Archive for February, 2016

The Best News Source

February 21, 2016 Leave a comment

As you may know (and there’s know way you couldn’t if you follow this blog) I listen to a lot of podcasts. The great thing about these is that they can be created and distributed quite easily and because of the history of the technology they tend to be both created and used by technically and scientifically literate people.

But many people consider them a lesser source of news and information – lesser than traditional sources like TV and radio news for example. But are they? I don’t think so.

I consume quite a lot of information on many topics and from many sources. Some of the topics I would consider myself quite knowledgeable about and others not so much. The thing is, that when I listen to material on topics I know a fair bit about from “conventional” sources – even fairly respectable sources like New Zealand’s RNZ National – I notice a lot of errors. I don’t tend to notice this so much with internet sources like podcasts.

There are some complicating factors here. First, most of the RNZ material I listen to is actually in the form of podcasts, but I don’t count them in that category because they are really just recordings of radio items. The “true” podcasts are audio (or sometimes video) programs created specifically for that purpose. And it’s the true podcasts I am promoting as a superior source of information. Second, there are a lot of terrible podcasts, which are probably even less accurate than the traditional sources, but those aren’t the ones I’m listening to.

So it seems to me that if I listen to an item from a traditional source about computers, or astronomy, or an area of science I’m interested in, and almost always notice errors, then it’s likely that there are errors in all the other material too. I just don’t notice it so much in relation to the other topics because I’m not expert enough on those.

So it is a bit of a concern, isn’t it? The sources of news and information that most people use are not accurate.

I think there are a few factors which have lead to this unfortunate situation. First, there is a strong emphasis on providing unchallenging, simplified, entertaining presentations of information today. Second, many items in mainstream sources (TV, radio, newspapers) are created by journalists who may or may not have a good level of expertise in the subject area they are covering. Third, most mainstream sources are commercial and many have a clear bias.

Podcasts, on the other hand, tend to be created by small groups or individuals (although more and more are being created by larger companies) who balance entertainment with information, are experts in the area they have decided to create podcasts about, and don’t have a strong commercial incentive in what they do.

Of course, other internet information sources like blogs – and I mean blogs which concentrate on providing accurate factual information rather than those (like mine) which mainly present opinions – are also good sources. I prefer podcasts simply for the convenience of being able to consume them while doing other stuff like driving, walking around, mowing the lawns, etc.

I think it’s inevitable that traditional news and information sources will continue to gradually decline in both number and quality. News rooms are being downsized to save money and as big business takes over it will inevitably emphasise profit over quality. The internet is probably the biggest cause of this decline (although some people debate that point) but luckily it is also the internet which can provide a solution.

Sure, look on the internet and some of the sources are truly awful but that is also the case with traditional sources. For example, a few years back a study showed that people who watch Fox News (a US channel mainly associated with the political right) are less well informed than people who don’t watch any news at all!

If people are determined to be ignorant on a topic (I could mention climate change as an example) they will find plenty of material supporting whatever state of ignorance they wish to attain on both the internet and other sources (more so in larger countries and not so much in New Zealand because we are too small to have many obviously biased sources). But if people want to really know the truth I would suggest that the highest quality internet sources are where to go.

But that’s the problem: how to tell what is good and what is bad. I believe Google is looking at a reliability and quality rating system for web sites. If that is well done (and in search most of what Google does is brilliant) then at least that will be a good tool for those who actually want to know the truth.

As for those who want to remain ignorant, maybe they will need an alternative search engine which takes them to sites which reinforce their ignorance. There’s already an example of a similar service. It’s an alternative to Wikipedia called “Conservapedia” which is described as a “Wiki encyclopaedia with articles written from a Christian fundamentalist viewpoint” – in other words, it’s full of lies.

Yeah, I know Wikipedia isn’t perfect, and neither are podcasts or blogs. But at least the best examples of those start from a perspective of wanting to present good information, unlike many of the options.

The internet isn’t perfect, but it’s the best we have.


Apple vs the FBI

February 18, 2016 Leave a comment

All reasonably modern Apple devices have very good built-in security. If you were worried that your iPhone, or iPad, or Mac (if it is set up correctly) can be “cracked” and all the information on it be made readable then fear no more. Obviously even the FBI can’t crack an iPhone and neither can Apple.

