Adonis Diaries

Charity (Fawcett Society) warns 8 million women won’t vote in the general election on June 8

A century anniversary for voting women

With two weeks left to register to vote, the Fawcett Society is warning that millions of women are set to miss out on the chance to have their say as they celebrate almost 100 years since the right to vote was granted

By 9 MAY 2017

There are a “missing eight million” women who won’t vote in the general election on June 8.

Shocking figures compiled by the Fawcett Society, the UK’s leading charity for gender equality, also reveal that fewer women than men are registered to vote.

An average of recent polling shows that 2.5% points fewer women than men say they are certain to vote.

When applied to turnout at the 2015 general election this could see eight million women not exercising their rights, half a million more than the 7.5 million men who are not certain they’ll vote.

There is also a gap in voter registration with 2.5% points fewer women than men saying that they are currently on the register.

With the deadline to register to vote just two weeks away, the charity is warning that millions of women won’t be able to have their say almost a hundred years after women won the right.

Actors (L-R) Anne-Marie Duff, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter take part in filming of the movie Suffragette at Parliament
Actors (L-R) Anne-Marie Duff, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter take part in filming of the movie Suffragette at Parliament (Photo: Getty Images)
The charity is also urging candidates to take on board their women’s manifesto.Fawcett Chief Executive Sam Smethers said: “Almost 100 years on from the first women getting the right to vote, we still see what is likely to be a significant gap in turnout by gender.

“We are calling on all women to make sure they register to vote before the deadline.”

“With the overall gender pay gap still at 18%, violence against women and girls still rife in our society, and Brexit posing a risk to hard-fought protections, it is as important as ever that women have a say.

“We urge women across the country to take these demands to their candidates.”

Sam Smethers of the Fawcett Society said society is quick to blame the victims of sexual assault
Sam Smethers of the Fawcett Society is encouraging all women to have their say (Photo: PA Photo/Handout)

Fawcett analysis also shows that, across different polls, women have different priorities to men in the general election.

Women consistently view the NHS as a more prominent issue, with 63% in an average of polls saying it is key compared with 50% of men.

Men are slightly more concerned with Brexit , with 50% rating it as an important issue versus 45% for women.

The charity’s manifesto calls for measures to get more women into power, including for at least 45% of parties’ parliamentary candidates to be women.

How Facebook, fake news and personalised ads could swing the 2017 election – and what you can do about it

Other key recommendations include:

· Women to be represented at every level and stage of Brexit negotiations.

· An increase in the national living wage to bring it up to the level of the real living wage.

· An extended, dedicated, well paid period of leave for fathers

Suffragette demonstration in London, 21st March 1906
Suffragette demonstration in London, 21st March 1906 (Photo: Mirrorpix)

· A requirement for large companies who have to report their gender pay gaps to have an action plan in place, and penalties for those who do not comply.

· A long-term, national, and sustainable funding strategy for specialist women-only services including domestic violence refuges, in order to meet our Istanbul Convention obligations.

· A National Care Service, giving social care parity with the NHS, and investing in social care infrastructure with a professionalised care workforce.

The Manifesto also addresses equal representation, defending women’s rights post- Brexit , ending violence against women and girls, and ensuring women are not hardest hit by any economic downturn or spending cuts.

How do I register to vote?

Visit and fill in 11 questions.

They include your name, address, National Insurance number and whether you want a postal vote.

There’s not much else you need to fill in.

How can we make love statistics? Interactive graphs?

Think you’re good at guessing stats? Guess again. Whether we consider ourselves math people or not, our ability to understand and work with numbers is terribly limited, says data visualization expert Alan Smith. Smith explores the mismatch between what we know and what we think we know.

Alan Smith. Data visualisation editor
Alan Smith uses interactive graphics and statistics to breathe new life into how data is presented. Full bio
Filmed April 2016

Back in 2003, the UK government carried out a survey. And it was a survey that measured levels of numeracy in the population.

And they were shocked to find out that for every 100 working age adults in the country, 47 of them lacked Level 1 numeracy skills. Now, Level 1 numeracy skills — that’s low-end GCSE score. It’s the ability to deal with fractions, percentages and decimals.

this figure prompted a lot of hand-wringing in Whitehall. Policies were changed, investments were made, and then they ran the survey again in 2011. So can you guess what happened to this number? It went up to 49.

0:57 And in fact, when I reported this figure in the FT, one of our readers joked and said, This figure is only shocking to 51 percent of the population.”

But I preferred the reaction of a schoolchild when I presented at a school this information, who raised their hand and said, “How do we know that the person who made that number isn’t one of the 49 percent either?”

1:20 (Laughter)

So clearly, there’s a numeracy issue, because these are important skills for life, and a lot of the changes that we want to introduce in this century involve us becoming more comfortable with numbers. (Can’t learn numeracy without using a pen and pencil?)

it’s not just an English problem. OECD this year released some figures looking at numeracy in young people, and leading the way, the USA — nearly 40 percent of young people in the US have low numeracy. Now, England is there too, but there are seven OECD countries with figures above 20 percent. That is a problem, because it doesn’t have to be that way. If you look at the far end of this graph, you can see the Netherlands and Korea are in single figures. So there’s definitely a numeracy problem that we want to address. (It is the method used to learning numeracy)

 as useful as studies like these are, I think we risk herding people inadvertently into one of two categories; that there are two kinds of people: those people that are comfortable with numbers, that can do numbers, and the people who can’t.

And what I’m trying to talk about here today is to say that I believe that is a false dichotomy. It’s not an immutable pairing. I think you don’t have to have tremendously high levels of numeracy to be inspired by numbers, and that should be the starting point to the journey ahead.

one of the ways in which we can begin that journey, for me, is looking at statistics. Now, I am the first to acknowledge that statistics has got somewhat of an image problem.

2:52 (Laughter)

It’s the part of mathematics that even mathematicians don’t particularly like, because whereas the rest of maths is all about precision and certainty, statistics is almost the reverse of that.

But actually, I was a late convert to the world of statistics myself. If you’d asked my undergraduate professors what two subjects would I be least likely to excel in after university, they’d have told you statistics and computer programming, and yet here I am, about to show you some statistical graphics that I programmed. (You think you comprehended probability and statistics, but you forget them if Not practiced)

 what inspired that change in me? What made me think that statistics was actually an interesting thing? It’s really because statistics are about us.

