Fat people & billionaires

Before the storm that we neither predicted nor prepared for

I started reading Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan in May last year.  I took it to the Delfest music festival where we’d been promised bluegrass and sunshine.  A hurricane tore down the camp and flooded the fields.  The book sank in the swamp, was bravely rescued, and has since dried out.  I started reading it again the other day.

Taleb’s central thesis is that we are much worse at predicting events than we think we are.  In fact we massively overestimate our capacity for prediction. Continue reading Fat people & billionaires

I may be a latte drinking liberal but I respect Massachusetts’ voters

Latte drinking, Guardian reading liberal

I tweeted on Friday that I was profoundly dismayed with democracy in America.  I was called out on this by one of my friends, who accused me of being a latte drinking, Guardian reading liberal and, I suspect his point was, of not respecting the will of the people in Massachusetts.  He’s got at least three points right there, but he’s not right about the last one.  And it’s an important point to respond to because actually I’m excited by the lessons that the will of the people taught us in Massachusetts.  I think they’ve confirmed our exit from the twentieth century. Continue reading I may be a latte drinking liberal but I respect Massachusetts’ voters

Liberals shouldn’t slam Facebook

TV rots your brain

Every Christmas I like to have an argument with my mum, usually about technology, and usually conducted like an irregular serial – picked up several times over the course of the holiday.  In previous years my Christmas technology arguments have been about kitchen appliances; can you believe we still don’t have a microwave or a dishwasher?  Next Christmas it has got to finally be about the pitiful size of our TV, a debate that was this time sidelined by 2009’s topic: social networking.

In a car ride to visit grandma, mum passes this article by Julia Neuberger over to the back seat. (Her producing articles from the Guardian, often snipped out and left on my bed, is a feature of our arguments.)  Essentially Baroness Neuberger had summarised what my mum thinks:  that social networking is making us less social by wrapping us in a virtual world and isolating us from ‘real’ relationships.

This is of course bunk. Continue reading Liberals shouldn’t slam Facebook

I’m a better person because of Facebook (we all are)

DebateAP2202_468x355Pretty much anybody I meet I try to friend on Facebook.  I’m friends with my dad, I’m friends with some kids I used to teach, my colleagues, my uni friends, school friends, some people I’ve only ever met once, and I’m sure I’m friends with some people I don’t actually like.

Let me quickly say this is not a post about how you should use Facebook.  There are legitimate conversations to be had about how we should interact with each other online.  But you miss the point if you debate things like how many friends you ‘should’ have on Facebook (what portion of your social graph you should friend).  The internet is almost defined by the fact that we are able to use the tools that emerge in – often unexpected – ways that most suit us. Continue reading I’m a better person because of Facebook (we all are)