Why is the real world more hospitable to nerds? It might seem that the answer is simply that it's populated by adults, who are too mature to pick on one another. But I don't think this is true. Adults in prison certainly pick on one another. And so, apparently, do society wives; in some parts of Manhattan, life for women sounds like a continuation of high school, with all the same petty intrigues.
I think the important thing about the real world is not that it's populated by adults, but that it's very large, and the things you do have real effects. That's what school, prison, and ladies-who-lunch all lack. The inhabitants of all those worlds are trapped in little bubbles where nothing they do can have more than a local effect. Naturally these societies degenerate into savagery. They have no function for their form to follow. [...]
As far as I can tell, the concept of the hormone-crazed teenager is coeval with suburbia. I don't think this is a coincidence. I think teenagers are driven crazy by the life they're made to lead. Teenage apprentices in the Renaissance were working dogs. Teenagers now are neurotic lapdogs. Their craziness is the craziness of the idle everywhere.
I don't agree that the affect of hormones is totally fictional (nor do I know any woman who would). But I agree that circumstance is a powerful determinant.
Once you start dividing up the world in this way, it's easy to identify numerous self-important (and often brutal) environments that function without having much effect on the larger world. To school, prison, and ladies-who-lunch one might add the typical office, academia, even various weblog clusters.... (via miscmedia)[ 01/01/04 ]
[>] The Global politics of quake relief. [slithy popup!] Iran was lucky: among other things, the disaster happened during a festive, slow news period, which combined to tap the generosity of the Western world. This article includes a guide to Iranian quake relief, with links to the agencies that are active in the Bam relief effort.
[ 01/01/04 ]
[>] Two useful tools: Steve points me to the Charity Navigator which rates charitable organizations and compares their efficiency with others doing the same work. And the Conscious Consumer Marketplace allows you to quickly access your purchasing choices, and points you to sources for sustainable products. (via worldchanging)
[ 01/01/04 ]
Let's see, the currency converter tells us that today, 10,000.00 GBP coverts to 17,857.01 USD; and the inflation calculator converts $17,857.01 (1803) into $215,226.09 (2002), which gives us yet a third figure to contemplate.... (via anita)
[ 01/01/04 ]
[>] Kevin Drum wants to raise the minimum wage by indexing it to Congressional salaries. Legislated enlightened self-interest. One commenter notes that Wesley Clark's health care plan would 'would allow Americans without access to job-based health insurance to purchase coverage through the same system that insures members of Congress'. Equally brilliant, if ordinary citizens are offered the same coverage given to our representatives.
[ 01/01/04 ]
We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 'consumer advocate' for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.
[>] I guess I'm more out of touch with youth culture than I thought.. [slithy popup!]
New laws take effect on Jan. 1 in many states. Some are additions to the criminal code, while others are more about 'do' than 'do not.' [...]
Illinois lawmakers, worried about youths splitting their tongues, passed a law that allows dentists to perform the procedure, rather than tattoo shops. The hope is that the law will discourage most children from trying it.
[ 01/06/04 ]
[>] The next due date for Afghans for Afghans is March 5. They need wool, hand-knit and hand-crocheted blankets, hats, mittens, socks, sweaters, and vests. Here are their guidelines, patterns, and address.
[ 01/06/04 ]
[>] Dried Food is Simplicity Itself. This article (and others) recommends the dehydrators designed and sold by 87-year-old Gen MacManiman at dryit.com as the gold standard of dehydrators. I have had a copy of Gen's book Dry It--You'll Like It! for years and years, but I've never given it a go.
[ 01/06/04 ]
[>] Two new-to-me blogs of note: Theory of the Daily is a weblog after my own heart, focused as it is on 'The domestic and the everyday in literature, history, philosophy, and science'; and Bitchin' Kitchen is a collaborative cooking weblog. 'Break eggs the way you would a man's spirit'.
[ 01/06/04 ]
[>] Blood's Law of Weblog History: The year you discovered weblogs and/or started your own is 'The Year Blogs Exploded'. Corollary: the year after you started your blog is the beginning of 'Weblog Permanent September.'
Anil's Corollary: The first weblog you read is the one that invented the medium. [anil dash]
[ 01/06/04 ]
James Painter, chairman of Eastern Illinois University's Family and Consumer Sciences Department, who collaborated with Wansink on the experiment, said one student drank almost a quart of soup. 'I said, "What were you doing?" And he said, "I was trying to reach the bottom of the bowl,"' Painter said.
[ 01/08/04 ]
The most important point is to change our ideology for computer- mediated communication. The old thinking was that more information was better. If a unit of information were sent, it would have to be transmitted and received at all costs. The new thinking must be that human time is our most precious resource. Stop strip-mining it.
