Profile

Cover photo
Michael Powell
Works at IMVU
Lives in Sunnyvale, CA
246,569 views
AboutPostsPhotosVideos

Stream

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is an incredibly profound talk, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

"The gospel of doubt does not ask that you stop believing. It asks that you believe a new thing. That it's possible not to believe. It's possible the answers we have are wrong. It's possible the questions themselves are wrong. The gospel of doubt means that it's possible that we, on this stage, in this room, are wrong. Because it raises the question why, with all the power that we hold in our hands, why are people still suffering so bad?"

This isn't a call to atheism, and it isn't really even directed at religion specifically. Rather, it's a call to question ALL the things we place blind faith in, delivered in beautiful and profound oratory.
What do you do when your firmly held beliefs turn out not to be true? When Casey Gerald's religion failed him, he searched for something new to believe in — in business, in government, in philanthropy — but found only false saviors. In this moving talk, Gerald urges us all to question our beliefs and embrace uncertainty.
2
Ember Leo's profile photo
 
The combination of the Problem of Evil and my direct experiences with spirit are how I ended up at Polytheism. An Omni-everything God who intervenes in our daily lives made no sense to me.
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
On Negative Campaigning

There's been a lot going around about negative campaigning recently, as there always is during a campaign season. And it's starting to really bother me, because I think virtually all of it misses the real problem:

There is nothing wrong with negative campaigning provided the attacks are both true and relevant.

The problem is NOT when a candidate attacks their opponent. Pointing out their opponent's flaws is completely reasonable and appropriate. The problem is when they either lie about their opponent, or level irrelevant criticisms.

For instance:
- Pointing out that your opponent is taking money from the financial sector while promising to reign in the financial sector is fair and relevant.
- Pointing out that your opponent's legislative agenda is unlikely to get through the legislature is fair and relevant.
- Pointing out that your opponent has small hands, or a small penis, or is soft spoken, is completely irrelevant, regardless of truth.
- Pointing out that your opponent's health care agenda would involve repealing vital parts of Obamacare, without mentioning that this would only happen if replaced by something better, is relevant, but misleading.
4
Michael Powell's profile photoEmber Cooke's profile photo
6 comments
 
Tone is primarily indicative of the emotional content, which IS potentially an aspect of the validity of the underlying points, especially if one of those points is "this is very distressing".

Mind you, emotional content is another data point, not a logical operator. But dismissing it is also invalid.
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
1
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is a powerful story and an important reminder of this struggle is far from over.

Learning to code won't fix these problems directly, but the more black people are seen being accomplished engineers, academics and entrepreneurs, the more the unconscious racism unpinning these sorts of incidents is undermined. So in this story, I also see a ray of hope.
This week is the first week of our #CodeStart School, a 13 month collaborative partnership between @AtlWorkforce @TechSquare @TheIronYard @OHUBAtl. 17 disconnected youth are in the program. Today, the 2nd full day of the program, we experience the following.
4
3
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
The ad articulates one of the top reasons I support Bernie Sanders, which I rarely see articulated: I trust him more on foreign policy.

We need a break from interventionism. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria... These have all been hugely costly, in both money and lives, and have consistently made things worse. Sanders is the only candidate from either party who promises less interventionism, and his voting record backs that up.

(The fact that less money spent on war frees up funds to be spent in more useful places is a nice bonus.)
2
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years via Legislative Side Doors

(The link goes to a New York Times article with that title. I don't know why G+'s embedding shows it as a login page.)

The narrative that Sanders is a noble ideologue who'll never get anything done has been remarkably persistent in this election cycle, and thus far the only real argument I've seen against that has been that neither Sanders nor Clinton will get anything done with a Republican Congress, but Sanders has a greater chance of generating the excitement and voter turnout necessary to achieve a Democratic sweep of Congress this year.

But this article describes how Sanders has actually been a very effective legislator, pushing through a lot of his agenda as riders on larger bills, often reaching across the isle to find a Republican who shares his passion for that particular issue, and building compromises to help things get passed. The examples cited here give me a lot more faith in Sanders' ability to get things done, without tarnishing his passion or consistency.
To save articles or get newsletters, alerts or recommendations – all free. Don't have an account yet? Create an account ». Subscribed through iTunes and need an NYTimes.com account? Learn more ». Need to connect your Home Delivery subscription to NYTimes.com? Link your subscription » ...
2
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
So yea, there's no way Trump is really as extreme as we'd all assumed. Sure, he said he'd deport all 12 million illegal immigrants, but that was just an off-the-cuff remark that he hasn't really explored the feasibility of, right? I mean, yea, he said he'd keep all the muslims from entering the country, but that's just pandering to his base right?

