Ever since the philosophers David Hume and G. E. Moore identified the "Is-Ought problem" between descriptive statements (the way something "is") and prescriptive statements (the way something "ought to be"), most scientists have conceded the high ground of determining human values, morals, and ethics to philosophers, agreeing that science can only describe the way things are but never tell us how they ought to be. This is a mistake.
We should be worried that scientists have given up the search for determining right and wrong and which values lead to human flourishing just as the research tools for doing so are coming online through such fields as evolutionary ethics, experimental ethics, neuroethics, and related fields. The Is-Ought problem (sometimes rendered as the "naturalistic fallacy") is itself a fallacy. Morals and values must be based on the way things are in order to establish the best conditions for human flourishing. Before we abandon the ship just as it leaves port, let’s give science a chance to steer a course toward a destination where scientists at least have a voice in the conversation on how best we should live.
If you fear genetically modified food, you may have Mark Lynas to thank. By his own reckoning, British environmentalist helped spur the anti-GMO movement in the mid-‘90s, arguing as recently at 2008 that big corporations’ selfish greed would threaten the health of both people and the Earth. Thanks to the efforts of Lynas and people like him, governments around the world—especially in Western Europe, Asia, and Africa—have hobbled GM research, and NGOs like Greenpeace have spurned donations of genetically modified foods.
But Lynas has changed his mind—and he’s not being quiet about it. On Thursday at the Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas delivered a blunt address: He got GMOs wrong. According to the version of his remarks posted online he opened with a bang:
I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.
One of the interesting bits in Lynas’ speech (linked above) is his comparison of rejection of GMOs as equally anti-science as rejection of global warming… just on the other side of the political spectrum.
Elkin-Koren predicted that as books turn into e-books, they will move from being commodities to being services, and publishing will merge with retailing. "There is no difference between a bookseller, a publisher, and a library," she said.
Thought-provoking claim, I thought. It seems somewhat obvious that the difference between publishing and retailing is shrinking: Amazon is becoming a publisher, and publishers sell e-books directly to readers (e.g. O-Reilly, Baen, etc).
The remaining claim is that when it comes to e-books, libraries as we know them have no future. This is supported in part earlier in the post by observing that publishers are resisting letting libraries lend e-books, essentially because they don’t think they can afford to.
So why is compromise so hard in the House? Some commentators, especially liberals, attribute it to what they say is the irrationality of Republican members of Congress.
But the answer could be this instead: individual members of Congress are responding fairly rationally to their incentives. Most members of the House now come from hyperpartisan districts where they face essentially no threat of losing their seat to the other party. Instead, primary challenges, especially for Republicans, may be the more serious risk.
You’d think that at some point, even the most devoted motherfucker would get exhausted from fucking all those mothers. Even stars of gang-bang porn need a day or two to let a torn asshole heal. But not the Republicans in the United States Senate. They are motherfuckers who can’t get enough of the motherfucking. You ask them about any issue, they respond by saying, "We’re motherfuckers. Do you expect us to not fuck mothers? Oh, silly, silly Americans, bring us more mothers so we may fuck on." It gets to the point of being disturbing, where you’re looking at the dicks of the motherfuckers, chafed to bleeding from all the fucking. But these motherfuckers aren’t gonna stop fucking mothers, even if it seems absurd or pathetic. If there are mothers to be fucked, the Senate Republicans will be there, ready to get fucking.
So it was that yesterday, 38 Republicans voted against ratifying the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a 2006 treaty that’s been ratified by 126 nations, including Pakistan, Myanmar, and Uganda (and, you know, most of Europe and South America, as well as China). Why did enough Republicans oppose the treaty, which does little more than say, "Hey, we should try to make the lives of people with disabilities a little less shitty," to deny it the two-thirds needed? Because sovereignty. Or freedom. Or something.
Wal-Mart has become so big and so pervasive that it effectively sets prices for everyone who sells to it, and everyone who competes against it. It has lowered prices for American workers — even those who don’t shop at Wal-Mart — even as it has done much to destroy the American labor movement and to encourage the offshoring of American jobs. It has changed how goods are shipped, packaged and produced. It has, at different times, encouraged devastating environmental practices and admirable ones. Any accounting of Wal-Mart’s effect on workers has to go far beyond a simple look at the wages they themselves pay to their direct workforce. See, for instance, this Wall Street Journal article on what happened in Thailand after Wal-Mart demanded higher standards from its shrimp suppliers.
