region:southern california

  • A new deepfake detection tool should keep world leaders safe—for now - MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613846/a-new-deepfake-detection-tool-should-keep-world-leaders-safefor-no

    An AI-produced video could show Donald Trump saying or doing something extremely outrageous and inflammatory. It would be only too believable, and in a worst-case scenario it might sway an election, trigger violence in the streets, or spark an international armed conflict.

    Fortunately, a new digital forensics technique promises to protect President Trump, other world leaders, and celebrities against such deepfakes—for the time being, at least. The new method uses machine learning to analyze a specific individual’s style of speech and movement, what the researchers call a “softbiometric signature.”

    The team then used machine learning to distinguish the head and face movements that characterize the real person. These subtle signals—the way Bernie Sanders nods while saying a particular word, perhaps, or the way Trump smirks after a comeback—are not currently modeled by deepfake algorithms.

    In experiments the technique was at least 92% accurate in spotting several variations of deepfakes, including face swaps and ones in which an impersonator is using a digital puppet. It was also able to deal with artifacts in the files that come from recompressing a video, which can confuse other detection techniques. The researchers plan to improve the technique by accounting for characteristics of a person’s speech as well. The research, which was presented at a computer vision conference in California this week, was funded by Google and DARPA, a research wing of the Pentagon. DARPA is funding a program to devise better detection techniques.

    The problem facing world leaders (and everyone else) is that it has become ridiculously simple to generate video forgeries with artificial intelligence. False news reports, bogus social-media accounts, and doctored videos have already undermined political news coverage and discourse. Politicians are especially concerned that fake media could be used to sow misinformation during the 2020 presidential election.

    Some tools for catching deepfake videos have been produced already, but forgers have quickly adapted. For example, for a while it was possible to spot a deepfake by tracking the speaker’s eye movements, which tended to be unnatural in deepfakes. Shortly after this method was identified, however, deepfake algorithms were tweaked to include better blinking.

    “We are witnessing an arms race between digital manipulations and the ability to detect those, and the advancements of AI-based algorithms are catalyzing both sides,” says Hao Li, a professor at the University of Southern California who helped develop the new technique. For this reason, his team has not yet released the code behind the method .

    Li says it will be particularly difficult for deepfake-makers to adapt to the new technique, but he concedes that they probably will eventually. “The next step to go around this form of detection would be to synthesize motions and behaviors based on prior observations of this particular person,” he says.

    Li also says that as deepfakes get easier to use and more powerful, it may become necessary for everyone to consider protecting themselves. “Celebrities and political figures have been the main targets so far,” he says. “But I would not be surprised if in a year or two, artificial humans that look indistinguishable from real ones can be synthesized by any end user.”

    #fake_news #Deepfake #Video #Détection

  • Shade, by Sam Bloch
    https://placesjournal.org/article/shade-an-urban-design-mandate

    “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” [Mike] Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer (…)

    All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”

    #ombre #bien_public #urbanisme

    (un essai remarquable)

    • Il y a quelques années les 40km de Castelnaudary à Limoux se faisaient à l’ombre de grands platanes, rasés depuis peu. (cf l’image de mon pseudo) Certes les platanes ne rentreront plus dans les voitures, mais rouler sous 40° sans ombre avec le soleil dans la gueule, c’est tout aussi dangereux. Évidemment il n’y a pas eu de replantation.

  • Women Once Ruled Computers. When Did the Valley Become Brotopia? - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-02-01/women-once-ruled-computers-when-did-the-valley-become-brotopia

    Lena Söderberg started out as just another Playboy centerfold. The 21-year-old Swedish model left her native Stockholm for Chicago because, as she would later say, she’d been swept up in “America fever.” In November 1972, Playboy returned her enthusiasm by featuring her under the name Lenna Sjööblom, in its signature spread. If Söderberg had followed the path of her predecessors, her image would have been briefly famous before gathering dust under the beds of teenage boys. But that particular photo of Lena would not fade into obscurity. Instead, her face would become as famous and recognizable as Mona Lisa’s—at least to everyone studying computer science.

    In engineering circles, some refer to Lena as “the first lady of the internet.” Others see her as the industry’s original sin, the first step in Silicon Valley’s exclusion of women. Both views stem from an event that took place in 1973 at a University of Southern California computer lab, where a team of researchers was trying to turn physical photographs into digital bits. Their work would serve as a precursor to the JPEG, a widely used compression standard that allows large image files to be efficiently transferred between devices. The USC team needed to test their algorithms on suitable photos, and their search for the ideal test photo led them to Lena.
    0718P_FEATURE_BROTOPIA_01
    Lena

    According to William Pratt, the lab’s co-founder, the group chose Lena’s portrait from a copy of Playboy that a student had brought into the lab. Pratt, now 80, tells me he saw nothing out of the ordinary about having a soft porn magazine in a university computer lab in 1973. “I said, ‘There are some pretty nice-looking pictures in there,’ ” he says. “And the grad students picked the one that was in the centerfold.” Lena’s spread, which featured the model wearing boots, a boa, a feathered hat, and nothing else, was attractive from a technical perspective because the photo included, according to Pratt, “lots of high-frequency detail that is difficult to code.”

    Over the course of several years, Pratt’s team amassed a library of digital images; not all of them, of course, were from Playboy. The data set also included photos of a brightly colored mandrill, a rainbow of bell peppers, and several photos, all titled “Girl,” of fully clothed women. But the Lena photo was the one that researchers most frequently used. Over the next 45 years, her face and bare shoulder would serve as a benchmark for image-processing quality for the teams working on Apple Inc.’s iPhone camera, Google Images, and pretty much every other tech product having anything to do with photos. To this day, some engineers joke that if you want your image compression algorithm to make the grade, it had better perform well on Lena.

    “We didn’t even think about those things at all when we were doing this,” Pratt says. “It was not sexist.” After all, he continues, no one could have been offended because there were no women in the classroom at the time. And thus began a half-century’s worth of buck-passing in which powerful men in the tech industry defended or ignored the exclusion of women on the grounds that they were already excluded .

    Based on data they had gathered from the same sample of mostly male programmers, Cannon and Perry decided that happy software engineers shared one striking characteristic: They “don’t like people.” In their final report they concluded that programmers “dislike activities involving close personal interaction; they are generally more interested in things than in people.” There’s little evidence to suggest that antisocial people are more adept at math or computers. Unfortunately, there’s a wealth of evidence to suggest that if you set out to hire antisocial nerds, you’ll wind up hiring a lot more men than women.

    Cannon and Perry’s work, as well as other personality tests that seem, in retrospect, designed to favor men over women, were used in large companies for decades, helping to create the pop culture trope of the male nerd and ensuring that computers wound up in the boys’ side of the toy aisle. They influenced not just the way companies hired programmers but also who was allowed to become a programmer in the first place.

    In 1984, Apple released its iconic Super Bowl commercial showing a heroic young woman taking a sledgehammer to a depressing and dystopian world. It was a grand statement of resistance and freedom. Her image is accompanied by a voice-over intoning, “And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.” The creation of this mythical female heroine also coincided with an exodus of women from technology. In a sense, Apple’s vision was right: The technology industry would never be like 1984 again. That year was the high point for women earning degrees in computer science, which peaked at 37 percent. As the number of overall computer science degrees picked back up during the dot-com boom, far more men than women filled those coveted seats. The percentage of women in the field would dramatically decline for the next two and a half decades.

