Archive for March, 2006

There’s such a thing as too polite

24 March 2006

If moderates are unwilling to endure conflict in defence of their moderation, they will effectively have surrendered to the voices of extremism.

Externality

15 March 2006

I’m going to file this under useful concepts. I learned it from Bruce Schneier who is a very thinker about security and puts out Cryptograms, a thought-provoking e-mail newsletter about security issues. (His take on security is not the predictable, screw down the hatches and put away yer civil liberties point of view.)

Externality is the idea that a transaction cost is born by someone external to the transaction. So, for instance, there’s no incentive for a company that holds personal information on you to do much to prevent it being stolen if there are no consequences to them if it is stolen. If I’m the only one to suffer a negative consequence if my identity is stolen from a company I shared my information with and that company doesn’t have to face a penalty, then the cost of losing my information is an externality for them.

Axioms of fascism

13 March 2006

Lewis Lapham paraphrases Umberto Eco’s axioms of fascism:

  • “The truth is revealed once and only once.
  • Parliamentary democracy is by definition rotten because it doesn’t represent the voice of the people, which is that of the sublime leader.
  • Doctrine outpoints reason, and science is always suspect.
  • Critical thought is the province of degenerate intellectuals, who betray the culture and subvert traditional values.
  • The national identity is provided by the nation’s enemies.
  • Argument is tantamount to treason.
  • Perpetually at war, the state must govern with the instruments of fear.
  • Citizens do not act; they play the supporting role of “the people” in the grand opera that is the state.’

-Harpers, October 2005, pg 7

Pets vs. Travel

3 March 2006

Pets or travel. I don’t think you can have both. (Thanks to The Prairie Home Companion.)