Fuzzy little things that I find interesting.

Political musings from someone who thinks the S-D curve is more important to politics than politicians.

Month: August, 2017

The problem with the current wave of virtue signaling is that, once cooler heads prevail, a lot of people (and companies) are going to look like shit.

Dispatches From The Intersection Of The Education Apocalypse And Liberal Fascism

Dartmouth prof defends Antifa: It’s just self-defense against Nazis.

The problem is, as soon as this blows over, there are going to be a lot of companies like Google who took actions that are arguably illegal (or at least, a violation of Net Neutrality and the common carrier clause by shutting down politically offensive web sites). The “virtue signaling” and “we stand against neo-Nazis” stuff will stop looking virtuous and start looking, well, a little like the Great Firewall of China as “virtue signaling” looks like “willingness to shut down debate.”

Look at the Antifa folks in Berkeley violently fighting some gay guy who says politically incorrect things. And yet who has everyone uniformly decried?

Hell, it’s gotten so bad even the Associated Press is calling for liberals to cool their jets.

We forget the racist roots of liberal progressivism. Which is why so much racism takes place in liberal utopia.

When people think of themselves as fundamentally good, the flaws they have often go ignored–or worse, are excused as “momentary” lapses in an otherwise perfect life. It’s why you can see so much anger amongst the “save the Whales” types in a Whole Foods parking lot.

And it gets worse in the Pacific Northwest, whose residents, as they strive towards a more perfect liberal utopia, forget their idealized cities were in fact settled by White Separatists seeking to create a “white utopia.”

Places like Portland, Oregon:

In cities that vote blue, no immunity from racism

Progressive to its core, Portland is also America’s whitest big city – in part the troubling legacy of Oregon’s founding goal in the 19th century of creating a white utopia through exclusionary laws.

Here in a city of hops and hipsters, where Republicans have been all but banished, Ms. Smith’s properties have been vandalized with racist graffiti – a particularly sore point since they are one of the only black families left in what was once the core of black Portland, around the corner from where Duke Ellington used to hang out.

“Portland is, in fact, a white utopia, so, for black people, that means race is always there,” says Smith, a Human Resources manager for Multnomah County, where the percentage of registered Republicans dropped from 24 percent in 2001 to 14 percent in 2014. “Trump unleashed a lot of racial hatred, but there are a lot of old-school folks even here in Portland who are still very uncomfortable with black people.”


I once attended a political gathering in Fresno in support of my brother–and ran into a number of local politicians who were supposed “men of the poeple”–self-styled liberals who supported people regardless of their skin color or socio-economic background. Quite a few of them were extremely uncomfortable around the handful of Blacks and Latinos who attended the event–and a few were pretty quick with the racist jokes once “those people” weren’t in earshot.

I was quickly disillusioned about supposed “men of the people” after that.

But I have plenty of experiences with people who have shown a public face which differed from their private one. People who express public support for homosexuality but who privately confess to me that they hate “those people’s” pubic displays of affection. The public face of racial tolerance who cracks the private joke about “wet backs.” The person who expresses tolerances for all races who can’t seem to leave the room fast enough as soon as someone with black skin walks in.

So the idea that Portland’s apparent lack of racism exists primarily because they’ve chased all “those people” out of town? Doesn’t surprise me one bit.

A reminder

I left this as a comment elsewhere in response to a question and decided to repeat it here.


Are there any full blooded “white people?”

Define “white”.

If by skin color, I see a lot of fair-skinned people all the time.

But there is no common “white” race or culture; instead, there are Brits, Italians, Germans, Russians, Irish, etc., etc., etc.

The reason why we consider “Black” a singular group in the United States is because when black slaves were brought to this country, their culture was completely obliterated. “Black” culture is very much a construct invented in the United States, no older than slavery itself–and so while “Blacks” may hail from an even wider variety of tribes and countries and cultures in Africa than Europeans do, none of those cultures survived.

As Europeans settled in the United States elements of their cultures survived; it’s why we see proud Italians in the New York area and German-speaking Amish in Pennsylvania, or the Danish culture of Solvang, California. And most of us who have some European ancestry tend to talk about ourselves in those terms; my father’s “Scotts-Irish” heritage as his family moved from the Ozarks when he was a child, for example. We don’t talk about some monolithic “white” culture, because unlike blacks, various European cultures was not obliterated by hundreds of years of slavery.

So anytime anyone–conservative or liberal, “White” supremacist or black separatist, Vox commentator on race, or talking head on CNN–starts talking about “whites” and “white culture”, know you’re hearing opinions from someone who is supremely stupid and completely out of touch with reality.


