Saturday, December 31, 2016

Moving on to the next big steps, in 2017: five tasks to complete, and then maybe a relocation


I wanted to lay out my “content” priorities for 2017.

First, I’ve been looking at ways I can indeed “give back” more than I have.  One issue I’ve looked at is (LGBTQ) asylum seekers.  It’s all very inconclusive.  In a number of areas volunteer agencies to communicate a sense of “duty” but are not very transparent about it.  You have to “belong” to the “group” and experience some relationism – a willingness to let people into your life who could become dependent, and give up some unencumbered-ness. .  (I won’t get into a speculative distinction between “relationism” and “relationalism” right now.)

I also want to make a move toward selling my screenplay “Epiphany” based on the three DADT books, and the novel “Angel’s Brother”.  To be able to do this, travel (long distances, by air and even internationally) has to get a lot easier.  Some of that means better mastery of some technology do deal with security issues, but it would also help if my residential circumstances were simpler.  An old house can take a lot of time and present unpredictable disruptions, especially just before travel.  A modern high rise apartment could simplify a lot of things for me.  So that could mean sale (for a teardown probably) and moving.  I have some interest in living in New York again (but most of Manhattan is unaffordable), but the practicality could mean staging things and being in a modern place near Dulles airport to simplify travel (for one year, then move again).  That’s one idea.  It (the first phase) could happen by the middle of 2017.  The entire process would take about three months from the time I committed myself. But once I started, I would not have time for much else until done. In the past, when I have anticipated moves to happen in the next year, they have tended to happen within 6-9 months.  One possible scenario could mean eventual relocation west (like Austin, or maybe Las Vegas, for access to California.  It sounds like free agent time.


But there are five “content-oriented” tasks that I need to put to bed first.

(1) Finish a series of (Wordpress) postings on the “right-sizing” issue (at least three more). These will be substantial.

(2) Complete some more analysis of the “loose ends” in my novel plot, and especially how the novel relates to two older manuscripts that I have.  These older manuscripts are “Tribunal and Rapture”, an “Armageddon” story told from the viewpoint of an aging retired FBI agent, who encounters “Bill” and his cohorts on a nationwide odyssey. “Angel’s Brothers”, on the other hand, is told from the viewpoint of a middle-aged gay CIA agent with a straight family, and his gifted college student boyfriend, who has stumbled into the real secrets.  “Tribunal and Rapture” was apparently started in mid 1999, and a first draft completed by early 2001. But “Tribunal and Rapture” has it’s own prequel, “Rain on the Snow”, apparently written in 2000. That novel is centered on “Bill’s” experienced being trained as a civilian reservist after losing his regular job, at a secret facility in West Texas.  He discovers the “plot” and winds up in jail after a false accusation.  That novel was expanded with an extended prequel of its own with other characters in 2003-2004.  The entire set up could be used to build a movie “franchise” and I will set up some new materials on Wordpress to show how his could be done, even after I am “gone”.

(3) Complete some more drafts of my music, especially the Sonatas 2 and 3.  (The miniatures are essentially done now.) But I need to do more work on the “last pivot” on the coda of the Sonata 3 (about 8 more measures, but critical), and some of the repetitious harmonic patterns in certain developmental passages (one in particular that is repeated twice) in Sonata 2, which I may do with a cut and past on a hand original from 1960 (after making a good photocopy). PDF’s of this sheet music exist now.

(4) Tie loose ends in the screenplays, especially “Epiphany”, “Titanium”, and maybe “69 Minutes to Titan”.
 
(5) Make and edit videos of my explaining my take on (a) why homophobia was the way it was in the past, and (b) what I would say as the “State of the Union” were I in Trump’s shoes.  I want do beef up my skills with FinalCut Pro, and do a better job of the photo (even selfie) mixing it with location photos and some other videos.  I have a GoPro for this, but it isn’t working out that well, may need a different kind of videocam.



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fake news avoidance by major advertisers creates a business model problem for user-generated content


Sapna Maheshwari writes in the New York Times, “In Fake News, Ads Are Costly to Conscience, “, or, online, titled “Advertising’s moral struggle: Is Online Reach Worth the Hurt?
 
Some larger companies are now only placing ads in verified whitelisted sites that they check out.

 While established ad networks can scan with robots for obviously offensive material (hate speech, and sometimes pornography, especially c.p.) generally they have no way of ascertaining the validity of stories.  And up until the election of Trump, fake news sold ads well.



The whole business model for advertising on user-generated content may have been based on misleading material.  Facebook and Google, as reported before, are trying to weed it out, at least “voluntarily”, from their ad networks.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Obama sings Consumer Review Fairness Act, going after non-disparagement or non-review clauses


Congress has passed and President Obama has signed the Consumer Review Fairness Act (HR 5111 ) Electronic Frontier Foundation, link.  (Oops, my post headline says "sings" when I meant to type "signs".  But I guess he did "sing" it after all.)

The law takes aim at two kinds of tactics:  one is non-disparagement clauses, and the other (which I had not heard of before) is clauses that try to take copyright ownership of a user review.  That idea itself sounds in contradiction to existing copyright law.



