The French Disconnection

Do you want to disconnect from some unpleasant realities these days? Move to France!

No, I’m not talking about escaping to or through the wine, the food, the lifestyle, the whatever.

Instead, as this article explains, France has a new law that allows employees limited rights to disconnect from work communications outside of office hours, without penalties from their employers. The emphasis here should be on “limited,” since it’s unclear whether or how the law will even be enforced.

What’s more, I can’t’ help but wonder whether there will be all sorts of informal pressure on employees to be available. Miss an email and maybe you’re seen as less committed to the company? Ignore a group text and you’re then outside the loop on a big project?

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Krugman Underestimates Trumpistan

Paul Krugman is no friend of Donald Trump or the Republican Party, to put it mildly. Yet while his January 2 New York Times op-ed is extremely hard-hitting, his argument is incomplete in a way that understates the challenges they might constitute for our democracy.

One challenge he airs is whether America will turn into a Trumpistan, along the lines of the Central Asian states (the names of which all end in “stan”), formerly parts of the USSR, that are controlled by corrupt, crony-capitalism strongmen pushing personality cults. (Pardon my nit-picking, development professional digression, but Krugman gets this wrong when it comes to Kyrgyzstan, the only one of those five states that is a functioning though flawed democracy – not that we’re ones to judge these days. It should not be lumped in with its neighbors.)

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Grave New World, But…

WELCOME…

…to our Grave New World. Come January 20th, our president will be a misogynistic bigot, with the attention span of a  “a 9-year old with ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder].” He arguably owes his election to a media feeding frenzy over his opponent’s mishandled emails and to help from a foreign dictator to whom his ties remain as mysterious as his taxes, and whom he seems to trust more than he does U.S. intelligence agencies.

So much of this is so surreal. It’s like a bad, unbelievable movie. Or like a brilliant one: the Peter Sellers political satire, “Being There” – though that film featured a much more benign would-be president. Our own real-life drama is like something out of The Twilight Zone – or, worse yet, Black Mirror.

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2020 Vision

Having some trouble contemplating the next four years? If so, skip ahead to 2020 and this Washington Post piece on early jockeying by likely presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. The article discusses their snagging Senate committee slots that boost their foreign policy credentials. It also sketches what several other presidential wannabes are up to, and provides a bit of extremely preliminary polling data.

Empty Sky

The saddest song Bruce Springsteen wrote about 9/11 was “Empty Sky.”

It’s about the loss of the planes that day. It’s about the loss of so many lives. It’s about the loss of a loved one.

And most of all, it’s about the loss of faith.

To borrow the best line from Bruce’s song, I woke up this morning to an empty sky.

I’m not yet certain what I’ve lost faith in. My fellow Americans who picked Trump for president? Our democracy? Our future? America itself?

How did this happen? Pundits and political scientists will spend years analyzing Trump’s shocking win. I’ll do some speculating myself. And sooner or later I’ll seek ways of rebuilding from the ruins of this election.

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