|Current Topic: Miscellaneous|
||saying no with every bone in your body to something you know is a good idea
|| 1:40 pm EDT, Oct 11, 2014
I thought back to all the hours I had put in over the years for a cause in which I believed so strongly, St Jude watching over me all the while. I thought about the lampooning and pillorying I and others had taken for following what was then a minority pursuit. It continues even now, if less so.
I thought of love that had been sacrificed and lost to the commitment of time and energy elsewhere, and the mistake I made in doing so. That it all had come to this, all of a sudden, overwhelmed me in that moment.
And so I wept briefly but hard. And then remembered myself, perspective and the call of life. And forward I drove.
Steve would say "How many things have you said no to?" And I would have these sacrificial things ... and he knew that I wasn't interested in doing those things anyway. What focus means is saying no with every bone in your body to something you know is a good idea but you say no because you're focused on something else.
I try to celebrate each time I give something up, because then I know I'm a little closer to meeting my goals.
Even as a kid, I enjoyed focusing. I took a lot of pleasure in concentrating on things. You can't be happy all the time, but you can pretty much focus all the time. That's about as good as it gets.
Decius in 2010, after the launch of Wiki Voter Guide:
I said I'd do something about this, and I am.
|| 7:43 am EDT, Oct 10, 2014
The pursuit of happiness has always seemed to me a somewhat heavy American burden, but in Manhattan it is conceived as a peculiar form of duty.
Doing what you love is complicated. How much are you supposed to like what you do? Unless you know that, you don't know when to stop searching.
Everything we might hope for in a next life is based on what we love in this one. But pleasures are ephemeral, whether it be a good book, a tasty meal, a glorious day, or a full life -- they all end. We experience tiny deaths at every turn -- the end of a movie, the last spoonful of ice cream, the sun sinking below the horizon, the last chord of a symphony. Without its inherent finiteness, a pleasure is indistinguishable from a heartbeat.
'You're in love with that cat!' my then-girlfriend Margot once accused me. To be fair, she was a very attractive cat.
||11:34 pm EDT, Oct 9, 2014
You don't just flip a switch to make a technology invisible.
It disappears only after a slow process of cultural and personal acclimation.
John Gray, on the work of Yuval Noah Harari:
For most human beings, the shift to farming was not a choice but a trap. While hunter-gathering was no lost Eden, peasant life, with less leisure and a greater risk of starvation and disease, was worse. So why did the societies which embraced farming expand and drive hunter-gatherers to the margins of the world? Because farming provided more food per unit of territory, and thereby gave such societies a numerical advantage. "This is the essence of the Agricultural Revolution: the ability to keep more people alive under worse conditions."
Some 40 per cent of the earth's ice-free land mass is now intensively farmed to produce food. Only 12 per cent of its rivers run freely to the seas. Nearly one billion people go hungry every day; 1.5 billion are overweight or obese. Each year, more than 300,000 sea birds die on fishing lines and 100 million sharks are killed. Every square kilometre of sea contains 18,500 pieces of floating plastic.
Today's culture encourages an affection for variation and a disdain for conformity. When we look at a meadow of hundreds of types of sedge and grass and flower, we feel a greater sense of nature's abundance than a wheat field provokes, even if the wheat feeds more people. The altar at which nature is worshipped is that of biodiversity, not gross primary productivity.
Tasneem Zehra Husain:
Chances are, if you know about the principle of least action, you know enough science to realize that electrons and photons and rubber balls are not active decision makers, but that doesn't keep you from envying their ability to always follow the optimal route from one point to another. In fact, it almost makes the whole thing worse.
Kinetic energy is puzzling enough, but the invisible potentials in which we find ourselves are often completely unknown, so we don't have an expression for the action. We don't know what it is we need to minimize.
There are things a model can't accommodate.
Sometimes something takes over your life, and you feel trapped inside it.
Sometimes the only thing to do is walk away.