Let us hope the incoming GOP Congress will have the same respect for consumers.  After all, Trump’s statements supposedly supporting his own constituency are quite troubling.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Orlando Pulse victims' families sue social media companies for indirectly aiding ISIS on their platforms; novel argument concerning Section 230


The families of at least three victims of the Pulse terror attack in Orlando on June 12, 2016 have filed lawsuits against Twitter, Facebook and Google (owner of Blogger, the platform on which this post appears) for “aiding and abetting” terrorists by knowingly or at least recklessly and negligently allowing terrorists to recruit on their platforms.


The story has been discussed on CNN this morning. CNN does not seem to have a detailed story online yet.  The suit was apparently filed in Florida, but it was not clear if this is in state or federal court.  Dana Bash interviewed plaintiff's attorney Keith Altman, who described the social media companies' efforts so far as like "weed whacking", and not pulling out the roots.  It sounds like the analogy between shaving and laser epilation.

Media reports are showing up now, such as this account on Gannett USA Today and this one in the Huffington Post here.  Fox has a story here.

All three companies have become more aggressive in rooting out content they know to be promoting radical Islamic terrorism (to use Ted Cruz’s term).  I just randomly checked the link for the Haqqu Media Center on Facebook a few minutes ago and found it removed.

The most obvious defense is, of course, Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.  Services providers are not normally legally liable for defamation or privacy torts committed by their users.

 There could be an analogy to child pornography, because service provider do have to remove and report child pornography when they find it, but again, they don’t have to check for it beforehand (although Google apparently does check email attachments for known images on the NCMEC database).

Plaintiffs claim (especially this morning on an interview on CNN with Dana Bash) that service providers are “creating content” by matching up users, content, and ads to show to them (especially for users who do not turn on “do not track”).  This is like saying a “logical relationship” or “intersection data” on a database (like IMS) is data itself (which used to be a popular view among database technology developers).  Socially, it’s like saying that the bonds among people are as important as the people themselves.



The litigation will obviously take a long time and generate appeals, but it will certainly prompt Trump to question Section 230 in conjunction with what he particularly views as a grave national security threat: the targeting of ordinary American civilians by foreign elements as “combatants”, which social media allegedly facilitates.

There have been other lawsuits against the social media companies, as over the Paris attacks, as reported by the AP and The Verge in June.

But this can develop into an existential threat to user-generated content “as we know it”.  Ordinary web hosts (Bluehost, for example) could also be exposed, but they are not directly involved in ad matching, normally.  I will follow this story closely and follow up with more details on my Wordpress News Commentary blog. I’ll try to find a PDF copy of the complaint online.

We seem to become a "Manchurian candidate" society.  Somebody else made me do it.

Picture:  I was in the Pulse in July 2015, almost one year before the attack.  It could have happened to me.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Facebook takes on fake news again, (Yes, but ... )


Facebook is announcing a strategy to “put fake news out of business, with your help”, according to a story Thursday night on NBC Nightly news, with video, here.

Users can mark a post, which can allow Facebook to mark it as disputed and ban the publisher from its ad networks, when enough visitors have reported the post as possibly “fake news” .  In some cases Facebook will show stories as disputed.  “We cannot become arbiter of truth itself”, and “we aim at the worst of the worst.”



I do have a problem that satire will get edited out.  For example, most of the postings of Milo (Breitbart) have a great deal of satire, but no hatred and no actual fake stories.  Somehow I’m reminded of the “Fact or Fiction” controversy about the Jersey Devil as well laid out in the 1998 sci-fi indie film :The Last Broadcast” which came out about the same time as the better known “The Blair Witch Project”.
 
And I have an issue of wondering, are we “ungated speakers” morally responsible for taking advantage of a permissive climate where so many “deplorables” among the user base don’t have the IQ or sense to avoid the gullibility to what amounts to a kind of information or knowledge spam?

However, someone whom I consider quite reputable has said recently that Silicon Valley has destroyed the profession of reporting, on a Facebook post himself.  In theory, that would maintain that my own model of “It’s free” (like in Reid Ewing’s 2012 video), allowing my perspectives to be found and get into the debate passively (something that worked very well with the “gays in the military” debate some years back) could destroy journalistic or media professionalism.  Amateur speech has a role in keeping established politicians accountable, and especially reining in on the reparative claims of “identity politics”.  But amateur speech can become gratuitous, and make others wonder about the speaker’s real motivations.

Along these lines, one can digest Charles Sykes and “Where the right went wrong” in New York Times.   This is pure tribalism:  you belong on one side or another, and either your side wins or loses.  We can’t all play for the Chicago Cubs in 2016 (Jimmy Kimmel notwithstanding).

Tim Toles writes, in the Washington Post, “The 2016 election was stolen.  Got a nicer way to say that?

Note Catherine Rampbell’s column Friday morning, also in the Post, “The right shuts down free speech, too”.