If you look at the etymology of the word statistics, it’s the science of dealing with data about the state or the community that we live in. So statistics are about us as a group, not us as individuals. And I think as social animals, we share this fascination about how we, as individuals, relate to our groups, to our peers. And statistics in this way are at their most powerful when they surprise us.

there’s been some really wonderful surveys carried out recently by Ipsos MORI in the last few years. They did a survey of over 1,000 adults in the UK, and said, for every 100 people in England and Wales, how many of them are Muslim? Now the average answer from this survey, which was supposed to be representative of the total population, was 24. That’s what people thought. British people think 24 out of every 100 people in the country are Muslim. Now, official figures reveal that figure to be about five. So there’s this big variation between what we think, our perception, and the reality as given by statistics. And I think that’s interesting. What could possibly be causing that misperception?

I was so thrilled with this study, I started to take questions out in presentations. I was referring to it. Now, I did a presentation at St. Paul’s School for Girls in Hammersmith, and I had an audience rather like this, except it was comprised entirely of sixth-form girls.

And I said, “Girls, how many teenage girls do you think the British public think get pregnant every year?” And the girls were apoplectic when I said the British public think that 15 out of every 100 teenage girls get pregnant in the year. And they had every right to be angry, because in fact, I’d have to have closer to 200 dots before I could color one in, in terms of what the official figures tell us.

And rather like numeracy, this is not just an English problem. Ipsos MORI expanded the survey in recent years to go across the world. And so, they asked Saudi Arabians, for every 100 adults in your country, how many of them are overweight or obese? And the average answer from the Saudis was just over a quarter. That’s what they thought. Just over a quarter of adults are overweight or obese. The official figures show, actually, it’s nearer to three-quarters.

5:56 (Laughter)

5:57 So again, a big variation.

I love this one: they asked the Japanese, for every 100 Japanese people, how many of them live in rural areas? The average was about a 50-50 split, just over halfway. They thought 56 out of every 100 Japanese people lived in rural areas. The official figure is seven.

So extraordinary variations, and surprising to some, but not surprising to people who have read the work of Daniel Kahneman, for example, the Nobel-winning economist. He and his colleague, Amos Tversky, spent years researching this disjoint between what people perceive and the reality, the fact that people are actually pretty poor intuitive statisticians. (I read many of their research papers in the late 80’s)

And there are many reasons for this. Individual experiences, certainly, can influence our perceptions, but so, too, can things like the media reporting things by exception, rather than what’s normal. Kahneman had a nice way of referring to that. He said, “We can be blind to the obvious” — so we’ve got the numbers wrong — “but we can be blind to our blindness about it.” And that has enormous repercussions for decision making.

at the statistics office while this was all going on, I thought this was really interesting. I said, this is clearly a global problem, but maybe geography is the issue here.

These were questions that were all about, how well do you know your country? So in this case, it’s how well do you know 64 million people? Not very well, it turns out. I can’t do that. So I had an idea, which was to think about this same sort of approach but to think about it in a very local sense. Is this a local? If we reframe the questions and say, how well do you know your local area, would your answers be any more accurate?

I devised a quiz: How well do you know your area? It’s a simple Web app. You put in a post code and then it will ask you questions based on census data for your local area. And I was very conscious in designing this. I wanted to make it open to the widest possible range of people, not just the 49 percent who can get the numbers.

I wanted everyone to engage with it. So for the design of the quiz, I was inspired by the isotypes of Otto Neurath from the 1920s and ’30s. Now, these are methods for representing numbers using repeating icons. And the numbers are there, but they sit in the background. So it’s a great way of representing quantity without resorting to using terms like “percentage,” “fractions” and “ratios.”

So here’s the quiz. The layout of the quiz is, you have your repeating icons on the left-hand side there, and a map showing you the area we’re asking you questions about on the right-hand side. There are 7 questions. Each question, there’s a possible answer between zero and a hundred, and at the end of the quiz, you get an overall score between zero and a hundred.

And so because this is TEDxExeter, I thought we would have a quick look at the quiz for the first few questions of Exeter. And so the first question is: For every 100 people, how many are aged under 16? Now, I don’t know Exeter very well at all, so I had a guess at this, but it gives you an idea of how this quiz works. You drag the slider to highlight your icons, and then just click “Submit” to answer, and we animate away the difference between your answer and reality. And it turns out, I was a pretty terrible guess: five.

How about the next question? This is asking about what the average age is, so the age at which half the population are younger and half the population are older. (This is the definition of the median) And I thought 35 — that sounds middle-aged to me.

9:35 (Laughter)

9:39 Actually, in Exeter, it’s incredibly young, and I had underestimated the impact of the university in this area. The questions get harder as you go through. So this one’s now asking about homeownership: For every 100 households, how many are owned with a mortgage or loan? And I hedged my bets here, because I didn’t want to be more than 50 out on the answer.

 these get harder, these questions, because when you’re in an area, when you’re in a community, things like age — there are clues to whether a population is old or young. Just by looking around the area, you can see it. Something like homeownership is much more difficult to see, so we revert to our own heuristics, our own biases about how many people we think own their own homes.

the truth is, when we published this quiz, the census data that it’s based on was already a few years old. We’ve had online applications that allow you to put in a post code and get statistics back for years. So in some senses, this was all a little bit old and not necessarily new. But I was interested to see what reaction we might get by gamifying the data in the way that we have, by using animation and playing on the fact that people have their own preconceptions.

It turns out, the reaction was more than I could have hoped for. It was a long-held ambition of mine to bring down a statistics website due to public demand.

11:06 (Laughter)

This URL contains the words “statistics,” “gov” and “UK,” which are three of people’s least favorite words in a URL. And the amazing thing about this was that the website came down at quarter to 10 at night, because people were actually engaging with this data of their own free will, using their own personal time.

I was very interested to see that we got something like a quarter of a million people playing the quiz within the space of 48 hours of launching it. And it sparked an enormous discussion online, on social media, which was largely dominated by people having fun with their misconceptions, which is something that I couldn’t have hoped for any better, in some respects. I also liked the fact that people started sending it to politicians. How well do you know the area you claim to represent? (All candidates to public office must go through such quizzes in their locality and the nation)

 then just to finish, going back to the two kinds of people, I thought it would be really interesting to see how people who are good with numbers would do on this quiz. The national statistician of England and Wales, John Pullinger, you would expect he would be pretty good. He got 44 for his own area.

12:16 (Laughter)

Jeremy Paxman — admittedly, after a glass of wine — 36. Even worse. It just shows you that the numbers can inspire us all. They can surprise us all.

12:31 So very often, we talk about statistics as being the science of uncertainty. My parting thought for today is: actually, statistics is the science of us. And that’s why we should be fascinated by numbers. 

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“Whether we consider ourselves math people or not, our ability to understand and work with numbers is terribly limited.”

