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Laziness, greed, and stupidity (ideasonideas.com)
16 points by karjaluoto on Aug 5, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 16 comments

This seems to read like http://www.recombinantrecords.net/docs/2009-05-Amusing-Ourse... and its source- is there anything new here?

(That is, other than the suggestion that the best way to combat large-scale industrial waste is through personal actions not unlike turning off the lights at home?)

I did read Postman's book a few years back, so there certainly may be themes from there that I've inadvertently referenced. I feel that Postman was talking more about the challenges associated with media, while I was looking at our ideas surrounding consumption.

For the record, though, "Amusing Ourselves to Death" was quite a good read. :-)

> The American government bails out giants of industry, while a substantial part of the populace still protests universal health care. Isn’t that a sort of strange thing?

I think the people protesting government-run healthcare are also protesting GM and bank bailouts even louder. But regardless, this submission seems pretty conducive to an unproductive politics mudsling, so going to just flag and move on.

Do you really think the post boiled down to just "an unproductive politics mudsling"?

Although you're free to hold that opinion, I have to say that it does perplex me. Either it means that you didn't give it a thorough read, or I simply failed in writing it.

In my mind, the political component was a rather small part of the overall argument--which I'd hope would be worthy of more discussion.

Perhaps I'm a little on the hyperbolic side at times, but I keep thinking that we're doing very little to address a problem that's going to have enormous impacts on all of us.

As for the GM/Healthcare discussion, you'll have to forgive me. Being on the northern side of the border, it's hard to understand why so many in America seem so angry about it.

A little discussion, without the politics:

I skimmed it. Such stuff is not my cup of tea, precisely because it is unproductive. It's emotional and it's hyperbole. I don't see you proposing any real solutions or doing anything very analytical or thought provoking. More drama is not likely to be the antidote to existing drama. I believe there are solutions, but they are of the "light one candle rather than curse the darkness" variety. Drama is more immediately emotionally gratifying but doesn't make for an adequate solution. Most folks writing such things want emotional release rather than real solutions and don't seem to know or care that such emotional release typically just adds to the ills of the world rather than making it a better place.

Not intended to upset you further, though I realize the odds are good it will. Sigh.

Your opinion doesn't upset me at all. I'm glad you've shared it, and it was just the sort of thing I was hoping for: discussion.

I'm increasingly cynical given the industry I work within. I work with many people in advertising, marketing, and "selling stuff." The curious part about this industry is that we're more than aware of the dodgy nature that often pervades our industry, and many of us are deeply concerned about it.

At our studio (smashLAB), we've taken a few different approaches to addressing such topics. The first was a self-directed project called Design Can Change: www.designcanchange.org. It asked designers to place greater consideration into the creation of new objects so that we could minimize waste before it came into production. Numerous folks have made changes as a result of that project, and we've continued to support it by speaking on the topic and advocating for smarter design and more critical thinking around consumption.

This particular piece was "heated," in part because such things sometimes need to be. That being said, it's the first of many new posts, and largely is intended to set the stage for other perspectives, considerations, and more actionable suggestions, to be addressed in future posts.

I hope that didn't upset you. Sigh. ;-)

This particular piece was "heated," in part because such things sometimes need to be.

From what I have seen, the only need that serves is the emotional gratification of the author and, sometimes, a few of the readers. It doesn't generally foster constructive change.

I live without a car. People find that shocking. Most folks assume I am simply "poor". But people in my neighborhood are walking more and the neighborhood itself is healthier, with cleaner air and healthier plants and so on. I live without drugs, in spite of a serious "incurable" medical condition. this is so shocking to people that I get accused of being a liar, charlatan and snake oil salesman. I have found that handling such information quietly and non-confrontationally is the only real hope of getting the word out. People that I argue with about it wind up defensive and even more committed to doing destructive, counter-productive things. In contrast, people who went googling for such information and tripped across my little website in some odd corner of the web are thrilled to pieces. Someday, I will get better at "marketing" myself and figure out how to make money so I can leave my day-job. In the meantime, I continue to keep one small candle burning. It greatly reduces my need to piss and moan and curse the darkness.


That's an excellent form of "pull" marketing, or, the idea that speaking softly results in people trying harder to actually listen.

My rationale for taking a more spirited tone here is to spur discussion. It's frightening to think how much money is put into messages aimed at increasing consumption and how little is put into asking what we really need.

I like your approach; I really do. More than that, I admire your resolve in a more quiet resistance. I'm an outspoken person and have a hard time not opening my mouth. Believe me: I would love to have the same self-control you do.

At the same time, I don't think protest is without its merits. Sometimes one has to rattle the cage a little. In my mind there are many ways to affect how people think, which is best, I don't know. As long as we're talking, though, I think we're getting somewhere.

