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  • Doug Belshaw 8:03 am on September 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: streets   

    As town centres empty, there is a generational opportunity to reverse the gross monetisation of our public realm. This is a chance to make the principles of placemaking – creating inclusive public spaces where people can enjoy their leisure time without spending money – a reality. Nonprofit arts and cultural organisations forced out by high rents could, likewise, come back into empty shop units (long-term, not as a temporary gesture by developers), to re-engage local people with these spaces – and without it costing them £6 a pint. But will any of this happen? The short answer is no. Councils do not have the money or the compulsory-purchase powers to radically intervene. Enlightened developers are rare. The patchwork of smaller private landlords who own peripheral space in town centres need to fill their properties, hence the fact that cool cottage industries tend to flourish there, in pockets. But the remote coalition of global property management, pension and investment funds that owns most shopping precincts or malls is, at best, distantly concerned with the local population.

    Tony Naylor, We can revive Britain’s high streets. But developers stand in the way (The Guardian, 14th September 2019)
  • Doug Belshaw 5:39 pm on September 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    Prizes for everyone 

    I never used to know why people (usually business-like, conservative types) would get so upset about things like schools not holding competitive sports days. What’s the big deal?

    It’s only recently that I’ve come to realise that the whole system of neoliberal capitalism depends on competition. Politicians to the right of the spectrum have a blind belief in markets as the solution to everything and so, even if marketisation isn’t working, will intervene to make it look like it is.

    Similarly, companies will enter themselves for bullshit awards — literally ones run by organisations who hand out prizes that they’re effectively paying for — just so that employees there can keep up the same narrative.

    Thankfully, I think this is the generation that, because of the 2008 crash and because of the woeful ineptitude of our current batch of politicians, has seen through all that. I have high hopes for, if not a revolution, then incremental change in the way society’s attitude to the necessary of ‘competition’.

  • Doug Belshaw 1:08 pm on September 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Even the most hardened sociopath, in the most viciously Darwinian of domains (like, say, a Wall Street trader, or an academic studying “critical theory”), has a self-image with a precious-snowflake aspect to it. This is the part of you that you see most clearly when you stare into a mirror. You see yourself as you were when you were a child. You don’t notice the extra chins and jowls that come with age, or the extra padding in the wrong places. You don’t notice the stray gray hairs, the tiredness in the eyes, or the wrinkles. You stare into the mirror, and the face of the child you once were stares back, through the worn shell of the adult. You might even strike a pose or make an expression that exaggerates the illusion. The child is not idealized or romanticized, however. It is the real past-you,whether you were the resentful and angry kind of kid, or the happy-go-lucky kind. It takes conscious effort to snap back to reality and see and feel yourself as you are now. This is why it is particularly jarring to watch video footage of yourself. Unlike the image in the mirror, the person on the video playback screen is not a puppet you can control. Video playback breaks the illusion of being the child within, because it is footage of you at a different time, performing adulthood without the child on display, or active in awareness.

    So you think, do I really look and sound like that? Or if you’re in a more maudlin mood, is this who I’ve become? It’s not just in-head acoustics versus how you are heard, or the posture you feel versus the posture you strike. It’s the fact that the person out there, performing, is not the person you feel when you look inside. There is something it is like to be you, on the inside, and it is not that person out there. This child — a sort of Freudian id++ — embodies the precious snowflake.

    It must be killed periodically if you are to keep on living. It will almost always come back to life, so it must be killed every few years, as it steadily regains strength. So long as you do this with disciplined regularity, the precious snowflake part of you will remain a valuable part of your psyche, but never in control. But if you let it grow unchecked, it will consume the rest of you, driving you to clueless, self-absorbed, uncreative narcissism.

    Venkatesh Rao, Crash Early, Crash Often
  • Doug Belshaw 8:28 pm on August 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply

    One of the things you have to recognize about the road to socialism is that it will be messy. You have to figure out checks and balances. If it’s democratic then people may say they don’t like it after a point. You have to keep winning people over, and you might lose for a while. We’re talking about a world-historic event, about creating something that’s never existed before, people actually saying we’re not just moving with history, we’re making history. And you’re constantly discovering, learning, inventing, and that’s what makes it exciting.

