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What the Hell Is Going On? Effects of Information Abundance (perell.com)
438 points by tosh 39 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 211 comments

For anyone just skimming comments - this is a very well written, well researched, thoughtful, and objective piece. That's pretty rare in today's climate. Definitely worth the read.

It's the first time I can remember signing up for a newsletter voluntarily, despite my general distaste for those types of popovers.

The introduction's tacky and condescending tone lost me. Does it get better?

I didn't like the intro either. The rest of the article is much better.

Came here to say this. The intro seemed to think it was much more clever than it really is. It's very easy to pick descriptive language vague enough that it applies to multiple subjects. I had to stop reading after that.


You're generalizing 62,984,828 Americans. When you look at a number like that, combined with all the possible reasons that people voted for Trump (think those who validly wished for a Ross Perot victory in 1992), it just seems rude and unnecessary to say this.

I get why you'd think it's rude/unnecessary, but I don't think it's a generalization to say it's very unlikely that anywhere near half of the audience of a blog post like this is on Team Trump. I'm sure there are Trump supporters that read and digest this kind of content regularly, but any familiarity with the typical cultural attitudes and media consumption patterns of Trump supporters makes it obvious that that's far from the norm.

You're taking a characterization of Trump supporters created by the media for entertainment assuming that is the world writ large.

Really? You genuinely think it's plausible that roughly half of the readers of this blogpost are Trump supporters? I'm really not taking an outlandish stance here... this post will have most of its traffic driven by HackerNews and Reddit, where California is an outsized plurality of the American audience, which went overwhelmingly to Clinton in 2016 (and even more overwhelmingly so in the densest parts of California where the overwhelming sub-plurality of HN/Reddit traffic comes from: the Bay Area and LA). Even if you believe that, all else equal, the average Trump supporter's media diet is about the same as the average non-Trump-supporter's, the demographics of these aggregators alone makes it more or less statistically impossible that what I'm saying isn't true.

Would you please not take HN threads into repetitive political back and forths? They're tedious, and don't gratify anyone's intellectual curiosity (the purpose of the site).


I must have misunderstood. I'm not saying anything about the readership of HN, only that the characterization of Trump supporters in your post is based on media narrative and not fact.

> long-form data driven thinkpieces

That's not the same as "content posted to HN and Reddit".

TBH, you're probably right that this article is going to have a viewership where supporting Trump is less likely.

The pushback you're getting is that you didn't make that claim, you made a claim that implied the Trump voter base was not interested in "long-form data driven thinkpieces", which is a brand of hubris that many are getting tired of.

Ask yourself this: how do you know what the average Trump supporter's media diet consists of?

I know that every Trump supporter I know gets a hell of a lot from Fox and Facebook. They tend to spout off talking points about how Liberals are bad and this is bad and that is bad, without solutions or actual, practical proposals on making the country better.

The status quo on healthcare is not an option. Deporting every "illegal" is not an option. Banning Muslims is not an option.

I don't think Trump supporters are un-American, but I think they've forgotten some American values if they continue to support Trump the man. His leadership is the antithesis of America. If you're conservative, that's one thing. To be a Trumpian is to have missed civics class.

Do you ever stop and check how closely the things you believe line up with reality, or if there might be some things you're overlooking?

Everyone should, mistermann.

Yes they should!

I've read internet comments from many of them, met a few of them, and am friends with one. My friend regularly sends me articles from Brietbart and other conspiracy mongering outlets who write entire articles based on Jason Wohl tweets. People who consume /r/The_Donald, chain emails, and propaganda outlets like Fox News, Breitbart, and the like are Trump's base. They are typically not podcast-listening thinkpiece-reading latte-sipping yuppies.

Here, watch this BBC video [1] where they interview Trump voters about their views on the "mainstream media" (by which you quickly realize they mean anything that doesn't deal in pure pro-Trump anti-librul propaganda). Here's an article [2] on a study showing that pro-Trump people specifically like to consume fake news shared via Facebook.

But personally I didn't really need a study to tell me any of that -- how do I know? I live and breathe and observe the world and people around me...

And yes, this is a generalization and not true of every single Trump voter. Obviously. All I really claimed was that Trump supporters will definitely be a minority of readers of a blog like this.

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-us-canada-38191313/no-tr...

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/feb/06/sharing-f...

It's funny how all the Occupy Wall Street protesters on the news were homeless, all Obama supporters were welfare supported, and all Trump supporters are ignorant rednecks. Socialists are all unemployed and look lazy.

So weird how they all find their way onto the news. It's almost as if they were selected by image to fit a story.

What's even funnier is how easily even intelligent people on intellectual websites like HN can fall for such bush league propaganda techniques. I don't know how we can ever fix this problem if even smart people aren't able to see it.

There's plenty of Trump supporters in silicon valley. We may be democrats previously, but we really like what Trump did against China, even though the large corporations (who owns mass media) hated the move. Trump rejuvenated the economy, increased competitiveness of American firms, and helped to increase jobs and wages for American workers. He stood up against dictatorship China and is winning the trade war. He is a very flawed man, but he did great for America

He didn't "rejuvenate" the economy. He doubled the deficit and the economy is still growing more or less as fast as it was under Obama. His actions are going to make the next recession worse.

I think it does. The ending is the most interesting part, so perhaps browse there?

It gets better

"condescending"? Was there a particular passage which you feel had the 'superior talking down to inferior' characteristic?

Dialectical arguments tend to long, boring, and esoterical. I found the intro a mix of jocular and dialectical, which for me turned out to be the payoff for some of the article's repetitiveness.


Same here, I ducked out. The title as well.


"Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents."


I wouldn't call myself a Trump supporter. But then, there hasn't been a presidential candidate in decades who I could wholeheartedly support. And yet I do like some of his stated positions. Even though I don't trust him any more than I trusted Obama, Bush, Clinton or Reagan. Or much less, really.

I hate Trump and I found the intro tacky. The equivalence made it seem like the criticisms of Trump were arbitrary, held only because I'm on the opposite side of him.



If you like this article, I recommend the Martin Gurri book that is frequently chief in the article: "The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium". This article reads largely like a summary of that book. You'll also enjoy his blog https://thefifthwave.wordpress.com/

thanks for that. Marc Andreessen did a thread on this with some highlights that make me want to read it https://twitter.com/pmarca/status/1015665031474606081

Thank you, I will check them out!

Damn. This is the most coherent discussion of the Internet's impact that I've ever seen. Yes, it's a little smug. And it's long. But it's well worth the read.

And hey, it's kept me from commenting for several hours, as I've read it in breaks from work.

Indeed, very insightful. I myself is of similar opinion. The West is undeniably having a societal crisis now, regardless of what digits say about its economic wellbeing.

The West these days reminds me of USSR in the eighties.

Now that you mention it, it does. Perhaps sadly enough.

On the one hand, some very good points. I think a survey of 20th century history strongly supports the idea that Big Media helped determine what kinds of leadership we got, and so it must be the case that 21st century internet media are doing the same. The comparisons of similar trends in education and commerce are worth reading (if over-long).

On the other hand, the underlying assumption is that the revolt against elite policy preferences, not only in the U.S. but in Europe and elsewhere, is entirely devoid of rational motivation. It discounts without comment the possibility that the pre-internet style of governance had substantive problems which the working class didn't like (e.g. globalization leading to a race to the bottom in manufacturing wages).

Surely the new methods of information access and distribution are having an impact. But it's not the only, or even necessarily the most important, driver.

> pre-internet style of governance had substantive problems which the working class didn't like (e.g. globalization leading to a race to the bottom in manufacturing wages).

"Observing a problem", "diagnosing causes", and "presenting workable solutions" are three completely different things though.

Wage stagnation leading to quality-of-life declines is the first of these - people can notice this immediately in their life. Diganosing "globalisation" as the problem is harder and more complicated (would the US really have been better off trying to be a manufacturing autarky for the second half of the 20th century?). And the proposed solutions .. well, this is where it gets really bad.

The existing elite have done a very good job of suppressing the peaceful, workable solutions; various sorts of social inclusion and redistibution. That leaves only the unworkable and disastrous solutions out there.

> Wage stagnation leading to quality-of-life declines is the first of these - people can notice this immediately in their life.

Despite popular graphs making rounds, there has been little if any wage stagnation. Moreover, people are also really bad at noticing it: a median and an average Americans now have better housing situation than 50 years ago, in terms of actual living space available for them, fewer roommates, better quality of housing, and yet the sentiment is the opposite.

Source? Every piece of data I see shows that the top quintile is running away with almost all of the income and wealth growth (especially the top decile), and that economic opportunities are being concentrated in certain urban areas resulting in higher rents and property prices, all the while home ownership and stable careers are in decline.

Having a bigger room and smart phone does little in the face of higher variance of one’s future security. The compounding nature of the game’s fruits are clearly evident now, and people rightfully are afraid of permanently falling behind.

I would say the best analysis of this is by Peter Turchin: http://peterturchin.com/cliodynamica/population-immiseration...

Notice Turchin's exclusions and his analysis:

Wage stagnation primarily for unskilled men (women's wages have risen a lot, skilled labor has risen as well).

The reason? "The TL;DR answer is that it was a combination of immigration, loss of manufacturing jobs overseas, massive entry of women into the labor force"

So a drastically increased supply of labor depresses prices of labor.

He also avoids "household income" because households are smaller (fewer children, divorce) and because of two earners, but those very things increase economic "quality of life" measurements for individuals in those households ($ per capita).

He also focuses on pre-tax/pre-transfer income, avoiding the net effect of our progressive taxation/transfer regime. If we include those effects, we get a different picture: https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-trend-toward-inequali...

> On the other hand, the underlying assumption is that the revolt against elite policy preferences, not only in the U.S. but in Europe and elsewhere, is entirely devoid of rational motivation. It discounts without comment the possibility that the pre-internet style of governance had substantive problems which the working class didn't like (e.g. globalization leading to a race to the bottom in manufacturing wages).

