Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Conservative magazine notes U.S. men are less physically strong than a generation ago


David French has a rather blunt article in National Review, “Young American males are losing touch with a critical element of true masculinity”, link here.

That is to say, physical strength, along with, obviously, aerobic fitness.  He makes comparisons to earlier generations, which were more used to changing their own oil, so to speak.

The gender fluidity crowd won’t like this.  Although, as French says, some women are stronger than many men, so definitely some transgender people will be, too.



But what’s also interesting in this article is the acknowledgement of a fundamental male duty to protect women and children in the tribe, which goes way beyond the narrower modern libertarian idea of personal responsibility, for one’s own choices.   That used to be the way it was, and it also had an effect on the “meaning” of marriage.
 
Filmmaker Nev Schulman (“Catflish”) posted this on Facebook this morning and asked. “Do you think that being strong and working with your hands makes you masculine”?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

CBS 60 Minutes gives a report on fake news, which itself is almost salacious


Scott Pelley, on CBS 60 Minutes this Sunday evening, produced a most disturbing report on the reliance of so many Americans on “fake news” sites and their willingness to believe their contents.

And the episode clarifies is this is not about politicians (Donald Trump) claiming an inconvenient truth is fake news, but actual made-up salacious falsehoods believed by millions.

And some of the purveyors, including a southern California lawyer who provides some of the stories on a site named but not hyperlinked in the story, claim they believe the stories.

The episode also explained how bots provide false “likes” of social media, making the stories appear more popular than they are, to increase advertising war.  Some of the bots are software created in Russia.



My own stories and blog posts use credible news outlets as much as possible, rather than any sites like those claimed to be fake.  I do consider Breitbart and Milo to be valid.

The broadcast did review the Comet Ping Pong incident (“Pizzagate”) in Washington DC.   The owner suddenly started getting threats in social media, after bizarre connections to Clintons’ campaign were rumored (details ).  It’s curious that people don’t believe these when in print in supermarket tabloids (which were targeted, remember, in the 2001 anthrax attacks), but do when they go viral online.  Petual Dvorak has a perspective comparing fake news writers to real reporters here.

In the video above, Ashton Kutcher compares real stories about trafficking to the fake news conspiracy theories.

I do cover stories that I think are legitimate and not sufficiently covered by mainstream media – like about the fragility of the power grids to solar storms or physical terror or EMP as well as cyberterror.  One can “connect the dots” from totally credible sources.

I am constantly bombarded with invitations to increase my Twitter followers.

The plea deal for Edgar Welch in the Comet Ping Pong case was recently announced, here.




Update: March 29

Electronic Frontier Foundation reports on a California bill, AB 1104, that would criminalize the posting of fake news that could influence an election or referendum vote (imagine how that could affect gay issues).  The latest is that the bill has been pulled.



The Washington Post has an op-ed by Margaret Sullivan (Style section) about the possibility of libel suits over fake news, especially Comet Ping Pong, and whether an apology (as from the Alex Jones Channel) can matter.  The business owners still face consequences from the fact that a gullible portion of the public still believes the stories.


Paul Fahri has a story in the same page about whether readers can distinguish news from opinion, which I will probably take up soon in more detail on Wordpress/


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Advertisers finding themselves displayed near what they perceive as hate speech on the Web; tech companies wonder about more pre-screening for ads


Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg have a detailed article on the front page o the Washington Post today, “Advertisers find it hard to avoid sites spewing hate”.  Online, the title is more specific, “For advertisers, algorithms can lead to unexpected exposure on sites spewing hate”.
 l
The long story explains how mainstream tech companies like ATT won’t use Adsense or similar services because of incidental placement near hate speech.  The story gives many examples of ads near racial , misogynist or homophobic slurs.

Some advertisers complain that their ads appear near comments that are hateful even though the main articles are not.



However, some advertisers don’t won’t any connection to sites thought to be hateful or white supremacist (like Spencer), or even perceived as so conservative that they are unempathetic to ordinary people (like Breitbart, or perhaps Milo).  When I look at Breitbart (or Milo) right now, I see plenty of ads (but more of the sportsman, hunter type) but I don’t see any stories that are “hateful” in the narrower sense of the word I am used to.  I do see a preoccupation with the Trojan horse problem, which is what terrorists want to exploit   And I do see a resentment of gender-related “political correctness” and safe zones.

