Sunday, March 29, 2020

Our fumbling of the coronavirus tests cost the US a full month in staving off the worst; now we face a direct hit



First, let me preface this post with a note about my own “style”.  I present a lot of different subject matters in my blogs, even within one blog, and report different viewpoints.  Some people think this is dangerous – and we see quickly how authoritarian control of speech develops.  Impressionable people may, for example, think that, given the current public health crisis, that social distancing is a “debate” and not a mandate, and decide just to ignore it, and there are some protests indeed  (which ironically need to be carried out within social distancing). 

But that is what I can offer, fact finding, connecting dots, looking at proposals, with some distance between the material and my own corpus, my own skin in the game.  I could have to defend myself.  I can imagine some very extreme proposals, as I have hinted at in the retirement blog, like possibly protecting seniors over 75 who living alone by taking them into conservatorship.  I have to be able to speak for myself.  To the far authoritarian Left, please respect that.
  
The most important article of the day is a Sunday Times piece by Michael D. Shear et al, “The Lost Month: How a Failure to Test Blinded the U.S. to Covid-19” with the byline “Aggressive screening might have helped contain the virus within the United States. But technical flaws, regulatory hurdles, and lapses in leadership let it spread undetected for weeks.”   The last part of the article discusses a very interesting effort at Stanford.

David Pakman, in a recent piece “What Trump Should Have Done”, suggests that with proper testing milder lockdowns would have started in February.  That means my screenplay pitch event in Los Angeles would have been canceled;  as it happened, I canceled my own trip because I thought the epidemic was already here (it was, as more recent cases show – it had been in California in mid January) and it looks like at some cost to myself ($700) I made the right decision. I recall mid February, calling the event sponsor, and seeing how people were behaving during the Super Bowl and Oscars.  They didn’t really see this coming.


  
It is important to find out if we have a substantial number of people already immune from undetected and resolved (likely totally asymptomatic, according to many sources) infection with antibody tests.  
   
That may give some impetus to partially restarting the economy. It may also, however, be used to channel some people into voluntarism they would not have considered. NBCWashington has a story Saturday night about training volunteers for health care caregiving (requiring masks and gowns) but does not yet have a URL for the story.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Some ideas for volunteering while "staying home": I have to look at what would work


Andy Altman has a video on CNET (not embeddable) on how to volunteer when staying at home, especially if expected to do so because of advanced age.

I had discussed the “Folding at Home” project, offering your computing power over the Internet as explained by ThioJoe, on a March 14 posting on the “IT Jobs” blog. He also discusses online emotional support for seniors with a group called Alone.
  
But the most interesting suggestion seems to be to be on call for “Be My Eyes” to offer support for web access for the visually impaired.  This is a smartphone app.
  

The  app has 2.1 million volunteers and 126000 users.  The demonstration video shows a man navigating in a suburban space.
  
The concept is important because recently there has been attention to website ADA compliance. It would sound reasonable that a vision-impaired person could use this at home when accessing a computer. But that setup would seem to assume also that you have some conferencing setup (Facebook or maybe Skype).  I would have to look into how to do this.  But the compliance ideas are a set of standards (which are somewhat subject to interpretation and are being developed) which presume that the client can use a site (especially a commercial one selling products or services or even a non-profit seeking donations) without assistance from another person.  But this app could be part of a solution to a large issue of enabling the disabled to use online access.
  
Many non-profits ask for donations online in a very bombastic manner that is irritating and sounds hucksterish. But maybe some of that is related to ADA use, and some of it is related to a very group-oriented mindset.

Friday, March 27, 2020

How "unfair" the Corornavirus shutdowns are to ordinary workers, and how Medium is covering the crisis


Medium, an intermediate membership blogging platform which I used once (Aug. 30, 2018) for a research essay on EMP, has a blog now with peer-reviewed articles on coronavirus, and one of the best is Aaron Gell’s piece, “Tom Colicchio Spent 19 Years Building a Restaurant Empire.  Coronavirus gutted it in a month.   What it’s like to lay off 300 employees, and rethink unfettered capitalism.” 
  
That’s true, the whole world of retail, with volumes of sales and appeal to a general public, is very susceptible to shocks like this.  In my world with my books, I’ve been quizzed constantly on why I am not more responsive to the idea that I should prove I can make money on volumes like everybody else.  Or the calls I got for years seeing if I would prove I could sell other people’s things.
  
