Thursday, July 29, 2021

Hyperindividualism, and the (un)willingness of people to bond out of necessity

 

Rafko Park, Leesburg VA 2021/7

Umair Haque offers a daily scolding of American individualism on his Eudaimonia Medium channel, and today he offers the essay “The number of close friendships that Americans have has declined over the past several decades”.    

There is a long logical catechism regarding the way people show willingness or desire to bond with others outside of their current setup (often family, but for single people, often loosely defined and predicated on upward affiliation).  I could go into that in a video.

The culture I grew up in, during the 1950s and 1960s, encouraged my looking at people through measures, like their grades in school.  Those who did not do well would wind up on the lower rungs of society and become more likely cannon fodder with the military draft (as it anteed-up during the Vietnam war).  This was certainly disadvantageous to blacks, statistically, because of the systemic racism still built into society.  But that is not really the major point, as there were so many other ways to be at a serious disadvantage.

Then, there was assortive mating, and the idea of “the best you can do.”

So what Haque describes has been going on a lot longer than since 1990.  Personally, I don't join "groups" these days and tend not to "hang out" with people unless there is some purpose beforehand. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Founder of Wikipedia no longer trusts the website he helped create

 

Skyline Drive tunnel VA 2021-7

Freddie Sayers of The Unherd, interviews Larry Sanger, one of the original founders of Wikipedia, along with Jimmy Wales. Sanger says, “I no longer trust the website I created”. 

From 2004-2009 the website was quite committed to viewpoint neutrality.

That has drifted away to a center-left establishment version of the truth. The Internet needs to decentralize itself, he says.

I’ve seen people characterized as far right when not true.  Bret Weinstein is depicted as having distributed medical misinformation on Covid.

Wales used to say he was the guardian of “all knowledge”.

I’ve contributed two articles:  filial responsibility laws, and Trey Yingst (journalist). Yes, the editing is extremely strict.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Paypal suddenly closes account associated (apparently) with TOR, crypto or other services used to get around censorship (maybe in authoritarian countries)

 

US Army museum, 2021/7 

Paypal has been willing, in at least one case, to yank services without notice to a customer if that customer’s business exposes Paypal to unusual risk, especially from authoritarian governments or terror or criminal groups associated with them. 

Rainey Reitman explains in a detailed article for Electronic Frontier Foundation in the story about Larry Brandt, who runs servers for TOR nodes. 

TOR is valuable to activists in countries with authoritarian governments, especially radical Islam, communist, military fascist, or some other unusual ideology.  It isn’t hard to see how this could make companies assisting it nervous. Maybe there would be a risk for litigation for money laundering.  

But TOR actually seeks volunteers to run TORrelays.  

Since Charlottesville, some infrastructure companies have shut down hosting, DNS, or financial operations service for persons or groups associated with white supremacy or possibly other extreme ideologies.

There would seem to be a danger that unwillingness to extend services could grow in the future, as “wokeness” tries to hold individuals responsible for unfair advantages, although right now this idea doesn’t seem to be very well orchestrated.  I can think of ideas (outside of blatant CRT demands) how it could be: for example, develop social credit scores based on community engagement, or  demand that persons not use inherited wealth to support their own political causes by ensuring sites are self-supporting.   Big tech has suddenly become sensitive to organized “woke” ideology and its ability to direct boycotts. 

EFF recommends that Paypal follow the Santa Clara Principles, which it doesn’t seem to have done in this case.  

Just today, Reuters reports that Paypal is looking at ways to identify transactions that fund "hate groups" and "extremists".  One problem, the SPLC is a bit ideological in what it thinks is "extremist".  Timcast IRL has a take on this. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

CRT group in Dallas sends letter to wealthy white parents in some neighborhoods making "demands"

 

Along Mockingbird Lane 2018-5

Karlyn Borysenko reports on “demands” made by proponents of critical race theory in Dallas.

A letter was sent to “white” parents in Highland Park (an embedded wealthy enclave in Dallas around Preston Road and Mockingbird Lane) asking them not to encourage their kids to apply to any Ivy League schools, as a partial reparation for inherited wealth that oppressed people of color – also calling out the hypocrisy of the parents for pretending to support BLM.

