The following video provides a fascinating look into the gradual demise and transformation of the electronics giant Philips. Since I’ve seen the brand so much throughout my entire life, the video had a different impact on me even though the story is probably similar to that of many other older tech companies:

Interestingly, recent events have sparked attention in global politics to ASML, a major player in the microchip industry and one of the companies connected to Philips. See this article on policito.eu for information on the government’s announcement to impose new export restrictions on AML’s products to China.

In a review of William MacAskill’s book “Doing good better,” Amia Srinivasan writes about the conservative aspects of effective altruism as a social movement:

The subtitle of Doing Good Better promises ‘a radical new way to make a difference’; one of the organisers of the Googleplex conference declared that ‘effective altruism could be the last social movement we ever need.’ But effective altruism, so far at least, has been a conservative movement, calling us back to where we already are: the world as it is, our institutions as they are. MacAskill does not address the deep sources of global misery – international trade and finance, debt, nationalism, imperialism, racial and gender-based subordination, war, environmental degradation, corruption, exploitation of labour – or the forces that ensure its reproduction. Effective altruism doesn’t try to understand how power works, except to better align itself with it. In this sense it leaves everything just as it is. This is no doubt comforting to those who enjoy the status quo – and may in part account for the movement’s success.

Glenn Greenwald rightly points out the double standard on the coverage of the forced landing by Belarus of a passenger jet flying over its airspace to arrest a leading Belarusian opposition figure:

The blatant double standards the U.S. and Europe have endlessly tried to impose upon the world — whereby they are freely permitted to do exactly what they condemn when done by others — is not just a matter of standard lawlessness and hypocrisy. While there was extensive coverage in the Western press on the downing of Morales’ plane, there was not even a fraction of the media indignation expressed over the actions by their own governments as they are now conveying when the same is done by Belarus. In Western media discourse, only Bad Countries are capable of bad acts; the U.S. and its allies are capable, at worst, only of well-intentioned mistakes. Thus do the exact same actions by each side receive radically different narrative treatment from the Western press corps.

With the recent general election in the Netherlands, I became more interested in the political philosophies of prime minister Mark Rutte and his party the VDD. While it is sometimes argued that they do not have a real political vision, this article from Merijn Oudenampsen at De Groene makes clear some of their background:

Wie de huidige koers van de vvd en de toespraken van Rutte wil begrijpen, doet er goed aan om de publicaties van de toonaangevende vvd-denkers uit de jaren tachtig en negentig te lezen, zoals Frits Bolkestein, Paul Cliteur en Andreas Kinneging. De lezer treft hier een intellectuele tendens die in veel opzichten posities verdedigt die tegengesteld zijn aan die welke Rob Wijnberg met het liberalisme associeert. Deze conservatieve stroming verdedigt sociale en economische ongelijkheid en is sceptisch ten opzichte van verandering en vooruitgang. Zij benadrukt het beperkte menselijk kenvermogen en brengt de wet van onbedoelde effecten in stelling tegen de vooruitgangsoptimisten. Een pessimistisch mensbeeld staat in deze filosofie centraal, tezamen met een sterke nadruk op traditie en cultuur.

The following video from Deutsche Welle recalls why the supply of semiconductors have become geopolitical.

So as the coronavirus crisis reshapes supply and demand, chip companies are scrambling. And if there’s an industry that can’t simply ramp up production in a hurry, or ask clients to do without their product for a while, or shift around parts of their manufacturing rapidly, it’s the chip industry.

Politico reported on some new EU regulations which would restrict the exports of surveillance technologies by companies.

The update to EU rules, expected to be agreed within weeks, would set up a comprehensive EU list of technologies that governments can control through licensing. It would also increase due diligence obligations on companies to check if their goods can be used by their clients to violate human rights.

Eva Modebadze wrote an interesting article in relation to the current protests for abortion rights in Poland. The following is a quote from her article on foucaultblog, in which she recaps the argument on the interlinkages between the construction of gender, sexuality and the nation state:

Gender, sexuality and nationalism are all socially and culturally constructed in oppositions, sometimes not necessarily binary. The nation consists of sexed subjects who are part of culturally constructed hierarchies, and these relationships always involve power. By the control over sexuality and reproduction, the authority to define what is right and what is bad for the nation lies mainly within patriarchal notions of nationalism. Since nationalism is about difference, it is equally exclusive where hierarchies are constructed along the lines of gender, class, race or sexuality. The rise of nationalism enhances the politics of exclusion and takes different configurations in different settings.

An article from Kottke.org contrasts two examples infrastructural politics: the famous case of Robert Moses’s bridge to limit who can access a New York beach, and the recent controversies on the Trump administration trying to dismantle the US postal servervice ahead of the November elections:

The situation here is reversed — e.g. “it’s very hard to rebuild a bridge once it’s torn down” — but the lesson is the same. If you take mailboxes off the streets and junk sorting machines, it’s difficult to put them back, particularly when everyone’s baseline shifts over the next few months and the decreased capacity and delays are normalized (and then exploited for political advantage). Destroying the United States Post Office would be far easier and cheaper than rebuilding it.

In an interview with Bruno Latour by Nikolaj Schultz, Bruno Latour discusses why critical zone scientists have a different epistemology compared to other scientists:

Epistemologically, they are far from the other sciences that I have been following for many years. And since they underline the discrepancies between their observations and the chemical reactions, it means that they are redescribing and rematerializing the question of territory, which we simultaneously try to redescribe and rematerialize in political and social theory. This is also where there is a link between Lovelock’s discovery, the political question of geosocial classes and critical zones.

Read the full interview here.

An article on Vox by Terry Nguyen explains a recent rise in the use of a slideshow feature on the photo sharing platform Instagram to distribute messages of social justice by activists.

The 10-image carousel, which Instagram launched in 2017, has been repurposed by activists, independent artists, advocacy groups, and well-meaning individuals as a means to educate and inform the masses, one slide at a time. Consider it something like PowerPoint activism. Over the past few months, these slides have migrated their way into my Explore page or been reposted on Stories of my friends and followers; in fact, these posts became so popular that I encountered similar designs and sentiments across multiple Stories. The most striking graphics stood out in my feeds, almost like an advertisement.

The article further details how creators are “co-opting popular design aesthetics from brands” in order to draw attention to their slideshows.

Hu, who previously worked as the global design director for Nike Sportswear, had spent two weeks in June collaborating with two other artists to piece together copy, art, and design for a carousel on police abolition (he purposefully included a clear indication to swipe left on the first graphic). The artists sought to subvert Instagram’s algorithmic tendency to prioritize photographs by merging images of flowers and nature with informative text.

Read the full article here.