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Dysfunctional US Politics

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And a message is all it's going to be. She'll get nothing done because the house is republican (and if the senate stays r, it'll be that much worse), and they'll investigate her non-stop for her entire term. That's when I laugh at the notion that she's "protected" - what with the FBI gunning for her 24/7. As I pointed out, the demographics and history of the FBI make it a natural for ultraconservative forces - here's a well-sourced article about FBI being really Trumpland. Oh, and Comey, the guy who tried to throw the election to Trump, just accepted a "lifetime achievement award" from a bunch of extreme-right wingnuts stuffed to the gills with actual criminals - reported by AP news:

 

Members of group honoring FBI boss have long time Trump ties

 

"NEW YORK (AP) — FBI Director James Comey was honored Monday night by a group whose board includes several people with longtime ties to Donald Trump, including the CEO of the National Enquirer and a convicted felon who goes by the nickname "Joey No Socks."

Comey, already criticized over his handling of Hillary Clinton's email investigation in the final days of the presidential campaign, accepted the lifetime achievement award from the nonprofit Federal Drug Agents Foundation. The group lists more than three dozen board directors on its website; another was the developer of a troubled Trump-branded tower in Toronto."

 

Can you imagine - just for one second - what the reaction would be, if Comey accepted a lifetime achievement award from a group of hardcore nutbars of the left with criminal ties and connected to Hillary's campaign? The repubs would lose their minds - they'd be screaming that Comey is on Hillary's payroll! Instead, Comey accepts this award from a drecky partisan group. Shows you what kind of judgment he has, and where his sympathies lie.

 

But that's par for the course. FBI has historically illegally wiretapped and influenced U.S. politics during Hoover's time, persecuted civil rights leaders, and assassinated political figures in the black community. Same as it ever was.

 

Now I want to hear how that FBI is "protecting" Hillary from criminal investigations. Let's face it, it'll be a non-stop shit show by the republicans holding hearings and obstructing for all they are worth. She'll accomplish nothing. 

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A picture worth a thousand words:

 

 

 

 

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Beautiful picture of y'all! You must be so proud! Y'all look more like brother & sister than father and daughter! Hey, Dean, what the hell are you doing to slow aging hahaha...

 

I'm happy we're all on the left here. I just don't understand at all how anyone could vote for this freak Trump. I mean, I do understand frustration with government, with economics, with the media, with the collapsing middle class in this country, but Trump is no answer.

 

Obama had the chance to be one of the greatest reformers and positive influences on this country of any president. I had sooooo much hope for his presidency back in 2008. We were all so excited! First black president! Woop! That was HUGE!

 

And then. Then. Oh. Then it just seemed tragic to watch him stymied because of the republican congress in lockstep against him on nearly every issue. I blame much of this freakshow on these idiotic right wing talk show radio people, and the Fox News pricks, and what's that Australian guy, Murdock, yeah... that guy is trash.

Edited by Sthira

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Obama had a Democrat congress for at least part of his administration, which actually ended up hurting HIllary in some ways (the now very unpopular Obamacare for example), the black vote was important for Obama, but African Americans fared terribly under Obama, and didn't come out to support Hillary (why would they?).  

 

Trump is a buffoon, but it's not the end of the world, life will go on.  Contrary to the hysteria, there is no danger of America turning into Nazi Germany.  Interestingly to me, polling actually showed that most Hispanics back deportation, want immigration cap cut in half.  And oddly enough, Michael Moore had it right when almost no one else did, when he said "People will vote for Trump as a giant fuck you and he'll win". Whether you see it this way or not, many people perceive Hillary as the most corrupt candidate ever to run for president, which is bad enough by itself, but couple that with the reality that the popular press gives her a free pass, actively looking the other way and even running interference for the Clintons at times, and you end up with an electorate that's ripe to deliver punishment to the establishment (the "deplorables" draining the swamp).

 

Democrats really shot themselves in the foot by picking the most polarizing candidate they could, almost anyone else probably would have easily defeated Trump.

 

That said, Congress and the press will not let Trump get away with anything, including implementing many of his hairbrained ideas.  The government is also run by professional civil servants who are strongly independent of whoever gets elected, and they will help keep him in check...  Olive branch to the non-deplorables out there, this may well be the last presidential election Republicans ever win, so think of it as an entertaining last hurrah. Appreciate the comic relief. You'll be fine. The stock market will recover 1f609.png

Edited by Gordo

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Well, the people have spoken, and that's that. Or as Mencken put it "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard" :)

 

Accepting the result is a given. Now it's just a question of how good and hard it's going to be :)

 

Regardless, from a purely data geek point of view - I think it'll be a rich area of research for polysci folk: how so many got it so wrong. All polls (almost) have been wrong. Most pundits have been wrong. Newspaper endorsements mean nothing. Ground game means nothing. GOTV means nothing. Political advertising means nothing. Or another way of looking at it: whatever those factors meant, clearly they were not decisive. Fascinating. Honesty demands that we all examine our assumptions and models. 

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Dean posted a link to a video of this guy. What a decent person, how generous and kind. I probably disagree with this guy on most issues, but his decency shines through. It's too bad he was outnumbered by a lot of ugly.

 

This election has been a nightmare and exhausting and hardly democratic in any meaningful sense of the term. It would have been nice for it to be over, but the nightmare is just getting started now.

 

Quick, lets run some full-world simulations to see how we might have avoided this!

