Last Updated 3/7/2003 by dickdiamond.com
From the Hell in a Handbasket Department
If you're as upset about the current state of patent law as I am, here's an opporunity to do something about it. Maybe. I can't tell if these guys are good or evil.
Getting Back to Basics
This will come in handy if you're ever stranded somewhere cold enough to have created perfectly clear ice, and yet you have enough tools and calories to start a fire using an ice lens. My observation would be that the people who are resourceful enough to start a fire with an ice lens usually are smart enough not to get themselves into a situation where they would need to.
The Best Advice You're Not Following
As I'm mentioned to some of you, I read both The Millionaire Next Door and Rich Dad, Poor Dad last fall. Because I read them together so quickly, it became one of those singularitieslife is now divided into the period before I read the books and the period after. That is different from saying the books were life-changing, but they were enlightening, with the potential to be awakening. That said, I wouldn't exactly recommend them. They contain uncomfortable advice, and they're horribly written, really just painful to read all the way through. However, I just read an article at Fast Company that manages to distill some of the core concepts of these books, while introducing some new ones for me (notably, the concept of the "Influentials").
Another creepy yet interesting idea touched on by the article is the idea of monetary equivalence for the happiness (or lack thereof) of life events like marriage, death of a loved one, losing a job, etc. I just happened upon another article that takes this to its ultimate conclusion: the dollar value of human life.
Here I Thought Nature Was the Mother of Necessity
For some reason I never knew what "The Tragedy of the Commons" referred to, even though I'd read The Selfish Gene, which seems like it should have mentioned it. Now that I have read the original Tragedy of the Commons, I can't say that I agree with the whole thing. I mean concepts like "freedom is the recognition of necessity" and consensus coercion have some pretty staggering implications when applied to today's cultural climate.
This article puts me in just the sort of "double bind" that Hardin warns can be psychologically damaging, especially with regard to the writings of Quinn. It seems like today we live our entire lives with the constant awareness of multiple double binds and cognitive dissonances. At the center of this particular bind is Hardin's assertion that the concepts of tribalism and the commons only really work at diminishingly low population densities, versus Quinn's suggestion that we may need to re-embrace tribalism (and that some sub-cultures within our own are already attempting to do so) at current (and higher) population densities.
20-question Turing Test
I can't seem to get enough of this crazy thing. Most of the time it's overloaded, and you may not be able to get to it at all if you're behind certain firewalls, but when you can get it working, it's at least mildly interesting. It calls itself an A.I., but it's really more of an expert system, I'm sure. Unless it really is sitting there learning from its (and your?) mistakes. Sometimes the guesses are uncannily accurate (don't bother trying to fool it with animals or vegetables; those are too easy), but even when it fails it's fascinating to see the false assumptions (either yours or its) that have caused it to do so. I can't stay away.
Not Feldman, Not Haim, the Other One
If you haven't tuned into Cory Doctorow yet, hurry up because you could be the last one. He's got an e-novel, a web log, and assorted non-fiction. All of it at least mildly entertaining and insightful. You're not hip if you can't quote this guy.