Archive

October 16th, 2016

Don't be sure big tech breakthroughs are behind us

    Vox tech writer Timothy B. Lee used to be one of the most ardent techno-optimists. But he's had a bit of a conversion, of late, and is now on the side of those who think tech progress is slowing. Maybe it was the economist Robert Gordon who , or maybe years of observing the tech world changed his mind. In any case, Lee now broadly suggests that the inventions of tomorrow won't be as world-changing as those of yesteryear. The idea that tech will remake our lives, he writes:

    "has fallen flat in recent years, and I think it's going to continue failing in the years to come. There are a number of industries - with health care and education being the most important - where there's an inherent limit on how much value information technology can add. Because in these industries, the main thing you're buying is relationships to other human beings, and those can't be automated."

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Comparing the content of Trump's caught-on-tape-comments with hip-hop is not just illogical

    A range of arguments have been raised in defense of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by a small but clearly devoted band.

    One questions whether Trump's caught-on-tape comments matter. Trump, these backers say, is not running to become a moral role model. Another attempts to acknowledge the lewd nature of Trump's comments, but minimizes their meaning. This would include those, who, like Trump, regard his claims that, as a star, he can kiss and grab women by their genitals at will, "locker-room talk," not a man bragging about sexual assault.

    But more recently, a third argument appears to have gained traction. That would be the hip-hop-artists-and-Beyoncé-say-this-stuff-all-the-time claim. And as such, this argument says, Trump's comments are neither uncommon nor unforgivable.

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Campaigns End On Election Day — Revolutions Don’t

    Bernie Sanders’ truly revolutionary campaign for president ended in August after the last Democratic primary election. Corporatists, cynics, and most of the media assumed that the grassroots populist revolution he inspired was over as well.

    They couldn’t imagine that the diverse mix of young people, working-class voters, independents, progressive mavericks, and millions of others whom Bernie energized as an independent political group could stay together, much less mount any serious challenge to the business-as-usual elites.

    But far beyond the little negative bubble where those scoffing prognosticators dwell, something called “Our Revolution” is rising across America’s political horizon.

    That’s the name of the new organizational structure Bernie’s forged to continue his electoral storm. As civil rights leader Ben Jealous said when he joined the board, “Bernie’s transformative campaign was just the beginning.”

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And Now, the Good News Is ...

    We’ve already learned so much this election year. Besides the importance of not bragging about girl-grabbing when there’s a microphone pinned to your lapel.

    For instance, boring people have never looked better. This is a seldom-defended subset of the American population, but after a year or so of the exciting Donald Trump, we have a new appreciation. Right now, many voters may be looking at their local congressman — a person they would change lines at the grocery store in order to avoid having to engage in conversation — and thinking, “Wow, Fred may be a snooze, but when you think about it, there are so many worse possibilities.”

    Can you imagine how deliriously happy the Republican Party would be if Trump woke up one morning feeling boring? But no, he’s still bounding from one rally to the next, attacking members of his own party and demanding that Hillary Clinton go to jail. The new WikiLeaks from her campaign, he thundered on Wednesday, “make more clear than ever ... how unattractive and dishonest our country has become.”

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Al Gore's feelings

    There are a few things that I remember about Al Gore, visiting professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2001.

    First, Gore had an incredible vocabulary. It was so extensive that as a student in his class - one of his first post-2000 election projects - I took to writing down what I labeled "Gore words" in a special section of my notebook and looking them up after class. It's not that he was hard to follow. He was and is the son of a long-time politician, a former solider, journalist, divinity and law school student, representative, senator and, at that point, fresh off the 2000 campaign trail.

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Why Hillary Clinton is the right choice for progressives

    At the second presidential debate, Donald Trump once again played down the recording of his vile comments bragging about sexual assault as "locker-room talk." But as the fallout from the tape continues, the Republican Party has essentially become a locker room divided, with many members of the red team abandoning their quarterback and scrambling to save themselves.

    For some progressive voters who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primaries, however, the latest revelations do little to ease their concerns about Hillary Clinton. They clearly recognize that Trump is - in every way imaginable - egregiously unfit to be president. They know that, on issue after issue, Trump is a bitter enemy of progress. But they also don't trust Clinton to advance the important causes that Sanders forced into the debate.

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What Donald Trump could learn from the Jewish tradition about apologizing

    Along with so much else that we learned about Donald Trump with the release of Friday's tape - that he likes to "grab them by the p--y," that being recently married is no impediment to such grabbing, that he has no idea when a microphone is live - we learned that even when Trump tries to apologize, he gets it all wrong. "This was locker room banter," Trump said on his website, "a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course - not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended." Later in his video apology, he added, "I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize" - which might seem better, but, as we'll see, is not. If we are to salvage anything from this whole episode, it might be that it causes us to reflect on just what's wrong with this apology, and how we can get apologies right.

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Trump doubles down on his worst tendencies

    That fiercely combative second presidential debate Sunday night in St. Louis only assured that the ugliest campaign for the American presidency in history will drag on to election night next month.

    Donald Trump, scrambling to survive perhaps the most tawdry evidence ever made public against presidential nominee, chose counterattack over contrition in a bold bid to get his struggling campaign across the Nov. 8 finish line.

    He brushed off as mere "locker room talk" his revealed embrace of sexual assault against women in a much-aired 2005 video clip. Then he pivoted to make harsher allegations of sexual assault against Bill Clinton in a staged stunt, having invited the former president's accusers and placed them in the audience.

    He capped off his outrageous debate performance by warning rival Hillary Clinton that, if elected, he would instruct his attorney general to investigate her alleged email deletions, suggesting he would act on supporters' shouted demands to "lock her up!"

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The Don is four centuries too late

    This was the week the man

    Changed his mind about mass deportation.

    There will not be a total ban

    Of Muslims, only extreme filtration.

    And the week the nominee was unhorsed

    By a revelatory video that hit

    And The New York Times was forced

    To print words that were not fit.

    He was 59 and talking about his great luck

    With women who were celebrity-struck

    And how he was free to be a schmuck --

    A cartoon, a strutting squawking Donald Duck.

    A role model, but for what role?

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Solving the Riddle of the Slovenian Sphinx and the Pussy Bow

    It was a relief to see Melania Trump at the St. Louis debate.

    I was worried that the svelte Slovenian had gone into witness protection. Or that she was cloistered at a spa in the Swiss Alps.

    Melania virtually disappeared after her Republican convention mishap purloining some Michelle Obama speech chunks. And then, after the invidious 2005 videotape of her husband and Billy Bush surfaced — with the bros bantering about groping women at a time when Melania was pregnant — there was talk that she and Donald would do a Bill and Hillary “60 Minutes"-type interview where she stood by her Cheez Doodle.

    It wasn’t her style, and that idea got dropped. Melania did issue a statement calling her husband’s comments “offensive” but saying that he had her support and suggesting that everyone “focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”

    Who knew that the important issue would be a pussy bow?

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