Cesium & Plutonium Make The Best Nightmare Fuel

“Two security experts from the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory drove to San Antonio, Texas, in March 2017 with a sensitive mission: to retrieve dangerous nuclear materials from a nonprofit research lab there.

Their task, according to documents and interviews, was to ensure that the radioactive materials did not fall into the wrong hands on the way back to Idaho, where the government maintains a stockpile of nuclear explosive materials for the military and others.

To ensure they got the right items, the specialists from Idaho brought radiation detectors and small samples of dangerous materials to calibrate them: specifically, a plastic-covered disk of plutonium, a material that can be used to fuel nuclear weapons, and another of cesium, a highly radioactive isotope that could potentially be used in a so-called “dirty” radioactive bomb.

But when they stopped at a Marriott hotel just off Highway 410, in a high-crime neighborhood filled with temp agencies and ranch homes, they left those sensors on the back seat of their rented Ford Expedition. When they awoke the next morning, the window had been smashed and the special valises holding these sensors and nuclear materials had vanished.”

—Patrick Malone. “Plutonium is Missing, But The Government Says Nothing.” The Center for Public Integrity. July 16, 2018.

Documenting [The Egyptian] Revolution on 858.ma

Made fully public in January 2018, the site “858.ma” was created by the Mosireen Collective, a nonprofit media collective, as an “initiative to make public all the footage shot and collected since 2011” regarding the Egyptian Revolution. The site, upon launch, had 858 hours of footage — hence the name — and, according to its anonymous founders, is a tool for presenting histories and memories of the revolution and uprisings outside of the Egyptian regime’s counterrevolutionary narrative.”

—Cord Brooks. “Archiving Revolution on 858.ma. Los Angeles Review of Books. July 16, 2018.

Worry List

“Make a “to worry about” list. In a notebook or somewhere privately on your personal computer, make an ongoing list of things that you need to worry about. Jot down anything and everything that comes up in your day that’s bothering you. Make a special note if it’s something that keeps cropping up in your mind. Designate a time to sit down and review the list. When you do, you’ll realize most of it was nonsense. However, there will be a few points on there that require your attention. Instead of ruminating, make an action plan to address or resolve what’s bothering you. In the end, you’ll gain confidence both by addressing what’s weighing on you, and realizing how unimportant and irrelevant most of your worries are.”

—Brianna Wiest. “If You Want To Master Your Life, Learn To Organize Your Feelings.” Forbes. May 14, 2018.

Cultural Good Ol’ Days

“I know people don’t read books like they used to, and they don’t think like they used to, but I struggle to care. Most of this talk is pure nostalgia, a kind of mostly knee-jerk, mostly uncritical (although not thoughtless) response to entirely rational fears about technological opacity and complexity (this nostalgia, of course, was the basis for the New Aesthetic). But this understandable reaction also erases all the new and different modes of attention and thought which, while they are difficult to articulate because we are still developing and discovering the language to articulate them with, are nonetheless present and growing within us. And I simply do not see the damage that is ascribed to this perceived “loss” – I don’t see the generations coming up being any less engaged in culture and society, reading less, thinking less, acting less, even when they are by any measure poorer, less supported, forced to struggle harder for education and employment, and, to compound the injury, derided at every opportunity as feckless, distracted, and disengaged. I see the opposite.”

—James Bridle, “Reading Right-to-Left.” booktwo.org. October 15, 2015.

History Rhymes

“Sometime this November, he estimates, half the world’s population—close to 4 billion people—will be connected online, sharing everything from résumés to political views to DNA information. As billions more come online, they will feed trillions of additional bits of information into the Web, making it more powerful, more valuable, and potentially more dangerous than ever….

…The power of the Web wasn’t taken or stolen. We, collectively, by the billions, gave it away with every signed user agreement and intimate moment shared with technology. Facebook, Google, and Amazon now monopolize almost everything that happens online, from what we buy to the news we read to who we like. Along with a handful of powerful government agencies, they are able to monitor, manipulate, and spy in once unimaginable ways…

The idea is simple: re-decentralize the Web. Working with a small team of developers, he spends most of his time now on Solid, a platform designed to give individuals, rather than corporations, control of their own data.”

—Katrina Brooker. “‘I Was Devastated’: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets.Vanity Fair. July 1, 2018.

Even if a successful decentralized platform is developed, won’t the increasing value of the web combined with people’s willingness to exchange their information for useful tools and convenience offered by a few multinational corporations simply lead to a similar outcome? Or to pose the central question of the article:

“…we are at a societal inflection point: Are we headed toward an Orwellian future where a handful of corporations monitor and control our lives? Or are we on the verge of creating a better version of society online, one where the free flow of ideas and information helps cure disease, expose corruption, reverse injustices?”

Likely both, with much more of the former than the latter.

The Intellectual Dark Web

The Internet is such a bizarre rabbit burrow of ideas. I came across the term: “Intellectual Dark Web” while skimming a Jacobite article providing an assessment of the “movement”. The article pointed to an aggregating website, which in turn links to guides like, “How to join the Intellectual Dark Web — a user’s guide.”

I suspect this is something that will gain some mindshare. On first blush, it seems like horseshit. But, I thought I’d post a note to look a little deeper later.

Nothing wrong with the wanting a space for the free exchange of ideas, particularly unpopular ones. But, intellectual and dark implies quite a bit more, as if a negative light shines through the ends of the Overton Window.

Sounds like bunkum and flimflam, but even error has its uses.

Browsh

“Browsh is a fully-modern text-based browser. It renders anything that a modern browser can; HTML5, CSS3, JS, video and even WebGL. Its main purpose is to be run on a remote server and accessed via SSH/Mosh or the in-browser HTML service in order to significantly reduce bandwidth and thus both increase browsing speeds and decrease bandwidth costs.”

https://www.brow.sh/