    Sam Gindin, ‘What a Socialist Society Could Actually Look Like’
  • Doug Belshaw 8:19 pm on August 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply

    Our current politics doesn’t seem to offer much if a future at all. The choice before us appears to be between, on the one hand, a technocratic neoliberalism that embraces the rhetoric of social inclusion but not equality and, on the other, a right-wing populism channeling anger into the worst directions. To be a socialist today is to believe that more, not less, democracy will help solve social ills —and to believe that ordinary people can shape the systems that shape their lives. (Bhaskar Sunkara, ‘The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality’)
  • Doug Belshaw 1:29 pm on August 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: business, golden handcuffs, salary, vendor lock-in   

    Vendor lock-in and golden handcuffs 

    While out for a morning run with my son, a thought popped into my mind. More of an association, really, but then what are thoughts but links between concepts?

    One of the reasons I like Open Source software is that it prevents the kind of vendor lock-in you see with proprietary products.

    Vendor lock-in means that organisations and individuals have to put up with sub-standard software that they can’t inspect for privacy and security flaws. Due to a lack of interoperability with other systems, users don’t have a choice.

    This, in turn, means higher profits for the business making the software, but a lousy user experience. So far, so obvious.

    But going one step further, if you’re making more profit through vendor lock-in, you can pay higher wages to your staff. In fact, you might have to do this, because your product isn’t well-liked by end users. People end up mainly joining your company because of the salary and perks.

    This, in turn, leads to a ‘golden handcuffs’ situation, whereby an individual who is working for the business using a vendor lock-in model, now can’t afford to work elsewhere, or for a more ethical organisation. Their mortgage and family’s standard of living has come to depend on that additional money.

    There’s ways out of this, of course. But that’s for a other post.

    • Noel De Martin 9:17 pm on August 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      That’s why it’s important to keep in mind not to raise one’s living standards everytime you get a raise or find a better job. I’m always keeping that in mind :D.

      Also to this I would add that this also hurts “fair” companies because in order to have competitive employees, they need to pay a higher price. Unless they are able to find people who is willing to accept a salary under market rates in exchange for “ethics”. Which is unfortunately difficult to find. This actually ties neatly with the Principal-Agent problem that I’ve heard Naval Ravikant mention multiple times.

  • Doug Belshaw 10:12 am on July 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    Useful search hack for ChromeOS 

  • Doug Belshaw 3:27 pm on July 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    Everyday life 

    Some will argue that what constitutes everyday life is continually recreating itself, and that today it is flourishing in specific areas of online exchange and expression. However, if one accepts that a meaningful notion of everyday life is inseparable from its fugitive anonymity, then it would be difficult to grasp what it might have in common with time spent in which ones gestures are all recorded, permanently archived, and processed with the aim of predetermining ones future choices and actions. (24/7 by Jonathan Crace)
  • Doug Belshaw 7:21 pm on July 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    Linux software centre on Chrome OS 

    Easy, so long as you’ve got a compatible Chromebook.

    1. Enable Linux via the ChromeOS settings
    2. Run sudo apt-get install gnome-software gnome-packagekit

    Linux software centre on Pixelbook

    Linux software centre in ChromeOS

    Go further with these posts:

  • Doug Belshaw 9:36 am on July 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    Men grow accustomed to the idea that they have always been in subjection 

    Men are like handsome race horses who first bite the bit and later like it, and rearing under the saddle a while soon learn to enjoy displaying their harness and prance proudly beneath their trappings. Similarly men will grow accustomed to the idea that they have always been in subjection, that their fathers lived in the same way; they will think they are obliged to suffer this evil, and will persuade themselves by example and imitation of others, finally investing those who order them around with proprietary rights, based on the idea that it has always been that way. (Etienne de La Boetie, The Politics of Obedience)
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