Eugene Linden
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Latest Musing

Imagining a Post Pandemic World

How might a post-pandemic world look and feel? Let’s imagine a creative team at a New York City advertising agency pitching a campaign in 2050 for a new perfume (more than most products, perfumes are sold by attaching to the dreams and aspirations of their times).  The Big Apple, ...

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Deep Past
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endangered animals
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Books

Winds of Change
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Afterword to the softbound edition.


The Octopus and the Orangutan
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The Future In Plain Sight
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The Parrot's Lament
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Silent Partners
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Affluence and Discontent
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The Alms Race
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Apes, Men, & Language
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Go Figure


Monday June 21, 2021

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas recently signed into law “Constitutional Carry” legislation that would allow any Texan over 21 who can legally possess firearms (which means in essence anyone without a criminal conviction or record of family violence) to publicly carry a pistol without having to procure a permit beforehand. The state then joins Montana, Wyoming, Iowa, Utah and Tennessee, which have similar laws. All of these states still require driver’s licenses before residents can operate a motor vehicle. 

States require licenses for drivers because without training, a driver might harm themselves or others. In effect then, these legislatures are saying that while it is important for the state to require training to use a technology that might cause harm, it is not important for the state to require training for a technology specifically designed to kill people. Texas is the second most populous state in the Union. What could possibly go wrong?

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Short Take

In an Interconnected World, Niches Get Big

There’s an excellent article by David Gardner in the online sports magazine The Ringer about niche sports and how social media allows the best players in tiny niche sports -- disc golf, trick archery, e.g. -- to make a living where these players couldn't possibly make much money through exposure in the mainstream media. This is the benign side of a fundamental feature of the internet: it allows tiny constituencies at the far ends of the normal curve to find each other. 

Because the internet connects billions of people, those tiny niches (in percentage terms) can turn out to be very large numbers of people in the aggregate. Large enough to allow players in obscure sports to get multi-million dollar endorsement contracts; large enough to assemble a gigantic mob to invade the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. 

There’s the rub. This feature of the internet and social media not only allows niche athletes to make a living, but also enables paranoids and psychopaths to hatch plots and recruit. Where in the old days the dangerously deranged might have a hard time connecting with like-minded sociopaths, now an army of such is just a few clicks away.

Which of these two sides of the coin will have the biggest impact on the future?

 



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