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HOWTO spin a toothbrush on your finger

This enterprising fellow is very good at spinning a toothbrush on his finger, and he wants to share his talent with all of us! It looks remarkably simple to learn, and you'll surely find endless hours of enjoyment in this skill, should you choose to acquire it.

Como girar uma escova de dentes no dedo - Tutorial de malabares com objetos não-convencionais (Thanks, Lucas!)

Cops in Somerville, MA: "It would endanger the public to tell you what guns we have"

Michael from Muckrock sez, "Want to know what guns your neighbor has? Generally public record. What guns your government has? That's top secret. A recent public records request for the armaments of a local police department in Somerville, MA., was met with a surprising response: Releasing a list of guns the department held 'is likely to jeopardize public safety,' and so is exempt from public disclosure. Maybe they're arming up for an insurrection? Cory

Elite Panic: why rich people think all people are monsters

Here's a quote on "Elite Panic" from Rebecca Solnit, It's an idea I'm fascinated by, particularly the notion that if you believe that people are fundamentally a mob waiting to rise up and loot but for the security state, you will build a security state that turns people into a mob of would-be looters.

The term "elite panic" was coined by Caron Chess and Lee Clarke of Rutgers. From the beginning of the field in the 1950s to the present, the major sociologists of disaster -- Charles Fritz, Enrico Quarantelli, Kathleen Tierney, and Lee Clarke -- proceeding in the most cautious, methodical, and clearly attempting-to-be-politically-neutral way of social scientists, arrived via their research at this enormous confidence in human nature and deep critique of institutional authority. It’s quite remarkable.

Elites tend to believe in a venal, selfish, and essentially monstrous version of human nature, which I sometimes think is their own human nature. I mean, people don't become incredibly wealthy and powerful by being angelic, necessarily. They believe that only their power keeps the rest of us in line and that when it somehow shrinks away, our seething violence will rise to the surface -- that was very clear in Katrina. Timothy Garton Ash and Maureen Dowd and all these other people immediately jumped on the bandwagon and started writing commentaries based on the assumption that the rumors of mass violence during Katrina were true. A lot of people have never understood that the rumors were dispelled and that those things didn't actually happen; it's tragic.

But there's also an elite fear -- going back to the 19th century -- that there will be urban insurrection. It's a valid fear. I see these moments of crisis as moments of popular power and positive social change. The major example in my book is Mexico City, where the '85 earthquake prompted public disaffection with the one-party system and, therefore, the rebirth of civil society.

I've just ordered her book A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster. This is basically what I was talking about here, when I described the idea I hoped to capture in the prequel to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

BOMB Magazine: Rebecca Solnit by Astra Taylor

(via Schneier)

San Francisco science fiction reading with Mary Robinette Kowal & Rick Klaw

The next installment of San Francisco's SF in SF science fiction reading series features a couple of heavy hitters: Mary Robinette Kowal & Rick Klaw. It's Saturday, April 20; doors open at 6PM. Cory

Blowing up Morozov's "To Save Everything, Click Here"

Tim Wu has written an admirably economical and restrained review of Evgeny Morozov's new book, "To Save Everything, Click Here." I wrote a long critique of Morozov's first book in 2011, and back then, I found myself unable to restrain myself from enumerating the many, many flaws in the book and its fundamental dishonesty, pandering and laziness. Wu has more discipline than I do, and limits himself to a much shorter, sharper and better critique of Morozov's new one. It's a must-read:

“To Save Everything, Click Here” is rife with such bullying and unfair attacks that seem mainly designed to build Morozov’s particular brand of trollism; one suspects he aspires to be a Bill O’Reilly for intellectuals. How else to explain the savaging of thinkers whom you might think of as his natural allies? Consider Nicholas Carr, another critic of Silicon Valley, who wrote a book, “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” detailing the malicious effect of Web apps on our minds. He commits the unforgivable sin of discussing “the Internet” and is therefore guilty of what Morozov calls “McLuhanesque medium-centrism.” (Morozov is evidently licensed to use concepts, even if his targets are not). Similarly, although most of my work is an effort to put the Internet in historical or legal context, I, too, am an “Internet-centrist” (but at least I’m in good company).

