Tag Archives | Alternatives

The Future Is Local, The Future Is Not Monsanto

via RINF:

The US as a nation consumes more than anyone else, virtually at the expense of everyone else. The petrodollar system has ensured that imports into the US have been cheap and readily available. Post 1945, Washington has been able to take full advantage of the labour and the material resources of poor countries.

Consider that ‘developing’ nations account for more than 80 percent of world population but consume only about a third of the world’s energy. Also bear in mind that US citizens constitute 5 percent of the world’s population but consume 24 percent of the world’s energy. On average, one American consumes as much energy as two Japanese, six Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 307 Tanzanians and 370 Ethiopians [1].

The US is able to consume the way it does because of high demand for the US dollar: it is the world reserve currency.

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Billions of Dollars + Zero Wisdom = Google Hires Resident Philosopher

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

via Pacific Standard:

How an Oxford don is helping the tech giant understand the nature of modern identity—and stay out of court.

One day this past September, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, sat down with a group of experts in Madrid to begin publicly discussing how Google should respond to a recent, perplexing ruling by the European Union’s Court of Justice. In May, the court had declared that, in accordance with the European “right to be forgotten,” individuals within the E.U. should be able to prohibit Google and other search firms from linking to personal information that is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive.”

In an age of revenge porn, social media gaffes, and all the infinite varieties of embarrassment that can attend one’s name in a Google search, the ruling was, in spirit, an attempt to keep ordinary Europeans from being unduly tyrannized by an Internet that, famously, never forgets.

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Facebook’s callous “Year in Review” highlights the inhumanity of algorithms

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via PandoDaily:

Facebook has apologized for the insensitivity of a feature which relied on algorithms to collect a year’s worth of events, status updates, and photographs into a single presentation after it was criticized for showing images of deceased family members.

Eric Meyer, the user who first wrote about the “Year in Review” feature’s morbid callousness, has also apologized to Facebook for not making clear the company’s efforts to console him for the algorithmic fuck-up before he published his blog post.

But his original point — that companies should account for all their users instead of building products for an idealized version of the human condition — still stands. It might even be more relevant now that it’s clear Facebook didn’t know of the problem.

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Top 10 UFO Videos of 2014

The folks at OpenMinds compiled a nice list of the top 10 UFO Videos of 2014.

Via OpenMinds:

These are the best UFO videos of 2014, and most remain unidentified.

Top 10 lists are very subjective. I wonder if I am the first author to start a top 10 list admitting that. UFO video identification can often also be subjective. However, it is this author’s opinion that many of the following videos remain mysteries. Those that were identified either made a large impact, or were just cool lookin’.

This list is in no particular order. I do not necessarily feel that any are better than the other. But they are all very interesting. Every year I almost dread putting together the year in review story. I think, “Wow, not much happened that was that interesting. Am I going to be able to come up with a decent list?” Sure enough, every year I am pleasantly surprised by all of the great news that was covered over the last year.

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Future of love and sex: monogamy no longer the default, say experts

By LightvsRight via Deviant Art (CC BY 3.0)

By LightvsRight via Deviant Art (CC BY 3.0)

via IEET:

There’s a pervasive notion that monogamous relationships are the end-all-be-all – the default pact in human couplings that keep the fabric of society from being torn apart. But growing numbers of scientists believe monogamy is not our biological default; and may not even represent the best road to happiness.

Nearly all mammalian species demonstrate sexual promiscuity. Even mate-for-life prairie voles, the animal kingdom’s poster child of monogamous relationships produce pups from different fathers twenty percent of the time. Moreover, say historians, for humans, promiscuous behavior is not new at all.

    Anthropologists have uncovered clues to how our Paleolithic ancestors lived. Before the advent of agriculture, humans faced a short, brutal lifespan. Some survived to age 50, but most died young or at birth with average life expectancy in the 30-to-40 range.

With such a short lifespan, ancestral children were likely to experiment with sex by age six.

