Now that Donald Trump has Won


OK so I’ve been biting my tongue because I started this conversation by saying I don’t know much about the Soviet Union but at this point it’s clear to me I was being too harsh on my own basic literacy on the subject.

The question that has always bothered me about the Soviet Union is would capitalism have served it any better? The actions taken by the Tsars in the 19th century to hold the nation back from massive prosperity left Russia a wasteland. With what resources were the Communists to turn Russia into a successful communist state? Scarcity would have been rampant under capitalism as much as communism just with different methods of allocation of resources. Were the problems of the Soviet Union problems with communism or delayed recovery from the unfettered capitalism of the Tsar compounded by the brutal devastation of World War II?

I could see an argument that communism was a poor system politically, as every major power in the world was capitalist and alliances with the Western world would have benefited Russia immensely, but I’ve seen it credibly argued that the Cold War was developed out of economic odds that may have persisted even had ideologies lined up.


This is the dark future we’ve been afraid of and that most Republican voters just straight up do want.

This is dystopic in nature and we’re gonna have to fight this, somehow.


“Well people are like, ‘well, you can’t hate somebody just for being Muslim.’ It’s like, yeah, I can,” Higbie said.

In a December 2013 appearance, Higbie suggested black women think “breeding is a form of government employment,” CNN uncovered.


The Soviet Union’s issues were very complicated.

You do have a point that, at least economically speaking, Communism was an improvement over the Tsarist near-feudalism that came before. However, one could argue that any economic system would’ve been an improvement over that. Still, even Marx thought that Russia was a bad test case for Communism because its assumptions were based on an industrial society and Russia at the time was pre-industrial.

Kasparov argued that one thing that led to the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union was the fact that an economy controlled by planning everything from the top cannot be dynamic and innovative over the long term. You need the ability for random people to come up with the next big thing in order to have a truly dynamic and innovative economy. Of course, he’s not an economist, so you need to take what he said with a large grain of salt, but he does raise some interesting points with examples of technical innovations made in the capitalist world due to people willing to take risks with the hope of “making it big.”

One problem is that modern Capitalism seems to have more in common with Soviet Communism than it does with “classical” Capitalism. Instead of government bureaucrats charting the course of the economy, you instead have oligarchs/plutocrats who run large corporations running the show. As a result, it’s harder to achieve said dynamism because those in power want to try to maintain the status quo and keep milking whatever profits/capital they have and therefore make it harder for the random little guy to upset things with an amazing new idea. Add in difficulty in getting the education necessary to be able to create highly technical new inventions due to high cost, the fact that one quitting their job to start the next big enterprise may be highly risky as a single illness can result in bankruptcy or death, and various other problems and we have a lot of the issues we see today. I forget the article or the person who stated it, but a while back I read an article by a younger, successful entrepreneur who, despite being very successful in this current climate, is worried that it’s about to collapse in on itself due to being, as he put it “crony capitalism” instead of “true capitalism.” He argued in favor of living wages, higher taxation on the wealthy to finance the ability for the less well off to have a chance to make it, and so on, less the wealthy will be dealing with masses of people armed with pitchforks and torches outside their homes.

Communism probably would work best in a post-scarcity society, and even Marx claimed that a post-scarcity society would be Communism’s eventual end goal. For example, many people argued that the Federation in Star Trek is essentially Communist. It works there, though, because Federation citizens have lost interest in personal profit and it is effectively a post-scarcity economy. So long as enough people are interested in personal gain and are able to acquire power to achieve that goal, I don’t think any “pure” human economic system would work. That’s why I advocate for more hybrid economic systems, but that’s based less on proper academic analysis and my own views looking at history of current and recent economic systems.


Isnt the optimal eventual goal a non-human controlled econony? Use fuckloads of AI alrogithms and accept that the net knows everything.


Ahhh, Culture here we come.


I liked this article:

Wolff is, in a word, vicious. He played Murdoch and then knifed him, all out in the open. And then he did more or less exactly the same thing to Trump a decade later, with the added bonus that Trump was talking to Murdoch regularly while Wolff had the run of the White House and was laying the ground work to shiv him as he had his new friend Rupert. None of this is terribly surprising given the Trump we know. But it wasn’t only his narcissism and neediness. The lack of any experienced staff and the organizational disarray that was particularly marked before John Kelly took over as Chief of Staff allowed Wolff to always be saying that he had the run of the place because someone else said it was okay. Because he was Trump’s best friend. Because Trump thought it was great. Because … well, didn’t you know that other person …

As I said, Trump got just the kind of vicious, shameless and canny biographer he deserved. “Joyously nasty” seems to capture it – precisely the person you want to write the book about someone you already despise.


And I shall sit upon the golden throne of this machine.


Sadly, those AI algorithms are written by humans, and evidence has shown that they can be messed up too:


It doesn’t help that often these algorithms are seen as a hands-off solution, not one that needs care, feeding and attention. Which leads to things like this:


Shitty headline for a serious and obvious problem.


And this has nothing to do with AI. This is an ad system that’s ignorant of the article content.


No, but it is an example of an Algorithm doing something funny but really kinda awful, because it was allowed to do it’s thing without any human oversight or review, pushed right in front of the eyeballs of people. Which is the point I’m making.
And the ad selection algorithm wasn’t oblivious to the content - it was because it was aware the content mentioned vehicles quite a few times, and thus, it served an ad from their current automotive advertiser in the video pre-roll, and was allowed to do this without any sort of review.

And before you argue, I know this is the case, because I was looped in on those discussions by colleagues who work for that outlet, when they were doing the usual mea culpas and what-went-wrongs.


The real question is, awfulness aside, whether it’s a net win. If people share a terrible screenshot, is that publicity helpful?


For Jeep, no measurable effect, but apparently they sent a pretty fucking sternly worded letter to the ad department that amounted to “Please don’t position our brand next to these stories in future, or we’ll pull our ads.” For News, it was a net negative, because it reinforced their reputation as callous, uncaring and money-grubbing, and reduced viewership due to folk seeing them as being uncaring about awful incidents, as long as they get ad-dollars.


This is a bit of a tangent, but recently The Cut ran a series of articles on sex and kink and our ad algorithms had a field day. I checked the ad ops slack and saw this:

apparently chanel got pissy their ads were showing up on the analingus story

Ad targeting algorithms are notoriously bad, and editors (and CMS designers, hello) spend quite a bit of time figuring out the best way to build in safeguards and oversight (ticking a box on certain articles to mark them “Not Safe For Ads”, for a very naive example).


Over time, wont these programs be perfecrly able to read and parse the article, and read and parse the ad content, and have developed the knowledge of when it is appropriate to run an ad against certain content? Wouldn’t it, over time, be better than humans every time? Even if the AI isnt intended to care about it, in order to maximize its utility, it should want to figure out when certain things are a good pairing.


Sort of! But applying most ML algos to that doesn’t work very well, because either the corpus of articles is too small (for a given type of ad+article pairing) or you’d have to be stricter about blocking ads on articles (which cuts into the bottom line more than the occasional freaked-out advertiser)

There are some cool auto-generating metadata things that people like NYT Labs were working on, but most publishers aren’t putting a lot of time and money towards this exact problem. This is an interesting prototype, if you’re interested in that kinda thing:


The State of The Union is now a Patreon sponsored video.