But many advertisers say they want the big tech companies to scan content more carefully.  This issue remains very critical to the Internet business model that feeds ungated user generated content.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Senate undoes FCC oversight of consumer privacy v. ISP's; border searches


The Senate voted 50-48 to take away the online privacy rules that limit data collection by ISP’s from consumers, presumably to sell to advertisers, rules that had been promulgated by the FCC.  Further, the Senate wants to prevent the FCC from regulating carrier privacy invasions in the future.  The whole idea is to be friendly to communications carrier profits.

My concern is not so much being sent ads per se, but maybe an increase in "malvertising" (malware in ads) or unwanted solicitations and disruptions from sellers, which I don't have time for.  The "sales culture" out there gets more desperate to make a living all the time.

Electronic Frontier Foundation has a story and petition by Kate Tummarello here.

Brian Fung writes in the Washington Post, “The Senate just voted to undo landmark rules covering your Internet privacy”  on p A16 of Friday’s Washington Post.



The change would roll back Obama's requirement that ISP's have explicit permission to access and sell consumer date.

EFF also has a detailed article by Stephanie Lacambra on the inspection of travelers’ electronics, possibly social media accounts browsing caches (even Finder or Windows Explorer activity), here   The article focuses on anonymous speech, but looking at browsing history could attract suspicion over cultural or religious perceptions.




Update: March 30

So did the House. The Verge has a tattle-tale list of the House vote.  Ezra Klein has a video on Vox explaining why ISP's. compared to social media companies, don't have the same legitimate claim on the right to sell your data.  Monopoly is one of them.

The other issue is that odd browsing habits, even if not illegal, could attract suspicion in connection with putative connection to terror, or maybe ephebophilia.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trump's presidency shows particular disdain for "losers", just like I have sometimes


Philip Kennicott has a provocative column in the Washington Post Style section Sunday, “Budget is not an attack on the arts”, link.

Kennicott, art and architecture critic, maintains that it is symbolic of Trump’s disdain for “losers”, to want to satisfy the urge in some people for upward affiliation, to play on a first-place team, or to have a lover that is “the best anyone could do.”  You used to hear that in the gay male community, and among straight college men.  It’s part of body fascism.
 
It’s this desire to make it on your own, to turn away from having to join goals that actually help peopke who are less intact and need more personal attention.

By the way, Trump just demonstrated his "winner take all" attitude by giving his own "party" an ultimatum on doing the AHCA vocte tomorrow in the House.

Trump called the Democrats losers after the Ryancare American Health Care Act went down in flames Friday March 24, .here

Monday, March 20, 2017

Volunteerism, updated


I “volunteered” Saturday afternoon at Mount Olive Methodist Church (“Community Assistance”) in Arlington, and this time I worked the food distribution line (canned and “dry measure” items).  You had to remain standing for about 80 minutes, the time it took the line to move.

There was a suggestion to be “friendly” and to “sell” some of the items (black beans) that there was plenty of, and ration some protein (tuna) that there was less of.   I’m not particularly cut out to perform as a “greeter”, or to integrate myself into “other people’s” social capital.

We got fed – and maybe I let the rest of the established team clean up, but practically all the canned items did get given away.

Again, I think it’s hard to make occasional volunteer shifts meaningful without some minimum amount of time regularly and some continual contact with the group.  The group’s goals need to merge more with mine.

I need to repair a bridge with Food and Friends – I had turned down a driving assignment for Thanksgiving because of the neighborhood (physical cowardice?) .  But I probably won’t consider volunteer driving until doing another eye examination (a floater for about a year, not progressive).
 
And I don’t yet have an answer on how asylum seeker hosting will turn out.  I am outside the “social capital” of the group that does it, so my participation could raise challenging questions both me and any organization that I could help (Feb. 24).  . I would need to bring my own form of “social capital” to any such effort, as well as make sure we could stay within the law.

I probably will announce more detail "changes" in my own setup on my DADT Footnotes blog on Wordpress/Blue Host, when they happen.  A move down the road is still possible.  But I'll need to go into a "sneak preview" mode soon.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Blogger claims Facebook suspended him for 24 hours for defending Milo Yiannopoulos in a post


James Delingpole writes (on Breitbart )  that he was suspended from Facebook for 24 hours for posting a piece that defends Milo Yiannopoulos.

It’s not clear if he linked to that page or included it inline.  The latter sounds more likely.  But he did not provide a link to a page showing what had written to defend his claims.   This is the first I have heard of 24 hours suspensions on Facebook.

Nevertheless, the story of the suspension is disturbing, as is this story about the permanent removal of Polandball.

And then there is a blog called “Zelo Street” with more to say about this, which I can’t make sense of.