[ 01/08/04 ]
- We overestimate the short-term impacts of technology while underestimating long-term effects.
- Industries mature according to a pattern. They begin by being vendor-dominated but wind up with the consumer being sovereign.
- New technology always challenges the established order, and eventually a new equilibrium is reached.
(via michael gilbert)
[ 01/08/04 ]
- The mindset or paradigm out of which the goals, rules, feedback structure arise.
- The goals of the system.
- The power of self-organization.
- The rules of the system (incentives, punishment, constraints).
- Information flows.
- Driving positive feedback loops.
- Regulating negative feedback loops.
- Material stocks and flows.
- Numbers (subsidies, taxes, standards).
Numbers are last on my list of leverage points. Diddling with details, arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Probably ninety-five percent of our attention goes to numbers, but there's not a lot of power in them.
Not that parameters aren't important--they can be, especially in the short term and to the individual who's standing directly in the flow. But they RARELY CHANGE BEHAVIOR. If the system is chronically stagnant, parameter changes rarely kick- start it. If it's wildly variable, they don't usually stabilize it. If it's growing out of control, they don't brake it.
Whatever cap we put on campaign contributions, it doesn't clean up politics. The Feds fiddling with the interest rate haven't made business cycles go away. (We always forget that during upturns, and are shocked, shocked by the downturns.) Spending more on police doesn't make crime go away.
However, there are critical exceptions. Numbers become leverage points when they go into ranges that kick off one of the items higher on this list. Interest rates or birth rates control the gains around positive feedback loops.
It's very long, and probably worth printing out so that you can read it again at intervals. (via worldchanging)
[ 01/08/04 ]
[>] Dave points me to the British Inflation Calculator which give another answer to the question How rich was Fitzwilliam Darcy? According to Dave's calculations, £10,000 in 1803 would buy you the same amount of stuff as £488,808.29 in 2002. Using the currency converter, this comes out to $887,575.80, yet another estimate. Next week: How rich would I be in 1999?
[ 01/08/04 ]
[>] A little weekend reading: Life in Elizabethan England: A Compendium of Common Knowledge is a guide for reenactors that contains a wealth of interesting information about everyday life in renaissance England.
|stationer or bookseller
|milliner or hatter
|suit of clothes
|ready made clothes
(via the excellent larkfarm)
[ 01/09/04 ]
As far as possible Dawn organises her day much as a cook in Tudor times would have done, although she doesn't start work at the crack of dawn every day as her historic counterpart would have done. "The first thing I do when I come in is light the fire, as that was so important. The water is then heated up and then I may start to grind up some spices such as mustard seeds. I might make a pottage of leaf beet which is spinach, with sorrel, parsley and sage. The rich might have put in bacon, but not the poorer households. The pottage would be thickened with oats, barley or bread.'
(via Struggle in a Bungalow Kitchen)
[ 01/09/04 ]
[>] And lest we romanticize rustic life too much: Island Blogging Project is a BBC project providing weblogs to the residents of North Argyll. Bloggers write about Home, Community, and Work on the the remote islands off the West Coast of Scotland.
You know, an anthropologist has a treasure trove to work with here:
Thursday 8 in the bar. Some serious pool, Kenny got grannied and had to pay the penalty but he did manage to beat everybody at least once. There were only five in the bar by now, but they did take up an awful lot of space. A bit of arm wrestling was followed by much measuring of the anatomy, (not those bits, biceps and collar sizes), John Allan had to concede he wasn't the tallest in the bar.
Conversation included how old is old for horses [ed.--I'll bet that was a long one], John Deere tractors are nice and chunky, getting money refunded from internet orders, banks and call centres that don't understand mild Scottish accents. Also chocolate mousse cheesecake, and a slightly disturbing discussion on boxer shorts was interrupted by an animated disagreement on pool rules, thank goodness.
I don't think bar conversation really ever changes, not by time, and not by geography. What a beautiful glimpse of everyday life.
[ 01/09/04 ]
[M]y guess is that the next big progressive wave will be driven by some kind of major technological trend. I don't know what it is, but whatever it is, it's probably already underway.
Let me go on record as saying that my guess in that thread is wrong: upon reflection, I think that the time is ripe for Universal Healthcare: this issue will finally have the power to draw support from a broad enough base of constituencies to fuel a new progressive movement. Individuals, business owners and corporations, hospitals--nearly everyone--will benefit from a nationalized health care system. Basically everyone but the pharamaceutical companies and health insurance agencies themselves. That we don't already have one is a tribute to their enormous political power: only a coalition of everyone else will have the political clout to overcome their interest in keeping this broken system.
