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Doing without, a new wave?

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

[ by Charles Cameron — intuitive and counter-intuitive redefined, no politicians, no borders, no traffic lights ]]
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Consider these two titles, both of which I ran across today:

Sources:

  • The Nation, What Would an Open-Borders World Actually Look Like?
  • New Yorker, Politics Without Politicians
  • **

    Consider: doing without traffic lights:

    The original example is Drachten, a town in Holland of 50,000 people. It is home to exactly zero traffic lights. Even in areas of the town with a traffic volume of 22,000 cars per day, traffic lights have been replaced by roundabouts, extended cycle paths and improved pedestrian areas. The town saw accidents at one intersection fall from 36 over a four-year period to just two in the last two years since the lights were removed in 2006.

    The counter-intuitive finding is that streets without traffic signals mean that cars drive more slowly and carefully because the rules of the road are ambiguous—there’s no red, green or yellow to tell drivers precisely what to do.

    Counter-intuitive. eh? Highly intuitive, and counter to popular assumption, I’d say. Out of the box from one-two-three to zero.

    Draft: the cultural climate crisis, global to local &c

    Saturday, November 9th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — i’m posting here some earlv drafts of longer pieces i’m working on for eventual publication elsewhere — this is a draft of the outline of a paper on climate change ]
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    **

    How about them Independent headlines?

    I intend to write a longish paper in which I voyage from the global to the intensely and varied local, and then catch up with cross-cuts that have either appeared in sundry of the localized sections but deserve gathering under their own heads, or which have somehow escaped the net of my keen interest.

    For now, though, I thought this spray of headlines from the Independent would make a nice intro to the project for ZP readers.

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    Sources:

  • ‘Untold human suffering’: 11,000 scientists from across world unite
  • Extinction Rebellion: Nearly 400 scientists support climate activists’ civil disobedience
  • Climate activists including Extinction Rebellion to receive £500,000
  • Why the Green Party is proposing £100bn a year
  • Climate ‘apocalypse’ to leave Scotland with abandoned villages
  • Scotland plants 22 million trees to tackle climate crisis
  • Ireland becomes second country in the world
  • Our ageing world rulers are unfit to tackle climate change
  • **

    Scots:

    Of course I’m a Scot down my father’s line, clan Cameron, of the Camerons of Erracht.

    The anti-social in Social Media?

    Friday, November 1st, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — online community member for 20 or more years, usenet user before that, made good friends and happy overall ]
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    There’s FaceBook vs Twitter — and then, well, Reuters has the stories:

    **

    On the one hand:

    Sources familiar with WhatsApp’s internal investigation into the breach said a “significant” portion of the known victims are high-profile government and military officials spread across at least 20 countries on five continents. Many of the nations are U.S. allies, they said.

    The hacking of a wider group of top government officials’ smartphones than previously reported suggests the WhatsApp cyber intrusion could have broad political and diplomatic consequences.

    WhatsApp filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Israeli hacking tool developer NSO Group. The Facebook-owned software giant alleges that NSO Group built and sold a hacking platform that exploited a flaw in WhatsApp-owned servers to help clients hack into the cellphones of at least 1,400 users between April 29, 2019, and May 10, 2019.

    The total number of WhatsApp users hacked could be even higher. A London-based human rights lawyer, who was among the targets, sent Reuters photographs showing attempts to break into his phone dating back to April 1.

    While it is not clear who used the software to hack officials’ phones, NSO has said it sells its spyware exclusively to government customers.

    Some victims are in the United States, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Mexico, Pakistan and India, said people familiar with the investigation. Reuters could not verify whether the government officials were from those countries or elsewhere.

    Some Indian nationals have gone public with allegations they were among the targets over the past couple of days; they include journalists, academics, lawyers and defenders of India’s Dalit community.

