What the Hell is Going on in the World? LINKS 02/17/18



Elizabeth Nolan Brown on the condition of some of California women’s prisons:

Women imprisoned at California’s Santa Rita Jail say they’re being housed in filthy conditions, denied basic hygiene products, pressured to have abortions, subjected to incessant strip searches, and forced to endure many other manners of cruel and inhumane treatment from guards and staff at the Alameda County facility.

In a new federal lawsuit, they’re asking a federal judge to intervene on behalf of them and future female prisoners, particularly those who are pregnant.

The treatment of expectant mothers can be especially bad, with pregnant prisoners denied proper nutrition and prenatal care and, in some places, forced to give birth in shackles. At Santa Rita, they’re subject to all sorts of conditions that could cause harm to a developing fetus and increase the risk of birth defects or miscarriage, according to the new lawsuit. One inmate was allegedly left alone in solitary confinement to give birth.



Justin Murphy on the data regarding who opposes free speech:

The topic of free speech is highly salient at the moment, but if you look at the public opinion data, you find some patterns quite incongruous with many of the popular talking points circulating right now. It seems that perhaps in the pushback against political correctness, many have been too quick to make generalizations about how “the far left” and/or “radical liberals” think about free speech. The now popular view that “the left” has turned against free speech is not totally wrong, but it’s complicated. The important wrinkle is that “extreme liberals” and the “far left” have always been, and generally remain, the most supportive of free speech. Curiously, it is the “slightly left” that have in recent years turned against free speech (and only for racists, not for other groups, including military fascists!).



Jordan Greenhall on the challenges and technological growth that await the youngest generation:

Mathematically, if our technological ability continues to grow at the same rate that it has been growing, in twenty years we will be one million times more technologically capable than we are right now. One million times. That is a bit like going from the invention of writing to the invention of the computer — in a single generation.

Human beings as we currently know them have absolutely no idea how to adapt to that rate and scope of change. Forget self-driving cars, 3D printers and autonomous drones. Those are the pong and slinky of Generation Omega. Certainly we should expect cybernetically-enhanced intelligence and detailed control over our children’s genetic material. Probably telepathy-like technologies and “swarm consciousness” where it becomes impossible to distinguish “your” thoughts from the thoughts of the people you are connected to. Possibly Matrix-like VR that is indistinguishable from reality.

..this is a daunting future facing Generation Omega. Win or lose, theirs will be a generational bridge to an uncertain future. And there is no guarantee that they will navigate these challenges successfully. In fact, in all fairness, the odds are stacked firmly against them. Where we sit right now, there are many reasons to fear and only a few reasons to hope. But there are reasons to hope. Foremost among these is that Generation Omega is not yet formed. The eldest among them are not yet adolescent and the youngest are not yet born. They are still in the process of becoming who they will be and, therefore, we have an opportunity to give them the best possible chance while we still hold the reins of power.

We know what they will face. What can we do now to help them?



Michael Krieger on current events, the news and insanity fatigue:

I suppose this is always the way it is at the end of a failing and bankrupt empire, it’s just extraordinary to watch it happen in real time. The total insanity of the political debate in the U.S., and a lack of any willingness to admit our real systemic problems — let alone face them — is what convinces me without a doubt that this train is headed straight into a brick wall.

That’s not to say other countries are in fine shape, they aren’t. The whole planet’s become entangled in America’s increasingly corrupt, militaristic and fraudulent imperial financial system. Escape will not be clean or easy for anybody. Nevertheless, the U.S. has the furtherest to fall given it is the world’s dominant power armed with the global reserve currency. An empire with such an overwhelming structural advantage can last a lot longer than it should in the face of monumental incompetence, but the day of reckoning is coming.

Meanwhile, Trump isn’t addressing any of the major structural issues we face like our fraudulent and corrupt financial system, endless and pointless imperial wars or the ever-expanding surveillance panopticon managed and controlled by the unelected “deep state.” Sure, he talks a good game sometimes, but the core elements of the U.S. empire continue to expand in power and hubris with virtually zero resistance. Hillary Clinton would’ve done much the same while deflecting criticism as “sexist.” If the general public refuses to confront our real issues,the politicians and bureaucrats sure as heck aren’t going to. As such, it appears imperial implosion is inevitable at this point.




Jordan Greenhall on thinking and simulated thinking:

…precious few of our social relationships (particularly during childhood and adolescence) are generative of real learning and thinking. Instead, most of our time is spent “gaming social groups.” Figuring out how to “fit in” by becoming sensitive to “good opinion” and how to craft and simulate an identity that works for the ephemeral social group that we happen to be swimming with. When you have reached the point that “keeping it real” is itself a performative simulation, you have a pretty good idea where you are.

When you look at how we really spend almost all of our time, it isn’t hard to figure out how we got here. We are born thinking. And then we are immersed like Achilles in an environment that is omnipresently pushing us to optimize for simulated thinking.

This is deep problem at a human level. But it is an even bigger problem at the social level. And under the current trajectory of exponential technology, it is likely a catastrophic problem at the species level.

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