Saturday, May 30, 2009

I Am a Blog Post About [I Am A]. Ask Me Anything.

I am a new reddit that's gotten quite popular in the last couple days. I am a reddit where you can ask Priests, Marines, Ex-Junkies, Diggerati, and yes a "21-year old chick" everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask. Are you "ask me anyting" worthy? Introduce yourself and share the enlightenment. I Am A Strange Loop.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Reddit Toolbar celebrates 3.5th anniversary, becomes lickable

Last month, it seemed like everyone was talking about toolbars.

Reddit, of course, has had a toolbar since 2005. (You might not have known that, however, since it's always been an opt-in feature.)

The site has come a long way in the past four years, but this small piece of code has been more or less left alone even as the rest of the site changed all around it.

We thought it was time for a little makeover. We knew we didn't want to make any major functional changes, or start forcing it upon anyone, but we did want to make it prettier, snappier, and generally easier to use.

So we're excited (in a low-key way) to unveil the new and improved Reddit Toolbar 2.0.

You can read all about it on the help page, or take it for a test-drive here. (Props to ketralnis for doing most of the difficult coding while I was fiddling with the gradient and working on an Easter Egg.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

reddit.TV got tiny (well, its URLs did)

reddit.TV has been getting a ton of attention since our launch and you've provided us with a lot of feedback.

One thing we didn't expect was that apps like TweetDeck would hate on our URL because forward slashes after a hash are verboten. So it goes.

As a result, we've built shortened reddit.TV URLs.

They may be smaller, but the still pack the same wallop of reddit.TV goodness.

Thanks for your continued feedback, it's been quite valuable. We're working on version 2 of redditAll right now -- and reddit schwag that you can hug. Joy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ask Zach Weiner, creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, anything you want

Comics.reddit is interviewing Zach Weiner, creator of SMBC (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal). If you've been reading reddit at all, you've likely stumbled across one of his comics.

Well, Zach and Kelly (his fiancée) visited reddit HQ and we bribed him into doing a reddit interview. He even doodled this charming reddit alien you see to the right. It's since been haunting my dreams.

Now's your chance to journey into his mind, bring adequate rations and a taste for adventure. You can even ask him about his new kid-friendly project, Snowflakes.

He's agreed to answer all of your top-voted questions in this thread right here. You've got until noon Pacific on Saturday (obviously), May 30th.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

reddit and twitter

We've generally been pretty slow to hop on bandwagons and Twitter has been no exception.

That said, we've got some reddit feeds we think are worth a follow.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Winner of the 6 degrees of chocolate bacon contest announced - behold the winning entry

Thanks to all of you who participated, your love of bacon ought to be enough of a prize for each of you. Alas, that still won't put bacon in your belly. So, here's the winner of the 6 degrees of chocolate-bacon contest:
Chocolate is in South America with Cocaine.
Cocaine is in prostitutes with politicians.
Politicians are in Washington with Ron Paul.
Ron Paul is in a religion with Creationists.
Creationists are in the Midwest with Cows.
Cows are in Artiodactyla with Pigs.
Pigs are associated with the Swine Flu.
The Swine Flu is transmitted through BACON.
A redditor who goes by Rickeon had the highest scoring entry and will be shipped a package of Boss Hog's Bacon Sueyts. Congrats, and do let us know what you think of them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Six Degrees of Chocolate Bacon: Now's your chance to win some

Baconfreak, our bacon partner, is launching a new bacon product this week and wanted to share it with us first. So, here's a contest that'll win you some free chocolate bacon.

Six degrees of chocolate-bacon:
Build a chain of ingredients, starting with chocolate and ending with bacon. Each should be traditional pairings. Submit them in the comments here, where the bacon.reddit community will vote for the most original.

For instance:
The highest voted eligible entry by tomorrow afternoon (May 21st) @ 3pm Pacific will be declared the winner and he/she will enjoy a box of Boss Hog's Bacon Sueyts. Ties will be won by whomever submitted first -- or a duel, whichever is easier for us to do.

Do'h! A Deer! - redditors break into song

This recent WTF picture (hopefully fake) provoked an epic lyric thread. redditors quickly turned this into an actual song and put it on the youtube. They even subtitles so that you can sing-a-long.

Mr_A asked ProximaC , who posted the first lyric "Do'h! A Deer!":
"Did you have ANY idea what you were about to unleash when you posted this?"

