Most tech are frustratingly incapable of predicting the future, and 2006's 2.0 is no exception. But it holds up better than many, and identifies four key themes still relevant today: - by states, and by code - competing , and latent ambiguity.

Next book is "Thinking in Systems", by Donella H. Meadows, because eventually I'll have to back up all my mutterings about "self-reinforcing behaviors".

Next book is "Winning the Green New Deal: Why We Must, How We Can", edited by Varshini Prakash and Guido Girgenti of the Sunrise Movement. A collection of essays by environmentalists and policy folks.

Next read is "Concrete Economics" by Stephen S. Cohen and J. Bradford DeLong.

First book from the reading list.

I finished "The Power" by Naomi Alderman today.

I didn't enjoy the read, but it was thought provoking. The central thesis of the book seemed to be, "our society is based on power, and if women were stronger than men we would see the same oppressive dynamics we see now, reversed."

That's a grim thought.

Next book is The Entrepreneurial State, by Mariana Mazzucato.

I'm going to try not to overdo it with the social notes. It's a library book due back soon, and I'm not sure writing down everything helps me absorb the content.

Still, I'm excited to dive into another book.

This pretty little number is my next read, the Verso Book of Dissent.

Thanks to @mayel for the recommendation. I think I have a different edition, but it still looks good.

I didn't realize when i bought it that the book was written 2006, but I'm still pretty interested to read "Producing Open Source Software," by Karl Fogel.

I just joined an software company and I have a lot to learn.

Next read: I've got the audiobook of Margaret Atwood's "The Testaments". Figured I'd intersperse the heavy stuff with *some* fiction.

Next (current) read: if Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin

Just finished the Tombs of Atuan by . The whole thing, cover to cover, on . The Internet rules.

Next book is "City at World's End" by Edmond Hamilton, a 1950s book hosted on .

Thus far, it's classic 1950s fare. A square-jawed team of white man scientists are flung into the far future along with their town. The local government is weak, the women are frail and must be protected.

For all that the premise is interesting - reminds me of "The Night Land" and "The City and the Stars" - post post post apocalypse cities surviving on doomed worlds.

Next read is "The Buried Giant," by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Post-Aurthurian legend where nobody can form long term memories.

Next read is Andrew Krivak's "The Bear". A father- daughter post-apocalypse tale.

Next Read is "Kiss The Ground" by Josh Tickell.

I started a job in October trying to help farmers (and other people living on the land) practice . We've got to store that and save the world.

More of an essay than a book, but my next read is "Making Kin with the Machines" by Jason Edward Lewis, Noelani Arista, Archer Pechawis, and Suzanne Kite.

Next book is "Let It Rot!: The Gardener's Guide to Composting" by Stu Campbell.

Yay! Excited to get into "All We Can Save" by @ayanaeliza and Katherine K. Wilkinson

Next read, this time with the kiddo. "We Are The Water Protectors"

Beautiful illustrations. The right story.

The , , and Working Group (EDIWG) at , published a white paper called "Ethical Exploration and the Role of Planetary Protection in Disrupting Colonial Practices" and it calls for incorporating practices as we explore other worlds.

"Ethical considerations must be prioritized in the formation of planetary protection policy. The choices we make in the next decade of space exploration will dictate the future of humanity’s presence on other worlds, with the potential to impact the environments we interact with on timescales longer than the human species has existed. We should make these choices consciously and carefully, as many will be irreversible, especially those pertaining to how we interact with...extraterrestrial life."

The authors did not come to play. This is, I remind you, a document:

"What we call 'is the culmination of a process that began with the constitution of America and the colonial/modern Eurocentered as a new global power.' The result is a world where political and economic systems, namely , prioritize profit over human welfare, producing an environmental crisis and vast inequalities further compounded by ."

On mechanism of settler is, say the writers, is Biological Contamination and Ecological Devastation.

"Settler colonial dominance can be described 'as violence that disrupts human relationships with the environment,' a framework that allows us to clearly see how coloniality continues to enact violence on Indigenous lives as well as many other communities through pollution and other environmentally-related effects."

Colonial expansion reduced the population of the Americas by 90%.

"Biological contamination is not a politically neutral or accidental phenomenon and will always have an effect in the environment in which it is taking placea mongst all actors involved – both human and nonhuman. This is true for both forward and backward contamination in missions to other planetary bodies."

"In the unlikely, but potentially disastrous scenario of backwards contamination, we must also reflect on how structural racism allowed the pandemic to disproportionately impact and communities. It is crucial that the planetary science community, with community input, take the opportunity before uncrewed and crewed exploration of other worlds to think ecologically – and seek to equitably address the consequences of our presence on these other worlds."


Another historical (and present) mechanism for settler colonialism:

"Race Science: Western science built the lie of racial difference that became a core justification underlying colonial expansion, the slave trade, and genocide against Indigenous peoples. White supremacy is a key aspect of almostall other forms of colonial violenceand race science is fundamental to its logic to this day."

