Saturday, January 06, 2018

MEdia Misfits

We made love stories up so we could believe the night sky was not so vast, so unbearably vast, that we barely mattered ...

The taking of offence is what rests in the bosom of the stupid ones. — Ecclesiastes 7:9

From the New York Times thirty minute interview with President Trump:
"I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A."

Latin is an essential language for our digital age

After about six months of licking my wounds and thinking about it, I finally decided to hire Chris Garrett (co-author of the Problogger book) to look at everything and tell me what I was doing wrong.
Here's what he told me:
Nobody knows who you are.
At first, I didn't get it. I said, "Yeah, but isn't that the point of publishing great content? You write lots of great stuff, and then the word spreads, and popular bloggers find out about you?"
"No," he said. "Popular bloggers find out about who you are, and THEN they read your content, and THEN they link to you. Connections come first. Great content comes second."

MEdia Dragons tend to  think too much and love too hard. They are first class emotional processors with endless curiosity about why humans love and hate the way we do - crowd sourcing landscapes of communist as well as extreme laboratory environments of the bear pit and latitude snake pit are ideal to observe cultures at work ...

The Biggest Secret: My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror The Intercept. (The horrid mobile-friendly formatting goes away after the lead, so grab a cup of coffee and keep reading.)

In February Blair visited Kushner in the White House. On this trip the now freelance diplomat, perhaps seeking to prove his usefulness to this new White House, mentioned a juicy rumour: the possibility that the British had had the Trump campaign staff under surveillance, monitoring its telephone calls and other communications and possibly even Trump himself.
This was, as Kushner might understand, the Sabbath goy theory of intelligence. On the Sabbath, observant Jews could not turn on the lights, nor ask someone else to turn on the lights. But if they expressed the view that it would be much easier to see with light, and if a non-Jew then happened to turn them on, that would be fine. So although the Obama administration would not have asked the British to spy on the Trump campaign, the Brits would have been led to understand how helpful it might be if they did.

 A Spy’s Guide to Thinking

There Was, Last Week In Manhattan, And Briefly, A Four-Story Mural Of A Penis…

The piece, by artist Carolina Falkholdt, had been commissioned, but it didn't last long. "The painting appeared on the wall of a building on Broome Street, between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets, on Christmas Eve. By Wednesday afternoon, it was being painted over, and by Thursday it had completely disappeared." (Read much more about the mural's background and planned focus in this Hyperallergic piece.) … [Read More]

If Digital Life Is Getting You Down, Get To A Live Theatre Show, Fast…

Playwright Ayad Akhtar: "I am not hopeful about where we are as a nation — as a species (if I can be so presumptuous). I’m not hopeful, because I am increasingly of the mind that even my hope is being monetized. That which is most enduring, most noble, most human about me — my urge for something brighter, more vivid, more loving, more alive — all of this is being used against me." … [Read More]

Prophecies of paperless offices notwithstanding, business, ideas, and thought still get written down. Humans are, after all, material. You can’t blow your nose into an email... The dangerous Act called  hot desking and soul destroying eras 

We have inherited a lot from Martin Luther, but we misunderstand him. He was not a prophet of modernity but a fear-driven fanatic, a case study in how the reactionary mind-set evolves Setting Minds 

Facing Allegations Of Abuse, Peter Martins Resigns From New York City Ballet Ros Eater

"After accusations of sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse" - and following an arrest (his second) for drunk driving on Thursday - "Peter Martins, the powerful leader of New York City Ballet who shaped the company for more than three decades, has decided to retire." … Read More

Are Mormon beauty queens taking over your Instagram feed?

What, exactly, are  thought experiments? Glimpses into Plato’s heavenly realm? Simple, ordinary argumentation? They may be something else entirely: mental modeling MEdia Misfits.  

Crowdsourcing accurately and robustly predicts Supreme Court decisions. Daniel Martin Katz, Michael James Bommarito II, Josh Blackman. arXiv:1712.03846 
MEdia Dragons have increasingly investigated “crowdsourcing” as an alternative to expert-based judgment or purely data-driven approaches to predicting the future of trends like Kafkaesque hot desking ;-). Under certain conditions, observers have found that crowdsourcing can outperform these other approaches. 

To be human the film suggested, was to step into the full flurry and motion of all humanity: to bear the weight of circumstances without flinching, to surrender to the crucible — to admit that history was not something in the past but something you consciously step into. Living a life meant knowing you might be killed instantly, like one who wanders into the path of a runaway train. It was the first time I felt a sense of messianic time, of life that was not limited to the story of a lone human being detached from the cosmos.

When I came out of the theater, I said to my mother, "It's like we're stars in space. It's like space is the theater and we are the bits of stardust and everything everywhere is the story."
— from The Book of Joan, by Lidia Yuknavitch

"Freedom of the press in 2017 is standing on the edge of a chasm," Spielberg says. "And I thought that the story of Nixon trying to stop The Washington Post's constitutional right to publish these stories, and trying to abolish the fourth estate … there were some profound similarities."

"There's never been this kind of a smokescreen put between the public and the press," Spielberg says. "I've never seen so much vitriol, and dogmatic entrenchment, and I've never seen such anger in my life, in politics."
Spielberg movie The Post is a stirring defence of the role of a free media ...

Saving the Free Press From Private Equity The American Prospect

Kristina Keneally demanded Sam Dastyari remove Obeid comment ... 

Kevin Rudd, John Curtin and Jacquie Lambie will star in political ...

 Revenge in Old Times Roman 12pt as pollies and public again want to tell us their exclusive side of things ...

