From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
In 1998, Rob Bilott, an environmental lawyer, took the case of Wilbur Tennant, a cattle farmer who believed DuPont chemical dumping was killing his livestock. Internal documents would reveal that DuPont had known for decades that the chemical—PFOA, used in the manufacture of Teflon—was highly toxic, connected to organ failure, birth defects, cancer, and more. DuPont decided to keep using it anyway. Factory workers were poisoned, as was the water supply of 70,000 people; the scale may be even greater, as “by 2003 the average concentration of PFOA in the blood of an adult American was four to five parts per billion”.
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio actually makes a case against austerity and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
Earlier this month, British Petroleum agreed to plead guilty to 14 violations of law, including negligence causing death and the Clean Water Act. [more inside]
Chip Rogers is the Republican Majority Leader of the Georgia State Senate, and Treasurer of ALEC (previously 1 2). On October 11th he hosted a four-hour briefing for his fellow senators, regarding Obama's mind-control techniques which are forcing the US into a United Nations-led Communist dictatorship in which suburbanites are forcibly relocated to cities. The theory is based on Agenda 21, the non-binding 1992 UN treaty on sustainable development. Rogers narrowly failed to pass a resolution against Agenda 21, but other states have done so, and Alabama has even forbidden its implementation in law.
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
“So if we continue voting like this in the (House of Commons), there’ll be no b-day for me this year?” tweeted NDP MP Hoang Mai.
It is still June 13 for the Parliament of Canada, where voting has continued overnight on the "omnibus budget bill" (previously), due to 159 separate amendment votes that have been forced by the opposition. None are likely to pass, but the arduous process is meant to function as a protest against legislation which many critics have argued goes far beyond the scope of a traditional budget. [more inside]
An experiment done in the 1990s exposed children to various levels of lead. The lawsuit filed in 2001 by the parents of over 100 participants accuses the Kennedy Krieger Institute that the scientists knowingly used the kids as test subjects in toxic dust control study. [more inside]
With the climate bill dead and blame portioned, Ezra Klein asks what happens when congress fails? He concludes that "regulations to reduce carbon emissions are alive and well. The Environmental Protection Agency can attack carbon as a pollutant, and the Obama administration's announcement that efforts to hamstring the EPA will be vetoed suggests that they mean to do exactly that." [more inside]
"Natural communities and ecosystems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist, flourish and naturally evolve..."
Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal by Joel Salatin. This Saturday will mark this article's four year anniversary. Frankly, I was mildly surprised not to have found it mentioned before in MeFi. It's a good read about a sad state of affairs; how our government is turning its own people into outlaws, because freedom has been traded in for an illusion of security. ...but then we already knew that. Don't we?
The Green Scare: Rod Coronado gave a talk in San Diego and the feds called his words ‘terrorism.’ How new laws are equating environmentalists with Al Qaeda. [Via Gristmill.]
Convicted as an ecoterrorist, a brilliant young scholar nose-dives in prison. An article on Billy Cottrell, a physics genius with Asperger's Syndrome who was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for his role in destroying $5 million worth of SUVs. His case was previously discussed here. [Via BB.]