Back in 2006 and 2007, I spent quite a bit of time reporting on the Wal-Martization of the economy, and I never came across an accounting I found sufficient. Whether Wal-Mart has been, on net, “good” or “bad” is a complicated question to frame and a devilishly tough one to answer. Soon, I’m sure, the question will be whether Amazon.com has been good or bad. I wish I had a definitive answer. All I’m certain of is that Wal-Mart has been — and Amazon.com will be — economically transformative.
Imagine, just for a moment, that your Sony DVD player would only play Sony Movies’ films. When you decided to buy a new DVD player from Samsung, none of those media files would work on your new kit without some serious fiddling.
That’s the walled garden that so many companies are now trying to drag us into. And I think it stinks.
On a mobile phone network in the UK, you can use any phone you want. Hardware and services are totally divorced. It promotes competition because customers know that if they have a poor experience with HTC, they can move to Nokia and everything will carry on working just as it did before.
But, if all of your contacts, entertainment services, and backups are chained into HTC – well, then you’re just shit out of luck if you want to move.
I want to see a complete separation of church and state here. Hardware should be separate from software. Software should be separate from services.
De maatregelen van nu zijn het resultaat van dingen uitruilen tussen de VVD en de PvdA, zonder dat er een samenhang in zit. Want al die dingen zijn onderling niet verbonden, de draadjes ontbreken. Dat komt door dat systeem van Wouter Bos met die plastic kaartjes. De formatie was een soort pim-pam-pet: de VVD krijgt pim, de PvdA krijgt pam en het resultaat is pet.
Hans Wiegel in Intermediair. (Pretty much untranslatable, but negative on the compromises between the Dutch government’s coalition parties.)
here’s what doesn’t happen in other democracies:
Politicians of one party do not set voting schedules to favor their side and harm the other. Politicians do not move around voting places to gain advantages for themselves or to disadvantage their opponents. In fact, in almost no other country do politicians have any say in the administration of elections at all.
In no other country, including federal systems such as Germany, Canada and Australia, does the citizen’s opportunity to vote depend on the affluence and competence of his or her local government.
In every other democracy, the vote is the means by which the people choose between the competing political parties — not one more weapon by which the parties compete.
The United States is an exceptional nation, but it is not always exceptional for good. The American voting system too is an exception: It is the most error-prone, the most susceptible to fraud, the most vulnerable to unfairness and one of the least technologically sophisticated on earth. After the 2000 fiasco, Americans resolved to do better. Isn’t it past time to make good on that resolution?
The major political parties are both wrong when it comes to taxing and distributing to the middle class the capital of the wealthiest 1 percent. It’s true that some of the richest Americans have been making money with money — investing in efficiency innovations rather than investing to create jobs. They are doing what their professors taught them to do, but times have changed.
If the I.R.S. taxes their wealth away and distributes it to everyone else, it still won’t help the economy. Without empowering products and services in our economy, most of this redistribution will be spent buying sustaining innovations — replacing consumption with consumption. We must give the wealthiest an incentive to invest for the long term. This can create growth.
Linguists use the terms “zero derivation” and “functional shifting” to describe the morphing of a noun into a verb or vice versa with minimal or no change of form: bristle, thumb, stump. Impatient authors can hurry this process along through the rhetorical device known as anthimeria, deliberately employing words from one grammatical category as though they belonged to another. The phrase pimp my ride is a double anthimeria: the noun has been verbed, the verb nouned.
