Sunday, May 31, 2020

A closer look at martial law (should it happen)

Because of the violence of the past three nights, and the supposed evidence that it is being orchestrated by “outside forces”, maybe with false flag attacks, to undermine American stability during the COVID crisis, it is fair to ask if the President could declare marital law. This topic was visited on March 29.

The Hill has an article April 4, “Can the president declaremarital law in response to the corona virus?” 

It should be noted that governors are doing this somewhat, in calling out the National Guard as in Minnesota.

Officially it last happened in a neighborhood in San Francisco in 1966, by the governor, after a racially motivated killing.

Hawaii was under martial law for most of WWII.

The two important laws are the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act.

I would have an existential concern over the continued use of the Internet, both social media and conventional web use, including the right to keep and post my own domains. One reasons could be that social media and various dark web apps could be used by saboteurs for planning other attacks. On the other hand, leaving it up would make sense in allowing intelligence to spy on enemies and finding their plans. (See comment about the Internet Kill Switch May 29, and the reference to the Book Review blog posting Jan. 5, 2019 about the Atlantic article). 

Personally, I take the idea of a “Red Dawn” kind of sabotage of America, because it values personal autonomy so much, very seriously. There’s no proof on where the coronavirus came from, but it does a lot of things a subversive enemy would want, such as undermine globalism and geographic mobility and personal value systems with respect to common good and protecting the more vulnerable.

 There is a similar post on the Issues blog Dec. 15, 2019. 

Update: June 1

Tim Pool keeps talking about this, that the people want it.  Trump will meet with governors today in a closed session not open to the press.  Normally, martial law is instituted more locally by local or state authorities.  I do wonder if authorities can shut down telecommunications in a particular area for users to stop insurgents from communicating.  It happens a lot overseas in developing countries. 

There is a site that keeps track of network outages that might be ordered by authorities,    On June 3, Tim Pool tweeted a link for a National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, or Executive Directive 51" (no relation to Area 51). 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Young black men are brought up to expect blatant discrimination -- I was once even told this by a workplace colleague

Back in the mid 1990s, I recall that an African-American co-worker (a business systems programmer analyst) told me that he was teaching his son to be prepared to expect discrimination and profiling by police for no other reason than the color of his skin.

Van Jones said the same thing this morning on CNN (but well before the Minnesota governor’s speech).

One of his friends and another coworker said that I had an advantage because I could “pass”, and they couldn’t.  I thought it was a bizarre comparison.  Even in the mid 1990s (some years after the worst of the AIDS crisis) gay white men’s lives were simply very different from black men’s.  There really was not point in an intersectional comparison.

He also thought I lived “at home” with my Mother.  No, at the time, I did not, I had my own apartment (and then another one, and then six years in Minneapolis).  But I did when I came back in 2003, and I’m not necessarily proud of that.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Protests break out in many cities, some are violent; what about the Internet Kill Switch now?

Unrest is spreading rapidly tonight, with the most dangerous confrontations right now in Atlanta, with car fires, and the like. The disruption is right near CNN headquarters.  Three CNN reporters were arrested wrongfully in Minneapolis early this morning live. All this started with George Floyd’s wrongful death Monday night.  One police officer charged with 3rd Degree Murder now. The other three probably will be,

Protesters have moved from U Street in DC to near the White House, but there things seem to be calmed down. (The White House is on “lockdown” but it always is.)

Minneapolis is on curfew as at 8 PM CDT (CNN). 

Remember President Trump probably could pull the plug on the entire Internet under his emergency powers, any time.  Look at the Books Blog post Jan 5, 2019 referring to the Goittein Atlantic article.

But of course in 1968, when I was in Army Basic, and there was no Internet, the unrest spread quickly. 

But stay tuned if you can.  There is too much news to report here.

Update: May 30

Officials (including Mayor Jacob Frey) are saying Saturday morning that rioters on Friday night came from outside the city and were organized apparently by (essentially communist) insurgent forces. They are essentially terrorists with a very radical left-wing (Antifa) agenda. KARE livestream.  The National Guard has been called in, as it probably will in some other states and cities. 

I wonder if it is possible to choke off cell phone calls and messages selectively in an area in an emergency. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Police violence and rioting in Minneapolis shocking, I lived there 1997-2003

I am rather speechless at the reports of violence in Minneapolis, where I lived from Sept. 1997 to Aug. 2003, almost 72 months, in the Churchill Apartments on First Street, near the downtown Post Office, in two different apartments that faces First Street.

The Star Tribune reports in a story by Liz Navratil and Libor Jany.  This is triggered by the wrongful death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police (four officers).  Yes, prosecution, perhaps for second degree murder, sounds appropriate.

