Liked Is society coming apart? (

Liberalism didn’t kill society. And conservatism didn’t kill society. Because society isn’t dead. But it is pallid and fretful, like a shut-in staring all day long at nothing but a screen, mistaking a mirror for a window. Inside, online, there is no society, only the simulation of it. But, outside, on the grass and the pavement, in the woods and on the streets, in playgrounds and schoolyards and ballparks, in council flats and shops and pubs and agricultural fairs and libraries and union halls, society hums along, if not with the deafening thrum of a steam-driven machine, then with the hand-oiled, creaking clatter of an antwacky wooden loom.

Bookmarked The COVID ‘reset’: how the pandemic has changed society by Jewel Topsfield (The Age)

From work and play to our mental health and growing sense of community, the coronavirus crisis has brought huge changes to the way we live.

Jewel Topfield looks at some of the changes to Melbourne forced by the pandemic. This includes a move to work at home, an increase in workplace surveillance, rise of the gig economy, changes in retail, death of the five-day office commute, move towards a cashless society and an increase in the importance of community.
Liked The Life in The Simpsons Is No Longer Attainable by Dani Alexis Ryskamp (

For many, a life of constant economic uncertainty—in which some of us are one emergency away from losing everything, no matter how much we work—is normal. Second jobs are no longer for extra cash; they are for survival. It wasn’t always this way. When The Simpsons first aired, few would have predicted that Americans would eventually find the family’s life out of reach. But for too many of us now, it is.

Liked The companies that help people vanish (

Each year, some choose to ‘disappear’ and abandon their lives, jobs, homes and families. In Japan, there are companies that can help those looking to escape into thin air.

TThis piece is based on a BBC Reel video produced by Andreas Hartman, and is a text reversion of a radio piece for the Rulebreakers series from BBC World Service in collaboration with the Sundance Institute. Adapted by Bryan Lufkin.
Replied to Escape Pods by wiobyrne (

This piece by Douglas Rushkoff is a followup to “Survival of the Richest,” a report about how the wealthy plot to leave us behind after an apocalyptic event.

Ian, in regards to the rich and their escape pods, I recommend reading (or listening to) Cory Doctorow’s story The Masque of the Red Death from his book Radicalized.
Liked Absurdities of Now, Visions of “Better” (Medium)

When I teach my students that I expect them to be respectful of each other and to demonstrate kindness, but I also have to model it for it to have any real effect. Think about how that matches up with the messages children receive with our increasingly routine lockdown drills. Pat has words for this, too:

They [lockdown drills and attendant services] are also an educational enterprise in their own right, a sort of pedagogical initiation into what is normal and to be expected. Very literally, Americans teach their children to understand the intrusion of rampaging killers with assault rifles as a random force of nature analogous to a fire or an earthquake.

Listened El Chapo: what the rise and fall of the kingpin reveals about the war on drugs – podcast from the Guardian

As the capture and conviction of Mexico’s notorious drug lord has shown, taking down the boss doesn’t mean taking down the organisation

Bookmarked With Apologies to Orwell, We’ve Gone Way Past 1984 (Literary Hub)

Social media made this process all too easy as it became the primary news source for millions of Americans while lacking the editorial oversight of traditional media. Responding to criticism in 2017, Facebook’s chief of security, Alex Stamos, pointed out that using the blunt instrument of machine learning to eliminate fake news could turn the platform into “the Ministry of Truth with ML systems,” but by failing to act in time, Facebook was already allowing bad actors such as the Internet Research Agency to spread disinformation unchecked. The problem is likely to get worse. The growth of “deepfake” image synthesis, which combines computer graphics and artificial intelligence to manufacture images whose artificiality can only be identified by expert analysis, has the potential to create a paranoid labyrinth in which, according to the viewer’s bias, fake images will pass as real while real ones are dismissed as fake. With image synthesis, Winston’s fictional Comrade Ogilvy could be made to walk and talk while the crucial photograph of Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford could be shrugged off as a hoax. There is no technological remedy; the bug resides in human nature.

