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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

weights and measures
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:48 am EST, Nov 10, 2014

Michel Faber via Marcel Theroux:

The phrase in the Old Testament that is variously rendered as "of old" or "long ago" in different versions means, in Hebrew, something closer to "from afar." It is as though the moral precepts that govern much of the world's behavior are derived from far-off and alien civilizations.

L.P. Hartley:

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

Nicholas Carr:

The real sentimental fallacy is the assumption that the new thing is always better ... than the old thing. That's the view of a child, naive and pliable.

Andrew O'Hagan:

People become addicted to the weights and measures of their own experience: We value our own story and what it entails. But we can't become hostages to the romantic notion that the past is always a better country.

Bob Lefsetz:

Things change. Something is lost in every march forward. To cry about the loss of the past is to marginalize yourself. People who put brakes on the future end up screwing themselves.

Carl Sagan:

Don't judge everyone else by your limited experience.

Dannie Abse:

Ask the moon.
The mystery named
is not the mystery caged.


We've always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we've just forgotten that we are still pioneers. And we've barely begun.

what every state relies on
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:10 pm EST, Nov  5, 2014

Marc Andreessen:

In the 1940s something really significant happened, which is we bombed the rest of the industrialized world. The one major industrial country that wasn't bombed was the United States. So the United States became the monopoly producer of industrial goods. It was an accident of history. We had a window of opportunity which we took full advantage of.

Robert Hannigan, director of GCHQ:

However much they may dislike it, the largest US technology companies which dominate the web have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us. If they are to meet this challenge, it means coming up with better arrangements for facilitating lawful investigation by security and law enforcement agencies than we have now.

G.W. Schulz and Amanda Pike:

The Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED teamed up to take an inside look at the emerging technologies that could revolutionize policing -- and how intrusively the public is monitored by the government. The technology is forcing the public and law enforcement to answer a central question: When have police crossed the line from safer streets to expansive surveillance that threatens to undermine the nation's constitutional values?

Robert Scoble and Shel Israel:

The general legal consensus is that police will be able to subpoena car logs the same way they now subpoena phone records.

Evgeny Morozov:

In shifting the focus of regulation from reining in institutional and corporate malfeasance to perpetual electronic guidance of individuals, algorithmic regulation offers us a good-old technocratic utopia of politics without politics. Disagreement and conflict, under this model, are seen as unfortunate byproducts of the analog era -- to be solved through data collection -- and not as inevitable results of economic or ideological conflicts.

Doris Lessing:

What government, anywhere in the world, will happily envisage its subjects learning to free themselves from governmental and state rhetoric and pressures? Passionate loyalty and subjection to group pressure is what every state relies on.


America's preeminence is over.

the more you tell
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:49 pm EST, Nov  5, 2014

Sam Lessin, the head of Facebook's Identity Product Group:

The more you tell the world about yourself, the more the world can give you what you want.

David Brooks:

The more you look at political history, the more you see that political imagination is the rarest and most valuable of qualities. Voters don't always know what they want, but they look to leaders to jump ahead of the current moment and provide visions they haven't thought of.

Robert Hannigan, director of GCHQ:

GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age. But privacy has never been an absolute right and the debate about this should not become a reason for postponing urgent and difficult decisions.

Michael Price:

The TV boasts a "voice recognition" feature that allows viewers to control the screen with voice commands. But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party." Got that? Don't say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.

You may not be watching, but the telescreen is listening.

Jeffrey Paul:

It would appear that iCloud is synchronizing all of the email addresses of people you correspond with, even for non-iCloud accounts, to their recent addresses service. This means that names and email addresss that are not in iCloud contacts, not synchronized to your device, and only available in an IMAP-accessed inbox are now being sent to Apple, silently.


Customers can't opt out of the header code being sent because it's used for multiple purposes.

everything is the way you wish it was
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:49 pm EST, Nov  5, 2014

America's finest news source:

With this groundbreaking new release, Apple has completely revolutionized the way we experience an ephemeral sense of wonder lasting no longer than several moments.

Michiru Hoshino:

Oh! I feel it. I feel the cosmos!

Jerry Seinfeld, accepting a Clio:

I love advertising, because I love lying. In advertising, everything is the way you wish it was. I don't care that it won't be like that when I actually get the product being advertised, because, in between seeing the commercial and owning the thing, I'm happy, and that's all I want.

Randall Munroe:

What if I want something more than the pale facsimile of fulfillment brought by a parade of ever-fancier toys?

To spend my life restlessly producing instead of sedately consuming?

Is there an app for that?

Caterina Fake:

Much more important than working hard is knowing how to find the right thing to work on.

it's not about me
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:49 pm EST, Nov  5, 2014

Matt Thompson, in 2008, on his blog:

The other day, I was thinking about how I've never kept a diary. And there was a moment of regret -- all those thoughts and memories that have just been scattered to the ages! But then I remembered Snarkmarket, which is the oddest type of diary, because it's not about me. It's about how I view the world.

Tim Carmody, in 2014, on his blog:

People want a place, a third place, and blogs are a great form of that place, even when they're not blogs.

Snarkmarket is 11 years old today, and like the preteen that it is, it's not as communicative as its parents would always wish it would be. Attention and quiet are scarce resources, and even a hardy desert ecosystem needs those two things to sustain itself. Still, it's a relief to know that Snarkmarket is always here, a pied-a-terre in the blogosphere for those of us who live on social media, dark social, the official world of formal communications, the imaginary world of invented fictions, the obligations and complications that life continually calls on us to address and fulfill. Snarkmarket is here.

