July 26, 2017 in 2,670 words

A people-owned internet exists. Here is what it looks like.

The future of the internet is in peril, thanks to surveillance, net neutrality and other assaults. But there are communities that are building their own.

Whatever happens in Washington, we can start building an internet that respects our rights on the local level.

Like many Americans, I don’t have a choice about my internet service provider. I live in a subsidized housing development where there’s only one option, and it happens to be, by some accounts, the most hated company in the United States.

Like its monstrous peers, my provider is celebrating that Congress has recently permitted it to spy on me. Although it pretends to support the overwhelming majority of the country’s population who oppose net neutrality, it has been trying to bury the principle of an open internet for years and, under Trump’s Federal Communications Commission, is making good progress.

I can already feel my browsing habits shift. I’m reigning in curiosities a bit more, a bit more anxious about who might be watching. I’ve taken to using a VPN, like people have to do to access the open internet from China. And the real effects go deeper than personal anxieties.

Although the fight for an open internet tends to have Silicon Valley tech bros at the forefront, it’s a racial justice issue; arbitrary powers for corporations tend not to help marginalized populations. It’s a rural justice issue, too.

DEGREE OF OPPORTUNITY: In Longmont, Colorado, the city-owned NextLight fiber network provides some of the fastest connectivity in the country for a reasonable price. In Longmont, all the surveillance and anti-neutrality stuff simply isn’t relevant.

Your Roomba May Be Mapping Your Home, Collecting Data That Could Be Sold

The Roomba 980 from iRobot, which was released in 2015. Some of the company’s robotic vacuums collect spatial data to map users’ homes.

Your Roomba may be vacuuming up more than you think.

High-end models of Roomba, iRobot’s robotic vacuum, collect data as they clean, identifying the locations of your walls and furniture. This helps them avoid crashing into your couch, but it also creates a map of your home that iRobot is considering selling to Amazon, Apple or Google.

Colin Angle, chief executive of iRobot, told Reuters that a deal could come in the next two years, though iRobot said in a statement on Tuesday: “We have not formed any plans to sell data.”

In the hands of a company like Amazon, Apple or Google, that data could fuel new “smart” home products.

“When we think about ‘what is supposed to happen’ when I enter a room, everything depends on the room at a foundational level knowing what is in it,” an iRobot spokesman said in a written response to questions. “In order to ‘do the right thing’ when you say ‘turn on the lights,’ the room must know what lights it has to turn on. Same thing for music, TV, heat, blinds, the stove, coffee machines, fans, gaming consoles, smart picture frames or robot pets.”

John McCain Is the Perfect American Lie

Anyone who thought McCain would show courage during the Senate’s health care vote hasn’t been paying attention.

Seventeen years ago I gave John McCain’s Presidential campaign five bucks. It was my first time donating to a political campaign, much less a Republican one. But like a lot of people, I marveled at his backstory of surviving years and years in Viet Cong captivity (I even read, like, three pages of that big David Foster Wallace story about him), and—more important—I eagerly took all his Straight Talk Express horseshit to heart. Hey, that Republican is saying stuff about other Republicans! He seems like a real rebel!

Back in 2000, McCain scratched that itch for anyone like me who enjoyed pretending to be politically independent, and who happily latched onto McCain as a talisman of that independence. You see, guys! I can vote for a Republican when it’s the RIGHT Republican! And over the course of this century, McCain has dined out on his reputation as The Good Conservative. He’s the senator who gives thunderous copy to reporters, and does SNL, and issues bipartisan reports on the military giving the NFL promo money, and does the occasional cameo on Parks & Rec. He fulfills every Brokawian wet dream certain members of the press still have about politicians setting aside their differences and doing the RIGHT THING, by God.

Today, Senate Republicans moved one step closer to dismantling Obamacare, potentially leaving millions of people uninsured, jacking up their premiums, and letting insurance companies cover only what they feel like covering. John McCain voted for that bill because of course he did. He has always been a big talker, but when it comes to the actual meat-and-potatoes voting process, he falls in line. He didn’t do the right thing. He didn’t even come within 500 yards of doing the right thing. For the past two decades, he has never done the right thing. He’s a fraud. Alex Pareene had him nailed ages ago. In fact, it’s “nice” Republicans like McCain who provide cover for evil swine like Mitch McConnell, allowing them to gut the American security net and fuck over anyone who doesn’t live behind an iron gate.

