Used to be small like a baby but grew to current size. Urban cyclist. Coffee Enthusiast. New media whore. Rabid atheist. Inventor of the sock.
147 stories
·
5 followers

Denying Dystopia: The Hope Police in Fact and Fiction

1 Comment

I recently read Terri Favro’s upcoming book on the history and future of robotics, sent to me by a publisher hungry for blurbs. It’s a fun read— I had no trouble obliging them—  but I couldn’t avoid an almost oppressive sense of— well, of optimism hanging over the whole thing. Favro states outright, for example, that she’s decided to love the Internet of Things; those who eye it with suspicion she compares to old fogies who stick with their clunky coal-burning furnace and knob-and-tube wiring as the rest of the world moves into a bright sunny future. She praises algorithms that analyze your behavior and autonomously order retail goods on your behalf, just in case you’re not consuming enough on your own: “We’ll be giving up our privacy, but gaining the surprise and delight that comes with something new always waiting for us at the door” she gushes (sliding past the surprise and delight we’ll feel when our Visa bill loads up with purchases we never made). “How many of us can resist the lure of the new?” She does pay lip service to the potential hackability of this  Internet of Things— concedes that her networked fridge might be compromised, for example—  but goes on to say  “…to do what, exactly? Replace my lactose-free low-fat milk with table cream? Sabotage my diet by substituting chocolate for rapini?”

Maybe, yeah. Or maybe your insurance company might come snooping around in the hopes your eating habits might give them an excuse to reject your claim for medical treatments you might have avoided if you’d “lived more responsibly”. Maybe some botnet will talk your fridge and a million others into cranking up their internal temperatures to 20ºC during the day, then bringing them all back down to a nice innocuous 5º just before you get home from work. (Botulism in just a few percent of those affected could overwhelm hospitals and take out our medical response capacity overnight.) And while Favro at least admits to the danger of Evil Russian Hackers, she never once mentions that our own governments will in all likelihood be rooting around in our fridges and TVs and smart bulbs, cruising the Internet Of Things while whistling that perennial favorite If You Got Nothin’ to Hide You Got Nothin’ to Fear

Nor should we forget that old chestnut from Blue Lives Murder: “I had to shoot him, Your Honor. I feared for my life. It’s true the suspect was unarmed at the time, but he’s well over six feet tall and according to his Samsung Health app he lifted weights and ran 20K three times a week…”

That’s just a few ways your wired appliances can hurt you personally. We haven’t scratched the potential damage to wider targets. What’s to stop them from getting conscripted into an appliance-based botnet like, for example,  the one that took out KrebsOnSecurity last year?

I’m not trying to shit on Favro; as I said, I enjoyed the book. But it did get me thinking about bigger pictures, and this recent demand for brighter prognoses.  These days it seems as if everyone and their dog is demanding we stick our fingers in our ears, squeeze our eyes tight shut, and whistle a happy tune while the mountainside collapses on top of us.

In a sense this is nothing new. Denial is a ubiquitous part of human nature. One of the things science fiction has traditionally done has been get in our faces, hold our eyelids open and force us to look at the road ahead. That’s a big reason I was drawn to the field in the first place.

So how come some of the most strident demands to Lighten the Hell Up are coming from inside science fiction itself?

*

It started slow. Remember back at the beginning of the decade, when the president of Arizona State University told Neal Stephenson that the sorry state of the space program was our fault? Science fiction wasn’t bold and optimistic like it used to be, apparently. It had stopped Dreaming Big. The rocket scientists weren’t inspired because we weren’t being sufficiently inspirational.

Are we saving the world yet?

Are we saving the world yet?

I’ve always found that argument a bit tenuous, but Stephenson took it to heart. Booted up “Project Hieroglyph“, a big shiny movement devoted to chasing dystopia down into the cellar and replacing it with upbeat, optimistic science fiction that could Change The World. The fruit of that labor was Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future; a number of my friends can be found within its pages, although for some reason I was not approached for a contribution. (No problem— I got my shot just this year when Kathryn Cramer, the coeditor of H:SaVfaBF, let me write my own piece of optiskif for the X-Prize’s Seat 14C.)

A few grumbled (Ramez Naam struck back in Slate in defense of dystopias). Others dug in their heels: You don’t need to squint very hard to figure out Michal Solana’s  take-home message in “Stop Writing Dystopian Fiction – It’s Making Us All Fear Technology“. That appeared in Wired back in 2014, but the bandwagon rolls on still. Just this year, writing in Clarkesworld, my dear friend Kelly Robson put her foot down: “No more dystopias [italics hers]. What we need is near- and mid-future stories that show an array of trajectories out of the gloomy toilet bowl we’re spiraling.”

There’s something telling about that edict, insofar as it explicitly admits that yes, we are indeed circling the drain. We’re all on that same page, at least. But what the hope police[1] seem to be converging on is, You don’t get to give us bad news unless you can also tell us how to make it good. Don’t you dare deliver a diagnosis of cancer unless you’ve got a cure stashed up your sleeve, because otherwise you’re just being a downer.

Looks like dangerous seas up ahead. I know! Let’s erase all the reefs from our nautical charts![2]

*

Inherent in this attitude is the belief that science fiction matters, that it can influence the trajectory of real life, that We Have The Power To Change the Future and With Great Power Goes Great Responsibility— so if we serve up an unending diet of crushing dystopias people will lose all hope, melt into whimpering puddles of flop sweat, and grow too paralyzed to fix anything. Because the World takes us so very seriously. Because if we do not tell tales of hope, then we have no one to blame but ourselves when the ceiling crashes in.

I’ve always been a bit gobsmacked by the arrogance of that view.

I’m not saying that SF has never proven inspirational in real life. NASA is infested with scientists and engineers who were weaned on Star Trek. Gibson informed the future as much as he imagined it. Hell, we wouldn’t have the glorious legacy of Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative if a bunch of Real SF Writers hadn’t snuck into the White House and inspired the Gipper with hi-tech tales of space-based missile shields and ion cannons. I’m not denying any of that.

What I’m saying is that none of those things inspired people to change. It merely justified their inclination to keep on doing what they’d always wanted to. Science fiction is like the Bible that way: it’s big enough, and messy enough, to let you cherry-pick “inspiration” for pretty much any paradigm that turns your crank. Hell, you can even use SF to justify a society based on incest (check out the works of Theodore Sturgeon if you don’t believe me). That’s one of the reasons I like the genre; you can go anywhere.

You want to convince me that SF can change the world? Show me the timeline where we headed off overpopulation because people read Stand on Zanzibar. Show me a world where the existence of Nineteen Eighty-Four prevented the US and Britain from routinely surveilling their citizens. Show me a place where ‘Murrica read The Handmaid’s Tale and whispered in horrified tones: “Holy shit, we really gotta dial back our religious fundamentalism.”

It’s no accomplishment to inspire people to do things they already want to. You want to lay claim to being part of Team Worldchanger, show me a time when you inspired people to do something they didn’t want to. Show me a time you changed society’s mind.

Ray Bradbury tried to imagine such a world, once— late in his career when he’d gone soft, when hard-edged masterpieces like “Skeleton” and  “The Small Assassin” were lost to history and all he had left in him were mushy stories about Laurel and Hardy, or time-travelers who used their technology to go back and make Herman Melville feel better about his writing career. This particular story was called “The Toynbee Convector”, and it was about a guy who saved the world by lying to it. He told everyone that he’d built a time machine, gone into the Future, and seen that It Was Good: we’d cleaned up the planet, saved the whales, eliminated poverty and overpopulation. And in this upbeat science fiction story, people didn’t say Great: well, since we know everything’s gonna be okay anyhow, we might as well keep sitting on our asses, snarfing pork rinds until Utopia comes calling. No, they rolled up their sleeves, and by golly they set about making that future happen. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a story more willfully blind to Human Nature.

If you’re looking for ways in which science fiction can inspire, here’s something the hope police may have forgotten to mention: if downbeat stories inspire despair and paralysis, it’s at least as likely that upbeat stories inspire complacency. Yeah, I know the planet’s warming and the icecaps are melting and we’re wiping out sixty species a day, but I’m sure we’ll muddle through somehow. We’re a resourceful species when the chips are down. Someone will come up with something. I read it in a book by Kim Stanley Robinson.

*

In fact, Kim Stanley Robinson is a good example. He’s no misty-eyed Utopian by any stretch, but he’s certainly more hopeful in his imaginings than the Atwoods and Brunners of the world. He recently pointed to the Paris Agreement as a “hopeful sign“:

It was a historical moment that will go down in any competent world history … That moment when the United Nation member states said, “We have to put a price on carbon. We have to go beyond capitalism and regulate our entire economy and our technological base in order to keep the planet alive.”

Surely I can’t be the only one who sees the oxymoron in “put a price on carbon … go beyond capitalism”. The moment you affix a monetary value to carbon you’re subsuming it into capitalism. You’re turning it into just another commodity to be bought and sold.

Don't worry! Be happy!

Don’t worry! Be happy!

Granted, this is better than pretending it doesn’t exist (I believe “externalities” is the term economists use when they want to ignore something completely). And Robinson is no fan of conventional economics: he dismissed the field as “pseudoscience” at Readercon a few years back, which was heartening even if it is so obvious you shouldn’t have to keep coming out and saying it. But the moment you put a price on carbon, it’s only a matter of time before some asshole shows up with a checkbook and says “OK— here’s your price, paid in full. Now fuck off while I continue to destroy the world in time for the next quarterly report.” Putting a price on carbon is the exact opposite of moving beyond capitalism; it’s extending capitalism into new and more dangerous realms.

Citing such developments as positive makes me a bit queasy.

I got the same kind of feeling when everyone dog-piled all over David Wallace-Wells “The Uninhabitable Earth” in New York Magazine this past summer. Wallace-Wells’ bottom line was that even the bad news you’ve heard about climate change is a soft-sell, that things are even worse than the experts are admitting, that in all likelihood large parts of the planet will be uninhabitable for humans by the end of this century.

It took about three hours for the yay-sayers to start weighing in, tearing down that gloomy-Gus perspective. They tried to pick holes in the science, although ultimately they had to admit that there weren’t many. The main complaint was that Wallace-Wells always assumes the worst-case scenario— and really, things probably won’t get that bad. Even Michel Mann, one of Climate Change’s biggest rock stars, weighed in: “There is no need to overstate the evidence, particularly when it feeds a paralyzing narrative of doom and hopelessness.” This turned out to be the most common criticism: not that the article was necessarily wrong overall, but that it was just too depressing, too defeatist. Have to give people hope, you know. Have to stop being all doom-and-gloom and start inspiring instead.

I have a few problems with this. First: Sorry, but when you’re driving for the edge of a cliff with your foot literally on the gas, I don’t think “inspiration” is what we should be going for. We should be going for sheer pants-pissing terror at the prospect of what happens when we go over that cliff. I humbly suggest that that might prove a better motivator.

Further, describing the worst-case scenario isn’t unreasonable when the observed data keep converging on something even worse. Science, by nature, is conservative; a result isn’t even considered statistically significant below a probability of at least 95%, often 99%. Global systems are full of complexity and noise, things that degrade statistical significance even in the presence of real effects— so scientific publications, almost by definition, tend to understate risk.

Which might explain why, once we were finally able to collect field data to weigh against decades of computer projections, the best news was that observed CO2 emissions were only tracking the predicted worst-case scenario. Ice-cap melting and sea-level rise were worse than the predicted worst-case— and from what I can tell this is pretty typical. (I’ve been checking in on the relevant papers in Science and Nature since before the turn of the century, and I can remember maybe two papers in all that time that said Hey, this variable actually isn’t as bad as we thought!)

So saying that Wallace-Wells takes the worst-case scenario isn’t a criticism. It’s an endorsement. If anything, the man understates our predicament. Which made it a bit troubling to see even Ramez Naam— defender of dystopian fiction— weighing in against the New York piece. Calling it “bleak” and “misleading”, he accused Wallace-Wells of “underestimat[ing] Human ingenuity” and “exaggerat[ing] impacts”. He spoke of trend lines for anticipated temperature rise bending down, not up— and of course, he lamented the hopeless tone of the article which would, he felt, make it psychologically harder to take action.

I’m not sure where Ramez got his trend data— it doesn’t seem entirely consistent with what those Copenhagen folks had to say a few years back— but even if he’s right, it’s a little like saying Yes, we may be a hundred meters away from running into that iceberg, but over the past couple of hours we’ve actually managed to change course by three whole degrees! Progress! At this rate we’ll be able to miss the iceberg entirely in just another three or four kilometers!

*

I don’t mean to pick on Ramez, any more than on Favro— having recently hung out with him, I can attest that he is one smart and awesome dude. But. Try this scenario on for size:

You’re in your living room, watching Netflix. You look out the window and see a great honking boulder plunging down the hill, mere seconds from smashing your home to kindling. Do you:

  1. Crumple into a ball of weeping despair and wait for the end;
  2. Keep watching Stranger Things because that boulder is just a Chinese hoax;
  3. Wait for someone to inspire you to action with tales of a hopeful future; or
  4. Run like hell, even though it means abandoning your giant flatscreen TV?

This underscores, I believe, a potential flaw in the worldview of the hope police. It may be that despair and hopelessness reduce us into inaction— but it may also be true that we simply aren’t scared enough.  You can thank our old friend Hyperbolic Discounting for that: the future is never all that real to us, not down in the gut where we set our priorities. Catastrophe in ten years is less real than discomfort today. So we put off the necessary steps. We slide towards apocalypse because we can’t be bothered to get off the couch.  The problem is not that we are paralyzed with despair; the problem, more likely, is that we haven’t really internalized what’s in store for us. The problem is that our species is already delusionally optimistic by nature.

Not all of us, mind you. Some folks perceive their contextual status with relative accuracy: they’re better than the rest of us at figuring out how much control they really have over local events, for example. They’re better at assessing their own performance at assigned tasks. Most of us tend to take credit for the good things that happen to us, while blaming something else for the bad. But some folks, faced with the same scenarios, apportion blame and credit without that self-serving bias.

We call these people “clinically depressed”. We regard them as a bunch of unmotivated Debbie Downers who always look on the dark side— even though their worldview is empirically more accurate than the self-serving ego-boosts the rest of us experience.

Judged on that basis, chances are that even most dystopias are too optimistic. Telling us that we need to be more optimistic is like telling an already-drunk driver to have another mickey for the road. More hope and sunshine may be the last thing we need; just maybe, what we need is to catch sight of that boulder crashing down the hill, and to believe it. Maybe that might be enough to get us moving.

*

The distribution isn’t a clean bimodal. Sure, there’s a clump of us here at the Grim Dystopia end of the scale, and another clump way over there at the Power of Positive Thinking. But there’s this other place between those poles, a place that mixes light and dark. A place whose citizens say You may not like it but it’s gonna happen anyway, so why not just settle back and enjoy the ride?

I see it when Terri Favro waves away the implications of smart homes that drain our savings into the coffers of retailers we never met in exchange for products we never asked for, with a shrug and a cheery  “How many of us can resist the lure of the new?” I see it when I read articles in Wired that rail against our ongoing loss of privacy, only to finally admit “We are not going to retreat from the cloud… We live there now.” Or that more recent piece— just a couple of months back— which begins with ominous descriptions of China’s truly pernicious Social Scoring program, segues into it’s-not-all-bad Territory (Hey, at least it’s more transparent than our own No-Fly Lists), and finishes off with the not-so-subtle implication that it’ll probably happen here too before long, so we might as well get used to it.

It’s almost as though some Invisible Hand were drawing us in by expressing our worst fears, validating them to engender trust— and then gently herding us toward passive acceptance of the inevitable. “We’ll be giving up our privacy, but gaining the surprise and delight that comes with something new always waiting for us at the door!” Can’t ask for more than that.

