Boing Boing 

World War 3 Illustrated: prescient outrage from the dawn of the Piketty apocalypse

The Reagan era kicked off a project to dismantle social mobility and equitable justice began. This trenchant, angry, gorgeous graphic zine launched in response.Read the rest

Grim meathook future, Singapore style


Charlie Stross's "Different Cluetrain" is a set of theses describing the future we live in, where capitalism not only doesn't need democracy -- it actually works better where democracy is set aside in favor of a kind of authoritarian, investor-friendly state.

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The Tory war on science in Canada: a chronology

Nine years of cuts; muzzlings; bad science, retaliatory firings, burned libraries, layoffs, closed investigations, censorship, withdrawal from international accords;

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Livestream: students occupy Newark school superintendent's office to protest forced privatization

Greg Costikyan writes, "Newark public school students have occupied the office of Cami Anderson, the state-appointed superintendent of Newark's public school system, in protest against plans to privatize the entire city school system over the protest of the city's mayor and virtually its entire population."

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Gov Walker caught lying about his rewrite of the U Wisc mission


Since 1904, the State of Wisconsin and its university system have been governed by the public service mandate of the "Wisconsin Idea" -- until Governor Scott Walker's office leaned on the university to change the Idea to be all about providing workers for the state's businesses, and then lied about it.

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No future for you: cultural institutions can't afford to play along with pointy-headed bosses


My new Guardian column, Go digital by all means, but don't bring the venture capitalists in to do it, is an open letter to the poor bastards who run public institutions, asking them to hold firm on delivering public value and not falling into the trap of running public services "like a business."

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David Graeber's The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy

Anarchist anthropologist David Graeber follows up his magesterial Debt: The First 5000 Years with a slim, sprightly, acerbic attack on capitalism's love affair with bureaucracy, asking why the post-Soviet world has more paperwork, phone-trees and red-tape than ever, and why the Right are the only people who seem to notice or care.Read the rest

Bottom line: are humans sensors or things to be sensed?


A magesterial longread from Hans de Zwart of the Netherlands' Bits of Freedom steps carefully through all the ways in which the modern technological landscape focuses on ubiquitous surveillance for the purposes of social control and increased profitability for corporations.

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Philadelphia schools have $5/student/year for supplies


"Education reform," the charter school movement (that siphons state funding for well-off kids into private hands), the racialized segregation of inner-city and suburban school districts, No Child Left Behind, and the scapegoating of teachers' unions has produced an education system that hardly even qualifies as a 12-year babysitting service.

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Hungary's Internet tax arouses mass opposition

The economically precarious country has a remarkably low rate of corporate tax, and makes up the difference with high, regressive consumption taxes, including the one of the highest rates of VAT in Europe.

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What's financialism, and how is it destroying your life?

As businesses start retaining and investing larger cash-reserves, they're turning into banks. Banks, meanwhile, need to find another line of work: they become asset traders. Meanwhile, your wages have been stagnant for decades, which means that in order to survive, you must become a debtor.

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SF predicting the present: novel anticipated Detroit water crisis

Paul Di Filippo describes Ben Parzybok's new novel, Sherwood Nation: "The book is obviously as headline-friendly as the Ferguson riots, inequality debates, Occupy protests and climate change reports; but there's also a Joseph Conrad-Grahame Greene-Shakespeare style concern with the nature of power, the roles that are thrust upon us, and the limits of friendship and love."

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Stephen Harper sells Canada: China can secretly sue to repeal Canadian laws


Under the terms of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, approved by PM Harper on Friday, China can sue Canada in secret tribunals to repeal national and provincial laws that interfere with Chinese investments, including laws limiting construction of the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline.

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How anti-slavery law created American corporate personhood


Jeff Reifman sez, "In light of this week's ruling that for-profit corporations should have protection for their religious beliefs, I thought I'd summarize the timeline of Supreme Court decisions that established corporate constitutional rights US law." tl;dr: most of it comes from the anti-slavery 14th Amendment.

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SWAT teams claim to be private mercenaries, immune to open records laws


The ACLU reports [PDF] that when it made Freedom of Information requests for Massachusetts SWAT team records, the SWATs claimed that because they were organized as "law enforcement councils" (jointly owned by many police departments, with additional federal funding) that they were not government agencies at all, but rather private corporations, and not subject to open records laws.

SWATs are the white-hot center of the increasingly brutal and militarized response of US police forces, which have outfitted themselves with ex-Afghanistan/Iraq military materiel and have deployed it in an escalating violent series of attacks, largely as part of the war on drugs. As Radley Balko writes in the Washington Post, the SWATs' claim to be private companies doesn't pass the giggle test: they are funded by the government, pay government employees, and do the government's business.

The argument boils down to this: we are not the police, we are private mercenaries armed with automatic weapons and military-grade vehicles and equipment, and when we attack and kill in the streets of American cities, we do so as private soldiers who happen to be funded by the police departments' budgets.

The ACLU is suing the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council to challenge this ruse, but even if they win, this should be setting off alarm bells for anyone who believes in good government and responsible policing. The cornerstone of democratic legitimacy is a duty to the public, with all the transparency and respect that implies. When police forces up and down the state structure themselves to create and exploit a loophole that lets them obscure the details of their most violent, most spectacular screw-ups -- which generally result in gruesome injuries and deaths to innocent members of the public -- there is no way they can claim to be acting in the public interest.

The fact that the city governments that oversee these departments and the federal agencies that fund the LECs have been complicit in this suggests that this isn't a matter of police overreach, but rather is a policy that goes literally all the way to the top of the policing regulatory structure in America.

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Piketty goes post-secondary: why a university education is so goddamned expensive


Thomas Frank is scorching on the subject of university tuition hikes and the complicity of the press in blaming everything except for bulging administrations and cuts to state universities for the 30-year spiral of super-inflationary price-hikes from America's post-secondary sector. Where he really nails it, though, is about two thirds of the way through, when he discusses the mental shift that allowed all this to happen: once universities started advertising themselves as paths to individual high-earnings (instead of seats of learning and forces for national prosperity), there was no reason for anyone to want to see them as subsidized, universal, accessible institutions:

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Most-misused scientific concepts


Annalee Newitz rounds up scientists' ten least-favorite misused scientific concepts, from "proof" and "theory" to "natural" and "learned versus innate." The thing that most of these misconceptions have in common is that they're very profitable: clouding the idea of "proof" and "theory" helps oil companies sell climate denial (and were the go-to tactic when tobacco giants were claiming that their products didn't cause cancer). "Natural" is a label that helps sell woo. "Learned versus innate" is a great way to justify crappy policies as being somehow "innate" to our species (see Love of Shopping is Not a Gene).

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