The Cyberfascism Bulleting #3: Spring Cleaning Edition

BIG BIZ

  • Uh, oh. The punditry is starting to wise up. Here’s 4 Reasons Why Big Tech is Hazardous to Our Lives.
  • Google AI Ethics Council is Falling Apart. Part artistic ethical differences, part Googloid mau-mauing. Only the truly clueless would use “Google” and “ethics” in the same sentence.
  • Time for a ‘Third-Party Audit’ of De-Platforming Policies. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo) doesn’t think folks like Twitter are holding up their end of the bargain

    Social media platforms have been given a “sweetheart deal,” according to Hawley, which includes “immunity from liability for illegal content posted by third parties.”
    They were given special consideration, he said, because they promised to provide “a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.”

  • Pop antiquarian James Lileks tries to pull a fast one and cadge an extra discount on a Coke 12-pack, and runs afowl of real-time big data.

    Went to Lunds. They had a sale: $1.99 on Coke 12-packs. Well! I bought one, the new Orange-Vanilla Dreamsicle flavor. LIMIT ONE PER DAY said a handwritten sign, because obviously people had been loading up. Drove south, decided I would check the other Lunds for the large paper bags. They had them! I also picked up another 12-pack, and I was thinking: this goes against the rules. I wonder if I can get away with this.

    On the way out I noticed that the receipt did not give me the sale price; I went back. A manager asked: did you buy one earlier today?

    “I did!” I said. “I’m sorry! I wasn’t trying to get away with anything. Well I guess I was.”

    “The computer knows everything,” she said.

    Doofus. If you’re going to sail close to the wind, pay cash. It leaves no footprints.

  • Google is thrashing.

    For a while there has been a subset of people concerned about Google’s privacy and antitrust issues, but now Google is eroding trust that its existing customers have in the company. That’s a huge problem. Google has significantly harmed its brand over the last few months, and I’m not even sure the company realizes it.

BIG MED

CYBER CREEPS

Surveillance technology enables bad behavior from individuals as well as large institutions. Looking for a new way to be a creep? a pervert? an asshole? There’s an app, or gadget for that.

ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA

  • UNIX guru Linus Torvalds: “I absolutely detest modern “social media”

    The whole “liking” and “sharing” model is just garbage. There is no effort and no quality control. In fact, it’s all geared to the reverse of quality control, with lowest common denominator targets, and click-bait, and things designed to generate an emotional response, often one of moral outrage.

  • Writing in USA Today, Glenn Reynolds says “It’s too easy to form a mob today.” Quoting John Hayward

    Thanks to Twitter and Facebook, mob action no longer requires any significant investment of time or physical energy. In essence, mobs have been subsidized, so we’re getting more of them.

GOING DARK

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Zones of Order and Chaos. Richard Fernandez lays out a model for the New World (Dis)Order.

    What if live-streaming required a government permit, and videos could only be broadcast online after a seven-second delay? What if Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were treated like
    traditional publishers, expected to vet every post, comment and image before they reached the public? Or like Boeing or Toyota, held responsible for the safety of their products and
    the harm they cause?

    Imagine what the Internet would look like if tech executives could be jailed for failing to censor hate and violence.

    Bledsoe The Conspirators
    https://remodernreview.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/paintings-the-conspirators/
  • My continuing review of Shoshanna Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance CapitalismZuboff’s focus is the explosive growth of the invasive exploitation of metadata by large corporations like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. She is much less concerned with the advent of surveillance states, who she treats mainly as enablers of Big Data. I think Big Biz and Big State are in competition (cahoots?) and both exploit both our metadata and the CyberMob to advance their agendas. The value of Zuboff’s analysis is that she builds frameworks that describe and predict the behavior of both Big State and Big Biz. For example, in collecting metadata, the Biggies follow the simple dictum “more is better.” Zuboff calls this the extraction imperative. How do they get “more?” Through economies of scope: “…behavioral surplus must be vast, but it also must be varied.”
    • Expand the scope of data collection. Google Maps and Streetview anyone? How about that FitBit?
    • Expand the depth of data collection. Amazon tracks your purchases. In the future, the store freezer case doors will track your gaze with facial recognition displays.

ZuboffBook

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Caught in the Draft

In December of 1969, the Selective Service held a lottery to determine the order in which young men would be called up for the Draft.  My number was a low 53, and that set the course for much of my adult life.  Turns out, the odds were against me.

DraftLotteryNumbers

draft-rank-by-month

  • Want to run more analyses? This article from the Journal of Statistics Education shows the way.

 

News Flash! Men and Women are Different…

..despite the fact that some folks wish is wasn’t so

In fact, the National Institute of Health requires that sex be included as a variable in all studies:

My favorite line from the review: “The mammalian brain is clearly a highly sex-influenced organ.”  As anyone who’s observed young GIs or frat boys would know.  It takes a PhD to believe in something as patently absurd as neurosexism.

