Thursday, February 28, 2019

Timcast discusses the Project Veritas report on Facebook censorship of conservatives

Tim Pool (Timcast and Timcastnews) has detailed video broadcast Wednesday about the Project Veritas report on Facebook’s deranking of apparently conservative content.

There was a report from an employee who was fired.

There are superficial attempts to identify “trolls”, such as meme vocabulary, and an attempt to “red-pill” others with seductive arguments.

Pool goes on to talk about the development of “parallel economies” or “parallel society” since some people (extremists) are being shunned not only by payment processors for collecting subscription or patronage, but in at least one very visible case, a personal checking account.

Pool feels that some people could be shut out of the banking system altogether and be forced to develop parallel economies (which would use cryptocurrencies).

Pool also believes that this development could preview actual civil conflict.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Wolf Blitzer moderates Bernie Sanders town hall on CNN from Washington

Wolf Blitzer moderated a 65-minute town hall in Washington (at CNN near Union Station?) for Bernie Sanders tonight, as summarized here.

Bernie said that Medicare-for-all would eliminate the need for most private or employer health insurance and would include dental for seniors.

He defined “democratic socialism” in answering a question on comparing socialism to capitalism.

He also said that college should be free and be paid for on taxes on speculative profits on Wall Street.

But many observers (like YouTubber Martin Goldberg) see college as a scam and say most people should go to trade school or start working immediately.

Tim Pool, despite the “conservatism” of so many of his recent videos, says he would support Sanders.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

CBS Morning News presents "The Wizard of Wikipedia"

CBS Morning Show has presented “The Wizard of the Internet”, Steven Pruitt.

He was named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people on the Internet.

He has edited one-third of the English-language articles on Wikipedia.

Only about 18% of the biographical articles on Wikipedia are about women.

He says he makes no money from this.

Wikipedia has been quite able to keep up with the news, with free labor?

He also sings Gregorian chant at the Pohick church near Alexandria, VA.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

"Manifest": "Estimated Time of Departure" is a matter of karma

The recent episodes of NBC’s “Manifest” are certainly interesting.  (No connection to Jack Conte’s idea of “manifest observable behavior”, or maybe there is?)

In episode 11, “Contrails” (Jan. 14), Bill flies a stolen plane in circumstances similar to the original disappearance, and this one disappears with dark lightning, too.

A hiker gets lost and returns one year later without realizing it.

A getaway robbery truck is pulled out of the East River and the driver (Griffin) comes back to life, from drowning. He then has a “calling” that helps prevent a terror bombing in Times Square.

But in the season finale, “Estimated Time of Departure” it gets weird.  Griffin, outdoors, suddenly starts vomiting water and finally collapses, dead.  Ben and Olive calculate that Griffin died exactly as long after his “rescue” as he was under water.  Using inductive reason, Ben (Josh Dallas) wonders if that means that the flight 828 passengers will live exactly 5-1/2 years, until June 2, 2024.   

The underlying concept seems to be that everyone who came back with a “calling” would have died otherwise, and has as many years given as they were kept in “detention” by whatever agent held them. They all have “expiration dates”.

I have wondered about a “Matrix” type of solution.  That is, in my own novel, the major characters have been found as characters in a unpublished book by one of them, by a brilliant college-age hacker. The novel projects the idea of a pandemic which makes some people very gifted so that they can escape Earth (with the “angels”) and start a new world, while the “leftovers” all have futures severely compromised by the epidemic.  In the novel, a CIA asset has befriended the hacker (because the asset is a closeted gay and attracted to the hacker) and starts to track whether the unpublished novel is coming true.  

So maybe the characters who get “abducted” and have “callings” will all be found in someone’s fictitious unpublished novel.
We don’t know what NBC plans for season 2.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

ABC 20-20: "Bundy"

ABC 2020 offers a video link for its 2-hour documentary Feb. 15, “Bundy”.

Bundy was the famous serial killer who was finally executed by electric chair in Florida in 1984.

He seems to have been very handsome and charismatic.  It’s a very upsetting narrative. You want to believe in a charismatic person. It’s not clear whether he was a psychopath or sociopath.

But he would plot abductions and killings over several states for one incident.  He escaped from prison at least once through a hole in a ceiling, having lost weight in order to act as a tunnel rat.

ABC has a sequence of videos numbered sequentially on YouTube.  Here is #1.

He even put himself through a law school.

How a man with talent could turn into pure evil, for no reason.  One of the worst of these cases in history.

