Race. By far the most controversial topic in the broad range of
political discussion. On one extreme folks argue (sometimes cleverly)
that race is a concept that does not exist. On the other extreme,
people think race is very important, that all is defined by the
stereotypes. Most (decent) folks are in between, accepting that race
exists, that people differ, but find that individuals often transcend
their racial definitions.
I happen to strongly believe that race and culture are very important
in one's development, but more critical to me is the possibility for
an individual to be absolutely different than he "should be," as
defined by his race. It seems to me that more harm than good comes
when you try to treat people based on their race rather than their
individuality. Hiring someone based on their race is terrible.
Accepting someone into your university based on their race is terrible.
Whether you accept or hire someone because they are white, or because
they are black. You're looking at the race, not the person. At the
stereotype, and not the potential. We don't want this.
I believe there is a danger when you look at people as groups.
Communism did that. The whole group had to benefit, but the individual
didn't matter. The wonderful thing about America is that no one really
worries about benefits to the group. Here, it's Okay to focus on
individuals. And individuals, each working to his own benefit, form a
vector that drives the whole group toward wellbeing. It's hard for a
terrible writer like me to define such concepts precisely, I hope it's
making some sense.
What I am trying to get at is that, if America as a whole is an indicator,
groups benefit when the individuals which comprise them do well. It's
much better this way, then to try to help individuals by addressing them
as a whole group. I have in mind my African American employer. He never
benefited from Affirmative Action, or anything like that, and it does him
no good, as a black person, that someone somewhere got accepted into
school because of their skin color. If all he relied on was "group policies"
then he wouldn't really be very far in life. But he, as an individual,
worked hard, built a business, made millions (and spreads the wealth by
paying the employees well, as well as donating to charities) - and it's
because of his work that there's one less black family living in the ghetto,
and one more black family in the wealthy suburbs of Long Island. He didn't
benefit from things aimed to help his group, but the group benefited from
his personal success. It's people like him who will change the statistics.
The statistics, on the other hand, won't help people like him. I think this
More importantly, the government (nor a private entity that deals with the
public) has no business discriminating along racial lines. There's
absolutely no reason for a university to know (much less make decisions
based on) an applicant's race. Let them take those who meet the criteria,
and reject those who do not. Logically, a qualified black person has as much
of a chance to get accepted or rejected as an equally qualified white person
(assuming spots are limited) once race drops out as a consideration. That's
a good thing. The strength of this country lies in individuals working towards
a (coincidentally) common goal. Let each do his best, and they will drive
the whole group forward. Once you start looking at people in terms of their
groups, you are backing away from that individual "pursuit of happiness" thing
which has worked well for us.
... on negative portrayal of AI in flim ...
Fortunately we have such positive portrayals as Knight Rider's loyal (and very classy) KITT, Star Wars' C3PO and R2D2, Voyager's holographic doctor, and TNG's Lt. Commander Data.
The latter deserves special credit for shattering the "all nice robots are queer" stereotype by getting with Tasha Yar.
(Hilker was severely wounded during the writing of this comment, may his recovery be speedy and complete)
... on bomb graffitti ...
The way I figure, if you have people doing the manly job of soldiering, you have to let them be guys and do the immature things. If scribling "Happy Ramadan" on a bomb makes some airman enjoy his mission more, then whatever. I am sure the recepient of the package won't really care.
... on something or other ...
The reason they took the senator's brain is because he had a rare form of Alzimers that the head of the foundation's son also had and they wanted to do research on the senator to cute the son's illness so that he could produce a heir.
... on donating to plastic ...
What the fuck?
That's all I can say, really. When you come to a party and the host goes around asking people to pitch in for a beer run, the decent thing to do is to pitch in. The indecent thing to do is to criticize the host, suggest that you could get drunk more economically with vodka, and most rude of all, to discourage others from pitching in.
I am amazed at the sense of entitlement some posters have expressed in this thread. Carl is a individual human being, running this website for no profit whatsoever, and doing a pretty good job of it. He owes you absolutely nothing, and yet he has given you hundreds of hours of enjoyment at the expense of his own time and money. I really fail to see any position you have to lob criticism at him. You are literally a guest at his house.
He also knows what he's doing. Not every browser out there supports CSS or renders CSS properly or consistently. You better believe Carl knows what CSS is, he also knows that if he used it, Plastic would become less usable for some folks. At any of my jobs, our attitude towards people with old browsers has been "fuck'em", but Carl cares enough about Plastic to want to avoid that. He wants it to be for everybody, even people on old Macs, and Netscape 2.0. So old tables and font tags it is. How dare you criticize him for something he has put so much time and effort and money into and made into an excellent product? Do you really think that your insight is just so valuable that it's more beneficial to Carl than any money you could spare?