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Wow - that turned out suboptimally. Apparently the echo chambers on both sides of the political spectrum were more airtight than almost anyone realized. I too was completely fooled over the last few days into a false sense of optimism. I should have stuck with my original, dystopian prediction of a Trump victory (see footnote of this post).

 

This surreal nightmarish outcome makes me all the more convinced we inhabit a nested multiverse of simulated worlds. Unfortunately it's looking more and more like our leaf in this vast tree of simulated worlds is one with a suboptimal outcome. Any competent parallel search algorithm will soon be faced with a decision - whether or not to prune our leaf out of compassion for our imminent suffering and/or simply to shift the computing resources it's wasting on us to more promising nodes of the tree. 

 

Thomas G wrote:

Quick, lets run some full-world simulations to see how we might have avoided this!

 

Rest assured I'm going to try one more time to convince my friends and colleagues in the AI / machine learning community to take this idea seriously, and ramp up a Manhattan-style Project to do just that - to explore alternative future scenarios via AI-guided, large-scale simulations to see how we might avoid or at least mitigate the negative repercussions of this potentially tragic mistake. Avoiding the worst effects of global climate change through international cooperation seems now like a very naive pipe dream, and the least of our worries at the moment. 

 

Despite the risks I've been harping on over here, it now appears to me that accelerated development of AGI/ASI to help guide us and to formulate technological solutions to the challenges we face may be our last best hope of avoiding the disasters confronting us. Right now it sure looks like we're incapable of solving them on our own.

 

Maybe my AI friends will take this idea more seriously now. In fact maybe they already are. Check out this tweet from Danilo Rezende, a researcher at DeepMind which came in while I was writing the paragraph above: 

 

 
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Edit: And now (30min later), another Google deep learning researcher, Francois Collet tweeted this:

 

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While Danilo and Francois may be speaking a bit tongue-in-cheek, they are not alone among folks at Google & DeepMind who are considering the simulation hypothesis. Nando do Freitas, who is not only a scientist at DeepMind but also a colleague of Nick Bostrom's at Oxford, does tooMaybe these AI researchers will get their butts in gear and figure out a way to help make things turn out ok.

 

Or maybe, just maybe, the fears of people like me are overblown. 

 

A friend and colleague of mine once told me the motto he lives by - "Things are never as good or as bad as they seem." Those are wise words to keep in mind at a time like this, along with this advice from A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Don't Panic". Maybe there is still time to "engineer the sh*t" out of this predicament, and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

 

--Dean

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Some of you who are tired of mourning over our country's lost innocence and hope, might find amusing distraction at the pissing match I'm in the middle of with Yann LeCun, co-inventor of deep neural networks who now leads Facebook's neural network efforts. I know (and like) Yann from the early 90s from NN conferences we used to attend together. Below are a few choice tweets for your enjoyment.

 

In reference to the election and our dysfunctional political system, Yann tweeted:

 

Bored Yann LeCun ‏@boredyannlecun  9 hours ago
And so it goes, on the constant error carousel called life #feelthelearn

 

I replied:

Dean Pomerleau @deanpomerleau  6h
@boredyannlecun you realize #facebook is largely responsible for the click-bait, echo-chamber journalism that got us into this mess, right?

 

and:

 

to which Yann suggested I tweet to his official FaceBook twitter account (where he has 31K followers), rather than his more obscure (but more active) @boredyannlecun handle, where he mostly shoots the breeze and posts snide comments:

Bored Yann LeCun @boredyannlecun 6h

@deanpomerleau your concerns seem sincere, so you perhaps share them with the real @ylecun who actually works for Facebook #feelthelearn

 

So I took him up on it, with a sincere suggestion for Facebook and Google:

Dean Pomerleau @deanpomerleau 41m

Here is a concrete idea for #Facebook & #Google. Use AI & ML to show folks what's true, rather than crap they'll click on and Like. @ylecun

 

and:

Dean Pomerleau @deanpomerleau 37m

Call it "extreme vetting" of #Facebook feeds & #Google search results - filter what is provably bullshit & viscous.

 

Fortuitously (for me), in the middle of this tweetstorm the New York Magazine published and posted this really good article Donald Trump Won Because of Facebook, which I quoted and linked to in my next tweet to Yann:

Dean Pomerleau @deanpomerleau 22m

 "Facebook’s vast, personalized sewer system has become clogged w/ toxic fatbergs" Ding, Ding, Ding @ylecun #FeelTheSpurn twitter.com/Techmeme/statu…

 

The basic argument the article makes is similar to the one I made in the "Macedonia effect" post I wrote above. To quote Techmeme's summary of the New York Mag article "Facebook's massive reach, fake stories, and lack of traditional gatekeepers helped Trump win."

 

Ironically (given I'm bashing on the click-bait economy), lots of people have clicked on and Liked my tweets above, including the writer from Nature who interviewed me for this story on the Black Box problem with AI and neural networks.

 

Here is one additional exchange I had on the topic with another prominent ML researcher (Chris Olah), who sent the following very sad and disturbing tweet about the results of calls he made to Trump supporters:

 

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Take a look at that last one from a male Trump supporter from Florida. It reads:

 

I was going to support Clinton, but then I read the emails. She's involved in child trafficking! When she talks about pizza in the emails, it's a code word for children. What does someone as rich as her need to traffic children for? She's a paedophile, I can't believe you support her. I can't believe anyone supports her. Read the emails.

