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Current Topic: Society
Topic: Society 3:30 am EST, Dec 23, 2002

] "I tapped my latex-gloved fingers against the edge of a
] microscope and wondered what would happen if I stole a
] flask. They looked so damn cool, like geeky candy jars.
] Then I thought about pocketing a test tube for use as a
] demented shot glass. What had aroused these thoughts? Was
] it my upbringing, surrounded as I'd been by hackers,
] subversive writers, and sarcastic leftists? Or did they
] come from some kind of genetic predilection to be
] disobedient? As I regretfully left the flasks behind me
] in the lab, I realized that it didn't really matter
] whether my urges were cultural or biological. My behavior
] would remain unchanged. And my attitude about that
] behavior would remain unchanged as well. "

This article rocks. PCR, electrophoresis, "geeky candy jars", nature and nurture issues. Its cram full of fun biology geekness.

Ballmer baulks at Oz Xbox chippers charter
Topic: Society 2:00 pm EDT, Oct 22, 2002

Microsoft's efforts so far to obstruct Xbox mod chips have been relatively trivial, and simple for the modders to circumvent. The most recent redesign, for example, was dealt with inside a week. But on his recent Australian adventure Microsoft president Steve Ballmer dispensed one of the clearest policy statements on Xbox so far - Microsoft intends Xbox to be a closed system and to stay that way, and will use both technical and legal avenues to protect it.


...Ballmer said that Microsoft might have to reconsider selling Xbox in Australia, or seek changes in the law.


It's been suggested to us several times recently that there is a growing need for a Free Hardware Foundation - this is beginning to have a certain logic, we think.


Agreed. I am really tired of Steve Ballmer. Dude, you *LOST* the server market, get over it. You are going to lose your core OS business. Trying to stop unlicensed software didn't work for the NES and they *THRIVED* from it!!! Subsidized hardware sales was a technique mastered by Sony way before you had a clue...

Stick to applications, that's what you do best.

Ballmer baulks at Oz Xbox chippers charter

Should the US annex Canada?
Topic: Society 3:17 pm EDT, Oct 19, 2002

"I doubt if the average American knows enough about Canada to make a reasoned assessment, what the pros and cons might be," said Waller. "There's really an abysmal level of ignorance about Canada in the United States so I don't know what conclusions you can reach."

From a historical perspective, there hasn't been a real push by Americans for annexation since the 19th century, he added. "

The recommendation of this article is obvious troll bait, but I'll respond anyway.

Most Americans view their country as being better then other countries. Canada in particular is viewed as being silly because, other then being "better then" Canadians, Americans don't really see themselves as being otherwise different, so whats the point?

Thats actually a good question. The fact is that Canada is really two countries: 1. British North America. 2. French North America.

Either identity in and of itself would be a lot more interesting then what Canada has got. Being British means something significant culturally which Americans try very hard not to be. (Ever wonder WHY Americans spell colour wrong?? It was intentional and deliberate.) Being French is even more so obviously not being American.

But, in order to maintain national cohesion, Canada, in the last 40 years, and tried very hard to eliminate these cultural identities. If not for this effort, Canada would not exist, and the economic implications of that would be bad for everyone concerned. The new national identity that replaces the old two is one which is scarcely 30 years old. It simply doesn't have enough history or uniqueness to present a real solid creed that people can identify as being "not American."

Of course, most people OUTSIDE the United States hold the two countries in a very different light. Mostly this is because, again, Americans tend to view themselves as being better then other cultures. Other cultures respond to this with resentment. So, liking Canadians is a way to identify with what you like about American culture without having to sacrifice your resentment.

On the other hand, what this professor is afraid to say is that the 38% of Americans who support "annexing Canada" are simply being bumptious. The fact is that if the U.S. "annexed" Canada the Repubicans would never win another election and the U.S. would loose a powerful associate in international relations, with no real economic benefit for either side as the border is fluid anyway.


In rereading this I should add that this view of Canada is quite Euro-centric. Immigration policies in the last 20 years have had a dramatic impact on the country's cultural makeup, and the Native Americans in Canada are increasingly politically savvy and culturally significant. Canada is, in fact, at the very start of a melting pot phase which could make the traditional french/english dichotomy insignificant. Its also possible that these people are simply using Canada as a generational stepping stone toward moving into the US. It will take several generations for this to play out and it will be interesting to see what differences (if any) emerge between the two countries over that time. I think that the amount of diversity that currently exists in Canada has the potential to produce some very interesting results verses the slowed diversification of the US, where the dominant English culture strongly resists threats. Unfortunately, the results of this are measured in generations and may not be apparent in my life-time.

Should the US annex Canada?

Sharing / Distribution Wars
Topic: Society 11:36 am EDT, Sep 27, 2002

It's a matter of competition. A manufactured CD for $1.40 can compete with a bootleg copy: Manufactured CDs generally play better and come with nice packages and liner notes. The industry can still make millions of dollars, just not billions. And many artists can go back to making money the old-fashioned way¬óby working harder and performing more. Things change, folks! The gravy train has left the station.

The U.S. government should not be corrupted by the Recording Industry Association of America and should instead do more about price fixing. And let's stop lecturing people about legality and morality. Students in particular are not moral reprobates, nor are they fools. They are pragmatists, and they stretch the rules along with their budgets. This is a crowd that worships the fake ID and is taught to question authority. So you're going to lecture them about copyrights? Give up. Rethink your business model. The problem will be solved.


An interesting take on why the RIAA needs to evolve or die.

Sharing / Distribution Wars

Study: Brains Want to Cooperate
Topic: Society 5:20 pm EDT, Jul 24, 2002

"A team from Emory University in Atlanta says they have resolved a question philosophers have been debating for centuries: Why do people cooperate with one another even when it is not in their best interests to do so? "

Is this why using MemeStreams is so much fun?

I've been having conversations for years the people about this very problem. Everyone has philisophical convictions, and they differ. Are humans fundamentally good or evil?

[ Originally from Decius. And, of course, the answer is that they are fundamentally good or, at the very least, neutral and "nurture" can be used to assure their eventual goodness. --Rek ]

Study: Brains Want to Cooperate

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