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David Schneider-Joseph
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Written November 9:

'Here’s an example to make my concerns concrete. FBI Director James Comey is serving a 10-year term that is set to expire in 2023. Comey has been a lightning rod of controversy this year. Justly so. But whatever you think of Comey’s judgment, he is very independent. Comey is the guy who famously stood up to President George W. Bush over illegal surveillance, ready to offer his resignation from the Justice Department, in 2004. If you’re looking for a check on lawlessness from President Trump, Comey is actually a good place to start. It may seem counterintuitive now, when a lot of people fear that Comey helped Trump win the election. But I think it’s a good bet going forward.

Say President Trump wants the FBI to do something that Comey refuses to do because it’s likely illegal. The traditional view would be that it’s tough for the president to fire an FBI director for that reason (or to have the FBI director resign for that reason) because the political blowback would be severe. Sure, the president has the legal authority to do it. Just ask William Sessions. But firing the FBI director for refusing to break the law would traditionally be thought to hit a break point. It would raise a lot of fears about the FBI’s independence, and it would trigger a strong political response from Congress. In all likelihood, it wouldn’t happen.

But will the next Congress apply those old norms to President Trump? Imagine Comey refuses an illegal Trump order. Trump promptly fires Comey, and he then nominates a Trump loyalist to be the new FBI director. How would the Republican Congress respond? Would senators say, “well, Trump is Trump,” shrug it off and confirm Trump’s pick? Or would they rebel against Trump not only for the illegal order but also for removing an independent FBI director who merely wanted to follow the law? And is their judgment going to be their own view, or are they going to defer to what the polls say or just what the GOP base and talk radio thinks?'

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This sounds great!

‘The summit will feature a variety of game formats involving AlphaGo and top Chinese players, specifically designed to explore the mysteries of the game together. The games will include:

• “Pair Go” — A game where one Chinese pro will play against another...except they will both have their own AlphaGo teammate, alternating moves, to take the concept of ‘learning together’ quite literally.

• “Team Go” — A game between AlphaGo and a five-player team consisting of China’s top pro players, working together to test AlphaGo’s creativity and adaptability to their combined style.

• “Ke Jie vs AlphaGo” — Of course, the centerpiece of the event will be a classic 1:1 match of three games between AlphaGo and the world’s number one player, Ke Jie, to push AlphaGo to (...perhaps beyond!) its limits.’

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I really liked this segment, about the decision to speak up when morally necessary but personally dangerous. Among those featured: a queer woman in Bahrain and a Muslim woman in the US.

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First Falcon 9 reflight, this Thursday.

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The headline is probably an exaggeration, but the article is right. Particularly: "I don't think it's fair to scapegoat Freedom Caucusers here. They are being blamed for making the naive mistake of assuming that Republicans wanted to do what they were promising to do for seven years. … Here's the bottom line: Republicans didn't want to repeal Obamacare that badly. Obamacare was a useful tool for them. For years, they could use it to score short-term messaging victories. People are steamed about high premiums? We'll message on that today. People are angry about losing insurance coverage? We'll put out a devastating YouTube video about that. Seniors are angry about the Medicare cuts? Let's tweet about it. High deductibles are unpopular? We'll issue an email fact sheet. Or maybe a gif. At no point were they willing to do the hard work of hashing out their intraparty policy differences and developing a coherent health agenda or of challenging the central liberal case for universal coverage."

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It's well known that resume response rates vary by gender, race, and class, but I was pretty astonished by the magnitude of variation in this controlled experiment of resumes sent to top law firms. High-class men got a 16.25% response rate, followed by low-class woman at 6.33%, then high-class women at 3.80%, and finally low-class men at 1.28%.

There's a huge gulf at each step. Perceived high-class men had a tremendous advantage over everyone (between 2.5x and 13x the response rate). Surprisingly, high-class women were at a significant disadvantage compared to low-class women due to perceived "flight risk" -- the possibility that they may leave or take time for family.

Low-class men were, by far, the least palatable to employers, at 1/3rd the response rate of the next-worst tier.

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As the liberal order retreats, John McCain offers its defense at the Munich Security Conference, in the most powerful and heartfelt I’ve seen him since his 2008 concession.

“This panel is going to ask us to consider whether the West will survive. In recent years, this question would invite accusations of hyperbole and alarmism. Not this year. If ever there were a time to treat this question with a deadly seriousness, it is now.

… The entire idea of the West is that it is open to any person or any nation that honors and upholds these values. The unprecedented period of security and prosperity that we have enjoyed for the past seven decades didn’t happen by accident.

… Our predecessors … would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood and race and sectarianism. They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see towards immigrants and refugees and minority groups, especially Muslims. They would be alarmed by the growing inability — and even unwillingness — to separate truth from lies. They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent.

But what would alarm them most, I think, is a sense that many of our peoples, including in my own country, are giving up on the West, that they see it as a bad deal that we may be better off without, and that while Western nations still have the power to maintain our world order, it's unclear whether we have the will.”

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We're about a month away from a historic flight: the first launch of a landed Falcon 9.

Reading Plato's The Republic. It's just one bad argument after another. My favorite is that philosophers make the best soldiers, which proceeds as follows:

* We desire our soldiers to fight the enemy, but not each other.
* Thus they should be like dogs who are friendly towards acquaintances and aggressive towards strangers.
* In this respect, dogs are in a sense lovers of knowledge -- they prefer those whom they know.
* This makes dogs like philosophers. Hence philosophers are the best soldiers.
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