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{ Category Archives } Ethics

Flash Boys – in case you thought maybe the market wasn’t rigged

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis; narrated by Dylan Baker Flash Boys is two books at once.  First, it’s a fascinating tale about a few different innovators working in the financial markets.  These men spotted an opportunity to create a better wall street, to fix a problem that the market would, hopefully, […]

A few thoughts on The Quantum Rose

The Quantum Rose, by Catherine Asaro, follows the blossoming love of Kamoj and Vryl, a woman and man from two vastly different cultures on vastly different planets.  They’re pulled apart by cultural forces, by diplomatic obligations, by jealousy.  They’re attracted to one another on a deep level, they resonate.  Also, Asaro reveals at the end […]

Privilege and humor – Whose experience is being mocked?

There’s been quite a bit of commentary lately about privilege.  It’s a concept that finally seems to have some mainstream bite, and deserves serious consideration. In case this is new to you, the basic idea of privilege in this context is the idea that different people have different experiences in society because of factors outside […]

Should someone’s politics influence your enjoyment of their art? (The Ender’s Game conundrum)

I acknowledge up front that nothing I say here will be particularly revelatory if you have been following or thinking about this story for very long. Books and movies you encounter during your formative years often get a pass on critical thinking, at least they do for me.  I’m fond of a number of movies […]

Dr. Morris Fishbine, OR Another reason to love Columbia College Chicago

Check out this clip from A Thousand Clowns: I’ve had several students who go by something different than what the roster says.  Sometimes this is an expected change, like an Anthony who goes by Tony, or someone who uses their middle name.  Other times, it’s more complicated.  I’ve had three students who used names that […]

The Undead Gourmet

An essay I wrote for Philosophy Now magazine has just appeared in the magazine.  Here’s the teaser: The Undead Gourmet Brendan Riley asks: is it okay to kill a zombie just because it wants to eat you? “I’m just trying to eat as few people as I can before we leave for Portugal tomorrow!” Zombie […]

Two thoughts on the Boston bombing and related events

First, the coverage of the Boston bombing on Popehat has been amazing.  The gang over there have been doing a bang-up job writing from new angles about the event.  My two favorite are: “security theater, martial law, and a tale that trumps every cop-and-donut joke you’ve ever heard” in which Clark wrote about the enormous […]

Them: Adventures with Extremists

Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson It’s a little disconcerting how close Ronson gets to very scary people in this book.  But his point, I think, is that even the very scary people are just people.  Them details Ronson’s journey into the late 1990s and early 2000s subculture of conspiracy theorists, people who believe […]

The economics of copying (re: David Lowry and OnTheMedia March 8th)

First, my source material: “The Past, Present, and Future of Ownership” from On the Media, March 8th OTM spoke to David Lowry about the music business.  Lowry defended record companies in much the same way I do in my classes–namely, that when people sign record deals they get advances and agree to let the companies […]

Fourteen names

Each week as part of the service at Unity Temple in Oak Park, the ministers read from the book of the prayers of the people — a book you can write requests in for the congregation to include.  They take pains to include three lists each week: Individuals being held in McHenry County Jail awaiting […]

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West written by Dee Brown, narrated by Grover Gardner Brown’s history the years between 1850 and 1900 (or thereabouts) documents the brutal genocide of band after band of Native Americans (whom the book calls Indians as was common in 1970) by whites who […]

How Comcast lied to me

Sigh.  I’ve always liked Comcast’s service, and the tech people have been very helpful even when they have to visit my home over and over and over to fix bad lines, etc.  But this is the first time I’ve had to restrain myself from shouting at someone on the phone.  I just went through three […]

Email and conflict resolution

A couple quick thoughts regarding email or other asynchronous digital media and conflicts among colleagues. 1. MISSING CUES: We’ve all experienced “over-reading,” in which someone misinterprets, in the worst way they can, the email we’ve sent.  This often causes them to over-react back at us and a vicious circle begins.  As a reader, it seems […]

The coming wave of consumer-created media

My friend Rolfe reminded me of a good exchange about copyright that I encourage you all to read.  Three key posts: It started with Emily White’s post at the NPR All Things Considered blog: But the truth is, I’ve never supported physical music as a consumer. As monumental a role as musicians and albums have […]

Which god do you listen to?

I don’ t know where this post it going.  I suppose the alternate title could be “Random thoughts on evil, Hell, and the religious questions thereabouts.” Also could be “blogging when I should be doing other things.” 1. Constructing Hells In Surface Detail, Iain M. Banks imagines a post-singularity future in which digital upload was […]