Weakly Post #17

A collection of things I have read this week, and some tools for tech and/or learning new stuff, especially languages. Your first comment is checked, after that you are free to comment.

Happy Easter. I posted this week about Moral Decay.

Reading Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff as part of Bryan Alexander’s book club. It is a depressing read so far as she outlines how unfettered capitalism is now mining our society and personal relationships for profit. Not so fun.

Also not fun is Hanna Rosin’s take at NPR about the End of Empathy. (NPR) Counteract that with this video of a speech by David Foster Wallace.

Also, the NRA seems to be unraveling as the top brass make off with the loot. One greater fool? Taking the gun nuts for a ride? The end of the most successful terrorist organization on the planet? (New Yorker). Facebook looks like it may be falling apart. (Wired) An Olympic bicycling champion grows up and becomes homeless in Seattle. Fox “news” is addictive and can be dangerous to your family’s health. (NY Mag) Trump gets schooled by Jimmy Carter on China and how they spend money in the right places (not on the military). (Newsweek). New style for funerals. Put the fun back in. Gotta hand it to us boomers. (WaPo). Code-switching (changing your language to fit the audience) can be dangerous in politics when your opponents are willfully ignorant. Go AOC. She is AOK.

In learning this week we find that the future will be built on Skills Maps. An old argument against Paolo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed gets rehashed. Attacked by Russ Maynes. Defended by Paul Walsh. Memory. 3 tips to enhance it. (NYTimes)

Science is really a labor of love. Has to be. Read about trying to find two equal packets of Skittles. In glorious detail. (Blog) Build your own facial recognition machine for $60. Be the first on your block. Really. (NYTimes)

Moral Decay

The family is writing about politics again. Reacting to David Brooks’ new book The Second Mountain. He writes mostly about moral decay. Here is what I added to the mix.

It does seem odd, from a perspective far away, across a big ocean, that the richest country in the history of the world, with a matching military budget, with no significant opposition, feels so bad. 

Do note that overall happiness here in Japan is much lower than in the US. (Japan at 58th/156 just beats out Honduras and Khazakstan, the US is 19th and trails countries like Israel and Costa Rica.) They don’t advertise it, though. You might think the US is all about “buck it up”, but they (we) look like a bunch of whiny kids from outside the US. 

We are squandering huge social and technological advances. Let’s hope the pendulum swings back before it is too late. 

I was talking yesterday to a programmer from South Africa and a Trump supporter in the park. I walk there to get my 10,000 steps, and to read*. He started out our conversation by saying he liked to talk about politics. He had some unusual perspectives but we agreed on the fact that we (he and I) lived in a country only Trump could dream about. Voter apathy here, control by one party over almost all of the last 60 years, common white-collar graft that is overlooked, absolutely locked-down immigration (30 Syrian refugees were thought to be too many), rampant discrimination, with objectification and exploitation of foreigners (the new guest worker program) all are on the conservative list. The only real difference here is that individuality has a much lower place in the hierarchy of values. 

It is all relative. (We here in Japan do have a lot less income disparity, an administration that takes care of its people, and national health care, so there is that.)

*Reading Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff. Talk about a real downer! New kind of capitalism that uses society as a resource for building income. Just finished Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff who proposes ways to fight it. 

Happy Sunday and a happy 4/20, y’all.

Categorized as culture