When is Critical Race Theory an intellectual theory about history (like Marxism) and when does it embed mandatory activism that makes demands of people? 

Will we get to a point that (“white”??) people have to meet some of these demands before having Internet accounts, as a kind of reparation? 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Cancel culture, corporate reputations, and "conflict of interest"

 

pollination 

Ezra Klein (one of the founders of Vox and now with the New York Times) has talked a lot about cancel culture recently, which can come from both right and left.  In this transcript from April, he talks to Natalie Wynn (trans, who runs ContraPoints) and Will Wilkinson (Niskanen Center), link.  

And he talks to Coleman Hughes.

Klein believes that cancel culture is somewhat the product of companies’ fear for the bottom line, since activists (often on the Left) have convinced companies of their ability to generate boycotts or strikes or other punishments. 

It’s shocking, some companies were fooled by outright Marxism, and others may feel they could get stinged if they are associated with parties who become hypocritical or are simply publicly spoiled by unrequited privilege.  This may start to become a problem post-pandemic, after a time when money couldn’t buy you out of quarantine or forced privation of isolation.

The “conflict of interest” concerning my job and planned book back in the mid 1990s was a pre-Internet preview of concerns that would eventually morph into cancel culture.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Conservative vlogger kicked off Paypal mysteriously; CRT educator wants "white people" to learn to feel vulnerable and "human"

 

 

sci-fi decor at US Army Museum cafe 2021-7


Alison Morrow interviews Ryan Cristian about Paypal’s banning him and seizing donations to his account for contact that has not been specified.

There are some possible reasons.  He has “controversial” content on the “Last American Vagabond”.  At a quick glance, it’s hard to see what is “wrong” other than questioning the accepted narrative on coronavirus vaccines and other interventions. Of course, you need to question anything like this that you find online in making your own medical decisions (and use your own medical resources).

There was mention of the possibility that he had gotten donations from suspicious sources (like Iran).  It’s a stretch, but maybe this has some connection to money laundering laws or terror watchlists.

It might be objectionable if someone who takes donations has inherited wealth (as I do).  I would never ask for donations;  I could charge subscriptions or paywall if I was in a position to, but I could not ask for donations or tips.

I also wanted to share a tweet from Mythinformed reporting a brief video quoting an “educator” who wants white children to be taught to be “human”.  It’s a rather shocking statement, to call “all” white people unempathetic to those in greater need (when that need is related to less than ideal behavior).  But it is true that “most” of the victims of police violence were behaving rather recklessly at first and that police have to make split-instant decisions.  Many of us think less of people who make bad choices without considering their level of privation in their backgrounds, but that can happen with white people growing up, too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Domain name provider told to remove site for indexing copyright infringers; more on EU Copyright Directive implementation (mixed news)

Texaco memories


Two recent developments overseas, but they could easily happen in the US.

Corynne McSherry writes (for Electronic Frontier Foundation)  that Sony Music has convinced a domain name provider (Quad9) in Germany to block a site that merely indexes other sites suspected of copyright infringement.  I’ve probably done that indirectly in some of my own blogs in the past.  The story links to a similar story in the US involving Cloudflare and music sites in 2015 (I had not heard of that case).  

The idea that a domain name registrar should consider the purpose of a domain is dangerous, and might conceivably be relevant in my own circumstances (U,S.) as I can learn in September. 

Christoph Schmon provides an update on the implementation if Article 17 in the EU Copyright Directive, here.  The Advocate Generate of the EU did not stop “required” upload filters but did issue an opinion saying that social media platforms (and hosts) should consider proactively the legality of content being posted (the idea that it may not be infringing) before blocking it.  The EU does not have a comprehensive idea of Fair Use the way the US does.  A site called “Plagiarism Today” explains ten different ways that copyright law is implemented in the EU compared to US law.

  

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Odysee (a "free speech" video site) in a battle with SEC over use of blockchain as "securities"

 

should the MTA or WMATA accept cryptocurrency? 

Jeremy Kauffmann discusses the SEC’s lawsuit against him running Odysee, which is a “free-speech” video platform popular with those who had videos taken down by YouTube.  He discusses the litigation with Alison Morrow.