Friday, February 15, 2019

CBS 60 Minutes airs report that DOJ considered using 25th Amendment to remove Trump, in unusual midweek interview

Andrew McCabe, former FBI director, claims that the DOJ has discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove president Donald Trump, Alex Ward story on Vox here.

Here is a brief video from CBS News itself.

McCabe had been fired.  It is unusual for 60 Minutes to air during the week.   Would a "narcissistic personality disorder" mean unfitness?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

"EI" gives his ruling on the border controversy (Trump v Pelosi)

Economic Invincibility weighs in on the “agreement in principle” on the border security issue, to avoid a second shutdown, two days before a critical vote.

Shutting down the government accomplished nothing, he argues.

Martin takes Trump to task for acting like a businessman, which surprises me a bit.  Trump’s not getting what he wants (hence the orange baby balloon).

He says there is no basis for a “national emergency” – other than Jared Kushner’s not being as pretty as in the past.

Martin would have gotten border security to work without much trouble.  Let’s lower the minimum age for the presidency.

You don’t see Martin himself (or his Robe, like from the 1953 Cinemascope Fox movie) in his videos now.
There are plenty of op-eds out there from the Left claiming that the “Wall” is just race baiting, still.

Picture: Pharr, TX border crossing, my trip, May 30, 2018

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Indie candidate Howard Schultz does a town hall on CNN in Houston

Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks, gave a town hall in Hobby Auditorium in Houston, RX, and took questions from young adults. CNN's  Poppy Harlow moderated.

Schultz was critical of both the far left (“The Green New Deal”) and far right, who proposes things Americans don’t work.  He was critical of extreme proposals and slogans for “press releases”.

He considers the extreme proposals of the far left financially unworkable.

But if he ran as an independent he could very likely take votes away from a democratic candidate. He says he will not stay in the race if it would help Trump win.

He spoke up for returning to climate change accords, and for banning civilian ownership of military weapons (he referred to school shootings and wants more or less what David Hogg proposes – in fact, he is sort of an elder David Hogg).

He also talked about our system as fragile, as if he had read Taleb’s anti-fragile.  He also discussed the standdown at Strabucks for racial sensitivity training.
Vox's Ezra Klein thinks that Schultz proposed nothing; he just thinks it's fun to run for president and mess things up.  Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez asks why he doesn't work his way up (starting with city council) like ordinary people.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

"Facebook at 15: It's Complicated" on CNN Special Reports

Facebook at 15: It’s Complicated”, 90 minutes (including commercials), aired Sunday night February 10, 2019 as a CNN Special Report.  It was treated more as a news report than as a typical indie documentary film.
Laurie Segall for CNN Business has an article summarizing the broadcast. 

The first hour did show the humble beginnings of the site, in a dorm room on Feb. 4, 2004, where it was “The Face Book” (previously FaceMash) named after an almanac at Harvard. It had over 10000 users on various campuses and was open to the public in September 2006.  The original application would show two co-eds in comparison in a game that promoted “lookism”, very much disapproved of today.  Even then, there was the privacy issue (“they trusted me … dumb f---” email).

Zuckerberg and his friends worked out of house in Palo Alto in 2005, having to take financial risks to get their necessary vans and server hardware from eBay to go bigtime.  At 22, Zuckerberg fended off a purchase offer from Yahoo! in 2006.

In the early years, the mood was to "break things" -- and they wound up breaking the country.  Zuckerberg would become the digital emperor of the planet, conquering it by writing code while he was drunk in a dorm (when under 21), according to "The Social Network" (whose excerpts with Jesse Eisenberg are shown, see Movies, Oct 3, 2010). Rogue websites would claim Zuckerberg is an alien. 
Almost immediately, over Christmas, there was the first major privacy scandal as Facebook allowed friends to see what a given member had purchased through the site through “news feed”.

Facebook did its IPO in early 2012.  It had already gotten “credit” for the Arab spring about the time that Obama ordered bin Laden’s assassination and when Gadaffi fell.

But the algorithm-driven business, showing consumers what they wanted to see, metastasized as whole nations states, most of all Russia, saw the opportunity to manipulate the more tribal and less tech savvy American voters with fake news.

And the opening up of Facebook’s PII on users to developers would eventually contribute to the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, and Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress in April 2018.

The film shows the 8-10 pastel-colored buildings of the Facebook campus in Menlo Park on the San Francisco Bay (I visited it in September, 2018; Segall did the interview in October). The indoor office space is totally open air and colorful, and has signs like “empathy” on the walls. 