The incident seems to have occurred near the intersection of Lake Street and Highway 55.  I used to drive 55 from downtown to work at RMA, a debt collector, in my last two months living there, near the Mendotta Bridge.  I had worked for IMG-Reliastar until the end of 2001 (52 months) and for the Minnesota Orchestra part time for 14 months. 

If you travel about a mile west on Lake Street, you get to Bryant Lake Bowl, which in normal times has a monthly powwow for independent filmmakers. Then you come to the new Moxy hotel, where I stayed last October 2.  Then you reach the Landmark Uptown and Lagoon Theaters.  About two miles north along Hennepin you’ll come to the Saloon and the Gay Nineties.

This does sound like material that could fit into Gode Davis’s unfinished project, “American Lynching.”

Alejandro Alvarez has some more footage (not on YT) yet on his Twitter thread with description. 

Picture: Bryant Lake Bowl, Oct. 3, 2019, my visit 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

YouTube Content-id claims, when en masse, go against Fair Use law

OK, Virtual Legality has an ancillary story about the implications of the recent Copyright Office Report.

I won’t get into all the details as to the claimants, but an Guiness Book of Records inadvertently generated a whole sequence of content-id claims against a particular creator.  They did not result in copyright strikes, but did reverse any income earned by that creator retroactively for all previous vides they had created with respect to Guiness, which is something the Copyright Office has suggested the DMCA ought to let content owners do with real takedown claims.

I have had a few of my videos (non commercial) marked for background music, as outdoors at protests. Usually the notice also tells me the video is not viewable in specific countries (which is something that would happen a lot more now with the EU Article 17).

Since my videos are not monetized, there are no consequences for me, except that in the background it raises the question of “commercial viability”.

But the rights holder ought to get into trouble if they did not consider Fair Use prospectively, which Content-Id, by its very automation, would preclude them from doing (as with a Ninth Circuit ruling). The notifications don't result in takedowns, but they do result in loss of revenue for the second party. But in practice, bad-faith takedowns (like those reported by David Pakman) result in considerable revenue loss for smaller creators, too. 

These issues can affect all video-sharing platforms (like Twitch and Bitchute, probably even Minds), not just YouTube. Twitch is interesting in that its copyright strikes aren't reversible on appeal (at least according to Pakman, after an incident during the primary debates). 

That’s another potential problem not properly covered in the Copyright Office’s report, however intended.

In this case, Guiness actually caught the “mistake” and asked YouTube to reverse the content-id claims.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Twitter corrects Trump with fact checking on vote-by-mail; Facebook has fact-checked me just once so far; Trump threatens to shut down social media for humiliating him

Twitter, for the first time ever, has intercepted one of President Trump’s tweets with fact checking.

Twitter provides a brief summary of other mainline publications noting that mail-in ballots rarely lead to voter fraud, link.

Having worked a primary March 3 where there were machines that collected physical ballots, I can say there are very elaborate procedures for handling all the components of the election process, balancing totals and storing reports and disks in a very precise way manually.

Facebook recently intercepted one of my posts where I simply referred to a Vice story about the Senate, FISA and surveillance.  That is the first time that has ever happened. Facebook provided an official act-checker from Gannett’s USA Today.

 Update: May 27.  This development has had repercussions. Trump made a verbal threat to shut down social media after Twitter fact-checked him in public, as in this story by Zeke Miller.  Trump claimed, Tech Giants can't silence conservative voices.  "We will strongly regulate them or close them down before we allow this to happen".  The article says this cannot happen without Congress.  But an Atlantic article that I had covered on Jan 5, 2019 in my Book blog suggests that he can with a national emergency. A "second wave" could be harder on tech companies (politically). Biden, also, has said he wants to end Section 230. Pay attention to all this, please.  Later Wednesday evening, Politico reported that Trump would issue the Executive Order Thursday (tentative draft). The final order is quite a bit changed for legal reasons (WH copy) and was signed around 4 PM Thursday. More details will appear soon on my Word Press sites.  Check Books blog for a coordinated post May 29. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Almost a debate question: "Is America too libertarian do deal with coronavirus?"

Sean Illing interviews Keith Humphreys for Vox and asks “Is America too libertarian to deal with the coronavirus? Why widespread testing in the country may not work.”

The interview is straightforward enough. A lot has been written in other good sources about how Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and more recently New Zealand have kept the severe outbreaks, ICU hospitalizations and deaths much lower.  Germany, for example, has been less severely affected than Italy, Spain, and now the UK.