A talk from TEDxExeter.
#TED #TEDx #TEDxTalks #SKE #TEDxSKE #Salon #TEDxSKESalon #TEDxExeter #Statistics #Numbers #Facts

Alan Smith explores the mismatch between what we know and what we th…

Notes and comments on FB and Twitter. Part 30

Ce n’est pas de folie d’amour que tu rêves: c’est d’un mari, d’une femme lesbienne…

Et s’il n’est homme qui supporte moins la contrainte d’une femme, il n’est personne qui sache se contraindre plus qu’une femme pour montrer son amour

Les hommes et les femmes ne sont pas plus sage les uns que les autres: un amour manqué et l’on devient moine/soeur, abandonne le pays, ou se laisser mourire.

C’est en jouant le jeu de l’ aimée, qu’un beau jour elle est éprise et prise au jeu.

La folie est la compagne et le guide de la creation et de l’amour.

Aujourd’hui on dit: “les génes sont les folles activateurs”

Quand je n’arrive pas a m’imaginer une bête ou une plante, alors ca m’est indifferent de tuer les poules.

Les tisserants de la ville lui confient leurs enfants en nourrice: et leur propres enfants en patissent

Je suis allé en Suede, a la poursuite de ma garce de bien-aimé, que je trouve marriée. Les arrangements avec le mari mon prouver qu’il n’avait pas de coeur. Il n’avait pas de savoir-faire.

J’étais éleve et entouré de tendresse feminine: Je ‘étais pas capable de haine soutenue. (Et portant, la haine feminine perdure: il etait chanceux)

C’est un effort prodigieux de bêtise pour etre capable de croire sérieusement á la guerre et accepter l’éventualité

Lorsequ’il s’agit de tuer mes semblables, je ne suis plus assez poête. Et je tue sans panache

Experimental mind testing: give a subject/researcher a peer-reviewed paper of Another discipline and test his comprehension

In the USA, going bankrupt is a way of doing business: No shame or blame attached to it. Except if a US financial company own your “foreign” business, then you are a very bad person, and your entire family owe the company.

Someone self-sufficient in his utter egotistic shyness, who refrains from communicating and asking questions, it is normal he views Injustice Not emanating from men, but victims and tools

Anyone knows of a taxonomy for mathematics? The shared axioms, the applied fields, the algorithmic natures…

Anyone in any rank of power, cognizant of the Injustices surrounding his work environment, is source of injustice if he doesn’t whistle-blow or come to the rescue of the hapless. He is liable of undue cruelty and you don’t need to give much weight to his excuses,

Décidé a faire dans le génie, je n’arrivais qu’a manqur de talent

Un jeune recrue, entendant ma mére crier “Vive la France” et seule a porter un drapeau tricolore, grommelea: “Ca se voit bien qu’elle n’est pas Francaise”

Je me reconnais dans tous mes ennemis: une veritable infirmité

Quelques bêtes meurent de honte. Notre espéce meurt du Destin stupid.

Discovering the mysteries of life and the Universe might not be attainable: for the simple reason that any paradigm would not stick long enough to capture the mind of any generation.

Dans toutes les organism sociaux malades, l’espionnism sévisse.

Le plus grand effort de ma vie est de désespérer totallement. Rien n’y fait: je suis trop lent pour que le désespoir accélere suffisamment.

Les militaires des nations vaincues sont méprisés óu ils séjournent. Il faudrait que toutes les armés soient vaincues simultanément pour avoir la paix

Apprendre a ne se laisser plus aveuglé par le drapeau: Reconnaitre les visages honnetes et réflechis

Avec le temps, je rougis plus facilement de la colére que de modestie

Elle aime les jolie histoires, ma mere. Je n’en connait pas de jolies: les series a la TV n’offrent pas de supplement romantiques.  On suit les coups, les vociferations, les ennuis de rage et de désespoires

For a piece of shit, it’s a real piece

Dans toutes les forêts du monde, j’ai su reconnoitre la voie de la bête-femelle qui a perdu son petit

Savoir que l’humain est une tentation impossible, ne doit pas etre accompagné et accueilli avec la resignation du désesperé

Cette chaude camomille empoisonnée de l’habitude, qui se verse dans notre gosier avec son gout de renoncement et d’acceptation

Ils étaient trop installés dans leurs meubles, leur condition humaine

Je choisis pour errer sur la terre les lieux oú il y a assez de place pour tous ceux qui ne sont plus lá. (Fauchés par les guerres)

The Failed Experiment That Changed The World

In science, we don’t simply perform experiments willy-nilly. We don’t put things together at random and ask, “what happens if I do this?” We examine the phenomena that exist, the predictions our theories make, and look for ways to test them in ever-greater detail.

Sometimes, they give extraordinary agreement to new precision, confirming what we had thought. Sometimes, they disagree, pointing the way to new physics. And sometimes, they fail to give any non-zero result at all.

In the 1880s, an incredibly precise experiment failed in exactly this fashion, and paved the way for relativity and quantum mechanics in doing so.

Ethan Siegel, Contributor

The orbits of the planets and comets, among other celestial objects, are governed by the laws of universal gravitation.

Kay Gibson, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp

The orbits of the planets and comets, among other celestial objects, are governed by the laws of universal gravitation.

Let’s go even farther back in history to understand why this was such a big deal. Gravitation was the first of the forces to be understood, as Newton had put forth his law of universal gravitation in the 1600s, explaining both the motions of bodies on Earth and in space.

A few decades later (in 1704) Newton also put forth a theory of light — the corpuscular theory — that stated that light was made up of particles, that these particles are rigid and weightless, and that they move in a straight line unless something causes them to reflect, refract or diffract.

Light's properties, such as reflection and refraction, appear to be corpuscular-like, but there are wave-like phenomena it exhibits as well.

Wikimedia Commons user Spigget

Light’s properties, such as reflection and refraction, appear to be corpuscular-like, but there are wave-like phenomena it exhibits as well.

This accounted for a lot of observed phenomena, including the realization that white light was the combination of all other colors of light. But as time went on, many experiments revealed the wave nature of light, an alternative explanation from Christiaan Huygens, one of Newton’s contemporaries.

Light's properties, such as reflection and refraction, appear to be corpuscular-like, but there are wave-like phenomena it exhibits as well.

Wikimedia Commons user Lookang

When any wave — water waves, sound waves, or light waves — are passed through a double slit, the waves create an interference pattern.

Huygens proposed instead that every point which can be considered a source of light, including from a light wave simply traveling forward, acted like a wave, with a spherical wavefront emanating from each of those points.

Although many experiments would give the same results whether you took Newton’s approach or Huygens’ approach, there were a few that took place beginning in 1799 that really began to show how powerful the wave theory was.

