👓 On Generosity and Obligation | Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Read On Generosity and Obligation by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)
I am returning, at last, to the thoughts I was exploring in my recent posts on Miranda Joseph’s Against the Romance of Community (post 1 | post 2), and I’m starting to wrestle this morning with the big one: obligation. Thinking about community as a strategic rather than an idealized concept, community in its pragmatic coalition-building sense, leads me to consider the work required to create and sustain communities. If the kinds of communities that I am seeking in trying to imagine a more generous relationship not only between the university and the publics that it engages but also, crucially, within the university itself are first and foremost voluntary communities—self-organizing, self-governing collectives based in affiliation and solidarity—what exactly can we be said to owe those communities? Do those communities and our relationships to them impose obligations on us?

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

I am generous with what I have—I choose to be generous with what I have—precisely because we are no longer committed to one another as members of a shared social structure. Instead, the shift of responsibility for the public welfare toward private entities displaces our obligations to one another in favor of individual liberties and, I think, leaves us queasy about the notion of obligation altogether.  

The game theory of things tends to pull the society apart, particularly when it is easier to see who is paying what. If the richer end feels they’re paying more than their fair share, this can tend to break things down.

I suspect that Francis Fukuyama has a bit to say about this in how democratic societies built themselves up over time. Similarly one of his adherents Jonah Goldberg provides some related arguments about tribalism tending to tear democracies down when we revert back to a more primitive viewpoint instead of being able to trust the larger governmental structures of a democracy.

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👓 There is no single solution to making the internet more decentralised – The art of the possible | The Economist

Read There is no single solution to making the internet more decentralised (The Economist)
Stopping the internet from getting too concentrated will be a slog, but the alternative would be worse

This has generally been an interesting series of articles in The Economist.

As John Sherman, the senator who gave his name to America’s original antitrust law in 1890, put it at a time when the robber barons ruled much of America’s economy: “If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation and sale of any of the necessaries of life.”  

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👓 If You Say Something Is “Likely,” How Likely Do People Think It Is? | Harvard Business Review

Read If You Say Something Is “Likely,” How Likely Do People Think It Is? (Harvard Business Review)
Why you should use percentages, not words, to express probabilities.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Phil Tetlock, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who has studied forecasting in depth, suggests that “vague verbiage gives you political safety.”  

This result is consistent with analysis by the data science team at Quora, a site where users ask and answer questions. That team found that women use uncertain words and phrases more often than men do, even when they are just as confident.  

A large literature shows that we tend to be overconfident in our judgments.  

The best forecasters make lots of precise forecasts and keep track of their performance with a metric such as a Brier score.  

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👓 ‘I snookered them’: Illinois Nazi candidate creates GOP dumpster fire | POLITICO

Read ‘I snookered them’: Illinois Nazi candidate creates GOP dumpster fire (POLITICO)
Republicans fear blowback from a Holocaust denier’s run for Congress.

How has the state party just sat by and ignored this altogether? Deplorable…

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: What Trump Learned From Clinton’s Impeachment | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: What Trump Learned From Clinton’s Impeachment from nytimes.com

Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton survived impeachment after casting himself as the target of partisan motives. What lessons has President Trump gleaned from that strategy?

On today’s episode:

• Peter Baker, the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, who covered the investigation and impeachment of Mr. Clinton.

[READ: When the President Testified: People in the Room Recall Clinton’s 1998 Interrogation]

Background reading:

• Mr. Trump has assailed the Russia investigation as a politically motivated “witch hunt” brought about by Democrats who oppose his presidency. The partisan narrative bears similarities to the one promulgated by Mr. Clinton and his supporters during the inquiry into whether he had lied under oath about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky; Hillary Clinton characterized the matter as a “vast, right-wing conspiracy” against her husband.

• How will the president fare in the Russia investigation? Here’s a look at several possible outcomes, including a finding of no wrongdoing, impeachment and indictment.

• Some Republicans are seizing on the specter of impeachment to energize voters ahead of midterm elections, and Democrats are divided on how to respond.

• Several people who were in the room with Mr. Clinton during his grand jury testimony on Aug. 17, 1998 recall their experience of his interrogation.

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👓 How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump | New York Times | Opinion

Read Opinion | How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump (nytimes.com)
Robert De Niro and Samantha Bee model the wrong way to resist a dangerous president.
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🎧 ‘The Daily’: When Democratic Newcomers Challenge the Party Line | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: When Democratic Newcomers Challenge the Party Line by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

Alarm over the election of Donald Trump spurred dozens of first-time candidates to run for Congress. Some of those candidates now present a problem for the Democratic Party.

On today’s episode:

• Mai Khanh Tran, a Democratic candidate for a United States House seat in California.

• Alexander Burns, who covers national politics for The New York Times.

Background reading:

• National Democrats, fearing that crowded rosters of primary candidates could fracture the party, have begun to intervene by urging some to bow out of the election.

• The party views the California midterms as a particular risk. The state’s nonpartisan primary system — in which the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation — could propel two Republican candidates to the November race.

• Here’s what to watch for in the California primaries, which take place on Tuesday.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: A Crossroads for the Democratic Party | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: A Crossroads for the Democratic Party by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

In Georgia, two women were locked in a close race for the Democratic nomination for governor. What does this primary tell us about the future of the Democratic Party?

On today’s episode:

• Jonathan Martin, a national political correspondent for The New York Times.

Background reading:

• Stacey Abrams, a former minority leader of the Georgia House, made history by becoming the first black woman to be a major party nominee for governor in the United States, defeating Stacey Evans in Georgia’s Democratic primary.

