“It’s not like they’re peering into my home when I’m naked or anything”

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So one of my comments on The Guardian got screenshotted and Tweeted. #fartooproudofmyself

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Liberal

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If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”
John F. Kennedy accepting the NY Liberal Party Nomination, 1960

The adoption of the word ‘liberal’ as an insult in right-wing American politics is something I’ve never understood.

Buckminster Fuller on earning a living

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Ah, the Tory brain. Never mind the super-rich, it’s paying plumbers cash-in-hand that’s truly immoral. This week we’re all being called lazy.

Whenever I read one of these Tory stories — which seems to be about every week — I’m always reminded of Buckminster Fuller, who had this to say about the ‘value’ of hard work:

Buckminster Fuller

We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

— Buckminster Fuller, New York Magazine, 1930

A man well ahead of his time, and ours.

“Valve has no formal management or hierarchy at all”

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Michael Abrash on Valve:

Once Doom had been released, any of thousands of programmers and artists could create something similar (and many did), but none of those had anywhere near the same impact. Similarly, if you’re a programmer, you’re probably perfectly capable of writing Facebook or the Google search engine or Twitter or a browser, and you certainly could churn out Tetris or Angry Birds or Words with Friends or Farmville or any of hundreds of enormously successful programs. There’s little value in doing so, though, and that’s the point – in the Internet age, software has close to zero cost of replication and massive network effects, so there’s a positive feedback spiral that means that the first mover dominates.

Valve: How I Got Here, What It’s Like, and What I’m Doing – blogs.valvesoftware.com

“In terms of user experience, Facebook is like an NYPD police van crashing into an IKEA, forever”

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Paul Ford on Facebook buying Instagram:

First, to understand this deal it’s important to understand Facebook. Unfortunately everything about Facebook defies logic. In terms of user experience (insider jargon: “UX”), Facebook is like an NYPD police van crashing into an IKEA, forever — a chaotic mess of products designed to burrow into every facet of your life. The company is also technologically weird. For example, much of the code that runs the site is written in a horrible computer language called PHP, which stands for nothing you care about. Millions of websites are built with PHP, because it works and it’s cheap to run, but PHP is a programming language like scrapple is a meat. Imagine eating two pounds of scrapple every day for the rest of your life — that’s what Facebook does, programming-wise. Which is just to say that Facebook has its own way of doing things that looks very suspect from the outside world — but man, does it work.

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out – nymag.com

I need to learn to write this well!

Alan Moore on Anonymous and that iconic mask

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Ask me why I'm wearing a mask

By the early sixteen-hundreds, the bonfires traditionally lit around the start of November had been co-opted as trappings for a sort of national anti-Catholic day at which effigies of the Pope would be incinerated.

As mastermind behind the terrorist outrage du jour, however, the plot’s nominal leader Guido Fawkes rapidly replaced the pontiff as hate-mascot of choice on these occasions.

Jump forward 300 years, though, to the battered post-war England of the 1950s, and the saturnine insurrectionary had taken on more ambiguous connotations.

When parents explained to their offspring about Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up Parliament, there always seemed to be an undertone of admiration in their voices, or at least there did in Northampton.

While that era’s children perhaps didn’t see Fawkes as a hero, they certainly didn’t see him as the villainous scapegoat he’d originally been intended as.

Viewpoint: V for Vendetta and the rise of Anonymous – bbc.co.uk/news

Dreams

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The infinite possibilities each day holds should stagger the mind. The sheer number of experiences I could have is uncountable, breathtaking, and I'm sitting here refreshing my inbox. We live trapped in loops, reliving a few days over and over, and we envision only a handful of paths laid out before us. We see the same things every day, we respond the same way, we think the same thoughts, each day a slight variation on the last, every moment smoothly following the gentle curves of societal norms. We act like if we just get through today, tomorrow our dreams will come back to us.

Profundity from an old xkcd.

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“If I were a daily visitor to their site, I sure as hell wouldn’t put up with our ads”

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More truth from The Onion:

Ford Looks Down On Website That Would Let Itself Be Plastered In Ford’s Ads

DEARBORN, MI—Ford Motor Company officials chastised news and commentary website Masthead.com Friday, conceding they were embarrassed to be associated with a publication that would allow the entirety of its award-winning content to be hidden behind splashy, distracting ads for the Ford F-150.

