Earlier this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) made news by criticizing Donald Trump’s stance on criminal justice and claimed that if elected president, he would seek the repeal of Trump’s First Step Act (FSA). DeSantis characterized the FSA as a “jailbreak bill.” If someone were to ask me about DeSantis’ prospects of being elected president a few months ago, I would have argued that he is a much more effective version of Donald Trump. However, the more he speaks, it becomes abundantly clear that he does not quite grasp what made Trump popular and took him to the White House.
The phrase “comparison is the thief of joy,” often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, is considered, regardless of its actual origin, a truism. However, careful reflection would indicate that it is not entirely accurate. The phrase is incomplete. It is comparison without context that is the thief of joy. Comparison can be an effective tool to help understand where one is excelling and see where one has limitations and room for improvement. Comparison is very much a necessary feature in the lives of those who are committed to progress and improvement, and it does not necessarily have to diminish joy.
A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. — Thomas Mann
Ever since watching the “White Christmas” episode of Black Mirror (Season 2, Episode 4), I have consistently thought about the prospect of having a digital version of myself that could be used to do my busy work, such as answering unimportant e-mails and other clerical work that does not require much thinking but takes up a lot of time—time that could be spent on truly rewarding work that requires creativity. The key here, however, is that it would have to be, like in that episode, a digital version of myself who does things exactly like me, not a random chatbot doing the tasks, and certainly not outsourcing my serious work to artificial intelligence. However, outsourcing intellectual work to artificial intelligence sounds appealing to some people, and it is unsurprising that artificial intelligence chatbots are exploding in popularity, the most famous at the present being ChatGPT.
On Saturday, January 7th, 2023, a 29-year-old black man, Tyre Nichols, was subjected to a traffic stop near his home in Memphis, Tennessee. As seen on graphicbodycamerafootage published by the city of Memphis, Nichols was brutally beaten by multiple officers. Three days later, he succumbed to the injuries that he sustained from the beating. This particular case of police brutality has become national news particularly because the five officers responsible for the death of Nichols—Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr., and Justin Smith—are black. Because of the intraracial nature of this incident, there has been much discussion about whether or not race motivated the beating. Much of this discussion throughout the media is more ideological than it is illuminating.