Life360 is an app that lets you track a mobile phone user in
fine-grained, realtime detail, with options to set alert for things like
“is this person exceeding the speed limit?” It’s widely used by parents
to track their teens, and this seems to be the summer where it comes
into its own, with millions of families around the world relying on it
to act as a kind of remote leash for their kids.
In response, teens have begun to fill the meme-heavy, kid-centric social app Tiktok (previously) with short videos deploring Life360, offering tips for evading it, and complaining about how their parents use it.
Life360 is an excellent example of how the most important thing about a
tool isn’t what it does, but who it does it for and who it does it to.
My family uses a similar tool (built into Android) sometimes when we’re
at Disneyland: it means that if you want to split up and then rendezvous
later, you don’t have to call your kid to find out where they are
(which might be inside a ride, where they can’t answer the phone), and
instead, you can just head over and meet them. Similarly, when my
daughter first started walking home from school, we made an arrangement
that she’d text us when she left and turn on the location-tracker until
she got home, which reassured both her and us.
But expanding that into a system of fine-grained, continuous
surveillance that comes complete with alerts that warn you to call your
kids and give them hell if they go outside of a certain perimeter or are
inside a moving vehicle that exceeds the posted limit by 1mph turns a
convenience into a totalitarian nightmare.
And as with stalkerware,
this kind of thing is a godsend to abusers, who can automate much of
the labor that goes into being a creepy, violent, terrible person.
Meanwhile, Life360 makes a lot of its money by selling your kids’
private data to advertisers. And, ironically, Tiktok is also a
surveillance-heavy app with ties to the Chinese state and military.
Maybe this is just me being nit-picky, but how in the fuck does it even tell any of these things? Like, I know phones have GPS and accellerometers. But between how often I have to tell Pokemon Go that I’m a passenger when I’m sitting in my bed as my avatar is shot out to Kansas, and how often google maps is wrong about the posted speed limit (sometimes off by as much as 30mph), I don’t believe that this app can get accurate enough data for any of its alerts to actually be meaningful.
It’s not only a huge violation of privacy, it’s also going to give a lot of junk data that’s probably going to err on the side of false positives.
Spine © 2018 by Kevin Nance
ГРЁЗЫ – Moscow, 2016
Late night Shibuya //
Hit me up on instagram.com/agk42 for more
justcyborgthings:cipheramnesia:parisconstantine:Single Use StrawsOkay so the simple fact is a lot of…
Single Use Straws
Okay so the simple fact is a lot of people need them. Like, will slowly die of dehydration without them. There are multiple medical reasons why a person might need them.
Some governments are working on banning them. This is a problem.
But I wanted to say that I saw these supposedly biodegradable straws at Walmart that look very much likr plastic, supposedly aren’t plastic (I didn’t get to check what the deal was) and were even bendy straws! That’s great! If they function just like the bendy plastic straws, that’s great!
The problem still isn’t the individual user though. It’s corporations. Corporations are at fault for most of the plastic waste. So there’s that.
That’s kinda a problem with biodegradable straws though. They look like plastic, but they don’t function like plastic under all conditions, and affect a significant number of people with food allergies. Many of them don’t hold up for warm drinks, or let you use them for extended periods (like for example if you don’t want to drink a glass of water with one colossal sucking motion), and use corn or wheat as the base.
It is absolutely corporations fucking everyone, but they haven’t even developed an adequate replacement.
So I use plastics and bioplastics pretty frequently in my work. Particularly, I use PLA, which is what these straws are probably made of.
PLA, short for Poly(Lactic Acid) is actually a lactide polyester. It should be called Polylactide, but whatever.
As plastics go, there’s a reason it’s so popular in 3D printing and nowhere else. cypheramnesia up there mentioned a couple of the big obvious ones. The first is a double edged sword: low melting temperature. Technically, thermoplastic polymers don’t have melting temperatures, they just get more oozy as they get hotter. There’s no distinct phase change. That being said, PLA starts getting really shloopy around the temperature of boiling water. At 100C, thin pieces can’t hold themselves up, and start drooping as if they were made of wet paper or thin cotton. at 200C, they are a puddle. If you’re drinking anything hot, your straw will start to droop, and any suction you put on it will probably start deforming the tube.
The second issue with PLA is its origin. Yes, it’s just a chain of lactide, but the lactic acid that’s used to make that is generally derived from corn, and that corn comes through in the plastic. The good news is that melting PLA smells like popcorn. The bad news is that if you’re allergic to corn, you’re allergenic to PLA. You could, in theory, get your lactic acid from other sources, but corn is the cheapest and easiest, so that’s what we’re doing for now.
Now for the more interesting stuff: “… that look very much likr plastic, supposedly aren’t plastic”
It’s plastic. It’s a different kind of plastic. It’s probably not a petroleum based plastic. But it’s plastic. What they probably mean, is that it’s biodegradable/compostable and it won’t sit around for millions of years killing sea birds. This is only partially true. If your local waste management takes compost/yard trimmings, they probably are taking it to an industrial composter that’s basically a giant hot nasty stew that’s constantly being stirred. This can break down PLA. If you thrown your straw into the river and a fish eats it, the fish’s digestive system cannot break it down. Compostable is a spectrum, and PLA is kind of only barely on it.
Now for the good(?) news! You know how PLA is a polyester (because you have a short term memory)? Yeah, there are now bacteria that can break down most polyesters. Also nylon. Polymers (plastics) are just strings of organic molecules, not much different from starches or fats. In fact, some of the first polymers ever were basically glorified cotton. Everything eats everything, and it’s only a matter of time before the Great Pacific Garbage Patch becomes the Great Pacific Algea Bloom, and all those nylon fishing nets start rotting like old rope.
There is one law of nature: everything is eaten by something. The circle of life isn’t just for lions and antelopes, it’s also for fungi growing on the Elephant Foot in Chernobyl, tube worms living in underwater volcanoes in perpetual darkness or the Fire-bellied Snake that preys on poison dart frogs. It is our own hubris to believe that plastics could break that rule for so long unchallenged. It was only a matter of time before someone tried to take a bite of the substances we leave piles of everywhere and managed to digest it.