SEC claims that cryptocurrency is a “security” and is regulated this way.  He says his company also distribute some other materials that the government thinks is questionable (like instructions for 3-D printing weapons).  

SEC also offered him a settlement but is not willing to tell him how to comply with the “rules”.  A trial will force this out in the opening.  

The site uses blockchain technology, but the litigation will not affect users of the site.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Anti-vaxxers, personal autonomy -- and how this comes across to people who have lost family members or had close calls (even with kids) with COVID

 

NYC 2021/6

Just a short piece today, on CNN, an op-ed by Tina Sacks, “What anti-vaxxers sound like to me”. 

She does describe her young son’s brush with what was, in hindsight, apparently MIS-C, the pediatric syndrome that once in a while results from mild or symptomless infections with SARS_CoV2. 

Then she describes the right not to take the theoretical risk of a vaccine (or an artificial idea of body sanctity) as a false right, totally ignoring the downstream consequences of your “right” to others.

Of course, one can imagine absurd extensions of this theme.  Suppose a deadly virus came along that hid only in the follicles of men’s beards.  It’s a sci-fi idea now. Suppose the only prevention was total laser epilation.  Imagine the idea of body sanctity then.  True, just a screenplay tease now.  Actually, the best masks (N95’s and their clones) don’t fit well over beards now.

Fauci said today that with the current anti-vax sentiment around (among “conservatives”) we could not have put polio or smallpox away.   And, as we pondered in the 2000’s, that idea may not be lost on international enemies.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Surgeon General, White House warn social media companies about COVID vaccine misinformation

 

White House 2007

The US Surgeon General (Vivek Murthy) issued a (CNN) warning about vaccine misinformation.  Here is the text of the actual statement on hhs

And White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated the warning to social media companies. She even implied that about twelve specific accounts of Facebook were responsible for a tremendous amount of misinformation.

Here’s a problem, and it’s recursive with this blog. There are many constructive voices out there on social media challenging established wisdom on coronavirus, and WHO and CDC have reversed course on a number of points over time.  The vaccines were developed and got emergency approval in record time.  The virus seems to be unusual in some respects, and we don’t have a satisfactory explanation for its origin.  So I can imagine that you might believe you can’t vaccinate your way out of this, but then you are left with the draconian lockdowns of Australia and New Zealand. The virus is a dynamic threat, still morphing, and none of us had thought it through before 2020.

Fully vaccinated myself, I still ask these questions (echoing Bret Weinstein).  Then the problem may be, a na├»ve person finds one of my posts, doesn’t understand my gratuitousness, and decides not to get the shot? 

Is this something where we need to get an entire country behind a specific plan laid out by leadership, which may not be completely without hidden long term risks, as a way to stop an emergency? 

The other idea that would pose objections but not any medical risks might be massive at home testing with automated contact tracing, like what South Korea has done.  

Update:  July 16    Robby Soave of Reason weighs in. USA Today (Ella Lee) quotes Biden as saying "They're killing people" and notes that about 6% of the population apparently decides not to take vaccines because of social media misinformation. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Financial YouTuber threatened with channel deletion over spam comments by others impersonating him.

 

Amtrak Newark Airport station 2021-6

 Graham Stephan, who runs a financial planning channel on YouTube and considers cryptocurrency, recently got a notification from YouTube indicating that his channel could soon be terminated because of comment spam.

It appears that his posts are followed by comments that appear to be in his name, generated by bots.   The comments lead to various other sites with fraudulent schemes.

He could consider disallowing comments for a while?

I have occasionally seen generated spam comments to unusual sales sites in India on my videos. Youtube lately seems to be deleting these automatically but showing them to me when I log on to YouTube.

Other commentators have suggested was getting into trouble merely for talking about cryptocurrency.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Virginia Tech faces lawsuits trying to constrain speech from apparent right-wing group on campus

 

Va tech 2010-3

Michael Paul Williams writes in the Richmond Times Dispatch, about a lawsuit against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, which apparently wants to shut down a chapter of Turning Point USA, which appears to be a right-wing group.

The organization’s web page appears to oppose mandatory vaccinations on campus.  I do have a problem with taking an absolutist position on this because the (mutating) coronavirus does create so much disruption to campus life that something has to be done. 

