It’s Time for Us to Have a Modern (post-Confederate) Constitution

constitutionSouth Carolina’s battle flag may soon come down from the capitol flagpole, but other symbols of the Confederacy’s ideology remain in place. For example, consider the U. S. Constitution, which is another kind of symbol as well as a law.

All copies of the Constitution promulgate detailed instructions for the recapture of slaves who have run away from their owners. They also specify that slaves are to be counted as three-fifths of a person in the Census, giving a boost to the slave-owning states in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College.

One might justify this presentation of our national charter by saying that it commemorates an earlier time or instructs students on the nation’s political history. That kind of thinking has prevailed for a long time in Charleston, only recently yielding in the face of an atrocity.

We would all be better off if all such language were consigned to the back of the document, and Americans were presented with a modern constitutional text that truly portrays our system of government as it exists in the 21st century—a constitution that deserves to be read aloud each year when the House of Representatives begins its session.… Read the rest

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The Logic of Surveillance Capitalism


This post was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

You have probably noticed it already. There is a strange logic at the heart of the modern tech industry. The goal of many new tech startups is not to produce products or services for which consumers are willing to pay. Instead, the goal is create a digital platform or hub that will capture information from as many users as possible — to grab as many ‘eyeballs’ as you can. This information can then be analysed, repackaged and monetised in various ways. The appetite for this information-capture and analysis seems to be insatiable, with ever increasing volumes of information being extracted and analysed from an ever-expanding array of data-monitoring technologies.

The famous Harvard business theorist Shoshana Zuboff refers to this phenomenon assurveillance capitalism and she believes that it has its own internal ‘logic’ that we need to carefully and critically assess. The word ‘logic’ is somewhat obscure in this context.… Read the rest

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A Man of Fantasies: Casanova the Novelist

The autobiography of Giacomo Casanova, many-faced man of mystery and otherworldly charm, reads like an erotic fantasy. Each affair and adventure is so bawdy and unbelievable that one wonders whether Casanova’s entire life was one rompish fairytale in the style of The Arabian Nights or The Decameron. Casanova sets the tone of his memoir with the a story of his nighttime gondola journey to the island of Murano on the outskirts of Venice. Casanova’s grandmother decides to take the eight-year old to see a witch in order to heal his incessant nosebleeds. After receiving her payment, the woman locks him in a box and initiates a healing ritual:

“after lavishing caresses upon me, takes off my clothes, lays me on the bed, burns some drugs, gathers the smoke in a sheet which she wraps around me, pronounces incantations, takes the sheet off me, and gives me five sugar-plums of a very agreeable taste.Read the rest

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Ultimate Outsider Art: Prisoner Paintings

The eerily compelling tale of the escaped convict manhunt in Upstate New York may be over, but the revelation that Richard Matt used his paintings as currency to help facilitate his escape prompts the New York Times to focus on what may be the ultimate outsider art: prisoner paintings:

The news that Richard W. Matt, the convicted murderer who was killed by the police on Friday after a weekslong manhunt, spent most of his time behind bars painting technically skilled portraits of Julia Roberts, President Obama and fellow inmates’ relatives, and bartering them for preferential treatment, has come as a surprise to many.

Marilyn Monroe by Richard W. Matt. Photo:

Marilyn Monroe by Richard W. Matt. Photo:

But to those who have spent years teaching art in prisons or making it themselves as inmates, such a trade is a deeply ingrained ritual of incarcerated life. It is practiced informally or as part of established programs by a wide range of prisoners, many of them, like Mr.

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What if your manager’s work could be replaced with an algorithm?

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

John Rice, University of New England and Nigel Martin, Australian National University

As new organisational forms emerge, much managerial administration undertaken by large organisations is being shown to be a waste of time and money. Generally, networked computers can do these tasks far more effectively, fairly and consistently than human managers.

This is changing best practices rapidly, and organisations that do not respond, by reducing administrative overheads, are being left behind by those that do.

One defence of the human manager is her or his capacity for empathy, and yet organisations everywhere are rife with interpersonal strife – bullying, victimisation and low morale. If human managers exist primarily to ensure happier workplaces, they are failing at this basic task.

