Today’s Links

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza’s examines the Obama Administration’s institutionalization of Bush-era surveillance policies.

In recent years, Americans have become accustomed to the idea of advertisers gathering wide swaths of information about their private transactions. The N.S.A.’s collecting of data looks a lot like what Facebook does, but it is fundamentally different. It inverts the crucial legal principle of probable cause: the government may not seize or inspect private property or information without evidence of a crime. The N.S.A. contends that it needs haystacks in order to find the terrorist needle.

Sherry Turkle reflects on our documented lives in the New York Times.

Technology doesn’t just do things for us. It does things to us, changing not just what we do but who we are. The selfie makes us accustomed to putting ourselves and those around us “on pause” in order to document our lives. It is an extension of how we have learned to put our conversations “on pause” when we send or receive a text, an image, an email, a call. When you get accustomed to a life of stops and starts, you get less accustomed to reflecting on where you are and what you are thinking.

A new poll finds that a majority think that police are becoming too militarized.

Policing in the United States has seen rapid militarization, fueled by the war-like mentality that comes with the “drug war,” as well as by the abundance of military surplus available to local police departments from the federal government, especially since 9/11.

My grandfather flew in the Air Force. My parents met in the Baylor Air Force ROTC program. I was born at an Air Force hospital. Robert Farley argues in Foreign Affairs that we should dissolve the armed services branch that has had a profound effect on my life.

With the benefit of hindsight, the United States should fold the U.S. Air Force back into its two sibling services, the army and the navy. Done properly, such a reform could improve military readiness, cut mounting and unsustainable defense costs, and refocus the Pentagon on preparing for the fights of the future.

A National Journal poll found that a majority of Americans support tougher food-stamp eligibility requirements.

The results suggest that the country welcomes Republican efforts to cut and reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a rarity for a party at odds with public opinion on issues like gun control, entitlement reform, and immigration. Democrats’ opposition, meanwhile, shows they’re squarely out of step with the public.

William James on character and good intentions:

No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one have not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better. With mere good intentions, hell is proverbially paved.

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