Change.org has circulated a petition to ban the group from campus, and the site actually pleads for me, as a random visitor, to help them abolish the group.  I don’t get involved in activism against specific targets.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Alison Morrow shows up corporate media for early medical misinformation, gets censored by YouTube and is then restored

 

NYC 2021-6 Pride

Alison Morrow had a video removed and she was nearly in YT “jail” for a video in which she quote clips from February 2020 from major news outlets with incorrect information about COVID, to show that big corporations get a pass.    Is this a copyright issue?  I wondered.

But due to popular outrage, YouTube restored her video.

But her discussion refers to the idea that Youtube is trying to reorient itself to companies, or entities with real commercial viability, not those who want to stir things up by doing their own journalism, well, like me.

I realize the gratuitousness of my own speech is an issue, and it seems important to my own sense of personal agency – to stay free of “organizations” and all of their identity politics.  But that’s why some (on both tribal extremes) see me as a problem.

I am planning some YT videos myself on this, but will have to upscale my production setup (finally) before doing it to make it work.

Matt Orfalea discusses his own problems with YT censorship here.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Government intrusions for public health: when "my business" is other peoples'

 

Philadelphia from Amtrak 2021-6

Smart News, a well-known news consolidation site, often greets me with alarming stories about coronavirus each morning.  I wanted to note at the outset that the stories are supposed to have SN copies (apparently licensed) and web versions.  But sometimes there is only a web version and if I don’t have myself logged in to that publication with a subscription on my phone, I can’t access it.  Some of these I have logins on my desktop and if I can find the article again before it drops off Smart News I can get it.  But that is a pain.  We need to do a better job at news consolidation.

Now for the main course.  Smart News carried a particularly alarming story this morning in Medical Xpress, “Highly mutated SARS-CoV-2 emerged from someone living with advanced HIV”, by European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.  

The gist of the story is that infection by this coronavirus (or any existing variant) in a severely immunocompromised person encourages more dangerous variants that at some point could completely evade vaccines. 

There are two major possible logical consequences to trace. Of course, someone on chemotherapy is likely to be immunocompromised and pose that community risk, in theory.  But this refers to someone infected with HIV.  In recent years, because of protease inhibitors and pre-exposure prophylactics, gay men have no longer been a political target for creating that sort of indirect risk to the community at large, as they were in the mid 1980s especially by the evangelical right (leading to a very draconian bill in Texas that fortunately did not pass, in 1983).  There were no reports of resurgence of tuberculosis or other semi-opportunistic diseases in the general population in the late 1980s as might have been expected by this speculation. In fact, anti-HIV protease inhibitors may inspire the development of similar drugs that stop coronavirus in someone exposed (although coronavirus is not a retrovirus).  Anecdotal reports seem to suggest gay men did well avoiding the 2020 pandemic for the most part, and it’s possible that these drugs were more effective than we thought in practice.  Socially, it might have been argued that the COVID19 pandemic did the opposite, target those in large households with many relatives.

But the article also gives more credence to the idea that as radical as SARS-CoV2 is in its being ready-made to be transmitted easily among humans without symptoms, such radical changes from an animal (bat) virus might have arisen in severely immunocompromised persons or even immunocompromised wild animals. 

Oh, by the way, I don’t like to go door to door to recruit for anything, nor do I like to be judged on how many people I can recruit “online” on a FB page for “your” cause simply because “you” know me. And I would encourage visitors to read Jacob Sullum's op-ed in Reason, "Why Didn't COVID19 Kill the Constituion?"/ 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Twitter verification rules: do they favor people who work for conventional non-profits or companies than for people who speak on their own?

 

Nellies Protest 2021-6 DC 

Upon arising this 78th birthday morning, I noticed a thread between Twitter and Ford Fischer (“News2share”) about verification.  It does seem that Twitter is pulling back on letting everyone be verified.  Twitter wrote that “if you use a website for verification, it must be for an approved organization, not just yours”. 

Here was my answer.  “This fact has "political" significance.  With news and journalism and commentary, the "powers that be" don't like dealing with individuals who compete with whole companies, conventional non-profits and organized #activism (even "#allyship"). For what it's worth, "conservatives" seem to like the "do-it-yourself" mode of "activism" a lot more than the Left does, for whom organizing others is more critical. (Though the Right has its tribal sector too, as we know from Jan 6.)”

