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Entries from July 2011

Are There Any Genuine Ex-Gays?

July 29th, 2011 · 17 Comments

So, I’m as amused as anyone when the umpteenth “ex-gay” evangelist is spotted leaving a leather bar after another triumphant speech about how Jesus magicked away their sinful homosexual feelings. I’m as incredulous as anyone at folks who insist that homosexuality is a “choice,” seemingly without ever having paused to ask themselves when they “chose” […]

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Tags: Sexual Politics

Good Defensive Patents Are Bad Patents

July 28th, 2011 · 35 Comments

Ron Bailey writes about last weekend’s excellent Planet Money story “When Patents Attack,” which focuses on the enormous market in “defensive” patents, purchased as a kind of retaliatory hedge against lawsuits from other technology companies: In early July, the bankrupt tech company Nortel put its 6,000 patents up for auction as part of a liquidation. […]

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Tags: Economics · Law · Tech and Tech Policy

Madman Theory 2.0

July 28th, 2011 · 5 Comments

Is it ever an advantage to be crazy? Or at least, to be perceived as crazy? Richard Nixon thought so: During the cold war, he notoriously developed his “madman theory,” a stratagem of having senior aides circulate their “concerns” that Nixon had gone unhinged, and might just hit that big red button if provoked, even […]

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Tags: Economics · Horse Race Politics

Google Plus, and How Privacy Shapes the Function of Social Tech

July 19th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Some further assorted thoughts falling out of the first few weeks of Google Plus: People seem initially pleased with the way privacy is baked into the Circles architecture. I wonder whether it doesn’t actually make inadvertent privacy breaches of the “DM #fail” type more likely. The way most people use Facebook in practice, there’s a […]

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Tags: Uncategorized

The Teleporter Library: A Copyright Thought Experiment

July 11th, 2011 · 20 Comments

Suppose that, back in the 70s, DARPA had developed two revolutionary networks. In addition to the precursor to the Internet we all know and love, they had also developed a teleportation network enabling small, inorganic objects to be instantly transmitted via miniature wormholes from any point on the network to any other point. The effect […]

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Tags: Art & Culture · Economics · Law

How Far Does Philosophy Get You?

July 11th, 2011 · 7 Comments

A theme of my recent BloggingHeads with Yglesias (and some related IRL conversations) is his claim that people overemphasize the importance of differing political philosophies in driving pratical political conclusions, relative to straightforward empirical disagreements. I’m not sure how sharp a line can be drawn between these categories, since people often talk loosely about their […]

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Tags: General Philosophy · Libertarian Theory

What Good Is a State of Nature?

July 5th, 2011 · 3 Comments

I’m happy to see something good came of that silly Stephen Metcalf hit on Robert Nozick: The smart folks over at Bleeding Heart Libertarians have decided to form a sort of online book club to reread Anarchy, State, and Utopia. In the first section, Nozick attempts to show how a (minimal) government could arise from […]

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Tags: General Philosophy · Libertarian Theory

Quick Thoughts on Google Plus

July 1st, 2011 · 17 Comments

(1) One of my first thoughts upon getting my hands on an iPad was: “You know, once they get a camera in this thing and come up with a well-tailored group video chat client, this could really change the way people socialize.” At present, in-person, face-to-face socialization and digital communication with people not present are […]

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Tags: Art & Culture · Journalism & the Media · Privacy and Surveillance · Sociology · Tech and Tech Policy