We know this because the FBI have an iPhone 5c which belonged to one of the perpetrators of the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino. But they can’t get into it and neither can Apple even when the FBI asks them to.

So now the feds want Apple to create a new version of the operating system which disables the automatic deletion feature when the PIN code is incorrect after 10 tries. In fact they have a court order which forces Apple to do this. But Apple has so far refused and will appeal the decision.

But why? Why would Apple want to protect a terrorist’s information when they could instead help with the investigation? Is it because they don’t want to waste the time and money on a project which has no benefit to them? Do they want to protect any guilty parties or hinder the investigation in some way? Or do they want to protect their customers and maintain the security of the platform?

I think it’s obvious that the first two options really don’t make sense so it seems that Apple really do want to make a stand here on behalf of the users and not compromise the security and privacy they currently have.

It’s actually quite a courageous position because I am fairly sure that almost any other company would have simply complied with the legal requirement of cooperation and helped break the security.

So it might be courageous but is it wise? Shouldn’t Apple be prepared to sacrifice privacy in this one case to help with the investigation of a serious criminal event? Probably not, because whatever the feds say, this will not be the only time they use an ability like this and it’s unlikely to remain with an organisation which ostensibly represents the “good guys”.

There are two clear problems if a way is created to bypass security: first, the official law organisations will almost surely use it for illicit purposes such as stealing private data belonging to political opponents of the government; and second, the technique will equally surely find its way into the hands of the real bad guys (that is the bad guys who are even worse than the good guys, who are often quite bad themselves).

This is a rare case where someone is actually doing what I have suggested is everybody’s obligation: do do what is right rather than what is legal. And, although there are many things I criticise Apple for, I think this is an example of where they do have standards far above most other corporations. For doing what’s right I give them full credit.

Give Us Some Choice

February 17, 2016 2 comments

For the last 30 years voters in New Zealand have had two main choices: a center-right party which is primarily interested in a moderate neo-liberal policy agenda, and another party which is basically the same. Actually I should correct that because during the mid to late 1980s and 1990s we had the “choice” between two parties espousing the same extreme neo-liberal ideology (whether they would be described as being “right” in the traditional sense is debatable because they weren’t genuinely conservative).

In recent years our center-left Labour party has had a lot of trouble gaining any support because it looked like an only slightly more moderate version of our center-right National party. National had moved more to the center where Labour used to be (who in turn had earlier occupied the place where National would normally be – are we confused yet?)

It was all a bit of a mess but there was an obvious solution: for Labour to admit that the great experiment it began in 1984 has failed and to go back to being a genuine party of the left. But because conventional wisdom is tha the winning party occupies the center I guess they were hesitant to do that.

But the center isn’t just somewhere a party might move to. It’s also something the individual parties help to define. If both parties huddle together just to the right of what was traditional the center then the voters will see the center as being towards the right. If Labour moves more to the left then the perceived center will move too, and that will create genuine choice.

The other factor is that people can see what these political parties are doing. They see that leaders are just doing what they think will win them votes instead of doing what they think is genuinely right (the current National government is brilliant at this). The public have got used to this and maybe just accept it as usual political behaviour, but that makes it even more remarkable when someone does do the right thing.

Let me give you a couple of examples of this “right thing” I speak of…

First, we don’t sign up to a secretive trade deal which might get us a few economic gains but could easily result in a significant loss of our ability to control our own economy for the good of the majority.

It’s not easy to reject the TPP because the National propaganda machine has been churning out promises of the great gains it will bring which have little basis in reality. And we have been hearing for 30 years that free trade is always good. That is perhaps the most basic mantra of neo-liberalism. Well sure, it can be, but we need to look at the gains and losses before we decide.

And the fact that Labour started the negotiations on this deal puts them in an awkward situation. But there are two easy ways to escape that trap: first, to admit that in the past they moved too far into the realm of laissez-faire economics but have now corrected that; or second, to say that the details of the deal we have are not what they envisioned when negotiations was initiated.

The second “right thing” we might consider is to give everyone a chance at tertiary education without ending up with a debt they can never repay.

Labour’s new policy to give anyone three years of free tertiary education is a really interesting one. Like all policies it has good and bad points and the people pointing out the problems should realise this. But what is the total effect? Well, all politicians seem to think that greater training and more skills will make it easier for people to participate in the modern economy and reduce unemployment.

