Big Tech and hypocrisy

A long time ago, in a galaxy not too far from ours, there was a tech company. Really, all it had was a search engine. And a misspelt name. But, amazingly, that search engine company went on to become one of the biggest tech companies on Earth. I am, of course, referring to Google. Are you old enough to remember what Google’s motto was: Do No Evil. They’ve since found those three small words to be terribly inconvenient and have dropped it from their PR stack. It appears that Evil keeps the lights on and food on the table much better than No Evil did.

Then there’s the pretentious designer’s favourite, Apple. Even when my husband and I were working in Silicon Valley, we never had the faintest desire to work for Apple (Infinity Loop, Cupertino) because Steve Jobs’ tantrums were legendary. Who wanted a boss like that? And, with its walled garden of software and the smugness of its users, Apple could basically datamine the hell out of its clueless users without anyone being the wiser.

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Boyan Slat and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: A comprehensive critique

Boyan Slat appeared on my radar recently. I watched two programmes on Boyan Slat, one dating from May 2017 (a presentation, 30:08 minutes), and the other from October 2018 (a documentary, 44:55 minutes). And I have some reservations.

Firstly, though, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t clean up the garbage in the oceans, especially plastic garbage. Our problem as a species is that we tend to think that out of sight is out of mind, and anything that can save us from our own myopia is to be lauded. It is with this frame of mind that I approached Slat’s 2017 presentation but, unfortunately, it was by watching a video on something I supported that the doubts arose.

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Move to synthetic opioids brings surprising benefits to Afghan farmers

Abdul bin Mohammed was beaming when we entered his humble home. While times had been good for this one-time poppy grower, the decision by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to drop the annual quota of brown resin was music to his ears.

“It was very lucrative at one time,” he said through an interpreter, “but there were also many costs. American soldiers would often walk through my fields and threaten to set them on fire if I didn’t supply them with money and raw opium. Prices were going up and down without reason. Then there was the problem of oversupply.”

Oversupply? What does he mean?

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Children being led into #gambling on #YouTube #NotSurprised #Parents

Most of the time, I’m lag behind the current landscape of memes and internet-associated scandals, watching the juggernauts whiz past with blinking, bewildered eyes. How nice, then, to find that I’m not as out-of-touch with modern happenings as I usually am. To whit, unboxing websites, children, gambling and YouTube stars.

In a nutshell, YouTube “stars”—that is, those with tens/hundreds of thousands of subscribers (even millions)—are being paid “six-figure sums” to promote gambling. The “gambling” takes the form of virtual boxes that you can virtually open with a virtual box-cutter for a chance to win brand-name shoes, electronics, games or even full-sized automobiles. Depending on which unboxing site you visit, a successful bid to slice open a box can range anywhere from a couple of YankeeBucks to thousands.

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The midterm elections: a personal observation #USA #Trump

[First of all, a happy Deepavali to any Hindu readers here.]

As the United States heads into the midterm elections, the rest of the world is grabbing popcorn and settling in for the drama. The Democrats only need to win an additional 24 seats in the House and a measly two seats in the Senate to turn a slim Republican majority into a red bloodbath. But what will happen if they succeed?

Let’s talk Russiagate first. This is my personal speculation, mind, so take what I’m writing with a grain of salt, but I have two words for you: Uranium One. Rosatom is a Russian company and currently one of the largest uranium producers in the world. It got this honour in no small part thanks to a certain Mr and Mrs. William and Hillary Clinton.

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Brett Kavanaugh: It’s Kozinski, stupid*

USian politics has become such an interesting quagmire (why should their military have all the fun?) that you can barely look away before things change. With this in mind, let’s talk about Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the US Court of Appeals, DC, nominee to the Supreme Court and current Senate grillee.

It all began on 13 September, when the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, forwarded information involving Kavanaugh to federal investigators. As the world found out later, that information consisted of an accusation from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, and researcher at nearby Stanford University.

As I’m a woman, I know a lot of readers will naturally assume that I’m going to side with Dr. Ford but, in fact, I find reprehensible actions on the part of both Democratic and Republican partisans.

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