Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jarvis defend over-sharing on social media (CNN); progress on Facebook's "Timeline"

Howard Kurtz interviewed Jeff Jarvis (the “Pied Piper of sharing”), author of “Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live” (Simon & Schuster), about the modern culture of openness online Sunday morning.  (The title reminds me of “We Work and Play” from first grade in 1949!, book reviews, July 20, 2007).

Jarvis talked about the change in the structure of media, as to how established media now goes to the people for sources (and can still check them),  from what people “share”.  Kurtz had asked about the idea that you can let others see what you are reading.  Jarvis took a libertarian view of the tendency of employers to snoop on personal blogs and social media: "do you want to work for that kind of employer?"  In some industries, its a business necessity. 

They got into a discussion about sharing medical issues online.

Is it narcissistic to “live online”?

As far as I can tell, by the way, not all of us can use Facebook’s “Timelines” yet; it seems to still be in Beta or development.  Here’s an account by Richard McManus, Oct. 25, link

The concept sounds intriguing; but it would probably be seen only by other “Friends” as at various levels, not be searchable like an online autobiography (essentially like my first “Do Ask Do Tell” book) would be.  I don’t have apps to put on it – but I probably will when I get my music composition (that is, resurrection of teenage and young adult compositions) going.

Update: Nov. 3

Users of Facebook's "Timeline" are sometimes facing "cleasing their pasts" for reputational and employment reasons. USA Today has a story Nov. 3 by Michaelle Bond "Facebook Timeline faces a new privacy test" here.

Update: Nov. 9

ABC GMA is characterizing "Google+" as different in the ability to set up separate "circles of friends" to whom posts are specifically directed.  But Facebook has been saying that it offers that, too.  (It gets complicated with privacy settings, which I don't use myself, and with photo tagging, which I never do -- staying within the PG-13 range, too.) Again, the significance is changing the nature of online posting from "publication" to "online conversation" (maybe rumor mongering), which does have significance in the "conflict of interest" area.
Update: Nov. 10

Facebook is nearly a settlement with the FTC regarding supposed "deception" in the way it handles its privact settings, Wall Street Journal (subscription) story  (Julia Angwin, Shaydni Raice, Spencer E. Ante) here

Thursday, October 27, 2011

House introduces SOPA, its version of Protect-IP; hearings on Nov. 16; seems even more dangerous than Senate's PIPA

Numerous sources indicate that the House has introduced its own version of Protect-IP.  It’s called “To promote creativity, prosperity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combatting the theft of US intellectual property, and other purposes,” HR 3261, here on govtrack (link).   The Govtrack entry is incomplete, but the House Judiciary Committee has text here.  The short name is the blunt “Stop Online Piracy Act”, or SOPA.  It could be called even more bluntly, the “anti-E-parasitism act”.  The main sponsor is Lamar Smith (R-TX). 

There is a summary story by Thorin Klosowski in the Backbeat, here.   He says that the House Judiciary Committee will take up the bill Nov. 16. 

From reading it myself, I have a hard time understanding exactly what it would do. That's the trouble! Is this a case of Congress not seeing around corners? (to borrow a term from Dr. Phil).  There are concerns that it would undermine the downstream liability protections of the DMCA Safe Harbor.   The government would allegedly be able to force search engines and service providers to redirect attempts to “illegal sites” – something that sometimes happens now with ICE’s shutdown efforts.  According to EFF, service providers could be prosecuted for negligence in not policing users. A system of DNS-blocking or "tampering" could add greatly to security issues for the web, as we saw with the "DNS Crisis" meetings at Microsoft in the summer of 2008.

Most of the text, when read directly, seems concerned with overseas sites and gross violations of law, which may be why the Washington Post supported it (the Senate version S 968, links provided here May 18; reported out of the Judiciary committee July) in August.  The Senate version had been on hold by Ron Wyden, who saw possible impacts on the distribution of free speech.