Milo's account on Facebook still appears to work normally.   But he had been banned from Twitter in 2016 over his behavior with respect to actress Leslie Jones.  Milo linked to Delingpole's Breitbart story on the suspension today on Facebook himself. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Online reputation can affect immigrants and asylum seekers (DHS is your "Facebook Friend" like it or not)


A blog called “The Asylumist” by Jason Dzubow, Esq. has a posting today on online reputation for migrants, especially people entering the country for the first time, or re-entering.  It would sound logical that this could affect US citizens at the border, and that it could affect whether asylum requests are accepted.

The titled of the post is “DHS is your Friend on Facebook, whether you ‘Like’ it or not”, link.

I wrote the following comment:

"Could an asylum seeker's social media posts once in the U.S. have a bearing on his/her "credible fear" or "particular social group" status?  Suppose someone overstayed a visa but had applied for asylum status out of fear of LGBTQ persecution for certain countries (Russia, many countries in Africa, and Islamic countries) within the one year limit, but had "outed" himself or herself on social media while in the U.S., easily discoverable in the home country. "   (Note online: I meant to say “overstayed”, not “overstated”).

Dzubow talks about “degrees of separation” of a person from a known terrorist.  In some countries, for most people this might be a low number like 3 or 4.  Actually, I am just two degrees of separation from President Trump, and only one from a number of celebrities.

See also related post March 13.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New efforts to prevent search engines from unduly affecting elections, small businesses


Craig Timberg describes an effort by Robert Epstein and his Sunlight Society to monitor the results of search engines and the possibility that they can affect elections and probably many businesses, p/ A14, Economy and Business today, link.

Note the Post's new online little caption (or aphorism, or inevitable epigram), "Democracy dies in darkness".

The behavior of search engines early in the history of the Internet helped amateurs, as sites with simpler technology and direct or hard-coded links tended to score higher that results generated by internal database searches.  In more recent years, search engines have tended to rank results from more “professional” or “institutional” sources higher than in the past.  This does help people defend their online reputations from possible attacks from rivals.

Oddly, I couldn’t get a site for Sunlight Society to come up in a Google search just now.

Monday, March 13, 2017

American citizens have electronics seized and searched at airports, Canadian border, without probable cause.


NBC News reports that American citizens are now occasionally being held at borders and electronics searched for some time, as in this story.  Most of these citizens were Muslim but were native born.  

 The video told the story of a young couple held when re-entering New York State from Canada.

This is not considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment if it happens at a border.  But the misuse of data later without court supervision would be a constitutional issue.
 
These incidents did increase after Trump’s inauguration.

In May 1997, I drove across the border from Montana into Saskatchewan along dirt  farm roads because I had forgotten my passport (they could ask for a birth certificate then -- but this was before 9/11).   I don't think you can do that now.  (Or maybe migrants do.)

None of this would apply to routine security screening of electronics items before getting onto domestic planes.  Ability to travel without damaging laptops especially would always remain a critical issue.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

ADA requirements could compromise "free content" libraries (even on YouTube) and open access


FEE, Foundation for Economic Education, a libertarian site, has another cautionary tale about UC Berkeley.  No, it’s not just about Milo Yiannopoulos, although he has indeed found a real iceberg. The piece, by Brittany Hunter, titles itself “When equal access means zero access for all”.

The university has a digital library of lectures and videos, over 20000 items, that it was trying to offer for free.  (Yup, it’s the “It’s free” thing in Reid Ewing’s short film – we really need this film back in circulation.)  It seems that associates at Gallaudet University in Washington DC, a school for the deaf, filed suit under the ADA complaining that the materials were not readily accessible for the deaf (the videos that is, without close captioning.)

The facts seem confusing.  Many of the videos at issue were on a YouTube channel, and some had manually generated, and others had automatically generated (by YouTube) close captioning.
Apparently the complaint is about a small number of YouTube videos with no captioning. In any case, UC wound up removing the entire library from free access thru YouTube or similar platforms. I suppose the same could have happened with Vimeo.  (What about movie companies that provide private review screeners through Vimeo?)

I could ramble here.  I could say that’s like complaining about a foreign language movie without English subtitles.  In fact, I’ve managed a couple times with French or German subtitles for rare Asian movies (“Mermaid in a Manhole”).  But that’s off the subject.

More seriously, I could wonder if any amateur provider on YouTube could be approached or served with the same complaint.  Even me.

