Category Archives: Did you Know?

Cory Doctorow: “Light a candle, curse the darkness and win the war on general purpose computers to save the world”

Cory Doctorow (Webstock, 2015) on technology:

If we’re going to solve the serious, existential risks to the human race – things like environmental apocalypse – we’re going to need social and technical infrastructure that can support evidence-driven, public-spirited institutions that can help steer us to a better place.

Alas, we’re in trouble there, too. We’re living in a nearly airtight bubble of corruption and coercion. The only policies that states can reliably be expected to enact are those with business models – laws and actions that make someone incredibly rich, producing the private wealth necessary to lobby state to continue the policy and keep the money flowing.

There’s always been practical limits to how wide the gap between the rich and poor can get – at a certain point, elites end up spending more money guarding their wealth from the ever-enlarging, ever-more-desperate cohort of poor than they’re getting from corrupt policies and self-dealing relationships with the state.

But technology changes all that. The automation of surveillance and coercion makes the business of maintaining social order vastly cheaper, and therefore increases the amount of wealth the very richest can keep to themselves rather than doling out dribs and drabs to the rest of us.

Thus the miseries of a technologically supported system of feudalism dwarf those of the darkest days of kings and lords. And the ever-dwindling accountability of ruling elites means that evidence-driven policy is harder and harder to enact, and when it is, that policy needn’t be in the common interest.

We need to crack the airtight bubble. We need to find a way to begin unravelling the knotwork of decades of neoliberal corruption.

The first step to this is to seize the means of information. We need computers that we do what we tell them to do, and networks that we can trust, in order to carry out a program of popular reform for good governance, fairness, and equity.

We can do this, and we will do this. Because this is a policy with a business-model, and policies with business-models are the only policies the modern state can be relied upon to enact.

Watch him speak to this point (and so much more) in an hour-long video here: https://vimeo.com/123473929

The Pulitzer Prize Winners for 2015

Ladies and gentlemen, here are the 2015 Pulitzer Prizes:

Journalism

 Public Service: The Post and Courier, Charleston, SC

Breaking News Reporting: The Seattle Times Staff

Investigative Reporting: Eric Lipton of The New York Times;  The Wall Street Journal Staff

Explanatory Reporting: Zachary R. Mider of Bloomberg News

Local Reporting: Rob Kuznia, Rebecca Kimitch and Frank Suraci of the Daily Breeze, Torrance, CA

National Reporting: Carol D. Leonnig of The Washington Post

International Reporting: The New York Times Staff

Feature Writing: Diana Marcum of the Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle

Criticism: Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times

Editorial Writing: Kathleen Kingsbury of The Boston Globe

Editorial Cartooning: Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News

Breaking News Photography: St. Louis Post-Dispatch Photography Staff

Feature Photography: Daniel Berehulak, freelance photographer, The New York Times

 Letters, Drama, and Music

Fiction: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)

Drama: Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis

History: Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People by Elizabeth A. Fenn (Hill and Wang)

Biography or Autobiography: The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer (Random House)

Poetry: Digest by Gregory Pardlo (Four Way Books)

General Nonfiction: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt)

Music: Anthracite Fields by Julia Wolfe (Red Poppy Music/G. Schirmer, Inc.)

Source: http://www.pulitzer.org/awards/2015

The Library of Congress releases 50 audio recordings (and counting!) online for the first time

The New York Times reports that the Library of Congress has begun posting recordings from its Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature in honor of National Poetry Month.

50 of the collection’s nearly 2,000 audio recordings are now available online, and another will be added each month as the program continues. This initial sample includes a 1971 lecture by Kurt VonnegutRobert Frost’s interview with Randall Jarrell; readings byElizabeth Bishop, Galway Kinnell, Rita Dove, William Meredith, Gwendolyn Brooks, Paul Muldoon, and many others; Ray Bradbury’s excellent lecture, “Beyond 1984: What To Do When The Doom Doesn’t Arrive”; audio from the Academy of American Poets 35th anniversary program in 1969, and more. Start listening here. 

The Library of Congress releases 50 audio recordings (and counting!) online for the first time » MobyLives.