 

Now you can say what will about Hillary and her past missteps, but can anyone except someone living in an echo chamber  inhabited only by other nutjobs really believe Hillary Clinton is a paedophile?! So I tweeted to Chris the following reply, CC'd to Yann:

 

Dean Pomerleau @deanpomerleau 2h

Who can blame people for such views, e.g. Clinton a paedophile. Probably read it on Facebook. Thanks @boredyannlecun

 

That was actually the tweet to which Yann responded "bring it up with the real Yann LeCun @ylecun". But no response from him on the idea (namely, use AI and machine learning to vet content, and show people what's likely to be true rather than crap that will distract them, and cause them to click and Like). Nor has he responded to any of the criticisms that FaceBook is at least partially responsible for the nightmare outcome via the causal chain:

 

↑ Google/Facebook → ↑ click-bait journalism → ↓ objective news → ↑ echo chambers → ↑ social polarization →​ Pres. Trump​

 

Maybe Yann is "feelin' the spurn". I hope so, but I actually doubt it. From both Yann and the Google / Deepmind machine learning colleagues I know, I've gotten only a mixture of two sentiments: refusal to acknowledge complicity/responsibility, and/or a sense of helplessness to do anything about it.

 

Very sad...

 

--Dean

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Oh dear god-that-won't-exist can we please be allowed space and time to work through the stages of grief again before being propped up again upright and again for more displays of deep profundity and quick humor, please insert no question marks here

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Time to adjust to the new ethos just as the voters decided: every man for himself. The coming epic shitstorm will unfold chaotically, but already there is talk about repealing the ACA. Of interest here on this board is of course "health" - it is more important than ever to hew to "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Because only the rich will be able to afford any "cure". The best way to avoid bankrupting medical bills is not to access medical care if at all possible (of course, there are the unavoidable accidents and genetic tragedies like cancer). Most on this board probably are acutely aware of the importance of taking care of yourself so you don't need to go to a doctor: diet, exercise, lifestyle, supplementation. But it may be time to help loved ones and friends grok the importance of taking action now, to avoid ruination later. There was a thread on one of these boards about what can be given as high quality advice to friends/family wrt. health, may be time to revive it and expand on it. Tough times ahead, brace yourselves, it's every man for themselves, take care of yourself and yours. We don't know what's ahead - back to unsustainable growth in costs, unregulated environment (Trump promised to basically gut the FDA and have them push out drugs with more speed and less scrutiny) - no way to know what's going to happen. It's best to be prepared - an ill wind is blowing across the land. For now, my wife and I have good health insurance, but we are hoping never to have to use it, because who knows how long it'll be around. If you have friends or relatives in Europe or Canada, there's always the last resort of treatment abroad, but it's not always practical what with having to hold a job statewide. All I'm saying is: make plans and be prepared when it comes to your health (and of course everything else, but for this board health is of particular interest). Best of luck everyone!

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I'm with Ray on this one...

 

As for healthcare - I, only partly tongue in cheek, recently told someone who told me their Obamacare plan just jumped to $2,000/month that he should get on my healthcare plan, it only costs $50/week in fruits and vegetables (and you'll save on your grocery bill at the same time!).

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Exactly - prevention first and foremost. According to many studies, diet and lifestyle are responsible for a staggering percentage of disease burden. The saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" (actually a marketing slogan developed in the early 1900's :)) is illustrative of the principle: the best way to keep healthcare costs down is to prevent the need for the services in the first place. 

 

Of course, the question is: however true that may be, how practical is it as a health policy for the general population? Many studies identify diet and behaviors drawn down to just a few basic ones like don't smoke, exercise, eat in moderations and mostly F&V and so on - yet, it's also shown that only tiny minorities of the population engage in all such healthy behaviors, something along the lines of below 10%. What is to be done? Some of the problem is no doubt education. If people don't know, they can't practice healthy behaviors. But a lot of it is cultural inertia, bad habits are hard to break, especially if they are bound up with cultural traditions (f.ex. the Southern diet resulting in mass strokes, CVD and DMT2). 

 

For some, sadly it also may be a financial question, where cheap empty calories are more affordable than F&V.

 

For people with financial resources, education and good genes - whatever happens to the healthcare system, they'll be mostly OK. For those millions who are going to lose their insurance (should the repubs follow on their promises to abolish the ACA and replace it with a lot of flim-flam), well - Darwin beckons that-away.

 

With the new ethos of every man for himself, if you can't afford a healthy diet - too bad, or if you suffer from a genetic disease and can't afford steep premiums - too bad, and if for whatever reason you are disadvantaged, well that's just too bad for you - or as our new dear leader would say "SAD!". 

 

Who knows what will happen - I don't think the dear leader knows himself since he makes it up as he goes along, but folks will be well advised to batten down the hatches.

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Gordo wrote (in response to Pea's posting of Ray Kurzweil's optimistic perspective:

I'm with Ray on this one...

 

and earlier Gordo wrote:

Funny how ... the Trump rally violence completely stopped... haha this election is such a joke.  A buffoon vs. a serial criminal who will only avoid prosecution if she has enough friends in high places.  Great choices we have!

