Create an Account
username: password:
  MemeStreams Logo

Spontaneous Sociability and The Enthymeme


Picture of Rattle
Rattle's Pics
My Blog
My Profile
My Audience
My Sources
Send Me a Message

sponsored links

Rattle's topics
   Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature
  Tech Industry
  Telecom Industry
Health and Wellness
   Using MemeStreams
Current Events
  War on Terrorism
Local Information
  SF Bay Area
   SF Bay Area News
  Nano Tech
  International Relations
  Politics and Law
   Civil Liberties
    Internet Civil Liberties
   Intellectual Property
   Computer Security
   PC Hardware
   Computer Networking
   Software Development
    Open Source Development
    Perl Programming
    PHP Programming
   Web Design
  Military Technology
  High Tech Developments

support us

Get MemeStreams Stuff!

Current Topic: Society

The Organization Man, by William Whyte
Topic: Society 5:24 am EDT, May 29, 2006

In the 21st century, the "scene" transcends the concepts of individual and organization.

This book is about the organization man. If the term is vague, it is because I can think of no other way to describe the people I am talking about. They are not the workers, nor are they the white-collar people in the usual, clerk sense of the word. These people only work for The Organization. The ones I am talking about belong to it as well. They are the ones of our middle class who have left home, spiritually as well as physically, to take the vows of organization life, and it is they who are the mind and soul of our great self-perpetuating institutions. Only a few are top managers or ever will be. In a system that makes such hazy terminology as "junior executive" psychologically necessary, they are of the staff as much as the line, and most are destined to live poised in a middle area that still awaits a satisfactory euphemism. But they are the dominant members of our society nonetheless. They have not joined together into a recognizable elite--our country does not stand still long enough for that--but it is from their ranks that are coming most of the first and second echelons of our leadership, and it is their values which will set the American temper.

I am going to call it a Social Ethic. With reason it could be called an organization ethic, or a bureaucratic ethic; more than anything else it rationalizes the organization's demands for fealty and gives those who offer it wholeheartedly a sense of dedication in doing so--in extremis, you might say, it converts what would seem in other times a bill of no rights into a restatement of individualism.

But there is a real moral imperative behind it, and whether one inclines to its beliefs or not he must acknowledge that this moral basis, not mere expediency, is the source of its power. Nor is it simply an opiate for those who must work in big organizations. The search for a secular faith that it represents can be found throughout our society--and among those who swear they would never set foot in a corporation or a government bureau. Though it has its greatest applicability to the organization man, its ideological underpinnings have been provided not by the organization man but by intellectuals he knows little of and toward whom, indeed, he tends to be rather suspicious.

Let me now define my terms. By social ethic I mean that contemporary body of thought which makes morally legitimate the pressures of society against the individual. Its major propositions are three: a belief in the group as the source of creativity; a belief in "belongingness" as the ultimate need of the individual; and a belief in the application of science to achieve the belongingness.

An ideal of individualism which denies the obligations of man to others is manifestly impossible in a society such as ours, and it is a credit to our wisdom that while we preached it, we never fully practiced it.... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]

The Organization Man, by William Whyte

Map Gallery of Religion in the United States
Topic: Society 10:17 pm EDT, Apr 17, 2006

The US Census Bureau, due to issues related to the separation of church and state, does not ask questions related to faith or religion on the decennial census. Accordingly, there are few sources of comprehensive data on church membership and religious affiliation for the United States. Perhaps the leading organization to address this gap is the Glenmary Research Center, which publishes Religious Congregations and Membership in the United States, 2000. The following series of county-level choropleth maps, which reveals the distribution of the larger and more regionally concentrated church bodies, draws on this resource. The maps are in GIF format.

Map Gallery of Religion in the United States

China Surpasses U.S. In Internet Use -
Topic: Society 4:44 pm EDT, Apr  3, 2006

Chinese Internet users spend nearly two billion hours online each week, while the U.S. audience logs on for 129 million hours per week.

That's the bombshell Dr. Charles Zhang, chairman and CEO of, dropped last month after ringing the opening bell at the Nasdaq, a milestone for a Beijing-based company.

Zhang reported that, according to his internal research, Chinese Internet users numbered over 150 million--and possibly up to 200 million--and, including all of their properties, was in the top five most trafficked sites in the world. Nielsen NetRatings, which doesn't have statistics for China, reports that the U.S. had 154 million active users in January 2006. This means that China, if Zhang is correct, is at or above the U.S. in the number of Internet users and that these users stay connected far longer each time.

China Surpasses U.S. In Internet Use -

Scrambling to Learn: Roundup on Education
Topic: Society 1:34 am EDT, Apr  3, 2006

Check out this recent Friedman piece:

The more I travel, the more I find that the most heated debates in many countries are around education. Here's what's really funny -- every country thinks it's behind.

"We have a creative problem in this country [India]."

"We must allow our students to ask why, not just keep on telling them how."

It's interesting that Tom Friedman is syndicated in Venezuela.