Tip from Maggie’s Farm, where it’s always a bit skeptical.

Update:  Looks like the SAT is owned and operated by neurosexists.  Like I tell my students, “You knew that, you just didn’t know you knew that.”

 

The Cyberfascism Bulletin #2: April Fool’s Edition

I wish I was foolin’. All this stuff’s real, so the joke’s on us.

BIG BIZ

AmazonHAL

BIG STATE

BIG ED

  • Smart speakers may snoop on family conversations. More than 4 in 10 parents of 6- to 8-year olds say their children use the assistants for homework help. OK, letting your kids be raised by robots may actually be a step up from having them raised by wolves their peers.

ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA

Smartphones and their ilk are the ultimate tools for pooling our ignorance. And pettiness. And intolerance.

GOING DARK

Paper or Plastic?

The Governor of Tennessee is fixin’ to stop the ban-plastic-shopping-bags nonsense in his state.  I’ve see this no-plastic crapola in several visits to Colorado, and it’s just a greenie smokescreen that allows grocery chains to charge an extra dime (per bag!) to squeeze the poor and sandbag out-of-towners.  No penguins, polar bears, or fuzzy bunnies are saved.

I visited a local Sprouts yesterday, where they showed how reasonable folks steer their customers away from plastic.  They offer the alternative of sturdy brown paper bags with attached handles, which make them much more useful at home.  And, when they do go into the trash, the ant and termites with decompose them completely.  Win-win-win.

Raised by wolves

Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett is back, reinstated, in C. J. Box’s latest thriller

CJBoxWolfPack

This one’s a breakneck thriller; a week of non-stop action that catches up Joe and nearly everyone around him.

C. J. Box is one of the few best-selling authors who is skeptical about overreach by the Federal authorities.  In a conversation between a game warden and two FBI agents, we get this

“Are you threatening me?” she [the game warden] asked.  She said it calmly but it felt like shout.

“We don’t threaten,” Pollock [an FBI agent] said. “We don’t need to.”

“We’re the FBI,” Sandburg said unnecessarily.

….

He said, “If you lie to us about anything, we can put you in federal prison.”

Pollock grinned.  He said, “have you heard of Martha Stewart? Scooter Libby?  Bernie Madoff?  Michael Flynn? All of them went down for lying to FBI agents.”

“You didn’t even take notes…”

“We don’t have to,” Sandburg said. “We heard you, If need be, we’ll write up what’s known as an FD-302.  What is that, you ask?  An FD-302 is a form that summarizes our conversation here and what our impression are of this exchange We’ll write up the fact that you lied to us.  The 302 will be the basis when we testify in court that you willfully withheld information from us that was easily verifiable.”

Box gets in another dig a bit later in the story

“Right now, as we speak,” she [a senior FBI official] continued, “the Department of Justice has indicted four of five Sinaloan-affiliated gangsters…It’s imperative you realize where we’re coming from and why we place such importance on the issue.”

Reed [the local sheriff] sniffed and said, “And here I thought you guys in DC spent all your time rigging presidential elections.”

Lots of good guys, bad guys, assholes, and really, really bad guys.  I don’t do spoilers, but some folks get just what they deserve.

 

San Antonio City Council steps on a rake…

…and is surprised when it hits them in the face.  And the ass.

Our lefty, virtue-signaling city council has decided to pick a fight on Chik-fil-A, one of America’s most successful fast-food companies. This doesn’t look like too smart a move, even for nanny-staters. Clearly this is viewpoint discrimination by a government entity, and puts the City in an indefensible situation, especially considering the recent Riley’s American Heritage Farm v. Claremont Unified School District decision coming from Judge Jesus Bernal of the Central District out in California.

Terminating this benefit is a matter of discretion reserved to the District and its agents; however, Defendants’ cannot terminate the benefit for unconstitutional, retaliatory reasons. Because Plaintiffs plausibly allege the cancelled field trips and prohibition of field trips were in retaliation for Riley’s online political commentary, Plaintiffs state a claim for First Amendment retaliation.

Of course, what really gripes me is that (1) Chik-fil-A should sue the pants off the City of San Antonio and the members of the City Council who voted in the ordinance, but (2) should Chik-fil-A win such a lawsuit, it would be city, not Ron Niremberg and his band of stooges, who would pay. Meaning ME, and my fellow city taxpayers.

Look at the lineup:

In this corner, Chik-fil-A

  • Over 2200 locations in the US, Canada, and (!) South Africa
  • Over $9 billion in annual revenue
  • Over 40,000 employees

And, in the opposite corner, the City of San Antonio

  • one location, ostensibly in Texas, USA. But looking more like Massachusetts or California, one of those moonbat places.
  • $2.8 billion budget for 2019
  • Over 11,000 employees

Update:  I’m not the only one who thinks this is a bad idea.  (two guys stuff here)