This is not the Crusades [...]

David Perry, a medievalist, writing on CNN: The idea that contemporary military and terrorist activities in the Middle East embody a new Crusade isn't exactly new. What's startling is that today both supporters of ISIS and radical Christian terrorists have adopted the same language. Both sides are using medieval history to justify their violent intentions. ...But one ...

 

The People Derek Black Knew [...]

Derek Black, rising white nationalist star, came around to realizing the error of his beliefs not through argumentation with the enemy, but through dinners with diverse friends. On the rare occasions when Derek directed conversation during those dinners, it was about the particulars of Arabic grammar, or marine aquatics, or the roots of Christianity in medieval times....

 

Techno-Pastoralism [...]

Brautigan's Machines of Loving Grace imagines a world made more pastoral, quiet, and contemplative by computers: The text was printed over an image of electric schematics and it set out a utopian vision of a techno-pastoralism, where new digital machines could return us to a prelapsarian state, at one with nature in an electric Eden. The poem, in part: ") I like to t...

 

Prime Vietnam Directive [...]

The Prime Directive of Star Trek (or at least the embrace of it) may have evolved out of U.S. ambivalence about Vietnam. It was part of Rodenberry's vision of "progressive humanity". > The Prime Directive of "Star Trek: TOS" is primarily a way to process America's 1960s misadventure in Vietnam. Would that more generals and chickenhawks dreamed dreams that taught th...

 

Sci-fi For/Against Vietnam [...]

A breakdown of science fiction writers for and against the Vietnam War from June 1968 Galaxy Magazine: Commentary on the differences: > Looking backward at the rival camps, we may be puzzled by Pohl's inability to distinguish between either their ideologies or their conflicting roles in modern SF. For the pro-war list reads like a roll call of champions of super-s...

 

Identity Headlines [...]

Most retweeters and Facebook reposters aren't informing, or even arguing. They are using headlines the way one might use a bumper sticker: to express who there are and bond with others. From a user’s point of view, every share, like or comment is both an act of speech and an accretive piece of a public identity. Maybe some people want to be identified among their ne...

 

Technology’s Mindfulness Racket [...]

In essence, we are being urged to unplug—for an hour, a day, a week—so that we can resume our usual activities with even more vigor upon returning to the land of distraction. Here the quest for mindfulness plays the same role as Buddhism. In our maddeningly complex world, where everything is in flux and defies comprehension, the only reasonable attitude is to reno...

 

Algorithms Don’t Polarize People, People Do [...]

> “Individual choice has a larger role in limiting exposure to ideologically cross cutting content [than the News Feed algorithm],” a recent study by Facebook’s own data team ruled. “We show that the composition of our social networks is the most important factor limiting the mix of content encountered in social media.” > > In other words, the thing most p...

 

Great Society vs. NASA [...]

Need to implement Great Society initiatives on a tight budget may have nudged out NASA requests in 1966 > In truth, there were events external to the space program that made it impossible to evaluate proposals on their merits. NASA requests were cut back steadily by the Bureau after 1966, not because they lacked virtues that earlier requests possessed, but because of...

 

The Luddite Problem [...]

"Luddite" as insult. "Luddite" as ahistoricism. "Luddite," depoliticized. > There is widespread ignorance about science and technology. For example, we have people with computer chips in their head right now, and it improves their life. Many of us have elderly members with cochlear implants, but most people don’t understand that these are computers hooked up to p...