A few spare links

Some more quick links:

Brett Scott points out that

‘Cashless society’ is a euphemism for the “ask-your-banks-for-permission-to-pay society”


The millennial whoop, the wah-oh-wah-oh sound that has become ubiquitous in the charts. If TV Tropes had a music section, this would take pride of place.

Rhizomatica: a project to build community cellphone infrastructure in places where commercial providers fear to tread.

Dataset: databases for lazy people

Friedrich is getting some much-deserved Reddit love for Dataset, his python library providing “

databases for lazy people

“. The idea is to allow you to build an SQL table from Python, with columns being auto-created as needed. It gives you all the power of SQL for free, without having to think about your data until you’ve got it in place.

It’s one of my favourite tools in the under-appreciated world of “

small data”.

I use it for exploratory data analysis, small scripts, and proof-of-concept applications. Most of the time I’m dealing with no more than a few million records, so I don’t need to think about optimizations. But I like the power and simplicity of SQL, and I’d much rather have my data in postgres than mongodb. Not least because I know that if I ever need to improve performance, I can easily add a few indexes and change some column types, and I’ll near-immediately be at a decently-performing database for most applications.

Chairs and Opium

An essay on the history of the chair finds devices on the borderline between deportment and torture:

During the nineteenth century, when primary education became obligatory and children spent more and more time sitting in the classroom, researchers proposed a variety of chair-desk combinations intended to improve posture. Some of the designs included seat belts, forehead restraints, and face rests, although it is hard to imagine that such Draconian devices were ever actually used.

And possibly the most hipster form of addiction: getting hooked on opium as a side-effect of collecting antique opium pipes:

I had this bright idea—bright at the time, I thought. I said to him, “Well, you’ve got this high-quality opium for smoking, the type that isn’t even being produced anymore. You’re the only one that’s got it, and I’ve got all this great, old paraphernalia, some of it in pristine condition.” So I asked him if he’d be interested in combining the two.

Situationism, and why I like it

I had a conversation earlier about Situationism earlier. I tried and failed to explain why Situationist ideas still get me high. They weren’t unique in theorizing a post-scarcity society. That was common at the end of the

Trente Glorieuses.

It seemed that the economy was on an ever-upward trajectory, and we hadn’t yet reached the society-wide application of Parkinson’s law, as increasingly obscure work expanded to fill the labour power available.

It’s the situationists, though, who will always stand out for me in their fervid, semi-coherent optimism. Also because their ideas resemble those bubbling through the collective unconscious of the most delightfully


communities I’ve encountered.

So at the risk  of posting Yet.Another.Manifesto, here’s a call to creativity:

Against the spectacle, the realized situationist culture introduces total participation.

Against preserved art, it is the organization of the directly lived moment.

Against unilateral art, situationist culture will be an art of dialogue, an art of interaction.

At a higher stage, everyone will become an artist, i.e., inseparably a producer-consumer of total culture creation, which will help the rapid dissolution of the linear criteria of novelty. Everyone will be a situationist so to speak, with a multidimensional inflation of tendencies, experiences, or radically different “schools” — not successively, but simultaneously.

If anybody is groping towards a manifesto for their life, you could do much worse that dedicating  yourself towards becoming a

total participant

in the

organization of the directly lived moment