ProximaC replied:
"Absolutely no idea. I stand in awe of my fellow redditors ability to take a simple Simpsons quote and turn it into something truly spectacular."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Interview with Greg Bear teaser now online

We should have the full interview up by week's end. But in the meantime, here's the teaser of scifi.reddit's interview with author Greg Bear, who kindly invited us to his home to film it. He really enjoyed your questions.

Alas, we didn't have Erik to help us with this one - forgive the quality.

What does it take for your video to do well on reddit? Wearing a reddit shirt doesn't hurt

Want your video to do well on reddit? It doesn't hurt to wear a reddit shirt in it. Case in point: This Tesla Roadster test-drive video is rocketing up technology.reddit.

NIN tickets awarded - lucky redditor only 2 followers off

Well, it's time to mail out some NIN tickets. Thanks to all of our participants, but alas, there can only be one winner.

I've got screenshot of Trent Reznor's Twitter account that shows 526,786 followers.

Winner: sc8nt4u, who guessed 526,784.

Well done. Your tickets will be mailed as soon as I get a mailing address. Have fun with Chris and Jeremy -- I'll be jealous in Oregon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

reddit has 2 tickets for you to see Nine Inch Nails in Mountain View this Friday

So I snagged 4 box seats for the NIN show next Friday in Mountain View. It was all thanks to a silent auction for a fantastic non-profit called the Glow Foundation.

Despite being a huge fan (still fanboyishly cherishing the signature on the ticket from an MSG show a few years ago), I've got to be on a plane during the show. This fail was assuaged by the fact that I got to gift two of the tickets to Keysersosa and Jedberg (also NIN fans), but that leaves two remaining.

How'd you like a chance to win a pair of tickets to see NIN and enjoy the night alongside two members of team reddit? Here's how to win:

Guess the number of Twitter followers @trent_reznor will have at exactly 23:59 Pacific tonight. Entries must be made by 23:00 Pacific.
  1. Write your guesses in as comments on this reddit thread (it's the only place they'll count)
  2. Closest one without going over will be the winner
  3. Comments with an asterisk (that have been edited) will be disqualified
  4. One guess per redditor (only redditors that existed at the time of this post are eligible)
  5. If two people guess the same correct number, the first commenter wins (and might take the loser as his/her date -- no promises)
  6. Only Twitter accounts created at the time of this post will count toward the total
At the time of this posting, @trent_reznor has 523,220 followers. Meanwhile, @kn0thing has 1,771 and @reddit has 1,648. That really puts it all in perspective.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Teaser: Interview with Greg Bear went splendidly, video being edited

Despite how serious he looks in this photo,
he was quite laid back --
until we asked him to pick between Kirk and Picard.
Chris and I traveled north to meet with Greg Bear, who so kindly offered to answer the top questions asked by you, the reddit community.

He was a generous host (even had a tripod for us to borrow) and a smart, affable interviewee. The SciFi (not SyFy) reddit chose well.

We don't have Erik's videography skills, but we'll do our best to replicate the greatness of the Adam Savage interview.

Monday, May 11, 2009

reddit.TV update: new themes and a ton of press

Amidst a long week of press, reddit.TV scored some new themes. By popular demand, there's now a light text on black theme.

In case you missed it, there was a bit of discussion about the reddit.TV launch, some in languages we don't even understand. Let us know if we missed your review and if you haven't tried it yet, do a little channel-surfing on reddit.TV.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

redditors Help Unite a Family - A Special Mother's Day Follow-Up

A couple weeks ago redditor Wannamaker posted that he was Finally going to try and call his birth mother after 21 years. He posted a few of the details that he knew about his birth mother, and asked if anyone knew her. He was mainly posting his story to get "a word of encouragement or at least a funny joke or two," but redditors being the caring internet detectives they are went one step further. redditor -___- quickly found a lead which turned out to be wannamaker's birth mother. Wannamaker talked to his mother, and they will be meeting in person this summer (reddit t-shirts will be there). Since this story was tops on reddit and so many people were following it, we caught up with wannamaker and asked him a few questions. Make sure you read his special comment to the reddit community at the end - It'll make you feel good.

Q: When did you first discover reddit?
A: About two years ago, I started on Digg, and then a good friend of mine had left reddit up and I clicked through it for a while. I then made my internet boredom include both digg and reddit, yet slowly but surely phased digg out all together.

