January 26, 2019

“The Bernards and Abelards of our time will be, perhaps, not people but machines: great, brilliant, temperamental computers. One of these days the most brilliant computer will take offense. Then watch!”

-Thomas Merton, 1953

Overheard at the World Economic Forum in Davos: 


“The speed of advanced technologies, in particular artificial intelligence and automation, is already making the transition more disruptive than prior epochal shifts — and may prolong it. Shifts rivaling “modern social, political and economic transformations, such as the post-Gilded Age of the early 1900s, the global Great Depression of the 1930s, and the Reagan-Thatcher revolution of the 1980s.”


“Three-quarters of people living in developed countries feel they are not getting a fair shake, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer.

Real pay for all but the richest people has been almost flat for at least three decades. And when Americans have lost a job, nearly half  have moved to a lower-paying one, jeopardizing their place in the middle class.”

As a hedge fund CEO described the zeitgeist: “We need to get in front of this problem or it’s going to get in front of us.”

St. Bernard represented the settled, orthodox, traditional teaching of the Church, which was an impregnable fortress for him, while Abelard was the very embodiment of a bold, outspoken, albeit exceedingly plausible, rationalistic spirit. Indeed he is called by the distinguished French writer, Cousin, “the father of modern rationalism.”

More at https://newspapers.bc.edu/?a=d&d=BOSTONSH18941215-01.2.41

“Underlying most of the protests were old grievances that took on new forms and a new urgency. There was a widespread feeling that something is working with our economic system, and the political as well, because rather than correcting our economic system, it reinforced the failures. The gap between what our economic and political system is supposed to do–what we were told that it did do–and what it actually does became too large too be ignored…Universal vales of freedom and fairness had been scarified to the greed of the few.”

2012, Nobel Laureate Economist Joseph Stiglitz

Introduction: The World Wakes,” in Anya Schiffrin and Eamon Kircher-Allen, eds., From Cairo to Wall Street: Voices from the Global Spring (New York: The New Press, 2012), 2.

“It’s hard not to see this as a metaphor for mass media/journalism.” [twitter]

Washington Post

“Johns Hopkins University is buying the landmark [Pennsylvania Avenue] building that houses the Newseum for $372.5 million, a purchase that will enable the struggling cultural institution devoted to news and the First Amendment to seek a new home in the Washington area.”

“The Freedom Forum — the private foundation that created the Newseum and that is its primary funder — said the museum will remain open at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW for the rest of the year.”

“The Newseum posted an annual deficit each year.”

Peter Prichard, chair of the Newseum board of trustees said in a release.

“We stand ready to continue much of the Newseum’s important work … through digital outreach, traveling exhibits, and web-based programs in schools around the world, as well as hopefully in a new physical home in the area.”

The Atlantic

by, Adam Harris

“The university, which already has a significant presence in Washington, D.C., hopes to expand its influence in public-policy debates—and entice prospective students with another reason to enroll.

Making this acquisition possible is a string of wealthy donors that the university has been cultivating for some time. Daniels confirmed that Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist and a Johns Hopkins alum, will be contributing to the purchase. The remainder of the money will come from the university’s budget and the sale of the institution’s other four properties in the city. Daniels did not disclose how much financial support the university will be receiving from Bloomberg, who has donated billions of dollars to Johns Hopkins over the years and announced a $1.8 billion donation to the school in November.”

The Newseum will remain open to the public through 2019.

“5 friends.”

Follow-up, 24 minute update with Dale Ho, head of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, running litigation against the Commerce Department and DT administration about adding a citizenship question that Wilbur Ross of the Commerce Dept…the “let them eat cake guy”…for, well, basically, a distribution of political power that would benefit Republicans. It was determined that Ross lied to congress about motivations for adding the citizenship question. A very big deal. And it isn’t over, because DT has “5 friends” who sit on the Supreme Court (Republicans), and those “5 friends” are very interested in this case.

6.5 million people, it has been determined, would not answer the question. And that’s a very big deal.

Here’s why.

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