I’m not totally sure about this because I think jobs will disappear no matter how highly skilled workers are. But if politicians think workers need more skills then surely making advanced education easier is a good idea. Yet it has taken this long to start reversing the policies of the past (introduced by both parties) which have lead to the skills deficit we have now.

As I have pointed out in other recent posts here, there does seem to be a swing back to more moderate policies which are traditionally associated with the left. So maybe neo-liberalism is finally on the decline. It has been a long, hard time for those of us who have had to live through it. I started my working career just as it started here in New Zealand (1984) and have had to put up with nonsensical and counter-productive policies for years.

It will be along time before we fully rid ourselves of this blight on fair society but at least we can now see that it will happen. Maybe by the time I retire we will have more sensible policies in place and the workplace might be more fair and sensible.

Or at least when voting we might have a choice between parties with different ideas instead of two which are more or less identical.

Bad Design

February 11, 2016 Leave a comment

If there’s one thing that bugs me it’s bad design. Actually, there isn’t just one thing that bugs me, and bad design might not even be at the top of the heap if there was, but just for the purposes of this blog post let’s just assume that it is my number one source of annoyance.

As anyone who follows this blog has probably realised by now, I work with computers. I am a generalist but I work mainly with Macs, I do some web site and web database creation, some miscellaneous programming, some general consulting, hardware repairs and installation, and anything else required.

I’m not an expert on design and have no qualifications in the subject, but it is an interest I have and I have done some reading in the area. When I create programs, databases, and web sites user interface design is one of my primary concerns. Of course, speed, reliability, and functionality are also important but I give all 4 of those factors equal weight, something which many other people don’t seem to do.

At this point I should say what I mean by “design” in this case. I mean not just how the program, web site, or product looks, but how its functionality is structured: whether the interactive elements are consistent and intuitive, whether the response to the user makes sense, and whether the item in question works harmoniously both internally and in the larger environment (for example within the operating system or between itself and related items).

As I said, I work mainly with Macs (and other Apple products) and to a large extent that is because of Apple’s design standards, but even Apple is far from perfect. But at least they are ahead of most other companies so I choose them more as the best of a series of bad options rather than a good one in any absolute sense.

To be fair, these things aren’t easy, and what makes sense as a design element to a programmer might not make sense to users. And often people aren’t even aware that they are the victims of bad design. They just know that they feel lost, or frustrated, or uncomfortable and might not be sure why. There is also the point that in many cases there isn’t just one big problem which is obvious.

Instead of one big problem there might be a series of poor features which leads to the “death by a thousand cuts”. The user might not notice each one but in the end it is just as fatal! This is how I feel about Windows in particular (and to a somewhat lesser extent, other Microsoft products).

Let me give an example of how user interface design can make life easier in the real world. How many people walk up to a door which they should push and pull instead? I do that, even when there is a sign which says “push” (I’m a real genius). But there are other doors I just walk up to and push without thinking. Why? Because the push doors which work have a push plate instead of a handle. Why have a handle if you can’t pull the door?

So let’s look at this in the software world. I don’t want to pick on Microsoft any more because they are such an easy target, so let me choose one of Apple’s more heinous transgressions instead. In iOS Apple have thrown out the traditional graphical buttons and provided coloured (often red) text for active elements instead. That’s not too bad because we are used to something similar with active text on web sites (like links). But when titles and other text which doesn’t do anything are the same colour and sometimes active text isn’t coloured it just turns into a “tap it and see” situation! Why do this when it’s so easy to provide a distinctive design element? Maybe visual attractiveness here overcomes the bigger design picture.

But that is a specific example of a problem and because it is so well defined it is quite easy to fix. In fact there is a “button shapes” option in the accessibility section of iOS settings which restores a sort of button-like appearance to active text.

The bigger problem is the software – often expensive corporate systems – which are just horrible to use. It seems that the people who wrote this software either have never used it (so don’t realise how bad it is), or don’t listen to user feedback, or are forced into designing a specific way due to management restraints, or (most likely) all of the above.

There’s no easy fix for this because the problems go beyond mere user interface design and encompass the whole model the systems are built around.

In fact there does seem to be almost an inverse relationship between the size of the team working on a software project and the usability and general quality of the finished product. That’s probably a bit too simplistic because many creations of a single individual are actually pretty terrible, and big projects are beyond what a single person can do so a real comparison can’t be made. But I do think that having too big a team – and especially too many non-technical people – is the biggest cause of bad products.

