Harmless torturers

This article is referenced in the “cruelty” podcast I reposted yesterday. It relates the harmless torturer problem, an abstract problem from moral philosophy, and briefly discussed a number of social contexts where it applies, particularly in aggregation of quasi-anonymous behavior on the internet. He points to microaggressions as examples of actions that are individually mild, but cause more harmful effects in the aggregate. On the flip side, small acts of punishment can be amplified to torturous degrees when facilitated by online social networks.

There is a dial in front of you, and if you turn it, a stranger who is in mild pain from being shocked will experience a tiny increase in the amount of the shock, so slight that he doesn’t even notice it. You turn it and leave. And then hundreds of people go up to the dial and each also turns it, so that eventually the victim is screaming in agony.

Opinion | Are We All ‘Harmless Torturers’ Now?


In the age of online shaming, we should push ourselves to consider the collective consequences of our actions.

#philosophy #SocialJustice
  last edited: Tue, 18 Sep 2018 20:41:59 -0600  
Some interesting questions and ideas. I think most people would agree, at the very least, that a moral person should not be cruel. To avoid being cruel, we should probably try our best to understand what it is, why it happens so often, and whether it’s even avoidable.

#philosophy #psychology #MoralTheory #SocialJustice

EconTalkEconTalk wrote the following post Mon, 17 Sep 2018 04:30:23 -0600
Paul Bloom on Cruelty
Yale University psychologist Paul Bloom talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about cruelty–what motivates cruelty, the cruelty of small acts that accumulate into something monstrous, and the question of whether the abuse of a robot is a form of cruelty.

This week's guest:This week's focus:Additional ideas and people mentioned in this podcast episode:A few more readings and background resources:A few more EconTalk podcast episodes:
TimePodcast Episode Highlights
Intro. [Recording date: August 29, 2018. N.B. Audio accidentally reports recording date as Aug. 24, 2018.]Russ Roberts: My guest is Paul Bloom.... This is Paul's second EconTalk experience; in February of 2017 he talked about his book Against Empathy. Today our topic is cruelty. Now, I want to say up front that anyone listening with young children may want to screen this episode in advance, as we are likely to discuss some disturbing behavior.... So, this conversation is going to be based on three essays you've written: one in the New York Times with Sam Harris, one in the Times with Yale graduate student Matthew Jordan, and one you wrote in the New Yorker. I want to start with the piece in the New Yorker. You are reacting in that piece to a very standard argument: that human cruelty is driven by dehumanization. That we see the people we oppress often as less than human--as animals. How does that argument go? Flesh it out.

Paul Bloom: So, it's not a bad argument. I think it's an argument that's right in many cases. And the argument is that some of the worst things we do to other people are because we don't think of them as people. We dehumanize them. We think of them as animals, or as machines, or as material objects; but we strip away their humanity. And once we do so, it licenses us to do all sorts of terrible things to them. If I think of you as a person, I can't--then it's morally wrong to take away your property or to kill you because you get in my way. But if you are a rat or a vermin or a cockroach, then it's totally fine. And so, a lot of really smart scholars--humanists, social scientists--have argued that dehumanization is one of the causes, the big cause of evil and cruelty in the world. And, my article in the New Yorker was looking at this critically, you know, talking about it, looking at the arguments in favor. But also pointing out that this might not be entirely right--that there's a lot more going on.

Russ Roberts: Yeah. One thing I want to add is that over time we've gotten more respectful--I think accurately, but there's no way of knowing for sure--of the consciousness and worthiness of animal life. There's a certain irony here, that the whole idea of dehumanizing is less compelling because a lot of people think we should treat animals at least as well as humans.

Paul Bloom: So, there's all sorts of subtleties here. We got a puppy--somewhat against my will, but we have a puppy nonetheless. And we were playing with the puppy last night, and we were having a great time; and, the puppy is not even close to human, but I would never hurt it or harm it. That sounds horrible. In fact, I think we are harsher toward those who harm innocent animals than those who harm people. And so, even on the outset, the idea that once you don't think of somebody as human, all the moral rules go away, has its difficulties. You are right.

