Beyond information warfare

When I suggest to people they should be more careful about their online behaviors, like posting for fake National Daughters and Sons Days, and answering random questions on random Facebook accounts, and including having Chinese-government-owned apps like TikTok on their phones, this is why. Not a joke and not a drill.
tl;dr “Chinese theorists…believe that the development of information technology has reached its limits, and that future wars will occur in the cognitive domain. … Influencing human cognition requires a large amount of detailed personal information to identify influential individuals or to conduct influential operations according to the characteristics of subgroups of people. China has already collected a massive amount of personal information on government officials and ordinary U.S. citizens, ensuring a foundation for influencing people’s cognition. … The Chinese government has then allowed Chinese IT giants to process this large amount of data, making it useful for intelligence activities. In this way, China has accumulated an enormous amount of data over the years which could be weaponized in the future.”

Gun violence rooted in misogyny

Absolutely on the mark. Hatred and resentment of women is behind an amazing amount of right-wing aggressiveness. Guns, education, healthcare, child care, reproductive rights, right down the line. So clear and easy to see. Harder to deal with, but we must.

[from Elle]

American agriculture is a lie

The romance of the American farmer is a total myth–straight out propaganda–in today’s America, representing only 2-3% of food production. The rest is from food factories that are destroying the planet, backed by the most powerful lobbying groups in DC.

[from The New York Times]

Concentric circles of gun violence trauma

Not many things–nothing, in fact–gets to me the way this issue does. Now, because of what happened to them, their children have to undergo active shooter drills, expanding the concentric circles of trauma.

 

Another self-inflicted existential threat to humanity

In addition to overheating the planet, we have chemically altered its makeup.

“The rate at which novel entities are being developed and produced by industry exceeds governments’ ability to assess risk and monitor impacts.”

[from Mongabay]

The Ultimate Doomscroll

Essentially my Twitter feed, beautifully compiled. 

“I understand climate change as doing something similar to what Dr. Johnson said the hangman’s noose did for focusing the mind. It’s not words that I’m worried about wasting, but experiences. What’s needed is an aesthetic imperative that we somehow live in each moment as if it’s eternal and also as if it’s our last. Our ethical imperative is similar: to do everything as if it might save the world, even if it’s unlikely that it will. Tending one’s own garden need not be selfish, though if everyone does so, well, that’s something then, right? “

Networked interpretive communities of resentment

Fascinating study about how conservatives see media, and, really, the entire world around them.

[from Columbia Journalism Review]

Plant-based or vegan?

I’ve taken to calling myself plant-based. This is a helpful and empathetic discussion of terms, definitions, and what they mean in practical life.

Divest

Decarbonize the grid.

“Endowments, portfolios and pension funds worth just shy of $40 trillion have now committed to full or partial abstinence from coal, gas and oil stocks…that’s larger than the gross domestic product of the United States and China combined.”

Murmurations

Come for the science, stay for the incredible photos.

[from Nautilus]

Next up

Having been at a couple of dying companies, and a dying industry, I can say with some authority that it’s exactly as described.

What I’m talking about is a kind of slow, steady decline that anyone who has ever seen a dying company up close can recognize. It’s a cloud of existential dread that hangs over an organization whose best days are behind it, influencing every managerial priority and product decision and leading to increasingly desperate attempts to find a way out. This kind of decline is not necessarily visible from the outside, but insiders see a hundred small, disquieting signs of it every day — user-hostile growth hacks, frenetic pivots, executive paranoia, the gradual attrition of talented colleagues.

Beyond smart cities

Fascinating review. Made me think about Singapore, and what Amazon has done to Seattle, and Hudson Yards in New York, and the new smart neighborhoods planned for Chicago. Ordering the book.

Two interesting ideas from down a ways in the essay:

One: “At the turn of the 20th century, the twin infectious disease threats of tuberculosis and the Spanish flu combined with faddish ideas on wellness among people rich enough to afford their own architects, and led to something new. As the architectural historian Biatriz Colomina has written, that was Modernism, with its clean lines, honest materials, porous relationship between the indoors and outdoors, more sunlight, more ventilation, and solid surfaces that were easy to clean. It was more than an aesthetic. It was disease control.”

Two: “Humans build cities as fortresses against failure: economic collapse, natural catastrophe, human venality and cowardice. The city walls keep those things out, when they work. If houses are, as the architect Mies van de Rohe said, “machines for living,” then cities are places where those machines get daisy-chained into a society. Cities are machines for cooperation, and survival.”

[from Wired]

Also reminded of a companion piece about the work of an acquaintance from college, an architect who has turned to imaging what truly inclusive, pandemic-resistant buildings might look like.

“Through the front door, in a vestibule, one-way entry and exit routes were mediated by a planter. Each side had a hand-sanitizing station along the wall. A second, interior door separated this transition zone from the rest of the building. Once inside, a visitor encountered a wide lobby. Across it, directly ahead, an information desk was positioned back-to-back with a bank of lockers. Behind that partition were multigender restroom stalls; rooms, with showers, that could be used by caregivers, nursing mothers and even bike commuters; and prayer rooms and foot-washing stations for religious practices. Motion-activated sinks abutted the walkway. The space is more of a “wellness hub” now than a “bathroom,” Sanders said — so they decided to put it front and center rather than hide it.”

Sovereign American freedom as the freedom to enslave others

Astonishingly insightful essay. We have a real problem here.

“The defense of white freedom in U.S. history might more accurately be thought of as racialized anti-statism, in which the federal government is understood as a usurper of individual and states’ rights.”

Propaganda and misinformation don’t spread themselves

Excellent and powerful analysis of the digital world we’ve built over the last 20 years and the underlying, and perhaps catastrophic, problems that are at its foundation. Not only is the Internet we imagined in 1995 better than the Internet we have today, it wasn’t nearly as harmful.

Beyond disinformation: smokescreen trolling

Straight from the gamer trolling wars to the main line of American politics

Cruelty as a service

Absolutely spot on.

“In this environment, cruelty — in the form of demonizing religious and ethnic minorities as terroristscriminals and invaders — is an effective political tool for crushing one’s enemies as well as for cultivating a community that conceives of fellow citizens as a threat, resident foreigners attempting to supplant “real” Americans. For those who believe this, it is no violation of American or democratic principles to disenfranchise, marginalize and dispossess those who never should have had such rights to begin with, people you are convinced want to destroy you.”

 

 

The Fifth Crime

International lawyers, environmentalists and a growing number of world leaders say “ecocide”—widespread destruction of the environment—would serve as a “moral red line” for the planet.