Given all the travel and being busy over August to November, I didn’t really get much time to write or update the monthly log. I’m finally able to put something together at the end of November, collecting everything for the last four months in one place. These months have not only been eventful personally, but also politically. The fallout of the election of Donald Trump has affected me a lot, and forced me to read a lot more than I usually do. I’ll try to cover through everything in this log, and the following one.

Articles

  • Has the US just given away the internet? [BBC News] – A brief overview article that describes the background behind the recent decision to remove ICANN from US government oversight. Quoting the article, “The switch ends a transition that has essentially been in the works for around two decades, removing a dominant power the US had by circumstance rather than intention, and one which was causing friction in the international community.”

  • History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump [Medium] – Several people are eager to dismiss Donald Trump as just another Republican president. Personally, I’m extremely paranoid and afraid given the striking similarities between Trump and many other fascist authoritarian demagogues littered throughout history. This article (not the only one) articulates why that paranoia isn’t pointless rambling.

  • Want to Know if the Election was Hacked? Look at the Ballots [Medium] – A Computer Science professor from Michigan writes about how the implementation of elections in America is extremely vulnerable to malicious attacks. While a lot of the talk on “hacking” the election has already been done in mainstream media, several people probably still treat it as science fiction. This article presents how it’s entirely possible, and has probably already happened. Here’s a Guardian news story that shows how the Michigan recount might be affected just by shoddy machines.

  • Autocracy: Rules for Survival [NYR Daily] – Wisdom from a seasoned Putin fighter, Masha Gessen, on how to deal with a Putin-wannabe. In her own words, “I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now.”

  • Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism [LessWrong] – An old post I’d read a long time ago, and pulled up again recently. Based on the (mostly political) discussions over the last few weeks, it has felt extremely relevant. I strongly recommend reading this post. On several issues, I feel that my own behavior has shifted around from “mainstream” to “contrarian” to “meta-contrarian” (back and forth too). The important point is in the conclusion – “If meta-contrarianism is a real tendency in over-intelligent people, it doesn’t mean they should immediately abandon their beliefs; that would just be meta-meta-contrarianism. It means that they need to recognize the meta-contrarian tendency within themselves and so be extra suspicious and careful about a desire to believe something contrary to the prevailing contrarian wisdom, especially if they really enjoy doing so.”

There’s a ton of other election coverage I’ve shared on Twitter, Facebook, or in direct messages to people. There’s also some more I’d like to add here, including this, this, and this.

Books

I really need to get back to reading more. I’ve barely read any books this year, but I did manage to finish one that I started way back in May.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird – I’ve read really few books all my life, much less classics. It’s a striking commentary on race and how it functions in America (including, in my opinion, up to the modern day).

Travel

I managed to travel the following places during this time

All this travel, despite being very tiring, was a great deal of fun and made me very happy.

Movies and TV Shows

  • Stranger Things – Everyone has raved about this show enough, so I don’t need to write a lot, but the charm of 80s suburban America (I’ve seen a lot of this on TV growing up) creats a nostalgia factor for a time that I never lived. It reminded me a lot of the X-Files as well. The Soundtrack is memorable too. Here’s a video link for references.

  • The Night Of – A short series that I’d label as a dark criminal justice drama. I highly recommend this to anyone who’s interested in that kind of thing. The slow-paced movement with powerful character development makes it quite a gripping series.

  • Waiting – A sensible Bollywood drama that shows two individuals coping in different ways with the loss of their respective spouses, and finding friendship in each other.

  • Phobia – A good Bollywood thriller, after a long time. Good performance by Radhika Apte.

  • Zootopia – Like most good animated movies, Zootopia is funny and well-made. The reason it stood out for me though, was because it portrays social classes really well. Think discrimination, stereotypes, oppression – there’s everything.

  • Pink – Another good Bollywood movie, this time a criminal justice drama, built around the issues of sexual assualt and consent. One of the more mature presentations on the topic in Bollywood, especially given its reputation of miserably failing on these topics.

Miscellaneous

  • Wonder Bot – A chat bot that you can tell something, and it’ll remember for you. Basically a natural-language KV store of sorts.

  • Phile YouTube channels – A series of easy to understand videos on various topics, like computer science, mathematics, philosophy, etc.

  • Coke Studio for the Deaf – How would a deaf person percieve and experience music? This video explores.

  • The Times’s Lawyer Responds to Donald Trump – Just pretty badass. With the current state of politics, we do need more fearless journalism and patronage for it.

- nRT