The Quality of Life: As Macaulay once noted: “If men are to wait for liberty till they become good and wise in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.”
posted by Gyan
on Aug 2, 2013 -
If you find it impossible to make restaurant reservations online it might be because you're competing against bots. A developer explains how it works and just how common it might be in San Francisco
. [more inside]
posted by Foci for Analysis
on Jul 25, 2013 -
"I used to work at [company], and it paid well and advanced my career," the person told me. "But I recognize that [company]'s games cause great harm to people's lives. They are designed for addiction. [company] chooses what to add to their games based on metrics that maximize players' investments of time and money. [company]'s games find and exploit the right people, and then suck everything they can out of them, without giving much in return. It's not hard to see the parallels to the tobacco industry."
posted by tarpin
on Jul 24, 2013 -
A Life-Or-Death Situation. "As a bioethicist, Margaret "Peggy" Pabst Battin fought for the right of people to end their own lives. After her husband’s cycling accident, her field of study turned unbearably personal." Via
posted by zarq
on Jul 19, 2013 -
The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure [PDF, there is a Word file direct from the DoD]
is 167 pages of stories of elaborate frauds, scams, and abuses of power in the US government. Interestingly, the sarcasm-filled document is also published by the US government, to help illustrate how government workers get in trouble. Freakonomics radio has a amusing and interesting discussion
with the Encyclopedia
's editor and founding editor [link goes to transcript]. [more inside]
posted by blahblahblah
on Jul 18, 2013 -
Our Inconsistent Ethical Instincts
We like to believe that the principled side of the equation is rooted in deep, reasoned conviction. But a growing wealth of research shows that those values often prove to be finicky, inconsistent intuitions, swayed by ethically irrelevant factors. What you say now you might disagree with in five minutes. And such wavering has implications for both public policy and our personal lives. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Jun 18, 2013 -
Controversy struck the exalted Augusta grounds of the Masters golf tournament on Friday as Tiger Woods put himself at risk of disqualification.
It all began with a situation in which Woods had the extraordinarily bad luck of bouncing his ball off the flagstick on the 15th hole into the water. Instead of dropping his ball "as nearly as possible"
to it's original position, Woods dropped it a couple of yards back. In an interview after the round, Woods said: "I went back to where I played it from, but I went two yards further back and I took, tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit and that should land me short of the flag and not have it either hit the flag or skip over the back."
Woods signed his scorecard without assigning himself the two shot penalty the rules of golf require for an improper drop.
The following day, the Masters Rules Committee ruled that Woods would not be disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, justifying it by using a new rule that allows tournament committees to waive rules infractions called in by TV viewers, even though the intention of that rule was to prevent disqualifications based on tiny movements of the ball or sand imperceptible to the golfer but visible on close-up HD shots.
Many in the golf world were outraged
at both the ruling and the fact that Woods didn't withdraw himself from the tournament. Nick Faldo suggested it would be "the manly thing to do." [more inside]
posted by fairmettle
on Apr 14, 2013 -
Marshall Sahlins, a leading American anthropologist, resigned last week from the National Academy of Sciences. This may come as a shock to the scientific community and even to students at NYU. Anyone taking an introductory course to anthropology at NYU, for example, is bound to encounter several readings of Sahlins’s work. Among his more influential works are “Historical Metaphors and Mythical Realities,” a case study of the murder of Captain Cook in Hawaii and how it was the result of underlying social factors. Normally, when a scientist or scholar resigns from such a prestigious position, one assumes that he probably committed an irrevocable and egregious error that forever taints his credibility as an academic. However, our assumptions sometimes deceive us. If we explore the reasoning and motivations behind Sahlins’s resignation, we may arrive at deeper insights into the issues at play.
