inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #76 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 7 Jan 17 01:38
    

*If anybody thinks that standard Al Gore rationalist, scientific
Blue State leftie environmentalists are destined to be the heroes of
this great crisis of  our civilization, well, they haven't been
entirely ineffectual, but they've gotta be one of the least
successful mass movements ever.   The real inconvenient truth is
that the truth is just not the be-all and end-all for people.  If
scientific evidence convinced mankind, nobody would be religious. 

I wouldn't "give up" about the ongoing struggle against the
continuing climate crisis, but it won't be reasonable Bright Green
technocratic solutions, passed by competent American governments,
saving the day here.  That  day's not gonna get saved.  That "day"
is well past now, and it might have passed way back in Earth Day
1970.  

The ruins of the unsustainable are the 21st century's frontier. 
Given the trends, it's pretty clear that the unsustainable is gonna
get ruined a lot faster than it looked.  We're Anthropocenic now. 
That's where we live.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #77 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 7 Jan 17 01:38
    

*With that said, I get annoyed by the kind of febrile leftist
melancholia that says, "Well, they failed to do what was obviously
correct by my cogent analysis, and therefore a Dark Age looms." 
It's not that your analysis was even mistaken, it's just that
reality isn't bound by your rationality.   There's a hell of a lot
of malignant carbon up in the sky, but black swans abound in this
world.  We could get a Tuva super volcano some day.  Any day,
really; they exist.  There could be a nuclear exchange.  And in both
of those  dire cases, people would still be alive, thinking, and
acting.  Maybe even you and I would be alive then.  Probably not,
statistically speaking,  but somebody would live.
 
"Climate change" wouldn't matter much in those circumstances.  It
would still be around, and severe, too, but it would be public issue
number ten or so.  Should humanity "give up"?   What would we "give
up" about, exactly?  We personally would obviously be traumatized
and future shocked, but what makes us the ultimate moral and
historical barometer?  People would born into that  post-unthinkable
world.  Are they supposed to "give up" as soon as they're born? 
Why?

It's not "unthinkable" or "apocalyptic" for them.  For them, it's
just what there is.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #78 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 7 Jan 17 01:39
    

Also, in case you're reaching for the Oxycontin, consider it this
other way.  Suppose that Mar-a-Lago suddenly washes away in a
Florida Katrina, drowning half of The Donald's family.  The Donald
gets climate change religion suddenly, because, you know, The Donald
is a volatile, post-ideological guy.  

He then tells the Republicans that climate change has to become
their own issue.  The Sec-State/Exxon Mobil capo publicly recants
and admits he was wrong about everything.  The fundies take to their
pulpits everywhere to demand that Southern Baptists become ardent
biblical greens.  The Sarah says not to drill baby drill any more,
etc.  The American Right just steals the clothes of the Left and has
at it, the way they're suddenly pro-Russian.

*Do you think that this modern weird coalition of moguls and fundies
really has it together to "solve" anything that matters?  Even if
they changed their minds about one of their many major misjudgments,
would they have the competence and capacity to make any effective
amends?    They can certainly be active, they can rally, they can
pass legislation, but how would they effectively measure what they
had done?   They're not technocrats.  They don't care what's real.

And if they're basically useless, ineffective, for acts of good,
then why presume that they are somehow super-effective for bad?  
Ted Cruz is the kind of guy who would have been really effective for
bad.  Donald Trump is a horny game-show host.  

