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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

the new normal
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:52 am EDT, Sep 14, 2013

Mary Meeker and Liang Wu:

In the US in 2012, 30% of people were considered obese.

Bruce Schneier:

This is not going to improve anytime soon.

Tara Parker-Pope:

Even though we burn more calories when we stay awake, losing sleep is not a good way to lose weight.

Kevin Mandia:

I think you have to view this as the new normal.

J. Bradford DeLong:

It looks as if the U.S. economy, when all is said and done, will have faced certainly one lost decade, and perhaps even two.

Mark Bittman:

We finally have the proof we need for a verdict: sugar is toxic.

Mark Zuckerberg:

We are not at the end of this.

tailored especially for your personal delight
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:52 am EDT, Sep 14, 2013

Jordan Lieberman:

The technological leap we've made is matching that voter file to the Internet so online ads can be as accurate as the phone calls, mail and knocks on your front door. Instead of buying ads on websites, we're buying audiences. The technology is spreading, but you won't notice the difference. While you're seeing an ad for Christine Quinn, your unlikely-voting neighbor sees a Neiman Marcus ad. At the exact same time, an outside independent expenditure group that's supporting Christine Quinn may have determined that your other neighbor, who is likely to vote but not for Ms. Quinn, might be seeing an ad for Bill de Blasio or against Bill Thompson, if the strategists and buyers have determined that a pro-Bill D or anti-Bill T vote helps Ms. Quinn's goal.

Ron Horning:

What could be better than exercising one's freedom of choice, over and over again, to get new and exciting things, to have novel experiences tailored especially for our personal delight?

To facilitate the shift in emphasis to data collection -- and obfuscate the poorly aligned incentives between dating sites and their users -- online dating ... is rebranding itself as "social discovery." Social discovery denotes a kind of commodified serendipity that emphasizes the joy of users' perpetually meeting people on the basis of a wide variety of ever-shifting interests -- that is, opportunistically consuming them for their novelty.

To capitalize on convenience and autonomy in a consumer marketplace, we must first allow our desires to be commodified and suppress the desires that don't lend themselves to commodification.

For online dating sites, the optimal customer is an oversexed solipsist addicted to novelty. But interacting with the sites doesn't have to be a matter of sitting alone at your computer (or staring into a phone) and attenuating your personal predilections as if they came entirely from within and existed independently of social relations. Instead, it can be a confrontation with how little we know about ourselves and how we might aspire to be sure of even less.

Charles Stross:

To Generation Z's eyes, the boomers and their institutions look like parasitic aliens with incomprehensible values who make irrational demands for absolute loyalty without reciprocity. Worse, the foundational mythology and ideals of the United States will look like a bitter joke, a fun house mirror's distorted reflection of the reality they live with from day to day.

Generation Z will arrive brutalized and atomized by three generations of diminished expectations and dog-eat-dog economic liberalism. Most of them will be so deracinated that they identify with their peers and the global Internet culture more than their great-grandparents' post-Westphalian nation-state. The machineries of the security state may well find them unemployable, their values too alien to assimilate into a model still rooted in the early 20th century.

avatars of the the political process
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:52 am EDT, Sep 14, 2013

James Bridle:

Drones are avatars of the the political process: they are instantiations of a set of ideologies and beliefs, made visible by their reification in electromechanical systems. When we talk about drones, we are really talking about the politics that demand, shape, and deploy them, and the politics which are made possible by them. This politics reflects the drones themselves: it is a politics of violence, of obfuscation, of radical inequality of sight and action, and it is sustained by that obfuscation and that inequality.

No wonder then that politicians are afraid of even artistic representations of the drone. No wonder they cite feelings of "discomfort" at even mentioning them, although in projecting this discomfort onto an immigrant population -- without consultation -- they reveal even more clearly the complicity of the technology in war and social oppression.

The Victor:

Poor fools! Didn't I tell you that with me what you see is what you get? No? I must have forgotten. Well, what you see is what you elected. Here I am -- your own facile galoot.

The swaggering message machine, the cliché with the rictus grin you saw on your screens -- it is I. Ah, you say, but a robot can't be unctuous? Wrong again! Robots have come a long way.

Bruce Schneier:

We need to relearn how to recognize the trade-offs that come from risk management, especially risk from our fellow human beings. We need to relearn how to accept risk, and even embrace it, as essential to human progress and our free society. The more we expect technology to protect us from people in the same way it protects us from nature, the more we will sacrifice the very values of our society in futile attempts to achieve this security.

Momentary Masters of a Fraction of a Dot
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:43 am EDT, Sep 13, 2013

An Everest Guide:

The most dangerous thing about Everest is everyone else who's trying to climb it.

