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From User: Decius

Current Topic: Society

BBC NEWS | Magazine | World's best-known protest symbol turns 50
Topic: Society 1:34 pm EDT, Mar 20, 2008

It started life as the emblem of the British anti-nuclear movement but it has become an international sign for peace, and arguably the most widely used protest symbol in the world. It has also been adapted, attacked and commercialised.

Gerald Holtom, a designer and former World War II conscientious objector from West London, persuaded DAC that their aims would have greater impact if they were conveyed in a visual image. The "Ban the Bomb" symbol was born.

BBC NEWS | Magazine | World's best-known protest symbol turns 50

No Torture. No Exceptions.
Topic: Society 5:21 pm EDT, Mar 17, 2008

It is in the hopes of keeping the attention of the public, and that of our elected officials, on this subject that the writers of this collection of essays have put pen to paper. They include a former president, the speaker of the House, two former White House chiefs of staff, current and former senators, generals, admirals, intelligence officials, interrogators, and religious leaders. Some are Republicans, others are Democrats, and still others are neither. What they all agree on, however, is this: It was a profound moral and strategic mistake for the United States to abandon long-standing policies of humane treatment of enemy captives. We should return to the rule of law and cease all forms of torture, with no exceptions for any agency. And we should expect our presidential nominees to commit to this idea.

No Torture. No Exceptions.

WikiScanner on the Colbert Report
Topic: Society 12:06 pm EDT, Aug 22, 2007

Acidus had a project mentioned offhandedly on the Daily Show a few months ago but Virgil has seriously raised the bar by actually getting his picture on the Colbert report! We now have a new standard for leetness around here. If you haven't been personally denounced by Steven Colbert, you just aren't that important...

WikiScanner on the Colbert Report

We're All Borf In the End
Topic: Society 12:07 am EST, Feb 23, 2007

Maybe the reason why apparently empty messages like these resonate with my generation is that we don't have any icons of our own.

When someone recently asked me why people my age (I'm 21) listen to bands from our parents' generation, I had to explain that, with a few exceptions, we don't have any real musicians any more. Without massive advertising campaigns, a lot of the "music" you can buy today, like Beyonce, wouldn't exist.

We're a voiceless generation. We have nothing we can point to and say: "This is us, this is where we stand." We're lost and silent and we don't know what to do about it. We're sold a parody of culture that we buy because, well, what choice do we have?

This is a Gold Star article. There is some real insight in here. This is in line with how I feel about where we are right not culturally.

We're All Borf In the End

FM 3-24: Counterinsurgency
Topic: Society 1:26 pm EST, Dec 19, 2006

The Army has just updated its counterinsurgency manual; it includes an appendix on "Social Network Analysis and Other Analytical Tools".

FM 3-24: Counterinsurgency

2006 Quote of the Year
Topic: Society 5:21 pm EST, Dec 13, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen.. 2006's Quote of the Year is ... [ drum roll ]

"The Lexus has collided with the olive tree, and its crumpled hulk spins in a ditch as the orchard smolders." -- Bruce Sterling

This one doesn't need a context if you understand the reference. This quote would fit in editorials on a number of subjects.

And the runner-up:

"I'm an artillery officer, and I can't fire cannons at the internet." -- Brig Gen Mark Kimmitt US Central Command

2006 Quote of the Year

Universal Health Care: Realign the shareholder interests
Topic: Society 4:11 pm EST, Nov 19, 2006

You could provide universal health care but you'd have to radically re-align the system so that stakeholders compete based upon outcomes (ie results) instead of treating based upon episode and billing fee for service. This would not provide a system where every citizen would get the same "level" of health care service, but it would provide that every citizen would get quality affordable service based upon a tiering of cost per outcome. So the poor would get results, but the rich would get them faster, with more bells and whistles, and more conveniently at a higher price. Much like any other product or service you procure today.

Flynn23 provides some interesting insight into tackling the problems with our health care system.

Universal Health Care: Realign the shareholder interests

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

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

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