The iPhone 5 is the greatest phone in the world. It has top-notch hardware with a zippy new A6 processor and amazing four-inch display. Its new operating system, iOS 6, is slicker than slugs on ice. And its ultra-slim body, an all-glass and aluminum enclosure, is a triumph of industrial design. There is nothing not to like about the phone. It’s aces. Just aces.And yet it is also so, so cruelly boring.Yes, it’s better than the iPhone 4S or the iPhone 4 or just about any other phone you can buy. It’s faster with a bigger screen and an LTE antenna so you can suck up data from your carrier like Michael Phelps at a table full of pizza. But mostly it is the Toyota Prius of phone updates. It is an amazing triumph of technology that gets better and better, year after year, and yet somehow is every bit as exciting as a 25 mph drive through a sensible neighborhood at a reasonable time of day. It’s not going to change your life. It’s not even going to offer a radically different experience.It’s a weird paradox.
It’s worth recalling how Ryan became a semi-household name. It wasn’t a Republican strategy to put him forward. As Ryan Lizza recounts in his New Yorker profile of Ryan, it was a Democratic strategy to put Ryan forward. Ryan, he writes, “was caught between the demands of the Republican leaders, who wanted nothing to do with his Roadmap, and his own belief that the Party had to offer a sweeping alternative vision to Obama’s. Ryan soon had an unlikely ally, in Obama himself.” While Republicans were trying to keep Ryan quiet, the Obama administration was trying to make him famous. They saw his plans as the clearest distillation of the GOP’s governing philosophy — and they thought it would drive voters towards the Democrats. We’ll know in November whether that was a genius strategy or an epic miscalculation.
It seems every time I come across a story about the Mars Curiosity rover there will be many people commenting on the technology used starting with "Why don’t they just..?" and usually pointing out things like: the processor in their smart phone is way faster than the one of Mars, or they have way more memory on their iPad, or their digital camera is way better than the one sending back pictures. These "Why don’t they just..?" questions are both annoying and to be expected.
A good way to see how hard it is to build and operate a rover would be to build one designed for operation in an inhospitable part of Earth. Launch it via a high-altitude balloon with parachute descent and then operate it without GPS over a slow, high latency radio link.
This is the future. A new wave of robots, far more adept than those now commonly used by automakers and other heavy manufacturers, are replacing workers around the world in both manufacturing and distribution. Factories like the one here in the Netherlands are a striking counterpoint to those used by Apple and other consumer electronics giants, which employ hundreds of thousands of low-skilled workers.
“With these machines, we can make any consumer device in the world,” said Binne Visser, an electrical engineer who manages the Philips assembly line in Drachten.
In their minds, the advent of low-cost automation foretells changes on the scale of the revolution in agricultural technology over the last century, when farming employment in the United States fell from 40 percent of the work force to about 2 percent today. The analogy is not only to the industrialization of agriculture but also to the electrification of manufacturing in the past century, Mr. McAfee argues.
I’m intentionally not including the quote from Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, as I think his crudeness distracts from the big picture. But the impact of this in China is going to be interesting. Outsourcing of manufacturing to China has been a huge boon to poor people there. (The working conditions may be questionable, but it has undoubtedly raised the average quality of life, no?) Are robotics going to interrupt that development? Is the Chinese government going to respond to retain employment?
When the Director of Research for Google compares one of the most highly regarded linguists of all time to Bill O’Reilly, you know it is on. Recently, Peter Norvig, Google’s Director of Research and co-author of the most popular artificial intelligence textbook in the world, wrote a webpage extensively criticizing Noam Chomsky, arguably the most influential linguist in the world. Their disagreement points to a revolution in artificial intelligence that, like many revolutions, threatens to destroy as much as it improves. Chomsky, one of the old guard, wishes for an elegant theory of intelligence and language that looks past human fallibility to try to see simple structure underneath. Norvig, meanwhile, represents the new philosophy: truth by statistics, and simplicity be damned.
Worth reading in its entirety, I thought.
This is what I see when i think about higher education in this country today:Remember the housing meltdown ? Tough to forget isn’t it. The formula for the housing boom and bust was simple. A lot of easy money being lent to buyers who couldn’t afford the money they were borrowing. That money was then spent on homes with the expectation that the price of the home would go up and it could easily be flipped or refinanced at a profit. Who cares if you couldn’t afford the loan. As long as prices kept on going up, everyone was happy. And prices kept on going up. And as long as pricing kept on going up real estate agents kept on selling homes and finding money for buyers.Until the easy money stopped. When easy money stopped, buyers couldn’t sell. They couldn’t refinance. First sales slowed, then prices started falling and then the housing bubble burst. Housing prices crashed. We know the rest of the story. We are still mired in the consequences.Can someone please explain to me how what is happening in higher education is any different ?
