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Lexicon of Power: Computers

by Izzy Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:50:48 AM EST

This was originally published back in 1997, but despite a couple of details, it still seems sort of appropriate.  I've been reading a few (more serious) diaries here recently that have brought it to mind.  It's sort of silly, and written for an American audience, but touches on some serious issues and I thought it might be fun for the weekend to get your thoughts and stories. From the front page ~whataboutbob

I have a love/hate relationship with computers.  On the positive side, males now type and I never again have to do long-division.  On the negative side, they've ruined civilization.

I didn't always feel this way.  When computers were first coming into common use, I was quite enthusiastic about them.  The older people were scared; they were like sheep being herded somewhere they instinctively did not want to go.  

But my generation scoffed at them.  We had been raised with constantly-changing technology.  We could do things our grandparents had never even dreamed of -- pick up a phone and talk to someone halfway around the world, travel farther in an hour than they could have traveled in a day when they were young.  We drove, we raced, we flew.  We called long-distance with abandon.  

We had seen men walk on the moon, dammit -- we had seen the world bloom from black & white into color through our TV screens.  Everything was bigger, faster, better, brighter, more.

So when computers came, we disregarded our elders and embraced the new technology.  We didn't go blindly down the path to destruction.  No, we ran with arms outflung and eyes bedazzled by visions of technological miracles, of promises of vast amounts of leisure time and becoming a paperless society -- and never again having to do math.

And can you blame us?  These all seemed like reasonable, if not excellent, ideas.

Read more... (31 comments, 1551 words in story)

Weiner Dogs and Christmas Elves

by Izzy Fri Dec 23rd, 2005 at 01:51:24 AM EST

This morning I was out walking and I suddenly heard this teeny-tiny frantic barking.  I stopped and looked toward the sound and saw a little brown blur flying towards me.  

I bent down to either block or pat the furry projectile and had one of those moments when your brain can't quite figure out what your eyes are seeing.  Then suddenly, pure delight.

It turned out to be a very excited, very happy, very tiny weiner dog.  Dressed like an elf.

Read more... (27 comments, 993 words in story)

The Lexicon of Power

by Izzy Tue Nov 29th, 2005 at 10:26:19 AM EST

From the front page - Colman

I'm not positive, but I think we're missing a word in the English language.  This is the question that I've been asking -- if the excessive desire for food is called gluttony, and the excessive desire for material wealth is called greed, what is the excessive desire for power called?

Now I know you're probably all flying to the comments right now with suggestions -- avaricious!  voracious!  cupidity! -- but bear with me a moment.  Hear me out.  I've got lots of time on my hands and have given a lot of thought to this.  

I've mulled the words I know and looked them all up.  I've consulted friends and relatives and looked up their suggestions.   I've looked in the dictionary, thesaurus, and synonym book and followed all consequent descriptive words and their roots.  

When none of that worked, I tried bigger dictionaries.  I looked in more technical texts and more antiquated tomes, thinking perhaps the word was misplaced or forgotten.  But I can find no word that precisely describes what I want to talk about here.  

This all started because I needed a word to describe the Bush administration.  

Read more... (38 comments, 719 words in story)

Skating Through the System

by Izzy Sun Nov 13th, 2005 at 02:18:48 AM EST

For several years now, the American Figure Skating world has been absolutely beside itself  over the plight of ice-dancer pair, Belbin and Agosto.  Not only are they the best ice-dancers the US has had in years, but they might be our only hope of winning a medal for figure skating at next year's Olympics.

There's just one problem -- while they live in the US and Ben Agosto is from Chicago, Tanith Belbin is Canadian.

Read more... (12 comments, 688 words in story)

American Poverty

by Izzy Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 04:19:56 PM EST

Bumped by whataboutbob: this is just too good of a discussion to let it slide off into oblivion yet...so one more for the road!

Okay all you believers in the American Dream, defenders of the status quo, champions of the huddled masses, and innocent bystanding statistic lovers -- it's time to quit sullying other threads with our wrangling and get down to business.  

Time to stop dragging in the costs of tuition, prices of produce and arcane portions of the US tax code into unsuspecting diaries.  Don't act innocent -- you know who you are and I expect to see you in here.

As to the rest of you, jump on in!  Be forewarned that my head explodes periodically in this type of discussion, but it passes quickly and I can be reasoned with -- I  admit I have issues.

The rest of the unrepentant arguers all seem quite nice and reasonable except when they're occasionally stunningly incorrect, but I'll leave that for now.

The issue is poverty in the United States -- does it exist?  what is the scope?  how bad is it?  can it be overcome?  how does it compare to Europe?  and why does this matter?

Read more... (225 comments, 1279 words in story)

When the Levees Broke

by Izzy Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 03:50:37 PM EST

It's long been feared that the City of New Orleans would take a direct hit from a hurricane.  What made it such a danger was not the prospect of hurricane force winds directly hitting a densely populated region -- that is disastrous in and of itself -- but that's not what made the New Orleans' scenario so frightening.

No, the unthinkable component was the risk of the levees breaking.  In the last few days we've seen the results of the levee breaches.  The consequences were widely known and inevitable -- if the levee at Lake Pontchartrain was breached, the city would fill with water until it was level with the lake.  The pumps would be overwhelmed and break.  The city would drown.  

The disaster would be overwhelming, the devastation complete, the human suffering incomprehensible.  These facts were all well established when the levees broke on Monday.

Read more... (5 comments, 1100 words in story)

Drug Warriors Take Aim at the Planet: Pt. 2

by Izzy Thu Aug 4th, 2005 at 03:10:05 AM EST

This is the second of two parts. Part one can be found here

Yesterday I wrote about the U.S. government's once-secret mycoherbicide program in which scientists are genetically altering fungi to kill certain plants.  Chemical herbicides like Roundup are already being used in our so-called drug war, and some Republican politicians are now promoting the use of mycoherbicides as a "safe" alternative.

Read more... (3 comments, 1111 words in story)

Drug Warriors Take Aim at the Planet

by Izzy Wed Aug 3rd, 2005 at 12:46:02 PM EST

This is the first in a two part series.

In the category of Worst Ideas You've Probably Never Heard Of, some Republican politicians are once again pushing the use of mycoherbicides -- fungi that kill plants -- for use in their beloved drug war.

Like a fungus itself, this idea just won't go away.  The theory as presented by the drug warriors is quite simple -- take a fungus that kills poppies or coca or marijuana, spread it around Afghanistan or Colombia or Florida, and -- voila! -- no more drug problem.

I can't decide whether they really are that stupid about science, or whether they're operating from some movie villain playbook, but the idea really is as ridiculous as it sounds and they're taking action now.

Read more... (12 comments, 1289 words in story)

A Clockwork Orange Alert

by Izzy Fri Jul 22nd, 2005 at 02:00:31 PM EST

O my merry band.  What a week it's been for George Bushieboy and his droogs, hanging at the WhiteHouse Milkbar playing all keen and vicious with the ultra-politics.

Things are changing so skorry these days and everybody very quick to forget, newspapers not being read and all, everybody distracted by Roverdover in the spotlight.  

O Karl's a real horrorshow filthy fighter and very handy with the press.  But with everybody creeching 'bout the leaking, Georgie and the lads are really getting on with the job.  

What's it going to be then, eh?

Read more... (5 comments, 528 words in story)
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