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.
Aside

The Roundup for July 9-15, 2018 Edition

Eyes to the Home by Christopher Parsons

This has been a week where I’ve been trying to get used to living in a new location. So there’ve been trips to Ikea and other places to get the necessities needed for the new location, getting used to wandering a new building, and learning the new routes to walk to work. And it’s been a quiet time of reflection, thoughts, and considerations of the future, as well as the recent past. It’s been a very busy week and, as things step into a new tempo, I suspect things will feel less comfortable and those reflections properly take hold.


Inspiring Quotation of the Week

To be clear, privacy is no ‘contemporary’ hang-up. This is a diversionary argument floated frequently in the tech / security fields; that privacy concerns have somehow erupted in the past decade, simply on account of social media, smart phones or Edward Snowden. Not only is that premise self-serving if one works in the bureaucracy of intelligence, it’s also demonstrably false.

The Latin root of privacy is ‘privatum’, an enunciated principle of civil law as early as the Roman Republic under Cicero. Privacy was a constraint on government action inscribed into England’s Magna Carta of 1215. And, perhaps most famously, the individual’s right to privacy is there in the Fourth Amendment of the American Constitution.

Great Photography Shots

Brendan Siebel has a nice essay to accompany photographs taken by Eugène Atget, who took photos of Paris around the turn of the 20th century. Atget’s work documents the changes to the city and captures that nature of the city-that-was as it was forcibly transformed by city planner.

Music I’m Digging

  • Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems // I’m slowly going through Cohen’s corpus, and I’m definitely finding that I prefer his more gravelly and poetic work as opposed to that when he was younger and more melodic.

Neat Podcast Episodes

  • Planet Money – Peak Sand // This story about the nature of sand forensics, and how sand is being stolen to provide resort beaches with Instagram-perfect sand, was eye-opening and yet another indication of the issues with tourism.
  • The Daily – One Family’s Reunification Story // There is so much that is wrong in the United States of America right now, and this piece by the daily that recounts the reunification between a migrant family is heart wrenching.

Good Reads for the Week

  • How to Be Alone and Why // A nice meditation on the value of being alone and, also, why being alone is increasingly common given the rise of single-occupancy homes. We are moving to a society where are are separated from other persons more regularly than in the past, but must also recognize that to participate fully in society we must sometimes enjoy periods of solitude so-as-to learn how and why to engage with those around us in a meaningful manner.
  • Unidentified Plane-Bae Woman’s Statement Confirms the Worst // The problems largely associated with the spread of social media, and capability of other persons to deliberately intrude into one another’s personal lives, is a continuation of social problems that pre-date the digital era. However, whereas once gossip and innuendo would have been relatively restricted to a physical space it can now break free of geographical boundaries and, in the process, lead other persons to actively intrude upon persons’ private lives and engage in harassment and abuse. While such social problems cannot ever be truly ‘solved’ they can be ameliorated by teaching the right and wrong ways to behave online which will, fundamentally, explain the problems linked with historical social ills and how they can be aggravated by digital communications mediums.

Cool Things

  • I’m a huge fan of Yamazaki’s design language: simple, clean, and minimalist. I recently picked up their Tower Laundry Basket and love how it just quietly sits in my bed room without drawing any attention to itself.
  • I love these ‘monumental nobodies’ pieces by Mathew Quick.

The Roundup for February 24-March 2, 2018 Edition

Evening Dream
Evening Dream by Christopher Parsons

For the past few weeks I’ve been deliberately constraining my photography by shooting exclusively by a 35mm equivalent lens. This was the focal length that really convinced me that I enjoyed photography as a way of seeing and experiencing the world. I’m a big fan of zoom lenses, and keep eyeing the Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 Pro lens, but I find that I learn the most about a scene by having to walk around it with a bright prime lens.

Alien Reach
Alien Reach by Christopher Parsons

When I travelled to Cuba, having to march around with a 50mm equivalent lens meant I went into entirely new places and angles that I wouldn’t have if I’d had a zoom lens to otherwise get a shot. And while I’ve previously used my 35mm equivalent, I have to admit that I’ve been far more reliant on some of my zooms and the 50mm; I just haven’t focused on learning to use the 35mm lens because there is so much more walking-by-zooming that I have to do with it compared to even my other prime lenses.

Sound Off!
Sound Off! by Christopher Parsons

But that’s silly: I enjoy the focal length, I just have to work a lot more to get things out of the camera. So I’ve been using it at night, during the day, and exclusively attached it to my camera body for the past month and intend to bring it (along with an 80-300mm equivalent lens) when I travel to South America in a week and change. I like the idea of an unobtrusive lens as my walkabout, and then the zoom for when I’ve trekking through nature. And, perhaps most importantly, I really like the idea of forcing myself to get a lot more comfortable with my current gear as a way to inhibit my desire to buy more gear: I have functionally underused equipment, and I should be playing with it, first and foremost, before even considering the purchase of new kit.


Inspiring Quotation

“We start on the path to genuine adulthood when we stop insisting on our emotional competence and acknowledge the extent to which we are – in many areas of our psyche – likely to be sharply trailing our biological age. Realising we aren’t – as yet, in subtle ways – quite adults may be the start of true maturity.”

Great Photography Shots

Mobiography’s landscape photography shots are really, really amazing and showcase just how much you can do with a contemporary smartphone and good lighting conditions.

Jagged horizon, Monument Valley…
Jagged horizon, Monument Valley… by Joseph Cyr
It’s been a good day… full of weather again..
It’s been a good day… full of weather again.. by Fi Austin
Snow & Fishing Cottages
Snow & Fishing Cottages by Jen Pollack Bianco
Windswept
Windswept by lkbside

Music I’m Digging

Neat Podcast Episodes

Good Reads for the Week

Cool Things

Link

AT&T’s Anti-Infringement Patent

AT&T’s recent patent to detect and act on network-based copyright infringement raises significant red flags for network neutrality advocates. However, we need to look beyond the most obvious (and nefarious!) red flags: when examining corporate surveillance prospects we need to reflect on the full range of reasons behind the practice. Only in taking this broader, and often more nuanced, view are we likely to come closer to the truth of what is actually going on, and why. And, if we don’t get closer to the specific truth of the situation, at least we can better understand the battleground and likely terms of the conflict.