Jellyfish shot: an admiring cocktail

The jellyfish shot combines a sickly sweet collection of liqueurs (blue curacao and sambuca) with vodka and a drop of cream to make a cocktail that is gorgeous to admire, even if you couldn't pay me enough to drink one. Read the rest

On Fire: Naomi Klein's book is a time-series of the shift from climate denial to nihilism to Green New Deal hope

My latest LA Times book review is for Naomi Klein's new essay collection, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, which traces more than a decade of Klein's outstanding, on-the-ground reports from the pivotal struggle to begin the transformational work needed to save our species and the rest of the Earth's living things from a devastating, eminently foreseeable, and ultimately avoidable climate catastrophe. Read the rest

Bill Gates: if we break up Big Tech, we'll just have more bad companies

In an interview with Bloomberg, Bill Gates dismissed the idea of breakups as a remedy for Big Tech's monopolistic market concentration; Gates said that breaking up an abusive company will just produce more abusive companies. Instead, Gates believes that specific monopolistic activities should be banned. Read the rest

Propublica finds millions of Americans' medical images and data sitting on unprotected, publicly accessible servers

An investigation by Propublica and Bayerischer Rundfunk found 187 servers hosting more than 5,000,000 patients' confidential medical records and scans (including a mix of Social Security numbers, home addresses and phone numbers, scans and images, and medical files) that were accessible by the public, "available to anyone with basic computer expertise." Read the rest

Republic of Lies: the rise of conspiratorial thinking and the actual conspiracies that fuel it

Anna Merlan has made a distinguished journalistic career out of covering conspiracy theories, particularly far-right ones, for Gizmodo Media; her book-length account of conspiratorial thinking, Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power, is a superb tour not just through the conspiracies that have taken hold in American public discourse, but also in the real, often traumatic conspiracies that give these false beliefs a terrible ring of plausibility. Read the rest

The Babysitter's Coven

Esme Pearl has a shitty life: she's seventeen, has only one real friend in the world, lives in a small Kansas town (and hates it), goes to high school, and is being raised by her traumatized father who can't bring himself to talk about the mental illness that has landed her mother in a locked psych ward since Esme was a little girl. Read the rest

Tolkien’s Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is probably a misogynist satire of women's rights campaigner Victoria Sackville-West

Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is a Lord of the Rings Hobbit, one of the few, rare female characters in that series, and she's a nasty piece of work: a bitter enemy of Frodo and Bilbo, she is mostly depicted trying to either steal their stuff or buy it at deep discounts from them: she ends her days first imprisoned and starved, and then dead shortly after she's sprung. Read the rest

Piketty on the "Brahmin left" and the "merchant right"

Thomas Piketty, the French economist behind 2014's game-changing Capital in the 21st Century, has a new book, Capital and Ideology (out in France now, coming in English in 2020), which uses the same long-run economic series that Capital 21C benefited from to understand the relationship between wealth and ideology. Central to Piketty's thesis: that it's not enough to use class to understand how people vote -- you also have to take account of peoples' beliefs about class (this is a neat way of resolving the tension between traditional left class analysis and contemporary "identitarian" theories of leftist politics). Read the rest

New York AG finds a billion dollars that the Sacklers funneled through a single bank

The Sackler family got richer than the Rockefellers through their role in creating and sustaining the opioid crisis, which took more American lives than the Vietnam war. Read the rest

A quarter of NYC's post-2013 luxury condos are unsold

The real estate bubble is in trouble: London's luxury housing market has been in freefall for years, and New York's retail vacancy has been soaring, even as global super-luxe housing is also tanking. Read the rest

LA is going to get cheap nighttime power from a massive solar and battery array in the Mojave

LA's next source of energy: a massive solar panel and lithium battery array in the Mojave, operated by 8minute Solar Energy, and capable of supplying 6-7% of the city's energy budget, with four hours of nighttime use. It will cost an eye-poppingly low $0.03.3/kWh, cheaper than natural gas. Read the rest

Majority of Americans want free college and student debt cancellation

A Hill-HarrisX survey found that 58% of Americans "support government-funded public college tuition and the cancellation of student debt for the more than 44 million Americans who currently hold it." Read the rest

This is your smartphone on feminism

Maria Farrell admits that comparing smartphones to abusive men (they try to keep you from friends and family, they make it hard to study or go to work, they constantly follow you and check up on you) might seem to trivialize domestic partner violence, but, as she points out, feminists have long been pointing out both the literal and metaphorical ways in which tech replicates misogyny. Read the rest

Penetration testers jailed after they broke into a courthouse to test its physical security

Iowa state court officials contracted with Coalfire to conduct "penetration tests" on its security; as part of those tests, two Coalfire employees broke-and-entered the Adel, Iowa courthouse, and were caught by law-enforcement, whose bosses in Dallas County were not notified of the test. Read the rest

Come see me in Toronto and Maine!

I'm in the midst of couple of weeks' worth of lectures, public events and teaching, and you can catch me in Toronto (for Word on the Street, Seeding Utopias and Resisting Dystopias and 6 Degrees); Newry, ME (Maine Library Association) and Portland, ME (in conversation with James Patrick Kelly). Read the rest

The Folio Society is releasing a gorgeous edition of Octavia Butler's "Kindred"

Octavia Butler (previously), the brilliant Afrofuturist, McArthur Genius Grant-winning science fiction writer, died far, far too soon, leaving behind a corpus of incredible, voraciously readable novels, and a community of writers who were inspired by her example. Read the rest

EFF is hiring a development director!

EFF has just posted a job listing for a development director, seeking someone to "take charge of EFF's eleven-person Development Team in their efforts to raise over $13 million each year," starting late 2019 or early 2020. Read the rest

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