Q: What inspired you to start looking for your birth mom? had you searched previously?
A: two years ago my sister became inflicted with this unknown blood disease that required to get transfusions every week. I had always wanted to find my birth parents but had never started going through the documents to start my search. My parents began searching for my sisters birth parents records to see if they could ask some medical history questions to try and diagnose her disease. In the process they found records of my mother that they shared with me. I hired a PI to help try and locate her for me, which is how I got the basic information that I gave to reddit.

Q: Why did you ask reddit for help searching? did you expect to hear anything back?
A: I didn't expect to ask reddit at all. I had two phone numbers that the private investigator had given me, as well as her name with her new last name from a marriage. I figured that I could get a word of encouragement or at least a funny joke or two from putting up a post telling reddit that I was going to finally call these numbers i had for years and to wish me luck. I was reading through the comments and about to call the numbers.. getting a lot of just call her already statements, I finally called. Both of the numbers were disconnected. I was pretty upset about it, just because i had built up having this awkward phone convo, and so I posted a single comment asking if anyone wanted to help me find her. 10 minutes later i get a link sent took me to, and I found two different facebook profiles for a Shelly Lowry in CA. and i had not expected reddit to find them. I sent out two messages to these random women asking if either of them had put a child up for adoption in 1988 and about an hour later saw a 1 next to my inbox messages . I opened up the message and the first thing i saw was Yes, I did, and he had your exact same birthday. I didn't even open up the message at first I just went and had a cigarette to try and get my heart to start back. Needless to say i was overly excited and then added her as a friend and then talked to her on facebook chat for hours just asking her questions and telling her about my life. That's pretty much it.

Q: How does it feel to have all this happen in a public forum?
A: Well the fact that this was out for the entire interwebs to see could have gone either way in terms of how I felt about it. I absolutlely never in my life expected that post to get to number 1 and stay there for so long, and have so much input on it from so many people. And im sure that if the tone of responses was more critical or mocking or what.. I guess more 4channy... I would have been a little less happy about it. But it wasn't that at all, almost everybody was just pooping rainbows of happy kittens all over the post, and it seemed to make a lot of people smile. Now as for all this personal information being out there, I couldn't care less. there isn't anything too personal about my self I wouldnt want everyone knowing about.

Q: Any questions for reddit?
A: As for questions for reddit.. When are you going to do that great idea someone had a long time ago about having directional lines to discern comment thread distinctions. Instead of having to just judge its indention on the page. That's the only question. Though I would like to comment to reddit, you should not only view yourself as a website for fun, or entertainment, or as a warrior against productivity and boredom, but you should be fucking proud to be here. You should be proud of the users you attract, and you should be proud of the way you run your orginization. You do a great job. And as I've said thousands of times now, thank you, thank you so fucking much.

We are proud that the reddit community had a part to play in making this meeting possible and we wish them many smiles and roffles for their reunion.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms on reddit!

Conservative Philosopher John Kekes Answers redditors' Questions

Conservative author and political philosopher John Kekes generously answered the top questions from [philosophy]. Prof. Kekes wanted to clarify a few points before diving into the Q & A.

Before answering the questions, I want to make some things clear. By conservatism (C. from here on) I mean my version of it, but there of course many other versions. My version is skeptical and fallibilist (not metaphysical or fideist); pluralist about values (not monist or relativist); traditionalist (not communitarian or individualist); and realistic about our basic ambivalence toward rationality and morality (not optimistic or pessimistic). C. is committed to no particular view about religion, economics, or sexual practices. C. is fundamentally opposed to all forms left or right-wing ideology. By ideology I mean the combination of a metaphysical view about the nature of reality, an anthropocentric view about the place of human beings in reality, a system of values in which one or a small number of values are regarded as overriding, a diagnosis of why the existing state of affairs falls so far short of what according to the system of values it should be, and a policy of action intended to close the gap between how society presently is and how it ought to be. The full statement of C. is in my The Case for Conservatism (Cornell, 1998). - John Kekes

Many thanks to John Kekes for his time and insight, and thanks to interviewers from [philosophy] for the great questions. If you are interested in learning more, check out Keke's books here. And now the Q&A:


Q #1: How does your philosophy deal with the problems of the Tragedy of the Commons, Prisoner's Dilemma, Stag Hunt, and similar issues?

Put more generally, game theory suggests that actions which individuals "should" take for their own benefit can actually end up negatively impacting themselves to a much greater extent than they would see had they not done so. (As a recent real-world example, banks
that pushed for deregulation so they could make more money ended up losing money in part because of the impact of deregulation on the other banks.) How can libertarian / conservative government successfully deal with this sort of problem? -

John Kekes: this question is much too general for me to know how to answer it. What particular part of C. is called into question by what particular game theoretical problem? The question needs to be made concrete before I could give a sensible answer to it. Furthermore, I cannot accept the “libertarian/conservative” assumption. C. has no connection with libertarianism, nor with the kind of game theoretical problems that theories with economic commitments must contend with.

