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Kamala Harris's 'The Truths We Hold': Review - The Atlantic
By this logic, it is tempting for some to view Harris’s marginalized identities as evidence enough of her progressive politics. Throughout The Truths We Hold, Harris fans this ideological beatification without deeply interrogating its roots or its consequences. For those already inclined to find her highly tweetable brand of #resistance rhetoric appealing, the memoir offers up palatably anti-establishment quotes for possible tote-bag screen-printing. If only it presented a holistic political foundation instead.
#us#2020  #us#dems  %🔥  %bookreview  #is#fem  #is  %contrarian  #discourse 
9 weeks ago by lemeb
Les hommes vont-ils remplacer les robots? - Libération
un peu facile:
A rebours des grandes études, de l’université d’Oxford à celles de cabinets de conseil, comme l’Institut Roland Berger, qui quantifient les destructions d’emplois à venir, le chercheur déploie dans En attendant les robots une tout autre réalité : les algorithmes et les promesses de l’IA n’ont pas effacé la main de l’homme, et encore moins son doigt ! Derrière Uber, Facebook, Siri, derrière les milliards de recherches et requêtes des réseaux sociaux, des millions d’êtres humains à travers le monde créent, affinent, trient, corrigent. Et aident la machine à apprendre et à mieux fonctionner. Ces «millions de micro-tâcherons filtrent des vidéos, étiquettent des images, transcrivent des documents dont les machines ne sont pas capables de s’occuper», explique le chercheur. De «l’intelligence artificielle largement faite à la main», dit-il joliment. C’est ce qu’on appelle le «travail du clic». Notre imaginaire technologique est peuplé de blouses blanches et de types sympas en jean qui font tourner des start-up ? En fait, derrière chaque col blanc, œuvre une armée de cols bleus. Le grand bluff technologique !
#t#🤖  %bookreview  %contrarian  #techpol 
9 weeks ago by lemeb
Things Break and Decay on the Internet—That's a Good Thing | WIRED
against the utopia of permanence on the internet:
If I’m honest, I started out, a long time ago, wanting permanence from the internet—a place to show up and inscribe my name in the Book of Life. But that desire is gone. Now there are far, far too many Vines and tweets and afterthought photos. And if this stuff seems permanent, it’s not. Even if the FBI can disinter some of our old digital contraptions, things break and decay on the internet in unexpected ways.

The Wayback Machine is perpetually finding new uses. Last year, the directory for the Office of Refugee Resettlement suddenly vanished—but the Machine had the original handy. Its founders, like all founders, plan for it never to break, but that’s a tall order. The Roman Library of Celsus in Turkey, among the most impressive in the ancient world and built to last, fell into desuetude after less than 200 years. The internet empire is much more vast and populous than ancient Rome, but will it be more permanent? The Wayback Machine keeps betting yes—that, against all odds, the web can be programmed to prevent its own collapse. Our web will remember itself, the Wayback Machine keeps insisting—and, what’s more, remember itself fondly.


i kind of disagree — it’d be crucial to have a form of permance on the web, as it seems like it will be a technology used for ages. not everything can be relying on technical interpretation, or be DRM’d!
%contrarian  #t#web  ~archive  !write!technologist 
11 weeks ago by lemeb
The Next Big Blue-Collar Job Is Coding | WIRED
Among other things, it would change training for programming jobs—and who gets encouraged to pursue them. As my friend Anil Dash, a technology thinker and entrepreneur, notes, teachers and businesses would spend less time urging kids to do expensive four-year computer-­science degrees and instead introduce more code at the vocational level in high school. You could learn how to do it at a community college; midcareer folks would attend intense months-long programs like Dev Bootcamp. There’d be less focus on the wunderkinds and more on the proletariat.

