.: 2004 --> february
[>] I am just finishing up Bruce Schneier's Beyond Fear, and I recommend it without reservation. It's clear, rational, and very readable. Schneier is smart, level-headed, and has a deep understanding of security. After reading his book, I trust him to accurately gauge both the efficacy and the trade-offs of any given security solution.
So please read his latest article, Slouching Toward Big Brother.
We need to weigh each security countermeasure. Is the additional security against the risks worth the costs? Are there smarter things we can be spending our money on? How does the risk of terrorism compare with the risks in other aspects of our lives: automobile accidents, domestic violence, industrial pollution, and so on? Are there costs that are just too expensive for us to bear?
Unfortunately, it's rare to hear this level of informed debate. Few people remind us how minor the terrorist threat really is. Rarely do we discuss how little identification has to do with security, and how broad surveillance of everyone doesn't really prevent terrorism. And where's the debate about what's more important: the freedoms and liberties that have made America great or some temporary security?
If Schneier says we're headed down the path to a surveillance society that is no more secure than the free one we used to enjoy, I believe him. Once we have settled on a Democratic candidate, it's time to start a 'Schneier for Homeland Security' campaign.
[ 02/03/04 ]
So the plot thickened. Not everyone went without attempted therapy. The Tuskegee study was meant to be a study of men with later stage latent syphilis, who had been infected for at least five years and were not contagious. One Tuskegee research report states: 'The patients [in the study] who had syphilis were all in the latent stage: any acute cases requiring treatment were carefully screened out for standard therapy.' It would appear that those who were in the early stages of infection were treated. It is only in the early stages of infection that sores appear; those sores disappear with the passage of time. It is also only during the early stages that the disease is contagious, which is also when the therapies of the 1930s were ideally administered and thought to have their greatest effect. [...]
But most importantly I learned that there is a plausible counter-narrative about the Tuskegee study that has received rather little press coverage, has not entered public consciousness (although it can be found in some academic writings) and, perhaps because it does not fit with the discourse of horror, has not figured in the official literature seeking to justify the post-Tuskegee evolution of the IRB system of research regulation. Whether this counter-narrative can survive open debate and responsible, impartial cross-examination remains to be seen, but it is a story that is plausible enough to deserve a more public hearing.
For a counterpoint to his article, Shweder recommends Racism and Research: The Case of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Says Sweder: 'Allan Brandt is not only a critic of the counter-narrative but might well be my nominee to brilliantly debate the issue in any public hearing.'
[ 02/03/04 ]
What you have is rather like birds on the Galapagos islands -- an isolated population with unique selective pressures resulting in evolutionary divergence from the mainland population. There's no reason you should be able to understand what these academics are saying because, for several generations, comprehensibility to outsiders has not been one of the selective criteria to which they've been subjected. What's more, it's not particularly important that they even be terribly comprehensible to each other, since the quality of academic work, particularly in the humanities, is judged primarily on the basis of politics and cleverness. In fact, one of the beliefs that seems to be characteristic of the postmodernist mind set is the idea that politics and cleverness are the basis for all judgments about quality or truth, regardless of the subject matter or who is making the judgment. A work need not be right, clear, original, or connected to anything outside the group. Indeed, it looks to me like the vast bulk of literary criticism that is published has other works of literary criticism as its principal subject, with the occasional reference to the odd work of actual literature tossed in for flavoring from time to time.
Includes instructions for deconstructing at home. (via erik benson)
[ 02/03/04 ]
The 72-year-old actor, who lives in Camarillo, is one of 13 candidates running against President Bush in the Republican primary. Laughlin, who first ran for president as a Democrat in 1992, said he's campaigning to draw attention to a two-party system he deemed "so corrupt it can't function anymore."
He described himself as a "messenger" candidate and said he wasn't disappointed by the New Hampshire primary, in which he earned 154 votes to Bush's nearly 34,000.
One tin soldier rides away.... (thanks, lizard!)