Whatever the cause is bad design is rife in modern software. Most software exists to allow people to interact with information. I think that “people” aspect deserves more attention. It’s time for human interface design to be given a higher priority.

Apple Watch Update

February 9, 2016 1 comment

I have now been using an Apple Watch for over 6 months so it must be a good time to post an update on how useful it is. I guess the most telling point is that on the odd occasion that I forget to wear it I constantly find myself looking at my wrist until I realise nothing is there. If I got through a day (or even an hour) without missing it then I would probably have to say it was a failure, but the opposite is true.

I still don’t think this is a device that everyone needs. In fact what does that mean? Do we really need anything – especially any high-tech gadget? Probably not. But I do think it is a device that everyone could find useful – assuming they already have an iPhone for it to talk to, of course.

First some preliminary comments. This is a very usable device. I wear it almost all of the time – except for two 15 to 30 minute intervals per day for charging. With this system the charge is always well above 50%. With the amount of use I give it I could probably manage with a charge every second day but it’s more sensible to have a routine where I keep it as fully charged as possible (with lithium-ion polymer batterries it is the number of full cycles which matters so frequent charging isn’t a major problem).

Because I wear it all the time it needs to take some punishment. A while back I was cleaning windows and slipped and ground the watch into a concrete wall. It looked like the case and face were badly scratched but after cleaning off the extra concrete and polishing the face a bit there was no damage at all, except for a chip out of the concrete wall. I’m not joking, this thing is very robust!

And yesterday I was doing some work with expanding foam, which contains a solvent capable of dissolving many materials. Yes, I spilled some on the watch, but after it had set I just scraped it off and there’s not a sign it was there.

So this is a device you can actually use and it doesn’t require too much special treatment. I mean, I wouldn’t deliberately slam it into concrete walls but if that happens there’s a decent chance it won’t suffer a lot of damage.

Until recently I hadn’t worn a watch for many years and I thought the basic fluoroelastomer strap might be a bit uncomfortable, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem. And the 42 mm watch just feels a tiny bit too big, but it’s not excessively obtrusive like I initially thought it might be.

Now on to what I actually use it for. As I suspected, it’s really just a supplement to the iPhone. There’s not much I use it for that can’t do with the phone – it’s just a lot easier and more convenient.

Here’s my list of uses: show the date and time, temperature, next appointment, and countdown timer (I have these 4 functions on the watch face); display the phone number of incoming calls; view text messages and emails; compose and send new text messages; view my diary; show distance walked and sleep patterns; display news notifications (currently from the New York Times and Guardian) and notifications of new podcasts on the phone.

That’s the list of stuff I use “all the time”. In addition there are many other functions I use less often: view photos, play podcasts and music, check bank accounts, check upcoming astronomical events, view tweets, use maps, and probably a whole lot more I haven’t remembered just now.

The difference between the “all the time” and “occasional” functions is convenience. Some things just aren’t that easy on such a small screen with minimal inputs (no mouse or keyboard and only basic touch control) when an iPhone, iPad, or computer is available instead.

And that’s the whole point. It may seem like an unnecessary luxury but having all 4 devices works well for me. I usually have an Apple Watch, an iPhone 6S, and iPad Air 2, and a MacBook Pro i7 15″ laptop available. And I use all 4 almost equally. This is an example of the Apple ecosystem working really well for me.

The way the devices work together is the key. For example, I can receive and send text messages (and iMessages) on any of the four devices and they all sync together. And if I put the phone into airplane mode the watch follows it automatically. There’s a lot of small things like that which make the separate devices work as a system.

It does mean that I am stuck with Apple as my supplier of all hardware but that’s a compromise I make to get the level of compatibility and convenience I want. The fact that I am an unashamed Apple fan-boy helps, of course!

So yes, the Apple Watch has worked well for me. There are some frustrations and performance issues, and some things could be better than they are (for example, finding the app I want to launch from the disorganised “cloud” of icons), but for a version 1 product it is very impressive.

Not Helping

February 4, 2016 Leave a comment

Recently I read and debated an article titled “Atheist Arguments Which Aren’t Helping Anyone.” The author was an atheist but objected to many of the arguments other atheists use in support of their worldview. Since many of these arguments are something I use myself I thought I should consider them and see if he was right about them “not helping”.

