A reflection on the departure of RMS – Thomas Bushnell, BSG – Medium

RMS treated the problem as being “let’s make sure we don’t criticize Minsky unfairly”, when the problem was actually, “how can we come to terms with a history of MIT’s institutional neglect of its responsibilities toward women and its apparent complicity with Epstein’s crimes”. While it is true we should not treat Minsky unfairly, it was not — and is not — a pressing concern, and by making it his concern, RMS signaled clearly that it was much more important to him than the question of the institution’s patterns of problematic coddling of bad behavior.

And, I think, some of those focusing themselves on careful parsing of RMS’s words are falling into the same pitfall as he. His intentions do not matter nearly as much as his actions and their predictable effects.

Source: A reflection on the departure of RMS – Thomas Bushnell, BSG – Medium

I don’t want to rehash the story that leads to this; I just thought this was the best take I’ve seen about the situation, and worth capturing for posterity.

Epically-smart people seem highly disposed to self-destructive behavior, which results in alienation that they can only blame on other people. If someone writes an email like Stallman did, and utterly fails to account for the bigger picture, while simultaneously failing to make his comments in a way that doesn’t take enormous academic effort to interpret without revulsion, then, really, how smart is he?

A “public figure” like Stallman (as head of the FSF) must understand that you can’t make comments about something as serious as the Epstein/MIT connection in a casual manner. If you’re going to make a comment, you simply must provide total context. You can’t hide behind excuses, like it was part of a larger thread, or that it was on a private list. As a spokesperson, you have to understand that everyone is watching what you say. To his credit, he didn’t try to have a protracted fight about this.

I’ve watched with great sadness for almost 30 years while Stallman has squandered his beautiful idea with bad politics, and I’ve often wondered why. I suspect this whole situation is a large key to that puzzle. Not that my opinion matters one whit, but I agree with Bushnell that the correct outcome has been achieved.

Amazon orders 100K electric delivery trucks from Rivian as part of going carbon-neutral by 2040 | TechCrunch

Amazon will be stepping up its efforts to reduce its climate impact, CEO Jeff Bezos announced on Thursday. The company will be ordering 100,000 electric delivery trucks from Michigan’s Rivian as part of this commitment, Bezos said.

Source: Amazon orders 100K electric delivery trucks from Rivian as part of going carbon-neutral by 2040 | TechCrunch

A challenger enters the game! I think I remember seeing their consumer camping truck awhile back. I didn’t know they were making delivery trucks. This is big news.

Edward Snowden says the government is in your phone, insists he only wanted to ‘reform’ the NSA

Snowden in an interview from Russia with Brian Williams talked Trump, stealing classified information from the NSA and how cellphones are killing privacy.

Source: Edward Snowden says the government is in your phone, insists he only wanted to ‘reform’ the NSA

“Anything you can do on that device, the attacker ⁠— in this case, the government ⁠— can do,” Snowden claimed. “They can read your e-mail, they can collect every document, they can look at your contact book, they can turn the location services on.”

“They can see anything that is on that phone instantly,” he continued, “and send it back home to the mothership.”

In retrospect, this shouldn’t be surprising, since the government was heavily involved in creating the first cellular networks.

Mark my words: Anything we allow the government to do, and any rights we surrender in the name of catching “the bad guys,” will eventually be used against the general population, because, in the future, everyone will be an enemy of the government for 15 minutes.

Why white evangelicals are so hostile to immigration – Vox

The Bible contains numerous passages that seem to straightforwardly exhort care for the poor, immigrants, and refugees. Isaiah 10, for example, sees God excoriating those who “turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right.” In Matthew 25 (which a Methodist pastor quoted to Jeff Sessions Monday while protesting his speech), Jesus warns his followers that those who withhold care from the poor or the refugee — “the least of these” — are seen as having done it to Jesus himsel

Source: Why white evangelicals are so hostile to immigration – Vox

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on various social media sites, wherein liberals support taking a lax view on illegal immigration by using scriptural anecdotes, and paraphrasing things Jesus is quoted as saying. I have to say that I find it pretty hypocritical.

After many decades of trying to remove all traces of God and the Bible from any public or legal space — and telling “bitter clingers” that any reference to scripture as it relates to sin was antiquated and offensive — people on the political left are now trying to invoke the teachings of the Bible, and the words of Jesus, to influence government policy, presumably to shame people on the political right into compliance.