Are we at the dawn of an age without managers and, if so, could this be a very good thing?

What do managers do, really?

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Some physicists believe we’re living in a giant hologram — and it’s not that far-fetched

I knew it – we’re living in a giant hologram! Well actually the holographic principle as explained at Vox isn’t quite what I had in mind:

Some physicists actually believe that the universe we live in might be a hologram.

Calabi yau formatted.svg

The idea isn’t that the universe is some sort of fake simulation out of The Matrix, but rather that even though we appear to live in a three-dimensional universe, it might only have two dimensions. It’s called the holographic principle.

The thinking goes like this: Some distant two-dimensional surface contains all the data needed to fully describe our world — and much like in a hologram, this data is projected to appear in three dimensions. Like the characters on a TV screen, we live on a flat surface that happens to look like it has depth.

It might sound absurd. But if when physicists assume it’s true in their calculations, all sorts of big physics problems — such as the nature of black holes and the reconciling of gravity and quantum mechanics — become much simpler to solve.

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Rajneeshpuram [Free Documentary]

In 1981, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a spiritual leader from India, and thousands of his disciples, set out to build a new city, a utopian community in the desert — Rajneeshpuram — on what had been the Big Muddy Ranch in Eastern Oregon. Thousands of people from around the world gathered here to celebrate life and transform the landscape. But by 1986, they were gone.

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Uber Police


Too damn early…

I’m in the Citizen’s Cab lot and run into Crooks, of last week’s fame – cab driver turned “rideshare” after losing his taxi permit for Paratransit fraud who last Saturday night totaled his sub-prime loan Uber Camry in a very public T-bone collision with a pink mustachioed Lyft “rideshare”.

(Gulp!) I really hope he did not read last week’s blog!

Sack, “Crooks! Waz up, mane! Hey! I heard about that Lyft, um, running the red and you T-boning it. Dude was taken to General in an ambulance, eh? And you went on your own? You ok?”

Crooks, “Ye-ah, I ok. My wife lettin’ me use ‘er Hyundai ’til it all git figur’d owt. Jus’ ‘ere washin’ ‘er cahr.”

I see behind Crooks stands a silver Hyundai SUV all beaded with water, with a suction-cupped phone and “U” signage visible in the windshield, over by the Citizen’s Cab hose and vacuum station… and right next to the new-ish sign acknowledging California’s drought (and increased commercial water bill) that states:


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Why Are Beggars Despised? by George Orwell

Sandra Druschke (CC BY 2.0)

Sandra Druschke (CC BY 2.0)

via Reddit (r/books):

It is worth saying something about the social position of beggars, for when one has consorted with them, and found that they are ordinary human beings, one cannot help being struck by the curious attitude that society takes towards them. People seem to feel that there is some essential difference between beggars and ordinary “working” men. They are a race apart–outcasts, like criminals and prostitutes. Working men “work,” beggars do not “work”; they are parasites, worthless in their very nature. It is taken for granted that a beggar does not “earn” his living, as a bricklayer or a literary critic “earns” his. He is a mere social excrescence, tolerated because we live in a humane age, but essentially despicable.

Yet if one looks closely one sees that there is no essential difference between a beggar’s livelihood and that of numberless respectable people.… Read the rest

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Video allegedly shows UFOs blasting out of Earth’s atmosphere before NASA cuts live feed

Is NASA intentionally tweaking UFOlogists? The claim is that NASA keeps cutting off live video feeds of UFOs, per International Business Times:

UFO seekers are riled up over another alleged instance of NASA cutting their live transmission to keep the “existence of aliens a secret” which has surfaced online via a video claiming to show UFOs blasting out of Earth’s atmosphere.


According to Sunday Express, the live transmission was coming from the International Space Station when three UFOs slowly come into view (blurred, of course) and then fly out of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The lights leave Earth seconds before the live video feed is allegedly cut by NASA due to a reported “loss of signal”.

Clapway reports that the three UFOs gradually move in what appears to be an ascending path. Then two of the UFOs disappear and when NASA cuts the live feed, the third UFO is still in view.

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