My suggestion for the next progressive wave--that we will need to rethink and adjust our ideas of capitalism in order to keep it a viable basis for our way of life--is more of a paradigm shift, one that is being driven by a major technological trend, and one that is already underway. Only corporations will benefit if we continue to use old theories to navigate this borderless new world. Not governments. Not small businesses. Certainly not everyday American citizens. I invite you to consider the evidence:
[ 01/13/04 ]
The twin powers of globalization and the Internet are indiscriminately eviscerating old business models across industries. 'Any industry that has enjoyed some kind of protected niche is now at risk,' says Clyde Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategy Institute, a Washington, DC, think tank. Five years back, business dreamed of the efficient nirvana implied by 'frictionless commerce.' Now, they're being smacked with a haunting new reality: Pricing power is dead. Distribution is out of their control. Capitalism has met the enemy, and it is capitalism.
[ 01/13/04 ]
One way to think of Wal-Mart is as a vast pipeline that gives non-U.S. companies direct access to the American market. 'One of the things that limits or slows the growth of imports is the cost of establishing connections and networks,' says Paul Krugman, the Princeton University economist. 'Wal-Mart is so big and so centralized that it can all at once hook Chinese and other suppliers into its digital system. So--wham!--you have a large switch to overseas sourcing in a period quicker than under the old rules of retailing.'
Steve Dobbins has been bearing the brunt of that switch. He's president and CEO of Carolina Mills, a 75-year-old North Carolina company that supplies thread, yarn, and textile finishing to apparel makers--half of which supply Wal-Mart. Carolina Mills grew steadily until 2000. But in the past three years, as its customers have gone either overseas or out of business, it has shrunk from 17 factories to 7, and from 2,600 employees to 1,200. Dobbins's customers have begun to face imported clothing sold so cheaply to Wal-Mart that they could not compete even if they paid their workers nothing.
'People ask, "How can it be bad for things to come into the U.S. cheaply? How can it be bad to have a bargain at Wal-Mart?" Sure, it's held inflation down, and it's great to have bargains,' says Dobbins. 'But you can't buy anything if you're not employed. We are shopping ourselves out of jobs.'
[ 01/13/04 ]
When Ricardo proposed his theory in the early 1800's, major factors of production--soil, climate, geography and even most workers--could not be moved to other countries. But today's vital factors of production--capital, technology and ideas--can be moved around the world at the push of a button. They are as easy to export as cars.
This is a very different world than Ricardo envisioned. When American companies replace domestic employees with lower-cost foreign workers in order to sell more cheaply in home markets, it seems hard to argue that this is the way free trade is supposed to work. To call this a 'jobless recovery' is inaccurate: lots of new jobs are being created, just not here in the United States.
[ 01/13/04 ]
[>] Henry Ford understood the benefit of cultivating a thriving working class in order to create a market for his goods. In this 1926 interview with Samuel Crowther, Why I Favor Five Days' Work With Six Days' Pay, he explained:
The more well-paid leisure workmen get, the greater become their wants. These wants soon become needs. Well-managed business pays high wages and sells at low prices. Its workmen have the leisure to enjoy life and the wherewithal with which to finance that enjoyment.
The industry of this country could not long exist if factories generally went back to the ten hour day, because the people would not have the time to consume the goods produced.
Ford didn't have to choose between a thriving class of consumers at home or abroad, and neither will multinational corporations--they're everywhere such a class exists. It matters not who buys their goods as long as the goods are bought.
[ 01/13/04 ]
The rise of the industrial Third World, with workers in those countries moving up the economic ladder, and the increasing economic power of India and China as producers and markets, combined with the growth of the EU, results in one thing happening over the next twenty years. The decline of the massive economic influence of the United States on the globe.
I guess we've been an economic superpower since World War II, if only by comparison to the countries that had to rebuild after that war. Our ideological stance against Communism combined with our inherited Puritan work ethic have given us a strong sense that our prosperity is primarily the result of the practical and moral superiority of our political and economic systems. We have given ourselves a little too much credit, perhaps: much of our prosperity is a matter of natural wealth and historical circumstance.
Accidents of history notwithstanding, action is the lever, and clearly we have been doing something right. The problems of consumerism are, after all, the problems of success. Many people are concerned about the harmful byproducts of a consumption-centered culture, but even the most extreme counter-culturalist wants to decide for himself which of our numerous luxuries to eschew.
Wouldn't it be interesting if history remembered George W. Bush as the president who, by weakening the US economy at a pivotal point in human technological and economic history, engineered the fall of the United States as an (economic/political/military) superpower? (And ponder the genius of the man who, way back in 1985, saw so clearly the choice we now face.)