I didn't get that from the article at all.

The article was purely descriptive, without ascribing any value judgment.

I didn't get that from TFA either. If anything, the author seemed somewhat positive about the implications.

"we’re moving from a narrative oligopoly to a narrative democracy"

That was pretty clear to me that the past had plenty of problems.

True. But there were also concerns about chaos.

And recall that the US Founders were concerned. And they just had newspapers and handbills to worry about.

>On the other hand, the underlying assumption is that the revolt against elite policy preferences, not only in the U.S. but in Europe and elsewhere, is entirely devoid of rational motivation.

That's the mainstream narrative, because like Maria Antoinette the 10% cannot ever consider why anyone (unless they're a faulty person) would ever be dissatisfied with the status quo in power, business, culture, economy, and so on. Except in their constrained pet causes, of course.

> It discounts without comment the possibility that the pre-internet style of governance had substantive problems which the working class didn't like (e.g. globalization leading to a race to the bottom in manufacturing wages).

It's there between the lines: the author mentions the power of the big companies in the 20th century to shape the narrative through mass media and a lack of proper information among the public, and how that power is now crumbling and how the narrative is being democratized.

Basically, it boils down to mutual knowledge, and large shifts in that causes power-shifts in society.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-son3EJTrU&t=7m40s

As some others have said, a well-thought-out article on the larger scale impacts of the Internet as a new medium of communication - just get past the intro.

In the end, it's interesting because it puts together a number of intuitions you may already have about the upcoming western social-democratic crisis stemming from the loss of authoritative sources of information.

What is missing is actually ideas about what system we should collectively aim for in order to restore trust in actual truths and distrust in actual falsehoods - because of course, you can't have a society without a shared framework for that.

I think the core issue here is the elephant in the room in tech that noone wants to talk about. The tech industry has put most of it's money making eggs in the ads basket. This means companies selling ads are promoting the kind of mass information spread that is sensationalist because it gets their ads the most views, and the tech community makes money off of this.

How well do ads actually work? I really don't know. Is there any objective data to measure this? There are three main companies who sell ad spaces on a real time market and it is a very interesting market that I feel like most people know little about, especially people in tech.

Regardless of how well or not well this works, it's what floats companies like Google and Facebook.

I would say the tech companies are the ones fueling this because it is the their multibillion dollar business models that rely on sensationalist news to sell ads. period. To shift the blame to politicians or to even journalists trying to compete with other sensationalist news blogs or companies who make money from selling ads, is shifting the source and the root cause of the issue, from us, the tech community.

To act like as a tech community we are severely concerned about mass information, the spread misinformation etc etc but also not address how we can fundamentally move away from a market in tech that makes money off of anything besides selling ads to people, or selling peoples information to ad companies (and god knows who else, I mean, only the big tech three know who else), is delusional and self serving, at best.

Despite this, I rarely hear anyone in the tech community willing to openly talk about these problems, much less come up with alternative business solutions.

I would love for there to be more conversation around moving away from a tech market that preys on harvesting user data and ads to solutions that solve people's problems instead of activist posturing from people in tech who talk alot about being concerned about politics etc but work for the companies that fuel this spread of misinformation.

"Is there any objective data to measure this?"

Pretty much every digital marketer's job description consists of measuring and optimizing this. All the major digital ad platforms let you put tracking beacons throughout your page's sales flow so you can measure conversion rates directly and know exactly which ad campaign led to a sale; that's one of the major advantages of digital over print or TV.

You can certainly debate the ethics of advertising in general, and whether it's ethical to psychologically manipulate people into buying products they don't need and wouldn't have bought otherwise. I personally don't really want to first because I hold opinions on both sides and second because nothing's going to get resolved by such a debate on HN - it's a debate that's been going on for 120 years, though the media hegemony described in the article silenced it for many years. But as an objective fact, there's little room for debating the effectiveness of advertising. Ads work, even if they might be evil.

HN has been here for 120 years? I thought I was new to the game. I'm not sure ads work, or what data digital marketers use "digital marketer's job description consists of measuring and optimizing this" other than the demand price which is a real time price that fluctuates way more than the 500 index stock market which, to justify their prices is still something that is of high debate much less a more voltatile market. I would say there is an overall input and an output, and if the financial output is multiple times that of the input the digital marketers can say theyve done their job, but they have very little data to show the objective intermediaries of linear data measurements for the flow of this information, which is why big data kafka and spark shops currently pitch over $300k/yr to anyone who can make sense of this data to a digital marketer in any consumable format on a monthly not even a weekly basis, mind you.

I'm not debating the ethics, just the reality of what granularity of data they can actually sign their id signature hash next to and say they verify this data, as opposed it to it being a roll your own analytics shop to meet whatever objective analytics data you are looking to meet for that quarter. I think we have all learned from the news on both sides in recent years that you can spin a story or a set of data however you want to, so I am not nearly as concerned with the anecdotal motives of any particular digital advertiser in the first place as much as I am with how not only your response but the entire industry in general shuns the idea that there is any alternative to this whatsoever and justifies all movements to the counter as "the only way" or the only logical ways and evil as such. I understand saying something is evil and those are the only companies who pay me six figures, and so therefore its okay for me, is very easy for most engineers to say now, but it's not something I'm willing to say.

I think if you want to justify this statement in general, you should explain to everyone how bidder as a service works, how its not a monopolized industry when it comes to ad spaces on websites ranked by domain popularity (3 players in the market 2 of the CEOs from Google SEO team) and how it correlates with rationale decisions from a digital marketers perspective and have measureable outputs other than "the extremely volatile price of this adspot which varies every 6 seconds was worth it based on the outcome this time, based on how targeted this ad campaign was, which was targeted based only on harvesting user data the user would not be ok with if they knew we were using this data". Honestly, justify your case here....and make sure you include the consent forms included in the onboarding process of every 12 yr old who has to click yes to create a facebook profile and what the implications are for the default oks in this case are...

I agree with you that the ad models which are all about maximizing engagement are a problem, but I think that the article is trying to say that those sorts of models are inevitable given how the internet works. Like suppose no websites did ads at all and they all worked on a subscription model or something similar. Then you'd still have websites trying to get more eyeballs, because more attention means more subscribers. No matter what the model, for a given media source, more users means more money. And if you're trying to get more eyeballs, you'll end up with clickbait and attention seeking, a flood of information and misinformation, and we'd be back where we started.

I get your point, but I think it's lazy (not of you, I mean the entire tech community) to take on this assumption "those sorts of models are inevitable given how the internet works" How does the internet work where the only way to make money is to make money off of ads? That's the only ranking system possible? That's now how y combinator works yet there's a pretty aggressive ranking system on how even these comments are ranked and what is shown first to the user. What if we are were rewarded directly based on the quality/relevancy of our comments using a ranking system similar to this one or in general a quality based ranking system, or really anything with even a slightly democratic approach to it.

I've just watched a documentary about Bellingcat, and one suggested answer there is transparency about the data, sources and methods.

So when the news media will lose their aura of journalistic professionalism and authority stemming from that, there will be something actually better that will arise after that.

Interesting view. Have you heard of Onora O'Neill?

She's aiming to take transparency further. O'Neill and her colleagues at the Royal Society have been pushing for 'intelligent openness' where data and information would be made accessible, intelligible, assessable, and usable by anyone. If interested, there's a report called "Science as an Open Enterprise", which goes in depth.


This is a long, well thought out just-so story with graphs that ends concluding that the world is in chaos because there are more media channels than there used to be. Which is maybe true for some value of "true", but this is largely an empty essay.

The book that he references a few times, Revolt of The Public is pretty good though.

This is a long, well thought out [theory] with graphs that ends concluding that the world is in chaos because there are more [is more communication than before, among more people, in more detail].

Note that changes in medium of communication have lead to political upheaval every time they’ve happened, whether we’re talking manuscripts to printed books (the Reformation), the rise of periodicals (nationalism), radio (fascism, socialism, the New Deal), cable tv (the first fracture in the post WWII US liberal consensus, as the ruling class had forgotten that amiable mostly non-partisan politics was an abnormal state of affairs that had been engineered) and now the internet (suddenly everyone realises there are large parts of “their” society that genuinely, non-ironically hates them and what they value).

If you go earlier every leap in communication technology makes more efficient bureaucracies possible, so you get larger states that are better at warfare.

Theory is too kind a word for this stuff. It's theory like critical theory is theory.

Sure, there have been massive changes in social organization that have accompanied changes in media. That doesn't say much though. Those changes compound and interact in unpredictable, chaotic ways. We like seeing patterns so we come up with stories about how we're either reverting to some imagined mean or how we're converging on another.

One thing that I find interesting is how none of the great dystopian works of the 20th century featured celebrities as the ruling class. The antagonists are like Bond villains, smart, sophisticated, rational, cruel. A worthy adversary you could respect and feel good about struggling against. Our reality is that we've made our lives so advanced and comfortable, that our fantasies can try to become our reality.

I guess Farenheight 451 and Brave New World come close with their focus on people immersing themselves in media, but even they had this smart, rational cunning clique running the show. Even in Idiocracy was based on the quaint idea that the ruling class was aware of its shortcomings and wanted to use rational methods to achieve objective goals.

Have you considered that the rational bond villains use celebrities as a visibility and accountability shield to accomplish goals that would otherwise be shut down if proposed directly?

"Celebrity isn’t just harmless fun – it’s the smiling face of the corporate machine" - George Monbiot


Yes if you were to apply the Mcleod Corp pyramid they would be he clueless layer, happily indoctrinating the loser layer at the behest of the sociopath top.

It was my understanding that the loser layer understands what's going on though, which should inoculate them from indoctrination. Celebrities would then be the ones who keep the clueless from becoming losers.