We can't learn to see until we realize we are blind.
||the forest of interesting ideas
||11:27 pm EDT, Oct 8, 2014
Humans simply prefer hope to despair. The theory of the banality of evil is a theory of hope: If evil arises from ignorance, the solution is as easy as a project of enlightenment. If we help people think for themselves, the world will be better. But -- and this is an ugly "but" -- there is an important difference between an inability to think and an unwillingness to accept thinking as worthwhile.
I love my comfort zone. I spent a long time building my comfort zone. It's precious to me, and I love it and I want it.
Jeff Bezos via Jason Fried:
The smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they'd already solved.
I sometimes think of myself as being as cynical as one can be. The world is bad and can't be better. But even so, I believe that one goal for humanity should be to extend sympathy where it has never been extended before. To stand up, even in some small way, against injustice. Maybe it all comes down to annoyance. Does the world really have to be this way? Why can't it be just a little bit better?
Pick a cause, and resolve to fight for change.
I think that anyone that thinks they have it all down is not looking hard enough, not looking deep enough, or not raising the bar. From our point of view, we don't want to find zero issues. If we're finding zero issues, our bar is in the wrong place. So we begin to raise the bar to find issues, and we keep doing this. If you're doing that, you're always finding something.
I hunt -- in the forest of interesting ideas.
How can you criticise such manipulation if you can't see it? How can you demand your freedom back if you never actually lost it?
Sometimes the only sure way to gain control is first to relinquish it.
||a song of ignorance and bliss
|| 8:10 pm EDT, Oct 8, 2014
Neil Richards, a professor at the Washington University School of Law:
The technologies we have now are enabling all sorts of new uses.
In the past, we would have never had this data, but now that it's electronic, we can correlate data in a way that we never ever had the opportunity to do before.
Computation alone made it possible to keep track of all the details needed to manufacture the deception.
Are there things that will make our kids look back on us and say, 'Seriously?'
There's a tough balance between proving that it's possible and making it easy for people to actually do it. There's an ethical dilemma there. We want to make sure we're on the right side of it.
A buddy of a Texan tinkerer named Gene Robinson:
I can't tell you exactly what I've been working on. But it worked.
NYT Editorial Board, 2008:
Officials seem to think urgency to act absolves them from considering the longer-term implications.
The problem is not the ignorance. The problem is the bliss.
||our failings as humans remain more or less constant
|| 6:56 pm EDT, Oct 8, 2014
Glenn L. Carle:
Americans like to imagine that history progresses, and that as a society, little by little, we become more enlightened, more knowledgeable, and better. In reality, sadly, our failings and our gifts as humans remain more or less constant, and we can regress easily without knowing it.
If you think something's supposed to hurt, you're less likely to notice if you're doing it wrong.
A widespread attempt to achieve leaner and more efficient government has only succeeded in bloating it and making it more bureaucratically oppressive.
The broader problem with these optimistic, utopian tales is that they rationalize the pathologies of the current political and economic system, presenting them as our conscious lifestyle choices.
There's no denying that the sharing economy can -- and probably does -- make the consequences of the current financial crisis more bearable. However, in tackling the consequences, it does nothing to address the causes. It's true that, thanks to advances in the information technology, some of us can finally get by with less -- chiefly, by relying on more effective distribution of existing resources. But there's nothing to celebrate here: it's like handing everybody earplugs to deal with intolerable street noise instead of doing something about the noise itself.
The Dodd-Frank strategy failed. There is no reason to believe that it will not fail in the big picture as well. It is time to rethink the whole system.
When I lived in Beijing, the Chinese often complained that their government was riddled with corruption, and they asked me if America had similar problems. I usually replied that though our government has its crooks, the naked exchange of favors for money is minimized by the rule of law and a free press. Now I'm not so sure.
||the most dangerous parking lot imaginable
|| 7:54 am EDT, Oct 7, 2014
The vulnerability, nicknamed "Shellshock," ... affects the Bash shell versions 1.14 through 4.3, which means that it has been around for more than 20 years.
We should fear our own darknesses more than we fear others.
For, in war, it is by compelling mistakes that the scales are most often turned.
Fear is democracy's undoing, and the unraveling begins at home.