Russ Roberts: But you make a deeper point. So, what was your other criticism, or main criticism, of this dehumanization theory?

Paul Bloom: So, I'm drawing on the work here of a lot of people, particularly the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah and the philosopher Kate Manne. And in different ways they both make the following argument, which is that, if you look at the actual atrocities people do to each other--the Holocaust and slavery and misogynistic violence--you don't necessarily see dehumanization in any sense of the term. Rather, what you see is a full recognition of the humanity of other people. So, Appiah points out that in genocide in, say, in Germany in World War II there are all sorts of humiliations and degradations done toward the Jews, and it's hard to make sense of this if you say the Germans didn't think of the Jews as people. Rather, they thought of them as people and they wanted them to suffer as people. They felt that they were morally tainted as people. They recognized their humanity and they hated it.

Russ Roberts: Incredibly deep insight. Very depressing, but incredibly deep.

Paul Bloom: That's right. And others have made it, as well. There's a scholar of the Holocaust I quote who says, 'You might think of what happened in these death camps as dehumanization, and some of it was. But some of it was also just a desire to dominate, to degrade, to humiliate.' And you don't do that with creatures you don't view as fellow people. And Kate Manne, in this wonderful, very powerful book called Downgirl makes a similar argument about misogyny and misogynistic violence. So, she says: it's the standard view in feminist philosophy that men objectify women, and think of women as mere things. This is a common analysis of pornography, say. But she [?] a lot of case studies and argues convincingly that when men act really badly towards women, often it's because men expect things of women. Men feel cheated. They feel disrespected. And these are attitudes you have towards other people, not towards animals.

Russ Roberts: Yeah. It's a great point. I think there's probably a distinction to be made between people on the ground working in concentration camps in Nazi Germany, guards in the Gulag in Soviet Russia; and their job was probably easier if they thought of their charges as less than human.

Paul Bloom: Yes.

Russ Roberts: The tattoos of numbers on the arms of Jews is just an obvious example. The relentless cruelties of prison life, the pettiness and the suffering that's imposed on people I think probably at some point allows the people running the system on the ground to be inured to the humanity of the people they are working with. And, the flip side of this of course is that a doctor has to objectify a human being at times--and should--to do the job correctly. A surgeon, a doctor giving advice to a family. So, there's something understandable about that and laudable about it in situations of compassion and kindness. In the situation of cruelty, it's unbearable. But I would think that the point you are making about it's their explicit humanity that they want to destroy is certainly coming from the architects--and somewhat on the ground as well. The petty humiliation that you talk about and the pleasure that people get from that.

Paul Bloom: Let me just get--because you're raising so many things there. Look, I agree. I think a lot of the stuff on the ground, as it were, really is dehumanization. These are often the people who do the most terrible things have no wish, have no animus to harm other people, so they just tell themselves, 'These are not people,' and that just makes it go easier. I have a feeling that even in our modern world a lot of military action, which is at a distance, isn't done because 'I'm going to take my vengeance,' and 'I'm going to make these people suffer.' Rather it's just, 'I'm going to just think of these--I'm going to code them as combatants and that's all I'm going to think about.'

Russ Roberts: Yeah, 'I'm playing a video game.' Yeah.

Paul Bloom: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. And so, I think you get both. There's a lot of historians of the Holocaust and historians of massacres and genocide more generally who point out a lot of people really enjoy this stuff. Books like Hitler's Willing Executioners, and ordinary men, I think, put aside the myth that all of the villains in the Holocaust were these kind people who decided--who had to be obedient. Following orders--

Russ Roberts: Yeah. Automatons; they have a German culture of respect for authority.

Paul Bloom: That's right. There's enough stories of [?] went above and beyond orders, and took pleasure in it. And I don't think--I think [?] some proportion are actually honest-to-God sadists or psychopaths. But I think a lot of people who do terrible things say, 'Well, these people have it coming to them.'

Russ Roberts: Yeah. Well, and also--we'll come to this in a minute--I say this with some unease, but I think all of us have a little sadist in us. Or many of us do.

Paul Bloom: I think I'd say all of us.

