On my deathbed I exact a promise from you. Then I die, and you ignore the promise. Most of us would feel that this is wrong, but why? If I no longer exist, then who is wronged by your omission?
Similarly, it seems wrong to slander the dead, or to mistreat a corpse. But why? Can we have a moral obligation to a person who doesn’t exist? Do the dead have rights?
“The dead, if they exist at all, are so much dust,” writes philosopher George Pitcher. “How is it possible for so much dust to be wronged?”
via Dead Bargain – Futility Closet.
The entire “Martian” piece is great, but the line “I came here in peace, seeking gold and slaves” is even better on its own. It has a perfect setup and punchline, which are exactly the same length, creating a pleasing symmetry: five syllables of set-up and five syllables of punchline. The line isn’t iambic pentameter, but the ten syllables give it that Shakespearian feel. The language is simple, and the contradiction is massive. I dare you to write such a short, plain, ridiculous line.
via McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Best Joke Ever: Seeking Gold, Slaves, and Peace: The Best Jack Handey Joke..
When people say, "You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide," ask them if it’s fine to install cameras in their homes, not just in the living room but the bedroom and bathroom. Ask them if they’d mind wearing a microphone and video camera every day, so others can check on what they’ve said and done.
You are guilty of something. I guarantee it. Lawmakers have created countless new crimes and punishments, and allowed law enforcement to extend old laws in dangerous ways. Have you ever told anything short of the absolute truth when filling out an online form to use some service? We can charge you with a felony for that. And, by the way, we don’t need to convict you at trial. If you are a target, we can ruin you financially if you try to defend yourself. This is what we expect in banana republics and police states, not here. And as the surveillance state expands, it will create more targets among people like you.
via America's next president had better believe in restoring liberty | Dan Gillmor | Comment is free | theguardian.com.
Lots of people will argue, “Well yes but monkeys can have language, other animals have some kind of way of communication.” But we are the only species that’s able to use words in a way abstractly to begin to control our environment not just adapt and be in our environment.
And this is a powerful, powerful tool. So when I see extreme obfuscation in a company it worries me that this company doesn’t have what it takes to survive and thrive
via The More We Obfuscate the Less We Become Human | In Their Own Words | Big Think.
“She was always texting me, but we hardly ever talked. During her first few weeks at home she used to cry a good deal. But that was only because I would sometimes forget to put a smiley face at the end of a text. After a month or two she’d have cried if I forgot to include a birthday cake emoji because this, too, would have been a wrench. That was why, during the last year, I seldom texted her.”
“Let’s say you’re walking by a pond and there’s a drowning baby, ” Greene says, over chicken tikka masala. “If you said, ‘I’ve just paid $200 for these shoes and the water would ruin them, so I won’t save the baby,’ you’d be an awful, horrible person. But there are millions of children around the world in the same situation, where just a little money for medicine or food could save their lives. And yet we don’t consider ourselves monsters for having this dinner rather than giving the money to Oxfam. Why is that?”
via Understanding Our Moral Tribes – Phenomena: The Loom.
What can’t be described?
I keep an informal list of things which are not drawable. John Ruskin said that “many things (sea foam, for instance) cannot be drawn at all, only the idea of them more or less suggested”. I may have used that quote before in this blog. Of course we could get picky and argue that drawing something always consists of “more or less” suggesting the idea of the thing being drawn. That “more or less” makes the difference I guess, but please let’s keep this a relaxed definition.
While doing the drawing above (for a small feature about solar flares in Wired UK) I added two new items to my list: The Northern Lights and aluminium foil. Maybe not as undrawable as sea foam but still pretty difficult if your medium is indian ink. You may judge whether I was good or not at “suggesting the idea of them”.
via Oh, well.