[ 02/03/04 ]
[>] Wardrobe Malfunction Scores Highest Reaction Ever on TiVo. Plus: Drudge says CBS knew. (Not one bit worksafe.)
[ 02/03/04 ]
Ohio State University: Container Vegetable Gardening
Iowa State University: Container Vegetable Gardening [pdf]
Iowa State University: Small Plot Vegetable Gardening [pdf]
GardenWeb: What vegetables can I grow in a container?
Virginia Cooperative Extension: Vegetables Suited to Container Growing
[>] You know, if I were a parent, I don't think I'd be very concerned about a bare breast being flashed on screen for a few minutes. After all, the entire show was pretty
tedious tasteless, wasn't it? I think I might have been concerned about the message conveyed by a man forcibly undressing a woman, with or without a piece of red lace underneath. But an FCC investigation?
Twenty years ago, Ireland was overweight, out-of-shape and nearly crippled by back pain from a car accident. She started lifting weights about four years ago as physical therapy for her back, and says it has transformed her life.
Now she weighs 30 pounds less, feels great and enjoys the confidence that comes from knowing she could lift many of her co-workers over her head.
Well, I would think so. (thanks, lizard!)
[ 02/05/04 ]
[>] The Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850 - 1920 presents over 9,000 images, with database information, relating to the early history of advertising in the United States. The materials, drawn from the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University, provide a significant and informative perspective on the early evolution of this most ubiquitous feature of modern American business and culture.
[ 02/06/04 ]
The problem is bizarre. From an economic viewpoint, if information were like other commodities then beyond an initial threshold we ought to find both the marginal cost and the marginal value of the next piece of information falling with quantity. The more that is produced the less it ought to cost per unit, and the more we accumulate the less additional pieces ought to be worth. Hence our life ought to get easier in information rich environments. The missing premise is quality. [...]
In the next section we explore a further consequence of increased information supply: a partially justified belief that there are always higher quality facts somewhere other than where we are looking.
(Unless you're trying to prove a particular point, of course, in which case it's just a matter of finding someone authoritative who will say what you already think is true.)
It's a long article, but essential reading, with very smart and pointed suggestions for knowledge management professionals, interaction designers, programmers, and anyone else who spends time trying to design (physical or virtual) environments for working and learning:
It is simply not possible to find effective designs for both advanced users and beginners. For that reason our focus here is on intermediate users and beyond. But, we will not go far wrong in assuming that ordinary people are near expert in their daily activities. So to design everyday environments, rather than software environments, we may assume that we are looking for ways of enhancing the activities of everyday experts.
Fellow information overload sufferers might find a few ideas to help them self-prescribe.
My husband has been telling me for months that once we have terabyte desktop storage, the problem of information management--in the sense of knowing whether to store, pass on, or discard information--is simply outdated. With essentially unlimited storage, you just save everything. The problem then becomes identifying and retrieving pertinent or particular information from that massive pile of data.
Everyone seems to think Google has solved the search problem once and for all, but that's simply not true. Google will show you the most popular results, and that's often good enough; but I frequently find that I can only find particular or pertinent information by using services that search using a different approach. In only a few years, it won't just be the Web that confounds you, it will be your personal computer. Search is about to get big again.
[ 02/10/04 ]
[>] Modular Origami is sort of like math:
Jim Plank's Origami Page
Rona Gurkewitz' Modular Origami Polyhedra Systems Page
Modular Origami Design Encyclopedia
Modular Origami VRML Models
[>] Just as it is good practice never to point a gun--even when you know it is unloaded--at another person, I believe it is good practice never to insert a metal object into a toaster, even if it is unplugged. This is a matter of developing sound habits, not rationality.
[ 02/10/04 ]
[>] This is one of my all-time favorite Pockets. Each of these articles is fascinating in its own right, and each one expands the other two. I hope you'll read them all.