I think it is a culture shock for many people to be told suddenly, after advice to the contrary, that they must wear masks in public (which many see as a public admission of personal vulnerability and humility to forces much bigger than they are) even if they have to learn to make them at home, suddenly. It’s not to protect you.  It’s to protect others if you don’t know you’re sick.”

What?  If you can function, and don’t feel sick, you aren’t sick. That’s demeaning.

We’ve gotten used to, in our business world, an individualistic culture of survival of the fittest. You’re supposed to be responsible for your own strength and immunity.

Well, not against a foreign enemy.  That’s what war is all about.  Or against a natural pathogenic enemy that we’ve never seen before, but which the globalism and modernism our identities depend on made inevitable. Call it karma. "Survival of the fittest" would indeed invite fascism through the front door. 

Of course, frankly, there’s a lot of controversy over hygiene and “germophobia”.  Generally, it’s good for most people to be exposed to common germs all the time as it keeps their immunity up.  There are limits, of course.  We’ve had other diseases before where there are asymptomatic spreaders (polio), but public sanitation and vaccines have pretty much maintained a balance, which still doesn’t help people with serious problems (like cancer patients on chemotherapy, for starters).  Our balance on responsibility for others with our own hygiene may shift a but even if a vaccine comes along sooner than we expect and it works,

The biggest problem in our collective vulnerability is our globalization.  It’s not just the Internet.  We’ve gotten around to moving around as individuals when we want to, rejecting old family or group ties and choosing exactly what we want, and not being bonded to others in groups as much.

It would seem like “belonging” culture would be the only reasonable personal starting point in dealing with the enormous inequality in the sacrifices being born by people in western countries.

Of course the paradigm of this virus (generating its moral contradictions), with its chain reaction exponential spread from relatively well people is one of the reasons why some smaller Asian countries (and perhaps New Zealand) have tried to eliminate every infection with brief but draconian lockdowns, or else, incredibly intrusive contact tracing catching people in dragnets and carting them off to indefinite detention to protect everyone else from the spreading risk.

We do need to tell people the floor on their rights if they are isolated or quarantined (two different concepts). Should their employers be compensated, and should the people themselves?  Should we guarantee them uninterrupted Internet access so they can continue their lives in isolation as much as possible.  (Seriously, in Canada, there have been college students designing low cost ventilators with software while in bedrooms or hotels in preventive quarantine – there is public good in this.)  Without these policies being thought through, we will take away a lot more personal lives (although the Left will demand equality of sacrifice as a stabilizing principle.)

I hear a lot of people say it is OK to be sad and indecisive during this time of uncertainty and the possibility of extreme changes in the way we see ourselves being forced on us (especially if the medicine does not go as well as it really needs to).  Yet, at a spiritual level, “you” are always tested.  “You” are always responsible for how you deal with anything, because if you don’t, it falls on someone else (the Army Basic idea).  You can even have to decide if you want to live, or let someone else have the power to decide that for you.

Indeed, this pandemic bookends my adult life, perhaps, at age 76, in ways that are so ironic that they make me feel like I am living in a simulation.

The moral entanglements described in Dogg's video (above) are described in an earlier WP post of mine. 

Picture: Boyhood cardboard and wood stadium for "pinball baseball", around 1956. Let's open MLB!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Legal analysis of the Copyright Office white paper on DMCA Safe Harbor, and it isn't good

Hoeg Law discusses the recent paper from the Copyright office, linked on May 21.  Hoeg notes that the conclusion is that Safe Harbor is too hard on Disney and Sony.  Early in the video, he points out a critical sentence on p. 136.

The Copyright Office doesn’t look at “amateurs” as legitimate creators.  That’s true even for those on YouTube who can make a living with Adsense, sponsors, or particularly Patronage. In fact, non-commercial creators (essentially like me) tend not to draw strikes as often because they don’t have to take chances to make money, which is itself a moral paradox.

It also looks at though the Copyright Office looks at YouTube as “one web site” in comparison to how COPPA views it.  Rights holders could expect YouTube to witch-hunt for other infringers from generic information (filters like in the EU?)

It also wants corporate rights holders to be able to challenge counter-notices without filing formal lawsuits with process servers.

The problem still seems to be protectionism, as well as fiduciary duties to shareholders (which independent operators often don’t have).

Update: (May 25):  One oddity.  Yesterday, a credible medical channel (talking about coronavirus) said you should unsubscribe unless you want to support with patronage.  I don't see why this makes sense. I've never heard a channel say this before (unless it has something to do with the notion of "commercial viability"). 