Well, going too deep, there are three parts of the loser layer; committed losers, future clueless, and future sociopaths. The committed losers are aware and say things like “msm has always being lying”, future clueless are aspiring influencers, and future sociopaths are just waiting for the right opportunity to advance.

Rupert Murdoch was overtly portrayed as a Bond villain in one of the late ‘90s films...

Interesting, that's how I remembered it too!

However, Wikipedia says: "While many reviewers compared Elliot Carver to Rupert Murdoch, Feirstein based the character on Robert Maxwell." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomorrow_Never_Dies)

Either were just Edward Burnays archetypes.

I have, and you can make the case that this is what's happening, and use Trumps 2017 tax cut as a very good example of elites complaining about him, but successfully using him for their own ends.

And that would be true, but I don't believe that overall, since it presupposes that just because someone is a celebrity, they are necessarily some sort of mindless, insentient vessel that optimizes for fame and can otherwise be controlled. Why shouldn't Kim Kardashian have strong-but-misguided opinions like any other random person? And wouldn't her existing fame make her way less amenable to influence by unknown individuals? To use a real-life example, much of Trump's immigration obsession is not shared by the elites who benefited from his tax cuts.

Ultimately, I don't believe it because I don't think any person can be as easily influenced as this scenario implies.

Useful idiots work freelance, because any longer and they become a liability. I think there is a vast pool of freelance celebrity today, with a deep bench of influencers attempting to expand it further. So if Kim doesn’t work tomorrow, someone else will. The difficulty with Trump is that his office has a 4 year appointment and he accomplished his goal in 2, leading to 2 more goalless years.

Sounds like the Hitchhikers Guide.

There was a PBS documentary almost two decades ago called Merchants of Cool, which discusses exactly the issue of celebrity status and how it is used to buy and sell “cool” to teenagers in order to influence their buyin decisions. What is scary is that this documentary was shot long before smartphones and social media - I imagine the effects are amplified by orders of magnitude since the proliferation of social media.


I wonder if the present is more determined by the fact that the generation that used to be teenagers two decades ago are now in their prime years, rather than the latest greatest technology based social distruption.

The Frankfurt school tackled the negative societal side effects of mass media and celebrity directly. Unfortunately, their work is rigorous, complex continental philosophy and so is relatively unknown in the states and does not have the popular appeal of a critique packaged as something more accessible like dystopian fiction.

They're worth checking out though if this sort of "pleasure"/entertainment/late capitalist dystopia theme interests you. Marcuses's One Dimensional Man is probably the work that relates most directly to this sort of thing. Horkheimer and Adorno's work also relates, but less directly, and it's less accessible. A sufficient background in the history of philosophy is prerequisite.

The Faint is also a great synth pop-punk band that quite frequently explores these issues in their music. Coincidentally, they just released an album this past Friday aptly titled Egowerk. Their older album Fascination is also great.

Century of the Self is another resource you can check out. It's a documentary by Adam Curtis about Edward Bernays and the radical shifts in advertising that he helped instate.

Well, for something US-made and more appealing to the less-continental reading tastes, Christopher Lasch is perhaps mandatory on this subject:

The Culture of Narcissism

The Revolt of the Elites

Haven in a Heartless World

The Minimal Self

and so on.

Ironically, Idiocracy was too optimistic. The "idiots" of the future still ultimately respected knowledge and facts. They made the main character president once he clearly demonstrated he was the best person for the job.

In real life they'd just say the "big government deep state" is spreading "fake news" about Brawndo.

sure, it has electrolytes

That's what plants crave.

Well, the US does currently have a president who got (at least partly) famous in the Pro Wrestling circuit, so big points there. But it's only a superficial resemblance.

President Comacho saw a real problem (lack of food), realized he needed help tacking the issue, sought out literally the smartest person in the world, followed his advice and solved the issue.

President Trump makes up problems, staffs his cabinet with some of the lowest quality members those offices have ever had, discards virtually all expert advice (In his own words, he only consults himself because he has a "very good brain") and generally seems to exist solely to troll people.

So even though Idiocracy seems to have hit it right on, it didn't. Mike Judge still could not make the mental leap required to make Comacho different from what he already knew (and I don't blame him).

Some African countries are now literally living idiocracy (or are already past the initial optimistic phase when things still somewhat worked).

Spot on.

I would add that Idiocracy's theme was the dumbing down of society, but in spite of society's failings the democratic government continued functioning well in working on the citizen's best interests. Unfortunatly Trump's government appears to be doing the exact opposite, to the point of looking as a government ran by anarchists trying to undermine it from within. That's arguably far worse than Idiocracy's central theme.

The current administration, the one you called Idiocracy, stood up against dictatorship China and exposed the bubble mirage that was the Chinese economy. The Chinese economy is now crashing hard. This current administration did what many said was impossible: wage increases in the age of automation and globalization. This administration has US economy growing at 3%, when most other global economies are going into recession. This administration gave jobs and money back to the main street people, when corporations were eager to give those to the prison labors in China.

You might be reading/watching the mainstream media too much.

You might be attributing too much to the actions of this administration.

And fwiw, real wage growth doesn't look that great. It has actually been negative for the last few months.

I don't think "standing up to dictatorships" is a very strong argument for this administration.

Idiocracy would count if it were released in the 20th century. It was released in 2006.

Mandatory alternate perspective: Cracked on why Idiocracy would actually be a utopia.


It's hard to see celebrities as anything other than an especially visible subset of people clawing their way into the ranks of the wealthy. Hereditary celebrity is possible, but wealthy celebrities mostly don't try to make their children celebrities. The ones who seem (subjectively) like the smartest choose to gift their children the traditional advantages of wealth, education, and connections.

To add a current day example:

Jay-Z and Beyonce's child has their Instagram professionally done: https://www.instagram.com/blueivy.carter/?hl=en

Almost all rich celebrities have that.

Even Instagram only, average wealth, influencers, making like $1M a year or so, have whole teams of people working for their Instagram.

I sometimes think that the reason we don’t have these bond villains is because we were on the lookout and stopped them. And that caused us to miss the boiling frog situation of a ruling class of celebrity attention spinners.

1984 has zero celebrities - they don't and can't exist in that world.

The only figure with a face is big brother, and he didn't exist. I think Goldstein had no face?

If the proles (85% of the population) had celebrities, they would not be actual people : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prolefeed

"Below that come the dumb masses whom we habitually refer to as 'the proles', numbering perhaps 85 per cent of the population."

"What opinions the masses hold, or do not hold, is looked on as a matter of indifference. They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect."

"There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means"

How about The Running Man? I never read the book but I believe the villain was a game show celebrity, same as in the movie.

"A Face in the Crowd" comes close, with Andy Griffith playing a populist hero who gets involved in politics. Near the movie's climax, the front-runner offers him the position of "Secretary for National Morale".

I’ve noticed that he villains are almost always corporations, or backed by corporations in a way or another.

But they are always obviously evil corporations. They never have a hip logo with cute aesthetics, and a sneaker clad hoodie wearing slacker founder. The movie Next Gen on Netflix is a good example of this though. The evil corp in that movie is basically Apple.

Hunger Games was sort of painting celebrities as the ruling class

Definitely well written and well researched. Interesting that this is also a culmination of multiple not professionally bound people's ideas, editing, insights and feedback.

Below is towards the end of the article, so just in case any one feels more inclined to read it, here it is -

> I’m indebted to the following individuals for conversations that led to this post and feedback that improved it. I’d like to thank Arjun Balaji, Brendan Bernstein, Alex Hardy, Kevin Harrington, Mike Dariano, one anonymous Twitter user, and Nick Maggiulli for all the energy they invested in editing this piece. They improved this piece immensely.

> I’d also like to thank Nik Sharma, Drew Austin, and Adil Majid for the conversations that led to this post. Each of them contributed unique insights that I could not have arrived at on my own.

It's interesting on a meta-level that these kinds of essays could only be published (and publicized) because of the Internet.

One thing is sure, I really don't engage in internet discussions the same way I did. I haven't used facebook (where everybody is) for such a long time, all I do is use reddit, and I've restrained more and more to leave a comment.

I'd rather let people yell and be part of a silent majority than participate in crowded internet discussions.

This article would have been more interesting if it didn't premise itself on such an inflammatory opening example.

I think the initial joke was kind of a filter to only let people who doesn't instantly react and rage about it to continue with the article.

As a Korean who's viewing things from the outside, I found the hook hilarious and totally made me continue reading it...

I appreciated the twist at the end of it.

I suspect overall readership goes up with such intros.

Does it? It made me close the browser tab. Then I came here and read one of the comments that vouched for the rest of the article, and went back.

When I first read Bill Gates' quote (1995), "We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten", I somehow knew that he was onto something, but I couldn't picture back then what the world would look like today; not for lack of trying, though.

The article argues that college bundles education and signaling (of competence). And that as information becomes more available, and college tuition costs skyrocket new signalling mechanisms are emerging / will emerge. What are these new signaling mechanisms?

Searchable information? Things people publish or is written about them. Instead of proxies like educational institutions you get to examine them via other evidence. So education remains important but renown of institution as proxy for the individual goes away?

I would imagine it depends on the industry. In software, things like side projects, githubs, knowing the latest hip technologies, and being able to whip up the coolest algorithms during interviews are strong signals.

Author is oversimplifying the causes (information abundance causes everything!) leading to misleading conclusions.

If you say so, sure.

At least the author put in the time to present his case.

PG wrote a similar, but less well-researched, essay in early 2016:


If the main point is that we moved from a state of information scarcity to a state of information abundance, one piece is missing in this article: abundance is not, by itself, utility — to turn abundance into utility, you need one of a very small number of organizations that have dug significantly deep competitive moats around them (such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, or even Wikipedia). It's not altogether clear that these new gatekeepers won't start applying the same recipes (of vertical integration, for example) to re-consolidate the industries around them.

