Out With the Old

What music lessons do to children.

Why time management is ruining our lives.

Warm ocean water is melting the biggest glacier in East Antarctica.

The holes left in cities by income inequality.

Finding Bana.

Truth is a lost game in Turkey.

The murder that killed free media in Russia.

The year Facebook became the bad guy. Stop blaming Facebook for Trump.

Trump’s threat to the Constitution.

When tyranny takes hold.

The birth pangs of a Third Reconstruction.

My very own pinecone.

31 December 2016 · Weblog


A small selection of dozens of bookmarks from the past month. The one you should really be reading on all of this is Sarah Kendzior.

The Republican machine. The election was rigged. Everything mattered. Something is deeply broken. We all have plenty to fear. Is this how democracy ends? Is progress history? Trump’s looming mass criminalization. “These people.” The lessons of Berlusconi. Take danger at face value.

19 December 2016 · Politics

Fake News

Fake news and the internet shell game. A case study.

“We’re the new yellow journalists.” “I have a beautiful family, a beautiful life.” “I never thought he’d actually get elected.”

The fake news conspiracy theory that led from rumor, to hashtag, to gunfire in D.C.

What Gamergate should have taught us. Had we taken it seriously, Pizzagate might never have happened.

Students can’t tell fake news from real.

The first president of our post-literate age.

The age of outrage.

The fake war on fake news.

It’s up to all of us to stop it.

Google, democracy and the truth about internet search. It’s like the fascists saw John Perry Barlow’s Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace and thought “Lebensraum!”

19 December 2016 · Politics

It’s All Going Swimmingly

Brexit has already cost UK households US$1.5 trillion. Who voted for it?

A Devon village unleashes its anger toward Syrian arrivals by donating jumpers to them.

The Department for Education agreed to share pupil nationality data with the Home Office. What could possibly go wrong.

The snooper’s charter threatens academic freedom.

Website blocking in the Digital Economy Bill.

Turkey doubles down on censorship. Iran uses fake news as an excuse for widespread censorship.

Reducing your cyber-footprint. The 25-minute crypto shopping list.

18 December 2016 · Politics

Tail Feathers

Rudolf the Shrinking Reindeer.

Sand’s end.

Turtle rescue.

The world’s cheapest electricity.

The All-State Automated System for the Gathering and Processing of Information for the Accounting, Planning and Governance of the National Economy.

The scientists who make apps addictive.

Alan Moore’s Star Wars.

The hygge conspiracy.

The Periodic Table of Gender.

A feathered dinosaur tail trapped in amber. We can’t prove they weren’t huge fatbirds.

18 December 2016 · Weblog

The Destruction of the Kelp

Kelp on White Beach, Tasmania, December 2009.

Kelp, a large seaweed that grows in underwater forests along temperate coasts, supports many marine species in turn. The Kelp Highway Hypothesis postulates that Pacific Rim kelp forests and the wealth of fish, mammals and birds that they supported sustained maritime hunter-gatherers spreading into the New World 16,000 years ago. Kelp species play an important role in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisines, and fuelled the production of soda ash in the Scottish Highlands and islands until the industry’s collapse in the 19th century, which fuelled emigration to North America and beyond. Charles Darwin wrote of the kelp forests of Tierra del Fuego that “if in any country a [terrestrial] forest was destroyed, I do not believe nearly so many species of animals would perish as would here, from the destruction of the kelp”.

In October 2016, an ocean heatwave destroyed the last giant kelp forest on the east coast of Tasmania, bringing an end to an ecosystem that has dominated it for tens of thousands of years.

Read More · 15 December 2016 · Events

Daisy, Daisy, Give Me Your Answer, Do

The Great A.I. Awakening: How Google used artificial intelligence to transform Google Translate (via Mefi) is a fantastic article, both for its contents and as a piece of journalism (I’m enjoying the author’s earlier article on travel photography as a result). As a computer science undergrad in the late 1980s, I took a course on AI, which involved building our own expert systems; it seemed obvious what a challenge that was always going to be, compared with some of the promising machine-learning alternatives. I now see that this was a brief window when neural networks were taken seriously, before their proponents were cast into the wilderness for the next decade and a half. That seems crazy to me, as someone who left the field. In the 1990s I was reading neuroscience theories about how minds emerge in an evolutionary way. Surely these theories and AI research would cross-fertilize each other, leading to new insights in both domains? But it seems that for a long time they didn’t. Maybe they will now.

Read More · 15 December 2016 · Infotech

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