Thursday, August 29, 2019

Sargon of Akkad blasts David Pakman for video about Andy Ngo

Sargon of Akkad countermands an earlier video by David Pakman, “Andy Ngo Did Nothing Wrong

At issue was a moment in the Portland, OR demonstrations recently when a bus filled with the “right” arrived and am ax or weapon came out of the bus.  But there is no real proof of who really deployed it.  Pakman makes Andy out to be James Bond's enemy Dr. No (the very first film, with the song "Three Blind Mice.")
It’s hard to pass judgment on it, but Carl Benjamin seems to have the last word.
Maybe Pakman has been sliding farther Left and more willing to attack peripheral elements on the right as actually dangerous.  He treats Andy as “Dr. Ngo”.  I don’t think Ford Fischer had any film of the bus incident.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

"Back to School": In his gap year to work full time in Montreal, Harvard's John Fish advises high profile freshmen at other Ivy league schools on how to do well

John Fish, having taken a gap year from Harvard after two years, and almost finished with his computer science major already, and almost ready for his 20th birthday, makes a video from his Montreal apartment, called “Back to School”.

With David Hogg moving into Harvard and Cameron Kasky into Columbia (NYC), both teen veterans of protesting can use the tips from John on how to get down to business and concentrate. 
John, who is from Waterloo, Ontario (60 miles SW of Toronto), is mysterious about his mission in Montreal.  He has talked about writing a book about Internet addiction and analytics, “Intentional Attention”, which may suggest the idea of attention as a new kind of “crypto” currency. If he has taken a software assignment in Montreal’s tech community, presumably he grew up learning French real well, which he hasn’t talked about yet, but I suspect we’ll hear about it.

I have been in Montreal a few times and Quebec City, most recently in 1993.  I was just in Toronto and Ottawa. 
It was weird when I was in Ottawa on a Saturday night and walked past all the Canadian parliament and executive buildings as if I were home in DC.  Toronto was weird too, Yonge Street, with one row of 80-story buildings after another until you get to the Lake.  It seemed like an alien city, but then try Shanghai.

I've covered, on the International blog, an ugly incident today where a student from the Middle East to Harvard was deported in Boston. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

"A Toxic Tale": CNN looks at water and environment contamination under Trump

A Toxic Tale: Trump's Environmental Impact” aired on CNN Friday night, hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. 
The one hour documentary presented the importance of the Environmental Protection Agency and its deterioration under the Trump administration.
Gupta presented several hazards that have resulted in deaths of industrial workers, especially methyl chloride in paint removal, which results in exposure to methanol.  
He also talked about PFAS, and especially leftover toxins from processing of supposedly “clean coal” which Trump has tried to support, including mercury, sulfur dioxide and various nitrogen oxides (there are several, if I remember my college qual and quant well).

 He talks about Scott Pruitt’s role in the Trump EPA until Pruitt resigned in July 2018. 
Gupta missed a chance to cover the science fair work of Luke Andraka, now 24, from VaTech, who did a project on remediating stream damage from surface mining (Baltimore Sun article about younger brother Jack, known for his medical science fair project on pancreatic cancer).
Since mountaintop removal has become controversial, it would be interesting for me to consider tracing it back to the early 1970s, where I toured some areas of West Virginia some of which are “reclaimed” today.  That’s a documentary film idea I could contribute a lot too if someone funded it (it’s mentioned in my DADT III book, 2014).
There was a serious spill on the Elk River in W Va in 2014 and I’ve visited the area once.

Along these lines, the Wall Street Journal has reported on Amazon's selling many unsafe products, as for home care, on its site.

There was some controversy about the closing of a paper mill in Luke, MD on the Potomac recently.
Picture is from a July 2012 trip near Kayford Mountain.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

AC360 interviews David Hogg, who offers major changes in gun control and buyback of "military weapons"

David Hogg appeared on Anderson Cooper’s AC360 Wednesday night and discussed March for Our Lives’s plan for gun control.