Not unless you want to end up on the wrong kind of list, anyway.

*

These aren’t huge leaps.  Inspiration Not Despair segues into Look on the Bright Side which circles ever closer to Accept and Acquiesce.  There are, after all, a lot of interests who don’t want us to believe in that boulder crashing down the hill— and if said boulder becomes ever-harder to deny, then at least they can try to convince us that it really isn’t so bad, that we’ll learn to like the boulder even if ends up squashing a few things we used to value.  There’s always a bright side. The planet may be warming, but it’s not warming as fast! Just another few kilometers and we’ll be past that iceberg! See, we’ve even put a price on carbon!

Of course, if you really need to blame someone, look no further than those naysayers over in the corner; they’re the ones who didn’t Dream Big enough, after all. They’re the ones who failed to Inspire the rest of us. Don’t blame us when the boulder squashes you flat; blame them, for “making us all fear technology”. Blame them, for failing to “show an array of trajectories out of the gloomy toilet bowl we’re spiraling”.

In fact, why wait until the boulder actually hits?

Blame them now, and avoid the rush.

 


[1] To borrow a brilliant term from David Roberts, whose piece in Vox ably defends Wallace-Wells’ prognosis.

[2] If you want a cinematic example of this mindset, check out  Roberto Benigni’s insipid 1997 film “Life is Beautiful“, whose take-home message is that the best way to ensure your children’s survival in a Nazi death camp is to trick them into thinking that it’s all just a game and nothing can possibly hurt them.

Read the whole story
onepointzero
7 days ago
reply
« The problem is that our species is already delusionally optimistic by nature. »
Brussels, Belgium
Share this story
Delete

Coffee Brewing Dice

1 Comment

I’ve enjoyed working on how-to guides for coffee brewers, but one particular brewer gave me a headache: the Aeropress.

There are just too many different ways to use it, too many potential outcomes and, for a while, this made me a little frustrated. Then a ridiculous idea surfaced, which became another ridiculous idea and so on and so forth until we go to this point: coffee brewing dice.

This is a set of 5 dice, that will produce one of 7,776 different potential recipes for how to brew your Aeropress. I decide to make this because I thought it would be fun! I’ve made a single run, once they’re gone they’re gone.

They cost £12 including UK shipping, and not much more for the rest of the world. You can buy them here: Coffee Brewing Dice. Hopefully, they’ll make a fun little stocking filler or Christmas gift for someone who would enjoy them. They will start shipping at the end of the week.

I made a little video about them too:

Read the whole story
onepointzero
8 days ago
reply
Great idea.
Brussels, Belgium
Share this story
Delete

Fuck Twitter

1 Comment

The only thing more boring than quitting things is writing about quitting things. Yet, here I am.

One year ago, on the morning after the 2016 U.S. election, I stopped using Twitter. I stopped posting and I stopped reading Twitter. I also stopped thinking of Twitter as a benign advertising company. The months since that decision have only proven my suspicions to be correct. Twitter may be a company, but it's a company made by people with dubious intentions. I'm less charitable than Mike Monteiro (which surprises even me) when it comes to making allowances for people just doing their jobs. Twitter used to be a place of rapid innovation driven by creative engineers but it has shed many of its well intentioned staff and I think it's behavior is inexcusable. Their lack of concern betrays their corporate philosophy and I don't want to contribute to that any longer.

There were plenty of warning signs that I chose to ignore because I didn't think they directly effected me. The conclusion of 2016 was a final closing scene to a really shitty Netflix series. It was the end to a year that Twitter dominated too much of my life and then saluted me with a big giant middle finger on November 8th. But I want to be clear. I am part of the problem.

My anger is partly about my own bad choices. When I read plenty of first hand accounts about Twitter as a platform for rape threats, I chose to remain as one of the counted AMUs. When I saw that Twitter had a Nazi problem, I accepted my role as being a Twitter product to sell ads against. When I saw Twitter trolls pile on innocent people because they had the nerve to be a woman with a career, I kept scrolling my timeline and churning away those engagement numbers.

Let's take a break for a minor rant about shitty engineering and bad company philosophies.

Woke Jack Hole

Jack Dorsey has time to shop for slim-cut "Stay Woke" shirts but apparently it was a low priority problem to learn what abuse on Twitter looked like and filter it out. Twitter-the-company is made up of people that have consistently made poor, self-serving decisions while patting themselves on the back for making the world more connected. Well, fuck you all. You gluttons helped put us all here and now suddenly you might come up with an algorithm to spot Nazis? Here's an idea to put on your fucking Trello board: Look for avatars with swastikas on day one. Take day two off to recover from your code bash hangover. Day three you can look for accounts that mostly post negative sentiments (using a Python library that's five years old) and then map their connections to find another Nazi pool-party. On day four, take another break. You deserve a rest for waiting a decade to do even the smallest amount of engineering work to make the world better. Day five might be busy while your executives are explaining to congress why you actively assisted a foreign government to spread disinformation during the US election. Also, enjoy your weekend you fucks.

Well, that felt good. I've received a lot of emails asking about why I'm not on Twitter. I've always replied modestly and I've avoided making a spectacle on this website. But today is a special kind of anniversary so please grant me this one small outburst.

