Colin Rule's blog

Tinselgate and online redress

An inside chonicle of the kerfluffle (a.k.a "Tinselgate") over the White House xmas tree, with an ODR emphasis added:

"During the first three weeks of December, the White House schedule of fetes and receptions proceeds without incident. The Wish Tree is groaning with wishes. Oprah and HGTV praise and immortalize our efforts. Everyone is happy. Even Pat Nixon’s old Faberge orbs, polished up and reused in one of many bipartisan gestures, are happy.


Some grody little snapshots find their way to Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government Web site HQ.... Read more about Tinselgate and online redress

Limits of enforcement for online civility

Interesting uproar over the actions of the "social media" reporter of The long and the short of it: the blogger asked the question "what was the weirdest thing you ever ate?" and a commenter posted the logical, lewd, immature response. The blogger deleted the comment. It was posted again. The blogger then saw from the IP address in the comment admin interface that the comment was coming from a school. The blogger notifies the school, who hunts down the (anonymous) commenter, who resigns on the spot. Read more about Limits of enforcement for online civility

Necessary but not sufficient

Martin Wolf in the Financial Times:

"...these views shaped how I have responded to the financial catastrophe of the past few years. I was convinced that, without the policy responses we saw, the world would have experienced a still greater depression. Policymakers could not stand idly by while such calamities unfolded. We could not, in such times, even take the survival of civilisation itself for granted. Never before had I felt more strongly the force of John Maynard Keynes’s toast “to the economists – who are the trustees, not of civilisation, but of the possibility of civilisation”...

I appreciate this understanding of economic stability as an enabler of progress instead of the source of progress. Economic chaos prevents solutions to other challenges. Economic sustainability (and development) creates conditions where social, environmental, educational improvements are possible, but economic stability does not inevitably lead to these improvements. Read more about Necessary but not sufficient

America's Vital Center

John Richardson for Esquire: "These days, the argument that Obama hasn't accomplished anything may be the only example of real bipartisanship in America.

Here's the conventional wisdom in a single paragraph: Three hundred and sixty-four days after he was elected president, Obama is still stuck in Iraq, hasn't closed Guantánamo, is getting deeper into Afghanistan, hasn't accomplished health-care reform or slowed the rise in unemployment. His promises of bipartisanship are a punch line (see above). And there's still no peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. What a failure! What a splash of cold water in the face of all our bold hopes!

But the conventional wisdom is insane. Consider the record: Read more about America's Vital Center

Noble / Nobel

Our President:

"Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations -- that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice. Read more about Noble / Nobel

Breaking Congress

Ezra Klein interviewing Stenny Hoyer in the Washington Post:

"This is a United States Senate that has had more cloture votes in one year than in the '60s and '70s combined. They had three cloture votes on whether to extend unemployment benefits, and that bill passed 97-0! The reason this issue needs to be raised is that, ultimately, the political representatives will respond to the demands of the public. Now, the public has been polarized. Every night on television, they listen to polarizing people. We’ve gone from Walter Cronkite to angrier people who are trying to incite them. Read more about Breaking Congress


As long time readers know, I am a passionate advocate for in-vitro meat production. Who knows if we'll see it in my lifetime -- even Winston Churchill said in 1932: "Fifty years hence we will escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium." Sadly it hasn't become a reality yet.

There's plenty of talk about it out there, much of it satirical... it was recently skewered on the Colbert Report, for instance. But serious websites like New Harvest are keeping track of the progress being made, and it's heartening.

I recently stumbled across a great overview article by Mat Thomas and I thought I'd share it here. One quote I like... Read more about Shmeat

Leaving the Right

Two very interesting posts on the interwebs from conservative voices this week.

First, from Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs entitled "Why I parted ways with the right":

"{...} 2. Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.)

3. Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.)

4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)... Read more about Leaving the Right


Tom Friedman in the NYT: "But while our culture of imagination is still vibrant, the other critical factor that still differentiates countries today — and is not a commodity — is good governance, which can harness creativity. And that we may be losing. I am talking about the ability of a society’s leaders to think long term, address their problems with the optimal legislation and attract capable people into government. What I increasingly fear today is that America is only able to produce “suboptimal” responses to its biggest problems — education, debt, financial regulation, health care, energy and environment. Read more about Ungovernable

IMVU and Crowd Sourced Dispute Resolution

Very interesting revisions to the IMVU peer review process... mirrors the Community Court in some important respects:

"Q. What is Peer Review?
A. Peer Review is a system that IMVU has put in place in order to give the community a voice in the kinds of content allowed on IMVU. Peer Review allows users to review product submissions before they enter the catalog to be sure they adhere to the Virtual Goods Policy and IMVU community standards. Read more about IMVU and Crowd Sourced Dispute Resolution

Don't Blow It

Bono in the NYT today: "The Nobel Peace Prize is the rest of the world saying, “Don’t blow it.”

But that’s not just directed at Mr. Obama. It’s directed at all of us. What the president promised was a “global plan,” not an American plan. The same is true on all the other issues that the Nobel committee cited, from nuclear disarmament to climate change — none of these things will yield to unilateral approaches. They’ll take international cooperation and American leadership. Read more about Don't Blow It

Dealing with FOX News as a political enemy

Gene Lyons on Salon: "Appearing on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” the White House’s Dunn made it clear that the Obama administration intends to deal with the network as a political enemy. “We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” she subsequently told The New York Times. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.” {...} Read more about Dealing with FOX News as a political enemy


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