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Gender: Male
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 12,717

Journal Archives

Not sure this kind of stuff is going to get us more votes

The tendency to categorize other identities and distill a meaning for them that promotes the formation of higher proof "rage rotgut" is one we should avoid if we value our livers.

I'm not sure why we would choose to confront all of the many foolishnesses of Republicanism at the wall of masculinity. It's extremely bad strategy. It's like aiming to bruise their fists with our faces.

Is there a "crisis of masculinity?" Well, yes and no. There's a crisis of yacking about it; that's for sure. I'm actually glad a cowardly, conniving, twerp like Josh Hawley decided to run to the vanguard on the issue for the Republicans. That must bum them out. He's going to sink the whole thing.

How to deal with the term "woke" (whatever it means)

The word "woke" doesn't appear in the Dem platform document, so it's clear that we Dems don't consider ourselves defined by the term (whatever it means). But what can be done to reform this label, if anything, and, perhaps, turn it against the right?

One way is to disassociate the Democratic Party from the word. We could simply put in the platform that Dems aren't "woke." Something like, "The term 'woke' doesn't appear in this document. It has no solid formal definition, and it appears to be a name-calling label wielded by the right to attribute to Dems whatever awful thing the right wants to label us with at the moment. To be clear, the Democratic Party doesn't deal in labels, and we explicitly don't accept this one. A voter who chooses to label themselves 'woke' is encouraged to vote Democratic if they support the Democratic Platform, as are voters who agree with the platform but either don't consider themselves woke or choose to ignore labels entirely (which we recommend)."

That sort of approach is what you might do if you wanted to emphasize that the Dems have never said we were "woke," and that Republicans saying we are, therefore, is a lie. In rhetoric, unfortunately, you often have to explicitly deny that you are saying a thing to prevent it being inferred from subtext. Republican extremists are counting on us not doing that in order to paint Dems as radical boogie people.

Another thing we could do is go the other way and define the word "woke" normatively in the platform document. The definition could emerge from the official Democratic Platform process. I would hope (and do assume) that the process is grounded in one-vote-per-person representation. You could create an "official" definition of the term "woke," in other words, for the purposes of the document. This is done all the time in official documents such as contracts, laws, and standards. If we did that, we would have a ready response whenever a Republican implies that "woke" means something awful. Just point to the definition and note that all of the awful "reductio ad absurdum" cases they like to whine about aren't in the definition.

Can we find something to train ChatGPT with besides human knowledge?

First, I'm not all that happy with "artificially magnified natural intelligence," humans armed with software tools and the Internet. I think we may be starting to get our balance, but the ride has been very bumpy so far, imo. Maybe it's just me, but it sometimes seems like everybody wants to rule the world. (Note to self: song idea.)

So, here's what I mean about training large language models with human knowledge: Humans aren't necessarily always right about everything. We are primarily rational creatures, of course, but we do have a thin layer of emotion that occasionally expresses itself. I'm just not sure it's good for those engrams to be implanted in AIs.

The CNN Town Hall was great

My two cents are that I thought Kaitlan Collins did a great job yesterday. I also thought it was good decision for CNN to host the event. It didn't help Trump, and it hurt the Republicans.

The CNN Chairman pointed out that it wakes us all up. We need it. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/11/business/media/cnn-donald-trump-chris-licht.html

Marc Thiessen (conservative columnist) pointed out what a "dumpster" fire it was for Republicans. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/05/11/trump-town-hall-disaster-gop/

There are a lot more reasons the event was good, one of which is that CNN trying to shut out Trump would have played to his favor. Nothing makes a lying, insecure LOSER like Trump look better than to be seen as "the media trying to shut him up."

I have to respectfully disagree with my fellow lefties, some of whom want to cancel CNN. I despise Trump, but we should count to ten. This was a great news media decision, a great moderator performance, and a good result for the anti-Trumps. It helped Biden and America, and it hurt the Republicans and Trump.

Is "showboat" attention hogging receding with the pandemic?

I've always been a believer that one-person-one-vote was a good way to assure fairness. Yet it seems to me like it's a commonplace that noisy folks dominate the media. From fools to monsters, we have been getting way too many showboat performances instead of majority-dominant, generally cooperative, usually mutually beneficial social tone.

The 95% of folks on the left and right who either completely agree or can compromise with (and accommodate) one another are starting to speak up againat their democratic one-person-one-vote level of representation. That is all to the good. There could be a lot of squawking from folks with microphones and megaphones as their influence dwindles to its true fair market value, but folks who just want to see common sense and cooperation come back in vogue can take some comfort, imo.

Avoiding gratuitous and (especially) self-destructive confrontation

It seems to me that people have a bias toward admiring people who "fight" for or "stand up" for causes. That's not a good bias. The "good bias" is to admire people who work for (and fight for and stand up for) causes and do it well.

This is a problem that plagues both the left and right. Few are called, but many answer. (And it's far too frequently exactly the people you wish wouldn't.)

Wise People Protest Lack of Representation


Wise people from across the country convened for a demonstration on the National Mall for a day of "reflection, conversation, and community."

"We're here to protest the fool-archy and its growing dominance in our culture," said one participant who asked to be kept anonymous. "We're not asking that idiots be silenced or ignored. They're great as counterexamples for children, for example. All we're asking is that wise people be allowed to participate in the national conversation at a level commensurate with our representation in society. It's not zero! It's only close to zero!"

Attendees at the demonstration numbered in the tens. None brought signs or bullhorns.

"It really doesn't seem like much of a demonstration to me," said one junior reporter who was interviewing another junior reporter (the author of the current article). "These folks are just talking sense. A couple of them had physical books. None of them were even angry or resentful. I'm confused. They're just talking! They brought whiteboards!"


I'd need more information

In an era of what might be called "Trump/Santos" confidence tomfoolery, I'd like to know a little more about "foster parents" and what they put in the TikTok cesspool about the "private school." Just reading the article, these folks could be anything. They could be false flaggers. They could be utter charlatans. Evidence to the contrary welcome, of course.

Critical thinking can help keep the Dem Party from being misunderstood

Imo, we have a signal-to-noise ratio problem that confuses people about who Dems are and what we stand for. The strongest legitimate "signal" is arguably the Dem Platform document, but, unfortunately, its reach is minimal. It has to be looked up and read, so...

My question is, how do we keep the Dem Party from being misunderstood? How do we signal boost those who channel the legitimate platform? How do we mute (or equalize to a democratic level of representative legitimacy) noise? Third, how do Dems prevent intentional or unintentional co-opting of our group identity and reputation by message screw-ups or false flaggers?

I think the most practical way may be to teach all people critical thinking skills as if our lives depend on them. People who think critically know not to take wooden nickels like "if someone who typically votes Dem says it, it must be the opinion of all Dems."

Do folks sometimes forget that real people have to actually do jobs for them to be done?

I see a lot of, "Well, so-and-so didn't do their job!" or "fire so-and-so for doing their job wrong!" or "hold so-and-so accountable!" Familiar examples of "so-and-so" are teachers, cops, and politicians. I'm sure we can all think of tons of others.

A lot of people appear to assume you can gripe and fire and "accountability" your way to getting quality workers to do necessary work. Nope. People have to want to do the jobs you want done, and they won't want to do them if they are getting grief all the time.

On the flip side, a lot of people also seem to assume that if only there were monetary resources, every important job we need done would be done. Nope. No matter how much money is available, you can only hire from the available pool of people. Those people have to both be able to do the job you want done and want the job in the first place.
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