 

Sorry to be blunt Gordo, but I can't help it. I'm so pissed at baffoons [Edit: Sorry Gordo, that was uncalled for and unnecessarily personal. Let me substitute "Trump apologists"]  like you who chose to equate the seriousness of Hillary's mistakes and character flaws with those of Trump, and allowed that lunatic to be elected, emboldening his racist, hate-filled followers to do stuff like documented below.

 

I hope folks like you, who saw there being some sort of perverse balance between the unsavoriness of two candidates, are happy now. Below is what "Day 1" in Trump's America looks like. Look at these and weep along with the rest of us for the loss of hope and decency throughout the country, not to mention the fear so many people must now live with. I'm glad you and Tom believe (if not feel smug) that your healthy-eating lifestyle insulates you from the negative repercussions of this nightmare - which you see as the risk of being without health insurance. These people aren't so lucky to have such white-people's problems. And there are plenty of other like them, sharing their "Trump Day 1" horror stories here:

 

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Edited by Dean Pomerleau
Edit to tone down inflammatory and unwarranted name calling. My Apology Gordo

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I think that's unfair, Dean. I can't speak for Gordo - who I assume voted his conscience as is his right. I am quite sure that I don't agree with Gordo politically, but I am equally sure that we must all be very respectful of our differences. 

 

As for myself, I am not by any means minimizing the horror of what is going to happen. I travel. I've seen how xenophobic voting empowers the racists and neonazis. After brexit, there was a 400% escalation of violent physical attacks against foreign-looking people, just in London itself, and much worse outside. I've witnessed such behavior in London. There is no question in my mind that Trump's appeals to racism animated tons of his followers (perhaps not all). More importantly, those who voted for Trump, even if not racist themselves - were OK with his racism and willing to overlook it if he cut their taxes or whatnot.

 

And I don't have any doubt that in this climate of creeping fascism, nobody is safe. Yes, I am white, male and straight - but they can always find something... f.ex. I'm an outspoken atheist, perhaps the most despised minority there is (google for the stats). Those who support fascism don't realize that they too can be hurt, and joining the brownshirts is no protection... as a matter of fact, all those white blue collar workers are going to find themselves thoroughly screwed by their exalted Gropenfuhrer (I think that leadership baton has been passed on from Arnie to Donnie). They'll lose health insurance, their jobs will be eliminated even faster, if the repubs manage (as they want to) privatize social security, they'll lose whatever thin retirement funds they have, and generally be given the chump treatment (although I suppose they'll cheer themselves up that black and brown people are even worse off).

 

There are no winners in this scenario. Even the thieving plutocracy will suffer in the end, as Donnie's disastrous tax, trade, economic, fiscal, environmental and regulatory policies come to fruition. It's always opposite world with these guys. Take debt - "oh, Obama" - completely forgetting how Clinton (a democrat) had to clean up Ronnie's debt and deficit explosion from the ever popular "trickle down" scam, and when he delivered a surplus and a way to pay down the debt, Bush Jr. immediately started trillion dollar wars that were not only unfunded, but had given themselves a tax cut on top... all resulting in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Obama's debt was due to trying to clean up that republican disaster in the face of the republicans doing all they can to make the debt bigger with their tax obstructionism and so on. And when Donnie get his tax cut, we'll be at debt levels that are like a direct headshot to the economy. Game over.

 

So, as you can see, I have zero illusions about the coming shitstorm. All I'm doing is urging people to protect themselves, because the "common good" ethos has been repudiated with this election. Trump will have more power - congress and senate, executive and soon judiciary - and no constraints. So everyone should do what they can - I am not able to stop the suppression of voting rights or stop attacks by neo-nazis. I am just sounding an alarm: protect yourself, because society is breaking down under this new regime. I focused on healthcare, because that's what this board is mostly concerned with. It doesn't mean I don't recognize that there are more vulnerable people who are going to be badly hurt very, very soon. And I am also saying: nobody is safe, not me, and not you - so don't labor under the illusion that just because you don't appear to be the first against the wall, that they won't get to you eventually too.

 

I don't know what will happen. I am hoping - against hope - that the republic survives this. People don't have a historical view due to limited experience. They assume things are going to be OK in the end, because we've already survived such horrors as GWB, not to mention the Civil War. But that misses the point: empires die. All of them did. Catastrophic events CAN happen. I hope this is not such. Odds are, that the republic will survive, of course - but much diminished. Rome fell because of foolish leadership and uninformed citizenry. This is what it looks like to me. We'll come out at the other end, but with a much diminished future.  

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More of my angry ranting.

 

Here is a message I sent to a friend and colleague at Google, who is one of the people I've been trying for months to convince to take the threat of a Trump-induced dystopian future seriously:

 

He said:

 

Could google have done something?  Maybe, but i don't honestly think so​.​​

To which I responded:
 
​You really don't get it, do you? Google already did something. ​
 
 Along with Facebook, Google undermined truth, in favor of serving up what people wanted to see, however inflammatory and fallacious. Was the dis/misinformation Google and Facebook served up the sole cause of this nightmare? Certainly not.  But the internet and social-media induced echo-chambers of ignorance and misinformation surely was a big contributing factor. 
 
The sad thing is that Google is already filtering health-related search results based on credibility of the source and the legitimacy of the content. ​And obviously you've got some bang-up email spam filters to prevent disseminating crap to your Gmail customers. With a reasonable amount of effort, you could have retargeted these filtering & vetting algorithms to help prevent the lies and misinformation that helped get Trump elected. 
 
