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Why Scientists Are Starting to Care About Cultures That Talk to Whales | Science | Smithsonian Magazine
Using Iñupiat oral histories and ethnographies recorded in the 19th and 20th centuries, Hill now knows that such amulets were meant to be placed in a boat with the likeness of the whale facing down, toward the ocean. The meticulously rendered art was thus meant not for humans, but for whales—to flatter them, Hill says, and call them to the hunters. “The idea is that the whale will be attracted to its own likeness, so obviously you want to depict the whale in the most positive way possible,” she explains.

Yupik stories from St. Lawrence Island tell of whales who might spend an hour swimming directly under an umiak, positioning themselves so they could check out the carvings and the men occupying the boat. If the umiak was clean, the carvings beautiful, and the men respectful, the whale might reposition itself to be harpooned. If the art portrayed the whale in an unflattering light or the boat was dirty, it indicated that the hunters were lazy and wouldn’t treat the whale’s body properly. Then the whale might swim away.
whales  Indigenous  people  relationships 
yesterday by Quercki
Uses This / Jordan B. L. Smith
A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.
yesterday by vkitchen
“I Fail Almost Every Day”: An Interview with Samin Nosrat | The New Yorker
"Also, I just turned forty. I’ve never had a lot of age-related anxiety or any sense that there’s some timeline I’m behind on. But I’ve been thinking, How do I want to be for the rest of my time in this place, where it’s just going to continue to get much more difficult for a lot of humans? And I’ve realized that I can’t think about this in terms of the whole world, or all the people following me on the Internet, or all the people who are going to read my book, because that has been paralyzing for me. I think what I need to do is think about it in terms of: Who lives on my street? Who am I near? How do we take care of each other? How do I make the small places and times feel good? And then the real question is: What can I learn from that, which I can then share with a larger group of people? And maybe that’s justification for, like, eating some tuna in the middle of the day."
people  food  cooking  women  inspo 
yesterday by emily
The Problem We All Live With and the political awakening of Norman Rockwell - Vox
Sometime on Tuesday, November 8, 1960, a 66-year-old widower and self-described “moderate Republican” went to his polling place in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to vote for his state’s junior senator for president. Never the most forthcoming of men, Norman Rockwell hadn’t told his family he was backing John F. Kennedy. He’d painted portraits of both candidates for the Saturday Evening Post, and he just didn’t like Richard Nixon’s face.
people  history  art  america 
2 days ago by sandykoe
Mark Warner Takes on Big Tech and Russian Spies | WIRED
Yet more recently, in Donald Trump’s Washington, Warner has evolved into Capitol Hill’s most reluctant and thoughtful tech critic, grilling Facebook, Twitter, and Google executives, lashing out in private and public over their intransigence, and pressing the companies to confront the role their platforms have played in undermining democracy.

As the vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he’s also become one of Capitol Hill’s most vocal advocates urging the country to take foreign technology threats seriously, both the possibility of kinetic real-world cyberattacks (such as disabling power plants or water systems) and already-underway information influence operations like the ones that upended the 2016 presidential election, as well as the looming challenges next-generation technologies pose to national security.

Earlier this month, even as the president’s impeachment trial loomed for the Senate, he introduced—along with the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, North Carolina’s Richard Burr—new legislation aimed at closing the United States’ gap in 5G technologies with China by investing in Western alternatives to Huawei.


As Warner reminds people in almost every set of public remarks, Russia surely spent less on its 2016 election attack than the cost of a single US F-35 fighter jet. “We’re buying 20th-century military stuff, when the conflict in the 21st century is going to be disproportionately in the realm of cyber and misinformation, disinformation, the ability to take down someone’s water system,” he says.


Politics, not law, was always his goal. But first he opted to try to make a financial success in business. Working at the Democratic National Committee in 1980, he found himself haunted by the plight of an unsuccessful Connecticut congressional candidate who finished his race $300,000 in debt. He promised himself that he wouldn’t enter politics until he could afford to lose. Amazingly, after two ventures that failed quickly and brought him to near-ruin—friends recall him couchsurfing with just a 1963 Buick to his name—he succeeded wildly.

With help from a former Atlanta Hawks player, Tom McMillen, Warner realized in the early 1980s that the government was all but giving away radio spectrum that would prove key to the emerging technology of cellular phones. At the time, the licenses were distributed by lottery—but many winners had no real ability to use the spectrum they’d won, so Warner positioned himself as a crucial connector and middleman in what emerged as a market for licenses, perfecting a model where he assembled teams of investors and navigated the license bureaucracy, keeping parts of each deal for himself. In 1987 he helped a business associate found a company called Fleet Call, which grew into Nextel.

Money would never be a concern again.

Freed from financial worry, he turned back to politics, helping to run then Virginia lieutenant governor Doug Wilder’s campaign for the state’s top office, a race Wilder won narrowly, becoming the nation's first elected African American governor. Wilder made Warner the head of the state Democratic Party, and by 1996 he felt ready to challenge the state’s veteran senator, Capitol Hill powerhouse John Warner (no relation). He poured $10 million of his own money into the challenge. Campaign signs that year read “Mark, Not John,” a message that didn’t resonate with every voter: One driver stopped on the side of the road and asked candidate Mark: “Excuse me, sir, is that a biblical reference?”

