I have had enough of irony | Suzanne Moore The ultimate faux-pas is not laughing at someone's artfully told joke. Especially when it's a huge in-joke, but stuff it! I did not find the Eurovision song contest in any way funny or joyful. Compulsory fun may be the anti-Viagra of actual pleasure but it's everywhere. OK, me! Every tabloid trifle, every titillating bit of pop culture naffness, is respun via clever ironic takes. Irony is not new nor an invention of postmodernism. When camp goes mainstream, though, it loses its power, thus Graham Norton was shipped out to Azerbaijan to be snippy. Quite possibly, for this is the age where everything is not just of itself but about itself. The reign of irony also means a lot of comedy that represents itself as edgy, from Ricky Gervais to Sacha Baren-Cohen, is now repetitively dull, reinforcing prejudices rather than challenging them. For we are afraid, I think. We are now so impervious to the slings and arrows of the totes amazeballs fun world that only sad sacks complain.
Bookshelf Porn Sex-selection, abortion, and the pro-choice movement: Why liberals shouldn't gulp Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images What’s a not-OK reason to get an abortion? Rape and health of the mother, you’re cool with, yes? What about this nice Jewish girl who got one in college? That feels right. And the 26-year-old newlywed who, crap, gets knocked up six months in and isn’t quite ready for kids yet? How does a 35-year-old single woman who wants to focus on her career strike you? Where do you land on the middle-class wife who wants to save up a little more money before starting a family? And the mother of two who is not in the market for number three? This is pretty elementary stuff: The pro-choice movement is not just about protecting the rights of women in the direst situations to control their own bodies. Background: Today, the House of Representatives voted on PRENDA—the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, otherwise known as “the sex-selection bill.” By all accounts, gender-motivated abortions are not a big thing in the United States.
A World Without Copyright - House Absolute(ly Pointless) In discussions on Hacker News I’ve said several times that I think copyright should be abolished. Some people agree, but I often get a reply asking how I expect programmers, musicians, or authors to make a living in such a world. Before I address that question, I’ll take a brief digression. Creative works covered by copyright are (mostly) not physical. Whether or not you support copyright, I hope we can agree that physical things and data are fundamentally different. Copyright laws were initially established to encourage creative people to create stuff. This made (some) sense when these laws were created, but modern technology has made such laws obsolete. Here’s how a world without copyright might work. The right to release (or not) Just because copyright should be abolished doesn’t mean that there should be no rights for creators. Releasing should be an intentional act. This right to release definitely needs some detail work. Once something is released, that’s irrevocable. Art Software
WHICH IS THE BEST LANGUAGE TO LEARN? Our Top 12 in 2012. No. 1: Once a mark of the cultured, language-learning is in retreat among English speakers. It’s never too late, but where to start? Robert Lane Greene launches our latest Big Question ... From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, March/April 2012 For language lovers, the facts are grim: Anglophones simply aren’t learning them any more. Why learn a foreign language? Nonetheless, compelling reasons remain for learning other languages. Poetry and lyrics suffer particularly badly in translation. The practical reasons are just as compelling. So which one should you, or your children, learn? Probably not. This factor is the Chinese writing system (which Japan borrowed and adapted centuries ago). A recent survey reported in the People’s Daily found 84% of respondents agreeing that skill in Chinese is declining. To my surprise, all three of them simply shrugged in sheepish embarrassment. But if I was asked what foreign language is the most useful, and given no more parameters (where?
'Three-parent babies' cure for illness raises ethical fear | Science Aaron began to stand out at primary school. He was unlike other children in subtle ways that at times were hard to put a finger on. He couldn't hold a pen properly. There is no subtlety to Aaron's condition any more. What was wrong came to light only when Aaron turned yellow and was admitted to hospital. "I don't know what the future holds for my son. Mitochondrial disease runs in families, and more specifically is passed down from mother to child. Though obscure outside specialist hospital units, mitochondrial disease will soon be the subject of a national debate and a matter for parliament. The law as written reflects a line that has never been crossed in medicine. The ethical issues raised by the procedure are clear but for many doctors these are overridden by the chance to prevent life-threatening disease. The debate that is coming will be unusually centred on Britain, because no other country is known to be so close to offering the service to patients. Obesity Safety
Revisiting why incompetents think they’re awesome In 1999 a pair of researchers published a paper called "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments (PDF)." David Dunning and Justin Kruger (both at Cornell University's Department of Psychology at the time) conducted a series of four studies showing that, in certain cases, people who are very bad at something think they are actually pretty good. They showed that to assess your own expertise at something, you need to have a certain amount of expertise already. Remember the 2008 election campaign? In all of this, uninformed idiots blame the Greeks for being lazy, the Germans for being too strict, and everyone but themselves. It has been more than 10 years since Dunning and Kruger published their work. "The paper gave voice to an observation that people make about their peers, but that they don’t know how to express," Dunning said. This paper has become a cult classic.