Hogg, in particular, suggested classifying some weapons as military weapons and requiring a license to own them (showing a legitimate need) and a buyback from those who don’t qualify.

The conservative paper The Washington Examiner has the best account of the interview so far, here (by Julio Rosas).  The other elements of the March for our Lives plan are listed.  Another element of the plan is to ban all online sales of guns.  It’s true that social media platforms and many hosting platforms already prohibit this in their TOS/AUP’s. 

CNN seems to be slow in getting videos from AC360 put up, and the technical quality of the video in the  interview is not as good as a similar interview David did recently for the Washington Post.
Hogg is expected to start as a freshman at Harvard in two weeks, but plans to conduct a candidates’ forum in Las Vegas in October.  But last night's AC360 interview was one of the most important recently.  David presented a workable solution that Congress should consider carefully.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pakman's lecture-film "Capitalism, Socialism, and our Economic Future"

On Aug. 19, David Pakman offered a compendium of several previous videos, “Capitalism, Socialism, and our Economic Future” (51 minutes).

First, Pakman corrects Bernie Sanders’s use of the term “democratic socialism” and explains why “social democracy” is more appropriate, as the government does not own the means of production in Sanders’s world.

Pakman likes Scandinavian style social democracy, with heavily regulated capitalism to fix areas where there is not enough private incentive to reduce inequality at the extremes.

Pakman (who also teaches, I think at Boston College) explains the stages that lead to Soviet-style communism.  There is utopianism, which works well with small intentional communities that do income sharing (like Twin Oaks and Acorn in Virginia) but doesn’t work well on a large scale. Then there is “anarchism” which the NonCompete channel tries to promote. Next is Marxism, which Pakman says has its own brilliance in adding economic value from labor.  Then there is Leninism, which sets up the formal authoritarianism of “the dictatorship of the proletariat” and expropriates unearned wealth by force.

Pakman also explains how communism can evolved into “state capitalism” under a one-party rule, which is modern China (not including Hong Kong – with all the demonstrations over extradition laws, and Taiwan).  China is more successful than we would have expected, but still allows big manufacturing companies to lowball workers, which is one of Trump’s theories that appeases his base and drives the tariffs and trade war.

Pakman opposes “equality of outcomes” (a view which he shares with Tim Pool).  He accepts that differences in ability, athletic but especially intellectual, occur statistically and naturally and are unavoidable in nature. Indeed, one of the problems today is that the very top is extremely gifted, but ability drops off quickly and more “average” people are left to tribalism. 

Pakman thinks that the extreme regressive Left is a sideshow and not that important in influence.  Tim Pool disagrees and makes videos all the time about the authoritarianism of the amateur far Left. But their actual policy views, as to things like health care, national security, gun control, and managing freedom of speech are pretty similar.  They did a livestream together in May 2019 and should do another one now.
Pakman, 35, is born in Argentina and cannot be president.  Tim Pool was born about six weeks too late to be eligible to be president in 2020.  One wonders.  David Hogg has to wait until 2036.  Ironically, the openly gay Buttigieg, 37, is among the more conservative and pragmatic (and national security aware, besides Tulsi Gabbard) of the candidates.

Technically, the early part of the video has less visual definition than later sections or than his show does today. 


David did a show Aug 20, "White Nationalism and Extremism".  You may need to be a subscriber to watch the podcast, not sure.  I do subscribe to his (and to a few other major YouTube channels with paid content.)

Monday, August 19, 2019

"Prager U v. YouTube": conservative site claims (in lawsuit) that YouTube is losing Section 230 protections by censoring "political" content

I’ve treated some “Prager U” videos as “films” but it seems more appropriate now to classify it as a quasi-TV channel, for my purposes, at least.

Here is the case “Prager U v. YouTube”.

Prager, known for 5-minute animated center-right “conservative” videos, found many of its videos were “restricted” from viewing by minors, for political or social viewpoint and not for material usually viewed as inappropriate (like porn or violence).