Too much assault and battery creates a more serious problem: wrongful appropriation, as Morozov tends to borrow heavily, without attribution, from those he attacks. His critique of Google and other firms engaged in “algorithmic gatekeeping”is basically taken from Lessig’s first book, “Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace,” in which Lessig argued that technology is necessarily ideological and that choices embodied in code, unlike law, are dangerously insulated from political debate. Morozov presents these ideas as his own and, instead of crediting Lessig, bludgeons him repeatedly. Similarly, Morozov warns readers of the dangers of excessively perfect technologies as if Jonathan Zittrain hadn’t been saying the same thing for the past 10 years. His failure to credit his targets gives the misimpression that Morozov figured it all out himself and that everyone else is an idiot.

Does Morozov have an alternative vision of technology’s future? Generally, he decries the search for perfect, efficient solutions and admires an inefficient, organic chaos of the kind favored by Jane Jacobs in urban design. Funny, that’s exactly what the Internet’s protocols brought to communications, as a response to the big TV networks and AT&T’s “perfect” network. The ideology behind the Internet’s protocols accepts greater inefficiency to allow for the organic life and death of applications and firms. Hence, if you had to name one technology that best serves the principles Morozov believes in, it would be easy: It is called the Internet.

Apart from Morozov's tendency to ad hominem (he likes to call people he disagrees with "morons" and "idiots" in print) and his reliance on straw-men, Wu hits on the two critical flaws with Morozov's work:

1. He never offers a credible vision of what technology should be like in order to promote freedom and justice. Morozov gives the strong impression that activists should just give up on using or attempting to improve the Internet, a counsel of despair that would result in an unchecked march to total surveillance, control and censorship for just about everyone, with no hope of change. In his first book, Morozov asserts that the mass demonstrations following the Iranian elections would have taken place without the net, just through word of mouth -- as someone who spent about a decade helping with phone-trees, mass-mailouts and wheatpasted poster campaigns for demonstrations, I was dubious on this score.

2. He is fundamentally pandering to censors, surveillors, and repressors. All of the former are cheerful about their attempts to lock down and spy upon the net, because, they assert, nothing of much importance happens there (I wrote about this at length earlier). Morozov's biggest boosters are the copyright thugs, the spyware vendors, and the data retention snoops who argue that ripping up the Internet's fabric does no particular harm because the Internet isn't even a thing. "There is no such thing as the Internet" is the 21st century version of Maggie Thatcher's "There is no such thing as society" -- a dangerous, reductionist self-fulfilling prophecy.

Book review: ‘To Save Everything, Click Here’ by Evgeny Morozov

Review: Canon Eos M

Great shots, but the autofocus is crap. 3/5

Canon EOS M [Amazon]

Iron Lady delays Iron Man

Organizers of the UK premiere of Iron Man 3 delayed the event due to its conflict with Baroness Thatcher's funeral. Rob

Anne Frank, Belieber

Anne Frank House writes:

Yesterday night Justin Bieber visited the Anne Frank House, together with his friends and guards. Fans were waiting outside to see a glimpse of him. He stayed more than an hour in the museum. In our guestbook he wrote: "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber." Tonight Bieber will give a concert in Arnhem in the Netherlands.

Very gracious of them not to point out that Anne would totally have preferred Radiohead.

Canadian govt demands a 10-page questionnaire & CV in order to seek permission to comment on oil pipeline


Under Canada's newly gutted environmental laws, members of the public who want to comment on the upcoming hearings on the new Enbridge oil pipeline must beg for permission by fillling in an obscure, ten-page questionnaire and submitting a CV. It's as though the Harper government has fingerpainted FUCK OFF AND DIE on Parliament in heavy crude.

“The new rules are undemocratic. They attempt to restrict the public’s participation in these hearings and prevent a real dialogue about the environmental impacts of the Line 9 pipeline project,” said Adam Scott of Environmental Defence. “Canadians should not have to apply for permission to have their voices heard on projects that carry serious risks to their communities.”

Under the new rules, any Ontario resident who lives along the 639-km pipeline route who wants to send in a letter about their concerns must first apply to the NEB for permission to send in a letter. As of today, the public will have just two weeks to fill out a 10-page form which asks for a resume and references.

“Since when does someone’s resume determine if they have the right to be concerned about what’s happening in their home community?” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. “Anyone who lives and works in southern Ontario could be affected by a spill and everyone is affected by climate change. The right to send a letter of comment and have it considered by public agencies is part of the basic rights and freedoms Canadians enjoy.”

Line 9 runs directly through the most populated part of the country, through backyards, under farms and next to schools. The pipeline crosses every Canadian river flowing into Lake Ontario, threatening the drinking water of millions.

New undemocratic rules create barrier to public participation in upcoming pipeline hearings: a consequence of weakened federal environmental laws under Bill C-38 [Environmental Defense]

(Thanks, Cliff!)