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Erotic Capital and The End of Men

The End of Men

I recently finished reading, and thoroughly enjoyed, Hanna Rosin’s book “The End of Men”. I chose to read this book after watching her RSA talk, and while reading the book, CBC Radio’s Ideas, broadcast the Munk Debates that were on the same subject.

As a man I’m neither threatened nor intimidated by the concept that the dominance of men in our society is in decline, or that women are rising in power, either independently, or even at the expense of most men. I see gender as a dynamic and often limiting concept, that is best experienced in the most flexible and self-defined terms.

I also agree with Hanna’s argument that women are rising, and that men are in decline. Many if not most of the men I’ve known in my life have struggled to find a meaningful and contributing role for themselves in this society. School was almost impossible to complete, and meaningful work is rarely found and never secure.

Why You Should Take Bitcoin Seriously

Photo taken by Donna Guzik

Today - for the first time - the value of a bitcoin eclipsed U$1,000. The rapid rise of this open source peer to peer crypto-currency has drawn a lot of attention, ranging right across the spectrum, from euphoric and utopian boosters, to cynical skeptics declaring another bubble. The real truth is that Bitcoin will probably not live up to some of the hype that suggests it could end up being worth as much as $35,000 each. However Bitcoin is also not a bubble per se, but a genuine innovation, a fascinating set of phenomena, and an open lab for some super smart people to rethink the medium of money.

Thus I offer a few brief reasons as to why you should take the rise of Bitcoin seriously, and take some of your precious time to pay closer attention to what's going on:

Toronto Bitcoin Summit 2013

Bitcoin

On October 24th at the Academy of the Impossible I'll be hosting the Toronto Bitcoin Summit, a diverse gathering of highly engaged professionals, and intellectuals, interested in sharing and learning about peer to peer digital currencies. In particular we'll be focusing on Bitcoins, but we'll also talk about similar systems like Litecoins, as well as theoretical and emerging systems that participants feel are relevant.

We've already attracted an interesting range of registrants, and sponsors are starting to sign up to help support this event, and showcase the work they're doing. We're hoping to bring together people with a range of views on these new currencies, from the novice on up, so that we can explore the subject matter from as many perspectives as possible.

Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl

Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl

Today the wonderful new book "Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl" by Emily Pohl-Weary is available for purchase, in book, and audiobook format.

I spend a lot of time with Emily, given that we're married, and I was lucky to read this novel a few months ago.

The first in a series, it is a fun and fast read. Emily quickly immerses you into the world of Sam Lee, a Brooklyn based bass player and songwriter who's found modest success, and struggles with the attention that comes with it. Of course the troubles of stardom are nothing compared to what happens when you're bit by a strange dog that turns out to be a werewolf.

Narcissism Drives the Desire for Fame

Fame

Cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, writing for Scientific American, highlighted interesting research around the motivations for fame, and the driving force of narcissism.

The first study was by John Maltby, who looked at what motivates 10-12 year olds desire for fame:

  • Intensity (e.g., “Very little matters to me apart from being famous”)
  • Vulnerability (e.g., “I want to be famous because it would help me overcome issues I have about myself”)
  • Celebrity Life-Style (e.g., “I want to be rich”)
  • Drive (e.g., “I work hard everyday to be famous”)
  • Perceived Suitability (e.g., “I have got what it takes to be famous”)
  • Altruistic (e.g., “I want to be famous so I can make a contribution to society”)

What is LinkedIn good for?

I've often been publicly critical of LinkedIn, in earlier days referring to it as "Facebook for old people", and now that old people are on Facebook I tend to discourage use of LinkedIn as being a waste of time. I would couch these really critical remarks by saying "unless of course you work in Human Resources or are looking for a job." Turns out, in the case of the latter, LinkedIn may not be so great for finding a job.

Ann Friedman, writing in the Baffler, articulates a number of spot-on insights that speak to the many problems people have with LinkedIn:

In reality, though, the job seeker tends to experience the insular world of LinkedIn connectivity as an irksome ritual of digital badgering. Instead of facing the prospect of interfacing professionally with a nine-figure user base with a renewed spring in their step, harried victims of economic redundancy are more likely to greet their latest LinkedIn updates with a muttered variation of, “Oh shit, I’d better send out some more résumés.”

You Jelly? Our Oceans Sure Are

Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean

Earlier this year a fascinating book with a scary subject was released by author Lisa-ann Gershwin called "Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean". I only discovered the book today, as I read a great review in The New York Review of Books written by Tim Flannery.

I offer a few passages from the review that should provide more than enough reason to read the book. In particular, the extent to which Jellyfish are in the process of taking over the world:

From the Arctic to the equator and on to the Antarctic, jellyfish plagues (or blooms, as they’re technically known) are on the increase. Even sober scientists are now talking of the jellification of the oceans. And the term is more than a mere turn of phrase. Off southern Africa, jellyfish have become so abundant that they have formed a sort of curtain of death, “a stingy-slimy killing field,” as Gershwin puts it, that covers over 30,000 square miles. The curtain is formed of jelly extruded by the creatures, and it includes stinging cells. The region once supported a fabulously rich fishery yielding a million tons annually of fish, mainly anchovies. In 2006 the total fish biomass was estimated at just 3.9 million tons, while the jellyfish biomass was 13 million tons.

Kipochi Hopes to Ignite a Bitcoin Revolution in Kenya

Across the African continent there is incredible innovation and ingenuity with regard to how technology is used creatively. Kenya in particular is a technology hotbed, as well as a leader when it comes to mobile innovation. Specifically mobile payments in Kenya have taken off in a massive way:

Ever since Safaricom, Kenya's largest mobile-network operator, launched the mobile-payment system M-Pesa in 2007, some two-thirds of Kenya's adult population have subscribed, and an astonishing 31% of the country's GDP is now spent through mobile phones.

What is the connection between currency and sovereignty?

Amazon Coin

When I think of sovereigns I tend to think of money. Maybe it's because as a Canadian I've got a Queen on all my money. Or perhaps it gets into the powers of the sovereign, and the role money plays in keeping the realm whole.

Thus one trend I'm constantly keeping tabs on is the expansion of currencies, and the rise of digital currencies. Although even that distinction seems arbitrary, as what is digital is now often more real than what is not. Currencies themselves, while traditionally the most real and tangible elements of any society, are increasingly regarded as arbitrary.

Bitcoins for example have risen as an interesting alternative currency. Will a recent ruling in a Texas court arguing they should be subject to the same regulation as any other currency slow it down?

Newspaper paywalls rise across Canada

My friends at Metro Morning asked for my thoughts on newspaper paywalls as the Toronto Star announced theirs.

"They spent 20 years putting out a free website that people have gotten used to, that all of sudden now they want to charge about $10 a month [to access]," said CBC Radio's Metro Morning technology columnist Jesse Hirsh. "I think the audience of people who grew up on that free Toronto Star website are going to either be happy with those 10 free articles per month, or find other sources."

The San Francisco Chronicle announced on Wednesday it will be dropping its paywall and returning to free content.

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