The Internet is the most dangerous parking lot imaginable.
||a microcosm of the larger problem
|| 1:12 pm EDT, Oct 5, 2014
Presumably man's spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems.
We are beset by wicked problems exacerbated by networks of sublime scale that have been built on top of millenia of injustice chaotically interacting with good works and hope.
What happened? Money and technology, but mostly money.
It's not about the money. It's about my sanity.
Today, fully half of all members of Congress become lobbyists upon leaving office. Members of Congress spend 30–70 percent of their time raising money for their next campaign.
The challenge posed by lobbying is a microcosm of the larger problem that the free flow of money presents in a democracy.
To succeed in this environment you must believe, or at least pretend to believe, that you are an expert in matters where no expertise is possible. I'm not sure it's any easier to be a total fraud on Wall Street than in any other occupation, but on Wall Street you will be paid a lot more to forget your uneasy feelings.
Don't forget about forgetting.
||to safeguard and further their interests
||11:43 am EDT, Oct 5, 2014
I have to stop myself from thinking about how many aspects of technology I don't understand.
When an inscrutable technology becomes an invisible technology, we would be wise to be concerned. At that point, the technology's assumptions and intentions have infiltrated our own desires and actions. We no longer know whether the software is aiding us or controlling us. We're behind the wheel, but we can't be sure who's driving.
A victim/beneficiary of automation:
I know I'm not in the loop, but I'm not exactly out of the loop. It's more like I'm flying alongside the loop.
The recent attacks on the financial firms raise the possibility that the banks may not be up to the job of defending themselves.
Once one recognizes the real world significance of framing, governments have an ethical obligation to step in to mitigate its potential to undermine people's ability to choose prudently -- to safeguard and further their interests in health and wealth. Choosing not to try to frame choices better does not leave citizens free to make their own choices. It leaves us vulnerable to contingency and to exploitation ...
The only thing that can rein in the state is a more powerful state.
Washington Post Editorial Board:
This is an important moment in which technology, privacy and the rule of law are colliding. Smartphone users must accept that they cannot be above the law if there is a valid search warrant.
As we habituate ourselves to [technology, it] comes to exert more power over us, not less. We may be oblivious to the constraints it imposes on our lives, but the constraints remain.
There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.
|| 1:09 pm EDT, Oct 4, 2014
"You Westerners have your watches," the leader observed. "But we Taliban have time."
In short, what used to be referred to as "the West" now finds itself confronted by an increasingly intractable situation in which the power balance is changing, a fact that few have yet quite cared to acknowledge, much less to factor into new formulations for approaching China. We remain nostalgic for those quaint days when Chinese leaders still followed Deng's admonition to his people to "hide our capacities and bide our time" (taoguang yanghui). What he meant in using this "idiom" (chengyu) was not that China should be eternally restrained but that the time to manifest its global ambition had not yet come. Now that it is stronger, however, its leaders appear to believe that their time has at last come ... What the Chinese seem to be saying without being too explicit (they have always been masters at indirection) is that they will now be reckoned with on their own terms, not ours. Like it or not, this is the world's new reality.
There is an enormous difference between perfect competition and monopoly, and most businesses are much closer to one extreme than we commonly realize.
Rebecca Lieb, a digital advertising and media analyst at the Altimeter Group:
Facebook has deep, deep data on its users. [The new Atlas platform] can track people across devices, weave together online and offline.
It's clear the mobile era is now spawning new platforms, which deeply impact how Google and Apple are evolving. The Apple Watch is a fine tuned system, deeply tied to everything else Apple, accelerated by innovation straight from embedded mobile IP. And just like the iPhone, Apple profits when you buy it. Meanwhile, When you use Google powered devices, Google parses through troves of data about you and ultimately profits off usage. Google is ambitious to a level we have never seen, building drones, cars and robots, all of which will be controlled through permutations of Android. And this 'platformification' of mobile operating systems and frameworks is about to accelerate by what's known as 'system wide network effects'.
We've migrated so much of our economy to computer networks because they are faster and more efficient, but there are ... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]