Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Olmert's Out

Whoo doggies, things just got a whole lot more interesting in the Middle East.

Not that this wasn't something that people weren't predicting. I'm actually a bit surprised he lasted as long as he did, considering how scandal-beset he was and how much of a debacle Lebanon was. The Guardian thought that he pretty much had to go, and I can't say I disagree.

But then, who replaces him? Here's the take I saw on Reuters:

The following are three scenarios for what might happen next in Israel's shaken political system:

* Israeli opinion polls show Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former defence chief, are favourites to win the Kadima party leadership contest. Either could forge a coalition similar to the current one. It would take office once sworn in by parliament in late October. Olmert would remain caretaker prime minister until then.

* Some of Olmert's bickering coalition partners may balk at joining a coalition with the more politically moderate Livni if she became Kadima leader.

These parties could swing behind rightist parliamentary opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and force President Shimon Peres to ask Netanyahu to try to form a coalition. Such a government might be reluctant to pursue U.S.-backed peace talks with the Palestinians or indirect negotiations with Syria.

* Olmert's resignation could prompt a majority in parliament to opt for an early election. Parliament could dissolve itself and set an election date before the scheduled date of 2010.

An election must be held within five months of the Knesset voting to dissolve itself, but the gap is usually shorter in practice. Recent opinion polls show Netanyahu's Likud party would emerge strongest if a vote were held now.

Such a scenario could leave Olmert as caretaker prime minister until a government is formed after the election.

Bibi would be a disaster. With Kadima having formed in Sharon's center-right wake, having the rightist rump that is Bibi's Likud take over would be absolutely disastrous.

I don't know Livni or Mofaz too well, but from what I understand, Livni's a big proponent of disengagement from the West Bank. Not that I disagree with that policy--far from it--but I can't imagine Kadima holding together were she to seriously pursue that as PM. But her reputation for being "Ms. Clean" might hold things together in Olmert's wake, as the Israeli people jettison the focus on their relations with their neighbours and the territories in favor of having a clean government for a change.

In any case, it's certainly going to complicate American foreign policy. America could see a very different Israel very soon.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Working the Press

We all know how the game is played. There are two parts, and always two parts.

First, there's making the media freak out that they're being too positive towards your opponent. Are the Republicans and their various creatures doing that? Hoo yeah. Just look at your typical right-leaning editorial cartoon these days.

Second, there's feeding them false stories to prove "bias". Digby has the story on that: specifically that "won't meet the troops" set-up that McCain has been exploiting to the hilt.

And here's an interesting bit she quotes from TPM:

Okay, this is interesting: It looks as if the new McCain ad falsely attacking Obama over his canceled troop visit may not really have a lot of money behind it, suggesting that its real purpose isn't getting it before voters directly.

Rather, the real target audience may be the media -- meaning that the McCain camp's goal is largely to get the ad debated in the press and to drive the conversation that way.

Evan Tracey, who tracks media buys at the Campaign Media Intelligence Group, took a look at the McCain buys and discovered that an earlier McCain foreign policy attack ad, as well as the troop visit attack spot launched this weekend, are running in almost no battleground-state markets, with the new spot only running in Denver and Washington, D.C.
It's not for us. It's for them. You set them up, get them nervous, get them freaked out, and then toss them a lifeline. Of course, said lifeline is completely bullshit so they're still screwed, but they're still gonna grab for it.

Expect more.

Edit: extra bit from one of her comments:

For a preview of the next few months, compare the Democratic response to this slander against Obama with the Republican response to Wesley Clark's statement that "getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is [not] a qualification to become president."

The Republicans still own the corporate press/media. That means that they can coordinate messaging, publish and broadcast lies and smears, and prevent any criticism or counter-narrative.

By August 15th, Obama's disdain for the troops will be accepted as fact throughout the corporate press/media. Hell, I fully expect him to apologize for this by Friday.

They should have stood up for Clark. It would have made a difference in how this story was handled. They should have attacked the attackers without waiting.

But they didn't. They never have.