    On the other:

    The U.S. government has launched a national security review of TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co’s $1 billion acquisition of U.S. social media app Musical.ly, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    While the $1 billion acquisition was completed two years ago, U.S. lawmakers have been calling in recent weeks for a national security probe into TikTok, concerned the Chinese company may be censoring politically sensitive content, and raising questions about how it stores personal data.

    TikTok has been growing more popular among U.S. teenagers at a time of growing tensions between the United States and China over trade and technology transfers. About 60% of TikTok’s 26.5 million monthly active users in the United States are between the ages of 16 and 24, the company said earlier this year. [ … ]

    “With over 110 million downloads in the U.S. alone, TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore,” Schumer and Cotton wrote to Joseph Macguire, acting director of national intelligence.

    TikTok allows users to create and share short videos with special effects. The company has said U.S. user data is stored in the United States, but the senators noted that ByteDance is governed by Chinese laws.

    **

    Sources:

  • Reuters Oct 31 2019, Exclusive: Government officials around the globe targeted
  • Reuters Nov 1 2019, Exclusive: U.S. opens national security investigation into TikTok
  • Not bad for a two-day haul.

    **

    BTW, Twitter vs FaceBook:

  • Guardian 31 Oct 2019, Twitter’s canny political ad ban costs it little – and piles pressure on Facebook
  • .
    The Twitter co-founder and chief executive, Jack Dorsey, has turned a weakness into a strength, cutting off a minuscule revenue stream in order to heap pressure on his main competitor. In the hours since Twitter’s announcement, support has come from voices as diverse as the US-based campaign group Muslim Advocates, the Open Knowledge Foundation thinktank and the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. [ … ]

    Sorkin, writing in the New York Times, criticised Mark Zuckerberg for enabling the “crazy lies pumped into the water supply that corrupt the most important decisions we make together”. The screenwriter behind The Social Network, a film about Facebook’s early years, joined in a chorus of criticism of the site’s policy of explicitly allowing misinformation in political adverts.

    “Right now, on your website, is an ad claiming that Joe Biden gave the Ukrainian attorney general a billion dollars not to investigate his son. Every square inch of that is a lie and it’s under your logo. That’s not defending free speech, Mark, that’s assaulting truth,” he wrote.

    Go Twitter!

    **

    Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, TikTok — just lining up some ducks..

    Praying the Impeachment, a DoubleQuote

    Thursday, October 10th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — with an assist from Abraham Lincoln — “The Almighty has His own purposes” .. yet to be determined in this case ]
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    Reminding me of Abraham Lincoln:

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    Sources:

  • Guardian, ‘Brought to Jesus’: the evangelical grip on the Trump administration
  • HuffPost, Christians Plan National Day Of Prayer To Support Trump Impeachment Inquiry
  • **

    From Lincoln’s Second Inaugural:

    Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other .. The prayers of both could not be answered .. The Almighty has His own purposes.

    Climate change & its impacts, rippling out across all our futures, 2

    Friday, August 30th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — part 1 was Climate change & its impacts, rippling out across all our futures, 1, and dealt with the impact of climate change on the Hajj and other pilgrimage sites ]
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    Climate change, of course, has ripples in many other areas of geo-political, national security and intelligence interest besides Islam, Mecca, and the Hajj.

    I’m by no means the first person to foresee what’s now called climate migration — nor that it will involve massive migrations across national borders as well as within sovereign nations.

    So that’s another version of the issue variously addressed in a recent NYT op-ed, a New York Intelligencer piece, and a Franklin Foer piece in The Atlantic — the impact of climate change on the nation-state system:

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  • Quinta Jurecic, Who Owns the Amazon?
  • Quinta Jurecic is the managing editor of the highly regarded Lawfare blog, and the subtitle of his piece reads:

    The raging fires are straining the usefulness of the concept of sovereignty.