Light of different wavelengths, when passed through a double slit, exhibit the same wave-like properties that other waves do.

MIT Physics department Technical Services Group

Light of different wavelengths, when passed through a double slit, exhibit the same wave-like properties that other waves do.

By isolating different colors of light and passing them through either single slits, double slits or diffraction gratings, scientists were able to observe patterns that could only be produced if light was a wave. Indeed, the patterns produced — with peaks and troughs — mirrored that of well-known waves, like water waves.

The wave-like properties of light became even better understood thanks to Thomas Young's two-slit experiments, where constructive and destructive interference showed themselves dramatically.

Thomas Young, 1801

The wave-like properties of light became even better understood thanks to Thomas Young’s two-slit experiments, where constructive and destructive interference showed themselves dramatically.

But water waves — as it was well-known — traveled through the medium of water. Take away the water, and there’d be no wave! This was true of all known wave phenomena: sound, which is a compression and rarefaction, needs a medium to travel through as well.

If you take away all matter, there’s no medium for sound to travel through, and hence why they say, “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

In space, sounds that are produced on Earth will never travel to you, since there's no medium for sound to travel through between the Earth and you.

NASA/Marshall Space Flight Centre

In space, sounds that are produced on Earth will never travel to you, since there’s no medium for sound to travel through between the Earth and you.

So, then, the reasoning went, if light is a wave — albeit, as Maxwell demonstrated in the 1860s, an electromagnetic wave — it, too, must have a medium that it travels through. Although no one could measure this medium, it was given a name: the luminiferous aether.

Sounds like a silly idea now, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t a bad idea at all. In fact, it had all the hallmarks of a great scientific idea, because it not only built upon the science that had been established previously, but this idea made new predictions that were testable! Let me explain by using an analogy: the water in a rapidly moving river.

The Klamath River, flowing through a valley, is an example of a rapidly moving body of water.

Blake, Tupper Ansel, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Klamath River, flowing through a valley, is an example of a rapidly moving body of water.

Imagine that you throw a rock into a raging river, and watch the waves that it makes. If you follow the ripples of the wave towards the banks, perpendicular to the direction of the current, the wave will move at a particular speed.

But what if you watch the wave move upstream? It’s going to move more slowly, because the medium that the wave is traveling through, the water, is moving! And if you watch the wave move downstream, it’ll move more quickly, again because the medium is moving.

Even though the luminiferous aether had never been detected or measured, there was an ingenious experiment devised by Albert A. Michelson that applied this same principle to light.

The Earth, moving in its orbit around the Sun and spinning on its axis, should provide an extra motion if there's any medium that light travels through.

Larry McNish, RASC Calgary

The Earth, moving in its orbit around the Sun and spinning on its axis, should provide an extra motion if there’s any medium that light travels through.

You see, even though we didn’t know exactly how the aether was oriented in space, what its direction was or how it was flowing, or what was at rest with respect to it, presumably — like Newtonian space — it was absolute. It existed independently of matter, as it must considering that light could travel where sound could not: in a vacuum.

So, in principle, if you measured the speed at which light moved when the Earth was moving “upstream” or “downstream” (or perpendicular to the aether’s “stream”, for that matter), you could not only detect the existence of the aether, you could determine what the rest frame of the Universe was!

the speed of light is something like 186,282 miles-per-second (Michelson knew it to be 186,350 ± 30 miles-per-second), while the Earth’s orbital speed is only about 18.5 miles-per-second, something we weren’t good enough to measure in the 1880s.

But Michelson had a trick up his sleeve.

The original design of a Michelson interferometer.

Albert Abraham Michelson, 1881

The original design of a Michelson interferometer.

In 1881, Michelson developed and designed what’s now known as a Michelson interferometer, which was absolutely brilliant. What it did was built on the fact that light — being made of waves — interferes with itself. And in particular, if he took a light wave, split it into two components that were perpendicular to one another (and hence, moving differently with respect to the aether), and had the two beams travel exactly identical distances and then reflect them back towards one another, he would observe a shift in the interference pattern generated by them!

You see, if the entire apparatus was stationary with respect to the aether, there would be no shift in the interference pattern they made, but if it moves at all in one direction more than the other, you would get a shift.

If you split light into two perpendicular components and bring them back together, they'll interfere. If you move in one direction versus another, that interference pattern will shift.

Wikimedia commons user Stigmatella aurantiaca

If you split light into two perpendicular components and bring them back together, they’ll interfere. If you move in one direction versus another, that interference pattern will shift.

Michelson’s original design was unable to detect any shift, but with an arm length of just 1.2 meters, his expected shift of 0.04 fringes was just above the limit of what he could detect, which was about 0.02 fringes.

There were also alternatives to the idea that the aether was purely stationary — such as the idea that it was dragged by the Earth (although it couldn’t be completely, because of observations of how stellar aberration worked) — so he performed the experiment at multiple times throughout the day, as the rotating Earth would have to be oriented at different angles with respect to the aether.

The null result was interesting, but not completely convincing. Over the subsequent six years, he designed an interferometer 10 times as large (and hence, ten times as precise) with Edward Morley, and the two of them in 1887 performed what’s now known as the Michelson-Morley experiment.

They expected a fringe-shift throughout the day of up to 0.4 fringes, with an accuracy down to 0.01 fringes.

Thanks to the internet, here are the original 1887 results!

The lack of an observed shift, despite the necessary sensitivity and the theoretical predictions, was an incredible achievement that led to the development of modern physics.

Michelson, A. A.; Morley, E. (1887). “On the Relative Motion of the Earth and the Luminiferous Ether”. American Journal of Science 34 (203): 333–345

The lack of an observed shift, despite the necessary sensitivity and the theoretical predictions, was an incredible achievement that led to the development of modern physics.

This null result — the fact that there was no luminiferous aether — was actually a huge advance for modern science, as it meant that light must have been inherently different from all other waves that we knew of.

The resolution came 18 years later, when Einstein’s theory of special relativity came along. And with it, we gained the recognition that the speed of light was a universal constant in all reference frames, that there was no absolute space or absolute time, and — finally — that light needed nothing more than space and time to travel through.

Albert Michelson won the Nobel Prize in 1907 for his work developing the interferometer and the advances made because of his measurements. It was the most important null result in scientific history.

Nobel foundation, via

Albert Michelson won the Nobel Prize in 1907 for his work developing the interferometer and the advances made because of his measurements. It was the most important null result in scientific history.

