Just got an email from the New York State Supreme Court: my divorce is final. Just under eleven months from when I was informed that my marriage was over till when all the paperwork was official. I call that briskly efficient.
What has pissed you off this week? Let's all admit that the Sessions details are delicious and it would be much more infuriating if they hadn't come to light, plus there's a big thread below about Sessions and Russian collusion.
That, plus Trump's speech, plus the Oscars, means maybe a light week for outrage? Oh my god, plus Republicans playing hide-the-biscuit with the healthcare bill, plus that guy who pretended to have a degree from Sizzler University...that last one made my sides hurt from laughing.
Finally, I liked this tweet:
When they go low, we lower the bar.— Kashana (@kashanacauley) March 1, 2017
Or alternatively, I missed the latest EPA rollbacks and regulatory slashes because I was too busy laughing at Kellyanne Conway couch memes. Dump your fury here.
So how soon will the entire administration fall apart? Is this twitter thread accurate?
I will note that only people who are falling all over themselves about the administrations' collusion with the Russians to hack the election are people who generally pay attention to politics. It somehow hasn't risen past the ceiling set during the election for Breathless Mainstream Commentary yet. This continues to be the craziest fucking thing ever, that Russians successfully completing a five year plan to hijack a presidential election gets reported as uninteresting wonkery that the ordinary Joe wouldn't care about.
Thanks to Brother Chopper's workaround, I can share Spotify playlists. This is a lot easier than putting MP3s together and Spotify has a free tier, so consider this an invitation to share your own in the comments. A playlist.
Walking to work, I saw a woman going the other way who was actually smiling. I recalled all my feminist sisters through the ages being told to "Smile, baby" and thought, here I have a chance to tip the scales just a little bit. So I yelled "IT'S NOT FUNNY!"
Not really. But it would have been golden.
Chris Y writes: Hmm... What say you?
Heebie's take: It's very consistent with Piketty's stuff:
Inequality has been written into the DNA of civilization ever since humans first settled down to farm the land. Throughout history, only massive, violent shocks that upended the established order proved powerful enough to flatten disparities in income and wealth. They appeared in four different guises: mass-mobilization warfare, violent and transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic epidemics. Hundreds of millions perished in their wake, and by the time these crises had passed, the gap between rich and poor had shrunk.
It seems like you could paraphrase it like so: In a catastrophe, everyone's well-being is translated downward, and everyone who goes into negative well-being dies, so the remaining positive values have a much smaller range.
Even the most progressive welfare states of continental Europe are now struggling to compensate for the widening income disparities that exist before taxes and transfers.
I still maintain that the fundamental problem with humanity is having the foxes guarding the henhouse - how to keep the public interest at the heart of government policy, instead of being hijacked by terrible people. If there were only good-faith discussion of the best way to solve the major problems (ie governance by Unfogged) the scale of the problems would be slashed by 90% almost immediately.
These quotes make it sound like we don't know how to solve most problems, but it's really an implementation-and-cooperation problem that's unsolvable, not the inequality (or climate change, or wars, etc.)
When my mother-in-law was in town, we were updating each other on the lives of relatives on either side. Whose lives are in chaos, who seems to have settled down and is doing well, that kind of thing. One theme that struck me was: how well do you cope with the boredom of adulthood? When you've finally got a stable routine and your basic job is to stick to that routine, day in and day out, so that you can provide a stable environment for your kids or pay off some bills that you ran up, or make your student loan payments, or whatever: how well do you cope with that drudgery?
I think of boredom as being a major shaping force in my own life, and doing whatever it takes to avoid it. Not in a hyperactive way, more in a "have a book" or "have a topic in mind to think about" kind of way.
Drudgery, I don't find so bad. There's a certain level of dull routine that feels like a productive check-list to me. Of course, there's such a thing as too much. (All work and no play makes Homer something something.)
Mossy character writes: Le Guin on Trump.
Heebie's take: It's good, and short.
I am appalled at the constant, obsessive attention paid to Trump.
He appears to be exactly what he wants to be: addictive.
He is a true, great master of the great game of this age, the Celebrity Game. Attention is what he lives on. Celebrity without substance. His "reality" is "virtual" -- i.e. non-existent -- but he used this almost-reality to disguise a successful bid for real power. Every witty parody, hateful gibe, clever takeoff, etc., merely plays his game, and therefore plays into his hands.
Reagan was the master of TV, but this guy has a nation full of people with their eyes and ears already glued 18 hours a day to screens and speakers, already habituated to a stream of disparate, disconnected "information" (news/entertainment/commercials mashup) which cannot be fact-checked, cannot be organized into understanding, because it's so huge, so incessant, and goes by so fast. Exactly the way Trump thinks and talks.
It's how he won the campaign: keeping in the limelight, flummoxing his Republican rivals, outshouting poor, rational Clinton, silencing thought with a flood of incessant, bullying, meaningless words.
He's a diarrhea-gibbon.
A good article in the New Yorker about how strongly people are predisposed against changing their minds:
In a new book, "The Enigma of Reason" (Harvard), the cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber take a stab at answering this question [why reasonable-seeming people are often totally irrational]. Mercier, who works at a French research institute in Lyon, and Sperber, now based at the Central European University, in Budapest, point out that reason is an evolved trait, like bipedalism or three-color vision. It emerged on the savannas of Africa, and has to be understood in that context.
Stripped of a lot of what might be called cognitive-science-ese, Mercier and Sperber's argument runs, more or less, as follows: Humans' biggest advantage over other species is our ability to coöperate. Coöperation is difficult to establish and almost as difficult to sustain. For any individual, freeloading is always the best course of action. Reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems or even to help us draw conclusions from unfamiliar data; rather, it developed to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups.
But the best way to counter that tendency, the article contends is very close to what you [Ed: me!] wrote here: "My best in-person trick by far (which I got from the internets) is asking the other person to explain their reasoning. Especially if you provide the starting point and the ending point of their position and ask how they got from one to the other."
Surveys on many other issues have yielded similarly dismaying results. "As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding," Sloman and Fernbach write. And here our dependence on other minds reinforces the problem. If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.
"This is how a community of knowledge can become dangerous," Sloman and Fernbach observe. The two have performed their own version of the toilet experiment, substituting public policy for household gadgets. In a study conducted in 2012, they asked people for their stance on questions like: Should there be a single-payer health-care system? Or merit-based pay for teachers? Participants were asked to rate their positions depending on how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the proposals. Next, they were instructed to explain, in as much detail as they could, the impacts of implementing each one. Most people at this point ran into trouble. Asked once again to rate their views, they ratcheted down the intensity, so that they either agreed or disagreed less vehemently.
It really is unfortunate how little motivation anybody has to attempt to explain their positions or to re-asses their confidence in their own beliefs. I can't think of many circumstances that would prompt that process, but it's reassuring to know that it can work.
Heebie's take: Hooray, my take has been taken!
What it does is make me very, very selective with who I will engage with. There have to be clear rules of conduct - arguing in good faith, they must respect my ability to think through issues, etc - or else I'm not going to bother. Why waste time hardening someone's wrong opinion, right?
Heebieville is getting a dual language program at the elementary school! It's going to be one of those things where you have to start in kindergarten, and apparently there's some sort of contract involved. The big kids are too old, but the next two can do it. I'm stoked - it has been surreal that in a school district which is mostly Hispanic, it was impossible to get the kids immersed in Spanish.
Anyone here have experience sending their kids to a dual language elementary school? How was it?
I was going to share a playlist, but Spotify doesn't allow anonymous sharing. How do the kids these days share music?