Pluralistic: 06 Jul 2020

Today's links

New podcast (permalink)

The latest instalment of my podcast is live! It's part nine of my serialized reading of my 2006 novel "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town," a book Gene Wolfe called "a glorious book unlike any book you've ever read."

Here's the MP3:

Here's the previous instalments:

Here's the podcast feed:

Europe's interop coalition (permalink)

Last week, EFF published its principles for interoperability in the #EU, timed for the debates over the new Digital Services Act, the first major update to internet regulation in a generation.

It's a call for new rules that would allow EU firms – and coops, nonprofits and tinkerers – to plug new products into the dominant, US-based Big Tech platforms so Europeans can enjoy technological self determination: the right to decide what tech you use and how you use it.

These principles include:

I. A general interoperability obligation

II. Delegatability

III. Limits to commercialization of data

IV. Privacy

V: Security

VI. Documentation and nondiscrimination

Now, a coalition of EU civil society orgs, entrepreneurs and SMEs have sent a joint letter to the EU Commission setting out a plan to embody these principles in new regulations.

Here's the letter:

"No longer confronted with the binary choice of either staying on dominant platforms that do not serve their needs or losing access to their social network, users will be able to choose freely the tools that best respect their privacy, security, or accessibility preferences. Interoperability rules will also be crucial to ensure a dynamic market in which new entrants and innovative business models will have a fair shot to convince users of their value. "

Scarfolk beermats (permalink)

The amazing thing about Scarfolk is how trenchant and darkly comic it manages to be, across so many different modes. This week, it's beer-mats that commemorate the UK's inadequate response to the pandemic and the recklessnesss of its top officials.

To say nothing of the idiocy of re-opening bars where we expect people to lower their inhibitions and impair their judgement while simultaneously observing good pandemic countermeasures.

From "International Laughing Stock Lager" to "10 Downing Street Double Standard" ("Downing It!"), the Scarfolk mats are compact satirical masterpieces – so perfect that you could actually imagine someone from the Real Ale world producing them.

Miami cop owns illegal mansion nightclub (permalink)

Neighbors on 89th St in Miami-Dade spent weeks complaining that a $2m mansion on their street has been turned into an unlicensed nightclub where hundreds of revelers are bused in, and, after paying a cover-charge to a bouncer, party all night in close quarters.

Neighbors whose windows overlook the mansion's pool and gardens say they've witnessed porno shoots and orgies, and, despite regular calls to local police, the parties went on and on and on. Even the nightly Lamborghini racing didn't trigger law enforcement.

The mansion is owned by an LLC – and, thanks to sleuthing by WSVN's Brian Entin, we know that LLC is owned by a "Miami-Dade Police officer and a retired Miami-Dade officer"

Entin interviewed the property manager, who claimed the neighbors were just whining, and insisted that the Airbnb listing for the property stipulated "no parties."

"Miami-Dade Police tell 7News they are aware that an officer and former officer own the house."

Video and transcript of my OII talk (permalink)

Last week, I was delighted to give an online lecture and Q&A; for the Oxford Internet Institute entitled "What Big Tech does to discourse, and the forgotten tech tool that can make tech less big;" hosted by human rights lawyer Ravi Naik.

Now, the Institute has put the talk online for anyone who missed the livestream:

And, thanks to Matt Arnold, we have a fulltext transcript:

Here's the talk precis:

It’s uncontroversial to say that our discourse is polarized, angry and unproductive – and to say that Big Tech is to blame. But what is Big Tech’s role in distorting discourse? Is it the use of machine learning and surveillance data to manipulate people at scale? Or is it just plain old monopolism, dressed up in a bunch of AI snakeoil repurposed from the ad-tech industry’s self-serving brags about how good it is at convincing people?

The answer matters, because machine-learning mind-control rays are an existential threat to human agency, while monopolies can be dismantled using competition law — and what’s more, there’s a tried-and-true competition tactics that is uniquely suited to dismantling tech monopolies. Adversarial interoperability turns tech’s market power on its head, allowing new market entrants to use incumbents’ own scale against them.

Shower temperature vs handle position (permalink)

If you've ever scalded yourself after making a minor adjustment to your shower-faucet, you may have been tempted to believe that there was something perverse and evil about the whole system.

You were right.

As Redditor BRENNEJM's "Shower Temperature Compared to Handle Position" graph shows, the relationship between the two is hard to predict and tune.

POLBATHIC (adj.) Gifted with ability to manipulate taps using only the feet.

Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, "The Meaning of Liff."

This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago Gibson on remix culture

#10yrsago Canadian musician-turned-MP challenges minister on new copyright law

#10yrsago Parenting makes you miserable, but you think it makes you happy

#10yrsago W00t! sends Associated Press a bill for quoting its blog

#10yrsago GOP senate candidate uses copyright in attempt to censor reprinting her previous campaign positions

#5yrsago Sandman Slim: Killing Pretty

#5yrsago Borges's widow threatens remixer with prison

#1yrago UK ISP Association, spies, censorship organsation jointly condemn Mozilla for supporting secure DNS because it breaks UK internet censorship rules

#1yrago Autonomous vehicles fooled by drones that project too-quick-for-humans road-signs

#1yrago National Parks Service publishes hi-rez scans of Heinrich Berann's iconic, panoramic paintings of America's parks!/maps/categories/12

#1yrago Crisis for Bolsonaro's justice minister Sergio Moro after leaks reveal that he targeted Lula for political prosecution

#1yrago The reporter on the NYT's Bernie Sanders beat consistently fails to identify her sources as corporate lobbyists

#1yrago After Istanbul voters rejected Turkish strongman Erdogan, he made them vote again — and lost by the biggest landslide in 35 years

#1yrago Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested for trafficking dozens of young girls for sex

#1yrago Britain's US ambassador: Trump is "insecure, incompetent, inept"

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Fipi Lele, Naked Capitalism (

Currently writing:

  • My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. Friday's progress: 535 words (34486 total).

Currently reading: Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 08)

Upcoming appearances:

"Working as Intended: Surveillance Capitalism is not a Rogue Capitalism," Jul 21,

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here: Get a personalized, signed copy here:

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden:; personalized/signed copies here:

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When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla