|Life, and Its Lessons | Another Noteworthy Year|
by noteworthy at 11:37 am EST, Dec 20, 2008
A revolution comes when what was taboo becomes mainstream.
Those that died of kuru were highly regarded as sources of food, because they had layers of fat which resembled pork. It was primarily the Fore women who took part in this ritual. Often they would feed morsels of brain to young children and elderly relatives.
What worry me are the problems that we will bequeath to our children.
You often learn who you are by realizing who you are not.
Perfection is the consolation of those who have nothing else.
It's not so much that there's something special about founders as that there's something missing in the lives of employees.
You should pick a fight, because bright people often yell at each other.
Someone needed to bring it, so I brought it.
If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.
Don't just not be evil. Be good.
Never ask anyone to do something that you wouldn't do.
Trust no one.
Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective.
I believe that there has to be a way to regularly impose some thoughtfulness, or at least calm, into modern life.
It's good to have a plan, but if something extraordinary comes your way, you should go for it.
I will, at all costs, avoid this generic procedure.
It will be an uphill, years-long struggle.
You can't stop what's coming.
Ideas take life when they are shared.
It's like The Education of Henry Adams, but about a peacemaker, a humanitarian, someone who deals with these broken places. It allows people to access him at the beginning of the book as an idealist and to learn with him in his moments of adaptation, to witness the mistakes he's making so that we don't have to make the mistakes ourselves.
This trip was going to be different. Out of the five of us that were going, three updated their wills and/or life insurance policies in the weeks before we left.
|Surveillance and Privacy | Another Noteworthy Year|
by noteworthy at 9:54 am EST, Dec 21, 2008
There's been much talk of late about the loss of privacy, but equally calamitous is its corollary, the loss of solitude.
Privacy, to me, is not about keeping my personal life hidden from other people. It's about sparing me from the intrusion of other people's personal lives.
Minor drama is the lifeblood of suburbs.
The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation's most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea's legal authority.
Unless there is some detail that I'm missing, this sounds positively Orwellian.
The larger point is that two parties are not in fact dividing over the issue of Executive power. Both parties seem to like more and more executive power just fine. They just have adopted different ways of achieving it. One can expect far more Congressional cooperation if a Democratic Congress is teamed with a Democratic President. The effective result may not be less Presidential power to run the National Surveillance State. It may be in fact be more.
How do you organize this in a way that protects an incredibly valuable asset in the United States but does it in a way that doesn't alarm reasonable people, and I underline reasonable people, in terms of civil liberties?
The question to ask is not, Are we safer? The question to ask is, Are we better off?
Focusing on the privacy of the average Joe in this way obscures the deeper threat that warrantless wiretaps pose to a democratic society.
I Could Tell You, But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me.
Though some federal appellate courts do not appear to require any degree of suspicion to justify a search, one federal district court stated categorically that all laptop searches conducted at the border require at least reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.
Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly.
Architecture matters a lot, and in subtle ways.
|Time and Solititude | Another Noteworthy Year|
by noteworthy at 9:14 am EST, Dec 22, 2008
"You Westerners have your watches," the leader observed. "But we Taliban have time."
Doing a job properly takes the time it takes.
There used to be a time if you didn't have money to buy something, you just didn't buy it.
In an increasingly transitory world, the cellphone is becoming the one fixed piece of our identity.
Citizenship requires a commitment of time and attention, a commitment people cannot make if they are lost to themselves in an ever-accelerating cycle of work and consumption.
There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.
Being in the water alone, surfing, sharpens a particular kind of concentration, an ability to agree with the ocean, to react with a force that is larger than you are.
One of the greatest compliments I have ever given anyone I dated is that being with him was like being alone.
Each additional happy friend increases a person's probability of being happy by about 9%.
The symphony of Manhattan Island is the kind of music people would pay good money to be able to silence, if only there were a switch.
"This place is really nice and tranquil."
For too long, the conventional wisdom has been that social conservatives are the upholders of family values, whereas liberals are the proponents of a polymorphous selfishness. This isn't true, and, every once in a while, liberals might point that out.
We are most human when we feel dull. Lolling around in a state of restlessness is one of life's greatest luxuries.
We are not stressed because we have no time, but rather, we have no time because we are stressed.
Staring blankly at the seat back in front of you for the entire flight is no longer permitted on my airline. If you have brought nothing to read, a book will be provided for your use, at a charge of fifty dollars.
Bookshelves are not for displaying books you've read.
|Beauty and Truth | Another Noteworthy Year|
by noteworthy at 9:47 am EST, Dec 23, 2008
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
He wore a crisp dress shirt the color of mint ice cream and a color-coordinated tie, which made him look like an insurance claims adjustor.
My audit group's Group Manager and his wife have an infant I can describe only as fierce. Its features seemed suggestions only. It had roughly as much face as a whale does. I did not like it at all.
garfield minus garfield
Cynicism will lead you to the truth. Or vice versa.