According to the car manufac­turer, Masthead‘s decision to allow the “garish” full-screen advertisement—in which a red pickup speeds across news articles, overrunning them with tire-tread marks until readers manage to find the tiny “close” button—suggests the media outlet has zero respect not only for itself, but also for the amount of work that goes into its astute political and cul­tural coverage.

“They should be ashamed of themselves for letting us come in, plaster our logo everywhere, and, for a measly 50 grand, pretty much destroy the reputation they’ve worked so hard to build,” said Erin Robertson, an ad buyer for Ford who scoffed when Masthead immediately agreed to all of her terms and even sug­gested its creative staff could write articles mentioning the F-150. “Their coverage of the debt crisis has been pretty insightful, but then they cheapen it by allowing us to completely obscure their writing with a video of a truck bounding over sand dunes.”

Ford Looks Down On Website That Would Let Itself Be Plastered In Ford’s Ads – theonion.com

Superstitious users and the FreeBSD logo

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Beastie the BSD daemonAn amusing story from the FreeBSD mailing list:

Everyone:

I just got a call from the owner of a hotel for which we provide hotspot service. She says that a guest spotted the “Powered by FreeBSD” logo at the bottom of the login page, and was offended; the guest was convinced that either we or the hotel management “worshipped the Devil” and refused to stay at the hotel unless the logo was removed. The owner could make no headway by explaining that the besneakered mascot was a cartoon character and was a daemon, not the Devil. And she feared upsetting the guest even more if she said that large portions of the same software are inside every Mac and iPad. The hotel stands to lose more than $1000 if the guest, who had originally planned to stay for a long period, moves out.

One of our tech support people also got a call directly from the hotel guest, who claimed that having the logo on the page constituted “abuse.” The guest also claimed to be “losing money” because she wouldn’t use the hotspot if there was a “devil” on the splash page. He didn’t even realize what she was talking about at first…. He couldn’t imagine why on Earth this person was calling him and going on about devils.

Attempts at misguided religious censorship notwithstanding, I don’t want to see one of my ISP’s customers lose business. And I’d like to keep a FreeBSD logo on our hotspot page. Is there artwork that doesn’t include horned creatures that might offend the ignorant or superstitious?

–Brett Glass

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“Linux and the Internet broke everything wide open. It’s taken 20 years to get a lot of it boxed back up again.”

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Matt Haughey interviewing CmdrTaco:

Matt: What’s your biggest disappointment in the tech world these days?

Rob: The internet is simply not as free as it was when Slashdot began. Government is increasingly legislating away our rights and criminalizing actions that are impossible to regulate. I know it’s inevitable, but it’s still disappointing to witness. The joy of logging in to an IRC chat room in the early 90s, to talk to people who were innovating powerful technologies simply for the sake of it was absolutely intoxicating. To be able to talk to the guy who was responsible for some component of your system. We were all pseudo-anonymous strangers brought together by the technology that we loved, and the belief that an open future was spread out before us. The future will be exciting for my children, but I’m afraid that their technology will come in boxes welded shut at the factory. Their software locked down. Linux, and the Internet broke everything wide open. It’s taken 20 years to get a lot of it boxed back up again. I hope there are still air cracks by the time my kids are old enough to jam screwdrivers in there.

Rob “CmdrTaco” Malda – interviewed by Matt Haughey – webstock.org.nz

Is human communication to blame for the London riots?

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In its coverage, the Daily Mail quoted one tweeter, AshleysAR as follows: “Ashley AR’ tweeted: ‘I hear Tottenham’s going coco-bananas right now. Watch me roll.”

However, AshleysAR’s full, unedited quote on Twitter reads: “I hear Tottenham’s going coco-bananas right now. Watch me roll up with a spud gun :|”.

Suddenly the tone of the message becomes markedly less sinister. Ashley later threatens to join in with a water pistol.

Despite the claim of Tottenham MP David Lammy that the riots were “organised on Twitter”, there is little evidence of their orchestration on the site’s public feeds.

Looking back through Saturday night’s postings, DanielNothing’s stream offers some promise of substantiating the theory with his comment: “Heading to Tottenham to join the riot! who’s with me? #ANARCHY”.

But it is followed soon after by: “Hang on, that last tweet should’ve read ‘Curling up on the sofa with an Avengers DVD and my missus, who’s with me?’ What a klutz I am!”

(via Is technology to blame for the London riots? – bbc.co.uk)

How long before we have another Twitter joke trial farce?