"Commodification and Appropriation of Land and Resource Extraction: The commodification of land through extractive practices has led to significant disruption of the ecosystems that Indigenous communities rely upon for their livelihoods. Examples of extractive exploitation and colonialism abound; while many people in the US think only of the gold rush, mining of rare minerals in Central and South America and Africa incentivize and continue to accelerate colonial expansion even today."

"Agricultural practices throughout the colonial world have been and continue to be damaging, transforming environments and destroying human lives and cultures. From cotton fields in the American south to sugar plantations and rubber tappers in Brazil, the combination of land and people as property was key to the generation of wealth that built up the Western world."

"The field of planetary science and space exploration in the present day is not divorced from these practices, and both existing and planned space infrastructure continue to encroach upon land. This is often justified by falsely framing opposition to such encroachments as "obstructions" to "the future.""

"For example, construction of the Thirty Meter atop has begun despite opposition from many Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiians), who note that previous astronomy development atop Mauna Kea has already had substantial adverse effects."

"Current structures for in-situ resource utilization on other worlds are analogous to some of these past and current practices on Earth. Most immediately, lunar resource maps seek to enable ... actors to plan for extraction of water ice and other resources. Similar proposals exist for asteroid mining. This is presented under a guise of “sustainability,” but in actuality replicates the practices of extractive that have contributed to the environmental degradation of ."

The authors cite a white paper: "Asteroid Resource Utilization: Ethical Concerns and Progress"

"Public-Private Partnerships as a Colonial Structure: Private individuals and institutions, in collaboration with governments, are a key aspect of the colonial structure. For example, the was fundamental to British expansion across the Eastern hemisphere and took a central role in colonial domination and political control as well as trade. More recent examples include the influence of American fruit companies ... into Latin American politics during the Cold War."

"In the United States, treaties signed with Native American nations have repeatedly been broken, often by settler colonialist individuals working in tandem with the government and military. The , a modern reframing of the ongoing Indigenous demand to honor the Treaty, illustrates how capitalist interest intersects with colonialism today."

"Moral Consideration of Extraterrestrial Microbial Life: There must be further discussion of what moral consideration microbial life on other worlds should have, beyond their scientific significance, as others have considered previously. Considerations of “intelligence” or “non-intelligence” should not be used as the framework for this discussion."

"Not only do biological distinctions of intelligence have a racist history, they do not hold scientific merit. It is clear that microbiology is foundational to Earth as we know it, and microbes are deserving of moral consideration. We should afford any potential non-terrestrial microbiology on planets like Mars and Venus, or icy moons like Enceladus, Europa, and Titan an even greater consideration, recognizing that extraterrestrial life may also operate in ways not initially obvious to us."

"A human presence on will bring biocontaminants and irreversibly contaminate the planet, both with whole organisms and their chemical constituents... Therefore, it is of paramount importance to consider the ethics of any crewed mission to Mars prior to such an expedition, including an assessment of the structures supporting the project and their intent, to ensure mission design can be impacted by these considerations."

"Even if there is no extant microbial life on Mars or beyond, we must consider the impacts of our actions on geologic timescales. A human presence on an astrobiologically significant world could disrupt evolutionary processes already in place. What moral obligation do we have towards potential future life that our presence on Mars could impact, or to hybrid forms of life that our presence could potentially create? These questions must be addressed by planetary protection policy."

This paper is literally asking to develop a . Or at least to define the rules for changing the places we visit.

"However, we know enough to prepare for [first contact] and discuss whether it should occur at all. We must first reject the idea that microbial life is beyond moral consideration due to the label of “non-intelligence” or the claim that Mars is an empty place. We cannot repeat the notions of “terra nullius” that perpetuated colonial violence on Earth."

Show newer
Show newer

I'm going to give this a shot! "Sustaining Lake Superior" by Nancy Langston is about a mass effort of and in a time of .

"More than 10 percent of the U.S. land area, according to ecologist Alice Outwater, may have been -constructed wetlands when [Piere-Esprit] Radisson showed up [in 1658], which amounts to more than 300,000 square miles. When the beaver were rapidly pulled from the and their furs sent to Europe, their old dams collapsed."

"Streams were no longer contained behind a series of ponds and dams. Water that had slowly seeped down to the aquifer now rushed into Lake Superior, carrying sediments, sands, and pollutants with it. Springs that had fed the dwindled and water tables dropped, encouraging succession from ponds to meadows and then to grasslands."

"Outwater writes: 'in a land full of beaver, the stillness of ponds and wetlands had allowed sendiment to settle, clearing the water and providing a large reserve of nutriants that stablized the ... the beaver's wetland had been home to a rich diversity of creatures from the air, land, and water, and without the beavers the fertility of vast areas was subtly reduced.'"

Finished a chapter in "Sustaining Lake Superior" all about how 'cooperative pragmatism' in the first half of the 20th century meant regulators failed to get industry to limit their pollution. It was assumed that bodies of water, especially large bodies, had high 'assimilative capacity' and could process whatever pollution went in them.

Now reading a section that is... striking, to say the least. Post urban americans wanted to get into parks and wilderness areas.

"Because the public wanted water that looked and smelled clean, and because regulators couldn't regulate industry, they decided to use copper sulfate, arsenic, and to kill the by-products of industrial development, particularly algal blooms and the biting insects that loved them."