It's not about Truth so much as the illusion of truth.
I'm not saying we should stop, but I think we should at least examine which lies we tell and why.
Officials say some drivers are pretending to be out of gas, just so they can receive a precious, free gallon of fuel.
Stated reasons are often not the real reasons.
He seems to think that the facts speak for themselves. But facts never speak for themselves. We speak for them.
Unlike the laws of mathematics or science, wikitruth isn't based on principles such as consistency or observability. It's not even based on common sense or firsthand experience. Verifiability is really an appeal to authority--not the authority of truth, but the authority of other publications. Any other publication, really.
One of the great aesthetic legacies of the Soviet Union is the great wealth of magnificent propaganda posters it left behind.
One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo's fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl.
Quantum mechanics is the girl you meet at the poetry reading. Everyone thinks she's really interesting and people you don't know are obsessed about her. You go out. It turns out that she's pretty complicated and has some issues. Later, after you've broken up, you wonder if her ... [ Read More (0.1k in body) ]
|Terrorism and War | Another Noteworthy Year|
by noteworthy at 10:48 am EST, Dec 24, 2008
When Americans look back years from now, what will shame us most is that our country abandoned a bedrock principle of civilized nations: that torture is without exception wrong.
The reason that you have this principle is not to be soft on terrorism. It's because that's who we are. That's what we're protecting.
It's not about left or right, it's about right and wrong.
Limiting the CIA's interrogation methods to those in the Army field manual would be dangerous because the manual is publicly available and easily accessible on the Internet.
What if warriors -- or prisoners of war -- could selectively disable their pain sense -- or their sense of decency?
It didn't take long to understand why so many soldiers were taking antidepressants.
You can't beat the Axis if you get VD.
What a beautiful little war!
Other people's culture wars always look ridiculous.
A war born in spin has now reached its Lewis Carroll period.
The more Pakistanis I talked to, the more I came to believe that the most reasonable explanations were not necessarily the most plausible ones.
FRONTLINE goes to war with a platoon of National Guard soldiers to see the war through their eyes, as they filmed it using their own camcorders.
A sudden wail pierced the night sky. It was Slasher, an AC-130 gunship, firing bullets the size of Coke bottles.
In my opinion, the moral imperative at the end of every war is reconciliation.
Bush's War will be the definitive documentary analysis of one of the most challenging periods in the nation's history.
If the United States waits for a dramatic, 9/11-style attack on its critical infrastructure to act, it will be missing the real threat.
Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner passenger jet may have a serious security vulnerability in its onboard computer networks that could allow passengers to access the plane's control systems.
|Sensing, Memory, and Forgetting | Another Noteworthy Year|
by noteworthy at 10:44 am EST, Dec 25, 2008
What drives this rage for complacency, this desperate contentment?
I'm not thinking the way I used to think.
To think clearly is to be altruistic.
One in four of us have regular paranoid thoughts.
So many things these days are made to look at later. Why not just have the experience and remember it?
She wanted to understand how whole classes of people can get caught up in a shared worldview, to the point that they simply can't see.
Being "always on" is being always off, to something.
The problem is not the ignorance. The problem is the bliss.
In a selfish world, enlightened wisdom may be beyond the capacities of all states. But if there is any hope, it lies in a renewed understanding of the importance of values.
The amphetamine-assisted, physician-abetted social adjustment of yore is back as a mass phenomenon.
A motion picture essay which takes a revealing and shocking look at modern life and its imbalances.
The more we learn, the more capricious and imponderable lightning becomes.
Typography from the 1980s!
Gary Gygax, a pioneer of the imagination who transported a fantasy realm of wizards, goblins and elves onto millions of kitchen tables around the world through the game he helped create, Dungeons & Dragons, died Tuesday at his home in Lake Geneva, Wis. He was 69.
Where do computer files go when you die?
Like a Morricone-style dirge recorded by The Mamas and The Papas, Violent Femmes' cover of Gnarls Barkley's infamous "Crazy" is like nothing you've heard from the legendary alt-rock trio before.
What we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.
|Work and Money | Another Noteworthy Year|
by noteworthy at 8:42 am EST, Dec 26, 2008
Never has one generation spent so much of its children's wealth in such a short period of time with so little to show for it.
Get real or go home.
The greenest thing you can do in your kitchen is not tear it up and put in a new one.
The average Afghan spends one-fifth of his income on bribes.
Financial progress is about learning to deal with strangers in more complex ways.
It's payback time and the mood could get very ugly. Americans, to put it bluntly, have been conned.
The median household earned $48,201 in 2006, down from $49,244 in 1999, according to the US Census Bureau. It now looks as if a full decade may pass before most Americans receive a raise.
