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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

In On The Game
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:19 pm EST, Nov 15, 2012

Colin Powell:

Be careful what you choose. You may get it.

Donald Rumsfeld:

Don’'t divide the world into "them" and "us."

Tyler Cohen:

People tend to think that they have justice on their side, whether it comes to making or taking.

For example, millions of homeowners have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the premise that the tax deduction for mortgages will be continued.

It becomes difficult for a politician to articulate exactly what is wrong with this arrangement when the audience itself is in on the game and perhaps does not want to hear about its own takings.

Dave Itzkoff:

As a chauffeured town car drove him to a favorite waffle restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, RZA said he was no longer the grandstanding show-off he presented in his musical heyday.

Jacques Barzun:

When people accept futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent.

Elizabeth Bernstein:

It is best not to forgive too soon.


Watch the entire 30-minute Urban Outlaw documentary
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:55 pm EDT, Oct 25, 2012

The fuller version of Urban Outlaw debuted at the Raindance Film Festival in London, and is now available to watch from the comfort of your own computer. Sit back, grab your Porsche hat, dim the lights and enjoy the complete story by scrolling down below.

Watch the entire 30-minute Urban Outlaw documentary


Front and Follow
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:21 am EDT, Oct  3, 2012

Front and Follow:

This risky tactic, conducted at close quarters, is used to track targets on the move, usually on foot. Two surveillance operatives approach the target at different times. The first falls in behind the target and begins following him discreetly. The second operative predicts the target's path and takes up a position ahead of him. The two agents continue in this manner until the front operative feels the need to lie low or misinterprets the target's destination. Then the following operative repositions to the front and the other operative falls in behind.

Cal Newport:

Every time our work becomes hard, we are pushed toward an existential crisis, centered on what for many is an obnoxiously unanswerable question: "Is this what I'm really meant to be doing?" This constant doubt generates anxiety and chronic job-hopping.

Louis Menand:

The motto of athletic competition should not be "Follow your dream." It should be "Follow your reality."

James Gleick:

One by one we are outsourcing our mental functions to the global prosthetic brain.

I can live with that.


A Series of Interesting Choices
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:27 am EDT, Aug  3, 2012

Gabe Newell:

The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don't realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior.

Mary Meeker, Scott Devitt, and Liang Wu:

Do humans want everything to be like a game?

Paul Ford:

In order to participate as a citizen of the social web, you must yourself manufacture content. Progress requires that forms must be filled. Thus it is a critical choice of any adult as to where they will perform their free labor.

Kenneth Rogoff:

We're not in the endgame, we're in the middle-game.

James Suroweicki:

The only way to win the game is simply not to play.

Sam Anderson:

Today we are living, for better and worse, in a world of stupid games.

The enemy in Tetris is not some identifiable villain (Donkey Kong, Mike Tyson, Carmen Sandiego) but a faceless, ceaseless, reasonless force that threatens constantly to overwhelm you, a churning production of blocks against which your only defense is a repetitive, meaningless sorting. It is bureaucracy in pure form, busywork with no aim or end, impossible to avoid or escape. And the game's final insult is that it annihilates free will. Despite its obvious futility, somehow we can't make ourselves stop rotating blocks. Tetris, like all the stupid games it spawned, forces us to choose to punish ourselves.

Gamification seeks to turn the world into one giant chore chart covered with achievement stickers -- the kind of thing parents design for their children -- though it raises the potentially terrifying question of who the parents are. This, I fear, is the dystopian future of stupid games: amoral corporations hiring teams of behavioral psychologists to laser-target our addiction cycles for profit.

The legendary game designer Sid Meier once defined a game as, simply, "a series of interesting choices." Maybe that's the secret genius of stupid games: they force us to make a series of interesting choices about what matters, moment to moment, in our lives.


How Fleeting It Can Be
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:27 am EDT, Aug  3, 2012

Jason Fried:

Pushing back means you already think you know. Asking questions means you want to know. Ask more questions.

Beth Gardner:

Sometimes, when forming our opinions, we grasp at whatever information presents itself, no matter how irrelevant.

Joe Nocera:

Repetition is all-important to spreading a Big Lie.

Nick Bilton:

Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the F.A.A., said that the agency has decided to take a "fresh look" at the use of personal electronics on planes.

It is in everyone's interest that we move from unscientific fears to real scientific testing.

Charles Gross:

Science is driven by two powerful motivations -- to discover the "truth," while acknowledging how fleeting it can be, and to achieve recognition through publication in prominent journals, through grant support to continue and expand research, and through promotion, prizes and memberships in prestigious scientific societies. The search for scientific truth may be seriously derailed by the desire for recognition, which may result in scientific misconduct.