    Despite having hired and empowered some of the most accomplished women in the industry, Google hasn’t turned out to be all that different from its peers when it comes to measures of equality—which is to say, it’s not very good at all. In July 2017 the search engine disclosed that women accounted for just 31 percent of employees, 25 percent of leadership roles, and 20 percent of technical roles. That makes Google depressingly average among tech companies.

    Even so, exactly zero of the 13 Alphabet company heads are women. To top it off, representatives from several coding education and pipeline feeder groups have told me that Google’s efforts to improve diversity appear to be more about seeking good publicity than enacting change. One noted that Facebook has been successfully poaching Google’s female engineers because of an “increasingly chauvinistic environment.”

    Last year, the personality tests that helped push women out of the technology industry in the first place were given a sort of reboot by a young Google engineer named James Damore. In a memo that was first distributed among Google employees and later leaked to the press, Damore claimed that Google’s tepid diversity efforts were in fact an overreach. He argued that “biological” reasons, rather than bias, had caused men to be more likely to be hired and promoted at Google than women.

    #Féminisme #Informatique #Histoire_numérique

  • Dick Dale, the Inventor of Surf Rock, Was a Lebanese-American Kid from Boston
    https://www.newyorker.com/culture/postscript/dick-dale-the-inventor-of-surf-rock-was-a-lebanese-american-kid-from-bost

    Dale died on Saturday, at age eighty-one. It’s perhaps curious, at first glance, that a Lebanese-American kid from Boston invented a genre known as surf rock, but such is Dale’s story. He was born Richard Monsour in 1937; several decades earlier, his paternal grandparents had immigrated to the U.S. from Beirut.

    [...]

    Dale’s work was directly and mightily informed by the Arabic music that he listened to as a child. “My music comes from the rhythm of Arab songs,” Dale told the journalist George Baramki Azar, in 1998. “The darbukkah, along with the wailing style of Arab singing, especially the way they use the throat, creates a very powerful force.”

    • Puisque semi #Paywall :

      Dick Dale, the Inventor of Surf Rock, Was a Lebanese-American Kid from Boston
      Amanda Petrusich, The New-Yorker, le 18 mars 2019

      Like a lot of people in my generation, I heard Dick Dale’s “Misirlou” for the first time in the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.” It was 1994, I was fourteen, and my friend Bobby, who had both a license and a car, had driven us to the fancy movie theatre, the one with the un-ripped seats and slightly artier films. We were aspiring aesthetes who dreamed of one day being described as pretentious; by Thanksgiving, we had made half a dozen trips to see “Pulp Fiction.” Each time “Miserlou” played—and Tarantino lets it roll on, uninterrupted, for over a minute—I gripped my cardboard tub of popcorn a little tighter. I simply could not imagine a cooler way to start a movie. “Misirlou” is only two minutes and fifteen seconds long, all told, but it communicates an extraordinary amount of menace. Dale yelps periodically, as if he’s being hotly pursued. One is left only with the sense that something terrible and great is about to occur.

      Dale died on Saturday, at age eighty-one. It’s perhaps curious, at first glance, that a Lebanese-American kid from Boston invented a genre known as surf rock, but such is Dale’s story. He was born Richard Monsour in 1937; several decades earlier, his paternal grandparents had immigrated to the U.S. from Beirut. Dale bought his first guitar used, for eight dollars, and paid it off twenty-five or fifty cents at a time. He liked Hank Williams’s spare and searching cowboy songs—his stage name is a winking homage to the cheekiness of the country-music circuit—but he was particularly taken by the effervescent and indefatigable drumming of Gene Krupa. His guitar style is rhythmic, prickly, biting: “That’s why I play now with that heavy staccato style like I’m playing drums,” he told the Miami New Times, in 2018. “I actually started playing on soup cans and flower pots while listening to big band.” When he was a senior in high school, his family moved from Massachusetts to El Segundo, California, so that his father, a machinist, could take a job at Howard Hughes’s aerospace company. That’s when Dale started surfing.

      As far as subgenres go, surf rock is fairly specialized: the term refers to instrumental rock music made in the first half of the nineteen-sixties, in southern California, in which reverb-laden guitars approximate, in some vague way, the sound of a crashing wave. Though it is tempting to fold in bands like the Beach Boys, who often sang about surfing, surf rock was wet and gnarly and unconcerned with romance or sweetness. The important part was successfully evincing the sensation of riding atop a rushing crest of water and to capture something about that experience, which was both tense and glorious: man versus sea, man versus himself, man versus the banality and ugliness of life on land. Its biggest question was: How do we make this thing sound the way that thing feels? Surfing is an alluring sport in part because it combines recklessness with grace. Dale’s music did similar work. It was as audacious as it was beautiful.

      For six months, beginning on July 1, 1961, Dale set up at the Rendezvous Ballroom, an old dance hall on the Balboa Peninsula, in Newport Beach, and tried to bring the wildness of the Pacific Ocean inside. His song “Let’s Go Trippin’,” which he started playing that summer, is now widely considered the very first surf-rock song. He recorded it in September, and it reached No. 60 on the Hot 100. His shows at the Rendezvous were often referred to as stomps, and they routinely sold out. It is hard not to wonder now what it must have felt like in that room: the briny air, a bit of sand in everyone’s hair, Dale shredding so loud and so hard that the windows rattled. He was messing around with reverb and non-Western scales, ideas that had not yet infiltrated rock music in any meaningful way. Maybe you took a beer outside and let his guitar fade into the sound of the surf. Maybe you stood up close, near a speaker, and felt every bone in your body clack together.

      Dale’s work was directly and mightily informed by the Arabic music that he listened to as a child. “My music comes from the rhythm of Arab songs,” Dale told the journalist George Baramki Azar, in 1998. “The darbukkah, along with the wailing style of Arab singing, especially the way they use the throat, creates a very powerful force.”

      Dale was left-handed, and he preferred to play a custom-made Fender Stratocaster guitar at an indecent volume. (After he exploded enough amplifiers, Fender also made him a custom amplifier—the Dick Dale Dual Showman.) His version of “Misirlou” is gorgeously belligerent. Though it feels deeply American—it is so heavy with the energy of teen-agers, hot rods, and wide suburban boulevards—“Misirlou” is in fact an eastern Mediterranean folk song. The earliest recorded version is Greek, from 1927, and it was performed in a style known as rebetiko, itself a complex mélange of Orthodox chanting, indigenous Greek music, and the Ottoman songs that took root in Greek cities during the occupation. (A few years back, I spent some time travelling through Greece for a Times Magazine story about indigenous-Greek folk music; when I heard “Misirlou” playing from a 78-r.p.m. record on a gramophone on the outskirts of Athens—a later, slower version, recorded by an extraordinary oud player named Anton Abdelahad—I nearly choked on my cup of wine.)