Russ Roberts: Not my mom. Who just has a heart of gold.
9:22Russ Roberts: It reminds me also of the somewhat recent episode we did with Mike Munger on slavery in the Americas, and the eagerness, how eager slave owners were to perceive Africans as inferior and to justify what they were doing as compassionate. Not just, 'Well, it's okay; I'm cruel to them.' It's more like, 'I'm doing them a service, because they can't run their own lives.'

Paul Bloom: Yeah. There's a whole literature on this written by people trying to justify themselves. They say, 'What do you treat better? Do you treat something you rent better, or something you own better? Certainly, if you own something you treat it better. You take care of it. And that's why the relationship between a master and a slave is a moral one.' And, these people are working very hard to frame what they are doing as morally good.

Russ Roberts: Yeah. I'll never forget the quote--I heard it from David Henderson. I think it's from a transcript; and I don't know if it's literally true, but it's good enough, whether it's true or not; could be apocryphal. But, it's the runaway slave, caught, and now before a judge. And the judge is saying, 'How'd your master treat you?' and he explains he had food, he had a bed. And the judge says, 'Well, it doesn't sound so bad.' And the slave says, 'Well, you know, there's an opening, if you're interested.' And it's so easy to strip away--especially the intangible parts of this. You know, we're doing a book club on EconTalk on Solzhenitsyn's In the First Circle, and the relentless petty humiliation of one's humanity in that setting of the prison camp--even in a "nice" camp, which is what Solzhenitsyn was in and which he writes about in that book. The irony of our conversation is: it is dehumanizing. The treatment is dehumanizing.

Paul Bloom: Yes.

Russ Roberts: Your point is that it's not the dehumanizing that allows the treatment.

Paul Bloom: That's right. I'm more interested in what goes on in people heads when they do cruel things. In some sense, this is obviously all dehumanizing. But, I'm very interested in the claim that when we are cruel to others it's because we strip them of their humanity and don't think of them as people. And, you know, just to go back to your bigger point you made--I guess, what I try to argue in the New Yorker article is, it's more complicated in two ways. So, in one way, it's not the case that if I recognize your humanity, all of a sudden I'll be kind to you. Maybe if I recognize your humanity, I will despise you. I will envy you. I will want to dominate you--which gets to the sadism part. So, it's a mixed bag. Recognizing other people as people by no means makes us kind. And on the flip side which you mentioned briefly, what's always fascinated me is that treating you not as a human also isn't necessarily a bad thing. A surgeon--you know, there's a wonderful phrase by Atul Gawande: A surgeon treats his or her patient as a problem to be solved. I think a utilitarian philosopher goes around to make the world a better place but doesn't actually think of each person as a person. Understands there are people, but when you do the math and say, 'Well, this will save 100 people and this will save 200 people, so we'll save 200 people,' you really are thinking of things in mathematical terms; but at the same time, you could be making the world a much better place.

Russ Roberts: Yeah, I guess my natural thought there is there are so many things that don't go into the math that are hard to take account of. That's one of the problems I have with utilitarianism. But, it's not the only one.

Paul Bloom: So, this is a standard complaint about the utilitarian, a modern one, I think, is that the utilitarian is cold-blooded and doesn't understand the specialness and distinctness of individuals. But, [?] I think in the real world it's a feature, not a bug. I think that often our very worst decisions are made because we very much take into account individual cases, and we are moved by them--say, the murder of somebody by an immigration, a gun death, a sexual assault--and our feelings about the particular individuals there which will vary from person to person will often distort policies in all sorts of crazy ways. Whatever you'd say about policy making in our time by our government, I don't think it's too utilitarian.

Russ Roberts: Well, that's a good point. And it comes back to your book Against Empathy, which I encourage listeners to go back and to read that book and to listen to our earlier conversation. I'm very sympathetic to the point, because case by case--it has an appeal. 'We'll just go case by case' is often fraught with all kinds of problems. At the personal level it's, 'Well, I'll just see if this potato chip is worth having.' It always is. 'Just one.' And, in the policy arena it's negotiating with someone holding a hostage; having a rule that we do not negotiate with people that take hostages is a very powerful rule that you want to break every time when the family is crying. But, if you look ahead to the consequences you might decide that it's better to suffer the consequences now to prevent further harm in the future. And I think that's an incredibly important point.