[ 01/13/04 ]
I especially love Campaigndesk's categories: Fact Check, Hidden Angle, Local Story, Echo Chamber, Money Trail, Spin Reducer, Distortion, and Tip of the Hat. This is going to be a veritable course in media literacy.
Their site design needs some work, though. There no good reason for frames on this site, in fact, frames reduce the effectiveness of the site, since they makes it harder to bookmark categories. Also, please add permalinks to the 'posted' date so that bloggers and other online publishers can easily link to individual entries. (And you might want to add better titles to each of your pages. Oh, and a larger font would be easier for people to read.)
[ 01/15/04 ]
First, there's the matter of where the baker, Nasrullah, sits: right on top of the oven. It's a tandoor oven, basically a large clay pot with a hole in the top and a wood fire inside. Nasrullah squats as close to the lip of the oven as he can without becoming a long-lost brother of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Every few minutes, he takes a two-foot- long slab of dough and slaps it to the inner wall of the oven. Almost immediately, the dough gets puffy, turns tan, and emits an exquisite odor that draws Afghans from blocks around. Minutes later, the baker picks up two long iron tongs and gently tugs the bread from the tandoor wall and plops it in the waiting arms of his customer.
[ 01/15/04 ]
When liquid helium becomes a superfluid, the laws of quantum mechanics make all the atoms move coherently, like a regiment of soldiers. This is why flow in a superfluid, once started, cannot easily be stopped. In supersolid helium, all of the vacancies in the crystal likewise start to move coherently, which means that waves can progress through the lattice.
We live in trippy times. (via yawl)
[ 01/15/04 ]
[>] Fingertips is 'An intelligent guide to free and legal music on the web'. Bookmark This Week's Finds for an ongoing sampler of hand-selected MP3s. Don't miss their listing of free and legal MP3s by well-known artists.
[ 01/15/04 ]
[University of Kansas astronomer Adrian L. Melott] said a gamma ray beam striking the Earth would break up molecules in the stratosphere, causing the formation of nitrous oxide and other chemicals that would destroy the ozone layer and shroud the planet in a brown smog.
'The sky would get brown, but there would be intense ultraviolet radiation from the sun striking the surface.' he said. The radiation would be at least 50 times above normal, powerful enough to killed exposed life. In a second effect, the brown smog would cause the Earth to cool, triggering an ice age, Melott said.
[ 01/15/04 ]
The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner, and would disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one, is the healthy attitude of human nature. How is a boy the master of society; independent, irresponsible, looking out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences them on their merits, in the swift, summary way of boys, as good, bad, interesting, silly, eloquent, troublesome. He cumbers himself never about consequences, about interests; he gives an independent, genuine verdict. You must court him; he does not court you. [...]
Who can thus lose all pledge and, having observed, observe again from the same unaffected, unbiased, unbribable, unaffrighted innocence, must always be formidable, must always engage the poet's and the man's regards. Of such an immortal youth the force would be felt. He would utter opinions on all passing affairs, which being seen to be not private but necessary, would sink like darts into the ear of men and put them in fear.
[ 01/16/04 ]
Economists Peter Jay and Marshall Sahlins have both told stories that have essentially rewritten 'pre-civilization' history, changing our conception of hunter-gatherer cultures from poor, dirty and brutish to affluent, comfortable and carefree. Regardless of their focus, good stories change the way we think and therefore change who we are. They can even show us a new way to live, and hence be transformational.
[ 01/16/04 ]
[>] Michael Blowhard has written a terrific exposition on the difference between 'book people' and 'movie people'. While I don't entirely agree with his characterizations (I don't think DieHard 2 is trash), I can see exactly what he's getting at. On top of everything else, it's chock full of terrific links and wonderful author suggestions at the end. (via the always-excellent MiscMedia)
2 Blowhards, by the way, is a new-to-me culture blog, written in the form of letters between its two contributors.
[ 01/16/04 ]
[>] Two wonderful links, one from that thread, one from me:
[ 01/16/04 ]
Caroline's is the face of the working poor, marked by a poverty-generated handicap more obvious than most deficiencies but no different, really, from the less visible deficits that reflect and reinforce destitution. If she were not poor, she would not have lost her teeth, and if she had not lost her teeth, perhaps she would not have remained poor.
Poverty is a peculiar, insidious thing, not just one problem but a constellation of problems: not just inadequate wages but also inadequate education, not just dead-end jobs but also limited abilities, not just insufficient savings but also unwise spending, not just the lack of health insurance but also the lack of healthy households. The villains are not just exploitative employers but also incapable employees, not just overworked teachers but also defeated and unruly pupils, not just bureaucrats who cheat the poor but also the poor who cheat themselves.