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

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by John Perry Barlow <barlow@eff.org>

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don’t exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Davos, Switzerland

February 8, 1996

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“You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter”

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[…] And commercial radio is really simple. Like many other businesses, it has products and it has customers. The audiences are not the customers, they’re the product. The customers are the advertisers.

via Myspace – now with glitter (via @Dizzyjam)

Excellent post about My_____. I’m a big fan of writers who can distil complex issues into powerful paragraphs.

Unitarian Jihad

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We are Unitarian Jihad. We are everywhere. We have not been born again, nor have we sworn a blood oath. We do not think that God cares what we read, what we eat or whom we sleep with. Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity notes for the record that he does not have a moral code but is nevertheless a good person, and Unexalted Leader Garrote of Forgiveness stipulates that Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity is a good person, and this is to be reflected in the minutes.

We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: “Sincerity is not enough.” We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it’s true doesn’t make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn’t mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone.

by Jon Carroll articles.sfgate.com

Hilarious, and worth reading in full. :)

(via @huwlynes)

Wikipedia’s comedy synopsis of ‘Baby Got Back’

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The song opens with two young females discussing the physical appearance of a third female, in particular her buttocks, which they find unfathomably large.

In the opening verse, Sir Mix-a-Lot professes his affinity for large buttocks and his inability to disguise this fact from others. He goes on to describe other desirable physical attributes, such as a trim waistline, tight-fitting garments, and unblemished skin. Though the song does not contain a distinct narrative, the author does visit recurring themes, such as female body image as depicted in media, male attitudes toward dating and relationships, and the author’s own sexual prowess.

In later verses he expresses his exasperation with the entertainment industry’s portrayal of the ideal female form. He soundly rejects the notion promulgated by fashion magazines that diminutive buttocks are more desirable. His critique of the women who appeared in contemporary music videos is particularly scathing, likening their appearance to those of prostitutes. To further illustrate his point, he stipulates that the purported ideal proportions of 36-24-36 (measuring the bust, waist, and hip circumferences respectively) would only be pleasing on women with a standing height no greater than 63 inches.

Mix-a-Lot also briefly touches upon the roles that ethnicity, nutrition, and physical fitness play in determining the shape and size of the female buttocks. He recommends that any exercises performed should be limited to the abdominal area. He cautions against a fitness routine strenuous enough to diminish the heft of the gluteal muscles. Though he offers no broad dietary guidelines, Mix-a-Lot contends that the dish “red beans and rice” is an important food staple for maintaining healthy buttocks.

Various lyrics address the fact that some men find no intrinsic value in large buttocks and consequently express a lack of interest. Mix-a-Lot makes clear that he would eagerly strike up relations with any woman overlooked or discarded by such men. The remainder of the narrative is fleshed out with the author’s various attempts to entice women into enjoying a ride in his luxury automobile. [3]

Baby Got Back – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Via codinghorror who says: “I suspect this backdooring (omglol) of humor into Wikipedia through song synopses won’t be tolerated for long.”

Probably, but I had to back this one up here! :D

Updated 2013.01.19 to change the attribution link to the appropriate Wikipedia diff page, instead of the current edit, and to tweak my post title.

A branding lesson from Leroy Stick, aka @BPGlobalPR

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You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand?  Have a respectable brand.  Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions.  Lead the pack!  Evolve!  Don’t send hundreds of temp workers to the gulf to put on a show for the President.  Hire those workers to actually work!  Don’t dump toxic dispersant into the ocean just so the surface looks better.  Collect the oil and get it out of the water!  Don’t tell your employees that they can’t wear respirators while they work because it makes for a bad picture.  Take a picture of those employees working safely to fix the problem.  Lastly, don’t keep the press and the people trying to help you away from the disaster, open it up so people can see it and help fix it.  This isn’t just your disaster, this is a human tragedy.  Allow us to mourn so that we can stop being angry.

(Leroy Stick, The Man Behind @BPGlobalPR)

A justifiably angry article explaining why it’s okay to hit BP with the big Twitter stick. Makes me wish I had fought with Twitter to keep my @virginmedia account. They weren’t destroying the planet or anything, but they did (and do) have terrible customer service.

[Edited post to switch link from Gizmodo to the actual source. Screw Gizmodo, I thought it was their scoop.]

Doctor Who business jargon

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“Weeping Angel” problem – an issue in a project (or similar) which is under control while someone is actively watching it but will go badly wrong the moment that no-one is observing/managing.

This great example of project management speak just got emailed around work, via Yammer: