Twitter Explained…

Miessler Explains Twitter:

People struggle with why Twitter is special. It’s special because it counters, better than any other technology, the timeless social obstacle of “out of site, out of mind”. Regardless of how much time you’d spend with a given person if they lived nearby, relationships atrophy when distance comes between you.

The longer someone you care about is gone, the more an invisible barrier grows between you–one that makes it awkward to reinitiate contact. It’s as if loved ones over time somehow change from tangible people into abstract ideas that require effort to interact with. This sinister effect of distance turns best friends into strangers, and technologies such as mobile phones and video conferencing don’t help. They don’t help precisely because the barrier is the initiation of contact, not the ability to communicate once connected.

Twitter solves this problem in a way that no other technology has. Through a stream of common, real-world updates about one’s life, Twitter reminds our fickle, here-focused brains that those we care about are real, and prevents them from disappearing into the world of the abstract. In short, Twitter’s magic is that it’s able to keep close people close regardless of how far they are from each other, which is a feat that no other technology has been able to accomplish.

I agree it has that easy aspect of contact without direct initiation. It’s definitely helped me keep up with a couple of people I wouldn’t normally talk to anymore. And I really do wish a few of my other friends were on it as well.

More Evidence I’m a Twit…

  • I just blew my nose and suddenly my yogurt is much less appealing. #
  • Funny: #
  • Any other techies have visceral reactions to installing antiquated software? #
  • I feel dirty after what I just did. #
  • Bam! #
  • Fact: little cubes of cheese only taste good when skewered with toothpicks. #
  • Will Shortz is a dirty, little bastard. #
  • Busy morning. Now can’t get into website. Time to catch up on blogs. #
  • Hella, hella, hella, hella! #
  • I’m debating whether or not to stay a little later and work on school stuff before picking up the kids. I know they wouldn’t mind. #
  • Kid pictures are posted. I’m headed to bed. #
  • I haven’t shaved for two days and already have a short, thick, soft beard. Should I keep it going? #
  • Proctoring for tests is a great time to catch up on my own schoolwork. Now I just have plenty of reading to get done by Saturday. #
  • My left hand suddenly feels heavier. #
  • I am jonesin’ to play Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. It needs to come out for Wii! (Yes, I know the Wii isn’t HD. I don’t care.) #
  • That last tweet was a perfect 140 characters. Yes, it included my double-space after full stops. That’s what’s proper. #


Dad, I finished my cheese holder! [Holds up the taped-together remnants of cheese packaging from his lunch.]
Well done, kiddo. It definitely looks like it could hold some cheese.

That’s the goal!

Definitely my kid.

Torture and Civilization…

From Kevin Drum:

Christopher Orr weighs in with a utilitarian argument about why torture is bad:

When a group of combatants are badly outnumbered, or surrounded, or otherwise very, very unlikely to win a conflict, they have a considerable incentive to surrender — but only if they believe they will subsequently be treated with mercy. That is why individuals, and nations, surrender. The humane treatment of surrendered captives, therefore, is a crucial — arguably the crucial — understanding between adversaries if their conflict is to end in any way other than with the wholesale slaughter of the losers.

If arguments like this persuade anyone, I’m all for them. Any port in a storm. But ultimately these exercises in logic chopping never work. Is torture OK against an enemy that refuses to give up? Is torture OK in a non-combat setting? Is torture OK if you somehow convince yourself that it will save the lives of your enemy in the long run by ending the war sooner? In the end, you can always chop the logic a little bit finer if you’re minded to. It just doesn’t work.

I don’t have either the vocabulary or the literary sensibility to explain with any eloquence why I oppose torture, so I usually stay out of conversations like this. Besides, they depress the hell out of me. But for the record, it goes something like this.

I don’t care about the Geneva Conventions or U.S. law. I don’t care about the difference between torture and “harsh treatment.” I don’t care about the difference between uniformed combatants and terrorists. I don’t care whether it “works.” I oppose torture regardless of the current state of the law; I oppose even moderate abuse of helpless detainees; I oppose abuse of criminal suspects and religious heretics as much as I oppose it during wartime; and I oppose it even if it produces useful information.

The whole point of civilization is as much moral advancement as it is physical and technological advancement. But that moral progress comes slowly and very, very tenuously. In the United States alone, it took centuries to decide that slavery was evil, that children shouldn’t be allowed to work 12-hour days on power looms, and that police shouldn’t be allowed to beat confessions out of suspects.

On other things there’s no consensus yet. Like it or not, we still make war, and so does the rest of the world. But at least until recently, there was a consensus that torture is wrong. Full stop. It was the practice of tyrants and barbarians. But like all moral progress, the consensus on torture is tenuous, and the only way to hold on to it — the only way to expand it — is by insisting absolutely and without exception that we not allow ourselves to backslide. Human nature being what it is — savage, vengeful, and tribal — the temptations are just too great. Small exceptions will inevitably grow into big ones, big ones into routine ones, and the progress of centuries is undone in an eyeblink.

Somebody else could explain this better than me. But the consensus against torture is one of our civilization’s few unqualified moral advances, and it’s a consensus won only after centuries of horror and brutality. We just can’t lose it.

(Found via Andrew Sullivan.)

More Evidence I’m a Twit…

  • Monday morning announcement: I need laptops returned to me posthaste! #
  • What I wouldn’t give to take over the recording studio and make it a cool and functioning place. #
  • Am I allowed to feel well yet? And can I please have the time and energy I need to get stuff done around here? #
  • Not to jump to conclusions, but I’m certain my family has swine flu. #
  • Dvorak and Sibelius are good for the soul. #
  • Isn’t it great when you get to your point of destination in the morning and realize you’ve forgotten half a dozen things you needed? #
  • I most regret forgetting to put Icy Hot on my back. Now I need to dip into my Russian Medicine Cabinet stores… #
  • Breathing through one’s nose isn’t really necessary, right? #
  • I slept without dreaming last night. It was great; I feel rested. Dreaming keeps me up. #
  • I just found the keyboard shortcut for 1password, and now the program is officially amazing. #
  • I bet if I built a dam and canal system to generate hydroelectric power out of my nose, I could keep my laptop charged. #
  • I’ve actually been posting like crazy the past few days. Please don’t forget to visit, folks. #
  • How much do I even want to bother doing my single private lessons anymore? #
  • Nothing surprises a cat more than when they’re shoved out a window. #
  • I got Espresso from MacHeist, but I have nothing to code. How unfortunate is that? #
  • I can’t remember if I took my sinus meds this morning. Dare I take them now? #
  • Well, that was bullshit. No more volunteering for me. #
  • Preparing a list of things to get and do in order to plant the trees I’m getting today. #
  • It’s a good old-fashioned hole diggin’! By gar, it’s been a while. Anyone who wants to help me plant trees today, come on by. #
  • Once again, I try to do more than I should. At least now I have four new trees planted. Yatta! #
  • Now I definitely need a cold one and my feet atop an ottoman. #