      That a song written at least a century before and thousands of miles away could leave me quaking in a movie theatre in suburban New York City in 1994 is so plainly miraculous and wonderful—how do we not toast Dale for being the momentary keeper of such a thing? He eventually released nine studio albums, beginning in 1962 and ending in 2001. (In 2019, he was still touring regularly and had new dates scheduled for this spring and summer.) There’s some footage of Dale playing “Misirlou” on “Later…with Jools Holland,” in 1996, when he was nearly sixty years old. His hair has thinned, and he’s wearing a sweatband across his forehead. A feathery earring hangs from one ear. The dude is going for it in a big way. It feels like a plume of smoke is about to start rising from the strings of his guitar. His fingers never stop moving. It’s hard to see the faces of the audience members, but I like to think that their eyes were wide, and they were thinking of the sea.

      Amanda Petrusich is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of, most recently, “Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records.”

    • Dale’s work was directly and mightily informed by the Arabic music that he listened to as a child. “My music comes from the rhythm of Arab songs,” Dale told the journalist George Baramki Azar, in 1998. “The darbukkah, along with the wailing style of Arab singing, especially the way they use the throat, creates a very powerful force.”

  • How the Disposable Straw Explains Modern Capitalism - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/06/disposable-america/563204

    Alexis C. Madrigal - Jun 21, 2018

    A straw is a simple thing. It’s a tube, a conveyance mechanism for liquid. The defining characteristic of the straw is the emptiness inside it. This is the stuff of tragedy, and America.

    Over the last several months, plastic straws have come under fire from environmental activists who rightly point out that disposable plastics have created a swirling, centuries-long ecological disaster that is brutally difficult to clean up. Bags were first against the wall, but municipalities from Oakland, California, (yup) to Surfside, Florida, (huh!) have started to restrict the use of plastic straws. Of course, now there is a movement afoot among conservatives to keep those plastics flowing for freedom. Meanwhile, disability advocates have pointed out that plastic straws, in particular, are important for people with physical limitations. “To me, it’s just lame liberal activism that in the end is nothing,” one activist told The Toronto Star. “We’re really kind of vilifying people who need straws.” Other environmentalists aren’t sure that banning straws is gonna do much, and point out that banning straws is not an entirely rigorous approach to global systems change, considering that a widely cited estimate for the magnitude of the problem was, umm, created by a smart 9-year-old.

    All this to say: The straw is officially part of the culture wars, and you might be thinking, “Gah, these contentious times we live in!” But the straw has always been dragged along by the currents of history, soaking up the era, shaping not its direction, but its texture.

    The invention of American industrialism, the creation of urban life, changing gender relations, public-health reform, suburbia and its hamburger-loving teens, better living through plastics, and the financialization of the economy: The straw was there for all these things—rolled out of extrusion machines, dispensed, pushed through lids, bent, dropped into the abyss.

    You can learn a lot about this country, and the dilemmas of contemporary capitalism, by taking a straw-eyed view.

    People have probably been drinking things through cylindrical tubes for as long as Homo sapiens has been around, and maybe before. Scientists observed orangutans demonstrating a preference for a straw-like tool over similar, less functional things. Ancient versions existed, too.

    But in 19th-century America, straws were straw, rye stalks, cut and dried. An alternative did not present itself widely until 1888. That year, Marvin Stone, a Washington, D.C., gentleman, was awarded a patent for an “artificial straw”—“a cheap, durable, and unobjectionable” substitute for natural straws, Stone wrote, “commonly used for the administration of medicines, beverages, etc.”

    Workmen created these early artificial straws by winding paper around a thin cylindrical form, then covering them in paraffin. Often, they were “colored in imitation of the natural straw.” Within a decade, these straws appeared often in newspaper items and advertisements across the country.
    A typical Stone straw ad from a newspaper in 1899 (Google Books)

    Advertising for the Stone straw describes its virtues and emphasizes the faults of the natural straw. Stone’s straws were free from TASTE and ODOR (natural straws were not). Stone’s straws were SWEET, CLEAN, and PERFECT (natural straws could be cracked or musty). You only had to use one Stone straw per drink (not always the case with natural straws).

    They worked. They were cheap. They were very popular and spawned many imitators because once an artificial straw had been conceived, it just wasn’t that hard to make them, tinkering with the process just enough to route around Stone’s patent. This could be read as a story of individual genius. America likes this kind of story.

    But in 1850, long before Stone, Abijah Fessenden patented a drinking tube with a filter attached to a vessel shaped like a spyglass. Disabled people were using drinking tubes in the mid-19th century, as attested to by a patent from 1870. These were artificial, high-value straws; rye was natural and disposable. But it wasn’t until the late 1880s that someone thought to create the disposable, artificial straw.

    Why?

    Americans were primarily a rural people in the early 19th century. Cities had few restaurants until the 1830s and 1840s. Most that did exist were for very rich people. It took the emergence of a new urban life to spark the creation of the kind of eating and drinking establishment that would enshrine the straw in American culture: the soda fountain.

    Carbon dioxide had been isolated decades before, and soda water created with predictably palate-pleasing results, but the equipment to make it was expensive and unwieldy. It wasn’t until the the gas was readily available and cheap that the soda fountain became prevalent. In the 1870s, their technical refinement met a growing market of people who wanted a cold, sweet treat in the city.

    At the same time, the Civil War had intensified American industrialization. More and more people lived in cities and worked outside the home. Cities had saloons, but they were gendered spaces. As urban women fought for greater independence, they, too, wanted places to go. Soda fountains provided a key alternative. Given the female leadership of the late-19th-century temperance movement, soda fountains were drafted onto the side. Sodas were safe and clean. They were soft drinks.

    By 1911, an industry book proclaimed the soda fountain the very height of democratic propriety. “Today everybody, men, women and children, natives and foreigners, patronize the fountain” said The Practical Soda Fountain Guide.

    Temperance and public health grew up together in the disease-ridden cities of America, where despite the modern conveniences and excitements, mortality rates were higher than in the countryside. Straws became a key part of maintaining good hygiene and public health. They became, specifically, part of the answer to the scourge of unclean drinking glasses. Cities begin requiring the use of straws in the late 1890s. A Wisconsin paper noted in 1896 that already in many cities “ordinances have been issued making the use of wrapped drinking straws essential in public eating places.”

    But the laws that regulated health went further. A Kansas doctor campaigned against the widespread use of the “common cup,” which was ... a cup, that many people drank from. Bans began in Kansas and spread.
    The Cup Campaigner

    In many cases, this cup was eventually replaced by the water fountain (or paper cups). Some factories kept the common cup, but purchased straw dispensers that allowed all to partake individually. “The spectacle of groups of able-bodied men standing around drinking water through straws and out of a common, ordinary drinking cup, prompted no end of facetious comment,” read an item in the Shelbina Democrat of October 11, 1911.

    Cup and straw both had to be clean to assure no germs would assail the children (or the able-bodied men). So even the method by which straws were dispensed became an important hygienic indicator. “In some stores, customers are permitted to choose their own straws, and this system would work very well if customers would not finger the straws,” The Practical Soda Fountain Guide lamented.