What the hell is going on?

These are real trends but I have a different answer to the opening question: the elites are failing, they don't seem better than the rest of us any more.

And I don't think it's just a matter of explosion of information available online. They're really not as sharp and competent as their predecessors, not as good, definitely not nearly as bold.

The reason Trump could bulldoze through two America's most powerful political dynasties is not Hillary's emails on Wikileaks but their weak candidates who had to rely completely on warchests, pundits, media and party machine. And the machine didn't fail them. They failed the machine.

The legacy, industrial-era institutions are what support abundant and cheap access to information.

If belief in our traditional institutions crumbles due to cheap information, information asymmetry once again will rise, returning us to the prior era.

Care to back up your assertion? If not most will either mentally nod or shake their heads and move on

It takes coordination and peace to operate a globally-available internet, that enables us to have cheap communication and access information.

What does it take to offer the internet in its current form? Massive infrastructure, cables running every which way across countries and oceans, electricity, etc-- and governments protect that infrastructure.

If order and stability is lost to the extreme viewpoints the internet enables, and eroding trust in our existing institutions, there will no longer be necessary support for the infrastructure that enables free, open, cheap communication.

I tend to agree, but I actually don’t think peace is prerequisite. The internet was designed during the Cold War and was designed in a way to be resilient to massive fallout of the network (nuke safe). While, I do agree that if the establishment is not pleased with the openness of the internet they will attempt to regulated/censor it more heavily, but I think it’s too late. Attempts to regulate the internet would be met with massive resistance. Maybe, I am just slightly delusional about how much people care though, especially considering net neutrality in the states

It's hard to say what the political class thinks of things like Breitbart. To them, it might just be another tool to win elections. People generally vote with their emotions, and not based on policy -- driving home feelings of anger, fear, or resentment to "the other side" might just be another tool in the tool belt of keeping turnout high.

I'm surprised he didn't mention how the "liberal" corporate media pretty much did a total blackout of covering Bernie in 2016.

To his early supporters this was a glaring omission and I cannot conclude it was an oversight. It seemed to be an obvious collusion between them and the DNC who had $1.3Billion to spend on media that year.

Their plan seemed obvious. Ignore Bernie, create a deluge of negative coverage of Trump, and promote Hillary as our only alternative.

This caused me and many others to just tune out the bloviating corporate lackey gasbags they have working for them. I've not watched CNN, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, since. I never watched FOX News because it's always been easy to see they have an extremely biased agenda to promote and do not do "News" at all, but the others, at that time, still had some credibility up to then. They've pretty much lost all of that.

The truth is, they started losing their cred before that. I recall watching CNN during the "Occupy" protest when Carrol Costello complained about those protesters being "noisy" and making it difficult for her to get to the entrance of their New York facilities. She went so far as to comment "what are they even protesting for" when they were right outside their front door.

Every time I open my "Apple News" app I'm amazed at what drivel they present. "Look at what Kim Kardashian is wearing, it makes her butt look huge!"

HN gets far more of my time than all those "News" corporations put together now.

> According to Gurri, modern information technology enables the public, composed of amateurs, to break the power hierarchies of the industrial age.

This is really reflected in my area: nuclear design. This has gone from once the most secret and guarded information possible (Manhattan project) to a world where there are 50 small companies working on various types of reactor designs [1], many run by what can easily be considered amateurs.

Last week I was in D.C. at an industry conference and met a guy running one of these companies. He was explaining to me the merits of his design and had the basic physics unequivocally backwards. I prodded him gently on it: "Oh, you mean the fast neutrons don't get readily absorbed in fission products, not the slow ones, right?" He doubled down. Some poor schmuck is funding this guy.

Meanwhile, Transatomic, the famed Thiel-backed molten salt company recently folded [2] partly because the two MIT grad student co-founders apparently spent more time giving TED talks about how thermal-neutron reactors could "run on nuclear waste" than reading the 1940s literature that established that this was not possible [3]. (To be fair to the co-founders who are wonderful and smart people, many reactor companies make big mistakes early on, most are just a lot less public about it)

On the other hand, a then-amateur reactor designer named Kirk Sorensen read some stuff about molten salt reactors in an old book and then almost single-handedly built up an internet army of thousands of people yelling from the rooftops the benefits of fluid-fueled reactors. Now the big institutions like national labs have caught back up and there's serious talk and work on these reactors all over. Molten salt reactors (especially thorium-fueled ones) essentially went viral.

So there's a lot of good and bad coming out of all this, and I'm not sure where it will end up. One thing from the article seems certain: we need new forms of accreditation. We should try to find ways to bring trust back to the situation given its new reality.

[1] https://www.thirdway.org/infographic/the-advanced-nuclear-in...

[2] https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/transatomic-to-...

[3] https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603731/nuclear-energy-sta...

What applies for fission products should also apply for control rods in fast spectrum. If control rods do not absorb fast neutrons, how a fast reactor is controlled?

The cross section of fuel in fast spectrum also decreases. Fast reactors have larger fissile holdup. For every atom of fission fragment there are more fuel atoms in fast reactor than in thermal reactor. Fast reactors can run longer because fission products are dilute in the fuel. But, reprocessing is needed even for fast reactors to close the fuel cycle.

The advantages like U238 or Pu239 fission or fast fission factor can be also obtained in heterogeneous thermal spectrum reactors. (Example: A CANDU is heterogeneous reactor. It can burn more plutonium and it can use LWR SNF-fuel without reprocessing.) For a fluid-fuel reactor the fuel acts only as fuel and heat exchange takes place outside reactor core. Fuel region in a fluid-fuel reactor can be as thick as it is needed. So, reactor can be designed for maximum multiplication factor. (Solid fuel rods can't be very thick, because they are also heat exchangers.)

Slide 6 in this presentation. http://www.thoriumenergyworld.com/uploads/6/9/8/7/69878937/s...

Edit: This is a reply for: "I prodded him gently on it: "Oh, you mean the fast neutrons don't get readily absorbed in fission products, not the slow ones, right?" He doubled down. Some poor schmuck is funding this guy."

Similar to fission products, neutron control material (like Boron) indeed does not absorb fast neutrons as much. Fortunately it still does absorb fast neutrons enough to control fast reactors (with which we have 430 reactor-years of experience or so).

Indeed fast reactors need higher fissile concentration to be critical. Some kinds of fast reactors (like the Bill Gates Traveling Wave Reactor idea, which, disclaimer: I have professional connections to) can breed up plutonium in spent fuel and then burn it down without reprocessing (to be fair, the spent fuel would have to be hot refabricated into metallic fuel first, but that's still not separations/reprocessing). This kind of reactor needs enrichment once (to start up) and then can just be fed natural, DU, or SNF and it will run on a stream of it happily "forever" (until the vessel life is reached, at which point you transfer the core to a new machine and keep on shuffling). Only fast neutron systems can do such a thing. The Fast Mixed-Spectrum Reactor idea of BNL in 1980 was similar. Many fast-neutron MSRs are the same.

Fast fission is not all that's at play in a fast reactor. It's all about Eta (neutrons released vs. neutrons absorbed in fuel). In a fast reactor, it skyrockets around 0.5 - 1 MeV because of three different physical facts: neutrons released per fission goes up with fast incident neutrons, fission cross section stays flat for all actinides around this range, and capture cross sections drop off towards zero around this range. This is discussed on: https://whatisnuclear.com/fast-reactor.html#havingmore

Having extra neutrons around means you can afford to invest more in breeding fissile material, and only fast neutrons can get you to the point where reactivity is flat or increasing instead of decreasing as fission products are produced. The only exception is Thorium fuel cycle, where U-233 releases a lot of neutrons even with thermal neutron absorption. In that case you have to be removing the fission products as they are created with separations, and this basically is only practical with fluid fuel. This was the idea of the Molten Salt Breeder Reactor project of Oak Ridge in the late 1960s.

With reprocessing, you can definitely re-concentrate the remaining fissile material and get a thermal reactor critical again to burn it. But you cannot meaningfully use the other actinides as fuel, which is the whole idea of "running on spent fuel".

Regarding that slide deck, I love the idea of molten fuel in tubes. I investigated it heavily once upon a time, being super excited about it. I ran into the problem that while salt fuel mass densities are low, separating them out even more physically makes the fissile density annoyingly low, to the point that I couldn't get the reactor performance I wanted for my then target market. I still think this concept is very interesting so I hope these folks do well. They won't be extracting any non-fissile energy from SNF though until they replace that moderating fluid with something like lead, gas, or sodium and change their fuel salt to a chloride.

CANDUs can't use straight-up SNF out of a LWR without first stripping out the fission products. They're an example of "burning down the fissile material even better" but not "extracting the 100x more energy from the fertile U238".

BTW the safety example in that slide deck is a bit disingenuous by suggesting that traditional reactors are not physically stable. If you know those guys you might want to tell them. Overmoderation and Doppler and the NRC ensure that they are inherently stable at power. These things aren't like the F-22 or whatever, requiring active systems to stay in the air. The engineered safety systems are simply for removing decay heat, which can be done passively in Gen III+ plants and indefinitely in any Gen-IV plant.

Fission products have larger cross section than enriched Boron-10. It is all about concentration; that is the number of B-10 atoms per number of atoms of fuel. Here is the cross sections plot I took yesterday: https://imgur.com/a/uWb0SAa

Robert Steinhaus' Question for fast reactor folks: "While the theoretical case for fast reactors being used to burn nuclear waste down to fission products with short half lives has been made for decades, there has in all that time not been a single demonstration of a fast reactor actually experimentally burning any significant quantity (kilograms) of separated Minor Actinides and Transuranics down to fission products to a batch completeness exceeding 90%. The proposal of using fast reactors to treat nuclear waste has been vigorously put forward for decades. Why do fast reactor proponents not demonstrate with one existing fast reactor the burn up of some kilograms of separated long half life Minor Actinide waste to prove the technical feasibility of fast reactors for the application of waste burning and waste treatment?"