Prager notes that Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act allows sites to avoid liability for user generated content if they set themselves up as public forums, but not as publishers. True.  There is an issue that social media platforms say they have to enforce some rules that “sound” political (like misgendering of trans people) to prevent bullying or driving users off the platform.
Copyright downstream liability is handled by DMCA Safe Harbor, not by Section 230.

Friday, August 16, 2019

CNN: "The Age of Amazon"

On Friday, August 16, 2019 CNN Films aired “The Age of Amazon”, 92 minutes (CNN link).

The early part of the documentary talked about the novelty of consolidated retail, and how Amazon was originally viewed as a boon for self-published authors, selling books.  The film did not get as far into the difficulty that independent bookstores would have, but this may also be the result of the large chains.

It also talked about the impact on the city of Seattle (my own visits in 1966, 1976, 1978, 1980 (flyover St. Helens), 1990.  In the 1960s Boeing had been the most important employer.  Then Microsoft. But it was Amazon that drove rents up, to the point that the city considered a per employer tax.

The film shows the inside of the Amazon spheres, which provide an alternate work environment.
It then covers the issue of the second headquarters, and OAC’s campaign to keep it out of NYC, to protect rents for poor people, and her bragging about it. 

It also covers Bezos’s buying the Washington Post, and maintains he stayed away from editorial influence.  But that was a big reason for the HQ2 to come to Arlington VA, Crystal City. 

The film shows Bezos's interest in space and building on the Moon;  he spends a billion of his own money on space. 
The film touched on the Enquirer scandal, which Jeff explains in this Medium post

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

"Outbreak" on PBS Frontline: a history of the 2014 Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (now it is in Congo)

Tuesday night, Aug. 13, PBS Frontline aired “Outbreak”, a documentary about the Ebola outbreak in 2014 in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The main link is here  It is directed by Dan Edge.

The documentary starts with a scene where some children find a hollow tree with bats, in Guinea, around Christmas 2013.

Soon the children are becoming ill.  Movement of people spreads the disease (which is transmitted by blood and bodily fluids, but much more easily than STD’s) down to Monrovia Liberia and to eastern Sierra Leone, especially when some people cross the border illegally.

In the early months some people believe Ebola is a hoax.

It takes until March before the governments figure out what is happening.

Doctors Without Borders sets up field hospitals, the largest one in Monrovia. UN had to ask for considerable help in getting medical and military personnel from the Obama administration and Europe to help and working on this was personally very risky.

But there was real controversy on where to deploy resources and money, and how to prevent random spread in the rest of Africa.  Some people were sent back to the US and one died of Ebola and another got in trouble to violating a quarantine in NYC.

The epidemic begins to abate when the families stop trying to take care of the sick and allow the weakest to die, which sounds horrid but it is the only way for the rest of the families to survive.

Jack Andraka, from Stanford University, is a Truman scholar working on Ebola in the summers of 2018 and 2019, as explained in this link

See also PBS film “Survivors” writeup
There was a film called “Outbreak” in 1995 about a virus brought to California from Africa.
Wikipedia: By mifl68 - Freetown from Fourah Bay College, CC BY 2.0,

Monday, August 12, 2019

Pakman says Trump's developing XO on letting the FCC monitor social media for censorship -- is thinly veiled authoritarianism

David Pakman has a disturbing discussion of Donald Trump’s proposed executive order which would give the FCC the power to stop censorship (particularly of conservatives) by big social media companies.

Pakman spends some of the discussion on the misgendering issue and Twitter’s policy, which he says is necessary to prevent bullying of trans people (much like the n_ word;  the f_ word seems less dicey these days as gay men are much less targets than they used to be well – except remember Pulse.) 

 Pakman (correctly) believes that the pronoun issue should not be viewed as a “political policy” issue.
This is all rather disturbing in the LGBT community as it could force libertarian or less combative gay speakers to get involved in a fight that they may believe is not theirs.

Pakman calls it “authoritarian” and reinforces the idea that Trump must be defeated in 2020: yet some speakers (like me) refuse to work on political campaigns or donate to them, period, in the name of objectivity.