    That led to the development of the straw dispenser, which has a deep lineage. Already, in 1911, the thing existed where you individually pop a straw into reach. That’s it, right below, with the rationale written in: “Protects straws from flies, dust, and microbes.”
    The Practical Soda Fountain Guide

    To people living through the early 20th century, the straw was a creation of the new public-health regime. “Due to the ‘Yankee mania for sanitation,’ the [American] output of artificial straws has increased from 165 million in 1901 to 4 billion a year at present,” the Battle Creek Enquirer wrote in May 1924. “A manufacturer pointed out yesterday that, laid end to end, these straws would build an ant’s subway 16 times around the world at the equator.”

    Four billion straws! There were only 114 million Americans at the time, so that’s 35 straws per capita (though some were exported).

    Of course, straw making was improving through all these decades—mechanizing, scaling up—but the straw itself basically stayed the same. According to Sidney Graham—who founded the National Soda Straw Company in 1931, and who competed against Stone and other early straw manufacturers—in a 1988 history of the straw:

    Straws were uniform up until the 1930s ... They were tan in color, thin, and exactly 8.5 inches long. Then someone in the soda-bottling business started marketing eight-ounce bottles, and straws grew to 10.5 inches. Various soda fountains began mixing malted milks, and the old straws were too thin. So we started making them thicker. Still, they were all tan in color, like the original straws.

    In the interwar years, however, major changes came to straws. In 1937, for example, Joseph Friedman invented the bendy straw at his brother’s soda shop in San Francisco, leading to the design that’s prevalent today.

    But what happened to the straw industry is far more interesting than its (limited) technical advances. Three of the biggest names in the industry—Friedman’s Flexi-Straw Company; the Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation, which made popular white straws; and Maryland Cup Corporation—have bumped around the last 80 years like corporate Forrest Gumps.

    As it turns out, all three companies’ histories intersect with each other, as well as with structural changes to the American economy. But first, we have to talk about McDonald’s.

    Let’s start with Ray Kroc, who built the McDonald’s empire. For about 16 years, beginning in 1922, he sold cups for the Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation, rising to lead sales across the Midwest. “I don’t know what appealed to me so much about paper cups. Perhaps it was mostly because they were so innovative and upbeat,” Kroc recalled in his memoir, Grinding It Out. “But I sensed from the outset that paper cups were part of the way America was headed.”

    At first, selling cups was a tough job. Straws were cheap—you could get 100 for nine cents in the 1930s—but cups were many times more expensive. And besides, people could just wash glasses. Why would they need a paper cup? But America was tilting toward speed and disposability. And throwaway products were the future (“innovative and upbeat”). Soda fountains and their fast-food descendants were continuing to grow, spurring more sales of cups and straws. In the end, Kroc called the years between 1927 and 1937 “a decade of destiny for the paper-cup industry.”

    Selling all those cups brought Kroc into contact with soda fountains, and eventually he went into business selling milkshake mixers. This led him to Southern California, where he saw the first McDonald’s in operation. He bought his way into the small company and deposed the original owners. With Kroc growing the brand, McDonald’s added 90 franchises between 1955 and 1959. By 1961, Kroc was fully in control of the company, and by 1968, there were 1,000 McDonald’s restaurants.
    The first McDonald’s that Ray Kroc opened in Des Plaines, Illinois, is now a museum dedicated to the burger chain. (Reuters/Frank Polich)

    The restaurant chain became a key customer for Maryland Cup, which began as an ice-cream-cone bakery in Boston. Its first nonfood product launched under a brand that became nationally famous, Sweetheart. That product? The straw. The name derived from the original packaging, which showed “two children sharing a milkshake, each drinking from a straw and their heads forming the two curved arcs of a heart.”

    After the war, the company went into cups, and later other kinds of packaging for the growing fast-food industry. It developed new products for McDonald’s, like those old foam clamshell packages that hamburgers used to come in. It also snatched up the Flexi-Straw Company—along with all its patents and rights—in 1969. Things were going great. The founder’s son-in-law was president of the company in Baltimore; one nephew of the founder ran the McDonald’s relationship; the other ran the plastics division.

    Because the future, at that point, had become plastics! In 1950, the world produced 1.5 million tons of plastic. By the late 1960s, that production had grown more than tenfold. Every product was being tried as a plastic thing, and so naturally, the straw became a plastic thing, too. It didn’t happen overnight. It took years for paper straws to lose their cultural salience.

    While functionally, paper and plastic straws might have seemed the same, to the keen observer who is the narrator of Nicholson Baker’s dazzling 1988 novel, The Mezzanine, the plastic and paper straw were not interchangeable. Paper did not float. Plastic did: “How could the straw engineers have made so elementary a mistake, designing a straw that weighed less than the sugar-water in which it was intended to stand? Madness!”

    Baker’s narrator wonders why the big fast-food chains like McDonald’s didn’t pressure the straw engineers into fixing this weighting mistake. “[The chains] must have had whole departments dedicated to exacting concessions from Sweetheart and Marcal,” Baker writes.

    But there was a problem: lids, which had come into vogue. Plastic straws could push through the little + slits in the cap. Paper ones could not. The restaurant chains committed fully to plastic straws.

    Baker goes on to imagine the ramifications, painting a miniature portrait of the process of path-dependent technological choice, which has helped shape everything from the width of railroad tracks to the layout of your keyboard. The power players went plastic, so everyone had to go plastic. “Suddenly the paper-goods distributor was offering the small restaurants floating plastic straws and only floating plastic straws, and was saying that this was the way all the big chains were going,” Baker writes. Sometimes it all works. Other times, a small pleasure is lost, or a tiny headache is created: “In this way the quality of life, through nobody’s fault, went down an eighth of a notch.”

    I can’t prove that this was the precise series of events that took hold among straw engineers, cup distributors, and McDonald’s. Most corporate decision-making of this kind simply doesn’t stick in the nets of history. Yet these differences influence the texture of life every single day, and ever more so, as the owners of corporations become ever further removed from the products they sell. Let’s just say that the logic Baker describes, the way he imagines the development and consequences of these forgettable technologies, squares with the histories that we do know. The very straw engineers that Baker describes might well have been working in the plastics division of the Maryland Cup Corporation, owners of the Sweetheart brand.

    Baker was writing in the 1980s, when straws of all kinds had begun to proliferate, and the American economic system entered a period of intense consolidation and financialization. A key component of this new form of capitalism was the “leveraged buyout,” in which private-equity firms descended on old companies, sliced them up, took out huge amounts of debt, and sold off the various components, “unlocking value” for their investors. You might remember this was how Mitt Romney made his fortune. Matt Taibbi described the model in acerbic but not inaccurate terms: “A man makes a $250 million fortune loading up companies with debt and then extracting million-dollar fees from those same companies, in exchange for the generous service of telling them who needs to be fired in order to finance the debt payments he saddled them with in the first place.”

    Global competition and offshoring enabled by containerized trade was responsible for some of the trouble American manufacturing encountered in the 1970s and 1980s. But the wholesale restructuring of the economy by private-equity firms to narrow the beneficiaries of business operations contributed mightily to the resentments still resounding through the country today. The straw, like everything else, was swept along for the ride.