Yes, more neutrons are released for Pu239 fast fission. In CANDU, U238 fast fission is more because 99% of fuel is U238. If we increase Pu concentration Pu fast fission happens as well. U238 fast fission is ~3% of CANDU's power. This is because all neutrons are born fast. A FFR (MSR) can adjust heterogeneity as required, because heat transfer takes place outside the core. A MSR can have thicker fuel regions and higher lattice pitch than a CANDU and exploit fast fission further.

CANDU can use straight-up SNF. Check this or search it: http://www.iaea.org/inis/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Publ...

"These things aren't like the F-22 or whatever, requiring active systems to stay in the air." That is exactly how pressuriser in a PWR works. A control system loop with Temp & pressure sensors with heater and water injection. Almost all reactors are directly synced with grid, reactors will participate in tiny load adjustments and there is also cooling water temperature variations in a day.

MSRs can be isolated from the power conversion using a thermal salt reserve. That is called inherent safety. Water temperature variations or frequency control wont hit the reactor.

Even if MSR is connected to grid directly, there is no DNB control, the boiling point margin is high. If Xenon is removed with >90% efficiency, -ve reactivity can take care of leftover xenon as well, no control rod circus for MSR till a xenon equilibrium is attained.

Whoops: the dominant control reaction in B-10 is (n,alpha), not (n,gamma)! That's a common mistake. As you'll see, it's larger than most fission products across the board See https://imgur.com/6ODUcRx. There are a few Hafnium and Europium nuclides that can beat it but they're pretty expensive so most people stick to Boron control.

Regarding that paper on CANDUs, I'd like to see some lattice physics calcs supporting that. Has anyone run CASMO on it? I would be absolutely shocked if you took a core of 55 MWd/kg (avg) LWR spent fuel, put it straight in a CANDU with no separations (all FP inventory accounted for) and saw it push through an additional normal amount of burnup.

Today, most CANDU's use ~2% enriched feed, I believe.

PWRs are not unstable. They are in their most critical configuration during operation. If they heat up, the water density goes down. Neutrons fail to be moderated and the source of thermal neutrons back into the fuel goes down, and the chain reaction shuts down. This is a regulatory requirement (GDC 11 of the NRC). Unstable cores run away in power excursions when poked (see Chernobyl). Modern cores don't do that. They have negative MTC and Doppler.

I'm well aware of what inherent safety is. EBR-II, a sodium-cooled fast reactor, was the first to actually demonstrate passive shutdown and passive decay heat following unprotected loss of heat sink and unprotected loss of flow.

BTW I don't advocate for fast reactors to burn SNF. It's much more economical to just dispose of it and mine new uranium. I just was pointing out that some people messed up their attempts to burn SNF in thermal reactors.

Yeah, I missed it the first time. You commented when I started editing it. I took (N,TOT) this time. Fission product cross sections is still higher. https://imgur.com/a/pjoNv1p

CANDU: DUPIC fuel cycle is not demonstrated. Canadians don't run PWRs. India, China and South Korea run PWR and CANDU, not much advanced R&D in India. Chinese CANDU in Qinshan may be testing this. US is most advanced in nuclear R&D. Why not build a CANDU in the US and demonstrate this?

I was talking about pressuriser and DNB. If there is no pressuriser (PWR) and constant adjustment of recirculation flow (BWR), clad may get damaged and fuel may melt because of DNB or denucleate boiling. Not inherently safe, engineered systems are needed. (In BWR fuel itself is engineered top-to-bottom with different enrichment levels and different burnable poison concentrations.)

Control rod adjustments are needed till a xenon equilibrium is attained. Also flux flattening circus, boron dilution circus etc. Operators are needed to babysit a LWR or CANDU. This is not like diesel generator or PV panel. Passive shutdown does not mean passive operation like a diesel.

I don't think first generation of MSRs can be like diesel generators. Operators are needed. But, there is potential for nuclear reactors to be like diesel generators with fluid-fuel reactors.

(Edit: Reply to "Today, most CANDU's use ~2% enriched feed, I believe." No. ALL heavy water reactors run with natural uranium in most tubes, depleted uranium or thorium in few pressure tubes for flux flattening circus. No enriched uranium in any tubes.)

Total includes scattering which isn't a loss mechanism. Best bet is to do a spectrum weighted 1-group macroscopic absorption XS (including all neutron loss mechanisms) in various reactors for a meaningful comparison. Most nuclear textbooks have these in the appendix. All I'm telling you is that boron is used for control in fast reactors. I think you asked how it was done a while back.

I kept reading about all these advantages of "slightly enriched uranium" in candus so I'm surprised they aren't using it anywhere! [1]

Autonomous control can theoretically be done with many kinds of reactors and fuels. Sodium reactors have vast pools of liquid metal with extraordinary thermal conductivity and heat capacity. Lead-cooled reactors are similar. So are salt-cooled FHRs, and pebble-bed gas reactors like x-energy. There are a few decades of regulatory catchup before that can happen. Arpa-e has a current project into operator assistance which is aiming to move to more autonomous control.

Don't forget about maintenance costs. Equipment and chemistry will cause maintenance of any reactor to be higher than an average diesel. Fluid fuel will have 50% of the periodic table in thermal gradients, plating out in heat exchangers and other cold surfaces. Sodium reactors have sodium fires. Lead reactors have corrosion. Gas reactors have power cycle leaks. It's a worthy goal but we have lots of work before we get there. We don't have enough experience with fluid fuel yet to judge how maintenance of a commercial unit will pan out. It might be great, or it might prove difficult. Very worthy goal though!

[1] https://inis.iaea.org/search/search.aspx?orig_q=RN:20038082

RE "This kind of reactor needs enrichment once (to start up) and then can just be fed natural, DU, or SNF and it will run on a stream of it happily "forever" (until the vessel life is reached, at which point you transfer the core to a new machine and keep on shuffling)" As fission product concentration increases, even fast reactors have to remove fuel and reprocess it. What works for boron also works for fission products. I don't think any reactor (fast or thermal) can close fuel cycle without the help of reprocessing. May be fast reactors need less frequent reprocessing, that's it.

(LWR-SNF cannot go fast critical. May be fission products is not removed, but reprocessing is needed to concentrate Pu in LWR-SNF.) Even if LWR-SNF has to be used as-is, it has to be toasted in blanket region of fast reactor before it is used as fuel. Some designs like TWR claim no reprocessing needed between toast step and burn step. I agree with that. But, for complete fission of SNF, fission-product removal is needed at some stage when fission product concentration exceeds a particular level in the fuel rod. No exception for travelling wave burnup.

For a critical reactor core some minimum length of fuel rod is always required to be in use. If fission product starts accumulating from bottom of the fuel-rod towards top, somewhere at the midway core can't go critical because a minimum length of rod is needed for criticality.

4% of 1GW-LWR fuel runs for 4.5 years. 100% of this fuel has potential for 112.5 years. A solid-fuel rod can't maintain integrity for 100 years. The crystal structure damage can't be reversed by any amount of maintenance. This is the same phenomenon how solar panels get degraded in sunlight. A fuel rod has crystal structure damage by radiation as well as by fission products.

Fluid-fuel can be used indefinite time and it is easy to reprocess liquid fuel by any method. There is no crystal structure to get damaged. ORNL was working on physical separation of fission products like vacuum distillation when the project was cancelled. Chemical separation and isotopic separation may raise proliferation concerns and they may not be environmentally friendly.

There is a chemical separation of fuel from fission products called fluoride volatility, which is used in industrial scale for enrichment of fuel. But, it works only for fluoride salts. ORNL has demonstrated this process when they switched from U235 to U233. They irreversibly damaged the drain tanks and hastelloy plumbing by doing this. MSRE would have lasted longer if they had not done this fluorination experiment.

RE "Fluid fuel will have 50% of the periodic table in thermal gradients, plating out in heat exchangers and other cold surfaces."

Just throw away the hot leg plumbing and heat exchangers every 2.8 years initially (MSRE salt loop was circulated for 2.8 years) and increase this incrementally. Fact: In solid fuel reactors fuel itself acts as a primary heat exchanger. In 4.5 years LWRs throw away a heat exchanger worth of Zr tubes/cladding. Earlier LWRs threw away solid-fuel every 3 years. Why point fingers at MSR folks when solid-fuel reactors throw away stuff? Note the difference between Inconel 625 (similar to hastelloy-N) and Zr. https://www.tricormetals.com/cost-comparison.html

> But, for complete fission of SNF, fission-product removal is needed at some stage when fission product concentration exceeds a particular level in the fuel rod. No exception for travelling wave burnup.

Of course. This kind of thing is very well established things like [1]. TWR is not interested in burning SNF, that would require reprocessing to convert it from oxide in the first place. Reprocessing is expensive and has historical proliferation concerns. TWR's entire purpose is to approach closed fuel cycle advantages (Gen-IV safety, sustainability, cost) without needing any reprocessing whatsoever. It's a natural step after the US CRBRP mega-boondoggle. Don't reprocess SNF, bury it in geologic repositories and/or boreholes. Burn U-238 at global scale. That's the idea there. It's called a Modified Open Cycle, or Deep-burn once-through fuel cycle.

> Fluid-fuel can be used indefinite time and it is easy to reprocess liquid fuel by any method. There is no crystal structure to get damaged.

Fluid fuel trades solid fuel performance challenges for chemical/corrosion challenges and radionuclide containment challenges. At MSRE, ORNL has yet to account for about 50% of the radioiodine produced. No one knows where it went. that's a huge but not impossible challenge. I agree with the "Easy to reprocess liquid fuel" advantage, but recognize that it is also a proliferation disadvantage.