[ 02/12/04 ]
You will be hard pressed, however, to find an American who revels in his or her garbage -- most of us are subconsciously consumed by guilt as we consume still more cardboard boxes full of stuff. When we purchase things to satisfy intangible desires, we end up with very tangible piles of waste we feel ambivalent about. From this contradiction comes our neurotic, utterly revealing disposal habits. You might even call them Freudian. [...]
With clothing, Alter' says, "often, people are letting go of a lifestyle and an identity. They're de-Gapifying. Or, if they're a gay guy, they're getting rid of all of their fashion-designer stuff." Alter' frequently picks up Hispanic day laborers to help him do a dump run, and they'll end up wearing the pricey remains of someone's carefully crafted identity. Alter' laughs, but then he gets serious as he talks about the sweatshops worldwide that produce goods cheaply so we can buy them and throw them away. "Sometimes, I'll introduce my helper to my clients," he says. "I'll say, 'This is Manuel, and he came all the way from Chiapas, Mexico, just to move your junk away.' I want them to see there's a bigger picture."
(via all about george)
[ 02/12/04 ]
Viewers write long, importuning letters describing unabashedly the slovenly states of their homes, which they will gladly reveal to a national television audience if only Oprah will send them some help. If the winner is really lucky, it is Morganstern herself who will make a visit, bringing along her Hefty bags and plastic sorter baskets and brisk 'nothing shocks me' professionalism. The houses are never squalid; what they are is crammed to the gunwales with stuff--stuff that's been packed into drawers and cupboards and closets, no rhyme or reason to it, and not an inch of space to spare. No matter how big the kitchens are (and many of them are plenty big), they are never big enough, in part because the success of buy-in-bulk superstores has left people with an astonishing, pre-apocalyptic quantity of supplies.
The video tour that begins each segment often reveals curious, forgotten outposts of spaghetti sauce or Formula 409 in the garage or beneath the stairs. No matter what area of the house is under consideration (medicine cabinet, linen closet, kids' rooms), it is sure to be an absolute horror. In the old days, of course, this kind of general chaos would occasion a thorough spring-cleaning, with the children sent upstairs to clear out the mess underneath their beds, and Dad dispatched to the garage under similar orders. But nowadays the home is foreign territory, a kind of very large hotel suite unintended for long-term habitation, and when the whole thing gets so overstuffed that it threatens to explode, the time has come to call on an expert.
[>] So Much Clutter, So Little Room: Examining the Roots of Hoarding [yet another slithy popup!]
...compulsive hoarding is being recognized as a widespread behavioral disorder, one that is particularly acute in cities like New York, where space is at a premium. The pack rat behavior ranges from egregious cases that endanger lives to more commonplace collecting that resonates with anyone who has ever stacked magazines to read later or bought more shoes than the closet will hold. [...]
There are three facets to the problem, [professor of psychology Randy O. Frost] said: enormous emotional difficulty throwing things away; compulsive acquisition--sometimes by buying things, but often by picking them up for free--and a high level of disorganization and clutter.
Many of the people afflicted seem to be unusually intelligent, he said. "They see more connections between things, which leads them to value those things much more than the rest of us do."
The disorders of affluence are tricky. This seems like an opportunistic infection to me.[ 02/12/04 ]
But the least fun to be had on the show is among the young men, all of whom seem to be adhering to some 1950s code of business success: They wear suits. They call Trump "Sir." (Some of the women have taken to calling him "Donald.") They are respectful, if terrified, around the women. They have clearly grown up in an era of political correctness; if the ladies' hooker-gear offends them, they never mention it. Does it bother them that they could not have done to their female waitresses what the women did to themselves last week--dressed up in tiny "shooters girls" (a play on Hooters girls) T-shirts and insisted that Planet Hollywood patrons do shots with them? If the guys had asked women to do it they'd have been sued for harassment. Since when is sex a game only women can play?
On reality TV, maybe, but in real life? Hint: if it did, there would never have been a glass ceiling. (thanks, jim!)
