More than anything, if you’re the National Surveillance State right now, you crave a bloody shirt you might wave to try to blow back the tide of thoughtfulness and rationality precipitated by Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing, and by the extremely careful reporting accompanying it thus far.via The Heart of the Matter: David Miranda and the Preclusion of Privacy, Part 2.
A public or private organization’s best defense against whistle-blowers is to refrain from doing things it doesn’t want to read about on the front page of the newspaper.
This house-by-house map of when each building in Brooklyn was built is amazing.
If you see America as a place within borders, a bureaucratic and imperial government that acts on behalf of its 350 million people, if you see America as its edifices, its mandarins, the careful and massive institutions that have built our cities and vast physical culture, the harsh treatment of Manning for defying that institution makes sense, even if it was, at times, brutal. via Bradley Manning and the Two Americas — Medium, Long — Medium.
This Quinn Norton piece on the Bradley Manning trial and what it reflects of the state of America today is a rare attempt to explain the opposing sides of the culture war to one another.
But Engels and Dickens suggested a new twist: that the advance of civilization produced barbarity as an unavoidable waste product, as essential to its metabolism as the gleaming spires and cultivated thought of polite society. The barbarians weren’t storming the gates. They were being bred from within. Marx took that insight, wrapped it in Hegel’s dialectics, and transformed the twentieth century. Johnson
Crowd a thousand people into three city blocks and you create an environment where epidemic disease will flourish; but in flourishing, the disease reveals the telltale characteristics of its true nature. Its efflorescence points the way to its ultimate defeat. Johnson
The appearance of the electrical grid, around the turn of the century, tends to attract more attention, but it was the building of the invisible grid of sewer lines and freshwater pipes that made the modern city safe for the endless consumer delights that electricity would bring. Johnson
The Shanghai Factor This read like a manuscript from 1975 with ‘Vietnam’ replaced by ‘Afghanistan’ and a few passing references to cell phones added to make it feel contemporary. If we are meant to care any more for the bland, patrician, quietly psychotic main character than any of the flat, unmotivated supporting cast of thinly drawn stereotypes, the author has failed. Uneventful, unengaging, unrealistic, and ultimately uninteresting, this book is not worth the time it took to write this review.