Facebook. Gangsters.

I haven’t used Facebook for a few years now and don’t trust the company or Zuckerberg at all. I don’t have regrets: I actually hated listening to people I know all sounding the same and doing the same things as they chimed in endlessly to each other’s posts on my newsfeed. But the costs of dropping out of the service are real. I have friends and family who mostly don’t communicate off Facebook. Absolutely everything they do is there. And that’s makes it hard to stay in touch.

Anyway, all of that is preamble to a link to TechCrunch’s article about the UK Parliamentary committee’s report on their investigation into the company and it’s service. It sounds like the committee members are actually trying to do their job without being bullied and dumb-talked into submission by Facebook. They call the company out for lying, obstructing, for playing like gangsters and basically, for acting like that asshole who thinks they are smart enough and clever enough to get away with anything by talking bullshit with straight-faced irony.

It says something about the state of US politics (Republican politics mostly) that I find a functioning committee working to govern both surprising and refreshing.

NYTimes Series on Disinformation

Posting a video series prepared by the  New York Times so that I have it for later. In a sense there’s nothing new here if you’ve been paying attention and reading about the election. But the series is well and clearly made and extremely accessible which makes it both interesting and frightening.

It Still Matters

With the pace of change these days, public figures coming out can seem like a small thing. It’s not. It matters and remains incredibly difficult. But when they do I honestly believe that it helps regular people who are trying to do the same thing in their ordinary lives.

So I’m happy to read Tim Cook’s coming out text and even happier to see him work in two subtle but queenly references to the Wizard of Oz in the process. On purpose? Who knows, but he scores big points in my book for managing it.

Soderbergh on Spielberg

Steven Soderbergh has posted a black and white “silent” version of Raiders of the Lost Ark. His reason?

I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is.

He’s trying to (make us) understand and appreciate a work by paying close attention to specific choices involved in making it. Fascinating–and yes, fun–stuff.

Pandora’s Promise

A documentary about nuclear power, and the environmentalists who have decided that, despite our fears, it is the safest way to combat the climate change caused by fossil fuels.

Two segments caught my attention. In the first, the filmmakers take natural background radiation readings in various cities and in wild landscapes around the world. These vary widely, are often quite high and no correlation has been found between the variations and illness. Then the filmmakers take readings at Fukushima and at Chernobyl. They are among the lowest shown. In the second, a scientist talks about a breeder reactor project that was constructed, was functional and was tested. It could not meltdown, could not explode, and it was a closed system recycling its own waste a fuel for decades. And blanket opposition to nuclear shut the project down leaving less safe plants–like the ones at Fukushima–to be built instead.

I came away realizing I don’t know enough about nuclear energy to have confidence in my opinions or in what I learned here. But I’m curious and need to track down more information.

Orcs and Fourteen-year Olds: At Last the Source

Paul Krugman finally drops the source for the line he often cites about J.R.R. Tolkien and Ayn Rand!

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

My question for Kung Fu Monkey is, What is a “serial hobbyist”? It sounds awesome and fun.