Watched A bold idea to replace politicians by César Hidalgo from ted.com
César Hidalgo has a radical suggestion for fixing our broken political system: automate it! In this provocative talk, he outlines a bold idea to bypass politicians by empowering citizens to create personalized AI representatives that participate directly in democratic decisions. Explore a new way to make collective decisions and expand your understanding of democracy.

“It’s not a communication problem, it’s a cognitive bandwidth problem.”—César Hidalgo

He’s definitely right about the second part, but it’s also a communication problem because most of political speech is nuanced toward the side of untruths and covering up facts and potential outcomes to represent the outcome the speaker wants. There’s also far too much of our leaders saying “Do as I say (and attempt to legislate) and not as I do.” Examples include things like legislators working to actively take away things like abortion or condemn those who are LGBTQ when they actively do those things for themselves or their families or live out those lifestyles in secret.

“One of the reasons why we use Democracy so little may be because Democracy has a very bad user interface and if we improve the user interface of democracy we might be able to use it more.”—César Hidalgo

This is an interesting idea, but definitely has many pitfalls with respect to how we know AI systems currently work. We’d definitely need to start small with simpler problems and build our way up to the more complex. However, even then, I’m not so sure that the complexity issues could ultimately be overcome. On it’s face it sounds like he’s relying too much on the old “clockwork” viewpoint of phyiscs, though I know that obviously isn’t (or couldn’t be) his personal viewpoint. There’s a lot more pathways for this to become a weapon of math destruction currently than the utopian tool he’s envisioning.

🎞 Ocean’s Eight (2018) | Warner Bros. | ★★★

Watched Ocean's Eight (2018) from Warner Bros.
Directed by Gary Ross. With Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling. Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City's yearly Met Gala.

Pretty solid, but missing some zing and more complicated plotting compared to the others.

Rating:

📺 June 25, 2019 – PBS NewsHour | PBS

Watched June 25, 2019 - PBS NewsHour from PBS
Tuesday on the NewsHour, the acting head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection has resigned after roughly two months in the position, at a time when legislation around immigration and border management hangs in the balance. Plus: The cultural impact of the Stonewall Riots, policy around period products, sexual assault allegations against President Trump and a book on “The Death of Politics.”

🎞 The Firm (1993) | Paramount Pictures | ★★★★

Watched The Firm (1993) from Paramount Pictures
Directed by Sydney Pollack. With Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Hal Holbrook. A young lawyer joins a prestigious law firm only to discover that it has a sinister dark side.

Always a good watch.

Rating:

📺 "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj" Content Moderation and Free Speech | Netflix

Watched "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj" Content Moderation and Free Speech from Netflix
Directed by Richard A. Preuss. With Hasan Minhaj, Joyelle Johnson. Hasan explains how social media giants Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and Twitter abuse their right to free speech to prevent anyone from regulating their shady business practices, and does a quick follow-up on his Saudi Arabia episode.

Sampling. Sadly not quite as funny as I would have expected. Perhaps a bit bored with this particular episode, but only because it’s a subject matter in which I’m over-versed.

🎞 Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) | Walt Disney Pictures | ★★★★

Watched Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) from Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by Ron Howard. With Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover. During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.

A fun little romp with some creative origin stories.

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🎞 Murder Mystery (2019) ★★★ | Netflix

Watched Murder Mystery (2019) from Netflix

Murder Mystery poster

Directed by Kyle Newacheck. With Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Luke Evans, Terence Stamp. A New York cop and his wife go on a European vacation to reinvigorate the spark in their marriage, but end up getting framed and on the run for the death of an elderly billionaire.

Slow first act. Not as bad as I expected it would be. Not as funny either.

Rating:

🎞 Working Girl (1988) | Twentieth Century Fox

Watched Working Girl (1988) from Twentieth Century Fox
Directed by Mike Nichols. With Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin. When a secretary's idea is stolen by her boss, she seizes an opportunity to steal it back by pretending she has her boss' job.

DVRed from cable; watched on television

You hear the opening title music and you immediately know what you’re watching even though you haven’t seen this in decades…

Holy crap their 80’s hair is high and insane. What were people thinking?!

Interesting to re-watch this in a post me-too era. Somewhat bizarre to see Kevin Spacey play an assaulter in the opening act. Art imitating life?

