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“The web’s existing logic tells us that social platforms are free in exchange for a feast of user data; that major networks are necessarily global and centralized; that moderators make the rules. None of that need be the case. We need people who dismantle these notions by building alternatives”

“So it was interesting when yesterday’s Snowden piece that was originally bylined just to Ilyushina suddenly appeared in co-byline, along with the aforementioned Nakashima. The changes since are interesting, reflecting an odd back-and-forth (and back) in the Post newsroom. Originally, the Post described Snowden as a pure fugitive-traitor, and relied solely on quotes from intelligence figures for color. The passage about PRISM was now rewritten to include the key, originally-missing detail that the disclosed program was ruled unlawful by a federal court”

“It was a moment of celebration for an upstart company whose leaders say they are on a mission from God to restore conservative Christian values at all levels of government — especially in public schools. To carry out that calling, the Grapevine-based company this year created a political action committee, Patriot Mobile Action, and gave it more than $600,000 to spend on nonpartisan school board races in the Fort Worth suburbs.

This spring, the PAC blanketed the communities of Southlake, Keller, Grapevine and Mansfield with thousands of political mailers warning that sitting school board members were endangering students with critical race theory and other “woke” ideologies”

“There’s so much bad faith in this decision it’s hard to know where to start. Nichols filed his decision eleven days after the trial ended. That is either shockingly fast, or more likely, Nichols was already writing his decision during the trial. He made a mockery of the law itself; in the very first paragraph, he writes that “the government has not met its burden of proving that the transaction is likely to substantially lessen competition.” The actual statute says that mergers are unlawful if the effect “may be substantially to lessen competition.” The difference between “likely” and “may” is real”

“To write a book is to make a Faustian contract in reverse," read a note that Salman Rushdie once pinned above his desk. "To gain immortality, or at least posterity, you lose, or at least ruin, your actual daily life." Tell that to a ghostwriter. If there's a Faustian contract involved in this, it probably involves blockchain. (Actually, if there is a Devil, he's absolutely into crypto. Hell is a DAO.)”

“If conventional programming is magic in the sense of uncovering puissant words required to animate objects, wrangling AIs is magic in the sense of trapping an amoral demon that is bound to follow your instructions, but cannot be trusted to respect your intentions. As any wannabe Faust knows, things can go wrong in the most unexpected ways”

“the difficult task of creating content for children while still satisfying their middle-aged stalwarts, whose nostalgia is ultimately insatiable because they cannot look upon novel material with the same emotional intensity they felt as children. Many older fans are convinced they can’t recapture that intensity only because the producers themselves have failed to create stories of the same fundamental quality, when in reality they have simply outgrown the sentiment they are chasing. These campaigns seek to convince this audience that the feeling they are pursuing can be recaptured, if only those making popular art would reject modern progressive dogma—thus creating a well of cultural resentment they can manipulate for political purposes”

“The great Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer retired at the age of 41, having won 20 grand slam titles. The eternally classy, controversy-free, lavishly-gifted athlete exits the scene having never shamed his sport nor revealed any character weakness. As a result, he inspired nearly all Americans to admire him and his play, but secretly also made nearly everybody feel inferior, which means fans in the States are probably secretly glad he’s finally gone, so somebody more accessibly flawed can take his place”

“After a book is edited, the acquiring editor becomes its cheerleader at the publishing house and beyond. As a result, losing that editor — the person who believed in the manuscript, who pushed for its purchase and who shared the author’s vision — can be a fatal blow to a book’s chances of success.
But Chan was fortunate. The project was reassigned to Marysue Rucci, a Simon & Schuster editor who had read the book alongside Davis and shared her passion for it. Rucci personally mailed galleys to independent booksellers and journalists with notes saying, “‘I think this will appeal to you,’” she said”

“Name a fast-food restaurant and the odds are the company has recently developed a branch without any restaurant at all. Chipotle’s first “Digital Kitchen,” which opened in upstate New York in 2020, has no dining room. A branch that opened last year in the Cleveland suburbs doesn’t even let customers inside the store. This summer, Taco Bell opened something it calls Taco Bell Defy, which is not a restaurant at all but a purple taco tollbooth powered by QR code readers and dumbwaiters that bring the food down from a second-story kitchen. The operation is, by most accounts, astoundingly efficient. Wingstop’s “restaurant of the future” doesn’t have seats or take cash”

“Let me say this again: jokes in queries aren’t forbidden. You won’t get automatically rejected for it. But also, an agent isn’t going to say wow that author told such a good joke I bet they are a wonderful person and will be a best seller. They’re probably going to skip over the joke and get to the meat of your query. You might be thinking well, if they’re just going to skip it then I’m going to do it because I like it and my jokes are good. And you know what? You can absolutely do that. But don’t rest your hopes on your joke being the thing that turns a maybe into a yes. It probably won’t”

“what’s interesting is that it’s a wide-scale campaign aimed squarely at fandom types as a demographic — the trope-loving, LGBTQ+ and female transformative fandom, that is. It’s an acknowledgment that the power of passionate audiences to pick and choose what they want to read and watch is central to a megacorporation’s quest for that all-powerful unobtanium: shiny new IP”