You might want to watch Vox journalist Tim Lee (whom I know from my days in Minneapolis) take on Tucker Carlson over the fake news issue on Fox, here. Lee is generally libertarian himself but does think private social media companies need to take this seriously.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Trump gets to know the stakes for Silicon Valley


Donald Trump met with more than a dozen Silicon Valley executives in his “Rump Tower”, in a 25th floor “Board room” right out of “The Apprentice”, although with some nice views.  They even put on formal suits.  Elizabeth Dwoskin and Brian Fung have the story in the Washington Post on p. A14,   with a list of attendees.

The meeting had been organized by Peter Thiel.

Trump seems to be easing up a bit on immigration, going along with the idea of allowing highly skilled engineers (often from Asia or India) to come, and less concerned that companies like Apple and Tesla buy parts from overseas.  Apple has been criticized because so many of its parts come from China, where workers reportedly live in dorm factories.  This creates a “karma” problem for tech users.

Trump seems vigorous on pursuing the business tax cuts they want.
 

 
And he seems less concerned about weighing in on the vulnerabilities created by a lax attitude toward user-generated content (including “fake news”), which makes recruitment of unstable people by ISIS and other potential enemies easier.  But you still wonder how sustainable the business models of many of the major companies will be, as the public become skittish about ads and excessive consumerism.   There’s still an ethical question as to whether UGC should pay its own freight.
Twitter, oddly, was not at the meeting, or even invited – given Trump’s own Twitter storms.
Still, Tech is globalistic and "elitist" and anti-tribal (although Facebook didn't take into account a lot of people's tribal tendencies in picking news to share and believe).  Simon Shsuter, describing "people power" on p. 82 of the Time "Person of the Year: issue ((T)rump), views globalism as an antidote to prevent war and struggle.  But populist Farage is quoted as saying that globalism shows Europe's "'complete lack of understanding of human beings operate.' In a world of Farage and his allies, people gravitate more toward tribal notions of identity than to lofty principles of integration."  That  helps predict homophobia;  gay people (especially men) have less reason for "loyalty to blood" - even as promoted by "Jake 2.0" in one episode. FEE has a related article on how tribalism relates to Bannon's economic nationalism, keeping the world in conflict, and speakers in their proper place, here.


Thursday, December 08, 2016

CNN ponders election and journalism under Trump at local bookstore; more on fake news; EFF speaksasy


Today, I had three events.

It started with a visit to Politics and Prose in Washington DC, where at 4 PM a CNN panel headed by Brian Stetler (with Christmas socks) and Dana Bash presented the book “Unprecedented” to a very full audience.

The answer to my question on Trump, Section 230 and social media appears in this video.


I also visited the Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria, and saw the ping pong tables inside, which is rare for a restaurant.

Today, Timothy B. Lee of Vox published an essay “Facebook should crush fake news the way Google crushed spammy content farms,”  I would add that Google misclassified  some“legitimate blogs” as spam blogs during the summer of 2008 when Google really took on link farms.  They used to offer captchas also.  Tim O’Reilly has recommended that Facebook implement the methods of Matt Cutts from that eras at Google.  “Nitecruzr” has discussed this problem on his own “Real Blogger Status” blog, here.

I then took a bus (surface) to Adams Morgan to get to the “Rebellion” bar on 18th St. where Electronic Frontier Foundation held a speakeasy.  There was little discussion of Trump, but I talked to a GWU anthropology graduate student who was going to do a dissertation on civilian control of the military, which is the subject of James Mattis’s recent book (which I reviewed on Wordpress Dec. 8).

 We also talked about the “old chestnut” debate over unit cohesion in the early days of Bill Clinton’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for gays in the military.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Cato holds forum on "Free Speech in the Age of Trump"


Tonight, the Cato Institute held a forum at 6 PM regarding Digital Rights under a Trump Administration, or “Free Speech in the Age of Trump”, link here.
 
One of the two main speakers was Flemming Rose, author of the “The Tyranny of Silence” (book reviews, Feb. 3, 2015).  Rose was the editor of Jyllands Posten in September 2005 when he decided to publish the cartoons of Muhammad.  That led to a huge uproar and eventual threats against Rose, as explained in the wiki article  or Atlantic.  There was a time later when as a condition of employment he was not allowed to speak or write publicly about religion or the controversy.

Rose insists that the only right you don’t have in a democracy is the purported right not to be offended.

Nick Gillespie, of Reason Magazine, told a story  of a subpoena his magazine got after a comment to an article was taken to threaten a federal judge, who had sentenced Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht to life imprisonment.   Section 230 should have protected Reason for liability for the comment.

Later, as the video shows, I asked whether could use the idea of “war against civilians” by ISIS as justification for shutting down a lot of user generated content.



Gillespie also mentioned that partisanship and gerrymandering, along with weak parties, make those favoring  moderate positions (fiscal conservative, socially liberal) impossible to elect, and tend to lead to various forms of identity and victimization politics.  He spoke badly of Bernie Sanders.


Gillespie noted that Facebook is a "platform", Breitbart is an "opinion" site and should not be regarded as a news site, whereas the New York Times is a true news site.   "Citizen journalists" do report news when they photograph videos themselves as they see it;  but by and large most "citizen" commentary is opinion (based on personal values or philosophy) and not true news. But readers have trouble understanding that.

