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Friday, November 28 2014 @ 12:11 PM PST

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I can't handle the truth!

I am shocked -- shocked!-- to discover that there is gambling going on... - Captain Renault

The recent paper, Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks has raised a storm of controversy. Some comments have been interesting, others misinformed or misguided, at least in my view. But what struck me most strongly about at least one part of the reaction is its congruence with other discussion, such some of that around Google Glass, in that some people seem to object to being informed that something is happening.

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More strange arguments about Cyprus

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism has reposted Cyprus Bailout: Stupidity, Short-Sightedness, Something Else?, an article by Antonis Polemitis and Andreas Kitsios that originally appeared at Cyprus.com.

The article has a number of problems, not least of which is that it suggests that "this was not something that the Cyprus government invented - it was forced on them by the Troika", despite the fact that it was Cyprus's representatives in the negotiations who rejected plans that did not hit small depositors. But it is more confused on a deeper level.

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Cyprus is a bit like Ireland, but not because of the EU

In a posting at the Guardian, Costas Lapavitsas compares the banking crises in Ireland, Iceland, and Cyprus, claiming that "Ireland followed a certain path, determined by the troika and membership of the EMU", and that "[t]he deal currently offered to Cyprus by the troika is along the path of Ireland", whereas "Iceland followed a radically different path, as it is free of the troika and not a member of the EMU."

I submit that, while there is a great deal of similarity between the cases of Ireland and Cyprus-- and difference from that of Iceland -- such similarity has little or nothing to do with the EU.

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"Leverage" in online education

"Online education" has become a hot topic recently, with major universities as well as new startups jumping onto the bandwagon. Not without reason, of course. That said, a great deal of the discussion seems to me to be misguided.

Perhaps I am out of line, being neither a professor nor even an educator, but I found Alex Tabarrok's recent Why Online Education Works to capture much of what is misguided in that discussion.

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Police problems are social problems

Recently a lot of people have been praising and sharing Norm Stamper's article from the Nation, Paramilitary Policing From Seattle to Occupy Wall Street. Stamper was chief of the Seattle Police Department during the WTO protests of 1999, and has since argued that the police actions at that time were inappropriate.

While what stamper writes in the article is not wrong, I argue that it fails to get to the heart of the problem, and thus fails even to suggest any real solutions.

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What's wrong with Occupy Wall Street

A number of different people have asked me about my negative views on "Occupy Wall Street", so it seemed a good thing to try to set them down in some more or less coherent form.

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All terrorists are NOT the same

There has been a considerable amount of discussion on the net recently about the attacks in Noway and the rush to judge them as the work of "(Islamic) terrorists", much of it thoughtful, if perhaps not particularly "new". I suggest that it is not "new" because it has been obvious at least since the 1980s that "one man's 'terrorist' is another man's 'freedom fighter'" (though I don't recall where I first read that). What is new is the way that 'terrorist' has become linked to 'Islam' in the Anglo-American media in this century, as Glenn Greenwald illustrates in his The omnipotence of Al Qaeda and meaninglessness of "Terrorism".

That said, in a generally well-considered article, Greenwald, like some others goes too far in seeming to equate Breivik's attacks in Norway with the attacks of organizations. This goes too far because there really is a difference between an individual and an organization.

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God and Existence

This is a response to Don Berg's Do you believe in time and mind?.

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Religion and the Liberal State

Stanley Fish recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times on "Religion and the Liberal State - Once Again".While he may make some interesting points, there seems to me to be a serious problem in his understanding of what a liberal state requires, and therefore also its relation to religious belief.

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FRAND, GPL, and Fairness

Over at ComputerWorldUK, Glyn Moody argues that Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory...Ain't. This is an instance of a somewhat common theme among, supporters of the GPL, in essence, that it is somehow 'unfair' for software to be licenced in a way that is incompatible with the GPL.

I submit that is is not just incorrect, but indeed the very opposite of correct.