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empiricallyricist: Sonic Nail Clipper The...

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empiricallyricist:

Sonic Nail Clipper
The Analyst/Logistician
“┬─┬ノ( º _ ºノ)”

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ramsesoriginal
2440 days ago
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Sonic Floppy Disk. The Woodcarver. "paaaast"
Bozen/Val Gardena Italy
popular
2441 days ago
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23 public comments
Romanikque
2435 days ago
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Oh my... Sonic Toilet Paper Roll - The Doctor - What the Fuck Does That Even Mean!?

This says more about me than I care to admit!
Baltimore, MD
kazriko
2435 days ago
Either Sonic programmable calculator, smart phone, keyboard, Pebble Watch, or Vita. (All equadistant.) The Accountant, and "Nope."
emurr002
2436 days ago
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Sonic ear buds; The Doctor; "I value your opinion."
pberry
2439 days ago
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Sonic gel pen. The Librarian. "JOBS!"
Chico, CA
gamergeek
2439 days ago
Sonic Highlighter. The Accountant. "The good thing is: I know exactly where we are parked now."
veracity
2438 days ago
Sonic glass. The QC Inspector. "Not stupid enough to watch those"
theprawn
2439 days ago
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Sonic coffee mug. The pastor. "True."
bronzehedwick
2439 days ago
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Sonic pillow. The reverend. "Hey man forgot to mention, I have your jacket."
Astoria NY
grammargirl
2440 days ago
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Sonic smartphone. The Paralegal. "Let me know. Just sitting around." Kind of cool to see the wide variety of sharefighters' parental occupations. :-)
Brooklyn, NY
iaravps
2440 days ago
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Sonic bookmark. The Professor. "Have a good seminar!"
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Cdogg
2440 days ago
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Sonic Pizza. The Engineer. "Not sure if she's on the list, but she offered to help."

FAIL.
NDG, Montreal
ryanbrazell
2440 days ago
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Sonic pillow. The Secretary. "Hope you have had a good weekend!"
Richmond, VA
timjump
2440 days ago
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Sonic iPhone. The Electrician. "How you holding up?"

Me likey!
Altamonte Springs, FL
phogan
2440 days ago
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Sonic laptop. The Banker. "You dun got a hacked twitter account son."

I don't like this character.
Massapequa Park, NY
mitteration
2440 days ago
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Sonic frisbee. The Architect. "I'm getting a calzone."
infogulch
2440 days ago
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Sonic pocketknife. The nurse. "Let me try again"
Missouri
ChrisDL
2440 days ago
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Sonic female sunglasses. The Cardiologist. "Just about there"
New York
DivinoAG
2440 days ago
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Sonic glasses. The Journalist. "Alright!"
California
glenniebun
2440 days ago
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Sonic cell phone. The Chemist. "Seems reasonable!"
CT USA
MEVincent
2441 days ago
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Sonic waterbottle, the Minister, "How was it?"
Manassas, Virginia
squinky
2441 days ago
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Sonic euphonium. The Doctor. "Jacob's picking me up, so it's all good."

(My mom is actually a doctor.)
Santa Cruz, CA
HarlandCorbin
2442 days ago
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Sonic laptop. The Professor. "Yes"
RedSonja
2443 days ago
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Sonic Drumstick. The Alpaca Farmer. "Okeydoke. I'll go ahead and eat then."
angelchrys
2443 days ago
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Sonic Slinky. The Manager. "I'm entering into a co-dependent relationship with beer."
Overland Park, KS
3ba
2443 days ago
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Sonic pencil. The Imam. "I think so."
klohrenz
2443 days ago
Sonic Scissors. The Microbiologist. "Excellent. What kind?"
skorgu
2443 days ago
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Sonic paper towel. The Carpenter.
jepler
2442 days ago
Sonic pillow. The Delivery Driver. "Don't worry, it won't go bad."

