The power of an image

That picture is a gift. For the narratives it reinforces and the narratives it erodes, it might be the most politically toxic image of a President that we have ever seen. Democrats will waste it, because they still don’t know how to win campaigns in a post-patronage climate.

Celebrity power could transform our politics

This week, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joined the collection of celebrity heavyweights threatening to run for President. As I’ve mentioned in several pieces, I think that Trump has broken down the barrier between celebrity and politics in way that has dangerous implications. In a piece at Forbes today I digest several of these ideas down into a single theme.

Fox News faces the future

Roger Ailes will soon be laid to rest. He will be remembered as one of the most consequential figures of his time. Consequential, in this case, being a funeral euphemism, like Joseph Conrad’s description of Mister Kurtz as a “remarkable man.” In a ceremony likely to be a Sahara of tears, he will be eulogized for his impact on American political culture, without much comment devoted to the public merits of those achievements.

A golden age for cult dramas

Against this backdrop of mind-numbing obedience to authority has emerged a rich genre of cult-themed shows and documentaries. Hulu is debuting a brilliant first season of a series inspired by Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The same network is serving up a solid, if in some ways less inspired second season of The Path. And HBO is running the final season of what may be the best drama ever made about faith and the human condition – The Leftovers. Our best hope for understanding current events probably lies in fiction. And fiction, unlike current events, is not letting us down.

Challenge and opportunity in AI

At a fundamental level our challenge is not Vladimir Putin or Communism or Capitalism or terrorism or crime. Survival for us depends on winning the same race won by our ancestors, a race to adapt our bodies, our cultures and our technologies to emerging demands before those demands overtake us.

Science and politics in a democracy

Our political process is premised on the notion that everyone is equal and therefore everyone’s perception of reality deserves a roughly equal weight. Apply this logic to questions of scientific expertise and the results are either comedy and tragedy, sometimes both.