I wondered about related questions when self-publishing my books.  I don’t have the scale for audiobooks, or large print, or other accommodations.  POD can confound this question.  I may well take this question up later on my Book review blog, and come back to this question soon on a Wordpress blog that looks at these things as  bigger pictures.  But this problem would also relate quickly to open access.

Wikipedia documentary on first picture: By brainchildvn on Flickr - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, Link

Friday, March 10, 2017

Marine Corps photo sharing scandal looks bad for social media services


The recent scandal of unauthorized photo-sharing in the Marine Corps of indecent images of female Marines certainly draws attention to how social media can be disruptive on the job and particularly in the military. 

Business Insider has a detailed account of the potentialities here.  Servicemen attempted to circumvent the closing of a Facebook group by going to a message board site called AnonIB.  I tried to go to the “.co” domain and instant got a (heterosexual) pornographic message and nude female image.

In the backdrop, of course, is the cultural change over women in combat, and, more distantly, gays in the military.  But it’s unlikely that gay photosharing would get very far in the military even given the 2011 repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”. 

  

This could add to Trump’s distrust of computers and Internet culture, with serious consequences for free speech in other areas later. 

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Facebook Live presents new issues of "pro-actively" screening out violence, even given Section 230


Deepa Seetharaman (with Stu Wood) has a disturbing story In the Wall Street Journal March 7, front page. “Facebook wasn’t ready for video’s dark side: After rushed rollout, company wrestles with how to censor violence”, link. Online it gets updated as “Facebook under fire over policing of questionable content; BBC says social networking service didn’t remove child photos reported to it”.

I’ve watched plenty of wholesome Facebook Live videos.  I watched Bryce Harper have a Super Bowl party at his huge home (is that near Las Vegas?) before coming to MLB Spring Training.  I watched young OAN correspondent Trey Yingst, 23, talk about Aleppo.  I watched Milo Yiaannopoulos host a Christmas Party (in West Hollywood?) without ranting about feminism or BLM.  But the story reports Diamond Reynolds’s video of her husband’s shooting by police in (normally civil) Minneapolis – where I had lived some of the best years of my life, 1997-2003.



I would even say this is a good thing, to keep possibly abusive law enforcement in check.

Facebook may not have grasped the implications – but in a nation of 300 million-plus and in a world beset by polarization and hateful sectarian conflict, there will be parties who want to show off their brutality, regardless of later consequences for them (getting caught, or attracting military response).

No doubt, this problem is sure to add pressure on the Section 230 debate.



Update: March 14

Wired (Emma Grey Lewis) argues that Facebook must do a lot more pre-emptively against revenge porn, which it compares to terror propaganda and child porn, here.  Note how she works in the theme of amateurism.

Elizabeth Dwoskin of the Washington Post reports that Facebook is implementing measures to ban the use of its data by police to monitor protesters and activists (or "resisters") here

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Bizarre email "spam" threat incident against a conservative pressure group in northern Virginia


There was a bizarre incident involving the organizing of a political watchdog group, in Winchester VA this week.  It’s worthy of note.

The group (called “Indivisible Winchester”)  reportedly comprises Republicans and conservatives who object to some of Donald Trump’s behavior, policies, or both.  (Today, Trump made things worse with a tweet about the unsubstantiated idea that Obama had him wiretapped before the election).

The organizer of the group got a long, quasi-threatening email challenging the very idea that the group was meeting, according to this story on ABC7 station WJLA here.

One wonders why the recipient wasn't suspicious and didn't mark the email as spam. One could always have gotten a threatening email and never opened it and remain unaware of any "threat".

The story mentions the sheriff departments in both Frederick (containing Winchester) and Clarke (containing Berryville, 10 miles to the East).

There aren’t many news accounts online.  The Winchester Star link cannot be read without a subscription (no free trial for the paywall).  And it is not practical for a blogger like me to subscribe to small town newspapers.

I made a field trip to the area today.  No one seemed to know much.  I purchased a hardcopy of the weekend paper in a Sheetz store and there was no mention of it.

On Facebook, the group closed its page and requires a friend request (link).  I’ve never seen a group do this on Facebook before.

Again, it seems surprising and disturbing that someone would object to the mere existence of a local political pressure group.


Friday, March 03, 2017

Snapchat's IPO: this social media company really designs itself for socializing


Snapchat has gone public, although the number of detailed stories is surprisingly low.  Here’s Fortune’s account.
 
  26-year-old founder Evan Spiegel gave the Los Angeles Times an interview here.   His wealth will be more than Donald Trump’s and start getting into the ballpark od Zuckerberg.

