Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Dan P. McAdams in The Atlantic:
In 2006, Donald Trump made plans to purchase the Menie Estate, near Aberdeen, Scotland, aiming to convert the dunes and grassland into a luxury golf resort. He and the estate’s owner, Tom Griffin, sat down to discuss the transaction at the Cock & Bull restaurant. Griffin recalls that Trump was a hard-nosed negotiator, reluctant to give in on even the tiniest details. But, as Michael D’Antonio writes in his recent biography of Trump, Never Enough, Griffin’s most vivid recollection of the evening pertains to the theatrics. It was as if the golden-haired guest sitting across the table were an actor playing a part on the London stage. “It was Donald Trump playing Donald Trump,” Griffin observed. There was something unreal about it. The same feeling perplexed Mark Singer in the late 1990s when he was working on a profile of Trump for The New Yorker. Singer wondered what went through his mind when he was not playing the public role of Donald Trump. What are you thinking about, Singer asked him, when you are shaving in front of the mirror in the morning? Trump, Singer writes, appeared baffled. Hoping to uncover the man behind the actor’s mask, Singer tried a different tack.
“O.K., I guess I’m asking, do you consider yourself ideal company?”
“You really want to know what I consider ideal company?,” Trump replied. “A total piece of ass.”
I might have phrased Singer’s question this way: Who are you, Mr. Trump, when you are alone? Singer never got an answer, leaving him to conclude that the real-estate mogul who would become a reality-TV star and, after that, a leading candidate for president of the United States had managed to achieve something remarkable: “an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.”
Jane Brody in The New York Times:
Does this sound like anyone you know?
*Displays a grandiose sense of self, violating social norms, throwing tantrums, even breaking laws with minimal consequences; generally behaves as if entitled to do whatever he wants regardless of how it affects others.
*Shames or humiliates those who disagree with him, and goes on the attack when hurt or frustrated, often exploding with rage.
*Arrogant, vain and haughty and exaggerates his accomplishments; bullies others to get his own way.
*Lies or distorts the truth for personal gain, blames others or makes excuses for his mistakes, ignores or rewrites facts that challenge his self-image, and won’t listen to arguments based on truth.
These are common characteristics of extreme narcissists as described by Joseph Burgo, a clinical psychologist, in his book “The Narcissist You Know.” While we now live in a culture that some would call narcissistic, with millions of people constantly taking selfies, spewing out tweets and posting everything they do on YouTube and Facebook, the extreme narcissists Dr. Burgo describes are a breed unto themselves. They may be highly successful in their chosen fields but extremely difficult to live with and work with. Of course, nearly all of us possess one or more narcissistic trait without crossing the line of a diagnosable disorder. And it is certainly not narcissistic to have a strong sense of self-confidence based on one’s abilities.
Monday, July 18, 2016
by Paul Braterman
This is an excellent review of an important but difficult subject, and a welcome change from the ill-informed bluster of a Sam Harris, or the limp apologetics of a Karen Armstrong. It is the work of an author who is exceptionally well placed to appreciate the context of the mass of information on which he draws. Lucidly written, it is also a work of broad scholarship (there are more than 500 references and footnotes), and provides an overview of one of the most important developments of our times. Overall, it is a much-needed corrective to the popular view that these times are particularly violent, and that the roots of this violence lie within Islam.
It is also a very disturbing book, and I mean that as a compliment. While fully committed to secular Enlightenment values, Edis recognises that this cannot be the starting position in any worthwhile discussion of committed Islam. Secularism is neither historically inevitable, nor a logical necessity, nor a moral imperative. In his native Turkey, for example, secularism was the founding principle of the modern State, but has lost out to an Islamic pious modernity, whose advocates cannot simply be dismissed as deluded or wicked. Secularism cannot claim to be the more democratic option, where it is not what people would prefer. The secular ideal of rule of an impartial law is not neutral, since it places judges, members of the power elite, as arbiters. Moreover, Edis turns a critical searchlight on the ostensively secular United States, where he now lives and works, finds echoes there of much of what concerns him about Islam today, and challenges the West's air of injured innocence in the face of violence. Ultimately, he regards Islam as a far smaller peril than a rampant neoliberalism that values individuals only as producers and consumers, sells political influence to the highest bidder, and still sponsors the denial of the world's most urgent problem, global warming. He shows how the rhetoric of the "war on terror" is used, in the West as in his native Turkey, to suppress dissent, and is contemptuous of how western defenders of freedom have accepted the facile and counterfactual narrative of an inherently violent Islam. Most disturbing of all, he critically examines his own Enlightenment assumptions, which his readers, and mine, will generally take for granted. For instance, why do we regard free speech as good? To what extent do our own institutions follow this ideal in practice? And should we not be more aware of the degree of coercion implicit in our own social order?
