Gongol.com Archives: October 2017
Bad people are getting better at doing bad things. That doesn't mean there is truly more evil in the world.
Pulling away from the rest of the world -- or letting it pull itself apart -- only makes everything more dangerous
The words of the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee speaking about a head of state. His own. That's frightening. In particular: "He's hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway." The really shocking thing about all of this is the degree to which the national conversation about the President seems to take place as if he's in the next room, and all of the competent adults need to have a whispered conversation out of earshot. It's no way to run a country.
Either way, it's a problem that the person whose job is to lead the free world is so dismissive of the individual rights most central to our way of life that he thinks they can be either abrogated entirely or joked about recklessly. The only bright spot in this debacle is the thought that it might force sensible people to recommit themselves to the principles that matter.
Elon Musk claims an island-wide power system "can be done for Puerto Rico" to recover from Hurricane Maria
A penny an ounce on sweetened beverages adds up to $200 million a year in government revenues.
20 years -- a good enough run for a one-time cutting-edge technology?
Tens of thousands of acres have burned in a very short time
A well-known Republican explains why he's (temporarily) in alignment with his usual opponents from the Democratic Party: "The daily cascade of indignities, when considered in totality, diminish the presidency and the country so thoroughly that we should all worry he will leave them both beyond repair."
What's changed is that every act of good or evil has the potential to be amplified through modern tools, both technological and practical. And that's inevitable.
Head of signals intelligence agency in Britain argues that cyberwarfare is as big a deal to them as spying
New undersea data cable between Virginia and Spain will move almost incomprehensible volumes of data for Facebook and Microsoft
Showroom stores and sales through online outlets both come into the plan
Maybe 10% of the island has electricity. That's a humanitarian crisis, and it's happening to our fellow Americans.
That ridiculous idea, apparently being floated by American trade representatives, would undermine the very predictability that makes all the difference for businesses that make investments that employ the people that the isolationists like to pretend they're helping.
A cautionary tale, perhaps, of what happens when the government is too dependent upon one person -- and that person isn't capable of doing the job
What did agents and tools of the Russian government try to do to influence the outcome of the election? This data might help tell -- too late.
For all we talk about developments like self-driving vehicles, dramatic changes are happening on the powertrain side of things, too
Walter Shapiro: "Even without deliberate foreign interference, it is dangerous for politics to be conducted in an arena potentially free of all public scrutiny. In theory, it is now possible for political campaigns to tailor individualized messages to every voter in America." Technology itself is almost always value-neutral; whether it is good or bad depends upon the hands in which it is placed. And if we're not thinking about making better people, we shouldn't be surprised if the technology is used for bad purposes.
Jennifer Rubin writes: "[I]f we collectively decide we want more government (or the government we want costs more for the foreseeable future) we should pay for it, not fob it off on the next generation." Letting tax "cuts" become the cart that drives the horse has become a big mistake: The management of tax rates as an economic-growth management tool is really just a warmed-over version of Keynesianism. Instead, we should decide what we want from government, limit those wants, and pay for it.
Reports the Economist: "The person has become the party in a way China has not seen since Mao."
"[O]ne fundamental part of honoring the sacrifice of servicemembers is understanding why they were put at risk, and demanding that those who did so hold themselves to account.
A billion and a half in tax discounts, plus half a billion in transportation infrastructure spending, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Senator Jeff Flake declares his political independence and his intention to leave after his term expires
It's a little too binary and probably too clever by half. Yes, a lot of people share common beliefs, and they could probably be grouped into something like a dozen clusters. But the pure left-to-right spectrum doesn't really make sense anymore, if it ever did.
Once a new account gets past Facebook's initial screening process, it becomes a valuable commodity
Amazon has already smashed a lot of the retail sector, and if it's driven to keep growing, it could very well start extending its reach into peripheral industries (including banking).
CNN says Cambridge Analytica (which played a major role in the Trump campaign) sought out data potentially hacked from the Clinton computer systems via Wikileaks. The more data-driven campaign targeting and dirty cyber-tricks start to overlap, the greater the risk that people may be driven to really bad decisions at the ballot box. Influence campaigns are nothing new -- the Founders worried about foreign influences on campaigns -- but the removal of mediating institutions (like edited publications) from the chain going from source to destination probably serves to amplify the effects.
Rich Lowry sees the future of the Republican Party heavily ballasted towards a Trumpite populism.
The party seems, at an organizational level, not to understand that the harder they chase delusional goals, the less prepared they will be to provide an effective opposition. As Damon Linker writes, "Democrats need political power, and they can only get it if they win more votes."
Some transparency in this regard will probably be helpful, but what about the bots and the troll farms?
A report from the Financial Times documents China's "United Front Work Department", which the Communist Party there is using to project its soft power into geographies it doesn't fully control, areas of social life where dissent might pop up, and the politics of foreign countries.
More than 60% of all startups in India are located in three metro areas. Urbanization has a wide range of substantial and durable effects, and we need to start thinking hard about a world where a majority of the entire global population lives in cities. We're already at 54% urban worldwide and rising fast.
CNN reports that a grand jury has approved charges resulting from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, and someone is likely to be taken into custody as soon as Monday.
The National Archives says this is pretty much it for the files that had been kept secret up until now
An interesting argument that tough zoning ordinances in some major cities actually has a very positive effect for other places that don't have similar rules -- which dampens the clustering effect that would normally be expected to benefit some of those large cities via a rich-get-richer feedback loop.
Why don't we have as heavily industrial an economy as, say, Germany? One argument is that the American economy is so dynamic that skilled people get drawn into post-industrial jobs at a much higher rate here than there, creating a high hurdle for industrial jobs to compete against.
Because she was playing on a boys' team. Seems like a peculiar way to structure things.