The dangerous part is, of course, undermining the ability of service providers (whether shared hosting or free services like Blogger) to continue operating profitably by exposing them to downstream liability which in a practical world they cannot preclude. There are claims that prosecution could occur because of linking to infringing sites (an idea known back to the days of the CDA in 1996).  As a blogger, I have no way of knowing that a particular site I link to as a reference could have infringed somewhere else.  (That’s like saying the TSA has no way of knowing that a joke in a security line is just that.)  Again, the whole model of Internet self-publishing (as apart from social networking, the way we have discussed it recently) could be put at risk, because business models now in place with these companies that enable Internet self-publishing could not continue to work. .

Electronic Frontier Foundation has an application link  "(Stop Internet Blacklist legislation!") to write letters to representatives and Senators, which it locates. I do prefer to write my own letters; generated letters from organizations don’t impress legislators that much.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I visited the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania today

Today, I visited the new, permanent Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, PA, NE of Somerset. I had reported on a temporary memorial visit on my “International Issues” blog on Aug. 6, 2010. 

I entrance to the memorial has been moved to US 30 (away from Shanksville), and the drive from US30 to the parking lot is long, 3.5 miles, at 25 mph.  The Park Service does not (yet) charge admission to visit the memorial. The website (link)  gives directions and hours of operations.

The actual crash site is marked by a large rock, about 400 feet or so from the walkway; the intervening space is said to be a cemetery for unrecovered remains.  There is a white wall, in a style similar to the Vietnam memorial in Washington, with the names of all passengers.  There is a barn and farm visible from the memorial, but it is not the same barn that appears in the usual pictures.

The site appears to be on top of the Allegheny Mountain plateau (on a site that was once a small coal strip mine), and is probably at about 2100 feet or so, and will have cold winter weather.

The plane could have crashed into a school in Shanksville had it not crashed sooner.  It would appear that it could have crossed the Pennsylvania Turnpike very near the west entrance of the Allegheny Mountain Tunnel.
Park service employees point out that United Flight 93 was delayed over half an hour, and that had it left on time there could have been a real possibility that the plane could have hit the Capitol or White House, had it not been shot down (on orders authorized by Cheney).  However, even if it had left online, passengers might well still have gotten calls from loved ones earlier and known that they had to act (as the second WTC tower had been hit by 9:03).  Wikipedia points out that the hijackers took longer to act even with this flight leaving late. 

Park service rangers say that UA Flight 93 turned around at normal altitude, south of Cleveland (map above). A relative of mine says that people in Kipton, Ohio (near Oberlin) saw a plane turn around at low altitude an nearly crash near Ohio Route 511, but this could have been a flight called back by air traffic control, and unable to turn around without difficulty.

The week before 9/11, as indeed the period coming up to it, had bizarre warnings, some of which have been reported in the media, such as a White House memo in early Aug. 2011 warning about eminent threats form Al Qaeda, and a weird report in Popular Science published around Labor Day, 2001, warning about possible EMP microwave attacks.  Some people reported circulation of an email warning about the date 9-11 and thought to be spam or circulated by a computer virus. 

Although the access to the Park has been moved several miles, there is one small memorial site on Lambertsville Rd with a flag. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apaprently Google-plus will allow members to use pseudonyms soon; Facebook, no

The insistence by social networking giants Facebook and now Google+ that accountholders identify themselves publicly with real names has certainly attracted controversy, particularly when these sites are used overseas to organize protests against authoritarian regimes.  But Google+ recently announced that it would soon allow pseudonyms, although there aren’t many specifics yet. The Ars Technica story is here.  

Mashable also has a story about remarks at a recent Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco 

Both Google-plus and Facebook have said that requiring truthful identity makes their services safer for users and discourages cyberbullying and stalking.  Mark Zuckerberg, and especially his older sister Randi who also helps run Facebook, have said that multiple identities show a lack of integrity or conflict of interest. 
Indeed, Facebook is migrating toward a “social platform” predicated on actually having meaningful interactions with others, which one can classify or stratify (for information distribution) into layers of personal interaction that others can discern, as opposed to broadcast self-publication (which leads then to networking), an older concept from the Web 1.0 world in which Google first evolved.  The Facebook model does indeed the ethical question present when one publishes about sensitive issues while being responsible for others in the workplace, classroom, or even underwriting world – the “conflict of interest” problem that I encountered in the 1990s when I decided to write about gays in the military. Ironically, it’s not too much to claim that Facebook helped create a world in which “don’t ask don’t tell” was no longer feasible, anywhere – the “integrity” issue again.

