Thursday, June 29, 2017

Trump's accusations of fake news become more troubling to mainstream news organizations, not so much to individual bloggers

OK, the press briefings are sometimes shown now, but Sarah Huckabee Sanders caused a huge ruckus by invoking the idea that mainstream media is fake news.

Here is “Heavy’s” video of her encounter with Sentinel (Playboy) reporter Brian Karem.

Today, CNN was obsessed with Trump’s latest Twitter storm, in which he invoked the idea of body fascism (for women) for guests at his Palm Beach resort,  What comes to mind is Milo Yiannopoulos seeming to support fat shaming, which probably upset people a lot more than Milo’s supposed support of underage activity (which is actually a misreading of what he really had said).  And, by the way, I have re-ordered Milo’s now self-published “Dangerous” which should arrive around July 5.

As to Trump’s bullying of the mainstream media, some of this seems to be that Trump simply believes leaders can’t let themselves look bad.  Young OAN reporter Trey Yingst grilled Sean Spicer about all the Russia stuff, phrasing questions in a way that would appeal to a conventionally conservative audience.  You got it, being in bed with Vladimir Putin (who loves so show off his hairless chest in photos of horseback riding) is not part of normal conservative practice.  But the next day, the White House was talking the press briefings off camera, to keep Spicer and Sanders from being made to look bad even by conservative reporters.  CNN mentioned “OAN” the next day as material to the decide to take down the video.

For all this, CNN reported today that Trump and Bannon are beginning to tale the power grid security issue more seriously.  I talked about this on Facebook today (link).

Trump doesn't seem so concerned about independent bloggers.  In the meantime, the New York Times now stirs up protests among its workforce with plans to lay off copy-editors, which amatuers don't usually have (NY Daily News story).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Zillow and "McMansionHell": a bizarre "copyright" claim indeed, against an unusual website; a lesson in Fair Use?

I’ve seen a variety of bizarre copyright claims over the years, not only of the Righthaven troll variety, but also just from public companies with fundamentalist ideas of their fiduciary duty to protect their intellectual property, particularly from Hollywood and from music or record companies.

Now there’s a bizarre cease-and-desist against the owner of an architectural critique site called “McMansionHell” from Zillow, a site that does mass listings with detailed photos of properties for sale all over the US (and probably worldwide).  In fact, I am considering the possibility of a move later this summer, and just last night I was looking at the comparable prices of condos and homes in a number of cities (Baltimore, Charlotte, Dallas, and Las Vegas – and Vegas, still recovering from 2008, seemed the “cheapest”), all of which are more reasonable than the Washington DC suburbs.  Then, today, surfing on Twitter in the chain-reaction aftermath to some unrelated events, I stumbled across this problem.

The “McMansion” development does make me wonder, who can afford all these houses (or $10 million condos in NYC for that matter).  Call it gentrification.  If you see livable space in a third story attic, well, teenagers will be living there.

There’s something about the whole downsizing thing.  Yes, I’d rather be in a secure building with supervision, and less that can go wrong (outside of another 9/11 or WMD event).  I’m not into being off the grid or into doomsday prepping, even though I follow the topic somewhat.  It even strikes me that more could be done, rather than selling and downsizing alone, to encourage seniors to provide housing to lower-income people as companions and stay where they are.  That might be morally preferable.  (See my “Bill Retires” postings April 21 and June 24, 2017).  The whole ethical and legal network around hosting asylum seekers, which I have explored on Wordpress but which it looks like I will not be doing, comes into play.

I don’t personally have a reason to use photos of houses in my own blogs (and the concept of a housing critique site like this had not occurred to me – I wonder what “Blogtyrant” would think of it), and generally I try not to take or use pictures of people’s private homes and property unless there is a really good reason to do so.  When I’m on the road, looking for a public place to park and photo to report something legitimately interesting can sometimes be a challenge.

Mike Masnick has a legal analysis of the Zillow case in his “censorious thugs” column on Techdirt here.   It does seem to me that a copyright owner cannot, as a matter of law, declare that his/her/its content are off-limits from Fair Use evaluation. The TOS claim might be another matter.  This is another one to watch. Here’s a YouTube story, too.

Monday, June 26, 2017

CNN withdraws story implicating Trump connection to Russia

ABC affiliate WJLA-7 in Washington DC ran a story from Sinclair Broadcasting (the moderately conservative media company in Baltimore owning WJLA) reporting that CNN removed a story linking a news story by Thomas Frank linking the Trump campaign to a Russian adviser.  The WJLA link is here  and gives a link to a Google cache of the story (which worked last night). It is possible for CNN to ask Google to remove the cache if it wants.

Buzzfeed also has an account here.

It is very unusual for a major news network to remove a story like this.

