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Current Topic: Society

RE: The election is basically over.
Topic: Society 10:51 am EDT, Aug 30, 2008

Tsudohnimh wrote:
And Obama's experience is?

The backgrounds of both candidates are documented on Wikipedia.

I realize that "Obama's not experienced enough" is a Republican talking point, and there may even be some validity to that argument. Regardless, it seems the Republican party has drunk too much of their own koolaid. They have turned "Obama's not experienced enough" into "Obama has absolutely no qualifications" into "We should also nominate someone who has absolutely no qualifications, there is no difference, wheeeeeeee..."

Call this getting trapped by your own rhetoric. People who are not Republican koolaid drinkers may be sympathetic to the idea that Obama doesn't have enough experience but they aren't going to make the other two leaps of logic with you. You cannot hold up anybody you please regardless of their qualifications and claim there is no difference between nominating them and nominating Obama. This logic won't fly outside of partisan circles.

Partisan Republicans are going to vote for McCain regardless of what happens. The rest of us have to make a choice. Unfortunately, because Palin is not prepared to be President, McCain is no longer a serious option. That leaves Obama, or a protest vote with Bar.

RE: The election is basically over.


Do Social Networks Bring the End of Privacy?
Topic: Society 2:48 pm EDT, Aug 27, 2008

There are certainly some thought provoking issues here. Do you have a right to prevent websites (particularly blogs, wikipedia, etc) from hosting embarrassing information about you? Slanderous accusations that are completely false? Video taken of you without your permission? True facts that you simply would prefer remained private? Can these things impact your ability to obtain a job (yes)? How would you balance rules about this against people's right to freedom of speech?

I think this is a very difficult matter that will take a long time to figure out.

Daniel Solove, in Scientific American:

Young people share the most intimate details of personal life on social-networking Web sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, portending a realignment of the public and the private

From the archive:

If you work in privacy or data protection either from a technology or policy perspective, you need to read this book and understand Solove's approach.

Praise for The Future of Reputation:

"No one has thought more about the effects of the information age on privacy than Daniel Solove."
—Bruce Schneier

More recently:

Noooooo problem ... don't worry about privacy ... privacy is dead ... there's no privacy ... just more databases ... that's what you want ... that's what you NEED ... Buy my shit! Buy it -- give me money! Don't worry about the consequences ... there's no consequences. If you give me money, everything's going to be cool, okay? It's gonna be cool. Give me money. No consequences, no whammies, money. Money for me ... Money for me, databases for you.

Do Social Networks Bring the End of Privacy?


South Ossetia, The War of My Dreams
Topic: Society 9:24 am EDT, Aug 13, 2008

War Nerd:

There are three basic facts to keep in mind about the smokin’ little war in Ossetia:

1. The Georgians started it.
2. They lost.
3. What a beautiful little war!

For me, the most important is #3, the sheer beauty of the video clips that have already come out of this war. I’m in heaven right now.

South Ossetia, The War of My Dreams


RE: Keep the Cheap Wine Flowing - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog
Topic: Society 9:40 am EDT, Aug  5, 2008

CypherGhost wrote:

The bottom line is that in blind wine tastings, there is a zero or even slightly negative correlation between the ratings of regular people and the price of the wine they are drinking; for experts the relationship between rating and price is positive.

I enjoyed this short article, and the first blog post it links.

When my friend Mark first started exposing me to decent wine I was subject to numerous blind taste tests in which I was asked to select the more expensive bottle. I was consistently wrong when I first started. I am fooled less easily today, but wine is a very complicated thing and it takes a long time, and a lot of bottles, to get good at it and to have a good appreciation for a wide array of variatals. Thats part of what makes it fun. There is always something new to discover. Something else to learn.

There are some potential problems with running these kinds of blind taste tests particularly with two decanters that contain the same bottle. The first is that the character of a wine changes as it oxidates. If you had the same bottle appearing twice in a taste test, and you tried it first, just after it was opened, and then again after it had been sitting out for half an hour, it would taste much better the second time, particularly if it was higher quality or older.

The second is that your perception of wine is contextual. This is why people pair particular foods with particular kinds of wine, and why wine in general goes well with some kinds of food (like pasta) and terrible with other kinds (like hot wings). What you have tasted before tasting the wine effects your perception of how the wine tastes.

