Tag: culture

The Problem with Free

 

Damn, I must read Chris Anderson’s book Free: The Past and Future of a Radical Price. Based on the WNYC video (below) and Q&A—”The Gift Economist”—in the July 19, 2009 the New York Times Magazine, I must disagree with Chris’ concept of free as applied to digital products. Free and the Internet go oddly together, and not necessarily well together.

Chris may be right, but for other reasons than he presents here. In the video above, Chris asserts that on the Internet “free really can be free.” Nobody has to pay. He presents his view, which does allow for combo free and paid models, by way of marketing and economic history and theory.

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It’s Not Alaska, It’s an Adventure

Jean McDermott cracks me up. She’s got a wry, dry sense of humor. Maybe the humorless can’t survive Alaskan winters.

Today, Jean posted a picture of her freezer and, separately, commented on the weather: “A couple days ago we got 10 inches of snow in one night. People up here walked around just beaming. Finally! The bumps in the ski, snowmachine, mushing and skijore trails would finally be smoothed out. No more skidding around on dirt! Not only that, but it has warmed up to a positively balmy 20° ABOVE so everyone is having a bit of a respite from having to put on so much bleeding gear every time one goes outside! 

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No Class, No Reunion

My 30-year high school reunion will take place this year—if it hasn’t already. But, sigh, I have no high school where to return. During my junior and senior years, my mom moved the family from the town where I grew up to Maine’s second-largest city in the south. While other kids wallowed in the memories, I walked the hallowed halls like an odd duck. I was a stranger among strangers. I left my memories and friends 300 miles away, in the town where I was born and there the school system that educated me. No memories. No prom. No graduation parties. No fun.

I regularly cut classes in the new school, which was quite unusual for me. I had bulked up on extra classes through junior year and was one-quarter credit shy of graduation going into my senior year. I only needed to sustain grades for college. 

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The Modern Woman is You

When I was younger, the first rule of gifting to women: Never buy anything with an electrical chord. Girlie gifts, like jewelry and such were OK, but you would never buy a woman a chain saw, drill, or electric mixer. The mixer is especially risky, because of kitchen equipment and loaded connotations about she doing work there and her outside job, too.

But times change, and so does gifting. My wife wants an edger—or trimmer. She has asked for over two years now. I’ve resisted, in part because I don’t see why we need to trim the lawn’s edges and also because the noise would scare away wildlife. She does the yard work, I’ll admit, and she’s good mowing back the grass or whacking weeds. 

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Truth Be Told

According to Fox’s House, “Everybody lies”. Funny thing, truth is one of the highest values in American culture, even if many people do in fact lie from time to time, or—in some cases—most of the time.

The esteemed value of truth—or at least not lying—is baked into the U.S. legal system. Former President Bill Clinton got nailed for lying as did Martha Stewart. The lying, or obstruction to getting truth, is what sunk them into legal hot water.

Now it’s US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the boiling pot. For what? Lying. 

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Learn From Thine Enemy

Yesterday’s New York Times story “Relief Agencies Find Hezbollah Hard to Avoid” touches on something I’ve been meaning to blog about for weeks.

One reason for Hezbollah’s success comes from working as a kind of government within the government of Lebanon by providing key social services. I don’t mean to defend Hezbollah insurgents, for my government views them as terrorists, but I also can’t ignore that the organization is doing something right: Serving the people. 

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The Empty Commandment

Late last summer, a rap rap brought me to the door and face to face with a Sierra Club fundraiser. I’ve done quite a bit of fundraising myself, and I deplore going house to house. People aren’t home or they rudely close the door. Those folks who take the time to talk often aren’t interested in donating, particularly, as in the case of Sierra Club, if some type of commitment is required. I respect the work the Sierra Club does and pitied this road-weary fundraiser, so I made a donation. For my money, I also got a subscription to Sierra magazine.

The September/October magazine arrived today and turned out to be better reading than some of the other issues. Opening Ways and Means column, “The Devil’s in the Retail: A cult of consumerism is sweeping the planet”, really caught my attention. Carl Pope, Sierra Club’s executive editor, starts by discussing a multi-denominational religious service he attended in San Francisco. Leaders of different faiths—Christians Hindus, Jews, and Muslims, among others—gathered in defiance of what they perceived as a common enemy. 

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An Inconvenient Theory

Earlier today, my daughter and I watched “An Inconvenient Truth” at the AFI Silver Theatre, which likely is the best movie house in the Washington area. A harsh critic of the science behind global warming, I hoped that maybe the film would live up to its hype. No way. For people predisposed to the idea of global warming, the film probably would be moving. The movie did affect my thinking, nevertheless (I’ll explain how in a few paragraphs).

Here’s what I most liked: Former Vice President Al Gore relied more on historical data to make his point than use forward-looking forecasts. Oh, I hate computer modeling for proving climate change. The major reason I’m so critical of global warming theory is bad science. There are too many assumptions and too little reliable data to develop reliable forecast models. In best-case scenario, the computer models are only as good as the data put into them.