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

a wakeup call from space
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:52 am EDT, Oct  1, 2013

James Comey, FBI Director:

I'm not crying wolf. I'm not playing a game. This is the FBI.

Edward Lu:

This is a wake-up call from space. We've got to pay attention to what's out there.

On Finite and Infinite Games:

A finite game is a game that has fixed rules and boundaries, that is played for the purpose of winning and thereby ending the game.

An infinite game has no fixed rules or boundaries. In an infinite game you play with the boundaries and the purpose is to continue the game.

J.G. Ballard:

Is the entire universe no more than an infinitely vast space terminal?

the climb
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:49 am EDT, Sep 30, 2013

Maciej Ceglowski:

It can be uncomfortable not to have a name for the thing you do. You have to make sure you plant your feet, and take care to pick the right spot to stand on. You can work on a lot of projects, but you will only get a couple of opportunities to work on something long-term. So I would say pick those carefully, do things that are intrinsically rewarding, and be very loath to abandon them.


Be careful what you get good at.


If man is an iron-balance that weigh pains and pleasures, the scales are sadly askew.

Doing well is not enough: we also want to do better than our peers.

An Everest Guide:

The most dangerous thing about Everest is everyone else who's trying to climb it.

Colin Dickey:

Our age gets the mountaineers it deserves.

like ants on a sphere
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:49 am EDT, Sep 26, 2013

Caroline Tell:

As smartphones continue to burrow their way into our lives, and wearable devices like Google Glass threaten to erode our personal space even further, overtaxed users are carving out their own device-free zones with ad hoc tricks and life hacks.

Lesley M. M. Blume:

Disconnecting is a luxury that we all need.

J.G. Ballard:

We rest briefly at fixed intervals, but despite our steady passage we sense that we are not moving at all, and may well be trapped within a small waiting-room whose apparently infinite dimensions we circle like ants on a sphere. Paradoxically, our instruments confirm that we are penetrating a structure of rapidly increasing mass. Is the entire universe no more than an infinitely vast space terminal?

every word that begins with 'every'
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:49 am EDT, Sep 26, 2013


Everything happens so much.

Louis CK:

It's a desperate thing to need everybody to be really happy with everything you say.

Netflix communications director Jonathan Friedland:

We want to continue to have something for everybody. As time goes on, we get better at selecting what that something for everybody is ...

Sean M. Carroll:

Life does go on, even as everything changes; the best we can do is care.

David Cole:

Basically, everything you do now shares information with a third party.

Steve Coll:

As every parent of a nine-year-old has recited at least once, just because "everyone" does something doesn't mean that it's smart.

Mary Meeker and Liang Wu:

Every minute, 100 hours of video content is uploaded to YouTube.

Oxford American:


there's always a story you can tell
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:49 am EDT, Sep 26, 2013

Martin C. Libicki:

Perhaps more than any other form of combat, cyberwar is storytelling.

Matthew O'Brien:

There's always a story you can tell, and we certainly told them.

Paul Ford:

At some level I feel that form is a key to happiness. Meaning identifying a pattern and repeating it until comfort is achieved. This is why people quilt.

Sean M. Carroll:

When you are interested in paranoia and conspiracies, it is important to distinguish signals from noise, and true clues from false leads. This is also the situation in which modern scientists find themselves, searching for significance among countless spurious correlations in a flood of data.

Misha Lepetic:

There need not be a point to what is being recorded, so long as it is being recorded, and the algorithms will take care of the rest.

Alex Williams:

Data has to be a strategic asset.

Straw Man:

Money for me, databases for you.

suddenly you've created an absence that must be filled
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:59 pm EDT, Sep 23, 2013

A Venture Capitalist, to Nikola Tesla:

You're not going to show a Deck, are you?

Paul Ford:

Learning the Python programming language will give you a certain kind of power over computers, but being amazing at PowerPoint is how you gain control over other people.

Horace Dediu:

Padcasting ... is clearly the future of presentations.

Paul Ford:

One day you are putting numbers into spreadsheet cells, and the next those numbers feed into budgets, and the budgets turn into requests to Human Resources, which turn into postings ... Just one number in a cell in Excel, plus human beings with checkbooks, and suddenly you've created an absence that must be filled. Houses are sold and bought. Kids have to move from their schools and attend new schools.

Kieran Healy:

The authoritarian spirit is not much troubled with Bayes; it can barely conceive of any error, let alone multiple Types of Error. Everyone is guilty of something ... It is just a matter of determining what an individual is guilty of, and, then, discretion in stripping that individual of all property, independence and dignity, or selling the privilege of immunity.

Simon Singh:

Among the infinity of numbers, fewer than 100 exhibit narcissism.

Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger:

Robert McNamara relied on the figures, fetishized them. With his perfectly combed-back hair and his flawlessly knotted tie, McNamara felt he could comprehend what was happening on the ground only by staring at a spreadsheet -- at all those orderly rows and columns, calculations and charts, whose mastery seemed to bring him one standard deviation closer to God.

Pope Francis:

We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run historical processes. We must initiate processes rather than occupy spaces. God manifests himself in time and is present in the processes of history. This gives priority to actions that give birth to new historical dynamics. And it requires patience, waiting.

