Thursday 18 February, 2021

A Falun Gong protestor outside the Chinese Embassy in London in February 2007.

Quote of the Day

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time – when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching at crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties are in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true…”

  • Carl Sagan

Question: when did he write this? Answer: 1995, in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

Musical alternative to the radio news of the day

Mike Cross | Uncle Josh


Mike Cross was new to me, so many thanks to Doc Searls (Whom God Preserve) for the tip.

I love the sombre wit of “Listen here, brother; Life is just another terminal disease”!

Long Read of the Day

The Coup We Are Not Talking About by Shoshana Zuboff

We can have democracy, or we can have a surveillance society, but we cannot have both. Powerful essay summing up the ideas in her pathbreaking big book:

Two decades ago, the American government left democracy’s front door open to California’s fledgling internet companies, a cozy fire lit in welcome. In the years that followed, a surveillance society flourished in those rooms, a social vision born in the distinct but reciprocal needs of public intelligence agencies and private internet companies, both spellbound by a dream of total information awareness. Twenty years later, the fire has jumped the screen, and on Jan. 6, it threatened to burn down democracy’s house.

I have spent exactly 42 years studying the rise of the digital as an economic force driving our transformation into an information civilization. Over the last two decades, I’ve observed the consequences of this surprising political-economic fraternity as those young companies morphed into surveillance empires powered by global architectures of behavioral monitoring, analysis, targeting and prediction that I have called surveillance capitalism. On the strength of their surveillance capabilities and for the sake of their surveillance profits, the new empires engineered a fundamentally anti-democratic epistemic coup marked by unprecedented concentrations of knowledge about us and the unaccountable power that accrues to such knowledge.

Dead relevant to a day in which we see a surveillance company taking on a sovereign state (Australia)

Other, hopefully interesting, links

  • How to prevent being tracked while reading your Gmail Link
  • Fancy a Twizy? You never know, you might. Link
  • How to keep warm when there’s a power cut and the temperature really drops.. Interesting Twitter thread

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