Harvey Weinstein, Again.

By | March 30, 2021

I watched Untouchable the other night. I thought it was closer to its 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes than the 71% at Metacritic they list on the IMDB page. After reflecting on what I saw, what struck me about it was how depraved Harvey is, and I don’t mean about all the obvious rape and assault. The problem is actually much worse than it appears, and it’s already pretty bad. “They” say rape isn’t about the sex, it’s about power. At least, in this case, “they” are exactly right, and spectacularly so.

Look at his second wife. Smokeshow! And not just a trophy; a successful woman on her own. He had 2 kids with her, so they had sex at least twice. She seemed honestly taken aback when the scandal broke. This activity is something, given his schedule, I can credibly believe that he could hide from her. In my estimation, she spoke from a place of relative normalcy about the marriage, so I’m relatively sure he could have been getting at least some sex at home.

Hugh Hefner built a media empire on the “backs” of some of the most beautiful women in the world. In the process, he had scores of willing, live-in girlfriends for decades, even though he wasn’t a great-looking guy. He was rich. He was connected. He could give these women a boost in finding fame and fortune. I watched The Girls Next Door, and read about what happened afterward, because it was fascinating to see how all of this worked. The “naked” trade of a consensual sex life for access to money and other rich people. As I understand how the system worked, most of these girls found other boyfriends at the parties Hef threw, and moved on naturally, of their own accord, and everyone involved seemed to feel this system was a good trade.

Given Harvey’s empire, and the enormous wealth and influence he wielded in the movie business, it would seem to me that he could have done essentially the same thing as Hef, and on an even grander scale, given the larger and more-reputable business. It would have been nothing to him to keep a bevvy of beautiful women on hand, put up in nice places, for him to visit on his whim. It’s clear that women who want to work in movies are a little different than women who want to pose naked in magazines, but, for purposes of this discussion, you can leave them out of it entirely. With his wealth and connections, he could have kept a stable of pure, gold-digging girlfriends. But he didn’t do that. He coerced women. Aspiring actresses. Assaulted them. Raped them. For decades.

It wasn’t about the sex. It was most definitely about the power and the subjugation. To me, this doubles the horror of the scandal.

And don’t give me the BS that people didn’t know. Everyone knew.  Everyone. By the time the scandal finally broke, even I had seen and heard enough rumors to know he was a monster. The fact that his brother, the people in his company, and the entire industry looked the other way for 40 years triples the horror.

 

Congress, in a Five-Hour Hearing, Demands Tech CEOs Censor the Internet Even More Aggressively – Glenn Greenwald

By | March 29, 2021

We are taught from childhood that a defining hallmark of repressive regimes is that political officials wield power to silence ideas and people they dislike, and that, conversely, what makes the U.S. a “free” society is the guarantee that American leaders are barred from doing so. It is impossible to reconcile that claim with what happened in that House hearing room over the course of five hours on Thursday.

Source: Congress, in a Five-Hour Hearing, Demands Tech CEOs Censor the Internet Even More Aggressively – Glenn Greenwald

Glenn brilliantly sums up what’s been bothering me lately. For a long time, liberals have ducked-and-covered in the Free Speech debate, saying that online censorship was a private matter, and therefore did not run afoul of the First Amendment. But Congress has been applying more and more pressure to get Facebook (in particular) to censor their content in a way they find acceptable.

Once a platform becomes as ubiquitous as Facebook, Twitter, or Google (or Amazon), it should be regulated as a “common carrier,” and not censor at all. They have become de facto services of the public, like water or electricity, and should be treated as though they were. We don’t allow the water or electric companies to dictate who can be served, or what those resources are used for.

Libel and threats can still be prosecuted as the illegal acts they are. We lose nothing in preserving freedom of speech on these platforms. All the incitement and insurrection in the Capitol that was facilitated by social media is being prosecuted, and hard. That’s precisely how the system should work: Say whatever you like, but be prepared to suffer the legal ramifications if you cross over into illegal speech.