    That’s quite a whammy, coming from an impeccable — ha, unimpeachable — source: sovereignty, the self-determination of the nation state, comes into question, and thus the nation state itself. Because fires in the Amazon rain-forest aka the lungs of our planet are too dangerous to be left to the actions of autonomous nations — and the same goes for climate change more generally:

    The Amazon fires are a test case of sorts for how the climate crisis will strain the usefulness of seemingly simple concepts — like national sovereignty. Before calling up the military, Mr. Bolsonaro accused countries donating money to preserve the rain-forest of wanting to “interfere with our sovereignty.” He also declared that the international condemnation he faced spoke to a “colonialist mentality,” criticizing what he saw as Mr. Macron’s encouragement for the G7, which does not include Brazil, to grapple with the problem on its own.

    Question: what happens to national sovereignty when global interest supervenes?

  • David Wallace-Wells, The Glimmer of a Climate New World Order
  • Wallace-Wells is the author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. That may be a book I shall have to review. In this article, however, he makes a point about our academic and technical readiness for climate change, which I’d see as expanding on Jurecic‘s point about sovereignty:

    If climate change does transform life on this planet at anything like the scale and speed scientists promise it will, our politics will change with it — and probably quite dramatically. One question this raises is: In what ways? Another is: Will we like what warming does to us? The answers to both are very much open, and we’ve barely begun to develop a political science around climate change that might help us think through the possibilities.

    we’ve barely begun to develop a political science around climate change. Not as political science theory, but as diplomatic reality, required to avoid politics turning into warfare — in a nuclear-tipped age.

    Question: What might a planetary political science adequate to climate change look like?

  • Franklin Foer, The Amazon Fires Are More Dangerous Than WMDs
  • Franklin Foer‘s piece in the Atlantic is subtitled:

    One person shouldn’t have the power to set policies that doom the rest of humanity’s shot at mitigating rising

    Man, nation, planet — Planet, nation, man?

    Arguably, a nation has the right to impose its rule or rules on a man, and analogously, a planet has the right to impose its rule or rules on a nation — but note that the planet’s rules are none other than the laws of nature, so we’ve shifted register from what is humanly imposed tpo what is imposed on humans. And if humans try to emulate those laws, via the UN, or the International Criminal Court in The Hague, some nations may not be exactly happy..

    Question: when planetary needs collide with national interfests, rich or poor, who wins, and who needs to win?

    **

    Okay, those are the three main pieces I wanted to draw your attention to. These are also of possible interest:

  • Laura Parker, 143 Million People May Soon Become Climate Migrants

    Climate change will transform more than 143 million people into “climate migrants” escaping crop failure, water scarcity, and sea-level rise, a new World Bank report concludes. Most of this population shift will take place in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America—three “hot spots” that represent 55 percent of the developing world’s populations.

    This worst-case scenario is part of a ground-breaking study focused on the impacts of slow-onset climate, as opposed to more visibly dramatic events such as extreme storms and flooding.

  • Sujatha Byravan & Sudhir Chella Rajan, Before the Flood

    Conservative climate and hydrological models suggest that the average sea level will rise by about a foot by 2050, regardless of what new actions we take to reduce greenhouse gases. In some cases, entire nations will disappear; a harbinger of this is Tuvalu in the Pacific, whose government has asked Australia and New Zealand to accept its citizens as the sea swallows their island.

  • Brian Kahn, How Climate Change Is Becoming a Deadly Part of White Nationalism

    Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old suspect police took into custody after the shooting, is believed to have uploaded a four-page white nationalist document to the message board 8chan … outlining his motives for killing at least 22 people at Walmart on Saturday. Included among its racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric are ideas central to the mainstream environmental movement. “[O]ur lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources,” it reads.

  • **

    Is that last quote surprising?

    It is if, and only if, one’s basic assumption is of the left / right divide, with the left being ecologically conscious and the right (see Trump) being blind to, and thus potentially blindsided by, climate change. If your significant divisor, on the other hand, is extremist / moderate, then it’s not so surprising after all.


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