[ 02/13/04 ]
In the early 1970s the Suffragists Oral History Project, under the auspices of the Bancroft Library's Regional Oral History Office, collected interviews with twelve leaders and participants in the woman's suffrage movement. Tape-recorded and transcribed oral histories preserved the memories of these remarkable women, documenting formative experiences, activities to win the right to vote for women, and careers as leaders of the movements for welfare and labor reform, world peace, and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
[ 02/13/04 ]
[>] February 17, 2004: Negro College Students Launch 'Sit Down' Demand For Service At Downtown Lunch Counter. (Sometimes it doesn't matter if you don't get served right away.)
[ 02/17/04 ]
The benumbing euphemism for the newly permitted top-to-bottom information and entertainment control is "vertical integration." In Philadelphia, Comcast not only owns the hometown basketball team, but owns its stadium, owns the cable sports channel televising the games as well as owning the line that brings the signal into Philadelphians' houses. Soon: ESPN, too. Go compete against, or argue with, that head-to-toe control — and then apply that chilling form of integration to cultural events and ultimately to news coverage.
The reason given by giants to merge with other giants is to compete more efficiently with other enlarging conglomerates. The growing danger, however, is that media giants are becoming fewer as they get bigger. The assurance given is "look at those independent Internet Web sites that compete with us" — but all the largest Web sites are owned by the giants.
How are the media covering their contraction? (I still construe the word "media" as plural in hopes that McCain will get off his duff and Bush will awaken.) Much of the coverage is "gee-whiz, which personality will be top dog, which investors will profit and which giant will go bust?"
[>] Martin Roell has started a Job Blog, where he is featuring friends who are looking for work. And though I don't know Martin well, I would definitely move any individual he recommended to the top of my resume pile.
[ 02/17/04 ]
Who will program the user preferences for the intelligent house? Mom? Dad? The kids? Will the intelligent house be able to meaningfully average these preferences? Does control of the intelligent house's preferences alter the balance of power within the family? Will this make the family more or less stable? Should local, state or federal laws be able to be passed which regulate some of these preferences? What if some settings could endanger children? What if some settings are only used by criminals? What if some settings are good, but not perfect, indicators that child molesters live in the house?
[ 02/19/04 ]
In Denver, a gathering called Scum of the Earth, started by a Christian rock band and named after a passage in I Corinthians, features pizza and a D.J.
Many emerging churches, including Bluer, have revived medieval liturgies or practices, including prayer labyrinths and lectio divina, or sacred reading, a process of intense meditation and prayer over a short biblical passage. Some borrow Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox rituals that pre-date the Enlightenment.
"The Orthodox practices represent stability," Mr. Musick said.
[ 02/19/04 ]
V THE HIEROPHANT
THE CARD: Howard Jones is the Hierophant, an embodiment of spirituality, the Word made flesh. He pursues knowledge, understanding, world views, and faith, but he does these things in a fairly mild and conventional manner.
[ 02/19/04 ]
"While the United States remains the world leader in technology and in its ability to attract top talent, a cluster of Northern European nations--Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium--appear to have distinctive assets with which to compete. These countries have considerable technological capabilities, have invested and continue to invest in developing creative talent, and also appear to have the values and attitudes that are associated with the ability to attract creative talent from the outside." Though the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, Canada have put their faith in tax cuts as an economic stimulus, [Richard] Florida claims they are wrong. "The highest tax locations in the U.S. have the fastest growth," he notes. "Low tax rates and deregulation don't attract people. They're looking for economic opportunities and lifestyle opportunities.
"The labour market for creative people is global," he insists. "Quality of place matters. It's not just about low taxes and cheap goods. The message is that we need to invest in people and places. That means schools and the urban realm, not giant projects. We must emphasize what's unique about a place, not what's generic.