After the session, I did mention to him that I had intended to include Section 230 in my question.  It’s easy to see how Section 230 could come under fire after “PizzaGate” since the many claims on certain forum sites were libelous and it would be very difficult in practice (for the restaurant) to go after everyone who had posted fake news.

Kat Murti moderated.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Fake news addict attacks a "target" pizza shop in DC; tech companies further explain how they will deal with terror promotion online; short film "Unhackable"


A (white) gunman (from Salisbury, North Carolina) stormed into the Comet Ping Pong Pizza Parlor in far Northwest Washington, fired one shot causing property damage but no injuries, and was arrested – but now the place is closed a couple days as police and the FBI investigate.  He seems to have been inspired by fake news stories that claimed that Hillary Clinton and others had been connected to a sex slave ring associated with the place.

The perp, Edgar Welch, now arrested, claimed he was doing a citizen investigation (and vigilante action perhaps) on the supposed ring.

In fact, Hillary Clinton’s email scandal was amplified by Comey’s Oct. 28 letter to Congress, where the email scandal was connected to allegations of Anthony Weiner’s supposed communications with an underage girl.

But even Trump was in a civil case, later dropped, with those kinds of allegations in the 1990s.

Billy Bush’s taping of the Days of our Lives NBC set, at least, only involved legal adults.

CBS News has the master story of Pizza shop incident here.  But it looks back to a local news story at WUSA about the viciousness and incredible nature of the fake news problem (and “#Pizzagate”).

NBCWashington has a detailed story here.

But NBCNews has an even more detailed story, about how the fake news blew up on 4chan, here. This fact pattern would seem to argue that Section 230 is giving some sites too much cover (although Reddit banned the thread).
 
So, we find a lot of Hillary's “deplorables” are easily duped by what they want to believe.

Other neighboring businesses in that area say they have been harrassed based on these fake news allegations.

Then, Facebook, Google-Youtube and Microsoft all say they will remove hate speech or terror materials in 24 hours when reported.  Microsoft says it will use a United Nations definition of what constitutes a terror group.  CNN has a detailed story on this, previewed by a video short film titled “Unhackable” (about sextortion involving Facebook and Skype)   .  The article emphasizes Europe.

Microsoft’s blog post is pretty indicative of how Silicon Valley will handle terror content online, here.  Trump could make “wartime” arguments to shut down a lot of user-generated content when ordinary civilians are put at risk.



Update: December 7

A detailed story by Marc Fisher et al on Pizzagate, front page of the Washington Post, here. Again, you wonder about Section 230 when the comments about the restaurant were so libelous, and difficult to pursue in practice.

Update: December 8

German Lopez of Vox has a detailed story that mentions a NYPD arrest rumor that I had heard verbally.



Saturday, December 03, 2016

Postwaves: a crowd-controlled social network, where people vote on whether your post stays


I found a new limited social networking site called Postwaves today.

It apparently allows posts to stay on its site if other users vote to keep them there, as a way of controlling spam, gratuitousness and fake news.

I found there was an account in my email name.  I don't remember setting it up, but it let me reset the password.

I then looked up one article, from Space, about life in a research station in Utah preparing people to live on Mars, here. That site presented an annoying popup (about Trump and infrastructure, good enough) that wouldn't go away until I went into the article again.

I saw another article with a basic biology lesson on genetics.  Another article, about concussions among high school football players, had disappeared.  

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Major academic book publisher offers a collection of scientific papers to open access


Taylor and Francis , a legacy book publisher that tends to emphasize non-fiction, texts, academic books and commentary, has accumulated a list of “open-source” articles on critical academic and technical subjects, such as medicine, energy, environment, and climate change. Any connection to Baker and Taylor?

The main link is here.

There is quite a collection of impressive and important research listed here.

Jack Andraka had retweeted this link earlier today.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Blogger makes change that seems to benefit mobile blogging, but confuses users with more than one blog on an account


Last week (Tuesday, Nov. 22), Google Blogger suddenly made a change where on signon, Blogger takes the self-publisher to the detailed posting listing of only the most recent blog to which the publisher had already added a new post.

The dashboard, listing all blogs, doesn’t seem to have a savable URL (as in Chrome history), but the individual blog posting-lists do have their own.  I found I could get to another blog by doing View, going to my Blogger Profile, then to the blog I want to update, then to Design, then to Posts.  Then you can get the specific URL for your account and that other blog and save it for later reference in a Word dataset on your local hard-drive if you like. But it’s rather inconvenient.

It appears that this change was made mainly to help mobile bloggers (and as far as I know you can do only one blog on mobile). Blogger seems to allow one account to have 100 blogs (source ). I have 16 (the same number as since 2006).

But if someone has more than one, that blogger needs easy access to the master account dasbboard to be restored.

Many bloggers are asking why https is not enabled for custom domains.  The reason seems to be that each custom domain would need its own SSL certificate, which is much more complicated to set up.

