‘History is a GIF loop’

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gif via US National Archives

This scene looks all too familiar. The people obtained their own social media microphones and became the source of news, stealing the thrown from the professional media who lost credibility creating and curating our news. How could the New York Times et al. predict the Presidential election all wrong?

But the new class of information gatekeepers is irresponsible, publishing news that's false, rendered credible by the spread of it by our very own President-elect who of all people should be the arbiter of the facts.

So who should we believe — the news, the people, or the bombastic influencers who tweet themselves to hegemony? In today's world, you have no choice but to create your own original opinion. Unfortunately, most people will adopt perspectives from the highest power. In a controlled democracy a la Russia and Turkey, the people at the top shape the views of their constituents.

‘History is a GIF loop,', a rerun of its past so that people can experience all the hopes and self-destruction for themselves. The mistakes are there to be learned again.


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Stay woke

That which threatens freedom is condemned to goad it from the depths of dormancy. We take freedom for granted during peaceful times. We assume that it's a fact until we forget that coercion is natural and freedom is artificial. Some people can revert back to their natural tendencies.

It's beautiful to see people awake again, fighting the normalization of hate and bigotry with the constitutional principles of pluralism. Extant nationalism is fragile in a democratic environment built on progress. Crisis widens meaning.

The paradox of freedom will keep pushing forward. Do you trust America?


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The X’s & O’s

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Image via David Paschke

Everyone wants green check marks and smiley faces instead of red x's. But that's not what happens in uncertain times — you get both.

We got here because the left side didn't talk to the right. Instead, the Democrats called Republicans deplorables. And while many of the latter are bigots, a lot of them aren't. However, the problem is rational Republicans still voted for a declared misogynist, racist, Islamophobe. How can you put a dent in American pluralism for so-called ‘change?'

NBA coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich all have some intelligent thoughts on this mess. So does analyst Ernie Johnson, who is spiritually optimistic.

Remove your party bias for a second and use your head and heart. As the Beastie Boys said, ‘Check Your Head.'

When faced with the unknown, you buckle down on what you know is right, hang in there, and play the long-game. The most important part is not giving in but to continuing to lead the discussion. He gets a chance. Until then, you've got red on you.


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Obama’s final exit interview

President Obama talked with historian Kearns Goodwin at the White House for one of his last open-ended interviews before leaving office. The two discussed the president’s legacy, Lincoln, the importance of long-term thinking and Obama’s ‘writer’s sensibility.’ But the discussion over FDR’s ambitions and his struggle with polio is particularly interesting.

GOODWIN: For example, young F.D.R. seemed a pretty ordinary guy. At 28 he’s a clerk in a law firm. He hasn’t done anything particularly great in college or law school. He gets his first chance to run for the state legislature, and somehow, when he’s out there on the campaign trail, something clicks in. William James said, “At such moments, there is a voice inside which speaks and says, ‘This is the real me.’ ” And F.D.R. knew then that’s what he wanted to be.

OBAMA: I think F.D.R. is a great example of what I mean. If you look at his early life, it is ambition for ambition’s sake …

At some point in life, meaning trumps ambition. You still want to be successful but you want to do it with more authenticity, i.e. true passion. In FDR's case, enduring life with polio only strengthened his resolve, an attitude he echoed in his first inaugural address: “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.”

As Steve Jobs would later say during his fight his cancer:

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Of course, death is not a pre-requisite for chasing meaning. Your fearlessness may depend on well you love yourself. Perhaps Bill Murray said it best:

So what’s it like to be me? You can ask yourself, What’s it like to be me? You know, the only way we’ll ever know what it’s like to be you is if you work your best at being you as often as you can, and keep reminding yourself: That’s where home is.”

In short, we all know what we're born to do. It just takes time getting comfortable with ourselves while we figure out what our role is.


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Barack Obama and the Death of Normal

America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions.

The American psyche is plastic, evolving.

It doesn't matter who you are or what you believe in. What matters is what content you have to offer. Everyone may have their own character but America celebrates difference as a form of standardization and unity.

The ability to reform, recast, and morph difference is uniquely American.


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The day you have no choice but to decide

Today's the big day.

Presidential elections are rare, extremely significant events with inexactitude.

There's never an ideal candidate; for example neither Obama or Romney matches an economic conservative, liberal view on social policies and military spending. You have to pick the candidate that is closest to your political beliefs.

However imperfect, you have to vote. You have to make the effort to vote because you are ultimately responsible; not to mention as my Mom says, men and women died for the cause.

The ideal candidate will never exist, and even if they did chances are the President's actions almost always get reversed in office.

Despite the uncertainty, unhappiness, and unpredictability, you have to decide. In fact, more people should treat life like the election. You shouldn't fence sit nor use hedging language; you have to be willing to be wrong. To the victor go the spoils?


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The economics of attention: can social media predict the future?

Can you data mine social data to predict the future? That seems to be one key question for stock pickers analyzing Tweets to predict market investments.

Professor Bernardo Huberman argues that there's a difference between sentiment on the web versus what's actually believed and done in real life. He calls it “the economics of attention.”

If you were to predict the election based off the Twitter stream from the last three debates you could say Obama has the election in the bag. But there's no analysis that can solve for the moment the voter makes that final decision. Any number of things can happen leading up to the polls.

Tweets can be misleading since most people fear expressing themselves fully online, especially in an open environment like Twitter. Investors are even more cagey about broadcasting their stock picks.

Hashtags, groupthink, and advertising can also shift discussion on the web. What's opined isn't actually what's believed; social media users just want to get in on the action.

There's some predictive analysis on the web that when aggregated can positively impact strategic decisions. In short, the masses can be strikingly accurate.

The challenge therefore is balancing the organic sentiment from the bias, a true test in guessing pyschology.


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