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2020 Nov 24

WHY GENERALISTS TRIUMPH IN A SPECIALIZED WORLD
Is the subtitle of a book by David Epstein titled "Range". Epstein's book  covers this theme in depth with many examples to show how people with broad interests find it much easier to excel at their activities of choice, even more so than people who have spent their whole lives specializing in just one. This is a must read if you are raising kids and one of your goals for them is to be really good at "something". One of the most important criteria for "success" in this aspiration is to let the student do the choosing. Our job as parents is to expose them to as much of the world as we possibly can so that they have a plethora of activities to choose from.

Having had a lifetime interest in education, I can tell you honestly that this is probably the best book on the subject of how to be "successful" in life that I have ever read. It provides the basis for decision making in anything we do to improve our skills in dealing with life in a way that will contribute to our happiness and self esteem, as well as being able to excel at something if that is one of your goals or a goal for someone else. One of the book's best features are its discussions of what does and what does not work in our quest for achievement. Epstein is also a great writer and a pleasure to read.

This book should be required reading for both educators and students in a formal education setting whether it be STEM subjects or the humanities. One interesting irony is that it will show how wrong an emphasis on focusing on STEM subjects is as an exclusionary educational practice. For the rest of us it reaffirms the value of trying on the  many different costumes of activities that serve people as careers or avocations. The more we experience the better we become at being able to make important choices in life through association. It is a skill that is impossible for AI software to emulate no matter how fancy the algorithm, and the reason why AI will never be as "good" as a human being in decision making in activities that require associative judgements.

 
     
2020 Nov 21

POLITICAL GAME THEORY
What is the best winning political strategy for Republican members of Congress right now? The question each of them needs to answer for themselves  is: How should I respond to Trump's current behavior in light of his loss to Joe Biden in the presidential election? There are a few possibilities, none of them have good outcomes, so the members are forced to choose the outcome which has the least negative consequences.

Criticize Trump
In light of the danger that Trump's behavior poses on many fronts, including the welfare of this country's inhabitants, and the threats posed to national security, each of them should be protesting Trump's behavior and calling for action on a number of fronts. Of course, they perceive this option as antithetical to Trump's large support base — which they perceive as also representing their electoral base — and if they value reelection they should not antagonize this base by criticizing Trump. Getting reelected has always been their highest priority.

Support Trump's argument that the election results are fraudulent
Like Mitch McConnell they could angrily insist that Trump has the right to pursue all his legal options in contesting the outcome of the election, until those legal options are exhausted. They perceive this as the "high moral ground" argument. On the other hand, Trump's arguments about election fraud are baseless, and have been refuted by each and every electoral commission in every state. So pursuing this option makes them look as foolish as Trump. It also pushes any supported transition activities to the limit of the lame duck period, also endangering national security.

Do nothing, remain silent.
Trump's reign (as he perceives it) will be over on 20 January 2021. That's less than two months away with large recesses in between. If they say nothing, they will not be perceived by their support base as critical of Trump, thus (probably) not impacting their reelection potential. Also they will not have to justify their position to national media audiences, which is sure to attract negative attention one way or the other. And this criticism will all blow over quickly once Biden assumes office, and has to deal with all the negative consequences that Trump hath wrought throughout his term in office, including these last two months. People will be blaming Biden because they will be occurring on his watch, not Trump's. Therefore, the probability of the electorate affixing blame to them for any untoward outcomes, as a result of their collective silence, will be pretty low.

The choice is clear for the "Do Nothing" party.