“When I showed that the problem with Varsity was that it used various schemes that were similar to many other monopolists, it changed how people in the cheer world understand their situation. The antitrust framework gave credibility to the faction that had been complaining about Varsity Brands as more than just some jealous gripers. Suddenly, parents who didn’t think much about cheer except that their daughter was on a team with her best friends started asking, ‘hey why is this so expensive?’ as the lawsuits added further legitimacy. All of a sudden, people in the cheer world could speak in a language that carried power, not cheerleading gossip, but anti-monopoly terminology. Varsity was no longer just an organizer of cheer competitions and a provider of apparel, it was a powerful wrongdoer”

“For a time, Google threatened to pull out of Australia, and Facebook actually did pull out. But this bullying of Australia generated anger, not just locally, but globally, as regulators everywhere looked at the power of big tech and got both incensed and afraid that their nations might be blackmailed as well. The law went into effect, Google and Facebook quickly caved, and these two firms began cutting deals with Australian newspapers. None of the scare stories about the new law came true. There were no changes to copyright, no link taxes, there was no devastation of the internet, and no increase of hate speech. There was no entrenchment of big media business models, the ACCC continued to move ahead to stop anti-competitive practices in the adtech marketplace.

Big media firms benefitted, but so did small ones, and most of all, so did journalists”

“Facebook’s stonewalling has been revealing on its own, providing variations on the same theme: It has amassed so much data on so many billions of people and organized it so confusingly that full transparency is impossible on a technical level. In the March 2022 hearing, Zarashaw and Steven Elia, a software engineering manager, described Facebook as a data-processing apparatus so complex that it defies understanding from within. The hearing amounted to two high-ranking engineers at one of the most powerful and resource-flush engineering outfits in history describing their product as an unknowable machine”

“The judge justified her decision because she was “mindful of the need to ensure at least the appearance of fairness and integrity under the extraordinary circumstances presented.”

Energy and politics reporter David Roberts of Volts pointed out that this is a common pattern for MAGA Republicans. First, they spread lies and conspiracy theories, then they act based on the “appearance” that something is shady. “So this… judge says Trump deserves extraordinary, unprecedented latitude because of the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and the ‘swirling questions about bias.’ But her fellow reactionaries were the only ones raising questions of bias! It’s a perfectly sealed feedback loop,” and one the right wing has perfected over “voter fraud.”


“Ed Zitron noted that remote work “lays bare many brutal inefficiencies and problems that executives don’t want to deal with because they reflect poorly on leaders and those they’ve hired.” Yet the burden of accountability typically falls on workers themselves, not on those who call themselves leaders. This is a function of weak labor laws that concentrate power in the employer, instead of redistributing it to workers. Absent a union, a worker has few options at their disposal. They can quit their job for another, hoping for better circumstances and more benevolent overlords, or they can take back their time”

“Until at least 2014, OSINT was largely the domain of intelligence agencies that were gathering information about adversaries’ troop movement or military capabilities for threat forecasting, using data collected from public sources. The ubiquity of smartphones and social media has spawned the rise of professional investigative groups and amateur OSINT accounts on social media, where individuals comb through Google Maps, body cam footage, facial recognition searches, and freely available satellite imagery, to share intelligence and analysis of conflicts.

Globally, OSINT has become a powerful tool for journalists and researchers to hold power to account. In India, these self-proclaimed OSINT accounts are now using those same tools to delegitimize journalists and activists critical of the government”

“In lower-paying jobs, the monitoring is already ubiquitous: not just at Amazon, where the second-by-second measurements became notorious, but also for Kroger cashiers, UPS drivers and millions of others. Eight of the 10 largest private U.S. employers track the productivity metrics of individual workers, many in real time, according to an examination by The New York Times.

Now digital productivity monitoring is also spreading among white-collar jobs and roles that require graduate degrees. Many employees, whether working remotely or in person, are subject to trackers, scores, “idle” buttons, or just quiet, constantly accumulating records. Pauses can lead to penalties, from lost pay to lost jobs”

“With an explosion in funding from investors including Khosla, Bill Gates, George Soros, Emerson Collective and Google to name a few—they raised $1.8 billion last year alone—CFS hopes to start operating a prototype in 2025.

Think of a fusion reactor as a boiler, in which the plasma inside the reactor’s tokamak produces 650-degree heat in the form of a moving fluid—in Commonwealth’s case it’s molten salt, but it could be steam or high temperature helium—which enters a heat exchanger, making steam that eventually turns a turbine. Except, in this case, the heat in the boiler isn’t made by the combustion of carbon into CO2, but the fusion of hydrogen into helium”

“A set of coils going out of commission can and will disable a building’s heating system for days. The same is true of elevator-control mechanisms and all sorts of other aging components. Six hundred thousand residents depend on elevators that are old enough to have ferried Biggie Smalls and heating systems that kept kids warm as their fathers stormed the beaches of Normandy.

They all ought to be replaced, of course, but that means finding $40 billion for a proper systemwide renovation. (The estimate was $13 billion less than a decade ago, illustrating just how much the disinvestment compounds as the buildings age.) There have undoubtedly been some significant management issues, but the original sin here is simple underfunding. The cavalry is not coming over the horizon; the Feds effectively have, to paraphrase a famous headline, told NYCHA to drop dead”

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