Trump’s epic inaugural failure

‘…Trump likes to think that he is perpetually breaking boundaries and setting records, and he surely did with his inauguration speech. It was the worst in generations, and perhaps the worst of all time.

It wasn’t just mediocre. It was stunningly, disconcertingly, dumbfoundingly bad. And bad in a deeply worrying way.

There was little that was unifying about it; little that was inspirational; little that spoke to the better angels of America, to transcendent American values or freedoms, or higher causes. Nor was there much by way of concrete causes, beyond a call for investments in American infrastructure.

Instead, Trump outlined an all-out nationalist, protectionist, and populist approach that, frankly, is incompatible with a nation that leads the free world….’

Source: Scott Lehigh, Boston Globe

Oh, schadenfreude, you’re killing me.

Totally Epic Soundscape That Trump Won’t Be Hearing at His Inauguration

‘…[I]n typical Trump fashion, the president-elect shot off a tweet in early January saying the inauguration is going to be a great show. What would it have sounded like if all had went according to plan? Below, check out our playlist comprised of all the artists who rejected a bid to participate in the merriment — and imagine what could have been…’

Source: Pacific Standard

Once More: What Was Marine Le Pen Doing Getting Coffee at Trump Tower?

Genesis of the New Axis?

‘Last week, Le Pen, one of France’s far-right presidential hopefuls, made an unusual appearance at New York’s Trump Tower. Reports say she didn’t meet with Donald Trump.

What’s verifiable is that Le Pen is now taking trans-Atlantic strides to garner outside support for what at least one member of her own party (and family) has called a world “axis” of emerging populist politicians.

Also certain (at a time of few answers to Pacific Standard’s requests for comment from world politicians) is that Le Pen is making greater overtures to international supporters at a time when her party has been strapped for cash and has had difficulty obtaining loans from French banks…’

Source: Pacific Standard

20 Lessons from the 20th Century

 

How to Defend Democracy from Authoritarianism, According to Yale Historian Timothy Snyder

‘After the November election, Snyder wrote a profile of Hitler, a short piece that made no direct comparisons to any contemporary figure. But reading the facts of the historical case alarmed most readers. A few days later, the historian appeared on a Slate podcast to discuss the article, saying that after he submitted it, “I realized there was more…. there are an awful lot of echoes.” Snyder admits that history doesn’t actually repeat itself. But we’re far too quick, he says, to dismiss that idea as a cliché “and not think about history at all. History shows a range of possibilities.” Similar events occur across time under similar kinds of conditions. And it is, of course, possible to learn from the past…’

Source: Open Culture

Will the Women’s March Resurrect the Democratic Party?

‘The Women’s March on Washington, which is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of participants to the capital on Saturday, was intended to demonstrate opposition among progressive women to the policies of President-elect Donald J. Trump.But the loudest criticism of the march has come not from Trump supporters; rather, it has come from participants who argue that women of color have hijacked the event by focusing it on themselves, instead of women more broadly.

March organizers told me they received a surge of complaints after women of color called for more representation on the march’s leadership team.In essence, black and brown women are being labeled divisive for wanting to finally see themselves reflected in the modern feminist agenda.

This criticism echoes one of the most persistent attacks against Democrats, from the left and the right, after the presidential election: that a focus on so-called identity politics was in part to blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss. Proponents of this view argue that Democrats have been sidetracked by trying to accommodate the various needs of a diverse America and thus have failed to promote a unifying narrative.

Critics miss the point. It’s not selfish — nor need it be divisive — for women of color to push to be included, just as it wasn’t inappropriate for minority groups to expect to be courted by Democrats during the campaign. The problem is not that “identity groups” have some undue obsession with their own agendas. It’s that the groups with the most power often fail to have a sense of solidarity across race and class that would allow for a vision of multicultural liberalism that could reinvigorate the Democratic Party…’

Icelandic Study: We Are Getting Dumber

‘Certainly, to many of us, it feels like the world is getting dumber. Just-published research from deCODE, a genetics firm in Reykjavik, Iceland, suggests that Idiocracy might have had it about right. Thankfully, though, the dumbening won’t be happening so precipitously, with a drop in the average IQ of only about 0.04 points per decade. The concern is about what this could mean over time…’

Source: Big Think

Certainly, this study should come as no surprise when considered with regard to the US electorate.

David Byrne wants to put you in a science experiment

‘The new immersive art installation here in the heart of Silicon Valley was dreamed up by David Byrne, the front man of the Talking Heads, and loosely modeled after the work of neuroscience and psychology labs at top institutions like Caltech and Harvard.

So when I showed up at a warehouse on a rainy Sunday morning earlier this month, I wasn’t sure what to expect.What I experienced was light on science but heavy on amusing novelty. I trekked with a group of nine fellow visitors through four rooms, each the site of a quasi-scientific experiment. After an hour, I’d navigated moral dilemmas, got tricked into believing a moving object was standing still, predicted (with limited success) the winners of an election, and found myself experiencing life as though I’d been turned into a doll.

The vibe could hardly get more surreal…’

Source: StatNews

I’m with Paul Auster

‘In the wake of Trump’s victory, he says, “I feel utterly astonished that we could have come to this. I find his election the most appalling thing I’ve seen in politics in my life.” The Russians hacking the Democratic party is “almost like a declaration of war, without bullets”. “I’ve been struggling ever since Trump won to work out how to live my life in the years ahead,” he says. And he has decided to act: “I have come to the conclusion to accept something that has been offered to me again and again over the years – to become president of PEN America. I have been vice-president, and secretary, but I’ve never wanted to take on the full burden. I’ll start early in 2018. I’m going to speak out as often as I can, otherwise I don’t think I can live with myself.” …’

Source: 3quarksdaily