These sorts of coders won’t have the deep knowledge to craft wild new algorithms for flash trading or neural networks. Why would they need to? That level of expertise is rarely necessary at a job. But any blue-collar coder will be plenty qualified to sling Java­Script for their local bank. That’s a solidly middle-class job, and middle-class jobs are growing: The national average salary for IT jobs is about $81,000 (more than double the national average for all jobs), and the field is set to expand by 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than most other occupations.


yep. stop saying you can automate it.
#t#🤖  #programming  #t#beyondsv  %contrarian  %🔥  #$#ineq  #$#labor 
11 weeks ago by lemeb
The perversions of M. Foucault by Roger Kimball | The New Criterion
from 1993, in the department of “wow! that didn’t age well”
Mr. Miller claims that Foucault’s penchant for sadomasochistic sex was itself an indication of admirable ethical adventurousness. Indeed, in his view, we should be grateful to Foucault for his pioneering exploration of hitherto forbidden forms of pleasure and consciousness. In his preface, Miller suggests that Foucault, “in his radical approach to the body and its pleasures, was in fact a kind of visionary; and that in the future, once the threat of aids has receded, men and women, both straight and gay, will renew, without shame or fear, the kind of corporeal experimentation that formed an integral part of his own philosophical quest.” In other words, Miller attempts to enroll in the ranks of virtue behavior and attitudes that until fifteen minutes ago were universally condemned as pathological.

was the criterion always this reactionary?
%philosophy  %bookreview  %🔥  %contrarian 
12 weeks ago by lemeb
Yes, America's middle class has been disappearing....into higher income groups - AEI
Scott Shackford wrote on the Reason blog recently that “The Middle Class Is Shrinking! Because They’re Getting Rich!” and referred to the bottom chart above that was featured in the Pew Research Center’s recent report titled “The American Middle Class is Losing Ground.” However, as the title of Scott Shackford’s blog post suggests, the share of middle class households is getting smaller for a good reason — it’s because they’ve moved up to higher income groups.
%econ  !write!utopia  #$#ineq  %contrarian 
12 weeks ago by lemeb
Review: There’s a Voice Missing in Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” | The New Yorker
In the process, he turns the character of Cleo into a stereotype that’s all too common in movies made by upper-middle-class and intellectual filmmakers about working people: a strong, silent, long-enduring, and all-tolerating type, deprived of discourse, a silent angel whose inability or unwillingness to express herself is held up as a mark of her stoic virtue. (It’s endemic to the cinema and even leaves its scars on better movies than “Roma,” including some others from this year, such as “Leave No Trace” and “The Rider.”) The silent nobility of the working poor takes its place in a demagogic circle of virtue sharing that links filmmakers (who, if they offer working people a chance to speak, do so only in order to look askance at them, as happens in “Roma” with one talkative but villainous poor man) with their art-house audiences, who are similarly pleased to share in the exaltation of heroes who do manual labor without having to look closely or deeply at elements of their heroes’ lives that don’t elicit either praise or pity.

That effacement of Cleo’s character, her reduction to a bland and blank trope that burnishes the director’s conscience while smothering her consciousness and his own, is the essential and crucial failure of “Roma.” It sets the tone for the movie’s aesthetic and hollows it out, reducing Cuarón’s worthwhile intentions and evident passions to vain gestures.


EDIT: I saw Roma, and i relate
%🔥  %criticism  %contrarian 
december 2018 by lemeb
Anand Giridharadas on elite do-gooding: 'Many of my friends are drunk on dangerous BS' | US news | The Guardian
A former McKinsey consultant-turned New York Times columnist, Giridharadas is now a bestselling author. His recent book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, torches the privileged circles he has moved in much of his adult life, and is rooted in insider knowledge.

