Sunday, November 20, 2016

USA's 2016 presidential election




Three years ago, I published an article entitled "The future president of the USA in 2016". In that article, I was essentially saying that the biggest force at work against people's interest was the financial sector and that Elizabeth Warren looked at the time like a potential candidate and one that would really tackle the problems of Wall Street doing bad things.

I also mentioned back then... that was much before any of the mud slinging we've seen during this 2016 campaign... some strong issues I reproached to Hillary Clinton and why she appeared to me as a bad candidate. To sum up and update, we can say she is pro-establishment, a fundamentalist religious with a track record of being anti-gay (yup, "Progressives"! that's the candidate YOU supported). She has been in favor of Bush's Iraq war, in favor of the war against Libya, the patriot act, NAFTA, TPP and we know... yes, we know that she committed serious crimes like deleting emails after the FBI told her they needed to see her emails. Anybody who ever worked in the field of security (I have!) knows that accessing classified material comes at the cost of losing some of your privacy rights. And that is for the sake of your country's security because the government or its subsidiaries like the army and the intelligence departments need to be able to assess if information is secure or if it's being leaked to enemies and through what channels. Because if Russia hacked into the Democratic National Convention's email server then they might have hacked into the Clintons' email server and they might know information that diplomats need to know.

Was Donald Trump a good candidate? No! He's anti-science and frankly unpredictable. I don't care at all that he said privately, 11 years ago, something that is gross about how having money and power makes a man more able to sleep with women. Because it is a fact. Money and power alone are not enough, and of course they won't attract all the women in the world. But all other things being equal, being rich and powerful makes a man more attractive to more women than the same man being broke and powerless. And sure he said something about "grabbing women by the pussy". Wow! big deal! He said gross things in a private environment. Like just about every single person on Earth. What's dangerous about Trump from my point of view is essentially that he is unpredictable. His promises are of course unreliable... which you might see as a good thing if you didn't like what he promised. So he could do anything from terrible to wonderful. At least he isn't an ideologue and that makes him better than the average Hillary supporter. Because he allows himself to change his opinion if people can show him that what he does is bullshit. Not that he will. But he might. While Hillary's supporters just can't.

So what do I think of the 2016 election? It's been terrible. It's showed that journalism is irredeemable and that collectivist ideology is now firmly entrenched in the left wing while the right wing failed to produce any decent candidate. At least, Trump emerged as someone who was not corrupted by PACs or in the pocket of Wall Street. But he is unpredictable. I am somewhat delighted to see left wing ideologues crying and right wing ideologues relatively quiet because it is a sign that things are changing. If Hillary had won, the lefties would have been smug naggers and the righties would have been... well, I'm not sure... I think they've been rather quiet for the past few years actually. Politics is in a bad state. So is (even more) journalism. But I've seen some independent voices rising (cf "The Rubin Report") to remind us that talking to each other and sincerely considering that we might be wrong and that the right answer might come from the people we opposed, is the way of reason and the way of virtue.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Goodbye Mensa




So... 2 years ago, I took and passed Mensa's test and I joined the association. With my membership, I accessed the almost unused PHPBB forum of Mensa France, the loud Facebook page of Mensa France, and a handful of other online resources which I found little engaging. I also joined the weekly meetings at the pub, which I quickly became an organizer of, and 1 year down the line, I took a position as a member of the regional board of Mensa. I participated (lazily) to the organization of a conference for which I animated a 2 hours round-table in front of 200 people. And then, nothing for 6 months. I was away, stayed away, etc.

So what happened?

Well, Mensa is not exactly what I thought. And maybe I went in with too high hopes. I expected many people there to be like me, interested in debates, interested in gaining knowledge through digging and separating the wheat from the chaff of ideas. I expected people with specialized knowledge of more than 1 subject who could analyze subjects and reason. But that's not the kind of people I found. Well... there are a handful of such people. But they're the minority.

On the upside, Mensa was an opportunity to dig into the subject of intelligence. And it's overblown. Clearly. It's over-over-overblown. For children, intelligence makes a difference because their emotional development doesn't keep up with their cognitive development and this may lead to some real problems if they start wondering about subjects (eg. death) which they're not emotionally ready for. Because they might realize that everything even their parents and themselves is doomed to die someday and that awareness is not easily managed by all 4 year old kids. But for adults, intelligence is, except in rare cases, just a matter of being able to learn more or less quickly... and the fact is that people who are not skeptical of what they read will have MUCH less efficiency in learning than people who are.

Then there's all nonsense of political ideology, religions, supernatural beliefs, and other forms of activism or endeavor that is founded on feelings instead of reality.

So I didn't find what I expected... though it's true that my expectations were fuzzy. And that's why I'll leave. Well, the 60€ yearly fee is a reason too... I would have stayed if it had cost only a quarter of that. But I'm not saying I'm leaving forever. As I said above, there are a handful of people I like in Mensa and considering the 15% growth in the member base, there is a potential of finding a lot more such people when/if I come back in a few years. In the meantime, I'll try and find other interests better suited to me.
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