Conspiracy Theories and the NSA

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I've recently seen two articles speculating on the NSA's capability, and practice, of spying on members of Congress and other elected officials. The evidence is all circumstantial and smacks of conspiracy thinking -- and I have no idea whether any of it is true or not -- but it's a good illustration of what happens when trust in a public institution fails.

The NSA has repeatedly lied about the extent of its spying program. James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has lied about it to Congress. Top-secret documents provided by Edward Snowden, and reported on by the Guardian and other newspapers, repeatedly show that the NSA's surveillance systems are monitoring the communications of American citizens. The DEA has used this information to apprehend drug smugglers, then lied about it in court. The IRS has used this information to find tax cheats, then lied about it. It's even been used to arrest a copyright violator. It seems that every time there is an allegation against the NSA, no matter how outlandish, it turns out to be true.

Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald has been playing this well, dribbling the information out one scandal at a time. It's looking more and more as if the NSA doesn't know what Snowden took. It's hard for someone to lie convincingly if he doesn't know what the opposition actually knows.

All of this denying and lying results in us not trusting anything the NSA says, anything the president says about the NSA, or anything companies say about their involvement with the NSA. We know secrecy corrupts, and we see that corruption. There's simply no credibility, and -- the real problem -- no way for us to verify anything these people might say.

It's a perfect environment for conspiracy theories to take root: no trust, assuming the worst, no way to verify the facts. Think JFK assassination theories. Think 9/11 conspiracies. Think UFOs. For all we know, the NSA might be spying on elected officials. Edward Snowden said that he had the ability to spy on anyone in the U.S., in real time, from his desk. His remarks were belittled, but it turns out he was right.

This is not going to improve anytime soon. Greenwald and other reporters are still poring over Snowden's documents, and will continue to report stories about NSA overreach, lawbreaking, abuses, and privacy violations well into next year. The "independent" review that Obama promised of these surveillance programs will not help, because it will lack both the power to discover everything the NSA is doing and the ability to relay that information to the public.

It's time to start cleaning up this mess. We need a special prosecutor, one not tied to the military, the corporations complicit in these programs, or the current political leadership, whether Democrat or Republican. This prosecutor needs free rein to go through the NSA's files and discover the full extent of what the agency is doing, as well as enough technical staff who have the capability to understand it. He needs the power to subpoena government officials and take their sworn testimony. He needs the ability to bring criminal indictments where appropriate. And, of course, he needs the requisite security clearance to see it all.

We also need something like South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where both government and corporate employees can come forward and tell their stories about NSA eavesdropping without fear of reprisal.

Yes, this will overturn the paradigm of keeping everything the NSA does secret, but Snowden and the reporters he's shared documents with have already done that. The secrets are going to come out, and the journalists doing the outing are not going to be sympathetic to the NSA. If the agency were smart, it'd realize that the best thing it could do would be to get ahead of the leaks.

The result needs to be a public report about the NSA's abuses, detailed enough that public watchdog groups can be convinced that everything is known. Only then can our country go about cleaning up the mess: shutting down programs, reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act system, and reforming surveillance law to make it absolutely clear that even the NSA cannot eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant.

Comparisons are springing up between today's NSA and the FBI of the 1950s and 1960s, and between NSA Director Keith Alexander and J. Edgar Hoover. We never managed to rein in Hoover's FBI -- it took his death for change to occur. I don't think we'll get so lucky with the NSA. While Alexander has enormous personal power, much of his power comes from the institution he leads. When he is replaced, that institution will remain.

Trust is essential for society to function. Without it, conspiracy theories naturally take hold. Even worse, without it we fail as a country and as a culture. It's time to reinstitute the ideals of democracy: The government works for the people, open government is the best way to protect against government abuse, and a government keeping secrets from its is people is a rare exception, not the norm.

This essay originally appeared on TheAtlantic.com.

