Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Lawrence Lessig

Let’s Just Start Over; Abolish the Constitution

with 8 comments

I went off on a bit of a tear this morning on Twitter and wanted to put it into a slightly more coherent form before I went about my day: my suggestion is that liberals, progressives, and liberal-leftists should look at the results of the last six years and conclude that there is simply no hope for significant reform within the existing constitutional order.

I’ve been saying this for years now, but here it is again: Obama swept into office at the head of a mass movement with a congressional supermajority during the worst crisis in 70 years, with the opposition party totally and absolutely discredited. That was the chance, the only chance, that the existing system had to reform, and he either blew it or betrayed it, however you come down on him. There’s no reason to think there will ever be another 2008 for the liberal-left. It’s over. The only hope now is a radical shift in the constitutional order, which can be achieved by calling for a new constitutional convention as prescribed within the existing constitution. It’s a legal move; it’s just never been tried.

Now, we know that the existing order is on course to destroy civilization within our lifetimes or the lifetimes of our children; we have to weigh any possible outcomes against that. But even bracketing climate change entirely, we have to understand that progressive and leftist economic policy can’t win within the existing order because it’s rigged for paralysis. A constitutional order with this level of malapportionment and this many chokepoints inevitably favors the political right. Even the best-case, most generous reading of Obama’s colossal failures demonstrates this to be true.

A new constitution would be a gamble, but it’s a gamble we take against a certainty of failure; recall that Clinton ’16, Clinton ’20, ClintonVP ’24 is the mainline Democrats’ most optimistic scenario, the one where they hit gold every time and never miss. And there’s good reason to think a new constitution literally couldn’t be worse than what we have now. A new constitution couldn’t get away with shortchanging CA and NY 14 senators, just for starters, much less any of the other crazy stuff that seems normal to us now; there’d be no way to justify it. Even a new constitutional convention that failed and saw the country break up into a loose confederation or into smaller states would be, on balance, an improvement for the world. With the experience of 2008-2014 — not to mention every other thing that’s happened in American politics on either the state or federal level for as long as I’ve been alive — it’s hard to see how a new system could possibly be worse for progressive hopes that the current system, which at this point we have to accept is guaranteed to always steamroll us.

A movement for a new constitution that took ten years to get off the ground would be catching fire at the end of Clinton’s second term, maybe; one that took fifteen years to get off the ground would hit just as whoever follows Clinton was taking office post-reelection. Do you honestly think politics in fifteen years will be better than it is now? Will the system be more just, more peaceful, more ecologically sustainable? Do you think we’ll be glad then that we stuck with the existing system, so Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo and Jay Nixon can save us?

In short my recommendation to the liberal-left and to progressives is to simply stop caring so much about whether Democrats win or lose and to devote themselves instead to advocating that we just start over, aligning with whatever savory and unsavory characters on the right we can get to sign on to the plan so that the convention happens and things at least have some chance to improve things before capitalism has fully and finally destroyed all hope for the future. At this point it’s not even really a gamble; there’s nothing left to lose, we’ve all already lost.

#teachthecontroversy #readyforHillary #despair #nihilism #breadsticks

Sunday Night Links!

leave a comment »

* Kenya sci-fi series imagines European immigrants fleeing to Africa. A very different premise, but it reminds me a bit of some of what happens in Abdourahman A. Waberi’s excellent short novel The United States of Africa.

* Map of the week: 57% of languages do not have gendered pronouns.

* How comics portray psychological illness.

* New Analysis Shows Problematic Boom In Higher Ed Administrators. With searchable database so you can see how your school has changed since the 80s.

UCLA spends 2% of its budget on sports, while UO spends 13%. 13%!

The Council of UC Faculty Associations did the math, and showed to get tuition back down to 2000-01 levels $5300 in today’s dollars), and state funding back up to spend 20001 amounts per student, would cost to the median individual California taxpayer, each year, a total of $50.  Restoring full quality and affordability for the state’s 1.6 million public college and university students would cost the state median taxpayer about the same as a holiday bottle of single malt scotch.  That would get us halfway back to a Free UC

Grad school’s mental health problem. When education brings depression.