Alternatively, I know it seems drastic, but Google and Facebook (and Bing etc.) could have simply agreed not to surface any election or candidate-related 3rd-party content during the last several months of the election, leaving it up to people to seek it out from the media outlets of their choice directly. That would have gone a long way towards preventing the click-bait journalism that helped fuel this debacle. Google and Facebook could have even made it seem like a noble sacrifice of revenue on their part on behalf of a fair election - so as not to bias the outcome with personalized news and search results which they acknowledge they couldn't vet, but which nonetheless could influence attitudes towards the candidates.
 
But it didn't happen, cynically because that would have cost Google and Facebook a shit-load of money in lost click and display ad revenue. So now we're living in an Orwellian nightmare. And you don't see how Google could have done anything to prevent it. Sad, but typical of the ​folks running and working at the ​new media giants, who refuse to even acknowledge they are in the media business.
 
Maybe your next novel can be about the complicity of Silicon Valley in the killing of the American experiment in representative democracy.

 

--Dean

 

Needless to say, my exhortations over the last several months to my Google colleagues to advocate that Google to do something to avoid this disaster didn't have the impact I had hoped they would. Nor are the prospects good that they will now, although it doesn't matter anyway, since it's too late.

 

--Dean

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TomB,

 

Sorry to lump you in with my rant against folks whose passivity and ambiguity over the choice we were presented with helped contribute to the shit-tsunami we are all now facing. I agree that minority groups are feeling its destructive power just a little sooner than the rest of us.  None of us will be immune, not even affluent, left-leaning, white male atheists.

 

I agree with everything you said, despite being extremely depressed by your "every man for himself" advice, however well-informed and well-intended.

 

Finally you wrote:

I think that's unfair, Dean. I can't speak for Gordo - who I assume voted his conscience as is his right. I am quite sure that I don't agree with Gordo politically, but I am equally sure that we must all be very respectful of our differences.

 

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

 

I don't actually care who Gordo eventually voted for.  Simply suggesting Hillary and Trump were in the same ballpark of despicability makes him a complicit contributor to this nightmare, IMO. Some less-educated Trump supporters may not have learned to distinguish serious truth from crap, and so can't be faulted entirely for being duped by the Facebook/Google-induced echo-chamber journalism. But I expected more from people like Gordo, who are (is) clearly very rational, intelligent and good at assessing evidence, not to mention well-aware of the challenges minorities faced even before this tragic turn of events.

 

Sorry Gordo, just calling it like I see it. 

 

--Dean

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Dean: the meaning of "every man for himself" is that when your representatives (I'm in California) are powerless - as Democrats will soon be in Washington, you cannot affect change through such political engagement. So you act locally - by focusing on your own circle of friends and family. Act locally - in a society where community bonds are being systematically broken and groups are set against each other, you must act locally (every man for himself is shorthand for "act locally"). You can still do things like contribute to ACLU - for however long that will be effective, because once the SCOTUS is hard-right, it will be pretty much over for the ACLU, as the repubs are already talking about filling the rest of the judicial branch with their minions... you can sue, but you won't win. It's naive to think that "the constitution" will protect you, because the very body that's charged with interpreting the constitution can be subverted and rule in ways that are directly contrary to the spirit of the document - as Scalia himself proved countless times (or see Roberts gutting the voting rights act, which was immediately acted upon by republican legislatures to suppress the vote). So, if there is no protection from outside, you must provide it internally for yourself and your circle of influence - act locally, or "every man for himself". 

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Thanks again for your clear writing, Dean. I'm still stunned as most people around me are stunned. This is taking time to sink in -- stages of grief -- and we're slowly rolling into anger and protest. And massive demonstrations all around the country are now organizing. This is good. This is what we need. We need to be in the streets and in revolt. Our way of life cannot go down without more and better organization. I'm liking Elizabeth Warren and Bernie, and they've got to step up into more active roles.

 

Yes, it's a beautiful work, and don't you wish beautiful art was lifted higher to solve our problems?

 

And, sorry, I know we're in a huge mess right now like nothing I've ever seen ever, but I must pass this onto you people because I like all of you, I want everyone to live long, long, loooooong and healthy peaceful beautiful lives, and I want everyone everywhere to achieve their hopes and dreams.

 

But I must tell you that 2016 has been by far the worst year of my life. I've lost so much, I cannot even explain and don't want to, but I did find you good people and so I'm searching for:

 

"Good Things That Happened In 2016

 

· New chemotherapy breakthroughs have increased the 5-year survival for pancreatic cancer from 16% to 27% (and is getting better)

 

· Scientists figured out how to link robotic limbs with the part of the brain that deals with intent to move so people don’t have to think about how they will move the limb, it can just happen.

 

· Child mortality is down everywhere and it keeps going down.

 

· Thanks to the ice bucket challenge the gene responsible for ALS has been found, meaning we are closer to an effective treatment. Let me rephrase that: we are close to getting a treatment for a very bad disease because a lot of people (including really hot celebrities) got wet.

 

· A solar powered plan circumnavigated the world.

 

· Michael Jordan donates 2mil to try and help bridge connection between police and the community.

 

· Tiger numbers are growing.

 

· And manatees.

 

· And pandas.

 

· Pakistan has made strides toward outlawing honor killings.

 

· 70,000 Muslim clerics declared a fatwa against ISIS.

 

· Pokemon Go players went insane with placing lure modules near hospitals for sick kids.