by Jonathan Kujawa
While I was in graduate school the film "Trekkies" was released. You can see the trailer here and the full film here. What could easily be mocking is in fact a heartfelt look at a group of people who choose to devote their lives to something they love. After seeing the film my friends and I semi-seriously suggested that mathematicians would make a great subject for a documentary. We have more than our share of interesting folks. And, like Trekkies, there is an entire subculture.
One corner of that subculture is Mathematical Reviews. An arm of the American Mathematical Association, Math Reviews is a compendium of everything published in mathematics. It was founded in 1940 and contains over three million publications, with the earliest published in 1810. What makes Math Reviews invaluable is the reviews. Each research paper, monograph, book, etc., is assigned to a volunteer mathematician who has the expertise to write a review of the work. Short of personal attacks, slander, and the like, the reviewer is pretty much free to write what they choose. The usual thing is to give a summary of the work along with commentary. As a reviewer you might discuss how the results fit in the broader field or highlight aspects of the work which might be of particular interest. Oftentimes it's hard to tell from the title and abstract if a paper, say, contains needed results. Well written reviews can save the reader countless hours in the library.
Since reviewers have a free hand there are plenty of exceptional reviews amongst Math Reviews's vast collection. Ten years ago my colleague, Kimball Martin, began a compilation of truly great reviews. If you have access to a library with a subscription to Math Reviews, you can read his entire collection for yourself. Some are rave reviews, but there are some real zingers in there as well (see the title of this essay) which I thought the readers of 3QD would appreciate .
With decades worth of publications, some truly terrible papers have appeared. Reviewers aren't ones to let rubbish slide through. Sometimes it is the mathematics itself which is questionable:
It is hard to imagine in a single paper such an accumulation of garbled English, unfinished sentences, undefined notions and notations, and mathematical nonsense. The author has apparently read a large number of books and papers on the subject, if one looks at his bibliography; but it is doubtful that he has understood any of them.... What is amazing to the reviewer is that such a thing was ever printed.
Not every text containing mathematical formulae or terminology may be considered as a scientific work. Sometimes it is a mere imitation. My impression is that this is exactly the case of the paper under review. The paper deals with some relations between Riemann theta functions, but I have a feeling that the authors have only a rather vague notion about this subject. I doubt that they have read items 1,2,3,6 of their own references. All of the authors' statements are either tautological or false.
“The Holy Land is everywhere” —Black Elk
moving to one side
out of traffic, off the shoulder
into the weeds, listening
it occurres to me that nothing
is tangential, life happens here
by the mechanical operations of man,
just essentially unmoved
by the myopic visions of man,
but essentially unaware
by the moneyed obsessions of man,
but essentially disinterested
yet all essential to the planet of man
by just belonging to this moment
like secret cogs and wheels:
the unsung, unseen necessities of
breath and beauty
not at all unscathed by the wanton
recklessness of man
"The scent, the scent alone is enough for our beasts."
There's that old saying that goes "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro". Certainly, weird times such as these demand weird explanations. Old explanatory frameworks that have been dying long, slow deaths continue to have nails pounded into their coffins. Consider how the post-Cold War triumph of neoliberalism, as promoted by Francis Fukuyama's The End Of History, has had the crap beaten out of it first by 9/11, then by the global financial meltdown, and now by Brexit (the best tweet I saw concerning Brexit was all of three words: "Francis Fukuyama lol").
