Election season: Founding Father quotes on my mind

I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.

Thomas Paine (1776)

Even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf.

Thomas Paine (1776)

The mobs of the great cities add just so much to the support of pure government as sores do to the strength of the human body. It is the manners and spirit of a people, which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.

Thomas Jefferson (1787)

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.

Thomas Jefferson

Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.

Thomas Jefferson

Where there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community.

Benjamin Rush (1788)

A little matter will move a party, but it must be something great that moves a nation.

Thomas Paine (1792)

The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all citizens.

Thomas Jefferson (1816)

Election season: My re-reading list mandatory

Is MAGA pro-Social Democrat?

When people use Make America Great Again, the question is often posed as to what period? I often see the assertion to the late 1940s through the 1950s, which was before the removal of segregation. These are not usually MAGA supporters, but let’s hypothetically say this is true.

Something that came to mind is this was also a period when the United States was effectively fairly similar to social democratic countries.

  1. Unions were very strong. The CEOs of companies made 20x more than average workers rather than hundreds to thousands. The inequality we see between the middle class and 0.1% was not as great.
  2. Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid were just starting and heavily funded popular programs ensuring people were pretty well taken care of.
  3. The G.I. Bill ensure a huge number of men and some women attended college for free.

If this is indeed the period of time to which they are alluding, then I wonder why the despise the policies that helped make it so great. I often see references to them as Communist. Which was feared during this period.

Facebook discourages providing sources

A friend posted an article about a political candidate. I wanted to find a related article and add it to that conversation. So, I opened the browser, got pulled into a couple offline things, found the article, got pulled in a couple other offline directions, and went back to the post. The app refreshed and went to the top of the newsfeed.

Now, I cannot seem to find the original.

Guess I should stick to the browser where everything is in tabs so I don’t lose my place.

Opposite of face blindness?

Face blindness means that I would not recognize individuals I know. Clothing, voice, or other cues would be the only way to know person A from B.

I keep thinking new people I see look like a close relative of an acquaintance. I am not confusing them with the person. Just wondering if they are a sibling or cousin of this person I know.

Usually, I talk myself out of this thinking. Still, it is a case by case event so once in a blue moon, I ask. The more I am around the new person and the feeling persists, the more likely I am to ask.

Once I was correct. She was the sibling of a college friend’s friend. Hundreds of miles distant. Over a decade after I graduated college.

Over a few months window, my brother had a couple people both ask him if he was my brother. He moved across the country to get away from people who might know me. Of course, any time people I know head there, I advise them to be on the look out for a guy who looks like me but with my brother’s hair style.

Inverse Editor-Author Power

New authors have fairly weak power. Editors can exert their power to:

  1. streamline the story such that it flows more smoothly
  2. cut out dense detailed descriptions that take the reader from the story
  3. their experience at what it takes to make a book become a bestseller gives them authority

The trick is when the author becomes a proven bestseller, the editor becomes weaker. You can look at the books in a series like Game of Thrones and see how the editor became weaker as the book lengths ballooned.

  1. A Game of Thrones 726 pages
  2. A Clash of Kings  761 pages
  3. A Storm of Swords  973 pages
  4. A Feast for Crows + A Dance with Dragons 1761 pages

Tom Clancy follows this model as well.

A world without work

The funny thing about being a technocrat is the goal is to end my work. Create solutions for everything, but in a true Moving The Goal Post situation. As soon as one has crafted the solution, there are improvements needed. As soon as it is perfect, there are new business processes and objectives. And then vendors stop supporting it, so one needs to architect the replacement whether the same product or something new.

While a Sisyphean effort to reach done, it is job security. There is always seems to be something that needs doing.

My favored path is to automate my work. Scripts to perform precise and routine and simple tasks get scheduled. They do their thing faster than I can. They do their thing more consistently than I can. Overall, I would say they are a better employee.

They take things off my plate such that I can focus on the work that is more engaging.

I consider my scripts to be my direct reports. The work they do reflects on me. I am responsible for their job performance. If they break down, then I am the one holding the bag to clean up the mess.