* “Teachers can’t strike, so we’ll strike for them.”

* Functioning democracy watch: The rise of the blank-slate candidate.

* Lawrence Lessig: Only the super-rich can save us now.

But when it comes to the narcissism of war, as the example of Christopher Hitchens reminds us, no one has quite the self-deluding capacity of the intellectual.

* Friends, it gets worse: California aquifers contaminated with billions of gallons of fracking wastewater.

U.S. Emergency Rooms Are Bracing For An Ebola Panic. The nightmare Ebola scenario that keeps scientists up at night. ‘Breach of Protocol’ Led to 2nd Ebola Infection. Cuba leads fight against Ebola in Africa as west frets about border security. But don’t worry, we’re tweaking all our incentives: US government offers $1m for best hazmat suit design as demand surges.

* Prison to Table: The Other Side of the Whole Foods Experience. Pennsylvania’s addiction to prison-building a moral, economic disaster.

* BREAKING: White people are radically misinformed about just about every salient question in American politics.

Yes, they are killing young black males. Documents Show NYPD Has Paid $428 Million in Settlements Since 2009. Asset seizures fuel police spending.

* Why is the recovery so weak? It’s the austerity, stupid.

They did, however, find the case significant enough to notify their sergeant — “due to the fact that it was an F.S.U. football player,” the report said. The sergeant, a Florida State University sports fan, signed off on it and the complaint was filed away as “unfounded.” It was hardly the first time that the towering presence of Florida State football had cast a shadow over justice in Tallahassee.

* Cultural preservation watch: There Is A Nine-Foot Tall Statue Of Edward Snowden In New York City.

“When the story broke about Edward Snowden, I was thinking a lot about surveillance and monumentality and how we remember things,” Dessicino told BuzzFeed News on Friday. “How public space is used and how people in history are remembered.

“And I got the idea that maybe people who are major actants upon history aren’t always represented properly, and those people could be written out of history by not having something more permanent made of them.”

* Elsewhere in Snowdenmania: news that he has apparently inspired a second leaker, still at the agency, as well as a nice button on the love story that dominated so much of the early coverage.

* I’ve been a Moffat-skeptic and didn’t like Twelve’s introduction or first few episodes at all, but I have to admit the new Doctor Who is probably as good as it’s ever been. Each of the last few episodes has been better than the last. Sid & Nancy on the TARDIS.

* Nielsen: still the absolute worst.

* The oldest struggle: Hawk v. drone.

Yet, there is something incomprehensible and inconsistent about this brand of “evil.” Mordor presents these characters in incredibly high fidelity—and I mean that both aesthetically and narratively. Some of the Orcs wear visible jewelry. One dev pointed out during a video preview that “some of them are poets.” But we’re told again and again that these Orcs want to destroy beautiful things. It just doesn’t hold up, and this tension extends to every element of their narrative and systemic characterizations. These Orcs have fears, interests, values, rivalry and friendships. Some Orcs are lovingly protective of their bosses or underlings. But they are “savage creatures” that “hate beauty,” so go ahead and enslave them.

* Matt Yglesias is making sense: The real problem with Nate Silver’s model is the hazy metaphysics of probability.

* The LEGO Batman Movie is the moment reboot culture begins to learn at an algorithmic rate. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

* “He soon resigned.” A chess column had run in the New York Times since 1855, until today.

* Here come the self-driving cars.

* Tech jobs: Minorities have degrees, but don’t get hired.

* This Is How Judges Humiliate Pregnant Teens Who Want Abortions.

* Marissa Alexander will have a new trial.

* Unpopular opinion watch: This is not a perfect article, but the proposition that universities are not equipped to be courts and shouldn’t try to be seems basically right to me. I can’t imagine how people are looking at the last few decades of Title IX implementation and saying the answer is to give schools a larger role in this.

* Dystopian road signs.

* Understanding Homestuck.

* Understanding the Great Zucchini, DC’s most in-demand clown.

* Well, that explains it. Hitler was ‘a regular user of crystal meth’, American Military Intelligence dossier reveals.

* The age of miracles: cure for type-one diabetes imminent.