And no one, least of all Fukuyama, could have predicted the circus slated to begin in Cleveland, with the most unlikely candidate in recent political history about to receive the nomination of the Republican Party for President. Actually, I should amend that: perhaps Upton Sinclair did, 80 years ago. But Sinclair had the dubious benefit of witnessing firsthand the rise of fascism; few people are alive today who remember how wide the Overton Window actually used to be. We need to get much, much weirder.
But it's not just that things are getting weirder. Even more germane is that things are getting weirder, faster. This is nowhere more evident than in the ways in which technologies are insinuating themselves into the social fabric. As I've argued before, each technological development creates the substrate upon which a further, faster and even more unpredictable set of technologies and their circumstances manifests. Perhaps I'm biased, since I've been observing these phenomena for a while, but consider a few recent developments.
Exhibit A: Racially inflected police brutality is an old story. But awareness of it has skyrocketed in the past few years with the prevalence of video cameras. However, this prevalence was only made possible when video recording was bundled into the larger rubric of the smart phone. If video cameras as objects were sufficient unto themselves, we would have seen a very different trajectory following the 1991 Holliday videotape of the Rodney King beating. But it took nearly a full generation for the creation of not only the means of cheap and easy recording, but also its equally cheap and easy distribution. And until recently, even this latter infrastructure was fairly staid: YouTube and perhaps a few other platforms.
by Brooks Riley (who is standing on the bow of the ship above on September 11, 1959)
The freight trains at night are so loud that in my dreams they become horizontal twin towers spewing sound into the air in horrifying percussive bursts. Sometimes they sound like jumbo jets landing beside my pillow. Or a full-throttle matriarch with her brood in tow. Or Wotan at the height of his wrath in Die Walküre. I know these trains now, their varied speeds and decibels depending on the number of cars trailing the locomotive. If I'm awake I count freight cars instead of sheep, adding up the metronomic ticks of the wheels as they cross a switch.
When I was growing up on the right side of the tracks, I never imagined I would one day live right beside them on another continent. But I do remember a crossing near Berryville, Virginia where the Baltimore & Ohio, (or was it the Chesapeake & Ohio?) snailed by on its way to the rest of the vast country out there. It took 15 minutes and more than 100 freight cars to pass before the barrier was raised (I counted them then, too).
That may be why this little girl wanted a toy train for Christmas. I got one, nothing fancy, just a circular track, a locomotive and a couple of freight cars. I loved its simplicity, the kinetic pleasure of its motorization. Most of my friends were into horses. I was into mechanisms of the vehicular kind, those that could move me from one place to another in an interesting way, or better, take me somewhere. A horse could also fit that bill, but I was rarely allowed to race my pony through the countryside, hair blowing in the wind. I would really do this only years later in Monument Valley when a kindly Navajo let me canter through an arroyo seco without supervision, just like John Wayne in a John Ford Western.
I have a full-scale model train now, right at the front door. It's nothing to look at, nothing you'd want to open up on Christmas morning, just a deadpan locomotive, a chain of grey tank cars and the occasional thread of flatbeds hauling VW Tiguans in an array of colors to places east of here. I get wanderlust every time I hear it go by.
Those trains have traveled well along the synapses in my brain, their siren songs now identifiable as I play name-that-train with my eyes closed. The Südostbayernbahn is especially witty, with its second locomotive as coda, the extra oomph of base tones filling the air as it mysteriously adds push to pull.
From: Public, Private, Secret - current exhibition at the International Center of Photography in New York.
"It’s unsettling, even before you enter. Stenciled on the ground, just outside the entrance to the International Center of Photography’s (ICP) new museum in Manhattan, are words informing visitors that once you enter, you “consent to being photographed, filmed and/or otherwise recorded” and “surrender the right to the use of such material throughout the universe in perpetuity.” ...