On a superficial level, I could almost compare the newer Facebook features, of tweaking one’s wall so that friends on different levels see different posts – as an outgrowth of the old idea  of using listservs in the 1990s – although generally with a listserv, anyone could join.  I did not consider the use of listservs as effective as broadcast publishing, even in print with a newsletter pamphlet, when I was the editor of “The Quill” (the newsletter of Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty) back in the 1990s.  There have been a variety of companies that have tried to sell “targeted email” services over the years, before Facebook changed the picture.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A return to Williamsburg and the Tidewater this weekend: replaying personal history

On Saturday, I revisited  a particular geographical area housing a critical part of my “past”.  After attending the William and Mary GALA (Gay and Lesbian Alumni(ae)) Silver Anniversary Dinner in the Grand Hall of the Wren Building, some William and Mary student staff showed me some of the building’s interior on the first and second floors today.  We were trying to figure out where the Dean of Men’s office must have been located in November 1961, when I was suddenly called in and admitted “latent homosexuality” in the subsequent inquisition, as described in my Nov. 28, 2006 posting.  Of course, everything there has changed radically since then.

The GALA documentary film and Friday reception is described in the Movies blog Oct. 21.  But my driving down from Arlington mid-day Friday to Williamsburg felt like a reverse replay of the cold November day when my parents drove me back from Williamsburg right after the expulsion – like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”.

But during the day Saturday, I had driven down to the Norfolk Naval Station, to the approximate location where I had taken a submarine tour of the USS Sunfish in 1993, before getting involved in the debate on President Clinton’s first attempt to lift the ban on gays in the military (leading, as we know, to the notorious “don’t ask don’t tell” law, finally repealed officially this year on Sept. 20).

 Now, the tours are apparently handled by a company called Naval Tours e on Hampton Blvd (link) .  According to the site, it’s no longer possible to board ships as I did in 1993 (I toured a submarine, destroyer, and aircraft carrier); no doubt, public access has been tightened up since 9/11 so there is less opportunity for a “newbie” to see what’s really going on and blog about it or even write his congressional representatives in detail about sensitive policy questions, as I was able to do back in 1993 and subsequent years.

As one drives the bridge-tunnel on I-64 from Newport News (driving down from Williamsburg) to Norfolk, one can see lots of battleships and aircraft carriers. But there is no place to stop and take photos. (Curiously, the tunnel was free; I did not need my  Ezpass, which I was fully expecting to get charged a few bucks.)   You can see a lot of civilian ships on the Portsmouth Harbor, with free weekend parking.  I went down to the Dismal Swamp, which I had last visited in 1991; no sign of the fire or hurricane, and a great bike trail;  finally, I wound up in Virginia Beach, with a substantial Naval and Marie Memorial at 25th Street and the Boardwalk (and the same street names from the Monopoly game).

Picture: Portsmout
and Virginia Beach:

Actually, on my way down, I had stopped at the entrance to Fort Eustis (“Useless”) from I-64, ten miles from Williamsburg, where I had been station for 15 months from 1968 until my out in early 1970. Again, it’s hard to get permission to enter the base, but there is a map outside the gate that shows where I lived. 

Such was my personal commemoration of an “official return” to the area that has been so important in my life.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

WSJ: Steve Jobs saved the music industry!

Ed Nash as an important op-ed (subscription) in the Wall Street Journal Friday Oct. 21, “How Steve Jobs Saved the Music Industry”.  The specific innovation was the iPod and iTunes software in 2001, and the iTunes store in 2003.  Jobs made it convenient for customers to pay for content legally in small bits (99 cents a song), and easier to acquire legally than by theft. 

