MonthOctober 2006

Foley AIMs to Please

As much as I like to see the Republican Party in a tailspin, the media narrative on this is ridiculous. Notice how many stories refer to Foley as a “predator” and the pages in question as “young boys” or “children.” Come on. They were 16. The only reasonable coverage I’ve found of this is, appropriately, at Reason:

But as it turns out, the Mark Foley pedophilia sex scandal lacks two things: pedophilia and sex. The victim of Foley’s electronic overfriendliness was not a pre-adolescent, but a 16-year-old; above the age of consent in D.C., and an age at which the average American moves from explicit IM exchanges to the real deal. A 16-year-old is neither a defenseless child nor an adult, but Americans don’t have a way to talk about attraction to sexually mature minors—an attraction that anchors the career of your average pop star but is best kept far, far away from an already perverse Washington. That leaves two options: Foley as pathological child abuser at one extreme, as a Clintonian philanderer on the other.

[…]

That the virtual defines the criminal is a stupid legal inconsistency, but it is part of a landscape in which legal and moral are regularly conflated. The term sex offender is so broad as to have lost all useful meaning, ranging from adults who urinate in public to those who prey on preschoolers. The barriers to slapping someone’s address on a registry are so low that any actual tragedy gets lost in a sea of banality. Yet the term itself, heavy with registry and residency requirements, adopts all the weight of its most vile associations; not the Maf54s, but the John Wayne Gacys.

For his part, Foley has been a one-man war on nuance: A vocal fan of broad databases, the first to yell sicko and cry pervert. In his own words, Foley is “never too tired” to jerk off. Nor was he too tired to use his position as chairman of the former chairman of the House Caucus on Missing Children to stretch the definitions of sex crime beyond all meaning—everything from running a nudist camps to child modeling was deemed perverse, hardly distinguishable from straight-up abuse. At a news conference in 2002, he explained that it was a mistake to distinguish between the internet and physical contact, saying ” It doesn’t make a difference if the child engaged in sex is real or virtual. In other words, an old simple saying: If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it is a duck.”

Full Story: Reason.

Economies of Design and Other Adventures in Nomad Economics

Economies of Design and Other Adventures in Nomad Economics

I just finished reading Abe Burmeister’s master’s thesis, Economies of Design and Other Adventures in Nomad Economics. It’s available as a free pdf or as a printed book. This is the “public draft.” It’s still pretty rough, but still quite good.

This book is very straight forward and easy to read. I don’t have much of a background in economics, but I found Abe’s writing clear and accessible. Abe’s a designer by trade, not an economist, and this book/paper was written for the Interactive Telecommunications Program, not for an econ program.

Abe seems to be mostly inspired by this quote by Manuel De Landa:

I believe that the main task for today’s left is to create a new political economy (the resources are all there: Max Weber, T.B. Veblen and the old institutionalists, John Kenneth Galbraith, Fernand Braudel, some of the new institutionalists, like Douglass North; redefinitions of the market, like those of Herbert Simon etc) based as you acknowledged before, on a non-equilibrium view of the matter? But how can we do this if we continue to believe that Marxists got it right, that it is just a matter of tinkering with the basic ideas? At any rate, concepts like “mode of production” do not fit a flat ontology of individuals as far as I can tell.

Abe takes this and runs with it. This book lays the ground work. He doesn’t have all the answers yet (he’s mentioned he’s already working on a complete re-write), but this is a great starting point. Abe’s mostly focused on designers, but this book would be a good starting point for anyone interested in the idea of “economic hacking” – activists, artists, and yes, magicians.

More links:

Abe’s research blog.

His main blog.

Bonus: More “edge” economics.

Practical Manual of Sexual Rituals in Black Magic, 1934

Magica1.jpg

For sale on E-Bay

List of cognitive biases

Cognitive bias is distortion in the way humans perceive reality (see also cognitive distortion). See also the list of thinking-related topic lists.

Some of these have been verified empirically in the field of psychology, others are considered general categories of bias.

List on Wikipedia.

(via Robot Wisdom).

Robert Anton Wilson needs our help

From Douglas Rushkoff:

But right now, Bob is a human being in a rather painful fleshsuit, who needs our help. I refuse for the history books to say he died alone and destitute, for I want future generations to know we appreciated Robert Anton Wilson while he was alive.

[…]

Any donations can be made to Bob directly to the Paypal account olgaceline@gmail.com.
You can also send a check payable to Robert Anton Wilson to
Dennis Berry c/o Futique Trust
P.O. Box 3561
Santa Cruz, CA 95063.

Full Story: Douglas Rushkoff.

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