Thanks to Ms. Gayil Nalls for telling me about this very interesting show.
by Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad
In the late 17th century Gottfried Leibniz conceived of a machine that could be used to settle arguments so that instead of arguing people will just settle dispute by saying "let us calculate." On closer inspection this idea has an uncanny resemblance to deciding disputes by delegating the decisions to algorithms. This is no longer the realm of Science Fiction as not only do algorithms already make decision on our behalf but they also make biased decisions on our behalf. Welcome to the world of Algocracy, which refers to a system of governance based on rule by algorithms.
The problem of Algocracy has been brought to the fore recently when reporters from ProPublica did an investigative analysis of a prisoner scoring software and determined that it was negatively biased towards black people. Consider two people, one black and the other one white, given the same criminal record, a commercial tool called COMPAS employed by law-enforcement agencies, would give a higher risk score for the black person. This would result in tougher convictions and longer sentences for Black people. ProPublica found a large number of examples where the non-black person with a lower risk score went on to commit more crimes but the black person did not commit any crime. Even Eric Holder weighed in on this debate by cautioning that such scoring systems are biasing the system against certain minority groups. One of the implications here is that algorithms already have much say in how our society is run. Given the proliferation of big data the role of algorithmic governance is only going to get bigger not smaller. We are already living under an Algocracy, its just that it is not evenly distributed yet.
Where does the allure of Algocracy come from? What Algocracy offers us is an “opportunity” to absolve us of moral responsibility by outsourcing it to machines, a point raised multiple times by the Philosopher Evan Selinger.
by Tamuira Reid
I get the call in the middle of night. Calls that come in the middle of the night can never be good. And it isn't.
It's about Amy, the voice on the other end says. It's a voice I don't know. Someone who calls himself her friend, a friend of the family. I wonder where this guy was when Amy was at her worst. I don't remember anyone but me ever sticking around.
The bottom line is she's dead. Gone. Not ever coming back.
Our strip of photo booth pictures are still tucked into my mirror. Happy faces, the newly sober glow. Back when there was still a chance of something good happening.
A year before those photos were taken, Amy left her kids to almost fry to death in her Subaru while she shot dope in a nearby apartment complex. When the judge offered her treatment instead of jail, she cried. She'd rather be high for the rest of her life than constantly replay the moment the ambulance drove off with her two little girls in the back. Two little girls, locked for two hours in a hot car.
I should have just killed myself on the spot, she told me.
And now she's gone, too.
by Genese Sodikoff
The rabid opposition of American gun owners to stricter gun regulations in the wake of mass shootings is reminiscent of dog owners' opposition to rabies-control measures amidst rashes of "mad dog" attacks in in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (Poodles in the 1920s were especially mad, for some reason).
Every disease has its particular cultural expression. Societies have their unique spins on the causes and treatments of disease and the experience of suffering. And as I read old newspapers about rabies, it struck me how efforts to control the virus in the United States stirred a familiar anti-government, Freedom-loving, dog-loving ethos, along with a deep distrust of policy-makers and their reasons. In the anti-dog-vax, anti-dog-tax days, some doubted that "hydrophobia," the clinical term for human rabies, even existed.
Until the 1950s, canine rabies blighted the American cultural landscape and people's inner lives. In Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus (2012), Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy explain that the rising popularity of pet-keeping in the West made the threat of rabies "an object of disproportionate panic throughout the nineteenth century." Their gripping book follows the the virus from Ancient Greece to modern medical labs, where scientists are exploiting the rabies peptide as a means to penetrate the blood-brain barrier.
Transported from Europe to America during colonization, and then frequently spilling over from foxes, wolves, raccoons, skunks and bats into domestic animal populations, rabies brought wildness into American towns and cities. Before Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux developed the human rabies vaccine in 1885, the virus destroyed families. Children frequently died of mad dog attacks, as did beloved pets and farm animals.
by Brooks Riley
by Olivia Zhu
That poem pulled me to a stop. Through some gravitational mechanism or another, it drew a page to fall exactly right as I rustled through my 700-plus-page poetry textbook; it drew my eye to a blocky section unlike all the rest. I had to write about it. No, really—I had to. My final paper for a Gen Ed poetry class desperately needed starting, and out of laziness or ennui or something else, nothing in those hundreds of pages drew my interest quite like one of May Swenson’s untitled poems.
