pseudonomas, not so long ago, quoted Simon Jenkins from The Times. Having very much enjoyed his sport writing in the past, I tried this opinion piece of his, a strongly-worded polemic from a civil libertarian perspective. Most of the first dozen or so paragraphs take the form "I hate (blight of modern society x). I hate it for (good reason y) and (good reason z). But ban it, as the government intends? Never." Now, as I've said before, I tend to take the authoritarian viewpoint on things and so tend to prefer the opposite conclusion, favouring legislation and bans. See, for instance, the post immediately previous.
A very provocative article, though. I did like the third last para, suggesting that The madcap negligence settlements now propagated by the courts should be restricted by statute and reasonable levels of insurance. The concept of the accident should be re-established in common law. Moreover, I was extremely interested and very surprised by the second last para: safety red tape and regulation does not avoid risk. [...] Additional enforced safety merely shifts the public’s risk tolerance to new thresholds of danger. This tolerance appears constant. Enforce seatbelts and people drive more dangerously to compensate. Very much contrary to what I would have thought. Accordingly, I have investigated further.
Since then, I have been looking at some of John Adams' publications. The Social Consequences of Hypermobility (OK, I read the abridged version!) challenged an assumption of mine, that mobility was inherently desirable. I don't agree with all the conclusionsl the predictions for distance travelled using various methods look open to criticism, not least because little explanation for them is given. Another statement I found very contentious: In hypermobile societies old-fashioned geographical communities are replaced by aspatial communities of interest - we spend more of our time, physically, in the midst of strangers. The advantages of mobility are heavily advertised; the disadvantages of hypermobility receive much less attention. The first half sums up online participation; the Internet is great because it lets you find people like you.
A very interesting piece, because it pointed out the negative aspects to some of the things which I were convinced had far more advantages than disadvantages. It has also pointed out to me that I am, in fact, strongly risk-averse and part of the reason why I enjoy games so much may well be that they provide a safe space in which I can be considerably more risky without putting things which matter to me in jeopardy. I note that there are some games which can deliberately be played in risk-averse and risk-prone fashions and in which I tend to overtly favour risk-avert strategies; I am also strongly fascinated by games which play with the boundaries of games' traditional capabilities - particularly games with stakes, immersive games, rule-changing games and the like. It would be wrong to ascribe my own properties to LiveJournalists in general, but I wonder if this sort of conclusion resonates with many of you.
I can think of opportunities I've missed and suspect a large part of the motivation has been through risk-aversion; while it's true to say that I have done (and continue to do) interesting things over the years, they tend to be those which incorporate higher degrees of risk. I also suspect that LiveJournal tends to cater to the risk-averse, because it's easier to write about something and try to get (and learn from and absorb) other people's experiences of it than it is to go out and do it yourself. No immediate attitude changes overnight, but as ever, interesting to be confronted with the other side of the argument.
Incidentally, Professor Adams points to Just Around The Corner (link to a web page with an embedded .pdf file - prepare to crank up the magnification if required) which contains musings about the future of crime and how different sets of technologies and social attitudes might affect the sorts of crimes prevalent in the future. This was the first time I was aware that the Department of Trade and Industry had its own team of futurologists; Foresight is just such a team.
In lighter matters: I am convinced The Fast Show will stand the test of time as being as influential within the UK, relative to other comedy shows of its generation, as Monty Python's Flying Circus; Red Dwarf remains a work of genius with successive series up to at least series 5 (possibly series 6) being better than the one before, with series 5 episode 6 ("Back To Reality") a particular highlight; Crawford's Milk Chocolate Rings earn a very high biscuit recommendation for their fine chocolate, extremely crunchy texture (bordering on inviting accusations of burntness, but not in a bad way) and the fact that a single biscuit is remarkably satisfying despite its small size. Can there be a better 38 calories and 1.7 grams of fat of chocolate biscuit? (Less than half a Homewheat? Pshaw!)