Jan 29, 2007

I've wanted to write something similar to this: The trajectory of a society matters. (I've retitled it for my link as I don't think the original really captures the point.)

I'm fairly confident that one of the reasons why my political views differ from others is the firm belief that what we have here in the US and civilized world, where we don't worry about where our next meal is coming from or whether we'll have good water to drink and that sort of thing, is more fragile than most people think. Things that we take for granted like a certain degree of trust in the government, the ability to trust our business associates (and we all have hundreds of business associates), and the reasonable expectation that nobody is going to point a gun at me today, are all vitally important components of our society. No matter how strong those characteristics might become, we can never afford to be blasé about them, because the "tipping point" where it all comes apart can come upon you faster than you think.

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Anger Management
Jan 22, 2007

Of all the problems facing the United States, and the civilized world in general, I would pick this as the most important:

...the anger that lately pervades our politics is more than just an aftereffect of six years of Democratic setbacks... Our political anger is only the most impressive expression of a much wider cultural transformation. In politics, in music, in sports, on the web, in our families, and in the relations between the sexes, American anger has come into its own. Wood says we’re living in an era of “New Anger,” and regardless of who becomes our next president, New Anger isn’t going away anytime soon.... Anger has turned into a coping mechanism, something to get in touch with, a prize to exhibit in public, and a proof of righteous sincerity. - Stanley Kurtz's review of "A Bee in the Mouth"

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A classic example of why legislation shouldn't involve technology, only effects: If you record MP3s off of your satellite radio, are you infringing a right belonging to the copyright owner, given a law that says it is legal to record music from a radio? That is, do one or both of the definitions of "radio" or "record" as used in the law somehow not apply in this case?

You can see the technology-based arguments fly in the inevitable Slashdot article: "It's the same." "No it's not." "It depends on the definition."

That last is the best argument, but the real problem here is the law that is too tied to specific technology.

Programming and the Gender "Gap"
Jan 17, 2007

This article has spawned a lot of discussion about the "gender gap" in programming.

What bothers me about the discussion is that nobody ever states a goal. What is the ideal outcome?

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Jan 11, 2007

I've been watching some of the television-season DVDs we've collected over the years again, and once again I can't help but notice how much nicer the TV-DVD experience is over real TV.

The only minor complaint is the occasional commercial break that feels forced, but that's not too big a deal compared to the fun. Along with the audio-visual advantages of watching TV on my laptop (at 1650x1050, it's basically an HDTV that fits on my lap), the lack of commercial interruptions and the fact that TV shows have to be written very tightly to work around that means you end up with a very concentrated experience that has to be seen to be believed.

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