    
This is very “unfair” to the retail world, especially bars and restaurants, and other kinds of non-essential consumer goods. It’s hard to believe that “the rest of us” should be allowed to “get away with it”, and how that would translate to personal morality.  But then that tracks back to “flatten the curve”.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Recent op-eds in NYTimes, WPost, focus more on what ordinary people should be expected do to (besides stay home?)






A couple more perspectives on how to manage the coronavirus crisis nationally and regionally, and the impacts on individuals who may be less affected so far.

Ezekiel J. Emmanuel, a provost at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) writes in the New York Times March 23, “FourteenDays: That’s the Most Time We Have to Defeat Coronavirus” with the byline “These decisive measures can prevent a decade of dislocations and extraordinary levels of deaths”.

He wants a complete lockdown and shelter-in-place for the entire nation, because regional variations will undermine local efforts (although that’s not completely the case in Europe;  some countries still have low death rates).

Some of his detailed suggestions are good (such as closing neighborhood streets to reduce activity to an absolute minimum).

At age 76, I am asked to stay home (in a high rise) as much as possible.  I can say I probably haven’t been within 6 feet of anyone for an extended period since maybe March 8.  But I have gone out on limited errands in low-crowd spaces and bought takeout food.

The last part of his essay would seem to try to get people ready for occupation change and joining unusual national volunteer efforts, which couldn’t really be done under social distancing.


The video above discusses volunteering for phone banks from home, and says food banks badly need healthy people to make deliveries.  They also need blood donations.  I made my first donation in 30 years (MSM) in early February, but at my age I don’t know if the Red Cross would want me now. 
  
There are even calls for people with sewing machines to make masks at home.  Companies with 3-d printers, that makes sense.  Retooling manufacturers to make ventilators makes sense.

The second piece by Marc Fisher in the Washington Post describes the ideas of a 56-year old attorney in California Scott McMillan, who wants to get healthy people back to work and stop helping the “non productive” so much – the elderly.  OK it sounds like Nazism, or maybe the same thing Communist China really does in secret. It sounds offensive.  But I don’t expect anyone to give up their lives to protect me.  But that’s off the target. First, we’re find out younger people are more vulnerable than we had thought. Second, the idea is to protect the health care system, whose collapse is itself a national security threat from foreign enemies (think about North Korea and remember this started in China).  So I am not offended personally, but I just think his idea is dangerous pragmatically.
  
I won’t get into my own plans and how they would be affected right here.  I would like to stay the course as much as possible and most of my work is at “home alone”.  But it’s more complicated than this.  Infrastructure around me needs to function indefinitely.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

"Is Copyright Broken"? UK activist Tom Scott gets reaction from lawyers on what reforms really would work


Virtual Legality (Hoeg Law) does a one-hour constructive criticism, “Is Copyright Broken? A Lawyer Responds to Tom Scott”.


I discussed Brown’s video today on my “Bills Drama Reviews” blog (see the profile).

Hoeg starts out by noting the history of ideas like copyright as far back as the Articles of Confederation, and there was a recognition that the benefit of a man’s learning should not be too tied to the corporate world. He notes that in the beginning copyright was more closely tied to trademark and patent than it is now, however, and it took some effort to separate them.

He puts Brown’s idea that self-publication and self-broadcast wasn’t really possible until rather suddenly in the mid or late 90s. At the legal bureaucracy that big businesses used had been set up for a time when things moved slower. That’s true, but it is true of a lot of things, including patent.

He notes corporate good will or “largesse” is not necessarily a product of law, as he talks about the Electronic Arts case, where the company appears to have used copyright claims to quash “criticism”.
   
He somewhat agrees with Brown on the idea that the DMCA Safe Harbor has a lot of abuse by false claims from bad actors.

But Hoeg somewhat disagrees with Brown over Brown’s ideas that copyright terms should be shorter and probably end with death of the author. Hoeg maintains that making a living from your online is important for the stability of the system.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The case for testing everybody for the SARS2 coronavirus; but you have to be very careful how you treat people who test positive or their contacts



Tim Searchinger, Anthony LaMantia, and Gordon Douglas have a big op-ed in the Washington Post and offer another plan, which should be compared to Tomas Pueyo (previous post Sunday night).  

The idea is mass testing of literally everyone (anyone with any electronically connected, in a topological sense, to a known case), including both PCR swab and antibody.  The authors explain the medicine and engineering as to how to do this.  Some of this can be done at home with test kits.
  