I don’t use the service.  Other than talking by voice on the phone (I don’t record), I want a record of all my communications to stay.  But it’s possible that in the future, depending on what I get into, others could convince me to use it.

Snapchat is set up to encourage people to have fewer followers that they know better, and are willing to be silly with.  It presumes some natural openness to intimacy.
 

 
The New York Times has provided a way for users to submit tips in an encrypted fashion, story in Digital Insider here today.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

How I use my blogs to report news -- my current "best practices"


I wanted to open the month with a note about my own blogging strategy.

I have an inventory (or "the sum") of all my blogs here (along with a Privacy Policy that applies to all blogs carrying Adsense  -- 16 on Blogger and 4 on Wordpress (20 total).

There was an older Technology blog on this mini-site  which I had set up in 2006.  That blog was “lost” when the ISP was sold and the site migrated to a new platform.  Some of the entries are here.   I did save all of the content (all of it written before 2010) and I will eventually repost it on the free Wordpress site   which I am not using much otherwise right now.

 The legacy site “doaskdotell” was set up in December 1999 (name reserved until 2021) as supplementary support for my book series.  An old site “hppub.com” was migrated to “doaskdotell.com” in the summer of 2005.  This site has many older-formatted (pre-blog) movie, book and music reviews, as well as the (“it’s free”) text of my books.  Recently, there was a problem at the ISP where the visitor was shown a Windows Server page (lasted about 18 hours). This site was also moved by an ISP purchase and migration last autumn.

I had added the most two recent Wordpress blogs (media commentary and news commentary) in May 2016.  Most major media (movie and book) reviews are on this new blog.  The news commentary has interpretative commentary on many issues (such as immigration).

That generally means there are fewer postings on the 16 legacy Blogger blogs.  However, especially given the election of Trump, I have found that the details of many policy issues are shifting constantly, making it difficult to write many large interpretive pieces.  So I have been using the legacy blogs more again, especially the LGBT issues blog, the International Issues blog (to cover immigration, refugees and political asylum seekers)  and this one, with smaller, more factual stories with more outside links.

The Wordpress blogs have also been a little harder to use recently, because of server caching.  Many postings don’t show up on the actual blog until the next day, even though you can get to the blog individually if you know the page number.  Usually it will show up immediately with some of the Wordpress categories.

As a practical matter, I post many news links on both Facebook and Twitter.  Both streams are public.  Typically I post there first, and then write a posting on one of the legacy blogs if the news item is important enough.

I may do another book marketing campaign on Facebook soon ($50) the last one brought many visitors.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fair Use and Internet culture


Kit Walsh has an important perspective on Electronic Frontier Foundation, “Copyright Law vs. Internet Culture”. This essay is part of “Fair Use Week”.

The essay mentions the practice of mixing music and other media, creating derivative works.  It also mentions that amateurs often don’t have the resources to defend themselves in court for cases that they could probably win.  This applies to copyright as well as defamation (SLAPP) and remember a few years ago we had to deal with copyright trolls like Righthaven.

There is a culture in music and film industries to extract every drop of profit from some works.  That’s partly because larger businesses in media and film are in someway funded by investors or sometimes donors who may believe owners have a fiduciary responsibility.  That’s also because the more “popular” parts of the media generally claim that they employ more people, and can credibly argue that (union and guild) jobs are at stake.  20th Century Fox, particularly, states how many people it employed in the copyright notices on every studio financed film, often claiming it sponsored more than 10000 jobs.

I see a lot of people recording dancing at discos.  Even that has gotten a little more problematic in recent years given privacy concerns, but I almost never post homemade video with disco music on YouTube out of copyright concerns.  It’s a little silly, as the practice wouldn’t reduce owners’ incomes or threaten jobs. It would be difficult in practice to request and get permission for every such video.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Report on my own circumstances with respect to hosting issue; Trump blasts "fake news media" and bans mainstream news outlets at gaggle


Given my own recent investigations and blogging about the (gay) asylum seeker issue, I took a “personal integrity” check of sorts and had a 1:1 with a pastor in Washington DC yesterday.

She, along with a number of church members, had returned recently from a few days in Cuba.  She noted that people in Cuba are very smart and well educated but have a uniformly low standard of living because of past Communism.  Most poor countries, people don’t show book smarts.  But in the interest of “egalitarianism”, Cuba has suppressed individual initiative and kept everyone equally poor.  So did Maoist China in the 1960s.  Generally, there is no Internet, no wide dissemination of personal news (or “fake news” for that matter).

I left a copy of my DADT-III (2014) book (they already have DADT-1).