Mark lost the election, leading to his second stroke of business luck: He was unemployed just as the dotcom boom started. Closely tied into the Northern Virginia tech world—his friends were busy founding a company called America Online—Warner helmed a venture capital fund and was a key figure in an elite social group known as Capital Investors, which brought together the area’s tech leaders for monthly startup pitches. (As much an adult frat as an investment club, one club social at Warner’s house featured AOL’s Steve Case jumping on his bed.) Warner also kept an eye on his political profile, using his tech money to help build job-training and computer skills programs for southwest and Southside Virginia, the commonwealth’s rural regions that had been hit hard by the collapse of the tobacco and textile industries.

That commitment to rural Virginia—which has long been part political strategy and part genuine, sincere cause—proved key to his 2001 run for governor, which he undertook at a moment when Democrats did not control a single statewide office in the commonwealth. Warner, though, bonded with a redneck political consultant named David “Mudcat” Saunders, who built a campaign that paved a path for Democrats in a red state—recruiting sportsmen and hunters in rural Virginia, sponsoring a NASCAR truck, and even penning a bluegrass song that emphasized how Warner, who is rarely seen out of a button-down shirt and khakis, “understands our people, the folks up in the hills.”

The song promoted Warner’s determination “to keep our children home,” a message that he would deliver jobs to rural communities used to seeing their most promising graduates leave for opportunities in the big city. He even convinced the NRA to stay out of the race, promising he’d take care of gun rights. Warner won, handily. “We had a good horse,” Saunders told me, years ago. “You can’t win the Kentucky Derby with a mule.”


Warner—wherever he is—is a talker, the life of the party, and that day he was only supposed to ride the cable-laying bulldozer a few yards. But he got to chatting with the ’dozer crew, and as the press, local officials, and assembled schoolkids watched, the governor and the bulldozer got farther and farther away, eventually disappearing over the hill, cable steadily unspooling behind. When he finally returned, he sighed. “The truth is, if I had another go-round [at being governor], I’d take it. There’s a lot of unfinished business.”


It [the Senate] was a dark time for Warner, who felt he was suffering through what should have been a dream job. “I was frustrated, but I was also self-aware enough to know that I get to do this job on terms very few people get to do,” he says. “I needed a better attitude.”

So the one-time entrepreneur turned his attention to the gig economy, championing legislation known as the Startup Act, and confronting questions he summarized as “Can you make capitalism work a better way? What’s the new social contract?”


He was confronting what he calls “a growing feeling that modern American capitalism is not working for enough people.” As he says, “That is a pretty radical statement from somebody who’s been an entrepreneur.” He helped launch a new “Future of Work” initiative, housed at the Aspen Institute (where I also work on a separate, unrelated cybersecurity initiative), and proselytized about how to reshape the employer-employee relationship for the 21st century. In almost every conversation on the subject, he cites research from the Kauffman Foundation that found that since 1990 almost all net new jobs in the US have come from startups.


Chambliss says he had wanted Warner’s expertise on the [Intelligence] committee in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, as telecommunications policy moved to the center of the intelligence community. The body needed someone who knew telecoms, Chambliss thought, especially the constellation of communications satellites that represent the committee’s single priciest line item in an annual intelligence budget of $60 billion. “He understood satellites, and nobody else on the committee understood them beyond them being very expensive,” Chambliss recalls. “In the intelligence world, we deal with the telecom industry every day.”


A particular turning point for Warner came when he hired as his senior policy adviser Rafi Martina, a one-time corporate tech lawyer who was beginning to argue for a radical rebalancing of tech’s power. As Warner explains, “Before all this unsavory behavior was starting to take place, he was already pointing out to me behavior by Google and Facebook and Twitter that was not great policy, not being fair to users. He was opening my eyes.” Then came the scandals over Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data, broadening Warner’s concerns to not just the platforms and their algorithms but their use and retention of private user data too.


In his paper, Warner speaks about the “duty” of tech platforms to police bots, calls for new disclosure requirements on online political advertisements and audit-able algorithms, proposes new powers for the Federal Trade Commission to regulate privacy, and calls for comprehensive European-like legislation in the US.

He cites tech thinkers like Tristan Harris, Wael Ghonim, and Tom Wheeler, all of whom are part of the informal network of advisers Warner regularly consults. He endorses a concept floated by Yale Law professor Jack Balkin for tech platforms to become “information fiduciaries,” service providers with a special duty to protect and manage user data.


One reason Warner says he’s so committed to regulating Big Tech is, paradoxically, the need to preserve tech as a uniquely American strength. As Warner sees it, America’s failure to act has ceded its traditional leadership role to others—to Europe on consumer privacy and to the UK and Australia on content restrictions.

In the absence of federal action, individual states like California are now taking the lead on regulating tech, a potentially troublesome precedent that Warner fears could lead to a patchwork of laws that slow innovation and retard growth. Letting others—whether Europe or China—set the rules of the road for technology is dangerous, he says, both in terms of American values and … [more]
tech  politics  policy  funny  people  legislation 
2 days ago by sandykoe

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