I suppose that it is conceivable, although in practice very unlikely, that other sites that link to cached removed stories can become liable for defamation.  It all sounds pretty silly.  The big boys and grownups have to be accountable for what they do.

Sinclair has sponsored some important stories on national security (especially of the power grid);  it has generally seemed favorable to LGBTQ equality issues.

Update: June 30

The Washington Times offers an op-ed about the "Sullivan Rule" and the CNN incident here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mark Zuckerberg says he will focus on building Facebook groups: Eusociality online?

Mark Zuckerberg will be old enough to run for president in 2020, but already he’s talking more about the common good in a new way.  He was always the connector (as in the 2010 Time cover), but now he he says he wants to build specific socially cohesive communities online. CNET has a typical story here.

Mark made his remarks at a Facebook community summit.

I’m not much on joining groups and behaving elders;  I perceive this as tribalism.  And I wonder how well this could work on line.

Groups are private;  you have to be approved to join.  That doesn’t sit well with me.

Already, some Facebook pages behave erratically online.  Today I made a couple comments, and the musician owner replied, as I got an email notification, and when I went to the page, the comments had disappeared.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How far does the sharing economy go before it jeopardizes personal security? Hitchhiking is really OK? ; also, resistance plans "Day of Dinners" June 25

Here’s an interesting article by Michael Munger on FEE about the sharing economy.  Thus is real sharing, real free market communism, real sustainability, maybe.

But, really, are you willing to pick up hitchhikers just because they “need” rides?  What about personal security?  (But you can watch the little "Train" film "Bulletproof Picasso", which I have reviewed before. Mean what you say and say what you mean, like Chris Christie.)

There are other stories around that Airbnb is pressuring homesharers to behave more like commercial hotels.  Consumers need reliability and certainty, and don’t want to have to be “approved” or have online reputations as consumers (an issue I have with Uber, too).

And the potential liability to homesharers for guest use of wireless internet connections deserves more attention than it has gotten. Is OpenDNS the right idea?  Not all telecom companies offer it (and that gets back even to the net neutrality debate).

There's also a "radical hospitality" movement event "A Day of Dinners" June 25, 2017 sponsored by the Women's March.  News story here, link here. If you visit it, you'll see it is rather coercive in tone.

I haven't put any time in being able to host events at home (I go to events in public spaces) but I used to do this when I lived in Manhattan in the 1970s, ironically, like an Understanding meeting (Dan Fry's group) in May 1976.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A group called "Better Angels" tries to replace tribalism with community dialogues

Today, David Blankenhorn appeared on the Fareed Zakaria GPS show on CNN and mentioned his “Better Angels” organization, which tries to set up community gatherings where people from opposing political parties or different cultural and ethnic identity groups meet and discuss contentious issues.  The link is here and I “joined” this evening.

The idea is to breakdown the tribalism that is haunting American politics and which Donald Trump exploited to get elected.

The concept reminds me of the “Area of Mutual Agreement” at Understanding, Dam Fry’s group in Arizona in the 1970s, which I discuss in Chapter 3 in my DADT-1 book  I’ll review this again soon on my “DADT Notes” blog on Wordpress.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Do bloggers need to have skin (their own, personally) in the game?

Here's an odd version of how free speech should work, from a "conservative" on Twitter.

This is a little surprising,   I would have thought that "paid speech" is more likely to come from a professional at something, from someone who does it to support a family, who has skin in the game.

This blog is practically for free (you just have to see the ads).

I don't need to make a living from it.

But Australian blogging guru Ramsay Taplin takes up whether blogging itself can support a family (it does on some mommy blogs, like Heather Armstrong's). Typically with niche blogging it's the product or service itself that earns the revenue.  But there could be some hybrid areas, like gaming or cgi code consultants.  

Friday, June 16, 2017

New York State about to expand its right of publicity law

Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that New York State is on the verge of a dangerous expansion of “right of publicity” by state law, on this post by Daniel Nazer June 12.
The bill would make the right of publicity inheritable, as part of an estate.
Think about it.  That makes no sense.  My father was probably a minor public figure in his own right, but my own life has taken a totally different turn, partly because of the effect of decades of history passing.. I would have no reason to “need” his.

The bill could enable litigation for Internet postings that obvious reach other states.
Even so, I doubt that the bill would present a practical threat in political commentary.  It might make it more dangerous to advertise certain products or services in a way that implies connection to a past public person.

I believe right of publicity is covered by Section 230.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Visit EFF's rebuilt page on Section 230; new threat regarding fake news liability in CA

Electronic Frontier Foundation has recently reorganized its own website, so it isn’t always possible to tell right away which stories are the most urgent.

But EFF still has an instructive page on CDA230, Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (popularly known as the Communications Decency Act, the censorship sections of which were struck down by the Supreme Court in 1997), which shields social media companies from most downstream liability for what their users do, and precludes the necessity for pre-screening.  Section 230 gets discussed in the new handbook “The Permissions Guide Through the Legal Jungle”, which I will review soon on Wordpress.

