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Why isn't the NSA a hot topic in the US elections?

The article talks about how NSA surveillance should be one of the topics of the US presidential election but isn't. It compares the situation with Germany where the population is very privacy conscious. It brings out important facts but doesn't connect them well, it says that German population is privacy conscious because of the human rights violation by Eastern Block Germany and earlier by the Nazi secret police, but it reaches the conclusion that surveillance isn't a hot topic because it is very nuanced and doesn't make good catch phrase. But every topic is nuanced if you look deep enough and every issue has only one answer on the surface. Politicians don't generally aim to change the norm during the election but rather try to attract a sect of people who already agrees with her/him. So the question here should be why does the German population care and US doesn't. Well one of the answers can be history as the author already mentioned, there have been thought policing in the McCarthy era too but not sure about the extent to which it affected the white population. Another important factor should be the corporate influence in politics and maybe media in America compared to Germany. Corporate surveillance goes hand in hand in government surveillance, if corporates doesn't support an issue the issue remains unattractive for the politicians. Also it would be an interesting exercise to study the relation between the profits a parent company make through breaches of privacy and its coverage on surveillance.

Economic Inequality

When Paul started off saying he is interested in inequality because he created I was half expecting him to "this is what I've done wrong and I want to fix it". Unfortunately it was another essay to justify "undeserved" wealth in the hands of startup founders.

Paul's essay fails to look at the dynamics of power and money. The amount of money someone has is often a proxy for political power in the hand of someone. Increasing inequality amounts to increasing disbalance in political power. Concentration of political power is problematic because the powerful influence things in their in their favor knowingly or unknowlingly ignoring the rest.

Another issue that Paul fails to address is the reason for economic inequality. The wealth of someone grows exponentially, the money someone has the easier it will be for them to make even more money. That has nothing to do with how much "deserving" they are or how much wealth they have. Sure your startups have helped the world, but that doesn't mean they "deserve" all the wealth they have.

I don't have answer to the problem of inequality, but this doesn't mean the problem doesn't exist.

Normalization of Deviation

This was a pretty well written post about how very messed up practices end up normalized. The answer is a weird combinatin of over optimism, rationalization and adaption. And when a messed up practice gets normalized it is very hard to see what's wrong with it.

A very simply solution that Atul Gawande talked about in the Checklist Manifesto is to have a checklist. In the book he compared the medical sector and infrastucture/construction sector. Both fields are immensely complex but medicial practitioners often end up making terrible mistakes, which includes cases like the one where a surgen forgot her equipment in the patient, where as in construction error which have any harm to human life are very very rare.

But you don't have checklist for every small thing, and Atul provided a guideline to making checklist, I don't clearly remember and I should go and read the sections of the book again.

Checklists are useful because they end up freeing your mind from the unnecessary boring detail. there are also other cases I can think of

Where to apply a rule:

  • Where the rewards or looses of doing something occur only in long term, we tend to ignore the long term result and focus on instant gratification.
  • Always and never rules
  • The projects the complete counts and not the one you start.

Formalization leads to gramatization, when a formal structure is in place it is harder see things in informal terms or whatever that doesn't fall into that formal structure tends to get ignored. A very clear example will be case where peolple who have only learned about information transfer uses of language tend find phatic usuages like that of small talk "useless". But as it evident from the use of term phatic, the way we with problems of formalization is more formalization trying to capture things which weren't captured earlier, ofcourse that formalization also leaves something. But as it said in Statistics, all models are false but some are useful.

You're only 23 stop rushing life

We are young, energetic and ambitious but impatient. We want to "successful", fast. Success is defined relative to the "success" of our peers which gives a feeling that if we are not rushing things we are "falling behind". In our definition success is a race. When you are running a race you can't stop to see if this race is something worth running for. In the "race of life" everybody is a looser. I think I can also say "in any race of life everybody is a looser".

Let's not let fear defeat our Values

Recently American Presidential candidate Donal Trump called out for a total ban on Muslim immigration to America. It is great to see that Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, come out and speak against it. I totally support his statement that people like him, people who are privileged should speak up for people who are not so privileged because whose voices are often not included in the debate.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.

—Martin Niemöller