On BlueHost, I have four Wordpress domains, and one of these is allowed to have a security certificate.  So all user processing (credit cards or paypal) or any sensitive material needs to be on that one blog.  But there is a newer technique, where blogs become subdomains of one account, so that one SSL certificate can be applied to all of them.  You need separate installs of Wordpress on each subdomain.  I have not tried to do this yet, and I think it’s pretty recent. It may be complicated.

Bloggers with heavy overseas readership in non-democratic countries (and this applies to me) really would benefit from making it easier to do https everywhere for all domain-connected blogs.  But this will take more work on the past of Google, Wordpress, and hosting companies.

I’ve made similar concepts on the Blogger Help Forum today and also said so in th
 e Blogger feedback button.

I still see a cultural trend away from the idea of separate multiple blogs for publishing purposes, to more integrated presence that includes more end-user social interaction with just one site (per publisher).  What makes business sense to service provides like Blogger may well be changing, with or without Trump or network neutrality.



Update: Dec. 3

Another post on the Blogger forum gives a solution. Click on the blog name on the upper left corner (not highlighted, so not apparent), and your other blogs appear.  That worked!

One other problem is that you can't easily see if you have outstanding unmonitored comments on any of your blogs.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Houston Fox anchor fired after her own personal conservative Facebook post


A news presenter in Houston, Scarlett Fakhar, has been fired from Fox 26 in Houston for expressing her own opinions on her own Facebook page, which are said to contradict her responsibility for being objective in public as a journalist.  Here's the NY Daily News story,

The comments apparently had blamed Obama’s presidency for allowing racial tensions to increase (as with Ferguson and BLM).
 


Here comments on her Fox fan page seem out of touch.  Would Fox delete the conservative comments?  This is Fox, after all.

Her personal page seems now to have been removed. "Heavy" has some more detailed news.
 
This does sound like the “conflict of interest” page I have often written about.  There can indeed be situations where work precludes expression of personal views even on personal web pages in public mode.  This issue started to surface around 2001 with “employee blogging policies” in some places (even before modern social media had been invented, a development which would take the spotlight off older blogging sites).  Mommy blogger Heather Armstrong became famous after being fired (“dooced”) over her blog in 2002.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

"KYAnonymous" hacker could get more prison time that the rape victims of the crime he exposed (from "conservative" media sources)


Some more conservative members of my Facebook community are reporting on a justice anomaly reported by Russia Today.
  
Am (Anonymous) "hacker", Deric Lostutter, who plead guilty in federal court in Kentucky to one count conspiracy and one count of making false statements for hacking into a student fan website to expose a rape of an unconscious girl may face more prison time than the rapists, who were apparently sentences as juveniles.  The link is here.   RT has been criticized during the recent “fake news” flap, but I have often used their YouTube videos and most of their stories seem pretty credible.   The IBTimes carries the same story.
  
The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper site considered credible in the mainstream, has details here.

But a Lexington KY television station covers the story about the very recent guilty plea (originally NG) by "KYAnonynous" for the hacking incident here
  
There is a “dericlostutter.org” site which he did not set up but which seems to be set up to expose him.  The naming of a site after him, by a third party, sounds like trademark infringement to me. It's a kind of anti-fan site. 
  

Rolling Stone, which edged near the fake news area with the UVa rape fiasco, has a story about the defendant here
  
Just a little exposure to this story makes the “fake news” whining from the Left about the election seem strident.  It’s not as fake as the Left thinks. 


Note the 2013 interview with Lostutter by CNN above, where there is a claim of a Fourth Amendment violation, and where Lostutter talks about “weaponizing the media”.  Indeed. 

Wikipedia attribution link for downtown Lexington picture under CCSA 3,0   I was last there in late 1975. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Facebook's plan on fake news attracts criticism and even "fear"; Buzzfeed shows how to report fake news now; a job for me?


Facebook’s plan to clamp down on fake news is already attracting criticism, as in this Bloomberg article.

The company could hire third party contractors or even independent contractors to fact check some items.  It’s even believable that something like that could become a job opportunity for me.

But the big problem will be the “gray areas” with kernels of truth.  Or maybe postings where the user editorializes into gray areas.  Another issue would be how links to amateur blogs would be checked.

 Some of mine expand automatically, and some don’t.  Still another is YouTube video expansions that make questionable claims, or that are from sources considered extremist or biased or “doomsday”.



Buzzfeed has a helpful post on how users can “report” suspicious stories even now.

USA Today's story mentions "third party verification".  I wonder how that would work for posting.

Mark Zuckerberg's own post on Nov. 19 is here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump's election makes the political scientists look at political correctness and identity politics as an area for technical study


Here are a couple more articles on the problems of “political correctness” and “identity politics”.

Scientific American, in a piece, “The Personality of Political Correctness”, by Scott Barry Kaufman, gives the reader a couple of quizzes to identify “egalitarian political correctness” vs. “authoritarian political correctness”.   Egalitarians believe that discourse has to be adjusted to fairly manipulate the perception of suspect classes (hence the world of “trigger warnings” on campuses). Authoritarians need ratification of “how things were meant to be”, as my own mother used to say.