I don't know why not.
Well, I hate to say it, but part of it is because Dems still think that, somehow, rational and reasonable argument will win out against exploitation. Unfortunately, it usually doesn't. And it REALLY doesn't if you play the "I don't think this is that important, it's a tempest in a teapot, ignore it and it'll go away" card. No, it doesn't go away. It never goes away.

Don't expect Queensbury rules when your opponents are facing oblivion.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

George Bush isn't Batman

Now stop acting like a bunch of idiots.

(He may, however, be Ozymandias. Hoo boy, the reaction to Watchmen is going to be interesting.)

Edit: The Joker isn't Osama, either. Cripes, I know that's what people do with archetypes, but not everything is about justifying how you fight your war.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

There Can Be Only One

So Roger Ebert gets comments:

I received this message on the blog, but it obviously fits no known topic. The author is something of a mystery: "R. Crutch," no city, no e-mail. But I felt it necessary to share with you. RE

From R. Crutch:

Whenever I get a package of plain M&Ms, I make it my duty to continue the strength and robustness of the candy as a species. To this end, I hold M&M duels.

Taking two candies between my thumb and forefinger, I apply pressure, squeezing them together until one of them breaks and splinters. That is the "loser," and I eat the inferior one immediately. The winner gets to go another round.

I have found that, in general, the brown and red M&Ms are tougher, and the newer blue ones are genetically inferior. I have hypothesized that the blue M&Ms as a race cannot survive long in the intense theater of competition that is the modern candy and snack-food world.

Occasionally I will get a mutation, a candy that is misshapen, or pointier, or flatter than the rest. Almost invariably this proves to be a weakness, but on very rare occasions it gives the candy extra strength. In this way, the species continues to adapt to its environment.

When I reach the end of the pack, I am left with one M&M, the strongest of the herd. Since it would make no sense to eat this one as well, I pack it neatly in an envelope and send it to M&M Mars, A Division of Mars, Inc., Hackettstown, NJ 17840-1503 U.S.A., along with a 3x5 card reading, "Please use this M&M for breeding purposes."

This week they wrote back to thank me, and sent me a coupon for a free 1/2 pound bag of plain M&Ms. I consider this "grant money." I have set aside the weekend for a grand tournament. From a field of hundreds, we will discover the True Champion.

There can be only one.

I wonder if that one champion will gain a mental link with all the other M&Ms in the world?

And will it be Scottish?


So, anybody else noticed how singular Garth Turner is?

I've given Canadian Liberal bloggers a lot of heat of late. There's no real "netroots" up there; to the extent that any liberal (or progressive) blogs, they've been echoing talking points. Certainly whatzisname does as well, albeit different ones.

(Mostly his rage at Canadian libel laws having been made less expansive than their British counterparts, but I digress.)

There's little discussion of policy, and little discussion of politics, even, except for the horserace stuff.

But then there's Garth. Not only is he willing to get into hot water over what he believes in, but he's done a really good series of late on the problems with the Canadian economy. Normally I would never, ever expect a backbencher to make these sorts of comments; you don't become a Minister by sticking your neck out, and often don't win elections either, especially in such a policy-allergic party like the Liberals.

And then there's fascinating pieces like this one talking about Canada's House of Parliament; how it was rebuilt after a devastating fire, how it desperately needs refurbishing and renovation, about how it's filled with Asbestos (!) and about how much the building means to him.

He's loyal to Dion, that much is clear--they say there's no greater patriot than an immigrant--but he's still willing to speak his mind and write an interesting piece to go along with it. He's sometimes (maybe even often?) wrong, but at least you get the sense that he's not bullshitting you about it. As much as I can disagree with him, he's one of the better bloggers the Liberals have.

(Honest and outspoken. Heh. No wonder Harper tossed him out.)

If Canadian Liberals want a model to build their blogging careers on, might I suggest that they stop looking to whatzisname (who, again, told a bunch of people that, Obama aside, the Internet is unimportant) for answers, and start looking in Garth's direction.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Neverending War

"There's no doubt in my mind that we'll be welcomed as liberators."

