Monthly Archives: May 2010

Check your Facebook privacy settings

This is really well put:

I suspect that while Zuckerberg spins publicity as a social good, he actually believes it’s a moral one. It’s a theme that’s become pretty common among execs of data-collecting, data-publicizing companies: making it so that anything anyone does can be seen by anyone they know is a way of keeping them honest. Check out this quote he gave David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, in an interview:

“The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly…Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”

Easy for Mark Zuckerberg to say. He’s a white, cisgendered, presumably straight male who went to Exeter and Harvard and has only ever been his own boss. It’s fair to say that he’s been on the short end of a power dynamic much less frequently than the overwhelming majority of his users. The notion that “having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity” is the sentiment of someone who’s never had to code-switch, someone who’s never had to be in the closet for fear of getting kicked out of the house, someone who’s familiar with the world of white-collar “networking” in which bosses are expected to have semi-social bonds with their employees rather than the world of enforced hierarchy in which bosses are on the lookout for off-the-job indiscretions to punish or exploit. For many, many people, having more than one identity isn’t a sign of “lack of integrity” because it’s not even really a personal choice. It’s the only way to survive in a world that isn’t always perfectly willing to accept and respect them for who they are.

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Health and wellness, the British way

I'm in London this week, and yesterday was the only day I didn't have meetings. So I:

7.00-8.00: Destroyed hotel breakfast buffet. Fuck liberte, equalite, fraternite, just give me cheese, brioche and a toaster.
8.00-9.00: Hyper-wandered through Hyde Park
9.00-12.00: Worked at an internet cafe, drank three black coffees
12.00-1.00: Accidentally talked my way into members-only gym.
1.00-2.00: Worked at Middle Eastern cafe, smoked grape water pipe, drank Turkish coffee
3.00-4.00: Inhaled 7-11 greek yogurt and pre-sliced mango.
4.00-5.30: Walked from one end of Zone 1 to the other
5.30-7.30: Worked, drank fizzy water
7.30-10.00: Saw concert, danced, drank maple syrup-thick British beer
10.00-11.00: Walked home

My blisters say it was a healthy day, but my hangover says it wasn't.

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Describing friendship in six words

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‘There isn’t an evolutionary explanation for why humans stick together after children are raised.’

Here's a cool interview about the state of marriage.

The author points out that, like pretty much everything else in the conventional-wisdom canon, the 50 percent divorce rate is a myth:

It has to do with how you look at the statistic. If the variables were constant, then a simple equation might work to come up with the divorce rate. But a lot of things are changing. And it is true that there are groups of people who have a 50 percent divorce rate: college dropouts who marry under the age of 25, for example. Couples married in the 1970s have a 30-year divorce rate of about 47 percent. A person who got married in the 1970s had a completely different upbringing and experience in life from someone who got married in the 1990s. It's been very clear that divorce rates peaked in the 1970s and has been going down ever since.

[…] There's the built-in incentive to identify crises. If you're a researcher you can study them; if you're an advocacy group you can get funding and support.

That last bit is really the heart of the problem. We see this in human rights circles all the time, researchers and advocates inflating their numbers to make it seem like 'their' issue is the real ticking time bomb in Africa or wherever.

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‘The plain truth about Sarah Palin’s autobiography—it is ridiculous and it is awful’

Once you get past the exhilaration of the rusty-bladed disemboweling of one of America's most loathsome polititainment figures, you realize that this is actually a really interesting review:

Something has happened to American culture that is even more worrying than a loss of literary discernment, and that is a loss of irritation with the sound of clichés.

and later:

The healthy desire for one’s leaders to empathise with ordinary people has been conflated with the desire for a leader who is an ordinary person.


What's really interesting is that the reviewer, before going all 'Finish him!' on Palin, feels the need to state:

I have no quarrel with the values Palin claims to hold dear. I am all for fiscal conservatism, hawkish defence, free markets, tax cuts and patriotism. God knows I am in favour of God. 

My objection is otherwise. The book is artless; it is juvenile; it is dull; it is vulgar; and it is above all phony. It does not seduce; it is not a guilty pleasure; it does not succeed in conveying universal experiences or emotions; it does not elevate. No character in it comes alive. Indeed it is so awful that it is almost impossible to find a single sentence in it that is not awful. […] It is neither trivial nor elitist to point this out.

You wonder how much criticism of ignorance doesn't get written or said because the author is afraid of being accused of snobbery.

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