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.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Delta variant may test the "vaccine solution" as a group in the UK claims that vaccine-related problems may be grossly underreported


Adams Morgan, DC, 2021/6

Zach Weissmuller reports for Reason that YouTube removed a video reporting “biohackers” attempting to develop a DIY vaccine in early 2020.  It did not turn out to be one that was suitable, but the reporting of it was certainly legitimate.  Yet it was carelessly labeled as “medical misinformation”.

We all know about YouTube and the reporting of potential drugs like Ivermectin. OK, we’re aware of the fact it is not approved (one problem is that it would require much larger doses), but any reasonable person would think more study of drugs like this in some form is needed.

There also some controversy today about material which Bret Weinstein reported in his Darkhorse Podcast Clips channel, but marked as private for now.

This concerns a “yellow card” system in the UK, which is not “transparent”, for reporting medical problems (including deaths) which might be related to vaccine but are not necessarily shown to be. The video had some rather alarming projections of risk, but this has not been corroborated anywhere eldse that I now of.  The group reporting this info is EbMC Suqare CIC with this website and this pdf document discussing its claims.

It’s also time to note that the CDC has marked the Delta variant as a “variant of concern” and has been called “covid on steroids”.   USA Today has a typical reportThere are even “delta-plus” mutations in other countries.  Young adults who feel safe from earlier 2020 exposures to COVID should definitely consider changing their minds; Complete vaccination with Pfizer or Moderna still seems to work reasonably well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

People want the freedom, to see others as unfree


18th St Washington DC 2021/6

This piece by Umair Haque, “The New Dark Age and Death of Freedom” caught my eye this morning, and it varies a lit from his apparent confidence in communism.  This time, he puts together China’s techno-dystopian communism with Putinism. Trumpism in America, and Modi’s “religious supremacism”.

The majority of people don’t want freedom now, because most of them get left too far behind, in debt, and in a world that doesn’t seem to have any meaning if “anything goes”.

At least old hierarchal feudal systems gave people context and meaning as to where they were, and even relative “power” if they could fit in socially in the right place.

I want to connect this piece to George Packer’s “4 Americas”, discussed on the Book Review blog June 8.

But I would put Packer’s “Smart America” with “Free America”.  In fact, it’s “Real America” and “Just America” who can’t make it in individualistic culture, especially “Just”. 

And there is something disingenuous that happens at this intersection of “Smart” and “free”.  The “smart people” (and that includes me, as I see myself) want the “freedom” to use their personal lives as a way to project values onto others, because that helps them “get it up”.  The values (the things that turn them on) give their lives an importance that particularly makes morally controlled marital sex life, within the family, attractive and meaningful.  The religious right is best known for this (but that’s “Real” America).  But then the gay male community, back before Internet times (even as it dealt with the AIDS crisis) also often expressed upwardly affiliative values that you might call “body fascism”, a strange copy of part of sexual fundamentalism.  There was something exciting about seeing the rest of the world judged by “your” standards, but you needed a certain freedom (and privacy) to achieve this.  This all upended with the Internet.

The demands, particularly of “Just America”, seems to be that “Smart America” particularly give up its individuality and meritocratic judgmentalism, learn to live with communal consciousness, and find point in lifting up those who, as individuals, are not well thought of now.  That’s very hard and even insulting when presented as a “demand”, often these days cloaked in a group level as a concept like “allyship”.  But, the Left’s demands say, you should be OK with accepting personal humiliation in the context of belonging to an oppressed group.  No one is immune.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Washington Post again revisits "the right to be forgotten" -- should the US have it?


Brooklyn NY, 2011


The Washington Post, in a story by Lisa Selin Davis, takes another look at “The Right to Be Forgotten” which is a principle in Europe.  The focus of her article is teens social media posts when they are still immature and unaware of consequences of digital permanence.

The story focuses on the botched hiring of Akexi Hammond by Teen Vogue, as reported by Katie Robinson in the New York Times March 18, 2021.

In the US, comments about persons in social media are consider part of free speech, whereas in the EU they are considered part of the “data” about someone.