Andrew Leigh, Kevin Rudd, Bob Carr, Bob Brown and John Curtin will return next year. Not in physical form or professionally, but on the printed page. The four men will be the focus of political books their publishers hope will stand out from stands packed with real-life crime, sporting memoirs and personal-development ...

Pondering the strange, authoritarian political fantasies of this declared partisan of absolute liberty, he particularly brings to mind Shigalyev, the theorist of the revolutionary cell in Dostoevsky’s Demons: “My conclusion stands in direct contradiction to the idea from which I started. Proceeding from unlimited freedom, I end with unlimited despotism ... 
Murray N. Rothbard
, as it happens, was an only child. His father, David Rothbard, who emigrated from Poland, grew up speaking only Yiddish, but as Rothbard recounts with no small pride in reflections on his life, he completely lost his accent and spoke English fluently. David also adopted what his son considered to be  “devotion to the Basic American way: minimal government, belief in and respect for free enterprise and private property, and a determination to rise by one’s own merits and not via government privilege or handout.” This is despite the fact that his family was situated in a deeply leftist milieu. He wrote near the end of his life in a short memoir for Chronicles: “I grew up in a communist culture; the middle-class Jews in New York whom I lived among, whether family, friends, or neighbors, were either communists or fellow-travelers in the communist orbit. I had two sets of Communist Party uncles and aunts, on both sides of the family.” He took his father’s side in the frequent debates and Rothbard recalls being “eleven or twelve” when he upset a family gathering by asking, “What’s wrong with Franco, anyway?”

The Forgotten Man The Baffler. Murray Rothbard.

Weak States: Causes and Consequences of the Sicilian Mafia. Daron Acemoglu, Giuseppe De Feo, and Giacomo De Luca. NBER Working Paper No. 24115. December 2017.
“We document that the spread of the Mafia in Sicily at the end of the 19th century was in part shaped by the rise of socialist Peasant Fasci organizations. In an environment with weak state presence, this socialist threat triggered landholders, estate managers and local politicians to turn to the Mafia to resist and combat peasant demands. We show that the location of the Peasant Fasci is significantly affected by an exceptionally severe drought in 1893, and using information on rainfall, we establish the causal effect of the Peasant Fasci on the location of the Mafia in 1900. We provide extensive evidence that rainfall before and after this critical period has no effect on the spread of the Mafia or various economic and political outcomes. In the second part of the paper, we use the source of variation in the location of the Mafia in 1900 to estimate its medium-term and long-term effects. We find significant and quantitatively large negative impacts of the Mafia on literacy and various public goods in the 1910s and 20s. We also show a sizable impact of the Mafia on political competition, which could be one of the channels via which it affected local economic outcomes. We document negative effects of the Mafia on longer-term outcomes (in the 1960s, 70s and 80s) as well, but these are in general weaker and often only marginally significant. One exception is its persistent and strong impact on political competition.”

ANTISOCIAL MEDIA: Dozens of Companies Are Using Facebook to Exclude Older Workers From Job Ads: Among the companies we found doing it: Amazon, Verizon, UPS and Facebook itself. “It’s blatantly unlawful,” said one employment law expert


Flashback: A former FBI agent battling Deputy Director McCabe said there is a ‘cancer’ inside the FBI. “They’ve poisoned the 7th floor.” 
The film is not named, but surely it is Doctor Zhivago that is described. I can't say I feel the same way about this film as Yuknavitch's narrator does, but I remember having a similar epiphany (for me the film was Wings of Desire)

I'm still trying to wrap my head around Lidia Yuknavitch's The Book of Joan. I thought I didn't like it much — I want to say it's overwritten and self-indulgent. But I'm still thinking about this book, and I still haven't decided how I feel about it. So that's something.

I'll write more about it soon, but in the meantime, here's a TED Talk Yuknavitch delivered last year.

Even at the moment of your failure, right then, you are beautiful. You don't know it yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself endlessly. That's your beauty.
The beauty of being a misfit

Building a successful team is about more than finding a group of people with the right mix of professional skills. Over the course of interviewing over 500 leaders for Corner Office, I asked them all about the art of fostering a strong sense of teamwork. Their insights can help you lay the groundwork for a highly productive team that can communicate, cooperate and innovate in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.
Make a Plan:  You need a clear and measurable goal for what you want to accomplish.
  • Hiring Well Isn't Enough
  • Create A Clear Map
  • Have A Shared Scorecard
  • You May Feel Like A Broken Record ...

I'm finding the book to be weirdly judgmental; Harari explains history on this grand scale and that it couldn't've unfolded any other way, but then blames us for it. I can't decide whether this is careless or deliberately manipulative in order to spur action to quell our darker nature, but if the latter is the case, it risks antagonizing the audience it needs to reach and preaching to the choir. Ultimately, where we've been, were we are, and where we're going — it's all inevitable.

I'm not very good at reading nonfiction, so I appreciated having book club as an incentive. I do plan on reading the second half of the book, but I may take a little break before getting back to it.

Rise of Humans
See also:
Harari's most recent article on the meaning of life in a world without work:

To the best of our scientific knowledge, human life has no meaning. The meaning of life is always a fictional story created by us humans.
It sounds like Harari is saying in this essay that in the future, we will all play video games all day long. But I will give Harari the benefit of the doubt that his writing is sloppy, that he does not intend to insult humanity and be so casually dismissive of our choices, that he is trying to express the more meaningful fact that humans are adept at constructing realities to occupy and amuse themselves.