Update: (May 26):  Lawful Masses with Leonard French (May 22) says that the report seems to argue for elimination of the Safe Harbor in the liberalized manner that allows YT to operate, link. French focuses on pages 2, 6, and 89. His basic argument is that Congress may not have intended to provide Safe Harbor for more than just displaying the content (the way a hosting company does) -- YT provides curation, recommendations, and thumbnails, and it might lose the Safe Harbor according to these reforms. It might not even be able to use content-id (compare again to EU Article 17).   French wants the penalties for infringement to be smaller but for the "speeding tickets" for legitimate infringement to be wider.  French promises more detailed videos. He noticed that Live Journal lost a case because it used humans to modify content. He also notes some Second and Ninth Circuit opinions.  He also mentions the CASE Act, still not yet passed. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Washington Post op-ed had explained how to prevent long-term economic damage with just one 5-week national lockdown and how to do this now and be "done" by fall; David Pakman walks the proposal back to early March

Today, David Pakman presented a plan originally proposed in the Washington Post May 15, to end the worst of the pandemic (for good) by July 4.  The idea is to dissociate somewhat from the need to have a vaccine or major prophylactic available for most of the public to simulate herd immunity first. 

The basic idea is to divide the country into stoplight zones: green, yellow, and red.  (We had a childhood hide-seek  game like that in Ohio as kids in the 1950s, where people could hide until the light turned yellow and red.  We played outside and invented real physical world games.)

Green zones would have all businesses open, and would have to meet very strict infection case limits, based on numbers of tests in proportion to population.

Yellow zones would be like our “phases 1 and 2” but case-to-test ratios and case test volumes would meet much stricter norms.  Contact tracing would be complete (as in green zones to snuff out the virus).

Red zones would add the stay-at-home orders.  NYC would still be a red zone, DC area would be yellow.

The Post perspective is by Alex Tabarrok and Puja Ahluwalia Ohlhaver (and is phrased in terms of a July 4 objective now.)

We did not have adequate testing machinery from the CDC in February. But by late February we could see what was happening in Italy and what would happen to us, just because of European travel. With rapid testing and mandatory Asian-style contact tracing, we could have locked down most of the country for about 5 weeks (two incubation cycles) and with accurate testing and contact tracing, and quarantine and isolation, most of the country could have been green by the first of April.  A few larger cities (NYC and CA cities) would have been yellow, probably. 

A national order (that Pakman suggests) would have been a very strong State of Emergency, which could have been accompanied (unlike our situation now) with shutdown of a lot of frivolous Internet and social media use. (See my blog posting Jan 5, 2019 on the “Books” blog based on an Atlantic article then about this problem.)  I’m a little surprised that Pakman could trust Trump (based on Pakman’s other comments about Trump) retrospectively (he suggests March 5, 2020 as the drop-dead date) with these powers.

Still, there would have been problems.  “Green” areas would have had to quarantine visitors from other areas, and this would have persisted a few months. Much activity in some businesses (like larger crowds in bars and discos) would have had to be shut down, and there could have been real questions as to whether they could return without a vaccine or “pseudovaccine” (the “gay medicine” theory which has some merit).

Moreover, the rules for isolation and quarantine would have to be spelled out very clearly.  Since they would amount to civil detention (without normal due process), there would have needed to be national norms of compensation for lost time from work (much like income protection insurance on some stronger corporate health insurance plans for employees).  Potentially tricky questions would come up with people who could run their own businesses online while confined, but I can imagine problems that could come up (depending in part on how these businesses are funded and on their degree of redundancy and interruption planning). 

Pakman says we can still start now and be in good shape by the end of the summer.  But you would really have to spell out the details.  Work-from-home under stricter short-term lockdowns that we have had could be trickier than we expect.

Note on picture: railway lights often don't have yellow. In the 1950s, Manhattan stop lights didn't have yellow either. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

New Jersey town cracks down on a "non-essential" retail business? USA Today corrects a wild Facebook rumor about warrantless Internet searches


There is some controversy of a small businessowner who was forced to close her gift shop in Bernardsville NJ recently, by police, after a confusing set of details.  She had gone past curfew. Or her business was deemed inessential. What had been happening was that she allowed customers to come into her shop to pick up items ordered online. Apparently it would have been OK had this been curbside.

But some accounts claim she was going to be forced to stop selling online, too, since she isn’t essential. (Using web bandwidth others need more?).  The facts don’t seem to be there, if you read these stories:  News12,  Patch, Tapinto.     But this all sounds so pre-Marxist.

Tim Pool recently reported on the News12 story.