Excerpted from Dorian Lynskey’s book The Ministry of Truth, in which he argues that we have gone past George Orwell’s dystopia in 1984.
Liked The Sweetgreen-ification of Society (

We are losing the spaces we share across socioeconomic strata. Slowly, but surely, we are building the means for an everyday urbanite to exist solely in their physical and digital class lanes. It used to be the rich, and then everyone else. Now in every realm of daily consumer life, we are able to efficiently separate ourselves into a publicly visible delineation of who belongs where.

We lost the lunch line. We lost the coffee cart. We’re losing the commute. Innovation has bestowed upon us an entire homescreen worth of transportation options that allow us to congest the roads and never brush elbows with those taking the subway. Meanwhile, the crumbling of the subways aren’t felt by an ever growing number of the somewhat well-to-do.

Bookmarked Would an AFL ‘Boo Ban’ stop punters jeering the likes of Gary Ablett and Scott Pendlebury? (ABC News)

The AFL is considering implementing a Boo Ban which, given the game’s recent history, comes across as absurd, writes Richard Hinds.

I find this interesting. Although I do not boo and never have, I think that it is a part of who we are. It reminds me of the Two Minutes of Hate in Orwell’s 1984:

The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.

If it is not sport, then it will be something else. Banning misses the bigger picture in my opinion.

Liked Reaction of the rich to the Notre Dame fire teaches us a lot about the world we live in | (

If two men in a world of more than 7 billion people can provide €300million to restore Notre Dame, within six hours, then there is enough money in the world to feed every mouth, shelter every family and educate every child. The failure to do so is a matter of will, and a matter of system.

via Kottke
Bookmarked I dare you to read this and still feel good about tipping (Washington Post)

If you knew the history of tipping, you’d never see it the same way again.

Roberto Ferdman and Saru Jayaraman discuss tipping and its origins. Jayaraman discusses the two dollar hourly rate that waiters are often paid, how there is a confusion for who they are working for and the association with slavery. This practice is so deeply rooted as was demonstrated in a post from Jason Kottke.


Our research shows that all of that sexual harassment—from customers, coworkers, and management—can be traced back to this whole culture of forcing women to make their income based on pleasing the customer. To me it’s all summed up by this one quote from Texas, where they earn $2.13 an hour before tips. This waitress was speaking at a Senate press conference, and she said: ‘Senators, what would it be like for you if your income depended on the happiness of the people you serve? Because my income depends on the people I serve, I have to put up with a guy groping by butt every day so I can feed my four year old son every day.’

via Daniel Goldsmith

Bookmarked What’s in a Girl? (Meanjin)

The Young-Girl is an empty vessel. And this is because—like Temple, like Drouet, like Shields, like Pecola—she does not exist for herself: she exists only for the pleasure of others in society, for the impossible example she sets for flesh-and-blood girls. Her existence is only to embody the meanings—always in service of another’s ends—with which she will be imbued.

Kali Myers explores the construction of the girl.


The Young-Girl is a social category created through film, television, media, magazines, the social imaginary, the arts and literature. This social category is at once ephemeral and the standard by which all flesh-and-blood girls are measured. The category ‘girl’ did not exist before the eighteenth century.

In Tiqqun’s terminology, then, the Young-Girl is an |absolute|, a tautology. Consumed because she has value, imbued with value because she is consumed; desirable because she is frivolous, frivolous because she is desirable. Like a snake eating its tail, the Young-Girl co-habits with her image, which is the only thing she has to offer either herself or society. Created out of her consumption, the Young-Girl is at once incredibly powerful and incredibly weak. She seduces by consuming. And the victims of this seduction are the flesh-and-blood girls encouraged to re-create themselves in her image.

In 2015 Melbourne-based toy maker Moose Toys created a new product called Shopkins. That same year Shopkins were named Girls’ Toy of the Year by the US Toy Industry Association. Their success led to CEO Manny Stul being inducted into the Australian Toy Association Hall of Fame in 2017. Shopkins are tiny anthropomorphised groceries sold as collectable items in bright coloured packaging covered in bubble letters. Each character has a name and a story, fleshed out through an online portal featuring games, colouring-in sheets, interactive activities and a web-based animation series. The Shopkins world is rounded out with trading cards, clothing lines and even a newly launched live-show extravaganza—all celebrating the notion and act of shopping. Alliteratively named, generally gendered feminine and absolutely adorable, Claudia Cake, Molly Mop, Bettina Bag and friends are just so excited to teach you all about consumerism!

