Why Prison is Unfit for Civilised Society

Where prison is the only severe punishment available, and length of time the only measure of severity, one will naturally find that very long sentences will be handed out. On an impartial view of the matter, the severity of the punishment often seems quite disproportionate. Yet even so the victims and those who sympathize with them remain dissatisfied. […] This dissatisfaction lies behind the dismaying popularity of inhumane prison conditions, seen most clearly in the pervasiveness of sly jokes and official winking about prison violence and rape.


Punishment takes place within a moral relationship: punishers should be alive to their moral responsibility for deliberately inflicting pain and suffering on another human being. That is why true punishment has a tragic element - it is always carried out with some regret, even when it is just. […] The risk posed by ‘humane’ punishments like prison is that they can be imposed with little regret. And when the act of punishment becomes so easy, the decision to punish is no longer treated with the moral seriousness it requires.

In Facebook’s Courtroom

Not all of Facebook is devoted to overt judgment and punishment, of course; there are plenty of cute family photos and fun listicles floating around. But even superficially innocuous posts can have a hearing-like, evidentiary aspect. (Paranoia, unfortunately, is inevitable in a Kafkaesque world.) The omnipresent “challenge”—one recent version, the “gratitude challenge,” asks you to post three things you’re grateful for every day for five days—is typically Kafkaesque: it’s punishment beneath a veneer of positivity, an accusation of ingratitude against which you must prove your innocence. (It’s also the kind of thing Bart Simpson might be made to do at his blackboard.)

Home Fires

The essence of modern understanding is irony, Fussell argued, and it was born on the Western Front.

When a glib reporter asks what combat feels like, a character compares it to the moment just before a car accident, when you know it’s going to happen and are helpless to stop it. “Death, or whatever, it’s either coming or it’s not,” he says, “like that split second in a car wreck, except for here it can last for goddamn days.”

Back home, Bartle finds that “everyone wants to slap you on the back and you start to want to burn the whole goddamn country down, you want to burn every goddamn yellow ribbon in sight, and you can’t explain it but it’s just, like, Fuck you, but then you signed up to go so it’s all your fault, really, because you went on purpose, so you are in the end doubly fucked.”

This Soviet spy created the US-led global economic system

The Varieties of Denialism

The Inflation of Bullying: From Fagging to Cyber-effervescent Scapegoating

In the Sorting Office

Reading from paper versus screens: a critical review of the empirical literature

It seems therefore that scrolling is a popular form of text manipulation with more experienced users probably due to its speed even if there are theoretical grounds for doubting its superiority over paging. There is no firm evidence that either facility significantly affects reading performance compared to paper.

Maybe this is why I prefer scrolling by screenful and I always turn off smooth scrolling.

This is pretty funny:

Richardson et al (1988) reported that several subjects in their experiment displayed a tendency to respond to unsuccessful searches by increasing the specificity of the search string rather than lessening it. logic appeared to be that the computer required precision rather than approximation to search effectively.

Advice from Robert Frost

Read your author once or twice over having an eye out for anything that occurs to you whether appreciative, contradictory, corroborative or parallel Much that you will think of in connection will come to nothing and be wasted. But some of it ought to go together under one idea. That idea is the thing to write on.

Once you’ve got that idea, it will serve for other lesser ideas to centre around. Diligent but cautious students, Frost says, will put a name at the heads of their papers, Hawthorne, Poe, Emerson or Longfellow, and they will simply tell again what these men said did and wrote. They are afraid of the simplicity of many things they think, but instead of puffing them up, as overflorid writers do, they keep them private. But the simple things add up, Frost says, to one side in a conversation in which the reader takes part addressing himself to anything at all in the author in his subject matter or form.

The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur

The democratization of taste, abetted by the Web, coincides with the democratization of creativity. The makers have the means to sell, but everybody has the means to make. And everybodys using them. Everybody seems to fancy himself a writer, a musician, a visual artist. Apple figured this out a long time ago: that the best way to sell us its expensive tools is to convince us that we all have something unique and urgent to express.

What were now persuaded to consume, most conspicuously, are the means to create. And the democratization of taste ensures that no one has the right (or inclination) to tell us when our work is bad. A universal grade inflation now obtains: were all swapping A-minuses all the time, or, in the language of Facebook, likes.

It is often said today that the most-successful businesses are those that create experiences rather than products, or create experiences (environments, relationships) around their products. So we might also say that under producerism, in the age of creative entrepreneurship, producing becomes an experience, even the experience. It becomes a lifestyle, something that is packaged as an experienceand an experience, whats more, after the contemporary fashion: networked, curated, publicized, fetishized, tweeted, catered, and anything but solitary, anything but private.

Hacking Passion

I thought I wanted to be extraordinary, but what I really craved was passion, and that deep sense of satisfaction that comes with focus and accomplishment. … Passion is curated. … Don’t do what you love. Do something well enough to love what you do.