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Paul Tucker
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quote: Trump brings together aggression and narcissism with a kind of militant ignorance which can be harmless or even amusing in the make believe world of reality TV or New York real estate but becomes positively dangerous on a national and global stage, thrashing about like a hose spewing fire. As Will Saletan memorably put it, the GOP is a failed state and Trump is its warlord. On his own Trump is simply a bracing case study in abnormal psychology. But he didn't shoot to within reach of the most powerful office in the world by happenstance. He is the product of a political and cultural breakdown on the American right, a swaggering reductio ad absurdum of every breach and breakdown and violation of extra-statutory norms we've seen over the last two or three decades.

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Difficult to foresee consequences of tinkering with complex systems, again.

This article re-examines the political machines of the 19th century, which have recently been dismantled by reformers as corrupt, and by technical developments by accident, as ugly but functional consensus building bodies without which we are worse off.

It also identifies the phenomenon of hoping for political salvation from ENSIDs (empathetic non-self-interested decision makers), a consequence of too much, too-direct democracy leading to a desire for outsiders to bypass its machinery.

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Land of the free?  In much of the country most people are bottled up in tiny private patches, connected by a relatively unpleasant network of public roads best suited to automobiles.  The mall becomes the default wandering space because there's little else.  There is an alternative. 

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Took a winter beach walk this morning.

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I've lived in denser areas with more walking and use of public transit, and out in the suburbs. I agree with most points of the argument here that contemporary US housing development patterns stymie, as though by design, the conditions most likely to foster adult friendships. I suspect many people people have recognized these problems, yet we've gone down this path anyway. Why?

My experiences with dense habitation, with lots of unscheduled interactions with others were a mixture of good and bad. The two times I lived adjacent to college campuses for a spell were the best; the years spent living in three different urban areas had some wonderful amenities but also more sharply negative aspects, basically unpleasant acts by others in the form of noise, crowding, crime and unwelcome confrontations. The city I enjoyed the most was Tokyo, which has a much higher level of public decorum and respectful behavior than comparable US cities.

I'm attracted to the idea of shared public spaces, of dense walksheds as described here, but I've incrementally moved further into the suburbs, trying to strike an optimal compromise among a variety of criteria. And now I see most of my neighbors at most once a year, at the annual block party. Maybe I dislike a few bad interactions more than I like lots of mildly positive ones.

Looking for info on exercise bikes: I want to hack up a game station at home that keeps the monitor on just so long as an attached bike has a rolling average watts output above some threshold.  At the moment I'm focused on finding a bike that is already equipped or easily modifiable to output watts or rpm + resistance via USB or bluetooth.  Anyone have experience with equipment of this kind?

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Today I drove some unnecessary miles in my car, to hike in a different park, from the one I can walk to from my home.  I burned more petroleum, a fraction of the cost of which went to support the regime in Saudi Arabia, which we would probably view as illegitimate as North Korea's, if it weren't for the inconvenient facts of geography and resource distribution.

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A very worthwhile article, if you're interested in the internet economy and its effect on culture and politics.  Consider a generalization of "nerd sniping"; call it Weak Attention Sniping, perhaps: taking advantage of the propensity of most people at some times to be derailed from an activity of real value by some kind of conspicuously curious distraction.  The business model of the firm described consists entirely of arbitraging and  amplifying WAS, monetized by ads.   The content is copied with little or no modification from elsewhere.  The only value added, if one can call it that, is early recognition of viral content elsewhere on the web, substitution of more attention grabbing headlines, and more aggressive promotion (mostly via facebook).   Real-time data analytics are used to improve click-thru rates and stay ahead of competitors.

Why does this matter?   To me the article suggests a lot of interesting questions about psychology, education, economics and parallels between biological and cultural pathogens.  More narrowly, the business activity it describes is almost certainly making the internet less useful.

Its part of a larger context of internet practices, incentivized by the ease of copying without attribution and by monetization thru ads, that disincentivizes the production of high-quality content, where higher quality requires higher costs.

It may lower the utility provided by availability of high quality, more difficult to absorb information, by a kind of redirective priming.   Suppose there is a story with many aspects, some of them perhaps ambiguous.   Yet within it is a curious nugget that can be mined for WAS.  Those who consume the out-of-context neural candy, or just see in promoted in multiple places, can gain an erroneous impression of the thrust and value of the larger story, or their own understanding of it, and pass up opportunities to consider it more deeply.

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This sounds distressingly corrupt: alleged violations of law don't get prosecuted, but result in cronies of prosecutors being inserted into the suspect corporation as highly paid "monitors" under a secret system with little real accountability.   

Remember this next time Chris Christy is promoting himself as a trustworthy public servant.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/10/washington/10justice.html?pagewanted=all
I found this relatively short article quite unnerving.  It describes the how the US dept of Justice and the SEC "punish" bad corporations, not by prosecuting them but rather by not prosecuting them and, instead, sometimes installing a monitor to make sure that the bad corporation is no longer bad.

I like how Chris Christie, when he was a US Attorney, used this system to pass about $50,000,000 to his friend, former US Atty General John Ashcroft and then another wad of cash to Christie's alma mater.

In addition to being a merely a tap on the wrist, this system is done largely in secret - definitely from the public and even from the stockholders of the bad corporations.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren attempted to mitigate some of the worst parts of this but she got stonewalled.

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"This result requires exquisite control over the laser and the plasma," 
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