    In the early 1980s, Maryland Cup’s family-linked executives were on the glide path to retirement. Eighty family members held about half the company’s stock. In 1983, the company had $656 million in revenue, $32 million in profits, and 10,000 employees. It was the biggest disposable-food-product manufacturer in the nation, an empire built on cups, straws, and plastic silverware. The family was ready to cash out.

    The big paper and food companies circled Maryland Cup, but it was eventually sold for $534 million to Fort Howard, a paper company that had gone public in the early ’70s, and began to aggressively expand beyond its Wisconsin base.

    The sale was a boon for Maryland Cup’s shareholders, but the company did not fare well under the new management. Following the transaction, the Baltimore Sun relates, Maryland Cup executives flew to dinner with Fort Howard’s hard-charging CEO, Paul Schierl. He brought out a flip chart, on which he’d written the company’s “old” values—“service, quality, responding to customers.” He turned the page to show the company’s “new” values—“profits, profits, profits.” It’s like a scene out of Tommy Boy, or a socialist’s fever dream.

    Fort Howard forced deep cuts on the company. Some longtime managers quit. The trappings of the family company went out the window. No more executives dressing up as Santa Claus or local charitable contributions. And while Fort Howard was cutting people, it invested in expanding the company’s factories. This was just business. Schierl literally appeared at a sales meeting in a devil’s mask.

    Maryland Cup’s struggles intensified after the wave of departures that followed the acquisition. It needed customer volume to keep its new, bigger plants running, so Fort Howard snatched up the Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation in 1986 for another $332 million. Surely there would be synergies. More layoffs came.

    Two years later, the private-equity guys struck. Morgan Stanley, which had helped broker Fort Howard’s deals, swept in and snatched the company for $3.9 billion in one of those famed leveraged buyouts. The whole enterprise was swept off the public markets and into their hands.

    One of their moves was to spin out the cup business as Sweetheart Holdings—along with a boatload of debt jettisoned out of Fort Howard. Just eight years inside Fort Howard and a turn through the private-equity wringer had turned a profitable company into one that still made money on operations in 1991, but was $95 million in the red because it was so loaded up with debt.

    The company made layoffs across the country. Retirement health-care benefits were cut, leaving older employees so livid they filed a class-action lawsuit. A huge Wilmington factory closed after McDonald’s got rid of its plastic clamshell packaging for hamburgers, citing environmental concerns over plastic.

    In 1993, the company was sold again to a different investment group, American Industrial Partners. Eventually, it was sold yet again to the Solo Cup Company, makers of one-third of the materials necessary for beer pong. And finally, in 2012, Solo was itself sold to Dart Container, a family-owned packaging company that sells a vast array of straws under the Solo brand.

    Fort Howard continued on, going back public in 1995, then merging with another paper company, James River, in 1997, to become Fort James. Just three years later, an even bigger paper company, Georgia Pacific, snatched up the combined entity. In 2005, Koch Industries bought the shares of all the companies, taking the company back private. They still make straws.

    While bulk capitalism pushes hundreds of millions of plain plastic straws through the American food system, there are also thousands of variations on the straw now, from the “krazy” whirling neon kind to a new natural straw made from rye stalks advertised on Kickstarter (the entrepreneur calls them “Straw Straws”). There are old-school paper straws and newfangled compostable plastic straws. Stone Straw, founded by the inventor of the artificial straw, even survives in some form as the straw-distributing subsidiary of a Canadian manufacturing concern. Basically, there’s never been a better time to be a straw consumer.

    Meanwhile, the country has shed manufacturing jobs for decades, straws contribute their share to a dire global environmental disaster, the economy continues to concentrate wealth among the very richest, and the sodas that pass through the nation’s straws are contributing to an obesity epidemic that threatens to erase many of the public health gains that were won in the 20th century. Local governments may legislate the use of the plastic straw, but they can’t do a thing about the vast system that’s attached to the straw, which created first disposable products, then companies, and finally people.

    The straw is the opposite of special. History has flowed around and through it, like thousands of other bits of material culture. What’s happened to the straw might not even be worth comment, and certainly not essay. But if it’s not clear by now, straws, in this story, are us, inevitable vessels of the times in which we live.

    #USA #histoire #capitalisme #alimentation #plastique

  • National Geographic’s 2018 photo contest winner shows stunning aerial view of the desert
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2018/12/grand-prize-winner-photo-contest-environment-cars-mojave-desert-

    thousands of Volkswagen and Audi cars sitting idle in the Mojave Desert near Victorville, California.

    #photograph by Jassen Todorov, 2018 National Geographic photo contest

    #ghost #dieselgate

  • U.S. Was Right to Give China’s Navy the Boot - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-08-02/u-s-was-right-to-give-china-s-navy-the-boot

    By James Stavridis
    [ex-SACEUR]

    The vast annual military operation known as the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (simply #RIMPAC in Pentagon jargon) just concluded on the beaches of Southern California with a huge demonstration of an amphibious assault, which involves sending troops ashore from warships at sea — a highly complex maneuver whether D-Day or present day.

    The exercise is held every two years all over the Pacific Basin, and is the largest international maritime exercise in the world. It is globally regarded by naval officers as the Olympic Games of naval power. Run by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which is headquartered in Pearl Harbor, it normally includes warships and troops from every branch of the U.S. armed forces, and those of than 20 foreign nations.
    […]
    But this year, in a break with recent tradition, China was “disinvited” in May because of its militarization of a variety of artificial islands in the volatile #South_China_sea, where it is sending troops and setting up combat-aircraft, runways and missile systems. There was also a distinct undercurrent of opposition to China’s presence by the Donald Trump administration, which sensibly criticizes Beijing for trade practices and theft of intellectual property.

    While I’ve repeatedly criticized Trump for his dealings with allies and foes, cutting Beijing “out of the pattern” this year was the right decision. It deprived China of not only the chance to observe and learn about allied naval practices, but also of the prestige of engaging with the top navies in the world. The increasing involvement of India — the obvious strategic counterweight to China — as well as this year’s addition of Vietnam — a growing naval actor deeply concerned about Chinese dominance in the South China Sea — sends a powerful signal.

    #mer_de_Chine_méridionale

  • MapLab: The Cartography of Chaos - CityLab
    https://www.citylab.com/design/2018/04/maplab-the-cartography-of-chaos/558875

    Compass points: order and disorder

    Once upon a time, in many a glove compartment around Los Angeles County, you’d find a Thomas Guide: 600-plus pages of street maps of the Southern California metropolis. Issued in annual editions from the late 1940s through the 2000s, the quintessential street atlases made L.A. sprawl navigable for fresh arrivals and lifers alike. Locals would memorize the Thomas Guide page numbers and coordinates of their homes and gave directions that way. Though he rarely needed to open it, my own dad kept a curled-edge copy tucked behind his passenger’s seat, like a talisman against wayward turns.

    #cartographie_du_chaos #cartographie

  • Des employés de Disneyland réclament des salaires leur permettant de « vivre » Belga - 15 Juin 2018 - RTBF
    https://www.rtbf.be/info/societe/detail_des-employes-de-disneyland-reclament-des-salaires-leur-permettant-de-viv

    Manifestation, pétition : les employés du parc d’attraction Disneyland en Californie font monter la pression sur le géant du divertissement pour réclamer des salaires leur « permettant de vivre », Disney dénonçant de son côté une « mise en scène politique ».


