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Author: Claire

Comfort with complexity, III: Simplicity lies beyond

“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. “Life is so complex that government efforts to regulate and control it are doomed to fail, just as the Austrians say. And life is simple in the principles we use to guide us.” — Paul Bonneau —– Part I here. Part II here. Now we’re at the final installment, and reading Paul Bonneau’s comment above, I wonder if maybe I should just leave it at what he…

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Monday Miscellany

For anybody who’s been wondering, I expect to have the third (and probably final) post on “Comfort with Complexity” tomorrow. Been cogitating on it. Quote of the day: “One … of the chief differences between an adult and a juvenile is that the adult knows when he is an ass while the juvenile never does.” — Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American author, philosopher, and longshoreman Census: the good, the bad, and the ugly: Here’s a constitutionalist view of the census including its legal history and updated information on the potential penalties for refusing cooperation. OTOH, I’ve been trying to find an…

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The buzz on Google’s arrogant goof

I didn’t pay much attention earlier this week when Google announced Buzz. Didn’t get too flapped when the t00bz immediately started buzzing with complaints about privacy, either. Yawn, what else is new? Privacy horror stories are par for the course for social-networking sites, and aside from that, those sites are mostly boring as dirt. (Who wants to know about other people’s trivial daily activities?) But I’m thinking this new Google mess — even after the alleged fixes — is a different order of magnitude. The former “do no evil” people did four really evil things: They forced a Buzz account…

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Encounter in a small town

ACT I, SCENE I A restaurant reminiscent of the Hog Trough Grill & Feed. It is mid-afternoon and only two tables are occupied. A MAN and WOMAN enter and seat themselves at a booth toward the back. Immediately, they notice a one-foot tall, brightly colored, three-sided CARD. There is one on every table. From the lack of ketchup stains, wrinkles, and fingerprints, the enormous cards appear to be newly placed. The woman plucks the card from their table. WOMAN (READING): United States Census 2010. It’s SAFE! It’s EASY! It’s IMPORTANT! It’s used to allocate more than $400 billion of federal…

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Comfort with complexity, II: Labels

This is the second in a series on freedom and the ability to deal comfortably with complexity. Part one is here. In a couple of recent comment threads (here and here) Kevin Wilmeth lamented dependence on labels and the human craving to identify with groups. At the risk of misinterpreting him, I’ll paraphrase: Labels are limiting because they can never express all the variations that fall within their scope; and our need to identify as part of a group often means we give ourselves permission to stop thinking as soon as we’ve concluded, “I’m an X” or “So and so…

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Shah Rukh Khan’s autographed body scans

Ohhhh, I’m waiting for these to show up in a Google image search. Shah Rukh Khan is pretty darned sexy, even in images that don’t show all his … er, endowments. But (unless this claim turns out to be a publicity stunt by the Bollywood star), thanks to airport body scanners — you know, those machines that never, ever, ever preserve images of our nekkid bodies — autographed views of him in his (so he claims) full glory are already floating around in the world, or at least Heathrow Airport. Oh, lucky us, huh? Just think what future stars our…

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Comfort with complexity

Being comfortable with complexity. It’s something that’s been on my mind for years. But I was reminded of it again after reading an otherwise-sneering Mother Jones profile of the New York Times’s “conservative” columnist, Ross Douthat. Now, Douthat isn’t “conservative” by any standard most folks would recognize around here (federal wage subsidies, anyone?). But what got Mother to ooohing and aaahing is that Douthat is apparently a thinker who is comfortable with nuance and complexity. The writer, Mark Oppenheimer, just could not wrap his head around the idea of a “conservative” who didn’t toe some O’Reillyesque party line. Of course,…

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For those who still believe in “working within the system”

Ah, couldn’t you just see it coming? How to undermine a movement: turn its values on their heads. Palin and the tea-party “movement”: nothing new. First, the R-party is taken over by neo-conservatives (who are, of course, neither new nor conservative). Then the L-party falls into the hands of neo-cons. Now, only a year after its beginnings as a vigorous, Paulista, grass-roots movement for smaller government and fiscal common sense, the tea-party movement, too, has been co-opted by the same gang of warfare-welfare, centralized-power, to-hell-with-the-rule-of-law con artists. The specific power factions may come and go (or change their name and…

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My all-time favorite SuperBowl “spot” [vbg]

Okay, here’s one for the lighter side. The only thing I miss about not having TV is great commercials. But with YouTube, no problem. This is my absolute, all-time favorite SuperBowl spot (other than the incomparable “1984”, of course). From 2007, I believe. On the other hand, I never saw this one until this afternoon. But it could really be my second favorite. From SuperBowl 1999 …

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Monday Miscellany

The Constitution as an 18th-century Patriot Act. Hm. I’ve always thought of that applying more to the Alien and Sedition Acts. But it’s an interesting point. Anyhow, I’m definitely of the school that says, “The Constitution isn’t perfect, but it’s better than what we have now.” (Any idea who originated that quote?) Last week while looking for a link to the Whiskey Rebellion, I stumbled across this cool site dealing with booze, with some emphasis on the bootleg variety. I’m not a drinker myself. I fall asleep after one glass of wine. I think beer tastes like dish detergent and…

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