Zero Sum
How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress. — Neils Bohr
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Substance: WordPress Style: Rachel
Posted May 22nd, 2018 by ravi    / Permalink /

From technocrats to garden variety "independents" who reject partisan politics, the greatest danger to society lies in the apolitical stance.

Guardian:

The spokesperson added: “Our search and recommendation systems reflect what people search for, the number of videos available, and the videos people choose to watch on YouTube. That’s not a bias towards any particular candidate; that is a reflection of viewer interest.”

Posted May 4th, 2018 by ravi    / Permalink /

Vox has a post with legal opinion on Giuiliani and Trump’s admission that Trump was aware of the money paid to Stormy Daniels and has repaid Cohen the amount. The analysis by Douglas Spencer at the University of Connecticut is the most insightful one of the lot. Spencer correctly points out that admitting he was aware of Cohen’s payout helps Trump’s potential argument that this was a matter of personal, and not political, safety. This achieves legal safety for Trump at the cost of political harm. But one thing that we have learnt in the Trump era is that no controversy can inflict political damage, especially on the Right, when tribal identity is assured.

Last nights revelation by Giuliani changes the political landscape much more than the legal one. The central legal question has not changed: When Michael Cohen wired $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, was he trying to prevent Melania from learning about Clifford’s allegations or trying to prevent voters in Michigan from hearing these allegations?

Trump’s acknowledgment that he was personally involved in the payment may actually help his legal argument. I think the defense that this was about protecting Trump’s marriage would be very weak if Michael Cohen had acted alone. Why would Cohen care about Melania’s perception of Trump more than Trump himself? The Melania defense is much stronger now.

Politically, however, the president of the United States has acknowledged paying hush money to a porn actress and acknowledged that he knowingly and willfully lied to the press when asked about it.

Posted May 2nd, 2018 by ravi    / Permalink /

Miles Howard in The Outline:

It goes like this. The 2008 recession may have cratered the wages and employment prospects for people just entering the job market, but according to the myth of the American Millennial, the real problem young people have today is themselves.

Nearly a decade after the crash, the mainstream media still seems hell-bent on portraying people born between 1982 and 2004 as a bunch of decadent and “fun-employed” narcissists who piss their parents’ money away on matcha green tea lattes, spend too much time Instagramming their pets, and are thus responsible for the economic rut they’re stuck in.
This myth — which scrubs millions of underprivileged Millennials from the picture — is crucial to understanding why the media is swooning over the Frugalwoods right now.

Posted May 11th, 2017 by ravi    / Permalink /

Medicaid currently finances about 45% of all births in the United States. Trumpcare (AHCA) slashes Medicaid by $880 billion over 10 years. How is this pro-life?

Posted Apr 7th, 2017 by ravi    / Permalink /

From philosopher Robert Simpson’s essay in Aeon:

I’d propose a third way: put free ‘speech’ as such to one side, and replace it with a series of more narrowly targeted expressive liberties. Rather than locating actions such as protest and whistleblowing under the umbrella of ‘free speech’, we could formulate specially tailored norms, such as a principle of free public protest, or a principle of protected whistleblowing. The idea would be to explicitly nominate the particular species of communication that we want to defend, instead of just pointing to the overarching genus of ‘free speech’. This way the battle wouldn’t be fought out over the boundaries of what qualifies as speech, but instead, more directly, over the kinds of communicative activities we think need special protection.

Intentionality matters. In all but the hard sciences, it’s time to get rid of the outdated idea or hope that we can abstract away the particulars.

Posted Mar 23rd, 2017 by ravi    / Permalink /

The South used to be a slave economy, in which a few lived off the unpaid labour of others. Now it’s leading the way to an economy where all of us can be low-paid slaves. This is also known as “Right to Work”.

Peter Waldman, Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

Allen took a $9-an-hour job on the overnight shift as a janitor. He passed up higher-paying positions on the assembly line, because “the machines scared him,” says Adam Wolfsberger, the former manager at Surge Staffing who hired Allen. The only training he received was where to find the mop and broom, Wolfsberger says.

On April 2, 2013, after Allen had been on the job for about six weeks, a plant supervisor ordered him to put down his broom. He assigned him to work the rest of the shift on one of the metal-stamping presses instead and admonished him not to tell anyone about the job switch.
[…]

At about 4 a.m., Allen, wiry and 5 feet 9 inches, was leaning inside the machine with his arms extended upward, loading metal bolts. Suddenly the die, which stamps the metal parts, slammed onto his arms. “It felt like the whole world was coming down on me,” he says. The press operator hadnt noticed him working inside the machine, and Allen’s frame was so slight that the safety beam missed him.

He stood there for an hour, his flesh burning inside the heated press. Someone brought a fan to cool him off. “I was just talking to myself about what my daddy had told me,” Allen says. When emergency crews finally freed him, his left hand was “flat like a pancake,” Allen says, and parts of three fingers were gone.

Posted Feb 27th, 2017 by ravi    / Permalink /

As violent anti-democratic forces spurred by a demagogue start to engulf both nations in which I find a home (the USA and India), it may be tempting to recycle the old poem by Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Read More…

Posted Jan 1st, 2011 by ravi    / Permalink /

When Henry Louis Gates Jr. told Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge police, “You don’t know who you’re messing with,” he was speaking truth to power, albeit in a manner more akin to arrogance than erudition. The big shock here, according to the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson, is not that a Harvard professor misused the subjective case (“who” for “whom”) and inelegantly ended a sentence with a preposition; it is, rather, that Gates belongs to an elite enclave beyond the sergeant’s experience or imagination.

Thus starts an entirely positive review of Eugene Robinson’s The Splintering of Black America by Raymond Arsenault in the New York Times. Arsenault approvingly details Robinson’s thesis – as he puts it – that it no longer makes sense to talk monolithically of Black Americans but instead acknowledge and account for the disparate and at time competing claims of the groups that Black America has splintered into.

Without reading Robinson it is not possible to pass judgement on the strength of his claims, but Arsenault’s own reasoning is not well served by the anecdote he begins with. The Henry Louis Gates episode, if it demonstrates anything at all, is that however high a black American might rise, he is subject to the same old racism that stalks his less fortunate brethren.

Arsenault pays attention to Gates’s words in an attempt to show that Gates has risen far above a lowly police sergeant, even a white one. However, Gates’s words merely demonstrate the delusion he lived under (apparently shared by Arsenault and Robinson), while the policeman’s actions and ensuing false outrage forced the President (another black person whom Arsenault might claim has risen above black identity) to apologise for describing the police action in straightforward terms.