Paul Bloom: I think so, too. I most recently watched the most recent Mission Impossible movie, Fallout. It was a good movie. The first half I thought was great. But, on not one, not two, but three occasions somebody says--

Russ Roberts: Spoiler alert! Hang on--

Paul Bloom: Spoiler alert; but this will not harm the movie. No more than what you've seen in the trailer. Says to the main character, Ethan Hunt, the Tom Cruise character, 'You are a great person. And you are a great person because you believe that the life of one person matters more than the life of a million.' And I'm there like saying, 'Hey. I want to rebut.' No, that isn't a good--the movie is orchestrated so that favoring the one over the million works out, because it's a movie. But it's actually--it's a horrific policy.

Russ Roberts: Yeah, it's interesting. As an economist, there's many movies I can't enjoy because they bother me for those kind of reasons. And that bothered me, too. I knew I was being manipulated there. I was supposed to think that Cruise was honorable for his putting an actual human life first. But actually he was endangering many, many more. And there is--it's actually the only thoughtful thing in the whole movie. The movie is an extended chase scene. But that tension over the life in your own hands that's visible and tangible versus longer term costs--they beat it to death. I just want to say--I was very disappointed in the movie. But that's neither here nor there. But that's an excellent point. It's really exactly right.

Paul Bloom: A colleague of mine, Molly Crockett, has just published a paper with several other people supporting the idea which I think you and I know intuitively that people like deontologists. They like people who have moral rules; they like people who favor their friends and their family; and they have little patience for utilitarians, even for effective altruists. I think that--and I think there are interesting reasons why we are constituted that way. But, the utilitarian has few friends. And I've got to say: This is a problem with your discipline, which very much leans utilitarian.

Russ Roberts: Yeah, it's true. Yeah. Well, some of us deserve fewer friends. Perhaps.
17:36Russ Roberts: I'm going to make an observation here, get your reaction; it's not really the point of your essay. But, I find it interesting how hard it is for people to accept the possibility that people enjoy being cruel.

Paul Bloom: Yeah. You know, you had Jordan Peterson on your show. And, once, twice?

Russ Roberts: Once. So far.

Paul Bloom: And I disagree with Jordan Peterson--I haven't met him--I disagree with him about a lot of things. But there is one thing he says which I think is true and important and doesn't get said enough, which is: He talks about the desire for power and domination. And he talks coherently; then he says, 'Look, people get a pleasure and a satisfaction about dominating others.' And, it's not sadism, strictly speaking. I think what it is, is we are hierarchical creatures, and we want to be on top. And there's all sorts of ways of being on top. There's to be respected and admired. But, failing that, terrifying somebody and making him fall before you is a go-to some individuals use.

Russ Roberts: Yeah; well, while we're talking about movies, I just recently saw Richard Curtis interview; it's going around Twitter, this clip--he's the director of Love Actually, which, for better or for worse is one of my top 10 movies for watchability. I love that movie.

Paul Bloom: Boy, you are a contrarian.

Russ Roberts: Yeah. Exactly. Well, I'm not. But among our friends, yeah. Because a lot of people seem to like it. But he makes sentimental movies. And he defends it saying people are basically good. He says: If you make a movie about a sadist who deserts from the army and violates a woman who is pregnant, a nurse--that's gritty realism. My movie about people falling in love is considered sappy and sentimental. But, he said, there are a million people falling in love in England right now. And, that's real life. He's trying to defend this idea that people are basically good. And, although I like the movie and I like to think--personally, I do occasionally like to believe people are basically good, I don't necessarily think that's the best way to approach life. But, it's a good way to approach friends. For sure.

Paul Bloom: Yeah. And I think people are basically complicated. I'm a developmental psychologist, and sometimes I get the question: 'Are babies innately good or innately bad?' And I always answer 'Yes.' We have both appetites. And I think part of the badness in all of us--maybe except for your mother--is a desire to be on top. To dominate. At least not to be on the bottom. And that doesn't necessarily mean, 'I have to round up a bunch of people and put them in a camp and sit in a guard tower and take pot shots at them.' But, the appetite that makes us do that is, I think, a grotesque and exaggerated form of an appetite that exists in all of us.

