Links for the Week - April 28, 2008

The "pros and cons of a global distributed network" edition:

Mainstream media adopts the dehumanizing 'illegals' label

Cloud CoverIt was frustrating but not surprising to see today that CNN has joined the list of mainstream media outlets who have adopted the harmful framing offered up in the debate about the U.S. borders, by beginning to use the label of "illegals" in their reporting. It may seem like a relatively small difference between that and other commonly used terms, but I find it to be a particularly dehumanizing one.
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Using Stock Photos to Show You Care

Creepy scary stock photoOne of the funniest parts of browsing the Internets is when I come across the funny stock photos of professional people in various professional settings, used by site owners to put a "human face" on their web presence in the most generic way possible. It began with using the headshot of the attentive and waiting customer service representative to show you that "operators are standing by now," and it's just gone crazy from there.

With the photo here, I don't even know what the hell is going on. It's like the creepy older guy is trying to arm wrestle with the maniacally screaming younger dude over who gets to use the laptop, while the two women totally ignore them and instead grin broadly at the hamster dancing on their screen. But I'm like "creepy older dude, BACK OFF!" Why does he need to lunge into younger dude's space like that, using his fingertips as a push-off to further invade? And why won't either of the women help younger dude? This is some messed up stock photography. What was the photographer yelling at them? "Pretend you went to the office holiday party and took Ecstasy!"
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On Doing It Myself

Lessons in Metallurgy - WhoaI think one of the more dangerous ideas prevalent in our culture is that "you can't do it yourself, so you always need to buy something or pay someone to do it for you." As our society becomes more and more dependent on complex machines, systems and skill-sets that fewer and fewer people understand, individuals become less and less equipped to have any real control over their livelihood. When those who do have the control and power aren't available or have different priorities or cost too much...well, things can get bad.

I had a moment of awakening about this a number of years ago when I was sitting in a local hair stylist's chair having my hair cut. On my recent visits I had been observing the process more closely than prior haircuts in my life, and partly out of resentment for the $15 I was paying per 10-minute haircut, partly out of an engineer's curiosity, I starting asking questions about where her equipment came from. Together we concluded that she was using a trimmer I could get at a local store for about $20, and therefore that the main value she brought to the process was the ability to see the whole of my head to trim it when I could not. Ah-ha.
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Links and Feeds for the Week - April 12, 2008

The feeds reminder and redux edition:

April Fool's Day 2008, So Far

MineWell, you know my criteria for good April Fool's Day jokes. Here's what I've kept track of so far for the day:

What else ya got?