> Just throw away the hot leg plumbing and heat exchangers every 2.8 years initially (MSRE salt loop was circulated for 2.8 years) and increase this incrementally. These are rad waste remote operations, which has step influence on cost. What's the operational cost of this at FOAK? What's the operational cost at NOAK? It may be very cheap (Thorcon is well on their way to this) or it may be prohibitively expensive. The only way to really find out is to build and operate such a reactor commercially. To this end we will all benefit.

> Why point fingers at MSR folks when solid-fuel reactors throw away stuff? Who's pointing fingers? I mentioned downsides to all forms of reactors in the parent comment. MSR is wonderful and exciting and we as a community need to build many more of them and shake them down.

[1] https://www.iaea.org/publications/7112/implications-of-parti...

Both metallic fuel and salt fuel are not suitable for geological repository. Salt fuel may be stored in salt mines, but unproven. More R&D is needed for geological disposal; but, the point in having metallic fuel or salt fuel is the ease of separating fission products and reusing fuel, not geological storage.

Iodine: Not 50%. It is a probability range. "Thus, of the order of one-fourth to one-third of the iodine has not been adequately accounted for."

RE: "but recognize that it is also a proliferation disadvantage"

MSR without reprocessing: MSR can be as hardened as anyone wants. Because of liquid fuel-form, MSR can be sealed tamper-proof. Fuel goes in and nothing comes out during operation.

Safeguard scenario in case of maintenance: By design the fuel will move to drain tank when shutdown for maintenance. IAEA can have the keys for the drain tank. Fuel can't be pumped back without the presence of IAEA inspector. If someone tampers this, license will be cancelled and the country will have no electricity.

MSBR with reprocessing: How easy separation of fission products from denatured liquid-fuel can be a proliferation disadvantage? It is actually a advantage because fuel always stays inside a tamper-proof system. ORNL attached a "add-on" apparatus for fluoride volatility, and fuel always stayed inside MSRE building. This is actually an advantage.

As material science improves, MSRs last longer and longer without need for maintenance. Safeguards will also become less frequent and less expensive.

I strongly agree that MSR needs a chance. MSR graduated with excellent results with MSRE. MSRE has answered most of the questions and raised very few new questions. MSR should be given a suitable employment like process heat or medical isotope production as soon as possible. We can scale it up for electricity later on.

The article doesn't outline how truth can be reestablished on the internet. Honestly I don't believe that it ever can and, frankly, I don't believe it ever was in the first place: we just were not exposed to the chaos of thought that can be found collectively. It is quite clear that the old media narrative has been shattered by the internet. If anything is capable of reassembling this fractured state, I am honestly a bit fearful of what that might be. AI that entirely fabricates a reality that calms people? AR that curates a user's perception to harmonize with their mental and emotional state? Let's be honest there are so many different ways of looking at the world available for perusal on the internet, that establishing "truth" is extremely difficult. I believe that what I know about the world rings true, but so does everyone else.

A recent HN thread discusses the topic of how School is for Signaling rather than Skill-Building from another article, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19406432. The concept also explored within this post.

> I’m going to describe your least favorite politician: Everything they say goes viral. The establishment despises them, donors can’t influence them, and the media can’t tame them.

The media can't tame them?!? It's more like they love them and are the reason they continue to exist in the first place.

I have a theory that from now on, the candidate who wins the presidential election will be the one that generates the most advertising revenue for the media companies.

> I have a theory that from now on, the candidate who wins the presidential election will be the one that generates the most advertising revenue for the media companies.

That's not actually a big change; Free media has always been powerful, and it's always been awarded based on the media’s business interests, mostly advertising dollars (except for outlets that are in the game to drive a specific agenda even when that involves sacrificing profit opportunities.)

Probably true! I halfway expect Chris Christie's new reality show to start just after Trump's reelection.

It's kind of a trap for old media, however. They are losing the only advantage they had, credibility. When that's gone, the bitter clingers will still watch for a while, but they won't find any new viewers/listeners/readers.

The article later tackles this by examining the love-hate relationship between Trump and left-wing media (although just briefly):

The more they covered Trump, the more they danced to the music of check deposits. CBS president Leslie Moonves said: "It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” Or in the words of one Washington-based reporter: "‘Holy shit, Trump’s the best thing that’s ever happened to our business!’"

In short, as the amount of information exploded, the media — with business models built for an environment of information scarcity — engaged in a Faustian Bargain. Naval Ravikant said it best: "The Internet commoditized the distribution of facts. The ‘news’ media responded by pivoting wholesale into opinions and entertainment.

Well written and interesting article. If got a few points:

Education: The cost factor is an American thing. Here, in Germany it way more affordable. I have a Bachelor's in pure mathematics. I wouldn't have studied all those often hard and boring fundamental topics if they weren't required by the curriculum, that's what I like about the university. Now, I'm more interested into research and there the university is the best place to be Of course you could offer a curriculum online, online learning doesn't have to be cherry picking. But I see a value in beeing enrolled. This whole student culture helps broadening my horizon.

Media: I'd argue that the internet is getting more centralized. Most people use Google Search and YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. There, an algorithm decides what you see. So yes, it is easier to diversify your media intake but there is still a central entity.

Attention: I think that's the thing this essay is mostly lacking in coverage. Having only the New York Times as reference you read a thorough report on a subject. Would you read it if you could get just a TL;DR or a quick video? I am not sure if the general public is really getting more educated or shut gaining a shallow knowledge based in FB or Reddit.

For example this article, or every Wait But Why article, are long and you read it only if you're interested. Otherwise I often catch myself only reading the comments.

Still, good article

> Big brands are losing share of America’s GDP pie

A data about GDP share would be very nice but is missing.

Companies who own these brands are not losing anything. Brands are imaginary things, they aren't real. The real P&G company who manufactures and sells stuff is doing OK.

Hrm, there was an graph in the article that visualizes just what you are looking for. If you look at the graph you can see P&G is doing fine relative to the other companies discussed, but they are steadily losing GDP percentage. And as someone who works at one of these so mentioned micro brands that is attempting to distrust P&G stranglehold I can see that we are starting to get some serious traction

Great distillation of the internet's effect on business, education and politics.

Perell references Martin Gurri and Ben Thompson throughout. Going to dig in to Gurri as I'm not as familiar.

Alex Danco's series on Understanding Abundance is probably a good reference point as well.

I agree. I just came across Alex Danco’s blog and it is very good overall. I can’t help to think though that he has flipped the cause and effect of why distributions have changed. My feeling is most of his examples are the result of an increasing wealth gap, and not the other way around. You can afford nyc, a $2000 phone, etc. or you can’t.

Great article. Reminds me a lot of the book (highly recommended) 'The Square and the Power' about the role of network and breakdown of authority, and the last time this happened with the advent of the printing press. He was interviewed as part of the long now seminars: http://longnow.org/seminars/02018/nov/19/networks-and-power/

What's been happening with getpocket.com? Pocket fails to make articles out of the latest articles I added. I need it so I can read stuff on my kobo, but it seems to be failing miserably lately.

Pocket fails to make an article out of this url.

If you really think education is all about signalling, shouldn't you be more, not less, optimistic that it will be robust to technological changes that make delivering course materials cheaper?

This article has some good points, but it also suffers a lot from the author's extremely narrow horizons:

- It's very US-centric. Public universities are AFAIK free or very cheap in Germany for example. The reason for rising costs in the US is in large part about cuts to government support for higher education.

- It's very upper-middle-class in perspective, with no understanding of anyone who isn't doing well. America is one of "the most prosperous countries" in the world if you're in top 10%—but if you're in bottom 30%, say, there are many countries where you'll be much better off. Anywhere with socialized medicine, for example: if you're poor, what is a routine trip to the doctor elsewhere can cause bankruptcy in the US.

- The author apparently knows very little history.

Consider this quote: "During the 20th century, “the people” were an ambiguous, lifeless mass. They couldn’t organize themselves, so organization came down from the commands of people who controlled the media. Nothing else was possible; deference to authority was the structural destiny of the Mass Media age."

This is absolute nonsense. The 20th century is bursting with political movements that came from below: good, bad, and ugly, whatever you might say about any particular one, there's a hell of a lot of them in total.

In the 20th century, in the US alone, you could point to the suffragettes, organized labor at different times, the KKK (4 million members at peak in 1920s!), the multitude of different workers' groups of all political stripes (from veterans' march to IWW organizers to wacky retirement-lottery scheme whose details I forget) who pushed FDR to eventually offer the New Deal to counter-act the rising tide of protest, the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-Vietnam-war protests, Stonewall and the gay rights movement... on and on and on.

> It's very US-centric

thats a strange critique considering the article. i mean the whole thing just focuses on the american society... why is that a problem?

> [quote] This is absolute nonsense

While this quote is indeed nonesens with no context, thats not exactly what the author meant there

Back then, quick organization and initiatives weren't really possible.

Take each of your example and check just how long it took for them to become widespread. It was years - not hours as it is today. And in order to actually organize something political, a leader of such a popular organization would've to intervene, making his point spot on.

The general argument is "X has this impact on Y" (in this case, Internet and US). Given that X is global, that the Internet impacts many countries, a reasonable perspective would involve at least looking at how X impacted A, B, and C, which might prove that the impact is merely correlation in the time, not causation. Or it might strengthen the argument.

But in its current form it's a universal claim backed by very limited evidence (and ignoring evidence that suggests other causes than the Internet).

Even when universities are free, they are still not without problems. In Denmark education is free and you even get paid a "wage" when attending university so you don't even have to borrow (as much) money for housing/food.

High schools and universities in Denmark get money per student that passes the exams. If you fail the student, no money for you.