Trevor Butterworth:

One wonders whether the pressure to churn out material means that Wonkblog is more blog than wonk, and, more broadly, that the entire field of "explainer" or "wonk" journalism is at risk of undermining itself by being thought of as a distinctive kind of beat or even as a news operation. Surely data and data analysis is just something journalists should do if the story requires it, not something that should be partitioned off like "Sunday Styles" or "How to Spend It."

Matt Mullenweg:

So blog just for two people. First, write for yourself, both your present self whose thinking will be clarified by distilling an idea through writing and editing, and your future self who will be able to look back on these words and be reminded of the context in which they were written. Second, write for a single person who you have in mind as the perfect person to read what you write, almost like a letter, even if they never will, or a person who you're sure will read it because of a connection you have to them.

the answers we want to hear
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:43 pm EST, Nov  3, 2014

Left Outside:

People don't believe they live in the same world as politicians. A lot of the time they're right. For housing, employment, cost of living, and economic security, things are much worse than the political establishment think. But on so many other matters it is voters who have become unmoored from reality. And it is in these areas -- these vitriolic, common sense causes -- that battle lines are being drawn.

Tomas Rocha:

When the time comes to develop hypotheses ... the only acceptable -- and fundable -- research questions are the ones that promise to deliver the answers we want to hear.

Tom Hamburger and Alexander Becker:

Over the past decade, a new business model has taken hold at Brookings. In the past, Brookings was funded for the most part by no-strings-attached grants from large foundations and individual philanthropists. That became problematic. Foundations began to place more restrictions on their grants, part of a challenging new trend facing Brookings and other academic institutions in which donors increasingly specify their expectations as part of what they call "impact philanthropy."

Taffy Brodeseser-Akner:

When the Influencers wield maximum influence, Rami Perlman says, "all boats rise," cupping his hands and raising them from low to high.

Felix Salmon:

The people complaining about the lack of a smoking gun have missed the point. The scandal is precisely that 'twas ever thus: that the Fed was captured, is captured, and probably always will be captured by the banks it regulates.

Amy Davidson:

Sane people or those not raised for it don't seem to want to be politicians anymore. The G.O.P. may not like what it's seeing, but it's a bad sign if a major party just stops looking for new voices. The same holds for the Democrats. The goal might be to fend off populists and malcontents, but the effect may be to engineer mass disillusion in politics. The public doesn't look at the candidates, lined up for a debate, as proud parents do, just pleased if one is tall and handsome. They can also forget the whole thing, and walk away.

Megan Smith:

The American government will be whatever we all make of it.


It's important to understand that it isn't Congress that must change -- it is us.

How the Second Amendment Works - YouTube
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:16 am EST, Nov  3, 2014

A conference talk on the history and interpretation of the Second Amendment.

How the Second Amendment Works - YouTube

no need for public debate
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:13 pm EDT, Nov  1, 2014


Out of a total of over 11,000 sneak and peek requests, only 51 were used for terrorism.

Andrew Leonard:

Do we want our health insurers and employers to get their hands on real-time data that could conceivably be tracking our alcohol consumption or sexual experiences or mental health? Who will own this data, ultimately -- the manufacturers of the devices that collect it, the insurers and employers who act upon it, or us, the creators? Where does the data live?

The "full-disclosure future" is upon us. What happens to privacy when "wellness" becomes a condition of your employment?

Juli Clover:

Verizon is altering the web traffic of its customers by inserting a Unique Identifier Header or UIDH, a temporary serial number that lets advertisers identify Verizon users on the web. According to Jacob Hoffman-Andrews of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the UIDH serves as a "perma-cookie" that can be read by any web server to "build a profile" of internet habits.

Evgeny Morozov:

If so much of our everyday behaviour is already captured, analysed and nudged, why stick with unempirical approaches to regulation? Why rely on laws when one has sensors and feedback mechanisms?

Ali Winston and Darwin Bond Graham:

In Atlanta, the police foundation has bankrolled the surveillance cameras that now blanket the city, as well as the center where police officers monitor live video feeds. Police boosters say there's no need for public debate over these types of acquisitions.

there are always choices
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:12 pm EDT, Nov  1, 2014

Adam Gopnik:

The best argument for reading history is not that it will show us the right thing to do in one case or the other, but rather that it will show us why even doing the right thing rarely works out.

Lawrence D. Freedman:

In the end, the lesson of 1914 is that there are no sure lessons. Yet there are always choices, and the best advice for governments to emerge from the story of 1914 is to make them carefully: be clear about core interests, get the best possible information, explore opportunities for a peaceful settlement, and treat military plans with skepticism.

Rory Stewart:

Nothing is ultimately more damaging to the military than absence of criticism.

the cliffs of folly
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:12 pm EDT, Nov  1, 2014

Paul Ford:

I live pretty far back from the cliffs of folly in a hut of irony and suspicion.

John McPhee:

I work in a fake medieval turret on the roof of a campus building. When I come out and walk around, bumping into friends, they tend to ask me, "What are you working on?" Which is one reason I don't often come out and walk around.

Victoria Dailey:

How apropos it is that the natural beauty of Los Angeles is overlooked in favor of a false one!

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