… surely there is no automatic, positive link between knowledge and power, especially if that means power in a social or political sense. At times knowledge brings merely an enlightened impotence or paralysis. One may know exactly what to do but lack the wherewithal to act. Of the many conditions that affect the phenomenon of power, knowledge is but one and by no means the most important.
- Langdon Winner, The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology
If those responsible for security believe that the law does not give them enough power to protect security effectively, they must try to persuade the law-makers, Parliament and the provincial legislatures, to change the law. They must not take the law into their own hands. This is a requirement of a liberal society.
Canada, Commission of Inquiry Concerning Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Second Report: Freedom and Security Under the Law, vol 1, Part II (Ottawa: Privy Council Office, 1981) at 45.
The past few weeks have been clustered with travel across Canada for work and personal reasons, and a lot of packing as I prepare to move a few kilometres in my city. (I suspect it won’t be until after I move that things settle down and return to a more regular posting schedule.)
I’ve made a small change in this Edition that I’ll be carrying forward in all future roundups: beside each link is a little more information about the item in question to clarify what will be found on the other end of the link. I hope you like it.
Inspiring Quotation of the Week
A person’s dignity does not depend on them being a citizen, a migrant, or a refugee. Saving the life of someone fleeing war and poverty is an act of humanity.
- Pope Francis
Great Photography Shots
Daniel Mercadante’s light photography is just magical.
Music I’m Digging
- The Carters – Everything Is Love//This might be the surprise album of the season, with APESHIT looking like it might be the Hotline Bling of 2018.
- Jay Rock – Redemption//I hadn’t come across his work in the past, and it’s slowly starting to grow on me.
- NAS – Nasir//I can’t pretend to appreciate many of NAS’ lyrics — the nonsense he writes about vaccines, in particular, are frustrating at best — but in terms of flow NAS’s new album is pretty terrific.
Neat Podcast Episodes
- Policy Options – Why does encryption policy matter?//A terrific and succinct introduction to the importance of cryptography for all walks of life, and why the Canadian government should support strong encryption.
- Intrepid – Interview with Bob Paulson (Former Commissioner of the RCMP//This is a helpful interview for gaining insight into the national security challenges facing Canada’s federal policing agency.
Good Reads for the Week
- Interview with Ragnar Axelssom//An interesting, if sad, interview with a photographer who’s watched climate change damage and destroy otherwise pristine northern environments.
- Instagram’s Wannabe-Stars Are Driving Luxury Hotels Crazy//More and more companies are capitulating to ‘influencers’ coming to promote their businesses. But to no one’s surprise, many of those so-called influencers really just want a free trip and a place to take swimsuit shots.
- 8 Men on What It Was Like When Their Partner Had an Abortion//An honest account of the often complicated, and hard to express, feelings pro-choice men have in cases of unintended pregnancies.
- Friends and enemies: Reacting to Apple’s privacy stance//”Is Apple your friend? No. Of course not. It’s a company that sells stuff. But, right now at least, it’s an ally. And The Macalope doesn’t know about anyone else, but he’s not clear on the rationale behind the “Always shoot your allies first” policy.”
- The Death of a Once Great City: The fall of New York and the urban crisis of affluence//This is an ode to the downfall of New York that has been brought about by speculative land development, rising property taxes, and a hollowing out of what made the city itself. But the same thing could be written for any of the cities that are now experiencing hyper-inflated rent increases, declines of social and public services, and a general shift toward transient populations over permanent residents. What will become of these cities in ten or twenty years time?
- Canadian winemaker Norman Hardie accused of sexual misconduct//The Globe & Mail’s investigation of sexual impropriety in the food and beverage business has revealed that one of Canada’s more notable winemakers has a long history of harassing women. And, once more, the reporting reveals that basic power imbalances led women to just leave bad situations instead of feeling like they could demand accountability and justice. If there is any silver lining, it’s that the story is coming out, now, and that there were at least some persons who refused to have business transactions with Hardie after realizing what he did to women who were around him. Sadly, such refusals were often premised on a personal realization of the truth of the behaviours: the men who stopped doing business with Hardie didn’t choose to believe women from the get-go.
- A Janitor Preserves the Seized Belongings of Migrants//Looking at these everyday items which were (and are) seized and discarded by American border authorities I’m reminded of a Canada 150 exhibit where the contents of migrants’ bags were presented. Many of the ‘inconsequential’ things like rice, or toilet paper, held incredible value for those making the trip to Canada; while they might have been ‘inconsequential’ to the eyes of Canadian authorities, I’m very happy that we didn’t take away those things that provided a sense of security to the persons migrating to Canada.
- How Tidal Got So Fucked//A deep dive into the problematic business practices associated with Tidal, Jay-Z’s music stream service. The title of the article is entirely apt.
