50 Ideas

Some good points for consideration here in 50 Ideas That Changed My Life.

Preference Falsification: People lie about their true opinions and conform to socially acceptable preferences instead. In private they’ll say one thing. In public, they’ll say another.

Part of the explanation for how Trump got elected when every poll said he was going to lose. Now that he’s been in power for 4 years, I wonder if the polls will be more accurate as his supporters are more confident about expressing their true opinions?

Via Negativa: When we have a problem, our natural instinct is to add a new habit or purchase a fix. But sometimes, you can improve your life by taking things away. For example, the foods you avoid are more important than the foods you eat.

Yep.

The Paradox of Abundance: The average quality of information is getting worse and worse. But the best stuff is getting better and better. Markets of abundance are simultaneously bad for the median consumer but good for conscious consumers.

A precise summary of the Internet. If you put in the effort, you can find world-class information at your fingertips. If you let the information come to you, you get dross.

A Better Conservation Model

In How Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park is rebounding from war, National Geopgraphic takes a look at conservation efforts which include the local community, protecting wildlife by improving the lives of local farmers and families.

Circumstances were just as grim on the lands surrounding the park. About 100,000 people lived in what planners now call the buffer zone—mostly families growing corn and other subsistence crops, barely able to feed themselves, their children shorted on education and health care. When the soil tired and the corn failed to thrive, the farmers would cut forest, burn the slash, and try again on a new patch.

Disinformation

Good, long read with Bellingcat founder, Eliot Higgins, about open-source investigations of MH17 and Syrian chemical weapons and what’s been learned about disinformation in the process.

Mirrors my belief that education is going to be crucial in the future, to equip kids to sort the wheat from the chaff…

You have to develop young people to consume media in a more critical way. To understand that, basically, an internet service provider is the gatekeeper to all the information in the world. If you start off on the wrong foot, the algorithm starts pushing you deeper and deeper into nonsense. If you aren’t equipped to respond to that, then you are going to get sucked into disinformation.

…and that that can be an agnostic process.

On the political question: we believe in democracy, we believe in the truth, we believe that people who do bad things should be exposed and ideally, punished, and that innocent people should be protected. That’s where we are broadly, politically. As much as I’ve criticized Trump and the Republicans here, I don’t see myself as being anti-one political party or another – if they’re telling the truth and being straight with the public and not screwing people over. But when they start going outside of that, when they start lying, when they start spreading disinformation, whoever they are, whatever they do, that’s going to be of interest to us and we’re going to go after them.

It’s about teaching kids/people HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

Racism

Just when you think things are looking grim in the US, a cop decides it’s OK to kneel on an African-American man’s neck until he dies. In fact, he cares so little that it doesn’t even bother him that people are filming him doing it. Black lives just don’t matter to him. The resulting protests, and riots, have been doing on for almost a week now.

Once the rioting starts, so does the tut-tutting, with people wondering why ‘they’ don’t protest peacefully, forgetting the abuse Colin Kaepernick got when he took a knee during the national anthem before NFL games. TIME Magazine has a piece in which a local activist points out that Minneapolis has been a powder keg for a while, and has shown no interest in responding to protests around previous killings or reforming their police force or doing anything about inequality in the city.

When the Black Lives Matter movement took hold nationally after Eric Garner and Michael Brown died at the hands of police in 2014, solidarity protests also broke out in Minnesota. Demonstrators occupied the Mall of America, a major regional attraction, and shut down major highways. The next year, protests erupted again after police shot and killed Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man, in North Minneapolis, and in 2016, after a police officer shot and killed Philando Castile, whose girlfriend live streamed part of the incident in a Minneapolis suburb. In both cases, there was no police conviction.

Former NBA star, Karim Abdul-Jabar has a powerful piece in the Los Angeles Times outlining what it means to be African-American in the US today.

I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere.

Barack Obama wrote a well-reasoned piece exhorting people to show up at the voting booth and vote for change, particularly at local elections where there is more oversight of individual police departments and judges, which makes perfect sense. However, as Professor Ibram X. Kendi, director at the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University points out, the first response of even progressive officials is often to protect the police:

It’s one thing to say that one of the ways in which you should channel your anger is through seeking to vote into power antiracist elected officials. And it’s yet another thing to say that in reaction to people who are protesting or demonstrating against police violence in Atlanta. And instead of Atlanta’s officials immediately making policy changes that have the capacity to reduce police violence against people, instead, those Atlanta officials make immediate policy changes to stem violence against property and police and then simultaneously say to those very people, “Well, you need to channel your energy into electing people like me.” But those very people who are elected officials actually have the power in that moment to make changes. And they’re not doing it. So you can’t simultaneously not use your power to make change and then tell people, “You should be electing people like me and then change will come.”

With Friends Like These...

When Australia put its head above the parapet to advocate for an international inquiry into the origins of C19 and what mistakes were made, China was quick to tell us to get back in our box, and, as our biggest trading partner, they have plenty of say.

That has now escalated to unofficial trade sanctions, with random obstacles being placed in front of our beef and barley imports. A shot across the bow if you will.

Over at the Financial Times, they have an in-depth look at Trump’s inadequate response to C19 which includes this gem…

Both the US and China have spread outlandish rumours about the other. Some Chinese officials have circulated the groundless conspiracy theory that the US army planted the virus in Wuhan at an athletics event last year. Trump administration officials, including Pompeo, have repeatedly suggested Covid-19 originated from a bat-to-human transmission in Wuhan’s virology lab.

Last month, Australia called for an international inquiry into the disease’s origins. “Australia’s goal was to defuse conspiracy theories in both China and America,” says Michael Fullilove, head of the Lowy Institute, Australia’s largest think-tank.

Days later, Australia’s Daily Telegraph, a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, ran an apparent scoop that the “five eyes” – the intelligence agencies of the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – had concluded the disease came from the Wuhan lab, whether by accident or design. It appears the story had no substance. Fauci and other scientists say the pathogen almost certainly came from a wet market in Wuhan. No “five eyes” dossier existed.

According to a five eye senior intelligence officer and a figure close to Australia’s government, the Daily Telegraph story probably came from the US embassy in Canberra. There was no chance after its publication that Beijing would agree to an international probe. The report damaged Australia’s hopes of defusing US-China tensions. “We used to think of America as the world’s leading power, not as the epicentre of disease,” says Fullilove, who is an ardent pro-American. “We increasingly feel caught between a reckless China and a feckless America that no longer seems to care about its allies.”

Cheers, mate.