Consider the Lobster: 2000s Archive :

Consider the Lobster: 2000s Archive :

Gmail Ads

“Google’s insertion of unsolicited ads directly into inboxes is made possible, paradoxically, by its success in otherwise eliminating them. Google has essentially conquered spam, which was once predicted to be the death of e-mail: less than one per cent of all spam in Gmail reaches an inbox. It could not stuff its own ads in the box if it had not already cleared the space.”

Jon L.’s response: I’ve been using Gmail since it appeared 9 years ago, and while I’m aware Google uses the service to render ads, I never notice them. I’m no more likely to notice them in my inbox, especially if they’re in a box categorized as “promotions.” (All I see in there now, incidentally, is stuff I signed up for).

I’m getting this incredibly sophisticated, spam-free and flexible email system for free; if the cost of that is receipt of a few barely visible ads, I’m certainly not going to quibble. So to Matt Buchanan’s question whether the ads are “too invasive,” I would say no.

Grad Students

Its the darkest of ironies that at precisely the historical moment that the human race need as many people as possible to parse complex problems –climate change, energy crises, lock-jawed governing bodies, and brand new forms of systemic poverty– being a grad student has become something akin to a feudal apprenticeship. You are at a severe disadvantage if you do not have some source of external income and/or a profound gift for writing grants and selling yourself as a professional scholar. It means that the young scions of families that have benefited the most from corporate welfare and oligarchy are the ones that will graduate into the positions of power charged with nothing less than saving our planetary civilization. It means that the large corporate and nonprofit entities that have amassed enormous war chests will be funding and directing the research of those few graduate students that don’t have a personal stake in maintaining an unsustainable status quo.

First Democracy

Here’s what I posted:

“Paul, I appreciated this summary of Woodruff’s book, which I hope to read. I’ve often argued that we shouldn’t use the word “democracy” because it is so poorly understood in this era and context, so commonly thought to be a simple majoritarianism. It’s far more complex than that, as you know, and calls for a more complex and nuanced rendering than that one word would allow – unless there’s a body of real learning behind it. By “real” learning, I mean learning that leads to understanding, and includes the kind of critical thinking skills that we’ve been discussing recently. In the U.S. we’re failing as a democracy, and there is no one tyrant, but a tyranny of system and players. It’s a huge problem and I don’t know how to fix it. These kinds of discussions should help.”