Today in Tabs: Crappiness Trumps Strategy

The police state is that way on purpose.

Today in Tabs: Crappiness Trumps Strategy
[Robots: via Gizmodo, Brain: Flickr user Allan Ajifo]

We live in an age of wonders, like a cheetah-inspired robot that can run up to 10 mph and jump half a meter, and one-size-fits-all clothing that fits literally no one. But “the sun also rises on those who fail the call,” sang Lana, and she could have been singing about Hebocon, the Japanese robot competition for “the technically ungifted”. Held this past summer, Hebocon featured 31 ill-conceived and ineptly-constructed robots attempting to push each other out of a ring, or, failing that (which they mostly did), at least avoid falling out of the ring themselves.


Then a metaphor occurred

Entrants will need compromise and surrender, instead of ideas and technical skill,” said the Hebocon organizers, and that reminded me of something. Because, of course, yesterday a New York grand jury failed to indict the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death on both a Staten Island street and YouTube. This is, as the New York Times editorial board wrote, “grotesque and outrageous.” But it doesn’t indicate that our system is broken, as Albert Burneko pointed out in Deadspin:

Policing in America is not broken. The judicial system is not broken. American society is not broken. All are functioning perfectly… the public will demands and enables a whirring and efficient machine that does what it does for the benefit of those who own it. It processes black and brown bodies into white power.

That’s exactly right. This isn’t a failure, Mike Brown’s killer walking free wasn’t a failure. We built our systems this way on purpose. America is like this smiling box of motorized dildos: useless, embarrassing, and most of all, intentionally crappy. Except unlike that Japanese dildo-robot, America is also violent, heavily armed, and viciously racist. Maybe it’s time to stop letting our crappiness trump our strategy. Maybe it’s time for some ideas. Or, failing that, maybe it’s time to get a lot better at building robots and hope they can make better choices than we have.

I think Bijan would like to say something about this too.


We saw the video. We heard the verdict. We shut down the streets.

Kwame Opam was there last night, and today he’s brought back a fiery dispatch from the crowd. Notably, the piece features a short meditation on the futility of technology and accountability in the face of white supremacy.  

Black and brown people are brutalized everyday. Black and brown people die. But how it happened should make us wonder how far systemized white supremacy can bend reality despite all our best efforts. After the marching and chanting, all I have are questions. Mainly, when is it enough?

When is it enough, when even the facts are ignored?

As Opam notes, millions became witnesses to the crime; that’s the beauty of the internet. A group of people invested with the power of the state has denied the evidence of their eyes, has denied a man his right to breathe. We live now in the chaotic aftermath.

Put another way,” Opam writes, “we were all just told that the Emperor is wearing clothes, and it has never been clearer that he is naked save for a Klansman’s hood.”

I’m calling it right now: this Sony hack is probably a marketing stunt for the new Seth Rogen movie and if so, it is the greatest hoax of all time. If not though, I have some bad news for you Adam Sandler. Kevin Roose has really been going after this story at Fusion, and news posts from Fusion are themselves always something of a surprise. Also at Fusion, Felix Salmon argues that the Sony salary list should be public but weirdly forgets to link to the public Fusion salary list. When you add the link Felix, make sure to update the list with new hires!

The missing University of Texas brains have been found (kind of?), and were apparently pretty worthless in the first place. The Gangnam Style view count has exceeded the 32-bit integer limit, speaking of worthless human brains. Ex-Wired writer Matt Hannah is going to Buzzfeed to run their SF bureau, congrats Mitt! Ann Marie Gardner is leaving Modern Farmer, sources say the goats are in charge now. Jazmine Hughes updated some classic poems, and here’s 13,000 words on how they designed the URL structure for BBC programmeeemeememee pages for Paul Ford to enjoy.

Today’s Christmas Toy: The Holiday Gif Exchange by @yurivictor


Today’s Video: Run the Jewels, “Oh My Darling (Don’t Cry)

Today’s Song: Lil Herb feat. Earl Sweatshirt, “Knucklehead

~My life, it comprises of losses and tabs and fails and falls~

Today in Tabs is not sure if today’s post is a complete fiasco. Please forgive me, if so. As always, we’re on FastCoLabs and in your email. If you listen to the radio, check out the Marketplace Morning Report tomorrow, because I will be on it talking about crappy robots I think.