The quotes I put around the words above indicate the first problem with any argument of this type: what do we actually mean by “not helping”? Many people might assume that if an atheist is debating religion with a believer then the eventual goal might be to “convert” the believer to atheism. I will admit that if my arguments achieved this aim it would be great – not because I object to religion as such but more because I object to ignorance and delusion in any form. But, as is often said regarding this topic, people who believe a religion generally do so for illogical, irrational, emotional reasons – whether they are prepared to accept that or not – so rational arguments are unlikely to change anything.

There will be occasions when this approach does work. I do remember debating one believer who was genuinely ignorant of the facts (about evolution in this case) and at the end of our discussion admitted he had been wrong. I have no idea whether he still feels that way or went on to entirely rid himself of his religious delusions, but that isn’t really the point.

The real point is that I gave him the information he didn’t have already and what he did with that was up to him. Conversely he revealed his thoughts to me and theoretically I might have been persuaded that I was wrong. Of course, so far I have never heard a pro-religious argument based on real logic or facts so, at this stage, I still reject religion. Still, in theory I might be missing something so I am happy to hear any arguments which might change my mind.

So I would argue any points used in a discussion of this sort are useful in a philosophical way. Debate is good in itself and to say that “it is not helping” is irrelevant. But I now want to look at the individual points and say why I disagree about their “helpfulness”.

Argument 1, there’s no scientific proof.

Not only is there no scientific proof for the existence of a god but there isn’t even any credible scientific supporting evidence. As I said above, believers tend to accept their religion based on emotion, habit, or ignorance rather than facts but there are many who genuinely think there is scientific proof of a god existing.

Some people think there is archaeological evidence of the Exodus for example. But there isn’t. Even archaeologists who really want the story to be true have given up. The Exodus simply didn’t happen. The same applies to many other stories, such as the Flood. They just didn’t happen, or if anything even vaguely resembling the stories did happen the real facts are so different from the stories that they would be unrecognisable and irrelevant as a source of evidence.

So any delusion that scientific proof of a god exists can be eliminated. If the person wants to continue believing anyway that’s fine. Believing something which is obviously untrue is what faith is all about.

I also have to say that I am intrigued about what “facts” my opponents can present. On a couple of occasions I have been impressed with some “proof” which superficially seemed quite persuasive, but after a bit of research it has all – so far – turned out to be delusion. But one day I might hear some genuine proof and that might cause me to adjust my beliefs.

Argument 2, logical paradoxes.

Again, I recognise that most believers haven’t arrived at the conclusions they have through logic so they are unlikely to be dissuaded by logic either. But the same argument which I made for proof above also applies to logic: some people genuinely believe their beliefs make sense and that belief in the supernatural is the only logical conclusion possible.

A common example of this is the idea that everything must have a cause and the first cause for the physical universe must be something else, and the most logical candidate for that first cause is god.

But there are two problems with this argument. First, this is an argument from ignorance because these people don’t really understand that the concept of cause has become quite different ever since we have had quantum physics. There are some things which have no cause, and causality itself is far more complex than they imagine. And second, this is special pleading because requiring the first cause for the universe being god naturally leads to us asking what is the cause of god?

Apparently he doesn’t need one. This is not logic.

Argument 3, the Bible, Torah, Quran, etc is full of screwed-up stuff.

Blindly following the words of an old book is potentially disastrous. Why? Because a lot of what is in these books is not relevant to the modern age we live in, and they are also so open to varying interpretations that they can be (and are) used to justify anything.

Showing that these holy books are full of contradictions, bad advice, and outright falsities may not persuade a believer to give up their religion but it might cause them to be a little bit more careful in mindlessly following what the books say.

I think its our (atheists and rationalists of all types) duty to try to make people think a bit more sensibly. And the chances of success might not be high but they are better than if we don’t try at all.

Argument 4, religions start wars.

I don’t know why even non-believers have trouble with accepting that religions actually do start wars. I agree that there is always more than one factor involved in any conflict but religion has been a primary cause of so many wars that it is impossible to reasonably refute the idea.

The argument that all wars are political and religion is just used as an excuse doesn’t stand up to scrutiny because in most cases (for example in Islam today and Christianity in the past) religion and politics cannot be separated. It would be just as easy to say that politics is just used as an excuse. Everything could be looked at that way and nothing can be excluded as a cause.

