“Quantity has a quality all its own”

Quantity has its own quality – The quote is often falsely attributed to Stalin. It was used in this great article by Will Self: The awful cult of the talentless hipster has taken over

Aside from the great article it got me thinking about the quote which then led me to find out a examination on Quora written by Nils Barth it’s worth repeating:

Presumably Thomas A. Callaghan Jr., influential US defense consultant of the 1970s and 1980s and director of the Allied Interdependence program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, arguing for increased spending on weapons.

Earliest result I could find is “Quantity has a Quality All Its Own,” Allied Interdependence Newsletter No. 13, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 21 June 1979 (which Callaghan produced and presumably authored), cited in Naval War College Review, “How much is not enough? The non-nuclear air battle in NATO’s central region”, Volume 33, March-April (1980), footnote on p. 77, quotation on p. 68, echoing similar sentiments by Sam Nunn (“At some point numbers do count.”). This looks like the origin of the phrase.

The phrase has been popular in the US defense community since the 1980s, sometimes acknowledging it as a US coinage, but often misattributing it to Clausewitz, Lenin, Stalin, and Brezhnev, but mostly to Stalin.

The general principle that quantity begets quality is a key tenet of the Marxist theory of dialectical materialism, as formulated by Marx and Engels, phrased as the law of the passage of quantitative changes into qualitative changes. This in turn is attributed to Hegel (Science of Logic), who in turn attributes it to Ancient Greek philosophers, notably the paradox of the heap Eubulides: a quantitative change in the number of grains of sand leads to a qualitative change in being a heap or not. While Marx and Engels are quoted by various Marxist and communist authors, including Stalin, this formulation is not found in their work or in English translation. (Re: “Quantity has a quality all its own” source?, Tim Davenport, H-Russia, April 5, 2010)

Enough to sate the social urge

Via Mark Carrigan

Online friendships afford a similar bounty: instantaneous, often hilarious adventures in debate, discussion, dialogue. The ties are strong enough to sate the social urge, but their gossamer threads never bind us tightly, rarely ask for the commitments and cohabitations of our closest relationships.

Damon Young “Distraction” pg 154

Who sells books for a penny?

The book market is a mess and the second hand book market is even weirder. As a buyer the second hand books on Amazon are amazing as many hardcover, good condition books are listed at a penny $0.01 of course the shipping is added to this but at $4 a book this is still a sweet deal. After buying the 5 volume History of Private Life and having it shipped to my house for a total of $20 dollars I tried to figure out how it was even possible.



The massive set consisted on Volume I: From Pagan Rome to ByzantiumVolume II: Revelations of the Medieval WorldVolume III: Passions of the RenaissanceVolume IV: From the Fires of Revolution to the Great WarVolume V: Riddles of Identity in Modern Times. Its authors are respected historians and the weight alone makes this an impressive purchase.

Naturally it made no sense and I was at a loss to how it worked. Finally, after Googling, I came across this thread. Its from 2012 but it throws some light on how the whole thing works.

In brief:
A seller lists a book for $.01
Amazon collects $3.99 from the buyer and gives $2.66 ($.01 + $2.64 shipping allowance) to the seller. (The $1.35 ‘closing fee’ is subtracted from the shipping allowance by Amazon)
The seller is a ProMerchant, so doesn’t pay the $.99 fee (but does pay $40 per month to be a ProMerchant).
The 15% fee on 1 cent is zero.
The seller pays $2.38 or $2.88 in postage for a 1 or 2 pound package (or less, if it is very light weight and can go First Class. Much less if the penny seller is high volume and uses Bulk Mail).
The seller cost for the book is zero, because he got it for free somehow.
The seller used recycled packing materials, so those cost nothing, too.
The seller ends-up with $.27 (if it’s 1 pound media mail) in a domestic shipment (a bit more if it’s mailed using Bulk Mail).
The seller is happy with his “profit”.
Amazon ends up with $1.35 from the shipping.
Amazon is even happier than the seller.

Its not exactly big bucks but it does explain a little more how 1penny books can be sold at a (sort of) profit.


Podcast Roundup

I have a podcast problem… Too much audio and not enough time. This usually results in me listening to podcasts whenever I can, just to keep up with my growing feed. This summer I added to the problem by listening to the whole (and brilliant) History of Rome which led me to fall even further behind on my listening.


Then yesterday – the horror – my app crashed. This led to a frantic scrambling for the last backup – which naturally was way too old to be interesting. Thankfully, and with the wonderful twitter support my issue with RSSRadio Podcast Downloader was fixed by the developer himself and my listening could continue. So today, after the fact, its time to do a backup. And since I am doing that I may as well list the podcasts that right now have my ears. Here are the names and their rss feeds. 