    Une lettre signée par plus de 120.000 personnes d’après le site de pétitions Actionnetwork.org https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-disney-ceo-pay-your-workers-a-living-wage?nowrapper=true&referre a été remise à la direction du groupe vendredi. La veille, des centaines d’employés de « l’endroit le plus heureux du monde » _surnom du célèbre parc ont manifesté dans le site d’Anaheim, au sud de Los Angeles, a affirmé le syndicat SEIU qui a diffusé des vidéos de ce rassemblement sur les réseaux sociaux.

    « Les bénéfices de Disney n’apparaissent pas par magie : ils sont gagnés par les employés qui travaillent dur pour s’assurer que les visiteurs bénéficient d’une agréable expérience » et « devraient être partagés », dénonce la lettre, qui souligne que la multinationale va bénéficier « de retombées de 1,5 milliard de dollars des baisses d’impôts » _ de l’administration Trump. Les derniers résultats trimestriels du groupe affichaient un bond des bénéfices de 23% sur un an, notamment grâce à la bonne santé des parcs d’attraction.

    Une étude de l’université californienne Occidental, publiée en début d’année, affirmait qu’un dixième des employés de Disneyland a été sans domicile fixe et que la majorité d’entre eux ne pouvait se payer trois repas quotidiens. Disney qualifie cette enquête d’"inexacte" et biaisée, ajoutant que la crise du logement et des SDF en Californie dépasse largement le cadre du parc d’attraction.

    Verser au moins 15 dollars de l’heure
    Les syndicats représentant les employés de Disneyland ont aussi déposé une pétition auprès des autorités du comté d’Orange, où se trouve Anaheim, pour demander un référendum visant à forcer les principaux employeurs de la ville -Disneyland est le premier avec 30.000 travailleurs- à verser au moins 15 dollars de l’heure à leurs salariés à partir de 2019, 18 dollars d’ici 2022.

    Disney affirme qu’une telle mesure « aurait des conséquences graves et non souhaitées » sur l’emploi, qu’il paie déjà ses salariés au-dessus du salaire minimal et a proposé aux syndicats une augmentation de ses taux horaires planchers de 36% en trois ans pour 9500 employés.

    Cela les ferait passer de 11 dollars actuellement à 15 dollars de l’heure d’ici 2020, « deux ans avant le relèvement obligatoire en Californie » du salaire minimum à 15 dollars. Ce serait l’une des augmentations « les plus fortes dans l’histoire du groupe », insiste Disney, qui se targue d’avoir créé 10.000 nouveaux emplois en une décennie.

     #disney #disneyland #pauvreté #économie #travail #états-unis #stopDisneyPoverty

    • 120,697 Signatures Collected : Tell Disney CEO : Pay your workers a living wage Actionnetwork.org - 15 Juin 2018
      https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-disney-ceo-pay-your-workers-a-living-wage?nowrapper=true&referre

      To: Disney CEO, Robert Iger 
From:
      [Your Name]

      Workers are the backbone of Disney’s theme parks, and they deserve to be paid fairly so they can afford a good quality of life. Disney’s profits do not magically appear — they’re gained by the employees who work hard to ensure that visitors have a joyful experience. And these profits should be shared with the people who make them happen.

      And now Disney is getting a $1.5 billion a year windfall from the Trump-GOP tax cuts. This is your opportunity to lead by example and do the just and moral thing for the workers who make Disney a special place to visit. Workers should not be forced to sleep in their cars because Disney pays them so little. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They deserve a living wage.

      Every year, Walt Disney Co. profits tens of billions of dollars, including earnings directly from their Disney theme parks. The corporation even receives subsidies from the city of Anaheim at Disneyland in California. But their workers still aren’t being paid a living wage.

      Disneyland employees report that they struggle to make ends meet and pay for basic necessities as a result of pay cuts and low wages; two-thirds don’t have enough food to eat and 1 in 10 have recently been homeless. Meanwhile, Disney’s CEO, Robert Iger, reportedly made over $36 million in 2017 alone, and over the next four years will make the same as 6,178 of his employees. Where is the justice?

      Plus, thanks to the Trump-GOP tax cuts, Disney is raking in another $1.5 billion in profits this year but is sharing just one-tenth of that amount with its workers in one-time bonuses.

      A coalition of workers and unions in Southern California have come together to propose a ballot measure that will raise wages for workers of hospitality businesses like Disney to $18 an hour by 2022. But profit-hungry local entities like the California Restaurant Association and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce don’t want this to pass. They’re more concerned with generating revenue and future profits than they are with their workers’ quality of life and eradicating income inequality.

      Workers at the “happiest place on earth” deserve to earn livable wages that reflect how hard they work. And Disney’s profits and anticipated $1.5 Billion in tax cuts annually are more than sufficient to provide much-needed wage hike to its employees. Sign now to demand that Disney CEO Robert Iger end the culture of greed and guarantee Disney workers a living wage.

  • MapLab: The Cartography of Chaos - CityLab

    https://www.citylab.com/design/2018/04/maplab-the-cartography-of-chaos/558875

    https://cdn.citylab.com/media/img/citylab/2018/04/Screen_Shot_2018_04_25_at_1.51.39_PM/facebook.png?1524678823

    Compass points: order and disorder

    Once upon a time, in many a glove compartment around Los Angeles County, you’d find a Thomas Guide: 600-plus pages of street maps of the Southern California metropolis. Issued in annual editions from the late 1940s through the 2000s, the quintessential street atlases made L.A. sprawl navigable for fresh arrivals and lifers alike. Locals would memorize the Thomas Guide page numbers and coordinates of their homes and gave directions that way. Though he rarely needed to open it, my own dad kept a curled-edge copy tucked behind his passenger’s seat, like a talisman against wayward turns.

    #cartographie #cartographie_du_chaos

  • Norman Finkelstein, 2 jours avant le début des manifestations de Gaza:
    https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/hopeless-in-gaza-a-talk-with-scholar-norman-finkelstein

    “The nadir of the Palestinian struggle is now,” says distinguished but controversial scholar Norman G. Finkelstein. He spoke on March 26 at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “Nothing is happening there in Palestine. There is no mass resistance.”

    Aujourd’hui:
    Something Is Happening in #Gaza! (Stay tuned) - Norman G. Finkelstein
    http://normanfinkelstein.com/2018/04/05/something-is-happening-in-gaza-stay-tuned

    Many to this website have wondered why I am missing in action. Rest assured, I’m not. I am working 24/7 to make this mass nonviolent resistance succeed.

  • How the most vulnerable workers are targeted for sexual abuse | News | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/13/how-the-most-vulnerable-workers-are-targeted-for-sexual-abuse

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/f94a26f2524e5a9785af6bd1144b99ec2dffa2d5/587_440_3624_2174/master/3624.png?w=1200&h=630&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=crop&crop=faces%2Centrop

    How the most vulnerable workers are targeted for sexual abuse

    Isolated, unprotected and scared to speak out – some workers are particularly vulnerable to harassment. Who finds the cases of sexual assault no one else is looking for?

