driverless car autonomous car
(Image: Wikimedia)

THE MEDIUM IS THE MESS OF POTTAGE

The Columbia Journalism Review examines what happened when the National Enquirer signed up to back Trump. Car makers want to put touch screens in cars because it represents a whole new area of advertising revenue (marketing idea: your car doesn’t start until you’ve watched a two-minute preview of the exciting new reality TV show coming soon).

Elsewhere, William Shawcross is furious — ropeable even — about the inaccuracies of The Crown. The story and thinking behind the Silence = Death poster. We all hate virtue signalling, right? Terrible thing. Except… erm… there’s actually a moral logic to virtue signalling. And Australia ranks poorly in Humanists International’s new report on freedom of thought.

JUMP IN MY CAR

Remember driverless cars? They were big once. Then they started, y’know, killing people.

Then politicians began to realise that no one was regulating them. Their only future is if they are confined to their own lanes where they can’t kill people (but good luck to any city that devotes precious road space to wealthy people in autonomous vehicles).

The narrative around China and electric vehicles has until now been about the country looking to dominate the next industrial revolution. But that’s rapidly becoming problematic as sales stall in China.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s Ring video doorbell — besides being prime Internet Of Shit tech — seems ever-creepier, with plans to use facial recognition to create watch lists (sorry, does anyone else worry when you start talking about “ring” and “screens”?) Not to be outdone, China is now requiring phone buyers to have their faces scanned. Watch for western governments to try that one.

CAPITALISM

Personal debt is growing “like a weed” in the US (no not that weed).

There was once a bunch of scumbags who helped the world’s worst human rights abusers hack their critics. Then they themselves got hacked and exposed. Now they’re trying to re-establish themselves.

Seems like Huawei isn’t going to be pushed around any more: not merely has it hired Nick Xenophon to defend the company against what it calls baseless smears about its links with Beijing, but it is suing a French researcher for mentioning them.

“Economic theory as it exists increasingly resembles a shed full of broken tools”: one of Britain’s most respected economists has undertaken a major project of demolishing both hard money and neoliberal economics.

GUNS’N’URANIUM

Depleted uranium ammunition (Image: Department of Defence)

We’ve long known — despite efforts by the World Health Organisation to suppress the information — that allied military actions in Fallujah caused a major spike in birth defects among Iraqis in that city, something the perpetrators in Western militaries and governments have never been held accountable for. Now there’s evidence that US military bases in Iraq are also causing birth defects.

As a thought exercise, what would you do if you wanted to significantly cut funding to the world’s largest military-industrial complex?

And dear Harold: how Bob Menzies begged Harold Macmillan for nuclear weapons.

THE LIFE AQUATIC?

  • [Insert star fish reference]: tracking supernovae at the bottom of the sea.
  • Climate change is lifting the level of Lake Michigan, complicating life for Chicago and nearby areas.
  • Reliability concerns are a key driver of solar-plus-storage uptake in the United States.
  • I suspect this article on the world of blood-sucking creatures will do little to endear them to us. But then, it does have vampire snails.
  • Invisible art: the universe looks very different to an orbiting x-ray observatory.

FOREIGNERS

The real “deep state”: Britain’s criminal collusion with loyalist militias in Northern Ireland. France wrestles with violence toward women and policies to curb it. Spain is the latest state to participate in Europe’s eagerness to sell weaponry to some of the world’s most malignant states.

And in case you ever thought anything good could come out of Luxembourg, it just blocked greater tax transparency for multinational corporations.

FINALLY

You don’t need to be a cat lover to be good at reading feline emotions, new research shows. There’s a new translation of Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal’s memoir about cats and living with them — not for the faint-hearted.

And as the Sydney and Melbourne property markets again take off, let’s see how crabs address housing supply.

Peter Fray

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