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ramsesoriginal
2460 days ago
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Bozen/Val Gardena Italy
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pawnstorm
2461 days ago
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Secrecy is corrosive to democracy.
Olympia, WA

Our Newfound Fear of Risk

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We're afraid of risk. It's a normal part of life, but we're increasingly unwilling to accept it at any level. So we turn to technology to protect us. The problem is that technological security measures aren't free. They cost money, of course, but they cost other things as well. They often don't provide the security they advertise, and -- paradoxically -- they often increase risk somewhere else. This problem is particularly stark when the risk involves another person: crime, terrorism, and so on. While technology has made us much safer against natural risks like accidents and disease, it works less well against man-made risks.

Three examples:

  1. We have allowed the police to turn themselves into a paramilitary organization. They deploy SWAT teams multiple times a day, almost always in nondangerous situations. They tase people at minimal provocation, often when it's not warranted. Unprovoked shootings are on the rise. One result of these measures is that honest mistakes -- a wrong address on a warrant, a misunderstanding -- result in the terrorizing of innocent people, and more death in what were once nonviolent confrontations with police.

  2. We accept zero-tolerance policies in schools. This results in ridiculous situations, where young children are suspended for pointing gun-shaped fingers at other students or drawing pictures of guns with crayons, and high-school students are disciplined for giving each other over-the-counter pain relievers. The cost of these policies is enormous, both in dollars to implement and its long-lasting effects on students.

  3. We have spent over one trillion dollars and thousands of lives fighting terrorism in the past decade -- including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- money that could have been better used in all sorts of ways. We now know that the NSA has turned into a massive domestic surveillance organization, and that its data is also used by other government organizations, which then lie about it. Our foreign policy has changed for the worse: we spy on everyone, we trample human rights abroad, our drones kill indiscriminately, and our diplomatic outposts have either closed down or become fortresses. In the months after 9/11, so many people chose to drive instead of fly that the resulting deaths dwarfed the deaths from the terrorist attack itself, because cars are much more dangerous than airplanes.

There are lots more examples, but the general point is that we tend to fixate on a particular risk and then do everything we can to mitigate it, including giving up our freedoms and liberties.

There's a subtle psychological explanation. Risk tolerance is both cultural and dependent on the environment around us. As we have advanced technologically as a society, we have reduced many of the risks that have been with us for millennia. Fatal childhood diseases are things of the past, many adult diseases are curable, accidents are rarer and more survivable, buildings collapse less often, death by violence has declined considerably, and so on. All over the world -- among the wealthier of us who live in peaceful Western countries -- our lives have become safer.

Our notions of risk are not absolute; they're based more on how far they are from whatever we think of as "normal." So as our perception of what is normal gets safer, the remaining risks stand out more. When your population is dying of the plague, protecting yourself from the occasional thief or murderer is a luxury. When everyone is healthy, it becomes a necessity.

Some of this fear results from imperfect risk perception. We're bad at accurately assessing risk; we tend to exaggerate spectacular, strange, and rare events, and downplay ordinary, familiar, and common ones. This leads us to believe that violence against police, school shootings, and terrorist attacks are more common and more deadly than they actually are -- and that the costs, dangers, and risks of a militarized police, a school system without flexibility, and a surveillance state without privacy are less than they really are.

Some of this fear stems from the fact that we put people in charge of just one aspect of the risk equation. No one wants to be the senior officer who didn't approve the SWAT team for the one subpoena delivery that resulted in an officer being shot. No one wants to be the school principal who didn't discipline -- no matter how benign the infraction -- the one student who became a shooter. No one wants to be the president who rolled back counterterrorism measures, just in time to have a plot succeed. Those in charge will be naturally risk averse, since they personally shoulder so much of the burden.

We also expect that science and technology should be able to mitigate these risks, as they mitigate so many others. There's a fundamental problem at the intersection of these security measures with science and technology; it has to do with the types of risk they're arrayed against. Most of the risks we face in life are against nature: disease, accident, weather, random chance. As our science has improved -- medicine is the big one, but other sciences as well -- we become better at mitigating and recovering from those sorts of risks.