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Game of Thrones crowned as ‘most pirated’ show for third-year running

game-of-thrones-banner (1)

Via Engadget:

Interactive apps, multiple theme-tune remixes, constant recommendations, memes or trans-Atlantic and server-collapsing debuts are but mild indicators of Game of Thrones‘ public success. What’s the real measure of a show’s popularity? It’s how many people pilfer it from the internet. In this regard, our friends in Westeros have no need for a drawbridge, an army or one single drop of wildfire — its crown as the “most pirated” program continues for the third year running. Torrentfreak estimates the show peaked at over 8 million downloads, nearly double that of the second place series: The Walking Dead.

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Topaz Turns On 9 Million Solar Panels at World’s Largest Photovoltaic Power Plant

Oregon Department of Transportation (CC BY 2.0)

Oregon Department of Transportation (CC BY 2.0)

Via IEEE Spectrum:

Silence generally reigns across California’s Carrizo Plain, about 160 kilometers northwest of Los Angeles. But for much of the past three years, this expanse of grassland and farms was anything but silent, as up to 880 people trucked out each day to the plain’s sparsely inhabited northern end to build a hefty power plant. On a bright October afternoon, only a handful of construction workers remain, and the nearly completed plant is generating at close to full tilt. And yet it makes nary a click, buzz, or whir, even as it pumps hundreds of megawatts of electricity into California’s power grid.

The utter quiet is a facet of the technology. This is the world’s largest solar power plant, Topaz Solar Farms, where First Solar, based in Tempe, Ariz., has erected nearly 9 million of its cadmium-telluride thin-film photovoltaic panels across 19 square kilometers of former ranchland.

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Joe Cocker, impassioned voice of ’60s rock and blues, dead at 70

via Mashable:

Joe Cocker, the British singer whose impassioned, gravel-voiced covers of popular rock and blues songs were an indelible sound of 1960s counterculture, has died at age 70 after a battle with lung cancer.

Cocker died Monday at his home in Colorado, first reported by U.K. websites The Yorkshire Post and ITV News, and later confirmed by the BBC.

Cocker lent his voice to the songs of many fellow rock artists, but perhaps none more memorably than The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” which, despite being released on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band just the year before, was his breakthrough, hitting No. 1 in the U.K. in 1968.

Twenty years later it would become the theme song to The Wonder Years, though nothing will top Cocker’s performance at Woodstock in ’69:

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Let’s leave behind the age of fossil fuel. Welcome to Year One of the climate revolution

Mohamed Malik (CC BY 2.0)

Mohamed Malik (CC BY 2.0)

Via The Guardian

It was the most thrilling bureaucratic document I’ve ever seen for just one reason: it was dated the 21st day of the month of Thermidor in the Year Six. Written in sepia ink on heavy paper, it recorded an ordinary land auction in France in what we would call the late summer of 1798. But the extraordinary date signaled that it was created when the French Revolution was still the overarching reality of everyday life and such fundamentals as the distribution of power and the nature of government had been reborn in astonishing ways. The new calendar that renamed 1792 as Year One had, after all, been created to start society all over again.

In that little junk shop on a quiet street in San Francisco, I held a relic from one of the great upheavals of the last millennium. It made me think of a remarkable statement the great feminist fantasy writer Ursula K Le Guin had made only a few weeks earlier.

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Plaque to mark Luddite uprising

Via Dewsbury Reporter

A plaque commemorating the Luddite uprisings two centuries ago was unveiled in Roberttown last week.

The plaque, installed outside the Star Inn pub, is one of three to be placed in the area by the Spen Valley Civic Society as part of its Luddite project.

The group secured £2,390 from Kirklees Council for the project, to fund plaques and information boards at sites in Roberttown, Liversedge and Hartshead.

Civic Society member Gordon North said: “We have been planning this project for around three years and this is the culmination of all the hard work.

“It’s all about trying to give people a better understanding of how important the valley has been throughout history.”

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