Mark Lilla describes “The End of Identity Liberarlism” for the New York Times.  Call it the end of identity politics, being asked to view people differently based on the groups they belong to,

Monday, November 21, 2016

Could organizing a protest be prosecuted as "economic terrorism"? Trump signals awareness of power grid security issues


A Washington State senator is proposing a law to make it a felony to plan a demonstration that causes “economic disruption” or “jeopardizes lives and property”.  The legislator is Doug Ericksen, a Trump supporter, and apparently he wants a similar federal law, story on “The Hill” here.

The news story considered this to be a bill against “economic terrorism”.

Electronic Frontier Foundation today tweeted that the bill could jail people as felons merely for protesting. Petitions are being developed.

The protests under consideration seem to have to do with the oil and gas pipelines (about which there were major protests in North Dakota last night, with ice water hoses used against protestors), and probably the sovereign citizen’s movements.



For the record, I’ll link to a Wall Street Journal story about what Trump said today he would do on Day 1.  Obamacare and the Wall were not on the list. Trump mentioned cybersecurity and “other threats” to infrastructure, which seem to be a veiled reference to solar storms and EMP, and proposals to decentralize electric grids (Taylor Wilson) foe security and resilience.  I have tweeted this concern to Trump’s team.  Maybe they actually listened.

Picture: Wikipediam by JGkatz|Jeffrey G. Katz - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Open source project called "FiB" will help Facebook users counter fake news


Some college students have developed a plug-in for Facebook to help users spot “fake news” and provide alternative sources.  It is to be called “FiB”.



A Washington Post story by Colby Itkowitz gives illustrations as to how it works.

The project is “open source” on Dev Post here.

Gullibility seems to be the biggest on the alt right.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Electronic Frontier Foundation holds important Live Discussion on digital rights in a Trump administration


Electronic Frontier Foundation held a Live Discussion today, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, on the Election’s Effect on Digital Rights,link. It was conducted by International Director Danny O’Brien and activism director Rainey Reitman, in San Francisco.

EFF has a check list of problems tech companies need to fix, “before it’s too late”, here

The biggest concern expressed in the discussion was that tech companies have built up a “honeypot” of personal data that a Trump administration could coerce from companies, or even try to force tech workers to mine with spyware.

O'Brien also expressed an abstract concern, with no details, about the likely loss of network neutrality, which I discussed on my Net Neutrality blog on Nov. 11.  Note the concern over the possibility of providers charging publishers to access their networks, which gets discussed there in comments with respect to porn (on a Washington Post article).  There is concern over conflicts of interest in ownership arrangements and mergers between tech companies and content or media providers, as well as effective government-sanctioned monopoly in some cities. Libertarians see more competition as the alternative to net neutrality.  Consumers and some small businesses do benefit from "legitimate" access speed premium for-pay services sometimes.  


I did submit two questions, but the panel did not take up the fake news issue or censorship or downstream liability.  The discussion did mention the threats by Trump (and even Clinton) last December to shut down some parts of the Internet to cut off ISIS recruiting.  But there is a general sense that a lot of people are willing to give up freedom over “Russian roulette” theories of existential threats to safety.

   

But EFF issued a white paper on censorship by social media companies today (see Book Reviews blog). 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Facebook, Google have to take a stand on fake news


Although I’ve covered this somewhat on my newer Wordpress blogs, I wanted to mention that both Facebook and Google are responding to criticism that the viral “fake news” distributed widely on their platforms could have affected the elections and fed gullibility by many voters.  Elizabeth Dwoskin, Caitlin Dewey, and Craig Timberg report in the Washington Post here

Google has an issue with search engine placement, which it is always tweaking (and, no, it doesn’t pay to buy “optimization” services from quasi-spammers) – we all heard the story about Trump’s wining the popular vote.  And it will soon effectively ban websites that sponsor “fake news” from displaying its ads.

But for both companies it’s pretty hard to tell what is ‘fake”.  A lot of commentary is “Opinion” (like, there is an “opinion rule” in common defamation law).  Yup, claims that Barack Obama is (subjunctive mood) a Muslim, are fake news.  But a lot of it is hard to tell. 


The measures don’t seem to target amateur sites specifically.

There is a general impression that “Google” users are politically more in the middle (more or less like Hillary Clinton), and that heavy Facebook users migrate to the extremes. 


Blogger, by the way, has a discussion (“mystagogy”) of the psychology of people drawn to extremist positions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

DC television station presents warnings story about parental responsibility for child's Internet use


WJLA’s “7 On You Side” feature in Washington FC reports on parental liability for a child’s use of social media accounts or other cellular or conventional Internet connections.

A child, with an iPad or tablet. ran up $13000 in debt on a Google Play account through a combination of circumstances that led to the sudden credit card charges not being declined as they usually should have been.  It appears that finally the debt will be waived.  
 
