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Why Is Everyone Calling Out Facebook and Twitter?
openweb currentevents politics WWW
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I'm not so sure I agree with making social media networks the problem when it comes to such shannanigans as apparently played by the Russians. It's more of a manipulation of advertising services than "Facebook" when it comes to the Russians buying ads. It's more of a manipulation of the population than it is of Twitter's "user base".

Screen capture of a tweet by CBS News incriminating social media

Hey CBS, how many times were you played by companies manipulating people to spend money on cars and toilet paper?

Before the Internet people bought ads on TV and radio. And before Facebook and Twitter people bought display ads on the raw WWW, if they did not outright build websites themselves (for younger visitors, a "website" is similar to a "Facebook Page").

I am not sure why the drum beat is to corner Twitter and Facebook into "doing something" to somehow screen the communication of digital humanity taking place in their 'hoods unless it is purposeful pressure to apply yet a little more control and containment of free interaction in general.

The mainstream media, I've theorized for some time, is poised to begin taking pot shots at social media giants whenever it can with the hopes of bogging down their economics and reputation. Making them the focal point in the Russian propaganda campaign strikes me as just one example.

Virtual Bonanza
currentevents
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I originally wrote and posted the following story in 2008 but am re-posting it now after encountering the news piece by CBS News, Communities Fighting Back Against Congestion-Causing Traffic Apps. Yes, f iction comes to life nine years later!

Virtual Bonanza

"I was in here four years ago Bob, what on earth did you do?"

Chet was talking about the diner's jumping patronage. Just about every booth in the place was filled with people, more than a few with what appeared to be entire families. The grill bar was lined with an assortment of men and the occasional wary woman, some talking with their neighbor, others trying to avoid them. The clattering and general climate of a busy but well organized carnival gave the impression that the three or four waitresses shooting about were not quite enough.

Waving instructions and handing off checks to one of them, Bob stopped to give Chet the story.

"It's a miracle," he poured. "When you were here last, I was 6 months from closing up. I didn't even have regular help coming in on most days."

"What happened then?" Chet innocently demanded.

[ More ]

Half and Half Sucks
politics currentevents trump
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Honestly I could almost care less whether we live in nation controlled by Republicans or Democrats. I'm so fundamentally disgusted by our cultural assumptions and practices as they relate to social justice and what true freedom really is, I understand that neither party is actually out for either principle in any big way.

Let's face it, both parties are contorting to let corporations master over the affairs and fates of individuals, so why get too jimmied up over the nature of the whip if we aren't going to act over the notion of one.

As an independent I favor at least the hot air of the Democrats who are kinder and find no shame in striving for idealism in the outcomes of human affairs, while appreciating the strong social policies, particularly the "law and order" mantra, of the Republicans. In the best world Dems and progressives would set the agenda, while Republicans would budget and run them.

Where the presidency is concerned, I solely rate the man. I oppose Trump - resist if you will - because he is a bad spirit who thinks nothing of channeling the worst of human sentiments through his political waterwheel for sake of power. Will he make America "great" again? Sure he will. Sociopaths don't weigh themselves down with moral contemplation. Regulations without meaning, which is to say, taking the time to contemplate what those meanings are, are just regulations to be scrapped. I cannot imagine decision making being any easier.

Yet as an executive, as the choice of so many naive Americans, I've been consistently pragmatic about him. Let fools suffer the consequences of not valuing intelligence and diplomacy in their elected leader, yes, but, elected he is .

What I have real trouble dealing with is the half-and-half ongoing nature of our political order that means nothing is getting done. At the end of the day I can adjust to the worldview of any strong winner (again, on the foundation of ceding to its general corruptness). But hoping for true technological and social advances in a country where only half the country can be for them at any given time, is futile and exhausting.

The Trump Ban
trump politics currentevents
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Capture of BBS teaser about Canada accepting refugees.

Looks like the rest of the civilized world will have to take up the slack while America stumbles through its two-year flirtation with the Dark Ages. I say two years because that's the soonest Trump can be voted out of power during the mid-terms.

Smart Trump Opposition
politics currentevents trump
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It's not that I disagree with liberal objectives, and certainly not worldviews. However, I find that I cannot join in on imprecise criticism.

Imprecise criticism is dangerous to anyone's cause because it reduces traction and gives fodder to the opposition who senses and interprets it to mean the argument as a whole is wrong. A good example is discussing immigration issues. Countless political commentary pieces, politician speeches, and even the news headlines themselves, use the one-word term "immigrants" when they really mean "illegal immigrants".

Trump is another example. It's probable, even if he "fixes" the economy, that he will be destructive in other, larger ways, if only due to his lack of government and political experience. He himself is one issue but the people he has stocked around him are like a sitting coalition of every nutty right wing commentator picked from the comments section of a news site. This probably isn't going to end well even as we happily sit mesmerized by money moving again.