I really don't understand the attitude — though I guess it explains a lot of attitudes on Plastic in general. Always entitled to something. Carl didn't (and I don't think ever thought of) making Plastic pay-only. If you really can't afford a few bucks, okay. But it needs money to run — and in my opinion the Web's Smartest Readers should be able to understand this, and help out once in a while even without being asked. Plastic has no source of revenue — it is only an expense for Carl, occasionally offset by donations. You better believe the situation is dire if Carl asked for help. I am sure the last thing in the world he wants to do is to read through a thousand posts about how everything he's doing is completely wrong, and to get messages saying "wish I could help but PayPal sucks." So please, don't give the man any grief — don't make it seem like he's asking for a favour, either. Just donate — it's for your own good. And only for your own good.
I am sorry Danila for ranting in response to your post. Your post alone would not set me off, but unfortunately it's very representantive of an absolutely disgusting, rude, and arrogant attitude in this thread. Just shut up, and donate. And if you don't feel too modest, post about your donation and hope it encourages others.
That's all there really is. Every other Plastic thread has been full of worthless chatter, that's a given. But this happens to be serious, and it's very personal. You should voluntarily pitch in when your pleasure is an expense to someone else — but you should especially pitch in when asked to by someone who's not known to ask for much.
If you think Plastic is run by some faceless corporation after having been a user for nearly a year, you can't be a very thoughtful individual. Even if you know something about HTML.
... on soviet repression ...
When you put something in quotes, it usually means you're, you know, quoting someone. Just FYI.
As for the other shit, it's fairly first hand. I remember my life there (I don't know how you were at 12 years old, I was pretty sentient) — I remember my parents being very careful about what they say, what they were seen reading, etc.
I remember the coverage of the war in Afghanistan, I remember the news coverage of Andropov's funeral — only to find out much later on that he was dead for a while and it wasn't reported. I actually have a memory of a news report about Chernobyl as soon as it blew (it was a few days after my birthday, we were on vacation in Anapa) — and at some point later, I was able to piece together that immediately after it was all surpressed, and there was a May 1st parade in Kiev. I remember my grandmother being chief nurse in charge of taking care of young men who were sent to Chernobyl w/o being told of what the danger is — who were all dying from radiation sickness.
I remember tanks rolling into Riga, over the Stahanovski Bridge onto which our kitchen windows looked out. I remember watching live tv coverage of a gun battle taking place a few blocks away from where I was. I remember the Latvian TV was showing the footage nearly live, as the cameraman was shot. He was being dragged along the ground by his crew, the camera still rolling. We found out the next day that several cameramen were shot by soviet troops that night — apparently that was their orders.
When I talk about the bullshit and supression that took place in the USSR, it's not academic. My father can tell much more troubling stories, I am sure. But even my 12 year memory of the place is sufficient to, especially now looking back on it, recognize it as a terrible system. My life was easier than that of my parents because my parents took care of me when I was young — no kidding. I guess it's your loss if the most drmatic memory of your early teens is the first time you shot goo. I don't think my childhood was terrible — infact, I am glad I was born elsewhere because it gives me a broader perspective.
You are trying to say that I should act like I am someone who grew up in the states and that when I speak of the life in Soviet Union, I should act as if I learned everything I know about that life from "books and TV." And that's not the case.
I am not an American who was raised to fear and despise Russians due to the cold war. I have sufficient memory of the life there to compare the two societies. You think you "expose" me by shockingly revealing that I was never in a Gulag. No shit, there goes my credibility. What was I thinking?
... on public transport ...
the way I figure, LIRR riders need more of an incentive to take public transport (which could justify higher levels of subsidy)
People who live in NYC (like my mom) can very well not have a car and rely on MTA facilities (Bus and Subway) for all their transportation needs. So even if a lower percentage of their ride is subsidized, residents of NYC can get real savings out of the system — even the 2 dollar fare is cheaper than car + gas + insurance.
Out here on Long Island, I can't even get to a LIRR station without driving, and if you need to go to any places aside from Penn Station (Jamaica, Flatbush, or Far Rockaway), LIRR is useless to you (to go from Stony Brook to my job in Bohemia, I need to take the train all the way down to Hicksville, then transfer to the Ronconcoma train, and have a co-worker pick me up... to get from Stony Brook to my job in Merrick, I need to take the LIRR down to Jamaica, then transfer to a Babylon train — both are non-standard routes and I would have to pay double the fare.)
So for us Long Islanders (I am a Long Islander for another week and a half), the savings aren't that explicit — I use the LIRR a few times a week, but it would never be an option for me to not have a car. The stations are too few and branches too far appart and non-interconnected for the LIRR and/or Long Island Bus to constitute a real public transport system.