I talked about this on a post on the Trademark blog yesterday.

However the video above notes that if you are an individual, you must have a large publication and in news, you must have references from at least three news organizations who have used material you submitted.  That sounds reasonable.  My count right now is one (WJKA7 used some photos by me after the terror bombing in Chelsea in New York City, in September, 2016;  I happened to be near the event and took pictures of police activity and sent them to the station).

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Conservative banned from many platforms for spawning conspiracy theories, or for just plain gratuitousness?

 

 

Minneapolis, 2019/9

Shawn Boburg has a long story in the Washington Post about what sounds like gratuitous speech, “From corporate America to conspiracy theory promotion: How a Minnesota man made a career of anonymously amplifying dark plots”.

It’s the story of Sean Turnbull, who started websites, blogs, and video channels more or less the way I did, but kept his own circumstances much more private, to say the least, and has been banned from at least seven tech companies.

I looked at his site (SGTReport) and didn’t see anything too terrible – just the usual conservative, maybe even prepper, stuff. 

But of course we know what people who believed a lot of fantasy conspiracy theories did, when captivated, especially on January 6. 

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

"Skin in the Game" author offers mathematical proof that bitcoin (and other crypto currencies) will become worthless

 

Globe

Nassim Nicholas Taleb presents his “bitcoin black paper” today, “why bitcoin is worth exactly 0”.

He gives a long mathematical derivation in calculus with limits, based on standard econometrics.

But he says that bitcoin (or any cryptocurrency) must be either an security (investment) or a “commodity” (something that has intrinsic value).  If something goes wrong, bitcoin has no intrinsic value (unlike gold).  Taleb has uttered some rather provocative tweets lately, such as the name of a proposed paper "Bitcoin, Currencies and Fragility". 

The problem with this, to me, seems to be that we got rid of the gold standard a long time ago, under Nixon, as I remember  (Nixon shock).

Monday, July 05, 2021

Unvaccinated people are letting their bodies become "variant factories"? A serious moral question about personal agency?

 

PA near Blue Mtn, 2021-7

The latest moralizing is that unvaccinated people in the US are allowing their bodies to become factories for variants of the SARS_CoV2 coronavirus that may one day nullify vaccines.

CNN and Sciencealert both have such stories.

These interpretations would raise questions about body autonomy much more fundamental than, say, abortion.

As a matter of principle, young adults could think they are expected to take a small risk of serious harm (perhaps unpredictable) in the long run from a vaccine, when established science insists their personal risk is much greater if they get infected, which might be unavoidable (unless you could enforce a “rapid test” regime). 

It seems to me that if you were fully vaccinated and got a superficial breakthrough infection with trivial short-lasting symptoms (perhaps after going into a bar), your body would learn to recognize the variant and start becoming immune to it, specifically recognizing different codons in making new antibodies. Yet some warn that a breakthrough infection with few obvious symptoms could still lead to long Covid. .

There is also a potential problem that vaccinated parents could become asymptomatic carrier of variants to unvaccinated children under 12. 

CNN asked a young black woman why she didn’t want the vaccine, and she said that she didn’t trust the government because of past experimentation with blacks (Tunguskee).  That poses an ethical question about whether a white vaccinated person must take special care not to expose someone who does not want to be vaccinated?

Sunday, July 04, 2021

YouTube doesn't want its users to pretend they are really journalists!

 

fireworks July 4 look like a nebula

Allison Morrow declares in a video title “Journalism and science are incompatible with YouTube.”  This sounds like the old pre-1993 canard “homosexuality is incompatible with military service.”

It’s clear that the big social media companies are put on the spot when non-corporate people (“amateurs” in their parlance) do journalism on the cheap and go against the establishment.  They wanted people to socialize, even create activism, and sell things, but not pretend to be authorities about sensitive things that might affect them.

On the IT blog yesterday, I also linked a similarly spirited video by Karlyn Borysenko, about the need for people to speak out and use their own names.

But there is another side to this.  Yes, some people might lose their jobs, but they may be in positions where they will create disruptions in their workplace, particularly if they have direct reports.  I’ve talked about this before and a related situation led me to take a corporate transfer and relocate in the 1990s. 

