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Category Archives: Technology

The solution to the problem of outcasting is not more outcasting

So, the new (since March) CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich made a $1000 private donation in 2008 to the Proposition 8 cause. So, he is–or at least was in 2008–against equal protection of the law for (some) of his fellow citizens. A somewhat problematic proposition; one of a series of such propositions with a long […]

Built-in Imperialism: an era of farcical return

Alexis de Tocqueville and Friedrich Nietzsche both scored well in prognostication. De Tocqueville famously wrote in the 1830s: There are now two great nations in the world which, starting from different points, seem to be advancing toward the same goal: the Russians and the Anglo-Americans. … The American fights against natural obstacles; the Russian is at grips […]

The shipping news

The IT explosion has led to a dramatic increase in the casual use of TLA’s (three letter acronyms) and neologisms.  One of which is “shipping” — postulating a relationship between two fictional characters (typically from a TV series) which is not an explicit part of the story. A lot of fanfic (fiction written by fans) is […]

Selfie Service

Tens of thousands of South Africans have joined dozens of world leaders for the national memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela. The service was held in front of a vociferous crowd in the FNB stadium in Johannesburg. US President Barack Obama said Mr Mandela was a “giant of history”, describing him as the last […]

Existential threats and other difficulties

Young man, there’s a great deal of ruin in a nation. So Adam Smith responded to a correspondent who feared that a successful revolt by the American colonies would ruin Britain.  Looking back, Adam Smith was right and the fearful young man was wrong. Indeed, Britain proceeded to gain and give up a great empire, and […]

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary

“It’s the most ambitious episode we’ve ever done,” he said. The episode, The Day of the Doctor, will be broadcast in more than 90 countries at the same time as it airs on BBC One on Saturday night. The BBC says it is likely to be the largest simulcast of a TV drama in history. […]

The distance of the recent past

Recently. I went on a bit of a Criminal Minds (2005- ) binge, watching the first 7 seasons. Still looking for some more profiling action, I then re-watched The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The film holds up well. But what struck me, re-watching it, was how primitive the technology seemed. In Criminal Minds, it is all […]

Righteous Rage

In September, there were two horrific jihadi attacks in Africa against “soft targets”–the 21 September attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya and the 29 September massacre of students in the male dormitory of the College of Agriculture in Gujba, Yobe State, Nigeria.  The first attack killed at least 61 civilians (plus 6 […]

That trading thing people do

Canadian economist Nick Rowe made a comment on a blog post on comparative advantage that bugged me: The way I teach it, all gains from trade come either from differences between people, like comparative advantage, or else from economies of scale. So I think gains from trade is not more basic than comparative advantage. Gains […]

The struggle for the means of reproduction

Recently read the sort of work of history I particularly enjoy–one that gets into how past societies and states actually worked. Edited by historians Walter Scheidel and Ian Morris, The Dynamics of Ancient Empires: State Power from Assyria to Byzantium has essays on the Neo-Assyrian, Achaemenid Persian, Athenian, Roman and Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”) empires (the last […]