Look at her. That's a proud American face, like lots of faces I've seen across the country. I know too many people who look down on people like her, who think they understand everything, but don't understand anything, about them. I know too many people who think their jobs and educational backgrounds and political views make them superior to everyone who isn't one of them. Who care in the abstract, but who wouldn't spend a single minute to find out what's going on with this one particular woman.
In my experience, people usually think their success is the result of their own hard work; unconsciously they extrapolate that poverty must result from laziness. But look around: the people whose work is hardest often make the lowest wage.
I'm always a little shocked by the fact that for so many people, books like Nickeled and Dimed and this one are news. I guess that's a good thing: for many Americans, college, with all its attendant safety nets, was the time when they were 'poor'. But it's a hard world out there, even in our prosperous country. Not everyone who deserves one gets a break. (via dangerousmeta)
[ 01/19/04 ]
...inequities in social costs are aspects of industrialized poverty for which economic indicators and objective verification can be found. Such is not true for the industrialized impotence which affects both rich and poor. Where this kind of poverty reigns, life without addictive access to commodities is rendered either impossible or criminal. Making do without consumption becomes impossible, not just for the average consumer but even for the poor. All forms of welfare, from affirmative action to environmental action, are of no help. The liberty to design and craft one's own distinctive dwelling is abolished in favor of the bureaucratic provision of standardized housing, as in the United States, Cuba or Sweden. The organization of employment, skills, building resources, rules, and credit favor shelter as a commodity rather than as an activity. Whether the product is provided by an entrepreneur or an apparatchik, the effective result is the same: citizen impotence, our specifically modern experience of poverty.
[ 01/19/04 ]
[>] January 1999, , Robert LaJeunesse: Toward an efficiency week.(correlation between shorter workweek and higher productivity).
American evidence of the efficiency-week effect may be more anecdotal than Europe's but it, nonetheless, does exist. On November 24, 1930, William Keith Kellogg implemented a six-hour day in his colossal cereal factory as a stratagem to alleviate unemployment in Battle Creek, Michigan. The progressive capitalist publicly proclaimed to Mayor William Perry that 'if we put in four six-hour shifts...instead of three eight-hour shifts, this will give work and paychecks to the heads of three hundred more families in Battle Creek' (Hunnicutt, 1996). Unexpectedly, Kellogg's six-hour day became much more than a cure for unemployment. The practice led to a more rewarding, restful, and fulfilling personal life for the Kellogg workers that spilled over into their work habits. When the productivity bonanza associated with the six-hour day became apparent to the company; the shortened workday grew into a way of life at Kellogg - persisting until 1985.
In his book Kellogg's Six-Hour Day, Benjamin Hunnicutt quotes an internal memo extolling the virtues of the company's reduced work durations. After five years of six-hour work days, the company brass concluded that the "burden (or overhead) unit cost was reduced 25%...labor unit costs reduced 10%...accidents reduced 41%...the severity of accidents (days lost per incident) improved 51%...[and] 39% more people were working at Kellogg's than in 1929.'
Let's bring back the progressive capitalist, shall we? [ 01/19/04 ]
[>] June 1996: The U.S. Wage Gap and the Decline of Manufacturing, Dean Baker, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, DC.
Clearly, the reasons that firms don't invest is not because they lack money. With profits at such high levels, this complaint is not plausible, at least for larger firms. Instead, these firms are choosing to buy stock and other financial assets with their money. In 1995, firms actually bought up over $200 billion more in stock than they issued. Since the stock market was hitting record highs last year, it was very cheap for large companies to get capital by issuing stock. Instead, they chose to buy back the stock they had already issued, using money that otherwise might have financed new plant and equipment. Buying back stock may have made sense from the standpoint of quarterly balance sheets, but the economy as a whole does not grow from purchases of paper assets. It grows from investment in real plant and equipment, and in people.
[ 01/19/04 ]
[>] For some reason, the Maher Arar situation is just now picking up steam in the weblog universe. I heard about this months ago, and I guess I thought the story was fairly common knowledge: On Sept. 26, 2002, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen was detained in an American airport on suspicion of terrorism. He was then deported to Syria, where he was tortured on our behalf. [slithy popup!] Read Arar's own account of his ordeal. Obsidian Wings has been following this case and has the entire rundown. (via rafe)
I guess the reason I didn't link this in the first place is that nothing from this Administration shocks me anymore. I suppose I feel that nothing will make a difference until we get another guy in the Oval Office.
