Link: How Tech Companies Became a Political Force

“When tech leaders prophesy a utopia of connectedness and freely flowing information, they do so as much out of self-interest as belief. Rather than a decentralized, democratic public square, the internet has given us a surveillance state monopolized by a few big players. That may puzzle technological determinists, who saw in networked communications the promise of a digital agora. But strip away the trappings of Google’s legendary origins or Atari’s madcap office culture, and you have familiar stories of employers versus employees, the maximization of profit, and the pursuit of power. In that way, at least, these tech companies are like so many of the rest.”
Original source: How Tech Companies Became a Political Force

Link: The parent trap: can you be a good writer and a good parent?

“I had experienced being judged as a mother, when I periodically left my son with my husband from the age of six months – he is six now – to go away to write. I only departed for a week at a time. But who knows what I might have done had I lived in 1940s Southern Rhodesia, trapped in a life of coffee mornings and sundowners, worrying, as Lessing did, that the time when she could openly be herself might never come.”

Original source: The parent trap: can you be a good writer and a good parent?

Big Ben spycraft

Each news programme opened with a live broadcast of Big Ben tolling the hour –the magical sound of freedom. Ingenious German physicists found a way to determine the weather conditions in London based on tiny differences in the tone of the broadcast ding-dongs. This information offered invaluable help to the Luftwaffe. When the British Secret Service discovered this, they replaced the live broadcast with a set recording of the famous clock.

from Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

A more pragmatic morality

The capitalist–consumerist ethic is revolutionary in another respect. Most previous ethical systems presented people with a pretty tough deal. They were promised paradise, but only if they cultivated compassion and tolerance, overcame craving and anger, and restrained their selfish interests. This was too tough for most. The history of ethics is a sad tale of wonderful ideals that nobody can live up to. Most Christians did not imitate Christ, most Buddhists failed to follow Buddha, and most Confucians would have caused Confucius a temper tantrum. In contrast, most people today successfully live up to the capitalist–consumerist ideal. The new ethic promises paradise on condition that the rich remain greedy and spend their time making more money, and that the masses give free rein to their cravings and passions –and buy more and more. This is the first religion in history whose followers actually do what they are asked to do. How, though, do we know that we’ll really get paradise in return?

from Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Link: Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?

‘between 2011 and 2012, the polling company Gallup conducted the most detailed study ever carried out of how people feel about the thing we spend most of our waking lives doing – our paid work. They found that 13% of people say they are “engaged” in their work – they find it meaningful and look forward to it. Some 63% say they are “not engaged”, which is defined as “sleepwalking through their workday”. And 24% are “actively disengaged”: they hate it.’


‘To them, finding an antidepressant didn’t mean finding a way to change your brain chemistry. It meant finding a way to solve the problem that was causing the depression in the first place.’
Link to original