  
The article links to other articles that suggest some decentralization of control into neigjborhoods.  Positive cases should be treated in hotels (and that may include asymptomatic cases to keep them completely out of circulation for two weeks, and possibly anti-viral therapy when available to greatly reduce any risk of lung disease).
  
There are real questions about removing people from their homes to hotels.  There could be benefits in families, where future infection within a family is stopped.  Would people be allowed to take their electronics, which might be “contaminated” (although it sounds like they can be cleaned fairly easily)?  Someone not allowed to use them could find accounts hacked or removed and he might not them back, if this is not thought through in advance.  In China, personal belongings were destroyed (even though surface contamination from most things dissipate in about three days – although the Diamond Princess has reported a few spots 17 days later).
  
There is talk that a lockdown needs to work five weeks to be effective now, essentially two incubation cycles, so that household members can go through their own. Virginia’s near lockdown, announced Monday, is pre-set to four weeks.  Gov. Northam seems to be thinking, two incubation cycles. The CDC had recommended eight weeks of limiting groups to 50 (that’s 3 cycles).  But most states limit them to 10, and the UK and Germany now limit them to two!
   
Follow what is going on at Stanford (article) which is aggressive in trying to help all hospitals in California ramp up testing volume. There will be more developments from these folks, I have some contacts.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Covid19 is looking a lot more dangerous than the public (and Trump) realizes; "Hammer and Dance" could be the only way to save western democracy




This article by De. Tom Frieden, former CDC director, greeted me on my cell phone early this morning as I got up,  There’s a long war ahead”. 

There was another CNN article about how we had slid into the mud and depression in just 30 days. WSJ gives predictions, and as of Sunday night Congress is stalled (over whom to bail out) with some members of Congress quarantined. 

The article hits on how infectious the virus is, on how some of the mild cases still result in pneumonia. And there are scattered reports of younger people suddenly going into respiratory arrest, as with this ProPublica report from New Orleans. 
  
There is more work recently on survival of the virus on surfaces or in the air, after a person leaves; this could make the effectiveness of social distancing less.  The danger to others comes when they touch their faces and eyes after coming into contact with a surface, but it’s hard to say how important this is in practice.
  
   
Here’s another CNN story and video on what it’s like. 

Then, Robinson Meyer and Alexis C. Madrigal describe an American Catastrophe March 21 in the Atlantic
   
Bruce Lee in Forbes March 18 points to studies, showing about 18% of the infected people on the Diamond Princess remained asymptomatic. Since this was an older population, it’s reasonable to wonder if about 25% of the cases in general are totally asymptomatic, because of lighter dose, and maybe luckier genetics.
  
Still that more or less implies about half of adults infected may have very mild or no illness, but for the rest it could be a punishing and possibly fatal experience.
   
I’ll share Tomas Pueyo’s “Hammer and Dance” essay right here. The first essay was on the Books blog (March 13).  I think Pueyo has it right.  It’s going to a long haul for two years, or we have a vaccine. Maybe no baseball this year.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Should "slobs" worry about the issue of transmission of novel coronavirus from surfaces? Maybe, but speculative


Recently there has been more attention to the possibility of transmission of the SARS-Cov2 virus from surfaces and lingering in the air.  I had given this New England Journal of Medicine Link on a different blog, but this is the main source
   
Whatever the surface or medium, there is normally a half-life, and the density and practical infectivity of virus probably goes down rapidly with time. Nevertheless, there is a lot of chatter that residual contamination in homes and officers might be driving the increase in cases, especially the milder or asymptomatic ones that then transmit the virus to some people who do then become critically ill, and quickly, even exponentially in time, drive the health care crisis.  It's also likely that transmission from a surface occurs only if you touch your face or eyes shortly afterward. 
  
  
This is not necessarily factual.  Different mainstream sources vary on what drives transmission, and there is reasonable evidence that a lot of it has happened in large extended families and religious groups this time around (very different from the 1980s).  That explains some of the clusters, and the presence of dense clusters may argue somewhat against the significance of asymptomatic carriers.

There is the issue of lifestyle. Some people without families but who have a lot of “stuff” (that applies to me, as I have managed large record and CD collections and books, and even personal manuscripts that are still private) may not be able to be as attentive to meticulous personal and family hygiene as others, and ironically many traditional families, like those from the 1950s with marriages based on complementarity and division of roles, can be more attentive to this, since hygiene can be labor intensive.
  
