Wednesday Links -- 8 July 2015

Here's some of the stuff I've read about this week that's worth a comment or two.

I don't have any particularly positive feelings towards Mark Zuckerberg, but I will support him wholeheartedly in this: Mark Zuckerberg Wants You To Read Iain M. Banks' Player Of Games

The Netherlands is often portrayed as the ne plus ultra of decadent European lefty-liberalism, but that's often because Americans don't actually pay attention to Europe. For example, how lefty-liberal is complete social segregation based on political ideology? And yes, while liberals and conservatives in America like to talk up how divided we are as a political society, it's not like it's so baked in we have a word for it.

David Brin writes an open letter to Paul Krugman, who is set to debate economic theory and policy at this year's FreedomFest. Gotta love Brin's dogged determination to cut the conservative umbilical cord that's been pumping bullshit into libertarianism since the 1950s, but that's going to be a very tough sell. The American right-wing knows how easy it is to bilk libertarian-minded people for campaign cash.

From the department of Finally Something the Police Are Doing Right: The Washington Post reports on Seattle's ongoing reform of street policing. Whaddya know, treating people like human beings can actually lead to more positive outcomes: "Police booked participants in jail 1.4 fewer times a year, resulting in 39 fewer days in jail annually per person. And they were 87 percent less likely to go to prison." Note, however, the original WaPo headline in the URL: "Why Seattle's Cops Are Embracing the Philosophy of Hug a Thug." Sigh.

Gizmodo collects user submitted tales of startup woe. While I enjoy a good lurid account as much as anyone, I can't help but wonder if there are similar stories from, say, the 1890s. Apparently there were similar levels of insanity in 1980s finance (cf. The Wolf of Wall Street), or 1960s advertising (Mad Men), and even 1920s nouveau riche idleness (The Great Gatsby) but why not go further back? How did the mad entrepreneurs of yesteryear manifest their bullshit, and how did our perception change?

Ursula K. Le Guin, author of tremendous science fiction and fantasy stories, rails against Amazon's business model for books. Can't say I disagree, even though it feels strange to me since I never ever look at the best-seller lists and mostly buy based on outside recommendations. (Also: lots of math textbooks.) But just because I'm not in the main stream of the BS Machine doesn't mean the effects won't eventually bleed through.

Theme music(s) for the week:

Serendipitously got introduced to Christopher Owens and Girls last week, and I was much impressed. I'm not sure what about them makes me think of Steven Wilson (i.e., Porcupine Tree) and not one of the more mainstream (and, to my ear, uninteresting) indie artists/bands, but there ya go. Maybe they're just that good?

Meanwhile, Dead Sara is coming to Seattle in a week and I am so freaking excited.