Let me try to summarize one particular train of thought:  We are born “unequal” in circumstance and biological capability.  I think inequality (most of all, from accumulated and inherited wealth, not just income) is a serious, destabilizing problem (DADT-III) even though it must naturally accompany freedom and innovation at first.  But inequality is addressed first when those who are “luckier” give back and enhance value in the lives of “real people as people”, not just in abstractions.  It is not addressed well simply by joining mass movements or demonstrations, or automatically giving exaggerated support to people who claim to be members of marginalized groups, with no critical thinking about “what actually works” intervening.

The “giving back” issue is particularly testy with citizen journalists, who may be perceived as “spectators” or “kibitzers” or as “iv-critics”, who are unwilling to place their own skin in the game (maybe literally ), yet who may have a disproportionate influence on the lives of those who take on more responsibility than they (the gratuitous speakers or provocateurs) do.  This, if you think about it, fits the traditionalist conservative idea of family values, where it is presumed that everyone has a responsibility to care for other generations locally.

So, I have been looking at this asylum seeker issue since last summer.  The “need” arises from the fact that there is a population that does have the temporary and contingent legal right to stay in the United States  despite lack of normal documentation (based on accepted asylum applications) but that is legally preceded from gaining government benefits (for some number of months) and from working.  Legally, the only way those without accumulated savings can remain here is if someone supports them as a dependent.  But the law (outside of the end-stage idea of actual marriage) does not provide any such recognition to the host and exposes the host to many uncertain risks.  (In Canada it is much clearer.)

The current Trump administration takes on a mentality of “take care of your own” (that is, Americans) first.  But Americans (citizens, and most permanent legal residents) are normally entitled to benefits and to work, to function as normal individuals.  The class of asylum seekers, whose numbers (especially including Central America) are considerable but whose situation is narrow and whose needs may take on a life-death urgency, seems pointed and to present specific moral challenges to individuals in my circumstances, with an inherited house.

Generally, our “society” does not expect individuals to house homeless persons whom they do not already know  (earlier commentary).  And in the LGBT community, allowing people to “stay” or “crash” is common and informal and often accompanies the start of personal relationships, but it is “under the table” and not a policy matter.  (It still can become a safety issue for neighbors.)   Yesterday’s meeting did not result in any change in that perception.

Judging from news reports, it appear that some organizations of faith feel that it is morally imperative to house undocumented immigrants even when flouting the law, out of compassion or humanitarian concerns.  Usually these are housed in churches or public buildings.  Sometimes people are hidden in private homes (under the Fourth Amendment) but this does not seem all that common.  There are tremendous volunteer activities to help illegal immigrants at southern borders, but most of this happens inside actual church property (with feeding, clothing, tents) or may especially involve conducting known relatives of the immigrants and buying them bus tickets.

I do not consider it my moral obligation to flout the law to “give back”, at least in these circumstances.  Housing of someone without documentation and without a legitimate and credible asylum application cannot become my personal concern.  In general, though, I recognize that there can be times with faith can demand civil disobedience, but I don’t think that point is reached here.

And even today, most faith-based organizations helping immigrants do not openly ask for housing assistance in private homes, although sometimes this occurs (as with adult immigrants traveling alone).

So, at this point, I perceive myself approaching a critical decision point, with a sense of neutral equilibrium, and a risk of rolling over.  Right now, the bias in the system seems to say that people should not be expected to house others whom they do not already know personally, unless, perhaps, there are some reference or background checks.  There needs to be some supervision, from a church or social service agency.  The social service agencies right now generally (away from border areas) handle only refugees because that’s where the government assistance is (even if pre-screened foreign refugee admissions are temporarily banned by Trump). However a host’s own church could help supervise a housed asylum seeker, and this idea was discussed.

I have spent a lot of time investigating this on my own.  Some of the issues (like liability for Internet router use) could be mitigated with some techniques like guest accounts or possibly OpenDNS (the latter of limited use).  I have not heard much specific about the local situation since Trump was inaugurated by I may next week, after Trump issues another EO and addresses Congress, so that we have more idea of the contingencies that could happen with hosting asylum seekers.

The hosting need (covered on my LGBT issues, international issues, and Wordpress news commentary blogs) is likely to be low volume (because of tightened credibility practices regarding fear and “particular social group”) but extreme need (nearly certain persecution, maybe death, if the person is deported).  This could put someone in a “know nothing” position – once one knows about a particular case that is presented, one must “step up” and take the risk (as in Chapter 6 of my DADT-III book).  That would mean some time-consuming due diligence steps (with attorneys) before accepting someone who could become a dependent.  So I don’t know how this will turn out, but I think it’s likely to be resolved before “The Ides of March”.