2016, or the “great clusterfuck” as future generations will call it, was educational. I learned that there’s no such thing as a private life and that pastry companies can be cut off at the knees for joking about hair styles. I was also reminded that one of humanities greatest skills is inventing technologies that we are incompatible with. Like nuclear fission, social media has gotten away from us and now we scramble to recover our society from the brink of calamity.

Without any humor or reluctance, I can say that Twitter is not healthy for me. This is a hard thing to admit. I’ve met some of my best friends through Twitter. I learned of major world events and new episodes of Adventure Time. I’ve seen enormous kindness and terrible betrayal through the lens of Twitter. Maybe this is the problem. It’s impossible to comprehend the variety of human experiences I need to interpret while scanning Twitter. Yet, Twitter is far from a magnifying lens. It’s more like a kaleidoscope or a fun mirror. It’s showing what humans pretend to be when we perform for each other. The greatest attractor in social technology is the grotesque exaggeration. We love to see the extreme. We eagerly drool when our view of the world is stroked and we are told that we are the righteous minority.

Dave Pell:  

“Segregation: This election displayed a remarkable geopolitical split between cities and inner suburbs, and outer suburbs and rural areas. This makes perfect sense. We never interact. Many of us hoped that the internet would increase our interaction with people who didn’t look and think like us. Sadly, it merely offered us the opportunity to create and live in digital silos of homogenization.”

So there's also a self delusion part of Twitter that I'm attempting to avoid. There's also the shared delusion that we now know is the backbone of Twitter. As many more people turn to social media for their news we simultaneously discover that it's a major participant in disinformation. I always knew that Twitter wasn’t reality but I rarely considered how much of it was an orchestrated fabrication.

Let's put aside the Nazis, and Russian trolls, and the bigots, and the fake news mongers. That's a hell of a start to a thought experiment, but let's pretend we don't care about those terrible things. The last year has been better for me without Twitter. I'm much less distracted by meaningless information. I spend more time talking to my family. I've focused on actual friends that I want to consciously cultivate.

I once thought that Twitter was terrific for staying up on current affairs and staying plugged into the news. I now realize that just isn't true. Twitter is mostly useless garbage. Anything with real meaning and value will distill up to other sources. By relying on Twitter as an information feed, I asked for a planet of lazy reactionaries to tell me what I should think is important. Now, instead of using Twitter, I read actual journalism. The first thing I read in depth was about Richard Nixon. This helped me to understand just how bad a terrible president like Trump could be. While that didn't help me cope (because, Nixon was a terrible disgusting person and we are all still suffering from his bullshit) it did teach me something real instead of someone's theory about meaningless garbage.

If you are a Twitter user, answer this. Keep it to yourself, but try to be honest. What valuable thing have you learned from Twitter in the past 48 hours? Was it about an Apple product or something about some tech startup not liking poor people on their commuter buses? Did you take action on the information? I'm not going to judge you, but I will tell you that in my experience what Twitter gave me was almost never valuable and it certainly came to the exclusion of actual joy.

So here I am, 12 months later. I'm still saying "Fuck you Twitter" and I mean it more than I did in 2016. Today we have real data to show the malevolence of Dorsey, Williams, and the cadre of people that make up their company. My life is better without Twitter, but unfortunately Twitter still has an effect on my life. It's still a malignant force and I think about its consequences every morning like it's November 9th 2016.

Read the whole story
onepointzero
36 days ago
reply
I dropped off Twitter a while back and my productivity has noticeably improved.
Brussels, Belgium
Share this story
Delete

By chris24 in ""Mr. President, I rise today to say: Enough."" on MeFi

2 Shares
A good read on how Nazism isn't wearing a swastika, it's an ideology that's getting much more common in the US and world. A snippet.

Nazism: what it is, why we fight it, and how

When I talk about the dangers of Nazism, people often assume I mean it as a term of abuse, as an excuse to attack people I disagree with. This is the unfortunate side effect of people forgetting the real meaning of the word — of treating "Nazi" like some kind of generic slur or term of abuse. It isn't: it has a straightforward, literal meaning. And it is one that you need to understand.

What is Nazism? After WWII, there was a campaign to argue that Nazism had no real ideology, that it was just some group of people, to delegitimize it. That had some value, but its downside was that people forgot that Nazism does have an ideology, which never went away.

Nazism conceives of the world as a struggle between races. That's not "race" as in the 20th-century American "black/white" sense; in the Nazi vision, Jews, Slavs, Britons, and so on are all "races," too. Nazism believes that races have certain characteristics, which are passed on through the blood, and that they are bound to some land, which it is their right and duty to rule.

There are a few other articles of Nazi belief: for example, that acting ("the will") is better than thinking (a sign of weaker races), and that the strength of a race is most strongly exemplified through the untrammeled Will of its leaders. It is often combined with Fascism, which adds a belief in the importance of hierarchy and obedience — and if you're thinking, "Wait, you just made an ideology around obeying people who don't think?" you may have spotted one of the many ways in which this goes wrong.

The "National Socialism" is a very real idea, too: it means socialism for members of the nation. And they decide who's in and who's out. Government subsidies for "good, decent people?" Sure! Just don't give it to those parasites. So here's the important thing: These ideas make up Nazism. You don't need to wear a swastika to believe in them. [...]