Note particularly the essay by Aaron Mackey on attempts to hold Twitter responsible for the recruiting activities of terrorists.

I’ve included a video today about efforts to undermine Section 230 in California with regard to fake news, a more recent concern.  Fake news could be related, of course, to defamation.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

There is no double life

Here’s a piece on basic ethics by Mike Monteiro, on “Dear Design Student”, “Ethics can’t be a side hustle”, link.  Blogtyrant Ramsay Raplan recently referred to it, saying every blog should help someone, and I’ll take this up on Wordpress soon.

Here Monteiro is saying it matters how you make a living and earn your reputation;  occasional volunteer work doesn’t repair bad karma. There is no double life anymore.

Charles Murray’s interview for Intellectual Takeout, by John Mitimore, on Trump, the Middlebury unrest, and America’s greatest threat.  Murray does say that social media has inadvertently contributed to the polarization of less-educated voters by aggregation (and fake news), and that critical thinking is lacking.

Yet critical thinking (or its self-dissemination) doesn’t directly help someone in need or make others matter more.  Murray’s advice somewhat is paradoxical given his call for more eusociality in his 2012 book “Coming Apart”.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

UK wants worldwide Internet regulation to combat terror, maybe even some shutdowns; ironically Trump's "America First" would contradict her

Although I’ve been covering this on the International Issues blog and on Wordpress, I wanted to note here British Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for “wordwide Internet regulation to fight terrorism”,as Brian Fung explains in a link here.

The text of May’s speech was carried on Time’s website, as here.

One silver lining in Trump’s attitude is that Trump does not believe that the US needs to fully cooperate with other countries in making Americans share the same regulatory control of their freedoms (“America First”), ironically (if unfortunately) as we saw in Trump’s pulling out of the Paris accords.

Fung also refers to an earlier chilling speech in December 2015 when a candidate Trump essentially wanted the ability to "turn off those tubes" if we were in a wartime situation with terrorists.  This is a particularly troubling idea because radical Islam in particular looks at ordinary non-believer or “apostate”  citizens as combatants.

The biggest issues may have started with social media recruiting (especially Twitter), but the biggest draws seem to be slickly produced offshore ("Dark Web") propaganda sites, not indexed by major search engines anyway, and lots of encrypted communications (Whats App,Telegram, etc).

I like the essay by Theodore Dalrymple "Terror and the Teddy Bear Society" in the Wall Street Journal, June 6m 2017, p. A17.   Nihilists will attack us if we're "weak" and not resilient, just because they can.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Harvard rescinded admissions of at least ten students after learning of offensive memes

Harvard rescinded admissions of at least ten students after learning of offensive posts they had made on Facebook.  The posts appeared in a “private group” created under members of the class of 2021.  Some of the offensive material included making fun of the Holocaust, of crimes against children and ethnic cleansing.

NBC News has a video report here.

The fact that the group was private shows a counterexample – using privacy settings as recommended doesn’t necessarily protect you satisfactorily from otherwise dangerous exposure to posts as others spread them.  How often has Dr, Phil warned against this?  ("Internet mistakes").

CNN has a similar story here .

The Harvard Crimson has an article here.

Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in February 2004 while a sophomore at Harvard and living in a communal dorm. I think Zuckerberg would have known about the controversy over “don’t ask don’t tell” because of the issue of military recruiters on campus during his freshman year.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Popularity and health; is openness to more range in interpersonal relationships a real moral question?

In the New York Times Sunday Review, Mitch Prinstein, who has urged full transgender acceptance in other columns, writes (p. 10), “Popular people live longer”. He has an interesting theory, sounding speculative, that humans without reciprocal social interdependence are more prone to inflammatory diseases as a survival mechanism.  This view may not recognize the physiology of true introverts, who don’t experience the same need for popularity or group ratification. This may be like comparing the socialization of dogs to that of cats – both very successful animals.
This manga (Danganronpa?) may quarrel with the article.

Then Sheyll Cashin writes “Interracial love is saving America”, invoking the 2016 film “Loving”.  Is openness to a personal relationship with a person of a different race (“hetero-race-uality”) something that can become a moral expectation of individuals?  Or does this stay in the abstract, political area.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Local Denver station offers dire advice about social media and insurance companies

A Denver television station carried a story in March reporting on insurance companies’ looking up consumers on social media.  This has been written about before, especially with respect to possible suspected fraud on claims. But this video, toward the end, takes it further.

Toward the end, the video takes the position that no one should post pictures from vacation except to private lists.  But the broadcast was motivated by spring break for college students, who likely have some roommates back on campus or who may be in dorms anyway.  Furthermore, many people have so many Facebook friends of Twitter or Instagram followers that “private mode” would hardly guarantee security.