The experiment — and Michelson’s body of work — was so revolutionary that he became the only person in history to have won a Nobel Prize for a very precise non-discovery of anything. The experiment itself may have been a complete failure, but what we learned from it was a greater boon to humanity and our understanding of the Universe than any success would have been!

Astrophysicist and author Ethan Siegel is the founder and primary writer of Starts With A Bang! Check out his first book, Beyond The Galaxy, and look for his second, Treknology, this October!

Notes and comments on FB. Part 29

La langue vulgaire “de la nourrice et du Paradis”. After Beatrice, Dante’s love, died in 1290, Dante started to write in Italian instead of Latin.

After Dante’s love Beatrice died in 1290, a century of Florence enlightenment ended by the start of civil war that lasted for decades. Most of the other cities in North Italy followed suit in social strife: The people wanted to overthrow the nobility that owned the horses, Capital and the weapons.

Sans folie, personne ne posera des questions provocantes ou renouvellera ses pensées.  Qui oserait penser a l’amour si la folie ne lui fait bouillonner le sang?

Il ne faut pas etre superstitieux: Si tu réve d’un médecin de l’hopital, ne court pas chez le notaire pour faire ton testament.

Lorsque passaient les Croisés, les populations d’Europe se precipitaient dans les églises pour y chercher refuge: Ces Coeur de Lion de chevaliers étaient obligés de laisser des victims en se dirigeant vers le soleil couchant (le Levant).

Incest is already part of our genes: No need to overblow our preference for our close relatives, in adolescence.

Why “al Jarida al Rasmiyya” has stopped being delivered to the library of Fares Zoghbeh? Late Maitre Phares Zoghbeh is turning mad in his tomb. A few lawyers want to read it in this library.

La premiere partie du corps que mes yeux contemple sont les pieds et la cheville. Si j’en suis satisfait, tout le reste est acceptable. Les femmes le  savent implicitement et prennent grand soin

I’m observing a strange cycle on Tweeter. For 2 weeks now, the number of Followers increase every day and the next day drops to this magic number of 221? Any explanations?

Si on garde un petit coin de dignité, c’est pour qu’on ait quelque chose a céder, le temps voulu.

Aprés avoir accepté la lacheté, la servitude, la bombe a hydrogen, les genocide… on comprend mal de quel droit on ferait les dégoutés et les difficiles

Je me prenais trop au sérieux et manquais d’humour et d’humilité. Je n’avais pas explore la génerosité de la nature humaine.

Les gens doivent avoir le droit de manger sans conditions.

Je n’avais pas mange depuis la veille. J’ai vu un brave bourgeois manger un chateaubriand aux pomme-vapeur. Et je m’ évanouis. Pas de faim, mais de rage, d’indignation et d’humiliation.

Il me fallut beaucoup de temps pour admettre que le lecteur avait droit a certains égards: comme lui indiquer le numero de la chamber, lui donner la clef et l’accompagner a l’étage et lui montrer les objects de premiére necessité. Bref, je n’ai cure de ce type de lecteur paresseux: c’est pas moi qui va l’instruire.

J’ai toujours eu faim devant le spectacle de la beauté, surtout d’une beauté

La plupart du temps je suis un athée invetéré. Et pourtant, le mot athée est insupportable quand je l’entend des bourgeois suffisants.

Avant sa crise religieuse, ma mére parlait de Dieu avec un respect bourgeois de quelqu’un qui a trés bien réussi.

La jolie fille de la charcutiére fit a ma mére une grande scene de larmes, de menaces de suicide et d’autodafé: ma mére fut trés flattée

La jolie fille dit a ma mére: Ton fils m’a fait lire du Proust, du Tolstoi et du Dostoieski. Qu’est-ce-que je vais devenir s’il ne m’épouse pas?

I know my limitations. My capacities? None. I know though my character.

The US is luring the foreign Daesh fighters in Syria into operations of mass suicides: Deir el Zour, Tadmor… Purpose? Exhausting Syrian army and delaying the Re-conquista

The foreign fighters in Syria prefer to die in the battle fields: their home States want Nothing to do with them, Not even be returned in coffins

Erdogan of Turkey will be remembered as a leader of infamy: He let the foreign fighters cross the borders into Syria, a one-way ticket, for assured perdition

Un écrivain renomé me dit: Rapelles-toi mon garcon que toutes les femmes sont des garces. et ells ont le monopole. J’ai écrit 7 roman lá-dessus. Prenez cela comme une promesse d’avenir

Les femmes experimentées préferent les hommes qui ont acquis la patience et ont l’autorité calme et assuré: des murriers mature?

Le mot de passe autour du basin Mediterraneen pour eviter les amandes: Eh quoi, la vie est belle.

Je n’ai plus jamais été trompé par une femme depuis: je n’ai plus jamais attend sous la pluie pour les surveiller ou les retrouver.

Dans ce déreglement generalise, peut-etre aimer quelqu’un est le dernier recours de resister au désespoire. C’est comme chercher un resistant plus acharné.

On sent la déveine et le destin fané, avant de voir la demeure, un parfum de vieille école, croulant sous l’impuissance de l’intention bien, mais mal active.

Un recouvreur de dette: Mon boulot est d’éviter que les choses se gates. La chemise des documents est gonflée a 90% de papiers qui n’ont rien a voir avec le dossier: un gros dossier impressionne méchamment.

Marie-Therese d’Autriche (1717-1780) n’était pas seulement la mere de Marie-Antoinette de France: elle regna en souveraine absolue Durant 40 ans sur l’empire le plus vaste d’Europe et avait due gérer 16 enfants.

La Florence Republicaine de 1295, les nobles devaient s’inscrire a une corporation, pour la forme, afin d’avoir le droit d’occuper les postes éphemere de charge publique de 3 mois (Faire de la politique)

Quest for immortality? Daughter, wife, robots

The founder of Sirius XM satellite radio, Martine Rothblatt now heads up a drug company that makes life-saving medicines for rare diseases (including one drug that saved her own daughter’s life).

Meanwhile she is working to preserve the consciousness of the woman she loves in a digital file and a companion robot. In an onstage conversation with TED’s Chris Anderson, Rothblatt shares her powerful story of love, identity, creativity, and limitless possibility

Martine Rothblatt Transhumanist?
Whether she’s inventing satellite radio, developing life-saving drugs or digitizing the human mind, Martine Rothblatt has a knack for turning visionary ideas into commonplace technology. Full bio
Filmed march 2015

Chris Anderson: So I guess what we’re going to do is we’re going to talk about your life, and using some pictures that you shared with me. And I think we should start right here with this one. Okay, now who is this?

0:25 Martine Rothblatt: This is me with our oldest son Eli. He was about age five. This is taken in Nigeria right after having taken the Washington, D.C. bar exam.

