Tag Archives: link

The Federalist: The Death of Expertise

The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. Fundamentally, it’s a rejection of science and rationality, which are the foundations of Western civilization itself. Yes, I said “Western civilization”: that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations.
The Federalist: The Death of Expertise

About a year ago, I took a class that explored a number of issues related to this very topic, and I look forward to taking a similar class next year.

ars technica: How QuarkXPress became a mere afterthought in publishing

Quark’s demise is truly the stuff of legend. In fact, the story reads like the fall of any empire: failed battles, growing discontent among the overtaxed masses, hungry and energized foes, hubris, greed, and… uh, CMYK PDFs. What did QuarkXPress do—or fail to do—that saw its complete dominance of desktop publishing wither in less than a decade? In short, it didn’t listen.
ars technica: How QuarkXPress became a mere afterthought in publishing

Much of what happened to Quark and Microsoft is now happening with Adobe. I am increasingly seeing criticism of Adobe’s painfully high prices for questionable updates (primitive 3D objects in Photoshop? Why?). The difference this time, however, is that there is no alternative on the horizon. If I recall correctly, InDesign was rumored for quite a while before release. Even if InDesign ended up being vaporware, the enthusiasm was palpable but Quark appeared to simply not give a shit what anyone had to say; Quark’s hubris was just astounding. Today, Adobe has deaf ears if only because they have no compelling reason to listen.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble puppy.
onthepathofknowledge.wordpress.com: Amusing ourselves to death

Two of my favorite books together in one. It’s like a literary peanut butter cup. I haven’t read this book, but I am going to add it to my list based on this quote alone.

Studies in Semicolons: The Parable of the Carpenter

The carpenter understands the value of something he works with every day, and that’s why he spends so much money on the hammer. But he also understands that value is a double-edged sword: he’s committing to the product he knows, that is reliable.
Studies in Semicolons: The Parable of the Carpenter

Replacing the subject of the punchline with other tools in which I have invested makes this parable applicable to more areas than I care to think about. Interestingly enough, Microsoft Office is not one of them.

“When a wave comes, go deep.”

Another great one from the aforementioned site:

“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”

“When a wave comes, go deep.”

“I think I’m going to need an explanation for that one.”

“There’s three things you can do when life sends a wave at you. You can run from it, but then it’s going to catch up and knock you down. You can also fall back on your ego and try to stand your ground, but then it’s still going to clobber you. Or you can use it as an opportunity to go deep, and transform yourself to match the circumstances. And that’s how you get through the wave.”
Humans of New York.

Parenting and Pinball

“It’s amazing how little ability we have to shape the lives of our children. You do what you can, but their personalities are predominantly formed by the times they live in, their friends, and other influences. Parenting is sort of like pulling back the lever of a pinball machine, and just letting the ball fly.”
Humans of New York.

There is a lot of great stuff on this page to read, but that quote really struck me as being very true.1


  1. I would offer a direct link to the quote and accompanying photo, but it appears this is a tumblr blog, which is requiring I set up an account to do so. Um, no? Great job undermining the spirit of the WWW, guys. UPDATE: Whoops. It appears that if the quote is clicked the browser goes to a dedicated page. If the “REBLOG THIS” link is clicked, then tumblr kicks in. Still, that smacks me as being bad UI/UX. This being a tumblr site is not obvious to me as a non-user of tumblr. I now see the “+ Follow Me” button, but that looks like Facebook and I don’t use that enough to make my clicking it to be useful. But, that’s just me, I guess.

Don’t break it.

You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it. Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That’s not being faithful to what this country’s about.
Transcript: President Obama’s Oct. 17 remarks on the budget deal

Exactly. And this applies to everyone. I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it: To even so much as suggest, much less allow, the government to shut down is a complete and total failure of our representatives in doing their jobs, regardless of party allegiance. This entire exercise over the past month is simply wasteful and inexcusable.

BBC: US shutdown severs a lifeline for dying children

“I really don’t care who is at fault. I don’t care who did what, all I care about is letting the scientists get back to work, letting them work on a life-saving cure for my children and children with a disease like theirs,” says Mr Grube.
BBC: US shutdown severs a lifeline for dying children

Yet another reason why suggesting—and allowing—the shutting down of the government is wrong. Close down all the national parks you want, but do not interfere with people’s lives when it is their actual life at stake. Ungovernable indeed.