The fact that, in this day and age, I have to actually have to write the above, just strikes me as how incredibly out of touch people are.

I mean, I don’t expect “White Supremacists” to get this point–I don’t expect a hell of a lot out of that extremely small subset of the population.

But at some point I was expecting a little more out of liberal progressives–though perhaps that was wishful thinking given the racist roots of the modern progressive movement.

Why President Trump was right denouncing the counter-protesters.

Moral Courage and Moral Arbitrage

There is moral arbitrage here. When some politician or celebrity denounces Neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and other assorted white supremacists, he is cheered. He is called stunning and brave. He is bashing the fash, taking a brave stand against the most evil ideology of man. In other words, he gets a huge moral bonus in the eyes of the media. It is easy to denounce white supremacists, who probably represent less than a tenth of a percent of the population. And it is profitable to do so, as well.

Meanwhile, taking a similar stand against Marxism is expensive. If a politician or celebrity stands up and denounces Marxism as a hateful, murderous ideology that is at least as evil as Nazism, he is often shot down. Real Marxism, of course, has never been tried. Real Marxism is a good theory, a good idea that maybe just hasn’t been implemented quite right. It’s morally true and righteous, and even if it has some problems, surely bashing the fash has to take precedence, right?

Except Marxism has a much higher share of the population. Marxism is celebrated openly on college campuses around the country. Marxists trash cities, riot, commit acts of violence with frightening regularity, and Marco assigns them 0% of the blame, because somewhere, there is an inbred Neo-Nazi off his meds tweeting from his mother’s basement.

Marxists have been doing this as long as I’ve been alive. It is correctly seen as stupid and disgusting to wear an Adolf Hitler t-shirt. Yet somehow Che Guevara t-shirts are absurdly common. The Nazi swastika is correctly seen as a hate symbol, yet the Soviet hammer & sickle is given a pass. It is a historical tragedy that Communism was not discredited with the same vigor as Nazism was.

It is socially cheap to oppose Nazism. It is socially expensive to oppose Communism.

Donald Trump, whatever his other faults, possesses enough moral courage to speak the truth: both groups are hateful. And he paid the price for speaking that truth.

When I learned that the folks who tore down the statue in Durham were affiliated with the Workers World Party, a communist group and Soviet funded offshoot of the Socialists Workers Party that split off in the late 1950’s because the SWP was insufficiently radical in failing to support the deadly and violent revolutions in places like Yugoslavia, and when I learned the Workers World Party took credit for fielding many of the counter-protesters in Charlottsville, I knew three things.

First, I knew that what we were seeing was not an “anti-extremist” movement standing up to extremists.

Of course this was obvious; we’ve had KKK and Neo-Nazi marches in this country that have been effectively ignored with little violence in many places in our country. The number of KKKers and Neo-Nazis out there probably number in the hundreds–the number of “flat Earthers” out there who believe the Earth is flat in this country is undoubtedly larger.

What we were seeing was a standoff between two competing extremist movements–one representing an authoritarian movement that murdered more than a hundred million people world wide, the other representing White Supremacists and a second authoritarian movement whose kill numbers are only in the tens of millions.

In short, the WWP counter-protesters in Charlottesville and who tore down the statue in Durham are associated with an ideology just as evil, just as cancerous, as the Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists.

Second, the President was right in calling out both sides. But that was obvious: if you show up at a protest rally armed with baseball bats, mace and other weapons–you’re not there for a casual discussion over sweet tea.

Third, I knew we would never hear the whole story, except in small corners of the Internet like mine, quiet voices no-one hears, and few people will acknowledge.

That’s because people in this country think wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt is somehow “cool” despite the fact that it is morally equivalent to walking around with “88” shirts or with a picture of Adolf Hitler. People in this country think Marxism is cool and the answer to capitalism–and the over 150 million people murdered or starved under the Marxist banner represents flaws–as if, if we just keep experimenting with the theory, we will eventually get it right, and if a few billion more must die–well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. And to me, that casualness is somehow more egregious than hate groups.


What we saw in Charlottesville, ideologically speaking, was not a repeat of American (capitalists) rescuing concentration camp victims from the Nazis in World War II.

What we saw in Charlottesville, ideologically speaking, was a rerun of the German Eastern Front as Germany fought to invade Russia, and saw in return the erection of the Berlin Wall and the partitioning of Germany as Soviet Russia sought to ideologically convert the rest of Europe.

Oh, by the way, a bunch of people died in Barcelona, but who cares because Trump?

I think it’s fucked up that media outlets like CNBC (which I have on in the background) has chosen to completely ignore the terrorist attack in Barcelona, because they believe they’re now scoring political points against President Trump.