Yet we can only reasonably criticize outcomes, all other factors being what they are. There is today's unemployment rate, number of people insured, today's crime rate, today's commitment of troops to policy wars, and so on, all of which currently read well. When these dials tank, if they tank, then will be time for real criticism. Conservatives tend to "re-factor" the argument rather than abide by the simple reality that Trump must maintain Obama's high standard of progress to be considered successful, following him.

There are things along the way that despite those metrics will also be credible points of criticism. Getting behind or failing to stop policies that facilitate the conversion of the open web to cable-TV-like, for example. Staging us for unnecessary wars, or sinking the standard of reason and principle so low that every adversarial nation will smile with friendship as they sink their knives in. Witness the Trump/Russia "alliance against America" as one example. But all of these are only hints, not yet materializations, of a declined US by Trump's hands. Criticizing by emotion is never as handy as criticizing by data. Give the policies and the man a chance to actually fail before muddying up the water with hyperbole, and be precise with any and all arguments that apply now and (most certainly) then.

I Knew Trump Would Win Until I Didn't
politics currentevents
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Early on I thought Trump might win. Not that I wanted him to since he had chosen to align himself with the Republicans whose target was Obamacare if they ran things; and I like Obamacare. Obamacare was one of the few reasons I was voting for Hillary aside from Trump's penchant to attract people with the kind of personality and world view I do not like.

Back when he was runninig in the primaries I posted this to Facebook:

...Most people think that if Trump makes it to the general election he won't win but I disagree. At that point the net of people drawn to his edgy charisma will triple with a good segment of normally disenfranchised slave-waging voters electing him just for the drama. Living in a nation Trump destroys (even if it thrives economically) will be every bit as interesting as one he betters. People, particularly the brown shirts Trump's ideology was specifically developed for, love bullies, while others, who have absolutely no investment in the status quo, will follow equal suit. Between the input of these voters combined with those of establishment republicans who will figure "at least he's a conservative", he could beat Hillary

By election night I'd forgotten my own first sentiments, having gotten caught up in the momentum as depicted by the now obviously woeful polling data that put Hillary consistently ahead, save for the oddball poll or two. Like everyone else I was floored by how the actual election played out.

There Was A Time...
passingthought currentevents
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I really miss New York, I really do. I worked at LinkShare (now Rakuten Marketing) and would have passed this spot every single day going to and coming from work.

This isn't the only example of neatness. Union Square was on the nightly news for one reason or another at least twice a year. Protests, usually. It was a warm NYC feeling to have the place you worked so close to in the news cycle that much.

Facebook Post Capture

Linkage

A Note About This Election
passingthought currentevents politics
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In this particular election cycle we aren't voting for a candidate who isn't a murderer, we're voting for the better candidate.

Picture of Hillary Clinton

Linkage

Expecting Optimized Policing Isn't Fair
currentevents
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When people assert that police need to behave more professionally to avoid the kinds of things we've been seeing lately why is the expectation that police need to be "perfectly optimized" with their training, as if that were possible in any profession?

Case in point, firefighters are trained to fight fires right? Yet 68 of them died on duty in 2015. Do we point the finger at them and decry they did not execute their tasks exactly as their training expected of them? How about race car drivers? They're "professionals" at what they do so surely they do everything perfectly when racing right? Yet about 85 NASCAR drivers have been killed since the sport's dawn.

A fire ground operation is a fire ground operation. It's changeable, hot, unpredictable, uncertain. It is nothing like the sanitary and predictable chain of events experienced during any training no matter how well simulated. Likewise NASCAR drivers, no matter how professional they are or experienced they may be, can ever account for the sometimes erratic and fallible actions of their fellow racers, or even their own judgements, at high speeds.

A scuffle is chaotic. Flailing arms and hands break down stability, not reinforce it. An angry challenging demeanor escalates emotions, it does not smooth them. A trained officer has a crack better than most at dealing with such situations, but the more a situation escalates out of control, the less perfect and ideal the response or the potential outcome. When a suspect is killed it does not mean it is just - it's always *unjust*. But that does not mean that the police are evil, that they intended to kill, are malicious, or absolutely at fault.

Firefighters should not be spit on or blamed for their own deaths or the deaths of those they could have saved, nor should NASCAR drivers, for taking training and experience for what they are. An edge, a chance, an advantage. Not a magic wand that makes them invincible to error or even human emotion.

I have yet to see a single video where confusion and high emotion were not factors in poorly judged shootings. Everyone has an obligation to be civilized in all encounters lest those encounters begin to degrade into dangerous territory for all involved.

In many cases even a degraded encounter ends well enough - nobody dies. But when it ends badly, be fair in interpreting the events that led up to it as an interaction, not as a political or racial issue.

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