Your business is at risk. For a lot of money. No matter what type of business you are in, you are susceptible to a patent infringement lawsuit. The worst part about this risk is that there is nothing you can do to protect yourself. You are a victim in a business world horror movie. Unfortunately , there is no one to scream “no don’t do it. Don’t open that door” and protect you. All the doors are open and the trolls are all attacking.
What can you do as a small business person to protect yourself ? Honestly, nothing beyond complaining to your Congressperson. The only option I have found is to buy into companies that aggressively sue over IP. It is a hedge against patent law. Put another way, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Sucks, but there aren’t any other options that I can see.
Between cynicism and idealism, it’s clear where Cuban lands.
DRM on ebooks is dead. (Or if not dead, it’s on death row awaiting a date with the executioner.)
It doesn’t matter whether Macmillan wins the price-fixing lawsuit bought by the Department of Justice. The point is, the big six publishers’ Plan B for fighting the emerging Amazon monopsony has failed (insofar as it has been painted as a price-fixing ring, whether or not it was one in fact). This means that they need a Plan C. And the only viable Plan C, for breaking Amazon’s death-grip on the consumers, is to break DRM.
So if you’re averse to ingesting spinal fluid, beef-based pink slime is actually a better bet than chicken nuggets or hot dogs containing pork or poultry.
(…) Some legal preservatives have been linked to cancer, and the World Cancer Research Fund has recommended that people avoid processed meats altogether.
(…) So, is pink slime any worse than pink cylinders, yellow nuggets, brown breakfast sausage patties, or any number of mystery meat products? Probably not. And for what it’s worth, it isn’t even slimy.
What’s great about this for the rich is that those tax breaks only strengthen their political position. Tax breaks—say, preferred rates on dividends—mean either higher taxes on everyone else or larger deficits, both of which are unpopular. Since no one can see what the government is doing, it becomes less popular. Higher taxes make people think they’re not getting their money’s worth; larger deficits make them think the government is incompetent. Either way, they get mad at the parts of government they can see, not the tax breaks that the rich benefit from. Increasing anti-government sentiment leads to what you saw in 2010 and today: the Tea Party, demonization of the federal government, and a mad race among Republicans to see who can cut rich people’s taxes by the most.
Whether this is a conscious goal of the anti-tax movement or simply a nice side benefit , it really works. In chapter 2 of The Submerged State, Mettler describes a study showing that people who benefit from visible government programs (those that are transparently delivered by government agencies, such as food stamps) are more likely to have positive views of government and its impact on their lives than people who benefit from invisible programs, even after controlling for the usual things. So you can have a program like the mortgage interest deduction that mainly helps the well-off but also helps the middle class a little—and it helps turn its middle-class beneficiaries against the federal government. If you’re Grover Norquist, what could be better than that?
To the question many people ask about politics — Why doesn’t the other side listen to reason? — Haidt replies: We were never designed to listen to reason. When you ask people moral questions, time their responses and scan their brains, their answers and brain activation patterns indicate that they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later only to justify what they’ve decided.
The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others.
This is a book review and goes on to discuss Haidt’s analysis of U.S. politics and the reasons many people vote Republican (against their ostensible economic interests). Lots more in the article that’s interesting and thought provoking.
Print magazines are still a better experience than their digital counterparts.
If you’re going to successfully evolve into a new medium you can’t just add gimmicks, you have to substantially upgrade the user experience. If you asked anyone 15 years ago what the future of music looked like they would have told you that it was about fidelity, listening to an album would sound like you were at a concert or in the center of the orchestra pit. But that hasn’t been the case, in fact the overall quality of the music we listen to has gone down. The experience of being able to fit your entire music collection in your pocket, or stream any song to your phone leapfrogged any fidelity improvements other formats like DVD audio could make.
We never saw this kind of improvement in magazines, if fact the experience has gotten worse. Looking at a magazine on an iPad at its best leaves you wondering if you’ve seen all the content and at its worse feels like your reading a broken PDF. I subscribe to two magazines that have free iPad downloads for subscribers and have never download the digital version, reading the dead tree version is just easier.