Security measures combat a very different sort of risk: a risk stemming from another person. People are intelligent, and they can adapt to new security measures in ways nature cannot. An earthquake isn't able to figure out how to topple structures constructed under some new and safer building code, and an automobile won't invent a new form of accident that undermines medical advances that have made existing accidents more survivable. But a terrorist will change his tactics and targets in response to new security measures. An otherwise innocent person will change his behavior in response to a police force that compels compliance at the threat of a Taser. We will all change, living in a surveillance state.

When you implement measures to mitigate the effects of the random risks of the world, you're safer as a result. When you implement measures to reduce the risks from your fellow human beings, the human beings adapt and you get less risk reduction than you'd expect -- and you also get more side effects, because we all adapt.

We need to relearn how to recognize the trade-offs that come from risk management, especially risk from our fellow human beings. We need to relearn how to accept risk, and even embrace it, as essential to human progress and our free society. The more we expect technology to protect us from people in the same way it protects us from nature, the more we will sacrifice the very values of our society in futile attempts to achieve this security.

This essay previously appeared on Forbes.com.

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ramsesoriginal
2465 days ago
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Great commentary on the topic of risk assessment
Bozen/Val Gardena Italy
popular
2466 days ago
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silberbaer
2465 days ago
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Yes. This.
New Baltimore, MI
emdeesee
2465 days ago
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Money quote: "We're bad at accurately assessing risk; we tend to exaggerate spectacular, strange, and rare events, and downplay ordinary, familiar, and common ones."
Sherman, TX
stevenewey
2465 days ago
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I thought provoking essay I for the most part agree with.

However, I was a little uncomfortable with the statement "In the months after 9/11, so many people chose to drive instead of fly that the resulting deaths dwarfed the deaths from the terrorist attack itself, because cars are much more dangerous than airplanes." with no citation for this 'fact' and it's vague assertions.

I found this article (http://www.mpg.de/6347636/terrorism_traffic-accidents-USA) which suggest within 12 months there was indeed more road deaths, to the tune of approx 1,600. Certainly fewer than died in the attacks themselves.

Of course the effect will likely have lasted longer than 12 months, but I would like to see data to back up the assertions.
Bedfordshire
adamgurri
2466 days ago
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Yes, a thousand times yes.
New York, NY

Bee Orchid

5 Comments and 7 Shares
In sixty million years aliens will know humans only by a fuzzy clip of a woman in an Axe commercial.
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ramsesoriginal
2467 days ago
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I'm amazed.. on so many levels..
Bozen/Val Gardena Italy
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irunfrombears
2465 days ago
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Wow
DC
hiperlink
2467 days ago
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AWW
Budapest, Hungary
RedSonja
2467 days ago
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Blub.
grammargirl
2467 days ago
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Sniff.
Brooklyn, NY

Manning Outrage

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If you were following the Manning story closely, you probably weren’t surprised by the announcement that she is transgender and identifies as Chelsea. Chat logs released from Manning’s time in the military said as much but she didn’t announce it until now for what seem to me obvious reasons. The backlash from idiots and confusion with gender pronouns was pretty predictable, but this had the added magnitude of Manning’s leaks behind them. People who supported the trillion dollar Iraq War were deeply concerned a few dollars might be spent on gender therapy. Meanwhile media outlets that offered zero coverage of Manning’s leaks like the “Collateral Murder” video, wrote articles about their internal debates on how to handle pronouns.

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ramsesoriginal
2472 days ago
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Bozen/Val Gardena Italy
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August 24, 2013

2 Comments and 7 Shares

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ramsesoriginal
2475 days ago
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Wow, I've never seen it this way, but it totally makes sense!
Bozen/Val Gardena Italy
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