The No-Man’s-Land Beneath the Border Wall

There’s a small stretch of soil north of the Rio Grande river that’s still part of the United States, but exists below the Mexican border wall. The Atlantic went inside this no-man’s-land to uncover what life is like in a place that feels like not-quite America, but not-quite Mexico.

“Is the Monster Awakening?” Threat Level Raised for Europe’s Supervolcano, Campi Flegrei Last Erupted in 1538

Campi Flegrei, “burning fields”, is a supervolcano that consists of a vast and complex network of underground chambers that formed hundreds of thousands of years ago, stretching from the outskirts of Naples to underneath the Mediterranean Sea and last erupted in 1538.

According o the BBC, about half a million people live in its seven-mile-long caldera, which was formed by vast eruptions 200,000, 39,000, 35,000 and 12,000 years ago. Recent events suggest that the monster is awakening: deformation and heating within the caldera saw the Italian government raise the volcano’s threat level in December 2016. A study published in May 2017 found evidence that the supervolcano has been building towards an eruption for decades.

Fears are growing, says the BBC, that magma deep inside Campi Flegrei could be reaching the “critical degassing pressure”, where a sudden large-scale release of volcanic gases could abruptly inject heat into surrounding hydrothermal fluids and rocks. When this happens on a significant scale, it can cause catastrophic rock failure within the volcano, triggering an eruption.

“Campi Flegrei is in a critical state,” says Antonio Costa of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Bologna, who is part of a team monitoring the supervolcano. “In probabilistic terms, we expect something called a ‘violent Strombolian eruption’. This is relatively small-scale to a supereruption. However, it’s not easy to say if there will definitely be an eruption in the coming years. Campi Flegrei has not erupted during the timescale that it’s been under observation, so we don’t know entirely what to expect.”

Sperm counts among western men have halved in last 40 years – study

Reasons for the ‘shocking’ drop are unclear, say researchers, and represent a huge and neglected area of public health

The concentration of sperm in the ejaculate of men in western countries has fallen by an average of 1.4% a year, leading to an overall drop of just over 52%, say researchers

Sperm counts among men have more than halved in the last 40 years, research suggests, although the drivers behind the decline remain unclear.

The latest findings reveal that between 1973 and 2011, the concentration of sperm in the ejaculate of men in western countries has fallen by an average of 1.4% a year, leading to an overall drop of just over 52%.

“The results are quite shocking,” said Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist and lead author of the study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

While infertility treatments such as IVF can offer solutions to potential ramifications of the decline on one level, little has been done to address the root of the issue, said Levine, pointing out low sperm counts might also be an indicator of poorer health among men more generally.

A company implanting microchips in its employees says it’s not to track them


The type of microchip that employees at a Wisconsin company will embed in their fingers is about as big as a grain of rice.

A majority of employees at Three Square Market, a technology company in Wisconsin, have volunteered to embed a rice-sized chip in their bodies that allow them to swipe into the building or pay for food in the cafeteria as if their hands were key cards.

Three Square Market is believed to be the first US company to offer embedded chips to employees (the Swedish company Epicenter already offers them to its workers). Over the last decade, the office has become a target market for all sorts of gadgets and software that some might call Orwellian. Companies make badges that collect anonymized data about how employees communicate, light bulbs that track office movements, and software that keeps tabs on who is likely to be looking for a job.

The microchips reportedly feel like a needle going in and like a sliver coming out.

Three Square Market has said that its RFID chips won’t be used to track employees. “Your cellphone does 100 times more reporting of data than does an RFID chip,” Todd Westby, the company’s CEO, told the New York Times. But that doesn’t mean that the technology can’t be used to keep tabs on employee movements.

After a series of hacks, cryptocurrency issuers may turn to old-fashioned bank vaults for security

Cold Storage

Inner sanctum.

After hackers looted $30 million worth of ether last week, a company planning to raise money with cryptoassets is turning to an old-fashioned solution to safeguard the funds: a bank vault. It highlights the difficulty of keeping even the most sophisticated new technology safe and secure.

BitBounce, an anti-spam e-mail provider, is planning to raise as much as $20 million through an initial coin offering of digital tokens on the ethereum network. Founder Stewart Dennis says he may have millions of dollars worth of tokens left over from the ICO, which will need safekeeping. Recent hacks have revealed the risks of storing digital money online. Given those concerns, Dennis said he’s considering offline options, such as safe deposit boxes and theft insurance.

