Pluralistic: 29 Nov 2021

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Give Me Slack

My parental worries, ca. 2021.

I was a mere lad of fifteen when I first encountered the Church of the Subgenius, a joke religion started by a group of prankster surrealists out of Austin and parts elsewhere. The faith is represented by J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, a grinning, square-jawed salesman with a pipe clenched in his square, white teeth, who promises “slack” to all who profess the faith.

Slack was — and is — an enticing concept. I always interpreted “slack” as a synonym for “forgiveness,” that is, the idea that our systems would have graceful failure modes, in which errors and failings were never terminal, and could always be redone. A philosophy for an age of “Save Game” and ⌘-Z.

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Pluralistic: 28 Nov 2021

Today's links

  • The Cuban vaccines: Omicron, vaccine apartheid, WTO TRIPS waivers and the false hope of viruses "gentling" themselves.
  • This day in history: 2001, 2006, 2011, 2016
  • Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading

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Pluralistic: 26 Nov 2021

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Pluralistic: 25 Nov 2021

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Pluralistic: 24 Nov 2021

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Pluralistic: 23 Nov 2021

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Pluralistic: 21 Nov 2021

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Apple’s Right-to-Repair U-Turn

Celebrate, but keep your eye on the prize

A picture of a disassembled Iphone from Ifixit’s “IPhone 12 Pro Max Teardown,” it is surmounted with the Apple “Think Different” wordmark; in the bottom corner, behind the Ifixit logo, is Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars with a speech bubble that reads “It’s a trap?”
Image: Ifixit, Apple, Lucasfilm

It’s been a pretty great week. Ever since Apple announced that it would sell its customers spare parts and tools to affect their own repairs, and supply them with the documentation to do so, I’ve been thrilled to do my comrades’ online victory laps. For a decade, I’ve fought alongside my pals in the Right to Repair movement against a coalition of the best-capitalized, most powerful multinational companies in the world, who used their incredible might to trample all other considerations: fairness, climate justice, safety, and security.

We introduced dozens of state right to repair bills — bills that set out the principle that when you buy a product, you should get to decide who fixes it — and watched as, time and again, a coalition of big business, led by Apple, used lies and scare-talk to convince lawmakers to vote the bills down.

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