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Uptain Sinclair

Whether it be pollution of the Great Lakes or the pollution of fence line communities today, the rule is the same. Businesses don't decide to take policies to limit harmful externalities unless they believe that it will be better for them in the long run.

"In the late 1940s, after 'dead fish appeared in waterways adjacent to fields which had been sprayed or dusted with toxaphene,' some observant fisheries biologists recognized that it might be a useful chemical to kill unwanted fish."


"Why did the aquatic nuisance program grow so quickly in the name of ? In part, the 'better living through chemistry' enthusiasm shared by many North Americans explains the willingness to spray clean water. Nifty postwar chemicals were going to solve all or problems. Plastics such as bisphenol A would make happier, cleaner, shinier households; hormones such as DES would bigger, better babies; pesticides such as would create a cornucopia of shiny, perfect food."

"Judge Lord became particularly infuriated that the [polluting] company kept playing the 'you'll destroy jobs' card to justify continued . He stated: 'In essence, defendants are using the work force as hostages. In order to free the work force at Reserve, the court must permit the continued exposure of [the citizens of Lake Superior communities] to known human carcinogens. The court will have no part of this form of economic blackmail."

It seems obvious, but reading "Sustaining Lake Superior" underlines how much activism and legal effort peoples have organized to protect the climate.

- In the 1980s, the Anishinaabe tribes worked with the EPA to set clean water standards (which the state and mining companies wanted to degrade).

- In 1997, tribal efforts passed a "mining moratorium" in Wisconsin, requiring companies to prove they had properly handled chemicals for at least 10 years.


- In '96, Anishinaabe tribal members blockaded railroad tracks crossing their reservation, preventing a mining company from receiving the 550 million gallons of sulphuric acid they were - and yes, this is true - planning to inject into the ground in order to extract the remaining copper in solution. They forced the to require an environmental assessment, and the mine shut down.

Page 159 details how in 2011 pro mining groups donated $15.6 million in campaign contributions and lobbying fees to candidates who supported mining. The balance of power in the state Senate flipped, and the Senate passed bills written with the help of mining lobbyists supporting mining and relaxing environmental regulation. The bill also stripped local and citizen powers to challenge state permits.

It pays to buy a legislature.

Just finished "The Fall of Gondolin" by . More moved than I expected to do.

Before that "Deus X" by Norman Spinrad was the read. I first read it in high school, dusted it off as a pallet cleanser. A cyberpunk novel musing on the soul of software while the global ecosystem collapses.

"Mission Economy" by Mariana Mazzucato. A call for stakeholder, rather than shareholder .

"Although the goverments of many countries have spent staggering sums to keep their economies on life support during both the financial crisis and, more recently, the health pandemic, the neo-liberal economics which took hold in the Thatcher –Reagan era continue heavily to influence thinking, which still portrays government as clunky, bureaucratic machines that suppress the animal spirits of the wealth-creating private sector – no matter how much the latter are bailed out crisis after crisis."

Mazzucato argues that big missions help to reverse the trend away from community obligations to individual advancement, "by involving citizens in solving grand societal challenges and creating wide civic excitement about the power of collective innovation".

"With the mission, citizens were inspired, but were not involved in designing the mission itself. That makes sense... for purely technological missions. But for missions that are societal – linked to growth, healthy living, the future of mobility or solving the digital divide – it is essential that different voices participate from the start to help think through the mission's implications for ordinary people and modify it to involve and benefit citizens as much as possible."

I finally read "Ghost in the Shell" by Masamune Shirow. The manga basis for the classic 1996 film. Did you know the entire book is available on

I finished reading the Lord of the Rings again. This time around the anti-industrialist, naturalist themes really stood out to me. The evil done to the Shire is industrialization; to win, our heroes end up deconstructing a coal-fired mill and building back a water-powered one.


Just finished "Blackout / All Clear" by Connie Willis! What a monster.

@Argus I tend to doubt there are other technological species in the Local Group, let alone nearby. Still, if we allow #capitalism to govern how humans treat other humans in space, and how resources which are the common heritage of humanity (and would never have been successful without workers' labor and R&D funded by the commons), that is 100% the end of hope.

@Argus Of course, there's also stewardship of any non-technological species that humans may encounter, which #capitalism would continue to fail at doing. That's why I tend to support settlement only of built-structures -- rotating habitats and the like, using planets only for sustainable resources. Why settle gravity wells that are expensive to leave anyway? As far as gathering materials to build these: there's plenty on clearly non-living (and low-gravity) objects.

@Argus Settler-colonial capital may seem unstoppable now, but with the resources of the asteroid belt, it's all over.

Image caption 

@Argus a page from a book with a greyscale picture which shows a farmer spraying some sort of chemical. Above where are words which say:
"More cotton
More Profit with

Image caption 

@Argus a graph showing a huge increase from 50000 units in 1950 to almost 250000 units in 1958. At the beginning the graph is quite flat but in the middle it begins to rise and right at the end it is very steep.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon for Tech Folks

This Mastodon instance is for people interested in technology. Discussions aren't limited to technology, because tech folks shouldn't be limited to technology either!