How can magazines improve? They are no longer limited to releasing content on a monthly or weekly basis that was necessary with print. They can now put their content out in a format that is really easy to share and build reader loyalty. They can now get back to their roots, magazines like Rolling Stone were founded by people who ate, breathed and crapped music. I’m sure there are folks working there now who love music but we haven’t seen that kind of passion in the magazine in decades.
I know what you’re thinking: we’ve seen all this before, it’s called a blog. Yep, exactly.
It’s taken time, but blogs have become what magazines should have been evolving into.
This is a compelling argument except for the fact that blogging doesn’t generate a ton of revenue. It may be a classic example of Innovator’s Dilemma, but that dilemma isn’t a false one. It’s hard to retool your industry to work on much, much, much less income.
“Running as an independent candidate is not something that’s particularly easy to do,” Ackerman says. “It’s like running with a parachute.”
Americans Elect plans to throw the independent-minded a ballot line. Candidates can run on the Americans Elect line, but still caucus with the Democrats, the Republicans or no party at all. In effect, the goal isn’t to create a new party, but to provide a new path for moderate members of the two reigning parties.
“People look at the Democratic and Republican primary process at every level and they simply don’t want to go through what is needed to compete,” Byrd says. “Americans Elect is dealing with that pain point.”
Ezra Klein has a really interesting take on Americans Elect, the organization that’s holding an online primary for a third-party presidential ticket. Klein points out that main-party primaries have a polarizing effect on candidates as they have to pander to the “base” in their party which tends to be ideologically extreme. This leads to purer party-line voting in Congress for fear of being challenged in a primary. In the long run (beyond this election cycle), Americans Elect could offer an alternate route to a spot on the ballot.
I don’t know if it’s likely to work, but it’s an interesting take on what A.E. is doing.
Stop right there.
This is *not* about some arbitrary "30-year backwards compatibility".
This is about your patch BREAKING EXISTING BINARIES.
So stop the f*&^ing around already. The patch was shown to be broken,
stop making excuses, and stop blathering.
An entertaining read.
Now, on the Virginia legislation, abortion rights advocates are seeing similar success with messaging that shifts the debate away from concepts of choice and more towards privacy and intrusion.
“[Using the term] Choice has always been a terrible idea: The concept of choice is one from consumer products, from shopping,” says the University of California’s George Lakoff. “Whereas the concept of life is morality. You can’t fight morality with shopping. … to be fighting morality with morality, you need to be focused on a woman’s right to her own physical integrity.”
That Samsung bravado about a possible Apple iTV got me thinking. Obviously if Apple is going to release a TV, it’s going to be much more than just a screen. It won’t be about display quality like the Samsung exec seems to think.
What would differentiate an Apple TV? I can think of a few possibilities:
1. Content access
The obvious scenario is a TV with a built-in iTunes store that lets you buy/rent TV shows and movies without having to have a cable TV subscription. This would be an extension of the current iTunes and AppleTV, maybe with better selection of content and integration with iCloud to store your media, à la Amazon’s cloud storage for media.
This is #1 plus “iOS apps come to the Apple TV”. (Maybe even Siri.)
So far, both of these can be done with a cheap separate device like the current Apple TV. What makes it compelling for Apple to sell you the display as well? So far, nothing other than skipping a bit of wiring set-up.
3. New input/interaction model
The simplest way to describe this is as “Apple’s response to Kinect”. If Apple has developed a remote-control-free interaction technique that requires new hardware like the Kinect box, maybe that’s compelling enough that if it were integrated into a display, you’d be willing to buy the entire display device. But Kinect isn’t tied to a specific TV. Can Apple come up with something so much more compelling that people will be willing to toss out their existing TVs?
I’m not sure which way to bet. I’m still skeptical about Apple going into the TV-display market.
Any other guesses on what’s coming?
Although the critics of Citizens United might well be right to condemn it and to call for a constitutional amendment to overrule it, they are misguided in their reliance on the refrain that "money is not speech." Of course, money is not "speech." Money is money, a car is a car, and a ribbon is a ribbon. These are objects, not speech. But all of these objects, and many more besides, can be used to facilitate free speech.