So there is a clear incentive for the schools to admit as many students as possible and lower the level required for passing the exams. Schools have had their "per student" budget cut year after year.

So the level of education today is not the same as 40 years ago. For high school the signalling part has become even more important, so much we lack blue collar workers because people think that kind of education is beneath them. The following question has absolutely the same validity in Denmark as in USA:

> Would you rather have a Princeton diploma without a Princeton education, or a Princeton education without a Princeton diploma?

Some things are not worth it, even when they are free.

> wacky retirement-lottery scheme whose details I forget

Could it be this?


Did some searching, turns out I was actually thinking of the the Townsend Plan, which was not actually wacky (I misremembered the details) and helped pave the way for Social Security. The wikipedia article leaves out a lot of details, if memory serves it had widespread support.

> In the 20th century, in the US alone, you could point to the suffragettes, organized labor at different times, the KKK (4 million members at peak in 1920s!), the multitude of different workers' groups of all political stripes (from veterans' march to IWW organizers to wacky retirement-lottery scheme whose details I forget) who pushed FDR to eventually offer the New Deal to counter-act the rising tide of protest, the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-Vietnam-war protests, Stonewall and the gay rights movement... on and on and on.

Most of these were borne from trusted institutions:

* Organized labor WAS an institution of its own.

* The resurgence of the KKK in the 20th century was inspired by the Hollywood film Birth of a Nation.

* The Civil Rights Movement was largely organized by institutions like the NAACP and partially borne out of organized religion.

* Popular opposition to the Vietnam War, as explicitly addressed in the article, came largely from the influence of mass media, Walter Cronkite in particular.

* Most of the political movements of the late 1960's and early 1970's were comprised primarily of university students--in other words, they were also incubated (unwittingly, to be fair!) by established institutions.

Many of the rest is stuff that probably seems bigger in retrospect. For example, the Stonewall riots took place in 1969, the same year as the moon landing and Woodstock and one year after the Tet Offensive and the assassinations of both RFK and MLK. It probably didn't make a big impact on the culture at the time. According to a Google ngrams search (https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=stonewall%2C%2...), the phrase "Stonewall" didn't have a large uptick in terms of being written about in books until the 1980's, over a decade after the riot itself. (Most of the usages prior to then, and probably many of them even after, are likely references to General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.)

I'm stuck on the notion of "information scarcity". Maybe "constrained" would be a better metaphor?

I'm also unimpressed by any thesis that omits preferential attachment (begetting winner takes all) or transaction costs.

It's pretty simple in my book and is why I expected Trump to have a good chance of winning the election.

Both Trump and AOC are populists. They care less about what's factually true and more about whats emotionally true.

Politics is not about being factually correct. You can be correct but still not have it your way.

This is what Trump knew. Perception is reality.

That's why it never make sense to judge a politician on their person but only on their policy.

Who do you think the was last president to win on facts and not populist appeals to emotion?

That’s a really interesting question. I don’t know the answer, but the common refrain is that Kennedy was the first president of the TV era - where personality and charisma were suddenly most important. In that case perhaps Eisenhower (his predecessor) was the last of the “facts” presidents?

Then by extension, perhaps Obama was the last of the “personality and charisma” era?

Trump was the last one who were able to do everything that would have killed any other politians hope. I am a bigger fan of his policies than his rethoric but the republicans needed someone like him to counter the bullying tactics the democrats normally use.

"Populist" is such a cop-out euphemism. We should call them out for what they really are: demagogues.

Sure but I actually qualified it.

People can downvote you, but that doesn't make what you're saying any less true. Analysts agree that Trump used these sorts of tactics to win the election.

I don't think the OP is being downvoted for saying Trump is a populist, but for drawing a false equivalence between Trump and AOC. I think you need more than "they are populists" to throw them in the same boat, it should be well supported.

AOC uses Twitter and social media well, just as Trump does, but are they really using it the same way, to the same ends? I have yet to see AOC just straight up lie like Trump does basically every time he opens his mouth. And many of AOC's policy proposals are backed up with historical precedent (especially the higher marginal tax rates for the wealthy).

Also, as far as I know, AOC is not implicated in any criminal behavior, whereas Trump and his family absolutely are.

This OP lost me at drawing the characature of both politicians. However one’s predominant biography will be racism, rank corruption and criminality and the other, hopefully will move us toward an America where more people pay their fair share and we all don’t have to go bankrupt from medical bills.

The political situation in the USA being what it is I honestly have difficulty deciding which politician to assign to which 'biography' in your list, although your nick clearly hints at which order you intended to describe them. It is flabbergasting to see how political systems so often seem to excel in pushing what appear to be the least suitable people to the highest positions.

I don't like this article. It is not a objective article. Cherry-picked evidence for the proposed point. Unsubscribed the newsletter after I read it.

>When geographic and social mobility is high, information asymmetry is the norm.

Why is this?

Comprehensive and brilliant.

So my guess he is likes both both trump and aoc.

> Half of you think I’m describing Donald Trump. The other half, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Not really, no. The people who are aware of both AOC and DJT enough to have an opinion are not split evenly in terms of their thinking about each of these politicians. I don't despise AOC, I just don't particularly care for her, and I think the way she was elected by exploiting people's lack of attention to the primary race, and unwillingness to even consider any alternative party in the general.

Conversely, I don't laud Donald Trump, I'm just not personally all that offended by his MOR '90s Democrat style policies.

What does MOR stand for?

Middle of the road?

It's nicely written but I don't know how thoughtful it is.

> Big institutions, whose dominance once seemed eternal, are on the brink of collapse.

> The explosion of information has undermined and obsoleted the 20th-century organizational model. Big brands are losing market share. Big universities are going bankrupt. Big political parties are splintering and losing their control over the political narrative.

Isn't the exact opposite happening? The big universities are getting bigger, richer, more exclusive. In practice, Trump is probably less divisive of his party than Obama. Brands are consolidating (particularly in this media landscape that is supposed to be so dizzyingly dynamic and fractured!) . And sure, people identify less with retail or luxury hotel brands. But you know what brands they love? Apple. Netflix. That crazy new starter, "McDonald's". And data is making their strangle grip tighter, not looser.

Information wants to...empower those who have the money to leverage it.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose...I'm afraid this is a lot of words about Those Dang Kids Today

The point wasn't that David has beat Goliath. Netflix and Apple are examples of companies that changed the rules: when was the last time you visited a Blockbuster or used your Palm Pilot? What happened to companies like Sears, Border's, Radio Shack, Kodak? The point is that the mindset that used to enable these companies now works against them.

I could maybe see Netflix as an example of what the author was talking about, but how exactly does Apple fit in there? Apple is all about branding and mass-market appeal.

FWIW I had the same thoughts as the GP while reading the article. Look at the examples that it gives for brand fragmentation: Halo-Top, Talenti, So Delicious, Ciao Bella, and Coconut Bliss.

Talenti is a subsidiary of Unilever. Ciao Bella is 50% owned by Sherbrooke Capital Management. So Delicious is produced by WhiteWave which is owned by Danone (Dannon).

I think the article makes some good points, but ultimately gets a bit too cute trying to paint "information abundance" as the cause for all the discussed structural changes.

I wouldn't even give it "nicely written". Nicely presented, maybe...

Compared to all of the things he's quoting from--Chomsky, McLuhan, Caplan, etc.--this is far more sizzle than steak.

Maybe if he had some point to make with the source material, that would have saved it. Instead, it's like he couldn't choose between writing the McKinsey version of a book report, or an alternative intro to Fight Club.

What the Hell happened to informative titles?

You can email hn@ycombinator.com if you feel a title is clickbait, requesting a change.

(I have, here.)

"How the shift from information scarcity to information abundance is transforming commerce, education, and politics", from the text, might work, though it's long.


>I also call them "unindicted co-conspirators in multiple federal crimes". Now who does everyone think I'm describing?

The Clintons?

> There is no comparison to anything here not even Richard Nixon.

I'd compare him to Kennedy. Minus the mob 'losing' a few ballot boxes for him.

It's unfortunate that otherwise intelligent people minds shut down when partisanship comes into play.

> The Clintons?

Please share the legal filing where the Clintons were named as Individual 1 and Individual 2 as those who directed the crime to take place, in a criminal case by federal prosecutors.

> It's unfortunate that otherwise intelligent people minds shut down when partisanship comes into play.

this is nonsense. Democrats are indicted and convicted of crimes as well and there is no need to deny these facts - Bob Menendez should likely have resigned, Anthony Weiner went to prison, Rod Blagoyovich is I think still serving time for widespread corruption. These people are criminals. The Clintons played fast and loose with rules but they are not in the same universe as even garden variety criminals much less the Trumps. You have to at least be indicted or in Trump's case named as an unindicted coconspirator for indicted parties for "criminality" to have a bit of a factual basis.

>Please share the legal filing where the Clintons were named as Individual 1 and Individual 2 as those who directed the crime to take place, in a criminal case by federal prosecutors.


>Neither Bill Clinton nor Hillary were ever prosecuted, after three separate inquiries found insufficient evidence linking them with the criminal conduct of others related to the land deal. The matter was handled by the Whitewater Independent Counsel, Kenneth Starr. The last of these inquiries came from the final Independent Counsel, Robert Ray (who replaced Starr) in 2000.[6] Susan McDougal was granted a pardon by Bill Clinton before he left office.

About as shoddy as shoddy gets, especially the part with the pardon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton_pardon_controvers...

Again, partisanship is a hell of a drug.

> Again, partisanship is a hell of a drug.

sorry, your post does not establish any criminality on the part of the Clintons, whereas the criminality within the Trump Whitehouse is unprecedented. More than 34 indictments and half a dozen guilty pleas including from the national security advisor himself, where the Trump white house refused to do anything about Flynn for 17 days after Sally Yates directly informed the WH that he was an active security leak.

There is simply no comparison.