Here's the thing: when the Nazis came to power in Germany, they didn't build camps. They passed laws restricting jobs for "non-German" races (nations). They argued that money spent on the disabled was simply a drain on society, and we should move them to hospitals. They held angry public rallies which often included violence. Their leaders and militias flouted the law, because they knew it didn't apply to them. They saw who they could kill and get away with, and gradually, over time, expanded that.

They encouraged "voluntary self-deportation" of unwanted Jews, by banning them from holding jobs. When no country wanted a few million refugees, it was their proof that nobody wanted the Jews. So camps were started up as administrative holding centers, where they could be put to good use — that is, as slave labor. The disabled, moved to remote hospitals, were out of sight and out of mind: so that's where they did their first experiments of mass murder.

I could go on about this for hours, but the point is: this was a story of an ideology which did exactly what it said on the label. They didn't do this by showing up one night and starting to kill people, but by slowly, gradually, building up public normalization of what they did.
Read the whole story
onepointzero
44 days ago
reply
Brussels, Belgium
skorgu
50 days ago
reply
Share this story
Delete

Super-Accurate GPS Chips Coming to Smartphones in 2018

1 Comment and 3 Shares
Broadcom has released the first mass-market GPS chips that use newer satellite signals to boost accuracy to 30-centimeters
Illustration: Miguel Navarro/Getty Images

We’ve all been there. You’re driving down the highway, just as Google Maps instructed, when Siri tells you to “Proceed east for one-half mile, then merge onto the highway.” But you’re already on the highway. After a moment of confusion and perhaps some rude words about Siri and her extended AI family, you realize the problem: Your GPS isn’t accurate enough for your navigation app to tell if you’re on the highway or on the road beside it.

Those days are nearly at an end. At the ION GNSS+ conference in Portland, Ore., today Broadcom announced that it is sampling the first mass-market chip that can take advantage of a new breed of global navigation satellite signals and will give the next generation of smartphones 30-centimeter accuracy instead of today’s 5-meters. Even better, the chip works in a city’s concrete canyons, and it consumes half the power of today’s generation of chips. The chip, the BCM47755, has been included in the design of some smartphones slated for release in 2018, but Broadcom would not reveal which.

GPS and other global navigation satellite services (GNSSs) such as Europe’s Galileo, Japan’s QZSS, and Russia’s Glonass allow a receiver to determine its position by calculating its distance from three or more satellites. All GNSS satellites—even the oldest generation still in use—broadcast a message called the L1 signal that includes the satellite’s location, the time, and an identifying signature pattern. A newer generation broadcasts a more complex signal called L5 at a different frequency in addition to the legacy L1 signal. The receiver essentially uses these signals to fix its distance from each satellite based on how long it took the signal to go from satellite to receiver.

Broadcom’s receiver first locks on to the satellite with the L1 signal and then refines its calculated position with L5. The latter is superior, especially in cities, because it is much less prone to distortions from multipath reflections than L1.

A chart shows three horizontal red lines. The top line has a broad green triangle. The center line has three overlapping broad triangles—green, blue, and purple. The bottom line has three narrow triangles—green, blue, and purple—which do not overlap.
IIlustration: Broadcom

In a city, the satellite’s signals reach the receiver both directly and by bouncing off of one or more buildings. The direct signal and any reflections arrive at slightly different times and if they overlap, they add up to form a sort of signal blob. The receiver is looking for the peak of that blob to fix the time of arrival. But the messier the blob, the less accurate that fix, and the less accurate the final calculated position will be.

However, L5 signals are so brief that the reflections are unlikely to overlap with the direct signal. The receiver chip can simply ignore any signal after the first one it receives, which is the direct path. The Broadcom chip also uses information in the phase of the carrier signal to further improve accuracy.

Though there are advanced systems that use L5 on the market now, these are generally for industrial purposes, such as oil and gas exploration. Broadcom’s BCM47755 is the first mass-market chip that uses both L1 and L5.

Why is this only happening now? “Up to now there haven’t been enough L5 satellites in orbit,” says Manuel del Castillo, associate director of GNSS product marketing at Broadcom. At this point, there are about 30 such satellites in orbit, counting a set that only flies over Japan and Australia. Even in a city’s “narrow window of sky you can see six or seven, which is pretty good. So now is the right moment to launch.”

A bar chart shows a steady increase in the number of satellites. Three flags are below, those of the United States, Japan, and the European Union.
Image: Broadcom

Broadcom had to get the improved accuracy to work within a smartphone’s limited power budget. Fundamentally, that came down to three things: moving to a more power-efficient 28-nanometer chip manufacturing process, adopting a new radio architecture (which Broadcom would not disclose details of), and designing a power-saving dual-core sensor hub. In total, they add up to a 50 percent power savings over Broadcom’s previous, less accurate chip. 

In smartphones, sensor hubs take the raw data from the system’s sensors and process it to provide only the information the phone’s applications processor needs, thereby taking the computational burden and its accompanying power draw off of the applications processor. For instance, a sensor hub might monitor the accelerometer looking for signs that you had flipped your phone’s orientation from vertical to horizontal. It would then just send the applications processor the equivalent of the word “horizontal” instead of a stream of complex accelerations.

The sensor hub in the BCM47755 takes advantage of the ARM’s “big.LITTLE” design—a dual-core architecture in which a simple low-power processor core is paired with a more complex core. The low-power core, in this case an ARM Cortex M-0, handles simple continuous tasks. The more powerful but power-hungry core, a Cortex M-4, comes in only when it’s needed.

