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July 11, 2013
This is undoubtedly an amusing headline, but it actually touches on a serious issue in democracies: How can policymakers sell and implement necessarily policy when the general public is almost comedically misinformed about what policy is needed? The poll cited showed that Britons believe that 24% of jobless benefits are fraudulently claimed (the actual number is .7%); that violent crime is rising (it’s falling); that immigrants comprise 1/3 of the population (more like 13%); and that teen pregnancy is roughly 26 times higher than it actually is. “Politicians need to be better at talking about the real state of affairs of the country, rather than spinning the numbers,” said one of the pollsters involved. In addition, “the media has to try and genuinely illuminate issues, rather than use statistics to sensationalise.” So, in other words, the incentives structure of politics and the media needs to do a complete 180 from where they are now. Awesome, that should be a quick fix. source

This is undoubtedly an amusing headline, but it actually touches on a serious issue in democracies: How can policymakers sell and implement necessarily policy when the general public is almost comedically misinformed about what policy is needed? The poll cited showed that Britons believe that 24% of jobless benefits are fraudulently claimed (the actual number is .7%); that violent crime is rising (it’s falling); that immigrants comprise 1/3 of the population (more like 13%); and that teen pregnancy is roughly 26 times higher than it actually is. “Politicians need to be better at talking about the real state of affairs of the country, rather than spinning the numbers,” said one of the pollsters involved. In addition, “the media has to try and genuinely illuminate issues, rather than use statistics to sensationalise.” So, in other words, the incentives structure of politics and the media needs to do a complete 180 from where they are now. Awesome, that should be a quick fix. source

20:22 // 9 months ago
January 16, 2013
15:03 // 1 year ago
September 15, 2012
15:42 // 1 year ago
April 11, 2012
22:24 // 2 years ago
May 15, 2011

On libraries, a concept that would be difficult to sell today

markcoatney:

“If someone suggested the idea of public libraries now, they’d be considered insane. If you said you were going to take a little bit of money from every taxpayer, buy a whole load of books and music and games, stick them on a shelf and tell everyone, ‘These are yours to borrow and all you’ve got to do is bring them back,’ they’d be laughed out of government.”

Peter Collins, The Secret Life of Libraries (via jingc)

True. Publishers used to try to sue libraries, arguing that they were violating their copyright by letting people read books they hadn’t paid for. 

A friend of ours doesn’t like libraries for this very reason. It’s a bizarre consequence of politics that we’ve moved so far away from the library that we’d never find our way down this road if we had to start over. The Internet used to be much more library-like in its conceit. (We remember hopping on our modems circa 1994 to use the Internet through a text-based interface. Yes, we’re that old. We know what GOPHER is.) Then AOL started charging $20 a month to take a hit of the pipe, and here we are today.

23:00 // 2 years ago
May 2, 2011

Counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan gives more info on bin Laden killing

Insider insight into bin Laden mission: As stated by Obama administration counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, the U.S. would have claimed bin Laden alive if possible, but the al-Qaeda leader and his allies started a firefight that led to his death. He also said that President Obama and his aides were watching the operation in real time in the White House Situation Room, which he called “clearly very intense.” No kidding! Brennan also revealed that there are, in fact, photos of bin Laden’s corpse, but the White House has not yet decided whether to release them — a sensitive decision to be sure. source

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16:22 // 2 years ago
April 20, 2011
Soon, your Kindle will replace your library card: Amazon is rolling out some great new features to Kindle users, including book lending and access to 11,000 public libraries. No word on when they’ll be out, though. source Follow ShortFormBlog

Soon, your Kindle will replace your library card: Amazon is rolling out some great new features to Kindle users, including book lending and access to 11,000 public libraries. No word on when they’ll be out, though. source

Follow ShortFormBlog

23:48 // 3 years ago
January 27, 2011
The alerts will be specific to the threat. They may recommend certain actions, or suggest   looking for specific suspicious behavior. And they will have a specified end date.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano • Speaking on the topic of the oft-maligned terror threat level scale imposed following 9/11 (you know the one, orange=bad, red=really bad), Napolitano claimed that the future system of warning Americans about terrorism risks will be more informative. The old system, which merely stated the risk with no contextual information, was often accused of being vague and unhelpful. source (viafollow)
14:38 // 3 years ago