Weekend Thoughts - 10.15.16

Image  by  bernissimo , courtesy of  Creative Commons  licensing.

Image by bernissimo, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. Although for many years I strongly preferred physical books to eBook, as a recent Kindle adopter, I've really been enjoying the experience of reading eBooks. New data has come out showing that eBooks will most likely surpass print books in the U.S. over the next couple of years. In fact, while the print industry is currently worth $4.3 million more than the eBook industry, by 2018 the eBook industry is expected to be worth $800,000 more than the print industry. I've been voting in favor of print books in an annually-conducted poll asking whether readers will ever buy mostly eBooks for the past few years, but this will be the first year that I vote in favor of eBooks. Judging by the general trend, it looks like I may not be alone.

2. This article about how police surveillance is being used to target activists starts with a terrifying quote: "It goes without saying that speaking out against police violence or government overreach shouldn’t land you in a surveillance database. But it can, and it does." It turns out that police departments are using a social media surveillance tool named MediaSonar to identify people who are posting hash tags such as #BlackLivesMatter, #DontShoot, #ImUnarmed, #PoliceBrutality, and #ItsTimeForChange. Even more frightening, it seems that there have been no reports of public notice, debate, community input, lawmaker vote, or publicly-presented policies from the police on how they plan to use this technology. The dynamic that makes law enforcement's utilization of social media surveillance tools extremely ironic is that some nonviolent protesters are being labelled as potential threats and receiving violent treatment in response to advocating for peace.

3. When Playboy asked Stanley Kubrick about why life is worth living during a 1968 interview, the interviewer probably wasn't expecting this introspective off-the-cuff existential response regarding the meaninglessness of human life. The primary nut of Kubrick's answer is that since life is meaningless, we are possessed with the privilege and responsibility of creating our own meaning. I especially appreciate this quote that caps off his answer: "The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light."

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.