The BCM4775 is just the latest development in a global push for centimeter-level navigation accuracy. Bosch, Geo++, Mitsubishi Electric, and U-blox, established a joint venture called Sapcorda Services in August, to provide centimeter-level accuracy. Sapcorda seems to depend on using ground stations to measure errors in GPS and Galileo satellite signals due to atmospheric distortions. Those measurements would then be sent to receivers in handsets and other systems to improve accuracy.

Japan’s US $1.9-billion Qasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) also relies on error correction, but additionally improves on urban navigation by adding a set of satellites that guarantees one is visible directly overhead even in the densest part of Tokyo. The third of those four satellites launched in August. A fourth is planned for October, and the system is to come online in 2018.

Read the whole story
satadru
84 days ago
reply
Finally a reason to update your device in 2018.
New York, NY
onepointzero
84 days ago
reply
Brussels, Belgium
Share this story
Delete

My fellow white Americans. | I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog

2 Comments and 4 Shares

These are images from Charlottesville, Virginia last night.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 10.59.03 AM

These are white people in their twenties and thirties. Like me.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 10.59.22 AM.png

These are people who are in my generation, the millennial generation, the one frequently lambasted for “participation trophies” and “needing safe spaces.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 10.59.36 AM

These are people that look like my coworkers, my colleagues, my brothers, my cousins. People I know and love, who also have white skin and wear polo shirts.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 10.59.59 AM.png

These are people who, like I was, were raised on a diet of Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, which teaches tolerance and understanding of others. They’ve probably seen the Indiana Jones films, where punching Nazis is considered a virtuous act. These are my actual demographic peers in the United States of America, which means that these are people who sat through the unit on the second world war in their history class and looked at images of concentration camps and gas chambers and burning books and Anne Frank’s attic and still thought, well, hang on, maybe those Nazis had some interesting ideas.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 11.09.49 AM.png

These are people who chanted “Jew will not replace us.”

These are people who yelled “The heat here is nothing compared to what you’re going to get in the ovens.”

These are people who didn’t even bother to wear hoods. 

What does it say that in 2017, I’m struck by the fact that the Ku Klux Klan members at least shielded their faces so that no one could identify them? That the same type of societal pressure apparently no longer exists today? That these people feel comfortable espousing the rhetoric of racist, genocidal maniacs in a public space that was widely photographed and broadcast?

My anger is bigger than my ability to write,  but I’m going to try to say this as succinctly as I can.

White nationalism is morally indefensible. This is not a point that is up for discussion.

If you are willing to give these people the benefit of the doubt, you are complicit in the rhetoric of racists and bigots. Playing “devil’s advocate” is unacceptable.

I am not willing to listen to one more interview or read one more article about the “economic anxiety” of the American racist.

If you disagree with the central premise that white nationalism is evil and morally wrong, then I have no words for you. May God have mercy on your soul.

If you can identify that this is evil and wrong, ask yourself why these men (and more than a few women) are angry. Why? What has provoked these people to buy a bunch of Wal-Mart tiki torches and scream Nazi slogans at a Confederate statue?

Imagine for just one second that these protestors were black.

You want to tell me your problems with Colin Kaepernick and why you think Black Lives Matter is a racist slogan? I’m not interested. If you think that Philando Castille or Mike Brown could have just “handled it differently” and they wouldn’t have died? Imagine for one second that a mob of angry black people descended upon a public space with torches, screaming about wanting to kill those who didn’t look like them. Compare the crystal-clear images of these white men with the tear-gassed protestors from Ferguson.

This is a country where racists are empowered.

You failed to read all of those stories over the past five years from women on the internet, like Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian and Lindy West? You thought those “feminists” were just “overreacting,” that there was no such thing as actual harassment from an internet troll, that their desire for online speech to have consequences when it devolved into doxxing and threats was a muzzle on free speech?

You still think that Hillary’s problems had nothing to do with the fact that she was a woman?

Welcome. This is a country where sexists are empowered. They’ve been on the internet terrorizing women for years. This is what they look like when they leave their computer screens behind.

I am no longer interested in anyone’s opinion that the Confederate Flag is merely a symbol of local heritage.

This is your heritage now.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 11.55.11 AM.png

I am no longer interested in your hot take on “economic anxiety.” On “giving President Trump a chance.” On “identity politics are ruining the country.” On “reverse racism.”  On “all those swastikas drawn on buildings after the election were just put there by liberals trying to give conservatives a bad name.” I am no longer here for a peaceful discussion with the “other side,” when the “other side” believes that my inherent worth and humanity, and anyone else who doesn’t look or think similarly, deserves to be frightened, tortured, expelled, or harmed.

Women, people of color, religious and ethnic minorities, disabled people, gay people, trans people, and members of other marginalized groups in this country asked for their civil rights and their humanity to be respected. When you hear that the “left” are the “truly intolerant,” please remember that this is the face of the right today.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 12.23.40 PM.png

This is domestic terrorism. This is what it looks like.

I am no longer interested in anyone trying to tell me that being frightened of angry white men is ‘racist’ when angry white men commit the vast majority of violent crimes in our country.

At the time of publication, many hours after these incidents, the President of the United States had yet to condemn this behavior.*  This is not surprising information to literally anyone who has spent a scintilla of time on the internet — in Reddit’s /theDonald, in Alex Jones’ InfoWars channel, in the comment section of Breitbart, in any number of places where the overlap between nationalist views, white supremacist views, misogynistic views, xenophobic views, homophobic views, and Donald Trump’s political agenda is less of a Venn Diagram and more of a circle. The President of the United States was elected by dog-whistling to these views.