I have, for example, maintained free content in blogs and flat sites for 20 years.  All of it is indexed by search engines.  You could image someone who had been charged with a crime and later acquitted but mentioned in a blog post (but also in the referred news story) turning up when investigated by a prospective employer.  So far, generally remote, but you wonder.  That’s one reason why in more recent posts I don’t name criminal defendants in presenting linked news stories unless there is overwhelming evidence the person committed the crime (like in a mass shooting).

Mark Zuckerberg has talked about making Facebook post “ephemeral” but I have not really looked into it.  I do not use Snapchat because I don’t like the idea of losing a record of anything I said!

Friday, June 11, 2021

People should get vaccinated, even at a miniscule personal risk in their own circumstances


NIH 2015-3

I wanted to share an op-ed on CNN by David Holtgrave, “The Covid19 Delta Variant poses a threat to our return to ‘normal’”.   

The Pfizer vaccine is 88% effective with both doses, but less than 40% with one.  Pfizer has been 93% effective against the Alpha variant.

So the large number of unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people in the US raises the risk of outbreaks and the renewal of restrictions, especially against businesses that need to have people assemble indoors (for example indoor concerts).

Individual young adult males could well feel pressured.  Some may feel that they can avoid exposure entirely with enough care and feel that even a tiny risk of myocarditis (even temporary, after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna) is not warranted by a “greater good” for everyone.  Possibly T-cell blood tests could be developed to offer and some young men might find they already have considerable immunity through variolation over a year.  But their risks specifically to variants like Delta might remain even if they were reasonably immune to the older variants of 2020. 

The smallpox vaccine in the past sometimes led to mild myocarditis in a few young adults.

The physician in the video suggests that some vaccines should be chosen for certain populations.  Possibly the one shot JJ for younger men (but we don’t know yet how well JJ works against Delta; that should change soon).

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Federalist Society loses temper over satirical letter by Stanford law student over Jan 6, tries to interfere with student's graduation


Stanford, 2018-9

Leonard French (and his Lawful Masses video channel) explains how law school graduation works: that final exams follow, then the bar, then getting a job, while your student loans start coming due.

But a particular laws student played a prank on the Federalist Society, with a satirical letter that implied that Josh Hawley and Ken Paxton had planned to overturn the will of the public and create a coup on January 6.

A letter was sent to Stanford to halt the graduation of Nicholas Wallace, out of spite, despite the supposed libertarianism of the Federalist Society.

Neil Vigdor wrote the incident up for the New York Times.

The hold on graduation was eventually lifted, 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Parler cooperates with authorities on Jan 6, as effectiveness of right-wing extremists online weakens due to "bans" and de-platforming


DC in June 2020

Chris Joyner, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reports that social media bans of extremists have become effective, greatly reducing the views of material from groups promoting political violence and extremism, link.

Views that used to be in tens or hundreds of thousands sometimes are less than 100, as extremists migrate to Telegram and Gab. 

In the meantime, Parler, trying to rehab itself, has drawn controversy by cooperating with the FBI in reporting actual threats or evidence of involvement in the January 6 insurrection.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Copyright suit of Resident Evil's use of textures and designs from a professional photography book

Newport RI, 2015/8


Here is an interesting example of copyright litigation.  Campcom, author of the game “Resident Evil”, is being sued by Judy Juracek, author of the 1996 book (with CD) called “Surfaces”.

Her photographs of various surfaces and designs are used in various settings, maybe motion picture or stage backgrounds, or of course games.

DiyPhotography (John Aldred) explains the suit and has an embed of the PDF of the complaint.

IGN has a detailed article by Matt T.M. Kim.

Both Richard Hoeg and David French made videos about this litigation today.

If the only registration for the body of work is for the book (including CD), then it sounds like there could be only one infringement, and French seems to think the probably outcome would be limited to actual damages, money associated with actual licensing (the suit calls for $12 million).

You can copyright your original photo of something, not that something.  In this case, there are photos of items (like in a Newport RI home) where supposedly no one had access.

Here is Leonard French's analysis

Monday, June 07, 2021

China, truth about Covid, and a possible military draft, and a "burden on men"?


Fort Jackson BCT Museum

The Infographics Channel has a provocative piece, “Why a War with China will get you drafted

The video was filmed in early 2019 and presupposes a conflict between China and Taiwan starting in Oct. 2019, which did not happen.

But there have been more rounds of bluster about it. 

The video argues that a conventional war with China would result in enormous US Naval losses, and total losses could approach those of the Vietnam war.

