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personal

“A real ray gun? That’s fantastic!” Excited, he tossed the box aside and examined the weapon.

“No,” his father disagreed, “it’s science fictional. That’s fantastic,” he said, and pointed out the window at the hippogriff seated in their front yard.

Microblogvember: fantastic

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books

📚 fifty-five of 2019: The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1963 Hugo Best Novel

Fascinating partly for the primary alt history, but also for other alternatives and the ruminations on those, an author’s intent, and the characters’ realizations.

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links

Amazon Alternatives: “Welcome to the most lovingly curated selection of Amazon and Prime alternatives anywhere. We aim to make giving up Amazon easy and to encourage more people to spend their money with businesses that have higher ethical standards.”

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personal

A surprise inheritance was strange enough, but that it included lakeside property had stunned her when she got the notice. Not as stunned, of course, as when she discovered it was actually a cemetery whose residents weren’t as quiet as she expected.

Microblogvember: property

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personal

Merely being rich wasn’t enough. Even being the richest person wasn’t enough. But finally, he had amassed all the wealth there was; all else was poverty. And as Bezos looked over the wastelands from atop the Amazon citadel, he still yearned for more.

Microblogvember: rich

Categories
tech

Amazon’s Ring Considering Facial Recognition

Ring just gets creepier and creepier. While the basic home security idea isn’t bad, the implementation, especially when combined with the (existing or just discussed) partnerships with law enforcement, giving them unfettered access to the video captured by the cameras, is really, really disturbing.

(I have friends who have Ring cameras, some of whom have been very glad to have them when weird things have happened at their place. I don’t want to discount the benefits that these systems can provide. But for people who have been considering a Ring system, it’s worth thinking seriously about the potential wider concerns with the system and considering other options; for those who do have a Ring system, it might be worth reviewing the settings to see how much, if any, of the data sharing can be opted out of.)

In its public-relations efforts, Ring has maintained that only thieves and would-be criminals need to worry about the company’s surveillance network and the Neighbors app. From the way Ring’s products are designed to the way they’re marketed, the notion of “suspicion” remains front and center; Ring promises a future in which “suspicious” people up to “suspicious” things can be safely monitored and deterred from afar.

But “suspicious” is an entirely squishy concept with some very potentially dangerous interpretations, a byword of dog-whistling neighborhood racists who hope to drape garden-variety prejudice beneath the mantle of public safety. The fact remains that anyone moving past a home equipped with Ring cameras is unavoidably sucked into a tech company dragnet, potential fodder for overeager chatter among the suburban xenophobe set. To civil libertarians, privacy scholars, and anyone generally nervous about the prospect of their neighbors forming a collective, artificially intelligent video panopticon maintained by Amazon for unregulated use by police, Ring’s potential consequences for a community are clear.

A “proactive” approach to information sharing could mean flagging someone who happens to cross into a Ring video camera’s frame based on some cross-referenced list of “suspects,” however defined. Paired with the reference to a facial recognition watch list and Ring’s generally cozy relationship with local police departments across the country, it’s easy to imagine a system in which individuals are arbitrarily profiled, tracked, and silently reported upon based on a system owned and operated solely by Amazon, without legal recourse or any semblance of due process.

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links

No Love for White Gloves, or: the Cotton Menace: “Rare books, unlike many museum objects, are still used today in the same way that they would have been when they were new centuries ago – they’re held and opened, and their pages are turned. It would make sense that these historical objects should be handled with white gloves to keep them clean, right? WRONG! Well, mostly. But we’ll get to that part later.”

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links

Baby Yoda Has Conquered the World: “‘I had a day with one of the weirdest moments I’ve ever had directing,’ [Director Deborah Chow] told Vanity Fair. ‘I was directing Werner with the puppet, and Werner had just fallen in love with the baby. Werner, I think, had forgotten it wasn’t actually a live creature, and started sort of…directing the baby.…. Werner is talking to the baby as if it was a real thing. And I’m trying to direct Werner,’ Chow said. ‘And I’m just like, How did I get here? How did my life end up like this?’”

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personal

He watched the floor in satisfaction from the DJ booth as the crowd moved to the sounds of the music. Those recordings of readings from ancient texts he’d layered into the mix had definitely helped. Now nobody could stop dancing until he decided it was time.

Microblogvember: mix

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links

Bruce Wayne warns wealth tax on billionaires could result in fewer crimes foiled via jet-powered cars: “When asked whether a wealth tax could help curb costumed murders by investing in public schools, job retraining, and community mental health initiatives, Wayne responded, ‘Sure, but do any of those programs involve a 7000 pound car that can drive up walls? I think not.'”