    By Bernice Yeung

    The southern California sky dims as Vicky Márquez zooms south along Interstate 5 in her Honda SUV, with syrupy Spanish-language love songs blasting from her stereo. The satnav on her phone is directing her through a monotonous landscape of Orange County office parks, and Márquez is racing against rush hour, dodging between lanes and swerving with inches to spare. “I’m kind of a crazy driver,” she admits.

    Márquez works for a little-known non-profit organisation with the pressing goal of fighting labour exploitation among night-shift janitors – an industry that operates in obscurity, with workers sent to anonymous buildings rarely visited by government regulators. With her glasses, curled-under fringe and pastel sweater, Márquez looks more like a retired librarian than a labour rights activist. On tiptoe, she stands under 5ft tall. On this particular late winter evening, Márquez is on the road to the first of half a dozen office parks where she will make surprise visits, making sure that cleaners are being treated fairly by their bosses.

    #viol #harcèlement_sexuel #travail_précaire #vulnérabilité

  • Antonio Damasio Tells Us Why Pain Is Necessary - Issue 56 : Perspective
    http://nautil.us/issue/56/perspective/antonio-damasio-tells-us-why-pain-is-necessary

    Following Oliver Sacks, Antonio Damasio may be the neuroscientist whose popular books have done the most to inform readers about the biological machinery in our heads, how it generates thoughts and emotions, creates a self to cling to, and a sense of transcendence to escape by. But since he published Descartes’ Error in 1994, Damasio has been concerned that a central thesis in his books, that brains don’t define us, has been muted by research that states how much they do. To Damasio’s dismay, the view of the human brain as a computer, the command center of the body, has become lodged in popular culture. In his new book, The Strange Order of Things, Damasio, a professor of neuroscience and the director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, mounts (...)

  • Hashtag | WP

    #Hashtag, #Metadata_tag
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashtag

    #Mot-dièse, marqueur de #métadonnées
    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashtag

    #Meta-Kommentierung
    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashtag

    [...]

    The pound sign [hashtag /oAnth] was adopted for use within IRC networks circa 1988 to label groups and topics.[9] Channels or topics that are available across an entire IRC network are prefixed with a hash symbol # (as opposed to those local to a server, which use an ampersand ‘&’).[10]

    The use of the pound sign in IRC inspired[11] Chris Messina to propose a similar system to be used on Twitter to tag topics of interest on the #microblogging network.[12] He posted the first hashtag on Twitter:

    How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
    — Chris Messina, ("factoryjoe"), August 23, 2007[13]

    Messina’s suggestion to use the hashtag was not adopted by Twitter, but the practice took off after hashtags were widely used in tweets relating to the 2007 San Diego forest fires in Southern California.[14][15]

    According to Messina, he suggested use of the hashtag to make it easy for “lay” users to search for content and find specific relevant updates; they are for people who do not have the technological knowledge to navigate the site. Therefore, the hashtag “was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages." [16]

    Internationally, the hashtag became a practice of writing style for Twitter posts during the 2009–2010 Iranian election protests; Twitter users inside and outside Iran used both English- and Persian-language hashtags in communications during the events.[17]

    The first published use of the term “hash tag” was in a blog post by Stowe Boyd, “Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings,”[18] on August 26, 2007, according to lexicographer Ben Zimmer, chair of the American Dialect Society’s New Words Committee.

    Beginning July 2, 2009,[19] Twitter began to #hyperlink all hashtags in tweets to Twitter search results for the hashtagged word (and for the standard spelling of commonly misspelled words). In 2010, Twitter introduced “Trending Topics” on the Twitter front page, displaying hashtags that are rapidly becoming popular. Twitter has an algorithm to tackle attempts to spam the trending list and ensure that hashtags trend naturally.[20]

    Although the hashtag started out most popularly on Twitter as the main social media platform for this use, the use has extended to other social media sites including Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, and Google+.[21]

    […]

    #Style

    On #microblogging or #social_networking sites, hashtags can be inserted anywhere within a sentence, either preceding it, following it as a postscript, or being included as a word within the sentence (e.g. “It is [hushtag]sunny today”).

    The quantity of hashtags used in a post or tweet is just as important as the types of hashtags used. It is currently considered acceptable to tag a post once when contributing to a specific conversation. Two hashtags are considered acceptable when adding a location to the conversation. Three hashtags are seen by some as the “absolute maximum”, and any contribution exceeding this risks “raising the ire of the community.”[24]

    As well as frustrating other users, the misuse of hashtags can lead to account suspensions. Twitter warns that adding hashtags to unrelated tweets, or repeated use of the same hashtag without adding to a conversation, could cause an account to be filtered from search, or even suspended.

    […]

    via https://diasp.eu/p/5930657

    #histoire_numérique #signe_fonctionel #fonction_formatique #usage #réseaux_sociaux #métadonnées

  • Truck-driving is a modern form of indentured slavery / Boing Boing
    http://boingboing.net/2017/06/21/pacific-9-transportation.html

    The current situation stems from a California rule that banned out-of-date, polluting diesel trucks from its ports. Trucking companies bought all-new trucks with better emissions profiles, then forced their workers to sign contracts through which they assumed all debt for this new fleet, with payments to be taken from their paychecks. The workers were made to sign on pain of immediate termination, without access to a lawyer or advisor, and many didn’t speak or read English well enough to understand the contracts.

    Rigged. Forced into debt. Worked past exhaustion. Left with nothing. - USA TODAY
    https://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/news/rigged-forced-into-debt-worked-past-exhaustion-left-with-nothing

    A yearlong investigation by the USA TODAY Network found that port trucking companies in southern California have spent the past decade forcing drivers to finance their own trucks by taking on debt they could not afford. Companies then used that debt as leverage to extract forced labor and trap drivers in jobs that left them destitute.

    If a driver quit, the company seized his truck and kept everything he had paid towards owning it.

    If drivers missed payments, or if they got sick or became too exhausted to go on, their companies fired them and kept everything. Then they turned around and leased the trucks to someone else.

    Drivers who manage to hang on to their jobs sometimes end up owing money to their employers – essentially working for free. Reporters identified seven different companies that have told their employees they owe money at week’s end.

    #USA #Ausbeutung #LKW #Arbeit

  • How California’s Greenhouse Gas Laws Can Better Serve Disadvantaged Communities · Global Voices

    https://globalvoices.org/2017/05/11/how-californias-greenhouse-gas-laws-can-better-serve-disadvantaged-com

    It was a time of year that should have been perfect.

    Warming temperatures marked Southern California’s gentle return to spring. The grass had shifted from drab to glowing green. The sky, which can be pale and hard in winter, had softened to a gentler blue.

    At the John Mendez Baseball Park in Los Angeles’ Wilmington neighborhood, the air rang with the sounds of batting practice. Nearby, people had brought their children to run on the green grass and play.