The article discusses how average users were unfamiliar with intellectual property law, and how the recording (and to some extent, the movie) industries were set up in a hierarchal or layered manner with middlemen.  The industry did not see the Internet coming and floundered with a variety of draconian and unsuccessful lawsuits against consumers.  

Back in 1999, Time Magazine had run a cover story about Shawn Fanning and Napster (anticipating its 2010 person-of-the-year piece on Mark Zuckerberg), and how kids could destroy the business models of whole industries without even understanding they could do so. 

Of course, the other big problem for business was low-cost competition from “amateur” content creators, a concept that downstream liability limitation (Section 230 and DMCA Safe Harbor) helped protect.  We’ve seen the flailing aginst this with the whole Righthaven lawsuit mess.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

UVa plagiarism case (with campus newspaper) gets complicated; how student honor and conduct codes really work

I’ve often written about plagiarism and academic integrity here. At the University of Virginia this fall, there occurred a bizarre incident indeed, according to a story by Daniel De Vise on the front Metro page of the Oct. 20 Washington Post, “Plagiarism accusation entangles editors, too”, link here.

In fact, the Cavalier Daily has its own account of the event, here

What’s interesting, in the first place, is that piecing together long quotes from several sources was itself a kind of plagiarism.  Maybe the author of the Cavalier story failed to give attribution.  But the incident could have become an interesting one indeed had it wound up among the list of Righthaven cases (that is, had one of the sources come from the Las Vegas Journal Review or Denver Post, perhaps improbable).

Public colleges in Virginia, including the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary (site of my own 1961 incident), Virginia Tech, and VMI, among others, have strict honor codes and, at least with UVa (probably the others) comprehensive student government which runs everything. The Post article discusses how the Honor and Judiciary committees work. At UVa, students run everything. The Cavalier is saying that the administration needs to be able to intervene more in situations involving tricky points of the law.

The newspaper editors were hauled before the Judiciary Committee for disclosing  in a published editorial the Honor proceedings against the supposed original writer, said to be a violation of confidentiality and federal law. It turns out that it’s not.  But it probably would have violated the law to disclose this in a personal blog.
Since blogging and social media are so commonly used on campus, it’s important to consider the case in view of social media (as in the opening of the film “Social Network” which also deals with “student conduct” online  -- as actor Jesse Eisenberg demonstrated so well).

When I was a high school senior, I first considered the University of Virginia. I was somewhat laughed at when I said that at a party. In those days, students had to wear coat and tie to class, and were considered Virginia “gentlemen”.  Thankfully, times have changed, but maybe not enough.

The Cavalier reports that the Occupy protest movement will get permits in Charlottesville.

Here's another resource on plagiarism. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

From "getting published" by others, all the way to social networking: a nearly closed circle

I recall a telephone conversation in the middle 1990s with an editor of the “St. Croix Review” about the difficulties and sense of privilege involved in “getting published.”

Of course, this conversation happened just before we realized how the Internet and web, even in the 1.0 environment, would “democratize” publication.

And then Web 2.0, social networking, would come along and redirect the concept again. When you make a posting on Facebook or Twitter (less so Myspace) you know that a certain list of people are likely to read it. You have to think twice about how some individuals on your friends’ or followers’ list would react to it.   And your posting is likely to get rated or ranked for a lot of analysis by marketeers.  That’s much less so with a posting (usually longer) on Blogger or Wordpress, where you hope that a lot of new readers will find it with search engines (or “Next Blog”).  With YouTube, in practice, the audience strategizing is somewhere in between (until a video goes “viral”).

Once you become committed to broadcasting journalistic material to as large a new audience as possible, something else happens. It becomes impossible to credibly contact (or barge in on) others just to sell them someone else’s products or even some other party’s agenda.  That has a big effect on your career,  sure, but also on the willingness of people in a new generation to accept direct marketing from sales people at all.

 Picture: My parents at Yosemite, early 1940s. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More teachers disciplined for ranting against their students on Facebook

The Huffington Post is reporting today (on AOL) on a number of teachers who are getting in trouble and getting disciplined for making comments about their students on Facebook.