We are letting these companies redefine what it means to live in America. Congress is encouraging them to redefine it. At this point, I guess there are two kinds of people. Those that think that the First Amendment is, perhaps, the purest written form of freedom ever written down, and feel we should do ever more to preserve it, and those that think this was a Bad Idea, and feel it’s time to repeal the notion of it.

Orwell’s depiction of Oceania has already become reality in China. Even further, they have already implemented a social scoring system like the one depicted in the Black Mirror episode, Nosedive. What’s so utterly disappointing is to see all of this taking shape in the United States, the very last place it should, by the ideals of our founding. There’s a reason why the US has fallen to 27th place on the list of free countries.

*The* Suicide Squad

By | March 29, 2021

So DC has finally figured out how to get some of that famous Marvel movie success: hire a (possibly disillusioned) Marvel director to make a movie for you. Oh, and poach 2 of the most-popular franchise character actors while you’re at it.

Oh, and, uh… also keep featuring one of the two most-compelling characters ever created in the universe, starring one of the most beautiful women in the world. That can’t hurt.

Imgur. Again.

By | March 26, 2021

I think Imgur is currently running 40% on the liberal programming right now. I know I’ve talked about it before, but I’m convinced it’s a sociological experiment, no different than the Cambridge Analytica scandal that drove the liberals out of their minds in the 2016 election.

Months ago, I stopped looking at the site, because every 3rd or 4th post was a “thirst” post. Those are gone. Completely. I’ve scrolled through everything on the front page over the past couple of days, and I don’t think I saw a single one. They have been replaced by reposts — almost always from Twitter — which contain liberal talking point hot takes. I don’t even necessarily disagree with the content of most of them, but the ones that gloss over logical fallacies irritate me, and there are a lot of those.

Someone there made a conscious choice to change the algorithm. You have to watch these things over months to notice, but it’s very real. Either the voting membership at Imgur has changed demographics entirely in the past several months, or someone’s running an experiment on the public through that site.

Now all of those thirst-y posts are at 9gag. I wonder if, in 6 months, they too will be replaced with liberal talking point posts.

I Like That The Boat Is Stuck

By | March 26, 2021

I know it’s bad that the boat is stuck, but I like that the boat is stuck.

Unsticking the boat will require making the boat not be stuck. It won’t take a year or more of isolation, or new heights of handwashing, or phone calls to legislators. It won’t require the courage to face down militarized police forces or the gumption to get a shot that I know will make me feel a little bad before it makes me a lot safe. Nobody can tell me that if I just work a little harder or stop spending money on avocados or get a side hustle, the boat will get unstuck. If I did all of those things, perfectly right, right now, on tiptoes, there would still be a big stuck boat! Because those things aren’t the things that need to happen. What needs to happen is: someone unsticks the boat.

Source: I Like That The Boat Is Stuck

This is the blog post the world needed, precisely when it needed it.

OK, maybe it was just me that needed it, but it resonates very strongly with me.

Amazon Denies Workers Pee in Bottles. Here Are the Pee Bottles.

By | March 25, 2021

“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you?” Amazon tweeted. Drivers say they’re being gaslit.

Source: Amazon Denies Workers Pee in Bottles. Here Are the Pee Bottles.

This is America, where the biggest, richest companies on the planet can’t even pay workers enough to let them take proper bathroom breaks. It would be funny if it weren’t so extensively documented for years, and yet our captured government does nothing about it.

This sort of unfettered capitalism is making me a liberal. We bail out companies, time after time, while they give their executives obscene bonuses, and let people fend for themselves, to try to make a living like this. This is not the sort of thing the United States should be about.

I can’t, in good conscience, continue to support an economic system like this. We’re watching a new feudalistic society take shape, in which there is an aristocracy of business owners and executives, and a proletariat of peasants that work their “fields” for subsistence. Modern-day America has all but wiped out all the middle-class economic progress of the post-war boom. The “American dream” is dead.

People are getting angry about it. I know, because I’m one of them. I think the Republicans are going to be out of power for a long time, especially if another Trump is the best they can do.

Wait no longer my friends! – whatadeal post – Imgur

By | March 24, 2021

Wait no longer my friends!

Reddit says this is from 1981. Google says this would be $9,800 in today’s dollars.