Living as a “slob” when alone (and eschewing “germaphobia”) is not necessarily unhealthful. You become immune to your own germs. The big exception is a foreign or alien pathogen such as what came in from China.  If you think about it, you can see why this is a national security threat, as it targets individual freedom in a particularly existential way. The concern, however speculative, is that the “slob” get inevitable microexposures to a virus like Sars-COV2 and builds enough immunity to avoid serious or even uncomfortable symptoms.  But the “slob” becomes a carrier for a while.  People in more conventional living arrangements who are used to being more fastidious (and accept the division of labor sometimes necessary) could be affected more when encountering “the slob” because their exposure to virus is larger at once and there may be vulnerable persons in the household really badly affected.
  
Again, this sounds like a theory from a sci-fi novel, maybe my “Angel’s Brother”.  But this is something that could explode, lead to inspections or intrusions into privacy, however unconstitutional. 

I remember my extended period of Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson in 1968, where my personal habits were retooled.  It’s true that in that environment you don’t have much to take care of:  foot locker, wall locker, bed, rifle.  Once I left the Army and entered my adult life at 26, I slipped back into my old self.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Vox looks at how coronavirus is affecting "professional" bloggers and writers



It may seem a little frivolous to talk about bloggers who make a living at it – an idea that Blogtyrant pushes (even as it had an ownership change in 2018), but Vox has a revealing article by Terry Nguyen, “People who travel for a living are struggling to find work”.  No kidding.  There is a tagline “The coronavirus is hurting the travel and tourism industry.  Bloggers, photographers and writers are feeling it too.”
   

Like yesterday’s post, this seems to relate to people who are paid to write articles or make videos that help sell products, especially in tech.  It’s quite possible to do this without sounding like a salesman, and it’s possible to cover real content this way.

This sort of business model may be more wholesome than persistent identifiers and algorithms. 

I don’t get paid (much) for my stuff, which, except for Amazon and some limited Adsense, is largely ad free, and I have never actually been paid to promote products.  I have received sample film DVD’s and books free (especially with LGBTQ materials) and when I receive them this way I always inform the reader (as required by the FTC).  Some people do question the ethics of my model from a protectionist mindset. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

How YouTube influencers should behave; YouTube discusses how public health threat affects operations



I’ll take a break from coronavirus and present Ian Corzine’s 4-minute video “So You Want to Be an Influencer”.


This video discusses the legal issues if you get corporate sponsors for your videos and promote their products.  The FTC has rules to follow (Canada and UK probably similar). You generally have to disclose if the company gave you a free product.  This is particularly the case on tech channels were computers and apps or related products are presented. 
  
 I often get free screeners (usually private Vimeo video pw links) from some indie motion picture distributors who know me, and I always identify the fact that I received a free otherwise copyrighted "copy".  He suggests that you can, and perhaps should, use a "#ad" or say "this is an ad".  In my case, I would have seen the film anyway normally and I don't consider the review to be an "ad" in the usual sense. 

Yet, in the tech channel world, it’s a pretty good way to have a wholesome impact, remain advertiser friendly, and skirt the edges of political and social policy without having to take sides, but remain objective.  
   
YouTube has a corporate blog post March 16 explaining how it is dealing with the challenges to its workforce from disruption by coronavirus.  It bears careful reading. 
  
Picture: My ASUS laptop and I paid for it (in 2016).

Monday, March 16, 2020

Curve-flattening wasn't an obvious concept at first to most medical observers


Andrew Cuomo, D-NY governor, has pretty much taken the national lead on staging the strategy to “flatten the curve”.  He was on CNN today for an hour, and he is practically making himself de facto president in setting national policy.  He wants the states to be pretty much uniform so people won’t cross state lines to get out of the lockdowns.

I wanted mention his op-ed today and instruction to President Trump to use the Army Corps of Engineers to increase hospital capacity quickly.  Doing so could add confidence that the health care system need not be overwhelmed and help calm the markets.  Some hospitals are reported to have built some staging areas (like Stanford in California) for the expected rush of patients.
    