Here’s a story about a special education teacher in Alabama mocking his students on the social networking site (video included), link

In New Jersey, another special education teacher is under investigation for particularly scathing comments about a gay and transgender display at her school.  Garden State Equality has a PDF (website url  link) that includes her comments, about six pages into the document (a long comment).

It’s not immediately clear if these comments had been marked “public” or only for “friends”, but the practical results seem to be the same regardless.

And in Brooklyn, NYC, a teacher vented against her fifth grade students after a beach tragedy, and may be fired. (Not sure of the NYC “rubber room” reported by John Stossel can “save” here.) Here’s the New York Post link by Susan Edleman, link

Again, Facebook is viewed by many people more as “conversation” than “publication”.  But even back in the 50s, unkind comments by teachers sometimes could get around. This whole story certainly fits into the debate on bullying in school. Teachers are doing it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Amateur photography in blogs and social media starts to raise more issues; a note about "freedom of panorama"

Anecdotal experience suggests that amateur photography associated with blogging and social media posts, particularly of people in various venues, is raising more concern than it did a few years ago.

One concern may be the increased attention to the idea that others can tag photos, possibly incorrectly, showing the past whereabouts of others. However, remember, Facebook has recently added capabilities to untag or stop tagging by others.  (There is even a service called “Tagged”, link). 

There could exist  a concern that a background investigator (or even a stalker) could troll the Internet with an automated script to follow someone, based on tagged photos or photos associated with names mentioned in text.  So far, I have not heard of a case where a job has been lost this way, and there is not a lot written about the possibility.  (But look at the site “I can stalk you”, here .  The possible inclusion of GPS location tags in photos from digital cameras could also present an issue.)

Generally, there is “no right to privacy” in a public place.  There are various discussions on the web of how the law would work with photos of people in public places, such as (PhotoRights) here. Generally, common courtesy suggests that a photo that “happens to include someone” ought to have a newsworthy purpose besides just identifying the person or property.  It might not be appropriate to photograph someone’s ordinary house and put it on the web (and maybe target the house), but it would seem all right if there’s a tornado funnel bearing down, or a receding flood.  It’s true that there’s no right to “privacy” in public, but invasion of privacy torts can happen if someone is intentionally put in a false light.   On June 23, here, I discussed a Tennessee law that tries clumsily to address the issue. It's pretty clear that a public demonstration like "Occupy Wall Street" (or for that matter, the Tea Party) is "fair game" for all photography, and most demonstrators want to be videotaped or photographed anyway. 

Inside a privately owned business, a property owner has the right to set policy, of course. A property such as a museum could have legitimate concerns about indirect copyright infringement (Aug 23 posting), or damage to artwork from flash, or concerns of a business nature.  It’s generally illegal to make photos of motion pictures in progress (or plays or musical concerts), out of concerns of piracy (and a few people have been arrested and prosecuted for doing so Movie blog, Aug 3, 2007 .)  As a practical business matter, the concerns sound way overblown to me.  (I talked about copyright issues and photos here Aug. 23.)

YouTube (and "Copyright School") advises self-publishers to be particularly wary of incidental music in backgrounds of videos, which is often copyrighted by others and vigorously defended. One might videotape a news interview one observes at a demonstration, but it's still safer or more desirable to interview a demonstrator oneself. 

When I review movies (on my Movies blog), I typically include still pictures, which may be of the same geographical location that the movie takes place in, or of the same events, particularly with documentary film (such as political rallies regarding “don’t ask don’t tell”).  These are photos that I took myself (or are sometimes photos from my Mother’s estate, which I own the rights to), and are not from the film, but may appear to be such (and certainly could have fit in artisictally). To avoid any “practical” DMCA takedown problems (“false positives”), I use note that these photos are mine in the blog text. I hope people notice the notification disclaimers.

