Bookmarked Visual guide: how Australia’s bushfires are raging across the country (the Guardian)

Bushfires have swept large parts of Australia since October, leaving more than 20 people dead, destroying thousands of homes and devastating wildlife

Niko Kommenda and Josh Holder provide a number of visuals as context for the current Australian bushfire crisis. This includes fires detected in Australia during December, the detection of fire in Australia’s south east over time, the unprecedented levels of pollution in Canberra, and Australia’s average temperature over time.
Bookmarked New Zealand schools to teach students about climate crisis, activism and ‘eco anxiety’ (the Guardian)

While the Paris climate agreement, signed in 2015, urges signatory countries to implement climate education, many countries who made the pledge have not fulfilled it, including New Zealand’s nearest neighbour Australia, according to the science publication The Conversation.

Charlotte Graham-McLay discusses the new curriculum provided to schools in New Zealand to confront eco-anxiety.

The curriculum will put New Zealand at the forefront of climate change education worldwide; governments in neighbouring Australia and the United Kingdom have both faced criticism for lack of cohesive teaching on the climate crisis. The New Zealand scheme, which will be offered to all schools that teach 11 to 15 year-old students, will not be compulsory, the government said.

This is in contrast to the Australian government, which does not believe students should be involved in such debates. There have been various resources developed for schools, such as CSIRO’s Sustainable Futures, Cool Australia, Future Earth, the Climate Reality Project, Climate Watch and Scootle. However, on a whole schools are left to themselves.

Liked I tried to warn Scott Morrison about the bushfire disaster. Adapting to climate change isn’t enough | Greg Mullins (the Guardian)

The established trend of dryness, hotter temperatures, extreme weather and lengthening fire seasons is unfortunately our “new normal”. Scott Morrison didn’t give us an opportunity to explain to him Tasmania’s increasing frequency of fire seasons, the two-month lengthening of NSW fire seasons, how Queensland is now a “bushfire state”, the now common dry lightning storms (no, not all fires are caused by arsonists), the critically dry fuels after a 20-year drying trend restricting hazard reduction (no, not caused by greenies stopping “backburning”), fires creating their own weather (pyro-convective activity), and how these factors and others, driven by climate change, have made Australia more dangerous.

Liked Now that climate change is irrefutable, denialists like Andrew Bolt insist it will be good for us | Van Badham (the Guardian)

The ideological resistance among conservatives to address the source of climate crisis is so powerful, so historically entrenched, that flames literally surround the city in which the conservative Australian prime minister himself has announced that “resilience and adaptation” amid the fires will substitute for climate mitigation, prevention, action to make them stop. On cue, the megaphones insist this nightmare will be good for us.

Bookmarked Behind the smokescreen, the Coalition’s stance on climate change hasn’t changed | Greg Jericho (the Guardian)

If Scotty from Marketing and his coal-fired peers really believed in the climate crisis, they’d be doing something about it

Greg Jericho explains that,

Just because we all desire the Coalition to do something on climate change doesn’t actually mean they will.

He suggests that although the government may have changed its ‘position’ on climate change, the language is still the same as that used by Tony Abbott in 2015.

In a seperate article, Jericho states,

And so we enter the next stage of climate change politics – a subtle and sinister shift – the talk will be about practical measures of adaptation rather than of reducing emissions: gone will be direct action, in its place will be “direct adaptation”.

It is a stage that, if successful, will signal the end for our planet.

Liked The Domino’s ‘pizza checker’ is just the beginning – workplace surveillance is coming for you | Arwa Mahdawi (the Guardian)

Many of us are resigned to – and perhaps even fine with – the idea that our employer can scan our emails or keep track of how much time we waste on social media. But we are entering a new world of workplace surveillance in which we are watched 24/7 and every move is scrutinised. And things are only going to get more intrusive as corporations treat us less like human beings and more like machines. Last year, for example, Amazon patented an “ultrasonic bracelet” to be worn by workers to “monitor performance of assigned tasks”. Meanwhile, companies are implanting chips under workers’ skin and China is monitoring employees’ brain waves. It won’t be long until we have all been implanted with chips that keep track of our productivity and trigger a self-combustion protocol when we are no longer deemed useful to our AI overlords. But, hey, while the future may look bleak, at least there is consistently prepared pizza to look forward to.

Liked The USA is imprisoning people it finds undesirable. Australia has already lived this nightmare | Jason Wilson (the Guardian)

As white settler cultures, Australia and the United States share many things. And one is a long history of confining and concentrating people that the settler population determines to be undesirable. In both countries, genocidal hot wars against native populations petered out into a practice dumping remnant indigenous people into reservations or missions.

Listened How worried should we be about Huawei? – podcast from the Guardian

Guardian reporters Rupert Neate, Alex Hern and Tania Branigan discuss the company at the heart of a diplomatic tussle. Plus, David Kogan argues Labour needs clarity on Brexit to have a chance of winning power

This discussion continues the conversation around Huawei, 5G and the future of technology.

Liked The Guardian’s nifty old-article trick is a reminder of how news organizations can use metadata to limit misinformation (Nieman Lab)

If we know lots of people on social will only glance at our headlines and not tap through, why can’t we bring better information to them where they are?

