Use Technology to Mobilize Your Community

computer screen
The current federal leadership in the USA has many people concerned about their rights and freedoms. If you’re one of those people you can use these technological tools to help you stand up and fight back. Newsweek, rather surprisingly, compiled a list of tech tools that can be used to mobilize communities or be used to fund campaigns you support. As always, be sure to protect your online privacy and maybe even your in-person privacy. With the recent revelation of the Vault 7 leaks to Wikileaks it’s more important than ever before to speak up and stay safe.

Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants aims to take down what it calls “racist” websites by attacking their ad dollars. Since many companies rely on programmatic advertising, they might not be aware of what sites their ads appear on. Thus, Sleeping Giants notifies companies, requesting that they take action and block the offending websites, or risk alienating their customers. So far, they claim over a thousand brands have committed to removing their ads from such sites.

5 Calls
This app aims to get even the most phone-shy people to call their elected representatives daily. 5 Calls automates the process, providing numbers to officials based on the user’s location and offers easy scripts to follow. It’s available on Apple and Android devices. If only there was an app like this for calling one’s parents.

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2017 is the Year to Quit Your Job

construction
Until we get something like universal basic income everybody will need to work. But why should you work in a job you don’t want?

James Altucher argues that this year, more than any previous year, is the right time to quit your job. Why? Because the robots will make us all unemployed and that starting your company has never been easier. If you are thinking of quitting your job or are looking for a new adventure maybe now is the time.

H) YOU DON’T NEED THE JOB TO BE HAPPY
Depression is highest in fully employed, first world countries. The two highest countries for depression? France and the United States.
We simply were not made to work 60 hours a week. Archaeologists figure that our paleo ancestors “worked” maybe 12 hours a week.
And then they would play, in order to keep up the skills needed to hunt and forage, etc.

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Thanks to the Flea!

Building a City From Mushrooms

forest and river

Climate change is destroying many parts of the world, which increases pressure on cities and farms to make more use of less space. Building flood walls will only buy so much time and the use of energy-intensive building materials contributes to faster climate change. This might sound like a catch-22, but it isn’t. We have other options for building our cities and using land: biomaterials.

Over at coDesign they look at the quickly growing biomaterials industry and what some companies are up to. It’s not inconceivable that in the near future we’ll be able to send robots into the desert to grow a city using mushrooms.

According to Bayer, this mycelium-based material is as structurally sound as—and priced similarly to—the materials they replace. He says the production can easily scale, as verified by the several partnerships they have with manufacturers, and he is confident that we will start seeing biomaterials replacing traditional building materials. But the process of actually getting these materials produced into the hands of construction companies—and convincing them to use them over the materials we’ve been using for centuries—remains challenging.

For Bayer, the largest and most prescient problem biomaterial makers face is getting the material out of the lab and into the factories of manufacturers who will incorporate it into existing product lines. “If we create bio products that are safe and healthy and get them out there so people can see what it is, that will create market pull,” he says. “We have to take it out from the lab and demonstrate [the science] to consumers with consumer-facing applications.”

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Move to the City for a Slow Life

Montreal

It’s often thought that cities are buys bustling places where nobody slows down. Sure, the streets are busier and there is more activity, but the city is a slow place for living. Arizona State University researchers looked into the lifestyles of urban dwellers and discovered that they are slower than people who live elsewhere. The slowness is all about when people hit particular moments of life and how they think about the future.

“Our findings are contrary to the notion that crowded places are chaotic and socially problematic,” said Oliver Sng, who led the research while a doctoral student at ASU and who now is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. “People who live in dense places seem to plan for the future more, prefer long-term romantic relationships, get married later in life, have fewer children and invest a lot in each child. They generally adopt an approach to life that values quality over quantity.”

Sng, with ASU Foundation Professor Steven Neuberg and ASU psychology professors Douglas Kenrick and Michael Varnum, used data from nations around the world and the 50 U.S. states to show that population density naturally correlates with these slow life strategies. Then, in a series of experiments (e.g., in which people read about increasing crowdedness or heard sounds of a crowded environment), they found that perceptions of crowdedness cause people to delay gratification and prefer slower, more long-term mating and parenting behaviors.

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Why Mining Matters and Why You Should Care

Despite our technological advances modern civilization relies on mineral resources just as much (if not more) than we did in the past. Our computers need rare earth material to work and other products need metals like aluminum. Recycling isn’t perfect and isn’t plentiful around the world. All of these factors contribute to our need for the mining industry. Unless we change our purchases we will continue to fund mining corporations.

The issue is that mining corporations aren’t good. Indeed, this article outlines why mining companies are problematic all the way from support from the Canadian military on how to run “domestic operations” to the outright theft and destruction of land. What can we do about this?

Obviously, the first thing you can do to help alleviate mining pressure on the world is to consume less. The second thing you can do is buy used goods, then lastly recycle. The saying “reduce, reuse, recycle” is in that order for a reason.

For a more direct approach you can join the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network which is an organization focussed on making the world a better place. This week in Toronto there is a major mining convention and the MISN is there trying to (ironically) disrupt it and educate people. The first step to positive change is knowing that it’s needed and that’s what MISN is trying to do.

The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), organizes the world’s largest mining convention every year in Toronto in March and carries out lobbying efforts in favour of the Canadian mining industry throughout the rest of the year. They describe themself as “the leading voice of the mineral exploration and development community” and claim to encourage “best practices in technical, operational, environmental, safety and social performance”. Meanwhile, Canadian mining companies are far and away the worst offenders in environmental, human rights and other abuses around the world (according to a global study commissioned by PDAC itself but never made public).

The PDAC convention is dedicated to telling compelling stories about the mining industry’s successes and innovations, especially in the realm of “corporate social responsibility” and sustainability. But we know better! Let’s not let them get away with using this convention as yet another shiny PR opportunity to cover up industry harms and repress dissent.

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