Hipsters and Low-Tech Hipsters have been much discussed on the Cyborgology blog (see: here, here, here, and here). Cyborgology authors have also talked about the fetishization of low-tech/analog media and devices (see: here and here). As David Paul Strohecker pointed out, these two issue interrelated: “hipsters are at the forefront of movements of nostalgic revivalism.” I want to pick up these threads and add a small observation. Nathan Jurgenson and I were discussing why low-tech devices have a seductive quality. Consider the popularity of, for example, fixed-gear bicycles or vintage cameras (such as the Kodak Brownie or the Polaroid PX-70 [correction: SX-70]). Žižek is often cited as the philosopher of the hipster or the hipster philosopher, but, here, I argue that Simmel and Deleuze were the true Oracles of Hipsterdom. So, hipsters are the product of a moment in history where the socio-economic system benefits from and has discovered effective methods to enforce the moral imperative to “be unique.”
Motherhood: Immaculate gestation | The Last Word On Nothing “Mommy, why did you kill me?” was the first line of the comment. It devolved from there into a maudlin, hallucinatory, and occasionally Freudian fantasy of an aborted child’s final message to his mother, and it ended with the little guy playing baseball with God in heaven while the mother burned in hell. The reply was brief and furious: “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” Another joined in: “When a man can get pregnant, I’ll be happy to listen to his opinions about abortion.” The abortion flamewar I’m describing took place in 1999, and it had the honor of being my first. Anonymous Internet Person #2 was right: men can’t get pregnant. In 1997, a pro-life group called Nightlight Adoptions set up a program called Snowflakes. If only there were some way to extend the concept, transplanting a developing fetus from a woman who found herself accidentally pregnant. But this apparent dead end does leave one intriguing loophole: scoop up the blastocyst before implantation.
Magazine - Host [Click the phrases within the colored boxes to read the commentary.] Mr. John Ziegler, thirty-seven, late of Louisville's WHAS, is now on the air, "Live and Local," from 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. every weeknight on southern California's KFI, a 50,000-watt megastation whose hourly ID and Sweeper, designed by the station's Imaging department and featuring a gravelly basso whisper against licks from Ratt's 1984 metal classic "Round and Round," is "KFI AM-640, Los Angeles—More Stimulating Talk Radio." This is either the eighth or ninth host job that Mr. Ziegler's had in his talk-radio career, and far and away the biggest. The John Ziegler Show is the first local, nonsyndicated late-night program that KFI has aired in a long time. It is currently right near the end of the program's second segment on the evening of May 11, 2004, shortly after Nicholas Berg's taped beheading by an al-Qaeda splinter in Iraq. "And I'll tell you why—it's because we're better than they are." When Mr.
Diary of an acid trip. The most sexed up man in history... If I didn't know about God and sin. Andy understands me on so many levels. And just like that... Follow your ambitions. Despite all his rage, he's still just a widdle puppy in a cage Group blogs: Journal of Medical Ethics blog » Blog Archive » Treating the Sex Offender 13 Jun, 12 | by Iain Brassington This is an interesting story picked up by the BBC: drugs are being used to “suppress sexual thoughts and urges” among sex offenders in an experiment at HMP Whatton. It is early days, and the number taking part is small – so far fewer than 60 – but the graphs illustrating such measures as prisoners’ strength of sexual urges, or time spent thinking about sex, all show a downward trend.The Ministry of Justice is pleased with the initial evaluation of the scheme. The treatment will continue to be available to high-risk sex offenders who are assessed as being suitable, it says. There’s all manner of questions raised by the prospect of using drugs to alter, reduce, or otherwise manipulate sex drive. At the same time, there might be questions about the moral difference between having a certain sexual fantasy in the privacy of your own head, and acting it out. The possibility of such procedures ought to be of interest to people working on moral enhancement.
In Defense of Autobiography When author Pauls Toutonghi set out to write his first book, he made himself a promise: he would not be another stereotype of “the debut novelist writing about his life.” So Toutonghi penned a “really terrible” World War Two novel followed by a cringe-worthy attempt at experimental fiction — a choose-your-own-adventure rip off. He never wrote in the first person, lest readers assume he was writing about himself. He didn’t sell either book; his career — or lack thereof — was a disaster. Eventually, Toutonghi gave up on his rigid strategy of avoidance and did what any smart writer does: he let the story and characters lead him, instead of the other way around. This is perhaps the greatest hang-up of the modern novelist — that fiction is somehow unsophisticated or inherently cliché if it is rooted in the writer’s own life, and that writers should be creative enough to invent entirely new worlds and find drama only in the unfamiliar. So where does this fear come from? Image: Streveo/flickr
10 places that don’t exist (but should) We've all read a book or watched a movie and wished the places it transported us to were real. Some of the most enduring destinations are fictional. Well, not completely. Some were inspired by real places that resonated with their authors. So, here are my top mythical locations. 10. The home of Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and friends, the lush and charming Hundred Acre Wood is the literary soul mate of Ashdown Forest in Sussex. 9. 8. The mythical city of gold has come to represent things opulent or unattainable. 7. Rumour has it only children can visit Neverland, but if you think happy thoughts you might just find your way to the famous home of Peter Pan, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys. 6. Who wouldn’t like to travel via rabbit hole? 5. Arthurian scholar Norris J. 4. 3. There one minute, gone the next, illusive, mist-shrouded Brigadoon is how many travellers like to imagine Scotland. 2. Surrounded by desert on all sides, Frank L. 1. Runners Up: Fantasia