Zuckerberg would have been a freshman at Harvard in 2002-2003 as the issue of military recruiters on campus, with the discrimination of “don’t ask don’t tell” would have gotten attention and perhaps his. He could very well have discovered the way I was leveraging the debate with the simple use of search engines in a Web 1.0 environment. 

But Zuckerberg, possibly with the influence of the “Winklevii” (twins who later sued for breach of “contract”) became more interested in leveraging of personal contacts among people and connecting them rather than connecting ideas per se.  But it seems ironic that was doing both simultaneously that led to the end of DADT at the end of 2010. But by 2014 it would seem that this openness to all users and ideas and the cross-referencing of them would become corrupted by the need to drive them into echo chambers by advertisers, and soon by authoritarian governments. Toward the end, the documentary covers the Trump 2016 election, which Zuckerberg denies as thrown merely by fake news fed to Facebook.

Facebook, ironically, may have saved user-generated content, however, by super-monetization. Already, by around 2008, there were questions about online reputation and the idea that users should be required to have insurance.   Myspace, even with its volume, had not really quote caught on as revolutionary enough to change things (despite Dr. Phil’s warnings about “Internet mistakes)
By around 2011 Facebook was omnipresent enough that people started not wanting to be photographed in discos by strangers, and whole codes of public etiquette started to change. 

NBC News has a Timeline of Facebook's privacy issues here

Friday, February 08, 2019

John Fish: "The Meaning of Life", and how to make really good videos

John Fish talks about “The Meaning of Life”, starting his video looking at the Charles River from Cambridge near Harvard.


Well, he is refreshing to look at right after you know who giving SOTU.  Kids from Canada seem a lot better adjusted than American kids.

He does get into the issue of wasting time on social media, which he’s talked about before (that Jaron Lanier thing).  He also talks about the echo chamber problem.

He has another video on how he makes his videos, which is very helpful to anyone else thinking about starting a video channel or making a micro short film.  One thing – when you find music for your video, it needs to be licensed (content-id), unless you compose your own.  I do have a GoPro but found it a pain.  A simple Canon and iPhone works for my simple stuff.  But his gear (and editing on FinalCut Pro) is probably good enough for a "DC Shorts" type of film festival. David Hogg could be good competition. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Donald Trump's belated 2019 SOTU

Here is President Donald Trump’s full State of the Union address and Democratic rebuttal on Fox News.

The speech took 90 minutes and was slow and meandering.  He did not declare a national emergency.
Although he declared a caravan threatening the border, he did not go into confrontation as much as feared.   He continued his usual picture of crime committed by undocumented immigrants, which happens but is statistically less likely than crime from native-born Americans.

He spent some time claiming to have averted a war with North Korea and talking about the next summit.

He made some “feel good” promises to tackled HIV and childhood cancer and made a plug for St. Jude’s Hospital.

He presented a policeman who had survive the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, and also a member celebrating a birthday.
He addressed the late-term abortion issue in rather exaggerated and misleading terms. 

He offered paid-family leave but spoke only one sentence on pre-existing conditions. 
His quip about socialism was called "dog whistle politics". 

Monday, February 04, 2019

Maroon 5 "disfigures" the Super Bowl Halftime show on CBS

I did take a “Sunday night off” from politics and watched the Super Bowl on CBS, played at the Mercedez-Benz stadium in downtown Atlanta, and it did look like a space station (or maybe the inside of an O'Neill Cylinder, where artificial gravity would mess with any football game, especially passes and field goal kicks).  The 13-3 win by the New England Patriots over the Los Angeles Raiders marked the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history??  I seem to remember listening to it on the radio in 1969 when I was at Fort Eustis in the days of Joe Namath.  Tom Brady proved that for some men, age 41 is still youth.
A Raiders win would have been tainted because of the bad call in the game with the Saints two weeks ago in New Orleans.
But it was the half-time show that got my attention.  It was sponsored by Pepsi, one of Atlanta’s biggest companies. 

The meteor shower attack was spectacular enough, but it was the group Maroon 5 that led to some controversy. But 39-year-old rapper Adam Levine caught the eye as he stripped, his artificially and necessarily hairless body covered with body art.  The young women loved it.  I hate to admit it, but how body art looks does vary with skin color. This seemed to be an entirely heterosexual thing, but I hope it doesn’t suddenly become a trend in gay discos.  YouTube gay videos have a lot of tattooed men, but this is not that common in real life.

Ford Fischer and News2Share have numerous videos of the partying outside the stadium after the game, for example this.  He also has a photo gallery, and some of the behavior outdoors was homoerotic. 