The second argument invokes the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. I often hear that anyone who starts a war in the name of a religion isn’t really a follower of that religion. Well they think they are, and in many cases they are following the religion’s dictates more closely than the more liberal members, so I think that argument is entirely fatuous.

Argument 5, aiming at the individual.

I partly agree with this. Religion is a group phenomenon, a “mind virus”, a distortion of reality, but one based on tradition and conventions. People generally inherit the religion they grow up in and it is hard to blame them for the consequences of their belief.

On the other hand I do think that religion can be used for good or bad and that how it is used is very much up to the individual. So getting personal and pointing out that one particular interpretation of a religion by a person is problematic might be useful, especially if that person can be steered into a more a more positive interpretation of the mythology.

The article concludes with this: “Atheism doesn’t need to beat anyone. All atheism needs to do is exist, and not be such a total dick about it.”

Well I disagree. I think we should talk about what we really think. If people see that as being a “dick” then that’s just an unfortunate side effect. In the end it’s the truth that really matters and calling someone presenting the truth a “dick” just makes rejecting it too easy.

The Dead End

February 3, 2016 Leave a comment

I hate to jump on the bandwagon discussing American politics which – let’s face it – is a rather dismal commentary on the democratic system, but after the Iowa vote there are several interesting points I would like to make which maybe aren’t being made elsewhere.

First, Donald Trump did not do as well as expected against Ted Cruz and many people are very happy about this because there has been a lot said about what sort of world we would have if Trump was the president of the US! Well yes, that is a good point.

Trump has no clue what he is talking about, he mixes facts and fiction at will, he changes his mind and denies it later, he uses whatever dirty political tricks are necessary to gain support from some of the most ignorant and bigoted people in the country, and well… he just seems really thick. Like he doesn’t seem to be able to speak sensibly, string logical thoughts together, or do anything else we might expect from someone wishing to be the most powerful person in the world.

But is Ted Cruz any better? In many ways he’s worse, to a significant extent because of his nutty religious views. And the difference is, I think, that Trump just says stupid things for effect. Cruz really believes them. Which is really the bigger problem?

Let’s look at Ted Cruz’s policy points. He is against a woman’s right to get an abortion and would plan to start processes to make that harder (or impossible). He is for tighter control over immigration and doesn’t want to accept Syrian refugees. He has favoured the war crime of “carpet bombing” and “saturation bombing” regions of Iraq and Syria controlled by ISIS. He would repeal Obamacare and repeats the lie that it has significantly increased premiums. He is totally against gun control. He denies climate change. And he is against equality for LGBT people.

So he really is a revolting piece of scum, about typical of what we expect on the far right in America. Is he really any better than Trump? I don’t think so.

So getting on to the Democrats, where it’s a race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Obviously two candidates incomparably more intelligent, sensible, and realistic than anyone on the other side.

Actually, before I go on, I should say that I’m not just anti-Republican. Before it was taken over by crazy religious freaks and other delusional nut jobs it was a great party. Not any more. It’s now just a place of escape for the lunatic fringe (which is a significant part of the US population unfortunately).

Anyway, back to the Democratic battle. I think Hillary Clinton is OK but when I hear her speak it doesn’t sound genuine. It sounds like she has had everything she says put through a gaggle of spin-doctors and that she isn’t sure if even she believes it any more. That may or may not be true, it’s just the way it seems to me. Bernie Sanders seems very genuine to me and I like the way he celebrates being a socialist, even though by international standards he’s barely a socialist at all!

But it’s great to see him do so well and it would be fantastic if he was the next president. That really would give me some confidence that maybe democracy can work after all. But I think he will experience increasing demonisation from the corporate powers in the US (after all, in the US, elections are bought, not won) and will probably ultimately fail.

Even the fact that someone like Sanders can be taken seriously indicates that maybe, after 35 dark years of neo-liberal and conservative domination, we might be heading back to more moderate political policies in the near future.

So the race to be the next US president will be an interesting one. The next president might be one of the most important ever given that the US is beginning it’s fall from world domination. What they do next will be very significant in how that process proceeds.

There’s on thing I am sure of: conservatism and looking back is not what’s needed. No country has ever succeeded that way. Things change and overall things get better, but only by following a progressive agenda. Conservatism is a dead end.