    #pollution #climat #envirronement #co2 #californie #états-unis

  • Stereolepis gigas

    Giant sea bass reaching a size of 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and a weight of up to 255 kg (562 lbs) have been reported. However, in Charles F. Holder’s book The Channel Islands of California, published in 1910, the author claims specimens taken from the Gulf of California attained 800 lb (360 kg). Aside from its tremendous size, the giant sea bass is also known for its lengthy lifespan. They mature around the age of 11 or 12, around the weight of 50 lb. However, some of the largest specimens have been known to exceed 7 ft, and are estimated to be 75 years or older.[2]

    In the eastern North Pacific, its range is from Humboldt Bay, California, to the Gulf of California, Mexico, most common from Point Conception southward. It usually stays in relatively shallow water, near kelp forests, drop-offs, or rocky bottoms and sand or mudflats.

    Giant sea bass were once a relatively common inhabitant of Southern California waters, yet in the 1980s, it was facing the threat of local extinction off the California coast. Beginning in the late 19th century, the species supported both a commercial fishery taking hundreds of thousands of pounds annually, and a sport fishery that also landed hundreds of fish each year.

    Giant Sea Bass were also a popular “big game” quarry for both freediving and scuba spearfishermen. In the 1970s, spearfishing for this species was made illegal by the California Department of Fish and Game. One unfortunate incident precipitated this abrupt change in the law. Several freedivers had taken 7 fish at Santa Cruz Island. Unable to eat nearly a ton of fish, they sold the fish illegally to a fish market in San Pedro. Fish and Game wardens discovered that the fish had been speared by observing the holes and slip tips left behind in their bodies.[3]

    By the late 1970s, biologists with the California Department of Fish and Game, recognized that the local population of giant sea bass was in trouble. Actions were taken, resulting in protection from commercial and sport fishing that went into effect in 1982. As of 2004, it is suggested that the population size of Giant Sea Bass in California may be increasing as it is under protection; however, there is no hard data to support it.

    #pêche #malealphisme #compétions #virilité #sport #extinction

  • National Interagency Fire Center
    https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm

    Wildfires remain active throughout the West which includes 11 new large fires. Firefighters contained four fires including the Blue Cut Fire in southern California.

    The majority of the fire activity has occurred throughout the western states. Surprisingly, the state with the most acres burned this year is Oklahoma with nearly 700,000 acres burned. Alaska has the second most with nearly 500,000 acres and California third with close to 380,000.

    #incendies #climat #sécheresse #aménagement_du_territoire

  • Yet another huge wildfire is consuming southern California - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/08/17/yet-another-huge-wildfire-is-consuming-southern-california/?tid=sm_tw

    As firefighters began to finally contain a huge wildfire in northern California, an even larger monster erupted in the southern half of the state, forcing major highways to be closed and schools shuttered as flames devoured homes. More than 82,000 residents were ordered to evacuate.

    The so-called Blue Cut fire in rural San Bernardino County, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, started late Tuesday and, accelerated by drought-parched vegetation and breezy winds amid triple-digit temperatures, grew so fast Wednesday that sheriffs deputies raced door-to-door to move residents out of its path. As of 9 a.m. Pacific time Wednesday, the 30,000-acre fire was burning out of control with zero percent containment.

    #Californie #incendies #sécheresse #climat #anthropocène

  • Greenland witnessed its highest June temperature ever recorded on Thursday - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/06/10/greenland-witnessed-its-highest-june-temperature-ever-recorded-on-th
    https://images.washingtonpost.com/?url=http://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/files/2016/06/greenland-thumb.png&w=1484&op=resize&opt=1&filter=antialias

    Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, soared to 75 degrees (24 Celsius) Thursday, marking the warmest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic country during June. Nuuk sits on Greenland’s southwest coast, where the country’s warmest weather typically occurs.

    It was warmer in Nuuk than it was in New York City, where the high was only 71 degrees.

    The Danish Meteorological Institute has confirmed on a preliminary basis that the Nuuk measurement would replace the previous record of 73.8 degrees (23.2 Celsius), which was set in Kangerlussuaq on June 15 in 2014. That temperature was also recorded in southwest Greenland about 200 miles (320 km) north of Nuuk.

    John Cappelen, a senior climatologist at the DMI, told The Washington Post that the warm weather was brought on by winds from the east that set up between high pressure over northeast Greenland and low pressure south of Greenland. When winds come from the east over Nuuk, they blow downhill, which leads to an increase in temperature. This is the result of adiabatic warming, where air is compressed from low pressure (at the top of a mountain) to high pressure (at sea level). It’s the same kind of dry warmth that occurs as a result of Santa Ana winds in Southern California.

    Thursday’s toasty reading in Nuuk marks the second exceptionally warm temperature recorded in southwest Greenland since April, when the ice melt season began about a month prematurely.

    #climat #cartographie

  • The one thing rich parents do for their kids that makes all the difference
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/05/10/the-incredible-impact-of-rich-parents-fighting-to-live-by-the-very-b

    Wealthy parents are famously pouring more and more into their children, widening the gap in who has access to piano lessons and math tutors and French language camp. The biggest investment the rich can make in their kids, though — one with equally profound consequences for the poor — has less to do with “enrichment” than real estate.

    They can buy their children pricey homes in nice neighborhoods with good school districts.

    “Forty to fifty years of social-science research tells us what an important context neighborhoods are, so buying a neighborhood is probably one of the most important things you can do for your kid,” says Ann Owens, a sociologist at the University of Southern California. “There’s mixed evidence on whether buying all this other stuff matters, to0. But buying a neighborhood basically provides huge advantages.”

  • Bridging the Gap Between Leadership and Management - gCaptain
    https://gcaptain.com/bridging-gap-leadership-management

    Management is getting people to do what needs to be done. Leadership is getting people to want to do what needs to be done. Managers push. Leaders pull. Managers command. Leaders communicate.
    Warren Bennis, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California.

    Sometimes management becomes the overall focus for crewing. Management is an easier metric to track. Management fits into spreadsheets – meetings are held, deadlines are met, maintenance is done, schedules are followed. Management is clean, neat and easy.

    Leadership is not so easy to track. It more difficult to rate how motivated the team is, how happy they are in their work, and how well they are getting along together.

    There exists Leadership that lacks Management, and Management that lacks Leadership. Imagine working with a team where everyone is excited to be loading the first cargo, but the management is lacking… No one knows what needs to be done, or who is doing what first… nothing is organized, the equipment that was needed hadn’t been ordered…. This is a disaster of management.

    On the other side exists the disaster of leadership – the team hates their jobs, and all the people they are working with… they undermine each other, don’t teach or care about each other – but at least they have a schedule to keep to – Neither situation is a good one.

    Avec l’exemple mythique de #Shackelton

    • Tiens, pas d’occurrence d’Ernest Shackelton ici (en dehors de la visite de sa cabane http://seenthis.net/messages/130084 )

      Donc :

      Shackleton is reported to have hand-picked his crew – using the mythical advertisement – “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success

      Even if Shackleton did not use that advertisement to attract applicants for his crew, he is reputed to have attracted many more people who wanted to be part of his team than he needed. He led them through unfortunate circumstances, and they came through all of it. Shackleton’s vessel the #Endurance sank after being trapped in an ice flow in November of 1915. He then managed to get his crew to Elephant Island, where most of the crew remained. He and five others sailed an open-boat the 720-nautical-miles to South Georgia whaling stations, to get help. In the end the crew was evacuated from Elephant Island and only three lives were lost.