He's not REALLY a fascist. The Hitler comparisons are just the usual hyperbole of a presidential campaign, right?

... Right?

Uhm... Well shit.
Trump said he's confident in his actions, even if others don't agree.
1
Add a comment...
In his circles
219 people

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is the most comprehensive article I've seen to date about the history and current state of the basic income movement. An excellent read, of the high calibre I've come to expect from FiveThirtyEight (which is the blog of Nate Silver, famous for predicting every state in the 2012 Presidential race with the power of statistics, though he didn't write this article himself).
Daniel Straub remembers the night he got hooked on basic income. He had invited Götz Werner, a billionaire owner of a German drugstore chain, to give an independent talk in Zurich, where Straub was…
6
1
R. Deeds (Ragnarok Now)'s profile photoMichael Powell's profile photoEmber Cooke's profile photo
5 comments
 
Oh thank you so much!
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
Thoughts on Superman and America

Superman has always been, in many ways, symbolic of America. He fights for "Truth, Justice and the American Way". He's a symbol of hope and freedom. He has great power, but he also has the grace and moral compass to use it responsibly. He is basically what America aspires to be.

Or at least, that's what he has been in the past. The new Superman, as portrayed in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman, is very different. His heart's generally in the right place, but he's reckless. He leaves destruction in his wake. Every time he tries to save people, he seems to make things worse. And he's forced to repeatedly face the consequences of his mistakes.

A lot of people are pissed at this depiction, and I can see why. They want their symbol of hope. They want to have that piece of the divine that steps in and heroically saves the day. But you know what? Maybe that's not what America needs right now. After years of blundering about the world with our great power, trying time and again to save people, for all the wrong reasons, and making bigger messes than we fix, maybe what we really need is a reminder that with great power, comes great responsibility, and sometimes the best thing you can do with your power is to NOT use it. Sometimes bringing your power to bear on a problem is actually going to make it worse, and the world will be better off if you sit this one out.

So Zack Snyder's Superman may not be the hero this country wants, but I think he's the hero this country needs.
6
1
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
Bigotry in a Post-Body World

A post by +Ember Leo (https://plus.google.com/u/0/104602841704013913793/posts/HZRnPFjMYwK) got me thinking again about a topic I've often mused on, but never really discussed, which is: In a future where we have the technology to change our bodies at will, what happens to most of the bigotry we've known?

When you can swap your sex from day to day, nobody knows whether you born a man or a woman, or neither, and most people will almost certainly want to spend some amount of time as numerous different sexes, if only out of curiosity. People who were born black can present as white, and vice-versa, and you'll have no way to know unless they tell you.

On the surface, it's easy to assume that this will remove all traditional bigotry. But I'm not so sure that's exactly true. I think it will change it's shape a bit, in a way that I'm not sure is better or worse.

Imagine, you grew up in a world where the stereotype is that young black men are the biggest baddest motherfuckers there are. You imagine them to be tough, belligerent, angry, stoic, with giant cocks and not taking shit from anyone. Not always the brightest, but certainly the strongest. The epitome of alpha masculinity, both for the good and the bad. It just so happens this is our actual, current stereotype for young black men.

Now, imagine you have a day where you just wake up angry. You feel like getting in people's faces, taking no shit, and being a tough-talking bad-ass. What kind of body will you choose? Why, most likely the body of a young black man, because that's matches the stereotype of how you feel like acting today.

And you proceed to go out and act out that stereotype. That's why you wore this body, after all.

Now multiply that billions of times over. People wear the body of a latin lover or a fiery redhead when they're feeling horny. They're blonde when they want to party. They're an older white guy when they want to talk politics or science. They're Asian when they want to seem wise. And the stereotypes become like self-fulfilling prophecies, far more than they've ever been.

So the bigotry doesn't die out. If anything, it becomes stronger. At first blush, this seems categorically worse, but I'm not sure that's accurate either.

Because now we're moving into a world were, more often than not, your initial prejudice about a person is RIGHT, because they're putting on that look specifically to play into the stereotypes surrounding that look. If you're more belligerent to a young black man than you are to others, it's only because people only go out looking like a young black man when they feel like being belligerent. So it's justified! Right?