One ethical or credible solution could be to downsize and sell (the family Drogheda).  That means I go back to an apartment, which I chose, which takes less time and risk to manage, and frees up time for my own priorities.  That eliminates the “political liability” of having inherited space that you don’t really need. It could become a tear-down.  As an only child, the final legacy of my parents’ 1940 marriage dissolves, there is no lineage.    If this is my decision, I’ll outline the remaining “homework” that I must finish before starting the process of a sale and relocation, which itself would probably take 60-90 days from the get-go.

In terms of Biblical references, this somewhat like the “give to whoever asks” (Matthew 5:42) idea in the Beatitudes, more than “turn the other cheek.”  It is about the connection of faith and works.  If is more about duty than taking responsibility for choices in the usual libertarian sense.  Because duty, by definition, involves stepping up to risk and “costs you something” (and can mean “bullet taking” or sacrifice relative to the former self in the more extreme cases) it is connected indeed to “right-sizing” (the Wordpress news commentary blog) even though that concept is easily abused by authoritarian leaders and tends to disguise the need to have more real “heart” and organic spontaneity.

We talked about whether the heavily bureaucratized volunteer groups  (food banks and delivery, community assistance, help lines, etc) really do much good.  She said that they do, but communication with clients is gradual and very difficult.  But sometimes risk-sharing forces you to walk in others’ shoes for a while, maybe a long time;  to walk away from that sometimes amounts to cowardice.  Remember, the "Rich Young Ruler's" problem was that he had too much to lose, when the poor or "average Joe" people don't (and can do more "off the books").  And the Parable of the Talents promises a world of inequality on its face, until people circulate themselves back in.

The idea of "radical hospitality", however, could become important social resilience factors after a major regional catastrophe (even a WMD incident).



One other thing right now:

This morning (speaking at CPAC at the Gaylord in National Harbor, MD), Donald Trump said that “fake news” comes from media elements that are enemies of “the people” and he called for an end to allowing journalists to cite anonymous sources.  ("The fake news media are he enemy of the people")  I could extend this by reinforcing how authoritarian leaders think that the "people" should be individually "right-sized" in a queue.

CNN is reporting (as of 2 PM) that it, the New York Times, Politco and other mainstream to liberal sites were shut out of attending a White House "gaggle" where the FBI leak may be discussed.  But OANN and the Washington Times may attend.

The Washington Post reported on its own experience with the gaggle later today here.  The New York Times reported on it here.  CNN has a video here.  The Los Angeles Times is especially strident.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

EFF supports Safe Harbor, moderately, as better than nothing


Rebecca Jeschke has a brief article on Electronic Frontier Foundation offering modest support to the way that Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act works – that is, the Safe Harbor.
 
EFF also mentions Section 1201, which apparently makes it illegal even to publicly discuss materials covered by DRM, or digital rights management, under the DMCA.  The case is Green v. US Department of Justice.   There is more info about the case here.

It seems scary that it could be illegal to "discuss" or report something.  But the original Communications Decency Act tried to do that with some aspects of abortion back in 1996.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Catastrophic President's Day for Milo Yiannopoulos; was this a "hit"?


The Milo Yiannopoulos saga exploded today – while I was on the road like Jack Kerouac.  When I sat down for a burger lunch (not vegan), my phone was filled with stories about Milo.  It started with CPAC’s disinvite.  That alone was enough. It was all from a podcast from “The Drunken Peasants”  whom I have never heard of., leaked by “The Reagan Battalion.”  Sounds like the old “released thru United Artists”.

The New York Times (Jeremy Peters, Alexandra Alter, Michael M. Grynbaum)  analyzes Milo’s rationalizations unfavorably here. I do have my own feelings about his handling of the age of consent issue, and of the idea that some men mature faster than others and that younger men often want to use sex for power and money from older men.  It’s come up in my own writing (when I worked as a sub – July 27, 2007) but it’s too much to analyzes right now.



Yiannopoulos has lost his book deal with Simon & Shuster / Threshold.  I suppose he will self-publish “Dangerours”, or at least I hope so.  I encouraged him to do so with a Facebook comment.
But he might not be able to stay at Breitbart.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Facebook's Journalism Project, and its increased efforts against terror propaganda


Fidji Simo has introduced The Facebook Journalism Project on the company’s own corporate blog, here.

Along these lines, Facebook says it has training courses for journalists.  Perhaps these echo Poynter.