Theoretically, that neo-Marxism could mean I could be forced to shut down offering books, if I weren’t “essential” enough to even be online, like I should join a war effort (“we’re all in this together,” right).  But no one can come into my condo building as a “customer” (they can as a personal friend) to buy merchandise anyway, according to ByLaws which are common for almost any condo building in any state.  That has nothing to do with Covid.  They can order from Amazon or BN, etc (link on these sites). Of course, a small retailer can mail items manually, but that is less than desirable with Covid around when there is no economy of scale in the retail operations themselves.  You got it, this is not a good time for small business to justify its own bottom line, for all kinds of reasons.  It’s not going to be easy for the entire economy to recover from this even when there is a vaccine or treatments. ( By the way, it’s easier a lot of time for sight-impaired people to use the big corporate sites to order merchandise;  ADA compliance can be tricky for small retailers (but we’ll come back to that again, that’s an issue not completely settled as to how it should be addressed technically)).

Facebook notified me it fact-checked a Vice story I had reshared, with USAToday’s fact checking service. USA Today’s article is “Fact check: Did Senators Vote to Allow Access to Internet History Without Warrant?  Not exactly.”  The earlier story on Vice had gone viral May 14.  A final vote did fail, but there is a lot of technical stuff about FISA and when searches are actually permissible constitutionally in the article.  Details for another day.

Picture:  Caldwell NJ, Bloomfield Ave; I used to live there on Espy Road 1972-1973. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

No, you can't copyright a name; Copyright Office issues paper on DMCA that doesn't seem friendly to user-generated content

Hoeg Law uses Suzy Lu cannot copyright her own face, and neither can anyone else copyright a face or the appearance of a living thing, because it was not created by human effort.

If you use a face to make a living, you might be able to trademark it.  Or maybe in some context publicity rights (those two examples probably only your own likeness – you can’t also suggest someone else endorsed it, unless they did with a contact).

The Copyright Office has published a paper on Section512 of Section 17, regarding DMCA takedown safe harbor.  Pages 36-38 do not seem that friendly to amateur users who are thought to have infringed on corporate media (there is an element of job protectionism maybe). The paper also makes comparison to the EU (with its Copyright Directive) and seems to think it does not miss the US notions of fair use and safe habor.  This could be pushing the US more toward the EU model which has become hostile to amateur content.  Electronic Frontier Foundation commented with a tweet today. 

I note that the CASE Act still is not reported to have passed the Senate, given the distraction of COVID. So the Copyright Office can’t put forth its small claims court yet.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sony backs down on "Naughty Dog" leaks as the clock runs out; corporate strategy (remember 2014?)

Hoeg Law covers “Sony Lifts ‘Last of Us’ Copyright Claims” (and ‘Naughty Dog’), But Why?

Yes, all of this happened in about 48 hours, and the general impression is that the accumulated time that the DMCA Safe Harbor requires YouTube to allow for the steps in the takedown challenge works to Sony’s advantage:  they can draw out the process until the damage done to the future profitability of the “content” (in this case, if a set of games), from user leaks, is limited.

Other YouTubers claim that they have indeed been harmed by “false flag” attacks, lost revenue, maybe laid off employees (at a bad economic time anyway, as we all know) just by the delays.

Sony, don’t forget, for all its corporate power and influence, was a target of North Korea at the end of 2014, the first year, in retrospect, that things in the international area (refugees) and race (Furgeson) areas started heating up a lot, leading to 2016 and the election, then to Charlottesville in 2017, the impeachment stuff and then the shocker of the pandemic.

Even large companies feel that they are getting jerked around.

On Wordpress today, I noted a YouTube Original film about “Dude Perfect”, a fantasy sports channel of sorts, which illustrates that YouTube is trying to position itself as a “wholesome” family entertainment center that (in a world challenged by problems like FOSTA and EU Article 17) will welcome content creators not out to create political firestorms on their own and not out to outflank the world of established non-profits.

 I took the picture of the barn swallow yesterday at Mason Neck (VA) on an "exercise" trip during lockdown, and it struck me how this male bird wanted to look like a star in David Lynch's Twin Peaks.  Remember that? The good old 1990s. 

Update: May 18  Hoeg reports that Sony has moved to a settlement. 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Should voluntarism include public cheerleading for those in need?

I’ve noticed a trend in social media, where there is an expectation in many circles that others “join in” with uplifting people or “raising them up” (Josh Groban’s song) quite publicly.

There’s one particular account on Twitter where a young man does volunteer work buying and delivering groceries for needy seniors (with health problems) and then butters up the particular senior as “special”.

Is this sort of thing a good idea?  Does the recipient of the help (often not that Internet-savvy) want that kind of public attention? 