Bookmarked The Aldi effect: how one discount supermarket transformed the way Britain shops (the Guardian)

The long read: When Aldi arrived in Britain, Tesco and Sainsbury’s were sure they had nothing to worry about. Three decades later, they know better

This long read documents the Aldi’s rise in Britain. It is interesting to compare this with the rise of Amazon. There is also an audio version of the article:

via Chris McLeod

Bookmarked Tasmania is burning. The climate disaster future has arrived while those in power laugh at us | Richard Flanagan (the Guardian)

Scott Morrison is trying to scare people about economic policy but seems blithely unaware people are already scared – about climate change

It feels like one of the dominant narratives about global warming is that the caps will rise and the sea levels will rise. However, what posts like this highlight is that it is all far more complicated.

Marginalia

What has become clear over these last four weeks across this vast, beautiful land of Australia is that a way of life is on the edge of vanishing. Australian summers, once a time of innocent pleasure, now are to be feared, to be anticipated not with joy but with dread, a time of discomfort, distress and, for some, fear that lasts not a day or a night but weeks and months. Power grids collapse, dying rivers vomit huge fish kills, while in the north, in Townsville, there are unprecedented floods, and in the south heat so extreme it pushes at the very edge of liveability has become everyday.

Climate change isn’t just happening. It’s happening far quicker than has been predicted. Each careful scientific prediction is rapidly overtaken by the horror of profound natural changes that seem to be accelerating, with old predictions routinely outdone by the worsening reality – hotter, colder, wetter, drier, windier, wilder, and ever more destructive.

Bookmarked ‘A wall built to keep people out’: the cruel, bureaucratic maze of children’s services by Jake Anderson (the Guardian)

In a system cut to the bone, gaining access to the support we had been promised for our daughter’s special educational needs was an exhausting, soul-sapping battle.

Jake Anderson recounts the journey associated with gaining support for their daughter, who has ASD. He discusses some of the stresses:

At the end of a day in this terrifying place, Alice got home hyperactive, angry and frustrated. In addition to the head tics, she now suffered from severe stomach pains and dizziness. Her disquiet would peak before bed. Aged 13, she still needed one of us to lie with her, soothing and calming her, before she eventually dropped off (also aided by melatonin).

One of the things that stood out was the blur between private and public connected with the privatization of government contracts:

Following an assessment in November 2013, we received a letter from Virgin Care. We found it baffling. It read: “As Alice’s language skills are delayed but in line with each other, her needs can be best met within the school environment and her case is now closed.”

My wife attempted to translate for me: Alice was significantly behind in her cognitive development. Not only did this diagnosis feel incorrect, but also, for reasons that were never fully explained, it absolved Virgin Care of any duty of care and handed the responsibility over to Alice’s school. This seemed utterly ridiculous, not least because the letter then detailed all the specialist strategies that Alice’s teaching assistant was obliged to deliver.

Liked ‘We believed we could remake ourselves any way we liked’: how the 1990s shaped #MeToo – podcast by Eve Fairbanks;Simon Barnard (the Guardian)

While promising liberation and endless possibility, the culture of the decade drove us relentlessly in pursuit of perfection

Eve Fairbanks’ reflection on the creation of the MeToo movement reminds me of Molly Ringwald’s look back at the art of John Hughes.

Read the text version here.

Bookmarked Doctor, I think I have GDPR fatigue: Chips with Everything podcast by Jordan Erica Webber;Danielle Stephens (the Guardian)

The General Data Protection Regulation is coming into force.

These tougher rules on data protection were approved by the EU Parliament in April 2016, but a lot of us didn’t hear about them back then. Perhaps you first heard GDPR mentioned in discussions about recent controversies to do with the questionable use of people’s data.

Or maybe it was when you started receiving a deluge emails.

But what is GDPR, and why should we care about it? And could these new regulations impact our health? What happens with our medical data now?

To help answer these questions, Jordan Erica Webber is joined by the Guardian’s technology reporter, Alex Hern, and Dr Rachel Birch of the Medical Protection Society.

This episode of the Chips with Everything podcast provides a useful starting point for all things GDPR, especially in regards to the health sector.
Liked Five things we learned from Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook hearing by Alex Hern (the Guardian)

By the end of the second hearing, we had learned the areas Facebook wanted to avoid. Questions about its profiling prowess, for instance, were generally answered through misdirection. Asked who owns “the virtual you”, Zuckerberg’s favoured response was to note that you own all the “content” you upload, and can delete it at will. That does not answer the question, of course: the advertising profile that Facebook builds up about you cannot be deleted, and you have no control over it.

Listened Why I’m suing over my dream internship – podcast by Amalia Illgner;Simon Barnard from the Guardian

… winning not by being better, but by rigging the competition in your favour. Erecting economic barriers to employment via the high cost of taking an internship is just one more way to reserve the highest-status jobs for the elite.

Listened Why Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse in New Zealand – podcast by Mark O’Connell;Andrew McGregor;Simon Barnard from the Guardian

How an extreme libertarian tract predicting the collapse of liberal democracies – written by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s father – inspired the likes of Peter Thiel to buy up property across the Pacific


A text version can be found here.

Listened Inside the OED: can the world’s biggest dictionary survive the internet? – podcast by Andrew Dickson;Andrew McGregor;Simon Barnard from the Guardian

For centuries, lexicographers have attempted to capture the entire English language. Technology might soon turn this dream into reality – but will it spell the end for dictionaries?

This is an intriguing insight into the effort to organise language. It is interesting to think about this exercise in regards to Google Books and machine learning. I feel that this is as much about world views and perspective.

The text version can be found here.