Goodreads Feature Request: Mentioned books

I am reading Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes. As the authors wrote about experts, the mentioned the books of them. It would be nice to have these books noted on the page with the Want To Read button.

It looks like the Kindle app does this. Well, technically, they have a buy other books mentioned. Amazon owns both Goodreads and Kindle.

The Bystander Effect

I am seeing more and more where people are complaining about the filming of an attack and not intervening in it. People are claiming they would do something. But… I suspect many of the people who film these events without intervening think beforehand they would do something too.

Why they do not intervene is pretty well studied.

How could people just stand by and watch something this horrible happen to a young, innocent girl? Some have suggested that the eyewitnesses’ failure to report the incident likely resulted from a concern over being labeled as a snitch. Although this is possible, social psychological research on the bystander effect suggests a different cause – there were too many eyewitnesses present. The bystander effect refers to the fact that people are less likely to offer help when they are in a group than when they are alone. Research on this effect was inspired by a real-world account that seems hauntingly similar to the recent event in Richmond.

Why Do We Help Less When There is a Crowd?: Less is More When it Comes to Bystanders. Burkley, Melissa. Psychology Today. Nov 04, 2009

One of the pieces is in the assessment of the situation. We tend to look to how others are reacting to a situation to decide whether to intervene. If no one else is, then we likely will not either. The fewer other witnesses there are, the less the inaction of others plays into our own. The article makes a great example of asking questions. I see it all the time where if the leaders do not ask, then no one else is.

The other piece is in how people feel responsibility. When there is a single person present, they feel wholly responsible. When there are more attending the event, that feeling diffuses among the additional people. With say, 10 people, each only feels about 10% responsible. A crowd watching an event is less likely to feel responsible for a negative outcome than a single person.

In the claims about being willing to act, I bet they all think of the scenario in terms of themselves being the sole witness to it where they would have to assess it without consideration of anyone else’s inaction causing them not to intervene and also where they would feel wholly responsible. I doubt any consider it from the more likely standpoint of there being multiple people in attendance and the Bystander Effect takes place.

Trump’s best shot at reelection is false-consensus effect

Thinking back to Obama’s campaign for reelection, I recall much talk about how incompetent, evil, and terrible a president he was from his opposition. Not Romney directly but the his likely voters on social media. To the point of Romney feeling moral obligation to defend Obama as not that bad of a person to his own voters. There were daily negative stories about Obama culminating in Benghazi.

Depending on where you sat, most people agreed with either his incompetence or shrewdness. This agreement blinds us to reality.

false-consensus effect

the tendency to assume that one’s own opinions, beliefs, attributes, or behaviors are more widely shared than is actually the case. A robustly demonstrated phenomenon, the false-consensus effect is often attributed to a desire to view one’s thoughts and actions as appropriate, normal, and correct

APA Dictionary

During this time of pandemic, I am seeing a spinning up of negative social media posts about Trump from his opposition. (Even worse than when I wrote Gotcha jerks part I & part II) And an equally defensive amount from his party members. My guess is he will get about the same turnout if this continues just from voters being upset at his unfair* treatment by the opposition.

* Unfair: they will think no one deserves that harsh treatment. Nevermind Obama and Hillary got the same level.

Sharing links that mock a caricature of the Other Side isn’t signaling that we’re somehow more informed. It signals that we’d rather be smug assholes than consider alternative views. It signals that we’d much rather show our friends that we’re like them, than try to understand those who are not.

The ‘Other Side’ Is Not Dumb

I suspect these attacks make Trump’s opposition think good people in no way can justify voting for him. Even as his supporters think only deplorable people would vote against him given these attacks. Both a walking blind. Because we have defined ourselves by our political beliefs.

Perhaps the two most important things to know about the false consensus effect have to do with its potency.  First, false consensus effects still exist for important or self-defining beliefs.  Second, neither education about the false consensus itself nor large rewards for accuracy seem to eliminate the false consensus effect.  This bias is hard to eliminate.   

Your opinions are not as popular as you think they are

Then there are the bots agitating both sides making this effect worse by polluting the newsfeeds with more people agreeing. It is just a mess. And few seem aware of just how they are being manipulated by their biases.