The book stems from a speech he was asked to give several years ago to the Aspen Institute, a thinktank that organizes exclusive ideas conferences for the wealthy and powerful, as part of a program designed to raise up a “new breed of leaders” and solve “the world’s most intractable problems”. Instead he delivered an electrifying critique, arguing the “change makers” and “thought leaders” in America’s winners-take-all economy – once again, the very people he was speaking to – are less helping the world through their various philanthropic efforts than propping up the broken system that made them.
#$#charity  #$#👨🏻‍💼  #$#👺  %contrarian  %🔥 
december 2018 by lemeb
Deconstructing cultural codes - Marginal REVOLUTION
I’ve long been convinced that “matters of culture” are central for understanding economic growth, but I’m also painfully aware these theories tend to lack rigor and even trying to define culture can waste people’s time for hours, with no satisfactory resolution.

So I thought I would tackle this problem sideways. I figured the best way to understand culture was to try to understand or “crack” as many cultural codes as possible. As many styles of art. As many kinds of music. As many complex novels, and complex classic books, and of course as many economic models as well. Religions, and religious books. Anthropological understandings. I also learned two languages in my adult years, German and Spanish (the former better than the latter). A bit later I realized that figuring out how an economic sector works — if only partially — was really not so different from cracking these other cultural codes. For instance, once I spent three days on a boat (as keynote speaker), exclusively with people from a particular segment of the shipping trade. It was like entering a whole new world and every moment of it was fascinating.

Eventually it seemed to me that problems of management were themselves a kind of cultural code, each one different of course.


and now i have an answer to something i always wanted to ask tyler cowen!
#xxi#culture  %econ  %advice  %😮  %contrarian 
december 2018 by lemeb
The Economy Killed Millennials, Not Vice Versa - The Atlantic
When researchers compared the spending habits of Millennials with those of young people from past years, such as the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, they concluded that “Millennials do not appear to have preferences for consumption that differ significantly from those of earlier generations.” They also found that “Millennials are less well off than members of earlier generations when they were young, with lower earnings, fewer assets, and less wealth.”
Millennials aren’t doing in the economy. It’s the economy that’s doing in Millennials.
#newgen  %😢  %contrarian  %econ  %econ%behav  %policystats  #$#ineq  #$#nextcrash 
december 2018 by lemeb
Opinion | The Real China Challenge: Managing Its Decline - The New York Times
Yet even with the advantages of scale and force, China isn’t working. In 2014, a year in which Beijing posted an official growth rate of 7.3 percent (as compared to 2.6 percent in the U.S.) China lost $324 billion to capital flight, according to a UBS estimate. In 2015, the figure more than doubled, to $676 billion, according to the Institute of International Finance. In 2016: $725 billion.

Yes, some of the money goes toward productive investments abroad, not just apartments in Sydney or bank accounts in Liechtenstein. But then there’s the fact that some 46 percent of wealthy Chinese wish to emigrate, most of them to the United States. If China’s prospects are as bright as China boosters think they are, why do China’s most fortunate sons and daughters see their future elsewhere?

Maybe that’s because individual rights, democratic choices, rule of law, competitive markets, high levels of transparency, low levels of government corruption, independent news sources, and freedoms of thought, conscience and speech are assets beyond price —ones that Westerners tend to value too lightly while foolishly assuming others do as well. If you define power as the power to attract and not simply compel, then Beijing — with its dystopian vision to fully surveil and rate all citizens by 2020 — isn’t a rising power at all. It’s a collapsing one.

#globalism  #🇨🇳  %contrarian 
november 2018 by lemeb
The Left Case against Open Borders - American Affairs Journal
The destruction and abandonment of labor politics means that, at present, immigration issues can only play out within the framework of a culture war, fought entirely on moral grounds. In the heightened emotions of America’s public debate on migration, a simple moral and political dichotomy prevails. It is “right-wing” to be “against immigration” and “left-wing” to be “for immigration.” But the economics of migration tell a different story.