It’s been a poetic earworm for me ever since, which makes me feel a bit bad that I ended up reading it, learning it, loving it, and returning to it only because I found it by chance, in the middle of self-punishing procrastination. I hadn’t even read her poem in full before deciding to write about it, so drawn I was to how its beating cadence in the first few lines matched the look of the whole work entire.
And what cadence, what structure it has. The piece is devoid of standard punctuation, with great spaces dividing each word from the next. Those spaces imply a pattern, and back when I first wrote about the poem, I really could not figure out what was going on with the meter. That confusion was obscured by my dashing off some quick lines about how everything was mostly monosyllabic, with a “preponderance of iambs.” There’s no need to be so strict with Swenson here, and ever. It’s enough to say that there’s a throbbing beat to her piece, and it’s a beat that begins right away, in the first line: “I will be earth you be the flower”.
And yet somehow, the melody of it all comes through, on top of the semi-regular meter. Because Swenson’s content—her addressee, and their intimacy—is presented up-front, the rest of the piece can be read with the inflection of that relationship. When I hear the poem in my head, it’s at once tender and determined, as if the speaker is making clear to her lover what is so obvious to her. The tenderness comes from the carefully chosen images, and the determination from the steadiness of the underlying rhythm.
by Jalees Rehman
"These terrorists aren't true Muslims" is a phrase that I have often heard being used by American Muslims when talking about terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam. Recently, I encountered another version of this comment. Parents at a suburban Islamic Sunday School were encouraged to use this same approach when talking to their children about the recent spate of terrorist attacks. Arguments for denying the Muslim identity of the perpetrators include the moral incompatibility of the atrocities committed by the terrorists with Islamic law, which does not sanction the extrajudicial killing of civilians or suicide, which is frequent element of the attacks. This is an understandable reaction. The views of the perpetrators and their actions seem so abhorrent that it is impossible to reconcile their perception of Islam with those of the vast majority of American Muslims. However, even though one may sympathize with the desire to distance oneself from the terrorists, declaring terrorists to be non-Muslims or not "true" Muslims is the wrong answer.
The first problem with the arbitrary post-hoc excommunication of terrorists is that it is not really grounded in Islamic law. The process of takfir (excommunication Islam) requires very strong evidence and is difficult to uphold in most Islamic legal traditions if the person in question continues to see himself or herself as a Muslim. Someone may commit a grave sin or terrible crime, but these actions alone do not propel the person outside of the faith.
by Dwight Furrow
However, traditional Western aesthetics apparently demurs on this point since it enshrines complexity as a fundamental aesthetic value. Works of art are considered great if they repay our continued attention. Each new contact with them reveals something new, and this information density and the way it is organized to reveal new dimensions is what brings aesthetic pleasure. Achieving unity in variety is the sine qua non of aesthetic value according to most accounts of our aesthetic tradition. Unity, balance, and clarity are valuable only if they are achieved by organizing complex phenomena. Novelty and the availability of multiple interpretations in part define the kind of interest we take in aesthetic objects. Monroe Beardsley in his influential work Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism (1958, 1981) went so far as to argue that complexity along with unity and intensity provide logically necessary (and perhaps sufficient) conditions of aesthetic value.
It's worth noting that in my own small corner of the world of aesthetics, wine-tasting, complexity is admired and simplicity a sign of inferior quality. Legendary and high scoring wines all exhibit complex flavor profiles and extensive evolution on the palate. Simple wines might be enjoyable for dinner but seldom induce rapture.
