• ELECTION CHAOS IS JUST THE LATEST RAMIFICATION OF TODAY’S ‘CULTURE’ BATTLE, which has evolved beyond polarization of ideas to “political sectarianism – the tendency of groups to align on the basis of moralized identities rather than shared ideas or policy preferences… Political identity now really functions more as if it is a Religious identity, where people on the ‘other side’ are not just wrong, they’re evil and an existential threat. And those on ‘our side’ who are not sufficiently pure are apostates.” The impact is dramatic misperception of ‘others’ as wicked, even criminal, and leading to intense dislike & distrust, with identities then continually reinforced by “dueling media ecosystems, divergence among political elites who depend on extremist donors relying on rhetoric of ‘moral outrage’ to gain support, and narratives promoting belief that the other side is so corrupt that we would be gullible dupes to adhere to the sorts of norms that have long upheld democracy in America.” We’re very possibly past the point of no return. [KELLOGG NORTHWESTERN INSIGHT – 11/14/20]
  • ‘DEEPFLAKE’ TECHNOLOGY – FAKE IMAGES & SPEECH – are now at “a level of highly-skilled craft, available with ease of technology, including machine learning, to many nefarious actors over the internet… We’ve seen fraudulent activity against elections in Central Europe, to incite mob violence in India, and most recently to exacerbate extremist political position in the U.S. The ability to have the internet and social media amplify and spread them quickly can have real and lasting impact through undermining trust, questioning what we perceive, and how we act on truth… Deepflakes are a different kind of threat to democracy, since casting doubt on what you see & hear begins to erode the basis of truth, which is what underpins democracy…  tending to drive to drive people further into corners, making it harder to nurture the kind of compromise that democracy is built on.”  [BUSH PRESIDENTIAL CENTER – 10/13/20]
  • U.S. DOLLAR EXCHANGE RATES HAVE REMAINED CALM “despite inconsistent management of the pandemic, massive deficit spending for economic catastrophe relief, monetary easing, and alternative assets such as gold & Bitcoin thriving… Such stability is surprising, given that exchange-rate volatility normally rises significantly during U.S. recessions…but possible explanations include common massive government fiscal responses around the world, and most plausible reason is the paralysis of conventional monetary policy, with all major central bank interest rates at or near zero, anticipated to remain at that effective lower bound for many years even in an optimistic growth scenario… But it’s worth remembering that economic traumas such as we are now experiencing often prove to be painful turning points.” [PROJECT SYNDICATE – 11/10/20]
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK: For 3 minutes of hypnotically soothing relaxation: https://youtu.be/25Dlu2jcNB4

          California’s Legislature has just  passed a bill allowing the state to compete with major brand-name drug manufacturers, to develop and distribute the state’s own line of generic drugs, ostensibly because Covid-19 exposed gaps in maintaining adequate supplies.