If you don't think that pardoning everyone involved with your shady dealings on your last day in office isn't criminal I have no idea what your bar is. Other than 'a Republican had to do it'.

I think you proved OPs point.

I don't think that is the case. You can make any two disparate groups look similar by leaving out crucial details. For example, suppose I describe a "Band of misfits from the middle of nowhere, working against the Empire that brought war to their homeland, striking against a symbol of that Empire." That could describe either the Star Wars Rebellion, or the 9/11 terrorists. The key is that I left out critical details to differentiate between the two.

This is a very common form of verbal sleight of hand.

* Step 1: Choose two disparate symbols.

* Step 2: Describe each in as vague of terms as possible.

* Step 3: Keep only the vague descriptions that are consistent between the two.

* Step 4: Imply that since the same reduced description fit both symbols, those original symbols are the same. Everything up to this point is a useful form of humor. It is this implication that is the false equivalence that zzzeek is referring to.

this is exactly the technique that the author used and the willingness of even highly intellectual readers on HN to fall right for it reveals to me a strong emotional urge to normalize the current state of affairs, so that they can go about their day and not really worry about it. The current state of affairs is not normal. There is no US historical precedent for it.

I don't see step 4 in the article. Pointing out a similarity between two different things is only a false equivalence if you try to draw conclusions that are not supported by the abstract descriptions you have reduced them to.

For example, a band of misfits attacking an empire would be expected to use guerilla tactics and execute concentrated attacks against high-value targets. It only becomes a false equivalence if you try to argue that the 9/11 terrorists were capable of interstellar travel based on the Star Wars analogy.

I understand what you're trying to say, but the point is Trump just isn't as bad as he's made out to be by some segments of the population. And everything he does tends to be inflated and exaggerated FAR past any reasonable point.

Not to mention the fact that he has a hostile media and the entire cultural segment (from sports athletes to celebrities) to contend with, a hostile Congress (certainly the House, and even the Senate), a judiciary that blocks him at every turn (and frequently overstepping their bounds), and an existing regulatory, and military hierarchy that is tepid (at best) towards him and has him in check. There's also a pending independent investigation that is looking at the more egregious accusations (for which we have no evidence at this point).

We had 2 years of Trump, and so far, his tenure has been a nothing burger compared to the Bush years, and the beginning of the Obama years when the entire economy was at risk of collapse. His tweets do suck, but everyone just ignores them now. He shit-posts on Twitter - once you get past that, there's nothing there.

I would be way more apprehensive with Bernie Sanders as president or a Democratic party where AOC-types are in charge. That kind of leaderships would have a far greater effect on day to day life.

The only difference between trump and any other right leaning politician since the 80s is that trump says the quiet parts out loud.

Being a criminal doesn't automatically win you a ~90% party approval rating for wanting to build a massive racism wall or banning Muslims from entering the country. A hegemonic power structure and violent ideology does that. To say that the horrible shit trump has been pushing is not a symptom of a larger structure is to ignore the fact that equivalent horrifying injustices have also been committed by other Republicans (ICE, Patriot Act, invasion of iraq) and Democrats (civilian drone strikes, refugee child concentration camps) alike.

The Trump family are not likely criminals, they are criminals, guilty of perjury before congress (Jared), violation of the emoluments clause (Trump), intimidating witnesses (Trump), interfering with the AG (Trump), collusion with the Saudis (Jared), bribery (Trump), adultery (Trump), assault (Trump on his 1st wife).

The only thing which is not out in the open (though highly likely to be at some point) is collusion with foreign powers like Russia.

I think a qualification really helps here. By definition, criminal requires a guilty verdict.

So while it can be productive to state opinion that someone may be guilty of criminal acts. The key part is a trial and conviction, before pronouncing someone guilty. Using precise language makes it less likely to be spun around and arguing with others who disagree, I think.

So if you rob a bank but are never caught, you're not a criminal?

When they admit guilt, or it is done in plain sight, I don't think you need a court verdict.

For example Jared did lie to congress (along with many other Trump appointments):


Trump and his attorney Cohen did intimidate and bribe witnesses (to adultery):

See the link below, and his admission that he paid off the prostitute Stormy Daniels.

Trump did assault his first wife, and has been accused by multiple other women:


Trump has not properly divested himself of his businesses, and violated emoluments rules on multiple occasions.


These are not opinions or speculation.

I'm not sure if that qualification adds a useful distinction. The usual definition I hear is "a person who committed a crime". Suppose I were to come home and find that my door has been broken down and my home ransacked, I would be justified in saying that "a criminal did this". There was an act of crime, and therefore it was done by a criminal. That it is ambiguous who the criminal was and whether there is sufficient evidence to prove that they did it, it was still done by a criminal.

Furthermore, even if I accept that criminality requires a guilty verdict to be a valid descriptor, it is something that applies retroactively. Once the conviction is given, it is retroactively correct to have called them a criminal between the time that the crime was committed and the time that the conviction was given. In this view, describing somebody as "criminal" prior to a verdict is an expression of belief as to what the verdict should or will be.

In either case, it is not incorrect to refer to the actions of the Trump campaign as criminal, to use one specific example. We know (1) that it is illegal to receive foreign aid in a campaign, (2) that the Trump campaign openly requested foreign aid (campaign speech, 2016-07-26), and (3) that the Trump campaign were in active negotiation for foreign aid (self-released emails from Trump Jr, dated 2016-06-03). From these, I conclude that the Trump campaign has performed criminal acts.

AOC is also under investigation for violating campaign finance laws, so...

The FEC has only confirmed that they've received the complaint from the right-leaning National Legal and Policy Center, but have not commented on whether they are investigating anything.

AOC is not under investigation. A complaint was filed with the FEC alleging minor violations. It is yet to be seen if the FEC determines the complaint provided enough evidence to warrant an investigation.

Wow, almost a million dollars transferred to private LLC's doesn't sound minor. The stories I read said the allegations described potential felony violations of campaign contribution law with penalties ranging into decades in prison. Who knows what is true in the press these days, however.

Not all campaign finance violations are created equally. The difference is that someone was already indicted and is going to jail for Trump's violation. If he weren't president, he'd be indicted as well. As another example, Ted Cruz was just fined $35k for his recent violation, no jail time. Even Barack Obama was hit with a huge fine for campaign finance violations.


This comment makes no sense.

You say we shouldn't read the article because he asserts that educations flows down from the needs of employers. Your refutation of this point is that some companies don't pay as much tax as you'd like them to.

How does that follow?

Comparing AOC to Trump got a laugh out of me. Acting like they’re even comparably detached from reality is ludicrous. Having political ambition and a vision of a changed society is not a bad thing if the thing you’re railing against is real and dangerous (climate change inaction). Leveraging the pervasive racist elements of American society into executive power for the purpose of building an expensive, unnecessary, and ineffective wall on the Southern border defies all rational consideration. These are not the same thing, and I would think that is obvious to nearly everyone left of Sean Hannity.

I think the opening was meant to show the opposing perspectives on each politician.

There's no question that the Fox Newses of the world like to portray AOC as a raving lunatic who is moments away from erecting guillotines and starting another October Revolution.

Mainstream liberal outlets have similarly detached problems with trump, with their primary criticism being that he's crazy and an asshole and says stupid things, and not that he's an instrument of neoconservative nihilism and promoter of the American White Ethnostate.

The introduction was so dumb that I almost closed the tab. But the rest was a lot better.

It took me two clicks to find out he's one of the nouveau grifters fawning over right wing demagogues (ie Jordan Peterson).

Funny how you can identify these kind of personalities within a few sentences from their oh-so objective writing. I'd love for HN to acquire some critical thinking skills to dismiss pseudo-'data-driven' articles like this one.

I imagine that everybody who watches too much Fox News or Rachel Maddow has a manifesto like this up their sleeve. Just like everybody has a book, which should not necessarily be written. There's something distinctly sad about a disenfranchised person devoting most of their time and thoughts to politics. The entire circus is a scam.

Did you even RTFA? It’s by no means a political rant. It’s about how information asymmetry is being resolved by the internet and how that’s affecting consumer tastes. This wriitng is on par with Yuval Noah Hurari

Of course I didn't read every word of this lengthy opinion essay, I skimmed it and it's nothing new. I loved the ending though:

> Essays like this are a team effort. This essay was inspired by a frustrating conversation at Thanksgiving dinner. They say not to talk about politics, and guess what… we talked about politics. However, the disagreement was productive. It sent me on a long journey to dig deeper and find my own answers.

I'm sure the author's a great person to hang out with. He sees the truth and speaks it to power! Um, and would you pass me some potatoes?

There are roughly two kinds of responses to this article: openly disdainful and partisan, and not openly disdainful and partisan. I find this interesting against the backdrop of the article itself, a microcosmic image of the effect in the HN-sphere. To complete the meta-circle I guess that puts this comment in group 2.

I’m getting downvoted- anyone want to actually reply/engage instead? Or keep downvoting to prove my point while simultaneously hiding/censoring it?

It was probably a bit provocative to call every single response in this thread partisan.

As an example: The current top comment praises the quality of the essay without any further remark.

> to call every single response in this thread partisan.

Um, I specifically wrote that the responses seemed totally bifurcated into partisan and non-partisan. Where did I say every single response was partisan?

This is a garbage post. I read as much as I could but it is full of basic errors like this: "The cost of a university education grew linearly, as the number of global college graduates grew exponentially. As a result, college degrees aren’t as valuable as they once were."

The number of anything grows exponentially because population grows exponentially. It doesn't mean anything. Earlier they say "big brands are in decline" because GM and Ford lost market share. Well, are big brands in decline or just those two? Were they replaced by a bunch of small brands or just Honda and Toyota?

This is a bunch of incorrect stuff masquerading as a point.

Your response does not change his point. It seems to me you did not read the article carefully.

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