 In general they would seem to focus particularly on reporting local news.



I can see how a Facebook page can be an effective blog with followers and comments, but I would prefer getting more statistics on visitors (you get them if you buy a marketing campaign, $50 per event when I did it).

Facebook also says it is working harder on exposing hoaxes and fake news.

And Steve Overly reports that Facebook plans to use artificial intelligence to identify terrorist recruiting propaganda.  Earlier CNN had reported expanded use of digital watermarks to look for specific images associated with terror (and child pornography) by Facebook and Twitter.

Excerpts from Mark Zuckerberg’s recent “missive” on his plans for Facebook are presented by the AP and Washington Post here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Milo Yiannopoulos, "le beau provocateur" In French, everything is either masculine or feminine, nothing is neuter (or neutral)


I’ve blogged about the controversy created by Bartbreit procovateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

I collected a few references and tried to get at the bottom of what he really says.



Here’s a recent interview on “The Nation” with “the most hated man on the Internet”. I find Milo’s criticism of libertarianism out of character.  He wants personal freedom, but admits that the collective whole of culture and country matters, too, so that could possibly put his own personal lifestyle into question.

After the Bill Maher episode controversy   (airs on HBO Friday 10 PM) , Mashable published an analysis, describing how Milo deliberately “normalizes” extreme positions so that conservatives (especially the US GOP) will regard them as mainstream. (The gif photo makes him look angelic while characterized as a "monster".)

So I browsed through some sites reporting his quotes.  The Inquisitor had the most constructive article.   But “YourTango” repeated some of the same quotes but with less generous interpretations.   “Azquotes” has a larger volume.

Milo makes statements about members of various groups that reflect how a lot of the “right wing” feels.  But he really makes them in subjunctive mood (which in English is less clear than it would be in French or a romance language).  He makes statements that characterizes some members of marginalized groups who overplay their victimhood, knowing they will inflame a certain segment of the radical Left and set up a chain reaction that keeps him famous .  But the statements are generally not factually true of most people in the groups.

His comment on “fat shaming” is especially indicative.  Yes, there is some element of “personal responsibility” or “moral hazard” here.  But the comment reflects a personal bias, expressed by a gay man, that to be important, another person should be an remain a perfect cis male for eternity (like an angel, perhaps).  It’s interesting that a computer-aged face of Milo circulates on the Internet.

Let's play some language games:  "Le beau provocateur.  La belle provocateuse."  Try the same idea with "arbitrageur".



Thursday, February 16, 2017

How generating fake news (for Donald Trump) on line generates eastern European teenagers plenty of spending money


Here’s another fake news operation to ponder, a Wired story, heavily illustrated with industrial Balkan scenery, “Inside the Macedonian Fake-News Complex,” by Samanth Subramanian 
   
Before getting into the aggregated fake news business, the teenager played around with consumer-fad items like health foods.  I guess I,m na├»ve;  I don’t engage Facebook ads (except by accident), but many consumers are much more eager to, especially the kind to Trump’s mass movement manipulation.  I do have a problem with accidental clicks on mobile devices because it’s hard to avoid them when browsing. Particularly annoying are sites (“the 20 lowest cost of living cities…”) that make you load fresh pages of ads on your phone to see the next item (and I get a lot of emails asking to put these up on my own blogs). 
 
 
The Liam Stack writes in Business Day about how 20th Century Fox created fake news sites to promote “A Cure for Wellness”, which I have not seen yet. 

 


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Academic publishers try to stop universities from invoking "fair use" to reduce their need to buy expensive subscriptions or force students to do same


There’s another wrinkle now in the open access issue.  Corynne McSherry of Electronic Frontier Foundation has an article about litigation against Georgia State University for placing excerpts from some academic journals on its servers to save students the enormous expense of buying entire books or subscriptions (this fits in with Jack Andraka’s argument that students trying to get into medical research face a “Catch 22”).  Georgia State had been sued by three academic publishers as well as athe AAP trade group, for its interpretation of fair use.
 
McSherry’s story and subsidiary links and court briefs are here.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"Writers Resist" hold protests against Trump


There is a group called “Writers Resist Trump” (a public group on Facebook ). You have to join the group (which requires approval) to get their posts.

There is also a Writers Resist or Write Our Democracy group.



The groups held a protest in Lafayette Park outside the White House early Saturday night.  I did not hear about the protest until this morning.  The group seems to be a bit tightly knit.  Here is the story on WJLA.
 
It’s significant that writers as a group see Trump’s authoritarianism as a long term existential threat.