Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

25 May 2001, 2:36 a.m.

Cold comfort

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I'm racing against a clock to clean, which I really don't want to do. Er, that is to say, I have to clean my apartment by the end of the day. But there is some cold comfort.

Some thoughts on consent.

That Vermont Senator's defection. (Jefford? Jeffords?) Great stuff. This is why I love politics: loopholes.

And the knee-slapping understatement of the week, from holeburning: "It's hard to be less hip than Andy Rooney." Funnier-at-the-moment statement by same: "I'm not a hard-core Libertarian. I like roads, and schools."

I have reliable advance info that a soonish diary entry by Seth will contain a reference to one of my recent entries.

I received two books that I had wanted -- Stanislaw Lem's The Cyberiad and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. And now I'll have time to read them.

So why do I feel so mediocre? My mood, my abilities, my willpower, my ethics, everything.

Seth, Annalee Newitz, Alexei, and I -- and I don't think any of these people have ever met each other -- agree about the centrality of the problem of informed consent in current thought. Ms. Newitz, basically, asserts that the informed-consent panacea -- for sex, but the implications go much further, to contracts and beyond -- means nothing if people delude themselves, which they do regularly. And if I am interacting with others and want to make sure that I am not being unfair towards them, and I think I am, but they say I'm not, do I trust these delusional people, or trust my own deluded judgment? Poll:

On consent

  • Informed consent is the building block of a rational society.
  • Consent is a useless term that means nothing and is worth less.
  • Somewhere in between.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at