CA: But this doesn’t really look like a Martine.

MR: Right. That was myself as a male, the way I was brought up. Before I transitioned from male to female and Martin to Martine.

( I saw a week ago a movie set in 1930 where a married man in Denmark changed to a women. The first operation was successful, but implanting a vagina killed him) 

0:54 CA: You were brought up Martin Rothblatt.  And about a year after this picture, you married a beautiful woman. Was this love at first sight? What happened there?

1:04 MR: It was love at the first sight. I saw Bina at a discotheque in Los Angeles, and we later began living together, but the moment I saw her, I saw just an aura of energy around her. I asked her to dance. She said she saw an aura of energy around me. I was a single male parent. She was a single female parent. We showed each other our kids’ pictures, and we’ve been happily married for a third of a century now. (Applause)

1:37 CA: And at the time, you were kind of this hotshot entrepreneur, working with satellites. I think you had two successful companies, and then you started addressing this problem of how could you use satellites to revolutionize radio. Tell us about that.

1:52 MR: I always loved space technology, and satellites, to me, are sort of like the canoes that our ancestors first pushed out into the water. So it was exciting for me to be part of the navigation of the oceans of the sky, and as I developed different types of satellite communication systems, the main thing I did was to launch bigger and more powerful satellites, the consequence of which was that the receiving antennas could be smaller and smaller, and after going through direct television broadcasting, I had the idea that if we could make a more powerful satellite, the receiving dish could be so small that it would just be a section of a parabolic dish, a flat little plate embedded into the roof of an automobile, and it would be possible to have nationwide satellite radio, and that’s Sirius XM today.

2:45 CA: Who here has used Sirius? So that succeeded despite all predictions at the time. It was a huge commercial success, but soon after this, in the early 1990s, there was this big transition in your life and you became Martine. tell me, how did that happen?

MR: It happened in consultation with Bina and our four beautiful children, and I discussed with each of them that I felt my soul was always female, and as a woman, but I was afraid people would laugh at me if I expressed it, so I always kept it bottled up and just showed my male side. And each of them had a different take on this.

Bina said, “I love your soul, and whether the outside is Martin and Martine, it doesn’t it matter to me, I love your soul.”

My son said, “If you become a woman, will you still be my father?” And I said, “Yes, I’ll always be your father,” and I’m still his father today.

My youngest daughter did an absolutely brilliant five-year-old thing. She told people, “I love my dad and she loves me.” So she had no problem with a gender blending whatsoever.

4:27 CA: And a couple years after this, you published this book: The Apartheid of Sex.” What was your thesis in this book?

4:34 MR: My thesis in this book is that there are seven billion people in the world, and actually, seven billion unique ways to express one’s gender.

And while people may have the genitals of a male or a female, the genitals don’t determine your gender or even really your sexual identity. That’s just a matter of anatomy and reproductive tracts, and people could choose whatever gender they want if they weren’t forced by society into categories of either male or female the way South Africa used to force people into categories of black or white.

We know from anthropological science that race is fiction, even though racism is very real, and we now know from cultural studies that separate male or female genders is a constructed fiction. The reality is a gender fluidity that crosses the entire continuum from male to female.

5:33 CA: You yourself don’t always feel 100 percent female.

5:36 MR: Correct. I would say in some ways I change my gender about as often as I change my hairstyle.

5:42 CA: (Laughs) Okay, now, this is your gorgeous daughter, Jenesis. And I guess she was about this age when something pretty terrible happened.

5:54 MR: Yes, she was finding herself unable to walk up the stairs in our house to her bedroom, and after several months of doctors, she was diagnosed to have a rare, almost invariably fatal disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension.

6:12 CA: So how did you respond to that?

6:14 MR: Well, we first tried to get her to the best doctors we could. We ended up at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The head of pediatric cardiology told us that he was going to refer her to get a lung transplant, but not to hold out any hope, because there are very few lungs available, especially for children.

He said that all people with this illness died, and if any of you have seen the film “Lorenzo’s Oil,” there’s a scene when the protagonist kind of rolls down the stairway crying and bemoaning the fate of his son, and that’s exactly how we felt about Jenesis.

6:55 CA: But you didn’t accept that as the limit of what you could do. You started trying to research and see if you could find a cure somehow.

7:03 MR: Correct. She was in the intensive care ward for weeks at a time, and Bina and I would tag team to stay at the hospital while the other watched the rest of the kids, and when I was in the hospital and she was sleeping, I went to the hospital library. I read every article that I could find on pulmonary hypertension.

I had not taken any biology, even in college, so I had to go from a biology textbook to a college-level textbook and then medical textbook and the journal articles, back and forth, and eventually I knew enough to think that it might be possible that somebody could find a cure.

So we started a nonprofit foundation. I wrote a description asking people to submit grants and we would pay for medical research. I became an expert on the condition — doctors said to me, Martine, we really appreciate all the funding you’ve provided us, but we are not going to be able to find a cure in time to save your daughter. However, there is a medicine that was developed at the Burroughs Wellcome Company that could halt the progression of the disease, but Burroughs Wellcome has just been acquired by Glaxo Wellcome. They made a decision not to develop any medicines for rare and orphan diseases, and maybe you could use your expertise in satellite communications to develop this cure for pulmonary hypertension.

8:36 CA: So how on earth did you get access to this drug?

8:39 MR: I went to Glaxo Wellcome and after three times being rejected and having the door slammed in my face because they weren’t going to out-license the drug to a satellite communications expert, they weren’t going to send the drug out to anybody at all, and they thought I didn’t have the expertise, finally I was able to persuade a small team of people to work with me and develop enough credibility.

I wore down their resistance, and they had no hope this drug would even work, by the way, and they tried to tell me, “You’re just wasting your time. We’re sorry about your daughter.” But finally, for 25,000 dollars and agreement to pay 10% of any revenues we might ever get, they agreed to give me worldwide rights to this drug.

9:33 CA: And so you put this drug on the market in a really brilliant way, by basically charging what it would take to make the economics work.

9:44 MR: Oh yes, Chris, but this really wasn’t a drug that I ended up — after I wrote the check for 25,000, and I said, “Okay, where’s the medicine for Jenesis?” they said, “Oh, Martine, there’s no medicine for Jenesis. This is just something we tried in rats.”

And they gave me, like, a little plastic Ziploc bag of a small amount of powder. They said, “Don’t give it to any human,” and they gave me a piece of paper which said it was a patent, and from that, we had to figure out a way to make this medicine. A hundred chemists in the U.S. at the top universities all swore that little patent could never be turned into a medicine. If it was turned into a medicine, it could never be delivered because it had a half-life of only 45 minutes.

