Saturday Linkages: We Are All Liars

Rather than links today, I thought I’d post a quote from a book everyone should read, Richard Seymour’s The Twittering Machine:

On the social media platforms, the incentive is to constantly produce more information: a perpetual motion machine, harnessed to passions of which the machine knows nothing. This production is not for the purpose of making meaning. It is for the purpose of producing effects on users that keep us hooked. It is for the purpose of making users the conduits of the machine’s power, keeping its effects in circulation. Faked celebrity deaths, trolling, porn clickbait, advertisements, flurries of food and animal pictures, thirst traps, the endless ticker tape of messages mean less than they perform. The increase of information corresponds to a decrease in meaning . . . The result could be the most elaborate Skinner Box in history. What seems like a device for adventure and freedom could become ‘the creepiest behavior-modification device’ invented thus far.

Moms On Bikes

Kelly and I spent a good part of the week going through boxes of old photos and found this one of my mom giving me a ride on her bike. I’m guessing this must be sometime around 1968. My mom liked to ride bikes, an unusual activity for adults in Southern California in the 1960s. She took me all over Culver City this way until one day when we took a tumble, probably caused by a pothole. I vaguely recall a long haired and bearded young man helping us off the pavement (that I can remember “hippies” shows how old I am). None of us were injured but it shook up my mom enough that she didn’t bike after that accident.

I found this photo on the same day that I read a sad story in the New York Times about a sharp increase in bike and pedestrian accidents in the past few years. And just last week, here in Los Angeles, a child was killed in a crosswalk due to a driver being “blinding by the early morning sun.” Like so much of the bloodshed on our roads the driver will, likely, face no consequences.

The mayhem on our streets has, ironically, scared me back into driving more and biking less. I know a lot of my fellow cyclists feel the same way. There are too many SUVs, too much texting, too many angry drivers and too little concern from our corrupt elected officials.

We are living in a time of climate, economic and political crisis. If we care about the children in this world who are the age I was in this photo, we need to all stand up and make a difference. We need bike lanes, road diets, bus only lanes, public housing and we need to ask our elected leaders not to take any money from fossil fuel and automotive interests. The minor inconveniences we will have to put up with in a transition to a walkable and bikable future are small compared with the rising seas, fires and climate-based refugee crises our children will face.

Saturday Linkages: Throwing Off the Shackles

Image: ©Dhiru Thadani via Strongtowns

Driver Killing Koreatown 4-Year-Old Sparks Protest Push For Vision Zero

Fire season continues with dry conditions persisting. Plus: Davis tornado, power shut-offs, and a new earthquake warning system

This TINY HOUSE will probably kill you

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Recyclable Materials Good for Home Decoration

Invisible Handcuffs It’s time for workers to throw off the shackles of big tech

The Twittering Machine

I’m in the middle of reading Richard Seymour’s dystopian account of the glowing screens we’re all yoked to, The Twittering Machine (Amazon, Library), and I want to find the escape hatch in the Spectacle. Seymour notes that we are in an age in which we are all writing more than we ever did, in the form of posts, texts etc. But he asks are we “more being written than writing?” The book leaves me wanting to disappear into my wood shop to commune with a carefully curated set of had tools for the rest of my days on this earth. I’ve embedded an interview with Seymour on the appropriately named This is Hell podcast.