 

· California is now powering over 6 million homes with solar power, a record in the US (and that is the tightest shit)

 

· Volunteers in India planted 50 million trees in 24 hours.

 

· Apparently world crime as a whole has drastically declined as a whole in the last couple of decades.

 

· Coffee consumption has been proved to help curtail cancer and suicide rates.

 

· Speaking of coffee Starbucks figured out how to donate perishable food in a food safe way.

 

· 500 elephants were relocated to a better, safer and bigger home.

 

· We made massive strides in Alzheimers’ prevention (my grandmother literally told me that scares her more than getting cancer this is very good news)

 

· The ozone layer is repairing itself and all the work we did to get rid of those aerosol chemicals was actually worth it.

 

· A new therapy developed in Israel could cure radiation sickness.

 

· The Anglican church resolved to solemnize same-sex unions the same as opposite-sex unions which required a super majority of all three orders of the church (lay, clergy, bishop).

 

· The Rabbinical Assembly issued a resolution affirming the rights of transgender and non-conforming individuals.

 

· Precision treatments for cancer are hitting clinical trials and WORKING (as someone who’s had relatives with cancer this is the best news)

 

· Dentists are once again providing free care to veterans who need it.

 

· The Orlando Shakespeare Festival showed up with angel wings to block funeral-goers for the Orlando Pulse victims, view from anti-gay protesters

 

· We may have cured MS

 

· Rise Women’s Legal Centre opened

 

· Death by heart disease has decreased by 70% in the United States

 

· Two brothers saw color for the first time thanks to specially-designed glasses

 

• Portugal ran its entire nation solely on renewable energy for four days straight

 

· A retiree is launching a project to transport 80 endangered rhinos to an Australian reservation to save the animals from poaching

 

· An Afghan teacher has been delivering books via bicycle to villages that lack schools

 

· Harriet Tubman is going to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

 

· 200 strangers attended the funeral of a homeless WW2 veteran with no family

 

· A teen battling cancer married his sweetheart

 

· Bank firm pays for college tuition for the children of employees who died in the 9/11 attacks

 

· New medicine has been shown to increase melanoma survival rate to 40%

 

· Over 800 Boko Harem Hostages were rescued by Nigerian Army

 

· Toys R Us is Offering Quiet Shopping Hour for kids with autism this holiday season

 

· Volunteers made special tiny Halloween costumes for NICU babies

 

· A 4-year old befriends a lonely man and helped him heal after losing his wife

 

· Families grew

 

· People survived c ancer

 

· People overcame depression

 

· Any kind of victory, even if it affects only one person, is a victory

 

· Now for the pop culture good news

 

· LEONARDO DICAPRIO WON AN OSCAR! EVERYONE READING THIS LIVED LONG ENOUGH TO SEE LEO FINALLY GET WHAT HE DESERVED

 

· There’s a new Harry Potter book

 

· And a movie

 

· Harry Potter has no plans on vanishing with time

 

· This sweet father gave candy to passengers on a flight so his little girl could trick or treat on Halloween

 

· LET ME TALK ABOUT ALL THE KICK ASS MOVIES WE GOT THIS YEAR OH MY GOD

 

· Kung Fu Panda 3, this franchise is still going strong despite that its about a panda played by Jack Black

· Jungle Book. The amazing remake none of us saw coming

 

· Finding Dory. I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve heard good things

 

· Kubo and the Two Strings. Haven’t seen that yet as well but its Laika so I know it’s a masterpiece

 

· Deadpool. The beautiful and super accurate R-rated marvel film

 

· Captain America: Civil War. Seriously is the best marvel movie yet in my opinion I need more.

 

· Zootopia. Oh don’t mind me I’m just a movie that tackled the issue of racism and not only game changed animated films but also made a billion dollars

 

· The Hamilton Mixtape is coming out. Which is a bunch of artists singing songs from the musical (Sia, Usher, Regina Spketor, etc.) I’m excited.

 

· A personal victory for myself, I joined Tumblr and met angels in blog form so…that’s uplifting.

 

· And I met my favorite voice actor at a con which was a bucket list accomplishment.

 

Good Things that have yet to happen this year

 

· Birthdays

 

· Thanksgiving

 

· Black Friday

 

· Moana

 

· Christmas

 

Good things that have nothing to do with the year but will hopefully make you feel better

 

· Puppies

 

· Chocolate

 

· Rainbows

 

· Rain (I like listening to rain it’s one of the most calming sounds)

 

· Cartoons

 

· Kissing

 

· Music

 

· Friends

 

· FF: If you are a religious person you are an imperfect masterpiece

 

· FF: If you are not then you are a splendid coincidence

 

· Any year spent with loved ones be they family or friends is a good year. Trust me.

