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The Sun Magazine

Culture and Society

The Internet

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

We Are Iran:
The Persian Blogs

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, honest self-expression carries a heavy price. Over the last six years, as many as a hundred print publications, including forty-one daily newspapers, have been closed by Iran’s hard-line judiciary. In April 2003 the Islamic Republic became the first government to take direct action against bloggers. Many more bloggers and online journalists have been arrested or intimidated since.

Quotations

Sunbeams

Before we work on artificial intelligence, why don’t we do something about natural stupidity?

Steve Polyak

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

The Last, Hateful Word

The day I met Harry, he was drunk and desperate. We were in a bar with a group of work colleagues, and he was ranting about how a woman had mistreated him. There was something about fumbled sex on a beach, and a long train ride, and a wound to the heart. His tone was dramatic, misogynistic, and self-pitying. I thought he was the most obnoxious man I had ever met.

The Sun Interview

Voodoo Electronics

Jaron Lanier On The Danger Of Letting Computers Do Our Thinking For Us

A key belief of cybernetic totalism is that there’s no difference between experience and information; that is, everything can be reduced to “bits.” When you don’t believe in experience anymore, you become desensitized to the subjective quality of life. And this has a huge impact on ethics, religion, and spirituality, because now the center of everything isn’t human life or God, but the biggest possible computer. You have this cultlike anticipation of computers big enough to house consciousness and thus grant possible immortality.

The Sun Interview

Don’t Just Sit There

Eli Pariser’s E-Mail Revolution

We try not to spin. We take a reasonable, common-sense approach to the issues and let the facts speak for themselves. That’s one of the most important things I’ve learned in my time here. You can write an alert that’s heavy on rhetoric, but it’s much more powerful to say, “Here’s the situation. The president said this on January 28, and now he’s saying this. And if you think those statements are irreconcilable, ask Congress to investigate.”

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

My Rich Internet Life

My father’s e-mails could be used to chart his manic-depression. When he’s in a good mood, he tells me how much he likes my books. When he’s in a foul mood, he tells me that I didn’t have it so bad as a child. He wants to know why I’m always writing about having been handcuffed to a pipe in our basement; after all, he did it only that one time.

Fiction

Be True To Your School

Well, I finally got the last e-mail you sent me. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. They only let us use the “lab” three days a week now (I don’t know why they call it that) since the seniors complained that the underclassmen were hogging all the “lab time.” They keep saying that we’re going to get more computers, but who knows? It still smells like band-aids in here, in case you were wondering.

The Sun Interview

Peril And Promise

Duane Elgin On Simplicity And Humanity’s Future

Simplicity lies at the intersection of spirituality and sustainability. If you put spirituality, or the inner life, together with sustainability, or the outer life of maintaining things, what you come up with is the simple life.

Fiction

Manna

I wondered what kind of food could drop from the sky like dew. Something that would melt on the tongue like a kiss and fill the body with strength.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

An Erotic Way Of Life

As I’ve been writing a book about sex in recent months, I’ve had the Kama Sutra, the Indian guide to personal sexual culture, on my desk, and I’ve occasionally consulted the Internet to track down relevant books and articles. On the Internet, I’ve noticed, as soon as you venture in the direction of sex you quickly come upon crude, unadorned images of stark sexual union. Apparently we have finally found a public place where we can show our private parts and secret fantasies free of the repressive eyes of the government agencies that serve our culture’s dominant puritan philosophies. But here there is no love, little sentimentality, and almost nothing that could be called foreplay in any innocent sense of the word.

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