The video argues that a fullscale war, especially if it needed to remove the CCP government, would lead to reimposition of the male-only draft.

The Supreme Court today declined to hear an appeal to overturn its 1981 ruling, Rostker v Goldberg, an appeal which had been predicated on the acceptance of women into almost all combat arms positions. The Court said it was inappropriate to take the case now since Congress is considering it. 

  Although the Taiwan issue is not necessarily as  hot as some people fear (as early in the George W Bush first administration), China is reported to have made threats surrounding the desire of the US now to talk about the evidence for a COVID lab leak, which now people talk more openly about online as tech media has backed off some censorship given recent medical evidence.

 Forbes (as noted by Tim Pool today) talks about increased US deployment in SW Oceania even now given the tension over the pandemic, which could be interpreted as something like war. 

But of course, the idea that only men (as born biologically) can be drafted contradicts many of our other values today over which the culture wars are fought.  Yet today most young adults are relatively unaware of the Selective Service, although men are supposed to have registered.  I covered all this in my DADT books. 

Sunday, June 06, 2021

LA Times editorial: pandemic has provided a serious challenge to individualism


Hotel coffee, 2012, on the 405

I’ll share a Los Angeles Times editorial, that “Covid-19 exposed truths that America and California can no longer ignore”  

What caught my eye was its accusation of “toxic individualism” and the need for “collective uplift”, both with links to follow. 

The individualism may reflect a shallowness (like in attitudes towards masks and vaccines, for example) in thinking, but there is something more fundamental, that many people feel ashamed to be brought low to the level of other people who need more proactive attention because of their vulnerabilities.  This is can be seen, for example, even in the idea of attacking tribalism and group loyalties as intellectual weakness (yesterday’s post here).  On the Movies blog, I reviewed a long video by Carlos Maza in which he says people need to experience the humility of surrendering ego for the good of others when forced with powerful forces beyond their control.

But the concern over hyperindividualism may we well placed with young men, who may be having some incidence of myocarditis after the second vaccine (particularly Pfizer).  The American Academy of Pediatrics reviewed just seven cases in the US, but there was mention of 275 cases in Israel.  The symptoms appear to come on a few days after the second dose and may go away on their own or may require brief hospitalization.  The US military might be a good place to look further.

So a young male could make a rational decision. Do the blood work (T-cell challenge in a test tube from a blood draw sample, maybe including some variants) to see if you already have considerable immunity from past exposure which might not have caused symptoms.  This circumstance is probably more common already than we know.  If the blood work showed you have considerable natural immunity, it might be possible to skip vaccination, but you would need to document the results of the blood work for some situations (like travel, employment).

The other idea is to develop prophylactics and test them as alternatives if there are more systemic problems with vaccines for some populations, as there are several candidate (like cepharanthine and nelfinavir, as others mentioned before) which may be promising (as compared to drugs like Ivermectin which attract a lot of attention in the public but which the FDA says does not look safe in the doses that would be necessary). Strategies (oral medications) to stop viral replication have worked very well against HIV and may work against this one if tester further.

One other thing for young men, the Supreme Court may look again at the constitutionality of male-only draft registration. More on that soon. “Male” means biological.

Saturday, June 05, 2021

A medical journal's lesson in tribalism

Leesburg VA 2021/6

The Journal of Hospital Medicine has added to the debate over the need for anti-racism, at least in writing medical articles (as concerning coronavirus now), as with this article in April 2021 in giving contributors to the journal concrete guidelines, link.   

Also the journal published even in the Wall Street Journal today an apology for the way it used the word “tribalism” and a Twitter hashtag, as in this article. If I try to go to the original article, I indeed get an “access denied”.

The word “tribalism” might indeed be more divisive in specific professional environments, when referring to workplace teams.  But the inference is that the term is perjorative, that people who demonstrate tribal fealty and loyalty are intellectually inferior and unable to think for themselves, when they may have been raised in an environment where they are not allowed to (especially theocratic or authoritarian or Marxist environments).

Friday, June 04, 2021

Xfinity issues "copyright strike" on a user for a DMCA accusation of illegal downloading of a Linux product, when the takedown may have been a spoof, and there is no obvious walkback; Sony case in 4th Circuit is big too


Near Bethany Beach DE, 2021/6

Most of us are familiar with the idea of copyright strikes from YouTube for purported infringement in what a user has published. But it is also possible go get a strike from your telecom provider for illegal downloading.  This normally happens only because of P2P.