• The race between Ms. Abrams and Ms. Evans, two well-regarded candidates with starkly different campaign strategies, was viewed as a weather vane for the Democratic Party’s prospects in the midterm elections. Ms. Abrams banked on the support of young people, women, and African-American and Hispanic voters, while Ms. Evans reached out to moderate and conservative-leaning white voters.

• Here are the results for Tuesday’s primaries in ArkansasGeorgiaKentucky and Texas.

• Record numbers of women are running in the midterm elections, but the road to Capitol Hill is a hard one.

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👓 Columbia Law professor who coined ‘net neutrality’ term mulling run for attorney general | NY Daily News

Read Columbia Law professor who coined 'net neutrality' term mulling run for attorney general (NY Daily News)
Tim Wu, a Columbia Law professor credited with coining the term "net neutrality," is considering a run for state attorney general.
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👓 Why it’s as hard to escape an echo chamber as it is to flee a cult | C Thi Nguyen | Aeon Essays

Read Why it’s as hard to escape an echo chamber as it is to flee a cult by C Thi Nguyen (Aeon)

First you don’t hear other views. Then you can’t trust them. Your personal information network entraps you just like a cult

Something has gone wrong with the flow of information. It’s not just that different people are drawing subtly different conclusions from the same evidence. It seems like different intellectual communities no longer share basic foundational beliefs. Maybe nobody cares about the truth anymore, as some have started to worry. Maybe political allegiance has replaced basic reasoning skills. Maybe we’ve all become trapped in echo chambers of our own making – wrapping ourselves in an intellectually impenetrable layer of likeminded friends and web pages and social media feeds.

But there are two very different phenomena at play here, each of which subvert the flow of information in very distinct ways. Let’s call them echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Both are social structures that systematically exclude sources of information. Both exaggerate their members’ confidence in their beliefs. But they work in entirely different ways, and they require very different modes of intervention. An epistemic bubble is when you don’t hear people from the other side. An echo chamber is what happens when you don’t trust people from the other side.

A stunning essay that gives me hope that we’re not in a “post-truth” world. On the other hand, we’re going to need to do a lot of work …

hat tip: Ian O’Byrne

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👓 Everything You Should Know About Karl Marx | Teen Vogue

Read Everything You Should Know About Karl Marx (Teen Vogue)
The anti-capitalist scholar’s ideas are often memed (and probably more prevalent than you think).
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👓 Trump is no longer the worst person in government | Washington Post

Read Trump is no longer the worst person in government by George F. WillGeorge F. Will (Washington Post)
Donald Trump, with his feral cunning, knew. The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could, Trump knew, become America’s most repulsive public figure. And Pence, who has reached this pinnacle by dethroning his benefactor, is augmenting the public stock of useful knowledge. Because his is the authentic voice of today’s lickspittle Republican Party, he clarifies this year’s elections: Vote Republican to ratify groveling as governing.

George Will writes a searing and blistering take down of Vice President Mike Pence–not that there are nice things to be said about Trump.

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👓 Voting me, voting you: Eurovision | The Economist (Espresso)

Read Voting me, voting you: Eurovision (Economist Espresso)
​The competition, whose finals play out tonight, is as famed for its politics as its cheesy

I often read the Economist’s Espresso daily round up, but don’t explicitly post that I do. I’m making an exception in this case because I find the voting partnerships mentioned here quite interesting. Might be worth delving into some of the underlying voting statistics for potential application to other real life examples. I’m also enamored of the nice visualization they provide. I wonder what the overlap of this data is with other related world politics looks like?

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🎧 Season 2 Episode 6 The King of Tears | Revisionist History

Listened to Season 2 Episode 6 The King of Tears by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

Revisionist History goes to Nashville to talk with Bobby Braddock, who has written more sad songs than almost anyone else. What is it about music that makes us cry? And what sets country music apart?

Why country music makes you cry, and rock and roll doesn't: A musical interpretation of divided America.

The big idea in this episode that there is a bigger divide in America that falls along musical lines more than political ones is quite intriguing and fits in with my general experience living in South Carolina, Georgia, Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky, and California. Having been raised by a Catholic family with one parent from the city, another from the countryside, and having lived in many blue/red states surrounded by people of various different musical tastes, I do have to wonder if there isn’t a lot of value in this thesis. It could make an interesting information theoretic political-related question for research. This might be the type of thing that could be teased out with some big data sets from Facebook.

Beauty and authenticity can create a mood. They set the stage, but I think the thing that pushes us over the top into tears is details. We cry when melancholy collides with specificity.

Malcolm Gladwell in The King of Tears

He then goes on into a nice example about the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses:

And specificity is not something that every genre does well.

This reminds me of a great quote in Made to Stick from Mother Theresa about specificity.

Mother Teresa once said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”

There’s something very interesting about this idea of specificity and its uses in creating both ideas as well as storytelling and creating emotion.

There is one related old country music joke I’m surprised not to have seen mentioned here, possibly for length, tangential appropriateness, or perhaps because it’s so well known most may call it to mind. It plays off of the days of rock and roll when people played records backwards to find hidden (often satanic) messages.

Q: What do you get when you play a country music song backwards?
A: You get your job back, your wife back, your house back, and your dog back.

The episode finally rounds out with:

If you aren’t crying right now I can’t help you…

Thanks Malcolm, I was crying…

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👓 “People Get Subpoenas, Shit Gets Real”: What John Edwards Should Teach the Media About Covering Trump | The Hive

Read “People Get Subpoenas, Shit Gets Real”: What John Edwards Should Teach the Media About Covering Trump (The Hive)
If you were in Las Vegas and could win $1 million by placing a simple prop bet on whether Trump enjoyed some pee play with Russian hookers in Moscow in 2013, would you bet yes or no? You know where you’d put your money. Even Mitch McConnell would take that bet.
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