10:29 CA: And yet, a year or two later, you were there with a medicine that worked for Jenesis.

10:37 MR: Chris, the astonishing thing is that this absolutely worthless piece of powder that had the sparkle of a promise of hope for Jenesis is not only keeping Jenesis and other people alive today, but produces almost a billion and a half dollars a year in revenue.

10:58 (Applause)

11:01 CA: So here you go. So you took this company public, right? And made an absolute fortune. And how much have you paid Glaxo, by the way, after that 25,000?

11:14 MR: Yeah, well, every year we pay them 10 percent of 1.5 billion, 150 million dollars, last year 100 million dollars. It’s the best return on investment they ever received. (Laughter)

11:25 CA: And the best news of all, I guess, is this.

11:29 MR: Yes. Jenesis is an absolutely brilliant young lady. She’s alive, healthy today at 30.

You see me, Bina and Jenesis there. The most amazing thing about Jenesis is that while she could do anything with her life, and believe me, if you grew up your whole life with people in your face saying that you’ve got a fatal disease, I would probably run to Tahiti and just not want to run into anybody again. But instead she chooses to work in United Therapeutics. She says she wants to do all she can to help other people with orphan diseases get medicines, and today, she’s our project leader for all telepresence activities, where she helps digitally unite the entire company to work together to find cures for pulmonary hypertension.

12:15 CA: But not everyone who has this disease has been so fortunate. There are still many people dying, and you are tackling that too. How?

12:23 MR: Exactly, Chris. There’s some 3,000 people a year in the United States alone, perhaps 10 times that number worldwide, who continue to die of this illness because the medicines slow down the progression but they don’t halt it. The only cure for pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, COPD, what Leonard Nimoy just died of, is a lung transplant, but sadly, there are only enough available lungs for 2,000 people in the U.S. a year to get a lung transplant, whereas nearly a half million people a year die of end-stage lung failure.

CA: So how can you address that?

MR:  I conceptualize the possibility that just like we keep cars and planes and buildings going forever with an unlimited supply of building parts and machine parts, why can’t we create an unlimited supply of transplantable organs to keep people living indefinitely, and especially people with lung disease.

So we’ve teamed up with the decoder of the human genome, Craig Venter, and the company he founded with Peter Diamandis, the founder of the X Prize, to genetically modify the pig genome so that the pig’s organs will not be rejected by the human body and thereby to create an unlimited supply of transplantable organs. We do this through our company, United Therapeutics.

13:54 CA: So you really believe that within a decade, that this shortage of transplantable lungs maybe be cured, through these guys?

14:02 MR: Absolutely, Chris. I’m as certain of that as I was of the success that we’ve had with direct television broadcasting, Sirius XM. It’s actually not rocket science. It’s straightforward engineering away one gene after another. We’re so lucky to be born in the time that sequencing genomes is a routine activity, and the brilliant folks at Synthetic Genomics are able to zero in on the pig genome, find exactly the genes that are problematic, and fix them.

14:31 CA: But it’s not just bodies that — though that is amazing. (Applause) It’s not just long-lasting bodies that are of interest to you now. It’s long-lasting minds. And I think this graph for you says something quite profound. What does this mean?

14:51 MR: What this graph means, and it comes from Ray Kurzweil, is that the rate of development in computer processing hardware, firmware and software, has been advancing along a curve such that by the 2020s, as we saw in earlier presentations today, there will be information technology that processes information and the world around us at the same rate as a human mind.

15:19 CA: And so that being so, you’re actually getting ready for this world by believing that we will soon be able to, what, actually take the contents of our brains and somehow preserve them forever? How do you describe that?

15:35 MR: Well, Chris, what we’re working on is creating a situation where people can create a mind file, and a mind file is the collection of their mannerisms, personality, recollection, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values, everything that we’ve poured today into Google, into Amazon, into Facebook, and all of this information stored there will be able, in the next couple decades, once software is able to recapitulate consciousness, be able to revive the consciousness which is imminent in our mind file.

16:11 CA: Now you’re not just messing around with this. You’re serious. I mean, who is this?

16:17 MR: This is a robot version of my beloved spouse, Bina. And we call her Bina 48. She was programmed by Hanson Robotics out of Texas. There’s the centerfold from National Geographic magazine with one of her caregivers, and she roams the web and has hundreds of hours of Bina’s mannerisms, personalities. She’s kind of like a two-year-old kid, but she says things that blow people away, best expressed by perhaps a New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Harmon who says her answers are often frustrating, but other times as compelling as those of any flesh person she’s interviewed.

17:01 CA: And is your thinking here, part of your hope here, is that this version of Bina can in a sense live on forever, or some future upgrade to this version can live on forever?

MR: Yes. Not just Bina, but everybody. You know, it costs us virtually nothing to store our mind files on Facebook, Instagram, what-have-you.

Social media is I think one of the most extraordinary inventions of our time, and as apps become available that will allow us to out-Siri Siri, better and better, and develop consciousness operating systems, everybody in the world, billions of people, will be able to develop mind clones of themselves that will have their own life on the web.

17:46 CA: So the thing is, Martine, that in any normal conversation, this would sound stark-staring mad, but in the context of your life, what you’ve done, some of the things we’ve heard this week, the constructed realities that our minds give, I mean, you wouldn’t bet against it.

18:03 MR: Well, I think it’s really nothing coming from me. If anything, I’m perhaps a bit of a communicator of activities that are being undertaken by the greatest companies in China, Japan, India, the U.S., Europe. There are tens of millions of people working on writing code that expresses more and more aspects of our human consciousness, and you don’t have to be a genius to see that all these threads are going to come together and ultimately create human consciousness, and it’s something we’ll value.

There are so many things to do in this life, and if we could have a simulacrum, a digital doppelgänger of ourselves that helps us process books, do shopping, be our best friends, I believe our mind clones, these digital versions of ourselves, will ultimately be our best friends, and for me personally and Bina personally, we love each other like crazy. Each day, we are always saying, like, “Wow, I love you even more than 30 years ago. And so for us, the prospect of mind clones and regenerated bodies is that our love affair, Chris, can go on forever. And we never get bored of each other. I’m sure we never will.

19:16 CA: I think Bina’s here, right?

MR: She is, yeah.

CA: Would it be too much, I don’t know, do we have a handheld mic? Bina, could we invite you to the stage? I just have to ask you one question. Besides, we need to see you.

Come and join Martine here. I mean, look, when you got married, if someone had told you that, in a few years time, the man you were marrying would become a woman, and a few years after that, you would become a robot — (Laughter) — how has this gone? How has it been?

