Birthday activity -- Part 2
I the earlier post in this series I started to describe what I did on my 75th birthday. But I ran out of time, energy, or brain power before I completed it, so I posted what I had before I went to bed. And now, it's 3:38 AM. I've got some time, some energy, and some brain power. So let me try to finish the job.
I was writing the prior post and reached this point:
A bit more email, and I write an email to Jared Golden who is will be running for the Maine 2 House seat and Jonathan Breed, his campaign manager, telling them to connect me up to like-minded volunteers.
When I checked my email and made this observation:
(I get an email back while I'm composing this, and spend a bit of time researching some stuff to reply to them.) But that's later.
Now it's later. Jon's email asked me what I had in mind. My answer was
I did GOTV for Hancock County Dems for the Clinton campaign, and what they gave us sucked, sucked, sucked. Make sure that what you give us does not suck by the time the election rolls around.
What the Dems provided us was years behind the times. They gave us paper lists of voters organized by street. No routing. No App. Effing paper! Paper!!
And the data was out of date. I went home and put the data into Google Maps which gave me a route. That made my driving less time-wasting but it did not solve the data quality problem. Nor did it solve the record keeping. Both of which sucked.
Brexit did it right. I'm a student of their success--and what Trump did, too.
Dominic Cummings was one of the movers and shakers behind Brexit. He's a brilliant guy and he's documented what they did at his website. The Brexit gang even released the software that they used to manage their campaign. It's available to use--or to study and learn from. Cummings explains how they used the software in this post. He's documented their whole campaign. There are many lessons to be learned.
If you get your volunteer team moving, we can start learning lessons.
The Brexit team built their software platform themselves because what they had inherited was "rubbish." That's Brit for "sucked, sucked, sucked." They did it fast and cheap because people who know how to build software these days know how to build it fast and cheap. It does not take money so much as people who know what they are doing.
Cruz used something similar and made a run for it. But the guy who was most successful using something like what the Brexit team used was Jared Kushner working for Trump. If you have not read the Forbes article "How Jared Kushner Won Trump the White House" you should do so. Kushner mobilized a team of data scientists and without their effort, Trump would not have won. If you remember, the Dems were mocking the fact that Trump had no ground game. He didn't. And it didn't matter because Kushner was conducting an air war and guerrilla warfare against a last-generation under-provisioned ground army of over-confident Democrats.
I don't know what resources you are getting from the Dems or what resources you are hiring, It may be state of the art. Or it may suck. Get your volunteer digital team talking together as fast as you can and get a second opinion. There's a good chance that what you are doing is going to be great and we will say that. But there's also a good chance that some good salesperson has convinced you to get something that will suck. That's the only way I can explain the crap that the Dems used. If your volunteer digital team is plugged into the cutting edge of technology they can either validate your choice or help you avoid the kind of disaster that the ACA Website turned into. Anyone who knew anything about software knew they were doing it wrong and headed for disaster. Only when the site rolled out and failed to the delight of Republicans everywhere did the administration FINALLY pull in people from Silicon Valley who actually knew how to build software and who then got the mess fixed.
That took a bit of time, and a bit of research and I didn't finish it up until Bobbi and I had gone to the Arborvine for dinner. Ahh! The Arborvine. Great service. And great food. And a somewhat troubling conversation. I'd gotten myself steamed up about the things I had been reading about climate, which put me at odds with my tribe. Bobbi suggested that I talk to some of our friends, but I really didn't want to do that. We'd just be disagreeing, and unable to come to a resolution because--as I saw it--minds were made up and were not about to be changed. And it annoyed me.
But in the end I found a way to make peace with myself and with anyone that I disagreed with--and that was simply to take a "cosmic viewpoint." I know that I am biased. It took me a long time to realize how biased I am. I self-identify as a liberal (Democrat type, not historical type) and as a New England Patriots fan, and I have the same response to the Pats making bad plays that I have when Democrats make stupid arguments. I hate it! And I have the same response to Pats' opponents making great plays that I have when Republicans make good arguments. I admire what they've done, but I hate it. I want my team to be the best.
So I know I have these biases, and I work mightily to overcome my biases. There's good research that says that even when you know that you're biased that you can't overcome it. And I believe that. I know I work at it. I know I don't succeed and I believe that--to a large degree--I can't succeed. But still, I try.
So when I study something that is politically polarized and I come to a conclusion--with my team or against it--I am not certain that I have found _the_ answer. I know that I may be wrong. And I know that I am right to doubt my own conclusion.
What gets me pulsed is when other people offer their views and are certain that they are right. And when they believe that they are unbiased. The views that they hold may or may not correct, but their confidence in their correctness is certainly wrong.
My cosmic viewpoint is this: I try the best that I can, but I'm inevitably stuck in a narrow viewpoint. Instead of fighting to understand something I'm fighting against people who are not fighting to understand. And why? Because that's my team: the team of people who fight to understand. And the others? People who are not doing that? They're the enemy, of course. As evil as the Oakland Raiders are to a Pats fan. (We will never forget Daryll Stingley). Or the New York Giants (Head catch, anyone?)
So I step back from my hard "you are the enemy because..." position and instead imagine myself in interstellar space, outside the game, even away from the sidelines, and I imagine myself just watching.
After dinner we return home and watch the movie "While you were sleeping," with Bill Pullman and Sandra Bullock. After the movie I go back to work on my blog post, take a hot bath, decide I'm not going to finish. label it Part 1 and eventually post it.
So: that was my day. In between times, I started reading Michael Lewis' book, "The Undoing Project," which I'd gotten for Christmas. And I read some things on my phone that were interesting, as well. One was an article titled "Your company's culture is who you hire, fire, and promote" which featured this "Performace/Values Matrix." Note the lower right corner: "Incompetent Assholes." He's got several follow-up posts about assholes--how they're made and how they behave whe they become managers.
I also read a couple of posts by James Kwak, who has written a book called "Economism" that I want to read. I've read a few posts from his blog The Baseline Scenario that convinces me that there has important things to say about economics.
The term Economism is drawn by parallel from "Scientism" which is defined as "excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques." It's not that science is bad. To the contrary, it's good. But it has its limits, and applying it beyond its limits and having excessive confidence in things that seem scientifically valid is scientism.
He describes it:
The central theme of Economism is that some of the basic models taught in “Economics 101” have acquired disproportionate influence in contemporary society and are routinely and systematically misapplied to important policy questions. The problem is not that introductory models are wrong, but that too many people forget their limitations and believe that their simple conclusions can be reflexively applied to the real world.
This is something I'll write about at greater length later on.