Old quote, right? But there's one thing:

John McCain is the guy saying it.

That, and lots more, in this video by Jed Report called "John McCain's neverending war."
It's pretty damning.

It's huge on Digg right now, so I don't really need to push it; even so, it's worth repeating. I'm also thinking about finally taking the plunge and setting up that little mini-wall of social networking widgets that many blogs have these days. An occasional Digg would be nice.)

Anyway, most interesting thing aside from the content is that there's a war over it on Digg. Social collaboration and networking sites are nice enough, but if you've got enough people with an agenda, they become a war zone; in this case between people Digging the story to get more people to notice it and McCain supporters trying to bury it. Considering a rating-and-burying system much like Digg's might be coming to Google soon, this is a huge issue, and makes me wonder where "Web 2.0" is going, exactly.

Could Web 2.1 be less of a conversation, and more of a battlefield?

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Remember I did a bit on Sean Tevin? The Kansas blogger that was leveraging the Internet to find 3000 donors, a number considered heretofore-impossible?

Well, he not only did it, he got five thousand and counting.

That says two things to me.

First, don't screw with Cory Doctorow, he's got power.

Second, that what Obama did is replicable. It isn't just about personality. It's about creativity, finding an audience, and a winning pitch. Tevin using XKCD-style art to support his campaign was a creative idea, and people liked it. And since they were happy to like it to the tune of about eight bucks, the boy is swimming in cash and very likely to put on a serious fight.

And, let's not forget, he's also got a gigantic list of donors that he doesn't need to reveal if he doesn't want to. That's handy. If, say, Sean's Congressman, Dennis Moore, wants to see if he can get a few bucks from The Three Thousand (which is now about five, it's STILL going up as I write this) too, he's going to need to play ball with Sean. Ditto for Sibelius, assuming that she isn't going for a VP run.

Heck, even then, if Sean has donors that aren't Obama names, even Obama might want a friendly mention. (For some cross-promotional considerations, of course.)

Even if Sean doesn't win this race, I'd keep an eye on him. He's got something going here.

And, as always, I'd suggest to any Canadian progressive readers that might have the ear of prominent Liberals that they need to start paying some goddamned attention to what's happening in America. Sean got big wads of cash because he doesn't fear blogging. There just might be a lesson in that.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Simple Point:

From the Nunberg piece I mentioned in the last entry:

the right has managed to reconfigure the polarities of American politics so that economic divisions are trumped by the bogus cultural distinctions of the "red-blue" divide
I think I know how Lakoff would respond, and I'd agree with him:

if it ain't "bogus" to them, then it ain't "bogus". And if you continue to ignore how the definition of "bogus" has changed, or how conservatives work to change how people think of "bogus", and think that you can appeal to a pure Cartesian dualist "reason" in order to sway people to your side?

Well, you deserve the drubbing you'll inevitably get.

So I Read Lakoff's "The Political Mind"

...and my principal take-away is that in order for the book to be effective, it needs to be broadly ignored.

See, I think he has a point. He makes the point that the way we think about things bears little resemblance to the abstract, computer-like capital "R" Reason of the old Enlightenment. No, it actually has a lot more to do with the connections we make between narratives, frames, and concepts. If confronted with a fact or concept that builds a frame (or a connection between frames) we accept it. If not, we reject it.

And, most critically, facts that could build up multiple narratives might not necessarily do so. If a fact could be used to support two contradictory narratives--which is common enough, actually--the one that's got the strongest connection will win out. So, for example, if there are two connections to the concept of "war on terror", one progressive and one conservative, the conservative one will win out even if the connection only slightly more powerful. The only way to make "war on terror" seem progressive is to use other narratives and concepts to build it up.

