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Thursday, September 15, 2011

#754; All Aboard the Snooze Express

#754; All Aboard the Snooze Express:

The whole thing was clearly a pork project from the get-go. It doesn't make sound economic sense to lay high-speed rail track all the way from Bakersfield to Fresno just so one person can fall asleep faster. EVEN IF SHE IS ADORABLE WHEN SHE SNORES

Transparent soft furniture

Transparent soft furniture:

For Milan design week, furniture company Poltrona Frau exhibited some of its designs covered in transparent PVC without any fill, so that the structural elements were visible. I like the look of this, though it does remind me of the transparent toilets and TVs sold for use in prisons.

Transparent Furniture by Poltrona Frau

(via Crib Candy)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why does information security policy suck, and how do we make it better?

[Truly thoughtful and fascinating. -egg]

Why does information security policy suck, and how do we make it better?: Ben Hammersley's after-dinner speech to the UK's Information Assurance Advisory Council (a "talking shop for government, law enforcement, security services, and private companies") about the contemporary reality of policymaking in an era of rapid technological change, and the way that the cynical post-9/11 freedom/privacy-grabbing security measures have undermined the real safety of society.

Fundamental Truth Number two is that the internet is the dominant platform for life in the 21st century.

We can bitch about it, but Facebook, Twitter, Google and all the rest are, in many ways the very definition of modern life in the democratic west. For many, a functioning internet with freedom of speech, and a good connection to the social networks of our choice is a sign not just of modernity, but of civilisation itself.

This is not because people are “addicted to the video screen”, or have some other patronising psychological diagnosis. But because the internet is where we live. It’s where we do business, where we meet, where we fall in love. It is the central platform for business, culture, and personal relationships. There’s not much else left.

To misunderstand the centrality of these services to today’s society is to make a fundamental error. The internet isn’t a luxury addition to life; for most people, knowingly or not, it is life.

I also really liked this: "[A] two term Prime Minister today would end his term of office with an iPhone 64 times as powerful as the one he won the election with. (Or the same thing, but 1/64th of the price.) His policies, therefore, need to written with that future in mind, not the present. Good luck with that."

Check Against Delivery. My speech to the IAAC.

(via O'Reilly Radar)

Goldfish bowl with blown-glass mountains

Goldfish bowl with blown-glass mountains:

Fishbowls are cruel (arguably), but if you're looking for an arty fishbowl for your, say, robotic fish, or a place to keep Goldie while his large, stimulating tank is being cleaned, Fishscape is a pretty cool choice. Hand-blown in Turkey, it features lovely, refracting glass mountainscapes.

Fishscape Fishbowl by aruliden

(via Crib Candy)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Texas: Bastrop Fires

Ah. I spent a few really special nights camping here once, in the early part of a multimonth solo greyhound/camping trip when I was, oh, 19 or 20. I wish them well. -egg

Texas: Bastrop Fires:

Helpful tents with water, food and clothing are installed by the highway, in parking lots and prefabricated buildings. People just pour in with stuff to give, and we did that too. It feels normal.

Insurance companies and lawyers are also very present with their advice and offers. The patrol cars of Texas Rangers block small roads and prowl for looters. The scene looks American. My American friend comments; there is some harsh eerie justice that Texas, the petroleum state, is so stricken by wildfires. George Bush's war for oil still grinds on as his native soil is parched by global warming.

This is the true Texan stoic mentality, I am told; we hear no laments and see not a tear; just people waiting for the wind to turn, for the rain to fall.

As we walk the burned areas, as we crunch the crisp black grass, sometimes glimpsing burned cars and houses behind the police barricades, we notice that many trees have their crowns still intact. Sometimes the places of the worst distress have a weird beauty. A spinning ash devil swirls across the highway and blows off into the blackened woods, like some supernatural power. I manage to photograph it.

Six days after the first wildfires in a state park in Bastrop, smoke photographed from the orbiting Space Station has reached the Gulf of Mexico. Things have calmed, but nobody dares say that the fire season is over. There is no rain and no end to the drought predicted, while the sun glares fiercely and the temperatures rise yet again, here in our stricken part of the world.

Some call us "rubbernecks" because we choose to personally witness this vast public disaster. As we crunch over the cinders in our boots and hats, sipping bottled water and taking notes, people often kindly offer us help. Fires, wars and earthquakes don't merely strike the rescue professionals, for disaster is part of the world that we experience. My own experience of disaster tells me that Texas will never be the same after this. This huge disaster is not nearly over yet, and four years of the last six have had bad droughts. This is the modern Texas, and to avoid it would be living a lie.

Almost 1400 houses have burned around Bastrop, two dead people. In the past week 179 fires burned over 170,686 acres. President Barack Obama on Friday night declared that a major disaster exists in central Texas. Those are facts, figures and official declarations, but we also have our own eyes.

I survived a war once, mostly through spreading and reading online information. Sometimes I got hate mail for doing that; it was called meddling in domestic issues, or using improper language, or comforting enemies, or mostly it was ignored, because nobody in my shattered region knew what email was.

Now I can see Facebook and other social media seething with this activity. Just people, saying what they see in their own lives:

"My son saw some pictures that somebody has on FB and it showed the front of his property of KC Drive intact!!! He doesn't know when the pictures were taken or who took them. Is anyone aware of pictures of this type????"

"We are just off 290, 3 miles on Austin side of D.S. We have two spare bedrooms in our home, each with dedicated bathrooms, on 2 acres. We'd be pleased to take in a family who has lost their home in the recent fires."

If we lose our property, homes cities and even our lives, we still have solidarity in tragedy. Adversity bares the human condition, and if there is hope, it is not because we are told that we should have hope, but because there is some human being who is hopeful.

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