My own experience with some people in those situations, especially older people, want no part of the publicity. They grew up in a different culture where charity was more private and stayed within families and churches.

As I’ve noted, Facebook prods you to play cheerleader for established non-profits, with matching gifts if you’ll do fundraisers for them. 

One problem then, is it is no longer “my speech”.  But it seems like many people think it is not supposed to be.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

YouTube still removing content more on the idea of harm to naive users, than just truth or falsity, critics say

Here’s another story about the problems YouTube (and Facebook) have trying to decide what to remove.

Sometimes (as Tim Pool tweeted recently), they are more concerned about what they think will be “harmful” to na├»ve visitors than what is true.

The Verge, in a long article by Casey Newton, chronicles the takedown of the “Plandemic” video. Eight million people saw it first however.  There have have been takedowsn of claims about 5G (I cover that on the network neutrality blog, but it might be a good idea to test this technology a little more).

Verge claims that the “viral” spread of the video came from influencers like Qanon and “conspiracy theorists”.  My own reaction to it would be that it is so silly that I would just ignore it.

I can’t quite say the same about some videos that do provide some credible claims that the Wuhan labs were working on “gain of function” virus research (with American help at one time), that there was a blackout of the lab in early October 2019, and that an accidental release was possible.  Detailed look at the details of genome sequences can be interpreted in more than one way by legitimate scientists. This might be serious.  See the International Issues blog.

One gay bar in New York, the Therapy, had said on its website that it was listening to “scientists” when it was forced to close down in March.

Montreal lawyer Viva Frei, who often makes videos about both American, Canadian (and Quebec) cases, has had videos hidden or removed, such as when he analyzed a case about Alex Jones.

Recently he said he had another video critical of mainstream corporate media removed, apparently because he made a pun on the coronavirus jingo. Now I can’t find that one even on Bitchute.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Who you are, is often shaped by external catastrophic events or demands, which then you accept as normal later

Here’s a sermon in an op-ed from Mona Hanna-Attisha in
the New York Times, “I’m sick of asking children to be resilient”, with the tagline,
“It’s time for reparations and resources and not to expect kids to ‘rise above’”.I was pondering, as someone whose life is more
privileged than the kids the author is talking about in Michigan (especially

Flint), the idea that two kinds of episodes affect my own perception of “who I
am” and indeed if I could have “changed” irreversibly.

The most obvious are the everyday choices under my control that affect my well being in a more or less straightforward way. Performance in the workplace is an obvious example, including attention to detail, as well as alertness to the idea that the need for some kind of new attention to an aspect of the job could have changed suddenly without being noticed.  Another is behavior in personal relationships to the extent that some things are appropriate or not in the immediate circumstances.  That’s especially true online, but it was always true in the real world. This has to do with sensitivity to social norms and how they may gradually be changing.

There were indeed many issues with this at various points in my youth and particularly in earlier years in my work career.  There was also a troubling situation in 1991 which had to do with my “attentiveness”.  It gradually resolved (by 1992) but it certainly distracted my sense of priorities and being for a few months.

But what strikes me particularly now, is that outside events beyond our control have a lot to do with generating the attitudes which later interfere with our doing what is appropriate with things under our control.

The Covid-19 epidemic is certainly providing an example of that.  Our moral responsibility to not expose others to infection that we may carry and not personally be affected by, has settled upon us suddenly, and is now talked about by (Democratic) politicians as if it had always been with us.  In the past, it was sometimes true, and it is somewhat true in extended families with other diseases, as some people in a tribe are more vulnerable than others.  It is shocking that this has moved outside the family. It could well evolve into a risk for personal legal liability.

Earlier in my life, the demands on young men, to be ready to protect women and children, had been drilled into us.  That was outside the purvey of immediate personal responsibility. This all came to a head with the Vietnam era draft, and the deferment system, which implied that some people were indeed “born better” than others (see the op-ed again).  All of that would distort our (or mine) at least sense of justice; as we went about our lives for years in ignorance of background privilege;  suddenly, a new external shock threatens to become the great equalizer. People are often judged on whether they "stepped up" for an emergency if they really had to;  anything else then falls into cowardice (a word we don't use anymore the way we once did).  And all notions about the afterlife (the ones that are credible) emphasize that how well you deal with stuff that happens "to you" or gets passed on to others, is what it's all about later.  My father used to say, "To obey is better than to sacrifice" (like it is a meme). 

There's one other thing.  I am an individualist, as most of my readers can tell.  But I think we ought to think about bringing the "social contract" down more to the individual level, especially if someone has taken advantage of inherited privilege (like even in java code?), without first classifying people in (intersectional) groups. We can expect people who want to leverage their book smarts to demonstrate street smarts to, and pass the swimming tests. There is natural tension between social competence and behavioral diversity. 