Steve Moore:

Frankly, the professional experience I have had with TSA has frightened me. Once, I was bypassing screening (on official FBI business) with my .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and a TSA officer noticed the clip of my pocket knife. "You can't bring a knife on board," he said. I looked at him incredulously and asked, "The semi-automatic pistol is okay, but you don't trust me with a knife?" His response was equal parts predictable and frightening, "But knives are not allowed on the planes."

An unnamed officer:

In the end, it was just easier to do nothing than to, you know, rock the boat.


Happenstance Cogs in a Clockwork Universe
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:27 am EDT, Aug  3, 2012

Rosecrans Baldwin:

Most members of post-industrial societies perceive themselves as happenstance cogs in a clockwork universe, and consequently, exhibit a profound and increasingly dangerous alienation. The dissociation of self is so fundamental that bioregions are sub-divided into tract housing, resources into quarterly earnings, and people into one-percenters and the rest.

William J. H. Andrewes:

The schemes that divided the day into 24 equal parts varied according to the start of the count: Italian hours began at sunset, Babylonian hours at sunrise, astronomical hours at midday and "great clock" hours (used for some large public clocks in Germany) at midnight. Eventually these and competing systems were superseded by "small clock," or French, hours, which split the day, as we currently do, into two 12-hour periods commencing at midnight.

Hersfold:

Wikipedia would be a shambles without bots.

Ethan Zuckerman:

As we enter an age of increased global connection, we are also entering an age of increasing participation. The billions of people worldwide who access the Internet via computers and mobile phones have access to information far beyond their borders, and the opportunity to contribute their own insights and opinions. It should be no surprise that we are experiencing a concomitant rise in mystery that parallels the increases in connection.

The challenge for anyone who wants to decipher the mysteries of a connected age is to understand how the Internet does, and does not, connect us. Only then can we find ways to make online connection more common and more powerful.

Freeman Dyson:

The truths of science are so profoundly concealed that the only thing we can really be sure of is that much of what we expect to happen won't come to pass.


As Much Salt As You Like
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:34 am EDT, Aug  2, 2012

Greg Afinogenov:

The premise of 19th-century liberal democracy, which envisioned national communities as largely self-enclosed and politics as localized debates on the common good, becomes less tenable with each passing year.

Russian democracy became a caricature of the caricature once drawn by Soviet propagandists: it was a pseudo-politics serving only to conceal the controlling hand of moneyed interests. Unlike in Western democracies, however, in Russia everyone was aware of the deception.

By 2003, four-fifths of Russians agreed with the statement, "Democratic procedures are pure show business." In an American context, these words would sound like an angry call for reform. In Putin's Russia, they were a pledge of allegiance.

Julian Schnabel:

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.

Nizar Qabbani:

Dive into the sea, or stay away.

On sailing:

The stars, and even the moon, were so perfectly reflected that you couldn't find the horizon, so it seemed as if our boat was a satellite in space, surrounded above, below and on all sides by stars.

Jhumpa Lahiri:

The best sentences orient us, like stars in the sky, like landmarks on a trail.

Lal Ded, translated by Ranjit Hoskote:

You can stir as much salt as you like in water,
It won't become the sea.


Where To Draw The Line
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:34 am EDT, Aug  2, 2012

Ben McGrath:

The first time Sheila McClear had lunch with Nick Denton, she returned to the office afterward and threw up. She attributed this to food poisoning, but it happened again the second time they had lunch.

Jonathan Blaustein:

Just because we can put something in our mouths, does that make it food? At what point do we decide that something isn't food?

Frank Rich:

More than 60 percent of Twitter users abandon it after a single month.

Ronald Bailey:

Half the crime in Seattle occurs on 4.5 percent of that city's streets; just over 3 percent of street addresses and intersections generated half the crimes in Minneapolis; and 8 percent of street blocks accounted for 66 percent of robberies in Boston.

Vanda Felbab-Brown:

To get all its extra supplies out of Afghanistan, NATO needs to send one container over the Afghan border every seven minutes from now until 2015.

Elizabeth Dickinson:

Roughly 50,000 lives have been lost since Mexico's experiment with a Colombian-style militarized drug war began in 2006. The Citizen's Council for Public Security in Mexico recently estimated the kidnapping rate at three times that of Colombia's darkest days. By November 2011, 80 percent of the population ... said they believed security to be worse than just a year ago. A mere 14 percent believed that the government could beat the drug gangs.