- It Can Happen Here //”In their different ways, Mayer, Haffner, and Jarausch show how habituation, confusion, distraction, self-interest, fear, rationalization, and a sense of personal powerlessness make terrible things possible. They call attention to the importance of individual actions of conscience both small and large, by people who never make it into the history books.”
- Explaining the ‘Mystery’ of Numbers Stations//A great deep dive into how messages are decoded from numbers stations, as well as whom has used them and to what effect.
- Intel and the Danger of Integration//Intel has been stumbling for years now, as evidenced in the inability of companies like Apple re reliably provide new processors with meaningful changes into their product lines for the past several years. At the same time, other chip designers and foundries are racing ahead of Intel. Thompson’s article does a good job in laying out how Intel got into its current conundrum and the corresponding implications.
Millennials are known as entitled, but as a group, I don’t think we could have lower expectations.
I’ll go: I don’t expect to own a home. I don’t expect to retire well, or at all. I don’t expect anyone to give me anything I haven’t explicitly asked for, and even then. I don’t expect it will ever be affordable to continue my education in any formal way. If a package gets lost in the mail, I don’t expect to see it again. I don’t expect the government or the banks or the universities to do anything that benefits regular people. I don’t expect them to hold each other accountable on our behalf. I don’t expect them to expel abusers from their ranks, or to put my safety over their legacy. I don’t expect to feel safe in large crowds or alone late at night. And I don’t expect that my privacy will be respected, online or in general.
- Stephanie Georgopulos, “My So-Called (Millennial) Entitlement“
In my ongoing efforts to better understand myself, I’ve been listening to some of the early episodes of Gary Dunn’s podcast, Bad With Money. These episodes tend to focus on the narratives around money that have guided how she lives her life, where she learned them from, and how to overcome them, and have entailed conversations between her and her parents, her boyfriend, and with a financial psychologist and her sister.
What she’s learned, and how information is presented, has often resonated with my own experiences growing up in a family that went from middle-class, of upper-lower class, and then has split along a series of different lines as I’ve grown older. A lot of the conversations focus on how what her parents did with money while she was growing up subtly informed how Gaby, herself, has approached money as a result. And it’s gotten me thinking about the money narratives that I learned from my dad (generally really bad) and my mom (not super-terrific).
Of course, listening to some podcasts isn’t going to correct the narratives that have built up in my own head over the past several decades (e.g. debt is normal to have and carry, retirement savings are almost impossible, you should enjoy the benefits of your work now instead of later) but they do help to make explicit some of the challenges I know I need to overcome. Some of the conversations she’s had with her guests have been more or less insightful but, in aggregate, they’re useful because she uses such natural language to approach financial questions and issues that pervade many people’s daily lives. This natural language matters because it makes very clear that the show isn’t about an expert from on high explaining reality but, instead, involves the self-discovery of Gaby (and through her some discovery of the precise questions I need to ask myself). Her narratives and my own are not the same but the questions, on their own, are sufficient to jumpstart internal introspection.
The interviews she conducts are also helpful because so few people talk about financial mindsets in public that it’s hard to hear, let alone understand, the money narratives that different people hold. Through that act of listening I can better identify and situate my own narratives and ascertain what is normal, abnormal, and what needs to be corrected or remain the same. Dunn’s podcast is definitely only an early starting point but, regardless, it’s super helpful for people who don’t want to invest money but, instead, want to invest in themselves and their personal development.
On the same track of ‘podcasts I’ve listened to’ over the course of the past week, Dear Sugars has had a really good (if hard) series of episodes on consent in sexual relationships. The women who are submitting the questions are incredibly brave for presenting their experiences, and the hosts of the show are incredibly kind and nuanced in their analyses of what has taken place in their own pasts and in the lives of their letter writers. I care deeply about ensuring that all relationships — sexual or not — are consensual and these podcasts have given me insights to the challenges facing women that I may never have fully appreciated before listening to this series of episodes.
One of the defining things about the nature of ideas is just how fragile they are: when you’re not sure whether some-thing is going to work, the idea is vulnerable. Part of protecting the idea is to be careful about who you show it to; premature criticism can shut something down that perhaps deserves more of a chance.
Great Photography Shots
I was really impressed by the water-inspired smartphone photos posted to Mobiography.
Music I’m Digging
Neat Podcast Episodes
Good Reads for the Week
- Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit
- The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right
- China’s Oppression Reaches Beyond Its Borders
- This Tool Can Help Identify Leakers Who Copy and Paste Secret Info
- The End of Windows
- My 10-Year Odyssey Through America’s Housing Crisis
- I love this abstract and minimalist furniture by Zens
When we travel we take our expectations with us, our prejudices, our sense of normality. We see what we see through eyes trained by home.
- Christopher Priest, The Gradual
My friend was shot four times. Our prom dates became pallbearers. Our friends were murdered in front of us and our innocence has been take.