19:58 Bina Rothblatt: It’s been really an exciting journey, and I would have never thought that at the time, but we started making goals and setting those goals and accomplishing things, and before you knew it, we just keep going up and up and we’re still not stopping, so it’s great.

20:13 CA: Martine told me something really beautiful, just actually on Skype before this, which was that he wanted to live for hundreds of years as a mind file, but not if it wasn’t with you.

20:30 BR: That’s right, we want to do it together. We’re cryonicists as well, and we want to wake up together.

20:35 CA: So just so as you know, from my point of view, this isn’t only one of the most astonishing lives I have heard, it’s one of the most astonishing love stories I’ve ever heard. It’s just a delight to have you both here at TED. Thank you so much.

“What we’re working on is creating a situation where people can create a mind file, and a mind file is the collection of their mannerisms, personality, recollection, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values, everything that we’ve poured today into Google, into Amazon, into Facebook, and all of this information stored there will be able, in the next couple decades, once software is able to recapitulate consciousness, be able to revive the consciousness which is imminent in our mind file.” – Martine Rothblatt
In a brilliant onstage conversation with TED’s Chris Anderson, Martine shares her powerful story of love, identity, creativity, openness and limitless possibility.

The founder of Sirius XM satellite radio, Martine Rothblatt now heads up a drug company that makes life-saving medicines for rare diseases (including one drug…

Wake up! Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook are running our lives

Hannah Jane Parkinson. May 12, 2017

Let’s say you woke up this morning and after stopping your alarm clock, asked it to play some get-up-and-go music.

You go to make breakfast and see that you’re out of butter, but it doesn’t matter, because a delivery is on its way.

On your commute, you catch up with friends from back home. You turn to news across the Atlantic, read an interesting article on Trump. You go to a new spot for lunch and pay using your phone – and also for the train, and then for the last stretch, a cab.

Once home, dinner is by app, and you settle down to watch the latest TV show, except, it’s not actually shown on a TV.

It’s possible that this entire day is delineated by a handful of technology companies.

Google Home wakes you up in the morning and later, Google recommends a lunch spot – it even gives you live information on how busy it is.

It is partly responsible for your cab home, as Google is an investor in Uber. You checked in with friends on Facebook on that morning commute (you might have also used the Facebook “check-in” feature at your lunch spot).

The Trump piece you read is courtesy of the Washington Post, owned by Jeff Bezos, the man behind Amazon.

Amazon is also responsible for recognising that your fridge is out of butter, and the TV show you watch? Even if you are watching Netflix and not Amazon Prime, Netflix would not exist without Amazon, as Amazon owns the web cloud services its rival uses.

With an 18% share of the smartphone market, it’s likely the apps you use are running on an iPhone. No? Well, maybe you have an Android device – owned by Google.

Cabal is not too strong a word. (Cartel?)

Take Amazon. It’s unfathomable, when you think about it. The idea of selling books online morphing into something that wants to get in your home and even the bottom drawer of your freezer, and – as we learned this week – live music events.

You might think that tech companies are taking over the globe – until you realise that Google, or rather Google’s parent company Alphabet, has invested in a space exploratory arm, Space X. So not just the globe. (Amazon and Facebook have also dipped their toes into space.)

Google’s latest mission, in fact, is taking on death itself. Why not?

Thing is, none of this might bother you. Why should it?

All of these companies improve our lives, right? I’d go as far as to say Google has made me a smarter person.

It’s perhaps made me a more intolerant person, because I believe there are very few gaps in knowledge that can’t be filled by an online search, and most of us, in developed countries at least, carry that ability in our pockets.

It’s why I love the Let Me Google That For You website – in which askers of easily answerable questions are sent an automatic link that enters the question into Google, to shame their indolence.

It could be argued that tech has made us lazier, but I’d counter that it has only made us lazier in whichever area we tended to be lazy in already.

I’m a bad cook, so apps such as Uber Eats or Deliveroo, on my Apple phone, have perhaps made me lazier, but if I was a better cook I might not use them.

(And the tech, if I wasn’t as lazy, could help me get better at cooking.) But I’m not going to stop drawing by hand, something I enjoy, just because there’s an app I can do that on. It’s undeniable that tech has changed our lives fundamentally, but in often very good ways.

The problem is, a small group of companies ruling the world, just as with people, is not a good thing.

This is why antitrust laws exist. It’s why Rupert Murdoch has suddenly started to clean up Fox and News UK, because he wants his BSkyB bid to go ahead, despite considerable concerns of a monopoly.

Recently there’s been speculation that Mark Zuckerberg might run for US office. I am not being hyperbolic when I say that it’s possible he would have less power if he was president than he does now.

Facebook has 1.28 billion daily active users. Most individuals now get their news via the platform and, as was emphasised in the election of Donald Trump, this is problematic when there’s a lack of editorial control. Zuck at first tried to play down Facebook’s “fake news” influence, which was difficult when simultaneously boasting about his company’s influence on voter turnout and engagement.

And I’ll tell you something; there’s nothing more incensing than a dude bashing out a 5,000-word manifesto on how he wants to change the world having based some of his operations in offshore locations so he can avoid paying corporate taxes.

Likewise, it is disingenuous at best and dictatorial at worst to say you want to help extend India’s internet access and then make Facebook one of few available websites.

And if you want to opt out? Well, it isn’t always that easy. Some of these companies make it difficult to cut ties entirely, hence concerns around data retention and individual rights. But the other point is that unilateral opting out might mean you end up living a somewhat ascetic life.

I quit Facebook in 2013, and as a direct result of this, I have fallen out of touch with many friends.

People have had babies, people have got married and divorced and other people have died and I have been absolutely none the wiser, because I don’t keep up with Facebook. Sure, that’s my own fault, but I was tired of the banalities of the medium and the time it was taking up in my life, and the concern that Facebook was following me everywhere, like the eyes of an Old Master painting.

It is time now for two things:

for people to wake up and realise how much our lives are dominated by such a small number of Silicon Valley bros, one hand in their jean pocket announcing their next move, and

for tech companies to acknowledge their power and influence and become truly accountable. To pay their goddamn taxes. To actually do something about online abuse. To not take the piss out of consumers by releasing a $700 product and then tweaking it months later for greater profit.

I don’t want to worry that the curating of Apple News is quasi-Pravda. Or that companies are making money from extremist content. And I understand that in so many “free” services we pay a different way, by becoming a product ourselves, and giving up some of of our privacy. That’s a trade that many of us are willing to make and will keep making, but up to a point. Up to a point.




May 2017
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