[ 02/20/04 ]
[>] A Tragedy of Errors, a history of American neoconservatism written by former neoconservative Michael Lind, reveals, among other things, the surprising Marxist roots of the modern neoconservative movement:
Along with other traditions that have emerged from the anti-Stalinist left, neoconservatism has appealed to many Jewish intellectuals and activists, but it is not, for that reason, a Jewish movement. Like other schools on the left, neoconservatism recruited from diverse "farm teams," including liberal Catholics (William Bennett and Michael Novak began on the Catholic left) and populists, socialists and New Deal liberals in the South and Southwest (the pool from which Jeane Kirkpatrick, James Woolsey and I were drawn). There were, and are, very few Northeastern WASP mandarins in the neoconservative movement, for the same reason that there were few on the older American left, which tended to mirror the New Deal coalition of ethnic and regional outsiders.
A few other neoconservative mythologies are debunked along the way:
David Brooks recently claimed in the New York Times that only "full-mooners" believe that neoconservative institutions like the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) have any influence on Bush Administration policy because PNAC "has a staff of five and issues memos on foreign policy." [...] Brooks continued: "In truth, the people labeled neocons... travel in widely different circles and don't actually have much contact with one another."
In truth--to use Brooks's phrase--among those who have signed PNAC letters are Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle and Robert Kagan. PNAC is run by William Kristol, who edits The Weekly Standard, for which Brooks writes, and is the son of Irving Kristol, founder of The Public Interest and former publisher of The National Interest, who wrote a book called Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, and is married to the neoconservative historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, William's mother. Norman Podhoretz, the former editor of Commentary, is the father of John Podhoretz, a neoconservative editor and columnist who has worked for the Reverend Moon's Washington Times and the New York Post, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns The Weekly Standard and Fox Television. Norman is the father-in-law of Elliott Abrams, the former Iran/contra figure and former head of the neocon Ethics and Public Policy Center and the director of Near Eastern affairs at the National Security Council.... [ed: the list goes on]
[ 02/20/04 ]
The necessary elements in eliminating extreme poverty are: political will and increased resources, a long-term commitment, a multilateral approach and a coherent policy strategy that pursues fully the recommendations outlined in our agenda. This paper outlines the critical need for U.S. leadership in the following areas:
- Investing in People: Promoting Development Through Healthy, Educated People and Economic Opportunity
- Investing in Countries: Supporting Good Governance and Open Political and Economic Systems
- Making Markets Work: Opening the Global Marketplace to Poor Countries and Poor People
- New Initiatives: Encouraging Innovative Approaches and Public-Private Partnerships
As business and civic leaders, we know that extreme poverty will never be eliminated without significant private investment to spur growth and enable poor countries to move up the economic ladder. For this to happen, however, governments must create environments where private investment and initiative can flourish through open political and economic systems, investments in human development, and the establishment of rule of law.
Take the case of an 8-year-old boy in Boston. He was frequently missing school because of asthma attacks, and his mother was missing work so often for doctors' appointments that she was in danger of losing her low-wage job. It was a case typical of poor neighborhoods, where asthma runs rampant among children who live amid the mold, dust mites, roaches and other triggers of the disease.
Pediatricians at the Boston Medical Center did what they could with inhalers and steroids, and then dispatched a nurse to inspect the family's apartment. She found a leaky pipe and a wall-to-wall carpet where mites could survive the most vigorous vacuuming. The mother asked the landlord to repair the pipe and remove the rug. Nothing happened. The nurse wrote the landlord a letter. Nothing.
So the pediatrics department turned to its staff of five lawyers, hired for just this kind of situation. "After two telephone conversations with our lawyer," said Dr. Barry Zuckerman, the department's chairman, "the landlord took up the carpeting and fixed the leaky pipe." Within weeks, the boy was back in school regularly and his mother was able to keep her job.
This is a model of what needs to be done for low-income families. Unfortunately, it is employed too rarely by private and government agencies, which tend to tackle only the problem the poor present to a particular office. The assistance is often shallow and temporary and, as a result, leaves people vulnerable to the next crisis.