I learned about it when I signed into Reddit.

Reddit!

And I’ve had CNBC on since this morning at 8 am EST.

And now we watch as the New York Times calls for dismantling Free Speech in the name of saving it.

The A.C.L.U. Needs to Rethink Free Speech

The danger that communities face because of their speech isn’t equal. The A.C.L.U.’s decision to offer legal support to a right-wing cause, then a left-wing cause, won’t make it so. Rather, it perpetuates a misguided theory that all radical views are equal. And it fuels right-wing free-speech hypocrisy. Perhaps most painful, it also redistributes some of the substantial funds the organization has received to fight white supremacy toward defending that cause.

The A.C.L.U. needs a more contextual, creative advocacy when it comes to how it defends the freedom of speech. The group should imagine a holistic picture of how speech rights are under attack right now, not focus on only First Amendment case law. It must research how new threats to speech are connected to one another and to right-wing power.

I knew there is a reason why I don’t subscribe to the New York Times.

And let’s be clear about something specific:

Rather, it perpetuates a misguided theory that all radical views are equal.

No, only that all radical views are deserving of legal protection.

Do away with this “misguided theory”, and you render the First Amendment protections on speech utterly and completely meaningless. Because if the First Amendment does not protect speech we find detestable or disgusting, it does not actually protect speech.

Fringe wackadoodles and politics.

I know exactly what bothers me about the reporting of the Charlottesville riots that has been angering me deeply.

It’s this.

First, there is always fringe whackadoodles, like neo-Nazis, neo-Communists and racial separatists of all sorts.

But it’s important to remember two key things here. (A) They’re fringe. Meaning they may represent a very vocal minority–but they’re just that: a minority. Which, by definition, is not representative of the majority. And (B), they’re whackadoodles. Meaning wondering why we’re still talking about the issues they “raise” in 2017 is as pointless as asking why Florida Man is compelled to rob a bank, then strip naked and run down the street throwing money at people.

Second, the violence in Charlottesville can be directly traced not to the White Supremacists who marched there, nor even the Antifa groups who showed up armed for bear–but to the Charlottesville mayor who decided to withdraw the police, to allow the two sides to “mix it up”, to allow a riot to explode, so they could shut it down and the mayor could score political points on the national scene against President Trump.

Third, it’s watching everyone continue on the idea that this is somehow President Trump’s fault, as if he gave the order to pull back the police, or that somehow Trump is fermenting racism or catering to a group of fringe whackadoodles as if they somehow represent the mainstream.

Look: fringe neo-NAZIs do not represent the conservative movement in this country any more than violent AntiFa socialists represent the liberal movement. Further, if there were enough neo-NAZIs and white supremacists in this country to make their vote actually count, we would live in a substantially different country than we do–because if something like 10% of the country were really neo-NAZIs, they would require courting by both parties in order to gain political power. (I know this because we saw this in the past, when Democrats and Republicans both courted the KKK in the 1920’s when the KKK actually had political power.)

What fascinates me are those who basically deny Trump’s explicit denial of Nazis and white supremacists as if it were “too little, too late”, and yet demand a new statement from Trump–as if somehow an even later statement won’t be too late. That includes the CEOs of the large corporations who decided to disband the Presidents advisory council–thinking somehow they will still maintain the ear of the President behind closed doors while getting to cater to the CEO party circuit by claiming to publicly denounce the President.

(I mean, let’s be serious. The moment they stop believing they will get what they want from this Administration, including deregulation and tax cuts, is the moment we see the DJIA drop 20%.)

Look, people died in Charlottesville. Yet no-one seems to give a shit, unless it somehow scores political points.

Meanwhile, I’m sure thanks to the anger generated by this bullshit White Supremacist groups are seeing massive upticks in recruiting (because crazy whackadoodles always need an excuse to project their crazed whackadoodle impulses), as are the AntiFa groups (who draw from the same pool of crazed whackadoodles looking to pick a fight).

And meanwhile, Charlotteville should–and rightfully so–see a decline in businesses who choose to operate there and in people who choose to live there. Because if the mayor of Charlottesville refuse to guarantee their safety, why stick around for the next violent eruption?

Remember: after the Los Angeles riots, those neighborhoods who suffered the most saw the fastest decline in businesses willing to do business there.


We live in a worse world than we did before the riots in Charlottesville.

And no-one seems to give a fuck.

You know…

On the same day we’re all talking about Nazis and White Supremacists, a group of folks pulled down a confederate statue in Durham.