Inside gay establishments, the picture is mixed. In the old days, people worried about being seen on television after attending gay events (and sometimes were seated out of sight of cameras, as with debates on AIDS at the old MCC Dallas in the 1980s).  In modern times, fewer people have issues, and the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” should end some practical concerns for members of the Armed Forces (although it wasn’t technically illegal to go to events or bars out of uniform under the policy).  But an individual person could have an issue, if, say, he worked for a “Christian school” (there was a case like this in Minneapolis).   Generally, when people are “dirty dancing” in a public area of a disco, in plain sight, I think they’re “fair game”;  but if they make the attempt to seclude themselves out of sight in a dark corner to “make out”, they expect more “privacy”.  That’s generally my own practice in taking news pictures at discos.  An owner of a disco, a private business, might have to set his own policy based on practical public expectations, and sometimes, local law (such as regarding photographing professional models or nudity). It could be difficult to police, since cell phone video gets better and ubiquitous. The idea could develop that one needs to "belong" to some group socially before being allowed to share in documenting its experience. 

Another factor that could come into play is "commentary" use vs. commercial use (somewhat as with Fair Use in copyright law). It's possible that the appearance of a photo of someone (who objects) on a blog or website that accepts automated advertising could raise more issues. 

 Photo (above): a visit to Mount Washington, NH; any such place is automatically "newsworthy". 

Update: Jan 6, 2012

I found this mention on Wikipedia of  "freedom of Panorama", protecting the right to photograph "architecturally original" buildings built after 1990 without infringement,  link.  It does not protect photography of individual art items, which may be infringing.  Many museums prohibit indoor photography of protected items anyway.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Today, another infamous calendar anniversary; implicit content; what is good salesmanship for books and movies?

Today is the sixth anniversary, on the same day of the week (that is, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2005) of a bizarre incident when I was substitute teaching, involving the “implicit content” problem that I’ve explained before (the biggest entry is on July 27, 2007).

I had been reviewing, on the old doaskdotell site, the 1927 film “The Most Dangerous Game” (now, movies blog, May 5, 2009), when the cell phone buzzed at 3:41 PM EDT.  The conversation with the assistant principal at the school where I had subbed lasted about 90 seconds.

Today, content of the main movie I watched, as I got up this morning, “The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was much more in line with my own purposes (movies blog today).

A couple days ago I got a call and email regarding promoting my own books by contacting potential customers directly and using a paypal account because authors can get discounts when buying.  The email used the word “self-promotion”, a favorite term of novelist Clive Barker.

One problem is that my books through the publisher (not counting the recent booklet) are old, and aggressive  personal marketing of an “old” book for its own sake is not generally appropriate behavior.  No, “high pressure selling” of anything is not always appropriate (it wasn’t for my own father in his 35 year career as a manufacturer’s representative).  Generally, older stuff is best left to be sold  n(or “distributed”) by large vendors (Amazon) with cookie-cutter and “economies of scale” and highly impersonal operations.

Many authors have websites where they sell books themselves, and in the early days of the web (in the 1990s) this was more effective in some situations.  (I remember, when I was living in Minneapolis, that the libertarian book “Healing Our World” by Mary Ruwart (1993, with subsequent editions, seemed to work well this way.)    But generally, content creators have to network more about new stuff – future projects, particularly, in movies, with the eye of attracting potential investors.  I have reached the point where film is a much better way to communicate my ideas today than just words.  

PS: Here's a YouTube of a tornado crossing I-95 in Virginia, 30 miles S of Arlington (not taken by me, but public), around 5:30 PM Oct 13.

Monday, October 10, 2011

WSJ reports on the 1986 ECPA and the inability to protect Wikileaks "volunteer" Appelbaum

The Wall Street Journal today, Columbus Day, reported, in a story by Julia Angwin, on secret orders forcing Google and  (link) to surrender information from email accounts of Jacob Appelbaum, who had “volunteered” for Wikileaks.

As noted before, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act never envisioned the information that could be gleaned from cell phones and other mobile devices.

Mr. Appelbaum  helped develop Tor, a software process that helps masks identities online.  But Mr. Appelbaum’s involvement with  Wikileaks was actually disclosed “accidentally” in a blog (ironically) of the Committee to Protect Journalists (maybe this post link).