Crypto heists work like this: ether and bitcoin holdings can only be accessed by a private key, a kind of password to a digital currency wallet. The trouble is safeguarding that key: If hackers find a way to steal it, then a digital wallet can be accessed.

One way cryptocurrencies bolster their security is through “cold storage,” meaning that private keys are kept offline, away from the reach of online hackers. The key can be written down on paper or stored on a drive that’s locked away in a bank safe.

‘Rogue Planets’ Are Roaming Our Galaxy

And astronomers have found an ingenious way to spot them.

We live in an era when it is not unusual for exoplanets—worlds beyond our solar system—to be discovered in batches of hundreds. The vast majority of these planets are exposed to astronomers by their host stars, either when the planets transit in front of them, temporarily blocking stellar light, or when they exert an observable gravitational force on their stars.

But there are some worlds that wander the Milky Way as solar exiles, catapulted from their native systems by interloping objects or cataclysmic events. Others are born in the interstellar medium without a parent star. These planets, with no sun of their own, go by many names—rogues, nomads, orphans—and there are estimated to be billions of them adrift in our Milky Way, sparking the imaginations of scientists and science fiction fans alike.

Such free-floating places are shrouded in mystery relative to their star-anchored peers, because they lurk in the shadows of the galaxy, and leave few traces of their presence. But they are not entirely undetectable, as demonstrated by new research published on Monday in Nature.


With the production of Tesla’s mass-market Model 3 now underway, and first deliveries due on Friday, electric cars are about to hit the mainstream. For people driving EVs, it means a raft of changes: plugging in at night instead of hitting the gas station, keeping an eye on a battery meter instead of a fuel gauge, and most importantly, a change in the way they drive.

To get the maximum benefit out of driving an electric car, the accelerator (you can’t call it a gas pedal anymore!) controls both the speeding up and slowing down. Pressing the pedal makes the car go, as usual, but lifting your foot makes the car slow down, hard, not coast.

It’s a quirk that takes some getting used to. At first, it can feel like the parking brake has been accidentally left on. But most drivers eventually prefer it because it makes inching forward in traffic much easier than swapping your foot back and forth between pedals.

How the IKEA catalogue cracked what “domestic bliss” means in different cultures

Global Swedish

Local color.

For IKEA fans, the last week of July is like Christmas.

Beginning July 31, IKEA’s highly-anticipated catalogue will appear in millions of mailboxes around the world. With a print run of 203 million copies this year, the catalogue ranks alongside the Bible, the Koran, and Harry Potter as one of the world’s most-distributed books.

For 67 years, the IKEA catalogue has served as a product showcase, design inspiration and manifesto for the 74-year old furniture company’s grand vision of creating a “better everyday life for the many people.” But “many people” means many different versions of the good life. Therefore the 324-page catalog, a herculean production that eats up 70% of IKEA’s annual marketing budget, must be also customized for different regions and religions around the world.

IKEA has ethnographers who conduct field research into the domestic life of different regions through home visits, interviews and panels. While the researchers’ “Life at Home” consumer insights research goes to the development of new products, it also helps catalogue creators plan the content and styling of local editions.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

And now there’s a coverup underway.

One by one, they’re looking for ways to be rid of this mess.

As Sean Spicer resigns as White House press secretary, The Daily Show bids him farewell with a montage of his finest moments.

The Senate votes to debate the GOP health care bill, giving the legislative body three days to potentially rewrite the health care system.

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for making this program available on YouTube.

In central Arizona there exists an experimental town called Arcosanti. It’s built on the principles of arcology, which combines architecture and ecology to envision a city that works in tandem with the Earth’s resources. In this short documentary, The Atlantic goes inside this distinctive urban space to understand how Arcosanti plans to reconstruct how humans envision cities.

The Top Gun VHS tape did two things: It made Tom Cruise so bankable he can worship aliens and still get legitimate work, and it saved the VHS industry and the world.

“Rational Alex Jones” reacts to having his kids taken away.

THANKSto Comedy Network and The Beaverton for making this program available on YouTube.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

Me recap and review on Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2 called “Stormborn”. Shout out to Wormsy for getting some fun boobs. Love ya work, mate.

Max watchjng the people at the garage and buffing his beak on the screen.

Ed. I’m still working crazy days and hours. So… More tomorrow? Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Not?