[ 02/26/04 ]
[>] In a country with this much opportunity--and immigrants founding successful businesses every day--it's easy to fall into the mindset that the poor have somehow brought it upon themselves. It's true that sometimes poverty is the result of bad choices; but sometimes the good choice throws families to the wolves.
[ 02/26/04 ]
There are now forty-seven evening classes meeting at the House weekly, twenty-five evening clubs for adults, seventeen afternoon clubs for children, the Hull-House Music School, a choral society for adults, a children's chorus, a children's sewing school, a training school for kindergartners, a trades union for young women.
In daily use are the nursery, the kindergarten, the playground, the penny provident bank, an employment bureau, a sub-station of the Chicago post office. A trained nurse reports to the house every morning and noon, to take charge of the sick-calls for the neighborhood; a kindergartner visits daily sick and crippled children. The coffeehouse serves an average of 250 meals daily, and furnishes noonday lunches to a number of women's clubs; soups and broths and wholesome food are bought by neighbors from its kitchen, and bread from its bakery, adorned with the label of the bakers' unions, goes out to the Lewis Institute, to grocery stores, to neighbors' tables.
Sunday afternoon concerts and Sunday evening lectures are given in the gymnasium from September to June. The holiday season has its own round of festivities; receptions, mothers' meetings, neighborhood parties, make glad the winter evenings and excursions on the lake, to parks and to woods, temper the summer days.
[ 02/26/04 ]
[I]nstead of trying to direct user behavior, Orkut must refocus on building an infrastructure that will enable user-directed “better than reality” connections. Building pre-specified user interactions into a comprehensive service is a waste of time. Building a solid system that will enable users to connect on their own terms would set Orkut apart. Otherwise, users will move to the next social networking application as soon as it is unveiled.
[ 02/26/04 ]
[ 02/26/04 ]
The opening of societies such as China and India, with large populations that value education and have lower living costs -- the New York Times on Sunday profiled a customer-service representative living in Bangalore, India, who was able to pay rent, have a cell phone, make frequent visits to night clubs, buy new clothes and send money to her parents, all on a salary of just $400 a month -- has tapped a rich vein of new workers.
If the global economy does not grow fast enough to raise the level of demand to match that vast new supply of workers, some economists worry, then the price of labor -- wages and salaries -- will certainly fall, with or without education.
[ 02/27/04 ]
But my associates that have visited China have related some very simple observations that speak volumes, and for me bring some clarity to the challenge ahead. These simple data points tell a much bigger story than trade policy and economic statistics ever will.
The factories that my friends visited were outside of the major urban centers. These factories were in "mini-cities" that consisted of the central factory, and few other buildings or shops. The workers in these factories live in high rise dorms that are attached to the factory. As you drive down the access roads, these factory towns spring up with some regularity.
When you drive into the city, you see clothes hanging out of virtually every window in the dorms. My friends deduced correctly that these people do not have access to laundry facilities, and were using their windows as clothes dryers. They were surprised to find out that these outdoor dryers were also the workers closets! These dorm rooms are very small and narrow slots with 4 beds to a room. There is no additional space for storage, so they hang the clothes outside.
The workers in one factory were predominately teen-aged girls and young women that were recruited from the surrounding area. They are paid 30 cents per hour, and provided with food from the factory cafeteria. There is a recreational center in the dorm, but there were no other signs of public access facilities or privacy areas. And here is the kicker. These jobs are coveted.
[ 02/27/04 ]
As We are about to have our first great Battle in this State between Corporate Greed, and the great Plain People, the Strugle [sic] will be a Desperate one, and must be fought to a finish. Determining, whether it shall be Masters, and Slaves, or a free People in fact as well as in Name. And few, Reading thinking Men in America, Deny the Slavery of the Masses. to the Money Power of our Country, and a large Portion of our People, having lost all faith in our present Political Parties for any Reforms that would wrest the Masses of our People from Corporate Greed. Or give them any rights, that corporate Greed would have to respect...
[ 02/27/04 ]