In our unending search for panaceas, we believe that happiness and "success" -- which, loosely translated, means money -- are the things to strive for. People are constantly surprised that, even though they have acquired material things, discontent still gnaws.
"Maybe this isn't the right heartless monolithic corporation for you."
"I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"
Now you can be the protagonist of the petroleum era: explore and drill around the world, corrupt politicians, stop alternative energies and increase the oil addiction. Be sure to have fun before the resources begin to deplete.
The meritocracy wasn't supposed to work this way.
Today I write not to gloat. Instead, I am writing to say goodbye.
DIY Yahoo! Resignation Letter
Erykah Badu, on Making It
Americans commuting patterns are changing fundamentally. Similar shifts in the way we work can't be far behind.
|Economics and Crisis | Another Noteworthy Year|
by noteworthy at 9:04 am EST, Dec 27, 2008
The dot-com crash of the early 2000s should have been followed by decades of soul-searching; instead, even before the old bubble had fully deflated, a new mania began to take hold on the foundation of our long-standing American faith that the wide expansion of home ownership can produce social harmony and national economic well-being.
American authorities may be deluding themselves into believing they can forestall the endgame of post-bubble adjustments. A more effective strategy would be to try to tilt the economy away from consumption and toward exports and long-needed investments in infrastructure.
To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.
The inflation may be severe, implying massive unjust redistributions and at least a temporary grave degradation in the price system's capacity to guide resource allocation. But even this is almost surely better than a depression.
Behind the recent bad news lurks a much deeper concern: The world economy is now being driven by a vast, secretive web of investments that might be out of anyone's control.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said falling U.S. home prices are "nowhere near the bottom" and the resulting market turmoil isn't showing signs of abating.
In the 2009 budget, the White House wants to cut about $200 billion from the government's medical programs for seniors and the poor. The longer-term picture is darker.
The rescue operation brings to mind John Kenneth Galbraith's dictum that in the United States, the only respectable form of socialism is socialism for the rich.
This was the largest two-day advance since 1987, and, more importantly, the rest of the entire list is populated by the Great Depression.
It was so obvious it was going to fall apart eventually. What is so amazing is how long it took to actually happen.
We need a serious recession in this country, and the government needs to get out of the way, and let it happen.
Watch the Case/Shiller HPI continue to plummet as delinquencies ... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]
|Politics and Government | Another Noteworthy Year|
by noteworthy at 8:49 am EST, Dec 28, 2008
Obama's favorite TV show is "The Wire."
"We don't subscribe to a marketplace of ideas."
First of all, we have said that whatever we do ... will be legal.
Over the last 20 years, every president has been a graduate of Yale.
In America we are currently living in a Kindergarchy, under rule by children.
Don't think I don't I tolerate gay people because I do. I tolerate them with all my heart.
This is the road to despotism. This is the fevered dream of theocracy. This is America.
"Never get into a wrestling match with a pig," Senator John McCain said. "You both get dirty, and the pig likes it."
In all his speeches, John McCain urges Americans to make sacrifices for a country that is both "an idea and a cause".
He is not asking them to suffer anything he would not suffer himself. But many voters would rather not suffer at all.
The Fathers hoped to create not a system of party government under a constitution but rather a constitutional government that would check and control parties.
He certainly had no choice but to resign (as he did on March 12th) if, as it seems, he broke the law. But that still leaves the bigger question of whether the law is an ass.
"In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working," Mr. Waxman said. "Absolutely, precisely," Mr. Greenspan replied.
|Technology and Progress | Another Noteworthy Year|
by noteworthy at 6:07 am EST, Dec 29, 2008
Until the late 18th century, parents took for granted their right to arrange their children's marriages and even, in many regions, to dissolve a marriage made without their permission.
Human beings do not like to think of themselves as animals.
Are We Giving Robots Too Much Power?
Scientists say that is very unlikely -- though they have done some checking just to make sure.
Theo Jansen is the Dutch creator of what he calls "Kinetic Sculptures," where nature and technology meet. Essentially these sculptures are robots powered by the wind only.
Fewer Americans now than at any time in the past half century believe they're moving forward in life.
We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization - a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.
Every now and then I meet someone in Manhattan who has never driven a car. I used to wonder at such people, but more and more I wonder at myself.
My existence, in short, costs the planet more than it can afford. This is not some handed-down moral stricture, nor any sort of guilty self-flagellation, but a simple recognition of fact. The consequences are obvious, and near enough now to see the warts on their noses. For my own future, as well as my children's, I must change.
Multitasking is dumbing us down and driving us crazy.
Sudo make me a sandwich.
Any technology that is going to have significant impact over the next 10 years is already at least 10 years old.
Sustainable growth is not the consequence of an unsustainable consumption boom but of the progress and diffusion of science, technology and innovation.
Just as surely as the SUV will yield to the hybrid, the half-pound-a-day ... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]