KKK leader David Duke is currently in Charlottesville ebulliently giving interviews claiming that this rally “fulfills the promises of Donald Trump.” For once, I agree with David Duke about something.

This is the natural byproduct of a racist, sexist president. This is the legacy of a racist, sexist country.

My fellow white Americans, do you see it? Do you see it now?

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 11.45.00 AM.png

*******************

I am editing this post to add information that I think is important. I struggled to write it earlier, and couldn’t quite find the words. This writer did.  

I think he says it better. I’m including it in its entirety.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 12.46.26 PM

Imagine if these people faced actual oppression.
Nobody is trying to legislate away their right to marry.
Nobody is trying to make them buy insurance to pay for “male health care.”

The law never…
Enslaved their great-grandparents
Robbed their grandparents
Imprisoned their parents
Shot them when unarmed.

There is no massive effort at the state and local level to disenfranchise them of the vote. There is no history of centuries of bad science dedicated to “proving” their intellectual inferiority. There is no travel ban on them because of their religion. There is no danger for them when they carry dangerous weapons publicly.

Their churches were never burned. Their lawns were never decorated with burning crosses. Their ancestors never hung from trees.

Their mothers aren’t being torn away by ICE troopers and sent away forever. They won’t be forced to leave the only country they ever knew. The president has not set up a hotline to report crime committed at their hands.

They are chanting “We will not be replaced.” Replaced… as what?

I’ll tell you.

Replaced as the only voice in public discussions. Replaced as the only bodies in the public arena. Replaced as the only life that matters.

THIS is ‘white people’ oppression: We used to be the only voice. Now we hold the only microphone. THIS is ‘white man’ oppression. We face criticism now. We were free from it, because others feared the consequences.

THIS is ‘oppression’ of white Christians in this country. Christmas used to be the only holiday acknowledged, now it’s not.

I would so love to see these people get all the oppression they insist they receive, just for a year. Just to see.

Give them a world where you ACTUALLY can’t say Christmas. A world where the name “Geoff” on a resume puts it in the trash. Give them a world where they suddenly get a 20% pay cut, and then 70 women every day tell them to smile more.

Give them a world where their polo shirt makes people nervous, so they’re kicked off the flight from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis.

Give them a world where they inherited nothing but a very real understanding of what oppression really fucking is.

Give them a world where if they pulled up on a campus with torches lit and started throwing hands, the cops would punch their eyes out. Put THAT in your Tiki torches and light it, you sorry Nazi bitches.

************************************************************************

** Yes, the President has, since I wrote this post, put out a weak-sauce tweet denouncing these events in the most vague of terms. Know how I know that it’s weak and vague? Richard Spencer, the Nazi responsible for this, has trolled it so effectively that we understand that it could apply to literally any side of this argument. Behold:

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 2.33.09 PM

For the back of the house: no, all Trump voters are not white supremacists. YES, all Trump voters were comfortable electing a white supremacist to the highest office in the nation. This tweet is weak because the President doesn’t want to upset the members of his base because the members of his base are either okay with this or they are the very tiki-torch-lit assholes pictured above. These are guys wearing MAGA hats. These ARE the faces of your base. This IS the same rhetoric that Trump has always espoused. It’s Racism Classic™, now with Extra Tiki.

If you need further proof that the President doesn’t actually seem to care very much that this is happening in his name in his country, please enjoy this side-by-side comparison of the President’s stance on white supremacist Nazis versus his strong condemnation of sharks.

** Edited a second time to add: the President of the United States, after one person has been confirmed dead after a car deliberately drove into a group of anti-racist counter-protestors, has just condemned these violent acts “on many sides.”

This is literally the same as saying that he condemns the violent actions of Nazis, as well as the groups protesting the Nazis.

All I’m saying is that if violent acts are happening in your name and endorsed by David Duke and perpetrated by people waving signs with your name on it and wearing hats with your catchphrase on it, after you have asked Jeff Sessions and the department of Justice to stop investigating white supremacist terror groups exactly like this one, and all you can say is “I condemn this on many sides” rather than “stop doing this in my name” or “white supremacy is not tolerated in this country” or without using the phrase “domestic terrorism,” you’ll have to forgive me for drawing the logical conclusion that the President of the United States, in choosing his words carefully so as not to offend a racist, torch-wielding mob, gives more fucks about the feelings of actual Nazis than anyone or anything else. If you’re willing to speak “off the cuff” about North Korean missile strikes or classified intel or fallen soldiers or disabled reporters or Gold Star families but recognize that your words have impact when you’re worried about offending ACTUAL NAZIS, may you and every single person who ever defended you feel a shame that burns hotter than any collection of tiki torches.

Advertisements

Like this:

Like Loading...

Read the whole story
onepointzero
124 days ago
reply
Brussels, Belgium
satadru
124 days ago
reply
New York, NY
Share this story
Delete
2 public comments
glenn
124 days ago
reply
The faces of the "oppressed". I wonder if someone will start doxxing these fucks
Waterloo, Canada
StunGod
124 days ago
reply
Everybody should read this. If you disagree with it, you can go fuck yourself.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
Next Page of Stories