Since complexity and simplicity at least superficially appear to be contradictory criteria it would seem that simplicity has no role to play in Beardsley's attempt to codify aesthetics. Of course, as I noted above, there are art works that apparently don't exhibit complexity, and today Beardsley is regarded as over-reaching if he intended his criteria to be logically necessary or sufficient. Such definitions have fallen out of favor in most philosophical circles to be replaced by generalizations that hold only for the most part. Yet, complexity, unity, and intensity are useful reference points for evaluating works of art despite the exceptions.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Justin E. H. Smith in Cabinet:
There is a main-belt asteroid of stony composition, roughly four kilometers in diameter, and with an albedo, or solar reflection coefficient, of around 17 percent. It bears the same name as the author of the present article, though with the middle initials eliminated, the first and last names concatenated, and a string of numbers added to the beginning: 13585 Justinsmith. To be more precise, it does not just have the same name as the author, but was in fact named after the author. Its relationship to the author is like that of Colombia to Columbus, or of the Vince Lombardi Travel Plaza to Vince Lombardi: a relationship of eponymy.
“I hope that some people see some connection between the two topics in the title,” is how, in 1970, Saul Kripke began the first of his lectures on “Naming and Necessity.”1 Plainly, though, it was not necessary that Justinsmith should come to bear my name. The asteroid was first observed in 1993, when I was twentyone years old and had yet to accomplish anything that would merit so much as an eponymous clod of dirt. According to the rules established by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, discoverers enjoy the exclusive right of naming for the first ten years, though they may still choose a name after that deadline, pending approval by the iau’s fifteenmember Committee for Small-Body Nomenclature, if no one else has gone through the complicated steps necessary to do so.2 In this case, the discoverer, Belgian astronomer Eric W. Elst, would not choose the name until the middle of 2015: it was, after all, only one of at least 3,600 asteroids he had discovered in his long and distinguished career.
K. Anis Ahmed in Time:
As Bangladesh continues to reel from the terrorist attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1, like so many people I know, it has crossed my mind that I could have been there.
I am friends with the owners, and every other day I would meet friends and family for coffee on the cafe’s manicured lawns. My wife and I always spoke with pride of our apartment being “right around the corner” from Holey, which was an oasis, a sanctuary, in a city that has now changed forever. Things may never be the same again here, most grievously for the families who lost their loved ones, but for the country too. Indeed, it may mark a turning point so severe that years from now people will think of Bangladesh in terms of pre- and post-Holey.
After such a disfiguring calamity, the biggest question is always, Why? Yet looking for a reason based on the stated claims of terrorists is a mistake. There is no need for a reason when it comes to convincing young men to join groups promising violence in the name of a cause. Islam is not needed, religion is not needed; all that is needed is a sense of righteous injustice and unique victimhood.
The puppet masters, whoever they are, have a clear goal: to grab state power using an ideology that will turn recruits into terrorists while gaining credence with parts of the population. Already, I see comments on social media about Western hegemony, economic inequality and other factors that might have motivated the killers, as if those are legitimate grounds for such an outrage. Let us be clear — there are no legitimate grounds.
Damian White in Jacobin:
Here is a thinker, who in the early sixties, declared climate change as one of the defining problems of the age. Bookchin saw the environmental crisis as capitalism’s gravedigger.
But he also insisted we must be continually alert to the postcapitalist potentialities that may surface within capitalism. “Liberatory technologies” from renewables to developments in “minituration” and automation combined with broader forms of social and political reorganization, could open up unprecedented possibilities for self-management and sustainable abundance.
In the seventies and eighties, Bookchin suggested an environmentalism obsessed with scarcity, austerity, and the defense of “pure nature” would get nowhere. The future lay with an urban social ecology that addressed people’s concerns for a better life and could articulate this in the form of a new republican vision of politics and a new ecological vision of the city.
Hanna Rosin at NPR:
One day in 2012, a group of policemen in a Danish town were sitting around in the office when an unusual call came in. This town, called Aarhus, is a clean, orderly place with very little crime. So what the callers were saying really held the cops' attention. They were parents, and they were "just hysterical," recalled Thorleif Link, one of the officers. Their son was missing. They woke up one day and he was gone.
The officers put together whatever clues they had about the missing person: He was a teenager who went to a local high school, and he lived in a largely Muslim immigrant neighborhood just outside town. But before they got any further with their investigation, they got another call, from another set of parents. Their son was missing too.
"Why is this going on?" asked Allan Aarslev, a police superintendent.