Russ Roberts: Yeah. It's related to the Adam Smith point about--which listeners know well--man not only desires to be loved but to be lovely. And he takes the 'to be loved' part as a given: Not only do we want to be loved. Of course we want to be loved. Of course we want to be paid attention to. Of course we want to be respected, admired, honored. And, when we don't receive that, we don't take it so well. And it's just something I'm increasingly aware of, something that economists have zero insight into after Adam Smith. Unfortunately or not, but that's like the reality. And it's a big part of human life. It's a big part of work. It's something I think economists have ignored. Which is too bad.

Paul Bloom: It is. Tom Tyler, a colleague at Yale Law School--you know, has long has evidence that what matters to us most in our workplace is the feeling of being respected. And, you know, being respected, being treated as a serious individual, worthy, a creature of dignity, is worth a lot of money. And it's also, I think, the right thing to do. But, I think that this desire actually can lead into the almost sadism we're talking about earlier. I was having an argument with my family--people around the room who I love the most in the world. But, I feel like I wasn't being heard. There was [?]--I couldn't get the words in; I wasn't being heard. And I felt this frustration. And it's very human to say, 'No. You let me speak. You listen to me. You listen to me; you respect my views.' And it's not the prettiest trait.

Russ Roberts: So, why is it that in a faculty meeting where you have something deep and profound to say, Paul--which I'm sure is all the time. But in a particular case where you feel you actually have something important to contribute; and you can't get a word in. And your insight's lost; and people didn't give you a chance to get your insight across, you get a little bit annoyed. But, with your family who you love, it can be infuriating?
22:33Russ Roberts: So, why is it that in a faculty meeting where you have something deep and profound to say, Paul--which I'm sure is all the time. But in a particular case where you feel you actually have something important to contribute; and you can't get a word in. And your insight's lost; and people didn't give you a chance to get your insight across, you get a little bit annoyed. But, with your family who you love, it can be infuriating? Why? What's the difference there? Shouldn't it be the other way around? It's like, 'I love these people. I'm not going to get made at them.' Why do we care more, sometimes, in those settings.

Paul Bloom: So that gets back to the whole issue of humanization and treating people as people. And it connects to the misogyny work of Kate Manne. And the answer is: I like my fellow faculty members. Many of them are good friends. But I love my family. And, because I love my family, their rejection, their failure to take me seriously, their failure to listen to my 7 points about why Trump would[?] be re-elected and to fully appreciate it--

Russ Roberts: Deep insights--

Paul Bloom: and it really bothered me. While, my colleagues listening to my plan to recruit 10 graduate students to work with me and [?]. And, of course, this is reflected more seriously. In fact, I'm far more likely to kill my family.

Russ Roberts: Yeah. It's horrifying, isn't it? Yeah.

Paul Bloom: And this is the thing: this is how I end the New Yorker article, which is that there is this view we have that if only we were to--that--the dehumanizing view is a very optimistic view because it says that so much of the badness that we do is based on a mistake, 'I'm just not recognizing the humanity'--

Russ Roberts: So you can seek re-educating. You need a sensitivity session.

Paul Bloom: 'I need a sensitivity session. I need to see some slides. I need to talk to them.'

Russ Roberts: Yep. Once you talk to them, you won't hate them any more.

Paul Bloom: Once I talk to them it will all be worked out. And I think that's one of the biggest mistakes we make about morality. I think that the reality is that fully appreciating someone's humanity opens up so many positive things--you can't be human without it; you can't have a decent relationship. It's the foundation of love, and friendship. But, it carries with it so many terrible risks. Really loving somebody, really knowing somebody opens up the possibility for love; but it also opens up the possibility for hatred.

Russ Roberts: It's so unintuitive, but it's so true. Talk about that some more.