There is a “coordinated post” today on my “IT Job Market” blog (about actually working as a contract tracer from home), which see (through Blogger Profile).

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Western countries are using tech-company run social credit systems that gradually approach China's

Thoughty2, a British youtuber who does a lot of science and politics perspectives, warned us in Nov,. 2019, “In the Near Future Your Internet History Will Destroy Your Freedom”.

He gives an even more complete rundown on China’s social credit system than I have ever heard.  China uses artificial intelligence and facial recognition to track your movements and behaviors, part of it to see if you are trustworthy, and if you play ball and play fair in practical risk-sharing and solidarity with others.

People who don’t play ball get excluded  from everything, including flying and trains.

In the US, people have used surveillance of history to sell things, and this has led to the tremendous controversy over persistent identifiers with COPPA and CCPA (state).

But employers look at social media history (about 70% of them) and now, he says, there is a company Lenddo that wants to incorporate social media use and friends list with credit scores.

And we’ve seen people lose bank accounts after perceived association with political extremism, even on flimsy grounds. Yet Carlos Maza brags, “deplatforming works.”

Friday, May 08, 2020

Facebook's self-funded corporate oversight board to deal with content moderation controversies; is this an inherent contradiction?

Facebook is going to set up a layered an ironic solution to its content moderation controversies, funding by itself a “corporate oversight board” that will operate autonomously.

Hoeg Law explains.

Facebook (Catalina Botero-Marino et al) explains the process in this New York Times op-ed March 6. 

Kara Swisher of the New York Times offers a favorable op-ed (Oct 17). 

Facebook (and YouTube) have sometimes been characterized as unofficial government branches since they say they are following official dogma on some issues, like coronavirus, on deciding what is acceptable (instead of manipulative or misleading) speech on their platforms. That might then after all create legal problems if a social media were a proxy for a government, but it is more that it is a proxy for many governments.

Facebook might see this step as a way to deal with the possible future demise of Section 230, which even Biden has said should be done away with.

Picture: Facebook HQ, my trip, Sept. 2018

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

More on the Sony takedowns, especially with respect to unpublished works (Salinger cases; what if a sci-fi author's notes predict a real virus?)

“'Last of US' Leaks, Counters, and Unpublished Works”, is a followup discussion today of the takedown controversy from Sony’s actions to protect “Last if Us” and “Naughty Dog”.  In the last few days, and increasing number of vloggers have talked about getting copyright strikes when all they did was talk about the material without repeating any expression of it.

Remember, people have gotten copyright strikes for merely talking about leaked material (plot points such as abduction of key characters by aliens).

Fair Use is not as likely to be applicable for cases involving embargoed or not yet published materials, possibly because it would affect future value in the market. But it might not literally be copyright infringement.  But Sony still could maintain its take down if it likely to win a fair use claim.

Hoeg discusses a case with a biography of J.D. Salinger, whose estate desired, for ideological reasons, to embargo all previously unpublished material from reaching the public. It is still possible for another writer to discuss these materials legally if they don’t take a copyrighted expression. (My Movie reviews blog covers “Salinger”, Sept 20, 2013 and “Catching Salinger”, Nov. 18, 2012).

A couple of interesting points could apply to me.  I do have an unpublished novel “Angel’s Brother”, and the plot contains a bizarre virus whose behavior coincidentally shares some of the behaviors of SARS-Cov-2.  Yes, I thought some of this through around 1999-2000 and started making notes on it. I have a few Wordpress blog postings that do discuss how my fictitious virus behaves. But the actual text of the novel is still private, on by hard drives and various cloud backups (and physical thumb drives). 

Of course, since I voluntarily talked about the fictitious concept, I could never have a claim protecting unpublished work comparable to Sony’s.  But as crazy and way-out as it sounds, one wonders, what if a foreign government deliberately tried to recreate a novelist’s fictitious virus as closely as possible out of ideological spite, or if particularly the foreign government got access to unpublished notes and replicated in RNA or DNA what is in the notes.  This may not be completely impossible. There are also potential copyright (or patent) questions with regard to contrived RNA or DNA sequences, which (if you follow Peak Prosperity) can be inserted more easily than is good for us (those questionable "gain of function" experiments in virology). 

