On Thursday evening, First Lady Michelle Obama encouraged Democratic donors at a fundraiser in Chicago to spend big on Democratic candidates in the midterm elections. At the same event she used the bully pulpit to decry Republicans’ use of large donations in previous election cycles, remarking:So, yeah, there’s too much money in politics. There’s special interests that have too much influence. But they had all that money and all that influence back in 2008 and 2012 and we still won those elections.
The first lady also said:There is something you can do right now today to make a difference, and that is to write a big, fat check. I kid you not. I’m going to be honest with you. That’s what we need you to do right now. We need you to write the biggest, fattest check that you can possibly write.
Okay, you know what you do? You buy yourself a tape recorder, you just record yourself for a whole day. I think you’re going to be surprised at some of your phrasing.
Sure, it’s a nice, catchy headline, but this is really just a silly complaint. Given the current role of money in politics, many candidates need to ask donors for a big, fat check to get elected and once they are elected they can go about changing the role of money in politics so that FUTURE candidates will not need to ask donors to write a big, fat check!
"Right after I lost vision in my eye, I was so bad at walking that I ran into a girl eating ice cream, and knocked her cone out of her hand. She screamed: ‘Are you blind!?!?’ I turned to her and said: ‘I am blind actually, I’m so sorry, I’ll buy you a new cone.’ And she said: ‘Oh my God! I’m so sorry! Don’t worry! It’s no problem at all! I’ll buy another one.’ So we walked into the ice cream store together, and the clerk said: ‘I heard the whole thing. Ice cream is free.’"
Radiolab - In Silence
Remember that stuff about crazy people and bad code? The internet is that except it’s literally a billion times worse. Websites that are glorified shopping carts with maybe three dynamic pages are maintained by teams of people around the clock, because the truth is everything is breaking all the time, everywhere, for everyone. Right now someone who works for Facebook is getting tens of thousands of error messages and frantically trying to find the problem before the whole charade collapses. There’s a team at a Google office that hasn’t slept in three days. Somewhere there’s a database programmer surrounded by empty Mountain Dew bottles whose husband thinks she’s dead. And if these people stop, the world burns. Most people don’t even know what sysadmins do, but trust me, if they all took a lunch break at the same time they wouldn’t make it to the deli before you ran out of bullets protecting your canned goods from roving bands of mutants.
“…al-Qaeda members are actively plotting to stay out of the way while America as we know it gradually crumbles under the weight of its own self-inflicted debt and disrepair”
…artificial intelligence is a slippery term. It could refer to just getting machines to do things that seem intelligent on the surface, such as playing chess well or translating from one language to another on a superficial level—things that are impressive if you don’t look at the details. In that sense, we’ve already created what some people call artificial intelligence. But if you mean a machine that has real intelligence, that is thinking—that’s inaccurate. Watson is basically a text search algorithm connected to a database just like Google search. It doesn’t understand what it’s reading. In fact, read is the wrong word. It’s not reading anything because it’s not comprehending anything. Watson is finding text without having a clue as to what the text means. In that sense, there’s no intelligence there. It’s clever, it’s impressive, but it’s absolutely vacuous.
When it comes to keeping our bodies free of dangerous toxins, keeping our food safe, and living in harmony with the environment (whatever that may mean?), there’s plenty to keep an eye out for. But be careful. There’s a fine line between public health and chemical fear-mongering.
Actually, it’s not that fine of a line. Big, complicated chemical names can look scary, and there are a lot of people out there ready to take advantage of that fact. This is where basic education can help, so people can learn that chemicals, per se, are nothing to fear. Because … well, everything is made of them.
Just look how far some people take it:
If you’ve got chemical-free kids, all I can say is wow. What ARE they made of then?
Reminds me of the hilarious efforts to ban dihydrogen monoxide.
Thank you Joe.