Sunday, October 09, 2011

From Asperger's to a "feminine personality" and insisting on exposing the Truth; "The Road Ahead". (Analyzing presidents, analyzing me.)

What? We have an aspie in the White House?

That was my first reaction to the long op-ed by Scott Wilson leading off the Outlook Section of the Oct. 9 Washington Post, “The loner president”, link here

The author quickly writes “Obama is, in short, a political loner, who prefers policy over people who make politics in this country work.”  Like, Obama should go watch Ryan Gosling’s acrobatics in George Clooney's “The Ides of March” (aka “Farragut North”).

My mind flashes back to what my father said, shortly after my William and Mary expulsion, at the end of 1961, that the psychiatrists had said, “You don’t see people as people.”  Instead, as aesthetic objects or "foils"  to be measured against a standard wrought by “the knowledge of good and evil”?

I’m also reminded of some in-person chat at the Ninth Street Center in New York City back around late 1973, when the “powers that be” these said that we had a psychologically feminine man in the White House (in fact, a Rosenfels “subjective feminine”, like me).  Yes, Richard Nixon (around the time of the Saturday Night Massacre) was interested in power as an abstract ideal, not in really experiencing it as a person.

I also call to mind Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2010, Mark Zuckerberg, who, because of the role of his Facebook (and of some other sites like Twitter) in helping facilitate "The Arab Spring" (and maybe some misplaced domestic rowdiness, too) is in a position where his "ideas" (about having a singular public identity as a prerequisite for moral "integrity") could become almost decisive in the course of future changes toward democratic culture around the world.  "President of the World" -- by manipulating proxies for people rather than people themselves "as people"? 

Recently, I posted my update book, “Do Ask, Do Tell III: Speech Is a Fundamental Right; Being ‘Listened To’ Is a Privilege”.  I wonder if I should modify the title with “Free Speech…”

Certain things were indeed “done to me” by “others”, particularly early in life and then again for a spell later.  And I reacted in a certain way, sometimes with attention-getting behavior, why retreating from real emotional engagement with others, on their terms rather than mine.  The question before me (as I address in the booklet) is, what did people want?  What was their motive?  It seems easy to say, in many cases, how I should have been “expected” to behave.  The logical question becomes, how should someone who “is different” behave toward others, and vice versa, how should “they” behave toward him?  (It starts, predictably, with the expectation that the "different" individual is responsive in an immediate sense to others, but then the "policy" questions come and sharpen the crisis. Oh, there is no “they”.  Not even at the 1961 William and Mary tribunals that I played hooky on.) What do we have to “learn” from this body of experience that applies to “policy”?  (Yes, Obama’s “policy before people.”)

Again, my concern is mainly about the moral rules for  "the individual", both directions, but not about group grievances  ("class warfare" as with some of the recent domestic protests) as such. However, as Bill Clinton once said (in talking about DADT), group remedies can really subtract from particular individuals/  

I could say that this leads to an exercise in “inductive reasoning”, the way they taught us to understand it in high school Plane Geometry.  Put in proper perspective, “inductive reasoning” can only suggest that some general principle (as in ethics) is likely to be true, from a probabilistic assessment of the observations at hand.  (Census work is based on such academic ideas.)  It’s different from “proof by mathematical induction” or even “transfinite induction” which is a deductive process. It’s not perfect (and an article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy could apply here, look at this). It seems ironic that my 15-year battle over “don’t ask don’t tell” should lead me back to basic notions of logic outlined in graduate school texts in topology for courses taken 45 years ago.  But, I remember those fights with my father in the late 50s: everyone was being “irrational” in what they demanded.

Yet, we come up against a wall in our thinking, perhaps a canard. We have to live together on a finite planet now, and sometimes in much smaller, more primitive spaces .  (Try “Terra Nova”.)  Rationalism (associated with hyper-individualism) seems to break down sometimes when you need common goals and social cohesion.