In fact, in my novel, one character, a young man named Sal, who would be thought of as a good guy generally, has become a super hacker who looks at certain other characters’ unpublished notes and discovers the material on the virus and for other unusual reasons as the ability to “locate” the virus in nature through a kind of  "Howdy Doody" treasure hunt.  (I won’t give away more details right now.)  So this is a meta-story plot partly about the legal and finally catastrophic social consequences for the entire world (even compared to Covid-19) that lead to an evacuation of Earth (and possible sequels).

I’ll add that I’ve notices a lot of controversy over vlogger Suzy Lu and boyfriend, as in this story in Reclaimthenet.  I glanced at a little of it and it seemed very silly to start with, so it was hard for me to gauge when something is a genuine copyright claim or of this is silencing criticism.  Hoeg could make a video about this. 

Update: May 13.  

Hoeg does have a video today where he talks about this.  He says that "reaction channel" videos typically exist at the legal largesse of the original copyright owner because the right to make derivative works is part of original copyright -- but transformative work, especially criticism, is goes beyond what the law means by "derivative" in Fair Use.  It would be interesting to see how this works in the EU with Article 17 now (where there is no Fair Use intervention).  Please see coordinate dpost today on my Trademark Law blog (see Profile). 

Monday, May 04, 2020

Malcolm Gladwell notes that people in western countries usually can adapt to major disruption quickly, even if it lasts a while

Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell notes that people have adapted to very radical disruptions in the logistics of their lives.

He is concerned that Americans will go back to the way they were when this is over and not change their institutions.

He compares to the British during the Blitz in 1940, where the disruption was much more severe and lasted much longer. 

Well, individualism is predicated on your own control of your own personal physical mobility and now identity online. Those features have facilitated the virus (and previous trauma like Charlottesville).

Gladwell had once questioned whether it was moral to be a football fan.  You see the moral parallels with wanting to go everywhere? 

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Flight Attendants' Union calls for ban on leisure travel, potentially a real blow to the very idea of individualism

On April 27, the Theme Park Insider noted a recent letter from the National Association of Flight Attendants demanding that the government not only require face coverings by passengers, but ban all leisure travel until the Covid-19 pandemic is under medical control. 

Some of the motivation from the article seems to come from the so far indefinite closure of theme parks.

The concept logically could extend to rail travel and even personal auto and hotel use.
The text of the actual letter is here. The concern of workers (in this case flight attendants) for their own safety (and recognition of their risk-taking or "skin in the game") is certainly understandable. That certainly plays well for the face covering issue. But now they want to look into the social credit behind your own travel.  That is sounding Marxist. 
No matter, this is certainly a loaded proposition. We have to deal with the medical uncertainty right now as to how well vaccines [or pseudo-vaccines, that is, prophylactics] will work (CNN speculation by Rob Picheta this morning isn’t fun) .   
Large corporate theme parks will figure out some way to deal with this and make visiting their attractions doable.
But people outside of families or social groups may have much more trouble than I have had (for my adult life, from 1970-2020) getting any traction in their personal lives if they insist on autonomy (and personal movement and speech) outside of commitments to others (in families or groups).  This is a profound irony right now.  At least for me.
Picture: flying over a theme park near Charlotte NC before landing (2018) 

Friday, May 01, 2020

Human trials with the Coronavirus vaccine take risks for all of us

Human challenge studies and Alex Brauer from Sinclair Broadcast report on WJLA about human trials with volunteers who will be later deliberately inoculated with the Sars-Cov2 virus. 

Apparently volunteers will be given various vaccines in varied doses, and some will be challenged later with deliberate infection.  (It is not apparent that this would be done with total placebos.)

There are some risks.  One could be over-activation of the immune system (this is thought to happen with some vaccine attempts in the past like RSV).  Another could be Antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) which is known to happen with some viruses (like dengue). Peak Prosperity (Chris Martenson) has mentioned this risk on his videos as another “trick this virus could have up its sleeve”.  But ADE may be precluded with synthetic vaccines based on spike proteins, or with vaccines related to programming T-cells to recognize certain kinds of proteins.
Of course, this story raises the “moral” question related to risk-sharing. 
Update: May 13  

CNN today presented Abie Rohrig (known for debating activities related to Digital Natives and free speech and even a critique of Milo) as having volunteered to be infected with coronavirus after a vaccine trial.  Apparently he does not know if he had a vaccine or a placebo.  I don't know which vaccine this is.  Generally I feel that many of these vaccines have a good chance of at least blunting infection, and anecdotal reports continue to suggest that many young adults show few symptoms when infected, unless with a large innoculum.  It might be hard to tell if the vaccine prevented an infection that would not have taken hold anyway.  I thought I heard CNN say he had donated a kidney.  Being much older, I have always been sensitive about notions of body sanctity, but that's a topic for another time.