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A Future Our Grandchildren Will Be Proud Of
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:48 pm EDT, Jun 13, 2013

Noam Cohen's friend:

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

David Simon:

We asked for this.

Gail Collins:

Do you remember how enthusiastic people were about having a president who once taught constitutional law?

The Economist on Obama, in November 2008:

He has to start deciding whom to disappoint.

Rory Stewart:

Americans are particularly unwilling to believe that problems are insoluble.

Roberto G. Quercia:

The problem with this conversation is that it's like discussing the future of shipbuilding from the deck of the Titanic.

Bruce Schneier, from 2009:

Just as we look back at the beginning of the previous century and shake our heads at how people could ignore the pollution they caused, future generations will look back at us - living in the early decades of the information age - and judge our solutions to the proliferation of data.

We must, all of us together, start discussing this major societal change and what it means. And we must work out a way to create a future that our grandchildren will be proud of.

Those dependable footholds we thought we had were never there to begin with
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:36 am EDT, May 23, 2013

Filip Drapal, spokesman for Prague transport company Ropid, on possible "singles only" train carriages:

We want to emphasize that public transport is not only a means of travel but that you can do things there that you cannot do in your car.

Rolf Potts:

Travel anywhere is often a matter of exploring half-understood desires. Sometimes, those desires lead you in new and wonderful directions; other times, you wind up trying to understand just what it was you desired in the first place. And, as often as not, you find yourself playing the role of charlatan as you explore the hazy frontier between where you are, who you are, and who it is you might want to be.

Penelope Trunk:

If you can see where you'll be, you're already there. If you know for sure where you are going then you are actually living someone else's version of a path.

Are you scared? Are you a person who makes emotional space in your life to be routinely surprised?

Megan Garber:

Space is becoming ordinary. And that means it's about to get really interesting.

Geoff Manaugh:

It all comes down to ground conditions -- to the interruption, even the complete disappearance, of the ground plane, of firm terrestrial reference, of terra firma, of the Earth, of the very planet we think we stand on. Whether presented under the guise of the earthquake or of warfare or even of General Relativity, Lebbeus's work was constantly erasing the very surfaces we stood on -- or, perhaps more accurately, he was always revealing that those dependable footholds we thought we had were never there to begin with. That we inhabit mobile terrain, a universe free of fixed points, devoid of gravity or centrality or even the ability to be trusted.

Architecture is more than buildings. It is a spacesuit.

Architecture is about the lack of stability and how to address it. Architecture is about the void and how to cross it. Architecture is about inhospitability and how to live within it.

Alexander Hammid:

The Private Life of a Cat

The Things You Can Do With Your Brain
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:33 am EDT, May  6, 2013

Simone Weil:

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.

Henry Mahncke:

Some things you can do with your brain are highly productive and others are not.

Tom Chiarella:

Listen. Be attentive to what people say. Respond, without interruption. You always have time. You own the time in which you live. You grant it to others without obligation. That is the gift of being gracious. The return — the payback, if you will — is the reputation you will quickly earn, the curiosity of others, the sense that people want to be in the room with you. The gracious man does not dwell on himself, but you can be confident that your reputation precedes you in everything you do and lingers long after you are finished. People will mark you for it. You will see it in their eyes. People trust the gracious man to care. The return comes in kind.

Michael Chabon:

Art is a form of exploration, of sailing off into the unknown alone, heading for those unmarked places on the map. If children are not permitted -- not taught -- to be adventurers and explorers as children, what will become of the world of adventure, of stories, of literature itself?

Gilbert White:

The grace of wildness changes somehow when it becomes familiar.

When I say the grace of wildness, what I mean is its autonomy, its self-possession, the fact that it has nothing to do with us. The grace is in the separation, the distance, the sense of a self-sustaining way of life. That vixen may rely on us for a duck or a chicken now and then, and to keep the woodland from closing in. How she chose to den so close to us is beyond me. The answer is probably as simple as an available hole. But our only choice is to leave her alone, to give her enough room to raise the next generation.

Neil Postman:

George Bernard Shaw once remarked that all professions are conspiracies against the laity. I would go further: in Technopoly, all experts are invested with the charisma of priestliness. Some of our priest-experts are called psychiatrists, some psychologists, some sociologists, some statisticians. The god they serve does not speak of righteousness or goodness or mercy or grace. Their god speaks of efficiency, precision, objectivity. And that is why such concepts as sin and evil disappear in Technopoly. They come from a moral universe that is irrelevant to the theology of expertise. And so the priests of Technopoly call sin "social deviance," which is a statistical concept, and they call evil "psychopathology," which is a medical concept. Sin and evil disappear because they cannot be measured and objectified, and therefore cannot be dealt with by experts.

