The Simpsons as philosophy

Cartoons abstract from real life in much the same way philosophers do. Homer is not realistic in the way a film or novel character is, but he is recognisable as a kind of American Everyman. His reality is the reality of an abstraction from real life that captures its essence, not as a real particular human who we see ourselves reflected in. The satirical cartoon world is essentially a philosophical…

My So-Called Blog

Back in the 1980’s, when I attended high school, reading someone’s diary would have been the ultimate intrusion. But communication was rudimentary back then. There were no cellphones, or answering machines; there was no ”texting,” no MP3’s or JPEG’s, no digital cameras or file-sharing software; there was no World Wide Web — none of the private-ish, public-ish, superimmediate forums kids today take for granted. If this new technology has provided…

Theorizing the Diary Weblog (PDF)

Within blogosphere studies, there is considerable disagreement as to whether the blogger’s contruction of identity is a form of role-playing or an authentic attempt at mimesis. Some theorists have adopted apparently extreme positions: Raynes-Goldie, embracing postmodernism, suggests that “in this informational chaos, the question of truth is not really a useful one,” whereas McNeill notes that “though these readers do not know the diarist outside of the context of her…

Baghdad, USA

The JRTC has been offering this sort of training since 1993. But in the past three years, with the US embroiled in its most complex conflict since the Vietnam War, Pentagon planners have dramatically improved the simulation. The 4,000 guardsmen here for these late-winter exercises will encounter 500 soldiers from the 509th, 500 support staff, a dozen Apache and Blackhawk combat helicopters, 30 tank-like Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and 1,000 jeeps,…

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The Rise of Crowdsourcing

Technological advances in everything from product design software to digital video cameras are breaking down the cost barriers that once separated amateurs from professionals. Hobbyists, part-timers, and dabblers suddenly have a market for their efforts, as smart companies in industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals and television discover ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd. The labor isn’t always free, but it costs a lot less than paying traditional…

Bleached Conditionals

The truth about snow words in the Eskimo languages simply doesn’t matter. If it did, I would carefully explain that there seem to be only a handful of roots that really are snow roots in the languages of the Yup’iks and Inuits, maybe four or five, not very different from the number found in English (snow, sleet, slush, blizzard). But it doesn’t matter. All that matters to journalists is that…

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Canon to stop making single-lens camera

Japan’s top camera maker, Canon Inc., will stop developing new single-lens reflex film cameras as more people abandon film for digital, company officials said Thursday. The Tokyo-based Canon’s move followed a similar move by its closest Japanese rival, Nikon Corp., which announced earlier this year it would stop making seven of its nine film cameras and concentrate on digital models. –Canon to stop making single-lens camera (Yahoo!) Part of me wants…