Politics

The struggle is real.

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American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.

– Henry Wallace

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The term “grey goo problem” was coined by nanotechnology pioneer K. Eric Drexler in his 1986 book Engines of Creation. It supposed a self-replicating nanobot going out of control and in a “sorcerer’s apprentice” way, recognizing NO stopping point for self-duplication. The Earth is left as a lifeless desert of “grey goo”, composed of the bodies of the nanobots.

This scenario joined the library of science fiction plots where it continues to appear.  In 2004 he stated, “I wish I had never used the term ‘gray goo’.” He was probably conducting a form of due diligence by considering bad outcomes as well as good. As time has gone by, grey goo has been debunked as a concern in various ways (look it up if you are interested I’m not here to explore all that).

But there are other environments and other bots.

The Internet became a primary human environment at lightning speed, filling up with websites that represented more and more real societal institutions. Initially, they were mostly billboards for providing information. Gradually these online presences became interactive and even took over as the “real world”, the business end of everything. The isolation of solitary individuals running errands on the web protected society up to this point. That collapsed when we embraced social media and were reborn as mobs composed of socially isolated individuals. Continue reading

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(Selections from)

By Hannah Arendt

  • “One of the greatest advantages of the totalitarian elites of the twenties and thirties was to turn any statement of fact into a question of motive.”
  • “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”
  • “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
  • In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow.
  • The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”
  • “The outstanding negative quality of the totalitarian elite is that it never stops to think about the world as it really is and never compares the lies with reality.”
  • “True goal of totalitarian propaganda is not persuasion, but organization of the polity. … What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably part.”
  • “Caution in handling generally accepted opinions that claim to explain whole trends of history is especially important for the historian of modern times, because the last century has produced an abundance of ideologies that pretend to be keys to history but are actually nothing but desperate efforts to escape responsibility.”
  • “Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest—forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries. It is as though mankind had divided itself between those who believe in human omnipotence (who think that everything is possible if one knows how to organize masses for it) and those for whom powerlessness has become the major experience of their lives.”
  • “Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.”
    “Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow.”
  • “Nothing perhaps illustrates the general disintegration of political life better than this vague, pervasive hatred of everybody and everything, without a focus for its passionate attention, with nobody to make responsible for the state of affairs—neither the government nor the bourgeoisie nor an outside power. It consequently turned in all directions, haphazardly and unpredictably, incapable of assuming an air of healthy indifference toward anything under the sun.”
  • “To them, violence, power, cruelty, were the supreme capacities of men who had definitely lost their place in the universe and were much too proud to long for a power theory that would safely bring them back and reintegrate them into the world. They were satisfied with blind partisanship in anything that respectable society had banned, regardless of theory or content, and they elevated cruelty to a major virtue because it contradicted society’s humanitarian and liberal hypocrisy.”
  • “Factuality itself depends for its continued existence upon the existence of the nontotalitarian world.”
  • “Revolutionary action more often than not was a theatrical concession to the desires of violently discontented masses rather than an actual battle for power.”
  • “The truth is that the masses grew out of the fragments of a highly atomized society whose competitive structure and concomitant loneliness of the individual had been held in check only through membership in a class. The chief characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships. Coming from the class-ridden society of the nation-state, whose cracks had been cemented with nationalistic sentiment, it is only natural that these masses, in the first helplessness of their new experience, have tended toward an especially violent nationalism, to which mass leaders have yielded against their own instincts and purposes for purely demagogic reasons.”
  • “The most striking difference between ancient and modern sophists is that the ancients were satisfied with a passing victory of the argument at the expense of truth, whereas the moderns want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality”
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Gender study finds 90% of people are biased against women

A new UN report has found at least 90% of men and women hold some sort of bias against females. The “Gender Social Norms” index analyzed biases in areas such as politics and education in 75 countries. There are no countries in the world with gender equality, the study found.

Pedro Conceição, head of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office said: “We have come a long way in recent decades to ensure that women have the same access to life’s basic needs as men. But gender gaps are still all too obvious in other areas, particularly those that challenge power relations and are most influential in actually achieving true equality. Today. the fight about gender equality is a story of bias and prejudices.”

  • Globally, close to 50% of men said they had more right to a job than women. Almost a third of respondents thought it was acceptable for men to hit their partners.
  • Zimbabwe had the highest amount of bias with only 0.27% of people reporting no gender bias at all. At the other end of the scale was Andorra where 72% of people reported no bias.
  • In Zimbabwe, 96% of people expressed a bias against women’s physical integrity – a measure covering support for violence against women and opposition to reproductive rights. In the Philippines, 91% of people held views that were detrimental to women’s physical integrity.
  • According to the report, about half of the world’s men and women feel that men make better political leaders.
  • In China, 55% of people thought men were better suited to be political leaders.
  • Around 39% of people in the US, which is yet to have a female president, thought men made better leaders. Globally, 40% of people thought men made better business executives. In the UK, 25% of people thought men should have more right to a job than women and said men made better business executives than women did. In India, that figure was 69%.

Share of seats in parliament held by women

Region Percentage
Arab States 18.3
East Asia & Pacific 20.3
Europe & Central Asia 21.2
Latin America & the Caribbean 31
South Asia 17.1
Sub-Saharan Africa 23.5
Source: United Nations Development Programme

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I’m trying something new, Podcasting! It’s not especially high quality yet, but I’ll get there! I think my work has value. But I also think expecting people to wade through some of it is like asking them to lake dive for quarters on the bottom.

Conservative vs Progressive: Cultural Homeostasis

Tension Force: Cohesion from Opposition

Intoduction

Familiar Patterns

Patterns, cont.

It Isn’t About Logic

Context Matters

Today

 

 

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THE NARCISSIST’S PRAYER:

That didn’t happen.
And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
And if it was, that’s not a big deal. 
And if it is, that’s not my fault.
And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
And if I did… You deserved it.

 

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Marcus Tullius Cicero writing 2000 years ago on our hollowed-out foundations in the age of Trump. 

  1. Laws are silent in time of war.
  2. The enemy is within the gates; it is with our own luxury, our own folly, our own criminality that we have to contend.
  3. Orators are most vehement when their cause is weak.
  4. When you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff.
  5. Nothing is more unreliable than the populace, nothing more obscure than human intentions, nothing more deceptive than the whole electoral system.
  6. It might be pardonable to refuse to defend some men, but to defend them negligently is nothing short of criminal.
  7. The false is nothing but an imitation of the true.
  8. The sinews of war are infinite money.
  9. It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and to forget his own.
  10. The higher we are placed, the more humbly we should walk.
  11. A liar is not believed even though he tells the truth.

 

 

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And their vision of our future

The soft brutality of crappy algorithms, and how this model delivers blunt reflections of prejudice.

Corporations don’t want our opinions with the nuances and compassion still attached. They capture a causally harsh picture of us and that picture is reflected in the development of the only tools we have to communicate with each other…which reinforces its impact on society.

  • Virtually all internet hubs traffic in this lowest-common-denominator model, embracing and broadcasting our worst and weakest traits as norms. How do we fight this?
  • Whatever systems we have for societal healing and repair (do we have any?) are drowned in a flood of unanticipated impacts.
  • How will these results affect the assumptions built into business and social planning?
  • How will those plans reinforce our tacit assumptions about each other?

Emil Protalinski, writing for VentureBeat: At the Movethedial Global Summit in Toronto yesterday, I listened intently to a talk titled “No polite fictions: What AI reveals about humanity.” Kathryn Hume, Borealis AI’s director of product, listed a bunch of AI and algorithmic failures — we’ve seen plenty of that. But it was how Hume described algorithms that really stood out to me. “Algorithms are like convex mirrors that refract human biases, but do it in a pretty blunt way,” Hume said. “They don’t permit polite fictions like those that we often sustain our society with.” I really like this analogy. It’s probably the best one I’ve heard so far, because it doesn’t end there. Later in her talk, Hume took it further, after discussing an algorithm biased against black people used to predict future criminals in the U.S.

“These systems don’t permit polite fictions,” Hume said. “They’re actually a mirror that can enable us to directly observe what might be wrong in society so that we can fix it. But we need to be careful, because if we don’t design these systems well, all that they’re going to do is encode what’s in the data and potentially amplify the prejudices that exist in society today.” If an algorithm is designed poorly or — as almost anyone in AI will tell you nowadays — if your data is inherently biased, the result will be too. Chances are you’ve heard this so often it’s been hammered into your brain.

 

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Trump and his wholly compromised attorney general and secretary of state have been seeking international help in discrediting our intelligence services, the Mueller report, etc. This behavior is all about relieving economic sanctions on Russia. Our government is parasitized by an enemy power for their benefit.

Moscow Mitch knows this, of course, and WE know that his goal is for Republicans to retain power. He has an end game he’s been anticipating for months. At a certain point in the multiplying scandals, Donald Trump becomes the thing on fire inside the Republican “car” and Mitch must either boot him or burn too. The timing is essential, neither too near nor too far from the Prez.race.  There will also be a slowly dawning “shocked and saddened” atmosphere generated in the Senate on the downbeat. As support for Trump hollows and thins, there will be a critical point of collapse. Republican strategy is always about loyalty and following orders. When Trump authority vanishes Republicans will follow orders from the highest surviving level of Republican authority…

Without Trump as a candidate, most Republican voters will “eat what they’re given”.  Perhaps it will be a surviving Pence but I suspect he’s filthy with complicity and won’t escape.  A guy like Mitt Romney actually COULD get elected in the resulting chaos and he would look like a knight in armor coming to rescue the party. Nikki Haley apparently beats all the dem candidates in a current survey (not confirmed by me). The only real difference in governing would be coherent international policies and ending self-destructive tariff nonsense. This is how the Republicans can win so it is what they will do. 

Democrats need to stop imagining only best-case scenarios for themselves when picturing the 2020 election. We aren’t going to get them. 

 

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