Paul Bloom:[More to come, 25:05]
View article
Photos from the hurricane

Thanks. Those fires were terrifying. Your friend was quite lucky.
They waded out to check it today. The flood water crested just inches from the foundation, all the way around the house, but amazingly didn’t reach it. It looks like a floating house. No serious damage.
HOORAY! That is amazing. Thanks for the update. I hope they get to go home soon and that their neighbors fared well too.
Flash floods spread across N.C.

  last edited: Mon, 17 Sep 2018 07:49:37 -0600  
Florence’s heavy rains have sent water levels rising so high that they have submerged instruments used by the federal government to monitor river levels in North Carolina, causing at least two of them to stop working

'There is no access to Wilmington' as Florence flooding overwhelms North Carolina

At least 17 people have died in the wreckage of the hurricane-turned-tropical depression that dumped 30 inches of rain in parts of the state.

Bogue inlet pier falling apart

I think I know what happened to that hurricane livestream that cut out yesterday...


My family and I took a vacation on Oak Island earlier this summer. I've been trying to find photos of what the beach road looks like now. I'll be curious to see what is still intact.
I saw some photos from Sunset Beach that didn’t look quite as bad, some road damage but less flooding I think. Most of the surge was pushed to the north around Swansboro up to New Bern. My family gathers every year at Emerald Isle, at my sister’s house within walking distance of that pier. Nobody’s there right now but we’re all a bit nervous about what’s happening.
Breaking bad in the tech industry

  last edited: Fri, 14 Sep 2018 12:05:26 -0600  
This article relates a typical-sounding story of how good-sounding business plans can go bad under stress.

Fake-cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme lands creator in prison


Josh Garza said his company began with noble intentions, but it "turned into greed."

GAW Miners—which stood for Geniuses at Work—first arrived on the Bitcoin scene in 2014, re-selling mining rigs. While GAW initially began as a legitimate company, it soon shifted to its own cloud-based mining service (ZenMiner). When GAW was unable to fill demand for this service, Garza created something called "hashlets"—a slice of purported mining profits, that would "always make money." As 2014 drew to a close and as the Bitcoin hash rate increased, making it more difficult for miners anywhere to make money, his hardware became obsolete.

As he could no longer pay earlier investors, Garza switched tactics again and introduced GAW's own altcoin, dubbed "PayCoin." He promised a $20 per PayCoin price floor, which he would prop up with a claimed $100 million reserve that did not actually exist. GAW also ran its own cloud-based wallet service (Paybase), cloud-based mining service (ZenMiner), and online discussion board (HashTalk). All were fraudulent, using money that later customers put in to pay out earlier ones.

#tech #CivilJustice #Bitcoin #crime
  last edited: Fri, 14 Sep 2018 12:10:53 -0600  
The GAW scheme reminds me of this story about the "Xbox underground," a group of young Xbox hackers who enjoyed reverse engineering Microsoft products. As their exploits became more profitable, they kept pushing the envelope, even to the point of stealing physical equipment from MS facilities. The story almost carries a sense of excitement and youthful rebellion, kind of like the movie Sneakers, but it lacks the hints of ethical idealism found in that movie, and doesn't end nearly as well.

The Teens Who Hacked Microsoft's Videogame Empire—And Went Too Far


Among those involved in David Pokora's so-called Xbox Underground, one would become an informant, one would become a fugitive, and one would end up dead.

Hurricane floods bring ecological nightmares

This problem has gotten bigger with every hurricane. The southeast becomes a land drenched in its own ag/industrial waste.

Mapping the animal waste lagoons and nuclear sites threatened by Florence


A host of environmental hazards sit right in the path of Hurricane Florence, ranging from open-pit animal waste lagoons to Superfund sites. If the torrential flooding washes out such facilities, dangerous chemicals and fecal contamination could be spread for miles.
The tide shall not rise!

Six years ago, North Carolina Republicans voted in a law decreeing that the seas weren't rising


In 2012, North Carolina’s Coastal Resources Commission studied the question of sea-level rise and the likelihood that coastal areas would be inundated by severe weather, concluding that the s…

Webcast from pier in path of hurricane

New Hurricane Feed

I've setup a new channel to relay Atlantic hurricane feeds from the National Weather Service.