Before (Oct. 24) I’ve noted the possibility of downstream liability if others in one’s household (even a boarder or roommate) misuse one’s broadband Internet connection, for copyright infringement (usually through P2P), promotion of terror or even child pornography.  It’s also possible (although rare – there have been arrests in New York State and Florida with eventual dropping of charges) for liability to happen for “drive-by” use outside, which is one reason why home routers should use the highest security settings.  Presumptive responsibility starts with the owner of an account with a router.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wisconsin professor explores class resentment in terms of deservedness


Jeff Guo, of the Washington Post, has an interesting interview with Professor Kathy Cramer, author of “The Politics of Resentment”, in explaining how voters behaved in swing states in electing Donald Trump.



Cramer talks a lot about resentment of “elitism”, of people in working classes resenting people “in higher stations in life” with jobs that seem less regimented and physically challenging.  She says voters wonder how she can spend her time driving all over the state of Wisconsin when her job is in Madison. This was a value system I fought over with my own father when growing up! The term "deserving" comes up.  This sounds a little bit like "right-sizing".

Saturday, November 12, 2016

David Brooks applies Rosenfels polarity theory to political movements


David Brooks has “gone Rosenfels” so to speak with his analysis of the political climate in the country in explaining Donald Trump’s shocking (but now more understandable) upset of the Electoral vote in the presidential election.

“The View from Trump Tower” presents the Republicans now as “individualist, closed” and the Democrats as “social, closed”.  He wants a progressive party that is “social open” but the Libertarian party would be described as “individual, open”.   Brooks thinks that the Democratic party will stumble into its own kind of racism out of identity politics, trigger warnings, and political correctness.



But the “closed” polity marker would hint at the idea of localism, tribalism, of people being expected to learn to “take care of their own” before interacting outside of their own groups (April 30).

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump's win seems an attack on elitism and intellectual arrogance


I went to two places in Arlington last night, and I gradually came to accept the idea that Donald Trump was likely to win.  This was apparent by probably 10 PM as Florida went south, and as Clinton seemed unable to hold leads in any key states.  Her performance was like that of a baseball team dropping four one run games in a row on the road in a four game sweep, some of them to walkoffs.  Despite all her movie and music stars, Hillary didn’t seem to have a bullpen.

I think there is something to be said for the idea that one of the biggest problems for the Democrats was intellectual arrogance, for example Thomas Frank’s piece in the Guardian.

I think that Trump supporters (the “basket of deplorables”) as well as Trump himself represent (with some irony, given Trump’s pride and wealth) an attack on elitism.  Last night, I wrote this on Facebook before finally retiring:



“The most striking motive behind Donald Trump's supporters was their anti-elitism. And emotion, and anti-intellectualism, and anti-rationalism. And denial. For me personally, that's the most dangerous part of it.

“I remember this sort of thing from my journey through Army Basic in 1968.

“It took an elitist, however, to pull it off. There's always hypocrisy and irony.

“There are times when others knock, and want me to make them OK, even with unwelcome personal attention.. I can refuse. That is my right. But to hunker down and refuse to deal with need in others repeatedly, is to invite aggression from others upon myself, which I may not recover from, or which may force me to become someone else than I want to be, This is all about resilience.

Initial reactions of the impact of Trump on the LGBTQ community are mixed, but they may not be as detrimental as many fear.  I’ll cover that soon on my GLBT blog.

I’m personally much more concerned about the free speech issue, as I outlined Monday where I explained how citizen journalism could get almost put out of business (Wordpress link toward the end of yesterday’s post). Much of this depends on how one views certain national security vulnerabilities online and how one views civil liberties relative to the group when leadership shows more “tribal” thinking and when there is a subsumed moral hazard about the permissive legal climate that facilitates abuse of free speech by an enemy. .

As I noted on Wordpress, I would be particularly concerned about the future of Section 230 under Trump (DMCA less so).   And websites could be required to provide financial accounting and “carry their own freight”, or have to make risk indemnification security deposits.

Trump’s own Facebook page says on “Civil Liberties”:

Scrutinize social media of those seeking to enter the US, and limit the ability of ISIS to use the internet to spread terrorism.

He also says “When it comes to the balancing security and privacy, we should err on the side of security.”

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

I voted and took no chances: Election Day musings (citizen journalism could beat risk if Trump wins)


After the cleaning crew (which showed up before breakfast as I got up) left, I went right out and voted in Arlington, VA.  The line was moderate, but it took only about fifteen minutes, voting at 10 AM.

As I’ve covered before, I worked as an Election Judge (an 18 hour day) three times, the most recent being in 2007.

Now, the election workstation PC’s with Windows XP are gone, and we’re back to paper ballots with blue (pun) ink, marking “x”’s.  But the validation of voter registration is online, reading the strip on your driver’s license.

I saw no police cars (I had expected to see at least one).  I had no trouble parking,

I took no chances.  I would normally vote Libertarian (the Aleppo gaffe is a problem).  I voted for Hillary.  What if Virginia is close (less than 100 votes) and then the electoral college is close?

I even looked at the ballot two or three times before feeding it to the machine.

There is a scenario where neither candidate gets 270, and the election goes into the House on Jan. 3.
 