We’ve seen how the notion of the Young-Girl as assemblage created from various narratives and representations has become pervasive. We’ve also seen how the Young-Girl’s synonymy with consumer culture leads to her replication regardless of where she is in the world. Now we must acknowledge how that representation edges out others who cannot see themselves reflected in her radiant image.

The Young-Girl is an empty vessel. And this is because—like Temple, like Drouet, like Shields, like Pecola—she does not exist for herself: she exists only for the pleasure of others in society, for the impossible example she sets for flesh-and-blood girls. Her existence is only to embody the meanings—always in service of another’s ends—with which she will be imbued.

Bookmarked We’re in a new age of obesity. How did it happen? You’d be surprised | George Monbiot by George Monbiot (the Guardian)

It’s not that we’re eating more, that we exercise less, or that we lack willpower. The shaming of overweight people has to stop, says Guardian columnist George Monbiot

George Monbiot explains that the reasons given for our current increase in obesity are often wrong. Rather than issues over portions or exercise, the real issue are the increase of diary and sugary foods in our diet:

So what has happened? The light begins to dawn when you look at the nutrition figures in more detail. Yes, we ate more in 1976, but differently. Today, we buy half as much fresh milk per person, but five times more yoghurt, three times more ice cream and – wait for it – 39 times as many dairy desserts. We buy half as many eggs as in 1976, but a third more breakfast cereals and twice the cereal snacks; half the total potatoes, but three times the crisps. While our direct purchases of sugar have sharply declined, the sugar we consume in drinks and confectionery is likely to have rocketed

This reminds me of Bill Ferriter’s classroom blog #SugarKills, a careful look at the not-so sweet side of tastes we love.

One of the things I like about George Monbiot’s work is the focus on systems and society. Although we could stop eating fast food or get off Facebook, but these decisions are often decided for us. This is captured in his closing remarks.

Just as jobless people are blamed for structural unemployment, and indebted people are blamed for impossible housing costs, fat people are blamed for a societal problem. But yes, willpower needs to be exercised – by governments. Yes, we need personal responsibility – on the part of policymakers. And yes, control needs to be exerted – over those who have discovered our weaknesses and ruthlessly exploit them.

Liked Hootenanny #CUEBOOM (DCulberhouse)

I was privileged to be able to attend the CUE Hootenanny at the San Diego Maritime Museum with 50 incredibly dedicated and awesome educators.  Jon Corippo, the Executive Director of CUE had mentioned that at the end of the day they would be giving away “golden” clickers to the best #CUEBOOM.  While I did not get a chance to participate in the #CUEBOOM, earlier in the week I had a flash of inspiration and thirty minutes later this spoken word piece rolled out.  So, while I did not participate in the #CUEBOOM, I thought I would share the result of that flash of inspiration (even though it is a bit raw and unfinished)…

Bookmarked The New Octopus by K. Sabeel Rahman (Logic Magazine)

Taming technological power will require changing how we think about technology. It will require moving beyond Panglossian views of technology as neutral, apolitical, or purely virtuous, and seeing it as a form of power. This focus on power highlights the often subtle ways that technology creates relationships of control and domination. It also raises a profound challenge to our modern ethic of technological innovation.

K. Sabeel Rahman takes a look at changes in construct of power. He unpacks the way in platform capitalism has come to control many elements of society. These changes can be organised into three categories:

  • Transmission power: The ability of a firm to control the flow of data or goods (Amazon)
  • Gatekeeping power: Control of the gateway to an otherwise decentralized and diffuse landscape (Google Search)
  • Scoring power: ratings systems, indices, and ranking databases

Rahman provides a number of suggestions for how we can respond to this situation:

  • Public options
  • Structural restraints on data and power
  • Big data tax
  • Anti-trust movements

He gives the example of the New Deal and the way it broke up the oil monopolies. Another example is the response to Microsoft at the end of the 90’s. Whatever the solution(s), it will involve rethinking the way we see technology. Something that the Luddbrarian discusses in regards to Facebook.

via Ian O’Byrne