My advice is to always drink your cheapest bottle first. (More expensive does not always mean better, but it often does.) You'll appreciate a really good wine after a glass of average wine even more than you would if you started with that good bottle and you had nothing to compare it to. In the blind taste test if you had tried the repeating bottle first, with no context, you might have given it a medicore rating, and then if you tried it again immediately after having tried a cheap wine, you might have found it singing!

Of course, my sister suggests that I am more impressed with the quality of my wines as the evening goes on and I get more drunk. I insist that this cannot be the case. :)

The economist's suggestion, that ignorance is bliss, is a perfect example of why accounting is the opposite of art. I've found getting better at drinking wine to be very fun and rewarding. Really great wine and really great gourmet food can provide an experience that is completely different than ordinary eating -- its not about satisfying hunger but more about experimenting with the range of flavors that you are capable of experiencing... Its worth knowing why cooking can be considered an art, but you can't just roll up to an ex... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

RE: Keep the Cheap Wine Flowing - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog


The end of western civilization
Topic: Society 1:33 am EDT, Aug  1, 2008

We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. 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.

The end of western civilization


The Kindergarchy
Topic: Society 9:08 am EDT, Jun 16, 2008

In America we are currently living in a Kindergarchy, under rule by children. People who are raising, or have recently raised, or have even been around children a fair amount in recent years will, I think, immediately sense what I have in mind. Children have gone from background to foreground figures in domestic life, with more and more attention centered on them, their upbringing, their small accomplishments, their right relationship with parents and grandparents. For the past 30 years at least, we have been lavishing vast expense and anxiety on our children in ways that are unprecedented in American and in perhaps any other national life. Such has been the weight of all this concern about children that it has exercised a subtle but pervasive tyranny of its own. This is what I call Kindergarchy: dreary, boring, sadly misguided Kindergarchy.

This is an interesting, if long, perspective. It seems fogeyish sort of. We seem to be near the opposite end of the spectrum from 1970, when latch key kids were mostly left to their own devices. Both extremes produce bad results.

The Kindergarchy


The Great Seduction by Debt
Topic: Society 2:47 pm EDT, Jun 11, 2008

David Brooks:

The United States has been an affluent nation since its founding. But the country was, by and large, not corrupted by wealth. For centuries, it remained industrious, ambitious and frugal.

Over the past 30 years, much of that has been shredded.

I don't agree with all of this but the main thrust of the argument is sound.

The Great Seduction by Debt


Northrop To Develop Mind-Reading Binoculars | Danger Room from Wired.com
Topic: Society 1:32 pm EDT, Jun 10, 2008

The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has tapped Northrop Grumman to develop binoculars that will tap the subconscious mind. The Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System program, informally called "Luke's Binoculars," combines advanced optics with electro-encephalogram electrodes that can, DARPA believes, be used to alert the wearer to a threat before the conscious mind has processed the information.

Northrop To Develop Mind-Reading Binoculars | Danger Room from Wired.com


Steampunk Moves Between Two Worlds - New York Times
Topic: Society 8:41 am EDT, May  8, 2008

Yes, he owns a flat-screen television, but he has modified it with a burlap frame. He uses an iPhone, but it is encased in burnished brass. Even his clothing — an unlikely fusion of current and neo-Edwardian pieces (polo shirt, gentleman’s waistcoat, paisley bow tie), not unlike those he plans to sell this summer at his own Manhattan haberdashery — is an expression of his keenly romantic worldview.

I think this steampunk movement has much more potential than goths did. I apologize in advance for how admittedly poor this article is. The fact that NYT covered it is more significant than the content of the coverage.

Steampunk Moves Between Two Worlds - New York Times


No Torture. No Exceptions.
Topic: Society 9:34 am EDT, Mar 17, 2008

It is in the hopes of keeping the attention of the public, and that of our elected officials, on this subject that the writers of this collection of essays have put pen to paper. They include a former president, the speaker of the House, two former White House chiefs of staff, current and former senators, generals, admirals, intelligence officials, interrogators, and religious leaders. Some are Republicans, others are Democrats, and still others are neither. What they all agree on, however, is this: It was a profound moral and strategic mistake for the United States to abandon long-standing policies of humane treatment of enemy captives. We should return to the rule of law and cease all forms of torture, with no exceptions for any agency. And we should expect our presidential nominees to commit to this idea.

No Torture. No Exceptions.


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