There is a side to this that believes it is necessary to act as well as speak.  That means belonging to a group and being in their boat (a kind of “skin in the game”).  It may mean demonstrating.  It may in less frequent cases mean getting arrested or asking for help yourself, and not being above other people’s problems.  It’s related to what I’ve called “the privilege of being listened to” (a very conditional privilege indeed). 

We can ask ourselves, who gets to call themselves a journalist, and who needs to be the street activist, the recruiter, even the social justice huckster.

Journalist Tim Lee (formerly Washington Post, Vox, Ars Technica) writes (in his "rethinking news") that when he worked for the Post he had to cash in all his bitcoin paper wallets if he was going to write about crypto currency.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

SCOTUS: California can't require non-profits to disclose identities of large donors

 

Sierra, CA  2012-5

The Supreme Court overturned a California law requiring charities and non-profits to name large contributors.  NPR has a story here by Nina Totenberg.  

Justice Roberts said the court was using an “exacting scrutiny” standard rather than strict scrutiny. Presumably the state wants to limit anonymity to ferret out fraud.  It would sound like the law could be stricter with PAC’s and with charities giving services apolitically.

The controversy reminds me of one in the early 2000’s about campaign finance reform and the idea that bloggers were donating labor for free under the table to influence policy.  This all came to a head in the fall of 2005 before the FEC said essentially don’t worry about it.   But there is a genuine issue that some individuals can covertly influence policy completely outside of traditional political organizing, usually a complaint from the Left.

The suit had been brought by Americans for Prosperity, the Thomas More Law Center, and the Koch Brothers.

Here is the PDF of the opinion.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Why the social justice world hates seeking truth by analysis and logical reasoning

NJ Meadowlands from Amtrak, 2021-6


Freedom Pact looks at “Why students are mad at Bret Weinstein. Steve Pinker, and Neil Thin”.

The channel seems to be run by two young British men, with a libertarian outlook.

Professor Erik Kaufmann, a professor of politics at the University of London, says there is a conflict between “knowledge as truth” (what Paul Rosenfels would have called “psychologically feminine”) and “knowledge as lived experience”, which depends on how well people function as members of groups or tribes, and which favor people who can achieve power over members of groups and sometimes over many others that way.

It’s possible to watch a movie and believe a protagonist’s “lived experience” as mattering, while not insisting on its being politicized.  But sometimes this can lead to moral paradoxes, like a person wants to be “free” to enjoy fascist values implemented.

“Unfairness”, the target of social justice, often leads some people to disregard actual facts.  All of this puts modernity and ideas like individual agency at risk.

I also wanted to share some alarm at a video from Minneapolis by Andy Ngo about Antifa activists blocking a city council person in a car and forcing the person to sign documents releasing arsonists from prosecution.   

Monday, June 28, 2021

Twi big items: CRT theory claims black children can't learn abstract concepts (and that's racist); Right wing watch banned and then unbanned as YT stumbles on "reporting" v. "advocacy"

 

Wisconsin, 2019-10

Two big items.

MythinformedMke, a libertarian group in Milwaukee, tweeted a video where a (black) New York (City) K12 teacher (herself black) maintained that black people do poorly in school because they don’t understand abstract thought.  They only understand shared experiences in groups.  That is, they don’t understand personal agency.

Now I can remember when I taught remedial algebra as a graduate student, they kids didn’t understand the abstraction.  They were 100% white kids then, in the late 1960s.   

The other big item, a story in Reason, by Justin Baragona and Adam Rawnsley.  YouTube had banned a channel RWW, Right Wing Watch, because the videos it “exposed” in its reporting violated YT TOS.  YT even went back a few months to find a community guidelines strike, but withy some great effort, RWW (from People for the Americam Way) finally got it reinstated.


Sunday, June 27, 2021

How the "right to repair" might be won by a smart feline

 

Fashion Institute, Chelsea

Today, after watching and filming some of the start if the NYC Pride 2021 parade at Bryant Park in NYC (42nd and 6th Ave), and after uploading some of it in a hotel room near that location, I took another train down to Chelsea and walked over to the approximate location of Rossmann Repair.