posted by infini
on Feb 27, 2013 -
The Delights Of Disgust
I confess I am disgusted by a great many things about people (and about myself, but let's put that aside). I do not believe it is particularly urgent for me to overcome my disgust, even if I recognize that this emotion must remain entirely separate from my thinking about which laws would be most just. I am disgusted by other people's dandruff, facial moles, food stuck in their beards, yet I do not accept that in feeling this way I am judging those people to be subhuman. I take it rather that humanity, while endearing, is also capable of appearing disgusting. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Jan 16, 2013 -
Minima Moralia: Reflections from the Damaged Life
is a book written by German sociologist and philosopher Theodor W. Adorno during his exile in California in the 1940s. Translator Dennis Redmond has released his translation under creative commons (here is the same translation set up in a more book-like way
). In his essay Promiscuous Reading
, Mark O'Connell talks about his habit of never finishing books, but an exception being "this captivatingly strange and mordant text" Minima Moralia, "a thematically wayward aggregation of a hundred and fifty-three short essays and aphorisms that darts restlessly from one subject matter to the next, its fleeting yet intense engagements rarely spanning more than a page and a half." Among the subject matters Adorno addresses is the ethics of writing, which has reverberated down through the years, and is often set up in opposition to George Orwell's thought, as recounted by James Miller in the essay Lingua Franca
. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus
on Dec 28, 2012 -
"The military’s secret Cold War experiment to fight enemies with clouds of psychochemicals. Decades after a risky Cold War experiment, a scientist lives with secrets." [Via]
posted by homunculus
on Dec 10, 2012 -
"Premature babies born at the edge of viability force us to debate the most difficult questions in medicine and in life. After just 23 weeks of pregnancy, Kelley Benham found herself in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a daughter born so early neonatologist doctors would call her a "micro preemie." New technologies can sometimes keep micro preemies alive, but many end up disabled, some catastrophically so. Whether to provide care to these infants is one of the fundamental controversies in neonatology. This is the story of how Benham and her husband, Tom French, made the difficult choice: Fight for the life of their micro preemie baby or let her go?
" [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Dec 8, 2012 -
In October, 18-year old high school senior Ryan Romo was arrested
for the sexual assault of a child (someone 16 or under, by TX state law).
On October 31, CultureMap Dallas's managing editor, Claire St. Amant published an article
asking, "Is this Highland Park baseball star a rapist?" St. Amant ended her article, stating: If it's a case of impulsive teenage decisions, remorse and guilt, then no one suffers more than 18-year-old Ryan Romo. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen
on Nov 26, 2012 -
Tainted: Why Gay Men Still Can't Donate Blood
- "Since 1983, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines have disqualified men who have ever had sex with men (MSM) from donating blood... Uneven application of exclusion to at-risk individuals suggests that risk aversion disproportionately impacts MSMs. For example, a non-MSM individual who has had sexual contact with a commercial sex worker or HIV-positive partner is deferred for only twelve months... The fact that the U.S. upholds a lifetime ban on MSM donation while Australian policy allows MSM individuals to donate a year or less after contact reveals a glaring discrepancy. Both ethics and science point to a flaw in FDA policy. That I could have had sex with 365 partners this year and be a perfectly fine candidate for donating blood, while the MSM next to me wouldn't qualify, betrays a faulty line of logic." [more inside]
posted by flex
on Nov 12, 2012 -
In the two years building up to the government’s NHS reform bill, the BBC appears to have categorically failed to uphold its remit of impartiality, parroting government spin as uncontested fact, whilst reporting only a narrow, shallow view of opposition to the bill. In addition, key news appears to have been censored. The following in-depth investigation provides a shocking testimony of the extent to which the BBC abandoned the NHS.
posted by infini
on Oct 2, 2012 -
The drugs don't work
: a modern medical scandal - "The doctors prescribing the drugs don't know they don't do what they're meant to. Nor do their patients. The manufacturers know full well, but they're not telling.
posted by Gyan
on Sep 22, 2012 -
, also known as Batman, is the (ex) leader and treasurer of Berlusconi's party - Il Popolo della Libertà
(PdL) in the Lazio regional council. He is being accused of channeling 800k of the party's funds into 12 of his bank accounts and making extravagant expenditures for his own benefit. Reports say that in court he is more annoyed than afraid
: "Yes, I went to two beautiful resorts of the Costa Smeralda with PdL money. The regional election campaign left me exhausted and depressed. I needed a big vacation". Fiorito is now lashing out
at other PdL councillors
: "There are eight thieves. I didn't steal, I distributed the money." [more inside]
posted by Marauding Ennui
on Sep 20, 2012 -
When publishing goes wrong.
Mandy DeGeit was a first time author submitting to a horror anthology by Undead Press
. The contract included a line that they had the right to edit the story -- standard operating procedure. But when she got a copy of the book, they'd drastically changed the story: "They turned a non-gendered character into a boy, they named the best friend, they created a memory for the main character about animal abuse. They added a suggestion of rape at the end…" [more inside]
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me
on Sep 3, 2012 -
In Praise of Leisure
- "Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren
.' Its thesis was simple. As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all... He thought this condition might be reached in about 100 years — that is, by 2030." (via
) [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Jun 22, 2012 -