The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

He'll probably win, says Moore

Michael Moore, no friend of Donald Trump, thinks we're just stupid enough to elect him:

Here are the 5 reasons Trump is going to win:

1. Midwest Math, or Welcome to Our Rust Belt Brexit.  I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio.Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest. Trump is going to hammer Clinton on this and her support of TPP and other trade policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states.

He goes on from there. And he's right about a lot of it.

Hello, New Zealand?

Update: Lawyer J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, gave an interview in The American Conservative recently that echoed Moore's thoughts (but from the other direction).

Whence altruism?

Via Bruce Schneier, the Universities of Bath, Manchester, and Princeton have developed a simple model to explain how altruism may have evolved in humans:

The key insight is that the total size of population that can be supported depends on the proportion of cooperators: more cooperation means more food for all and a larger population. If, due to chance, there is a random increase in the number of cheats then there is not enough food to go around and total population size will decrease. Conversely, a random decrease in the number of cheats will allow the population to grow to a larger size, disproportionally benefitting the cooperators. In this way, the cooperators are favoured by chance, and are more likely to win in the long term.

Dr George Constable, soon to join the University of Bath from Princeton, uses the analogy of flipping a coin, where heads wins £20 but tails loses £10:

"Although the odds winning or losing are the same, winning is more good than losing is bad. Random fluctuations in cheat numbers are exploited by the cooperators, who benefit more then they lose out."

So cheating works, but not for very long, so cooperation works better over the long term.

Ten minutes to the next meeting

Items of note:

Off to the meeting. More later.


Wednesday is work-remotely day on my team, so I naively thought I could go to the doctor at lunch and make up the time later in the afternoon.

Three and a half hours later...

That's why there's no real post today. Sheesh.

Missed by goal by that much

Yesterday, after a run of 77 days (beating my previous record of 70), I missed my Fitbit step goal by less than 800 steps. So embarrassing.

From May 9th until July 24th, I walked 10,000 steps every day. Then yesterday I didn't notice I was stuck at 9,200 when I was out with friends. An 8-minute walk could have taken care of that.


What I'm reading (later today)

All for now.

Historical precedents for periodic self-destruction

London-based historian Tobias Stone sees the same parallels I see to periodic bouts of self-destruction. Le sigh:

[W]e humans have a habit of going into phases of mass destruction, generally self imposed to some extent or another.

At a local level in time people think things are fine, then things rapidly spiral out of control until they become unstoppable, and we wreak massive destruction on ourselves. For the people living in the midst of this it is hard to see happening and hard to understand. To historians later it all makes sense and we see clearly how one thing led to another.

But at the time people don’t realise they’re embarking on a route that will lead to a destruction period. They think they’re right, they’re cheered on by jeering angry mobs, their critics are mocked. This cycle, the one we saw for example from the Treaty of Versaille, to the rise of Hitler, to the Second World War, appears to be happening again. But as with before, most people cannot see it because:

1. They are only looking at the present, not the past or future

2. They are only looking immediately around them, not at how events connect globally

3. Most people don’t read, think, challenge, or hear opposing views

Trump is doing this in America. Those of us with some oversight from history can see it happening.

What can we do? Well, again, looking back, probably not much. The liberal intellectuals are always in the minority. See Clay Shirky’s Twitter Storm on this point. The people who see that open societies, being nice to other people, not being racist, not fighting wars, is a better way to live, they generally end up losing these fights. They don’t fight dirty. They are terrible at appealing to the populace. They are less violent, so end up in prisons, camps, and graves. We need to beware not to become divided (see: Labour party), we need to avoid getting lost in arguing through facts and logic, and counter the populist messages of passion and anger with our own similar messages. We need to understand and use social media. We need to harness a different fear. Fear of another World War nearly stopped World War 2, but didn’t. We need to avoid our own echo chambers. Trump and Putin supporters don’t read the Guardian, so writing there is just reassuring our friends. We need to find a way to bridge from our closed groups to other closed groups, try to cross the ever widening social divides.

Perhaps it's time to figure out where I can go into exile, if this is in fact inevitable. Is the UK (read, post-Brexit: Scotland) going to work? Is Canada safe as it has been for the past few centuries? Maybe New Zealand, which, as far as I know, has never been attacked by a foreign power?

Also when: do I go immediately if Trump gets elected, or should I wait until the purge begins?

Fun times, fun times.

The unhinged campaign

Brian Beutler argues that Hillary Clinton needs to put the "lock her up" crap to rest:

It’s a problem to have this stench lingering in the air, but just as difficult to address without playing into the hands of her opponents, who’d love nothing more than to turn “lock her up” into a matter of partisan debate. (“Should Clinton be jailed? Some say yes, some say no!”) But a deft communicator could discredit “lock her up” not by protesting too much on Clinton’s behalf, but by treating it as the unhinged chant of a pitchfork-wielding mob that would claim power by imprisoning political enemies. They couldn’t beat Obama, so they questioned his eligibility for office; they’re losing to Clinton, so they want her dead or in jail. These are authoritarian instincts that must be opposed.

Predicting the political fallout of an event like the RNC or of a new ubiquitous talking point like “lock her up” is pure guesswork, and it might be the case that the air of vigilantism around the whole thing will make non-Republicans more sympathetic to Clinton. But on top of all the troubling democratic implications of a major political party believing the opposition party’s leader belongs in prison, Republicans may have successfully damaged Clinton with a false but powerful narrative. And if that’s the case, she will need to be prepared to deal with it.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall (and others) are finding more connections between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump:

To put this all into perspective, if Vladimir Putin were simply the CEO of a major American corporation and there was this much money flowing in Trump's direction, combined with this much solicitousness of Putin's policy agenda, it would set off alarm bells galore. That is not hyperbole or exaggeration. And yet Putin is not the CEO of an American corporation. He's the autocrat who rules a foreign state, with an increasingly hostile posture towards the United States and a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons. The stakes involved in finding out 'what's going on' as Trump might put it are quite a bit higher.

There is something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence for a financial relationship between Trump and Putin or a non-tacit alliance between the two men. Even if you draw no adverse conclusions, Trump's financial empire is heavily leveraged and has a deep reliance on capital infusions from oligarchs and other sources of wealth aligned with Putin. That's simply not something that can be waved off or ignored.

This is the scariest election of my lifetime.

Sunday morning reading

Ah, I can finally take a few minutes to read through my backlog of articles, which have a common theme coming off this past week's events:

That, plus a tour of the Laguintas Brewery this afternoon (the one here, not the one in Petaluma), ought to keep me busy.