Brightstorm's video hits it right on the money, showing how Inductive Reasoning involves recognizing patterns, common on many standardized tests in schools and in job applications (like the Post Office and TSA tests):

After-thought, or "Retrospect":   Why do I have bizarre dreams after listening to the F#-minor Adagio of Beethoven's "Hammer-Klavier" sonata?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

"Occupy DC" takes on "K Street," where you can't blog what you personally know to be true

I wrote a report on my visit to “Occupy DC” (aka “Occupy Wall Street”) on my issues blog today, but since then I have gotten the longer video speech uploaded, which I would like to share here (about a minute and a half).

The content of the protest could be compared to a column this morning by George Will, “Elizabeth Warren and liberalism: twisting the ‘social contract’”, link here. No confusion with the famous “Lizbeth” character of “Yellow Bird Films”, but Warren has a point, that “nobody gets rich on his own” (or her own).  It’s all about context.  But the term “social contract” has taken on a “new old meaning” in the “natural family” debate, about a putative obligation of everyone to “pay it forward” to the next generation.

Here goes. The debates go on, here talking about the "revolt" and giving "K Street" its just desserts.  (You can't credibly work on K Street and blog about what you really think, as a person -- almost by definition.) Stay peaceful, everybody.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Anonymous blogger exposes Chicago school systems poor food (a teacher in real life)

This morning, ABC’s “Good Morning America” covered a blogger who, as a teacher, blogged anonymously for a year about the bad school lunches in the Chicago school system.

Apparently this is the blog, link

Personally, I think it’s very unlikely that the school system will dooce her (if it did, she would become the next Heather Armstrong).

But the school system was caught with “les oeufs” on its face, as the food offered to kids was not up to what the standards the schools said it was following.

When I worked as a sub, I found the food in Arlington and Fairfax school cafeterias pretty greasy and bad.   
In fact, I remember, back in 1949, in first grade, being offered the “choice” between chocolate and regular milk for break.

Anyway, the story attests to the power of anonymous blogging. You can do this on Blogger or Wordpress but not on major social networking sites (Facebook or Google-plus). As I noted on my International Issues blog yesterday, this is a site policy that ought to be reviewed.

Picture above: A fresh pumpkin should be wholesome. 

 Second picture: no real connection here, but maybe a fossil? (Near the Chesakpeake Bay, MD).  

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

EFF provides petition to upgrade Electronic Communications Privacy Act

Electronic Frontier Foundation is supply a petition for voters to demand a “digital upgrade” to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, with the link for the petition form (on a secure link with https) here

The history of the existing law on Wikipedia is here

The Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School gives the text of the Act starting here (with “next” to get to succeeding pages).

EFF says an upgrade would require a warrant before government or police can read email, look at server logs of websites you have visited (or even Facebook or other social networking profiles you have visited or identities of people you friend or follow).

EFF (Cindy Cohn) also reports that California’s governor Jerry Brown has signed a low protecting privacy of user access to e-books  and online book services. The Consumer Affairs link is here.  

(See earlier posting Jan. 11, 2011.)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Composers run into "copyright" issues with their own music; why is government skittish on warning public with photography crowd release signs?

A couple of older issues resurfaced yesterday in my “out-and-about” wanderings, as the denouement for 2011 approached.

One is the idea that composers, when they have their own works performed by a professional group in the music world, often have difficulty getting personal (CD or MP3) copies of performance of their own work.

The most recent two postings by composer Nico Muhly (Sept. 11 and Sept. 8, 2011) go into this problem, at this blog (link). Needless to say, it wouldn’t be kosher for a composer to post a performance of his own work on his own website under these circumstances.  This reminds me of a problem that used to exist with subsidy publishing (before the Internet and cheaper book manufacturing) when authors had trouble getting more copies of their own books or keeping them in print.

Composer Timo Andres also touched on this problem, referring to Nico’s post, recently, here

This sounds like an issue that the Electronic Frontier Foundation would follow up on.

Then, yesterday, as I was leaving the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon in Washington DC (Issues blog, Sept. 30), I noticed that DOE had posted a "photography & videotaping in progress" crowd release consent sign.  I wondered why DOE thought it needed to do this, because there is “no right to privacy” or avoid being photographed when in a public place on public property.  I’ve covered this point before .