magic mushroom study
(Image: Unsplash/Lucas Benjamin)

THE GENIUS OF CAPITALISM

Here’s a beautiful example of neoliberalism in action — as close to perfection as it’s possible to get. In the US, you can’t file your taxes online with the IRS. Lobbying by tax companies means you’re forced to use a corporate filing system if you want to do it online. But you are supposed to be able to do it for free. Except, the scammers at Silicon Valley’s Intuit use web trickery to make people pay, reaping billions in the process. The Reply All podcast discusses the scam with ProPublica’s Justin Elliott (the Propublica stories can be found here).

Meanwhile, neoliberalism helped destroy America’s technological advantage over its military rivals. You may remember from a previous Side View the colossal Foxconn factory one Wisconsin town attacked its own citizens in order to build. Well, after years of hype, they’ve only just started building it, and it’s even smaller than the scaled-down version previously pitched.

FOREIGNERS AND THEIR EXOTIC WAYS

From around the globe:

NEW, IMPROVED INTERNET

Could the Trump administration be even dumber than our own government? Rather than ruin software by planting backdoors in it like the Morrison government wants to do, Trump is considering trying to ban encryption altogether.

And speaking of Global Village Idiot stunts, demanding that social media censor content judged too extreme will lead to the death of online free speech because social media can’t be censored accurately at scale, so everything remotely risky will be shut down.

Surprise! Deep fake equals deep misogyny: digital manipulation technologies are being used by men to target women.

And the perils of new, new media — how babe.net, which broke the Aziz Ansari “story”, collapsed.

WHITE MEN IN ACTION

James Murdoch uses philanthropy to scrub off the stain of his family’s business (well, at least some good comes from the existence of News Corp).

Pale, male and psychotropic — the dominance of psychedelic culture by white men. 

McCarthyism, waves and particles: David Bohm and the double-slit experiment (if you don’t know the double-slit experiment, it’s the dead-simple experiment that demonstrates the fundamental problem of quantum mechanics).

Plus, US law enforcement is riddled with extremists, white supremacists and anti-government militants.

WILDNESS AND WILDERNESS

Bonnie Mary Liston on the wildness of girls, and what wildness really means. Nature, wilderness and technotopia: Zowie Douglas-Kinghorn takes us on a voyage through URL and IRL landscapes

And a few thousand years ago, north-western Europe looked very different, with a vast and richly resourced area called Doggerland lying between the UK and Europe until rising sea levels flooded it. Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss this fascinating territory and how it was occupied by a race of super-intelligent canines*.

Doggerland. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Plus, identifying and attacking denialists’ rhetorical techniques may be as effective a way of changing their minds as using fact-based arguments.

FINALLY

For all of us, even the wokest of the woke, the possibility of Cancellation looms large over our online existence. Cancellation is what happens if you infringe some rule, major or trivial, of identity politics online, and your peers turn their virtual backs on you in disgust. Luckily, there’s a site that will mark your Cancellation with an appropriate obituary.

 

*the bit about the dogs may not be strictly accurate. But here’s a dog video anyway.

Peter Fray

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