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February 21st, 2017
01:11 pm

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A new movie about Daryl Davis, a black man who converts KKK members
Daryl Davis is a black man who befriends KKK members, starting from a premise of trying to understand how people can hate him without knowing him, and also meeting people where they are.

He's got about 30 KKK robes which were given to him by people who left the KKK.

There's been a book by him for a while, but now there's a movie, available on the PBS site until 2/28.

Do *not* watch it at Film Lush, they're scammers.

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/videos/accidental-courtesy/

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1088888.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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January 1st, 2017
06:15 pm

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Me and livejournal and dreamwidth
I'm currently planning to maintain two parallel blogs, posting from DW to LJ.

The interesting question is how to handle my presence in both-- reading habits (some of the more prolific posters are in both DW and LJ, and I don't want to unsubscribe from them at one site and then have to keep track if they change where they are) and commenting (comment where there are already comments or what?).

I'm planning on maintaining paid accounts at both because I want to be able to edit my comments easily. Like so many people, I don't seem to see typos until after I hit send. I was nervous about saying that I value editing LJ comments more than I dislike letting the Russian owners of LJ get a few dollars a year (I assume that most of the fee is for maintaining the site), but then I decided that I might as well tell the truth and see what happens.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1088650.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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December 31st, 2016
09:32 am

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The power of common sense: kalimac predicted Trump's win 11 months ago
From kalimac:

I'd totally forgotten this, but I've been going through my posts of the last year in preparation for writing a year-end post, and found this: On January 31st, I predicted that, given a straight fight between Trump and Clinton, Trump would be elected President.

Let me repeat that: On January 31st, 2016, I predicted that Trump would be elected President.

Here's the relevant part of what I wrote:
The article's second argument is that "there are simply not enough struggling, resentful, xenophobic white people in the US to constitute a national majority sufficient to win a presidential election." The flaw in that reasoning is that, if Trump wins the nomination, he won't need merely that category. Unless the party splits over him, and I wouldn't count on it doing so, other Republicans will have nowhere else to go. Trump has high negatives, yes, but so does Clinton (if she's the Democratic nominee), and she doesn't have the enthusiasm of her party's base. Enthusiasm is what means turnout, and - as the difference between 2008 and 2010 amply shows - between two strong bases, it's turnout that wins elections. Combine that with the prospect of a sluggish economy, and in a straight fight between Clinton and Trump, it'd be a wonder if Trump didn't win.

Then I wrote, "Never say that a strong candidate can't win," with a link to a collection of quotes from as late as the day before the 2008 election saying that Obama can't, or won't, win.

A bunch of people saying that Obama couldn't possibly win

I tell you three times, this wasn't my prediction. I thought Clinton would win.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1088372.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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December 30th, 2016
09:07 am

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Trying to keep track of LJ friends
There's currently a migration to Dreamwidth because the LJ servers have been moved to Russia. This is a security risk (though I hope not a serious one for people who aren't living in Russian controlled territory*) and also puts LJ accounts at more risk for being deleted for arbitrary reasons.

If you're on my friends list on LJ, using a different name on DW, and don't mind letting me know what it is, could you let me know?

*insert scenario about Trump)

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1088021.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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December 28th, 2016
11:44 am

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Thinking about "You should have known better"
Literally speaking, "You should have known better" makes no sense. How can people have known things before they knew them? How can there be a moral requirement which is impossible? It was a revelation to me that moral strictures should be achievable-- I thought they were just floating out in the ether being correct.

I got a lot of "you should have known better" when I was a kid, and I have no patience for it now. However, logical consistancy requires that I not blame people for not knowing better than to say it.

If I feel compelled to give advice about something someone did, I say "for future reference" to make it clear that I don't think they could or should make the past different.

On the other hand, people do say "You should have known better" quite a lot. Most people (that is to say, non-geekish people) use language very approximately, and they seem to manage. My theory is that "You should have known better" is shaming someone for making a mistake-- it's an effort to make sure they don't make that particular mistake again. There may be some hope that they'll be more alert in general, or it may just be dumping fear and anger without thinking about long-term effects.

It's worth noting that I was living in a pretty safe environment and temperamentally cautious. I'm interested in discussion of good methods for teaching urgent rules.

I believe that shaming people, especially shaming them for breaking vague rules, tends to damage their initiative. Who knows what else will bring down another punishment? Better to not take risks.

One thing that took me a surprisingly long time to learn was that when my calligraphy was going badly, I should stop and think about whether there's a problem caused by ink, paper, penpoint, or temperature/humidity. Before I had that realization, I would just keep trying the same thing, hoping that somehow matters would get better. It was sort of a moral issue-- perhaps if I was a good enough person I could get things right.

From the outside and after I figured this out, it seems as though I had very little sense. However, it was the amount of sense I had.

I was a somewhat spacey and very angry child (I think a good bit of the anger wasn't shown), and being shamed about incompetence did a lot to get me to give up on connecting to the world outside my head. If you startle someone who's being inept, it doesn't make them more competent. The rules are probably different for emergencies and I'm interested in what anyone has to say about being effective about getting people's attention.