“All scripture is inspired by God,” and I totally agree that we should be taking a “kinder, gentler” approach to immigration. However, if we’re going to base public policy on immigration and the border on the teachings of the Bible, then there are some other policies that I think should be reviewed in that light as well.

This bunk bed is $1,200 a month, privacy not included – CNN

Housing costs have become so expensive in some cities that people are renting bunk beds in a communal home for $1,200 a month. Not a bedroom. A bed.

Source: This bunk bed is $1,200 a month, privacy not included – CNN

Given the software/tech-related bent of my news feeds, I see the ridiculous cost of housing in the Valley come up a lot, but I think it’s largely invisible here in the midwest. I’ve posted articles about single bunks in flophouses going for thousands of dollars a month, but now, finally, naturally, there’s someone who has started a bunk-as-a-service company. A “share” allows you to stay in any of their flophouses. At least the CEO seems pretty pragmatic about it, and doesn’t come across as the usual, crazed, psychopathic founder type.

Flip the Script on the Racist Philly Police Officers

Time for another “flip-the-script” political test. If you were NOT a fan of police officers getting fired from the Philly police force when it was discovered that they were posting racist things in a Facebook group, because you believed that this was an abridgment of their generalized right to free speech, try switching it around.

Let’s say YOU were a business owner, and employed many people. Then, one day, you discover that several of your employees have a Facebook group where they criticize Israeli and American policy in the Middle East, and voice strong support for Hamas in Palestine. For this exercise, let’s say they are not calling for violence, per se, and presume that they are just generally being anti-Semitic. Would you, as their employer, regard this as nothing other than their free speech, and conclude that there was no problem with them continuing to work for you, or would you fire them?

Anti-Semitism is just another form of racism. It seems to me that, if you’re fine with one form of it under the banner of free speech, then you should be fine with all of it.

Flip the Script on Liberal Representatives “Hate” of America

Trump has told “the squad” of women-of-color Congressional Representatives that, if they don’t like America, they can “leave.” This notion is very, very agreeable to a large portion of conservatives.

Let’s have a mental exercise. Let’s flip the script here. Abortion is legal, right? That’s been adjudicated and ruled as a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT by the Supreme Court. I don’t like it, and I’m guessing that the majority of people I interact with in my conservative part of the country don’t like it either. Do I “hate America” because abortion is legal? No. Should I “leave the country” because it’s the law of the land? No. Should I “shut up because I’m a moron for disagreeing with it?” NO! If I’m sufficiently bothered by it, I’m supposed to work the political process to change it. Give money to support candidates who oppose it. Give to political PAC’s. Protest. Campaign. Get elected. Propose legislation. All that stuff. Right?

These ladies that Trump has taken aim at want to change things about America. They ran primary campaigns. They got on the primary ballot. They ran election campaigns. They got elected. Their constituents VOTED FOR THEM because of their politics and their intentions. AMERICAN PEOPLE ELECTED THEM, and now they’re just trying to do the things they campaigned on. They’re working the political process, just like I’m supposed to. Right? The people who supported and elected them worked the political process, just like I’m supposed to. Right? So what’s with all the “they hate America and should just leave if they don’t like it” rhetoric? They’re doing their part in the most American way possible.

Bernie and Hurricanes

Bernie Sanders tweeted that hurricane Dorian was “entirely” caused by “climate change,” as though the world has never experienced a category-5 hurricane before. I can’t find his tweet about it now. It was so beyond the pale, I’m guessing he deleted it. The only thing I could find now was this. Unfortunately, this seems to be an un-scientifically-supported platitude. The data is not on his side.

If you just do a simple search on climate change and hurricanes, most of the articles on the first page of results conclude that rising global temperatures are NOT causing worsening hurricane/cyclone activity. I mean, if they WERE linked, then we should see a rising trend of frequency and strength, correlated with rising temperatures, right? And we just don’t. 

Don’t get me wrong, you can find sources that support ANY position you want to take about ANY issue. The only recourse in today’s world of fake news is to survey a LOT of results, and make an informed decision. Personally, I’m just not seeing convincing data that supports the theory that climate change is worsening storm activity.

I mean, I kind of get it. A lot of people believe that the earth will be LITERALLY uninhabitable by human beings in 50 years if we don’t do “something,” and they will use whatever leverage they can to try to impart their sense of urgency. I don’t think this is true. I think “sustainable” energy sources will become cost effective in the short term, and eliminate carbon emissions as a point of contention about the environment. Will that stop temperatures from continuing to rise? Well, that will be an interesting thing to continue to watch.