[ 01/22/04 ]
[>] I think Wesley Clark would make a strong presidential candidate, but I'm more attracted to Howard Dean [slithy popup!], mostly because I would love to have a President with a minimum of debt to corporate interests and either political party. 'Outsiders' have no innate appeal for me: GW Bush was an outsider, and he's further inside the corporate pocket than any other President I've seen.
So why is everyone saying that Dean is unelectable? The other Democratic candidates want to make voters believe that's true. The Democratic party is disturbed by the thought that anyone could ignore traditional party mechanics and succeed. The press is suspicious of outsiders, too, and as Salon documented, has echoed RNC spin at an astonishing rate. (Click for the free all-day pass; it's a must-read article.)
But the response of the RNC and the right-wing political pundits to his campaign makes me think that, in their judgement, he is a credible threat. I don't believe they would waste limited column space on a candidate they didn't think was viable. They're not secretly hoping he'll be the Democratic candidate: They're shaking in their boots at the possibility that a man who speaks for ordinary people might gain power.
Here's the deal: Howard Dean is electable if we, the people, decide to make up our own minds.
[ 01/22/04 ]
[>] Researcher Devika Subramanian is designing a program that will use Bayesian networks to 'predict potential conflicts by analyzing the cumulative reporting in newspapers and wire services.'
Subramanian hopes that the program will be used to create reports that can be used alongside those prepared by staffers. "Even the best-intended humans bring their biases into which parts of the complex information landscape to focus on. You get different answers if you weight the factors differently," she says. "Since the computer doesn't know what patterns to look for, it looks for patterns that are much more agnostic."
Her program allows a "double-check": An objective, machine-created analysis that can be used to help verify the thoughtful analysis prepared by human beings. "The computer can look for patterns in non-stationary time series and social networks that humans are not prepared to see."
One unanticipated challenge? The number of war metaphors that show up in sports reporting. Another is that US news services underreport the incidents that would indicate a buildup to conflict.
"We would love to include local newspapers so we can include this essential reporting, but we don't have the manpower. We need more people who can read these languages. We have the algorithms; we're now trying to focus on getting the data."
Project Home Page: Events, Patterns, and Analysis: Forecasting International Conflict in the Twenty-First Century. [ 01/22/04 ]
All of our concepts are organized into conceptual structures called "frames" (which may include images and metaphors) and all words are defined relative to those frames. Conventional frames are pretty much fixed in the neural structures of our brains. In order for a fact to be comprehended, it must fit the relevant frames. If the facts contradict the frames, the frames, being fixed in the brain, will be kept and the facts ignored.
[ 01/22/04 ]
Guerrilla gardening is the art of using a piece of land which you do not own to grow something. One step removed from actual guerrilla warfare, guerrilla gardening takes land not for the people, but for nature; returning misused or disused land and finding a purpose for it.
[ 01/22/04 ]
"We are New Hampshire's only legendary super-band," [band member Curt Mackail] said in a phone interview. "Gov. Benson declared Nov. 24 'Aerosmith Day.' We want the governor to come to Portsmouth and declare a 'Jumbo Circus Peanuts' day. We've started a feud with Aerosmith," Mackail added breezily. "Except they don't know about it yet."
(via ever so humble)
[ 01/27/04 ]
[>] Isn't it interesting how desperate Democrats are to avoid choosing an unelectable candidate? This in spite of the last presidential election, which demonstrated that that's what the Republicans are stuck with.
[ 01/27/04 ]
[>] Garret points to this Metafilter thread on the special interests who are bankrolling our Presidential candidates. Everyone is owned by some organization. Still, it seems to me that the candidate supported by the largest proportion of donations from individuals is more beholden to the electorate than the others.
Dear Congress, can we get some real campaign finance reform, please?
[ 01/27/04 ]
In the food world a good start makes for a great finish. To find the best pork for our carnitas, we went to Niman Ranch, a collection of Midwestern family farmers dedicated to raising pigs under healthy, humane and natural conditions.
It's a paradise for porkers - with room to run, roam and root, free from the stress and confinement found on giant factory farms. They eat only natural grains and grasses. And the result is pork with denser marbling, unequaled tenderness and noticeably more natural flavor.
We know raising pigs the right way costs a bit more. But because it promotes respect for the animals and the land, supports traditional family farming, and gives so much flavor to your carnitas burrito or bol, it's worth the price.
Doing the right thing never tasted so good.
There is some mythologizing going on here: apart from the idyllic nature scenes, Niman farmers exist on a few edges of the United States, too. (It is kind of neat that you can trace your side of meat back to the source). But this seems to be the niche that organic produce has found: upscale markets that are willing to pay a little more for perceived quality or (more recently) safety. Back in the day, no one thought organic anything would ever be advertised on the side of a fast food cup.
North Dakota people see the erosion of family farming as an inevitability," Podoll said. And for those who choose to stay in the industrial ag mode, she said she believes it is. In that system, "the writing's pretty much on the wall," she said. "Farms will continue to get bigger and use more heavy-handed technology."
Organic farming is friendly to family farming because it needs more "eyes per acre," Podoll said. It also can use more hands and raises a more profitable product. Organic wheat, for example, can bring twice the per bushel price of nonorganic, she said.
Mittleider also farms organically because he can make a living on less land. The myth is that organic acres yield fewer bushels. Not true, he said -- "we outyield the big guys," he said. One of the big operator's conventional acreages could support 10 to 15 organic farming families, he said. Those people would then support towns and schools, he said.
Say, what's up with that URL ending in .txt?
[ 01/27/04 ]
On average, farm-raised salmon have an order of magnitude higher load of cancer causing POPs (persistent organic pollutants) than wild caught salmon. This is not new. In fact over the last few years three other such studies -- albeit much smaller -- have come to nearly identical conclusions. As the dust settles around the current research, attention is shifting to consumer reaction and what effect this news will have on the aquaculture industry. [...]
As with most enviro-social dilemmas, there is hope, and options are available to consumers. The wild Pacific salmon fishery, contrary to popular belief, is not dead. [...] Advances in flash freezing at sea have resulted in continent-wide availability of a prime product 12 months of the year. In fact, for anyone who cares about what she/he eats, Internet communication and entrepreneurial spirit have combined to make it possible to buy fish (not just salmon) directly from the fisherman, regardless of location (some even have on-board Web cams). Supporting these fisheries not only does your body a service but also helps to support the dozens of coastal communities hurt by plummeting salmon prices.
The major hurdle to the informed consumer is the current lack of labeling in supermarkets and restaurants. Without consistent labeling (farmed or wild, country of origin), the consumer cannot make an informed decision.
Labelling! Label our food and let the market decide. (via dangerousmeta)[ 01/27/04 ]
"Well, society may be in its infancy," said Egremont slightly smiling; "but, say what you like, our Queen reigns over the greatest nation that ever existed."
"Which nation?" asked the younger stranger, "for she reigns over two."
The stranger paused; Egremont was silent, but looked inquiringly.
"Yes," resumed the younger stranger after a moment's interval. "Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws."
"You speak of--" said Egremont, hesitatingly.
"THE RICH AND THE POOR."
[ 01/29/04 ]
We have democratized elitism in this country. There is no longer a clear pecking order, with the Vanderbilts and the Biddles and the Roosevelts at the top and everybody else down below. Everybody gets to be an aristocrat now. And the number of social structures is infinite. You can be an outlaw-biker aristocrat, a corporate-real-estate aristocrat, an X Games aristocrat, a Pentecostal-minister aristocrat. You will have your own code of honor and your own field of accomplishment. And everybody can be a snob, because everybody can look down from the heights of his mountaintop at those millions of poor saps who are less accomplished in the field of, say, skateboard jumping, or who are total poseurs when it comes to financial instruments, or who are sadly backward when it comes to social awareness or the salvation of their own souls.
Communications technology has expanded the cultural space. We now have thousands of specialized magazines, newsletters, and Web sites catering to every social, ethnic, religious, and professional clique. You can construct your own multimedia community, in which every magazine you read, every cable show you watch, every radio station you listen to, reaffirms your values and reinforces the sense of your own rightness. It is possible, maybe even inevitable, that you will slide into a solipsism that allows you precious little contact with people totally unlike yourself. But in your enclosed sphere you will feel very important.
Don't let the fact that this is written by David Brooks dissuade you from reading the whole piece. It's got lots of smart things to say. I would argue that this effect is strongest in the upper-middle classes and beyond, but if you're reading this site, I'll wager it describes your world.
These are different but related phenomena: economic stratification and social fragmentation. DeLong would argue that we are on a headlong course with the first (I am afraid he's right.). I have been arguing for some time that we are in the midst of the other. The second is going to make it very difficult to right the first.
[ 01/29/04 ]
Voters vote their identities, not their self-interest.
[ 01/29/04 ]
Meanwhile, Leah has discovered GK Chesterton, who I am certainly going to have to read:
When people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult, but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the world. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless, and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give up... How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone. No, a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.
I wonder if Chesterton volunteered to take on some of this huge work, or if he preferred to speculate upon it from afar?
I've been thinking for years that we got off track when we accepted the devaluation of 'women's work' in our struggle to enter the workplace. In part, this was the natural reaction of so many women who were slotted into traditional roles without being consulted, or paid less in the workplace for equal effort. It's also a reaction to the fact that such work has traditionally been part of a large parallel gift economy.
Though clearly household management, and child and elder care are economically valuable and in fact critical to everyday life--we wouldn't hire people to do them for us, otherwise--in our culture, money legitimizes activity, and in the traditional family, this work has been unpaid. Accepting whole cloth the notion that work which happens outside the home is 'important' and 'creative', and that the functions of daily life are 'unskilled drudgery' is just a mindless acceptance of Victorian class and gender roles.
[ 01/29/04 ]
THE CORPORATION engages us in a darkly amusing account of the institution's birth as a legal “person” whose prime directive is to produce ever-increasing profit for it's shareholders regardless of the cost to anyone, or anything else. This pathological nature wasn't always written in stone. 150 years ago a corporation was merely an organized way of doing business. Today it is is a global power.
Considering the odd legal fiction that deems a corporation a "person" in the eyes of the law, the feature documentary employees a checklist, based on actual diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and DSM IV, the standard tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. What emerges is a disturbing diagnosis.
Self-interested, amoral, callous and deceitful, a corporation's operational principles make it anti-social. It breaches social and legal standards to get its way even while it mimics the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. It suffers no guilt. Diagnosis: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath.
I'd like to see Eliot's take on this diagnosis. (thanks, lizard!)
[ 01/29/04 ]
[>] It's hard to wrap your head around the cultural messages in the upcoming iTunes/Pepsi Superbowl ad.
Some 20 teens sued by the Recording Industry Association of America, which accuses them of unauthorized downloads, will appear in a Pepsi- Cola (PEP) ad that kicks off a two-month offer of up to 100 million free--and legal--downloads from Apple's iTunes, the leading online music seller.
Annie Leith, a 14- year-old from Staten Island, appears with other downloaders in the ad, which features music by Green Day. The band cut a special version of the 1966 Bobby Fuller Four hit I Fought the Law for the ad, by BBDO, New York. In the ad, Leith holds a Pepsi and proclaims: "We are still going to download music for free off the Internet." Then the announcer says how: "Announcing the Pepsi iTunes Giveaway."
On the one hand, the ad sort of downplays the seriousness of this crime--after all, the 'criminals' are the ones featured in the ad. How bad can their crime be if respected corporations are willing to hire them to promote their product? Both companies are trying to appeal to the rebelliousness of their teen audience. On the other hand, the message of the ad is all law and order. Now there is a legal way to do that bad thing you've been wanting to do. And it's free. For the price of a cola.
So, wink, wink, nod, nod, all that file sharing was in good fun, wasn't it, the establishment really doesn't get it, but now we can help you do it for free. It's a brilliant strategy, but I notice that Pepsi isn't featuring convicted vending machine vandals in their campaign.....
[ 01/30/04 ]
During this year's Super Bowl, you'll see ads sponsored by beer companies, tobacco companies, and the Bush White House. But you won't see the winning ad in MoveOn.org Voter Fund's Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest. CBS refuses to air it.
Meanwhile, the White House and Congressional Republicans are on the verge of signing into law a deal which Senator John McCain (R-AZ) says is custom-tailored for CBS and Fox, allowing the two networks to grow much bigger. CBS lobbied hard for this rule change; MoveOn.org members across the country lobbied against it; and now the MoveOn.org ad has been rejected while the White House ad will be played. It looks an awful lot like CBS is playing politics with the right to free speech.
Sure enough, from his Statement Of Senator John Mccain On The FY '04 Omnibus:
I would like to turn to Section 629 of the Commerce, Justice, State Division of the omnibus. This provision would undo the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) June 2 decision to incrementally raise the national television broadcast station ownership cap from 35% to 45%. Instead, the provision would set the ownership cap at 39%. [...]
Substantively, this provision is objectionable because, while purporting to address public concerns about excessive media consolidation, it really addresses only the concerns of special interests. It is no coincidence that 39 percent is the exact ownership percentage of Viacom's CBS network and one percentage point higher than the reach of the Fox network. As I have stated before, I am not certain about where the exact line should be drawn, and whether a 45% cap is correct. It is clear, however, that the choice of 39% has nothing to do with analytical data, and everything to do with not unduly upsetting the status quo.
Scroll down to 'Media Ownership Provisions' to read the whole thing.
I've heard McCain remark before that Telecommunications Issues receive scant press coverage, presumably because media owners themselves will benefit.
[ 01/28/04 ]