I have to admit that I only began to really ponder the “flatten the curve” idea about a week ago, as Italy’s desperate situation began to sink in.  Soon Italy may have more deaths than China, and Europe, including Spain, may.  You can combine the concept with the idea that younger healthier people are morally responsible for loose behavior that can infect others, although usually that doesn’t matter much with well-established infections.  Because the coronavirus came from China, an adversarial power, under circumstances that seem negligent and conceivably intentional, they make our hyperindividualism a vulnerability to a foreign enemy.

  
The mitigation measures for “flattening the curve” need to begin well before the curve starts to turn steep, when they will seem unnecessary to members of the public who don’t understand the math.
  
The Verily website in California is being rolled out, and it will probably exist in other cities later. Jack Andraka’s Facebook page today indicates he can help schedule other tests (at Stanford) sometimes for persons who do not immediately qualify for the test according to Verily.




I think we are approaching a point where volume testing by drive-in or for whole apartment or condo buildings will become needed, in order to learn the actual incidence of infection and actual typical severity, which may turn out to be much less than we think (but there is still the question of clusters, which could be related to more virulent strains or to larger exposures).

An Atlantic article by James Hamblin warns that the course for Covid-19 can be more dangerous than generally thought even in mild cases and younger patients. There is a tendency for a second phase or “relapse” sometimes.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Solidarity and flattening the curve (and a note about Article 13/17)


Here’s an article in Fastcompany, shared by Glyn Moody in the UK, about how we personally value or don’t value other people “as people”.

Now I’m 76, and the CDC considers me at higher risk just because of age, but I survived the 1980s without ever getting HIV when I could have.

And I rarely get very sick.
   
But I’m careful now to stay away from crowds, at least for a while.  It’s pretty easy to get errands done and keep some distance.  (But some interpretations of the CDC guidelines would want me home all the time, with “friends” bringing everything to me – but I really think that is risky).  At the moment, I have no known close contact or travel risks.


The nature of this pandemic is that one patient zero can create a ghost epidemic where most people do fine, but enough don’t that the hospital system is overwhelmed and the most vulnerable die in what would be rationalized only by fascist thinking.

That provides its own national security threat that an enemy can exploit (China seems to be laughing at us now).

The underlying psychology behind all this came up at William and Mary and then NIH in 1961 and 1962, and I’ve covered that before in the DADT books.



   
Let me mention another matter, that the UK will not implement the EU’s Article 13, post-Brexit (although Glyn Moody tells me on Twitter that publishers want it to).

Images: near Mont Alto, PA and the Blue Ridge 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Lawsuit against Beyonce and some others raised questions about website ADA compliance, which is a new and relatively little known concern



Ian Corzine today tweeted a reminder to visitors that some websites have been targeted for lack of ADA compliance, with a link to a blog post about an ADA suit against Beyonce reported early in 2019. 
  
I had not really heard about this, but there was a suit against Beyonce in 2019 because her site could not be effectively read (by screenreaders) in order to order tickets.   The Impact Learning Center has a good summary of the complaint which did focus narrowly on the site's functionality for making purchases by a disabled (in this case blind) person. 
   
Hollywood Reporter and Fortune (paywall), for example, have some details.

There are numerous sites discussing ADA compliance.  Morepro has one of the most complete lists on ADA compliance. 

Hunton Labor has a legal discussion, which focuses on the idea that the ADA was largely legislated for the bricks and mortar world, and courts have slowly come to the view that the Internet is included.  This would be true particularly for websites that sell products or services on credit cards or that are associated with a physical store or a physical expression (for example, a website that broadcasts concerts livestream). 
  
What about personal blogs powered by Blogger or Wordpress? 

Some of the literature suggests that every image (or uploaded video) should have an alt-tag (which is now an expected HTML standard).  The blogger could fill in a short description of the image.  Wordpress seems to always provide this tag, but a brief check showed that Blogger does not (unless I am missing a setting somewhere).

It is possible that free Wordpress or Blogger sites within the service websites are perceived as personal and not normally subject to the ADA.  But Blogger encourages people to get custom domain names, which makes them function somewhat like hosted Wordpress sites (although the hosting from Google is free). 

There are recommendations that YouTube creators use captions.  I find that some of them do, and sometimes they are annoying (often in at least one foreign language).
  
A quick look at the literature suggests that there are newer Wordpress themes purported to be completely ADA compliant. For example, look at Dearblogger and at Completethemes.  But existing sites (like mine) would need to take time to evaluate plugins for security, stability, and reputation, and the like, as this seems to be a new problem. Webhosts and Automattic would need to work with companies offering more sophisticated plugins to certify and support them.  As of now, I don't know whether the standard Wordpress themes offered by Automattic (Twenty--) which would be the safest are viewed as legally compliant by lawyers, but it would sound like keeping them updated when prompted would be a good idea. 