 

· ”A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it’s the only weapon we have” –Roger Rabbit

 

#NeverForgetTheGood

 

 

 

*Plz feel free to add other good news (even if it’s something small like you ate cheesecake THAT is good news)

Edited by Sthira

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Well, I have a slightly different perspective. I can understand and appreciate the protests. However, we live by certain principles, one of which is accepting a peaceful transfer of power. I disagree very, very strongly with Trump's agenda. I would've much preferred a Hillary win. But Trump won legally. His voters deserve to have their chosen president take power without obstruction. It's fine to express disappointment and disagreement with specific policies, but it's not OK to express lack of acceptance of the outcome of this legal election. Otherwise, we'll have chaos and a complete breakdown of our system. I am sadly convinced that Trump and his minions will not show similar restraint, and will in fact subvert our system, and subvert it illegally. But until it happens, we must play fair. Once it does happen, everything is open, including civil disobedience. There is in fact a moral obligation to oppose fascism and grave injustice, but you cannot do it based on nothing more than your suspicion, no matter how justified it will transpire in the future. Otherwise we'd have arrests for thought-crimes. This is what the right does. We should not follow suit - we must only act once there is actual and incontrovertible proof of a crime. Then I would join protests and al the rest. But until then, no. Remember how Hillary (and Obama, and Clinton, and all democrats) are always being accused - with zero proof - of crimes by the right wing hate machine? The big Goebbels lie technique? They lie relentlessly. We must not stoop to that level. We must never lie for political convenience. Otherwise the entire system will devolve into unprincipled lawlessness. Even if the repubs do it, we must not. So let us not accuse Trump of anything until he does (and even if you believe - as I do - that soon he will). Innocent until proven guilty. That's a principle that's guided the best of Western Civilization for a thousand years (or at least since Magna Carta).

 

Trump won, legally. We must accept it peacefully.

 

Furthermore, our society is becoming more and more polarized. It is very easy to demonize or other anyone who disagrees with you. It's a natural human reaction. But never forget, that even the worst amongst us, are ultimately human beings. And so I will not attack or belittle anyone whatever their political views, whether they voted for Trump or whoever. I will certainly not shy away from expressing my disagreements, but I will do so with civility and without name-calling. Dialogue is the only option in a democratic system. We can politely agree to disagree, but there is no excuse for verbal violence against someone we disagree with. You will never convince anyone by bullying them. You may never convince them by being polite and reasonable and patient and whatnot either, but it's still better than shouting and shoving.

 

FWIW, I do have an extremely right-wing tea-party type friend. I disagree with him pretty much 100%. But he's been a good friend and is basically a good person, even if extremely misguided (in my view). I don't think the universe would be better by one iota, if I blew up our friendship based on our political disagreements. I will never support any of his candidates or help him in any political activity, indeed I'll oppose all he does (our votes always cancel each other!), but I will not try to bully him, ever.

 

So my message is: let's try to find solutions, not more reasons to promote conflict and fuel hate. 

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Sthira,

 

I share your concern, your pain, and I appreciated your list of good things that have happened this year. I'll add one. Although I'm not a big baseball fan, it was cool to see the Cubs finally win the World Series.

 

But I also agree with Tom. I say yes to peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience in order to demonstrate to the new administration and especially the rest of the country and the world that there are plenty of committed US citizens who won't sit by idly should Trump and his minions start to wreck the country (e.g. by curtailing civil rights). But I say no to any attempts at revolt, or actions that impede the lawful transfer of power, or especially to the crazy idea of succession that it appears some in California are seriously contemplating. Now is not the time to give up hope that we can get through this.

 

On the other hand, I don't mind if you call me Cassandra, since I've been playing her for months as anyone around here knows too well by now... When I put on my soothsayer hat, I'm pretty pessimistic, and fear that calls for calmly moving forward in the spirit of cooperation and a civil society are reasonably likely to go unheeded, particularly in light of the escalating tensions and abuses (perhaps on both sides) that we're beginning to see. I have serious concerns about a spiral of increasing rancor and violence that will make the St. Louis riots last year look tame by comparison. 

 

As Tom wisely says, we should all try very hard to find peaceful solutions and do our best to support the continuation of civil society, rather than getting caught up in or contributing to the growing fears and tension. But neither should we turn a blind eye to the potential for injustice, or ignore the risk of things spiralling out of control from here. I really wish that I'll be proven wrong and I do still harbor hope. but it's appearing more and more likely to me that things will get substantially worse before they (hopefully) eventually get better.

 

--Dean

 

BTW - does anyone else find the discussions going on elsewhere in this communal "house" we share absurd and surreal now? Tweaking macronutrients? Al's posts about air pollution causing heart disease, and his plea for Michael to defend the benefits of CR? Seriously? Even personal lifespan extension seems trivial and selfish to me now in light of recent events.

 

Does anyone wonder now why I decided to turn over a New Leaf a while back? I see now that there was almost certainly nothing I could have done to prevent any of this, despite my connections at Google and Facebook, two companies who are at least partially culpable for this nightmare. But still I regret that it took me so long to realize I was wasting my time squabbling over diet and health minutia while Rome was smoldering...

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Eh, the hysteria will all blow over in a few more weeks, the market even surprised most people and rallied on the Trump election news.  Remember even I called Trump a buffoon, so don't pin me as some big Trump lover.  But if you think Hillary was a saint, you are completely irrational and delusional.  If the press had done their job, she never would have been a candidate in the first place.  Its time to move on.  NPR had a good quote yesterday by the way, "Hillary supporters took Trump literally but not seriously, while Trump supporters took him seriously, but not literally" -- I think that is true, but either way, the guy has little real power as I previously mentioned, the office of president is largely symbolic.  