Fine so far. But there's one problem. (Well, two. His concept of liberalism as "nurturing parent" is incredibly message-blind coming from someone like him.) The problem is that the reason Republicans get away with this sort of thing is because they don't talk about it. They just do it. Luntz doesn't talk to the press about it (and they'd never get behind it anyway, as seen by the damned-near-hitpiece that the NY Times threw up about the book) and neither does Rove. They just tell the people who need to know, and publicly reveal just enough to impress the press and scare the Dems without actually revealing the core ideas. Nobody out-and-out said that the term "tax relief" was intended to de-legitimize the concept of taxation as a duty and government as a shared responsibility. No, they just worked out that that phrase suited their positions, and went for it.

Lakoff gives lots of examples of more positive "frames", but by telling everybody how the trick works beforehand, nobody's interested. He's so worried about having his idea of framing taken seriously by clearly-befuddled Dems that he makes a point of showing Republicans exactly what the frames are and therefore exactly how to beat them!

And that's too bad, because stripped of the controversy over cognition, there are some points that are definitely worth repeating. People really aren't the rationality machines that "rational choice" theory purports they are. There really isn't a spectrum from "left" to "right" that people sit on. A lot of people really do jump back and forth on all manner of issues because of the meaninglessness of "consistency." People really do respond instinctively to narratives, and the complex narratives that make up most people's politicaly opinions really are usually built out of a variety of interconnected simpler narratives.

And, yes, you really need to place your arguments within a moral framework. Liberal arguments of the "but it's the only rational solution!" variety are a vicious trap, and we need to jump over the damned thing already and move on to basing our reason on real moral cases.

But honestly, I kind of hope that this disappears completely under the waves in public. That there's no debate, no discussion, and no dissection of the book. That liberals pay very, very close attention to what it says, think about how it affects how they argue, and stop mentioning the damned book completely.

And that Lakoff maybe take a page from Luntz, and work behind the scenes a bit more.

Oh, and a bit of an edit: Lakoff has a point on how political opinions build up. But his "nation as family" concept is kind of flawed, because there are a LOT of metaphors used for a nation. Geoffrey Nunberg made some good points on that front a while back, and they're still valuable today.

There's the problem. If you tried to simply apply Lakoff's solutions, they wouldn't work. If you even apply his grand political theories, they probably wouldn't work. But if you take what he's saying about cognition to your own positions, well now, there's where you've got something.

Cognitively aware liberalism is far more than a "nurturing parent."

More editing: Just to boil down what I'm thinking here.

I think Lakoff has done a fabulous job of describing the landscape, and has done some yeoman's work in laying out the tools that have been used by conservatives to shape said landscape: the trimming shears, riding lawnmowers, weed-whackers and so on. And, once again, the simple insight that politics requires an explicit moral base, not a simple appeal to interests, is a very powerful one.

Where he hasn't quite nailed it yet is the how; he gets that liberalism is built on "empathy", but hasn't sourced it enough and continues to drop the ball with that lame-sounding "nurturer parent" line. And he hasn't figured out exactly how to use the tools. He's a scientist, not an engineer. Application isn't his job.

So what needs to be done from here is mostly translation and application. Happily, there is hundreds of years of writing on liberalism to translate and apply using these new tools of cognitive liberalism. Even if Rockridge isn't around to do it, other people can pick up the torch.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sean Tevis for Kansas State Rep


Because this cartoon donation scheme is damned creative, that's why.

(And also because he's running against an arch-supporter of Intelligent Design. And in Kansas, that's a real issue.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Digby on McCourts

For all the Obashing that's been going on, digby does make a good point:

The Senate has shown they will confirm a doorstop if the president wants them to. There are no Teddy Kennedy's who will lead the charge against another Bork. This is one reason why I'll vote for Obama enthusiastically. A President McCain will throw the wingnut zealots the most reactionary, federalist society hack he can find, like bloody bloody meat to a piranha tank. He doesn't care about anything but paying off his rich friends and making war. Whatever our problems might be with Obama we know that he won't do that.
The problem is that in order to move these guys, you have to be willing to ignore all this and punish candidates for going against you. But if you do so, you might end up seriously hurting your own interests in the short- to medium-term.

(And that's assuming you can capitalize on it in the long term, which requires a lot of things liberals still don't have.)

So yeah, at the end of the day, it's still better to vote for Obama. And hell, after all this controversy, he might well be a bit more cautious about switching positions to chase the mythical centrist swing voter. He tends to have this problem; he'll jump face-first into a problem, but then muddle his way through to a decent (or even admirable) final solution. Voting for him in November is still the best bet.

But that doesn't mean that now, in July, we can't tell him to watch it a bit.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Obama and Self-Swiftboating

Lawrence Lessig has a point.

All signs point to an Obama victory this fall. If the signs are wrong, it will be because of events last month. These events constitute a so-far-unnamed phenomenon in Presidential campaigning -- what we could call "self-Swiftboating." To understand "self-Swiftboating," you've got to first understand "Swiftboating."

Some use the term "Swiftboating" to refer to harsh, even vicious attacks on an opponent. I use the term in a more restrictive sense: "Swiftboating" is (1) attacking the strongest bits of a candidate's character, with (2) false or misleading allegations. That was what Kerry suffered -- attacking his courage as a soldier, the characteristic that distinguished him most from Bush, with misleading (at least) allegations by some who knew him when he served.

Self-Swiftboating is to Swiftboat yourself: For a campaign to do something that has the effect of undermining its own candidate's strongest characteristic, with actions that are (at best) misleading. The Obama campaign has now self-Swiftboated candidate Obama.

(1) An attack on a core characteristic: There are at least two views about what makes Obama so compelling. One that he happens to have the mix of positions on policy questions that best matches the public's. The other that he is perceived by the public as "different," and hence (given the public hates politicians so) someone the public can like, or more significantly, get enthusiastic about.

I'm strongly in the second camp. It seems to me nothing more than consultant-think to imagine people choosing a President with a checklist of issues, finding the one to vote for the way they pick a place to vacation. It seems to me nothing less than obvious that people are passionate about Obama because he strikes them as a different kind of candidate -- one that stands for his beliefs, that speaks clearly and directly, that can be trusted to stick by his beliefs, that says what he believes regardless. Such a creature, in most people's minds, is "not a politician." Such a creature (i.e., "not a politician") is what people want in a President.

Democrats never seem to get this. The last two campaigns were lost (in my view) because the campaign was working overtime to bob and weave to match the program of the candidate to the pollsters' latest work. That the shifts would signal that the candidate was nothing different just didn't seem to compute. Better, for example, to have people believe the candidate (Kerry) was against gay marriage than to worry that most would see the position as a political ploy.

Republicans, on the other hand, seem obsessed with this. It was the defining feature of the success of Reagan that he made it appear as if he did what he believed, not what the polls said. It was the part Bush v2 mimicked best. It is the clear dream of the McCain campaign to do the same. "You may not like what I say, but at least you know where I stand" is the signal virtue in a GOP campaign. It is the signal blindness of a Democratic campaign.

I am not saying that Republicans are consistent and Democrats not. I am saying something very different: that Republicans believe appearing consistent/principled/different is the key to victory, where as Democrats (apparently) do not.

Well put. It's something that surprises the hell out of me: that Dems would be so attached to the "we'll just shift along the (supposed) electoral spectrum until we hit the magic point" that they manage to completely screw themselves up, with no real help required from the Republicans.

Maybe they just listen to the media too much. All those pundits who are saying "oh, those stupid lefties, they don't realize that you need to shift" are going to savage him for it come October.

Maybe they listen to the consultant class too much. All those consultants who look at polls and nothing else still have too much power, because they don't realize that a party and a candidate needs to have lines that they will not cross, and that those lines are what make you look "principled."

Maybe they listen to Republicans too much. It still fascinates me that Karl Rove is being hauled out as a political analyst, as if he's doesn't have a horse in this race. The Republicans are more than willing to attack them for both shifting and for not shifting enough, because as long as they keep doing that, they'll keep the public's eyes away from their own candidates' faults.