Today's NYT has an article about Wu Man, a Chinese musician, in which she confirms Friedman's reporting:

"She's a 21st-century musician, meaning she knows something deeply, and not only playing the instrument. She can work with anybody in a short time. She can figure out what somebody knows, what they don't know. People say she's put the pipa on the contemporary page."

This after wondering whether she would be able to keep up her career in the United States. "I had initially been prepared to give up music," Ms. Wu said. "I thought I was going to end up studying computers like my friends."

For a sample of America's strategy in education, read Technically Foolish:

This proposal is drawing national attention as visionary, though it is more remarkable for the manner in which it neatly illustrates the problems with how we think about technology and schooling.

Absent in Michigan, and often elsewhere, is serious thought about how technology might help cut costs or modernize educational delivery.

There is no reputable analysis suggesting that the billions invested in technology have enhanced the productivity or performance of America's schools.

Everyone can use another degree, right?

"People think I'm crazy when they hear I'm getting my second master's degree at 27," says Krumm. "But I felt the degree was necessary to switch the direction of my life."

And now for something completely different:

Georgia is about to become the first state to approve the use of the Bible as a textbook in public schools.

But if you thought America was in bad shape, check out France:

The point of the new labor law is to encourage businesses to hire young people without worrying they'll be stuck with them forever. Youth unemployment has been one of France's biggest problems for 30 years. A quarter of those under 25 are jobless; that figure surpasses 40 percent in the troubled suburbs. It's an enormous failure: young people have never been better prepared or educated than today, yet France offers them hardly any future apart from temporary jobs and unpaid internships.

No one in France wants to be "flexible"; stable jobs are the best paid and the most prestigious. It's telling that the students at the elite grandes écoles have been slow in joining the protests: promised a better future than the graduates of the less illustrious universities, they figure that flexibility doesn't concern them.

Scrambling to Learn: Roundup on Education

Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld on the Charlie Rose Show
Topic: Society 8:02 am EST, Feb 25, 2006

In his recent appearance on the Charlie Rose Show, Donald Rumsfeld talked about how the DoD needs MemeStreams:

Rose: Did you get what you needed from the budget in order to carry out the kinds of thing that is you think are a part of this battle against terrorism, this long war, and this attitude that you're reflecting now? In terms of the kind – how you're shifting from a Cold War to a different war.

Rumsfeld: The budget is fine. It's going to --
Rose: You can live with it?
Rumsfeld: We can live with it and we ought to do a better job of spending it. In other words, it is --
Rose: In terms of weapon systems?
Rumsfeld: Well, no. Weapons systems are one thing. Everyone talks about this airplane or that ship.
Rose: Right.

Rumsfeld: I'm more interested in intelligence gathering, connecting intelligence to the operations in real time so that you can actually stop something from happening. That's what we need to get better at. It is the soft stuff. It is the connectors. In linking the services in a way that you leverage that capability. Increasing precision in your attacks. Speeding data to the user, the person who needs it. The operator of that -- to have that data in his hands so something good can come of it. That's what we need. Sure, we have to worry about platforms and ships and guns and tanks and planes and that stuff. That is not what the department of defense has to be about.

Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld on the Charlie Rose Show

Eyeballing Tiananmen Square Massacre
Topic: Society 11:08 am EST, Jan 25, 2006

Cryptome has posted an eyeballing series on its .cn domain with a large number of pictures of the events during and the leaders of the student movement, along with a large collection of new documents.

The student movement and the Tiananmen Square Massacre are historical events that should be understood better by most people. The image of the student standing in front of the column of tanks may be burnt into the memory of the world, but few realize the overall scale of that event. It was China's Woodstock, only more so. The lasting effects did change China forever.

I've long considered the Goddess of Democracy to be a powerful and inspiring symbol. I have trouble thinking of a better example of another culture picking up a more important meme and running with it. Since awareness of this, every time I see the Statue of Liberty, I'm drawn to thoughts in stronger way than before of the global struggle for liberty, freedom, and every peoples natural right to control their own lives. So goes the mutually supporting nature of memes.

Eyeballing Tiananmen Square Massacre

Douglas Rushkoff on Memes
Topic: Society 3:01 pm EST, Nov 22, 2005

People don’t engage with each other in order to exchange viruses; people exchange viruses as an excuse to engage with each other.

Observe yourself the next time you’re listening to a joke. You may start by listening to the joke for the humor - because you really want the belly laugh at the end. But chances are, a few sentences in, you will find yourself not only listening, but attempting to remember its whole sequence. You’ll do this tentatively at first, until you’ve decided whether or not it's really a good joke. And if it is, you'll commit the entire thing to memory - maybe even with a personalized variation, or a mental note to yourself to fix that racist part. This is because the joke is a gift - it's a form of social currency that you’ll be able to take with you to the next party.

At the Industrial Memetics talk at PhreakNIC I used a joke as an example of a meme. It remains the best example I've been able to come up with. There are many similarities between what I said and what he said here. I will have to remember his take on it, and incorporate it into my own. Key thing about memes is that they are mutually supportive.