* And I’m so old I can remember when “full of bees” seemed like the worst possible thing.

Bsb3ZljIMAEOFB8

Written by gerrycanavan

October 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday Links!

leave a comment »

Ruling over a world while destroying it has made the rich a bunch of clinical assholes.

* The grotesque corruptions of big-time intercollegiate athletics have become so glaringly obvious that there is simply no longer a question of whether the college sports-industrial complex is a cancer consuming the academy’s soul. With each new, familiar, and utterly predictable revelation of rampant greed, sexual violence, academic malfeasance, and player exploitation, the only real question is whom to blame.

* Why college rape victims don’t go to the police. Man Who Drugged His Wife And Raped Her While Sleeping Gets No Jail Time.

* North Carolina GOP Pushes Unprecedented Bill to Jail Anyone Who Discloses Fracking Chemicals.

* Is Lawrence Lessig really “the greatest radical at work in America today”? I like some of what Lessig does, but radicals need to step it up a notch.

How Far Your Paycheck Goes, In 356 U.S. Cities.

* GOP cuts school lunches for urban schools, retains them for rural schools, because freedom I guess.

Second Grader Handcuffed at School for Misbehaving.The boy says he began yelling after some kids decided to taunt him, but he never got physical.”

* Stalinism on the Installment Plan.

Here in the US, we don’t need to force people to confess to crimes they didn’t commit (though we certainly do that, too). No, to truly validate our system, we conscript the defendant’s soul in a different way.

* A while back I wrote that Django Unchained is laudable for making us unable to watch Gone With the Wind uncritically; I believe that Thrones is working similarly to make us unable to watch The Lord of the Rings uncritically.

* Attention: Everyone should purchase this indoor slide the second it becomes available.

Disneyland’s original prospectus revealed.

* And the Los Angeles Review of Books celebrates George Perec.

Wednesday Night

leave a comment »

The true gloomsters are scientists who look at climate through the lens of “dynamical systems,” a mathematics that describes things that tend to change suddenly and are difficult to predict. It is the mathematics of the tipping point—the moment at which a “system” that has been changing slowly and predictably will suddenly “flip.” The colloquial example is the straw that breaks that camel’s back. Or you can also think of it as a ship that is stable until it tips too far in one direction and then capsizes. In this view, Earth’s climate is, or could soon be, ready to capsize, causing sudden, perhaps catastrophic, changes. And once it capsizes, it could be next to impossible to right it again.

* But there’s an easy solution to all this! North Carolina considers outlawing accurate predictions of sea level rise. More from Raleigh’s Scott Huler at Scientific American.

* Like any game, the woman game stops being fun when you start playing to win, especially if you’ve got no choice: Win or be ridiculed, win or become invisible, dismissed — disturbed.

* Lessig: “There is no one in the criminal justice system who believes that system works well. There is no one in housing law who believes this is what law was meant to be. In contracts, you read about disputes involving tens, maybe a hundred dollars. The disputes of ordinary people. These disputes are not for the courts any more. Or if they are, they are for courts that are an embarrassment to the ideals of justice from our tradition. The law of real people doesn’t work, even if the law of corporations does.”

People with autism appear less likely to believe in God.

FDA rules corn syrup can’t change its name.

* And Ze goes ahead and drops some knowledge.

Tuesday Night Links

leave a comment »

* Community is back March 15, but NBC still hates you; they’re putting Parks & Rec on hiatus instead.

46 Things to Read and See for David Foster Wallace’s 50th Birthday. Via MeFi.

* Weirdest Unsolved Mysteries of World War II. I feel certain Indiana Jones was involved in each of these.

* “How New York Pay Phones Became Guerrilla Libraries.”

* A literary history of erasure.

* When Jon Hamm met Miss Piggy.

* Cory Doctorow reviews Lawrence Lessig’s Constitutional-conventionalist One Way Forward.

* ‘I exist wholly for you. I will never reject you. You cannot disappoint me.’ A brief history of the money shot.

* Canadians: They’re Just as Bad as Us!

* And of course you had me at 1811 Dictionary in the Vulgar Tongue. Via Kottke.

FLOGGING CULLY. A debilitated lecher, commonly an old one.