Whatever it is, Lessig's right: if they lose, it'll be because of this nonsense, and because Obama supporters' yells of "well, come on, he's still just a politician" are the dumbest goddamned thing that's been said about an American presidential candidate since "uniter, not divider."

Europeans Have 'till Monday to Save Their Online Rights

Headline over at boing boing:

EUROPEANS! You have until MONDAY to contact your MEP and save the EU from a three-strikes copyright rule!

They aren't wrong.

Back-room dealings in the European Parliament have resulted in a "three strikes" rule being included in a new telecoms bill -- the rule would force ISPs to kick people who've been thrice accused of copyright infringement off the Internet.

If this bill passes, then Europeans' access to the network that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, access to medicine, family, civic engagement, banking, government services, and the whole sweep of human online endeavor would last only so long as they avoided three unsubstantiated accusations of downloading music or video or software without permission.

Worse still, the bill is set to be voted upon on July 7 -- that's this Monday.

The Open Rights Group has instructions for contacting your MEP. If you live in the EU and you care about your future as a citizen of the information society, call right away and make sure your MEP knows that this matters to you.

Here's the Open Rights Group link Cory posted. I know most of my own readers are North American, but if you're European, follow that link. Now.


There's been a lot of talk about the various tools Canadian PM Stephen Harper will deploy in the upcoming election.

There's one important one that people haven't been talking about, though: Maclean's puff pieces about Harper's geeenius! Yep, Paul Wells is running back to the, er, well, burning 2700 words on a panegyric about how awesome Stephen Harper is, and how awesome Paul Wells is for pointing out how awesome Stephen Harper is.

But seriously, Paul. How on earth is a guy who styles himself one of Canada's foremost political commentators the last to bust out that "he's playing chess while everybody's else is playing beer pong" line? Sure, you were looking for a reason to refer to Perlstein's Nixonland, but come on.

After all, if the conservatives were that good, your colleagues wouldn't be having a grand time yelling catcalls at them as they run from committees with their tails between their legs. And if Nixon were that good, he wouldn't have had to cheat to win.

(Or, well, appeal to southern racism. Funny how that got left out of Wells' discussion of Harper's similarity to Nixon, huh.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Iran Photoshopped Their Missiles

No, really.

As news spread across the world of Iran’s provocative missile tests, so did an image of four missiles heading skyward in unison. Unfortunately, it appeared to contain one too many missiles, a point that had not emerged before the photo appeared on the front pages of The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Chicago Tribune and several other newspapers as well as on BBC News, MSNBC, Yahoo! News, and many other major news Web sites.

Here's the picture in question:

In case you didn't see it, the two rightmost clouds are obviously a copy/paste, as are the two highest missiles.

Damned if I know why they did it, but it's the silliest damned thing I've seen this week.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Hey, here's a fun chart:

And here's where it came from:

The funny thing is that the essential ludicrousness of this guy was plain to see all along.
(The column.)

There are some things that probably deserve a bit more attention, though. The "net worth" increase is probably meaningless, since so much of it is top-end biased and what's left depended on the home value bubble. And look at the employment and wage numbers: they're ridiculously small! Not just in comparison to the typical increase, but as a straight percentage, they're ludicrous!

And that's not even factoring in the incredible expansion of executive compensation!

Worst. Preznit. Ever.

Edit: Krugman points out that a lot of these problems preceded Bush. Fair enough. One problem, though- he also reveals that most of them are the fault of, yep, Republicans. Health care costs? UHC was scuttled by Republicans. Energy prices? Republicans didn't do a damned thing about them except invade Iraq in 2003. Housing? Well, blame for that goes around to a ton of places, but it wasn't the Dems who were agitating for "reducing red tape" on the quasi-banks that underwrote and drove the credit expansion.

Face it. Republicans are terrible at economics. It sounds wrong, you'd think old, fat, rich white men would know a thing or two about handling the public purse, but they really don't. They're horrible at it. Their ridiculous unsupportable ideology keeps getting in they way.