It's plenty weird that he became President, I'd rank that about
Fubar 9.2 on the official metric scale of contemporary weirdness. 
However, he's not suddenly a mystical genius or demiurge of mass
destruction.  He's a 70-year-old Donald Trump.  We're in for a
Punch-and-Judy show here.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #79 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 7 Jan 17 04:53
    
Just a reminder to those of you following along on the WWW:

If you're not a member of the WELL, but you have a comment or
question to offer, send via email to inkwell at well.com.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #80 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 7 Jan 17 07:15
    
https://archive.org/details/JDLasicaBruceSterlingreadsCarlSandburg
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #81 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 7 Jan 17 07:18
    
Thanks to @dan_blick for reminding us of Bruce's closing remarks at
SXSW 2006
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #82 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 7 Jan 17 07:36
    
https://www.instagram.com/anya.chapman/

*The Instagram account of Russia spy, money launderer, TV star and
fashionista Anna Chapman.  She is killing it!
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #83 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 7 Jan 17 08:47
    
These findings add weight to the idea that the planet is now
entering an Anthropocene epoch, a geological measurement of time in
which humans are having a significant global impact on the Earth's
geology and ecosystems.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38519299?utm_content=buffer0ef7d&u
tm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #84 of 198: Jeffrey Vagle (jvagle) Sat 7 Jan 17 10:14
    
There's a fair bit of conflict preparation going on globally (some
of it more subtle than others) in areas (both geographic and
topical) that haven't seen this activity in quite some time, if
ever.

https://warisboring.com/in-lithuania-learning-how-to-block-tanks-with-trees-is
-back-in-fashion-be80504454db#.ezvbwuvz7

https://www.eff.org/document/eff-ad-wired-pdf

Are we seeing a renewed resurgence of the "fortune favors the
prepared" philosophy? 
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #85 of 198: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sat 7 Jan 17 15:08
    <scribbled by jonl Sat 7 Jan 17 15:26>
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #86 of 198: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 7 Jan 17 15:22
    <scribbled by jonl Sat 7 Jan 17 15:26>
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #87 of 198: Brian Slesinsky (jonl) Sat 7 Jan 17 15:26
    
From Brian Slesinsky via email:

In 2017 it seems that propaganda forces of Russia and 4chan and
hundreds of millions of uncritical readers are winning at turning
the Internet into the "net of a million lies". Let's optimistically
assume for the sake of the argument that most people reading this
have some reasonable grip on the state of the world and can mostly
tell what to believe and what to ignore. But if you didn't start out
that way, how do you learn to be a reasonably informed scavenger of
the trash heap? It seems like that might be harder than ever:

"[...] too many students I met were being told that Wikipedia was
untrustworthy and were, instead, being encouraged to do research. As
a result, the message that many had taken home was to turn to Google
and use whatever came up first. They heard that Google was
trustworthy and Wikipedia was not."

Did Media Literacy Backfire?
https://points.datasociety.net/did-media-literacy-backfire-7418c084d88d

"I guess you could consider this a form of epistemic learned
helplessness, where I know any attempt to evaluate the arguments are
just going to be a bad idea so I don't even try. If you have a good
argument that the Early Bronze Age worked completely differently
from the way mainstream historians believe, I just don't want to
hear about it. If you insist on telling me anyway, I will nod, say
that your argument makes complete sense, and then totally refuse to
change my mind or admit even the slightest possibility that you
might be right.

"I consider myself lucky in that my epistemic learned helplessness
is circumscribed [...] But I think the average high school dropout
both doesn't and shouldn't. Anyone anywhere - politicians, scammy
businessmen, smooth-talking romantic partners - would be able to
argue her into anything. And so she takes the obvious and correct
defensive manuever - she will never let anyone convince her of any
belief that sounds 'weird' (note that, if you grow up in the right
circles, beliefs along the lines of astrology not working sound
'weird'.)"

Epistemic learned helplessness
http://squid314.livejournal.com/350090.html 
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #88 of 198: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 7 Jan 17 16:05
    
Thinking of a couple of possibilities: 1) the lack of critical
thinking and resulting aggressive adherence to ideas formed
uncritically and without solid basis in evidence or thoughtful
research may not be a new phenomenon. Evidence-based, scientific
reasoning and critical thinking were likely exceptional, but
ill-informed thinking and belief was not visible, not shared widely
via public media as they are in the Internet era. Or 2) most people
simply didn't presume to think, and deferred idea and belief to
authorities: science, government, the church, journalists and
editors, etc.

