Ever wonder if you’ve been watched by government spooks? You can use the tools at Get My FBI File to find out. Of course, that FOIA request will also probably get put in your file. Whoa… beware police state bureaucratic recursion.
An essay about the militarization of campus police, in response to the pepper-spraying of peaceful protesters at UC Davis this week. William Gibson (@GreatDismal) reminisces:
Glad I had opportunity to visit overtly fascist nations as a young man. Good to know the smell. Like skunk, state terror.
Open-Source Camouflage From Computer Vision. As facial recognition becomes more popular as a means for police state identification, innovative makeup and hairstyle fashions can be deployed to foil the Orwellian algorithms. Talk about weird. Now we’re going to be dressing for the machines?
Apparently the agricultural industrial complex is willing to take down its competition with a hail of lead if necessary. A multi-agency SWAT team descended upon a raw milk and cheese buying club in SoCal, and is holding the proprietor without bail. How can this be a serious law enforcement priority?
The Guardian is reporting that an undercover police officer who infiltrated the group of protesters that conspired to shut down the Ratcliffe on Soar coal fired power plant may have “gone native” after seven years with the group, taking part in, providing logistical support for, partially financing, and eventually playing a central role in planning their actions. The prospect of the officer aiding the legal defense of protesters who remain to be tried, or at the least, having the role he played in the organization exposed, has apparently led to the collapse of the case. The only really surprising part about all this is his apparent remorse.
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- James Hansen Arrested in Coal Country – And then there are those admirably pursuing the softer side of direct action. I have to imagine that Thoreau would also be getting arrested in this context. It will be interesting to see how the "resistance" evolves over the coming decade. (tagged: coal protest police climate nytimes politics )
- Make Me Greener, Please – Hire someone to come in and tell you how to be more greener. "I just don't see composting working with my lifestyle". Weird combination of moralizing and home consultant. But maybe that's just how the article is painting it. The idea isn't bad though. Problem is most people aren't willing to make significant changes, or the way our laws or society are structured makes those changes difficult. (tagged: green energy propaganda society )
- On Bus Tours, Seeking a Better Way of Living – A recent NY Times article about co-housing, and a tour of several developments in the East Bay. Would love to believe it does constitute a movement… (tagged: nytimes cohousing architecture sustainability design urban green )
- The Month the Censors Stopped Taking Their Medication – In June, 2009, China's state internet censorship took a turn for the more and the aggro. What changed? Where? Why? Interesting. (tagged: china google censorship privacy )
- Census of Marine Life – The Census of Marine Life is one of many ongoing projects to figure out just what the Earth is like, before we change it any more. Incredible images and visualizations. Cool project: historical reconstructions of marine populations, tracking fish size and frequency through time. We've been changing the oceans in measurable ways for tens of thousands of years. (tagged: science sustainability ocean fish life )
- The ones that got away: science through cross-disciplinary eyes – The difference between what we consider "normal", and what was once the norm can be large. In this case, our societal amnesia is revealed in historical (and pre-historical) records of fish: we were already influencing their populations more than 30,000 years ago. (tagged: history sustainability society fish science )
- Supreme Court Says Child’s Rights Violated by Strip Search – OMG, the SCOTUS has ruled that children at school have *rights*. The end of civilization as we know it must be at hand. (tagged: law privacy scotus school authority police )
- Fixing Airport Security – Alas, if only the TSA *had* interviewed Schneier for the top job. On the other hand, maybe the police-state like experience we all have at airports is a great way to de-emphasize flying? Could be good for high speed rail… (tagged: security police transparency law privacy )
- Washington Village Boulder – There are plans to re-develop the Washington Elementary School in (old) N. Boulder (near Cedar and Broadway) as a dense mixed-use co-housing community. It sounds like exactly the kind of place I want to live! Unfortunately, the neighborhood NIMBYs are opposed to almost everything I like about it: the density, the mixed use, the restricted parking supply. They've managed to get the density and mixed use scaled back, and are working on the parking, making all the units more expensive, and precluding any small (less than 1000 sf) market rate (as opposed to artificially "affordable housing") units. Makes me sad. (tagged: urban design cohousing boulder colorado architecture )
- Brooklyn Cohousing – A single-building co-housing development in Brooklyn NY, to be built to the European Passive House standard. Yet another reason to visit NYC. (tagged: green design nyc housing cohousing architecture )
- Passive House USA – Who knew, there's a Passive House institute affiliate in the US. (tagged: sustainability green design efficiency architecture energy solar passivhaus )
- Is There a Better Word for Doom? – Six disparate views on the value and ethics of actively re-framing the public discussion surrounding climate change. (tagged: politics policy environment communication propaganda climate change science )
- Clay Shirky: How cellphones, Twitter, Facebook can make history – A talk given by Clay Shirky to the State Dept. a month or so ago, on the global, social, ubiquitous and cheap media landscape of the 21st century. Especially relevant in light of Iran's elections and protests at the moment. (tagged: web2.0 media propaganda technology social twitter politics transparency )