Better to have a Know-Nothing speaker than a Republican one.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Iranian Language Question:

How do you say "get a REALLY GOOD proxy" in Iranian?

Because, well, I'd heartily suggest it to any bloggers in Iran right about now.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Happy Independence Day to the Americans reading.

(And a happy belated Canada Day to those Canadians who might still be hanging around for the occasional Canada-related piece I still do. Hope you had a good one.)

In Happier, Robot-ier News

Wall-E is absolutely amazing, and yet more proof that Jobs should execute some kind of bizarre leveraged buyout of Disney just so that he can hand the whole damned thing over to John Lasseter.

I'm a bit divided on the inevitable toys, though. On the one hand, Disney has always made sure that Pixar spin-off toys are good quality stuff, and yet on the other hand, it's Wall-E we're talking about here. (Maybe some recycled plastic used in the construction?)

But on the other hand--of this horrific three-armed beast--anything that gets kids into robotics is probably a good thing. You know that at least a few kids walked out of that theater and thought "robots are awesome! I want a robot! I wanna make robots!" And you know what? Robots are awesome, kids. Go nuts.

So, maybe the solution is to let the kids have a Wall-E for Christmas, but only if they learn how to program it. Or maybe if they build one themselves. How's THAT for good ol' American do-it-yourself spirit!

If You Can't Say Anything Nice, Don't Say Anything At All

Jesse Helms dead at 86.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Notice Something Missing?

In the Times today, there's a nice big article about how Leftist college professors are retiring. They're building it up as the "end of the culture war" or some such thing.

Er, no. See, what they aren't talking about is the other side of "scholarly studies": the archipelago of think-tanks and "institutes" and whatnot that are supposed to serve as a counterweight to the overwhelming liberalism of campuses. There are a lot of them, and they're very well funded.

Now, campuses were never that liberal. Some departments were, some weren't. But they were fairly liberal, and certainly liberal compared to their overwhelmingly conservative private-sector counterparts. If the liberals in academe are retiring, and their replacements are self-consciously (and uncritically, but nevermind) "moderate", but the conservatives are still right where they are...

...guess what that means for the American academic discourse.

It's funny. By and large, the tropes of conservatism are completely discredited. Reagan didn't win the Cold War. Armed interventionism doesn't work. Reflexive market-boosting and regulation-cutting can actually hurt markets, and certainly hurts public welfare. Social security is pretty safe right now, and UHC seems on the horizon.

Yet if you look at it in a broader sense, there are definitely rainclouds on the horizon. These "moderates" don't know what they're in for.

(They're also obsessed with "the data", apparently, which is hilarious in its own way. But that's another post entirely.)

A Followup Tip to Google:

Give people the option of wiping their data. It's too late for YouTube, but this is a really good lesson in how people need control over their data in your servers, and how they need to be allowed to maintain their privacy.

If you want to do no evil, that's a start.

Get a Proxy.

Well, it's been made abundantly clear what time it is.

Google must divulge the viewing habits of every user who has ever watched any video on YouTube, a US court has ruled.

The ruling comes as part of Google's legal battle with Viacom over allegations of copyright infringement.

Digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called the ruling a "set-back to privacy rights".

The viewing log, which will be handed to Viacom, contains the log-in ID of users, the computer IP address (online identifier) and video clip details.

While the legal battle between the two firms is being contested in the US, it is thought the ruling will apply to YouTube users and their viewing habits everywhere.

That's bad. This is worse.

The US court declined Viacom's request that Google be forced to hand over the source code of YouTube, saying it was a "trade secret" that should not be disclosed.

But it said privacy concerns expressed by Google about handing over the log were "speculative".

This is simply one U.S. court, not the Supreme Court. But this is the Roberts court; it's likely to stand up. The implication here is perfectly clear: Corporate privacy is valuable and important, whereas individual privacy is "speculative."

Letme repeat that, in case it didn't sink in. Any privacy concerns about Viacom getting full and unrestricted access to everything anybody has ever viewed on YouTube is "speculative."

You have no rights.

Get a proxy.