Mechanics of the Gulag system

This article provides a lengthy, fascinating and tragic view into the Soviet gulags.

Masha Gessen: Inside the Gulags of the Soviet Union


The following is excerpted from Never Remember: Searching for Stalin’s Gulags in Putin’s Russia, by Masha Gessen and Misha Friedman.   The Gulag is nowhere. It was everywhere. The …

#soviet #gulag
The resistance within the White House

I think the public’s right to know, and the need to raise alarms among both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, outweighs the author’s concerns about further destabilizing Trump’s behavior.

This Is a Constitutional Crisis


A cowardly coup from within the administration threatens to enflame the president’s paranoia and further endanger American security.

#Trump #history
Trump has lost control of his White House


“The dilemma — which [Trump] does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. I would know. I am one of them,” the anonymous official writes.


The only reason we’re not in a constitutional crisis right now is that the current Congress doesn’t want to participate. But what happens if/when that changes?
GIve them some fish and they eat for a day. Teach them to fish and they eat for a lifetime. Convince them that there is an infinite free fish supply being hoarded by the elite fishmongers, who hide their fish away in order to maintain their power, and we can all become happily obese if we just wake up and join together to overthrow the greedy fishlords, then the elites die in a frenzied murder party followed by widespread starvation in the ensuing fish famine. The fish win.
Ban the beerbots

Amidst broad calls to ban research and development of killer military robots, Jeff Flake has found a more sinister threat in robot bartenders.

U.S. Senator Bans Funding for Beerbots That Don’t Exist

#tech #robots #beer


Jeff Flake's
Amazing electrified star chart tapestry

Software Engineer Hacks a Knitting Machine to Create Massive Stellar Map


By hacking a domestic knitting machine, a software engineer advanced modern knitting and made a massive equatorial star map in tapestry form.

#tech #hacking #astronomy
Dropped by Dropbox

  last edited: Wed, 29 Aug 2018 13:04:31 -0600  
I was a paying Dropbox business customer, until this announcement... Maybe now I'll look for an NAS self-hosted cloud option.

Dropbox Is Dropping Support For All Linux File Systems Except Unencrypted Ext4 - Slashdot


New submitter rokahasch writes: Starting today, August 10th, most users of the Dropbox desktop app on Linux have been receiving notifications that their Dropbox will stop syncing starting November. Over at the Dropbox forums, Dropbox have declared that the only Linux filesystem supported for storage...

#tech #cloud
Cops destroyed man's house with explosives to flush out hiding shoplifter, offered $5,000 in compensation


A homeowner is suing police in Greenwood Village, Colorado, after they destroyed his house with explosives to flush out a shoplifter hiding there. The cops maintained a 19-hour siege to collar Robe…
Holy moly! Talk about out-of-control escalation by both police and the shoplifter. You have to wonder if all this started over shoplifting $20 worth of stuff.

My wife's reaction: If they captured him alive, he must have been white, right?
Venmo: probably the worst social media concept so far

Why Are We All Still Using Venmo?


Venmoing may be standard, but here’s why I’ve switched.

Venmo’s insistence on mimicking a social networking app isn't just weird—it can have unnerving consequences. In July, privacy advocate and designer Hang Do Thi Duc released Public by Default, a site that taps into Venmo’s API to highlight how much information can be gathered about you from your public activity on the app. She was able to trace the exact spending habits of a couple in California, documenting what stores they shopped at, when they took their dog to the vet, and when they made loan payments.

#tech #SocialMedia #security
“Ever since I first learned about confirmation bias, I’ve been seeing it everywhere.”  —Jon Ronson

#quotes #JonRonson #CognitiveBias
“The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche.”  —Ronson
John McCain has died

It seems a symbolic event, the candidate who championed civility and principled politics in the Republican Party, and ultimately lost, has died. And the party is now overtaken by conspiracy theories, indecency, felonious scandals, and a total indifference to fact. And it thrives.

John McCain, Arizona senator and Vietnam war hero, dies at 81


Arizona senator and former Republican presidential nominee John S. McCain died Saturday.

#JohnMcCain #Trump #history