Jeff Bezos:

I very frequently g... [ Read More (0.1k in body) ]

make me one with everything
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:54 am EDT, Sep 17, 2013

Michael Hayden:

The problem I have with the Internet is that it's anonymous.

Ron Nixon:

In the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States -- about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images. It enables the Postal Service to retrace the path of mail at the request of law enforcement. No one disputes that it is sweeping.

Orson Welles:

I have all the equipment to be a politician. Total shamelessness.


The office that oversees the most powerful military in history (not to mention the best-funded) is unable to project when its single fax machine will once again be operational.

Nick Bilton:

And then there are the worst offenders of all: those who leave a voice mail message and then e-mail to tell you they left a voice mail message.

Ian Leslie:

The Kremlin's security agency ... recently put in an order for electric typewriters. An agency source told Russia's Izvestiya newspaper that ... 'it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents'.

a spectacular case of carelessness
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:47 am EDT, Sep 16, 2013

Teju Cole:

In a spectacular case of carelessness, Ugbo, 75, of Benin, a witch doctor specializing in arrest-evasion amulets, has been arrested.


The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) had originally said the radiation emitted by the leaking water was around 100 millisieverts an hour.

However, the company said the equipment used to make that recording could only read measurements of up to 100 millisieverts.

The new recording, using a more sensitive device, showed a level of 1,800 millisieverts an hour.

The Economist:

Pigeons form a far richer picture of the world than a person can manage, through three senses unavailable to humans: an instinctive ability to navigate by the sun, an ability to detect magnetic fields that provides them with an inbuilt compass, and an ability to hear infrasound.

Julian Baggini:

What Nespresso has really done is to look at the coffee-making process and systematically remove all that is problematic in it. The result is something flawless, but that is a particular and limited form of excellence or perfection. Perhaps there are peaks above perfection that can be achieved only by accepting a certain amount of imperfection.

deliver us not into exceptionalism
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:47 am EDT, Sep 16, 2013

Daniel Gilbert:

At every age we think we're having the last laugh, and at every age we're wrong.

Vladimir Putin:

It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.

Jonathan Franzen:

You could argue that America in 2013 is ... another weakened empire telling itself stories of its exceptionalism while it drifts towards apocalypse of some sort, fiscal or epidemiological, climatic-environmental or thermonuclear. Our far left may hate religion and think we coddle Israel, our far right may hate illegal immigrants and think we coddle black people, and nobody may know how the economy is supposed to work now that markets have gone global, but the actual substance of our daily lives is total distraction. We can't face the real problems; we spent a trillion dollars not really solving a problem in Iraq that wasn't really a problem; we can't even agree on how to keep healthcare costs from devouring the GNP. What we can all agree to do instead is to deliver ourselves to the cool new media and technologies, to Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, and to let them profit at our expense.

Kwame Anthony Appiah:

Clearly many people across the spectrum think that [Obama] hasn't done enough coddling.

Evgeny Morozov:

As smart technologies become more intrusive, they risk undermining our autonomy by suppressing behaviors that someone somewhere has deemed undesirable. These devices can give us useful feedback, but they can also share everything they know about our habits with institutions whose interests are not identical with our own.

Straw Man:

Money for me, databases for you.

the key is to distract yourself
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:47 am EDT, Sep 16, 2013

Woody Allen:

It's just an accident that we happen to be on earth, enjoying our silly little moments, distracting ourselves as often as possible so we don't have to really face up to the fact that, you know, we're just temporary people with a very short time in a universe that will eventually be completely gone. And everything that you value, whether it's Shakespeare, Beethoven, da Vinci, or whatever, will be gone. The earth will be gone. The sun will be gone. There'll be nothing. The best you can do to get through life is distraction. Love works as a distraction. And work works as a distraction. You can distract yourself a billion different ways. But the key is to distract yourself.

Colin Dickey:

Early mountaineers were a product of early modernism; they were nationalists, scientists, and individualists. The current crop are by-products of capitalism and corporate guruism, CEO alpha males (and, less often, females) who've been raised to believe that any obstacle can be overcome with sheer determinism and willpower, Richard Bransons who believe success in business can translate to domination of nature ... Alongside these corporate adventurers are climbers like Ueli Steck and Simone Moro, the men who were involved in the fight on Everest in April 2013. But these athletes, too, are all about business. Steck, a recent New Yorker profile revealed, has been able to live primarily on sponsorships and the lecture circuit by coming up with ever more new climbing feats and stunts, which was what he was attempting with Moro in April when the trouble started. The conflict on the side of Mount Everest was perhaps less about East versus West, or even rich versus working class, than it was two competing business models, both milking the mountain for as much cash as they can get out of it. In this sense, our age gets the mountaineers it deserves.

It is said that from the top of Everest one can see the curve of the Earth. One has to wonder if those who make it up there -- the ones who've been willing to gamble away their humanity, who've come to kill dragons and end up becoming monsters themselves -- can also see the arc of history.

Anil Dash:

People will move mountains to earn a gold star by their name on the Internet.

Ann Friedman, on LinkedIn:

It's an Escher staircase masquerading as a career ladder.

Li Po:

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.

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