This whole issue has gotten more attention since mid 2019 because of Beyonce’s lawsuit. It is not possible for a set up like mine to be converted reliably when it is spread out across 20 blogs on both Blogger and Wordpress.  It will be much simpler to condense everything to one site and deal with all issues like ADA, CCPA, COPPA, etc. with restructuring that I have anticipated for 2022. 
Most litigation seems to be related to lack of a client to purchase a service or item.  But an ideologically (“intersectional”) motivated suit sounds possible.

This whole issue then links back to my earlier discussions of “commercial viability”.  It would also relate to the way POD publishers encourage authors to purchase large volumes of books and sell to the public directly rather than depend on Amazon (which obviously is in a position to be ADA compliant efficiently because of its large scale). 

I don’t have any direct links on sites that sell anything.  I have embedded Amazon ads and ad-sense on some.  I have the capability to use Payment Sphere from one Wordpress site (to sell books and take credit cards directly) but right now don’t use it, but will have to look very carefully at this “new” issue if I do activate it.
   
This is a problem to watch, like so many others. It looks like mouse keys (another issue) can be enabled in Windows and Mac.  But mobile use might also raise issues. 
  
Art work picture:  A natural brush maze at a park near Frederick, MD on I-270 (mine, 2020/03). 
   
Many of my own images are just redecoration, but some are more directly related to the text.  I do identify them when I review movies to make sure that a visitor doesn't think the image could have come from making an illegal photo from the movie (copyright).  I did have a cousin die of ALS, but in her last months she used a lot of accessibility software, but it never occurred to me to test my sites with her setup.

 Update: April 30, 2020  



If you copy an image (at least of sheet music, my own as handwritten by me and composed by me in my own case) into Microsoft word, the wordprocessor adds alt-text for people with visual disabilities. apparently as a compliance expectation.  I had never seen this before. Look at the example above. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Trump comes clean, to some extent, in addressing the nation on citizen responsibilities



Here is President Trump’s 10-minute address from the White House at 9 PM EDT tonight on the Covid-19 outbreak.
  
  
Trump mentioned that it originated in China, a putatively hostile Communist foreign country, and the point of such mention is that in a sense it could be viewed as a wartime situation if this burdens American civilians, or if some of the measures seem unreasonable.

The president said that most travel to and from Europe will be halted for 30 days from March 13,  but not including the UK.  The latest is that it does not include goods, and it does not apply to US citizens.

The president asked seniors and people with compromised immune systems to stay away from crowds but did not propose any formal mechanism of enforcement.  But the reason would be that a senior is more likely to need ICU support of infected, so this is an indirect conceptual strategy to “flatten the curve”.

The president does want to prove income stipends for quarantined persons, mandate paid sick leave, full insurance coverage, and small business loans for businesses closed during the outbreak (which would likely include bars and discos).
  
Trump spoke in a monotone and did not look well himself.  Jared Kuschner wrote the speech.
   
Trump did not directly address the need of companies and government to telecommute.
  
Update:  The Washington Post annotates the speech with a lot of constructive criticism. 

CNN also annotates.

One more thing:  He did not declare a national emergency (a possibly provocative step) to release the use of certain FEMA funds.  I was expecting him to do so. 

Monday, March 09, 2020

Twitter tightens rules on disparaging or "hate speech" while Carlos Maza remains an untouchable Thanos; YouTube could stop all comments


Twitter has called out the White House on its manipulated media policy, regarding a post and video misrepresenting Joe Biden, Mashable story here
  
Twitter also marked a post by Cameron Kasky, the 19-year old Columbia Student (from March for our Lives and friend of David Hogg) where he presents himself as a presidential candidate as “sensitive content”.  Of course, informed users know that he cannot become president (minimum age 35) but wants to make a point that the current choices for president are too old, which is, frankly, dangerous for the country, and that much younger people should run for office.


Twitter has also banned “dehumanizing” posts about age, disability or disease (including infection with coronavirus), The Verge, story by Jay Peters.
  