- Iran's Disputed Election | A Revolution in Pictures – Images are streaming out of Iran. Hundreds of thousands of people marching. Guns, fires, roads blocked by burning busses, riots and blood in the streets. The para-military storming the University. Protesters improbably evacuating an injured riot cop. Tear-gas ping pong. All revolutions look the same on the ground. They are not in practice ideological affairs. (tagged: iran politics election 2009 photos protest police )
- Gadget Teardowns – How to completely and utterly disassemble… just about anything, from a banana to your brand new Macbook Pro. Unclear whether you can put it all back together again! (tagged: technology design maker )
- The New Socialism: Global Collectivist Society Is Coming Online – An essay by Wired editor and Long Now pundit Kevin Kelly, making analogies between the "socialism" of the 20th century, and the open collaborative systems which have taken hold of the Internet. Larry Lessig hates the fact that he used the S-word, since it's got such a black name in the US, but I'm not so sure it was a bad idea. Actually I think that more than anywhere else, "socialist" ideas can probably work in the world of pure information. We're certainly nowhere near the limits of sharing online yet. (tagged: technology economics politics internet web2.0 socialism lessig longnow )
- Home by Yann Arthus-Bertrand – It's like his photography, but moving. Visually stunning. About 2/3 of the film is great, especially the almost mythologized story of our creation. Poetic, without being flowery or playing too fast and loose with the facts. Short on concrete suggestions for what to do, unfortunately. (tagged: sustainability green earth climate film )
- Web Site Helps Bicyclists Avoid Crash Hotspots – LA's local CBS affiliate did a story on Bikewise, featuring… me! (tagged: bicycle transportation technology maps google urban planning tv )
- The Artvertiser – Ad replacement technology not for your browser, but for your ad encrusted urban reality. Augmented reality goggles not included. (tagged: urban art technology advertising )
- L.A. County raids homeless camp under 10 Freeway – This is like something out of a William Gibson novel. A vast vault underneath the 10 freeway called "The Cave" by its denizens. Drugs, cooking, bicycles, babies, rats. What would LA be like today with 30% unemployment I wonder? (tagged: losangeles freeway homeless society police urban design architecture )
- HEET: Home Energy Efficiency Team – HEET is a bunch of collaborative energy efficiency "barn raisers", volunteering their time and knowledge in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to get home weatherized, insulated, and otherwise energetically improved. Now, it might be even better if one could, um, get some support (or at least a lack of obstruction) from the powers that be for this kind of behavior, but failing that, this is nothing short of brilliant civil disobedience. (tagged: sustainability architecture energy efficiency volunteer cooperation )
- Transparency means nothing without justice – Government transparency is necessary, but not sufficient. If police violence is recorded and publicized, and nobody cares, it doesn't matter. This is in come sense emblematic of the coup in western propaganda. You don't need to control the media as the Soviets did or the Chinese do, if your population is comfortable enough not to care what's happening out there to someone else, and if their voting patterns are firmly tied to other issues (especially social issues like abortion), the idea of a democratic revolt becomes fairly abstract. I think this where a lot of the government's fear of economic recessions comes from. When people are out of work, or even hungry, suddenly they become a lot more excitable. (tagged: transparency law police politics technology internet )
- Condensing steam without water – Concentrating solar thermal power stations are ultimately designed to run a steam turbine, just like a gas-fired power plant. That means they need water (to turn into steam). Problematically, most such plants use water as a condensing coolant (70% of Caltech's water usage is as coolant for our 14MW worth of gas-fired power)… which is going to be hard to come by in the desert, where CSP will be built. Thankfully, there's a way to recondense steam without using a water coolant – but it does require a huge cooling tower. Not so great in Pasadena, but probably fine in the Mojave, next to acres and acres of mirrors. (tagged: solar energy technology sustainability green electricity water )
- Rousing a Latent Defense Mechanism to Fight HIV – It turns out there is a gene in humans that produces a protein which inhibits infection by HIV, but it has a mutation – a premature stop codon – which prevents it from being effectively synthesized. This mutation doesn't exist in most Old World monkeys (and that's apparently why they can't get HIV). Undoing the mutation allows the protein to be synthesized, and grants HIV immunity to human cells. I imagine that undoing bad mutations like this, and our inability to synthesize vitamin C, might be the first place we see human germ-line engineering outside of disease avoidance (preventing e.g. cystic fibrosis). Really, these mutations are hard to distinguish from genetic diseases – they're just diseases that we, as a species, have learned to live with. (tagged: genetic engineering hiv aids biology science research plos medicine )
- Anna in the Middle East – Anna Baltzer is a Jewish American who got a Fulbright fellowship to live in the West Bank in 2005, and document the experiences of Palestinians. She's been giving presentations about it ever since. Some parts of her presentation are available via YouTube too. From the 15 minutes I watched she seemed like a level headed critic. She's speaking in Boulder and Denver in May. (tagged: israel palestine politics fulbright peace war )
- Twitter + Stimulus = Humans are Gullible – A wonderful demonstration of the power of the confirmatory bias. Twitter is the perfect platform for the injection of random falsehoods. Too short for citations. Instantaneous distribution. Make sure your followers are predisposed to agree with what you say, and you can get them to believe just about anything – within that constraint. Too bad the author seems to think this only applies to conservatives. (tagged: politics twitter statistics propaganda )