The History Hour – – – Analysis – – – Great Lives – – – Drama of the Week – – – The Moth – – – From Our Own Correspondent Podcast – – – Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4 – – – Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review – – – Spanarna i P1 – – – Comedy of the Week – – – This American Life – – – The Infinite Monkey Cage – – – Revolutions – – – 99% Invisible – – – BackStory with the American History Guys – – – TED Radio Hour – – – Serial – – – The Why Factor – – – Thinking Allowed – – – A Point of View – – – In Our Time – – – Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything – – – Radio Diaries – – – The Truth – – – Fugitive Waves with The Kitchen Sisters – – – the memory palace – – – The Allusionist – – – Reply All – – – TLDR – – – Four Thought – – – Death, Sex & Money – – – Gastropod – – – Lore – – – No Such Thing As A Fish – – – Us & Them – – – Criminal – – – Life of the Law – – – Vox’s The Weeds – – – Intersection – – – Imaginary Worlds – – – KCRW’s UnFictional – – – The New Yorker Radio Hour – – – Radiolab – – – Invisibilia – – – Planet Money – – – Hidden Histories of the Information Age – – – Results May Vary Podcast Podcast: Design Thinking for Living – – – Popaganda – – – KCRW’s Here Be Monsters – – – The Philosopher’s Arms – – – Note to Self – – – Strangers – – – Esquire Classic Podcast – – – The Documentary – – – Moral Maze – – – The Heart – – – Radio Motherboard – – – 2 Dope Queens – – – Codebreaker – – – Longform – – – Call Your Girlfriend – – – For Colored Nerds – – – Imagine Otherwise – – – There Goes the Neighborhood – – – Monocle 24: The Urbanist – – – Audio long reads – – – Code Switch – – – The History of Rome – – – Bildningspodden – – – Radiolab Presents: More Perfect – – – Reasonably Sound – – – Flash Forward – – – The Nerdist – – – The History of English Podcast – – – The New York Public Library Podcast – – – You Must Remember This – – – Philosophize This! – – – PhDivas – – – Revisionist History – – – LIFE101.audio – – – ReLearning Podcast

Some of these I have been following for a long time, others I have gone back to listen to their whole back catalog (some may not longer be coming out with new episodes and I really need to delete them). Then there is some new stuff for me like PhDivas, of which I have only listened to one episode so far. And some I have just been released – like Life101 which is Mike Wesch’s new podcast project.                                                                                                file5                                               file4file6







The post crash and end of summer is a good time to go through my feed and begin prepping for the start of term – even when it comes to podcasts.



A decade of Web 2.0

I am a big fan of the online journal First Monday so its always a thrill when I have an article published with them. This time it’s even more fun since it’s a special issue A decade of Web 2.0 — Reflections, critical perspectives, and beyond

In 2008, First Monday published a special issue entitled “Critical perspectives on Web 2.0” — bringing together a diverse group of scholars to “expose, explore and explain the ideological meanings and the social, political, and ethical implications of Web 2.0” This special issue examines many concerns that have evolved over time with the greater use and abuse of the Web and its incredible integration into global society.

The list of articles is really cool

Our article on the Domestication of Online Activism has been a long time in the writing process so I am very happy that it’s finally out!

How the political system fails its citizens

There are many posts online explaining what is happening in the crazy world of politics and many of them contain great details. I came across this one on Quora. Its long and it is trying to predict but the best part is the “why things are wrong analysis” which feels spot on. Check out Between Trump and Clinton who will win US presidential election?

The post addresses three main issues:

Trump’s rise stems from three major, interrelated factors.
1. The American political system has failed the majority of its citizens.
2. The American people, or rather large swathes of them, are politically ignorant. It’s important to not take this as an insult although I know many of you will anyway. There is nothing pejorative about the word ignorant. I for example am ignorant of many things- the rules of baseball, how to perform open heart surgery, how to express the likely path of a tornado as a mathematical equation and so on. Not knowing these things does not make me stupid or a bad person, I just never took the time to learn them.
3. The level of sophistry and distraction from real issues has reached such fever-pitch that few now trust anything that is said by media and politicians alike.

My focus of interest was on point 1 how the American political system has developed into the thing it is. Ian Jackson writes in an engaging humorous way and hits most of the main points as to why the system has become the way it has.

Erotic Canoe

This must be one of the best headlines ever This Japanese Artist Was Fined for Distributing Plans to 3-D–Print Replicas of Her Vagina. It gets better when the model Rokude Nashiko is distributing is a kayak.

So it seems like its not illegal in Japan to make a mould of your vagina and turn it into a canoe – it is however illegal to distribute the specs…

On 8 May 2016, the court handed down its decision. She was found not guilty of the charges related to the kayak, on the grounds that the sculpture, with its bright colour and decoration, “did not immediately suggest female anatomy”, in the words of the BBC report. However, she was found guilty of the charges related to the 3D data, and was fined 400 000 yen, about half what the prosecution had suggested was appropriate. Wikipedia