Politics: from Quantum to Thermodynamic

In the past, candidates campaigned with a quantum model of the voter. Each voter counts. The candidate needs to convince neighborhoods and each house on a block. It was quantum in the sense that individual action mattered. Every atom/voter needs a packet of energy to transform from one candidate another.

Now the quantum model of the voter can be replaced by a classical thermodynamic model. One thinks in terms of the temperature of groups instead of individuals. Rather than counting individuals, the campaign thinks of percentages.

For many issues, opinions are split nearly evenly. To get the electoral results for a candidate, moving a fraction of voters in the middle is enough. The effect is that, for the majority of the electorate, the candidates don’t need to address them. They won’t matter to the outcome because their votes are free energy to win an election without exerting any work.

Targeted advertising such as what is available with Facebook, YouTube and Google allow candidates to focus their appeals to the subgroups that are in the middle. Adding heat to targeted parts of the pot can be more successful.

Changing the votes of one or two percent in the right demographic can be enough to win the election. Narrow campaigns targeted to subgroups can be more efficient than mass appeals through TV and radio. A campaign’s money can be stretched further when it tries to change the temperature of small groups rather than trying to push individual votes one at a time.

In a quantum model of campaigning, each person matters. When a candidate shifts their efforts to a classical, thermodynamic model, what matters is convincing groups in the margins. People have been reduced from individual human voters into inhuman mathematical abstractions.

Low key

I just saw the last episode of the Marvel mini-series Loki tonight.

It was pretty cool. During the main confrontation in the show, there were continued accusations that a character was lying which left some details in doubt. It certainly gives plenty of grist for a discussion by Marvel fans. I don’t think he was completely dishonest, but that’ll become more obvious as Marvel continues develop its Phase 4.

Some of the mysteries from earlier episodes weren’t really solved. They were just left in the dustbin and replaced by newer mysteries in episode 6. However, you don’t need to spell out everything in block letters to carry a story. More discussions…?

It was fun to watch it with my sister. We knew the story well enough that we didn’t have to keep asking each other questions about the plot. We’d been spending the last couple of weeks saying “Where are you?” “Have you seen episode 5?” etc. We did well at not revealing spoilers to each other. Once we were done, I paired my phone with the TV so that we could watch a few YouTube commentaries.

Mobius (Owen Wilson) is my favorite characters in the series. Mobius’s low-key humor and self-satisfaction were entertaining. He was always smug and one step ahead.

My favorite YouTube commentator is Emergency Awesome. It was nice that his videos make it easy to avoid spoilers. He also had videos about the trailers for the upcoming episodes, but I avoided those also.

It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without an obligatory fight scene. The “green” flashes that were used later in the fight seemed to be “Oh yeah! I have a gun” during a sword fight. Why did the characters wait so long to pull out their magic?

Emergency Awesome said that he would be making commentaries of the upcoming What If…? Marvel animated series. imdb.com said that it’s 11 episodes would start August 11.

Everyday Astronaut and a SpaceX Launch

A blue rocketYesterday, I watched Everyday Astronaut live stream a SpaceX launch. The satellite was lifted on behalf of the government of Luxembourg. It was exciting that some of Luxembourg’s national leaders were watching the launch in person.

I’m proud to be a budding space nerd. It’s much more fun than being a computer nerd. A computer nerd can’t watch the Amazon fraud prevention team over the shoulder and jump up and cheer when they ban another dodgy vendor like you can when a Delta IV lifts off from Vandenberg.

After a rocket launches, there’s commentary that you can review. There’s always new things to learn including nearly a century of history behind space travel. For example, it’s amazing to watch this narration of a slow motion video of Apollo 11’s Saturn V first stage engines as they ignite and leave the ground.

Tim Dodd is awesome. He’s really fun to watch and has entertaining yet informative videos. He has a Russian space suit he wears for some videos. He proposed to his wife in it at Machu Picchu–so awesome! He makes his own music. If you want to support him, you can join him on Patreon.

Apparently I was a baby space nerd in high school, but I had forgotten. This week I found my 1979 term paper about the Space Shuttle. It would be interesting to compare the projections for the shuttle in 1979 with what actually happened.

Vulnerable

Thought bubble
In the book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other,” Sherry Turkle said “With some exceptions, when we make ourselves vulnerable we expect to be nurtured.” (p. 235) She’s referring Erik Erikson and the expectations coming from basic trust. That’s something that’s completely counter to the way that the Internet often works. For the most part, any time you put yourself out there, you’re at risk of being attacked or ridiculed rather than built up and comforted.

One place for this risk comes from places that encourage intimacy. It’s not always easy to trust people to begin with. Letting your guard down out there in the social media dystopia isn’t always safe. If one makes comments that might be too hard to share in person, it can still end up hurting.

One reason for this is that anonymity allows people to be more negative and exhibit the dark tetrad personality traits when, in person, they wouldn’t act out. To them, the idea that people have feelings or that they are afraid of being humiliated is alien. Often, the enemy only feels good by getting some lolz.

Sometimes you can find a community of like-minded people where you can be safe. This reflects Sherry’s comment “Communities are places where one feels safe enough to take the good and the bad.” (p. 238) I’ve found some, like deviantART, are different than most social media. One reason is that to belong there, you have to put in some work. You can’t just repost an inane meme and belong. A member of dA is a creator. A pretender just looks around and is lurking.

Every time you get in front of a computer screen and post something on Twitter or Facebook, it’s possible to misstep and be misunderstood catastrophically.