A Fine Frenzy
Topic: Home and Garden 7:37 am EDT, May  3, 2013

Karen Weise:

Home values are now at three times the median income -- that's 15 percent higher than they have historically been, relative to what Americans earn.

As rates rise and push mortgage payments higher, people are going to realize that homes -- and not just mortgage payments -- are overpriced for what the nation as a whole earns, which in turn could send home prices tumbling again.

Norimitsu Onishi:

Sales figures for single-family homes in Santa Clara and San Mateo, the two main counties in Silicon Valley, show median prices have risen about 30 percent in the past year while the inventory of available homes has fallen by roughly half, according to an analysis of local multiple listing service data by the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors. The median prices for March -- $735,000 in Santa Clara and $925,000 in San Mateo -- only hint at the current market's frenzy.

Each property now typically attracts between 10 and 30 offers, eventually selling from 5 percent to 25 percent above the asking price, said Moise Nahouraii, the owner of Referral Realty in Cupertino. Jeff Barnett, a former president of the association and a regional vice president at Alain Pinel Realtors, said 30 percent to 40 percent of sales were paid in cash.

"Last year, the market came up," Mr. Barnett said. "This year, it's on fire; it's just unreal."

Agustino Fontevecchia:

Case-Shiller data for January showed the 10-city composite jumped 7.3% over the past 12 months, while the 20-city index surged 8.1%, its fastest levels since before the housing collapse. Some suggest the current state of the housing market is artificial, and that it will eventually face a correction.

Roberto G. Quercia:

The problem with this conversation is that it's like discussing the future of shipbuilding from the deck of the Titanic.

Man in bed:

I just shipped the bed!

Be prepared to have a lot of people not enjoy your work
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:27 am EDT, Apr 29, 2013

Kevin Ashton:

The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.

Oliver Jeffers:

Be disciplined. Work hard. Be prepared to hear "no" a lot and don't care. My dad taught me an important lesson, which is to look at why someone does something rather than what they actually do. A lot of artists are making art because they they want to be cool and they want people to like them. That's the wrong reason to be making art. Starting out, you will encounter a lot of people who don't really care what you do, but that shouldn't be the motivation ... Be prepared to have a lot of people not enjoy your work and have it not bother you; you should do it because you want to do it.

Yue Wang:

Allicia Mogavero, of southern Rhode Island, makes breast-milk jewelry that she sells at the online store Mommy Milk Creations, on the craft site For $64 to $125, she'll plasticize a sample of your breast milk and mold it into miniature shapes -- hearts, moons, flowers or tiny hands. The milk beads are then set into a pendant of your choice. The final product is a keepsake of your body's liquid gold that you can wear "as a badge of honor" or perhaps give to your children when they are old enough to not be totally skeeved out by it.

David Byrne:

Complete creative freedom is as much a curse as a boon.

Keep Calm And Accumulate
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:27 am EDT, Apr 29, 2013

Walter Kirn:

Percentile is destiny in America.

No one had ever told me what the point was, except to keep on accumulating points, and this struck me as sufficient. What else was there?

Richard Conniff:

We tend to think that we are exclusively a product of our own cells, upwards of ten trillion of them. But the microbes we harbor add another 100 trillion cells into the mix. The creature we admire in the mirror every morning is thus about 10 percent human by cell count.

Ross Pomeroy:

By seeking straightforward explanations at every turn, we preserve the notion that we can always affect our condition in some meaningful way. Unfortunately, that idea is a facade.

Catherine Rampell:

Highly paid, college-educated people are increasingly clustering in the college-graduate-dense, high-amenity cities where they get good deals on the stuff they like, while low-skilled people are increasingly flowing out to cheaper places with a worse quality of life. The end result is that measures of the growing income gap between the high-skilled and the low-skilled, which already look pretty shocking, seriously understate the inequality between these two classes.

Habit, Compulsion, Obsession, Vocation
Topic: Business 7:02 am EDT, Apr 23, 2013

Bono on Jony Ive:

You cannot get people this smart to work this hard just for money.

Kevin Ashton:

Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation.

Steven J. Harper:

The billable-hour system is the way most lawyers in big firms charge clients, but it serves no one. Well, almost no one. It brings most equity partners in those firms great wealth. Law firm leaders call it a leveraged pyramid. Most associates call it a living hell.

Marco Arment:

Always have one foot out the door. Be ready to go.

This isn't cynical or pessimistic: it's realistic, pragmatic, and responsible.

Ted Gup:

Challenge and hardship have become pathologized and monetized.