Twitter has also disciplined a New York Post reporter for “exposing” left-wing YouTuber and former Vox creator Carlos Maza, as wealthy and hypocritic.  I also notice that there are plenty of other young men on YouTube with a charismatic presence, some of them gay, and Stephen Crowder leaves them alone. In fact, some of them are libertarians or conservatives and Crowder likes them. He picked on Maza over apparent hypocrisy. We all watched the dominoes fall and live with the consequences. 

OTHER NOTES:  Ian Corzine discusses the possibility that YouTube may eventually disable comments on all videos, not just made-for-kids, because of subtle downstream liability exposures.  
    
BBC reports some YouTubers have gotten copyright strikes and takedowns for complicated videos showing other people reacting to memes or music, a tricky issue.  Corzine's site has some ideas as to how to use music safely;  I may come back to that topic later. 

Saturday, March 07, 2020

This self-quarantine stuff really is very bad for people who don't belong to tribes



OK, I’m pretty concerned about the idea that the CDC would almost order those over 60 to stay home as much as possible (Retirement blog), on the theory that if they get infected randomly they are much more likely to strain hospitals with ICU and ventilator use. It’s about being a good citizen to flatten the curve.

Never mind, a lot of people over 60 keep working (and have to do so given today’s demographics).

The guidelines suggest giving up shame, and publicly asking family and friends to take care of you.  Well, I live alone; and being childless, I don’t have the social capital (having others’ backs) to do that.  Compulsory tribalism (and localism) doesn't work for me; it just pushes me into inferior ("sissified") social status.  I'm not in line to apply to live in an intentional community (like Twin Oaks, Issues blog, April 7, 2012).
     
I’ve stayed on my feet and managed to avoid major illness because I have to.
   
There is something about subordinating your own personal goals to the welfare of the group you belong to, except that I don’t really belong to a group.

It all gets back to needing to have children first, for that group socialization to set in.

They could become very determined to stop seniors from participating in society and let them become dependent, to keep the whole hospital system from breaking down. 

 Later, there were reports (AP story) that the Trump administration ordered the CDC not tell seniors to stop all flying, but the rest of the recommendations remain. 

 Charlie Warzel op-in-ed (NYTimes) on the morality of this in discussing Coronavirus and class war, even maintaining there is a moral duty to join protests and volunteer even at existential risk to self to help the community. 


   
See most recent posts on retirement and international issues blogs.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Why a pandemic like Covid19 is bad for "creative introverts" who depend on globalization and don't have much interaction with immediate neighbors


The unpredictability of the political response to the Covid19 disease from the novel Sars2 coronavirus is certainly raising existential questions about our own individualism. 
   
The most extreme proposals seem to be something like stop the economy, declare marital law, and stop the virus in its tracks, mostly to protect people who are medically more vulnerable anyway.  
  
Lives, as we know them, will be culturally and economically destroyed by the quarantines of the well.  But no matter, people are supposed to care more about their communities than themselves.  That’s communism.


But there is something about people (like me) who have little access to social capital and care very little about it, and just want to drive their own lives with normal exercise of their natural rights.  If that is taken away from them, they fail as persons.  They become nothing.  Especially if they had depended on unearned wealth.

In theory, some people want to see the world revert back to a confederation of intentional communities, where people are very tied to their own “blood and soil”, or “comrades”.
  
I mentioned the pressure from social media to become publicly involved in “other people’s problems” when in the past charity was more private.  In fact, perhaps my attitude toward this could be tempered by the fact that you can limit your social media audience to known lists, rather than use it as a tool for self-publishing. Recently, one prominent Twitter user demonstrated his personal bonding with an underprivileged teen and then challenged specific celebrities to become involved with that person.  I would have seen that as rude, and indeed this particular Twitter user is a “conservative” – when that very personalized appeal sounds like something you would normally see from the communal Left.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Ian Corzine gives copyright tips on his blog and video and podcast channels.



Ian Corzine has podcasts and a legal blog as well as his video channel.  He mentioned his post on fighting wrongful termination of a YouTube channel without giving the URL.  Here is that URL.
  
  
He talks about the idea that a “trusted flagger” could be helpful.
   
In the video, the talks about Fair Use when reading a book online.  The key concept is whether you are making sufficient comments about the book.  Think about teaching “Silas Marner” or “Lord of the Flies” in high school English class. 
    
Corzine's blog is somewhat showy and aggressive in selling services and attracting members, more so than my own style of blogging is.  That is something to think about with regard to the "pay its own way" idea, which I expect to be required some day of websites, that I have discussed here before.