So I don't think it's all that unfair that people of NYC get a bit less subsidy. A NYC resident can get from his home, anywhere in the 5 boroughs, to his job anywhere in the 5 boroughs, for $2. A Long Islander needs to drive to the station, pay the LIRR fare ($4.50 from Merrick, $7.75 from Stony Brook — and those are OFF-PEAK rates from before the May 1st increase, I don't know how much it is now) and then he ends up in Penn Station, from where he needs to either hike, take the bus/train (another $2.00) or a cab ($5+)
So your last point is not really valid. If two guys work on Broadway and 80th street, the one who lives in Coney Island, about an hour by Subway, first on the Q train, transfering to the 1 at 42nd street) can get to work for exactly $2. One who lives in like Baldwin, Long Island, can get to work in about an hour, too. It's going to cost him $7 or $8 (peak rate!) to get to Penn Station, then another $2 for the bus or subway uptown, and in addition to that that he's got the car payment, gas, insurance, etc.
Is the Long Islander really getting a better deal?
... on stupid kids ...
I feel really stupid for not realizing this for myself. I go to school (about to graduate, actually) with 18-22 year olds, most of whom have never been in position of responsibility or financial independance. Most have never held a meaningful job — and if they have it would barely make them enough for gas money (if they even have a car) and/or cell phone payments, and clothers.
During a recent recruitment interview, the HR person asked me "You are in school now, where your life is scheduled for you and you're perscribed what to do — why do you think you'll be able to perform independantly in our firm?" I was surprised by the question (it seemed almost inapropriate) and I explained to her that I have been financially independant since about 16 or so, have always had to juggle work, school, and personal relationships (I payed for my own education by always having decently-earning part-time jobs) and that I don't think I would have any trouble managing my time or setting priorities — given that I've been doing that for years.
The interviewer was clearly impressed by my response — and I think this story finally explained why. It just fits, now. College students still think of themselves as kids, going through the motions w/o really understanding responsibility. No wonder, really...
Back in the day, you either went to work and started a family, right out of highschool, or you worked your ass off to get into a university and it meant something to you. Either way, you were thrown into adulthood.
Nowdays, going to college is nearly a given for most people I know, so they just see it as part of the same process as k-12 education. It's just something you do. So it doesn't require a decision to be made, and it doesn't register as something major for most people. Just something you do, just following the recepie — delays having to make important decisions for yourself for another four years or so.
... on missile defence ...
I don't know much about the technology of Star Wars except that my friends who work at defense contractors take the idea a little more seriously than the general public (especially here on Plastic.) I really like the idea, if its feasible. Here's why.
Back in the 1980's when Star Wars was beginning to get talked about, the Soviets had thousands upon thousands of missiles that they could rain upon America (we had to stand in line for toilet paper and bread, but at least we could kill everyone in the States ten times over.) Star Wars would not have been very useful, because even if it had managed to perform exceptionally well and shot down ninety percent of the incoming missiles, those one out of every ten missiles that got through would be more than sufficient to wipe America out.
Today, this is no longer the case. Russia cannot afford to maintain such a large nuclear arsenal (there is a large vocal minority in the Russian society that calls for the old days: "we'd rather lose the comforts (bread and toilet paper) in other to keep our country armed to the teeth" — but there's just not enough money for that.) The threat has changed. If Russia were to fire at us, they'd have much fewer missiles to do it with — and this number will only decrease with time. The other countries: the Indias, the Pakistans, and the North Koreas, would go completely broke if they had to maintain more than a few warheads and missiles, so we can also expect that any attack from them (whether upon us or upon someone else) to consist of only a few missiles.
That means that a Star Wars system can be useful now. That 90% effectiveness figure from the first paragraph (I am taking the number out of my ass, of course) which would have meant nothing against the USSR, would help now. If the Koreans launch 5 missiles at us, chances are the Star Wars would get them all — or let one slip, which would be tragic — but most of the country would survive.
What does that mean? An even better deterrent! Mutually Assured Destruction worked with the USSR, but it may not be applicable to many situations now (imagine someone with a suicide-bomber mentality taking over nuclear Pakistan — MAD won't mean anything.) Feasible missile defense changes the equation — it assured destruction of only one side: the side that launches against us. If you were Korea and you knew that if you launched at the US, the few missiles you'd manage to lob would probably be shot down, you'd know equally well that the response would be swift, completely nuclear, and you wouldn't have your own system to defend yourself.
If Star Wars could be global — so much the better. If India knew that the U.S. would shoot down any nukes they launched at Pakistan — and if Pakistan knew the U.S. would do the same to nukes they launched at India — maybe these two countries would see the futility of further development and invest their money in something more useful.
Like nuclear weapons were (for the second half of the twentieth century, but no longer so), missile defense is a product that makes a difference because you have it. If you have it, you'd never need to use it, because, like MAD used to, it defines a very clear chain of events that follow the initial launch.
Those paranoid about the U.S. will complain that missile defense gives America carte blanche to nuke anyone and everyone it wants. This is so, but there's not much we can't accomplish using conventional warfare as is, and the only country who will have a valid worry about not being able to nuke the U.S. is Russia. And that's just as well. If they are stupid about it, it'll lead to an arms race where Russia will make itself even more broke by trying to develop enough missiles to effectively penetrate our shield. Or, much more desireably (and much more likely, since they're broke as is) they'd have to grow comfortable with the idea of not being able to kill everyone in the western hemisphere.