Well, it turns out they’re associated with the Workers World Party, a communist party associated with the Socialist Workers Party, an older organization funded by the Soviet Union in the 1960’s.

And remember: Communists and the Socialists associated with the Soviet Union made the Nazis look like a bunch of Kiwanis Club weenies, especially when it came to death tolls: 11 million dead in the Holocaust is just a warmup compared to the nearly 150 million who died under various Communist regimes.

And let’s be clear. The counter-protesters who showed up at Charlottesville, and showed up with baseball bats and black masks looking to kick some “fascist ass”, were not just random folks who wanted to show their support for equality.

They were sent by the Workers World Party.


First, anyone who says Trump is an asshole for observing that there was violence perpetrated by both sides really needs a reality check. Because the Antifa folks and the WWP guys showed up ready to play, complete with shields, batons and baseball bats.

The hard left met the alt-right–and the police deliberately allowed them to mix it up, so they could have an excuse to shut it down.

It is the responsibility of law enforcement to ensure safety of both protesters and counter-protesters. The policing on Saturday was not effective in preventing violence. I was there and brought concerns directly to the secretary of public safety and the head of the Virginia State Police about the way that the barricades in the park limiting access by the arriving demonstrators and the lack of any physical separation of the protesters and counter-protesters on the street were contributing to the potential of violence. They did not respond. In fact, law enforcement was standing passively by, seeming to be waiting for violence to take place, so that they would have grounds to declare an emergency, declare an ‘unlawful assembly’ and clear the area.

So yeah, the Nazis and the White Supremacists are obvious villains here. But we’ve successfully had neo-Nazi marches and KKK marches and White Supremacist group marches without them descending into violence–the police keep the counter-protesters separate, and makes sure no-one gets injured. And this is the right strategy–if no-one cares, then why march to raise awareness?

The violence in Charlottesville will simply increase the number of people who seek to join these groups itching for a fight.

No, not a single group: the protesters, the counter-protesters or the City of Charlottesville, have clean hands here.


Second, I have to note that when a group like the Workers World Party, or White Supremacists or the AntiFa groups suddenly explode on the scene without a lot of warning–this is not a spontaneous uprising. This does not represent the bulk of the people of the United States. The White Supremacists and “Alt-Right” folks in Charlottesville no more represent the overall conservative movement or the Republican party than do the violent AntiFa protesters (who look a lot more like Hitler’s Stoßtruppen or Storm Troopers than they do protesters) represent liberals or the Democratic Party.

Instead, this represents a top-down drive by an outside organization which is funding these groups.

I mean, do any of these people have day jobs? Do any of these people work for a living?

And in a very real way, this represents a replay of the extremists of Germany fighting Russia–and has little to do with American politics as such. It’s not to say that there aren’t some ugly moments in American history. But the sort of pitched battles we’re now seeing in places like Charlottesville (which was entirely preventable by the police there) represent more an outside influence rather than an out-of-control Trump Administration.


Of course if I were to suggest that Russia was behind funding a number of these organizations and that it resembles a play out of the playbook used in places like Greece or Albania, I’d be called a conspiracy theorist.

And called that by the same people who think Russia was behind Trump’s election.

Dear Apple: STOP THAT!

Apple seems hell bent on pushing Apple Music.

Okay, that doesn’t bother me.

What bothers me is that Apple seems to be hell bent on doing two things: first, wiping out the difference between listening to music that is physically located on your device, and streaming music over a network. (For example, I just encountered a dotted Apple cloud. WTF? Does that mean the music is on my device, or being streamed? Or both? Neither? Huh?)

NewImage

I mean, I know a solid cloud means “the file is not downloaded”–though Apple will happily play the music anyway by automatically streaming it. And I suppose that’s fine by me.

Heck on my desktop I sorta don’t care–or, rather, I wouldn’t care if my Internet Provider wasn’t trying to drive us into a new Internet plan which places a data cap on how much stuff I can download off the Internet. (And do I really want to use my data cap when I already have the fucking file on my computer?)

But this sort of stuff matters when you’re on mobile, where data rates are slower–and where data caps are more strict. It especially matters when you are planning to drive somewhere without good coverage–such as a long road trip through the mountains. Do I need my music to drop out because somehow Apple decided to stream the music without telling me?

It also matters because the UI for determining if your music is actually on your computer and synced onto your devices has gotten more and more… baroque. Unless you fiddle with the settings on your device, it can be be quite difficult to figure out what songs are on your phone from within the Music App. (And don’t get me started on the constant attempt to “upsell” Apple Music. Just fucking take that out of my face!)


It’s not like it would take much to fix this state of affairs.