This only feels like half an essay, but I think I might as well post it and see what further thoughts show up.

Meanwhile, a case of being told the rules repeatedly and what it can take to believe a rule might be worth following.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1087967.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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09:44 am

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Problems with livejournal-- come to dreamwidth
http://en.news-4-u.ru/within-days-after-moving-servers-lj-in-russia-ilv-blocked-almost-100-entries.html

The LJ servers have been moved to Russia. 99 accounts and records have been blocked. This also means LJ is accessible to the Russian government.

Some of the people on my friends list have duplicated their LJ accounts to Dreamwidth, which has very similar code.

Here's how to make a Dreamwidth account that duplicates what you've posted to LJ, and the comments you've received. I think you'll need to duplicate your friendlist by hand for DW, and get individual permissions for non-public posts there.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1087492.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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December 10th, 2016
11:03 am

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Wells Fargo fraud, more Wells Fargo fraud, and gold and India
Wells Fargo's bad incentive plan also led to clients being forced or pushed into low quality insurance from Prudential.

A commenter mentioned Wells Fargo getting loads and scads of money in the bailout, so I found a reminder that WF was highly involved in mortgage fraud-- and, of course, it did get a big bailout.

There was an annoying bit near the beginning of the article shouldn't have been "Gold is a great thing to sew onto your garments if you're a Jewish family in Vienna in 1939 but civilized people don't buy gold", it should have been "people who trust that their countries are civilized don't buy gold".

So, there was that bit about people buying gold in the Rolling Stone article and my mind naturally went to India-- their government suddenly made their larger bills into not-money so that the government could collect more taxes.

Very cleverly, this deactivated 80% of the money. It hasn't been going well.
Indians tend to keep gold as a financial reserve. I don't know what history goes into this, though that might be the next thing to research.

Anyway, googling turned up that the Indian government is also targeting gold, but none of it is from sources that I'm familiar with-- not sketchy sources from my usual infosphere, just sources from parts of the world that I don't usually see.

http://www.nigeriatoday.ng/2016/12/following-demonetization-india-is-changing-its-outlook-on-bitcoin/

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1087283.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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December 8th, 2016
08:56 am

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Hostility actually affects people. Who knew?
Article about hostile feedback having a dispiriting effect on open source developers.

https://medium.com/@thejameskyle/dear-javascript-7e14ffcae36c#.k9k5mjty7

The comments are the usual Team People Should Be Kinder vs.Team People Should Be Stronger. While I'm on the Be Kinder side, I don't expect either team to make a lot of progress. Also, I wonder what would happen if the Be Stronger team won-- would the world be a better place if people were unshameable?

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1087108.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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November 30th, 2016
11:32 am

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Not quite trusting Rumi
"'There's no courage', The Prophet said, 'before the war has begun.'
Drunkards vaunt their bravery when you speak of war.
But in the blaze of battle they scatter like mice.
I'm astonished by the man who wants purity
And yet trembles when the harshness of polishing begin...
When a man beats a carpet again and again
It's not the carpet he's attacking, but the dirt in it."
-- Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (b. 1207, d. 1273-12-17), translated by Andrew Harvey

I used to be a big fan of Idris Shah, possibly the best known modern Sufi. Now, when I say I was a big fan, this means I read all the books of his I could get my hands on, not that I tried to live according to his ideas. I was a big fan of G.K. Chesterton, too. This doesn't mean I wanted to be a Catholic.

Anyway, I read the poem and was attracted to the metaphor of the carpet beater. It's a brilliant metaphor, and a hazard for humans. (I don't know what God is up to.) If you are a human, you just might not be an expert on what part of a human (yourself as well as other people) is simply dirt to be gotten rid of, and what is the real brilliantly colored valuable carpet.

Improvement is possible, but perhaps purity is a bad goal and something else, maybe excellence, would be better. Purity is limited by what people can imagine, and what people can imagine is much simpler than the real world.

At this point, I'm primed to notice it if I see people who took damage from Sufi training. This subject is complicated by the fact that it's hard to tell who's a real Sufi and who isn't. One of Shah's very reasonable points is that when you start out on a mystic path, you aren't a mystic, so you can easily make mistakes about what you're doing and who you're following. For that matter, I've seen some question about whether Shah was a real Sufi.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1086730.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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November 28th, 2016
09:02 am

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Predictions
A whole lot of people are making a whole lot of predictions.

I recommend keeping track of your predictions so that you can learn something about how accurate your model of the world is.

If you have a testable prediction, there's Prediction Book for keeping track of whether it comes true. You can make your predictions public or private.

Not a testable prediction, but I promise to try to not gloat if you turn out to be wrong.

My informal prediction is that Trump and his friends will steal a tremendous amount of money. I'm less sure about governmental and street violence. Things will probably get somewhat worse, but I don't have a strong feeling about how bad things will get.

Annoyingly, we can only test predictions about the effects of one candidate's victory.

We are in historically unprecedented territory so far as I know. Normally, when a country starts to become authoritarian, it then becomes authoritarian. America, as a relatively free country with a strong opposition, is in an unusually good position to resist.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1086472.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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