Earlier today, on CNN AC360, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang suggested the government give $100 to every person eligible to vote to be given to the primary campaign of a candidate of their choice, to reduce the effect of big donors, and to involve more people in candidate support (Yang, like Pakman, seems to think many American “intellectuals” believe it is beneath their dignity to be partisan and leave the center hollowed out.)
Subverse also discussed the XO today, but rather factually and histotically (discussions of the old fairness doctrine) with little speculation. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

"America Under Assault: The Gun Crisis": town hall on CNN with Chris Cuomo prime time

America Under Assault: The Gun Crisis” is a town hall conducted by Chris Cuomo of CNN, apparently from New York City, today on Aug. 7, 2019 on CNN at 9 PM EDT.

Cameron Kasky, 18, appeared in the audience and asked a comprehensive question about extending red flag and the ability to report behavior of people likely to perpetrate an event. Cameron is credited with founding March for our Lives (apparently even more so than David Hogg).

Kasky had confronted Marco Rubio about accepting NRA donations in a forum when he was 17, an almost unprecedented challenge to a political candidate.

There was mention of the fact that there are about 393 million weapons in the US.

There is still some controversy over how well resuming an assault weapons ban would work in practice.

Several New York State politicians were present.

Then police /ex-police were questioned along with doctors.  The damage to the body from military weapons is much more catastrophic than handguns.
Cuomo concluded by insisting that voters pressure the Senate about what they want.  94% want full background checks.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Pakman's comprehensive take on El Paso, Dayton

David Pakman gave a detailed account of what we know about both El Paso and Dayton.
He emphasized that “replacement” ideology had already existed before Trump won the 2016 election, but that Trump (in Pakman’s opinion) had stirred up vulnerable, “right wing identarian” people (to borrow from Tim Pool) people, mostly young white males with poor educations, into believing that violent action was not only acceptable but somehow necessary.
He discussed the mini-manifesto and that the El Paso man claims he had believed in replacement before 2015.  However some of the ideas in the manifesto, about “dirty work” and “lifestyles” are actually Maoist.
He said that by comparison we don’t know that Dayton perpetrator was motivated by his left-wing ideology. Pakman mentioned that the Dayton perp had been an LGBTQ-rights supported, an observation I had not heard before.
Pakman followed up with a second video, that the Left Is Losing the Battle of Ideas, because the Right has more men on base already, essentially.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Reason TV takes on a Left wing, Marxist-leaning meme, "Is Money Speech?"

Eugene Volokh, First Amendment Law Professor, takes up the legal and constitutional question, in the US, takes up the question “Is Money Speech? Free Speech Rules”, for Reason TV  (part V in a series).
The general answer is, no, money is not speech (and conversely).  You can spend money for your own speech (as to self-publish).  There are some limits on contributions to political candidates, and especially with the use of tax-exempt contributions.  The video explains the difference between 501c(3) and c(4) (the latter in a PAC).
Nevertheless, there has been controversy in the past over whether blogs might be “illegal campaign contributions”, which I have covered here. 
Yet, there is an emerging idea on the Left, somewhat Marxist, that people should not be allowed to use their own money online to bring up old chestnut ideologies (supposedly settled) unless others pay for them (outside of clickbait) as consumers – that this is bullying people in marginalized groups and putting others at risk, and encouraging radicalization of the vulnerable. This notion is roughly called “speech is power”.  This has no meaning in US law, but seems to have traction in Europe and now with tech and social media companies.  Volokh would shrug the idea off.

Friday, August 02, 2019

"Live with Kelly and Ryan" hosts a lumberjack who does a weird body-shaving stunt on camera

I’ll mention the Thursday Aug 1 episode of the syndicated “Live with Kelly and Ryan” on ABC, with Kelly replaced by guest host Maria Menounos, link.

Ryan Seacrest is always a bit self-effacing even about his bod.

The guest Cassidy Sheer, who had won the Stihl Timberpsorts championship, did a demonstration of splitting logs with brute strength.  But he also shaved his own forearm with the bade of the ax, an oddly contradictory self-initiation.