Brad Stone:

Google+ has attracted 100 million members, who spent an average of 3.3 minutes on the service in January, according to ComScore (SCOR). Facebook's 850 million users spend an average of 7.5 hours a month on that site.

Lizette Alvarez:

The I.R.S. receives 100 million tax returns a year, most filed within a short period of time and a vast majority legitimate.

From 2008 to 2011, the number of returns filed by identity thieves and stopped by the I.R.S. increased significantly, officials said. Last year, it was at least 1.3 million ...

This year, with only 30 percent of the filings reviewed so far, the number is already at 2.6 million.

Peter Fader:

Among financial academics, chartists tend to be regarded as quacks. But a lot of the Big Data people are exactly like them. They say, "We are just going to stare at the data and look for patterns, and then act on them when we find them." In short, there is very little real science in what we call "data science," and that's a big problem.

Actuaries can say with great confidence what percent of people with your characteristics will live to be 80. But no actuary would ever try to predict when you are going to die. They know exactly where to draw the line.


On The Artificial Scarcity of Super Hyper Special Happy Moments
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:23 am EDT, Jul 25, 2012

Douglas Rushkoff:

Corporatism, with its promotion of competition between individuals over scarce resources and money, laid the ground for individualism and for a heightened concept of the self.

Alina Tugend:

How do we go back to the idea that ordinary can be extraordinary? How do we teach our children -- and remind ourselves -- that life doesn't have to be all about public recognition and prizes, but can be more about our relationships and special moments?

Manohla Dargis:

I like some comic-book movies very much, dislike others. But as a film lover I am frustrated by how the current system of flooding theaters with the same handful of titles limits my choices. (According to boxofficemojo.com "The Avengers" opened on 4,349 screens in the United States and Canada, close to 1 in 10.) The success of these movies also shores up a false market rationale that's used to justify blockbusters in general: that is, these movies make money, therefore people like them; people like them, therefore these movies are made.

David Cronenberg:

I really wanted ten million dollars to make Spider and we could only raise eight. And at that point it was, okay, do we make this movie or not? You know, if we make it for eight then it means we all literally have to not get paid. And I include there, Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, and the Producer and the Writer and the Director -- me, but we all loved the project so much and we were already so far engaged in it, that we all agreed to do that. So we literally all of us, and Patrick McGrath the writer of the novel, we all literally didn't get paid and we made the movie for eight million, but we really needed ten. So that's an unusual moment, and just in terms of financial survival you can't do that very often, because you're spending two years of your life making a movie and you're making zero money during those two years. But that was sort of a happy case because we managed to survive it.

Cormac McCarthy:

Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.

Charles Simic:

The day I saw Bicycle Thieves I had become an aesthete without realizing it, more concerned with how a particular film was made, than with whatever twists its plot had. All of a sudden, the way the camera moved, a scene was cut and a certain image was framed, were ... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]


Let's Just Say We Have An Understanding
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:08 am EDT, Jul 23, 2012

Lawrence Lessig:

196 Americans have given more than 80 percent of the super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.

Clive Stafford Smith:

Capital punishment means those without the capital get the punishment.

William Langewiesche:

The Camorra is not an organization like the Mafia that can be separated from society, disciplined in court, or even quite defined. It is an amorphous grouping in Naples and its hinterlands of more than 100 autonomous clans and perhaps 10,000 immediate associates, along with a much larger population of dependents, clients, and friends. It is an understanding, a way of justice, a means of creating wealth and spreading it around. It has been a part of life in Naples for centuries -- far longer than the fragile construct called Italy has even existed. At its strongest it has grown in recent years into a complete parallel world and, in many people's minds, an alternative to the Italian government, whatever that term may mean. Neapolitans call it "the system" with resignation and pride. The Camorra offers them work, lends them money, protects them from the government, and even suppresses street crime. The problem is that periodically the Camorra also tries to tear itself apart, and when that happens, ordinary Neapolitans need to duck.

Michael Sacasas:

When we ask questions about technology we often ask about matters such as safety and efficiency or costs and benefits. We don't often ask, "What sort of person will the use of this or that technology make of me?" Or, more to the present point, "What sort of citizen will the use of this or that technology make of me?"

We speak of technological innovation as if it alone could cure our economic and political ills. We forget that our economic and political culture is finally composed of individuals whose actions are driven by character, and character is in large measure the product of habitual patterns of action. It would be one of history's great ironies if under the cover of the ideology of technology, we allowed our use of technology to erode the habits of the heart essential to the health of our society.

Samantha Power:

There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.


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