Links for 2019/03/31

March 31, 2019 ยท 4 minute read

Posted in: technology politics pop culture communism

Technology and adjacent politics

Gadgets, Power, and the New Modes of Political Consciousness

This article is a good antidote to the standard kind of moral panic article over mobile devices. It takes a Marxist perspective on devices, and how the dominant narrative about them treats people (device users) as isolated economic units.

Memex(browser)

This is the main page for the Memex browser, a browser engine that is being developed. Here’s what the developer has to say about it:

Memex ultimately aims to show that it can be desirable to remove JavaScript from the web platform and instead move more in the direction of HTML and CSS. That doing so the web will not only improve security, but also:

  • strengthen consent/trust,
  • be easier to program against,
  • work naturally with a greater range of UI devices,
  • and possibly use less computing power.

All while providing alternative specifications so websites can continue to deliver the usability benefits they currently get from JavaScript.

I strongly agree with the idea of removing JavaScript and improving the basic web platform to do the reasonable things that currently require JavaScript.

Dataforge UUCP

A group of computer users are setting up a modern-day UUCP network. This manifesto explains why.

I had a UUCP newsfeed to my PC back when I was in college. It was running under OS/2, connecting to a local ISP over dialup. Looking back on that time period, I have never been more satisfied with my “social media” experience.

Designing for the Librem 5 - Space and Meaning

I don’t anticipate ever owning a Librem 5, but I’m extremely grateful for the work they are doing on adapting Gnome apps to smaller screens. I have a small laptop screen, and I like to split the screen in two halves, left and right, with a tiling window manager. Each half of the screen is very much a phone form factor, so apps designed for a phone screen work well. So far I’m seeing this with Epiphany (web browser) and Lollipop (music player); I’m looking forward to this support getting into Fractal (Matrix chat app).

Facebook Violated Fair Housing Act with Ads, HUD Charges

Ad targeting is intrinsically discrimination between parts of your potential customer base. It’s just that when it comes to housing, many of the ways Facebook normally provides advertisers of discriminating are, in fact, illegal. This is entirely apart from the ways in which Facebook allows its advertising customers to reach users in ways that are fundamentally unethical, e.g., show this ad to people who are interested in “white nationalism”.

Big Tech is Spying on Us: a collection of articles to freak you out

None of these are news as such. But this is a good article for showing people who are not sure why they should care.

The Southern Poverty Law Center

The Reckoning of Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center is Everything That’s Wrond With Liberalism

Discussing these two articles together because the second one is highly derivative of the first, which is the actual expose. The truth is that, even though this story is about the SPLC, it’s not just about the SPLC. Most liberal “cause” organizations operate basically the same way. They do some good work, but it’s incidental to their fundraising operation, which is the main part of the organization.

Pop Culture, Nostalgia

Touchstones: An Appreciation of the Dark Comedy “Heathers”

This was one of my favorite movies as an edgy teen thirty years ago. The article talks about how it subverted the expectations of teen movies at the time. This just feels like one of the defining movies for Generation X.

The Anti-Imperialism of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

This article is a Marxist look at DS9 as showing the dynamics of imperialism, and the compromises forced on a communist state competing with imperialist states. It really goes into quite a bit of depth.

DS9 is extremely popular on the fediverse, significantly with people who weren’t alive when it was actually on the air. But I think that’s more because of its LGBTQ+ subtexts rather than its anti-imperialism.

Politics remaining

Get Real

The author tries to give a materialist explanation of why people in rural areas vote against their economic interests that is more satisfactory than the idealist explanation given by liberals.

Seeing Like A Communist

Someone with far too much patience and tolerance tries to provide a basic feel for the communist worldview, targeted at the Less Wrong/Slate Star Codex “rationalist” community, who are notable for being extremely tolerant of and charitable towards fascists, but much less so towards leftists of any kind. The result is a good “communism for normies” article.


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