In college, I heard about this thing called, "Buy Nothing Day." This was long ago, and I was very naive. I saw the posters and thought, "what a waste of time." Here I am, 20 years later, and I think, "what a great idea--I don't know why I didn't admire it more."

If even a "lunkhead" like me can finally get it, because someone was willing to go out there and make a bit of a stink, perhaps we just need to keep asking people to think about this sort of thing.

Here's Kalle, talking about that event. The points raised by the anchor are quite comical: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPQY_Cb4IlI

I like your approach; I really do. More than that, I admire your resolve in a more quiet resistance. I'm an outspoken person and have a hard time not opening my mouth. Believe me: I would love to have the same self-control you do.

I always find such assessments of me amusing. If I had some kind of admirable self-control, I wouldn't be posting on HN in between bouts of vomiting today on a subject that I know will get dismissed, no matter how nicely it is handled. I spent plenty of time being a blow-hard. I had minor "fame" of a sort in some out-of-the-way corners of the internet. Looking back on it, I likely had less of a fan-following than I imagined. Most likely, it was a vocal minority that made me appear "popular".

I don't have self control. What I have is a lack of patience for my own ineptitude and have made enough stupid mistakes to not feel like putting more energy into repeating the same mistakes. I'd rather go make all new mistakes.

Now, if you will excuse me I think I shall go puke some more. And if I have any sense, when I return to the computer I will do something more constructive than post here while feeling like hell -- like play Simcity or Master of Magic.

> Do you really think the post boiled down to just "an unproductive politics mudsling"?

No, but I think the discussion on HN is likely to devolve into that. There's a reason politics articles are more or less banned here. I know it's your own site you're promoting so it makes sense to just submit wherever, but you're talking about politics, economics, egalatarianism, regulation, socialism, healthcare, bailouts, environmental atrocities - this is all crammed into one post.

No one who sees your post is going to get convinced one way or another - people who were sympathetic are going to remain sympathetic, people who were hostile are going to remain hostile. That's we try to stay away from politics here.

Funny part is that the variety of posts here is what keeps me checking into HN on a daily basis. I started reading HN when we were working on "web startup stuff," but have continued to because it exposes me to novel arguments, thinking, and standpoints that I might not have been exposed to otherwise.

The reason that I link to my posts here (and this is one of the very few places I do) is to bring them to another audience (generally designers frequent ideasonideas more than anyone else), and to try and open up new discussions and access varied opinions.

If I'm out of line in posting this sort of thing here, please do feel free to say so, and vote it down. That being said, I wouldn't have made note of it, if I didn't think the topic was worthy of exploration and discussion.

I will argue your last point, though. The notion that, "people who were sympathetic are going to remain sympathetic, people who were hostile are going to remain hostile." I'm one of those people who would have once taken a completely different standpoint on such an issue. With time, though, as I've been exposed to others thoughts on the topic, it has become harder to hold on to those ideas. It's the fact that people kept "bugging me" with these sorts of discussions that forced me to reconsider my positions.

It seems to me that the HN community is one that needs to talk about these sorts of things, just as much as funding, coding, success, and all the rest. These issues are going to become increasingly important in both our lives and careers.

Why do you think that is? Why is it so hard to discuss these things in a meaningful way. We all like to think we are reasonable people, that we are open to having our minds changed, and yet it does seem to be impossible to talk about big ideas in any setting other than a dialogue between friends.

I don't really know. To me, it's always seemed that the best, and most interesting, discussions are the ones with some "meat" to them.

My wife's uncle was a very loud man. He was also well read and intelligent. I didn't agree with him on everything, but greatly enjoyed our discussions (particularly the ones accompanied by good scotch).

His sons later recounted a phrase he had used commonly. I paraphrase, but it was something akin to: "Argue with the person across the table as though you love them." I'm butchering the phrasing here, but I believe the sentiment holds.

To Terry, a heated debate was a positive thing, and never an attack--no matter how fierce the discussion became. I've always liked that thinking, and believe it's the way we actually learn new things and strengthen our resolve on what we believe.

> "Argue with the person across the table as though you love them."

Excellent. Probably one of the best way to be willing to actually change your mind. http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/How_To_Actually_Change_Your_M...

There's a good set of articles available at http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Politics_is_the_Mind-Killer on the topic. http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Arguments_as_soldiers is also often relevant.

edit: I don't know if I was downvoted for seeming spammy, but Eliezer's writings actually cover the topic pretty well.

Thanks for the links to the wiki--I'll take a closer look at them on my bus ride home. (This afternoon got a little hectic, and I wasn't able to give them a look yet.)

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