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Time to rethink an old concept! Individual events, like elections, are just markers, often very symbolic, signifying the underlying transformative flow in the global society. Everything is increasingly interconnected: financial markets, population trends, the environment, modes of production and innovation, people’s lives. The modern version of “revolution” is “disruption,” but what gets lost in this substitution?

Website Changes

This website went through a major transformation in 2018. It has a new web server, a new hosting provider, and a new domain name. There was a major overhaul of the design in order to make it easier to maneuver the website, and more readable on different devices. You can still find the old website here. The underlying WordPress platform was upgraded to version 5, which brought major changes, and a lot of backward compatibilities disappeared. As a result, some older portions of this website are sometimes misaligned and need to be updated. (If you find something that does not seem right, send me a note or an email.) All these changes caused a disruption in writing new posts, so 2018 was a year without much new content. On a positive note, the first guest contributor, Vida Pavesich, published an article about the current state of humanity. 2019 will hopefully bring more guest entries and more interesting ideas. Feel free to send me a proposal if you have something that would fit with this website.

The Cataclysms of American Politics

A year ago I was audacious enough to make some predictions, and about half of them turned out to be either wrong, or have not yet materialized. I was fairly certain that Trump would leave office during 2018. This turned out to be wrong, but maybe not by a lot. I still think he will leave the presidency soon: he qualifies for several mental health disorders, advisors abandon him in droves, and he has only brought chaos to the country and to the world. Republicans are beginning to realize that they cannot win the next presidential election with him, so the replacement has to happen in 2019, before the primaries begin in early 2020. On the Democratic side, the field of candidates is very strong, and a new generation with more women is entering American politics. 

The Trump Presidency will end in some kind of storm, and it will leave lasting damages. America is divided and shaken, and the world has now seen its vulnerabilities. American foreign policy is unsteady, its military power is overrated and extremely expensive, and the US has become an unreliable partner in world politics.

America’s political system has constitutional problems that are not easy to fix. The Electoral College, which, according to the Constitution elects the President, sometimes displaces the popular vote. The Constitution also prescribes that the Senate be composed of two Senators from each State (therefore, the Senate currently has 100 Members. ) This leads to the absurd situation that a senator from a small state like Wyoming (579,315 people) has the same voting power as a senator from a large state like California (39.5 Million people.) These structural problems need to be fixed in order to restore democracy in the US.

Was 2018 a good year?

We react emotionally to certain stories, and they define the way we look at the world. We neglect many other changes and trends because they don’t fit into the main stories we consume. The world is a very complex system, and transformative change occurs everywhere. How are we doing, from the point of view of pure data? In many ways, life has become much better for many people on this planet. This was pointed out by Hans Rosling in his book “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.” There is an accompanying website with an abundance of data and very smart data visualization, maintained by Max Roser of Oxford University: Our World in Data. Here are some examples:

  • In 2018, each day on average, about 295,000 people around the world gained access to electricity for the first time.
  • Every day, around 305,000 were able to access clean drinking water for the first time.
  • And each day an additional 620,000 people were able to get online for the first time.
  • Never before has such a large portion of humanity been literate, enjoyed a middle-class lifestyle, lived such long lives, had access to family planning or been confident that their children would survive.

Pictures from the New Year: