“She was breathing deeply, she forgot the cold, the weight of beings, the insane, static life, the long anguish of living or dying. After so many years running from fear, fleeing crazily, uselessly, she was finally coming to a halt. At the same time she seemed to be recovering her roots, and the sap rose anew in her body, which was no longer trembling. Pressing her whole belly against the parapet, leaning toward the wheeling sky, she was only waiting for her pounding heart to settle down, and for the silence to form in her. The last constellations of stars fell in bunches a little lower on the horizon of the desert, and stood motionless. Then, with an unbearable sweetness, the waters of the night began to fill her, submerging the cold, rising gradually to the center of her being, and overflowing wave upon wave to her moaning mouth. A moment later, the whole sky stretched out above her as she lay with her back against the cold earth.”
“Friendster is a social network that was founded in 2002, a year before Myspace and two years before Facebook. Consequently, it is often thought of as the grand-daddy of social networks. At its peak, the network had well over 100 million users, many in south east Asia.
In July 2009, following some technical problems and a redesign, the site experienced a catastrophic decline in traffic as users fled to other networks such as Facebook. Friendster, as social network, simply curled up and died. […]
Facebook and other social networks ought to be paranoid about this kind of problem, if they’re not already. It’s not hard to imagine how botched design changes could send people away, particularly if there is another emerging network ready to pick up the slack.”
Selective math obscures the fact that upcoming cuts will hurt millions of Americans, possibly for years to come
“Skeptics have downplayed the likely impact of “sequestration” – the $85bn cut in federal funding that’s slated to begin Friday – noting that it equals just 2.4% of total federal spending this year and that spending will continue to grow despite the cut. But this math obscures the harm that sequestration will do, not just to Americans across the country but also to the economy as a whole.
First, let’s examine the 2.4% figure. While accurate, it’s meaningless because the cuts aren’t occurring across the entire federal budget. Some programs, notably social security, are exempt, and the cuts to Medicare are strictly limited. Instead, the cuts are concentrated in what’s known as “discretionary” programs, because Congress funds them on an annual basis (unlike “entitlement” programs, like social security, which have permanent funding). About half of discretionary spending is for defense; the other half is for a wide range of activities including education, medical and scientific research, law enforcement, environmental protection, international aid programs, and support for low-income individuals and families.
Discretionary spending accounts for about 35% of total spending, but it will bear roughly 80% of the cuts under sequestration. […]
Millions of Americans will feel the impact. To cite just a few examples, we at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimate that the WIC nutrition program for low-income pregnant women, infants, and young children will have to turn away 600,000 to 775,000 children and new mothers by the end of the fiscal year. We also estimate that more than 100,000 low-income families will likely lose housing assistance that helps them afford rent.”
“While data shows that overall happiness in your relationship fell 8 more points, there is still a 31 percent chance of makeup sex this Friday, depending on average energy levels after work and how proactive you’re feeling (see chart). However, if you just order $18 of Chinese takeout like you did last weekend, projections show a 16.8 percent drop in possible intercourse and a whopping 74.2 percent upswing in Netflix-streaming, with both of you falling asleep long before the movie is over.”—Nate Silver offers up a statistical analysis of your failing relationship | McSweeney
“I COINED THE WORD “CYBERSPACE” IN 1981 IN ONE OF MY first science fiction stories and subsequently used it to describe something that people insist on seeing as a sort of literary forerunner of the Internet. This being so, some think it remarkable that I do not use E-mail. In all truth, I have avoided it because I am lazy and enjoy staring blankly into space (which is also the space where novels come from) and because unanswered mail, E- or otherwise, is a source of discomfort.
But I have recently become an avid browser of the World Wide Web. Some people find this odd. My wife finds it positively perverse. I, however, scent big changes afoot, possibilities that were never quite as manifest in earlier incarnations of the Net. […]
In the age of wooden television in the South where I grew up, leisure involved sitting on screened porches, smoking cigarettes, drinking iced tea, engaging in conversation and staring into space. It might also involve fishing.
Sometimes the Web does remind me of fishing. It never reminds me of conversation, although it can feel a lot like staring into space. “Surfing the Web” (as dubious a metaphor as “the information highway”) is, as a friend of mind has it, “like reading magazines with the pages stuck together.” […]
Toward the end of the age of wooden televisions the futurists of the Sunday supplements announced the advent of the “leisure society.” Technology would leave us less and less to do in the Marxian sense of yanking the levers of production. The challenge, then, would be to fill our days with meaningful, healthful, satisfying activity. As with most products of an earlier era’s futurism, we find it difficult today to imagine the exact coordinates from which this vision came. In any case, our world does not offer us a surplus of leisure. The word itself has grown somehow suspect, as quaint and vaguely melancholy as the battered leather valise in a Ralph Lauren window display. Only the very old or the economically disadvantaged (provided they are not chained to the schedules of their environment’s more demanding addictions) have a great deal of time on their hands. To be successful, apparently, is to be chronically busy. As new technologies search out and lace over every interstice in the net of global communication, we find ourselves with increasingly less excuse for … slack.
And that, I would argue, is what the World Wide Web, the test pattern for whatever will become the dominant global medium, offers us. Today, in its clumsy, larval, curiously innocent way, it offers us the opportunity to waste time, to wander aimlessly, to daydream about the countless other lives, the other people, on the far sides of however many monitors in that postgeographical meta-country we increasingly call home. It will probably evolve into something considerably less random, and less fun — we seem to have a knack for that — but in the meantime, in its gloriously unsorted Global Ham Television Postcard Universes phase, surfing the Web is a procrastinator’s dream. And people who see you doing it might even imagine you’re working.”