Note this Washington Post Sunday Outlook piece "Beyond the game" (by Martellus Bennett) about role models -- but it uses the term "black boys" in the subtitle in an insulting and racist manner common from the 80.  The author gets away with using that term, I couldn't.  

Stadium roof animation is here

Wikipedia attribution link for stadium by CCSA 3.0, refers to the video just cited.  Second picture is from the 2004 gay pride parade in downtown Atlanta on Peachtree in June. 

Sunday, February 03, 2019

"The FTC Complaint": Sargon of Akkad interviews YouTuberLaw

Here is a 25-minute interview ("The FTC Complaint: Patreon Purge #9") by Sargon of Akkad (Carl Benjamin) of YouTuberLaw (Lior Lesig) on the progress of the FTC complaint that Lior is working on, regarding possible collusion among payment processors and other platforms leading to the banning of some high profiles YouTube channels from Patreon.

There is some discussion of how SubscribeStar, a previously unknown company, got cut off so quickly when some Patreon persons tried to move to it.  That’s like Gab being banned by various registrars or hosts because of its supposed reputation of having many alt-right speakers on it.
However it is possible for there to have been parallel actions, or companies copying one another.

So far the problem seems limited to patronage donations, not to actual subscriptions (or paywalls).

But many channels don’t ask for patronage and simply make some money off ads. They don’t seem to be affected.  Some channels sell self-designed merchandise.  

The video is remarkable because Lior is asking for volunteers to assist.  This could be interesting to me. 
It’s hard to “volunteer” into basic services (like food banks) when I don’t have a lot of social contact with those in need.  So this sounds like a more legitimate opportunity.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

AC360 reports Trump could declare "National Security Emergency" in SOTU address Feb. 5, ten days early; then what happens?

AC360 on Friday night indicated that President Trump has indicated he may well declare a National Emergency Tuesday might, Feb 5, in the State of the Union address.

If so, that would occur ten days before the “deadline” for Congress to come up with funding for border security.
Peter Nicholas seemed to confirm this possibility in the Feb. 1 Wall Street Journal.  Mitch McConnell (“Leader”) has warned Trump not to do this.  There is also some fear that in the future a liberal Democratic president would overuse emergency powers based on Trump's precedent (like they really fear David Hogg use a time machine and become president in 2020 and confiscate everyone's guns by XO). 

Anderson Cooper showed a lot of contradictions within Trump’s statements. 
Trump seems to have doubled down on the use of the term “wall”, as if it were the Fenway Park Green Monster.  (“What a wall”, a friend in Ohio said back in 1956 when seeing it for the first time on RV for an Indians game in Boston.)

It’s impossible to make sense of all this, with Trump changing his statements all the time.
A high fence, where security can see through it, makes more sense, to me at least.  And if you need a wall of high fence at all, then it makes sense to but the barbed wire, even electrified, on top.  Warn people.  Do not attempt. Race has nothing to do with this, except by happenstance.
But, let’s buy the Democrats plan that high tech, drones, and even radiation detectors (which Taylor Wilson has said he has worked on) could provide more real security. It occurs to me that AC360 ought to interview Taylor on this matter, ASAP.  His lab is in Reno, at the University of Nevada.  I’ve driven past it.  Let’s not forget opioids and cocaine.
TheHill has an article in which it argues that Trump and the GOP need to drop the pun “wall”, but Trump’s authoritarian need to appease an aggrieved base gets in the way. 
Schumer explains why there is no plan to build the Wall on CNS.  
But there are other reports of homeowners along the border who do see undocumented people crossing their property but don’t see it as a problem.  If homeowners see this happening, then there is a problem indeed.  It’s as if the homeowners had their own kind of “Section 230”.

Democrats should budge on building or fixing physical barriers in some specific locations.  This just seems like common sense.  Eminent domain and compensation and relocation might happen in a few locations.

Whatever Trump says on Feb. 5, the Democrats will have a proper response.  Hopefully that precludes any statements that are too wild, but Trump has become unpredictable.
The idea of a “national emergency”, which many presidents have used gratuitously, is dangerous because there are other real emergencies that would pass muster.  The Internet is involved in a lot of this (see Book reviews Jan 5 for discussion of Atlantic article).  Just today, CNN discussed the whole problem of “Deepfake” videos (International Issues video today).

Update: Jan 3

Here is a transcript of Margaret Brennan's interview with Trump on Face the Nation on CBS. Trump would discourage his own youngest son Barron from playing football because of the concussion issue. Interesting.