But now there is a case where a user got a “strike” (called a "copystrike") from Comcast Xfinity upon an accusation of illegally downloading Ubuntu, associated with Linux, when the notice may have been faked.  Leonard French explains for Lawful Masses. 

And the DMCA doesn’t seem to have an adequate procedure to protect consumers to remove false accusations.

On the other hand, telecom companies are required to have policies to terminate accounts of repeated copyright download infringers.

This seems to leave open risk of destroying someone’s ability to be online by a political enemy, conceivably even by “cancel culture”.  

Update (June 9):  Electronic Frontier has an essay on this problem and has submitted an amicus brief to the Fourth Circuit regarding a major case involving Sony and other companies.  The case involves Cox Communications (which I have now) and a supposed copyright troll called "Rightscorp".  Instead of going after home users for downloads, it went after the ISP.  It appears limited to P2P situations (I could imagine trolling cloud backups or even computers connected online for watermarked photos and music outside of P2P but that doesn't seem to be happening.)  I'll look into this in more details and write it up on Wordpress reasonably soon. 

Thursday, June 03, 2021

"Bad review" lawsuit default judgment, when defendant says he was not properly served, a mess?


North Texas badlands, 2018/6

Here’s a case from Lehto’s Law where someone was sued for a “bad review”.  The plaintiff had been a company that promised to increase web traffic, and the company was overseas. The “bad review” might not have been untruthful.

The defendant now has a default judgment (in Texas) but it sounds like he might never have been served properly.  Usually it would take certified mail or a process server, especially from overseas.

The other thing is, yes, it his hard for many online businesses to make money legitimately. This may get harder now with ideas like substack proliferating.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

"The Role of Protest" in citizenship


BLM, DC, 2020/6

NPR has published a podcast and interview by Michael Martin of three activists: Medea Benjamin., DeRay McKesson, and Rev. Rpb Schenck. “How to Be a Citizen: The Role of Protest”  

You definitely have to be willing to get hurt.

But this conversation begs the question about the role of “citizen journalists” who film and report things but don’t protest (which is pretty much my situation).

Again it’s the old question of skin in the game.

And the question came up in a reaction to my May 17 discussion of an article in the NYTimes on police stings for underage contact attempts, which I’ll take up again soon on Wordpress.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Washington State supreme court doesn't recognize independent youtubers or bloggers as "the press"

Tacoma skyline and I-705 from the East 34th Street Bridge


There was an important case in Washington State, where the state supreme court ruled that a YouTube Channel (or probably an individual blog site), not associated with a company, is not part of the press and does not qualify automatically for certain press privileges, like access to certain state records to do an investigation.  Reclaim the Net has a story here. 

The case is Green v. Pierce County (Tacoma), opinion.   

There is a pretty obvious hole in the argument.  An individual can make a living from a channel or blog sometimes, and may hire others and operate as a business.  An individual could set up an LLC.  Even a sole proprietorship could quality, although accounting records would have show it is a legitimate business that makes money and supports the individual/family. 

That latter idea would be a stumbling bloc for me.

I have never asked for access to sensitive records or tried to get a press pass. 

However I’ve noted that platforms (like YouTube) are likely to be much more concerned about an individual’s “commercial viability” in the future than in the past, partly as Section 230 erodes or as copyright becomes more sensitive (as in Europe with Article 17).  A substack, if it actually attracted enough paying subscribers, could work. 

There have been instances where large corporations have issued invalid copyright takedowns against independent channels like The David Pakman show just because they can get away with it. 

And that also pits against another issue:  using patrons or subscribers as well as or instead of serving ads.  Look at Tim Lee’s take on the issue.   

I suppose this brings me to ask myself, what do I have “to sell”.  So far, it seems to be, my own “autobiography”, even if I have a lot more turning points and ironies than, say, Moby. Yes, there is my music (accumulated over a lifetime) and I have started doing something with that.  But, no life insurance, no audio books, no stuff that everybody else sells.  What about Faraday bags?  Sell what you believe?

Picture: Tacoma skyline, Wikipedia embed. Click for attribution.