Useful Idiots

The transformation of open borders into a “Left” position is a very new phenomenon and runs counter to the history of the organized Left in fundamental ways. Open borders has long been a rallying cry of the business and free market Right. Drawing from neoclassical economists, these groups have advocated for liberalizing migration on the grounds of market rationality and economic freedom


a lot of people have decried this as a right-wing tucker carlson argument. i don’t know about this, but i’m clearly not sympathetic. also — not well written.
#$#labor  #immigration  #conservatives  #us#dems  %contrarian  %🔥 
november 2018 by lemeb
The Vulnerable World Hypothesis
Comprehensive surveillance and global governance would thus offer protection against a wide spectrum of potential civilizational vulnerabilities. This is a considerable reason in favor of bringing about those conditions. The strength of this reason is roughly proportional to the probability that the vulnerable world hypothesis is true.


ha! controversy 🔥
!write!dystopia  !write!technologist  !tech!practicalprivacy  #surveillance  #xxi#tech  %contrarian  %policystats  %theory  %🔥  %😮 
november 2018 by lemeb
Opinion | My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy - The New York Times
Mr. Singal is Mr. Anderson’s liberal doppelgänger. Both writers engage in what we could call “compassion-mongering,” peddling bigotry in the guise of sympathetic concern. Both posit a medical duty to refrain from increasing trans people’s suffering — what’s called nonmaleficence. Neither has any issue with gatekeeping per se; they differ, modestly, on how the gate is to be kept.

Buried under all of this, like a sober tuber, lies an assumption so sensible you’ll think me silly for digging it up. It’s this: People transition because they think it will make them feel better. The thing is, this is wrong.
#is#trans  %contrarian  #gender  #taboos  #healthcare 
november 2018 by lemeb
The Case Against ‘The Case Against Education’ - Bloomberg
In other words, education really does educate, even if it is overly expensive and not very effective. When you yank public funding from education, you are making it difficult or impossible for children who grew up poor or in the lower middle class to get the same access to learning that children of rich families take for granted.
As for Caplan’s idea of using some of the savings to help strivers in more cost-effective ways: Tracking low-income students toward vocational education because it’s all they can afford feels Dickensian. Libertarians such as Caplan stress individual liberty and minimal taxation. Most of us are a bit more communitarian, meaning that we’re more likely to think of society as a family. A family tries to give every child the very best shot at success, even when it is (overly) expensive to do so. If that’s what Caplan wants to call “social desirability bias,” so be it.
#xxi#edu  #$#ineq  #$#labor  %contrarian  %bothsides  %econ%behav  %philosophy  %theory  %econ  ~liberatarianism 
july 2018 by lemeb
Donald Trump and norms: Resistance needs substance - Vox
But the insistence on exoticizing Trump — on seeing him not just as a threat to democracy and the rule of law but as a unique threat — necessarily tilts in that direction.

The five Republican justices on the Supreme Court aren’t endorsing purges of the voting rolls because Trump forced them, and the North Carolina GOP didn’t need Trump’s inspiration to introduce yet another effort to disenfranchise voters via strict ID laws. It was George H.W. Bush, not Trump, who abusively wielded the pardon power to curb the special prosecutor investigation into the Iran-Contra scandal, and John Boehner killed the Voting Rights Act long before anyone took Trump’s presidential aspirations seriously.

None of this is to excuse Trump’s various misdeeds in any way. It’s merely to say that the present peril is not so different from the perils of the past. The time-honored solution of trying to select charismatic candidates who propose popular ideas that will improve normal people’s lives remains the correct one.

#conservatives  #us#2020  #us#dems  #us#elections  #us#trumpland  %contrarian 
july 2018 by lemeb
Dissolving the Fermi Paradox
The Fermi paradox is the conflict between an expectation of a high ex ante probability of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and the apparently lifeless universe we in fact observe. The expectation that the universe should be teeming with intelligent life is linked to models like the Drake equation, which suggest that even if the probability of intelligent life developing at a given site is small, the sheer multitude of possible sites should nonetheless yield a large number of potentially observable civilizations. We show that this conflict arises from the use of Drake-like equations, which implicitly assume certainty regarding highly uncertain parameters. We examine these parameters, incorporating models of chem- ical and genetic transitions on paths to the origin of life, and show that extant scientific knowledge corresponds to uncertainties that span multi- ple orders of magnitude. This makes a stark difference. When the model is recast to represent realistic distributions of uncertainty, we find a sub- stantial ex ante probability of there being no other intelligent life in our observable universe, and thus that there should be little surprise when we fail to detect any signs of it. This result dissolves the Fermi paradox, and in doing so removes any need to invoke speculative mechanisms by which civilizations would inevitably fail to have observable effects upon the universe.