 

As for racist nut-jobs, they were here before Trump, and they will be here after too.  Don't get wrapped up in the fake world of facebook nonsense -- I'd bet most of the pics were created by, and posted by, jaded Democrats trying to stir things up or vent their frustrations.  This same bogus nonsense happens on both sides by the way, for example see:

https://youtu.be/7-rcdZJZRb4

 

Anyway, Trump couldn't have been elected without significant support from minorities, his campaign featured quite a lot of minority outreach actually.  Trump personally created more jobs for minorities than Hillary ever had or ever will.  Being against illegal immigration is not tantamount to being racist, most Americans, and surprisingly including hispanics, are against illegal immigration.

 

latinos-for-trump-280x175.jpg635991340433039317-rtx2b9ze.jpgjewsfortrumppence.jpgwomen_for_trump.jpgRabbisForTrump.jpgblacksfortrump.jpgblacksfortrump.jpgaa_Sajid_Tarar_from_American_Muslims_forTrumpMinorities.jpg

If you like videos, this Muslim woman who supported Trump may help you understand "the other side":

https://youtu.be/RG6rNcsVOaA

 

Or from a liberal who gets it:

https://youtu.be/GLG9g7BcjKs

 

If it will make anyone feel better, I'll let you vent in a new way and perhaps settle a dispute at the same time. One item that was of utmost concern to those who hate corruption were the shenanigans at the Clinton Foundation (which the mainstream media gave her a free pass on, despite leaked emails showing all sorts of ethics concerns even from her own staff). If this supposedly upstanding, world class charity is above board and totally legit - then we would not expect to see any substantial decline in revenues, charitable activities, or staffing levels and salaries at the Clinton Foundation over the next 12 months, right? If anything, things should get even better for the Clinton Foundation since now Hillary will have her full time, focus and attention to devote to the cause! Plus this is Chelsea's bread and butter, so she isn't going anywhere, right? Either the deplorables will have to admit they were wrong, and express their great joy that the Clintons are doing so much good work in the world, or the other side will have to admit they were duped by the corrupt establishment including the mainstream media and their favorite candidate. Proposal: Put your money where you mouth is, lets make it an official wager, winnings can go to the charity of choice for the winner.  Any takers?  Name your stakes.  We'll pick someone as a neutral 3rd party judge, and check back in right here as soon as the official Clinton Foundation 403c tax documents are made available for 2017.  For comparison purposes and the purposes of settling our wager, here are a few details I was able to find in a quick search:

 

On its 2013 tax forms, the most recent available, the foundation claimed it spent $30 million on payroll and employee benefits; $8.7 million in rent and office expenses; $9.2 million on “conferences, conventions and meetings”; $8 million on fundraising; and nearly $8.5 million on travel. In all, the group reported $84.6 million in “functional expenses” on its 2013 tax return

Edited by Gordo

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Um, spreaking probably mostly to myself here, and Dean perhaps: but I (we) need to snap out of whatever stage of grief we're currently in (anger, denial, fear) and stand now to stop Trump and the Big Oil-controlled Congress from launching an all-out assault on the planet.

 

If Sarah "Drill, baby, Drill" Palin is appointed Secretary of the Interior; anti-EPA Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller becomes Secretary of Agriculture; fracking billionaire Harold Hamm is soon Energy Secretary... -- how can anyone say we're being hysterical by speaking up, by protesting? Fine if you won't protest; so soon reap what we're about to sow.

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Gordo,

 

Remember even I called Trump a buffoon, so don't pin me as some big Trump lover. 

 

I never said you were a Trump lover. In fact earlier I switched "buffoon" to "Trump apologist" and said I was sorry for saying that. But even Trump apologist isn't right, Perhaps it should be something like "Trump normalizer" - suggesting Trumps abhorrent behavior and toxic character flaws were on-par with Clintons. 

 

As for the rest, all I can say is - sigh...

 

When someone like Gordo, who I respect, says stuff like this all I can conclude is that America has finally "jumped the shark". Gordo, the "racist nut-jobs" may have always existed, but now they are emboldened by the fact that they've now got a US President who agrees with them and is egging them on, as illustrated in my previous post about the First Day of Trump's America. For anyone can't get enough of the stories of injustice and abuse, that are plenty more reported here that have occurred in the 12h since I posted that.

 

But don't worry, Trump doing what he always does, pouring gasoline on the fire. Here is what he tweeted last night:

 

PbeZ0RD.png

 

Way to go Donald, very mature of you. "Professional protesters"? WTF? There are tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people marching around the country in protest and solidarity against what you have boldly said you stand for, and you think people are f*cking paying them to do it?  

 

"Unfair?" Unfair to whom exactly? Unfair for people to express disdain for your boldly expressed attitudes and promised policies? Or is it that you think it unfair that people are allowed to march in protest in this country anymore?

 

But then his handlers must have wrested his twitter account from him and substituted their own message, since his account tweeted this entirely contradictory message earlier this morning:

 

hXCExgA.png

 

In other words - "Please ignore my self-centered man-baby rant I sent last night. I didn't mean that."  I guess it would be too much to hope for get a consistent even-tempered, mature reaction from our President elect.

 

Maybe his advisors will be able to rein him in consistently and serve as his "better judgement". Oh, I forgot, he's considering such paragons of rationality, virtue and compassion as Steve Bannon, Roger Ailes, Rudolph Giuliani, Chris Christi, Ben Carson and Sarah Palin for his inner circle. Now there is a crack team who'll lead our country to greatness again....

 

So much for the bold American experiment to create a free, open and compassionate society. Put a fork in it, we're done. Here you go China - here are the keys to world leadership. Please drive carefully.

 

--Dean

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