In praise of idelness

February 25, 2008

For ages, the rich and their sycophants have written in praise of ‘honest toil’, have praised the simple life, have professed a religion which teaches that the poor are much more likely to go to heaven than the rich, and in general have tried to make manual workers believe that there is some special nobility about altering the position of matter in space[.]

Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness, 1932

Epistemology omnibus

February 22, 2008

This omnibus post collects draft fragments that are associated with the economy of attention and the sociology of science and expertise.

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Democracy omnibus, part 2/2

February 17, 2008

Bringing the democracy omnibus to a conclusion.

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The success of Wikipedia demonstrates that regular (i.e., unvetted by some authority) people are quite willing to spend time and effort on the creation of something that they perceive as valuable without expecting any material or even reputational compensation. It also shows that regular people can cooperate on a very large scale without a hierarchical organizing structure. Those points are probably the main reasons that significant hostility was directed toward Wikipedia from some quarters – some find the absence of Hobbesian chaos disconcerting.

Even Wikipedia’s own founder tried to claim that Wikipedia is an elite project, and while Swartz’s experiment disproving this claim is very interesting, it should be evident to anyone looking up information in Wikipedia on a regular basis that no small group of people could ever muster the wealth of knowledge that is stored on Wikipedia.

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Democracy omnibus, part 1/2

February 9, 2008

This post collects some ideas that I had originally planned to develop into posts but have given up for the time being on fleshing them up completely.

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Looking back, looking ahead

February 6, 2008

This post is aimed at serving as something of a self evaluation of the first 6 months of this blog, and a statement of intent for its future.

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ORB vs. IFHS in U.S. Media

February 1, 2008

On January 28th, the British polling firm Opinion Research Business (ORB) released an update (via Deltoid) of their previous study estimating violent deaths in post invasion Iraq. The update claims to confirm the previous findings, that about one million Iraqis have died violently following the U.S.-British invasion.

Today, about 3 days later, there are 91 hits on Google News for the combination “opinion research business”+iraq (counting duplicates). The one major mainstream U.S. outlet among the 91 is Reuters. At the same time, searching for articles covering the three weeks old release of the IFHS study shows 295 hits (using the combination iraq+”new england journal of medicine”+151000 OR 150000, and counting duplicates), with all the major mainstream U.S. new outlets represented (The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, CBS, USA Today).

Another matter: There is much of interest in the ORB study. Detailed tables give various breakdown statistics: 17% of households surveyed experienced at least one violent death; in Baghdad, that proportion is 36%; of the violent deaths 40% were by gunshot. It would be interesting to compare (in a different post) some of the data to what is available in the IFHS.

Display power consumption

February 1, 2008

Abstract: LCD TVs are about as power efficient (i.e., they consume about the same amount of power per square inch of display area) as CRT TVs. Thus a 50″ LCD TV consumes about 4 times as much power as a 25″ CRT TV. However, LCD monitors are 2 to 3 time more power efficient (i.e., consuming 2 to 3 times less energy per square inch of display area) as CRT monitors.

During a discussion about the popularization of large screen TVs, the claim was made that LCD TVs are much more power efficient per square inch than CRT TVs, largely offsetting the rise in display area to maintain a more-or-less constant total power. I was prompted to try to find information about the matter over the web.

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