Ramblings & ephemera

Social networking and “friendship”

From danah boyd’s “Friends, Friendsters, and MySpace Top 8: Writing Community Into Being on Social Network Sites” (First Monday: December 2006) John’s reference to “gateway Friends” concerns a specific technological affordance unique to Friendster. Because the company felt it would make the site more intimate, Friendster limits users from surfing to Profiles beyond four degrees […]

Protected: American courts and government and the f-word

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Protected: Taboo acts and language and how they work together

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Denver International Airport, home to alien reptilians enslaving children in deep dungeons

From Jared Jacang Maher’s “DIA Conspiracies Take Off” (Denver Westword News: 30 August 2007): Chris from Indianapolis has heard that the tunnels below DIA [Denver International Airport] were constructed as a kind of Noah’s Ark so that five million people could escape the coming earth change; shaken and earnest, he asks how someone might go […]

An analysis of Google’s technology, 2005

From Stephen E. Arnold’s The Google Legacy: How Google’s Internet Search is Transforming Application Software (Infonortics: September 2005): The figure Google’s Fusion: Hardware and Software Engineering shows that Google’s technology framework has two areas of activity. There is the software engineering effort that focuses on PageRank and other applications. Software engineering, as used here, means […]

How con artists use psychology to work

From Paul J. Zak’s “How to Run a Con” (Psychology Today: 13 November 2008): When I was in high school, I took a job at an ARCO gas station on the outskirts of Santa Barbara, California. At the time, I drove a 1967 Mustang hotrod and thought I might pick up some tips and cheap […]

Why American car companies are in trouble

From Paul Ingrassia’s “How Detroit Drove Into a Ditch” (The Wall Street Journal: 25 October 2008): This situation doesn’t stem from the recent meltdown in banking and the markets. GM, Ford and Chrysler have been losing billions since 2005, when the U.S. economy was still healthy. The financial crisis does, however, greatly exacerbate Detroit’s woes. […]

The NSA and threats to privacy

From James Bamford’s “Big Brother Is Listening” (The Atlantic: April 2006): This legislation, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, established the FISA court—made up of eleven judges handpicked by the chief justice of the United States—as a secret part of the federal judiciary. The court’s job is to decide whether to grant warrants requested by […]

The Chinese Internet threat

From Shane Harris’ “China’s Cyber-Militia” (National Journal: 31 May 2008): Computer hackers in China, including those working on behalf of the Chinese government and military, have penetrated deeply into the information systems of U.S. companies and government agencies, stolen proprietary information from American executives in advance of their business meetings in China, and, in a […]

If concerts bring money in for the music biz, what happens when concerts get smaller?

From Jillian Cohen’s “The Show Must Go On” (The American: March/April 2008): You can’t steal a concert. You can’t download the band—or the sweaty fans in the front row, or the merch guy, or the sound tech—to your laptop to take with you. Concerts are not like albums—easy to burn, copy, and give to your […]

Abuse of “terrorist” investigative powers

From BBC News’ “Council admits spying on family” (10 April 2008): A council has admitted spying on a family using laws to track criminals and terrorists to find out if they were really living in a school catchment. A couple and their three children were put under surveillance without their knowledge by Poole Borough Council […]

Bush’s Manicheanism destroyed him

From Glenn Greenwald’s “A tragic legacy: How a good vs. evil mentality destroyed the Bush presidency” (Salon: 20 June 2007): One of the principal dangers of vesting power in a leader who is convinced of his own righteousness — who believes that, by virtue of his ascension to political power, he has been called to […]

USA owns 74% of IPv4 addresses

From Stephen Ornes’s “Map: What Does the Internet Look Like?” (Discover: October 2006): The United States owns 74 percent of the 4 billion available Internet protocol (IP) addresses. China’s stake amounts to little more than that of an American university. Not surprisingly, China is championing the next wave of the Internet, which would accommodate 340 […]

Wal-Mart’s monopsony power damages its vendors

From Barry C. Lynn’s “The Case for Breaking Up Wal-Mart” (Harper’s: 24 July 2006): Instead, the firm is also one of the world’s most intrusive, jealous, fastidious micromanagers, and its aim is nothing less than to remake entirely how its suppliers do business, not least so that it can shift many of its own costs […]

The mirror of monopoly: monopsony … which may be worse

From Barry C. Lynn’s “The Case for Breaking Up Wal-Mart” (Harper’s: 24 July 2006): Popular notions of oligopoly and monopoly tend to focus on the danger that firms, having gained control over a marketplace, will then be able to dictate an unfairly high price, extracting a sort of tax from society as a whole. But […]

Your job? Waiting in line for others.

From Brian Montopoli’s “The Queue Crew: Waiting in line for a living” (Legal Affairs: January/February 2004): ON CAPITOL HILL, a placeholder is someone paid by the hour to wait in line. When legislative committees hold hearings, they reserve seats for Congressional staffers, for the press, and for the general public. The general-public seats are the […]

Feral cities of the future

From Richard J. Norton’s “Feral cities – The New Strategic Environment” (Naval War College Review: Autumn, 2003): Imagine a great metropolis covering hundreds of square miles. Once a vital component in a national economy, this sprawling urban environment is now a vast collection of blighted buildings, an immense petri dish of both ancient and new […]

Secret movies in the Paris underground

From Jon Henley’s “In a secret Paris cavern, the real underground cinema” (The Guardian: 8 September 2004): Police in Paris have discovered a fully equipped cinema-cum-restaurant in a large and previously uncharted cavern underneath the capital’s chic 16th arrondissement. Officers admit they are at a loss to know who built or used one of Paris’s […]