Regardless, we now have an explosion of ideas and exchanges that are
rooted in ignorance and assumption and not clearly and critically
considered; memes that circulate via slogans and images and
compelling, disposable packets of belief. Trump's mastery of these
forms, his ability to capture and own so much attention and ride it
to the top of the political heap, can be seen as an extreme
deliverable of the state of social and shared media. 

(Digression: it wasn't so much Trump, but his smart son-in-law Jared
Kushner. Trump's campaign was in disarray until Kushner took the
helm, figured out how the media machines work in the 21st century,
and built the smart, agile, responsive organization that won the
day.)

I've been arguing what I felt was fact vs belief with some
acquaintances who, I felt, were smart but misguided. It's a waste of
time, and I should know better. A study recently showed that, if
someone has a strong belief and they're confronted contrary factual
evidence, they won't change their thinking - they'll dig in more
aggressively. You literally can't show people "the error of their
ways." And they won't see their biases, which raises a question for
me: in what ways am I ignoring facts, what biases do I have, how
solid is the foundation of my thinking?

I spent time sitting still and watching my mind without judgement,
and I find that softens the tendency to become entrenched, and
occasionally I can see  around my biases and assumptions. The
adoption of mindful meditation as a regular practice is growing,
it's even prescribed, apparently by professional psych shamans as a
medicine for melancholy. So perhaps there's a chance of softening, a
chance that more of us will become less attached to our assumptions
and beliefs.

And we could certainly adopt another practice, that of critical and
cautious thinking. Science is powerful because it demands evidence,
and even with evidence, the best scientists retain their skepticism.

By watching my mind, and also by encountering time and again
failings of my memory, I've come to have a skepticism even about
what I think I've seen and what I think I know. (My wife will be
surprised to read this: I should add that I don't always behave as I
should, knowing what I don't know.)  I suppose I'm just skeptical
enough to know that skepticism is a helpful default.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #89 of 198: John Payne (satyr) Sat 7 Jan 17 23:41
    
I've long thought that philosophy should be a required subject in
high school, with heavy emphasis on epistemology and ethics.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #90 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 8 Jan 17 02:41
    
Administrivia for those of you following from outside the WELL...

We try and keep our posts short and on point...if they go more than
6 paragraphs or so, or if we go off on a rant, we "hide" it, so
others can quickly read along and stay with the flow of the
conversation. You can click on the hidden response to see what was
written, or read to the end of the topic and go back to read the
lengthier posts. YMMV

'Slippage' means that someone else posted a question or response
before yours was posted. It let's people know why the placement of
your post may not seem to be in the flow of the conversation.

'Scribble' means there was an error or for some reason the writer
decided to delete the post.

Now back to our regular programming.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #91 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 8 Jan 17 03:03
    
http://casajasmina.arduino.cc/

Looks like Casa Jasmina is developing along quite nicely. How's the
house and the Fablab community over in Torino?
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #92 of 198: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 8 Jan 17 09:13
    
It's great that so many are agreed that this is the Golden Age of
Bullshit, but you don't see many people sincerely admitting, "You
know what?  I see now that my own beloved filter bubble has been
full of bullshit!"  
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #93 of 198: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 8 Jan 17 09:28
    
I'll readily admit it. Trick is to separate the good shit from the
bullshit!
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #94 of 198: Jeffrey Vagle (jvagle) Sun 8 Jan 17 10:15
    
But filter bubbles turn out to be more resilient that I think we'd
like to admit. Even when we consciously seek contrary facts and
opinions, we run up against human nature, as illustrated by research
in social judgment theory, the change-discrepancy relationship, and
boomerang effect. I'm neither a psychologist nor a sociologist, but
my understanding of the current literature points to a certain level
of skepticism re puncturing filter bubbles.  
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #95 of 198: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Sun 8 Jan 17 12:33
    
Those bubbles are maintained by human psychology, not by philosophy
or technology or logic. The human species is psychologically deeply
damaged. It's our inheritance from our own evolution as animals.