Carl Sagan:

Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Vladimir Putin:

The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not.

Stanley Kubrick:

Either you care, or you don't. There's no in-between. And if you care, then go all of the way.

Lauren Clark:

It's good to have a plan, but if something extraordinary comes your way, you should go for it.

Topic: Miscellaneous 7:42 am EDT, Sep 13, 2013

Why are hats so expensive?

Why aren't there any foreign military bases in America?

Why is GPS free?


your trauma high is always someone else's trauma
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:30 pm EDT, Sep  7, 2013

Rachel Monroe:

The trauma high is, it turns out, a well-documented phenomenon. Something about the thrill of being able-bodied, of being the one in the uniform and not the one strapped to the stretcher. And of being essential -- the opposite feeling of sitting in your living room and looking at a bomb go off over and over again, watching the people who run away from it and the people who run toward it, and thinking about what kind you might turn out to be.

[But] your trauma high is always someone else's trauma.


Be careful what you get good at.

Lauren Clark:

It's good to have a plan, but if something extraordinary comes your way, you should go for it.

Judith Warner:

We're all losers now. There's no pleasure to it.

Jeff Haden:

Taking responsibility when things go wrong instead of blaming others isn't masochistic, it's empowering -- because then you focus on doing things better or smarter next time. And when you get better or smarter, you also get happier.

a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:13 pm EDT, Sep  7, 2013

Brian Eno via Cory Doctorow via Tim Harford:

Be the first to not do what nobody has ever thought of not doing before.

Dhirubhai Ambani:

If you don't build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.

Linda Stone:

We have narrowed ourselves in service to the gods of productivity, a type of productivity that is about output and not about results.

Stijn Debrouwere:

We don't care that our dashboards don't actually help us. There's nothing like a dashboard full of data and graphs and trend lines to make us feel like grown ups. Like people who know what they're doing. So even though we're not getting any real use out of it, it's addictive and we can't stop doing it.

Schumpeter at The Economist:

What is clear is that office workers are on a treadmill of pointless activity. An entire management industry exists to spin the treadmill ever faster.

Leon Wieseltier:

The machines to which we have become enslaved, all of them quite astonishing, represent the greatest assault on human attention ever devised: they are engines of mental and spiritual dispersal, which make us wider only by making us less deep.

The devices that we carry like addicts in our hands are disfiguring our mental lives ... They generate a hitherto unimaginable number of numbers, numbers about everything under the sun, and so they are transforming us into a culture of data, into a cult of data, in which no human activity and no human expression is immune to quantification, in which happiness is a fit subject for economists, in which the ordeals of the human heart are inappropriately translated into mathematical expressions, leaving us with new illusions of clarity and new illusions of control.

Simon Critchley on the work of John Gray:

When the earth is done with humans, it will recover and the blip of human civilization will be forgotten forever. Global warming is simply one of the periodic fevers that the earth has suffered during its long, nonhuman history. It will recover and carry on. But we cannot and will not.

... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

Til The Mess Gets Here
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:53 am EDT, Sep  6, 2013

Shane Ryan as "Cormac McCarthy":

These men are patriots, says The Coach.

I reckon.

Do you know their soul?

Reckon not.

Susan McHale:

It has been a historic few days. We have been reminded of a simpler time.

Mourners include those who are looking for answers to the pressing questions being asked in our country today.

They seem to be asking, What can we do about our country now?

Cormac McCarthy via Joel and Ethan Coen:

Wendell: It's a mess, ain't it Sheriff?

Bell: If it ain't, it'll do til the mess gets here.

Maybe You Shouldn't Be Doing It
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:53 am EDT, Sep  6, 2013

Noam Cohen's friend:

Privacy is serious. It is serious the moment the data gets collected, not the moment it is released.

Rebecca Brock:

People say to me, "Whatever it takes." I tell them, It's going to take everything.

Eric Schmidt:

If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.


We're still our own greatest threat.

Gap Year
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:53 am EDT, Sep  6, 2013

Paul Rosenzweig, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in DHS, and founder of homeland-security consultant Red Branch Consulting PLLC:

Large databases are effective [for this type of analysis] only to the extent they are actually comprehensive.

Straw Man:

Money for me, databases for you.

Dharmesh Shah:

If your data doesn't look weird, you're not looking hard enough.

David Brooks:

Falsity grows exponentially the more data we collect.

Emin Gün Sirer:

We cannot afford a graph database gap.

Jim Cortada:

We are almost at a point now where trying to do an inventory on all this data is almost a superfluous exercise. It's like trying to count all the stars in the sky.

Mary Meeker and Liang Wu:

The US government is currently experiencing the largest gap between revenue and expenses outside of WW I and WW II.

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