Douglas Rushkoff on Memes

Dragon*Con Review
Topic: Society 2:34 am EDT, Sep  8, 2005

Wired has an article covering DragonCon.

This was a great year. I'd venture a guess that 80% of the time I had a smile plastered across my face. Everyone involved with running the convention did an amazing job. Everyone there was having a wonderful time. Everything I can think of to say about how things went this year does not do it justice.

Conventions such as these are uniquely beautiful events. A group of people comes together to share in some esoteric common purpose or goal. Time passes. At its end, the group ceases to exist and becomes a historical curiosity. In the case of a strong group, it develops a sort of ideology that lives on in the absence of the group's cohesion, allowing it to effortlessly rise from the dead in its next phase. It takes on a life of its own. A living thing that breathes art in and culture out.

In general, I highly enjoy people watching. I'm one of those folks that likes to be extremely attune to my surroundings. At a convention like DragonCon, I find this trait to reap great rewards. In every direction, there is some type of madness to take in. People in amazing costumes are everywhere. Cute girls are everywhere. Everyone is friendly. Conversations lite up like gas fires and everyone fire walks. Its impossible to be bored, the only risk is fatigue. There is no way to leave without feeling slightly sad.

Elonka Dunin, a game designer at Simutronics, invited fans to demo the company's latest MMORPG, Hero's Journey, in her hotel room. A monster-fighting quest set in a lush, expansive fantasy world of vulnerable villages and devious conspiracies, the game is perfectly targeted for the DragonCon crowd. "This isn't just hack-and-slash," Dunin said as she set up her avatar to cast a spell. "There are creative ways to deal with combat, and a lot of chances to create stories for your characters."

Elonka is clearly our most famous MemeStreams user. Not only is her page among the most often hit here, but she is always popping up in the news. In addition to getting a demo of Hero's Journey, which I found to be extremely impressive, I attended her Kryptos talk. (again) I found it inspiring. (again) Next time she gives it I'll attend (again), and I'll keep doing it until she breaks the damn 4th part of the code. Hear that Elonka?! Quit playing those video games and hack the CIA's cafeteria courtyard! I'm going to keep "encouraging" you... :)

On other panels, such as "Hacking 101," science fiction was set aside in favor of science fact. Learning Perl author Randal Schwartz talked about being arrested at Intel in the mid-1990s for using the software tool Crack to check the security of his company's password files. "I worry that we're going to see other frivolous convictions like mine in the world of peer-to-peer," he said.

The Hacking 101 talk made Wired's review! Nice. I guess we did something right. I didn't think Hacking 101 went as well as it has in the past, but Hacking 201 went great. And for the first time I've ever been involved with it, Hacking 301 actually had content about hacking. As opposed to several of us sitting on a panel talking about how tired we all are. I was in a really crappy mood at the time, as I had not gotten any sleep that night. I hope no one though I was too much of an asshole.. Randal gets the story's quote, which is fine with me. There is a rumor being pushed around that he has been given an invite to The Conspiracy...

JonnyX's Space and Technology track of programming was amazing this year. DragonCon should give him a bigger room next year.

Dragon*Con Review

Hunter S Thompson Blasts Off
Topic: Society 6:22 pm EDT, Aug 21, 2005

The Aspen Times covers Hunter's last trip:

The legendary author's ash remains exploded out of a giant fist grasping a peyote button at 8:45 in a field outside his home on Owl Farm as Japanese drummers built their beat to a crescendo.

Blue and white fireworks erupted from either side of the 150-foot tower as the button changed from blue to green and back. Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" streamed out of the party.

But it was apparent early in the afternoon that this was not an ordinary funeral. The media likely outnumbered fans, but it was hard to differentiate, as most of the media there were Thompson fans.

The Aspen Daily News also has an article or two. A batch of pictures can be found on Yahoo! News.

Hunter S Thompson Blasts Off

Charles Platt | The Profits of Fear: Sam Cohen and the Neutron Bomb
Topic: Society 4:20 pm EDT, Aug 18, 2005

This freely available article by Charles Platt tells the story of Sam Cohen and the Neutron Bomb. This link is to the HTML version posted on BoingBoing.

This is an interesting read. The Neutron Bomb is arguably the most moral strategic nuclear weapon ever conceived, yet its reality never lived up to its vision. The story behind it exposes bungling only possible when military, politics, and fear intertwine.

For those unfamiliar with the Neutron Bomb, its a nuclear weapon that emits high levels of neutrons. It kills people but leaves structures unaffected. If you are in range, you die. If you are out of range, you get a hell of a case of the shits, but you will most likely live. No residual radiation. When compared with the usage and side effects of other area-effect weapons such as cluster bombs, carpet bombing, and other more recent large scale conventional weapons, it seems downright humane.

The point here isn't that we need a batch of Neutron Bombs, as much as it is that military weapon design history shows a lack of the most basic common sense. Read on.. Look for the big lessons.

Charles Platt | The Profits of Fear: Sam Cohen and the Neutron Bomb

(Last) Newer << 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 ++ 19 >> Older (First)
Powered By Industrial Memetics