It’s time to call Amer­i­ca what it is: a klep­toc­ra­cy, run by cor­po­ra­tions and gov­ern­ments with only cos­met­ic dis­tinc­tions. It is full of good peo­ple whom the klep­to­crats keep fight­ing against each oth­er, as they have for over 150 years, and will until the good peo­ple drown in ris­ing salt­wa­ter or epic storms, or sim­ply die, exhaust­ed and used up.

Cash Rules Every­thing Around Me — Notes from a Strange World — Medium

This depressed the hell out of me, but it’s hard to argue with Norton’s analysis.

Cof­fee, like almost every­thing else these days, is a sport. Every­one has a favorite team (or cof­fee mak­ing method or polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tion or design style or TV dra­ma or rap­per or com­ic book), dis­cuss­es tech­niques and relives great moments with oth­er like­mind­ed fans, and argues with fans of oth­er teams. The pro­lif­er­a­tion and diver­si­fi­ca­tion of media over the past 35 years cre­at­ed thou­sands of new sports and bil­lions of new teams.

The scourge of coffee

I’m not sure I agree 100% – Kot­tke may be talk­ing about the dom­i­nant cul­ture of play in the US, which is intense­ly com­pet­i­tive – but cer­tain­ly, cof­fee cul­ture and many oth­er diver­sions are won­der­ful exam­ples of play hap­pen­ing in all areas of life.

Hat tip goes to Matt Jones.

That is the night­mar­ish eco­nom­ic vision of Her: the dis­tinc­tion between pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion is mean­ing­less, affec­tive labor has spread from the office to the most pri­vate realms, and tech­nol­o­gy has become so sophis­ti­cat­ed that the bru­tal­i­ty of that econ­o­my van­ish­es into air.

Spike Jonze’s Her: The Scari­est Movie of 2013 | New Republic

Great cri­tique of Her, which I have yet to see, via Dan W.

Reverse engi­neer­ing, as both a descrip­tor and a research strat­e­gy, miss­es the things engi­neers do that do not fit into con­ven­tion­al ideas about engi­neer­ing. In the ongo­ing mix­ture of cul­ture and tech­nol­o­gy, reverse engi­neer­ing sticks too close­ly to the ide­al­ized vision of tech­ni­cal work. Because it assumes engi­neers care strict­ly about func­tion­al­i­ty and effi­cien­cy, it is not very good at telling sto­ries about acci­dents, inter­pre­ta­tions, and arbi­trary choic­es. It assumes that cul­tur­al objects or prac­tices (like movies or engi­neer­ing) can be reduced to sin­gu­lar, uni­ver­sal­ly-intel­li­gi­ble log­ics. It takes cor­po­rate spokes­peo­ple at their word when they claim that there was a straight line from con­cep­tion to execution.

On Reverse Engi­neer­ing — Anthro­pol­o­gy and Algo­rithms — Medium

Great debunk­ing of the reduc­tion­ist log­ic of reverse engi­neer­ing. Engi­neers are peo­ple too, with all that this entails.

the game may well be able to last for 100 years, say, con­cep­tu­al­ly, but that doesn’t mean that that would be easy to put into prac­tice. Say I run it on my lap­top – well what about bat­tery life? Sys­tem updates? Pow­er out­ages? Hard­ware fail­ure? Soft­ware fail­ure? The num­ber of things that could dis­rupt the game before it even came close to end­ing is large. If you real­ly want­ed to see that game through you’d have to take prodi­gious steps to do so, essen­tial­ly treat­ing your com­put­er as a kind of archival object imme­di­ate­ly and so on. Very strange.

Pip­pin Barr. Blog.

I real­ly enjoyed Barr’s Dura­tion series of games for this rea­son and oth­ers. One of my favourites is about a slot machine, forc­ing you to wait—if I recall correctly—a decade before it stops. What’s good about this is that the act of wait­ing is already con­nect­ed to slot machines. By extend­ing that peri­od of wait­ing the futil­i­ty or at least silli­ness of it is highlighted.

To live ful­ly, we must be occa­sion­al­ly remind­ed that we, and those around us, will not live forever.

Demons by Candelight

Venkatesh Rao on the med­i­ta­tive virtues of pow­er out­ages for (my words). I’m not entire­ly con­vinced by the final sec­tion sug­gest­ing infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy is a new kind of illu­mi­na­tion with its own kind of sunlight/electricity (work/life) bal­ance. But I do yearn for the enforced still­ness I expe­ri­enced dur­ing black­outs while briefly liv­ing in Cos­ta Rica.

At his best, he rep­re­sent­ed a new way of exist­ing in rela­tion to author­i­ty. He wasn’t very straight­for­ward­ly of the left and couldn’t have dis­tin­guished dialec­ti­cal mate­ri­al­ism from a bag of nuts. He hates sys­tems of belief, hates all sys­tems, wants indeed to be a ghost in the machine, walk­ing through the cor­ri­dors of pow­er and switch­ing off the lights. I found myself writ­ing notes culled from what he said to me about him­self. ‘When you’re a hack­er you’re inter­est­ed in masks with­in masks,’ and ‘We could under­mine cor­rup­tion from its dead cen­tre. Jus­tice will always in the end be about human beings, but there is a new van­guard of experts, crim­i­nalised as we are, who have fas­tened onto the can­cer of mod­ern pow­er, and seen how it spreads in ways that are still hid­den from ordi­nary human experience.’

Andrew O’Hagan · Ghost­ing: Julian Assange · LRB 6 March 2014

Amaz­ing piece on ghost­writ­ing for Assange, reveal­ing the man’s bewil­der­ing char­ac­ter and the impos­si­ble oper­at­ing pro­ce­dures of his organization.

Get­ting your head around Netrun­ner is like try­ing to grab a fish in a riv­er. It slips always just out of your reach, lets you seize it only for a moment. And just when you think you’ve real­ly got it, brand-new cards are released, mak­ing new mechan­ics pos­si­ble. It is not about the climb to dom­i­nance. It is not about get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter until you’re imper­vi­ous. It’s not about win­ning, but about grow­ing, lat­er­al­ly, like you’re sketch­ing a map of a world that will nev­er be fin­ished being born.

Shut Up & Sit Down | Life Hacks: A Netrun­ner Story

Fun piece on learn­ing to play Netrunner.