David Simon:

Only cash still has meaning to those who claim to represent us. And the cash will always be there, more with every election cycle. Unsatisfied with the profits that can be achieved within the context of actual representative government, capital has instead succeeded in buying the remnants of representative government at wholesale prices, so that profit can always be maximized and any other societal need or priority can be ignored.

Rolf Dobelli:

We are not rational enough to be exposed to the press. If you think you can compensate with the strength of your own inner contemplation, you are wrong.

For Other People, Not For Yourself
Topic: Society 7:13 am EDT, Apr 22, 2013

Stanley McChrystal:

You have to not lose confidence in what you are doing.

You have to be able to go to the edge of the abyss without losing hope.

Sarah Kendzior:

Hope is something you should have for other people, not for yourself.

Elizabeth Smither:

The sea asks "How is your life now?"
It does so obliquely, changing colour.
It is never the same on any two visits.

It doesn't presume to wear a white coat
But it questions you like a psychologist
As you walk beside it on its long couch.

Rebecca Brock:

You can't even remember what I'm trying to forget.

Rachel DeWoskin:

Is it possible to re-imagine what you can't remember?

My friend, the writer Emily Rapp,
who just lost her baby, Ronan, to Tay-Sachs,
likes to respond,
"Yes, you can,"
when people say, "I can't imagine."

David Foster Wallace:

If you've never wept and want to, have a child.

Wislawa Szymborska:

Even a simple "Hi there," when traded with a fish, make
both the fish and you
feel quite extraordinary.

Think Of It As A Data Set
Topic: Surveillance 6:48 am EDT, Apr 22, 2013

Glenn Greenwald:

For anyone who supports the general Obama "war on terror" approach or specifically his claimed power to target even US citizens for execution without charges, it's impossible to object to Graham's arguments on principled or theoretical grounds. Once you endorse the "whole-globe-is-a-battlefield" theory, then there's no principled way to exclude US soil.

Bruce Schneier:

This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a surveillance state looks like, and it's efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell.

Sure, we can take measures to prevent this. We can turn our cell phones off and spend cash. But increasingly, none of it matters.

Mark Andreesen:

A lot of people looked at Facebook and saw a Web site. None of the people close to Mark [Zuckerberg] and the company thought of Facebook as a Web site. They think of it as a data set, a feedback loop.

David Montgomery, Sari Horwitz and Marc Fisher:

How federal and local investigators sifted through that ocean of evidence ... is an object lesson in how hard it is to separate the meaningful from the noise in a world awash with information.

Rolf Dobelli:

Information is no longer a scarce commodity. But attention is. You are not that irresponsible with your money, reputation or health. Why give away your mind?

Adam C. Engst:

Our only weapon in the war against the infinite is self-control. Regardless of the specifics, if you overindulge in information, no matter how good your tools, you will eventually be crushed by the infinite.

Stefany Anne Golberg:

Never mind not seeing the forest for the trees. In this ... you cannot even see the trees for the bark.

Studies Show That ...
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:49 am EDT, Apr  8, 2013

Evgeny Morozov:

Just as Amazon's algorithms make it possible to predict what books you are likely to buy next, similar algorithms might tell the police how often -- and where -- certain crimes might happen again. Ever stolen a bicycle? Then you might also be interested in robbing a grocery store.

Facebook is at the cutting edge of algorithmic surveillance here.

Bruce Schneier:

Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the time.

Your Local High Speed Internet & Cable Provider:

We believe in money. Pools of money.

Mark Andreesen:

A lot of people looked at Facebook and saw a Web site. None of the people close to Mark [Zuckerberg] and the company thought of Facebook as a Web site. They think of it as a data set, a feedback loop.

Dexter Filkins:

In recent years, eighty-four per cent of the Army's majors have been promoted to lieutenant colonel -- hardly a fine filter. Becoming a general was like gaining admission to an all-men's golf club, where back-slapping conformity is prized above all else.

Quentin Hardy:

In January this year, Florida's Juvenile Justice Department reported that 114,538 youth and employee records had disappeared when a mobile storage device with no password was stolen. The state will pay for a year of credit monitoring for everyone whose data was lost.

Department of Urology, University of California, San Francisco:

Between 2002 and 2010, an estimated 17616 patients presented to US EDs with trouser zip injuries to the genitals. The penis was almost always the only genital organ involved. Zip injuries represented nearly one-fifth of all penile injuries. Amongst adults, zips were the most frequent cause of penile injuries. Annual zip-related genital injury incidence remained stable over the study period.

Graham Hill:

The average size of a new American home in 1950 was 983 square feet; by 2011, the average new home was 2,480 square feet. In 1950, an average of 3.37 people lived in each American home; in 2011, that number had shrunk to 2.6 people.

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