COLD PIG. To give cold pig is a punishment inflicted on sluggards who lie too long in bed: it consists in pulling off all the bed clothes from them, and throwing cold water upon them.

TWIDDLE-DIDDLES. Testicles.

TWIDDLE POOP. An effeminate looking fellow.

Occupy Lessig

leave a comment »

Written by gerrycanavan

November 17, 2011 at 10:15 am

Lessig v. ‘The Social Network’

leave a comment »

Lawrence Lessig has a good review of The Social Network that makes a point most reviewers have missed:

Two lawsuits provide the frame for The Social Network. One was brought by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, twins at Harvard who thought they had hired Zuckerberg to build for them what Facebook would become. The other was brought by Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg’s “one friend” and partner, and Facebook’s initial CFO, who was eventually pushed out of the company by Silicon Valley venture capitalists. These cases function as a kind of Greek chorus, setting the standards of right, throughout the film. It is against the high ideals they represent that everything else gets judged. And indeed, the lawyers are the only truly respectable or honorable characters in the film. When they’re ridiculed or insulted by Zuckerberg, their responses are more mature, and better, than Zuckerberg’s. (If you remember the scene in “The Wire” where Omar uses his wit to cut the lawyer to bits, that’s not this film.) The lawyers here rise above the pokes, regardless of the brilliance in Zuckerberg’s charge. This is kindergarten. They are the teachers. We’re all meant to share a knowing wink, or smirk, as we watch the silliness of children at play.

In Sorkin’s world—which is to say Hollywood, where lawyers attempt to control every last scrap of culture—this framing makes sense. But as I watched this film, as a law professor, and someone who has tried as best I can to understand the new world now living in Silicon Valley, the only people that I felt embarrassed for were the lawyers. The total and absolute absurdity of the world where the engines of a federal lawsuit get cranked up to adjudicate the hurt feelings (because “our idea was stolen!”) of entitled Harvard undergraduates is completely missed by Sorkin. We can’t know enough from the film to know whether there was actually any substantial legal claim here. Sorkin has been upfront about the fact that there are fabrications aplenty lacing the story. But from the story as told, we certainly know enough to know that any legal system that would allow these kids to extort $65 million from the most successful business this century should be ashamed of itself. Did Zuckerberg breach his contract? Maybe, for which the damages are more like $650, not $65 million. Did he steal a trade secret? Absolutely not. Did he steal any other “property”? Absolutely not—the code for Facebook was his, and the “idea” of a social network is not a patent. It wasn’t justice that gave the twins $65 million; it was the fear of a random and inefficient system of law. That system is a tax on innovation and creativity. That tax is the real villain here, not the innovator it burdened.

The case for Zuckerberg’s former partner is stronger, and more sensible and sad. But here again, the villains are not even named. Sorkin makes the autodidact Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster, the evil one. (No copyright-industry bad blood there.) I know Parker. This is not him. The nastiest people in this story (at least if Sorkin tells this part accurately) were the Facebook lawyers who show up in poorly fitting suits and let Saverin believe that they were in this, as in everything else they had done, representing Saverin as well. If that’s what actually happened, it was plainly unethical. No doubt, Saverin was stupid to trust them, but the absurdity here is a world where it is stupid to trust members of an elite and regulated profession. Again, an absurdity one could well miss in this film between all the cocaine and practically naked twentysomethings.

There’s some good stuff, too, on net neutrality:

The tragedy—small in the scale of things, no doubt—of this film is that practically everyone watching it will miss this point. Practically everyone walking out will think they understand genius on the Internet. But almost none will have seen the real genius here. And that is tragedy because just at the moment when we celebrate the product of these two wonders—Zuckerberg and the Internet—working together, policymakers are conspiring ferociously with old world powers to remove the conditions for this success. As “network neutrality” gets bargained away—to add insult to injury, by an administration that was elected with the promise to defend it—the opportunities for the Zuckerbergs of tomorrow will shrink. And as they do, we will return more to the world where success depends upon permission. And privilege. And insiders. And where fewer turn their souls to inventing the next great idea.

Via @jayrosen_nyu.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,041 other followers