Disruptive technologies like e-publishing and Uber taxis continue to reshape the marketplace. It’s still the wild west of tech innovation, which makes for apps that can’t talk to each other on the one hand, like when we drop manuscripts sent in Word into our layout, a completely different application; and privacy incursions on the other.

Uber is under scrutiny for the use of its “God View” tool, which turns the tables on Uber riders’ ability to track their incoming ride, allowing Uber execs to track the customers themselves, in real time, with exact GPS location.

If you haven’t been reading about Uber, it’s a service that connects people who need a taxi, to drivers who want to provide a ride in their own vehicle. Uber and its drivers pay for no taxi medallion and do not fall under the usual taxi and limo regulations, which has prompted some conventional taxi drivers to protest–a typical conversation around disruptive innovations, with both sides having merit.

Uber offers drivers huge flexibility to work when they wish, and accept jobs they want, but no union protections or benefits. Unlike licensed cabbies, they also have little up-front investment. Riders get the convenience of quick call-ups for a ride and sometimes they get lower prices, though when demand is high, Uber jacks up their unregulated rates to “surge” levels that can quadruple a fare.

In some ways it parallels the digital revolution in publishing, with conventional publishing houses resisting the shift that amazon and others have brought.

Graywolf editor Jeff Shotts could restore the faith of the worst cynic, when it comes to contemporary literature. His interview in Poets & Writers is the proverbial breath of fresh air.

Clearly, we’re not yet living in a post-racial society. And lest we nurse the illusion that sexism is dead: the Montana legislature has a new dress code which includes the pearl that women should be “sensitive to skirt lengths and necklines.” (Some headlines instantly cause me to picture John Stewart’s response.)

It’s not funny, but god do we need the laugh: Brian McFadden’s “Gift Guide for Torture Apologists.”

When the investigation of the 43 disappeared Mexican student teacher protesters lagged, organizers in the US decided that each individual missing student would be adopted by name by a city here. The idea was to personalize protest. I keep trying to peer into the Gitmo prisoners’ conditions in a similar, personalized manner. For instance, why can’t released prisoners simply go home, to the places from which they were forcibly abducted? Will they receive passports and be free to travel, wherever they wind up? How does one reconstruct a life, after a decade of false incarceration, torture, unimaginable deprivations and stresses?

Sometimes you don’t care about political pragmatism or the international optics, you just want the world to be pushed into a more fair and equitable arrangement. You want those responsible for war crimes to be punished for war crimes. For evil acts to have appropriate consequences. When these heinous crimes have been committed in our name, the urge for justice is a fever, and the lack of justice keeps us ill.

One psychologist who helped create the CIA torture program defends his position by saying it’s better than Obama’s use of drones. James Mitchell and his partner psychologist, Bruce Jessen, neither of whom had experience in interrogation of any sort, earned $81 million for their help in designing the torture program.

It’s beyond disheartening to even use the phrase “torture program” in the context of contemporary US policy. I hate to be melodramatic, but reading these accounts gives me flashbacks to crematoria, to human experimentation and other tortures fomented by the Nazis. Should we be surprised that the Nuremberg defense of “just taking orders” has been offered by the perpetrators of this US policy?

The natural world is a reliable tonic for human foibles. The Geminids meteor shower should still be visible tonight, if you’re far enough away from ambient light and blessed with clear skies.

For such tiny specks in the cosmos, we humans are impressively messy, raging toddlers with no parents to prevent our despoiling the beautiful planet we call home.

Thanks to Greg Williams, author, and the Wikimedia Foundation for use of Greg’s Disruptive Technologies comic. If you click on the image you can see Greg’s entire comic.

with love,