Louis Rossmann (YouTube channel) has been a very vocal proponent of Right to Repair, especially in New York State.  Recently he went on a road trip south to look at expanding his business.

But he may be even better known for entertaining videos of his three cats, the most dominant of them being “Mr. Clinton”, who is always making his opinions know, especially about Cuomo, DiBlasio, and Covid19 lockdowns of the past.

Back in 1979 I had a tomcat adopt me in my garden apartment in Dallas.   Timmy knew the sound of my car and remembered which apartment I lived in and ran to the door when I drove home.  Apparently, he did this with several people in the neighborhood.  Once indoors he would go to the refrigerator, look up, and meow.  He could reach for door handles and understood how to open things.  If he spent the night, he would sometimes sleep at the foot of the bed, but jump on the pillow and meow (kneading it) if he needed to go out.  Mr. Clinton, the alpha male of a pride, may be the king of all house cats.  He may be a reincarnation of my Timmy because he acts just like Timmy.

I think Timmy felt like he was the boss because he could survive on his own in the wild if he had to and he knew we couldn’t.  He would bring dead birds as presents and expect me to go out and learn to hunt.

It may well turn out that Rossmann’s business plans work out because of the fame an unusually smart and aggressive cat brought him online.  Why not name and trademark a franchise after Mr. Clinton, with a trade dress showing a cat in the loaf position, ready to make demands?

As for the end of the lockdowns, I have had both Pfizer shots (back in March) so I was indoors with other people for extended periods for the first time since March 2020.  That was particularly true when I went to the Industry bar on Saturday night in Hell’s Kitchen.  I hope at my age (nearly 78) the vaccine still works.  Everyone looked well in the bar (the gay male physical fitness crowd goes there, there was no wokeness) but the problem is the new Delta variant and asymptomatic transmission.  The vaccines prevent disease from variants in people with intact cellular immunity, but won’t stop them from transmitting superficial nasal infections to others (the vaccines are “non-sterilizing”). 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Health care data interoperability and a 2021 Access Act

 

Penn hospital 2021-6

Bennett Cyphers and Cory Doctorow discuss the Access Act and “interoperability” of personal data use (especially medical) for Electronic Frontier Foundation, June 21, 2021.   

This seems to refer to HR 596, Thomas link, “Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors Act or the ACCESS Act”. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

News media want to negotiate with big tech on embedded links to their content (apparently)

 

San Francisco, 2018/9

Katharine Trendacosta and Danny O’Brien have an article back in March “An Antitrust Exemption for News Media Won’t Take Us Back to the Time Before Big Tech”. 

They are talking about a supposed “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act” which would free traditional news media from anti-trust rules in negotiation with newspapers and traditional media in presenting content, presumably when embedded by users.

The bill seems to be S. 673, link here.  

This expands on the usual idea of copyright, where a link is like a term paper footnote. But for example they could limit the actual expansion on embeds.  Furthermore a user might need a subscription or registration to actually read the article, which is becoming more common.  I have argued that the traditional news industry ought to set up bundled subscriptions to make paid content more convenient (and probably lower priced) for visitors.

The article also revisits the EU Link Tax, which would serve similar ends, as well as Australia’s failed “coup”. 

It also raises questions as to, who should function as a “journalist” rather than a (street) activist?

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

SCOTUS rules for high school student punished for off-campus snapchat "profanity"

 

Happy Valley PA 2010 

The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 ruling, ruled that a high school student could not be punished for an off-campus profane Snapchat post (which was ephemeral) of a female high school student and cheerleader (would be) in a Pennsylvania high school, by the school or school board or local government. 

The major issue, going back to a protest in 1965 against the Vietnam war, was whether the speech was disruptive. 

CNN story by Devan Cole et al., with video by Jeffrey Toobin.    Here is the text of the SCOTUS opinion. 

Off hand, this does sound like an application of the incorporation doctrine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Borysenko steps in the controversy of "defining" what "critical race theory" really is (and isn't)

 

Leesburg, VA 2021/6 

I wanted to share a video by Dr. Karlyn Borysenko, where she explains her concern over a recent perception among some people that “critical race theory” is “anti-whiteness”, and that such a presentation actually encourages the kind of backlash that even contributes to incidents like January 6.