After talking to the parents and snooping around the neighborhood, the police figured it out: These young men and women had gone to Syria. They were among the exodus of thousands of European citizens who were drawn to the call put out by ISIS, the Islamist terrorist group, for Muslims worldwide to help build the new Islamic state.
Link and Aarslev are crime prevention officers. They usually deal with locals who are drawn to right-wing extremism, or gangs. The landscape of global terrorism was completely new to them. But they decided to take it on. And once they did, they wound up creating an unusual — and unusually successful — approach to combating radicalization.
Dylan Matthews in Vox:
The game, which came out on July 6, encourages users to walk around and visit PokéStops where they can acquire items for the game like Poké Balls, and "gyms" where they can fight against other players. PokéStops and gyms are real locations in the real world. For instance, there’s a gym on a small traffic island by the Vox DC offices, and the Embassy of Iraq is a PokéStop and a reliable source of Poké Balls.
So campaign organizers for Clinton, like her Ohio organizing director Jennifer Friedmann, started showing up at PokéStops and gyms to register Pokémon Go players to vote...
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Mallorie Sullivan reports that Clinton's Ohio staff spent the past weekend going "from Cuyahoga to Athens to seek out players in their communities to register them to vote."
There’s even an official Hillary event scheduled in Lakewood, Ohio, pegged to the game. "Join us as we go to the Pokestop in Madison Park and put up a lure module, get free pokemon, & battle each other while you register voters and learn more about Sec. Hillary Clinton!!!" the event description says. "Kids welcome!"
Lure modules, for context, are items in the game that attract a large number of Pokémon to a given area. You can acquire them for free, but to use them for any length of time usually requires shelling out for additional lures, meaning the Clinton campaign could be spending funds on attracting Pokémon (and players) to its events.
The ease with which Clinton’s campaign flocked to Pokémon Go is partially an indication of how perfect the app is as a campaign tool. Campaigns have invested considerable time and money into mastering social media platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook, but the payoff is uncertain. If you send a funny tweet, that might win your campaign a good press cycle — but does it actually sway public opinion? Does it actually increase your odds of victory? The path to impact is so windy and indirect that evaluating whether your strategy is actually working is extraordinarily difficult.
That’s largely because those apps are not well-positioned to spur action outside their confines.
Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic:
In response to the latest terrorist atrocity, Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, and quite possibly the next secretary of state, suggested that the U.S. should investigate American Muslims to ascertain their level of commitment to sharia, or Islamic law. (Details about the attacker, and his motives, were still emerging as of Friday morning; police sources have said the attacker was a young French Tunisian, though at press time there was no official confirmation.) “Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in sharia, they should be deported,” Gingrich told Fox’s Sean Hannity. “Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up sharia, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door.”
...There is much to critique in Gingrich’s approach, but I was struck in particular by his statement that “Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization.” One of the Middle East countries that officially endorses sharia as a legal system is one of Gingrich’s most favored countries, Israel, which is, by his lights—and mine—a crucial component of Western civilization. Israel’s sharia courts, which are supervised by the Ministry of Justice, allow the more than 15 percent of Israel’s population that is Muslim to seek religious recourse for their personal dilemmas. These courts have been in operation since Israel’s founding, and yet the country does not seem to have been fatally undermined by their existence. Israel’s sharia courts raise complicated mosque-state questions (and the power of the Israeli rabbinate raises complicated synagogue-state questions) but, so far, Western civilization, in its Israeli democratic manifestation, seems to be holding on. So, apart from the obviously unconstitutional quality of Gingrich’s demand—and its deeply counterproductive national security component—another question is worth raising: Does the Israeli government’s support for the existence of sharia courts—the government actually pays the salaries of sharia judges—cast doubt on the Jewish state’s commitment to Western values? Should Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, be questioned by American authorities for advancing the cause of sharia? And what about Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, who, in a recent ceremony welcoming the appointment of seven new Muslim court judges, quoted the following passage from the Quran: “Indeed, did We send Our apostles with all evidence of truth, and through them We bestowed revelation from on high, and gave you a balance so that men might behave with equity.”