The Roundup for July 30-August 5, 2018 Edition

The Seat by Christopher Parsons

I’m finally back in the swing of regularly getting up, and out, to make more photos. It’s once again an almost meditative activity: the process of carefully looking at my surroundings, thinking through what might be aesthetically appealing, and then trying to push myself to realize what I see in my minds eye is deeply relaxing. It’s leading me to start looking at the world as someone involved in photography: even when I don’t have camera in hand I’m trying to ‘see’ the shots around me, the focal ranges I’d want, apertures I’d prefer, and so forth.

Strapping on my camera has also been good in getting me to walk around areas of the city that I haven’t visited in too many months or, in some cases, years. Huge parts of my city have transformed themselves in short periods of time, with new art installations scattered throughout the core, old places I liked to photograph having been torn down, and new places being built right now.

In case you’re interested in seeing more of my photos, I post them more regularly at Instagram, despite my annoyance with certain elements of that social media platform.

Inspiring Quotation of the Week

“When you take responsibility for your life, you can choose peace instead of drama, growth instead of complacency and love instead of abuse.”

– Kyle D. Jones

Great Photography Shots

I’m continually impressed with just how much can be done with smartphone cameras; a recent set from Mobiography on the topic of ‘stunningly beautiful world inspired’ photos led to some great shots.

On this dreary day, memories of Provence sunflowers make me smile‘ by Barbara Frish
Foggy morning‘ by Liz Anderson
Out of the mist they come‘ by @Rawdeb

Music I’m Digging

  • Underworld and Iggy Pop – Teatime Dub Encounters (EP) // The curious combination of electronic dub and Iggy’s mostly spoken word contributions make for a unique listening experience. I keep thinking that it reminds me, here and there, of a very very upbeat Leonard Cohen. And then a few bars later (and Iggy’s own screechy voice) and I recant that position.
  • Sam Hague – Altered Carbon (Playlist) // I loved Altered Carbon when it came out: it was the gritty cyberpunk environment that I love that was accompanied by a decent plot and sufficiently interesting characters. The original series’ soundtrack is good, but I find that Sam’s playlist does a better job at more broadly capturing the ambiance and mood that I associated with cyberpunk settings.
  • Tool – 10,000 Days // Not a new album by any stretch, but I’ve been listening to this regularly all week. I love the instrumentals in Jambi and how in-depth the instrumentals and vocals are for Wings for Marie, Pt. 1 and 10,000 Days (Wings, Pt. 2).

Neat Podcast Episodes

  • Planet Money – Venezuela’s Fugitive Money Trades // A discussion of why the current government of Venezuela is struggling to shut out groups who are providing US dollars to citizens, and the potential for the Venezuela economy to spontaneously shift default currencies to one pegged to the US dollar.
  • The Heart – No: Answers // (Part three of a four part series; trigger warning) In this episode, Kaitlin talks with men about why, and when, they ignored when when women said they wanted a given sexual activity to stop. It’s a raw, hurtful, episode to listen to. And it’s critical than discussions like this are listened to, widely, by men to understand the threats that many women have already faced, and many more fear facing in the future.
  • Lawfare – Should Humans Communicate with Aliens? // Shane Harris hosts a fun discussion about the ethics of communicating with foreign beings, and works through a series of different thought experiments with his guests (e.g. what if we get a message from 50,000 years ago? What if spaceships suddenly appear over our cities?). One thing that stuck with me was that we are likely to be deeply challenged in speaking with any visitors; we can’t current communicate with intelligent life forms on Earth such as dolphins, whales, or octopi; why do we think we’ll be any more successful with beings not of this earth?
  • Wag the Dog – Dark, Dirty, and Disruptive // A new episodic and intermittent CanadaLand podcast, Allison Smith and Jonathan Goldsbie look over what Doug Ford has done since becoming Premier of Ontario, and what those actions means for how Ford will govern and Ontario likely fare under his dictates.

Good Reads for the Week

  • The most relaxing vacation you can take is going nowhere // I’m anticipating a staycation at some point in the coming year or so, and have a list of specific things I want to do (mainly engage in photography around the city, where I’m unlikely to otherwise venture out to). Friends of mine have taken these for years and swear by their relaxing quality; while I don’t want to give up travelling for vacation, I also want to find ways of appreciating where I live that much more.
  • At any given time in their lives, people have two dozen regular haunts // Based on research, scientists have found that humans seem to have an upper limit of places that they regularly visit or spend time at. This research makes me want to think through the different places I regularly frequent and determine just how many frequent haunts I really do have, as well as when they change and perhaps why.
  • Inside the World of Racist Science Fiction // An insightful look at how the tropes of white nationalist literature now pervade the very language used by the White House.
  • Photo of Kissing Gay Couple Sparks Controversy at One of Brazil’s Most Important and Iconic Tourist Sites // Sometimes people ask how they can be an ally of a group they support, but do not belong to; this business owner shows how it can be done.
  • Your IoT security concerns are stupid // Robert Graham has a very contrarian position on IoT security: the issue isn’t patching or DNS, but something we can’t really see yet. Solving for old problems in policy is going to cost more than the benefit and, so, he argues we should let technologists just solve things at market speed instead of waiting for politics to catch up.
  • When Rio Tinto Met China’s Iron Hand // A truly stunningly detailed investigative report that unpacks how Chinese security and intelligence services are weaponized against foreign companies. Particularly noteworthy is the decision by Rio Tinto to maintain dealings with Chinese companies despite knowing they are compromised and targeted: the lure of profits mean that they will continue to negotiate and contract despite being at gross informational disadvantages.
  • Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal // When Google left the Chinese market it was heralded as a demonstration of how corporations could, and should, behave to advance human rights. Google’s plans to return to China are a serious, and painful, blow to those who have campaigned for internet freedom and human rights across the world.
  • Jeff Bezos’s $150 Billion Fortune Is a Policy Failure // The Atlantic argues that Bezos’ fortunes are the result of economic policies that disenfranchise those least well off in society while, simultaneously, externalizing the costs of wage depression and associated health challenges to the public purse. While the article concludes by arguing Bezos, himself, hasn’t necessarily done anything wrong I don’t think this holds up to the article’s own assessment of Amazon: a history of deliberately busting union-organizing, promoting non-compete agreements to inhibit worker mobility, and efforts to avoid paying taxes are all indications that the company — and Bezos by extension — is more interested in exploiting persons and localities than ?supporting the communities that it’s located within. Communities, like the humans they employ, are merely disposable assets.
  • The World Economy Runs on GPS. It Needs a Backup Plan // GPS is critical to almost all aspects of contemporary life. While Russia and the EU, along with China, have or are deploying their equivalents to reduce their dependence of American system, those very systems are vulnerable to interference that could shut down vast swathes of our lives. This is an issue that all governments need to seriously address, and soon, rather than just waiting until something bad happens.
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