I’m surprised by that date, though. Even in 1994, when I got my first job, 10 MB was the standard desktop hard drive size in a PC. In that amount of space, you could fit DOS 6.22, Windows 3.11, Quatto Pro, Word Perfect, and even Doom.

The last time I downloaded a fancy mouse driver, it was 150 MB. Compressed. Lord knows what it expanded to on installation.

I checked the browser dev console. The Imgur web page showing this post took 3.5 MB of data transfer to display.

I remember when my rule of thumb for my internet connection speed was 1 MB per 10 minutes.

Get off my lawn.

Google and “Privacy”

By | March 16, 2021

Does iOS even have any other categories that could be added to this list?

I do as little with Google as possible these days. All my “cloud stuff” is in iCloud now. But I can’t get away from their search. Especially for programming-related questions. DDG just can’t bubble up answers like Google can. I’ve tried several times, and keep coming back.

Liberals and Conservatives Are Both Totally Wrong about Platform Immunity | by Tim Wu | Medium

By | March 14, 2021

Everyone is, in short, currently asking for the wrong thing. Which makes it worth asking: Why?

One reason is that this area is confusing, and the idea of making tech “responsible” does sound good. There are, as I discuss below, ways in which they should be. Also, as described below, the mere threat of 230 repeal serves its own purposes. But I think, at its most cynical, the repeal 230 campaign may just be about inflicting damage. Repealing 230 would inflict pain, through private litigation, not just on big tech, but the entire tech sector.

We don’t like you; we want you to suffer. Very 2020.

Source: Liberals and Conservatives Are Both Totally Wrong about Platform Immunity | by Tim Wu | Medium

I’m not convinced by his arguments, but I can’t say his final conclusion doesn’t have a big part in my thinking about the issue.

Institutions | No Mercy / No Malice

By | March 13, 2021

I grew up on stories of the second world war. During the aerial bombardment of London known as the Blitz, my mother, aged seven, had to sleep in tube stations for protection. She was given a mask against poison gas. It was difficult to put on, and frightening to wear, so a thoughtful designer had modified the children’s version with a rubber nose — my mother thought it made her look like Donald Duck. Sheltering underground with a gas mask was traumatic, but society was under threat and sacrifices had to be made. Today, when people refuse to physically distance or wear a mask at Walmart, I envision my seven year-old mother as a child, on a dark tube platform, with her awkward Donald Duck gas mask.

Once again, society is under threat — not from tanks and bombs but from an enemy one-400th the width of a human hair. The toll has been catastrophic. In America, Covid-19 has claimed more than 500,000 lives. Millions of people have lost their jobs and 40m face eviction. A generation of children have had their education interrupted or impaired.

Source: Institutions | No Mercy / No Malice

World-wide, there have been about 2.5M deaths from COVID-19. But, for comparison, World War 2 killed seventy-five million people. I’m not making the comparison; this guy is. So let’s really compare the figures, if we’re going to compare. Of course, 2.5M is tragic, but this is not the same thing. And you can throw in numbers of people who have been evicted or put out of work, but, again, are you really going to compare those numbers to the devastation caused by carpet-bombing Europe into rubble during the Big One?!

If you want to equate sitting in an tube station with a gas mask during a indiscriminate Nazi air raid, so that you don’t get blown to bits by a bomb, to wearing a mask to help prevent the spread of a slightly-more-deadly form of flu, then let’s at least be a little bit honest about the relative dangers being ameliorated by these behaviors.

He also starts to make some point about how America has suffered a disproportionate level of deaths, presumably because we responded to the threat so terribly, presumably because “Donald Trump.” But there are two problems with this. First, there are other countries who have been just as loosely “masked” and “distanced” as the US, and they haven’t had nearly the bad luck we have, so these measures are not the full story. Second, the world loves to rail on the US for being so relatively obese compared to other countries, and one of the biggest co-morbidities with COVID-19 is… obesity.

Of course, as always, people are free to draw whatever analogies they wish in order to make a point, but this level of moral equivalence and glossing over basic facts — especially from someone who supposes to take such a mentally rigorous approach to his subjects — will make me skip the rest of whatever he was trying to say, every time.