Like a car or a ribbon, money is not speech. But when government regulates the use of money for speech purposes, it implicates the First Amendment. Suppose, for example, an individual at an Occupy protest burns a dollar bill to convey her disdain for corporate America. A dollar bill is not speech, fire is not speech, but a government law prohbiting any person to burn money as a symbolic expression of opposition to corporate America would surely implicate the First Amendment.
This is not to say, however, that the government cannot constitutionally regulate the use of money in politics. The fact that an object is used to facilitate speech does not mean that it is immune from regulation. The use of a loudspeaker is speech, but the government can regulate the decibel level. Burning a dollar bill for expressive purposes is speech, but the government can prohibit anyone from doing so near an open gas line. And the same is true for campaign contributions and expenditures. When the government attempts to regulate the use of money for expressive purposes it implicates the First Amendment, but it does not necessarily violate it.
If the critics of Citizens United and the advocates of a constitutional amendment to overrule it want to be taken seriously, they must move beyond superficial slogans and focus on the real issue at stake: When should the government be allowed to regulate political contributions and expenditures — even if they are speech?
Over the years, in a silly and naïve attempt to reduce the influence of money in government and politics, Congress has tried to limit how much job creators and others among the deserving rich could spend or contribute to influence the outcome of elections. But the effect of such laws and regulations has only been to create ever more ingenious vehicles to get around them.
Now, with Citizens United, the Supreme Court has finally declared that “enough is enough.” The court didn’t just remove the limits to what wealthy individuals or corporations could contribute to independent wink-wink front groups. The five-member majority also invited constitutional challenges to limits on direct contributions to campaigns or political parties and to those silly requirements that the source of every contribution be disclosed in a timely manner.
This is a great victory for those of us who believe in free markets and support the sacred constitutional principle that corporations are people and that money is speech. With the legal and political momentum now working in our favor, we must take this campaign to the next level.
After all, no matter how many billions of dollars we might invest in campaigns or independent wink-wink front groups, all we can really do is influence the outcome of campaigns. Given the risks associated with the performance of the candidates, however, we can never truly be certain of the electoral outcomes. And as you all know, what the markets and businesses hate most is uncertainty.
So, I propose that we finally give up the charade that we are not “buying” elections and, in fact, do exactly that — mount an all-out political and legal challenge to laws preventing us from buying votes directly.
As you know, bribing voters is an honored tradition in this country, dating to the early days of the Republic. From the Federalist Papers it’s clear that the practice was known to the Framers; if they had found it incompatible with democracy they surely would have banned it in the constitution. Significantly, they did not — nor did they include the regulation of vote-buying in their enumeration of the powers vested in Congress. Therefore, we would be on solid constitutional grounds in trying to establish a property right of all citizens to vote in federal elections — a right that, like all other property rights, can be sold on the free market.
Our analysis shows that, for the first time ever, daily time spent in mobile apps surpasses desktop and mobile web consumption. This stat is even more remarkable if you consider that it took less than three years for native mobile apps to achieve this level of usage, driven primarily by the popularity of iOS and Android platforms.
As a note of interest, Facebook has increasingly taken its share of time spent on the Internet, now making up 14 of the 74 minutes spent per day by consumers, or about one sixth of all Internet minutes.
The chart clearly shows that Games and Social Networking categories capture the significant majority of consumers’ time. Consumers spend nearly half their time using Games, and a third in Social Networking apps. Combined, these two categories control a whopping 79% of consumers’ total app time.
I think it’d be valuable to break out some of this data by age group; there’s a big question of how much of the additional time is from under-18yos. (e.g. people handing the iPad to their kids to keep them from fussing, teens spending time online, etc.)
So I’m not convinced that the following is actually fully right, but it’s thought-provoking and worth sharing, I think:
What the headline should be is that consumers are leaving web developers behind. And so those that can follow quickly have a HUGE opportunity. Forget a few hundred thousand, there are going to be tens of millions of mobile apps available to consumers in the next few years. App goldrush over? Difficult to be visible on mobile? I don’t think so – not even close.