Within the iPhone’s Apple Music app, move “Downloaded Music” and “Home Sharing” into filters at the top. That way the idea that you have songs on your device doesn’t become some sort of “second-class citizen”.

Allow me to turn off Apple Music. That includes all the places where Apple Music is being upsold; do I really need Apple to advertise Apple Music repeatedly to me? (I mean, Apple has taken a strong stance against using personal identifiers by advertisers–yet what the hell are they doing using my personal identifying information to advertise to me?!?)

And fix iTunes so it isn’t such a difficult to navigate mess. I mean, if your interface has to have a “back button”, your navigation hierarchy is not flat, which means you are violating the most basic principles of allowing a user to get at what they want in a modeless fashion.

NewImage

I mean, come on–this is “Apple UI Design” 101 from the fucking early 1990’s! And it’s not like there isn’t space in the side bar (which at one point was made optional, meaning the user had no idea how to navigate iTunes at all) for editing the files that are to be copied onto my device. (The current default “Device” list in the side bar does not allow you to navigate directly to a page that allows you to determine what gets copied onto your device; instead you have to know to click that weird icon next to the back/forward buttons, so you pick your device in a second way, violating all sorts of user design principles.)

ARGH!


In a world where Charlotteville in Virginia is burning and people are screaming at the top of their lungs about politics, I thought I’d concentrate on something that is far more important.

A lot of folks are talking about the Google Memo. I have a completely unrelated point.

An employee at Google penned an anti-diversity essay, and was subsequently fired.

I’ve skimmed the memo, and I believe the author drew the wrong conclusions from the wrong assumptions–and I believe both sides are now misrepresenting its contents for ideological reason.

But I’d like to talk about something else. I’d like to talk about the author of this memo being fired.


Did Google have the right to fire the author? Absolutely.

And I believe, given the amount of airplay the memo was receiving, Google really had no choice.

Do other companies inside and outside of Silicon Valley have the right not to hire this person?

(Donning best Sarah Palin voice:) You betcha’.

Did this guy have the right to write what he did?

Sure.

Does this guy have a right to ever work in software development again?

(This time, using best Lana Kane imitation:) Noooooooope!


What’s interesting about this state of affairs is that it perfectly illustrates the difference between the Weberian definition of the “middle class” verses the definitions we tend to use, and how this definition really matters.

The definition we are accustomed to is that someone is in the “middle class” if their income is in the middle of the income brackets. In the United States, that is any family making somewhere from around $30,000 a year (at the lowest range of the lower-middle class) through around $60,000/year (the household average) to perhaps $150,000/year (just below the top 5% of all households).

Others have tried to provide different salary definitions which take into account the cost of living in a given area–but mostly our idea of “middle class” is salary range.

Certainly the author of the Google anti-diversity essay was at the top end of this range. Software developers right out of college easily make more than the average salary in the range above, and a good developer can easily make in the $100k-$150k/year range, as a nation-wide average. Salaries in Silicon Valley are, of course higher. And when combined with various other factors (bonuses, stock sharing), a highly experienced developer can bump his nose at the $175k range as a non-managing single-contributor.

That is, it is possible that a very good developer with a lot of experience can make more than 95% of the population without getting into management.

And yet, this highly paid individual found himself unemployed when he wrote a politically charged essay that his employer disagreed with.

And found himself going from perhaps the top 10% of income earners to unemployed.

Overnight.


The Weberian definition of the “middle class”, however, has nothing to do with salary.

Instead, his definition was that those in the “middle class” land between the “working class”–that is, those individuals who are employed by employers (and who owe their jobs to the good graces of their employers), and those of the “upper class”–individuals who have political power and are politically connected.

In other words, the Weberian definition is not economic, but profoundly political.

It is, in short, the subset of the population who do not have political connections, but who do not owe their jobs to employers who may themselves be politically connected, or who owe their allegiences to the politically connected.


The author of the Google essay may have been economically middle class, but his firing showed he was not politically middle class. His job depended on him keeping in the good graces of his politically connected masters–and he fell out of their graces.

And was fired.

Those in the working class do not have the political freedom to agitate against the politically connected without risking their livelihood and potentially their ability to feed and clothe themselves.

The upper class, being politically connected, have no need to agitate for change. They are the status quo–and as we see around the world and throughout history, you don’t agitate for change if you are in charge of the halls of power.

So it is the middle class who are able to agitate for change. They are the ones who can write a political polemic without worrying they will be fired by an employer who disagrees with their views. They are the ones who can effectively demand change at City Hall. They are the ones who can demand change in the halls of power.

And in the United States, our Middle Class is dying.