Trust

“There’s plenty of trust out there. It just isn’t where it used to be. Trust, the glue that holds society together, has shifted from institutional trust to a new form of distributed trust. Instead of flowing upwards to institutions, experts, authorities and regulators, it now flows horizontally to peers, friends, colleagues and fellow users. […] And because trust is moving into the hands of the many, there will be more of it around.”

“Distributed trust, combined with technology, also means that within the next decade, we’ll be comfortable trusting well-trained bots, whether they’re driving us around, giving us financial advice, or telling us if we have cancer.”

World Economic Forum: Trust in 2030

Distraction

I’m re-reading Distraction by Bruce Sterling. Published in 1998, it is/was frighteningly prescient.  Here are a few of my favorite excerpts (does that first one remind you of anyone?).

“He’s like a not very bright child who can be deceived and managed, but not reasoned with.”

“The American national character realty wasn’t suited for global police duties. It never had been. Tidy and meticulous people such as the Swiss and Swedes were the types who made good cops. America was far better suited to be the World’s Movie Star. The world’s tequila-addled pro-league bowler. The world’s acerbic, bipolar stand-up comedian. Anything but a somber and tedious nation of socially responsible centurions.”

“It always offended him to hear his fellow Americans discussing the vagaries of “white people.” There was simply no such thing as “white people. That stereotype was an artificial construct, like the ridiculous term “Hispanic.” In all the rest of the world, a Peruvian was a Peruvian and a Brazilian was a Brazilian— it was only in America that people somehow became this multilingual, multinational entity called a “Hispanic.”

“Political reality in modern America was the stark fact that electronic networks had eaten the guts out of the old order, while never finding any native order of their own. The horrific speed of digital communication, the consonant flattening of hierarchies, the rise of net-based civil society, and the decline of the industrial base had simply been too much for the American government to cope with and successfully legitimize.”

“Knowledge is inherently precious even if you can’t sell it. Even if you can’t use it. Knowledge is an absolute good. The search for truth is vital. It’s central to civilization. You need knowledge even when your economy and government are absolutely shot to hell.”

Less white and Christian than ever

Just forty years ago 81 percent of Americans identified as white and Christian, the majority (55 percent) Protestant. Today only 43 percent identity of white Christians, 30 percent claiming Protestantism.

America’s youngest groups are non-Christian: 42 percent of Muslims, 36 percent of Hindus, and 35 percent of Buddhists are under thirty.

While the old guard is aging, the religiously unaffiliated is ticking up. Fifty-eight percent consider themselves secular, with 27 percent claiming to be atheistic or agnostic. Sixteen percent state they’re religious while claiming no particular affiliation

When it comes to education, the three biggest groups of post-graduate degree holders are Unitarian-Universalists (43 percent), Hindus (38 percent), and Jews (34 percent). Researchers note that one-third of Muslims hold a four-year college degree, compared to one-quarter of white evangelical Protestants.

Source: Big Think

“It’s just Nazi”

“I also don’t get when they call them neo-Nazis. What does the “neo” part mean? Something innovative and new? It’s just Nazi. They wear 88 pins, they chant German Nazi slogans. If it sounds and looks like a Nazi, assume it’s a Nazi. One more thing — they call Trump a Nazi-sympathizer. Why be so generous. What distinguishes a sympathizer from an actual Nazi?”

— Dave Winer

An unfunny Woody Allen

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan calls Donald Trump “Woody Allen without humor.” Ouch.

“The president’s primary problem as a leader is not that he is impetuous, brash or naive. It’s not that he is inexperienced, crude, an outsider. It is that he is weak and sniveling. It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity. Continue reading

Two movies about politicians and politics


The playlist above includes seven clips from two movies: Frank Capra’s 1939 classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Jimmy Steward, jean Arthur, Claude Rains); and Dave (Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Frank Langella and the brilliant Charles Grodin). I’ve posted all of these clips but thought they’d make a nice, tidy playlist.

PS: the tiny horizontal lines with the pointer in the top-left corner, indicates a playlist of several videos.

Roger Ailes Was One of the Worst Americans Ever

From Matt Taibbi’s beautiful tribute to the founder of Fox news.

“Ailes made this the hate-filled, moronic country it is today. We are a paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we’re that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.”

TMZ: “Ailes fell at his Florida home 8 days ago and hit his head. We’re told Ailes fell unconscious and his condition went downhill. Our sources say he was put into an induced coma and died Thursday morning.”

When every conversation is recorded

You might have seen a story about an embarrassing recording from 2016:

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post.

I don’t care much about the exchange but I would like to know more about how the recording was made. Surreptitiously, one would think. Perhaps a smartphone in a jacket or shirt pocket? Doesn’t sound like the sort of gab-fest reporters would be invited to so it was one of The Boys. Did he know something embarrassing would be discussed? Did he record every such discussion… just in case? And if one guy is doing this, doesn’t it follow others would as well? Every question spawns three more.

Are there meetings where the Alpha Dog demands everyone put their phones in a basket which is placed in another room? Does everyone get a pat-down?

I started the recording app on my iPhone and put it in my pocket (mic up), to see what kind of audio quality I could get. Not bad. Good enough to end a career.

Let’s say I turn on a small jamming device that prevents recording within a 10 foot radius. Could someone on the other side of the room capture so