Well, maybe not so much. That may be true some percentage of the time, enough to produce statistical significance. Enough for people to notice, and reinforce their prejudices. However, a lot of people are going to identify particularly strongly with a particular race or gender for reasons that have nothing to do with the common stereotypes. Maybe it's what they were born as, and they're proud of that. Maybe they have a historical hero who doesn't match their stereotype. Maybe they don't even know why, but they're just more comfortable in that skin, and that's okay. But, that skin will come with even stronger judgments for them then it does for us. Their only saving grace is that they can choose to put in an alternate face any time they want, to avoid those judgments, at the cost of living in a new kind of closet.

So is this world better or worse than the one we live in now?

I'm not sure. It's complicated.
1
Michael Powell's profile photoR. Deeds (Ragnarok Now)'s profile photoJon Luning's profile photoEmber Cooke's profile photo
6 comments
 
I don't honestly know what motivated people to choose the appearances they did on that front. I think a major factor was that we weren't limited to human presentations, but there was also a strong tendency for people to stick significantly to one consistent appearance. I was unusual in that I was totally protean. I considered SL to be a place where I could play with sculpting any appearance whatsoever. Most folks I knew had one humanoid appearance most of the time, and only wore other avatars for special contexts. So the appearance they chose was an idealized form of what they wanted to present most of the time, and they didn't change it to suit the positivity or negativity of their mood per se.
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
In theory, the term "Bernie Bro" is not supposed to refer to all Sanders supporters, just a particular subset of misogynistic white men who engage in problematic behavior. The trouble is, labels like this have a way of taking on a life of their own, and turning into slurs directed at entire broad movements. Thus all Sanders supporters find themselves tarred as Bernie Bros, regardless of race or gender, to such an extent that people forget that Sanders even has supporters who aren't misogynistic white men.

And it turns out that quite a lot of his supporters are women, or people of color. And even among the white men who support him, many of us wouldn't support him if we didn't believe he'd do well by women and people of color. If we just wanted to rage against Wall Street and money in politics, but didn't care about social justice, we'd support Trump.

(And yes, Sanders does have slightly higher support among white men than among women or people of color. But the ratio is not nearly as severe as the media would have you believe.)
Hillary Clinton's supporters manage to erase plenty of people of color with their anti-Sanders talking points
4
R. Deeds (Ragnarok Now)'s profile photoKenton Varda's profile photoMichael Powell's profile photo
4 comments
 
As a side note, I was just realizing that it's not just the "white" part of that statement that's inaccurate. It's also the "rural" part.

Alaska is undeniably super rural, fine, but...

Washington has a population of ~7.1 million. The Seattle metropolitan area has a population of ~3.7 million people, over half of the population of Washington. The Vancouver metro area (that's the Vancouver in southern Washington, not the one just over the border in Canada) has a metro area population of ~2.4 million. Spokane metro area accounts for about 540k. Between the three of them, you've accounted for ~6.6 million out of ~7.1 million., living in cities. This doesn't sound like a rural state to me.

Hawaii has a population of only ~1.4 million. However, the Honolulu metro area accounts for 950k of that. That accounts for over 2/3rds of the population of Hawaii. Is that really a "mostly rural" state?
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is produced by Citizen Super PAC (https://www.citizensuperpac.com/), which despite their rhetoric about taking the political media back from the 1%, is clearly a Republican-associated organization, in that all of the ads they've produced are for Republican agendas.

And yet, there's this. Clearly, us on the left are not the only ones seeing Trump's fascism.
 
Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. We all saw this commercial coming but I have to say it exceeds expectations.
7 comments on original post
2
Eric Rall's profile photoMichael Powell's profile photo
16 comments
 
My understanding, which may not have been accurate, was that most of those Latin American examples involved a popular backlash against an ineffectual legislature.

Also, while it's not exactly a Presidential or Parliamentary system, I understand that Julius Caesar took over on the basis that the Roman Senate had fallen to bickering and become gridlocked and ineffectual. And when he was assassinated, Augustus used basically the same excuse, just with much more cunning political maneuvering.
Add a comment...
People
In his circles
219 people
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Sunnyvale, CA
Previously
Mountain View, CA - San Jose, CA - Santa Barbara, CA - Fremont, CA - Ojai, CA
Links
Other profiles
Contributor to
Work
Occupation
Software Engineer
Employment
  • IMVU
    Software Engineer, 2011 - present
  • PlayFirst
    Software Engineer, 2010 - 2011
  • Cryptic Studios
    Game Programmer, 2008 - 2010
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Apps with Google+ Sign-in
  • Rebuild 3
  • Svarog: The Awakening