleum, who among others should be held accountable for the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill? He was released from his position with a $1.6 million severance payment, as well as an annual pension of about $1 million (he also holds several million shares of BP stock). While some daring souls have boldly asked whether it might be a teensy bit appropriate to, ahem, politely request an inquiry into whether this severance package should be reduced even the tiniest bit, I’ve not seen many public calls (though I’ve heard a lot of private calls) for Hayward’s head to be paraded around New Orleans on a pike.
Continue reading The Ooops Factor

Alexa built-in skills 2018

 60 Best Alexa Commands List That Will Make Your Life Easy
If the future is defined by the Internet-of-things, then Alexa is not far behind in being the torchbearer of AI powered technology that will make life worthwhile and comfy for everyone. To put things in perspective, Amazon famously made the claim that it sold “tens of millions” of Alexa-powered devices such as the Echo Dot and Echo Spot in 2017 itself. Amazon Echo and Echo Dot are Alexa-based smart home speakers that can do useful things aplenty for you within the confines of your home. But, do you know how to make them work? We are breaking down 60 of the best Alexa commands of 2018 that will come in handy for you in your everyday life: be it running errands or finding information on the internet.

best alexa commands

For starters, you can commence your Alexa experience by saying “Alexa, what can you do?” and learn more about your AI assistant’s enormous capabilities. But, for those of you new to the most popular AI assistant on the market, here’s the printable list of 60 best Alexa commands of 2018 that will make you the master of your Alexa smart home speakers a.k.a the Amazon Echo/Echo Dot devices.

So are you ready to summon Alexa? Let’s get started.

Continue reading Alexa built-in skills 2018

Musings on the power of naming

“And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”

~ William Shakespeare ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

 

‘Naming of Parts’  by Henry Reed

“Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.
Continue reading Musings on the power of naming

“you, your company, your group, or your whole country is now offline”

Someone is trying to take entire countries offline and cybersecurity experts say ‘it’s a matter of time because it’s really easy’

  • The West’s biggest security weakness is in the old electronics and sensors that control processes in infrastructure and industry.
  • It’s not that hard to take an entire country’s internet offline — it has already happened at least twice.
  • Hackers used to be most interested in stealing your credit card data. Now they’re looking to hobble major infrastructure like ports, power grids, and cities.
  • “The problem people don’t realize is it becomes a weapon of mass destruction. You can take down a whole country. It can be done,” a source tells Business Insider.
Gatwick Airport is Britain’s second busiest by passenger volume, and Europe’s eighth. And yet it was brought to a standstill for two days by two people and a single drone.

Its vulnerability reminded me of a conversation I had two years ago, at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon with cybersecurity investor Sergey Gribov of Flint Capital. He was talking up one of his investments, an industrial cybersecurity firm based in Israel called CyberX. Half-bored, I girded myself for his pitch. They usually go like this: “The internet is full of hackers! They want to steal your data and your money! If only companies used my company’s awesome product, we would all be safe!”

I have heard hundreds of pitches like this.

But my conversation with Gribov was different. It was … extreme. The criminals who break into the web sites of banks or chainstores and steal personal data or money are not the scariest people out there, he told me. The hackers we really ought to be worrying about are the ones trying take entire countries offline. People who are trying to take down the internet, switch the lights off, cut the water supply, disable railways, or blow up factories.

Continue reading “you, your company, your group, or your whole country is now offline”