Saying “critical race theory is racist” does not equal saying “critical race theory is anti-white”. At one point, 14 minutes into the video, she makes an ambiguous complaint about Tim Pool. To me, "critical race theory" is a subset of "critical theory" which would suggest everyone "belongs" to groups they are accountable to and for, whether they want to or not. It is a collective, anti-individual-agency belief. Obama, remember, shrugged it all off in an interview. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

More discussion of mRNA vaccines, myocarditis in young men, assessing risks as Delta virus gets more dangerous quickly; will a T-cell test come on the market?

 

NYC 2015-11

I keep having to move discussion of the coronavirus pandemic and public health implications (even now as we vaccinate our way out) from one blog to the next depending on space for the day.

ZDoggMD has a valuable discussion of the myocarditis issue with mRNA vaccines and young adult or teen males.

Generally, the overall risk of any heart issues is much greater if the teen or adult takes the chance of going unvaccinated and gets infected.

There is a test from a company called Adaptive Biotech of T-cell activity that would indicate that the subject has adaptive immunity to SARS_CoV2 coronaviruses (which would probably work with variants) from previous infections or exposures or other undiscovered genetic or biochemical factors.  The company says it is available for “emergency use” but not FDA approved.  Nevertheless, some young men may want to talk to their physicians before a second mRNA shot and consider if there is new information to otherwise evaluate their existing degree of cellular immunity to the virus and variants, as the science could change.

John Campbell notes that in England, about 10% of recent hospitalizations for the Delta variant did come from people fully vaccinated, and that sounds worrisome (6 minutes into June 18, 2021 video).  .

In Bradenton FL there was a sudden outbreak in a county office building where several people were infected with Delta and two died;  one vaccinated person tested positive but did not have symptoms (AP story).

So this Delta stuff seems very serious.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Bret Weinstein discusses intellectual authoritarianism and COVID

 

Protest site in DC 2021/6 

The Triggonometry Channel quizzes professor Bret Wienstein in a 100-minute YouTube interview worth watching. Put bluntly, “Did Covid come from a lab?”

There simply is no reliable system in place to regulate dangerous technologies that could take humanity beyond the point of return.  That was true with gain-of-function research.  That will be true of climate change.  

The biggest problem is that there are too many financial and political incentives to regulate speech that challenges the establishment narrative, which has turned out to be wrong on Covid a couple of times.

Weinstein admits that there is a tremendous range of things that happen in nature with viruses. But he does believe (as in several recent papers) that there were specific changes that happened in Covid at the outbreak that are out of range for what is normally reasonable in nature.  He also believes that Covid, despite the low infection fatality rate, is unusual in the range of damage it can do to the body for a respiratory virus.

For someone in my situation, I had to wonder if the virus could create long term situations that would wipe out the “achievements” of my own life.  Not just the virus, but the behavior of an adversarial foreign power, China, which is hostile to my form of perhaps undeserved individualism.

Friday, June 18, 2021

More comments on the huge damage award against Cox for failure to have a termination policy for repeat copyright infringers

 

San Francisco 2018/9

Leonard French (Lawful Masses) discusses the amicus brief to which I linked on June 4 (with a June 9 update) regarding a huge jury award assessed on Cox Communications.

I understand that Cox has filed a countersuit against BMG and Rights Management regarding this case (Reuters). 

French discusses the points in EFF’s brief.  He does disagree with some of it, as if he seems to believe Cox could have promulgated a termination policy and enforced it, and is not without the ability to comply with the enforcement requirement.

But it seems to me that such a policy might be based on accusations, which might even be politically motivated (“cancel culture”) rather than actually proven infringements. 

This could become much worse if ISP’s started looking for infringing downloads on customer computers or cloud backups, for example.

EFF also correctly points out that larger households cause everyone to be at the risk of cutoff because of what one member or guest does (what about Airbnb?)   I wondered about this in late 2016 when I considered hosting asylum seekers, but later I found out that Comcast (which I had then) does have a way for residents or long term guests to have totally trackable subaccounts on Xfinity. (More on a Wordpress blog.).

This is also a bigger risk in areas with only one provider or little competition.

French said “Congress is not working too well right now” but it was up to Congress to fix this.