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

Just One Click
Topic: Politics and Law 1:02 pm EST, Nov 21, 2012

Harry Reid:

Cybersecurity is dead for this Congress.

Natasha Singer:

Soon there may be no personal spaces left for our private thoughts.

Jeremiah Grossman:

If people knew just how much of their personal information they unwittingly make available to each and every Web site they visit -- even sites they've never been to before -- they would be disturbed. If they give that Web site just one click of the mouse, out goes even more personally identifiable data, including full name and address, hometown, school, marital status, list of friends, photos, other Web sites they are logged in to, and in some cases, their browser's auto-complete data and history of other sites they have visited.

Ministry's next single?

Just one click

Like if I boarded a train
Trying to take in another station
Join us and the choice will be made
Unless we kill the lie as a nation

Just one click

Stephen Colbert:

You have to be vigilant to stay ignorant.

Gillian Orr, on David McRaney's new book:

The brain is very invested in taking chaos and turning it into order.

The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.

The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information that confirmed what you believed, while ignoring information that challenged your preconceived notions.

Andrew Piper:

It turns out that not paying attention is one of the best ways of discovering new ideas.

How Modern Politics Works
Topic: Politics and Law 10:02 am EST, Nov 20, 2012

Dr. David Scheiner, who was once Obama's doctor:

Obama invited his barber to his inauguration -- his barber! But I wasn't invited. Believe me, that hurt.

Mary Beard, on Boris Johnson:

He was particularly taken with the suggestion that a politician was well advised to lie his way into popular favor, or at least that he should promise more than he could deliver. "After all," as Philip Freeman translates it in his new version of [Quintus Cicero's "How to Win an Election"], "if a politician made only promises he was sure he could keep, he wouldn't have many friends." "Exactly," said Boris. "That is just how modern politics works."

David Hockney:

Can governments maintain control when they know the street has a new power which they are forced to accept? It might look like chaos, but new forms of representation will arise. Could they be better?

Paul Volcker:

We look upon ourselves, with some justice, as a great country, the strongest and richest in a changing and troubled world, a place of stability and leadership. But now our country is mired in debt. It is dependent on large continuing flows of capital from abroad, without much savings of its own and with slow growth and household income flat. Those are not characteristics of a country willing and able to prolong its global leadership.

It is widely known that the constitutional process for nominating and confirming the federal government's senior policy officials has become dangerously distorted, inhibiting the prompt and effective leadership and management of any new administration.

The delays and risks for an able and well-respected man or woman willing to take up the gauntlet of public service are daunting. These days too many of the highly competent and willing, even those eager to make a contribution, simply refuse to be considered or to wait out the process.

Robert C. Pozen:

Instead of counting the hours you work, judge your success by the results you produce.

Narratives: The American, The General, The Negative, The Predominant, The Persistent, The Fundamental, The Betrayal
Topic: Society 12:07 am EST, Nov 18, 2012

Decius's Lessons from the CDA battle:

Politics costs money.

Politicians care about votes, money, and the general narrative.

Civil liberties really matter, and nobody cares.

Ted Cruz, now the senator-elect from Texas:

I think every case in litigation and every argument in politics is about the fundamental narrative. If you can frame the narrative, you win. As Sun Tzu said, every battle is won before it is fought. And it is won by choosing the field of terrain on which the fight will be engaged.

Jonathan Rauch:

We can assume that if the Iraq War ends badly, some Republican hard-liners, amplified by conservative talk radio, will accuse the Democrats of perfidy. The question is: Will the betrayal narrative find traction with the broader American public?

A message from Quark Lynch Goldwatch & Crassfield:

We can help you develop negative narratives that will undermine the credibility of people who express political opinions that you disagree with.

Montgomery McFate:

Insurgency runs in families and social networks, held together by persistent cultural narratives.


The American narrative centers around Boston with its religious pilgrims and revolutionaries, but there is certainly something alluring about the south of the 1600s, with its walled cities, forts, artillery, sailing ships, pirates, sand, sun, and palm trees.

Slavoj Žižek, from 2008:

The danger is thus that the predominant narrative of the meltdown won't be the one that awakes us from a dream, but the one that will enable us to continue to dream.

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.

Restaurant Review - Guy’s American Kitchen
Topic: Food 9:21 pm EST, Nov 15, 2012

Pete Wells:

GUY FIERI, have you eaten at your new restaurant in Times Square? Did it live up to your expectations?

When you saw the burger described as "Guy's Pat LaFrieda custom blend, all-natural Creekstone Farm Black Angus beef patty, LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion + pickle), SMC (super-melty-cheese) and a slathering of Donkey Sauce on garlic-buttered brioche," did your mind touch the void for a minute?

When we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?

Susan Orlean:

As far as I could tell, the donkey was alone; there was no one in front of him or beside him, no one behind. I wondered if he was lost, or had broken away from his handler, so I asked the porter, who looked at me with surprise. The donkey wasn't lost, the man said. He was probably done with work and on his way home.

A tip from Rory Stewart:

If you're taking your donkey to high altitudes, slice open its nostrils to allow greater oxygen flow.

Restaurant Review - Guy’s American Kitchen

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

Time Keeps On Ticking
Topic: Health and Wellness 3:39 am EDT, Oct 19, 2012

Gretchen Reynolds:

Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer's life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.

By comparison, smoking a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes.

Caleb Crain:

In August, scientists at the University of Washington revealed that babies aged between eight and sixteen months know on average six to eight fewer words for every hour of baby DVDs and videos they watch daily.

Penelope Trunk:

Stop talking about time like you need to save it. You just need to use it better.

Cormac McCarthy:

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

Mason, Waters, Wright, and Gilmour:

And you run and run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Time Keeps On Ticking

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 Curious Craft, Combing The Cosmos For Lost Camels
Topic: Space 6:37 am EDT, Aug  6, 2012

Alex Payne:

Startup founders love to obsess about location. Worrying about where in the world to start your company is a wonderful way to defer the terrifying prospect of working really hard on it and potentially failing.

Peter Theisinger, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena:

Our Curiosity is talking to us from the surface of Mars.

Charles Gross:

All labs are like complicated families, but each lab is complicated in its own way.

Nell Boeschenstein, on Emmylou Harris:

I read a profile of her once in which she talked about the black holes of outer space, not the soul. She told her interviewer the note that emanates from them is a deep and constant B-flat, a key she loves. She added, too, that a man who once played bass for her had synesthesia -- meaning that when he played notes, he saw colors -- and that when he played a B-flat what he saw was "very, very, very black."

Annalee Newitz:

NASA makes the whole thing look so awesome that we're willing to forgive the fact that it includes SWOOSH noises that you'd never hear in space.

Michiru Hoshino:

Oh! I feel it. I feel the cosmos!

Tom Vanderbilt:

The idea that that we, this species that first hoisted itself into the world of bipedalism nearly 4 million years ago -- for reasons that are still debated -- should now need "walking tips," have to make "walking plans" or use a "mobile app" to "discover" walking trails near us or build our "walking histories," strikes me as a world-historical tragedy.

Ali Dhux:

A man tries hard to help you find your lost camels.
He works more tirelessly than even you,
But in truth he does not want you to find them, ever.

Cormac McCarthy:

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

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.

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