Intelligent Design Destroys Civilisation as We Know it!

Edge has published the results of its annual question “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?” Chris Anderson writes (scroll down) that according to the standards of Intelligent Design, “virtually everything I believe in must now fall under the shadow of unproveability. Most importantly, this includes the belief that democracy, […]

Reasons to break the law

Mr. Gonzales said to the Senate (NYT transcript, Friday Jan 7) “I think the decision not to apply Geneva in our conflict with al Qaeda was absolutely the right decision for a variety of reasons…. It would actually make it more difficult, in my judgment, for our troops to win in our conflict against al […]

What really motivates creators?

Bill Gates’ statement on CNET that “There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don’t think that those incentives should exist” has receive much comment from Dan Gillmor and others. But a recent survey of 419 […]

Limits of Copyright

Brad DeLong writes about The Eighteenth-Century Rollback of Intellectual Property and quotes from “The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century” John Brewer (1997): As one of the judges put it… ‘the very matter and content of… books are by the author’s publication of them irrevocably given to the public; they become […]

Advice column

Garrison Keillor used to publish an advice column on Salon called Mr. Blue; wonderful words of wisdom. I missed it sorely when he retired, and it took a while for me to attune to the voice of his replacement, Cary Tennis, or perhaps it took him a while to find his voice. At his best, […]

Crime and Punishment

The NYTimes magazine has an interesting article Sentencing by the Numbers on how Virginia is adjusting jail sentences according to the probability of recidivism by classifying the offender according to a 71-point scale of risk assessment: “Of the felons who scored at or below the 35-point cutoff, 12 percent committed new crimes, compared with more […]

Happiness

Nice article at technologyreview.com on Technology and Happiness which starts out by saying that Americans are less happy now than in 1946, and that the Amish rate considerably higher than the average American. There are two points that the article doesn’t cover. Firstly, I would say that it is an inherent feature of our consumer […]

Spurious budget numbers

“To show that President Bush can fulfill his campaign promise to cut the deficit in half … administration officials have decided to measure their progress against a $521 billion deficit they predicted last February rather than last year’s actual shortfall of $413 billion” NYTimes. They’re also ignoring: the cost of the war plans to privatize […]