This really did have some awesome casting. Bully to Juliet Taylor with Ellen Lewis as her associatet. Many of the smaller players became bigger later or have done some interesting character work hereafter. Zach Grenier in an early turn hitting on Weaver at her office party. He really is underappreciated. This is one of his first big film appearance. Most will recognize him from his break through role in Fight Club as the overbearing boss. Quick turn by Leslie Ayvazian as a receptionist… Ricki Lake with a short appearance as a bridesmaid. Apparently David Duchovny had a role in one of the bar scenes, but I didn’t really catch it. Kind of cool to see Amy Aquino as the assistant at the end of the picture. I recognized her name in the credits having appreciated her in Bosch (Amazon) recently, but kept waiting for her to pop up. And wow! That curly hair!

📺 Is that a toothpick or a flux capacitor? Oh wait, it’s Google Sheets. | Domains 2019 | Jeff Everhart, Tom Woodward, Matt Roberts

Watched Is that a toothpick or a flux capacitor? Oh wait, it's Google Sheets. by Jeff Everhart, Tom Woodward, Matt Roberts from Domains 2019 | YouTube

Are you looking for low stakes ways to store and display data? Welp, here’s Google Sheets. Do you want to automate all of the boring parts of your job and sip a drink on a beach somewhere? Looks like you owe Google Sheets a beer. Have you ever wanted to build a lightweight full stack application without spinning up an orchestrated Docker container cluster running on AWS using Typescript that has 90% unit test coverage. Well, hold on to your hats, cause Google Sheets is about to hit 88 MPH while keeping your molecular structure intact.

At VCU’s ALT Lab, we’ve used Google Sheets to build educational experiences that range from novel, to complex, to entirely absurd. Brace yourself for temporal displacement and a little but of JavaScript.

There’s some low-level stuff here that could be dovetailed with IFTTT.com to do some simple automation for maybe doing Snarfed’s backfeed problem.

📺 Old School Web Hosting at an Anything-But-Old-School University | Domains 2019 | Zach Coble, Ashley Maynor

Watched Old School Web Hosting at an Anything-But-Old-School University by Zach Coble, Ashley Maynor from YouTube

While many universities strive to offer the latest and greatest tech support and IT services to support innovation, at NYU, we’ve found that old school style web hosting fills an important need and service gap for digital pedagogy, digital humanities, and other forms of innovation and creativity on campus. Offered through the NYU Libraries, our simplified, down-to-earth service is easy to manage with a small team and integrates into a larger ecosystem of digital publishing services and support on campus. Come hear about our approach and the strengths and weaknesses we’ve encountered in our three years of offering the service.

A bit dry from my perspective, but this could be interesting to people new to managing a larger Domains project or considering doing so.

Listening to this I’m surprised they don’t have a more institutionalized version of a Homebrew Website Club set up to allow their user base to help each other.

📺 "Monty Python’s Flying Circus" Whither Canada? | Netflix

Watched "Monty Python's Flying Circus" Whither Canada? from Netflix
Directed by John Howard Davies, Ian MacNaughton. With Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones. 'It's Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart', Famous Deaths, Italian Lesson, Whizzo Butter, 'It's the Arts', Arthur "Two-Sheds" Jackson, Cycling Race, and The Funniest Joke in the World.

Somehow this hasn’t aged as well as one might expect.

📺 Generous thinking with Kathleen Fitzpatrick | The Future Trends Forum

Watched Generous thinking with Kathleen Fitzpatrick by Bryan AlexanderBryan Alexander from YouTube

How can we reimagine higher education? The Future Trends Forum met with Kathleen Fitzpatrick to explore her new book, Generous Thinking.

Kathleen Fitzgerald mentions Data Feminism by Lauren Klein and Catherine D’Ignazio (MIT Press) which they’re doing as open review similar to how she did her prior two books.

Kathleen indicates that she uses a Scrivener based environment for writing.

As I watch portions of this, I can’t help but think that Kathleen Fitzgerald and some of the discussion around her new book Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University might make an intriguing guest on Alan Alda’s Clear + Vivid podcast. Some of her thoughts on listening and empathy are incredibly valuable, particularly as they relate to higher education and even science communication.