Q #2: How does conservatism deal with socially transformative technological innovations for which there are not yet any established traditions? - AbouBenAdhem

JK: The best way of trying to cope with such innovations is to extend existing traditions to cover them. A good example is how the invention of living wills has managed to cope with the problem of how to think about the possibilities created by new life-extending medical technologies. I accept that this s not always possible, that there are genuinely new things under the sun. In order to cope with such novelties, all political theories have to scramble and do as well as possible.

Q #3: In your essay, "What is Conservatism," you list a number of values that the pluralistic conservative will be committed to, noting that such commitments "ought to protect the universal and objective conditions that must be met by all good lives." I wonder if you could expound upon "good lives" and what it means to be a "reasonable external observer" in evaluating "good lives?" The Mafioso, for example, certainly might judge that he is indeed living a good life and properly fulfilling the roles he has in his tradition. To him, being a Mafioso (or Viking, or Inquisitor, or whatever) is what he takes to be constitutive of his self. Given the historical variety in conceptions of morality, the good life, and the important virtues,
what does a reasonable external observer look like? Since we aren't thinking of people as radically disembodied, pre-social, tradition-less, reasoners, how is an external observer able to ever "get outside" his traditions and make "tradition-independent" judgments that should be taken seriously, regardless of one's tradition?

You note that certain traditions can be vicious and need to be altered, but how does one come to such a conclusion? Slavery, after all, worked quite well for the majority of humanity's reign. And, since many slavery-practicing societies couldn't have eliminated it without largely eliminating the society itself, wouldn't the pluralistic conservative resist having, say, a (lesser heeded or even non-extant) value of equality override the practice of slavery in such situations? In a related manner, my worry is that if an agent is "before his time," so to speak, and he advocates for abolition far before the society is historically "ready" for it, then such a person is just wrong in his advocacy; so I'm worried that normativity becomes a function of historical practicality. And, if that's the case, then I'm worried about stagnation, and how a society might never be "ready" to abolish slavery so long as it is always quick to silence the
occasional and errant (and morally wrong?) abolitionist before his views can ever get traction with a larger following.
- drinka40tonight

JK: This is a searching and important question that must be answered by anyone trying to defend a view like C. My answer to it is in the central chapters (3-7) of The Case for Conservatism. I cannot here explain and give my reasons for the answer I have there given, because it would take much too long, but I can indicate the type of answer it is. I think that morality has objective standards and that values can be rationally justified or criticized. As I see it, morality has three levels: universal, social, and individual. The values on the universal level concern the minimum physiological and psychological requirements of human well-being, e.g. sufficient nutrition and the absence of terror. Whether these requirements are met is a question of fact. The values on the social level are the possibilities of life that the traditions of a society provide for those who live in it. The justification of these traditions is that they conform to universal values, endure for a prolonged period (counted in decades, not in months), people voluntarily participate in the traditions (they could choose of not to participate in any of the traditions, and they conceive of the goodness of their own lives partly in terms of the possibilities these traditions provide. On the individual level, people select some of the usually numerous possibilities of life the traditions provide. The justification of individual values is whether the individual in whose conception of a good life the values have central importance are satisfied with their lives (whether they could honestly say that they like the way their life is going, they do not regret major decisions they have made, they are not lastingly angry, resentful, envious, and so forth). I realize that this answer raises many questions. I try to meet them in the chapters to which I refer above.

Q #4: Would you agree that the skepticism and pluralism outlined in your essay "What is Conservatism" are as much a cornerstone of thoughtful liberalism as they are of thoughtful conservatism. And the only real difference between the two lies in the extent to which one believes that traditions are better left to grow and thrive on their own?
- Cole___

JK: I certainly agree that there may be a considerable overlap between some versions of liberalism and C. There are two main differences, as far as I can see, between all versions of liberalism and C. One is that all versions of liberalism suppose that some one value (or a very small number of them) overrides all other values when they conflict, whereas C. thinks that there are no values that always or even regularly override other values that may conflict with them. For instance, according to C., liberty, equality, justice, rights are not overriding values. What matters from the point of view of C. is to defend the system of values that have been traditionally and voluntarily valued by people in a society. For what those values are, see my answer to the last question above. The other difference is that C. takes very seriously the human ambivalence toward rationality and morality, whereas liberals suppose that if people are not corrupted by bad political conditions, then they will act rationally and morally. C. is realistic (not pessimistic) about human nature, whereas liberals are optimistic about it.

Q #5: Why do American conservatives no longer hold pragmatism in any conspicuous regard?
- fuzzo

JK: I cannot think of other American conservatives, with many of whom I have basic disagreements. As for myself, I am very sympathetic to pragmatism. This should be obvious from The Case for Conservatism, as well as from the answers I give above.

Q #6: I was just watching a movie on Hulu about the evils of Monsanato - their greed and the killing of diversity in plant species. I was talking to a co-worker about the movie and he shared a story about his friend who made a farming commercial for Monsanto. He makes 500 US every time the commercial airs anywhere and he also got a credit card with unlimited spending for two weeks in Florida for a big convention.

My point is - Despite the fact that Monsanto is all that is greedy and wrong within my value system, I still wanted to be in the farmer's shoes with a commercial for Monsanto making the money - especially after the hard day I put in in my crappy job with minimum pay.

Do you think that maybe this is where evil starts? Do you think that if we all hold good values and stick to them, even if it means we will not have everything our heart desires, our world would be a better place? If I could not be strong enough to refuse to do the commercial
if I had the opportunity, what right do I have to expect other people not to be greedy at other people's expense?

These were just some random thoughts that I was pondering today, in a simple and basic process of self-awareness - You can move onto the next question and leave this be if it does not interest you. Thanks! -

JK: I completely agree that the ultimate answers to political questions hinge on the psychological condition of human beings. I think that political conditions ultimately reflect the motivation of those who live under those conditions. It is not corporations or whatever other institutions that corrupt people, but that corporations or whatever other institutions reflect the corruption of people who create and maintain them. Human motivation is basic, human institutions are derivative. If the institutions are bad, it is because people who create or maintain them are bad.

Q #7: In your essay you state that conservatives don’t want to “formulate a general theory that provides a blueprint for a good society.” Yet you admit that traditionalism is a central component of conservatism. Can you see the problem between claiming tradition and claiming to avoid a blueprint? In this way, can you see the irony in portraying liberalism or socialism as less skeptical of society and with an “illusion of human perfectibility?”

- sentientpineapple

JK: What I have in mind in opposing blueprints is my rejection of all ideological approaches to politics. (See my opening remarks as an explanation of what I mean by ideology). A blueprint contains a basic and specific value or principle designed to resolve conflicts between values, principles, and interests. I deny that there is such a basic and specific value, principle, or interest. This is precisely the point of the combination of pluralism and skepticism that is an essential part of C. Liberals do not accept this kind of pluralism. Rawls thinks his two principles are overriding; Dworkin thinks that equality is the overriding value; Berlin thinks that rights are absolute; Mill in On Liberty thinks that it is liberty; Nozick thinks that it is rights; and so forth. If there are liberals who accept my kind of pluralism, then my disagreement with them is reduced to disagreement between their optimistic and my realistic view of human nature.

Q #8: Do you side with Leo Strauss in that historicism, simply put, is one of the greatest threats to our American culture? Why/why not? -

JK: If by historicism is meant relativism, then I certainly agree that it is a very serious threat, because it is committed to regarding all values as arbitrary. The result is that it denies that there is a rational way of coping with conflicts among values. By denying it, it denies one of the fundamental conditions of civilized life.

Q #9: Would you say you believe in the existence of evil on scientific grounds? - cometparty

JK: I don’t know what you mean by “scientific grounds”. If you mean to ask whether I believe that it is a fact that there are evil people and actions, my answer is certainly yes.

Q #10: Professor Kekes, I appreciate this opportunity to pose a question on conservatism.

I am particularly puzzled how one can judge whether something is morally allowable according to conservatism. You did state in your essay, "What is Conservatism?", how one may solve various problem refering to history and tradition with moderate skepticism. However, there are cases where abhorent things are held to be morally good in some society. And if not morally good, it is at least allowable. How can a conservative in that society know that the conduct that is held to be morally good in his society is actually bad.

JK: This is the same question as #3 above, and my answer to it is the same. I agree that this is perhaps the most important question C. must face and answer.

**To all who posed the questions: thank you for taking the time and trouble. I hope you find my answer satisfying. If not, tell me (jonkekes AT nycap DOT rr DOT com) and I will endeavor to do better.**