The way to 'convince' someone of things they don't believe is to
support them as they learn and heal. Most of us don't have enough
psychological slack of our own to do that work.
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #96 of 198: John Payne (satyr) Sun 8 Jan 17 15:43
    
Eric Weinstein and Dave Rubin on Fake News, Trump, and the
Mathematical Mind (Full Interview)

https://youtu.be/LruYnDjkOgU

The first 6:45 is Rubin talking about what he's up to with The Rubin
Report.  Then the interview begins, running for more than an hour
and a half.  Worth every minute!
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #97 of 198: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 8 Jan 17 15:44
    
For your entertainment...a 'charticle' from David McCndless,
Intermental Disorders:

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/intermental/
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #98 of 198: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sun 8 Jan 17 20:49
    
From Mark, via email:

< And if they're basically useless, ineffective, for acts of good,
then why presume that they are somehow super-effective for bad? > 

Ted Cruz is the kind of guy who would have been really effective for
bad. This seems logical but it uses a false premise. The republicans
have been making plans to diminish federal agencies for years. The
asymmetry is that is is easier to destroy than to create. What about
the likely scenarios that they break agencies and fail to replace
them with anything that works? I feel like too much of this
discussion centers around Trump. He's unlikely to be an effective
bureaucrat. What about the GOP's ongoing usurpation of power, as
witnessed by this latest coup giving themselves power to control the
civil service via salary manipulation?
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/01/congress-can-now-cut-the-pay-of-i
ndividual-civil-servants.html I'd like to hear commentary on this, as it makes an end-run around division of the federal bureaucracy from party politics and the ability of agencies to manage themselves. "Fire this guy or else! Hire this guy or else!" 
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #99 of 198: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sun 8 Jan 17 20:51
    
From Bradley, via email:

What of self driving OTR semis, even waldos.  Are they targets for
pirates?  Or will a Wal-Mart rig just be seen as the only workable
safe interstate point to point schism in a grand distribution plan
that could never do it all?

Tech militarization of national internal security forces seems to be
accelerating.Then there was that land-drone taking out a military
combat sniper in Dallas.How soon will an Amazon delivery robot tase
a vandal or thief, robocop style?
  
inkwell.vue.495 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017
permalink #100 of 198: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sun 8 Jan 17 20:53
    
From Scott Karl, via email:

Hi guys, always love this discussion to start off the year. I've
been living in Asia for seven years now (Korea for four, China for
three), and I'm constantly shocked how much western media seems to
drink the Kool-Aid about the wonders of Asia in general and China in
particular. From here, China is a complete mess that is teetering on
the brink of collapse (the past year their economy has been
completely imploding), while people in the west—the UK
especially—seem to treat it as our new overlords. What's with the
disconnect? For a specific example, lately I've seen a lot of
articles about China taking over solar power production. I've also
seen those solar power sites in person. They're fake, they don't
exist. The ones that get shown off are a ring of actual solar panels
surrounding a field of plastic sheeting painted to look like
photovoltaic cells. It takes about an hour to find this out. I see
stories about how great Asian education is, and from years of
working in it that just makes me laugh. They all graduate college
because it's literally impossible to fail out! Those amazing test
scores? They're fake. They take the best three schools in Shanghai
and report that as the entire country's results.


I don't get why anyone's buying this stuff. The Chinese sure aren't.
A lot of Koreans were satisfied with their lives but the real
Chinese Dream seems to be getting the heck out of China, not
whatever Xi Jinping was trying to sell them on. I have never met or
even heard of a single Chinese person with the means who is not
actively trying to get their assets out and get someone in the
family a foreign passport so they can emigrate.
  

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