forever alone
%philosophy  %contrarian  #space 
june 2018 by lemeb
Structured Procrastination
Procrastinators often follow exactly the wrong tack. They try to minimize their commitments, assuming that if they have only a few things to do, they will quit procrastinating and get them done. But this goes contrary to the basic nature of the procrastinator and destroys his most important source of motivation. The few tasks on his list will be by definition the most important, and the only way to avoid doing them will be to do nothing. This is a way to become a couch potato, not an effective human being.

At this point you may be asking, "How about the important tasks at the top of the list, that one never does?" Admittedly, there is a potential problem here.

The trick is to pick the right sorts of projects for the top of the list. The ideal sorts of things have two characteristics, First, they seem to have clear deadlines (but really don't). Second, they seem awfully important (but really aren't). Luckily, life abounds with such tasks. In universities the vast majority of tasks fall into this category, and I'm sure the same is true for most other large institutions. Take for example the item right at the top of my list right now. This is finishing an essay for a volume in the philosophy of language. It was supposed to be done eleven months ago. I have accomplished an enormous number of important things as a way of not working on it. A couple of months ago, bothered by guilt, I wrote a letter to the editor saying how sorry I was to be so late and expressing my good intentions to get to work. Writing the letter was, of course, a way of not working on the article. It turned out that I really wasn't much further behind schedule than anyone else. And how important is this article anyway? Not so important that at some point something that seems more important won't come along. Then I'll get to work on it.

%contrarian  &forfutureref  !me  ~adhd 
may 2018 by lemeb
Why We Haven’t Met Any Aliens § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
The story goes like this: Sometime in the 1940s, Enrico Fermi was talking about the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence with some other physicists. They were impressed that life had evolved quickly and progressively on Earth. They figured our galaxy holds about 100 billion stars, and that an intelligent, exponentially-reproducing species could colonize the galaxy in just a few million years. They reasoned that extraterrestrial intelligence should be common by now. Fermi listened patiently, then asked, simply, “So, where is everybody?” That is, if extraterrestrial intelligence is common, why haven’t we met any bright aliens yet? This conundrum became known as Fermi’s Paradox.

I suggest a different, even darker solution to the Paradox. Basically, I think the aliens don’t blow themselves up; they just get addicted to computer games. They forget to send radio signals or colonize space because they’re too busy with runaway consumerism and virtual-reality narcissism. They don’t need Sentinels to enslave them in a Matrix; they do it to themselves, just as we are doing today. Once they turn inwards to chase their shiny pennies of pleasure, they lose the cosmic plot. They become like a self-stimulating rat, pressing a bar to deliver electricity to its brain’s ventral tegmental area, which stimulates its nucleus accumbens to release dopamine, which feels…ever so good.

Christian and Muslim fundamentalists and anti-consumerism activists already understand exactly what the Great Temptation is, and how to avoid it. They insulate themselves from our creative-class dreamworlds and our EverQuest economics. They wait patiently for our fitness-faking narcissism to go extinct. Those practical-minded breeders will inherit the Earth as like-minded aliens may have inherited a few other planets. When they finally achieve contact, it will not be a meeting of novel-readers and game-players. It will be a meeting of dead-serious super-parents who congratulate each other on surviving not just the Bomb, but the Xbox.

!write!dystopia  %contrarian  %philosophy  #space 
may 2018 by lemeb

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