 If LDS member Evan McMullin won Utah, the House could choose him as president.  McMullin is said to be fairly light on the social issues and traditionally conservative on foreign policy and economics, which is what a lot of people want.

As for Trump, yes, his behavior disqualifies him.  He did articulate some necessary ideas about national security and corruption.  His oldest son (who is 38) has the same knowledge base and none of dad’s narcissism, and actually could be safer for the country as president!    I can imagine journalists who could make good “moderate” presidents (Anderson Cooper, or Vox’s technology guru Tim Lee, who is just 36).  They certainly know enough to do the job.   Given Reagan’s example, could entertainers?  Election Day is Reid Ewing’s 28th birthday – seven years shy of the requirement –  Reid lives and goes to college in Utah. .  Besides having one of the most artistically fascinating Twitter feeds ever – his parents both sound like good fits – Dad is a college professor.  There are plenty of people who “know enough” in business who would work – Mark Cuban, Tim Cook.  Jimmy Fallon wants to be “vice-president”.



But you see where I am headed – we don’t attract the right people to run for office anymore.
 
One of the best articles on what is likely to happen tonight is here.

Journalism as a profession or avocation is in trepidation over the idea of a Trump for president. I posted an article on Trump’s potential threat to citizen journalism yesterday on Wordpress. And note Tim Lee’s article on how Facebook is undermining public confidence in journalism, an article with a buff picture of Mark Zuckerberg, 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Social media "influencers"


No, I don’t get hired to pimp one particular line of consumer goods.  But a whole class of bloggers (whom Blogtyrant would admire) do so, according to a front page story by Sarah Halzack in the Washington Post Thursday, November 3, “How social media became a money press for ‘influencers”.  The marketing follows Instagram and even Sanpchat chains (even though Snapchat posts don’t stay up).

Sales professionals (like Fredrik Eklund in “The Sell”, books, May 26, 2015) have said before that Instagram is more useful than Facebook and Twitter, and many of people are reached on Snapchat..

I do get review copy books and films to be reviewed all the time, however, so I am on the fringe of what Halzack sees as a consumer “influencer.”  For better or worse, I am more of a political influencer.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Rolling Stone, and reporter, found liable in Charlottesville defamation trial; amount not yet set.


Rolling Stone has been found liable for defamation by a federal civil jury in Charlottesville Va in the suit filed by Dean Nicole Eramo.   The CNN story is by Julia Horowitz.  Lauren Berg has a story for the Charlottesville Daily Progress.
 
The magazine was found liable, including the republication of the article with notes, a finding which is seen as troubling by some journalism professors.

The original reporter and publisher Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was found “originally” liable.  The story was viewed as “preconceived.”  But Eramo had to achieve a high standard, of showing malice or reckless disregard for the truth, for a public figure.



The CNN article asks how the reporter will write again, but the magazine stands behind her.

Columbia Journalism Review found the incident a “failure that was avoidable”.
 
The ruling seemed to include the idea that propagating defaming material to a larger audience than before adds to the offense.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Sharing economy "bnb" property owners must follow public accommodation discrimination laws when offering rentals online


NBCWashington has reported on a flurry of lawsuits against people advertising their homes or condos for temporary rental on Airbnb or Homeaway, for writing in their ads that they do not accept (or that they discourage) families with children.

The suits seem to come from a group called “Social Justice Law Collective

The suits can be initiated by “testers” and seem to offer a theory of offense or injury based on discrimination.  The plaintiff need not have actually rented.

In theory, it would sound as if suits could happen for other discrimination (same-sex couples).

It seems that even short term rentals in private homes are viewed as “public accomodations” and must follow the Fair Housing Law to the letter.

There is a philosophical policy debate over whether “sharing economy” participants have to be held to the same standards as large franchised companies.  Libertarians would say no.  But others would say that de facto discrimination will inevitably develop.

NBC4 also has a link on insurance issues for people who rent their homes temporarily through home-sharing, although I wonder if this could cover hosting people in crises (like asylum seekers) -- seems to need investigation.

Fox5 in DC is reporting on a story as to whether callers to Uber with ethnic sounding names have longer wait times.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Facebook "DDOS" set up to confound police disruption of pipeline at Standing Rock reservation, ND


I saw a curious plea to join a demonstration online on Facebook, as a kind of virtual “denial of service” to prevent sheriff’s department officers to use Facebook to see who is protesting at the Standing Rock, N.D. pipeline site.  The link on Snopes is here.

My reaction was to give the link in my own timeline, rather than cut-and-paste and pretend I was doing something I’m not.  I wondered if virtual protests could be a TOS violation.  Probably not. But the idea that the police depend on Facebook to disrupt the protests sounds facetious.



I don’t break the law to protest things – yet at one time I was willing to break sodomy laws.

I don’t join these mass movements, and the verdict is up in the air for me whether we “need” the pipeline or not.  We probably do.  But we need to get on to renewable energy sources much more quickly.

Wikipedia has consolidated all the information about the protests here.

CNN weighs in on the Facebook sit-in here. Vox weighs in also about the "viral check-in".
 
Wikipedia attribution link for Cannon Ball ND picture