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.

👓 Why a Government Lawyer Argued Against Giving Immigrant Kids Toothbrushes | The Atlantic

Read Why a Government Lawyer Argued Against Giving Immigrant Kids Toothbrushes (The Atlantic)
The sheer effrontery of the government’s argument may be explained, but not excused, by its long backstory.

We certainly have a lot of things we need to fix in this country, but knowing a bit of the history of how we got here may also help to fix the problem. 

👓 The Woodard projection | Jon Udell

Read The Woodard projection by Jon UdellJon Udell (Jon Udell)

In a memorable episode of The West Wing, visitors from the Cartographers for Social Justice upend CJ’s and Josh’s worldviews.

Cartographer: “The Peters projection.”

CJ: “What the hell is that?”

Cartographer: “It’s where you’ve been living this whole time.”

I’m having the same reaction to Colin Woodard’s 2011 book American Nations. He sees North America as three federations of nations. The federation we call the United States comprises nations he calls Yankeedom, New Netherland, The Midlands, Tidewater, Greater Appalachia, The Deep South, El Norte, The Far West, and The Left Coast.

Here’s his definition of a nation:

nation is a group of people who share — or believe they share — a common culture, ethnic origin, language, historical experience, artifacts, and symbols.”

I love the concept of this thesis! Ordering a copy of the book for myself.

I’ve lived in Greater Appalachia, The Deep South, Yankeedom, The Midlands, and the Left Coast and I’ve always unconsciously known many of these borders within culture. It’s often been difficult to describe the subtle cultural shifts and divides between many of these places to others. I can’t wait to read a book that delves into all of it depth.

🎧 Senator Bill Bradley on How We Can All Do Better | Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda

Listened to Senator Bill Bradley on How We Can All Do Better by Alan Alda from Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda

Senator Bill Bradley has an amazing life. He was a Gold medal Olympian, a Rhodes Scholar, a legendary star with the Knicks for 10 years, a United Sates Senator for 12 years. He ran for the Democratic party’s Presidential nomination, and to top it off, he’s the host of the long-running SiriusXM Satellite Radio program – “American Voices.” In this episode, Alan Alda speaks with Sen. Bradley about leading a life of curiosity, learning and service. His stories are fun and he has a lot to say about our fellow Americans. This episode is sponsored by Athletic Greens, visit athleticgrrens.com/alda

🎧 Triangulation 397 Brianna Wu | TWiT.TV

Listened to Triangulation 397 Brianna Wu from TWiT.tv

Jason Howell speaks with Brianna Wu, video game developer and Candidate for US House of Representatives in MA District 8 for 2020. They discuss how she got started in tech, surviving the Gamergate harassment, why she's running for Congress, and more.

Interesting statistics about first time congressional candidates. I loved the way she framed her run for congress as something she would do at least twice since an engineer would look at the problem and know that the first time would be a failure, but that a second attempt would be more likely to win.

🎧 The Daily: What Happened to Lindsey Graham? | New York Times

Listened to The Daily: What Happened to Lindsey Graham? from New York Times

The South Carolina Republican was once a vehement Trump critic. Now, he’s one of the president’s most ardent supporters.

🎧 “The Daily”: The Rise of Right-Wing Extremism, and How U.S. Law Enforcement Ignored It | New York Times

Listened to "The Daily": The Rise of Right-Wing Extremism, and How U.S. Law Enforcement Ignored It from New York Times

In an atmosphere of seeming indifference on the part of U.S. law enforcement, a dangerous movement has grown and metastasized.

It’s tremendously painful that the optics of right wing extremism in the Obama administration was used as a means of allowing the alt-right, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis to rise unfettered in the United States. This is worse when one thinks of the death and destruction they have caused in relation to the obscene amounts of money that have been thrown at decreasing international terrorism within our borders.

👓 The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine critical of Trump, to shutter after 23 years | CNN

Read The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine critical of Trump, to shutter after 23 years (CNN)
The Weekly Standard, the magazine that espouses traditional conservatism and which has remained deeply critical of President Donald Trump, will shutter after 23 years, its owner Clarity Media Group announced Friday morning. The magazine will publish its final issue on December 17.

Alas there goes the last bit of logic to the center of the old party. Trump’s transformation of the Republican Party is almost complete.

🎧 The Daily: Deployed in the U.S., Just Waiting for the Caravan | The New York Times

Listened to The Daily: Deployed in the U.S., Just Waiting for the Caravan by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

The midterm elections are over, and President Trump’s talk of the migrant caravan has dwindled. But thousands of troops sent to the southwest border are still there.

At nearly every turn, President Trump’s own generals tried to persuade him not to deploy active-duty troops to the United States border with Mexico. So what are 5,000 troops doing there?

On today’s episode:

Background reading:

He’s seriously deployed troops for a political reason and they’re going to be drawn down before the reason they’re supposed to be there happens?!

This is just the height of stupidity and government waste. Government institutions keep being eroded by Trumps ineptitude and fear-mongering. This is money and deployment help that would have been far better spent in Puerto Rico for the hurricane.

📑 How to Talk to People, According to Terry Gross | New York Times

Annotated How to Talk to People, According to Terry Gross (New York Times)
Politicians, she believes, “owe us an answer,” and so she, in her own very Terry Gross way will “keep asking and re-asking and asking, and maybe I’ll ask it in separate ways, and maybe I’ll point out that they haven’t yet answered the question.”  

📑 How to Talk to People, According to Terry Gross | New York Times

Annotated How to Talk to People, According to Terry Gross (New York Times)
“Well, I don’t think it is in my self-interest to tutor people on how to dodge a question,” Ms. Gross said. But, when pressed — perhaps regretting the previous advice she gave to this interviewer about how to get people to answer questions they don’t want to answer (“keep asking”) — she suggests using honesty. Say, “I don’t want to answer that,” or, if that’s too blunt, hedge with a statement like, “I’m having a difficult time thinking of a specific answer to that.” Going the martyr route with something like, “I’m afraid by answering that I’m going to hurt somebody’s feelings and I don’t want to do that,” is another option.  

👓 How the GOP Gave Up on Porn | Politico

Read How the GOP Gave Up on Porn (POLITICO Magazine)
Once, the fight against pornography was the beating heart of the American culture war. Now porn is a ballooning industry—and maybe a harmful one—with no real opponents. What happened?

🎧 The Daily: An Unexpected Upset in Florida | New York Times

Listened to The Daily: An Unexpected Upset in Florida from New York Times

After a surprise outcome in the primary, the Florida governor’s race is shaping up to be a litmus test for 2020.

🎧 The Daily: Nancy Pelosi’s Dilemma | New York Times

Listened to The Daily: Nancy Pelosi’s Dilemma by Michael Barbaro from New York Times

Under fire from both parties, the longtime House Democratic leader faces an uncertain political future.