Content Roundup: Week of 05/05/17

Here is a sampling of the best content I consumed this past week. Enjoy!



Articles/Essays

My Favorite from n+1 magazine — No President

“The best way to prevent a tyrant’s rule is not to seat him at all — even at the risk of unfairness to an individual who might have become better than his word. We’ve seen the slogan and heard the chant “Not my President,” but the slogan should instead be “No President.” Trump is no President in his attitudes and beliefs, but we should decide we do not have a President, through the paradox of the legitimate election of an illegitimate officeholder. The most valuable lesson the United States could learn in 2016 is that it can get along without a President.”

Honorable mentions

“It’s time we asked whether political frustration, anger and resistance to conflicting ideas results in part from a basic lack of ability to sense how the present world works. The best defense against runaway combative ideologies isn’t more facts, arguments and a relentless hammering away at contrary opinions, but rather a frank admission that there are limits to both our knowledge and our assessment of this knowledge.” — Robert Burton in Aeon Magazine
“In determining what if any damages are owed to the American public by the Democratic Party and Wasserman-Schultz, Judge Zloch will first rule if the Motion to Dismiss is granted or dismissed. Should the Motion be dismissed, the lawsuit will proceed to a Discovery phase, allowing counsel to conduct depositions (interviews) of relevant parties to solicit responses related to the suit to be given under oath on behalf of the affected citizens claiming damages.” — Zach Haller
“It’s not a Republican monopoly. It’s a billionaire monopoly. We’ve had a billionaire coup d’etat. And the billionaires own enough Democrats that you will not see pushback on a lot of these items. You will not see pushback on carried interest because Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader from New York, is not going to hit Wall Street, which is what he represents. So I’m not sure that the Democrats, per se, are going to rise up.
That doesn’t mean that the public can’t. When the public gets angry and gets knowledgeable, we have action. There’s no question that grassroots action, like that group Indivisible — which the Democratic Party did not organize because the Democratic Party cannot organize grassroots anything — that took a bite out of Trumpcare. It’s bleeding. I don’t know if it’s dead. But the bite was taken out by grassroots activity not organized by the Democratic Party.”
“But what interests me most is whether the establishment press that saw fit to count me among their number last year when they gave me the National Magazine Award for commentary, among other honors, will also see fit to report that I am once again being subjected to state-sanctioned retaliation for trying to defend our common right to report the news. This is not just about me; it is about this republic and the dark places to which we are headed.”
“Argumentation — free or false — is not going to resolve the politics,” Gold wrote. “Only nature can do that. And it will.”
“We may never know the true scale of the Cambridge Analytica voter data and hyper-targeted media operation in the 2016 election. But what is clear is that in the future these methods will only become more powerful, matched with new, machine-driven methods to produce artificial reality media and even more powerful social platforms to deliver it. Unless we direct our collective outrage at tech companies, state legislatures and Congress for diminishing our data privacy, we risk ceding democracy to plutocrats with dark databases and vast resources to surreptitiously exert their will.” — David Carroll
“Our acts of separation and rejection, small as they may be or big as they may be, are packed with significance. Trump’s election has shown us that. It’s up to us to reject his model of human relationships and belonging — to not allow his way of being to affect our own, as it has — and to reach across the many boundaries that divide us, whether it’s to welcome refugees who are suffering and seeking a better life here or to reconcile with those with whom we disagree politically.”
“The biggest opportunity of all — and arguably the biggest need — transcends companies and competition. If private-, public-, and social-sector leaders can cooperate to create a new societal deal, they will forge a brighter future for individuals and for a wide range of institutions. Collaboration will be critical to overcome forces undermining openness, to drive middle-class progress, and to encourage experimentation that recharges growth and redresses income inequality.” — McKinsey Global Inst
“The more you understand the brutal logic of climate change — what it could mean, the effort necessary to forestall it — the more the intensity of the situation seems out of whack with the workaday routines of day-to-day life. It’s a species-level emergency, but almost no one is acting like it is. And it’s very, very difficult to be the only one acting like there’s an emergency, especially when the emergency is abstract and science-derived, grasped primarily by the intellect…When climate activists say, “We have the technology; all we need is the political will,” they act like that’s good news. But think about the political will we need: to immediately cease fossil fuel exploration, start shutting down coal mines, and put in place a plan for managed decline of the fossil fuel industry; to double or triple the global budget for clean energy research, development, and deployment; to transfer billions of dollars from wealthy countries to poorer ones, to protect them from climate impacts they are most vulnerable to but least responsible for; and quite possibly, if it comes to it, to limit the consumptive choices of the globe’s wealthiest and most carbon-intensive citizens.
That level of political will is nowhere in evidence, in any country.
So for now, it’s cognitive dissonance.”
“Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers treat all web traffic equally, and it’s pretty much how the internet has worked since its creation. But regulators, consumer advocates and internet companies were concerned about what broadband companies could do with their power as the pathway to the internet — blocking or slowing down apps that rival their own services, for example.”
“The additional funding, which comes after weeks of mostly behind-the-scenes lobbying, reflects the tremendous costs associated with protecting the lifestyle of Mr. Trump and his family…The legislation provides the Secret Service with $34 million for the increased cost of physical protection of Mr. Trump for the rest of the fiscal year. The money could be used flexibly to protect the first family in New York and when it travels. The family’s travels, from business trips to Vancouver and Dubai by Mr. Trump’s adult sons to ski weekends in Aspen, Colo., and Whistler, British Columbia, by his daughter Ivanka have become a constant point of criticism among Democrats.”
“Overall, the deal staves off major cuts for federal science agencies that Trump had requested last month. A few, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NASA science programs, actually receive substantial increases.”
“While there is no baseline pure or neutral architecture for discourse, there are better and worse ones, and the one we have now is being exploited by those with the means and patience to game it. It’s time to reorient what we have with a focus on loyalty to users — honestly satisfying their curiosity and helping them find and engage with others in ways so that disagreement does not entail doxxing and threats, but rather reinforcement of the human aspiration to understand our world and our fellow strugglers within it.”
“Think it can’t get worse? Hold, as the saying goes, my beer. The ACA specifically protected against discrimination for preexisting conditions that showed up through genetic tests. You might not be sick yet — in technical terms, the illness has not manifested — but if you, for example, test positive for one of the pathogenic variants (a less X-Manly term than “mutation”) in the BRCA gene that predisposes you to breast cancer, you could still get covered. If the House bill becomes law, that protection vanishes.” — WIRED
“Citing federal overreach and burdensome regulations, Mr. Trump has prioritized domestic fossil fuel interests and undone measures aimed at protecting the environment and limiting global warming.”


LISTENING

Audiobook

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by — Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths

Political Order & Political Decay — Francis Fukuyama

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays — David Foster Wallace

Podcasts



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