George Orwell on Weapons and the Concentration of Power

Over the last month, I’ve really noticed Scribd taking off. It seems like it’s just about got the critical mass it takes to go big time. To the right is a map comparing its traffic with Reddit’s [1].

Today, I found an old George Orwell essay about the way advances in weaponry have tilted the balance of power towards authoritarians or libertarians. Specifically, he speculates on the political and social effects of the atom bomb.

It’s a thoughtful essay, and now that it’s been 72 years since he wrote it, it’s interesting to see how accurate his predictions were.

Note: Click on on the Scribd button and it will take you to it in on their site.

[1]: Reddit and Scribd are both Y-combinator start-ups. I can’t believe how many cool things Paul Graham has his hands into.

Three Days of Barbecues

Yesterday was 中秋節, one of the three major Chinese holidays. Just like the other major Chinese holidays, the main focus is eating. This one is particularly good, since you’re supposed to barbecue. It’s kind of like the 4th of July in the US, except that you get to barbecue anytime you want, all weekend!

On Saturday, I had a little “warm-up BBQ”, on Sunday I ate with two of my students and their family (and destroyed them at wii tennis), on Monday I got a surprise invite from Ben to go to his rooftop party, and then yesterday I wussed out and just hit the 2-for-1 Italian special at the Cain. I’m feeling slightly ill from three straight days of drinking like a fish, eating over a pound of barbecued beef, lamb, chicken, octopus, mushrooms, and whatever else came my way… but it’s a very satisfied kind of ill feeling.

where are we headed?

I really don’t know what words to put to these images I’ve been seeing over the last year. The videos speak for themselves.

This happened just this week at the John Kerry speech in Florida. The youtube poster is a bit of a sensationalist, but the MSNBC coverage is good.

I found this one on Amnesty International’s website:

This is possibly the worse of all… from UCLA at the end of last year:

Five times… after saying he had a medical condition.