Friday, October 22, 2004
William Fulbright: On the Arrogance of Power (NewYork: Random House, 1966):
On U.S. Foreign Policy: "Throughout our history two strands have coexisted uneasily - a dominant strand of democratic humanism and a lesser but durable strand of intolerant Puritanism. There has been a tendency through the years for reason and moderation to prevail as long as things are going tolerably well or as long as our problems seem clear and finite and manageable. But ...when some event or leader of opinion has aroused the people to a state of high emotion, our puritan spirit has tended to break through, leading us to look at the world through the distorting prism of a harsh and angry moralism."
From George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed (1998),pp. 489-90:
Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome.
>The thought of the world's largest nuclear arsenal sitting just below the 49th parallel, with an idiot cowboy running the show, gives me fear.
Now there is the beginning of wisdom. I encourage you to think of us as being as dangerous as a rattlesnake when stepped on, to act accordingly, and to spread this realistic attitude. I can get my love from those I respect.
// Tim Oren // 6:08 AM
My response: Sure, I can think of America as a dangerous rattlesnake. I'll step on it, it'll bite. Then I'll stomp on its head so it dies, go to the hospital, get the anti-venum, and when I'm sitting by my fire that night I'll think: "well, it was a just a stupid animal that hadn't evolved enough to understand that voilent retrobution is not the answer to all of life's problems." It's strangely ironic that you would proudly compare the USA to a slithering unevolved animal that's only mental function is the fight or flight response.
If you read through your responses, it appears you're pretty right wing. A neocon in fact. It seems you might have an alternate interest in middle eastern politics you're not fully disclosing.
Reality Vs Anti-Reality
"...Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points...
...This tendency of Bush supporters to ignore dissonant information extends to other realms as well
Bolding's mine. You know I refuse to get into political debates here - because I think both sides really are living in alternate realities.
I don't mean this ontologically - I'm not concerned with theory. My point is simply that alternate realities render any kind of meaningful shared analysis impossible.
I think this is the first example I've seen of hard evidence to back up my position.
Of course, it's also a great example of what reality-based vs faith-based really
Thursday, October 21, 2004
The Biggest Loser - a nice example of what not to do when confronted by regulatory, technological, and consumer needs discontinuities massively and rapidly disintegrating your industry (ie, the same old stupid thing over and over again). The real Biggest Loser is gonna be the TV industry as we know it today.
The First World is the New Third World
"...The Bush Administration has decided that it will stand by its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noahï¿½s flood rather than by geologic forces."
Link. I guess this is what they meant by telling us they're not part of the Reality-Based Community. Of course, creating alternate realities requires controlling influence over perception - we're now familiar with the soft (ie media) tactics. Maybe we should get familiar with the hard ones too.
I will respond to Dave's politics thread properly later tonight.
The Economics of Perfect Memory
The Post asks: Is Every Memory Worth Keeping? The focus of the article isn't about perfect memory - but that's the logical end result of the kinds of tech the article discusses. Perfect memory - or perfect-enough memory (ie, limited resolution etc) will be a thing of the near future.
The constraint won't be the cost of storage (which is the way we think about it today) - in fact, I like this this article because it points out that the constraint will be search, which might be costly for mechanistic reasons (ie, our perfect-memory search engines suck), or cognitive reasons (some memories are emotionally painful).
Discovering the molecular biology of allergy:
"...In mice lacking the gene for p110delta, the allergic response was reduced substantially; in normal mice that had been treated with an experimental drug inhibiting p110delta, the allergic response was stopped completely."
Obviously you can see the dollar signs. I think the more interesting point of the fundamental instrumentality of machine culture - note, the emphasis is on treating the effect, not the cause (ie, nasty stuff in our environment). The costs of treating the cause are (by definition) prohibitively high; hence, arms races (ie, fat wars) and herding behaviour (ie, diets).
Will be about quantifying and forecasting things we think are inherently unpredictable (but aren't), in order to be able to value them - and thus create financial instruments to capitalize them and relatively liquid markets to trade those instruments:
"...the models produce vastly different results, leaving a lot of uncertainty in how much risk insurance companies face each year and how much they should charge policyholders".
"...hundreds of thousands of Brazilians are skirting the high cost of gasoline by driving these new "flex-fuel" cars, which hit showroom floors late last year and have been selling fast ever since. Lured by the low price of ethanol, Brazilians bought almost 220,000 of these hybrid vehicles in the first nine months of the year, representing 24 percent of all new-car sales in the country."
Not exactly hydrogen, but an interesting case of path dependence in innovation adoption (ie, Brazil got locked into using this after the oil shocks of the 70s), as well as a basic illustration of how powerful energy economies are going to be in the next 25 years.
"...The Chery Automobile Company, a fast-growing Chinese automaker, said on Monday that it planned to assemble cars in Malaysia, a big overseas step for the expanding Chinese auto industry."
The Economics of Reputation
1-cent sales on eBay give us some insights - presumably, sellers will take financial losses until they roughly equal the expected gains from building a positive reputation. Interesting stuff - me and a couple of pals have been thinking quite hard about reputation economics lately.
Dreams of Empire (via MeFi).
"With our growing income inequities and child poverty; our underperforming schools and disgracefully inadequate health services; our mendacious politicians and crude, partisan media; our suspect voting machines and our gerrymandered congressional districts; our bellicose religiosity and our cult of guns and executions; our cavalier unconcern for institutions, treaties, and lawsï¿½our own and other people's: we should not be surprised that America has ceased to be an example to the world. The real tragedy is that we are no longer an example to ourselves. America's born-again president insists that we are engaged in the war of Good against Evil, that American values "are right and true for every person in every society." Perhaps. But the time has come to set aside the Book of Revelation and recall the admonition of the Gospels: For what shall it profit a country if it gain the whole world but lose its own soul?"
I am slowly gonna start blogging again after a kind of long absence - apologies to those who missed me, explanations to follow. Thanks to D+M for grabbing the reins while I've been busy.
Surfing around led me to this para from [email protected]
"...But remember, pathological self-improvement is passï¿½, anyway - in an age in which email has replaced the handshake and mouse-clicks are tantamount to heavy petting, the value of a bright smile and an eager disposition rapidly approaches jack shit."
I think this is a kiler example of an effect we now chalk up as so much bubble-era hype. Goes back to Asimov's over/underestimation in the long/short term. Interesting to think about whether it will happen now - and if new media like blogs are going to be the mechanisms whereby the self-improvement industry gets vaporized.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Re-writing science textbooks. When the focus shifted from transferring information to knowledge retention, improving the user interface became an obvious way of achieving it. Of course, it took a grammy, who knows the target market (children) so well, to find the right focus.
An analysis of the copyright debate in Canada.
Why the world does not want to be American
The brutal chicanery of Karl Rove (via MeFi).
Monday, October 18, 2004
Some nice user interface ideas here.
Video games as sport go main stream. Sponsorship deals abound.
IM can land you in jail?
If IM is deemed to fall under SarbOx, where will it end? Pretty soon companies will be reverting to face-to-face meetings, egad! Quick, lock out the scribe! Either that, or every meeting will have to be voice-recorded.
In other news, Sign Language is the new hot trend.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Internet and the death of 80/20 : cool post from Ventureblog.